Welcome

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, 30 July 2014

A month of worry...

As some of you may already know/have guessed, I work in a needlecraft shop, and not just any needlecraft shop though, but the award winning Wye Needlecraft! Ever since I first discovered it in Bakewell it has been my dream job, and a few years ago I got a life changing phone call from my aunt who was just on her way out of the shop and had to ring me to tell me that they were thinking about hiring someone. I had my CV sent before the phonecall was over. I was given an interview a few weeks later, an interview that I arrived over an hour early for, much to everyones surprise. My explaination...I needed several Mill hill beads, some krienik and a couple of DMC shades, plus...you know...any charts/kits/fabric that jump out at me. Can't ask me to come to a needlecraft shop and not shop...I wasn't even home before my phone rang and they offered me the job. I was delighted!

Things only got better when I actually started to get to know my co-workers. They welcomed me into the "family" and indeed everyone refers to one of the ladies as my mum...including but of us! It was a dream come true and I have enjoyed every second! Last month we were all informed that the shop is moving in September. We weren't told where, just that it was moving, we were all invited to go with it and our jobs were secure...although how a job can be secure if you don't know where it is is a mystery to me. We were all left terrified and wondering. Sure, there's a job for us, but can we get to it? Can the "family" stay together?

Tears were shed, sleep has been lost and there's a knot in my stomach that doesn't show any sign of vanishing before the new year, all we had were tidbits of information random people had managed to glean from conversations, then subjected to hours of scrutiny by every member of staff. I became convinced that we'd be moving to Mansfield, but theories were pretty abstract and there was nothing solid to work with.

Well if my sleep was affected, you know my crafting was. I was picking up a project, listlessly looking at it and doing nothing about it. The heat didn't help either, so I don't actually have anything to show you today, but I do have some good news. On Tuesday the shop closed early and a staff meeting was called. Mansfield was confirmed as our new location. Well...good news for me as I can still get there, My journey time has tripled, my cost has doubled, but I can go with my dream shop.

Unfortunately, I think this was good news to only three people, the two owners and myself. Our family is destroyed as I think we'll be loosing half our staff and everyone else is going to struggle to get there, so I'm not sure if they'll want to follow, but I can finally breathe again, and the new shop looks amazing! I'm looking forward to the move, but I'm devastated by the separation of our little working family.

I don't even know an exact day for the move, but we get the keys at the start of September and have to leave Bakewell by the end of September. We're moving to a road called Churchside in the center of Mansfield, I hope to see some of our long term customers, but also look forward to meeting new customers who we've not seen before.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Pretties for my hair


Ok, I will admit it, I'm in love with variegated, yarns and threads alike, but I adore the effects that they can create with such minimal effort.  Especially in embroidery. In knitting you don't really have much control over where the colours go, but in something like cross stitch the possibilities are pretty much endless and I wish my photography skills could show them to you properly.

These designs were taken from issue #192 of a magazine called cross stitch crazy, but designs like this are literally all over the internet. Now once again I've got my 14ct plastic canvas out for these and if you're going to finish them in the same way I strongly recommend that you do too, anything else would just be too flimsy for this and it wouldn't look right, but once again, please note that plastic canvas does not allow for any fractionals. Luckily for me, these designs don't actually have any.


DMC #4030
Then it's a case of picking your threads and how to stitch, but don't be afraid to change things up a bit. For my butterfly I started at the top left wings and stitched in rows, I continued that pattern until the row that connects top and bottom wing and then I changed to working diagonally, the second set of wings is at a 90° angle though so the top wing had to be worked in columns and the bottom is a mirrored diagonal stitch. I started a new thread for each set of wings and a third for the butterflies body, this not only created an interesting colour effect but it helped create the symmetry that butterflies are known for both with the colour and with the pattern.  Ok, I wasted what amounts to half a length of thread doing it this way, but I think the effect is worth it.
DMC #4110 & #4215

The star has a more random colouring effect. I did the outline as a continuous line, the colour came up as the thread was designed, but the filling was more a case of a stitch here, a stitch there. The lack of actual direction gives a somewhat dappled appearance with the colours clustering together rather than going in any clear direction.

