Sunday, 30 December 2012

Cecelia's Scrap Pattern as made by Annette (The Big Sister)

This is my sister Annette, she is modelling a scrap or maybe it is a wrarf (as it is a combo scarf / wrap) that she created for our friend Cecelia.  Cecelia is one of the knit and natter ladies  who is originally from Columbia and has the most amazing sense of style... together with her own craft room that her husband thinks is his office.  Recently after a trip to Spain, she bought back a lovely scarf which tied up round her neck.  Annette really liked it and decided to use it as a starting point for her design, the original had a ruffle which was knitted separately and sewn on and although pretty enough could stand a little improvement.  Annette is really good at finding unusual wool to work with and King Cole Galaxy was just the ticket as it is interspersed with delicate little sequins which catch and dance in the light.
Will readers please note, my sister does not have any lines on her face, I spent hours painting them in on PhotoShop, so that you would all know she is my older sister!
The scarf has an integrated ruffle, and cables encasing a double moss / seed stitch which gives it a gorgeous texture. To top it all off is a rather lovely flower to use as a button and you have the option of knitting it or crocheting it.  Now all you need to do is get your yarn and needles ready and you are ready for the off!

Cecilia’s Scarf

100 gr double knitting yarn - King Cole Galaxy Double Knit
Size 2.75 needles, 1 cable needle
Size 3.50 crochet hook
Knitting Abbreviations:
K = knit
P = purl
RS = right side
WS = wrong side
C4F = place next 2 stitches on cable needle, hold to the front of the work.  Knit the next 2 stitches, then knit the 2 stitches from the cable needle.
C4B = place the next 2 stitches on a cable needle, hold to the back of the work.  Knit the next 2 stitches, then knit 2 stitches from the cable needle. 

An additional 5 rows are knitted on the first 6 stitches of each row.  This results in the ruffle effect.  After the first row the first 6 stitches on each row are knitted as follows: knit 6, turn x 5 times.  In the pattern this will be shown as K6T.
Using size 2.75 needles, cast on 42 stitches.
Row 1 K6 P2 K4 P2 K1, P1 7 times P2 K4 P2 K6.  In future the first row will be knitted as follows:

Row 1 KT6 P2 K4 P2 K1, P1 7 times P2 K4 P2 K6
Row 2 KT6 K2 P4 K2 K1 P1 7 times K2 P4 K2 K6
Row 3 KT6 P2 C4F P2 P1 K1 7 times P2 C4B P2 K6
Row 4 KT6 K2 P4 K2 P1 K1 7 times K2 P4 K2 K6

These 4 rows form the pattern, repeat until work measures 46 cm ending with Row 4
Next row: K6T P2 K4 P2 Cast off 16 stitches P1 K4 P2 K6
Next row K6T K2 P4 K2 Cast on 16 stitches K2 P4 K2 K6 (this forms the hole for the flower to poke through.
Continue in pattern for a further 10cm, ending with Row 4.
Cast off


Knitted Flower
K  knit; p purl; st stitch

Cast on 10 sts.
First row: K1, p5 k4
2nd row: K8, k twice into the next stitch k1 – 11 stitches
3rd  row: K1, p6 k4
 4th row: Knit
5th row: K1, p2 together, p4, k4
6th row: Knit
7th row: Cast off 6 sts , k to end 4 sts
8th row:  K4, turn and cast on 6 sts (10 sts)
Repeat last 8 rows 15 times more, then work 1st to 7th rows again.
Cast off
Roll straight edge to form flower allowing for petals to roll back and secure rolled edge in position.

Sew to scarf approximately 15cm from cast-on edge.  

Crochet Flower
Crochet Abbreviations (NB These are English terms for the US, a DC becomes and SC, a Tr becomes a DC and so on)
Ch, chain; dc, double crochet, chsp, chain space; slst, slip stitch, tr, treble

Make 26 ch.
Row 1: 1dc in 2nd ch from hook (counts as 1dc) [1dc in next ch] to end, turn – 25dc.
Row 2:  4ch, miss first 2dc, 1dc in next dc [3ch, miss 1dc, 1dc in next dc] to end, turn.
Row 3:  4ch, work 1dc, 3ch and  1dc in first chsp, [3ch work 1dc, 3ch and 1 dc in next chsp] to end , 3 ch 1dc in 1st of 4ch, turn.
Row 4:  4ch, 1dc in first chsp, [3ch, 1dc in next chsp] to end, 3ch, 1dc in 1st of 4ch, turn
Row 5:  As Row 3
Row 6:  5ch, 1dc in first chsp, [4ch, 1dc in next chsp] to end, 4ch, 1tr in 1st of 4ch, turn
Row 7:  Slst into 1st chsp, 4dc in first chsp¸slst in next dc, [4dc in next chsp, slst in next dc] to last chsp, slst in 1st of 4ch.
Fasten off.

