Friday, 27 July 2012

Final Winner in the Christmas in July Giveaway

Well, after 4 weeks, we finally have four winners of the Christmas Ornaments knitting pattern
The fourth winner is....................

Paula Spautz!!
Congratulations Paula.
Please email me with your email address so that I can send you your pattern.

I'm sorry everyone couldn't be winners, but you can always purchase the pattern here

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Storybook Lane by Kelly Lee-Creel

You know that "Oh! Wow! I just have to get that!"feeling? Yes, if you're reading this blog, then of course you do!!
Well that was the feeling I got when this picture came up in the weekly email from fabricworm.
The little houses are made from two panels of fabric from the Storybook Lane line by Kelly-Lee Creel
I am a complete sucker for anything small with interactive parts as anyone who bought the Making Cards for Children Special Issue will know. I co-wrote this special issue with my son's girlfriend Laura, who did all the artwork. 
All manner of ideas started buzzing through my head when I saw this fabric.
I knew that I just had to have some  and if I was to get it before it ran out, I had to act quickly. For UK readers who are not familar with Fabricworm, it is a wonderful on-line fabric store - I defy you to find a wider range of fabric anywhere else. Yes, you have to pay international postage but you can squeeze a whole 10 yards into their Flat Rate Envelope which costs $17.50 (about £11.20), and as the fabric costs a lot less in the US than it does here it really works out about the same price as buying here - cheaper if you fill that envelope to the brim!! (Oh what hardship!!)

There are some gorgeous complimenting fabrics in the range, but I restricted myself to the two panels

as it really is the little houses and stuffies that I want to make.

Aren't they wonderful? My fabric arrived today and I'm delighted with it. The question now is, will I wait and purchase the pattern book which Kelly has produced to go with these, but is only just beginning to ship to fabric stores, or will I go ahead and design my own playsets. I think somehow it will be the latter, so expect a few more posts about Storybook Lane in the near future showing you my progress.
Till next time.......

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The sights, scents and stitches of summer

Yay!! Summer has finally arrived in the UK and in a big way here in the Midlands.
Finally I can sit in the sun and sew!
I can look fondly at all the plants I grew from seed earlier in the year.
I can sit in a chair on the lawn enjoying the feel of grass on my bare feet and stitch happily away on the latest quilt. Until that is..... I drop my needle!
Now this is problematic on two fronts:
First -  As you may know, not all needles are made equal. They may all look the same in the pack, but some become favourites, they just feel a little bit special... you know which one you like using best (or is this just me??), so it wasn't just any old needle I'd lost in the grass - it was my special needle!
Second - the perceptive amongst you will have guessed... remember I said I liked the feel of grass on my bare feet? Yep! No shoes....
So, you get the picture? I'm on my knees, nose 6" away from the grass, brushing my hands gently through it for what seemed like forever! What my neighbours imagined I was doing, goodness only knows.
I didn't find that needle. I had to tread very carefully all day long and I had to choose a new and "oh so not nearly as nice! needle to work with.

Still, I shouldn't really complain. The sun still shone. I still sat sewing (over the table this time!!), enjoying the fragrance from some freshly picked sweet peas and a refreshingly cool drink.... and my feet are still unharmed! What's not to love!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Help with Jaden Boots Pattern

This post is especially for people who are new to using circular knitting needles and are having a little trouble with the Jaden Boots pattern when they come to pick up round the cuff onto  a circular needle.
Jaden is one of my most popular knitting paterns, and I've seen some great versions knitted up by all my lovely customers. If you want to have a peek, you can buy it here or here.
However, if you haven't used a circular needle before, this can be a bit daunting, so I've posted some more step by step photos here of the bit where you transfer to the circular needle  in the hope that it helps those people get passed the scary bit!!
OK, so you've knitted your cuff and it looks like this.
The buttons will be going at the other end...(they're not sewn on yet, I've just put them there to help you get the idea)
and you need to fold it over as it will be when it's wrapped around that little ankle.

