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Hello Jay the Janome

June 19, 2017

Meet Jay the Janome CXL301, my new friend 😀

Jay and I came together just before Christmas 2016, although we didn't formally meet in person until I allowed myself to take him out of the box after finishing my tax return in January.  The perfect incentive.  I would have to say that after 6 months of constant sewing together, we are most definitely the best of friends!

I decided to buy a new sewing machine about a year before I actually bought a new sewing machine.  No, I don't make decisions quickly.  I did a lot of research on the different types of machines available for my likely budget, but there are so many options out there that I felt frequently befuddled by all the choice.  

  • What features did I want? – what features you got?
  • Which make do I like? – maybe Janome, but are there better ones?
  • What kind of sewing do I want to be able to do? – everything – obvs!

Eventually, I managed to digest the masses of information out there enough to break it down to my priorities: ease of use, reliability, quality stitching, and the ability to sew through multiple layers for bag making and quilting.  After reading lots of reviews posted around the internet by other stitchers (thank you all for taking the time to review your machines!), I also started to realise that there were other features that I wanted and didn't even know I wanted:

  • Some help with threading – a tedious and sometimes irritating job on grey English days
  • Top loading bobbin – who wants to fiddle with the bobbin in an awkward position if you don't have to?
  • Speed control – I have a very heavy right foot on any kind of accelerator pedal, which can make for masses of unpicking when the pedal is attached to a sewing machine.

Now this list might not be the most ambitious, but when you think that this was my first step up from John, my super basic £99 John Lewis sewing machine, they're really quite the leap.  John is based on a basic Janome, although he is the most delightful shade of purple.  He's one of those 'do what it says on the tin' machines – he sews – mostly in a straight line and usually pretty evenly, and he gave me several years of really reliable and basic service, more than earning his keep.  But John wasn't without drama.  Anything more than a couple of layers of cotton and some interfacing between and he began to get sulky.  He didn't like any bumps in his sewing road and became practically hysterical around zips.  I did learn to work around his dramas with the help of a walking foot, but it was a tiring experience at times.  As for speed control, it was kind of like Lewis Hamilton driving a Smart car – funny and exciting, but ultimately dangerous and a bit disappointing.

I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't like a sewing machine with a massive range of stitches, embroidery ability, full quilting ability etc., but I really didn't need all that, which was a good job, considering my budget of £400.  I definitely had a bias towards Janome at the outset of my search.  I figured that if John had been reliable and hard working, I could realistically expect the same from another machine from that stable, but I didn't immediately count other manufacturers out.  

There is a lot of choice in the section of the market I was shopping in.  The first hurdle was working out which of the machines I liked the look of from what I read on the internet were actually current models, but once I'd done that by cross referencing my top 10 against the stock in a big online retailer, I could then focus in on my top 5.  With the help of lots more reviews, I brought this list down to a top 3, which had 2 Janomes in it and I finally plumped for Jay, which I bought from GUR Sewing Machines, a long standing online retailer.  I generally have a bit of an internal rule for choosing where to buy online for most things – I tend to choose those retailers who are established, have a site that is easy to access and navigate with lots of good content, and who have good reviews over a period of time.  GUR's content was particularly good with plenty of information arranged in a practical and accessible way.  At that time of year, they also had some attractive deals and offers, which always helps when you're spending a significant amount!

What most surprised me about my choice was that the 301CXL is a computerised sewing machine – something that I thought I definitely didn't want.  What I was basing this bias on was the idea that anything computerised would be more likely to go wrong and be expensive to put right, but this isn't really the case at this level – the computerised element really just gives you a quicker and easier interface for sewing and greater needle penetration ability – hurrah for that!

Once I actually started using my new machine, I was initially really disappointed with the general experience.  There I was expecting lots of fun with my new friend, and it really wasn't fun to begin with – getting a new machine is quite an adjustment – you don't realise how you've got all the little foibles of your old machine ingrained in your sewing habits!  I'd say that it took a couple of weeks for me to get used to the way Jay does things and then another couple of weeks to get comfortable with him.  I guess it would have been more enjoyable if I was just sewing for fun, but I had to put Jay straight to work making pieces for my shop orders and, since I have very high standards, we had to both slow down massively to make sure that what we were making was of the usual quality.  Within a very short time though, we were speeding through orders at a great rate and achieving the quality was completely effortless.

