Thursday, 15 March 2018

WATG Crochet and other WIP's

I have embarked on a mammoth crochet task which I have always wanted to achieve: to crochet a dress for myself. I have started on the 'Hot in Here' dress in duck egg blue tina tape from Wool and the Gang. It is from their new 2018 Spring/Summer collection.

The kit comes with yarn, pattern booklet, label, needle and a crochet hook. I must admit to not getting on very well with the wooden hook especially as the yarn is flat. I swapped to one of my own metal ones and it was a much smoother ride. The square below is my first one on the wooden hook, however the following five on the metal hook are a much better tension.

The blocks are a combination of double crochet, treble crochet and double treble crochet which makes quite a large block. I need 32 of these to make the tunic/dress. This is obviously a dress that has its occasions - mine will be for poolside wear on holiday. I know Tina Tape is lovely to wear against the skin because I used it here.

My other WIPS include the excitement of getting some of my quilt together. It is a fabulous concoction of colour, just what I wanted it to be.

A by-product of this dresden star quilt is another quilt in the making - less floral, more geometric. I have a shoe box of off cut strips from my big topper. When our evening dinner is cooking I can make one in 20-25 minutes. I have made seven without really thinking about it. Sometimes I make one while I wait for the girls to settle down to sleep. It stops them bickering in the next room when they know I am next door with half an ear out!

I have second sock syndrome on these socks. I am finding new things to do instead cracking on with sock number two but at least they are cast on.

There is also some intentionally slow knitting. Moss stitch is not the speed machine I am used to but comforting nonetheless. This Beatnik sweater has a deadline of Winter 2018 so plenty time for me to grow to love it, pick it up, put it down, take a break, have a mad week on it - that kind of thing.

I am also sneaking in a little baby knit for my cousin who is having a baby soon. This project has that will-I-have-enough-yarn about it feel but I am pressing on.

Will keep you posted. What WIPs do you have on the go?

Monday, 12 March 2018

Really Cross Stitch

A little stitching was in order. My shoulder was a bit sore from knitting so it needed a rest. My bestie bought me this book for Christmas:cross stitch with feminist slogans. I chose this one...

For me, it reflects my tenacity to learn something new. I have persevered with sock knitting for the last two years and now I can make patterned socks and really enjoy the process. I have a persistent character - I am a capricorn. This little slogan is on my sock knitting bag ready to pick up and knit wherever I go. I find it a really motivating phrase.

The threads are from Helen Phillips which I thankfully won in a giveaway. They matched well with the colour palette of the design. Maybe the slogan represents entering giveaways too!!

Thanks for dropping by. Jo xx

Friday, 9 March 2018

Arielle Skirt

This pattern has been around our house for a long time. It required just that little bit more thought for cutting out especially as I wanted a lined version so it always fell to the bottom of the pile. 

The fabric is top quality. It was given to me last year in a donated bag from a colleague's elderly mother but I tell you what, she spent money on this. It is called 'Modern Buchanan' and is the softest of wool tartan. There was enough to make the short Arielle version and have some room for pattern matching. 

really have come to enjoy pattern matching, it presses the button for my inner sewing geek. The buttons are vintage ones given to me as a gift in a jar and they are perfect for this smart look. If I am honest, I planned the whole skirt around these five buttons!

The skirt has a lot of pieces including all of the facings so lining it makes for extra pieces to cut out and label but the finished result it very fine indeed. Perfect for Sunday Lunch out.

In my opinion...
I am tagging this one as one of my 2018 resolutions. Tilly and the Buttons are one of the best independent pattern houses. The instructions are photographed; clear for beginners but not too onerous for intermediates; no tracing is required; the pattern is on thick paper so it will last a long time; seam allowances are included and the packets are not over complicated. Because of the paper quality, the price feels just right. The modelling imagery has developed in a way that feels much more diverse than it was in the early days - I like this too. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Fixing - An heirloom blanket for a friend. This blanket of 756 squares is over 50 years old and I admired it on her kitchen chair. I said,"you ought to fix that hole." She said, "I don't know how to." and the rest is history as they say. I fixed 23 squares. Make that 32. In the end I darned 41. It took me 3 hours. 4 hours 5 hours... you know what I am saying don't you.

I had to make a new centre for this one and graft it in.

Drinking - Tea to keep warm

Cooking - in our new tidy kitchen

Eating - cottage cheese, I had forgotten how much I liked it

Wanting - to turn the news off

Deciding - how to dog proof the garden...again!

Making - Cast on the Beatnik sweater and tolerated the twisted rib.

Considering - doing a moss stitch back and the cable detail on the front only (chicken!)

Wearing - my Ankers sweater a lot 

Enjoying - My double Amarylis

Wondering - what to plan for the Easter Holidays

Watching - the changing moon phases

Thinking - I am lucky to have a designated sewing space

Disliking - the accumulation of family house clutter spread over three floors

Loving - the random fabric combinations in the huge quilt I am making

 Buying - two new bath towels, my first for 20 years. Who the heck is paying £67 for two towels?!

Getting -  my fabric stash down to a manageable collection

Feeling - ready for winter to end.