It's the right boot we are knitting, so you need the buttonhole edge on the outside of the leg, facing backwards. Fold it over so that the edge of the cuff is not quite at the centre back, and pin in place. Stand it up to check you've got it the right way round......
and place two markers, one at centre front (mine is red) and one at centre back (blue), both on the bottom edge of the cuff.
Hold the cuff with the markers uppermost and starting at the blue marker...
pick up and knit 8[8,9] stitches up to the cast on edge. (I'm knitting the largest sizer here, so it's 9 sts)
Now you start to pick up from the other side,just passed the buttonholes ....
from this edge you pick up 8[8,9] stitches up to the red marker. Note:- depending on how you folded your cuff, you may have to create two stitches from the same chain a couple of times to fit the right number of stitches in before you reach that red marker - don't worry, it'll all work out in the end!
So now you've got 16[16,18] stitches on your needle.
Next you pick up 15[17,17] along the remaining part of the cuff, back to the blue marker again - this is where that curvy circular needle is essential - you just couldn't do that on a straight needles!! - so push the stitches you've already done onto the curvy bit
so you can pick the rest of the stitches up without feeling like a contortionist!
You should now be back at the blue marker and have a total of 31[35,35] stitches.
If you push them all onto the curvy bit, you can see that you've gone all the way round the cuff, you've got the overlap for the button fastening securely joined and your start and finish for each row from now on is going to be the blue marker (the centre back of the boot).
Super clever people who are used to knitting in the round will go off and do their own thing from this point on and avoid having a seam at all, but this is written for people who want to knit the whole boot back and forth as you would if you were using two needles!
Turn your kniting so that you work back the way you've just come from
You are now at the start of Shape Instep*on the PDF pattern, ready to start Row1
I've just worked 9 stitches so far here from Row 1

Here is the whole of Row 1 completed (if you are struggling to work those stitches, just keep them on the curvy bit of the needle until you actually need to knit them.

Turn your work, ready to knit Row 2

Row 2 done! See how it sits centrally over the red marker (of which you can only see a tiny bit now as it's facing the back (pic)
Now you should be quite comfortable finishing the boot. Remember to keep just a few stitches at a time on the rigid part of the needle, so that you can work round the curve without struggling.

I do hope this has helped those people who are using a circular needle for the first time and that you now have great success with your Jaden Boots. Make sure you post me some photos on my Facebook page!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Third Christmas in July Winner!

The third weekly draw for a free copy of my Christmas Ornaments pattern was drawn tonight.........
and it goes to Christy Harris of lip_service !
Well done Christy. Send me your email details and I'll get the pattern to you.

We have one more draw left on the 27th July, so if you would like the chance to win a free pattern to make these Christmas ornaments, go to the  original post and leave a comment

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Knitted Flower Tutorial

You can crank up the cuteness factor of a simple baby hat in minutes with this quick and easy to make knitted flower. I added one to a hat I made for a friend recently and she said she was forever getting stopped by people asking where she got such a cute hat!
I've used it on several of my patterns over on Etsy and they are always good sellers. But you don't need to stop at hats.... add them to cardies, blankets, bags, purses, scarves, mittens... the possibilities are endless.

So, let's get started!  - you need oddments of double knit (light worsted in US, 8 ply in Australia) yarn and size 4mm (US size 6) needles.
Cast on 51sts and starting with a knit row, work 4 rows stocking stitch (stockinette)

5th Row: Knit 1, [cast off (that's bind off in US)  9sts] five times. You should have 6sts on your needle and your work should look like this!!
Cut the yarn, leaving a good length and thread it through the remaining stitches. Pull the yarn tight to draw them together and fasten yarn securely.

Still with me? Now we've got to make the centre of the flower. This is a fiddly little bit to make, but it only takes seconds and really makes that flower POP!
Using a contrasting yarn, cast on 2 stitches.
1st Row: Increase in both those stitches to make 4 stitches - this is where you start cursing if you've cast on too tight!
2nd, 3rd and 4th Rows - just plain knit every row.
5th Row: [K2together] twice ....... just 2 stitches left on your needle now, and almost done!
6th Row: K2together and fasten off.
See what I mean... its a teeny, weeny, fiddly little thing that you'll lose down the side of the sofa if you're not careful, but it's gonna make that flower look good!

Now, go back to the main bit of the flower and use one of those dangling ends to sew the two little ends so that the flower is circular (I hadn't done that yet in the last photo of the flower, I just placed the ends close together ... cheat!)
Now, unless you want a very open flower (and that's just fine if you do!) use that same yarn that's still on you needle (oops, do I hear you say you've cut it already...) and thread it across from one petal to the next, pulling them all in close together - still don't cut that yarn!!!

 Turn the flower over, 'cos that picture above is the wrong side of the flower and sew on the centre - you can just actually thread those green yarn ends to the back of the flower and tie them in a secure knot.
Now you are going to see why I wouldn't let you cut those yarn ends.... They're what you use to sew the flower to your hat/blanket/bag/or whatever!

