Archives:

All posts

Making the seasons (well, most of them…)

August 17, 2019

It's been one of those weeks where I've been working flat out on orders from the shop with very little time for making anything new, although my head is always working on something, whether it's a new design or a problem to solve.  This week, most of my available head space has been devoted to a new storage case for fixed circular knitting needles, more of which next week.

Purses were the flavour of this making week,, many of which you've already seen here, but some you haven't – like this orange Harris Tweed purse, made from a twill woven by Christina's Harris Tweed:

This one is lined with one of my favourite Liberty prints in oranges and golds called, 'Patchwork Stories':

How Autumnal? Yes, it is creeping up on us, but not quite here yet!  And here's a little purse that's all about Summer in my mind:

This is Liberty's 'Small Susanna' print, the epitome of a Summer floral.  The next purse is from an entirely different dimension and is a super fun lucky cat purse:

I first made this cheery purse for a knitty friend called Helen, who loves to play Mahjong and wanted a cute purse to carry her playing money in.  I lined the purse with some red Essex linen with a gold metallic thread, which echoed the metallic on the outer print but was particularly appropriate to the playing with money theme – may her purse always be full!

I spent a lot of time on little notions pouches again this week, but I also made one of my larger notions pouches too:

This is a Rifle Paper Co fabric with a gorgeous gold metallic highlight – isn't it pretty?  You can definitely get more into this pouch than my newer little pouch, including a Chocolate power snack!

My surprise make of the week was this Liberty lawn Hesketh project bag, which I rarely make at this time of year – it's such an obviously Spring like bag and was a delight to make, as it always is – I adore this fresh green Essex Linen.  So with this make, I managed to cover three seasons in one week!

My final make of the week was something I didn't actually make but sold out of this week and I now need to make another batch:

These tea bag cases are so useful for anyone who likes to take their own tea wherever they go, which is certainly me, whenever I do go out of the workroom…  Although I make the majority of the pieces in my shop to order, for some reason, I prefer to make these in batches and have them in stock.  I do really enjoy them – the fabrics are super cute, including an Essex Linen with iridescent metallic shimmer!

My Audible reading / listening this week was still 'Daughter of the Forest' by Juliet Marillier, which is a very long book!  I have almost finished it now and I will be listening to the next in the series, although I feel rather torn about it because although I have enjoyed it, I have also gagged and sniggered a little here and there.  It is so romantic and I am most definitely not that these days but still, my younger more romantic self who enjoyed these kinds of stories so much, seems to be holding sway.  I was delighted to find an alternative book cover illustration from an Australian edition of this novel that is appropriately romantic – this is part of a Pre-Raphaelite paining by John William Waterhouse called 'Nymphs finding the Head of Orpheus'  – perfect:-)

 

All posts

Did I really do all that?

August 11, 2019

I started my series of maker's journal entries here for a couple of reasons: to get me back into the discipline of regular writing, and to remind myself what I was achieving in my chosen day job.  I'm pleased to report that I think it's working!  There have been a few moments when I've thought, "do I really have anything much to say about this week, do I really have to bother?", but I've made myself get on with it and have been pleasantly surprised to review the week's work through the writing and see just how much I have got done!  This week was definitely like that, and a lot cooler weather wise too – yay!

One major finish this week was the red lace Woolenberry shawl that I showed in its pre-blocked state last week. I hadn't thought I'd be blocking it for a while because I needed to keep my workroom available for work but, as it turned out, last Sunday was way too hot to be in there working. So having got up very early, I soaked and pinned it out by 8am and, by the following day at the same time, it was done.  I said last week that my hands and eyes don't enjoy the process of lace knitting as much as with heavier yarn weights, but they are pretty pleased with the end result!

It's a bit unusual for me to choose such a strong colour for a shawl, but I do love it and this yarn is so dreamily drapey and soft.  I'm very happy to say that I will be knitting more of these with the other two skeins I have in blue and green 😀  All details are on my Ravelry project page.

More knitting progress was made on the socks I told you about last week too.  Sadly, having knitted what I thought would be most of the foot, I tried them on and discovered that they were going to be too big for me…  This was despite me having taken the time and trouble to swatch this yarn in the round.  Not sure where I went wrong but never mind, Mark will now be receiving a pair of pretty socks for his birthday in October.  I took this photo with my phone like the one I showed last week, but for some reason, this one is truer to colour – I have no clue why!  This is one of the downsides of being able to rely on Mark to take lovely photos for me – I have never bothered to get to better grips with my phone camera, which I suspect is much better than the photos I take with it would indicate.