Roll chain edge to form flower, bringing outer ends to centre and secure in position.

Sew to scarf approximately 15cm from cast-on edge.       

I think that she has done a great job with this pattern and I have been asking her for permission to publish for a few months... but I think you will agree with me, it has been well worth waiting for.

And finally, if you ever see my sister looking at you like this... run, run as fast as you can and don't look back!
Now, I know what this look means... and it isn't going to end happily...

And for no better reason than it is still Christmas, I just had to finish with this... enjoy!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Post Christmas Update

Well I hope you are all basking in the afterglow of Christmas and wondering why you got so worried, and trying to work out where you will put those Christmas presents.  So firstly, here is a little something I am rather proud of... it's wreath, a Christmas wreath currently hanging on my front door.
And do you know why I am so proud of it, it is made by one of the ladies who took a class with me last year.  Isn't it great when you are able to pass your skills on?
Then there is my tree, you may remember that last year, I spent much of the time on suicide watch with my suicidal tree which spent about eight of the twelve days of Christmas trying to leap out of its bucket.  So this year I managed to buy the reject tree from Trafalgar Square... I think that it only lost out by an inch or two... and I have no need for curtains as it fills the whole of the bay window!  In fact, I had to take this pic standing on the coffee table and I still couldn't get it all in...
And what was even better is that most of the decs this year were made by me..

Now this is rather special and I wanted to share it with you before Christmas, it's a commission I had made for my sister by Sally.  I wanted a picture that would capture her interests and Sally had a twinkle in her eye and knew precisely what would work for Annette.
She got it s right, even down to the pink wool :)

And talking of Annette, I have a real treat for you on Sunday... a pattern from my big sister, inspired by her friend Cecelia (of whom more later) and here is a little preview of what we will be making.
I do hope that you like it, cos I think that the model feature here made rather a good job of it!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Where have you been?

Right, I owe you all an apology... I know I have not been here and this is part of the reason:
Can you spot me... I thought I blended in rather well!
With my mate, Sally, we ran a rather great Christmas stall, even if I say so myself!  Cakes, Decs, Wreaths and gifts... we covered every Christmas base!

And tonight I was watching a super documentary with the Unthanks on BBC4, having walked back home from visiting my friend Deborah and her magical Christmas grotto... little does she know that her snow is actually quilting batting and I have my eye on it... if I can remove the glitter!  Part of the walk back is past St Clement's church in Leigh-on-sea where they were holding a Carol service which so took me back... way back.

I went back to Mrs Pickering's class in 1963, where the auditions were held for the Nativity... where I played... second shepherd, yes I started with ambitions for the Virgin Mary... I mean I had the hair, albeit tied up in plaits but no, it was not to be.  However I quickly realised the louder you said it, then you were in!  Does anyone remember how the sound barrier was actually broken in 1963 by a five year old screeching at the Heavenly Host,"Where have they laid the baby wrapped in swaaaaaaaaadling clothes?"  Concorde, pah!

And then there was the action carol... The Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School version of the Rocking Carol...close your eyes and join me... grab your elbows and sing, whilst violently rocking the poor child from side to side... and I swear this group have something approaching our chutzpah
Substitute the puddings for dressing gowns and the caps for towel... and it could be us...

