Sunday, 30 September 2012

Scrapping about

Made these elephants from scraps from the kid's dresses I made recently, popped a pic up on Facebook and a chum in Germany asked if I would make one for her... so I got up early this morning and made this one.

Friday, 28 September 2012

So it isn't only me, then...

About a week ago, I read a really interesting blog post about errors in craft books and over the years I, too have come across these.  However, recently I am discovering more and more of these but not just in books but magazines as well.
The first time I really came across this was about 25 years ago, I had bought a pattern book from a major wool retailer... I cast on my cardigan and started to knit the pattern but it just did not add up.  I ripped back, I cursed, I walked away, I started again.  Then I took to squared paper and still it did not work.  I rang the retailer to be told in no uncertain terms, that it must be my knitting that was at fault... the wool and the pattern are still in my wool chest (actually I might get it out and give it another go... if I can sit down and re-write the pattern).  Now, back then I did not have the confidence to say, "Actually I do know what I am doing and you know your pattern in wrong!" but you know what I do now, Be afraid be very afraid...

Last year I was making a dress from a pattern featured in a high end (err... you mean expensive) magazine, firstly, there was no indication of a seam allowance, so I assumed 5/8", there were patch pockets to be placed but no spots to show where tailors marking should be sewn to place the pockets.... and the interfacing did not fit.  I can honestly say I do not think that anyone who actually sewed had sat down and read the pattern, it was so frustrating as more was left out than included.  So I wrote a polite note to the editor explaining what was wrong and offering to test future patterns but like Diana Ross "I'm still waiting." (bet you are all oohing and aahing in harmony)
There is another popular knitting designer with her own line of yarns and whenever she brings out a new book my LYS will not sell it for a couple of weeks as they know that the errata slips will be sent out a couple of weeks later.
Currently I am making some children's clothes, and do you know what they have forgotten... how much allowance there is for the hem.  Well you know that hems can vary from 3" to about an inch... so I have stared at the pattern pictures and I am going to just make it up, and do you know what, it is really difficult to sew it up with crossed fingers.

So why am I moaning, well these mistakes are expensive and it is us the consumer who pays... I have probably over £100 of wool and fabric from projects undertaken from books or patterns that contain mistakes.  And that means it is now over to you, if it is wrong then tell the publisher and if they do nothing then the next thing to do is boycott them.

Finally, when I write my tutorials, I try to do it as I am writing but if you spot a mistake, then email me or make a comment and I will revise the post.

Right, now tell me, am I the only one?

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Great Scot! She's wearing her Sunday Best...

Can I ask, did you have a Sunday best dress?  I had several throughout my childhood, they were split between Summer and Winter, back in the days when the return to school in September meant the Winter was  imminent and the Whitsun half term break meant that Summer was coming.  The awful woolly vest came out of hiding in September, it was crafted from Merino wool and was an off yellow, well a mucky cream shade and had already served two brothers and a sister... I want you to know that as the youngest child I really did suffer.  I hated it, it was hot, itchy and it had belonged to others, but Sunday best dresses were mine and mine alone!

So my friend Pierina, she of the hot water bottle cover, told me about a fave dress of hers, a red needlecord pinafore with Scottie dogs... I had a red pinafore too, which was always worn with a white polo neck sweater but I think the Scotties would have been a step too far for my utilitarian mother...
Anyway the point of this story is that Pierina's cousin in Milan had a baby about five or six months ago, and she wanted to send her dress for the baby... I showed her the lovely cross over pinny but this would not do the job.  "No Ros, this is Italy... no cotton after the 1st of September, it needs to be a pinafore and a red pinafore and Scottie dogs, it needs Scottie dogs."  She was adamant, there was no changing her mind so that is why I made this pinny.
Now, you all know that I cannot draw, I can trace with help but I cannot draw for toffee, so I had to get Ash from the coffee shop Barlow and Fields... other coffee shops are available but frankly the coffee just won't be as good, to produce my template.  I think it is rather good as the dogs look as though they could leap off the pocket to chase a rabbit.  Also Ash is jolly useful as my covered button snapper in,  I am sure he will add this skill to his CV, it is bound to stand him in good stead.
Anyway it may be too late for fashion week in Milan but just think in a couple of weeks some poor child in Milan will be wearing an English pinafore and continuing a tradition of wearing a red pinny for Sunday best.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Here's my marker...