I've made a variety of purses this week, of varying sizes.  Having received an order for a grey Strawberry Thief Liberty coin purse, I took the opportunity to extend my choice of colours on offer in the shop:

Not at all sure why it's taken me so long to do this, but glad I've done it now – I particularly love the teal one.

I also made a Hello Kitty Liberty Japan larger sized coin purse that I haven't made for a while:

This one is going to be a 45th birthday gift, along with one of these little glass cabouchon bookmarks (the Hello Kitty reading one on the left):

The giver and receiver have been friends for 30 years, isn't that lovely?  I also love how this illustrates that you're never too old for Hello Kitty!

In the larger purse category, I whipped up a foxy wristlet:

And made the last of these yellow botanics frame clutches as I've now run out of the fabric:

I also made another little batch of Liberty pouches, although all but one has sold now:

Hopefully, I can make some more of these in the coming week.

I was delighted to receive an order for this woodland sparkles project bag this week too, as I haven't made one in a while:

Love this Art Gallery print and always love sparkles!

There was a sewing case in this week's crop of makes too and, again, something I haven't made in a little while:

I think I have enough of this Elodie Bea lawn to make one more sewing case now.  The cute bee button is from my favourite button purveyor, Textile Garden.  I think I'll be replacing this Liberty sewing case in the shop with a new one made using another favourite print, which I've just ordered – more of that anon!

My Audible listening this week is the type of novel that I would have devoured in my teens and twenties, but haven't read for quite some time:

I was obsessed with all things Irish history and culture for many years (my Mum is from County Tipperary and I've enjoyed many happy visits there).  I adored all the folklore and mythical tales, which Daughter of the Forest is very much a part of.  I still have a little way to go with this first instalment of the Sevenwaters series, but I'm really enjoying the story and will certainly be reading the next one.  I'm not that keen on the narrator's reading of this first book, but I see that this changes for the next one…

Finally, not really part of my own making week, but I wanted to share this other handmade thing with you – some delightful French artisanal soap:

I came across Natural French Soap on Instagram and as I'm always on the lookout for soap that suits my dry, sensitive skin (particularly my hard working hands). I ordered a few bars to try along with some extras for the Christmas gift box (which I always start filling in the Summer since I know the last quarter of the year is super busy).  Sophie very kindly sent me a little heart shaped Watermelon scented gift soap too, which I immediately popped onto the bathroom sink and have been delighting in all week!  I haven't put the other wrapped soaps away yet either, since I can't stop sniffing them – especially the Cherry Blossom ones – just heavenly!

All posts

Tempus Fugit

August 3, 2019

Every week seems to fly by faster than the last – I suspect it has something to do with ageing.  Mark has been away with his brother at a music festival since Thursday and I have to say that time does seem to have slowed down a little since he left, which is interesting – I'll reflect on that…

Making wise, it's been another busy week, which has been dominated by my new little Liberty pouches.  I'm finishing off several custom ones over the weekend and another crop of new ones for the shop – it really is amazing how many pretty prints in my collection are perfect to make them with ðŸ™‚

As well as the little pouches, I made several interchangeable tips bags.  These Raccoon ones have been getting a lot of attention in the shop this week:

And I made a custom one using this cute Hares print by Maureen Cracknell, partnered with Yarn Dyed Essex Linen in dusty rose with gold metallic, which seems like the perfect marriage to me.  Maureen very kindly pointed me in the direction of a US fabric shop who still have some of this hares print when I posted about running out of it on Instagram this week, and I'm now trying to decide whether I should order some.  I've had to do quite a lot of expensive supplies shopping just lately, but I would love to have some more of this print; it's just the idea of paying another chunk of customs charges that makes me dither:

More cat toys this week again too, including a box of cuddles that headed off to France for some amour de chat:

I also managed to get some knitting time in towards the end of the week and cast on the first pair of socks in a while.  This is a toe up pattern called 'Wee Jimmy' by Jo Shaw of Hardybarn Designs, which is working up so prettily in Zitron Trekking Hand Art colour 754, which is a new to me yarn that I bought from Woolstack back in January.  I never like to review a yarn until I've finished a project, blocked, worn and washed it, but so far I like this yarn, it feels soft but sturdy.  The pattern is great so far and I love the textural Garter and Gull slip stitch pattern on the foot.  I took the following photo with my phone, so the colour isn't entirely true to life, but you can see the pretty pattern:

