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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:-)

 

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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!

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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 🙂

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:

 

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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 😀

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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! 😀

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Down the Rabbit Hole

July 13, 2019

I found myself down a sewing case rabbit hole this week, re-visiting favourite fabrics and thinking about tweaking my small sewing case design.  While tidying up the contents of one of my fabric drawers, I was thinking about trying a snap closure on my cases and I discovered a couple of small pieces of past favourite fabrics that were perfectly sized for a sewing case.  In a somewhat nostalgic mood, I started with a classic re-make of this Tilda case, without any changes to the design:

This fabric was used for one of my early sewing cases and for this latest one, I even used the same coconut shell button as on the original.  The only change from my original design is that I now knit the lurex closure loop, whereas I used to crochet it.

Next up was this lovely Bari J design, which I've used a number of times on larger custom cases as an accent print, but I never made a standard small case with it.  Looking in my button box, this little metal leaf button from Textile Garden seemed just perfect with it:

Of course, having found the button and fixed my mind on it, again the case basic design didn't change! 

Then, the next evening I was thinking about other favourite fabrics that would work for a sewing case and thought of a lovely Tilda print from her Bumblebee collection, which I used for my first sample tea bag case design.  I made that with just one small piece of the fabric that I had in a scrap pack from Billow Fabrics and I never had any yardage of it.  Of course, as soon as I went hunting for some yardage, it was sold out almost everywhere apart from Honeybee Cloths, so I bought a metre straight away (thank you Dawn – glad to have discovered your shop!):

Finally, my new closure could be tried out and I really do like it, although I feel torn about the absence of a button – choosing the button has always been one of my favourite things about making sewing cases…  I also decided to machine embroider the edge of the little pocket inside, which I usually hand embroider:

I love the look of the machine embroidery and whilst I enjoy doing the hand embroidery, I think that my perfectionist tendancies just prefer the totally symmetrical look of the machine stitches:

I kept everything else about the case the same and I really like this gold ribbon for the scissor keep against the Aloe green cotton lining:

One of the other design tweaks I'd been thinking about is getting rid of the ribbon for the scissor keep and replacing it with a fold over closure that snaps into place, but the ribbon offers a more flexible fixing that works for more than one size of scissor.  I think what I might do is start adding a second slip pocket at the back of the case that's split into two where the scissors could live.  That might also offer an opportunity to use a button again as I could sew one on to the pocket that could be used to anchor the cord of a traditional scissor keeper?  Or maybe I'll actually make a little matching scissor keeper that can be attached to any pair of scissors as well?!  I'll be trying that out next I think 😀

In my Etsy shop, my black and silver nani iro project bag has been popular this week:

As have my cuddle whales with my cat loving customers:

And, finally, my first order for my standalone new style feather fascinator toy came in this week, although I have already made several of them to go in cuddle boxes.  Hopefully several kitties should be having fun with their toys this weekend!

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“Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all it’s flavour”

July 6, 2019

That's what William Cowper said, and I think he was right!  I’ve certainly had a nice variety of things to work on this week, which is just as I like it.  My most popular coin purses at the moment are this Liberty Wild Flowers print – very appropriate for today as National Meadows Day

And this cute little Hedgehogs purse made with fabric from the Enchanted Forest collection, designed by Betsy Olmsted for Windham fabrics:

The same Hedgehogs have been popular as a dpn cosy too, as have the Fox Nap ones, which is a Tula Pink design and what I made my very first dpn cosy with:

I’ve also been making some project bags – this large Moon Gazing Hares bag is really popular at the moment:

The fabric is by Maureen Cracknell for Art Gallery Fabrics and I only have a small amount left.  The piece I’m working with now was bought from a Canadian Etsy seller and attracted a customs charge, but it was worth it to make some more of these bags with coral coloured sparkly Essex Linen!

This smaller zip bag is from the same Betsy Olmstead collection as the Hedgehogs fabric and has been a favourite in my shop for a while. I’m still looking for something to make with the small offcuts I have from making all the bags – lots of which feature the little bunnies.  I think I’ll have to patchwork something up with them and maybe make myself a scrappy little bag.