Scroll on a couple of years, The Virginian was a big programme every Friday night, the John Wayne film was the highlight of the Christmas season and then Mr Cracknell found it... The Cowboy Carol.  What you mean you did not know about the cowboys coming to the Nativity, harrumph... where were you?  We had Mrs Read on the piano, who swore she had eyes in the back on her head, but I did not realise until many years later that the highly polished upright she played might just have given her an unfair advantage...
So for all of you, who walk past a Sally Army band and are taken back to your six year old self, still believing in Santa Claus (who you will remember went to school with my mother because they both had the same handwriting), sit back and sing your heart out to a carol you will have sung with gusto, with a tinsel halo or your mum's best tea towel secured with a dressing gown.
And finally, I just want to ask you all to spare a thought or a prayer for the residents of Newport, Connecticut... I remember so well my mother collecting me from school on the afternoon of the Aberfan disaster, the rain pouring down and she would not let go of my hand all the way home.  Please remember not just the children but the bravery of their teachers,  teacher shape each and every one of us....

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Straighten Your Seams - The Christmas Stocking Tutorial

I don't know about you but one of my most fave childhood Christmas memories was waking up in the early hours feeling the weight on your feet and knowing that Father Christmas had been, filled your stocking and waiting until daylight before I was allowed to open them.  Although I was lucky that I was not my mum, as one Christmas two of her sisters, she was the eldest of 12, got up in the middle of the night and swapped the presents around so that they got what they wanted... at least, until my granny woke up!  Back then I used my father's socks from his wellingtons, large creamy socks with utilitarian writ large, so we are going to make something a little more aesthetically pleasing for the end of our beds.
You will need the following:
Selection of Christmas fabric strips 
1 yard / metre of wide ric rac braiding 
Christmas fat quarter, choose one with a good pattern
1/2 yard / metre plain cotton lining fabric
Selection of Christmas ribbons
1/2 yard / metre of cotton batting
Cutting mat, rotary cutter, dressmaking shears
Iron and ironing board

Let's get cracking, iron your fabrics and set them aside.  You will need a template to cut around, either use an old stocking and draw around it, or at this time of the year, there are lots around in magazines and Christmas make books (check out your local library, so use one and adapt to suit you... ie, with a longer, wider leg if you think Father Christmas is going to be generous this year!

Cut out two in cotton batting, two in the plain cotton lining and one in your fat Christmas quarter.  Lay your Christmas fat quarter on top of one piece of batting, now this is important, really IMPORTANT, lay the other piece of batting down and ensure that the toe is pointing in the OPPOSITE direction.  
Now we are going to layer up the stocking, cut strips of varying widths, now play with them, see which ones work best together.  You could lay them in parallel lines down the stocking or fan them out around the heel.
Sew down the strip at the top of stocking using a 1/4" seam allowance, now sew the next strip to the first strip, iron the seam open, continue this until it covers the whole of the stocking.  Trim the excess from around the stocking.  
Now the fun starts... more is more at Christmas, pop some ribbon over the seams, for the other seams use an embroidery stitch in a contrasting colour... one of those that you have on your machine but never use.  You could apply some applique, a snowman or a child's name... make sure you choose children with short names or we could be making Easter stockings!
Pin your ric rac braiding so that the centre is 5/8" away from the edge and sew it down.
Place the two linings together, now put the back of your stocking with the right side up on top of them and finally put the front of your stocking face down so that you can see the reverse.  Pin them all together.

You will be able to see the line of sewing that you made to attach the braid.  Sew along that line, do not deviate away from it, stay with it all the way around.  When you have finished, trim and notch the curves... for a small project like this pinking shears will give you the easing you need.
Now turn it inside out and hey presto your lining is in place... yes, really it is.  Pin more braiding around the top of the stocking 5/8" from the top and sew it in place.  Measure around the top and add 1 1/4" to this. Now cut a strip of fabric 3" wide by the length you have just measured, sew the ends together using a 5/8" seam allowance.  With right sides facing, pin the top strip and the stocking together and just like sewing the stocking up, sew along the seam line used to secure the braiding.  

