Sunday, 27 March 2011

The vintage & craft show - Leigh-on-sea

Yesterday my sister did her first craft show with me at the Community centre - she made some amazing tea cosies and her bunny egg cosies proved very popular - I wonder if that had anything to do with the free Easter egg that came with them?  Am delighted that I sold some of the Rufty Tufty Boys Beanie hats, especially as one was to a lady who had told her mum that she did not up until then want her to knit for the baby, I have a feeling her mum is going to really busy knitting up new clothes!

Just set up the stall and waiting for a coffee!

Some of Annette's work - am loving the doll with the stripey stockings
Lots of friends stopped by, but even better Monica from stopped by, it was super to put a name to virtual friend!

It was a really busy fair, with  loads of really great stalls... my fave was a lady upstairs who had the most fabulous cards which she decorated with free hand machine embroidery - am kicking myself for not buying some!  In fact, they really reminded me of the work of Poppy Treffry, whose book I had bought on Friday, a really delicious book, filled with great ideas.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Rufty Tufty Boys Beanie Hat

I have found lots of hats for little girls but hats for little boys are few and far between, so using the classic beanie design which uses multiples of eight stitches and knits in the round, I came up with a little number in cotton, which is both soft, structured and textured.  They are such a quick knit I have made four for my first Spring Craft Show on Saturday, fingers crossed that they sell well!

And I have also submitted this to Wendy's Handmade Monday blog

Pattern for the Rufty Tufty Beanie Hat

1 ball of Gedifra Fiorista Cotton
1 set of size 4 Double Pointed Needles (DPN)

Cast on 64 stitches as follows, 21 on the first needle, 22 on the second needle and 21 on the third needle - 64 stitches. Remember to make sure when you join the circle that your stitches are not twisted.

Knit 13 rows.

Purl1 row

Knit 2 rows

Purl 3 rows

Knit 3 rows

Purl 2 rows

Knit 2 rows

Purl 1 rows

Knit 6 rows

Commence decreasing as follows:

Row 1: Knit 6, Knit 2 tog  (8 times) to the end of the row (56 st)
Row 2: Knit 5, Knit 2 tog (8 times) to the end of the row (48 st)
Row 3: Knit 4, Knit 2 tog (8 times) to the end of the row (40 st)
Row 4: Knit 3, Knit 2 tog (8 times) to the end of the row (32 st)
Row 5: Knit 2, Knit 2 tog (8 times) to the end of the row (24 st)
Row 6: Knit 1, Knit 2 tog (8 times) to the end of the row (16 st)
Row 7: Knit 2 tog (8 times) to the end of the row (8 st)
Row 8: Knit 2, Knit 2 tog twice (6 st)

To make the tail

Place all the stitches on one of the DPN, Knit one row, slide the stitches to the other end of the needle, bring the wool tightly around the back and knit another row, continue until your tail is the length that you need.  You may notice that there looks to be a big gap when you do the first couple of rows - don't worry - this will even out as you continue to knit up your tail.

I tend to knit it up and tie the knot in and see what length looks good against the beanie.

Using a sewing up needle thread the wool through the stitches twice to gather up the end and pull tightly.  Slip the needle inside your tail and sew in your loose end securely.

This hat should fit a 0 - 6 month old.  For larger sizes just add 8 stitches to your casting on but always reduce to 6 stitches for your tail.

I have also made the hat in Sirdar Summer Stripes, which gives a less structured finish.

And below are the selection which I have made over the last fortnight to take to the show on Saturday.

Monday, 21 March 2011

The Deborah Tote Bag - And how to make it

I made some tote bags for the last show that I did, but my friend Deborah suggested some changes that she would like to see in the next bag and not only that she gave me an early Christmas present - labels so that I can try and spot them out on The Broadway.