OK, team... this week's tutorial is not yet completed so it will be going up later this week.  However, just to show that I have not been slacking I managed to put together Harrison, the reindeer.
You may recognise him from the September issue of Sew magazine, he was a quick, easy make, although next time I think I will use the little polystyrene balls rather than stuffing as the legs were a challenge.  I think it would make a rather nice place setting as a table gift and I think you could happily run up a dozen in an afternoon and sit stuffing them in front of the TV.  And hitting the ribbon stash for a spot of Jane Means just sets him off beautifully.

There is something else you need to know... one of you out there is creating a ginger felt shortage... I have had nightmares trying to get hold of ginger felt, now be honest with me, is someone about to flood the market with ginger bread men garlands?  I can find brown felt, camel felt but the ginger stuff has gone on the missing list... own up or let me know where you are hiding it?  
Now, time to look at what the others have been up to during the past week over at Handmade Monday.

And to show that I am a woman of my word... here is Marlon Brando playing with my marker...

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Little things please...

Over the last week I have been making some little outfits for friend's children, I really enjoy making for kids as they are made so quickly.  Also it gives me an excuse to pop into the wonderful Belle Fabrics in Leigh to drool over their fabrics.

I started with a little cross over reversible pinny for Camille. 
Apparently she wore it for two days straight, because it was "swingy" and made her feel like a princess.
Then I made a little reversible wrapover dress for Lola, Cecelia's threee year old grand-daughter, in a pale pink needlecord with a toning cotton fabric... and then I did what I always warn other people about, I forgot to take a picture, so I made another dress in the same pattern yesterday.
Then there was a winter pinafore for Georgia, completed with a matching hair grip and an alternative set of buttons to match the stripey lining... I hid them in the pocket for Georgia to find.
I was wondering if you thought that yummy mummies might buy them if I popped them into an online shop, what do you think?

Monday, 10 September 2012

No Sew Quilted Ball - Christmas Tutorial No 3

I have noticed recently that when I post up tutorials, people post that although they like it, they cannot sew, knit or crochet... so this week, you have no excuse all you need to do is pin  and push.  I need to thank the ladies of the Quilting Board in the US for pointing me in the direction of this technique... I had seen these balls before but thought that they looked really complicated but they are not, but when you make them and are asked how, just nod knowingly and say it is all down to technique when you make an eight point star Christmas ball!
You will need:
Three toning fabrics
Pins... lots of pins as these are our secret weapon
Rotary cutter, ruler and mat
3" polystyrene ball
Cut your fabric into 3" squares, 8 squares for the top of your ball and then two lots of 16 for the second and third row. Split into two piles of four top squares and eight each of the other fabrics.
Now I believe  you did not know that you could press fabric with your fingers?  Well that is what we are going to do next, we need to find the centre point of the square, you can do this by just folding the fabric in half along each side or if you are feeling flash across the diagonal.
Determine where the top of your ball is, put a pin in the centre of the wrong side of your fabric and stab it into the top of your ball.  
Fold it into a triangle (your pin will be in the centre of its longest side), pin the top of the triangle down
Now fold over the left point and then the right into centre and pin it down to create a diamond shape, pin the each of the sides into the ball.
Repeat it three more times to create a square.
For the next layer, pin the first triangle 5/8" down and in between your diamonds... 
I used the end of a tape measure to place the pin, repeat the folds as you did for the first layer for four diamonds.  Now if you are frugal like me, you will notice that often diamonds overlap so capture two sides with one pin.
Now, we are going to in fill between these diamonds by putting the pin in between the fold of the first row of diamonds and working the diamonds as you did before... if your fingers are feeling a bit sore then use a thimble to help you press the pins home, especially when you are working through so many layers of fabric.
On the third layer, I decided that rather than make each layer the same size, I would use the second row, just to outline a star. For the third row, you repeat what you did for the second row but instead of coming down 5/8" just come down 1/4".

When you have completed the top half, turn the ball over and repeat the steps above, to make sure that the halves match, align your first quarter fold with the folds of the completed half.
Trim the excess fabric from around the centre of the ball.  I realise it looks rather grim at this point but we are going to hide it all under a ribbon.
I used two lots of ribbon, a satin ribbon to cover the exposed edges and some Jane Means grosgrain ribbon to accent my decoration.  (BTW, Jane has recently started her own blog, which is well worth a peek) Start by creating a loop from which you will hang your dec.  Take your satin ribbon, pin it into the ball run the ribbon around the ball.
Do not pin the end of the satin ribbon down yet, instead take the loop from which you will hang the ball and pin it across the satin ribbon.  Next place the end of the satin ribbon to cover the base of the loop, fold the end underneath to give you a neat finish and pin the end in place with four pins at each corner to make sure that the loop is held securely in place and will not bounce off your tree :) 
Next tie a bow... and now I admit it, I lied to you, you are going to need to stitch the bow onto the loop, but if you are really stitch phobic, you can use a glue gun to stick it onto the loop.
And there you have it, your very own quilted Christmas star... that was soooo technically difficult to make!