Like I say though, the point of threads like these is to experiment and have a play. Don't feel confined or afraid, you don't have to use the same colours that the design tells you, even the same brand. While I have stuck pretty close, that butterfly is supposed to be pink and have two additional stitches. Play with your stash and love your craft. Small things like these are the perfect way to try something new. I hear people say to me all the time "I usually just follow the pattern" or "I love that design, but I hate the colours so I won't stitch it" and my favourite "What is the correct way to..." and my answer is always the same. Play. Enjoy what you're doing, change what doesn't work for you. You cannot do it wrong, you can only discover, but not if you don't play.

So anyway, once you've got your designs stitched in a way that you are happy with and cut out, the next step is to turn them into something useful. Mine are all hair bands. If you want yours to be too then all you need are two things. Hair bands and some invisible threadok and your needle and scissors, then you simply sew the hair band to the plastic canvas. The invisible thread is quite strong so it will hold everything in place, but because it's clear it won't show up on your stitching either. I find this is the best method as glue tends to reduce the elasticity of the band while embroidery cotton just snaps. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Friendship

One of my friends has been having a hard time lately, unfortunately she lives so far away that I can't just go over and give her a cuddle as I would love to do. She isn't even in the same country as me and since I've not even got a passport the best I can do is try and cheer her up through emails.

Well, I was going through my cross stitch books the other day, because I have so many and I don't use them anywhere near as much as I should, and I came across this little sampler. It's nothing extravagant or fancy, it's just a simple home truth. I loved that the message was so poignant and so simple, and I think the decorations reflect that beautifully! So I decided to make it and send it to my friend.
Designer: Jo Verso
Pattern: Friendship
Available from: Cross stitch Cards & keepsakes - Amazon
Price: Originally priced at £11.95 you can now find it anywhere from £3 to £30

Now I did change a couple of things. Firstly I worked it on a sky blue, 14ct aida instead of the beige 30ct that was recommended.Why? I don't know, I had it in my stash and when I saw it I thought it was perfect, thankfully I had the right size blue, but if I hadn't I'd have gone out and bought it anyway. I can't say what it is, but there was something about it that just clicked with me. Secondly, I changed the wording colour. The light grey just didn't work for me and even before I changed the fabric I knew I was changing that. I opted for this wine colour instead because I think it suits the image better. It's a more organic colour and it stands out much without detracting. I didn't think the grey stood out enough, and to darken it you shift the focus from the whole piece to just the wording.

As always, I start in the centre and work outwards as this centres the design on your fabric and makes it easier to frame. Usually I work down and right first, just out of personal preference, but for this design I worked the wording first. From there I had a better sense of how the little country images were going to fit in and in the end opted to leave out an overly simplified blue butterfly and add that final harvest coloured border.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Summer Band

Brand: Twilleys of Stamford
Item: Freedom Echo
Available from: Love knitting
Price: £3.19
This was sent to me a while ago, a prize for being the star letter in an issue of knit now magazine, but I've been stuck on what to do with it. You see, there's only 109 yards (100m) to a ball, which really isn't a lot, so that really cuts down your options. Then there's the colour, it's this beautiful leafy emerald green with sort of a grass green speckle, it's very strong and so quite exclusive. It wants to be a bold statement piece, but my mind has been drawing blanks on it ever since I got it.

The other day we put teal streaks in my hair and while I was getting ready I passed this yarn and suddenly it hit me, this was the perfect colour to wear in my hair now. I wanted it to be a headband! The colour suits my streaks perfectly and instead of being this striking statement piece it just goes with the flow now, the cotton works perfectly too with it being such warm weather lately that I don't think I could wear any other fiber on my head!  But the pattern? I couldn't find anything I liked, so I decided to create one myself, and you'll find that at the bottom of this page, just scroll down.

So, I drew out my design and cast on. Let me just say, Oh wow was it worth the wait! Made from 100% recycled cotton this is such a pleasure to touch! It's so soft and it doesn't pass over my fingers so much as caresses them. That said, it is a very delicate yarn and it does shed a fair bit if you have to undo your work, you know like when you're designing and you get part way through and decide "Actually this would look far better if I did this instead"? Yeah. I got a fair bit of shedding going on while trying to make the tabs look right, but you know what? It recovers nicely too.So do be gentle with it, but don't be afraid of it.

