Friday, 30 December 2011


This year I have started teaching workshops at RiversMEET Craft Cafe. So far I've done 3; a felted beads & bracelets workshop and 2 beginner crochet workshops.

The next crochet workshop (beginners) is scheduled for January 29th. Book your place directly with RiversMEET. Places are limited. The aim of the workshop is to get you making all the basic stitches, increasing, decreasing both flat and in the round. 

Already familiar with the basic stitches and want to do something a bit more advanced? Let us know so we can try to schedule something suitable.

Christmas Chaos!

Well, I've just realised I haven't blogged since the end of October. It has been so busy here.

First off I started my second Open University module in October. The assessment for the first 5 Units consists of a computer marked assignment after each one (i.e. every 2 weeks). I have a longer tutor marked assignment due on Thursday that I really need to get started on.

I've also been busily crafting. I took part in a swap on the We Love Lucy ravelry group. This involved making some bits and buying some more things to send to a partner. I had lots of fun selecting items and was sooooo pleased with the items I received.

It included this handmade fairy, which went on our Christmas tree and will do so every year

Some Rowan handknit cotton. I still haven't decided what to use this for.

and lots of other bits

One of the items I've been finishing off is the neat ripple blanket as featured on the Attic24 blog. I made this from Jarol Heritage DK.

I added a sc broder just to finish it off as I thought the lime green end stripe looked a bit unfinished. It's now on the sofa in the living room awaiting cushions to match. I have crocheted the front of one cushion by using wider ripples and sitting on the back of the sofa are 25 granny squares for the other cushion cover. I need to weave all the ends in (hate that job!) before joining them together. My Boxing Day shopping consisted of me searching for some jumpers I can chop up for the backs of the cushion covers.

Of course it wouldn't be Christmas without some last minute panic crafting and this year it was stockings. I made one for a friend of my husband and enjoyed making it so decided to make one for each of us. I'm really pleased with them but oh my, do they hold a LOT.

I didn't have any stocking hangers so did a mad rush round the shops on Christmas Eve and managed to make do with some plastic hooks for hanging lights on the outside of your house. Once these were hanging up I felt very festive.

and the children were very pleased with them. Better still there was no fighting over which one they wanted!

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

CNA Recycled Scarf

Over on the CNA forum we're having a crafty workshop extravaganza for half term. There's a variety of craft tutorials, some for adults, some for children and for all different abilities. I'm currently hosting a quilted placemat tutorial - why not head over and check it out?!

One of the ones that caught my eye though was the recycled scarf tutorial by the lovely Annie. Unfortunately I didn't have any old t-shirts to cut up but I admired the others that had been made. So I was over the moon why my husband got home and said he's ripped his top while writing on a whiteboard at work. He was perhaps less than impressed with my unsympathetic "Can I have it?" response.

So I chopped the ripped bit off the bottom and cut from armhole to armhole, leaving me with a big loop. I then cut thin strips partway up. I also cut the label out as it was a bit big. Then to add insult to injury I got my husband to model it for me cos I wasn't very well

I'm really pleased with how it turned out. No matter how many people previously made lovely ones, I did expect mine to look like I'd hacked at a t-shirt...rather like that zip corsage I made and donated to the children's toybox because I was convinced it looked like I'd just sewn a zip onto my clothes. This scarf I will definitely be proud to wear.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Christmas is Coming

Is it too early to talk about Christmas? I hope not because I love Christmas. I also hate how busy the shops get in the run up to it so I tend to do my shopping early. I've pretty much finished it this weekend, just have to get a few more stocking fillers for the kids. Oh and something for two families we're friends with, which I would have by now except the husband did that "What are you buying that for?" look so I didn't get them and typically they'd sold out today after he said later "That's a good idea". Never take the husband Christmas shopping is going in the diary for next year.

Last year I made a gingerbread house from an Ikea kit and decorated it and I just couldn't resist buying another one this year. I'll have to have a think about what to do to make it different this year though. Here's last years

Not bad for a first attempt, which is more than can be said for the wreath

but I was soooo busy trying to make the oranges dry out without burning that I didn't think too much about the wreath itself. Perhaps I should stick to fabric and yarn!