So I am actually posting this on a Monday morning, ready for Wendy's Handmade Monday... so in between watching our wonderful Olympic athletes parade through London do take a look and see what everyone has been up to over the past week.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Everything happens in threes...

I don't know about you, but it always seems to me that everything happens in threes... you break a plate and then, the cup and saucer.  You hear a couple of pieces of bad news and you sit on tenterhooks waiting for the third piece to be announced.  I try to pretend that I am not superstitious but if you have ever been near me when I see a magpie, you will know that I most certainly am, as I desperately look for his partner whilst saluting the solitary bird, greeting him with his military title and enquiring about the health of his wife and family... I blame Susan Stranks and Mick Robertson as the tune streaks through my head.
I once received this card from a boyfriend for Christmas... we split soon after!

By the middle of the week, the death of a third songwriter of my youth was announced and I knew I could stop counting. so who were this threesome: Joe South, Hal David and Marvin Hamlisch.  I expect you will know of all three but just not realise it, especially if you were born in the late 50s or early 60s.
Of the three, the most obscure will be Joe South, but I bet you can sing along with The Games People Play and indeed he even penned a song which appears on my personal top ten hate list... Lynn Anderson singing "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden"... still anyone can have an off day.  But even better than this he played on two of  my fave records, Aretha Franklin's Chain of Fools and Simon and Garfunkel's Sound of Silence, just one of these would be enough to make him a musical hero, wouldn't it?
Next Marvin Hamlisch, if you have ever been to an audition, this man captured the stress and strain of the process in the fabulous 70s musical A Chorus Line, he let me know that it was alright to be crap at improvisation and that I would never be an ice cream.  He worked on a film with two of my earliest film star crushes, when he re-worked the Scott Joplin rags for The Sting and starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford... doubtless there are still desks in the convent scored with their names, carved with the tip of my compass.  And then there was the theme to The Spy who Loved Me, sung by Carly Simon, I remember seeing that in the Empire, Leicester Square... actually that was also the first night that I saw working "ladies", but that is a story for another time.
And finally Hal David, the wicked wordsmith of Bacharach and David.  When my family first got a TV in the early 60s, the first show that was on, was The Perry Como Show and their first hit was Magic Moments for him.
Wherever you went in the 60s you would bump into Hal David's lyrics, he felt that every song should be a three minute film that runs in your head.  From the failure in Do you know the way to San Jose, the pragmatic determination to get over a failed love affair... until the next time in I'll Never Fall in Love Again, Paul Newman riding a bicycle in Butch Cassidy to Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head and Dusty Springfield not knowing what to do with herself or the shriek from Aretha Franklin singing, I say a Little Prayer... however did a man know how it felt to be a girl in love, just wishing and hoping?
These songs were the threads that wove through the fabric of my youth, I hear one and I am dressed in Oxford bags and wedges, another I am seeing a green pepper for the very first time when my sister brought it home from a trip to Amsterdam or being at the height of sophistication drinking a Cinzano and lemonade in the Student Union at the London Hospital.  As much as taste or smell these songs whip me back to happy and sad times and I would just like to say thank you to Joe, Marvin and Hal for your company but more than that to thank them for the legacy that sits in my CD collection and more importantly in my own memories.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Win, Win, Win - The Love and Kisses Cushion Christmas Tutorial

I am just a bit excited, last week I got a package through the post... it contained three balls of Debbie Bliss Donegal Tweed Luxury Aran.  A couple of weeks ago, there was a post on Totally Tutorials asking for volunteers to create something, along with a pattern for how it was made for Abakhan, do take a look at their site because the wool has been a joy to work with and comes in lots of fab colours.  

Now dear reader, I thought I can do that... I can knit, I am sure I can think of something... after all knitting is just sticks, string and a bit of counting when you take it down to basics.  So I started planning, not enough for a sweater but too much for a hat, not quite sufficient a vest... possibility of a sock and a half, now I know everyone has one foot smaller than the other but really?

