Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Cosying Up With Needle and Thread

I think I should have been a hedgehog, or a squirrel ! I almost hibernate in winter ! I slow right down  and I'm perfectly content with quiet pastimes. Even my sewing takes on a slower pace. I've been happily hand stitching my english paper pieced Passacaglia quilt. I'm working on the second rosette which is quite a lot larger than the first. When I've finished the orange section there are still two more layers to go.
I'm really enjoying playing with colour whilst working on this. I have to admit to making a few new purchases last week so as to have more variety to play with. It's funny that, no matter how much fabric we have, we still can never quite find "the one" in our stash.

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I'm also thinking that as this is such a long term project, I could do with a design wall. I normally lay blocks out on a white sheet on the floor and then roll it up when I'm not working on them. But, it would be nice to be able to look at these rosettes often during the day and be able to swap them around as I pass by a design wall. I have an old lightweight board lurking in the garage that was once the base for a train set when my kids were young. It would make a perfect design wall, so it may get dusted off and de-spidered in the next few days and brought inside to take on a new role. 
I'm also in dire need of  decent thimble! All this hand sewing has resulted in permanent perforations in my fore finger. I can't work with one if it's too bulky. I thought I had the answer when I bought a neat little leather one. But it stretched within a matter of days and now it's constantly slipping off my finger and I'm spending more time picking it up and replacing it than I am sewing! If you know of a good one, please let me know.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Passacaglia with Mr Penrose

Woah, where did the last couple of months go? In my defence, I have been having a wonderful time with family over from Canada for Christmas. That involved lots of culinary preparations etc and then we all had a little family holiday in Yorkshire and, and, well to be honest, my little blog just didn't take priority! But things are back to normal now. My sewing room has seen some activity at last, and among other things I've started a new project!
It is a hand sewn, English paper piecing project. Perfect for sewing whilst enjoying a quiet evening in front of the TV or for snatching a few moments to work on without having to set a block of time aside (or clear enough space in the currently very disorganised sewing room!)
It's a biggie though, and I've set myself the challenge of completing it this year...yes, by the end of 2015!
The project is the last and most complicated quilt in this wonderful book that I purchased before Christmas.

The Passacaglia quilt that I'm making is the one shown on the front cover. Isn't it wonderful? Passacaglia is apparently a musical term. (I had to look it up.....I've also got to learn to spell it without checking each time!) I can certainly see lots of music in this quilt. The eye waltzes around it following the circles. I just hope my version does justice to the name.
Here is a close up of the first rosette that I've completed so far.

The pieces are tiny, and as far as I can tell, they are not a standard size, so there are no pre-cut papers available to purchase in this country. (You can buy them from the US). I've traced the templates provided in the book, and then photocopied them. I'm also basting the templates rather than using fabric glue. That may change as time goes on!
Hopefully I'll have the second rosette to show soon.
I hope you have an exciting project for the New Year too!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Little Christmas Stockings

There is still more sewing knitting than sewing going on around here at the moment, and this week I've been making these. Lots of them! There is a local Christmas craft fair in aid of Leukaemia & Lymphona Research in a couple of week's time and although I already have a bag stuffed full of crafty goodies to donate, I'm trying to see how many of these little stockings I can make before the deadline (why am I always such a last minute Larry!)
Last year I made them into a wreath, which sat over the fireplace and received no end of lovely comments. 

This time round, I'm just making the stockings. I suspect the craft fair organiser might sell them ready filled with sweets. 
If you fancy having a go, then I have a free pattern for them HERE
They are a simple design, knit flat on 2 needles. Worked in double knit yarn they finish up at 14cm (5") tall

The decoration around the top is added afterwards using duplicate stitch. It's also known as swiss darning. Why, I don't know. It conjures up all sorts of images in my head of young goatherds wandering over the mountains with the most elaborately darned socks and jackets imaginable!!
There is a complete photo tutorial on how to work the stitches included in the pattern.
There are instructions for all the designs shown above, but I suspect once you get going you can dream up whole load more of your own.


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Halloween Pumpkin Knitting Pattern

There is no denying it, Autumn is most definitely here and we are very fast approaching Halloween, so I thought I'd re-share a post from last year about these cure little pumpkin ornaments that I created.

I love Halloween! Even though my own kids are grown up, I still get in a good store of treats, put out a lit pumpkin to encourage Trick or Treaters and always give the best goodies to those who have gone the extra mile when putting together their costume.
My kids and I used to have great fun making Halloween related art and crafts projects, and I look forward to when (maybe!) I can do the same with grandkids.
All these Halloween thoughts reminded me that this time last year I designed a little knitted pumpkin pattern and posted it on the blog. I then realised that no-one is going to find it way back in the archives, so I posted it as a free pattern on Ravelry and Craftsy.
This little pumpkin is just 3" diameter if knitted in double knit yarn (a bit bigger if knit in aran or worsted) and would be great addition to a costume. You could attach one to the brim of a witches hat, temporarily sew them to the back of some mittens or dress up a Trick or Treat bag with them
I think mine will be used as table decorations this year

They only take an evening to make and the free pattern is now also in the Knitting Patterns section on this blog or you can download it HERE
Happy Halloween everyone!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Itch To Stitch

You know that feeling you get sometimes.....You have loads of projects you could be getting on with. Should be getting on with! But you have an overwhelming desire to start something else, something new. Well for me, that something this weekend, was some embroidery.
I used to do loads of it. I have an enormous stash of threads! (not very tidily stored, I might add!)