I'd like to say I'll be excited to put the advent calendar up

but it's still up from last year :-o

This year though I plan to actually quilt the Christmas panel I bought last year. I'd like to make a wallhanging or two as well and I really want some bunting. Maybe some crocheted bunting and some fabric. I also have some red and white fabric which I might make Christmas tree shapes from and turn into a quilted table runner or mat for the centre of the table.

Best laid plans and all that though, knowing me I'll get totally caught up with other stuff and not get round to making pretty things for myself

Friday, 21 October 2011

Granny Stripe Blanket

It's finished! Yay!

Yesterday I managed to finish the double bed sized granny stripe blanket. I started this on September 18th so it's taken me 32 days. Not bad considering I've got a toddler at home, a 4 year old at school and have had a 3 hour exam to revise for and sit. It's been a fantastic pattern for just picking up and doing a couple of stripes while my little one naps. I was getting low on yarn towards the end though and decided to slightly alter Lucy's border as I didn't think I had enough yarn for the two rounds of UK trebles so I switched the outer one for an extra round of UK doubles. The final round of edging was sooooo slow and I didn't think I was going to get it done before the school run but I finished it just in time. It was definitely worth it though as I adore it.

It's a terrible picture because there's not enough space to get in a good position to take pictures in our bedroom and the light isn't good either. Here's a close up of the blanket folded on the sofa for a better view of that gorgeous edging.

Like Lucy I did random stripes. I was planning on doing 80 but then realised the blanket was going to be far too wide(guesswork for the starting chain) so I did 60 and put it on the bed with the stripes running vertically. It was a good job too because I'd have needed to buy more yarn too. It's the Stylecraft Special DK that Lucy used (various places seem to be selling a Attic24 pack) and I couldn't resist the bright colours. It was lovely to work with too, which was a lovely surprise given it's price; even with postage it worked out about £1.50 per 100g.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Quick Granny Stripe Update

So, I forgot to do this earlier but here's an updated pic of the Granny Stripe blanket. It's now at 45 stripes. I think though that the weight is making it seem wider once it's on the bed and I think I've made it too wide. Current plan is to do another 15 stripes, then add the border and put it the other way on the bed so the stripes are vertical.

Christmas is Coming

I've already started the Christmas shopping. I always start it in October in the hope I won't have to trawl round the shops when they're packed in December. Of course, the reality is I get all shopping sorted, wrapped, labelled and then the relatives start phoning me "Can you get this thing for you kids cos I can't get it near me?". So I actually do my shopping in October so I can do everyone else's in December, LOL.

I'm always tempted to make all the gifts I send by hand but invariably I end up finding myself without the time to do so. This year though I have already made my aunty a scarf (well I need to weave the ends in but it's pretty much finished). I have enough yarn left to make another so I might do that, it was a fast knit once I got used to handling the loopy King Cole Krystal yarn.

I've also bought the yarn for my next blanket. I'm really enjoying making the Granny Stripe blanket and am planning to make a single bed sized Ripple blanket next. I've loved using the bright colours but decided not to use them again for the Ripple because I didn't want my enthusiasm to wain. So here is my selection of Jarol Heritage DK

Having done the Granny Stripe randomly I might decide to plan the colours out more with this one and repeat them. Still pondering though.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Fat Quarter Quickie

You remember my Halloween quilt top shown below, well, after sewing it together it was time to decide whether to put a border on and if so, what to choose. My original plan was to use the spare backing fabric for the border but then I realised it wasn't going to look right, the pattern was too much and too big. This is actually great news for me because it means I got to go fabric shopping.

I nipped over to The Skep. I really like this shop, it has a nice balance of fabric and yarn along with a few bits like magazines and buttons. So I had a plan to go and buy a meter of black fabric (wanted extra for my other Halloween project). I was going to be good. Only a meter of fabric....

Well, I came out with the black fabric I wanted, plus a long 1/4 of glow in the dark fabric to use on the corners of the border and a pack of 10 FQ's just because I liked them. Luckily my husband was sitting in the car with the children by this point so couldn't do the "more fabric" eye rolling. 

