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No 1 Knit Top Down, More NaKniCromo and Calorie Free Doughnuts too!

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Busy few days. Inspired by https://shirleycyeung.wordpress.com/  amongst others I have started by first top down knitted item and I LOVE IT ! Having tried once before and failed badly, I choose small, a new baby project from Ravelry.com –  All-In-One Sleeveless Baby Top (6 months) & (9 – 12 months) by marianna mel    With a little help from a YouTube video on understanding construction I totally get it now.

Here’s a little bit of my progress.  topdown2It’s small but more projects going on at the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

I have also finished another baby top – bottom up construction – needs a little steaming and a button, not as pleased with the button band as I should be, hopefully that will steam out a little.

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NaKniCromo on Ravelry.com – it’s take a lot of thinking about my dream project (Day 16) – not sure I have just one, just an image of several.  I guess premium yarns, dreams to knit without hiccups, perhaps at least one repeat of an item knit a few years ago. Oh, and of course, the price of the wool would be irrelevant or it would have been free!

Day 17 – Dream Tools – I favour Knit Pro Symfonie needles, rainbows even when knitting with boring yarn!  Day 18 – Technique I would like to master – I would like to be more adventurous with cables, though at the moment I have so much I want to knit that I choose more simple patterns that seem a lot quicker than the fantastic complicated cables I drawl over. Day 19 – More Yarn or Less yarn – More yarn, always more yarn of course. I am working on reducing my stash, whether knitting it or selling some to buy more.

Day 20 – Today – Favourite Tip or Trick – It’s ok to rip something back, don’t consider it wasted time, consider it a learning curve.  Also, mattress stitch, once learned I have never gone back to running stitch or oversewing seams.

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And a little sewing – remember the last post – beige and pink circles with sewing pins. They turned into these doughnuts! And now they are available to purchase at a little lovely cafe, The Teashop at Downe, Kent.  I hope customers popping by for a tea and cake will fancy taking a Calorie Free/Sugar Free cake home for later!

So as you see, a busy few days here.

 

 

A little quilting … bit of a faff this time! Very little crafting indeed this week.

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It’s been a quiet week craftwise,  with much time taken up elsewhere with family illness and a little bit of work.

 

A few weeks ago I began a machine stitched baby playmat.  I kept the urge back to post pics here as I was planning to post when it was finished.  I briefly worked on the playmat two days ago, a little time for me and for my sanity! I still have a little way to go – craftwise that it, sanity well who can tell!

The playmat was supposed to be a quick and easy project.  A few weeks ago, the piecing went well, fabulous fabric donated by a friend.  I pieced the front, THEN I accidently cut the backing too small!  Grrr, I dashed out and purchased an alternative fabric.  I sewed the back and front together like a pillowcase, intending to pop in  the wadding and simply do some formed of ‘tied’ quilting.  That’s where I had left it until this week.

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So what’s a magazine got to do with quilting? There are no sewing patterns in this one ….

Have you ever tried to insert wadding through a small gap in one side of a pillowcase shape and try and make it reach all the edges?  It doesn’t work – wadding is way too flexible.  It clung to the fabric in all the wrong places. I had imagined it would be like putting a duvet in a duvet cover.  It isn’t!  I ended up flipping the ‘pillowcase’ inside out again and attempted to tack the wadding to the wrong side of the front of the playmat. There was one major hurdle – I had to avoid tacking the wadding to both the front and the back as I then wanted to flip it right side out, seam the gap and then tie the quilt as planned.  Some might say ‘why didn’t she just undo the seam around the whole thing and tack the wadding to one part?’  I have no idea why I didn’t do that! So, this wasn’t like a standard quilt where you have three layers and then bind the edges afterwards. I came up with this weird method of inserting a magazine into the gap and moving it beneath each part as I tacked.  I could pin and tack through the wadding and the front without the pins and stitches going right through to the other layer.  Here’s a pic mid process with a hint of what the back will look like.

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A touch of dotty blue makes the back a calm colour . What colours do you think the top will be?

I shall finish this before the recipient arrives in June.  I had just run out of me time this week and was slightly traumatised by the effort this took!

Watch this blog for the finished article.

Total other craftings this week – three hexagon shapes cut and tacked to card for my hand quilted hexi project.  Long way to go on this one.  Twelve rows of knitting, shaping armholes for an ongoing project. Not so much to still do, the bulk is done. I am just at the fiddly parts, not a project to take when hospital visiting. I have a new one for just that next time.

Bye for now.

 

Hexagon heaven – a little quilt in progress, and a knit fail!