Jay is a consummate professional and the truth of the matter is that the reason it was difficult for me to get comfortable with him in the beginning was that I had to step up my sewing skills to get to his level.  There's really a very solid feel to this machine, which might not give me so many laughs as John the hysterical did, but there will be a lot less frustration too!  The main features I love are:

Needle down button – something that is so standard and basic on sewing machines these days, but new to me.  What fun!  Quite aggressive and powerful too.  When you manually lower the needle, you get a feel for when it's all the way down and ready to start sewing, but there's no doubt with this little button – when it's down its down, which is also a great help when pivoting. It's a bit of an adjustment to get used to most of the controls being on the front of the machine and hardly ever touching the wheel, but I got used to it within a week or so.

Tortoise and Hare speed control – fantastic!  My heavy accelerator foot can be as heavy as it likes when I've set the upper limit of the speed to running tortoise 😉  This is super useful when I'm sewing around curvy and tight shapes, like when I'm sewing my catnip cuddle whale tails.  There is a little 'but' to this enthusiasm though, and that is that I've found this isn't so crucial with this machine because the foot pedal is also awesome – much, much easier to control speed with it and after 6 months, I don't really need to adjust the slider very often, I just use my foot on the pedal and the whole experience is now much less Smart car and more Aston Martin Vantage.

Tension – I was always fiddling with the upper tension on John and it was frequently a battle to find the right setting for anything other than sewing together 2 pieces of cotton.  My tension with Jay is usually on 4 and I've found this does a great job for most of the things I sew and at the stitch lengths I tend to use for piecing and top stitching.  Reverse stitching is lovely on Jay and it's so easy to reverse stitch over your first few stitches to lock them in a perfect line.

Case free top loading bobbin – so much easier to load the bobbin and thread the machine and you can see how much thread you've got left on the bobbin whenever you like, although I do sometimes still forget to look…

Needle threader – never used one of these before but couldn't do without it now – so quick and easy to thread without squinting under the machine.  The light on the machine is also fab, which helps with everything too.

There are a number of other features on this machine that I haven't even used yet, but now that we're really comfortable with each other, I will need to try them out.  I've tried out a few of the 'fancier' stitches for decorative finishing, but there are lots I haven't tried yet, including the whole button hole experience, which is something I've never done on a machine, mostly because I'm not a dressmaker.  The Start/Stop button on the front of the machine will be great if I need to do long lines of sewing – you just set the speed with the slider and the machine sews without the use of the pedal.  It does seem a bit silly that I have lots of new features and stitches that I haven't used in the first 6 months of our relationship, but we're mostly work and only a little play!

Admittedly, there are a few little niggles I have with Jay:

The spool holder is horizontal – this is a great look and nice and tidy when you put the machine away with a spool still loaded, but it's not good for loading the bobbin unless you're using a 'proper' spool of thread.  I tend to use threads loaded onto cops, or Aurifil, which are like a cross between a spool and a cop.  If you're using something like a Gutermann spool, everything is fine, but for cop types, the thread tends to get stuck on the spool end holder.  I'm not entirely sure why this happens, but it does.  Fortunately, there is a great alternative on this machine – you can't see it in this picture (although you can see some dust – Jay is due for a clean!) but there is a little square hole on top that takes a removable additional spool winder.  This is actually intended to allow you to load a bobbin with thread without unthreading the main spool, but it also works great with cops since they are loaded on upright rather than horizontal.  The only tiny downside to this that I've found is that the bobbin doesn't get 100% full of thread – probably more like 90 to 95%, but that's fine.

Automatic needle threading isn't exactly what it says on the tin…  I really didn't know what this feature was and as I said earlier, I didn't even know that it was something I wanted, but it isn't exactly automatic.  I don't know if there are true automatic threaders out there, but this one is really a machine mounted needle threader – you drape the thread across it and push it forwards to get a little hook to come through the eye of the needle and pull the thread through.  As I said, it's great to have, but 'automatic' it ain't.

All in all, I am absolutely delighted with Jay and wouldn't hesitate to recommend him as a 2nd level machine.  Since buying him I found out that there is a feature called 'auto tensioning' that I would have loved to have and, I can't lie – I would have liked him to be purple, but I think that we're set for a very happy relationship for the foreseeable future!

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Who will get their knit on?

November 27, 2016

My giveaway for the Wool and the Gang Snood Giveaway knitting kit closed yesterday and as I was in the middle of cooking a chicken dinner, I thought it would be a good time to pick a winner! 😀

Having written the names on pieces of paper and got him indoors to pick one out, I'm delighted to announce that the winner is Ellen Cheetham!  Ellen is going to be knitting the easy version of the pattern in the Green Lagoon colour, for her daughter.