Another thing to note is that this yarn gives a fantastic stitch definition, so even though I've used it for a very simple design here, it would work fantastically on something more complex.



Summer Band Pattern


You will need:
- 4mm knitting needles
- Roughly 40 yards of DK yarn
- 1 button
- A tapestry needle
CO 4
  1. knit
  2. knit
  3. k1, m1, k2, m1, k1
  4. knit
  5. k1, m1, k2, yo (x2*), k2, m1, k1
  6. k3, p3, k3
  7. k3, m1, k3, m1, k3
  8. k3, p5, k3
  9. k4, yo, k7
  10. k3, p6, k3
  11. k3, m1, k2, yo, k7
  12. k3, p8, k3
  13. k3, m1, k4, yo, k7
  14. k3, p10, k3
  15. k3, m1, k6, yo, k7
  16. k3, p12, k3
  17. k3, k2tog, k5, yo, k1, yo, k2, ssk, k3
  18. k3, p12, k3
  19. k3, k2tog, k4, yo, k3, yo, k1, ssk, k3
  20. k3, p12, k3
  21. k3, k2tog, k3, yo, k5, yo, ssk, k3
  22. k3, p12, k3
  23. k3, k2tog, k2, yo, k1, yo, k5, ssk, k3
  24. k3, p12, k3
  25. k3, k2tog, k1, yo, k3, yo, k4, ssk, k3
  26. k3, p12, k3
  27. k3, k2tog, yo, k5, yo, k3, ssk, k3
  28. k3, p12, k3
    Repeat rows 17-28  a total of 8 times
  29. k3, k2tog, k2tog, k3, yo, k1, yo, ssk, ssk, k3
  30. k3, p10, k3
  31. K3, k2tog, k2tog, k1, yo, k3, ssk, k3
  32. k3, p8, k3
  33. k3, k2tog, k1, yo, k1, ssk, ssk, k3
  34. k3, p6, k3
  35. k3, k2tog, yo,ssk, ssk, k3
  36. k3, p4, k3
  37. k3, k2tog, ssk, k3
  38. k3, p2, k3
  39. k2, ssk, k2tog, k2
  40. knit
  41. k1, ssk, k2tog, k1
  42. knit
    BO
Use your tapestry needle to attach a button to the tab that you have just bound off, and weave your ends in.

*in this instance a double yarn over is worked by wrapping your yarn twice around your right needle, however, instead of working this as two stitches on the next row you work it as one and drop the second wrap. This creates a larger hole so that you can use a larger button than normal. You can however work only one yo if you are happy with a smaller button hole.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Matching gloves

Following on from a post I made on June 11th, entitled my favourite thing, I bring you my new matching gloves! Created with the yarn left over from my pretty beret.

Designer: Anniki Leppik
Pattern: Rose garden
Available from: Ravelry
Price: Free download

This pattern has been on my to knit list for several months now, laying forgotten in an ever growing list of pretties until I went searching for something special to match my special hat. Once again I fell in love with the design and decided to stop the search and cast on.

The design itself is incredibly simple to work, using basic stocking stitch, ribbing and the most basic lace pattern in existence (making it an ideal project if your thinking about working lace in the round for the first time), but what that means is that it's perfectly suited to those special variegated yarns whose colours can get a little lost in overly complicated patterns. There's still a touch of femininity about it, but it lets the yarn do the talking and that creates a very subtle effect.

Personally though, I don't think these gloves can be called finished without adding a couple of extra embellishments. I always love the idea of adding lace and ribbons and pretty extras, but I very rarely do it because it usually just weights the item and makes it look heavy and ostentatious, rather than pretty and delicate, but with this I really think the embellishments do a LOT for the design. For mine I bought some ribbon from a sale bin, I think it was about 25p and I got enough to make around six pairs of these, the flowers were a little more expensive, each bunch costing me a grand total of 75p! So the embellishments don't have to be expensive or extravagant, in fact, I think the simplicity of my chosen embellishments goes pretty nicely with the overall theme of the gloves. Delicate, feminine, and simple.