Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Knitted owl lavender bags (and a Merry Christmas!)...

Well amazingly my house is clean and tidy (well as tidy as it ever will be), presents are wrapped and my to do list is pretty much ticked off...so I thought I'd treat myself by writing a quick blog post to share one of my recent knitting projects with you! I was sure I would have to wait until after Christmas to get this up as it feels like life has been moving at 100mph recently.

These knitted lavender bags are a Christmas gift for my Nana and the first pattern I have ever followed. They were just too sweet to not make! As the owls were coming together I kept thinking while I was knitting the stocking stitch something just wasn't quite right about it. It was only when I moved onto knitting a scarf that I realised that I had actually been knitting through the back of each stitch for the whole of this project. Oops! It would seem right now that anything I knit has at least one quirk to it but often multiple!

Knitting pattern - Owl lavender bag from Cute and Easy Knitting (there is so much I want to knit from this book!)
Yarn - Sirdar Country Style DK
New techniques tried and learnt - following a pattern, increasing and decreasing stitches, mattress stitch...and I guess knitting through the back of a stitch ;)

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year - my friends write a wonderful and inspiring blog called Saltwater and Honey. Lizzie has written a beautiful post about why Christmas was never meant to be perfect...this time of year isn't always easy and sometimes the pressure can build up around getting everything ready, anyway, I would really recommend reading it...click here.!

Merry Christmas, see you in 2015!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Blogger of the month...

I'm very excited to share that Black Sheep Wools have chosen me as their November blogger of the month. Considering their expertise when it comes to knitting and sewing (they're a gorgeous yarn and fabric shop), I feel a little undeserving to say the least!

They've featured a little Q&A with me on their blog so do head over there if you fancy a read :) They also kindly gave me a gift voucher for their shop - I think I know what I'll be spending that on! Oh yes - the blanket of course! Thanks for your comments on Facebook - that and chatting with my Mum has helped me to make a decision - I'm going chevron :)

Have a great day!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Choices, choices, choices...

I'm loving my current Christmas knitting frenzy and hope to have a few things to show for it soon - I'm just finishing up some cute owl lavender bags and am about halfway through a scarf at the moment. I still have a couple of other things I'd like to knit before Christmas so here's hoping I've not been too unrealistic about my abilities!

Despite my current projects I can't help but jump ahead to what I'd like to knit after Christmas...a baby blanket for our baby! I'm due in February so I'll need to crack on if I'm going to finish the blanket in time...I just can't decide what pattern I like most! I feel quite confident now with the basic stitches so I want to choose something that will challenge me a little, whilst it still being a project I can easily complete - I know there will be tears if I get halfway through the blanket and realise I've made a mess of it!

Here are my current front runners -

I do love my chevrons, especially in the form of this cute blanket by Espace Tricot, the pattern can be found here on Ravelry.

I like the idea of having a go at using multiple colours but this blanket by Nancy Hearne is so lovely in it's simplicity.

This was the first blanket that caught my eye, mainly because in my complete amateur knitting brain I imagined that a 'holey' blanket would be quicker to knit??!! Please tell me if that's true! It's by Pickles but there are quite a few questions in the comments to clarify the pattern so I'm not sure this should be the blanket I make with my time limit!

We don't know whether we're having a boy or girl so I want to make sure it would suit either - I'm thinking I'll go with shades of turquoise and grey.

I would love to here what you think about these patterns - especially those of you who knit and have an idea on how achievable these would be for me! Also - please do share any favourite baby blanket patterns that you have!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Simple crystal pendant...

I've talked before about how my style seems to have been simplifying over the last couple of years. Somebody I work with was surprised when I told her I made jewellery because apparently I never wear any! That's mostly because I don't see the point of trying to jazz up my work uniform (hey there tunic and bottle green trousers!) but even outside of work I find I don't really wear that much jewellery, normally just a necklace or earrings. I have accumulated a lot of statement necklaces over time but sometimes I just want something a little more dainty. When I was shopping for beads for my shop plans (which are currently on hold) I spotted this pretty 10mm tourmaline vintage Swarovski crystal which I just had to buy for myself :)


If you have made jewellery before then the picture is probably all you need to recreate this pretty necklace. but here's a little step by step in case you're new to it...this is the perfect project to start with :)

What you need:

I had a ready made chain and eye pin to hand so I used these. If you don't have an eye pin then just use wire - you just need to make an eye loop before adding the beads. Also if you don't have a finished chain to hand, all you'll need extra is a clasp and two extra jump rings. I use flat nosed pliers to bend wire at sharp angles and round nosed pliers to 'roll' the wire but round nosed pliers would do both jobs adequately if you don't have both pliers to hand.