You will now have a raw edge, iron under 5/8" and pin it over the top of the stocking... now you can either slip stitch it into place or top stitch it into place.
Cut a strip of fabric 12" x 3", fold it in half lengthwise, sew across the end and down the length, trim the excess and turn it inside out.  Press and fold it in half... so that you have a handle, pin it inside the stocking on the back on the heel side.  Machine it into place and now it is ready to hang at the end of your bed or on your fireplace.
And now over to Handmade Monday to see what everyone has been up to over the past week.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Stuff The Bunting Christmas Tree Tutorial

Our local fabric shop... the wonderful Belle Fabrics (who still do not have a website... grrr!) had a version of this tree in the window, so with their permission I used it as a starting point for my tree.  I thought you might like this tree which means we can use lots of the techniques from the last couple of years, from how to make bunting, to the Christmas stars we are going to use on top of it.
You will need:

Two contrasting, yet complementary fabrics, two fat quarters will do it with fabric to spare
Cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter or dressmaking shears/scissors
Needles, pins and cotton
Fish knife
Ribbons, buttons, bells for embellishment
Iron and ironing board
Paper, pencil, ruler and protractor or pre-made template

Firstly we are going to create the templates for the tree triangles, I used a template from my patchwork, but if you are making one then I suggest 5" sides and creating an equilateral triangle with angles of 60'.  We will be using the classic 1/4" seam allowance.
Iron your fabrics and cut out 19 triangles in each fabric.
Take a triangle from each fabric pile and pin them together, with right sides facing, start two thirds of the way along the base of your triangle, sew around the other two sides and just one third of the base, which leaves a third open.  Trim the across each of the three corners to reduce the bulk. 
Take your fish knife and pop it into the top angle of the triangle and push it through so that the right sides are now out, make sure you poke the knife into all the corners to ensure that they are sharp and pointy.  
Iron each of the triangles.
Fill with your choice of stuffing, you will find it easier to use small amounts rather than using a quart to fill a pint pot.  
When it is full, over sew the opening.
Set out the triangles as shown, then tack the corners into place, use a knot in between the layers and use a cross stitch to hold them in place.
Now, play around with your buttons and ribbons, and sew them permanently in place.
Right, we need to hang it up so I thought I would use one of the patchwork stars we made a couple of weeks ago and attach that to the top so that you can hang it up, although you could also gussie up a wide ribbon, too.
I did have a thought... how about getting a group of pupils from a class to paint a Christmassy image onto calico triangles using fabric paints and then make it into a tree for a teacher or for a grandma... I can tell you now that it would mean so much more to a teacher than another mug or a candle but possibly not as much as chocolate or wine!
I know that Christmas Pie Crafts wanted to see if I had made any hearts, so this weekend I borrowed Deborah's twig tree and fireplace to see how they looked... so if you look closely you will see all of the quilted and patchwork decs we have have worked on over the last few weeks... hope you like them :)

Monday, 29 October 2012

Stripped Bare for Christmas Action - More Quilted Tree Decs

Back in July we made a cushion to celebrate the Fourth of July, so using the same technique we are going to create some more great quilted decorations to fill your tree.  Yet again we are going to raid the pastry cutter tin to find great shapes to use on the tree, you can use hearts, stockings, hearts, mittens, hearts, parcels and did I mention hearts?  This is another great way of using up scrap strips to create effective tree decs, so let's hit your Christmas stash of fabrics and get started.
You will need:
A selection of Christmas fabric or fabrics in Christmas colours of red and green
Cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter
Scissors, pins and thread, pinking shears are optional but really useful
Pastry cutters or artistic ability (which I am sadly lacking), pencil, greaseproof paper
Ribbon or hairy twine (if you are going rustic)
A walking foot
Iron and Ironing Board ... yes, they are back

Choose shapes and designs which are clean and not too complex, hence the heart, mittens, Christmas trees and stockings... but you could use snowmen and gingerbread men (but we are going to be using these shapes to create a garland in a couple of weeks).  If you feel confident in your sketching skills, the draw them directly onto the greaseproof or dressmaker's tissue, otherwise trace around the pastry or cookie cutter shapes.  Set them aside until we have constructed the strips.
You need to cut your strips to the same length but vary the width, don't go thinner than an inch as we are going to use the quilter's classic 1/4" seam allowance... frankly less than 1/2" showing will look like a line of dental floss or what was referred to by my old friend Clint as a greyhound skirt.  If you are using fat quarters use the longest side, usually the 22" side.
Sew the strips together using the 1/4" seam allowance, then iron your work from the back, do not iron the seams open, iron them closed all in the same direction.  Then turn your work so that the front is showing and press again, stretch the work slightly to draw out any excess fabric that may have become trapped.
Place the sewn strips on top of the batting, and pin into place using the longest pins you can find, but leave a good allowance of batting up to an inch around the sewn strips.

