Archive for category Arts and Crafts

I’m Having a Knitfest

Remember me struggling with the fisherman’s rib stitch jumper?  The stitch makes a great looking fabric but every mistake shows and it’s very hard to put them right.  Anyway, having undone almost the whole thing once, I persevered and now I have a back, front and almost one sleeve so it looks as if I might have a wearable ‘slob around the place’ jumper at the end of it after all.

I need another blanket/quilt/throw like a hole in the head but I was sorely tempted by this knit along (KAL) run by Black Sheep Wools and designed by Sarah Haddon.  It’s called ‘A Day Out’ and I liked the idea of lots of squares made with different knitting techniques so I thought I’d do it and call it a learning curve.

The above example was made with one of the colour packs put together by Black Sheep Wools but it’s a merino wool which is not as easy care as acrylic and, much as I would prefer merino, any home furnishings in this house need to be as dog and cat proof as much as possible. So I tried to find similar colours in the alternative yarn (Sylecraft Special Aran) but couldn’t see a similar purple so substituted a dark charcoal.

So, full of good intentions and unreasonable expectations I joined the Facebook support group and cast on for the first of many 20cm squares.  The new squares have been introduced weekly on Tuesdays and some new (to me) techniques were involved and looked a bit scary

Week one was fun and we had to make four of these.

I finally gave in and bought some foam interlocking mats which were much cheaper than proper blocking mats – although I did treat myself to those rather cheerful rainbow blocking pins.  A lot of people don’t block at all – let alone acrylic yarn – but I find pinning the squares out to size and giving it a couple of squirts with the steam iron held a a few inches above, not touching the yarn, works wonders in getting the size right and opening out the pattern.

Week 2 was mosaic knitting which I thought would be very scary.  However, it wasn’t scary at all and I enjoyed it.  Quite difficult to see the effect in the subtle colours I’ve chosen (I have lots of crochet blankets in bright colours so wanted a change) but this square proved to be my undoing in the process of trying to keep up in the KAL as we had to do eight of this particular one and I just don’t knit that fast or that often.

So, once I made five I decided to come back to this one and carry on with the following week and, up to now, have managed at least one of the new blocks released each  week just to try them and give myself some encouragement and will go back and finish the others in the fulness of time.

Here’s week number three’s square, a pretty lacy sort of design.

Week four looked very scary but it turned out to be one of my favourites and was actually quite simple. You make the inner cabled square and then, one side at a time, pick up the stitches on each side and do the stripy garter stitch to make it into a 20cm square with the inner square on point.

I was also happy to see my charcoal coloured yarn introduced into the three colour mix as there are only  three colours and I was getting fed up with only using two.

I love this mosaic square for week five.

Week six was a bobbly pattern which involved a different technique than the usual one for making bobbles which some liked, some didn’t, There have been quite a lot of mavericks on the Facebook group going off in different directions or substituting different blocks for the ones they found too difficult or just not to their liking,

Week seven was one some people weren’t keen on,  It could be worked flat or in the round – I’m not keen on circular needles so did mine flat.  It was quite fascinating the way it started off with a lot of stitches then gradually decreased in a clever way until it looked all frilly on the needles.

Then, when you cast off, and after sewing up one seam, it turns into this square.

Clever eh?

Fascinating to make but it’s not my favourite and we have to do eight of them.  I’ll probably make four and do a different pattern for the other four – somebody on the FB group has come up with one that looks nice so I’ll use that, I’m not proud.

Anyway, this is where I am up to so far.  Long way to go  but there’s no rush.

Which is just as well because now I have my knitting mojo back I bought this….

to make this

and this

to make this.

What am I like?

That second pattern with the star in relief wouldn’t have caught my eye if I’d just seen the pattern leaflet but, when I went to the local ‘town’ the other day, I noticed there is a yarn/fabric/haberdashery shop – Glory Be! – and they had the finished article in blue on a mannequin in the window and it looked really good. So it is now in my ‘knitting whilst watching (although nothing with subtitles)’ queue which has to be simple knitting otherwise I go wrong.  Those squares have to be done with concentration so have to be ‘fully conscious during the daytime’ knitting and that’s probably why I’ve fallen behind.