Talking about patchwork, the medium size of these Liberty patchwork drawstring bags headed off to Luxembourg this week:

Plus, I also finally stitched together the top of my Liberty strings quilt that I posted about last week:

The backing fabric for this has now been selected and I think I’m going to piece it in the old fashioned envelope style, machine stitch a nice border, and then hand tie the rest; possibly with the lower profile ‘hidden’ tie stitches.  Because the top is so busy with no borders or sashing, I don't think it needs a lot of quilting from an aesthetic point of view, and it is foundation pieced to the batting anyway, so certainly doesn't need it from that perspective either – all I'm really doing is attaching the backing.

It was also nice this week to have an order for one of these Tilda sewing cases as I haven't made one in a while:

Grey and pink are one of my favourite combinations and this rose print is so pretty.

I also put together a really cute order for someone in the US this week who was treating herself and her Mum, which included Hedgehog and Foxy dpn cosies, a Liberty brooch, a Woodland knot bag and even one of my little gift cards.  I wrapped each piece up separately before popping them into a postal box and I hope they’ll have great fun unwrapping everything when it arrives!

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How regular am I

June 29, 2019

It’s been a year since my last post and now here's another one – does that make me a regular blogger?  Joking aside, it is pretty hard to believe that it’s been so long!  I think the main reason that I’ve so sadly neglected my blog is that I tend to use Instagram to make an ongoing pictorial record of what I’m up to for both my creative and day to day life, which makes the blog a bit redundant.  However, that’s probably not healthy for my writing, so I think I’m going to make an effort to get back into regular posting.

This week has really been about completing the orders I had in hand for my Etsy shop, wondering why Etsy has suddenly gone so quiet, and making some new pieces for the shop.  I think the main reason Etsy is so quiet is because it’s summertime and people have more fun things to do than spend time online shopping!  It does mean that I have some time to make new things and work on larger projects though, which is fun for me!

My main large project at the moment is a patchwork Liberty lawn quilt, which a patient patron commissioned me to make earlier this year.  She loved the look of a strings quilt I had on my Pinterest board and wanted a lap size quilt in that style, made with Liberty lawn in blues and greens.  I’ve been slicing lawn and foundation piecing it onto cotton batting in the ‘quilt as you go’ style whenever I’ve had the chance since then, and finally have enough blocks made, I think…  I have 60 six inch squares now that I need to join together, then I can have a final measure and work out it it’s enough:

There are so many of my favourite prints here – not surprisingly since the vast majority of these strips are from my stash and pieces left from other makes.  I did find that I had a real shortage of greens in my collection and when I looked to buy some, I realised that Liberty haven’t done that many green prints.  Fortunately, I could rely on Katrine of Liberty Charms on Etsy for a pack of custom cut strips of green delights, which boosted my own collection.  I love that every time I look at a finished square, I spot a print I love – I guess that's easy when you love most of them 😀  Although I tried not to be too fussy when making up the blocks, I did frequently find myself spending a lot of time over selecting which strip to put next to which and choosing little favourite areas of prints to highlight:

Working on this quilt and loving the strings quilt as you go approach, it had also dawned on me that I could use this same technique to make some one off dpn cosies too, so I made a selection of cosies for 8 and 6 inch double points:

I think that I might make my next batch in a slightly different way to reduce bulk from the seams.  This isn’t strictly necessary, but where I see a possible improvement, I know I won’t rest until I’ve made it!

Also in the new makes pile this week were yarn swift storage bags.  My lovely yarnie friend Helen from Florida asked me to make her a storage bag for her swift a few months ago and I realised that I could really do with one for mine, which spent its unemployed time in a corner of my work room, attracting dust.  As is usual with me, I completely over engineered my first attempt made for my own swift with layers of interfacing and a shoulder strap – where did I think I was going travelling with my swift?!