Then it came to me, perhaps a bag that could be felted with a real show off collection of cable techniques but honestly this wool is just too nice to felt, it needs to be stroked.  I remembered some of the squares that we had knitted and crocheted for the Mumsnet blankets, hearts for love are really popular but if you have love, you must have kisses which is how this cushion was inspired... 
You will find on the front of the cushion hearts and kisses picked out in bobbles, 
on the back a little suprise in the shape of another textured heart ,
and it all closes with a twisted rib button band which gives a nod to the cables of its Aran antecedents.  If you think that the buttons look rather lovely, you are so right, I used some of the fabulous buttons from Incomparable Buttons... actually I have a stash of these little beauties which I thin always raise the game when you use them.
Now if you are wondering why there are three wins in the title, whip down to the end of the post and you will see who the winners of the bowmaker are from last week's post.  So let's get started, you will easily finish this before Christmas, in fact if you have children going off to college or Uni, you really do have time to make this for them before Fresher's week starts.  Crack on, you will need:

1 pair of 5mm needles
3 ball of Debbie Bliss Donegal Tweed Luxury Aran
2 large buttons
Scissors and a bodkin or tapestry needle
14" cushion pad


K = Knit or garter stitch
P = Purl
Sts = Stitches
M1B - Make one bobble, knit into the front of the stitch, purl into the front of the stitch, knit into the back of the stitch (three stitches), turn work around and purl just these three stitches, turn work around again so that the front is facing you, knit one, knit two together and pass the first stitch from the bobble over the knit two together stitch (one stitch)

Cast on 54 stitches.

Row 1 - K2, p2 to the end, k2 remaining stitches (this is the reverse side of your work)
Row 2 - P2, K into the second stitch and then K into the first stitch, (this creates your twisted rib which looks like a mock cable stitch) Repeat until the last 2 stitches, P2
Repeat these two rows 3 more times and knit row 1 again (9 rows in total)

Row 10 - With the right side facing, K25,  (K1, P1) twice, K25
Row 11 - P25 sts, P1, K1 twice, P25 stitches
Repeat rows 10 and 11

Row 14 - K12, M1B, K12, (K1, P1) twice, K2, M1B, K7, M1B, K3, M1B, K7, M1B, K2
Work all odd rows as Row 11
Row 16 - K10, M1B, K3, M1B,  K10, (K1, P1) twice, K4, M1B, K3, M1B, K7, M1B, K3, M1B, K4
Row 18 - K8, M1B, K7, M1B,  K8, (K1, P1) twice, K6, M1B, K11, M1B, K6
Row 20 - K6, M1B, K11, M1B,  K6, (K1, P1) twice, K4, M1B, K3, M1B, K7, M1B, K3, M1B, K4
Row 22 - K4, M1B, K15, M1B,  K4, (K1, P1) twice, K2, M1B, K7, M1B, K3, M1B, K7, M1B, K2
Row 24 - K2, M1B, K17, M1B,  K2, (K1, P1) twice, K to the end
Row 26 - K2, M1B, K17, M1B,  K2, (K1, P1) twice, K2, M1B, K7, M1B, K3, M1B, K7, M1B, K2
Row 28 - K2, M1B, K17, M1B,  K2, (K1, P1) twice, K4, M1B, K3, M1B, K7, M1B, K3, M1B, K4
Row 30 - K2, M1B, K9, M1B, K9, M1B, K2, (K1, P1) twice, K6, M1B, K11, M1B, K6
Row 32 - K4, M1B, K5, M1B, K3, M1B, K5, M1B, K4, (K1, P1) twice, K4, M1B, K3, M1B, K7, M1B, K3, M1B, K4
Row 32 - K6, M1B, K1, M1B, K7, M1B, K1, M1B, K6, (K1, P1) twice, K2, M1B, K7, M1B, K3, M1B, K7, M1B, K2

Row 34 - K25 sts,  (K1, P1) twice, K25 sts
Row 36 - - K25 sts,  (K1, P1) twice, K25 sts
Row 38 - K1, P1 to the end
Row 39 - P1, K1 to the end

Row 40 - K1, P1 to the end
Row 41 - P1, K1 to the end
Row 42 -  K25,  (K1, P1) twice, K25
Row 43 - P25 sts, P1, K1 twice, P25 stitches
Row 44-  K25,  (K1, P1) twice, K25
Row 45 - P25 sts, P1, K1 twice, P25 stitches

