Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Somewhat famous

As usual, my blog is neglected. My posts about crochet have been few and far between. The truth is, I've been so busy crocheting things that I haven't had time to blog about it! The past year or so has been a blur of making, but as you can tell, very little of it for me and mine. No, I haven't been writing a book, but with the volume of patterns I've been working on can attest, I may as well be! I would like to write another book, something that's very 'me', and teaches the finer points and 'cheats' if you like of crochet. But at the moment I'm elbow deep in hooky. Last year I became a regular contributor to Simply Crochet, and I've enjoyed the challenges of working with different yarns and ideas that aren't mine. Making something that has wide appeal, with an easy-to-follow pattern has taught me a lot, and I'm really thrilled that I'm getting to try out so many of my ideas.

I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to use my blog as a kind of virtual portfolio. I'm not organised enough to have PDFs of all my writing work, and that would appeal to you in NO way. But I think you'd like to see some of my crochet projects. One day I'll get some PDF patterns together for a shop. One day, one day...

Here are some of my designs in Simply Crochet:

 Issue 28- my version of a spring wreath! Simple and effective. I used Phildar Phil Coton 4. 

 Issue 26- I love this neon doily rug! It killed my hands. My the neon Boodles yarn looks great!

 Issue 24- I really enjoyed putting together this Christmas advent garland. Especially the tapestry crochet pouch, the design is inspired by a traditional Nordic knitting pattern. 

 Ahhhh yes! This Christmas wreath in issue 24 was a big hit. I love love LOVE it and the inspiration was instant. Kitsch! 

 This one was featured before. I love seeing other people's versions of it, too. The wonderful Sally has blogged about her cushion here, and you can see the pattern on Ravelry here

Some of my patterns from 500 Crochet Blocks have also featured! In 2013 it was featured in Inside Crochet and Mollie Makes, and when browsing the mags in Sainsbury's late last year I found this in Love Crochet!

About a year ago I was approached by a publisher for a super secret Crochet project...it was finally revealed to be these gorgeous bookazines! I made four beautiful projects, and absolutely love the styling.

 J'adore this cowl. I have some much yarn left over I could easily make another. Rowan yarn is just the best, in my opinion. This creative worsted is soft and thick. 

 This rather bonkers tea cosy was the love child of a brief that said 'the madder the better' and my love of neon pink pom poms. 

 I much prefer the colours of these bright coasters- an ideal beginner's project. 

 This rug is made of six motifs, stitched together. Unfortunately it was styled upside down! The right side facing looked much neater, but I used some of my favourite wool- Rowan Big Wool for the project. I think the jersey stuff makes better rugs, but this is so cosy and soft underfoot. 

And finally- some knitting! No, I did not design these projects, but I did knit these delightful photography samples! I can't wait until you see the striped beach hut I made in the next issue...
The Art of Knitting is on sale now, I've been collecting them in this rather natty ring binder, as the styling is so gorgeous. 

And of course there is SO much more to come! I'm currently working on three magazine commissions from Simply Crochet and Inside Crochet. All the time my skills are improving and perhaps by the end of the year I'll be able to design garments. I have so many ideas for simple garments in my head. If you have any tips for helping grade sizes etc please do post links below.

And THANK YOU for all your support buying magazines. I've been a magazine journalist for NINE years now, and seen so many of my former employers disappear into an online ether. Print media has seen a huge decline, so I'm delighted that craft mags are so popular, and that I have the opportunity to work for them. Isn't it bonkers? Five years ago I could only crochet a granny square. Now I'm teaching advanced techniques and making the craft I love accessible and desirable.

Now, best get back to work, I have swatching and scribbling to be getting on with...


Friday, 27 February 2015


Hello! Me again! I made something else- and it's GREEN! I think I am in love with green. This particular green is Drops Nepal in Olive Mix- some gorgeous soft, thick wool I bought a loooooong while ago with no real project in mind.

In September I decided to expand my knitting skills with another cardi- this time knitted in the round on chunky 6mm needles. Easy peasy. And it was! Until I got to the sleeves. Having never knitted anything in the round before I found the garter stitch a fiddle. Knit one row, purl the next. My first sleeve had ladders all the way down from the change from one DPN to the next. But I got there in the end. However, put off by the fiddly-ness of sleeve number one and a raft of commissions and Christmas, Annabel went back into her bag for a few months. Until January when I decided to just get on with it, and it took just a few evenings to finish it. The pattern is Annabel by Quince & Co...


 I love the neckline.
 See that ladder there on the sleeve?

 The colour is heaven, and changes in every light.

