Saturday, 21 September 2013

Gifts for Crafters

A few weeks ago I made a couple of craft bags for Sam and my DD.

It was a gift for Sam's birthday and I used fabrics she's admired when I bought them.  I wanted her to have something she'd like and use because she gave me such a beautiful gift for my birthday in April.  She's a very skilled knitter so I hoped it would be handy for her latest project.

My DD had recently asked me to teach her to crochet - no mean feat as she's a lefty and I'm a righty but she's doing brilliantly.  She's making blankets for a friend who is expecting twins - the young woman I made this dress for.

I'd had this turquoise floral fabric for a while, I picked it up at a vintage fair last year.  A had her eye on it from the start and I'd hoped to make a simple top for her, even though the fabric was 36" wide I thought I could just about manage it.  However, when I looked carefully there were lots of little holes in the fabric - from being pinned for such a long time.

I'd used the pattern before for a swap gift.  It's free from Craftsy here and I'd really recommend it, it would be great for a beginner.

I now have an order for another one but I don't think I'm going to manage to make it before I go on holiday.

In fact I'd quite like one for myself - I'll add that to the list!


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Life's Selvedge

Selvedge (also Selvage)

Definition - noun
1.  an edge produced on woven fabric during manufacture that prevents it from unravelling. 
2.   Geology a zone of altered rock, especially volcanic glass, at the edge of a rock mass.

Despite having an O'Level in Geography (and boy do I age myself with that qualification), personally the only definition I'm interested in is (1).

Things have been really busy, barely manageable busy, and my sewing time has been a big, fat zero.

This is no good for me.

I need to do creative stuff, it's part of the very fabric of my being, the selvedge that stops me unravelling. 

But time has been really short and I'm rubbish at sewing in short bursts - I know the '15 minutes a day' method works for some people but not for me - I've just about gathered my wits and decided what I'm going to make in that time!

So I needed a fall back, something I could happily pick up in 5 minutes windows of opportunity.

Guess what I decided to do first ... knitting.  This is what I planned to make:

Fab isn't it? 
This pattern is available free at
Big mistake, I'm a pants knitter.  Don't get me wrong, I can cast on like a good 'un, knit and purl, cast off, sew up neatly, even cable.  My tension's fine too.  I can't do that clever kind of flicking the wool over thing like a proper knitter, I have to hold both needles in one hand and use the other to wind the yarn around - it's not elegant but it works. "What's the problem?" you ask - and it seems like a reasonable question.  Well, I can't fix it when I make a mistake - and I make plenty. Seriously, I know it's gone wrong but have no idea how to go about putting it right.  In crochet I can 'see' it but knitting stitches look like scribble to me.  Here is a real example ...

I love to make homemade gifts.  I have, over the years, knitted things for my kids.  They understand this means I love them bigger than the whole world - there is no bigger deal, unconditional love.  Knitting is torture for me.  2 years ago I decided to make my boy a scarf because he's at Uni in a very cold, damp place.  Week before Christmas I was in bed with 'flu - I needed to finish it so I struggled on.  I dropped a stitch and it started to run - I had absolutely no idea how to fix it and was desperate because my only option was to unravel the lot and start again!  There was crying (I did have 'flu so it was not my finest hour!). 

My daughter took it and drove to my Best Friend's house (20 mile round trip) so that she could fix it and then brought it back for me to finish.  True story.

So that is why my current knitting project looks like this:

Yep, I unravelled it!  But let me tell you the cast on and 20 rows
of rib were perfect - if only I hadn't started the pattern all would have been fine!
It's not going to beat me, I am totally determined to crack this knitting business but, in my current fragile state I was pushing my luck.  And, perhaps more importantly, my Best Friend is in Egypt on holiday so it wasn't practical to take it to her for fixing!

So, I've gone back to an early, crafty love and I am cross-stitching.  It is just the ticket, soothing my mind.  This is a gift I am making for my brother Yoda and his partner:

The Princess Bride in cross-stitch - genius!
My whole family are PB fans - don't quote from the film unless you're prepared to endure 10 minutes of scene re-enactments!  You can find the pattern here

I came across the patterns on Jo's blog ( - I was lucky enough to be paired with Jo during the IHOP nautical swap earlier in the year.

If you are a geek (or have a geek in the family) then you have to check out the rest of Jacqueline's cross-stitch patterns - suffice to say what you see here is the tip of the iceberg for me, I am beavering away trying to make some super secret Christmas gifts for my family.  I mean who doesn't need Doctor Who (all 11 of them) and his Tardis in the medium of cross-stitch?

Oh, and if you fancy making something super brilliant (Star Wars cross-stitch anybody?), then I've found a really great UK supplier of threads here - I bought DMC threads for half the price I could buy them anywhere else.

P and I are going away for a week, we fly on Thursday - I am so looking forward to the break.  It got a bit 'iffy', we thought we weren't going to be able to get away because of family stuff going on but now it's all organised.  We're off to Lanzarote for a week (neither of us has been before) and my wonderful OH booked a hotel right next to a bi-weekly craft market - good job we've got a generous luggage allowance!  I figure cross-stitch might not be ideal for the 'plane so I've sorted out some wool and a scarf pattern to crochet - perfect, I can practically do that in my sleep.

Finally (I will stop rambling eventually), I happened upon Barbara's blog, I have no idea how I haven't come across it before.  She is wonderful - I have literally gone back to the beginning and read every single post - I have laughed aloud, sat and nodded in agreement, and shed the odd tear.  If you don't follow her blog already I would recommend it wholeheartedly.