Hello and welcome to my little corner of the internet. I intend to use this blog as a showcase for my latest crafting endeavours and to provide detailed reviews of patterns, kits and accessories on the market along with details on where to find everything yourself, should I inspire you to try it out. Please feel free to comment on my posts, provide your own thoughts on the subject, answer questions and even suggest posts.

It has always been my goal to add a post every Wednesday, but due to current circumstances posts may be as scarce as once a month. Appologies and I hope to return to my weekly posting shortly.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Wedding Celebrations

Brand: Decorative Textiles
Item: C41 Wedding Celebrations
Exclusively* Available from: Wye Needlecraft
Price: £21.50
The first thing to note about my purchase of this design is that although it says "Decorative Textiles" all over it and has their address, the company has been bought out by Wye Needlecraft now and as such the design will be exclusive to them and over time the packaging may change to reflect this, although you may still find it in other shops that bought it before the buy out. The second thing to note is the price. I don't know about you, dear reader, but when I saw the design I thought it would be cheaper at maybe £15, but photographs cannot accurately show you what this design looks like, which is why I have included a picture of the contents (still sealed). Note the beads and metallics? That is where the price comes from, and for the amount of beads you get the price is actually really rather good. It turns out all the blue flowers and the center of all those pink flowers? Beads. So despite being quite a simple design it is also quite sparkly, and what bride doesn't want a bit of glitz on her big day?

Moving on, the first thing to look at is, of course, the chart. This kit uses an A5, large print, black and white chart. Nice and easy to see and read, but it is quite difficult to create a working copy from using a home copier. Thankfully, the design is easy enough to be able to follow it without much need for my usual working copy. Something to note before you start though is that this chart has a lot of backstitch and although the instructions advise that it be worked after the cross stitch is completed, I advise taking this with a pinch of salt. For example, the vines are done with two strands of green in back stitch, the leaves are worked exactly the same but in cross stitch. Common sense says do the vines and the leaves as one. Also, unless you want to go insane counting, probably a good idea to do as I did and work the vines before you attempt to put flowers on them. I'm pretty sure doing back stitch after the cross stitch rule only applies for outlining your cross stitch, not when it's one of the main features of the design. Be careful though, black and white chart, 4 back stitch colours and some are worked in two strands, others on one, so you really do have to read read the instructions before you begin. Don't worry though, it's pretty common sense, green for vines, gold for rings...that sort of thing.

Now just in case you didn't realize...this piece is littered with confetti stitches. Even blended confetti stitches. This is what makes the flora look pretty and delicate rather than bulky and heavy. In fact after the bells, the biggest block of solid colour that you will encounter is in the pink flowers. Sadly, in my copy of this design the pink thread ran short of completing a full flower using the loop method by about two stitches, which is probably the most annoying thing in the world, even though there is plenty of thread for you to use two lengths per flower. Now I did mention this at Wye Needlecraft and they have taken the feedback on board and will begin cutting lengths of 50cm instead of 45cm.

The metallic thread in this design is used in small quantities and the silver is blended with a stranded thread as well, which makes it really easy to work up, and adds a beautiful touch of sparkle, the fiddly part is the beads. Now you are supplied with a beading needle and enough beads to loose a few, and you are told to work the beads last, but since I've never in my life put the beads on last I found the beading needle rather cumbersome. I like to see it being completed as I move from section to section, it's also why I backstitch as I go and ass metallic thread when I come to it. If you're like me, I suggest putting both needles to one side and using a sie 28 tapestry needle. It's small enough to get through the beads and still useful for working the threads.

Now as you can see, mine has a few creases in it that have appeared through the fold of the fabric, and working it, but these will all come out with a good wash and dry, something I'm not going to do until names and dates have been added. That's getting done closer to the time though. And yes, there is an alphabet included in the design so that will be rather easy to do, but I just don't want to. The wedding I bought it for isn't happening for a while yet and with the main body done it's now going in the drawer to wait until closer to the day. Bit silly but I think it's bad luck to add names and dates too soon, plus it makes me feel more involved if I wait until closer to the time.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Hello kitty pin

It's been a while since I got the plastic canvas out, but my cousin Millie just turned nine years old, and plastic canvas is perfect for children and my dear little Millie is no exception. She's bright, funny, adorable and her favourite character of the moment is Hello Kitty. In fact not only is her birthday party following a hello kitty theme, but last time we went to town together she spent half the trip asking for random hello kitty items and if her big sister could draw her a giant hello kitty...so could we buy her sister a HUGE canvas and paint set. It didn't work, there are three of them and the "I wants" sort of become background noise.  But the message got through, hello Kitty is the new elephant in the room.