 The wooden buttons are from Liberty.
Soft, warm and cosy. Perfect. I think I'd like another one. Maybe next winter, I can't face waiting six months for more sleeve motivation! I'm hoping to try another cardigan soon though- perhaps Andi Sutterland's Miette cardi? Suggestions please! Simplicity is key. 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

A Coco and a Camber

AKA The Great British Sewing ME!

I've been tentatively taking my first steps in dressmaking over the past few months. Considering what sort of things I'd like to make, what I am most likely to wear, and above all what is least likely to make me swear profusely. I began last year with a few Colette Sorbetto tops- a great summer staple which I wore a lot. Then my sewing machine broke. I think it was something simple like the timing or whatever, but it was very grind-y and not very sew-y. So I borrowed my nan's old Bernina sewing machine. She bought it in 1964 and it still runs like a DREAM! However, it wasn't Miss Betsey and I missed her lovely sturdy frame and reliable stitching. So I spent the best part of £100 having her fixed and serviced, ready for another 40 years of impeccable service.

And the first project I have sewn on the new, improved Betsey is a Merchant and Mills Camber dress. I wanted to make something simple, but elegant with no zips or buttons or anything fancy like that, so this pattern is ideal.

I ordered the fabric, pattern and thread from Ray Stitch, and I was completely won over by the great service, packaging and MUSTARD postage bag.

(as May would say 'my top stitching has gone for a walk...')
I immediately got to work, washing, drying, ironing the fabric and cutting the simple pattern pieces carefully. I have never made a Merchant and Mills garment before, and wasn't sure on the sizing. So I did some research and blogs reassured me that the pattern is drafted beautifully, for a loose dress with lots of ease. I thought I'd start with a cotton poplin- it wasn't too expensive, and I love this print and colour. I'm hoping to make it at a later date in a light denim for summer and layering. I enjoyed sewing the darts, making and attaching the binding and slotting all the pieces together. It was pretty quick and simple really, though I did get lost on the facing/neckline assembly. I didn't really understand the instruction due to my inexperience. Unfortunately I ended up with a too-small neckline, so had to undo a few stitches. I think that this was down to not paying attention to the seam allowance. I managed to unpick a few stitches but it made a little hole and didn't sit flat on the neckline, so I made a matching piece of bias to go around the back of the neckline. It looks a bit messy but really this one is my 'wearable toile' (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).
I erred on the side of caution and cut a size 14. However, I am a triangle shape and have narrow shoulders, a waist then rather large hips and behind, so the first 'draft' ended up HUGE! I am a fan of ease but it looked like a sack. So I unpicked the sleeves, and the side seams and made some adjustments, taking around 1.5cm off the armholes to make the shoulders narrower, and pulling the side seams another cm or so. I also took about 2 inches off the hem, but really next time I will shorten it properly so it doesn't alter the a-line shape of the skirt.

Now I am thrilled with it! I've been wearing it with grey wooly tights and my lovely clog boots
I can't wait to order some of Merchant and Mill's denim for my next one. Maybe this time I'll get the neckline right! I'm very pleased with it and have worn it a lot! I've also been busy on Bernie Bernina too.

First up, a Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress in mustard ponte roma...
I bought the pattern at Liberty and the fabric and jersey needles online. I already had the mustard thread in my Nana's old sewing box so I was good to go! This dress was another brilliant, easy make. I found working with knits OK, as ponte di roma isn't toooooo stretchy. I think I stretched it ever-so-slightly around the neckline, but it's an otherwise neat make! I accidentally sewed the side seams in zig-zag stitch but it hasn't made much of a difference to be honest. I'm definitely going to make more of these- just searching for the perfect striped knit now! I've worn the mustard one a LOT.

 (here I am posing like a numpty at Make, Do & Mend) 
(sorry about the ugly boots)
I also made a Sew Over It silk cami, in this beautiful blue rayon I bought at their stall at The Handmade Fair. I'm VERY pleased with this as slippery fabrics can be a pickle. But I learnt a lot from it- LOTS of pins! I like the french seams and even finished the bottom seam with a rolled hem tool on Nan's machine. I love the finish of this, but it's a crying shame I didn't pay enough attention to the sizing- this is much too small! I will have to give it to my skinny sister.

And I also knocked up a quick skirt using the Paris Skirt tutorial. This was SO quick and simple. It's really lovely, but I have't worn it very much. Perhaps in the spring and summer- the beautiful John Lewis fabric doesn't look quite right with tights.