Row 46 - K2, M1B, K7, M1B, K3, M1B, K7, M1B, K2, (K1, P1) twice, K12, M1B, K12
Work each odd row as row 45
Row 48 - K4, M1B, K3, M1B, K7, M1B, K3, M1B, K4, (K1, P1) twice, K10, M1B, K3, M1B,  K10
Row 50 - K6, M1B, K11, M1B, K6, (K1, P1) twice, K8, M1B, K7, M1B,  K8
Row 52 - K4, M1B, K3, M1B, K7, M1B, K3, M1B, K4, (K1, P1) twice, K6, M1B, K11, M1B,  K6
Row 54 - K2, M1B, K7, M1B, K3, M1B, K7, M1B, K2, (K1, P1) twice, K4, M1B, K15, M1B,  K4
Row 56 - K25, K2, (K1, P1) twice, K2, M1B, K17, M1B,  K2, (K1, P1) twice, K2, M1B, K17, M1B,  K2
Row 58 - K2, M1B, K7, M1B, K3, M1B, K7, M1B, K2, (K1, P1) twice,  K2, M1B, K17, M1B,  K2
Row 60 - K4, M1B, K3, M1B, K7, M1B, K3, M1B, K4, (K1, P1) twice,  K2, M1B, K17, M1B,  K2
Row 62 - K6, M1B, K11, M1B, K6, (K1, P1) twice, K2, M1B, K9, M1B, K9, M1B, K2

Row 64 - K4, M1B, K3, M1B, K7, M1B, K3, M1B, K4, (K1, P1) twice, K4, M1B, K5, M1B, K3, M1B, K5, M1B, K4
Row 66 - K2, M1B, K7, M1B, K3, M1B, K7, M1B, K2, (K1, P1) twice, K6, M1B, K1, M1B, K7, M1B, K1, M1B, K6
Row 68 - K25, K2, (K1, P1) twice, K25
Row 70 - K25, K2, (K1, P1) twice, K25

Work 4" in stocking stitch.

Row 1 - (right side facing) K19, P3, K9, P3, K20 
Row 2 - P19, K5, P7, K5, P to end of row
Row 3 - K18, P7, K5, P7, K to end of row
Row 4 - P17, K9, P3, K9, P to end of row
Row 5 - K16, P11, K1, P11, to end of row
Row 6 - P15, K25, P14
Row 7 - K15, P25, K14
Row 8 - P15, K25, P14
Row 9 - K15, P25, K14
Row 10 - P15, K25, P14
Row 11 - K16, P23, K15
Row 12 - P17, K21, P16
Row 13 - K18, P19, K17
Row 14 - P19, K17, P18
Row 15 - K20, P15, K19

Row 16 - P21, K13, P20
Row 17 - K22, P11, K21
Row 18 - P23, K9, P22
Row 19 - K24, P7, K23
Row 20 - P25, K5, P24
Row 21 - K26, P3, K25

Row 22 - P27, K1, P26

Work 5 1/2" in stocking stitch.

With reverse side facing work as follows:

Row 1 - K2, p2 to the end, k2 remaining stitches (this is the reverse side of your work)
Row 2 - P2, K into the second stitch and then K into the first stitch, (this creates your twisted rib which looks like a mock cable stitch) Repeat until the last 2 stitches, P2

Repeat these rows twice and work row 1 (7 rows worked in total)

With right side facing, work 14 stitches as row 2, cast off 6 sts, work 14 stitches in pattern, cast off 6 sts and  work remaining sts in pattern.

Next row, work 14 sts in pattern, cast on 6sts, continue to work in pattern across next 14 sts, cast on 6 more sts, work across 14 remaining sts in pattern (54 sts)

Work 4 more rows in pattern (row 2 then row 1 twice).

Cast off 54 stitches.

To make up, place right sides together, lay the end with the buttonholes just where the pattern starts and fold the button band so it lies over the top of the button band.  Now sew down each side with a mattress stitch.

Turn inside out and sew buttons in place on the button band and pop your cushion into your cushion.
And there you have it, your cushion made with love and kisses, courtesy of Abakhan.  I am also going to do a chart version of this pattern in a PDF format, if you find it easier to work from a chart, please drop a note to my email address which is in the paragraph below.

Right, so drum roll the winners of the bow maker are: Adaliza and Kathy Said...  I have sent a note to Adaliza but if Kathy said could drop me a note to, I will be able to send the bowmaker to her.

Finally... yes, it is Handmade Monday time, so let's go and see what has been happening in the big wide world of crafting... and if you have not seen it, go take a look at this month's Craftseller which features a great article by Wendy Massey, who hosts Handmade Monday, on how to get the most out of your craft blog.