Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Knitting, Sewing and some more Knitting

This has been a week of trying to finish off some of the projects that have been patiently waiting for me to return to them. A while back, I showed you the mug cosies from Mollie Makes, and some wool I had bought at Knit and Natter to make one with. As predicted, it wasn't too difficult to accomplish, although upon finishing it I realise that I'm not actually that keen on using one, so I might adapt it to cover a jar instead.

Remember the felt I showed you in the last post? Well I have been having a great time stitching up these little birdies that were such great sellers at the fairs last year. As it is such a lovely day again today I thought I'd take my pictures in the garden.

Finally, I used the book Mum lent me (see here) to whip up these little beauties. They were really easy to make and took hardly any time, or concentration, always a bonus!

My middle son was even impressed, and requested a white version so he could have a 'Mario Ghost'. This was the result, and it's recipient was very pleased with it, praise indeed.

Last week I attended a new knitting group, as well as my regular one. The new one is held in a cafe, so no wool temptation, just cake temptation. I'm not sure which is preferable really. A lovely lady called Vanessa who goes to both groups kindly looked up some beginner crochet patterns for me after witnessing my feeble attempts last week and has offered to talk me through it tomorrow night, so watch this space!

Thanks for stopping by,
Beth x

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Attempting the impossible.

I don't seem to have found my sewing rhythm again yet, there still seems to be so much going on in everyday life. Knitting has fitted in nicely around the madness and I really look forward to my evenings by the fire, when the children are upstairs. Hopefully asleep, but in bed at least. Indeed, I am enjoying them so much that last week, when an opportunity arose for me and the Mr to go out by ourselves in the evening, I practically had to have my arm twisted to leave the sofa! I was persuaded out though and was glad of it in the end.

At last weeks Knit and Natter I fell in love with some gorgeously soft alpaca wool. It is a bit fatal attending a knitting group held in a wool shop where you are sitting for a few hours surrounded by so much eye candy and I usually end up buying something. With a vague memory of this pattern in my head, and it requiring two skeins, I bought said amount with a view to making myself a lovely cowl.

After waiting a few days for a circular needle, (purchased for a snip from ebay) I was able to cast on my first ever piece of circular knitting. Aside from a  few mishaps at the beginning I was soon merrily away, finding it completely addictive, with no obvious place to stop. This stopping and starting anywhere ought to be more convenient but to me it felt a little like the time I read a novel without chapters (Moll Flanders if you're interested, it was great!) and you keep getting drawn back. Sometimes I like saying 'you'll have to wait until I get to the end of the row'!

So there I was, knitting happily. The pattern is so simple I didn't have to refer to it or keep tedious tallies and notes as I usually have to. However. I was nearing the end of my first skein with the work measuring a mere three inches or so. Given that the finished width should be about eleven inches, I realised that I would need to buy at least two more skeins to complete the project, which would make the cowl quite pricey, but as it is for me and I love it, I decided what the heck. Obviously I had misread the pattern; skeins come in different weights!

Upon returning to Knit and Natter yesterday, I asked the owner of Carly's Crafts  Michelle, for two more skeins, but alas, I had bought the last two in the brown that she had and she thinks it is being discontinued now. Aarghh!!

I tried matching in another yarn but it was too late really, and my heart had been set on the alpaca, so with a heavy heart I pulled the whole lot off the needles and in the spirit of economy bought myself these, at the bargain price of the cost of one skein of alpaca. You can see from the pictures that it is nowhere near as stroke-able as the alpaca, but at least it will be machine washable.

A quick comb of the internet has revealed that I have pretty much no chance of buying any more of the original wool, so I will have to find a pattern that uses a smaller amount.

In other news, there have been other knitted makes happening, and even a little bit of sewing for a friend's birthday, but I haven't got pictures just yet.

I did buy some really gorgeous new 100% wool felt, in a 4mm thickness from Blooming Felt so that I can start making some brooches again. Just setting out all the supplies got my craft fingers tingling, I love the process of deciding what to make and with what colours.