Thank you to everyone who entered and congratulations to Ellen – I'll email you for your address shortly xxx

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Wanna get your knit on?

November 19, 2016

It's always nice when someone says "thank you", but even nicer when they offer you a lovely gift!

To thank me for trying out their new Take Care Mohair yarn and doing a review, the lovely people at Wool and the Gang are going to gift one of their wonderful kits to one of you.

I must admit that it took me quite some time to choose exactly what I'd like them to give you dear reader – they have a lot of lovely yarns and kits… Given my personal love affair with them, a cowl seemed like just the right thing.  I also wanted something that was quick to knit, would suit anyone, came in lots of colours and would be suitable for all knitting abilities (don't want much, do I?).

As it turned out, the Snood Operator cowl had to be the one!  It's perfect for women:

And for men:

The pattern that comes with the kit is available in English, French, German and Japanese and comes in 3 difficulty levels, starting with absolute beginner, so anyone can make it.

Using their super chunky Crazy Sexy Wool, you can knit one of these cowls up in next to no time – all you need is a pair of 15mm (US19) needles.  I personally love the Midnight Blue and Moss Green colourways, but there are a whopping 38 colours to choose from:

So, if you'd like to win this fabulous kit, just comment below and tell me who you'd be making your cowl for, which colour wool you'd choose, and which language you'd like your pattern in.

This giveaway will close one week from now, at noon GMT on Saturday 26th November 2016.  One winner will be chosen from the entries at random shortly thereafter.  I'll email the winner to let them know and ask for their full name and address.  If I haven't been able to verify the winner within 48hours, another winner will be chosen.  The kit will be sent to the final winner direct from Wool and the Gang and I'll announce the name of the winner by edit to this post, once verified.

Good luck! 🙂

Closed to new entries – winner to be announced shortly!

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Gangsta knit!

October 29, 2016

I suspect that I'm now too old and uncool to ever be gangsta, but I truly believe I'll never be too old to try something new.

When I was offered the opportunity to play with a new Wool and the Gang yarn called Take Care Mohair, I jumped at the chance. As you'll know if you know me and my work, I have a long running love affair with mohair and regularly use it, although I haven't had that much experience of the various brands of mohairs out there – I do tend to stick with a brand I know and trust, which is why I'm not really very gangsta like the Wool and the Gang knitty dudes…

Having selected the very pretty Blue Chalk colourway, I very quickly received my parcel.  Don't you love their packaging?  The potty kits very quickly jumped on board – literally 😀

The yarn is pretty nice too!

When I first handled it, I thought that this yarn was going to be trouble – it is very fluffy.  I immediately started having flashbacks to my worst ever mohair frogging experiences (there have been a few…) and decided that whatever I made with this stuff, I had to make sure I was concentrating hard to avoid mistakes I might have to unpick!  

I also decided that investing a bit of yarn into a few swatches would be worthwhile so that I could see how it behaved when knit up at various gauges, so I set to with some 6mm needles.  The result was quite a dense fabric – denser than I'd expected to be honest.  I then decided to have a laugh and try to frog the swatch – imagine my surprise when it ripped back really easily – probably more easily than any other mohair I've used!  I did treat it gently, as I would with any hairy yarn, but it behaved beautifully.

The next swatch I knit was with 10mm needles and this was much airier.  I've knit my 3 Rib Cowl with several different types of yarn and at various tensions, so I decided that would be the perfect one to try out this yarn with, as I was also confident that I'd have plenty of yarn to knit a decent sized version.  I started with 96 stitches and worked to the standard pattern until I'd used about one and a half skeins – you can find full details here. What I got was a pretty big and floppy cowl that permanently looks like it's in soft focus 😀

In fact, it's so large that you can wrap it around your neck a couple of times, if you want to be extra cosy:

I reckon that Take Care Mohair would be a great choice for anyone who loves to knit chunky and wants to try out mohair for the first time, given its relatively good manners on frogging.  You can find a free scarf pattern on Wool and the Gang's website, or you could have a go at my 3 Rib Cowl pattern with it too, which is free on Ravelry. I think I might try it again with the yarn I have left over with slightly smaller needles and see how that one looks.

You can sign up to Wool and the Gang's newsletter here to hear about their yarns, kits and patterns.