The version I made for Helen was much more appropriate for simple storage and made in colours inspired by her Floridian habitat!

I made a new crop of these more simple style bags for the shop and discovered that swift sizes differ enormously – even when you’re talking about the one umbrella style!  They’re usually somewhere between 25 and 30 inches long, so I’ve made my first three to a 30 inch size and as always, I’ll be happy to custom make them to whatever sizes people need. 

I was delighted also that I’d found the perfect thing to make with one of my favourite Liberty prints called ‘Studio’ – one of their ‘conversational’ prints featuring items from an artist’s studio and lots of super cute little dogs! 

I got three different colourways of the print and matched them up with some cotton and linen blend solids.  I used traditional woven cotton ticking for the lining, which is one of the toughest fabrics I know, since it stands up to rough cat play on my catnip cuddle whales!  Swifts can be quite heavy, so I needed something strong but that my domestic sewing machine could cope with too.  I'm also planning to write up a tutorial for anyone who wants to make their own swift bag, since it could lend itself to patchworking really well and maybe even recycling – a jeans or general trouser leg would be perfect for this!

My final new make of the week was something I’ve made before years ago and still find really useful – a little notions pouch.  This is made from a Zakka style pattern by Rashida Coleman-Hale that’s been available free on the internet for years, but my sewing skills are much better than they were when I made my first one (even if I say so myself!) and I felt that I could now make pouches that I'd be proud to sell:

The outer of the pouch is made with a print called Cottagely Posey from the Priory Square collection by Katy Jones for Art Gallery Fabrics, which I’d just bought a small piece of in the Cottage Patch summer sale.  The inner is made with a fabric that I’ve had in my stash for a while, just waiting for the right project!  This is Robert Kaufman’s Essex Yarn Dyed Linen Metallic in Celestial with Blue and Copper Metallic – so cute and sparkly!  I always use my pouch when I’m on the road with my knitting or crochet – it's just the right size for a little pair of scissors and all the other little essentials you might need on the go.  I’m actually having a Giveaway on Instagram this weekend for one of these, which you might want to check out.

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mittens for kittens

June 3, 2018

Do you know the nursery rhyme about the three little kittens who lost their mittens? I'm very glad to report that they found their mittens eventually and received some tasty pie as a reward, although not before they got their mittens dirty and had to wash them…  They were lucky little kittens as they had a Mother to provide the mittens and the pie, and who cared enough to give them a good lesson about being thankful for everything you have and taking care of it.  Sadly, for homeless or feral kittens, reality is a little different.

It's really impossible to know how many homeless cats are living rough on the streets of our 'developed' part of the world today, although the number of wonderful people out there who are giving their love, time and money to caring for them is surely an indication that there are a lot.  If you're a cat lover and active on social media, you will no doubt be aware of several of these amazing people and perhaps you support them.  I follow a number of people who help cats in their neighbourhood, frequently working with only their own small resources to deliver the help the cats and kittens in their area need.  

The large cat charities like Cats Protection in the UK, carry the main weight of this kind of 'work' with their army of volunteers, but there are countless other smaller charities and individuals out there who do the not inconsiderable rest.  When you think that one female cat can be responsible for birthing as many as many as 18 kittens in a year (that's a possible 20,000 descendants in 5 years!), it's easy to see why the priority for all these efforts goes into neutering.

Sometimes all people like me can do is to offer encouragement or thanks on behalf of the cats the people are helping and that is really appreciated, but hard cash is also very much appreciated!  It's really wonderful to see cats all over the world being brought back to health and rehomed via Instagram, although there are obviously some less cheerful stories shared too.  The cats that they help can be cats who have previously had a home but have lost it for some reason, or they can be the descendants of these types of cats who we call 'feral' – cats who have never known a home.  Carers may do a number of different things to help these cats, from feeding feral colonies as and when they have the resources to do so, to bottle rearing feral born kittens then getting them healthy, raising, domesticating, neutering and rehoming them, all at their own expense, unless they have donations from others to help.