The only thing is, I have taken up a whole bedroom in the new house as my workroom and I tend to knit downstairs so Mr. Tialys is starting to doubt the wisdom of that decision.  This means I have to get back on to that sewing machine but I really do have too many clothes already and my patchwork mojo is decidedly absent at the moment.  I have made a few new items for my Etsy shop but, since the ‘B’ word and the ‘P’ word (Brexit and Pandemic) I’m only selling within the U.K. so my audience is limited and, therefore, so is my enthusiasm for it.

Not to worry – I find that, unlike fly-by-night crafts I sometimes indulge in, my regular enthusiasms are on a constant turnaround  – what happened to my dog portraits for example? I would do those in my workroom.  I’d better get back to them at some stage as I have the national collection of wool fibre in assorted colours – probably enough to make a life-size dog, let alone a 2D ten inch square portrait.

I got up at 6a.m. this morning – the sunlight glinting off the frost woke me up – but I wrote this post instead of knitting another square.  Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong.

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Scraphappy Day April

Making things from scraps again this month and, although Mr. Tialys features again – 🙄 – I’m determined not to let him hog the whole post this time and, anyway, I think his contribution has been entered in a previous Scraphappy by somebody else.

Anyway, without further ado, plant pots were some of the many things we left behind in France which may or may not eventually arrive here but probably not.  Mr. T. ordered in some fibre pots which will eventually break down and, although he did give in and buy a pack of plastic ones the other day, the seeds needed small homes.  We’ve saved up the cardboard inner tubes from the loo rolls and Mr. T. manipulates each one into two small seed pots.  At first he was snipping around the diameter of the bottom of each half and folding them in to make a base but found this made quite a shallow pot so now he leaves the bases open and puts them in a tray with a layer of compost in it so that the roots grow into that which then makes it easier to pick the whole plant up and transplant it.  Apparently.

Here are the nasturtiums in their little loo roll homes.

So, enough of Mr. T.’s projects, I also have a contribution this month.  If you remember, I made a wigwam shaped peg bag a little while back and thought I’d make another.

‘But that doesn’t look like much like a scrap project’ I hear you say and you would be right.

I did, however, have scrap left from making the peg bag and this is what I made with it.

Which, I believe, is an excellent excuse for couple of doggie photos.

Kerpow bandana modelled by Stan.

Going grey now – he’ll be 11 in June – but still my handsome boy.

LAST MINUTE EDIT:

Just before ‘going to  press’ Mr Tialys had to have the last word 🙄

Remember all that wood and other old toot that he got off of the bank in the garden?

He just turned it into this

The roof protection is made from a bit of old butyl pond liner also found on the bank.

Then he climbed up the willow tree to position it.

Ready for the blue tits to find if they haven’t found accommodation already.

So, he trumped me again.

Show-off.

Scraphappy Day is organised by Kate & Gun for anybody who wants to make new things from scraps of any kind – doesn’t have to be fabric or yarn.  Here’s a list of participants – both regular and occasional – if you want to have a look at the sort of things you can do with scraps.

Contact Kate or Gun (first names on the list) if you want to join in.

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A Saturday Evening Treat And A Project Fail

Yesterday evening there was a beautiful rainbow forming a perfect arch over our garage and the end of the garden. Sometimes they don’t last long so I took a photo on my phone rather than go and search for the ‘proper’ camera.  I couldn’t fit the whole arch in so this is just the first half.

It cheered me up – I was a bit fed up as my recent jelly roll rug project didn’t go to plan.

It was all going so well……

…..and then it all started to go horribly wrong.

Despite taking it over to the ironing board fairly regularly and making sure it was all laying flat, the dreaded waviness had taken over – I think caused by joining the last few rounds too tightly.

I undid the last couple of ‘go rounds’ twice, painstakingly unpicking all those zigzag stitches, and tried to re-do them but I still couldn’t get it to lay flat even after steaming the hell out of it and laying it under a weighted flat board.

So, I decided that life is too short and I could use a smaller rug anyway so I just undid the strips until I reached a point where the rug would lay flat, or flattish.

(Ooh! Bright! This is on my bathroom floor.)

It fits quite well under the little vintage dressing table in the, as yet undecorated, spare bedroom.  (She says to explain the marks on the wall but it is true – we haven’t done much of anything inside the house as yet.)

So all was not lost .

I do have two more jelly rolls in my stash but, although I enjoyed making this (until the last bit) and it’s a new and different project under my belt, I’m not sure I’ll be going there again and, anyway, I had a job even finding a place for this little rug so I don’t need any more.