 

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Stitching for stichers

August 4, 2016

As you'll know if you read my blog, I do make quite a lot of sewing cases…  I also make quite a lot of project bags these days, and there's nothing I like better than making matching sets of sewing cases and project bags; like these two Liberty sets that I recently made for mother and daughter stitchers in Japan:

The purple set using Liberty tana lawn print, 'Queue for the zoo' was Madoka's choice, and the turquoise set using 'Susannah' was for her mom.  They were both a complete treat for me to make, as most things are for me that involve Liberty lawn, but never more so when there's a reasonable amount of hand stitched detail involved, as there is with these sewing cases.  There's the applique of the hearts to the outer front and back, and the applique of the scissor keep on the inside front:

Then there's the quilting around the heart appliques and the embroidery on the back slip pockets, all of which I did with gold metallic thread:

I couldn't resist doing the top stitching of the zip ends with a little of the gold thread too – no; there's no such thing as too much bling.  Of course I added a bit more bling with the crochet metallic closure loops and the pretty domed shank buttons that are so perfect for these larger sewing cases:

I line the zip pockets of the sewing cases with the Liberty prints too:

And add a press stud closure to the big slip pocket at the back – as modelled by foxy:

The project bags are made to my own design, as are all the project bags in my shop.  I like to think that they're the perfect size to be totally adaptable – they're perfect for small knit projects, crochet projects or sewing projects, but are also great for lots of other uses – large make up bags or tool bags – whatever you like really:

When I'm making things like this for sewists though, I am very conscious of the fact and can become a bit obsessive over the quality of my stitching.  I admit that I am already rather obsessive about trying to make everything as perfect as possible all the time, but this is particularly the case when you're making things for other stitchers, who you know will be just as focussed on the detail as you are 😀

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Liberty Rations

July 4, 2016

I have a small but perfectly formed collection of Liberty Tana Lawn.  If I could buy as much of it as I would like to, I would a) be bankrupt and b) not have enough room in the house to keep it all.

When it comes to buying Liberty lawn for my stash (as opposed to a commission or a planned product, when it's totally legal – yay!), the rule I make for myself is that I can buy it if I truly love it.  The way I know if I truly love it is that I can't get it out of my mind until I actually buy a piece of it.  It then also has to be either available at a great price, or I can only have a very small piece, and this can't happen more than four times a year.  I am very strict.

Amongst my collection, there are a few very precious pieces which, I admit, I love more than others.  Cutting into these pieces to make something is very difficult and doesn't happen very often.  But what fun is it for them if they hide away in their storage box and are never seen by other Liberty lovers?  So last week I decided it was time for one of my vintage favourites to have a little outing and metamorphose into a sewing case:

I feel quite sad that I don't know the name of this very pretty print.  I bought it years ago as part of a bundle from Sunflower Fabrics but have never seen any of it since.  I made it using my usual 'basic' case pattern with a slip pocket on the inside front:

And a scissor keep on the back:

When it came to the usual little hand stitched pocket embroidery detail, I felt that it deserved a little more bling so used a little gold metallic thread to echo the golden colour in the print:

I rooted through my button collection and settled on this metal Rowan button with a little heart detail, which felt perfect for it:

For the lining, I broke out another favourite fabric and used a little navy coloured Brussels Washer Linen by Robert Kaufman, interfaced for strength as it's quite an open weave, although beautifully soft.  

Of course, I couldn't just make one Liberty case, could I?  Two more of my favourite but less rarified prints also had a little outing alongside hearts and flowers.  This is Wild Flowers, with a painted wooden bunny button:

And June's Meadow in blue, although this isn't lawn, but the 'craft' cotton that feels very much like brushed cotton in quite a comforting way:

I do love this way of using my Liberty fabrics – they're centre stage and yet I don't have to use much of them – perfect! 😀

You can find all my sewing cases in my Etsy shop and I'm always happy to make a custom case to your particular preferences – bigger, more pockets, different pockets – whatever your heart desires…

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I’m just a needlewoman, with needles on her mind

May 12, 2016

I've been making sewing cases for several years now.  It started with simple needlebooks and I developed several designs from there.  In the beginning, they were a favourite way of celebrating a particular fabric – whether it was a fabric print I really liked, or a piece of English Paper Piecing I'd made:

There's something captivating about a sewing case to a needlewoman I think.  Let's face it, we know how to celebrate the aesthetic and tactile aspects of fabric, but we also like to have a good reason to use and enjoy it, not to mention a reason to cut into it!  We also seem to have a penchant for having specially made things connected to our needlework, many of which are made with fabric.  There's the undeniably practical aspect to having the right tool or accessory to 'do the job', but I think it also has an awful lot to do with being able to surround ourselves with lovely fabric things, whilst we create lots more fabric things – what could be better?!