When I can afford to donate (nowhere near as often as I'd like), these frontline individuals are the people I choose to help because they don't have marketing departments to help them get the message out to people like me who want to help them – they only have their own efforts on social media and good old fashioned word of mouth to raise awareness. 

If you've read this far then I'm sure it's easy to see why I want to do something more to help.  When thinking about what I could do within my means to help, I was inspired by the memory of the nursery rhyme about the 3 little kittens and their mittens and I dug out all my leftover balls of lovely soft merino wool and knitted up a stack of baby mittens. After the knitting, I then had to work out how to turn the mittens into cash for the kittens and really this is far from straightforward…  At first I thought that this was something I'd like to keep separate from my small business as I didn't want anyone to think that I was fundraising by way of any kind of cynical marketing to promote myself, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to use my Etsy shop and social media accounts to get the word out, otherwise I was starting from nowhere, and that won't help the kittens.

The mittens I've knit so far are now listed in my Etsy shop and you can find them here

I've also decided to add one of my crochet wraps to the items I'll sell to raise funds, because the wool I used to make it was gifted to me, so it feels right to do that.

My plan is to donate the whole sale price of each item, and then share here on my blog about what money has been raised and what I've done with it.  If things go well, I'm hoping that I'll also be able to invite other knitty friends to get involved too, so fingers crossed (pun intended!) that everything sells out quickly and more little kittens will soon be tucking into their pie 😀

 

Cat photos from Pinterest

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In which I am a little bit famous

March 5, 2018

So my tongue was in my cheek as I typed this post's title (as usual), but I am rather excited and proud of this bit of news, so wanted to share!

Last summer, I was approached by an editor at DK Publishing and asked to design a couple of projects for a sewing techniques book by Alison Smith that they were revising and updating. I'd never done anything like this before but I always like to try new things and learn along the way, so jumped at the chance (thanks so much to Ali at Very Berry Handmade for the introduction).  I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and learned such a lot about how a book like this is brought to life – certainly enough to be in complete awe of the editors who pull everything together!

The book was published at the beginning of February and I can't tell you how thrilling it was to receive my copy and see the projects I designed on the pages – so beautifully styled and photographed too.  Apart from the natural excitement of contributing to a book, I'm also thrilled to have created projects for people learning to sew – something that I'm still doing myself, although I guess I've come a long way since I started my little business in 2013.

If you or anyone you know wants to learn to sew (especially dressmaking), this book is the perfect reference – you can click here to order this on Amazon – it covers so many techniques and terms in a really clear and modern way and, obviously, it has lots of wonderful projects to make in it too! 😀  Here are my two projects – click on the pictures to see a larger version.

A tote bag for a beginner to sew:

Two Tone Tote Bag

A Make Up or Toileteries bag for a confident beginner who wants to learn how to insert a zip:

Toiletries Bag
And if this weren't enough, I was also made a little famous last year by a lovely lady called Amber, who has a very popular knitting podcast on YouTube called Yarn Hoarder.  After buying some of my purses on Etsy, Amber shared them with everyone on her podcast and I was inundated with orders for a little while thereafter!  I only found out about the podcast because one of the ladies who came to my shop after seeing it told me about it.  I'm so grateful to Amber for the share, but also for the fact that I then discovered her knitting podcasts, which I've been watching and enjoying ever since.  I've never been a podcast watcher, but Amber is so delightful, warm and charming, as well as being one of the most enthusiastic makers I've ever come across.  Watching is now a must!

Finally, right at the end of last year, I was featured in Woolenberry's Knitter Spotlight, which was so flattering!  I've long had a pash for Janina's shawl designs and have knit several – some of them more than once.  They are all that rare but amazing combination of being easy to knit but impressive to look at – she really is a bit of a genius.

So, it is amazing that my head isn't now too big to get through the door, but while I'm still doing daft things like fusing my interfacing to the wrong side of my fabric, which is a fairly common event, I think I can keep my feet on the ground 😀