Last weekend I also cast off a shawl called Endless Summer by Janina Kallio of Woolenberry, which is part of their 2019 shawl club.  As I'm trying to knit from stash this year, I decided to tweak the pattern a bit and use a skein of alpaca and silk Lace by Rooster, which has been languishing in a storage box with a couple of chums for several years.  I'm really not much of a lace knitter, I find it just that bit too delicate for my hands and eyes with knitting needles, but I do love how it looks and feels and I'm really pleased that I made the effort to knit this one.  Here it is in its pre-blocking state – I'm excited to see how it looks when I eventually get around to blocking it in the next month or so.  I have to block on the floor of my workroom as it is the only place I can close the door on Badger The Inquisitive Cat and that can only happen when I don't actually need the room to work in:

Audible listening this week was mostly about 'My Sister the Serial Killer' by Oyinkan Braithwaite:

I didn't grow up with a sister, but the two main characters at the centre of this story embody everything I've heard about that complex relationship!  This is a very original and engaging story about one sister who does murder and the other sister who works very hard to protect her while navigating her own life and the Lagos police force.  I did see a lot of the twists coming, but not all of them, which is always a plus for me!  I also enjoyed listening to a story based in a setting that's unknown to me and very different to my day to day life.  It's told with intelligence and humour and is a pretty short book but well worth your time, not least to listen to the dulcet tones of the narrator.

I also worked my way through the 'West Cork' Audible Original series, which is a well made and involving story.  I've listened to several similar crime podcast series like this now and I always seem to enjoy them, although I try not to look too deeply into my own psyche to discover why…  As usual with these series, there's no nice tidy ending with the killer in bracelets, but the characters are fascinating and it's somehow more engaging to make up your own mind about what might have happened:

 

All posts

Er, who turned up the heating?

July 27, 2019

I have really struggled with the heat this week, not least because my work room is upstairs in our timber framed old cottage and the sun blazes at it from early morning until afternoon, so it heats up and the walls retain the heat – phew!  Having checked the weather forecast for the week, I wasn't worried because I knew I'd do my usual thing and get all my cutting out and interfacing work done on Monday, machine stitch all day Tuesday, and then retreat to the much cooler downstairs rooms to do my hand sewing by the time it got really hot.  However, by 11am on Monday morning, it was clear that I should have ordered a new roll of interfacing the previous week…

So I bought a couple of emergency metres of interfacing which arrived on Wednesday and had more interfacing and machine stitching to do in the upstairs room on Wednesday and Thursday – the hottest days of the week at 38C or so!  I never do well in the heat anyway, but standing over the hot ironing table and sitting at the sewing machine in my little oven of a room just about finished me off!  None of this was helped by a lack of sleep due to the overnight heat and a little old man cat who likes to rise at 4am and chatter in my ear until I get up.  Complaints aside though, I was super happy with some of my finishes this week, including a little collection of Liberty lawn notions pouches:

I had been fabric swatching for these in my head over the weekend and was SO excited to get them made!  It's really a bit scary how excited I can get about fabric, but the obsession is real! 😀  I've tried hard to pick my favourite from this little crop, but I can't quite do it.  If you threatened to take my whole fabric stash from me if I didn't choose one, I might be tempted to pick the golden Capel one with the metallic lining.  Always the magpie!

My foxy purses have been popular this week again, as have cuddle whales.  The hottest Liberty purse has been this super pretty Emma and Georgina with a cherry red lining:

I also made one of these textural woven Ikat wristlet purses, which I haven't made in a while:

This is lined with a luxurious dupion silk in a rich golden colour, which I love working with.  I have some of this silk in a lilac colour too, which I haven't found a project for yet:

Among the project bags this week was this Liberty Lodden print in blue and green:

This was the last of this print apart from a small piece that's gone into my "too small to make anything very big with" box.  Whenever I make my last bag with a fabric that's still available, I always struggle with myself about whether or not to buy more of it, but I haven't decided on this one yet.

I thought that it might be fun to add a section to these weekly 'making journal' entries about what I've been listening to while I work. When the sewing machine is going, I tend to have music on, but the rest of the time, I'm listening to Audible and the book I'm listening to this week is particularly good:

Such a simple idea to look at Victorian life through the lens of the victims ascribed to 'Jack the Ripper', but nobody seems to have thought of it before!  Hallie Rubenhold has managed to explore so many facets of the Victorian woman's life by telling the stories of these five ladies lives, or what we know about them.  In documentaries and films on the subject that I've seen to date, they're portrayed as unfortunate cardboard cut out cliches, whereas each one had a very different life experience, from exhausted wife and mother, to writer and singer of ballads at executions; even if all those lives were to end the same violet way.   If you have any interest in the period / history generally, I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I have – it's so absorbing and totally focussed on their lives, rather than their deaths.