Anyway, the rainbow was a treat – much deeper in colour than I could capture on my phone – and here’s the other side of it slicing through our old oak tree and dipping down into the field beyond

Have you compromised on a project just to get it done with or are you a determined perfectionist?

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On a Roll With The Jelly Roll

I know some of you like to see progress reports for projects and, although it’s something I don’t usually think to do, this jelly roll project is going so fast I thought I would.

I got off to a very rocky start.  I followed some advice on a YouTube video to made an oval shape for the centre in order  to help make getting round those first few curves a bit  easier.

As you can see, it didn’t work for me.

Then, disaster struck and my sewing machine decided it didn’t like doing the zigzag stitch as a zigzag stitch should be done,

I undid it all and started again.

I switched from a walking foot to an ordinary one and cleared the feed dogs of accumulated years  of lint and fluff.  I suspect it was the latter which proved more helpful but I haven’t bothered to put the walking foot back on anyway.

The ends were still curving up a little so every time the thread breaks (depressingly often) or I haven’t quite caught both sides in the zigzag I steam press the hell out of those curves.

Which seems to have helped.

You must only join the new ‘rope’ from the right hand side or you will end up with a rather large expanse of coiled fabric where there is no room for it.  Somebody else did this – and thought to tell us – so we now don’t have to make the same mistake and t will all grow out to the left and on to the raised flat surface you have provided for it.

I know it won’t be perfect in the end – the zigzag still plays up now and then and I managed to get an odd curve in the centre piece –   but I’m quite pleased with how it’s progressing.

The thread snapped (again) and, as I’d just started joining the colour change to red, I thought it would be a good time to give it another steaming and take a progress photo.

I think these would make very nice place mats if you didn’t want to  go the whole hog and made a rug.

Just as an aside, Dawn asked what Wonder Clips are.  I usually use them to hold on the binding of a quilt after it’s been machine stitched down on one side and waiting for me to hand stitch it down on the other.

Like so –

In the rug project I used them to hold the folded length of fabric and batting in place while I fed it into my sewing machine.

Hopefully, the next update will be a finished rug – I’m zipping along with it.  Then I can catch up with my knit-along project disturbed only by reaching for another piece of Easter Egg and Mr. Tialys telling me what he’s up to in the garden and what he’s done with the seven or eight bags of potting compost I  saw being unloaded from the boot of his car yesterday.

Have a good Easter break wherever you are. x

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Tight Lipped Tuesday Project Progress

Yesterday I asked you to guess what I was making with a jelly roll of fabric and some strips of batting/wadding.

For the uninitiated a jelly roll is approximately 42 x 2.5 inch strips of fabric, usually from a coordinated range, cut across the width of the fabric and rolled up into a pleasing shape like  this.

Now, three of these jelly rolls remain in my stash and, as I literally have no more room in our house for any more quilts (or crocheted/knitted blankets) and all the people I love enough to toil for hours over a new quilt already have one, when I saw a project that used a jelly roll and some batting (also in my stash), I knew it had to be done.

As two of you guessed and a couple more might have suspected the project is indeed a jelly roll rug and as I have not yet filled my house with rugs I thought I’d give it a go.

So, first step is to join the strips of fabric.  I did this with a diagonal seam as I think it is more discreet than a straight join.  Then I lay the batting strips on the fabric strips, folded the long edges into the  middle and then fold again.  I held my somewhat bulky strips with wonder clips as I fed them into my machine which I had furnished with a walking foot and a denim needle.  Then I sewed up the long, long, long (did I say it was long) edge with a narrow seam.  Some people sew up the centre of the strip but I don’t want more  thread than necessary showing on the finished rug.

I let the emerging long fabric snake fall into coils into a wire basket behind my machine like so –

– in the probably vain hope that it will be easier to feed back into the machine when the  time comes to join them all together in a big, squidgy oval shape.

I’m not actually using a pattern but have watched numerous YouTube videos on how to put one of these together so I’m hoping I’ll be fine.

One tip I learnt was to use an extension table on your sewing machine so that, as the rug grows, it will lay flat because not laying flat appears to be one of the pitfalls of these rugs.  I haven’t got an extension table so I built up the level around my machine with  a variety of filing boxes and files.

So, many fabric strips later, I have a nice curled snake in the basket.