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I have been crafting steadily over the last few days but there’s not a lot to photograph and show off!  Here are my latest 19 hexagons handsewn together.hexis.jpg

Excuse the crinkles – it’s a moveable project and it came with me to a craft club last night – obviously not packed so nicely for it’s journey home! Might have been due to exhaustion – second day in new job, followed by an evening at a craft club with just an hour between the two.  I might have overstretched myself too far yesterday, though the stitches are even so at least that wasn’t a consequence!

Recently I posted a pic of this sofa quilt project.  Eventually all my hexagons will be sewn together and what started as a cushion project WILL become a throw for my spare sofa.  I am calling it my organic project.  I started it several years ago, have dipped in and out but am currently working away on it, using fabric from my stash and adding more if I come across something complementary when out and about.  I may purchase a FQ or a half metre or more at a time, not exactly planning what I need at all. I am a ‘wing it’ sort of girl and this is a lot of fun. I am not stressing at all about how long it might take me and if another project becomes a priority it won’t matter at all.  There’s a lot of love being stitched into this.  Hand sewing is very therapeutic, and each stitching session is really enjoyable.  This is not detracting from the two knitting projects next to my sofa, nor the machine stitched quilt almost finished on my work table.

Knitting-wise, I have just picked up stitches twice (yes, twice!) around the neck of my latest cotton top.  Unfortunately the first pick up was very uneven so I undid it.  The second pick up has been better but there are still a couple of places I am not happy with.  It has been relegated to it’s knitting bag for the rest of the day.  Sometimes a project ‘works’ first time, but sometimes it doesn’t.  Often when I go back to it everything clicks and that’s the project for the day but today is a knit-no-more day.  No pics of the wonky pick up  – too embarrassed to show that off – I may have to enhance the neckline to make it wearable.

Loving knitting the cotton DK anyway – it’s Paintbox cotton dk yarn from Loveknitting.com. The shade is called Lipstick Pink but to me it’s not pink at all – it’s a definite coral.  I’ve bought a lot online but sourcing online there is always that risk that the colours you see on your screen don’t match the colour in reality.  In this instance I actually prefer coral to the pink anyway. https://www.loveknitting.com/paintbox-yarns-cotton-dk

Would love to hear which online yarn and fabric suppliers fellow crafters use. To start, one UK fabric online shop I love is ElephantInMyHandbag.com – lots to like on here.

I do actually visit shops too.  My hubby says I can sniff out a yarn or fabric shop from miles away – luckily he can be a patient man whilst I shop, or at least he ‘sniffs out’ a pub nearby and pops there whilst he’s waiting!

Byee for now.

 

 

New job/old job! Sew impossible today!

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I have a new job.  I start tomorrow.  Well, it is a new job, but it’s kind of an old job too.  I am returning to a Company I left more than five years ago, with a little more responsibility this time and perhaps a slightly different mindset. I am somewhat reassured I know what I’ve let myself in for, however I am also full of trepidation and cannot settle to anything today.

If a friend asked me whether they should return to a job they left I would probably say ‘don’t go back/move forwards’ for a whole host of reasons, especially if they left through choice, as I did.  I have mulled over this very thing. Circumstances have changed slightly, location of job for one.  The Company is moving forwards itself too.   I am hoping there is a mixture of knowing what I am doing, plus a few new challenges and new faces.

I am so lucky to be given this opportunity. However, I had kind of gotten used to not working! I’ve been crafting more and loving it. The job is only part time so I shall still sew and I shall still knit, perhaps not quite as manically, but hopefully as productively.  Today, however, it just isn’t happening –  I have picked up my sewing and held it for ages without stitching a stitch.  I have rummaged in the knitting bag next to my seat yet not been tempted to pick up sticks and actually knit. This feeling of being unsettled is just a temporary blip – I hope!

So, a few of pics of a recent trip to Devon, instead of the usual crafty updates in bulk! This part of the UK truly is a wonderful place.  Unfortunately for us, the drive there took 8 hours rather than 5, less said about that traumatic part of the trip the better !  Goodbye for now, back another day!

 

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Two weekends ago,  hubby and I posing in the sunshine at Salcombe.  Lovely place to visit !
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The view from where we stayed in Bigbury on Sea, across to Bantham Beach. Glorius!
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We walked across the sand to Burgh Island, took refreshments in the Pilchard Inn, thinking of the smugglers who frequented many moons ago!  You have to time your return if you want to walk back – if you miss the tide then there’s a sea tractor as otherwise you’d have to swim or wade !