1. Add the beads to the eye pin and bend the wire 90 degrees with pliers.

2. Trim the excess wire to 1cm.

3. Make an eye loop with round nosed pliers to close the wire (learn how to make an eye loop in this previous post).

4. Find the middle of the chain and cut in half. Use the jump rings to add the pendant to the chain. If you're not using a ready made chain then you'll just need to add the two jump rings and clasp to the other ends of the chain.

And that's it :) Despite wearing green every day for work it is still one of my favourite colours so this is a perfect splash of colour for me to add to any outfit!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I did it! I finally made a quilt!

So my 'passion' for learning how to quilt was one of the ways I first justified buying my sewing machine. 4 years ago. I even bought a couple of quilting books and pinned plenty of beautiful quilts for inspiration but I failed in the one really essential part of quilting- that is actually making a quilt.

But September was the month it happened (and November is the month I finally do my blog post on it!). I can't believe it but I have finally made my first quilt! I'm relieved to say I also enjoyed every moment of it as well so I'm hoping it won't be the last I make! I've spoken before of how I tend to be drawn to crafts that can be completed quickly as I do tend to get bored and forget about projects that seem to go on. and on. and on. I can't help but feel as though I miss out on the process of 'making' by being focused on the end project so I have tried to challenge myself to stick at some longer term projects - my aim being to just enjoy the therapeutic nature of being creative. Knitting is one way I have tried to challenge this and quilting seemed like another good option - given my apparent dedication to it all those years ago!

 A close friend of mine was expecting her first baby and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally get down and learn how to quilt. Making it as a gift was also a good way to stop me from thinking 'oh it'll be fine' and take silly shortcuts that, let's face it, hardly ever work out.

I have a couple of books with patterns but after browsing Pinterest I decided to work out my own pattern inspired by this quilt by Whitney Deal. This was perfect for me because it helped me to learn and practice a basic but useful tool in quilting - half square triangles - in fact I made 120 of them so I feel fairly confident now!

I have no intention of teaching anyone how to quilt as I don't really have a clue - but I thought it might be helpful for anybody else thinking of having a go for me to share what I found helpful along the way...

1) Enjoy the process - it felt a long time before I actually started 'quilting', what with cutting out 120 squares, sewing them together and cutting them up to make 120 different squares, then measuring and squaring up the squares, pressing fabric, working out the design and then piecing it together. But I surprised myself by just being able to enjoy each step. Don't rush through the early stages, which leads me to the next thing...

2) Accuracy is key - I am guilty so often of rushing or skipping stages and making things up as I go...generally things do work out but I'm so glad I didn't do this here! Measurements matter so when cutting your original squares make sure they are at least the right size but you could also cut them bigger and cut them down to size later on. I think I'll do this next time as I had a mini falling out with my rotary cutter when cutting my original squares and a few of them ended up slightly narrower than I wanted (I'm pretty sure rotary cutters are meant to be simple to use so don't ask me how I managed to complicate it!). I didn't have enough fabric to recut them so had to make do but it did mean I had to adjust my measurement of the overall squares and quilt. If they were all exactly the same size it would have made matching up the chevrons in the quilt top a lot easier!

2) I had no idea what half square triangles were until I started googling tutorials...this tutorial for making half square triangles is really clear and helpful.

3) Square your squares - this was a step I was tempted to skip but I'm so glad I didn't - maybe it should be obvious how to square a square but I found this tutorial really helpful! It really is worth the extra time to make sure your squares line up.

4) Putting the quilt together - I used the book Material Obsession to help guide me through the process of putting the quilt together. I learnt that the backing fabric and wadding should be about 4" larger all round than the quilt top - I didn't read this before I ordered my backing (I went with flannel) or wadding but thankfully I had sufficient fabric! It probably sounds silly but I also really didn't know whether I should quilt before binding or after...so just in case you're also wondering - quilt before binding!

5) Binding - Again Material Obsessions was really helpful in explaining how to bind but they recommended the traditional technique of blind hem stitching the binding to the back of the quilt. I really didn't trust my hand stitching abilities so looked for how to machine stitch. This video tutorial helped as well as Kate Haxell's Me and My Sewing Machine. She also gives a really clear explanation on how to mitre a corner...I never expected my corners to look so neat! Binding was the one place where I ended up having to make it up slightly as the binding I had bought was quite see through so I had to be creative in how to make it thick enough so that the quilt top didn't show through - the only thing it meant was that I ended up still having to hand stitch a lot of the back to tidy it up...but in doing so I discovered that hand stitching isn't as scary as I first thought!

So there you have it, my first blog post in months - sorry for the how quiet I've been. I'm not sure how often I'll be making an appearance on here over the next few months. I'm currently in a knitathon to get some presents finished for Christmas so hopefully I'll be able to share my most recent adventures in knitting with you soon :)

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