Fit your walking foot to your machine... don't worry if you do not have a walking foot, you can still do this but the walking foot will give you a better finish as it ensures that the different textures and thicknesses of fabric will feed through at the same pace. 

Sew in the ditch... don't know where it is?  Remember how we ironed the seams in one direction, you are going to be sewing about an 1/8" away from the seam line through just one layer of fabric and batting, not the three, that is your quilting ditch.  Use a contrasting thread to emphasise your stitching, sew along the ditch of every strip.  When you have completed this, trim away the excess batting.
Pin your pattern pieces onto the quilted fabric, it looks great if the strips match up (yep, sometimes I can get a bit anal about lining up, although you don't have to do this) so remember to reverse it when you cut our the second piece. Or if you want to be economical, use a plain piece of fabric instead of your quilting as it will not be seen.
Place the right sides together and sew around leaving an opening... for the mittens and stockings, leave the top part open.  For the tree, fold over a loop of ribbon, as ever I have raided the ribbon stash for some gorgeous Jane Means ribbons, pin it to the point of your tree on the right side on one piece of your tree, make sure that both ends of the ribbon stick out beyond this point, then lay on the other side of the tree and pin it in to place. For the heart, pop the ribbon loop in the centre of the curves at the top of the heart and use the same method, leaving a gap along the side.
Trim any excess seams and ease the curves by either nipping little triangles around the curves or using pinking shears to achieve this.  Turn the shapes right side out. Use a cool iron to press them into shape - do not use a hot or cotton temperature iron as this will melt/bond the batting.  
With your stockings and mittens, turn under the raw edges and press them into place... for the mittens, join a pair together with one piece of ribbon, tucked into the open seam and pin it together so they look just like the mittens tied into your coat that you could never lose, no matter how hard you tried, they will sit happily over a branch.  For the stockings a loop, pinned at the outside edge of your stockings.  Now sew around your decoration, 1/8" from the edge.
You could make little present shaped decs in squares or rectangle, even I can draw a square or a rectangle (well nearly) by running sewing ribbon in a cross over the square and popping a ribbon in the centre.
And now, a little later than usual, we are actually hopping over to Handmade Monday on a Monday... go look at what is happening in the Craft World :)

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The How to Write a Tutorial, Tutorial

For the last 18 months or so, I have written a weekly tutorial and a number of people have said, “Wow, I could never do that, I just wouldn’t know where to start.”  Well that is stuff and nonsense, all a tute is, is a little history of how you made something, so in the immortal words of Julie Andrews and Messr’s Rogers and Hammerstein, “Let’s start at the very beginning...”

Choose your topic, the thing that you can make sublimely, that you enjoy doing... it doesn’t matter that it is not original, let’s be honest very little in the craft world is, after all there are only so many things to make or do, like bunting, peg bags, cook a chicken, put a child on the naughty step.  What matters is that you show how you do it and how great it is to be able to do it your way.

Next the title, I have decided we are going to make pom poms, so I could be very technical and say ”The Pom Pom Tutorial”, it says what it is but to be honest I think it is a little dull (actually it’s deathly boring) so I might go with “Pom Tiddly Pom – Pooh’s Pom Pom Tutorial” hoping that most of my audience had been brought up on a diet of AA Milne.

I love poms poms and they are really easy to make, you don't need any fancy kit but if you follow my instructions, you will get a great result each time... although perhaps not the mega pom pom that Carol Parkinson had in the infants which looked to me to be the size of a fooball (nb this is not an exaggeration).
Start with an intro, or if you are in education, a plenary telling us what to expect together with a picture of the finished item... I want to know that when I read this it is going to enable me to be the bestest pom pom maker in the whole wide world, or maybe just in my house.

You will need the following:
Wool - Don't bother with the good stuff, chemist shop acrylic will do, double knitting is great for this
Cardboard - Breakfast cereal boxes are ideal
Sharp scissors
A mug and a wine glass
Ribbon, I use Jane Means from my stash
After that, I want to know what I will need, I don’t want to be blind-sided by you telling me in the middle of making this that I will need something that is not readily to hand... so you need to tell me what I need from the get go.  If you use a particular brand of wool, let me know, otherwise I could be the muppet who buys a hand dyed silk and cashmere hank costing a fortune to chop into little bits.  Even better if you use a particular stockist, provide a link to them.  Think of this like a recipe, you see the picture of the stuffed boned chicken, then you look at the list of ingredients and gather them together and next you jump straight in and follow the recipe, well a tutorial is essentially the same. 