Heirlooms? No Family Crafted Items survived, but memories do. A little current patchwork therapy too !

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I just read a lovely post, Blankets and Blessings, by thechickengrandma.wordpress.com and it has made me feel thoughtful about life, past and present (reblogged here on my site for interest and musings).

We all come from somewhere and someone.  When we are gone what do we pass on?

What kind of material history do we leave?  Some people say it’s not the material stuff that matters, and true, memories might matter more.  However, I am sure I am not the only one who would love to have more physical reminders occasionally.

I lost both parents (a mother and a stepfather I considered as my father for 30 years) but I often still feel a little lost myself, like a ship without a compass. I am in my 40’s, with a family of my own, and siblings too.  My parents were great influences, and of course I took them for granted, as all children do. I have many wonderful memories, and can pull those up in times of sadness.  I also have a couple of pieces of jewellery, of no value at all apart from sentimental.

There wasn’t a big collection of family hand me downs, not a heirloom christening gown, wedding dresses, memory quilts.  My mother and grandmother crafted all the time, however, nothing much was really kept.  Once it outgrew it’s purpose or fashion changed,  it was usually gifted to charity (that in itself is a kind and brilliant thing).   Perhaps some would say this was also a blessing, my siblings probably would, clearing the house there was lots of ‘stuff’. I kind of miss my grandmother’s handmade hexi quilt for one thing. I remember her making it, showing me how to cut hexigan shapes with card and cover them in fabric and I remember the quilt on her spare bed. Indeed, I have used this method myself to quilt and it reminds me of her (see below!). I miss my mother’s wedding dress. She had made it herself in 1961, though that’s a whole story in itself (my mother and true father divorced and my sister and I as children were allowed to play dressing up with her wedding dress!)   My mother sewed and knitted, she dabbled with macrame, tatting, crochet, many other things.  I remember she made floral displays from coloured stockings and wire (one even for her best friend’s wedding tiara!).  She made cards too sometimes.  She was pretty much an all-rounder craftwise (oh the hundreds of tea cosies she made for a local charity shop too.. flew off their shelves like hot cakes!) Nan was slightly less so, but she still knitted and sewed, and as a keen WI member she baked cakes and made jam, even writing this I can smell her kitchen.  The one thing I have of my Nan’s is a mixing bowl and I love using it occasionally, though also terrified of accidently breaking it as well. My Dad’s material legacy to me is very little, it’s more things he said and things he did that make me smile.

So, what will my own craft legacy be – if anything?  I knit, I sew, I dabble.  I have a son who has never wanted to craft and has no interest in anything I make.  I have a husband who tolerates the crafting chaos, and fakes an interest in completed items! I have gifted various knitted and sewn things to friends over the years and currently am doing so for new babies in the family and for friends.  Perhaps they will become their family heirlooms, or perhaps not.  Who knows?  I would like to think in years ahead someone might find something I made in a long lost storage box and be delighted to rediscover it!

Many current WIPS. One is this …..

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I started with a few hexagons about six years ago, a project that was going to be a large cushion, but having rediscovered it I am going to make a lot more and turn it all into a throw for a sofa.  Not an urgent project, more like an ergonomic past time that will be dipped into over months and years!  Don’t expect to see the finished item here too soon! 

Signing out for now. Feeling nostalgic having had a couple of recent big family celebrations.
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Blankets and Blessings

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I wish I had family heirlooms to pass on down.

The Chicken Grandma

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A couple months ago my husband and I got the news that we were going to be grandparents again!!!  Our youngest son and his wife told us they were expecting some time in September.

We were also instructed not to tell anyone at that time as they were waiting to tell their grandparents first. I will have to be honest and tell you that waiting those weeks to tell anyone was extremely hard! (Maybe it is a woman thing….my husband didn’t seem to have a problem at all!)

I needed something to take my mind off my need to keep my mouth shut so I started crocheting a baby blanket. The pattern I used was one I found years ago in a book at a local library. I have no idea what the name of the book is anymore but I know the blanket was called Sweet Dreams.

I…

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A week of stitching

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Over the Easter weekend I was poorly, but I did get a little stitching in before the weekend and a lot (a lot!) since then. I’ve been having a sewfest (if there is a word – or if there isn’t one, there should be).  It’s been like an obsession.  Whenever I could I sat and stitched, pieced fabrics together, played with design,  patchworked, quilted, sorted fabrics, etc.  I’ve made mistakes, undone the mistakes, restitched, rejigged old patterns, browsed sewing books and so on and so on.  It’s been total indulgence in my crafting world.