Am also featuring this on Wendy's Handmade Monday Blog

Preparation is everything when you are making anything, if you get everything together before you start, it makes your life so much easier, so you will need to gather up the following:
  • Fabric for outer and lining
  • Webbing (1.5" wide)
  • Cutting equipment, shears, scissors, mat etc
  • Sewing machine
  • Cotton
  • Iron and ironing board (your new best friend for any sewing project)
    Your fabric - both outer and lining - heavy cotton 
    works really well
    Your cutting kit, including rotary cutters, mat, ruler, 
    pinking shears and small scissors
    Remove the selvedge and cut the bag to size, for a 
    medium bag,  you need a outer and lining measuring 
    14"(width)  x 28" (length) and for a larger bag 
    16" x 32"
    Fold the fabric in half (should measure 14" for the small 
    and 16" for the large, with the printed sides together, 
    seam both sides with a seam allowance of 5/8"
    Press open the seams of your fabric so that it will lay flat,
    now remember in school when they told you that knowing
    about angles will come in useful - today is that day!

    You need to create a right angle (the corner of a square
    and get the seam to bisect it at 45' (which should be slap
    bang in the middle, just like this picture).  Fold the top of 

    the seam down to make a little triangle.
    Measuring 5/8" sew across the seam as above.  Do this for
    both sides.
    Now trim off the triangle with your pinking shears - you
    have now made the base of your bag, so that it will sit
    Now repeat these steps with your lining fabric to exactly 
    the same dimensions
    Cut out a piece of fabric which matches your bag to
    make an internal patch pocket, it can be the same fabric
    or a contrasting pattern, you will need a piece 8" x  6".

    Fold over the top of the fabric 5/8" and seam it.
    Now place the pocket with your seam at the top,
    4" below the top of your lining and equidistant from the
    sides of your bag.  
    Stitch around the left, bottom and right hand side 
    of the pocket.  Then top stitch another seam 
    3" from either of the side seams to make a pocket for
    your phone.

    Now fold together the lining - making sure that the 
    pocket is on the inside.  Sew a 3/4" seam - I know this 
    is a bigger seam than the outside fabric but it means 
    your lining will fit snugly.

    Seam the sides and go to the top of the maths class and 
    do the triangle work again - Thank you Miss O'Reardon 
    who taught me the joy of angles, so useful in piecing 
    I then stitch a label on mine over the side seam

    Your bag is now ready to go!

    So there you go, a tote bag, a maths lesson and you are
    now ready to shop!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Last Five Taken

Last week a legend in jazz world died, you might not know his name but you will certainly know his work - he was Joe Morello - the man responsible for the driving beat of the drums in the Dave Brubeck Quartet and for the drumming on the one jazz record that everyone knows after a couple of bars, the amazing Take Five.

I went to see the Dave Brubeck when he toured the UK about five years ago.  Onto the stage of the Cliffs Pavilion shuffled several very old men, including Dave, frankly I thought that they had no chance of making it to their instruments let alone the intermission and to be honest I thought it was mean not letting the drummer use a zimmer but then Dave counted them into Caravan and in front of my eyes they rejuvenated and were leaping around like spring chickens.  It was one of the best jazz evenings I have ever been to.

Now the problem with YouTube is that your eye will always wander... and that happened to me when I was looking for the Joe Morello clip and I came across the Gene Krupa Quartet... watch it and watch very closely when Gene starts to play the Double Bass... amazing virtuousity.

So I would like to say a big thank you to all those jazz men and women who keep me going as I whizz down a seam on my sewing machine.

RIP Joe and thanks for a cool classic.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

I have just found the most wonderful site:

It restores your faith in mankind, there are some real Bobby Dazzler Dreadful mistakes on there.  I cried when I read the Amish Bread tale... artisan bakers throughout the world eat your hearts out!

So go on fess up what is your personal disaster?

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Kitchen Table Talents Awards

I used to be a real magazine junkie but I have now got it down to just one or two per month but one of my absolute faves is Country Living Magazine.

Now obviously this is a lifestyle magazine and one to which I so totally aspire, if only I had the time,  money and the expertise to undertake the jam-making, crafting, decorating, enjoying nature, defeating my garden but as there are only 24 hours in a day I have to admit defeat and live it vicariously through the pages of this magazine.  Although one day I might have a beehive and not the one on top of my head!