Ready for the next stage which I will attempt tomorrow (or maybe Friday)

I’m afraid the KAL (knit along) blanket I’m supposed to be doing has met with some delay 🙄

Still, like I said, I don’t need another blanket.

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Tight Lipped Tuesday #30

Sometimes, even though I have more than enough going on already, I get seduced by a project I see online.

Especially if I already have all the ‘ingredients’.

Can you guess what I’m hoping to make?

This is as far as I’ve got.

I might be some time.

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Tight Lipped Tuesday #29

Another in my intermittent series of posts with very few words which, as you know, is rare for me and my first ‘tight lipped’ one since arriving back in England.

 

I bought my very  large self healing cutting mat when I first started patchwork classes around 20 years ago.

It served me very well until this happened.

No longer a flat surface on which to cut fabric, it had to go.

The culprit

white and teal steam clothes iron plugged on ironing board

Aided and abetted by me.

I can now attest that steam blocking knitting on top of a cutting mat – even when you have a thick felt pad in between – does not end well.

In case you had ever thought it would.

Every cloud has a silver lining however and I now have a shiny new mat in a much more cheerful green with inches on one side….

and a lovely shade of blue with centimetres on the other.

Still, I won’t be doing that again.

 

 

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Who Wants A Baggy Jumper Anyway?

Back in January I showed you a pattern for a rather comfy jumper, perfect for lockdown.  I thought I might be able to get it finished for Miss Tialys the Younger’s birthday on 24th February.

This was the pattern

This was how far I’d got with it when I wrote the blog

and this is how far I’ve got with it now.

Yes, yes, I know it’s exactly the same photo enlarged but the sad truth is that really is about where I’ve got to again  having had to start from scratch on more than one occasion.  At one point, I had knit up almost the whole thing, excluding one sleeve, knowing there were two or three mistakes but thinking they wouldn’t show.  How wrong I was.

Fisherman’s Rib.  It seems like a simple enough stitch to do – a variation of k1, p1 rib in that you knit into the stitch below (k1b) instead of the usual knit stitch – and it is!  The problems come if you should make a mistake by not putting the needle in the wrong bit of the knit stitch or, heaven forbid, drop a stitch altogether.

Not having the heart to take one of my own before ripping it all out, I’ve tried to find a photo of ‘a mistake in Fisherman’s Rib’ to show you the horror but couldn’t, even though the fact there are many, many tips, tricks and YouTube videos showing you how to put them right means I’m not the only one making them.  I tried unknitting (or tinking, or frogging) then I tried unravelling rows and picking the stitches back up again but I couldn’t get them back on the needle the right way round.  I thought I had succeeded at one point so carried on knitting but it left an obvious line through the back of the jumper and I knew I’d never be satisfied if I left it there.  Nightmare.

In the end I undid it all right back to zero and was just going to leave it.  I don’t like giving up though so I thought I’d try one more time and use a lifeline.  For the non-knitters amongst you – and heaven knows why you’d have read this far as the pants would surely have been bored right off you by now – that means threading a piece of wool through a row so that, if a mistake occurs later on, you don’t have to rip out the whole piece but only as far down as the lifeline.  Obviously, as you progress with a few inches of faultless knitting, you take out the lifeline and move it up to create a new one.

Needless to say, since inserting a lifeline I haven’t made a mistake but there’s still a long way to go and it’s last chance saloon for this jumper because, although I really like the effect of that raised rib, and I’ve been able to use stash yarn, life’s too short to grapple with it repeatedly when I could be getting on with something else.

Anyway, the 24th of February came and went with no jumper for Miss T. the Younger.

However, I’d spotted on a blog somewhere, something else I fancied having a go at so I abandoned the needles for a hook, found some double knitting yarn in the remains of my stash and made these instead which, as she’s just moved into a new flat, served as a little house warming gift too.

Ahh! I’d forgotten the more ‘instant fix’ joys of crochet.

If you are a knitter, have you ever tried Fisherman’s Rib and, if so, did you manage to get to the end of a project without tearing your hair out?

If you are not a knitter, I apologise for the non-quilting/dressmaking/general crafting/gardening/animal based content of this post and, be assured, I will be back to one or other of those subjects -or something else altogether – before too long.

In the meantime, and as compensation, here’s another couple of woolly jumpers.

Spring Lambs

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.