I started with the beginnings of a bright green and orange quilted playmat, the cutest nursery prints, mostly fabrics donated to me by a very good friend.  She heard I was sorting out my stash and thought she would add to it. It was so much fun chopping up fabric and piecing it back together.  The top went well and I was on a roll!  In fact, we sat and quilted together. The backing was not quite as successful… more later.

Next I undid a peg bag I had started two weeks ago – I wasn’t pleased with it, slightly skew on the measurings.

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Second time lucky – ta dah!

 

Then I was sorting through some more of the fabric from the same friend. I found the beginnings of a baby patchwork quilt – I asked what she might have been making and for whom – she couldn’t remember! There were random sized strips stitched together – the prettiest designs in pinks and yellows.  I turned it into a bag, lining it with dotty pink fabric from my stash (so I did get to use some of my fabric after all).  I tried to follow a pattern in a book – which presumed you knew a lot about making bags – well, that was fun (sarcastically said, there was more than one attempt with the lining and a lot of frustration!)  Still, you learn a lot as you go sometimes, and I learnt a lot this time!.

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Then I still had some of the same fabric left.  I pieced it, backed it, quilted it, chopped it, added a zip – and voila – a fabric pouch. I based this on a previous project, which I still use as a make up pouch.  However, my own one had nasty raw seams inside.  This one, has posh french seaming. Having only done french seams once before I was quite proud of myself. Now who wouldn’t be happy to have this for girly bits and bobs such as hair accessories?

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And then that pouch got a brother – in blues and greens – maybe not for hair accessories this time –  for a picnic bag/day out bag to store tissues and wet wipes 

You can see a few things went well.  Back to the first project, that baby quilt.  I attempted the backing, totally off kilter – I was still feeling under the weather.  I should never craft when I am poorly. Whether it’s sewing or knitting, it just does not go well! So, off came No 1 backing.  A trip to a fabric shop later (why is it sometimes your stash does just not have the right fabric for the job?)  and No 2 backing was perfect.  Just to add the quilt padding, stitching the opening and then maybe hand tying, or maybe not – when finished it will be on show here.

As for what’s going on around me the rest of the week? We are currently having a new roof on our house.  There is noise and chaos surrounding me! I am squirrelled away indoors.  Occasionally I step out of the front door, look up for falling debris, before offering the roofers more tea and biscuits.  A happy builder is one full of tea and biscuits I find! So far, so good. Two skips full of 80+year clay tiles, one wasps nest discovered.

Bye for now.  Back to creating.

Quilted beginning of something .. a few weeks of creation and a show of textile artistry.

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Quilted beginning of something

I haven’t decided what it’s going to be yet!

 

I just discovered this draft blog post from a while ago – I was ‘cleaning’ up things on my laptop – I can’t believe I missed posting this.  I guess at the time my blogging practice was poor or the internet signal failed and I just didn’t remember to press ‘send’ .  What a fail!

Well, this lovely piece of patchwork turned into a sewing machine cover.  I have been sewing quite a lot over the last two weeks and every time I reveal my machine it brings me a little delight.

I have a Juki HZL-e80 machine purchased a few years ago from World of Sewing in Bromley, Kent.  https://www.worldofsewing.com

Yesterday, whilst sewing with a friend – a lovely day spent together quilting – more to follow on my next post about that – we were chatting about what we like about our machines and why we bought them.  For me, it was several things – the automatic needle threader,  thread cutter attachment, the use of a stop/start button as an alternative to a foot pedal, the fact you can slow the sewing speed down (from hare to a tortoise!), the selection of embroidery stitches, the weight of the machine – at the time it was a huge leap up from my second hand old Singer which had been struggling on for eons!  I guess, you can make more with the correct tools.  I was so fed up with my old machine grabbing the thread around the bobbin spool and it was clunky and so heavy to move from the cupboard to the table.

I am so inspired by what I see friends make and from the online world, either through blogs or Pinterest (there’s how to lose a few hours!).  I have been loving my latest creative weeks – there are not enough hours in the day to sew and to knit!  I am between ‘real’ jobs and it’s been marvellous to just enjoy creating and trying to use some of my fabric and yarn stash.

I love to see what others make – even considered eventually opening my own Etsy shop, but that’s a long way off.

At a recent trip to a local craft fair – a recce to see what sells (!) – there was a fantastic textile exhibition.  I loved one person’s work in particular, which included a mini hexagan patchwork quilt (no photo here), embroidery of the most colourful kind, and other embroideries on reclaimed antimassacars !  Adding just a few photos – on this occasion real snapshots only.

I hope you like what you see here.