Anyway, these are my latest sewings! Of course I've been busy with other things, updates to come soon. I've just bought some lovely light cotton in a black and cream gingham print- wondering whether to make a washi dress with it. It looks like the kind of dress that'll be easy to sew and easy to wear. I really hope spring comes soon, I'm fed up of heavy jumpers and jeans now!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Alexa's jumper

Has winter left yet? The blue skies and bright sunshine says yes, the biting cold wind and imminent snow, ice and sleet says no. Anyway, I'm totally over winter. I need some better light than this low winter sun, though I like the long shadows on days like this. I'm not terrifically keen on the illness though. We have been struck with norovirus this week, paint a big red cross on the door. Yesterday was spent in pyjamas, under blankets and enjoying DVDs, though my big one hated being absent from school. And neither of us were keen on waking in the night for, well, you know...

On Sunday, however, we were in fine health and attended the third birthday of my friend's lovely daughter, Alexa. I decided to make her this...

Isn't it cute? I love the neon trim (even if I do say so myself!) and the colours against the navy body and sleeves. The pattern is based on a Nicki Trench pattern from Cute and Easy Baby Clothes. It's actually a cardigan pattern, but to join it I simply slip stitched at the end of the row, turned and then went back the other way. It was inspired by the Alicia Paulson Mina Dress, which I've made a couple of times. But I wanted something more practical for Alexa, and something warm. I used a 4mm hook to size it up a little, as the sizes in the book only go up to a 24-36 months. However, Alexa is petite like her mama so this is a perfect fit for her.

The colours look better here

I used Stylecraft Special DK in the following shades:
Old Rose
And Midnight for the deep navy body and sleeves.

As you can see, I worked back and forth as per the cardigan pattern for the first seven rows, the started slip stitching the rows together before turning and working in the opposite direction. I added a ch10 loop for the button at the end of row 1, slip stitching to the row and securely tying it up with the tail ends of yarn. I sewed on a mother-of-pearl button, and just love it. I also added the double crochet rows in contrasting neon pink for extra pops of colour.

Now if only I could find a basic cardigan/sweater pattern for adults so I could make one for me...


Friday, 16 January 2015

Hi...and a blanket

Thanks for your warm welcome back to blogland, I really appreciate all the comments and new visitors to my page, all thanks to the generous Vanessa over at Coco Rose Diaries, undoubtedly one of my favourite blogs. One of things I'm really enjoying this week is having my comment form back! I couldn't manage my comments with the Etsy template- so do bear that in mind if you're thinking of buying a pre-made template. I've been spending a lot of time on Pinterest lately, really gathering inspiration for the year ahead, and also connecting with hundreds of you over on Instagram. One thing I have been rather lazy about during my break from blogging has been properly visiting favourite blogs, however. It's so nice to connect with people like this! And I'm so grateful that you visit me and comment here, too. I've been using Bloglovin' lately, a great app version on my phone, in fact. It's good for reading blogs and discovering new ones, but you can only 'like' rather than comment. Do many of you use Bloglovin'? I really must gather all my blogs on there and add them to my sidebar list here. Also, I am loving my mustard background. I just love mustard, LOVE IT.

So anyway. Yesterday I gave this FINISHED OBJECT (yes! I know!) away to some friends who just had a baby...

Hi, baby Elliott. Welcome to the world. 

His mama and papa asked me to make this ages ago, inspired by a picture my friend had seen on Pinterest (where else?), so I duly ordered the yarn then completely avoided making it for about two months. Mainly due to deadlines, but also black yarn avoidance. 

Working with black yarn is a lot easier if it's chunky (like this), and in daylight. If you're thinking of embarking on a black project, make sure you're choosing a yarn that doesn't split easily, and perhaps invest in a hook that lights up! 

I kind of made the Hi baby blanket pattern up as I went along. 

BUT. I used chunky yarn and a 6mm hook. 
6 x 100g balls of black
2 x 100g balls of white
Foundation chain was worked until about 105cm long. Work in htr for about 16 rows. 
Then on row 17, 20htr in black, then change to white for 15 sts, change to black for 11sts, then back to white until you get to the last 20 sts, which are worked in black again. Turn. 
Row 18 is worked in reverse, then repeat the rows until you've worked 15 rows in total for your 'i'. Then switch back to black for 15 rows, then construct your 'h'. You basically work as for the i, matching the crown of the h with the long stroke of the i. it's all worked by eye really! the top of the h matches the top of the dot of the i, so it's nice and neat, and the posts of the h are the same width as the i. Then 16 more rows of black! It was 88cm in width for the edge- just 2 rows of simple dc around the edge to finish it off nicely. 

It's cot-size, as you can see here, modelled in George's cot bed, so in the end worked out about 90 x 107cm- an ideal lap blanket! Relatively quick and simple, too. 

See you soon hooky amigos