So, here's the finished Halloween quilt top

I'm really pleased with it. It's now awaiting quilting as I've been waiting for glow in the dark thread :-) which arrived this morning. Unfortunately my husband is working late so I doubt I'll have chance to play around with it until the weekend.

Close up of the glow in the dark skull fabric

The extra black fabric was used to do a wallhanging (which I think is from a Nancy Halvorsen pattern iirc), apologies for the terrible pictures

There's still a fair way to go on this so I doubt I'll have both the quilt and wallhanging done by Halloween.

As for those 10 FQ's I couldn't help but do something with them right away. I had a browse online for a pattern but struggled to find anything suitable. Everytime I found a pattern I loved it needed lots more FQ's so I decided to make my own. I cut my FQ's into 10 pieces, then swapped fabrics around so that there was 1 section in each colour and sewed them back together! Admittedly some of the combinations aren't what I'd have done if I'd had a bit more time but I'm pleased with the result. First attempt at laying it out I just put the blocks down as I'd made them in a 3x3 setting then moved them around to balance the colours out a bit. This was the result

but I wasn't convinced about it. I then decided maybe it would look better if I rotated some of the blocks and much preferred that look. I decided to stitch he blocks in each row together and then, since there were only two more lines of stitching to join the rows together, finished the quilt top the day after starting it. Here it is

But 3x3 is only 9 I hear you say! Yes there is a spare block, which I am planning to use on the back of the quilt. I'm thinking of using white fabric for the rest of the back and putting the spare block in to tie it in with the front.

I'm hoping to write up the pattern/tutorial for the quilt top soon so check back if you're interested!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Wednesday is approaching

Back in February I started a course with the Open University. The idea is that once both kids are at school full-time I will go back to work so I'm retraining to open up a few more possibilities. It's been great doing more study and I feel like I've done well but Wednesday is the dreaded exam day. Three hours of being quizzed on the finer details of the course and writing code by hand. BY HAND. Do you know how annoying that is? And the exam is in prime nap know that mid afternoon, my baby is sleeping and the only thing stopping me from being asleep is the fact I don't want to be late to pick my 4 year old up from school and so I'm lazing on the sofa in a half-dozing state time of day.

So you'd think, with this exam swiftly approaching I'd be sat with my head stuck in the 14 books I've been learning from. Except what I'm actually doing is looking at my backlog of sewing projects
wondering if perhaps it is time to rethread the overlocker to finish that top (the one that was discarded when the thread snapped and I didn't have the patience to rethread the machine that hates me!) or if I should finish the wallhanging I started over a year ago or take up my daughter's trousers that I bought before she started nursery (she's now in Reception).

And before you say that's a small's not even half of it. That would be the pile that never got hidden away in a bag somewhere and it's only from the sewing backlog. There's also a crochet backlog, a knitting backlog, felting backlog, jewellery making backlog, dyeing backlog. Yes the list goes on and on.

So what have I done today? Have I started on that backlog? No, of course not. I've ordered thread instead ;-)

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Blog Inspiration

So I've been busily crafting away in any spare moment. 

First up is the progress I've made on my Halloween quilt. Originally I had planned to make it 4 blocks wide using the same idea as on the Quilt Dad blog but then I realised that (a) it was going to have to be 8 blocks long and (b) I didn't have enough fabric for 32 blocks. So in a change of plan I decided to make it 3 by 5 blocks and have each block in the same orientation. Of course I decided on this plan after ordering the backing fabric for the bigger size but it's worked out for the best...the sewing group I go to are doing a Halloween quilted bag quilt along so I at least have fabric for the lining and the background.

With limited time this month I am really pleased to have got the blocks sewn together. Just need to decide on a plan for the border so I can get on with it. Here's a pic of the final layout (no pics of it sewn together cos I haven't had time to take any!)

I would have been much further on with it if it hadn't been for a weekend in Lincoln (congrats to Mark & Ming on their wedding) and a weekend in Scarborough, where we had a great time at Flamingo Land and a relaxing day on the beach.