However this month they have a fab competition Kitchen Table Talents Awards - six separate categories which might win you a prize to change your life and set up a new business doing or making the things that you love.   It costs £5 to enter and the monies are going to Country Living's Charity of the Year, The Princes Countryside Trust.  More details are to be found here:

Now the category I like the look of is the crafts category - I will need to find three items, take pics, explain how they are made and then write a 500 word description of what your do, how you started and your future dreams.  I am now trying to find original designs, decide what I should enter and what my dreams are.

So which category would you enter and what would be your three original makes?

Monday, 7 March 2011

International Women's Day Centenary - 8 March 2011

Tomorrow is International Women's Day.  I am one of the lucky ones, I have so many things that many other women in this world do not have yet - the Pill, access to a no-fault divorce, the ability to say no to sex and to mean it, to be able to adopt a child as a single parent, to live my life without interference and to be happy.

Daniel Craig of 007 fame stars in a specially commissioned video narrated by Dame Judi Dench tells you about some of the things which are still to happen for women and sadder still some of the things that still happen to women - the stats on murder due to domestic abuse are chilling.

So to all my sisters out there, have a wonderful day and, and stay safe and be happy

Sunday, 6 March 2011

World Book Day or Me and My Library

Last night in the UK over a million books were given away as we celebrated World Book Day and Night, and yesterday I did what I do most weekends and went to my local library.  I am one of the really lucky ones to never live more than 10 minutes away from a library.

My first library was a brand new one, built in the 1960s at Kent Elms corner.  I still remember having to queue up after school on the day it opened with my two pink junior library tickets and dashing down to the end of the library to find two shelves down on the left hand side the holy grail for me - a shelf of Enid Blyton books: Secret Seven, St Clare's, Mallory Towers, Noddy, The Faraway Tree, The Naughtiest Girl in the School - there were times when my mother thought she would never get me into the Adult Library with its jade coloured tickets.

 Then I moved to Limehouse and the rather imposing Passmore Edwards Library with it fabulous wooden panels and to my shame I did something really awful there.  I lost a book.  It was a copy of Harper Lee's, To Kill a Mocking Bird, which I left behind in the women's common room in the London Hospital Student Union.  As you can tell, many years later I still feel badly about this.

Then it was on to Cable Street in Stepney, which was a pre-fab building, complete with corrugated iron roof which leaked copiously during rain storms so that  librarians and readers ran about with buckets to capture the drips.  Best of all was the fantastic mural of the 1936 Cable Street riots when the East End stood full square against the tyranny of Oswald Moseley's Blackshirts.

Then back to Leigh-on-sea where my library is the old rectory for St Clement's church.  This library serves the whole community from tiny tot to OAP and everybody in between.  With its knowledgeable band of librarians who will recommend books and find you a new and exciting author. And best of all when you have chosen your books, you can slip out in the Spring sunshine and sit in the Library Gardens and read your book, occasionally glancing up to see the tide coming in on the estuary. Life is sometimes very beautiful.

So, if you have time today, pick up your favourite book, read a couple of chapters, thank your lucky stars that you are able to read and escape to another world.  Then when you go to your local library, remember to say thank you to the librarians for being there because for many in the UK our libraries are facing swingeing cuts.  We need libraries, we need books, we need reading to make us the civilised society we need to be.

So do you have a fave book?  Let me know what it is and why I should read it.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

I need your help!

OK, I am currently making a fantastic bag from Nicky Epstein's Knitting Block by Block: 150 Blocks for Sweaters, Scarves, Bags, Toys, Afghans, and More and I found a fantastic bag in there.

I bought some great wool on my trip to Bodkins, Sirdar's lovely DK Crofter.  I love this wool, having made some super bed socks as a Christmas prezzie for my friend Sally.

This is a pic of the bag I am making,  I love the cable texturing and the sleek leather handles.

And this is the front or is it the back?

So here is my dilemma, do I go with a plain dusty rose lining or should I go with a witty floral?  You decide...