Thanks for taking the time to read my random musings.
Jo xx

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Snow Day Quilting

The good thing about patchwork and quilting is that it keeps me on the sewing machine but stops me making clothes which, if I am honest, I don't essentially need. I am not saying I don't love making clothes but I have plenty.

196 blocks made and in groups of 4 ready to sew into larger star blocks. Some are cut out but not sewn. I had a final tally up yesterday which was a snow day and I need to cut out 21 more to get to the final number of 252.

The last few were the hardest to cut. I was running out of fabric scraps and I didn't want pattern repeats in each block so rather than batch cutting out the last 20 I selected carefully to ensure the colours and patterns would be spread out evenly: quilt sudoku if you like. 

Next I started to sew them together. I knew they were not massively accurate but the overall effect would be a riot of colour which is the look I am aiming for. I am going to add buttons to the quilt in the centre of each star to help me quilt it together.

I did think about having this one professionally quilted on a long arm quilting machine but I wanted to use our existing IKEA quilt as a base to save money and not waste materials. I thought a company might sniff at bodging a quilt to a topper on their expensive machine so I have decided to fathom out a method myself. It is what makes my craft mojo happy.

A couple of snow days was just what I needed to get on top of this. I am ready in earnest to start making the 4 patch blocks. Whoop!

Thanks for checking in. Stay safe and warm. Jo xxx

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Ankers Sweater

My Ankers sweater is finished;what a quick and easy knit with perfect sizing. It is a petite pattern therefore I made the largest size. I held 4ply yarn double on 4.5mm needles for the body to get the gauge. The yoke is super stretchy so it feels so comfortable. I knit the sleeves on 5mm DPN's to make them extra stretchy too.

I started it on the 10th January and it was on my back by Sunday the 20th of February after an overnight wet block which loosened up the whole feel of it. The pattern is top down meaning I could try it on and get the exact sleeve and hem length I wanted creating the perfect fit. 

It is warm, really warm, to wear. I used 500g or 1720 metres of yarn. It is Araucania Luxury merino blend 4ply which my neighbour gave to me because she has been suffering from carpal tunnel in her hand so she has stopped yarn work. She shifted some wool over to me - very nice it was too! I kept two yarn cakes in my basket and pulled them from the middle which was a good way to stop the yarn snarling up.

I made one modification. I have big hips and I don't like sweaters stretching across my widest part so I achieved the length I wanted and then spilt it front and back on straight needles. I continued to add a few more rows in stocking stitch then finished with the rib making little side splits. 

This is a great pattern. It has only recently been translated into English. The raglan shaping is not totally clear but if you click on my project on ravelry I have given details of my version of this part of the sweater. I made it as easy as possible. If I could swatch it again with some aran, I would give it another go in the future.

Thanks for stopping by. As warm as this sweater is, I was freezing today; stay warm out there. We are expecting snow tomorrow and Friday in the Midlands. Jo xxxx 

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Kitchen DIY

During the new year winter months, I always think it is a good idea to get a house project underway. We needed a kitchen and utility makeover. Our white units had chips in and the coating had turned a yucky yellow. We tried cleaning it all but that didn't work! Our second thought was to buy new doors but IKEA don't make this sized kitchen anymore which left us with a dilemma with a surprising lack of options other than to buy a whole new kitchen even though there was nothing wrong with the functionality of the old one. 

Then one day at the start of January I saw some spray paint and decided to see if we could spray the doors. I didn't have high hopes if I am honest, I thought it might look a bit of a bodge but it worked brilliantly. It was not an easy task for us because we do not have a garage so we had to keep taking a few doors at a time to my mums garage and spraying them there. The dog had to be in the crate because while we had the doors off he would have eaten the contents of our lower cupboards!

Slowly but surely we replaced each door. Each one sugar soaped before spraying with three coats. It dried in 20 mins so it wasn't too bad. Next up my very own handy Andy fitted new work tops which we bought from IKEA. It lifted the whole kitchen and made everything on the worktops look so much nicer.

Lastly the tiles. As with all of these types of jobs, the more you do, the more something else looks tatty. The blue and grey started to look a bit overwhelming so I bought some tile stickers from Etsy to brighten up the tiles and the gap in between the units. More sugar soaping and an hour later, it was the finish we needed; the illusion of new tiles.

The final piece of decor was a giant wall art sticker reading 'kitchen - tasters required'

So if you are thinking/dreaming you need a new kitchen try out some of these revamps to save your pennies. This is what we used:

Rustoleum Spray paint £7.50 x 5 = £37.50
Etsy Tile Stickers £17.00 per pack of 24 x 3 = £51.00
IKEA Worktops £86.00 x 3 = £258.00
Etsy Wall sticker = £18.00
A new extractor fan = £52.00
Screwfix LED light strips = £20.00

TOTAL = £436.00 You could add a zero on the end of that if we had bought a new kitchen and it was great not to have the upheaval. It feels good to use the hyperbole, 'we did it 10 times cheaper,' and actually achieve it.

A bit before:

and after:

One very well timed winter job. I have read about other bloggers who are feeling the need to freshen up at this time of year. 
What do you think?

Jo xxxx