If you're wondering why the yarn kept changing from white to cream, it's because I already have some photos for this tute on my laptop and couldn't be bothered to re-do them all.... lazeeeey!

If you want to make a larger flower for grown up size hats, super large totes etc, you've got two choices:
1. Use chunky yarn and very large needles.
2. Cast on extra stitches in multiples of 5, and then cast of one extra stitch, for each extra 5 that you added. So,... if you cast on 56, you'll K1, [cast of 10sts] 5 times...... if you cast on 61, you'll K1,[cast off 11sts] 5 times, and so on.
So, now I've been super kind and shared this with you, I'd like you to do something for me!! Post photos of the flowers you've made, and all the great things you've added them to on my Facebook page please!!! Thank you.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Easy Newbie Quilt Pattern for Jelly Roll Strips

Modern quilting is for busy people! Gone is the image of quietly sitting by the fireside hand sewing tiny pieces of fabric for months on end before you can see and use the finished article. Today's quilters are busy mum's having a little "me" time, piecing the quilt top by machine in the odd moments whilst their toddler naps, or people who sew for half an hour in the evening after a busy day at the office. Men quilt as well as women, and children produce their fair share of quilts too. But the gift of a quilt is as precious as ever it was, perhaps even more so!
In our world of mass produced and  designer label where you can see the same item in a chain store in London as you can in New York  a gift of a handmade quilt, which basically is unique, however simple the design, will certainly be  treasured. It will still be a household favourite long after the cute little newborn size baby clothing has been safely stored in the loft - maybe for baby number two? or sent to the charity/thrift store.
With pre-cut fabric packs and simple patterns a baby quilt can be made in a weekend or a few evenings. It's not complicated, but it is addictive! The pre-cut fabric packs save a lot of time consuming cutting, stressing over which fabrics go together and possibly making costly mistakes in the purchasing. You get all the relaxing sewing therapy without the decision hassle!
But sometimes it's hard to find just one quick, easy pattern rather than a bookfull.
With this in mind, I have started to design easy, modern, beginner patterns that use pre-cuts, or small ranges of fabrics. Not everyone wants to start an all consuming hobby, they just want a quick pattern to make one quilt.
If you are a relative newcomer to quilting or you just want an easy pattern, then you may want to check out this one that I have for sale on Etsy.
The pattern gives fabric requirements and instructions for 6 sizes of quilt:
Baby – 36"x 45", Crib – 44" x 60", Toddler/Lap – 60" x 76", Twin – 68" x 84", Queen – 92" x 92"
and King – 92" x 108"
This is the toddler size!!
 It just uses a Jelly Roll (or two if you're making the larger sizes) and some white yardage.
The instructions are carefully and simply explained for beginner quilters and there are loads of photos to help you. If you take the plunge and make one of these quilts, be sure to share a photo on Facebook
Happy Quilting!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Second Christmas in July Giveaway Winner

We have a second winner in the Christmas knitting pattern giveaway. The names were all put in a hat, my son was given the job of picking, and it is .........

Jennifer Karyn !! Well done, Jennifer.If you can email me at please, and give me an email address I will send you your pattern.
Don't forget all the names stay in the draw until the end of the month, so If you weren't lucky this time, there is still next week

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Child's Apron Tutorial

If you have been reading my earlier posts you will know that I have been making personalised aprons for two special little girls that are about to have a baby brother or sister.
The aprons are complete and ready to be shipped off to Canada, and I have made a third as a tutorial to share with you.  It can be downloaded here

I have provided two sizes of apron: 3 - 5 yrs and 6 - 9 yrs. These age ranges are very approximate however, as aprons and children vary enormously in size. If you need it longer just add a little to the bottom of the main apron piece when you draw your pattern - you will of course need a little extra fabric!

To make an apron you will need:
3/4 yard or 70cm(0.7m) of the main fabric
A piece 20x15inches (51x38cm) for 3-5 yr size
or 22x17inches (56x43cm) for 6-9 yr size for lining
15" x 3/4"(38 x 2cm) length of elastic for 3-5 yr size
or 16" x 3/4" (41 x 2cm) length of elastic for 6-9 yr size
Oddment of contrast fabric for personalising
Small piece of Bondaweb or other fusible for attaching the letters - the US equivalent of Bondaweb is Wonder-Under

The name is simply appliqued to the top of the apron. If you have never tried this before, there are detailed instructions and lots of photos to help you in the pdf pattern
There are plenty of ways to embellish your apron further - you can add a contrast trim to the top of the pocket as I did with the Julia apron or add ric rac and applique flowers as in the photo of the Roslyn apron (I think I'm addicted to ric-rac, I seem to add it to everything!)
I'm sure you'll think up lots of ideas of your own too!
I hope you enjoy the pdf  tutorial !