As much as I've enjoyed creating sewing cases just for the pure enjoyment of it, I've found over the years that I've also been constantly striving towards creating pieces that are the 'right' answer to every needlewoman's needs.  I get a lot of pleasure from thinking that I might be making something that someone really needs – something that is their 'just so' – a certain size, a particular closure, a certain number and type of pockets – and that's before you even get to the fabric it's made with, or the embellishments that might be added, all of which are very personal choices.  The lovely thing is that I'll never create just the right case for every needlewoman as we're all so individual, but it really is fun trying.

Recently, I've been making some larger sewing cases with a range of features, starting with this understated linen one that I added a small flower applique to and quilted with gold thread:

And more recently this one, which was a commission for an Etsy client:

This brought together the design of the original large linen one above, and another of my smaller cases that features Liberty applique hearts:

My client loved the features of the large linen case, but it wasn't her style – she wanted something with a stronger look and loved the rich colours of a print from Bari J's Emmy Grace collection.  This also gave me an opportunity to play about with how I built the case with the zippers inside, which also introduced a little more colour to the inside of the case, by using more of the featured Bari J print to edge the zips:

It's really surprising how much you can get into this case – you can even slip a 5 inch embroidery frame into the slip pocket at the back:

For those who have a little more to carry around, I can also make co-ordinating zipped project bags to go with any of my sewing cases, which I think are perfect for travelling stitchers since you can organise your sharps into the safety of the case, and carry your actual projects and larger items in the bag:

From the time I made the first supersized case, I've been mulling over the idea of the traditional needlewoman's workbox and had almost seduced myself into the idea of making one, but I wasn't convinced that today's needlewoman really wanted that.  Well, no, not entirely – I think most would love a beautiful handbuilt work box with lots of matching pieces to go in it, but that's something that they may well want to make for themselves as a kind of right of stitching passage maybe?  What most sewers seem to want is something more portable than that, something that helps them to fit their stitching around their busy lives, as they carry their work around with them and snatch 10 minutes here and there to add a few stitches to their current project.  

And while that may well be the profile of the modern needlewoman, I don't think she's changed all that much at heart – she still wants to enjoy her tools and accroutrements – they still need to be pretty and individual, so that they can enhance her enjoyment while stitching. So, this is the direction I found myself heading in when I sat down to design my next generation sewing case, which is more of a mobile work box.  I've brought together my love of the purse frame and the sewing case to design the Needlewoman's Clutch and I've used two of my favourite sewing case fabric combos for first two I've made:

The first features Liberty's 'Hesketh' tana lawn and a zingy green Essex linen by Robert Kaufman, with a pretty silver coloured clasp frame, decorated with birds.  I purposely made the bag a little too large for the frame so that the sides would be super puffy and a bit like a Gladstone bag.  At this point, I'm still playing with the shapes and working out what I like best:

Next came a pairing of pretty mustard and pink Tilda cotton prints, with a slightly larger bronze colour frame and a more classically clutch shape:

Both have a zipped pocket inside, and both have co-ordinating stitching accessories – a small pincushion, a mini needlebook with traditional wool flannel pages, and a padded scissor case:

For practical reasons, I wanted to use an undyed wool flannel cloth for the mini needle books, which is a lovely thin, drapey and soft cloth.  This was what used to be used, before we all got into using wool felt and I think I prefer it really – although both have their advantages and disadvantages.  I was also really happy to find a use for the pewter colour Edelweiss hook fasteners I've had in my stash for a few years now – I knew there would be a perfect project to use them on!  It was also nice to break out some buttons from my collection to make the little pumpkin shaped pincushions.  And as if it's not enough fun to carry your needlework and tools along in a pretty clutch bag, there's also the added attraction of being able to remove the needlework tools and using the clutch on its own too!

It's really a bit of a relief to have got the idea for the Needlewoman's Clutch out of my head and into form – my unrealised ideas seem to become a maddening voice in my head until they can come into being.  And as it turns out, my timing in completing this newest design is pretty fortuitous because one of my sewing cases is mentioned in Cross Stitch Crazy magazine today – what a great way to celebrate my needlecase evolution!

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There once was an ugly duckling…

March 9, 2016

I've raved about the benefits of wet blocking knits before, but I've never seen such a transformation from ugly duckling to swan as this one after two days on the blocking wires.