I knew I needed to re-discover the joy of selecting the colours, of stranding the thread, and listening to the quiet whisper of my needle as it goes in and out, in and out, forming those tiny stitches.
 I was wondering what I could  embroider, when, as luck would have it, I came across some Instagram photos of a Stitch Along on  Lilipopo's blog.
She is such a talented lady. As well as the drawing the pattern of this adorable little girl and her lists, she has a detailed photo tutorial suggesting stitches for the embroidery and which colour threads to use.
Before I knew it, I was downloading the pattern and tracing it onto some quilting weight cotton. I used to use even weave linen, but I didn't quite have a big enough piece of the colour I wanted, so I used quilting weight cotton instead. I traced the pattern onto my fabric with a Frixion pen. It's easy to get a nice fine line with this pen. Some people say that you can sometimes still see the lines, when you iron over them to make them disappear, but I've never had a problem.

It was such a joy to sit quietly and just stitch, purely for the sake of it. I had no plan in mind for the finished piece, I was just enjoying the process.

I love the simplicity of the back stitched outlines, the texture in the hair, and the pompom on the hat.

I only have the legs, boots and lists left to do now. I shall be sad when I've finished.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Advent Bunting Tutorial

Aaah! I know what you're saying! "Is that really a Christmassy thing already?" Well, yes, it is!
Today I'm guest blogger over at Simply Solids.
The lovely Justine wanted me to use some Christmas fabrics, and I thought: "What needs to be made well in advance for Christmas?" Well, an advent calendar of need that right from the start of December, and that's only about 9 weeks away!
This is bunting that has pockets in it so you can add little treats, one for each day.

The pockets are fastened with a ribbon loop and little button, so there'll be no peeking before the day.

You can choose to make just one length, or split it in two as I have done. It makes it a lot easier to hang on a chimney breast, door or a child's wall.

To make the bunting you will need:

7 fat quarters of Christmas fabric
Bias binding tape
Narrow ribbon for the button loops
25 small buttons
A small piece of solid white for the numbers
Bondaweb or other fusible to secure the numbers in place.

The full instructions along with templates for the pennants and numbers and plenty of stage by stage photos can be downloaded here

Monday, 15 September 2014

A Little Scrap Busting

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We are having the most gorgeous September imaginable far! So a lot of my time has been spent enjoying the sunshine, taking in the subtle changes to autumn colours and making a mental note to treasure these days. These will be the memories to get me through the dark, dreary days of winter. And of course, I've been harvesting. Every day I think I've picked the bulk of the tomatoes and by the next morning there are plenty more saying "I'm ripe. Pick me!" They are mainly being roasted along with onions, garlic and basil and then pureed down into a sort of passata, before being frozen in varying sized portions. They will be used on pizza bases, in pasta sauces and salsas in the coming months. The cucumbers have finished, but courgettes are still going strong and peppers and squashes are just about ready, so sewing and knitting has been mainly an evening activity, but I do have a few small finishes to share.
First up, some scrap busting for a good cause - 2 zippered pouches for a Leukaemia Research coffee morning later in the year.
The navy one is my favourite, and it used up the tiniest of jelly roll scraps.

The back is different to the front. It was made with the quilt as you go method. I even joined some really small pieces of wadding together with iron on tape to get a piece big enough for this pouch, so it really is a true scrapbuster!
I've also been using up some really "What on earth was I thinking!" fabric. I've been buying organic fabrics since they first hit the quilting market a fair few years ago. But designs were limited then and my thirst for organic fabric was great, so I didn't always make good choices.
Actually apart from being rather bright, (you probably need to pop on your sunglasses before viewing the next two photos!) I'm quite pleasantly surprised at how good these fabrics look once they're sewn up.

This one is made entirely from that impulse organic buy all those years ago, and there's enough of the bright pink solid to make an entire wardrobe full of dresses! This will fit a 4 -5 yr old and is the pattern is New Look 6796. It is destined for Greenfields Africa. I'm quite sure the little girl's Mum won't care how bright it is!

This is another fabric that looks a lot better sewn up than it did folded neatly buried in my stash.
It's not organic. I bought it in a January sale several years ago and it was ridiculously cheap, so I feel good now its made into something useful. The pattern is New Look 6718. I made the large baby size and added a fair bit to the length so I think it should a fit a 2 yr old or  thereabouts and again is destined for Greenfields Africa.
All in all, it's been a good week :-)


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