I'm looking forward to a cooler week next week and am happy to say that my new roll of interfacing arrived on Friday, so I can start the week right 😀

All posts

Neep!

July 20, 2019

This week has been a bit busier in my Etsy shop, so no progress on any side projects like my Liberty quilt, or a mini quilt that I have planned for an RSPB quilt challenge – hopefully more on that next week.

A range of pieces made over the last few weeks have shown up again this week, although there's been a spin on a few of them, plus a few pieces that I haven't made in a while – a perfect mix!  The first spin make (pun intended!) was on my new swift storage bag, made to fit a Sunflower Swift, which has very different dimensions to a standard umbrella swift, and extra pegs that needed their own internal storage pockets:

This was my very first round bottom bag, which necessitated revisiting my maths education and a reintroduction to Pi.  I really wasn't great at maths, but I found some excellent resources on YouTube and soon got my head around the drafting of a pattern and the construction process.  I have to say that I probably won't be rushing back to repeat the experience as sewing the bottom to the main body is super fiddly on a sewing machine.  It would actually have been much easier to have sewn it by hand, but I didn't know that until I'd already done it by machine…

My next spin was a custom mini pouch for a regular customer who loves a grey background fabric and asked for my new little pouch made with the same fabrics as my new Bari J sewing case that I shared last week:

So cute and a great way to use the small amount of this fabric that I have left.  I currently have a pile of Essex Linens and Liberty Lawns from my "I don't have much of this" collection on my work desk that I'm going to make some pouches with.  I really enjoy making these little pouches, although they are pretty time consuming as they need quite a lot of hand sewing.

The most popular coin purses in the shop this week were this new bunny one:

My all time favourite Fox Nap purse:

And this Liberty June's Meadow one:

I made quite a few Liberty dpn cosies too:

And on the "haven't made this in a while" list were this fun Boston Terrier interchangeable tips bag:

And several crochet cotton wash cloths:

This was a timely order as I've been thinking a lot about the whole plastics debate recently and actively looking for ways to reduce our footprint with the things we use and buy.  Things like wash cloths are such an easy swap for the more convenient but plastic laden throwaway wipes, although I've personally always preferred washing my face (or at least rinsing it) with water.  The cottons I use for these are such lovely quality too – very soft on your face and last for ages – my current one has been washed many, many times and I think is into its 3rd year of service!

I also had an order for a sewing case this week in the ever popular Liberty 'Hesketh' print, so took the opportunity to make a new version of it, incorporating some of the new design ideas I've had.  It looks very much like its usual self on the outside:

The inside is pretty much the same at the front, but at the back, I've got rid of the scissor shaped pocket and added a large slip pocket to hold the scissors, which now also have a proper scissor keeper / fob, attached via a ribbon.  The scissors are kept in place both via their position in the case and by anchoring the ribbon on a super pretty oak leaf shank button from Textile Garden:

One of the things I knew I would miss from my original design was the button closure, so using a button inside in a different way was a great way to keep the beloved button involved!  The 'fob' is actually a mini matching pin cushion, which slips snuggly into the other section of the pocket beside the scissors.  I couldn't resist also adding a little silver scissor charm to this, which is a bit of an uncharacteristic fussy touch for me, but I think I like it:

Finally, the last make to be packaged up this week is something I've been working on for a while and is a gift for a friend's little boy.  I wish I could say that I enjoyed making this character, but I really didn't!  This was my very first Amigurumi make and I learned a lot in the course of making him – the main thing being never to use Stylecraft's Special DK yarn again!  The yarn is very soft and very cheap, but I found it very splitty and very hard to see when working it with a 2mm crochet hook to create the kind of small tight shapes that this pattern called for.  On the plus side, I'm quite pleased with how he eventually turned out (several parts were re-made, attached, removed and reattached several times!) .  He does at least look like the character he's supposed to be, although you probably won't recognise him unless you have young children in your life as he's from a very charming CBeebies programme called 'Abney and Teal' and his name is 'Neep':

The pattern is available on Ravelry and gives you directions to make all the various Neep shaped characters.  Hopefully, Oliver will like him and will be running around with him shouting: "Neep! Neep! Neep!" all day on his birthday on Monday! 😀