This is a very lovely and super simple lace knit shawl designed by Janina Kallio, called Interlude.  It was a total breeze to knit and very quick – if you've never tried a lace knit before, I'd highly recommend it as a first timer's project.  The yarn I chose to use was a polwarth wool by Eden Cottage Yarns called 'Oakworth' (colourway is 'Steel), which they describe as "smooth and crisp" – very accurate, in my experience of it.  As anyone who follows my knit and crochet exploits knows, I'm a serious lux yarn lover, never far from a bit of super soft merino, cashmere or silk, and I wasn't sure about choosing a yarn like this for a knit shawl, but it really is perfect for a design that relies so heavily on the post knit process for it's finished look.  Smooth and crisp indeed 🙂

This is how the shawl looked straight off the needles:

Not terribly pretty…  I was promised in the pattern though that it would transform on blocking and that I needed to block it hard!

This was truly a project of firsts for me – my first Janina Kallio pattern, my first time using an Eden Cottage yarn (and indeed, a Polwarth wool) and my first time using Twig & Horn's Lanolin wool wash, which him indoors got for my birthday from Loop.  They currently seem to be out of the Lemongrass scented one that I have, which smells divine.  It did soften up the wool and was a delight to use – really silky.  After threading my Eden Cottage Interlude onto the blocking wires and leaving it in situ for a couple of days, it really did turn out to be something of a swan:

I've bought a range of different yarns from Eden Cottage Yarns to try out this year, all quite different.  Looking forward to trying out the next one – quite possibly with another Janina Kallio pattern, as I have a few more of those too 🙂

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Quilt Love

March 2, 2016

I do love making quilts.  I love the designing, the fabric selection, the planning, the cutting (okay, don't like that bit quite so much!), the sewing back together, the basting, quilting, squaring, binding, labelling and finishing, but most of all, I love the whole idea of making a quilt – especially when it's intended to commemorate something special.

The top of my latest quilt finish (Window on the Forest MKII) was made some time ago and had been languishing in my unfinished quilt drawer.  Then, a few weeks ago, the owner of my original Window on the Forest quilt asked me to make a quilt to mark the birth of her grand niece and she said this one would be perfect!  I was very happy to be asked and had spent the most enjoyable week finishing the quilt:

The feature panel central squares with the foxes, deer and bears were fussy cut in the same way as the original quilt, but I couldn't centralise all the animals because I didn't have enough of the fabric left to be able to waste any of it!  While I used some different prints from the Sarah Watts' Timber and Leaf collection for the quilt top and binding, I backed it with the same pretty floral print as the original quilt:

The original quilt was utility stitched with perle cottons, but I hand quilted this new version with quilting cotton, which will be more suited to a baby and more regular washing:

I also added a hand embroidered quilt label to memoralise the commission, why it was made, who for and who by.  To record everything in such a small space, my lettering stitches needed to be a bit too teeny to get them as perfect as I'd like to have got them, but it was at least legible.

There's something very special about a quilt with a particular purpose that will probably stay with a person, and in a family for a long time – I feel so honoured to have been a part of that:

You can read about my original Window on the Forest quilt here and here and here and finally, here – gosh I do go on 😀

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Mini Me

February 9, 2016

Well, we're already in February and this is my first post of 2016 – oops!  Having said that, I'd rather be a less frequent blogger than just blog twaddle when I've really not got much to say.

It does seem that I have a bit of a thing for minimising generally…  As well as minimising my number of blog posts, I tend to minimise my knitting designs too (tenuous link? Mmm, maybe!).  My latest minimised pattern is for my Versace Cowl, which I blogged about here.  I was sorting my yarn stash the other day, wondering what I felt like knitting next, when I came across my collection of Rowan Creative Focus Worsted yarn and there it was – the idea to do a new Versace Cowl in a mini me size 😀  This is the original:

And this was my inspiration Versace dress for the cowl design:

So dreamy, so pink and creamy and grey and sparkly.  Sigh…  

The Mini Me version of the cowl sticks pretty closely to my original design, with a few tweaks.  As well as changing the dimensions a bit (you can't go mini without getting a bit smaller after all!), I omitted the stripes between colour changes to simplify things.  I also minimised the silver thread and used a much finer silver and white lurex thread on the grey sections – still sparkly though:

Mini Me Versace is almost as long as the grown up version, but a little over half the width maybe.  I also kept the colour sections to about the same kind of ratios as the original:

I'm not sure I should admt to this, but because of the colour and the hairy nature of the yarn, I always think about pigs when I'm knitting the paler pink section of this cowl, so now think of this as piggy knitting – silly, but it makes me giggle 😀