Everybody has a different style of writing and I am going to let you into a little secret, technical writing is the most difficult to do well and to read, especially if you assess it with the Gunning Fog Index which tests readability... so keep it simple.  Remember you want to keep them reading through till the end, not to be confused and turned off by long technical words and terms.

Let’s get going, you have told your reader what they will need, now let’s get to the method.  It’s easiest if you write this as you go along and take pics... I am useless at snapping but here are the basics, take pics in natural light, keep the background clear so we can see the magnum opus in construction, try not to use a flash and if you can rest your camera on something so you do not get the blurry wobbles so much the better.  Also pics break up a post, allowing the readers eye to rest and for them to get their breath back.

You will need to cut two circles out of your cereal boxes using the mug, then using the wine glass pop it in the centre and cut out the smaller circle.  Place the circles together.

If something goes wrong, tell your reader and show them, if there is a point where it looks awful but it will come right, let them know.  If you have ever boned a chicken, you will understand... there comes a point when you have a very sharp knife in your hands, your hands will be slippery from being stuffed into the chicken’s carcass, one leg will be detached and then you will stand there wondering why the heck you didn’t just roast it?  You need to tell the reader that this will pass a few moments later, you will have released the breastbone and be ready to put in the stuffing and sew up the bird and everyone will think you are just sooooo clever!
Take your wool  and start to wind it around the doughnut shape you have created, you will need to create small balls so it fits through the hole in the middle... you may find that the end will not stay put so tie a knot in it... when you have wound round once snip the knot out.  Continue winding until you fill the hole in the middle.  You could use one colour or to make it more fun, use lots of different colours, it is a great way to use up those scrappy ends that are not long enough to use for anything useful!  Don't worry if you cannot fill it all the way to centre but just be aware it will not look as dense and as fluffy as mine.
I am serious about writing as you go along, as it is really easy to miss out a step or a stage because you know what you are doing, remember back in school when they asked you to write up making a cup of tea... our English teacher took our class to the kitchen and used several of the essays to literally follow instructions... it was carnage, empty teapots, cold tea... and no tea at all.  I have a real bee in my bonnet about getting projects tested so, get another pair of eyes to look over it to see what you have missed.
Now comes the exciting bit, position the blades of your scissors between the two circles of cardboard and start snipping, take it slow and steady, the wool will not fall out but will remain trapped in the centre.  
Cut a length of wool 18" long, slip it between the two layers of cardboard and wind it around the your cut wool, slip a 12" length of ribbon under the wool which you are using to capture all your cut ends now draw it really tight, tying it with a secure knot.  Slip the cardboard off  and fluff up your ball... doesn't that look great?  You can hang it up using the ribbon... or if you are a small child it makes a marvellous weapon to hit your siblings without bruising them.
Use you final paragraph to suggest ways in which to use the item, cheaper alternatives and if it takes a long time tell them this too.

Making a pompom is a great mindless task to do in front of the TV on a cold evening and should take you about an hour.  Get the kids to join in and you will have a set of new decs for your Christmas tree or make smaller ones to attach to the ends of laces on sweaters etc.

Paste in your pics onto the blog, tie them up with the relevant description – don’t be tempted to state the obvious under the pic – use them to move the story along.  Next spell check and then look at it in preview... you will see where extra lines have crept in, tidy it up ready for your public.  Once you have written it, don’t leave it there, share it around, tweet it, facebook it, tag it and send it out to other people... you have worked far too hard to let it be a Billy No Mates Make!

In short the principles are as follows:
  • Title
  • Opening
  • Ingredients
  • Method
  • Options
  • Check and Share
And that dear reader, is how I tackle a tutorial... if you have other ways of doing it, please share.  And here is the ultimate musical tutorial, easy to follow, easy to understand, easily remembered and it comes out well each time.
And in case anyone is interested... no, I have not taken down my curtains to make play clothes for my friends!

So next it's off to Handmade Monday to see what other great crafty goodies have been made this week.