 

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Playing About

Sort of hard to tell from this first photo due to scale but – never fear – this is not the sort of thing I wear about the house during lockdown (or any time) to entertain Mr. Tialys and the various deliverers of parcels to my door.

Although, if that’s your thing, I won’t judge you.

Another sewing lesson took place where Miss Tialys the Younger pretends she wants to learn to sew but, in reality, she just wants clothes for her ‘niche’ doll collection and so she sits and watches me do it all or, at least pretends to.  In our last session she actually fell asleep.

I, on the other hand, was bravely struggling with teeny pattern pieces and fairly minimal instructions (no drawings, only writing 😲) but actually quite enjoying myself.

Everyone’s a critic, apparently, and she felt qualified to tell me that I’d put the ears on too close together

Although I was actually quite chuffed with it.

WARNING: Disturbing image coming up.

(He’s naked underneath and anatomically correct 😮)

In fact, I started to quite get into the whole playing with dolls thing by the end of it and my model obliged with a couple of poses.

As I’ve said before – I’m a teddy bear person myself (if anything) and have quite a collection of artist bears (from years ago) which has taken over the smallest of the small bedrooms much to Mr. T’s annoyance as he actually put the shelf up in there for books.

I cheered him up with this one though. An antique French bear too big to fit on the shelf but who consented to wearing the leather plague mask made by Mr. T. before such things were no longer a joke. 😷

Time to put the toys away now and do something more useful.

The things we get up to in lockdown!

 

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My Zero Waste Pattern Experience

I noticed a zero waste pattern for sale online last week and, despite the fact I’ve ignored all other temptations as far as fabric and dressmaking patterns go for a while, this time I succumbed.

I was drawn to the concept because I’m often horrified by the amount of fabric left over after a dressmaking project and, excited by the fact it only used 36 inches/90cm of fabric, I ordered the PDF and found some linen in my stash that I thought would be suitable.

There are no pattern pieces to print out – thereby saving paper too – and the idea is you use the whole width of the fabric and then cut it to the required length.  Then you draw the shapes directly on to the fabric according to the measurements given in the instructions – it’s a one size pattern but you can adjust within the limits of the width of fabric you’re working with.   Any gaps between, in this case a triangular section between the two fronts and a rectangular piece between the sleeves, are cut out and utilised in the construction so that there is almost no waste.

In this drawing you can see by the dotted lines where these ‘surplus’ pieces are added to the inside as facings and top stitched to make, I assume, a design feature on the back of the shirt.

Drawing showing the topstitched facing pieces from the right side of the shirt back.

The triangular pieces are used to face the side seams which I did because, although I’d overlocked the seams so they looked pretty neat already, these pieces did finish them off quite nicely.

Inside view of faced side seam

The purpose of the rectangular piece I couldn’t fathom and left it off although there is a hack to cut that rectangle in half and make two patch pockets for the front which at least makes sense rather than use it for a ‘back hem facing’ which, to me, didn’t make much sense at all.  I suppose, to be called a zero waste pattern, it is necessary to use all the pieces you cut out somewhere on the garment whether it needs them or not.

Unfortunately, I did waste a bit more fabric than intended because the linen I used was a nightmare to cut in a straight line.  Something wobbly in the weave caused it to shift off grain and I ended up having to cut off a bit more than planned just to straighten it up again.

Maybe the wobbly grain worked to my advantage for the button band though as it needed to go around the neck and a more stable fabric, cut as this was, might not have behaved as nicely around the curve.

Even though I’m only 5’3″, this is quite cropped on me but that is down to having to straighten up the shifting fabric and not a problem with the pattern.

You can’t make out the top stitching on the triangles at the side seams which is probably a good thing as I did it from the inside and the bobbin thread never looks as neat as the top thread.  I don’t think adding the rectangular piece would have brought anything to this particular party.

So, I think I made a wearable cropped shirt although I have to remember not to reach up …

……unless I wear something underneath as nobody wants to see my midriff revealed.

I might consider making this again to see what it would be like in more drapey (stash) fabric and I’d put a couple more inches on the hem.  Also, there is a gathered sleeve hack which might look quite good.  I have plenty of stash fabric to work with.

Coincidentally, I was working on this zero waste project at the same time as my good blogging friend Kate was working on one .  Unfortunately, Kate made a dress which didn’t work out so well.  We have a few followers in common so you’ve probably seen her post but, if you haven’t, you can read about it here for another take on these sorts of patterns.

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