Well her main birthday present is a hello kitty onesie which will look so cute on her! But this is me...and why go store bought when I have enough time to go hand made? So hello kitty was plotted out and stitched on plastic canvas. There she is to the right, roughly 3" wide and 2" tall.   So here's how we do it:

Choose your design carefully, too large and it will look odd, too small and the design won't really work. Also remember that plastic canvas comes in different sizes, so play around until you get a good size. I used 14ct canvas and went for 3" because it's a nine year old and hello kitty. It's a good size for both.

Once you've done your stitching you need to cut your design out. I always do this quickly, which leaves you with rather uneven edges, but it does mean I can put the canvas sheet away quickly.

Step three is quite simply, neaten your edges.

Step four is to back the pin. So place the design over the felt and using a thread colour that's already in your design, sew the felt into place. Since my design is mostly white I chose white felt and a white thread and just went over the top arms of my cross stitch, this made the sewing thread invisible against the embroidery thread and even if I went over the cream stitches it doesn't show up. Then simply cut the felt out to the same size as the canvas.

From here you can attach a second colour felt for an outline if you would like. I chose not to, but it's always worth playing around and seeing what effects you can achieve.

Finally you will want to attach a pin to the back of the design, again I've taken the thread through the felt and over the top arms of my cross stitch to make it extra secure. Then fasten off your thread and you've got a pin!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Appletree Vest

I picked up this book on a trip into York, naturally it rained and my husband and I eventually took shelter in a bookshop to both keep dry and rest our legs since neither one of us knows York and we spent most of the day just wandering around aimlessly trying to find a button shop. The book attracted my attention because there was a little boy on the front cover and it is obviously filled with toddler sized items. Now I don't know about you guys, but I have such trouble finding cute boy knits in toddler sizes! So I snapped it up.

Designer: Nikki Van De Car
Pattern: Eli Vest
Available from: What To Knit The Toddler Years
Price: £14.99
The Eli caught my attention for several reasons. First and foremost being that it is for a boy and the correct size. But also, it's knit in one piece, has no sleeves, requires buttons and has an interesting texture. The button thing is important because my aunt handed me a pack of six apple-tree buttons that she'd bought for me when I was that age and asked if I could make something for Alex using them, and here it is!

I used a cheap acrylic from Hobby craft simply for ease of washing, it's nice and soft, yet durable and easy to care for, which I think is very important when we're talking active, male toddlers. Sadly the yarn I chose doesn't show the texture properly, which I kind of like. I know I shouldn't, I know I chose the pattern for the texture, but the subtlety of it in this yarn is possibly better.

Now the herringbone stitch that is used throughout the design means that this is actually quite slow to work up for something so small, but it gives the finished piece a much more hardy feel, it actually feels like this can be worn in rough and tumble games and still look good. There is a slight mistake on the largest size, a three was printed as a 4, but it should be obvious as you're working it. I was working the next size down and I spotted it pretty easily, the designer has now printed the errata on the Ravelry page though if you need it.

All in all, I really enjoyed this knit and will be making it again at some point down the line.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Fringed Shawl from the past

We've had patterns that have been discontinued, patterns that are currently available, so I think it's about time we had a pattern that at the time of writing this post is not yet available. This comes to you in the form of a test knit, which is what happens to good knitting patterns between them being written and them going public, it helps get the formatting right and clears up any errors.

Designer: Kimberly Dominic
Pattern: Granny's 1930s Shawl
Available from: Ravelry
Price: TBA
This pattern appealed to me because it's been backwards engineered from a shawl that was knitted in the 30's (the story of how that happened is actually included in the pattern), and as such has a wonderfully vintage feel to it. Unfortunately for me, the pattern is incredibly easy! Most of the pattern is done in garter stitch with a YO here and there, followed by a simple lace pattern and pretty fringing. So why is that unfortunate? Well, quite simply put, I wasn't engaged. I LOVE the end result but I was bored knitting it. I would, however, strongly recommend it to someone a new knitter who might find it a bit more engaging.

That being said, I really don't want my lack of engagement to put you off because this is such a pretty, vintage looking shawl that is incredibly easy to knit! Although if you have a child on hand I strongly recommend giving them the scissors and allowing them to cut your fringing. It takes a LOT of 11" scraps to put that fringe on and I had to keep putting it down, which says a lot because that's one of my favourite things about this shawl!

I worked mine in a red wool for authenticity. I don't know what colour the origional was worked in, but it was wool and that would have been the yarn of choice in the 30's and 40's, so if I want to wear it to 40's events it had to be wool. I chose red to go with a hat.