I have started making some brooches, so pop back soon to see how they turned out.

Thanks for stopping by,

Beth x

Friday, 10 February 2012

The Magpie Hop

After an un-expected break from sewing, where I was beginning to seriously doubt my own sanity, I managed to make another version of the Three Bears Sleeping Bag. This version uses an Aneela Hoey fabric, something I have been wanting to own and use ever since reading Aneela's blog.

Although I am pleased with the finished bed, the perfectionist in me isn't entirely happy with the binding, I'm not sure what I did differently from last time and I used the same size, but there you are. It just confirmed to me that perhaps I'm still not in quite the right mood for sewing yet!

I do definitely feel the urge to create from fabric coming back; I have been making a little list of things I need to and want to make and it keeps growing. Oh, and I did run this up, any guess what it might become?

Knitting is still high on the agenda. I returned to the knit and natter group on Wednesday where the ever-helpful Sue instructed me on button holes and also rescued the sleeve I had been increasing along only one edge. Ooops.

I will finish the cardigan before starting another knitting project, but I have been eyeing up the infinity scarves I keep seeing. For the un-initiated, these are a long continuous loop of knitted loveliness that you can wear either loose or doubled up to keep your neck cosy. Longer ones can even be worn over the head too. I have saved about a dozen patterns on Ravelry but suddenly remembered some lovely wool I bought in  a Hobbycraft sale a few years ago and thought it might fit the bill. I had to cast on a few stitches to see if it would work, and I think it might.

Also on the list is a lovely beanie hat from Jane Brocket's Gentle Art of Knitting. I had been fretting over the suggested yarn (!) for the pattern, as it costs £9.20 for 50g. (as seen here)  Kelli, who has made her own lovely version (see here) assured me that hers was made from plain old  Bonus DK, which comes with a far purse-friendlier price tag of about £1.80 for 100g!

Kelli bought hers here, but it is widely available and since I have some in my stash already my purse can remain firmly closed.

Yesterday, my Mum came over and we had a lovely time looking through some little books she has bought, one of which she kindly lent me. The only thing stopping me from casting on is a lack of teeny tiny DPN's, so I can feel a charity-shop trawl coming on.

In return, Mum left with some wool and a pattern that I had been intending to make up for, ooh about ten years (gulp). The finished cardi won't quite fit my older son now, but I'm sure we can find a home for it somewhere.

I am really having to reign myself in from flitting about between projects. It seems to be in my nature that I spend a concentrated amount of effort on a certain thing before zooming off in a completely different direction, but I am trying to curb it and have started to take action to decrease the amount of un-finished work I've got lying around. I'll let you know how it goes!

Thanks for stopping by,
Beth x

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Versatile Blogger Awards

Last year, I was very kindly nominated for this award by Katherine, who had in turn been nominated by Sophie (please do have a look at their fab blogs).

I had been struggling to put together my own list, not for want of nominees for my seven favourite blogs, but for the list of things I share about myself.

Whilst procrastinating, I have now been nominated for this award by another blogger, Emma, whose blog 'Oooh Betty' is another firm favourite of mine. This action has spurred me on to completing my own list, although I will be sticking to seven favourite blogs and not the fifteen Emma talks about. If you are in need of more than seven recommendations, please look at my side bar towards the bottom of this page. All of the blogs listed here I read regularly and I enjoy them all.

As the tradition goes, I will now nominate seven bloggers whose blogs I read regularly and also tell you seven things about me that you might not know.

Seven Blogs I Enjoy:

Sew, Ray, Me

Rachael only began sewing just over a year ago and makes the most gorgeous things which she sells at craft fairs and on Folksy. She has also been really supportive of all crafters, but those just starting out in particular, always ready and willing to share hints and tips. She has patiently answered many of my questions - thanks again Rachael!