The kids loved Daddy getting buried in the sand

and digging in the sand

and paddling in the sea (even if it was freezing!)

We were really lucky with the weather and definitely chose the right time to go to the beach. By the time we were having a Fish & Chip lunch it had started to darken over and get a bit chilly.

Though obviously you have me to thank for the current heatwave. The hot hot sun had to come out once I was working on a huge blanket didn't it?! The Attic 24 Granny Stripe Blanket is lovely to do and I am up to 23 stripes but making slow progress because of the heat. Here's a picture of the blanket at 22 stripes

I've made it wide enough for a double bed and am hoping to add enough stripes that it works as a blanket but also looks good on the bed. The Attic 24 used 60 stripes so I'm hoping to do around 60-80 and will probably judge it a bit by eye as to whether it's long enough.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

As the new school year begins...

Guess what I totally forgot to do over the summer holidays? Sew name labels onto my 4 year old's uniform. So last night I got the machine out (well I didn't have time to sew them by hand!) and whizzed them on in a rather haphazard manner. I realised we probably have too much uniform but better too much than not enough.

This week and next week will be a little odd. Erin has been to the nursery attached to the school for the past year so is only doing half days at he moment to allow the 'new' people to settle in a bit and make some friends without being overwhelmed. Next Wednesday she stays for lunch for the first time, after that it's full days. She's desperate for next week because she's so excited about staying at school for lunch! Anyway, here she is ready for her first day of Reception.

That's the bear she got at Sundown Adventureland during the holidays. We took the kids camping for 2 nights, which they absolutely loved despite the rain. We'll definitely be camping again next year, hopefully in a bigger tent.

Of course Orla didn't want to miss out on having her photo taken so before getting the one above this is what I got:

See that cheeky face! 

Of course once the machine is out, it would be wrong not to start the Halloween quilt. I'm following the wonky log cabin tutorial over on the Quilt Dad blog. I bought some of the fabric from The Skep, a local quilting shop, last year and then spied some lovely fabric at the Great Northern Quilt Show. I didn't have enough though so I ordered a couple of bits from he Eerie Alley collection by Robert Kaufman from JB Quilting Fabrics. By the way, they have a super efficient service, my fabric arrived less than 24 hours after ordering. 

Here's the first block

Hoping to do one or two more this evening. I may add a bit more wonk to them but I'm loving the technique. I doubt I'll have it finished by Halloween because this month we're going to a wedding, a company weekend plus I have an assignment due and a face-to-face tutorial. I think it's more realistic to aim for having the top made by Halloween and be starting on the quilting. I will of course provide regular updates.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Great Northern Quilt Show 2011

I've had a lovely few hours at the Great Northern Quilt Show in Harrogate while my husband took the children for a picnic and a walk near by. I went to this show last year and really enjoyed it so I can definitely see it being a yearly thing. Last year I also went to the Festival of Quilts but decided against it this year due to the overall cost of going (mainly the travel costs as we have a few trips this year).

I'm always impressed at how much there is at the Harrogate show. It never looks huge from the outside but when you get in there's an impressive display of quilts in one half of the space and a good selection of stalls in the other half, as well as a couple of places to get food/drink.

One thing I find when I go to quilt shows is that I set off with a plan, usually a small list of things I want to look at and maybe purchase but as soon as I get through the door I'm immediately drawn to the fabric. Today was no exception, I had two things on my list and I can't even remember what one was. The other was paper pieces and I decided against those on the grounds that I *could* cut my own and spend the money on fabric instead. 

Not that I spent a fortune though, I went with £20 in cash and came back with change. For that I got 9 FQs, a panel, a pin cushion kit with all the fabrics in, some buttons and a strip of Easter themed pictures (they're classed as labels but I'm planning on getting inventive with them). 

This is the pin cushion kit and the buttons. The pin cushion kit is a little house that opens and closes and I couldn't resisit it at £2.99 from  The Little Lavender Patch and the buttons were 40p and 45p for the packs. The Easter strip below was £1 from Rags For Linda.

I'm also fancy making something in bright colours so I couldn't resist this pack of 6 spotty FQs for £5 from Images of Egypt.