Till next time.... Julie

Monday, 9 July 2012

Why Quilts are So Special

Have you ever half thought of making a quilt, but decided your sewing skills weren't good enough, that you can't sew that accurately or that it would cost a lot of money and you might make a mistake?
Have you ever been overwhelmed by the feeling that you need to make a quilt that is spectacular, rather than ordinary for it to be of any worth?
We walk into quilt stores today and see designer fabrics from floor to ceiling, wall to wall. We spend hours making small decisions over whether a fabric fits into our colour scheme.
But, unless we are making that quilt purely for the personal artistic or technical challenge (and there is nothing wrong with doing just that!) then we are forgetting the point of that quilt.
It will sit on someone's bed and be loved - and the less than perfect bits will be loved just as much as the rest!
I bet you can remember exactly what your bed cover looked like and felt like as a child. I used to run my fingers through the troughs of the candlewick design on mine - it was a golden yellow colour. As I think about it I'm transported right back to my childhood bedroom and the morning sun is flooding in - it's a good feeling.
A quilt can bring much more than physical comfort. It will hold love and memories, and if it is made from fabrics that already have a history those memories will be even stronger. A quilt made and given will love will help someone through the sad times in their life and enrich the good ones - no matter what it is made of or how well it is sewn.
If this has struck even the tiniest chord within you, then sit down with a cuppa and spend the next 12 minutes watching this:
Oma's Quilt
I hope it warms your heart, put's life in perspective and makes you get out those scraps and make a quilt - not an awesomely inticate, designer fabric quilt - just something simple for someone you love, or for a charity that will give it to someone in need of some love.
Whatever you do - have a good day!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Giveaway winner

We have a winner for the Christmas Ornament knitting pattern for this week!
Number 5 was picked out of the hat, which is Cindy Farmer of Cindy Sews.
Cindy can you email me please -
and I will send you your pattern.
Don't forget, all the names stay in the competition and there will be one draw every Friday until the end of July.
If you haven't entered yet, and you want a chance to win a free copy of the pattern to knit these Christmas decorations
just follow the instructions on this blog post, leaving a message for me at the bottom of the post, and you will be entered into the next three weekly draws.

Sewing Through the Rain

I'm sure you are probably fed up with UK bloggers moaning about the rain by now, so I decided to come up with my own reasons why I'm staying positive through the rain.
I tried to come up with 10 .... errr, bit of a push that, but I did come up with quite a few!

1. It's sale time in the shops!!!! I'm not a great lover of traipsing round the shops, but its an OK activity when its raining. John Lewis has its usual awesome sale and I got all this Amy Butler fabric at half price!!!
2. I did manage to get the lawns mowed during a brief dry spell, and a nicely mowed lawn makes me feel good, even in the rain.
3.Somehow the roses have not been too spoilt by the rain, and seem to be enjoying it... there are plenty of buds still to open.

4. I still have some veggies in the greenhouse that haven't been decimated by slugs in the way all those in the ground have. Maybe a bumper crop of cucumber and butternut squash is awaiting me later in the year.
5. The rain has swelled all the berries and we have a daily feast of strawbewerries, rasperries, tayberries and blackcurrants (provided I don my wellies and raincoat to go and pick them!!)
6. My final positive, I'm afraid, but it's big enough for four!! If you can't get outside, you don't feel guilty about spending loads of time sewing!!!!
I have two aprons to make as presents for two little girls who are expecting a baby brother or sister at the end of July. As baby arrivals are by nature unpredictable I really ought to be prepared, so i've been concentrating on getting these made this week. Roslyn loves purple. The first fabric I bought wasn't purple enough, so I went all out with solid purple and brightened it up with an appliqued flower and ric rac.
The second one is still a work in progress.I'm re-thinking it. I trimmed the pocket in solid pink as I intented to applique the name in pink, but I don't think it will stand out enough. The pocket isn't attached yet, so I think I'm going to re-do it and use turquoise for the contrast and applique instead.
I've made up the pattern as I went along in the hope of being able to share it with you all... just depends whether my IT skills are great enough to be able to convert a drawn pattern to a PDF or not.
We shall see.
In the meantime, if you are having day after day of summer rain too, look for the positives! I'd love to know what your are!!!


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