Tuesday, 17 November 2015

It’s coming to that time of year again folks!

We sewists always give ourselves too much to do at Christmas time what with making all the presents, wrapping them beautifully then there is a house (or in my case flat) to decorate. If you’re like me you want to hand make absolutely everything! Crazy I know!

This year I have had a little extra added pressure as I am not going to be able to make it ‘up north’ to Cumbria for ‘real Christmas’ this year. Instead we are having our family Christmas in November (the best time for me to take time off work). This means my present making deadlines have been very tight… that is presents from me and those that family members have asked me to make for them to give as presents! Have almost done it…. Just one more left to go… must keep knitting!

Am writing this post on the train, my suitcases next to me bulging with pressies! I feel like the female Father Christmas and of course she is travelling first class (I booked early ;-)).

I love knitting on long journeys it passes the time nicely. Very relaxing, even when you can feel people watching you. I will get this last present finished!

Christmas in November for our family is on Thursday and will be opening the handmade gifts. Watch this space for pictures!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Knitting… how hard can it be?

The answer is… not very, as long as you know where to look for help.

I can’t resist a good ball of yarn. In any haberdashery I am always drawn to them… aren’t you? When sewing isn’t enough for me I pick up my knitting needles and have a go.

A few years ago I was working in a hotel in Sherwood Forest and didn’t have my sewing machine with me. I was doing a lot of cross stitch but fancied giving something else ago. There was a lovely little shop called Craft Corner (http://www.craft-corner.net/) nearby and I went there for some inspiration. It was here I bought my first knitting needles and yarn and thought, “Knitting… how hard can that be?” It was a beautiful chunky velvet spun yarn in plum (my favourite colour at the time) to make a scarf. The lady in the shop was very helpful and pointed out that this was perfect for a beginner as the yarn wasn’t too fiddly.

Here came the tricky bit…. Actually teaching myself how to knit. You Tube is the best invention for learning new skills and after watching numerous videos and muttering “I don’t get it” at the screen a few times, I had managed to cast on and I was knitting away!

It took me ages to finish the scarf, I wanted it to be perfect. I soon learned that I didn’t need to pull the tension too tight as I was finding it difficult to push the needles through. Once I finished scarf number one I was straight back to Craft Corner for another ball. I loved the velvet yarn so much that I got a second in red this time to make a scarf for my Mam, Christmas was coming up. It was just ‘knit every stitch’ once again but this was fine with me, practice makes perfect.

After this I started to buy knitting magazines and tried to figure out the patterns in them myself. A great way to learn new stitches. I learned to purl (thank you You Tube) and discovered different textures that could be created. The magazines were really helpful as they showed me that not all patterns are complicated and if there was ever anything on them that I didn’t understand it usually explained it at the back of the publication or a few clicks on the internet and someone helpful on You Tube was taking me though it step by step.

Much more recently I had a fantastic day out at Kirsty Allsopp’s Handmade Fair at Hampton Court. I had had a bit of a break from my knitting projects as my sewing was taking up most of my free time. I booked myself onto the Intermediate Knitting skills workshop with the lovely Suzie Johnson. I have to admit I was a little out of my depth to begin with, however with a little perseverance and a lot of help from the lovely ladies there I was feeling much more confidant. I learned to cable. This I was most excited to learn as I love the look of a cabled knit… so pretty. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to finish the bracelet we were making in the workshop… however I came away with a lovely cabled napkin ring!

I couldn’t wait to try out my newly acquired skills again at home and stayed up quite late that night making my cabled bracelet so I could wear it with pride the next day at work. It didn’t matter that I was a little sleepy… my new piece of jewellery looked awesome!

The workshop 100% rekindled my love for knitting and have started looking into more complex patterns. I am hoping to make a selection of knitted Christmas gifts for friends and family this year... watch this space.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Oliver and S Sketchbook Shorts – Pattern Review

I had such fun making these super cute sketchbook shorts for my little Cousin William. 

The pattern back recommends light to medium weight woven fabrics and the Space Robots Kokka fabric that I picked up at The Village Haberdashery in West Hampstead was the perfect choice.

I chose the Oliver and S pattern as it was recommended to me by friends on Instagram as a popular choice for children’s shorts and seemed reasonably simple to put together.
The pattern itself comes well presented in a paper envelope with cover sleeve showing a drawing of the shorts and the sketchbook shirt (which is also included) like a paper doll and outfit…Such a lovely touch that takes me back to my childhood.

This design is available in two size ranges, 6M-4 or 5-12. I was working with the larger option and size 5. The pattern pieces were very easy to locate on the large sheets and the paper was not flimsy like most commercial patterns which was a nice change. Because the pattern is nestled across the sizes I traced round the size I required so I can reuse the pattern in another size another time. This was very easy to do as the pieces are so little; I love this about making children’s clothes, makes a nice change from the full skirt patterns I make quite frequently.

The instructions are very clear and detailed and they include a very helpful glossary. Perfect for someone who is relatively new to working with a pattern. Fabric and cutting layouts are also explained as well as some handy general instructions – very useful for beginners and a good reminder for more advanced sewers too.

I found the main directions extremely easily to follow and the diagrams were very clear and suitable. It also offers nifty tips along the way to help with the trickier steps. The only section I found difficult was working out the faux fly, a water-soluble pen may have helped me out more here... now added to my shopping list.

The waistband was nice and easy to add. My little cousin’s waist measurement is quite petite and so I cut the length of elastic a little smaller than that advised. This worked fine with the pattern and the fit was perfect.

I am so happy with this make, it is a lovely pattern to follow and the fabric was a delight to work with, it is so fun. I will certainly use this pattern again and have enough fabric left to perhaps make another pair of little shorts.

William loves wearing his new Sketchbook Shorts and recently wore them on a trip out with his Mam and Dad and big sister Emily. Perhaps a Sketchbook Shirt next…