I also picked up some Hallowe'en themed fabric to go with some bits I bought from The Skep last year. Hopefully soon I'll be making a quilt with them. The top one was from Stitch Witch and the bottom two from Cotton Dreams.

The first thing that grabbed my eye at the show though was this lovely Flights Of Fancy panel that I bought from Crafts And Quilts for £4.99. 

A bit of crafting

Having lots of fun at the moment making things for me & my family. When you run a craft business from home it's so easy to end up spending all your time making for other people but August is often a slow month so I took the opportunity to chill out and do my own thing!

First off I taught myself to knit. I've always struggled with knitting as I knit far too tight so about 3 rows in I can't do anymore. A few years ago I decided to practice by making bootees for premature babies and a week later I had a pair of tiny bootees. I proudly showed my mum who then knit a pair in about 15 mins that turned our twice the size of mine. That was when I decided crochet was more my thing! Recently though someone mentioned they prefer circular needles. My mum refuses to knit on circulars because she "can't use them" I've avoided them, but now I have a growing stash of KnitPro Symphonies. My first project was the Oriental Lily dress by Georgie Hallam. It starts off flat, then you join it and knit the rest in the round. It's a fab pattern for learning to knit and I really enjoyed it. Here's it is before I added short sleeves:

I also managed to crochet a scarf for myself. The yarn for this was gifted to me in a craft swap and is handspun. It was called Pebble Beach.

Excuse the orientation of the picture. This was a lovely pattern to make, really quick. It would be perfect for last minute Christmas gifts. It's the Winter in London Scarf by Emily Turner. Using handspun I was slightly worried I might run our of yardage but I actually had some left so I crocheted them up into granny squares along with some leftovers from a baby hat & bootees set I've made for a friend.

I also made myself a hat with earflaps from the Happy Hooker book. My 4 year old loved it and wanted me to make her one so I adjusted the pattern a bit and made hers with the same yarn. Here's the 2 year old modelling it. The yarn is Dazzle DK from the . I still have to add buttons for the ear flaps.

I went the a quilt exhibition at the V&A a while ago, where I purchased 3 FQs of limited edition fabric. I was reminded I had this when a friend posted on facebook to say she'd been married a year. I'd bought the fabric on her weekend hen do in London. Given my recent knitting success I decided to make myself a project bag from two of the fat quarters and I love it.

This photo doesn't really do the colours justice. Both fabrics are bright modern prints and the bag is reversible. It holds lots too. I recently took it away with me for a week and it held my tumbling blocks patchwork pieces, needlecase, 200g of yarn, crochet hooks, pattern and some yarn scraps for granny squares.

My 4 year old is starting Reception this month and I decided to make her a PE bag. I let her choose her own fabric and after liking all the children's fabric I had she finally settled on my Cath Kidston fabric. What can I say, she has expensive taste ;-) . I was originally planning on lining it but decided the fabric was a bit thick and lining it would make it quite bulky so I made up an extra one for Erin's best friend. Each one has their initial appliqued on.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A New Start!

So I know I haven't blogged for ages but it's one of those little jobs that keeps getting pushed to the bottom of my To Do list, which in turn keeps getting longer and longer.

How about I start with an update? Well, I'm finding that there's far more enjoyment in selling my own creations than selling other people's stuff so I'm in the process of reducing the nappy stock and will be focussing on the hand-dyed yarns & fibres from now on.

In light of this change I took a little trip to World Of Wool the other week. What a surprise I had walking in there! You see, I'm used to browsing Wingham Woolworks, which is like a barn and a bunch of sheds packed to bursting with a huge array of treasures. I love it for it's old-world quirkiness and that's what I was expecting at World of Wool. So when I walked into their modern, bright, airy, well-lit unit complete with cafe and toilets (useful when the kids are with you!) it was a real shock. Even better news though is that I came away armed with a number of fibres and some yarn to dye. Expect to see them listed on Etsy soon.

I'm still pondering whether to keep everything listed on Etsy or to keep some stuff on my own website and will have to decide soon but for now, click the post title to see our SoopSee site and let us know what you think (it's not finished yet but we welcome feedback)