This is Wiss

I have only recently found Angela's blog and I am always excited when she posts as she makes some really clever things. I particularly loved this kitchen that she made her son for his second birthday.

Georgina Giles

Georgina is a professional textile artist and maker whose work is really quirky and eye-catching. I really love the little monsters she makes and enjoy reading about her adventures. She has been known to leave little crafty presents dotted around her home town, which is such a lovely idea.

Lemons for Lemonade

Emma is also quite new to craft and blogging and is someone else who strikes me as a person who is willing to go out of her way for complete strangers in the name of craft! Crochet is her particular passion and you can find her wares on Etsy.

Tales From Homemade House

Kelli (or Mrs DG as I am used to thinking of her as) is a busy mum of four who also runs her own business from home. Her blog is a lovely insight into her life, her family and hobbies and has a definite heart-warming feel to it.

for alice with love

Laura's blog is another recent read. She also sells at craft fairs and makes beautiful home wares and gifts.

Tizzy Crafts

Andrea's blog appealed to me initially because she makes mostly bags and uses oilcloth, which is a material I enjoy working with. She was also very helpful when I was making enquiries about sewing machines.

Seven Random Things about me:

1) I hold a full motorbike license. Although, sadly I had to sell my bike because it was rotting on the driveway, I am capable of riding big bikes and hopefully one day when I have more time I will get another.

2) My feet are big. They are not only a size 8 but also quite wide which makes shoe-buying a bit of a nightmare for me. I will never love heels and tend to buy decent shoes which I live in until they die.

3) I love to sing, especially in the car. I'm not the greatest of warblers but I enjoy it. My family doesn't.

4) I think I'm addicted to Vaseline. I've been using it to moisturise my lips since I was about fifteen and I am never without a pot. There are little tins dotted everywhere, in the car, my pockets, in all my bags and I get a bit panicky if I don't have any with me. I sometimes wonder if the constant use has led to my lips losing their self-moisturising properties; they feel horrible without Vaseline on. The whole family hate me kissing them when I've just re-applied it (all the time then).

5) My favourite colour is green. I have green eyes, which I didn't like when I was little because I remember for one assembly in primary school the class was arranged into eye colour - and I was the only one with green eyes and had to sit alone! Now, I love having green eyes, they seem to change with my mood and if I have a good old cry for any reason they go a really deep green. Mr Magpie also has green eyes, as do both our boys. I buy quite a lot of green clothes and my customers will know that my bags and labels are green.

6) I am more of a cat person then a dog person, although I do like dogs. I just don't like them licking me or trying to sniff me. I have two tabby cats who are fiercely loved by me and my middle child and tolerated by the rest of the family, who are more doggy types. We don't have a dog, and no kids, we're not getting one, sorry.

7) My actual first name is not Beth. I was named Helen Elizabeth but never really liked my name. In my early twenties my life changed quite dramatically and I started to introduce myself as Beth, changing it officially a few years later. I'm still known as Helen to family and old friends and you never know, one day I might feel like changing names again!

It would be lovely if you could have a peek at some of the mentioned blogs

Thanks for stopping by,
Beth x

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Knit and Natter

My nanny was a prolific knitter and you only had to mention on the phone that you needed something and it would arrive in the post a few days later. She taught me to knit when I was about seven or eight but over time I haven't progressed all that much.

My Mum knits now and then and my mother-in-law is also a fantastic knitter (as seen here). She is responsible for all the beautiful jumpers and cardigans my boys wear. Unfortunately she lives too far away for the times when I inevitably get stuck with a pattern, so this morning I went to my first ever Knit and Natter. It is held every Wednesday morning in my local wool shop (I can't quite bring myself to say yarn store, does that make me a typical Brit stick-in-the-mud?).

I have made a couple of baby jumpers and cardigans in the past, but never very elegantly. I am currently working on a cardi for a friend's baby and wanted it to be a little more refined, so knew I needed some expert help.

I am fine with the casting on and off, even some of the complicated patterns. My trouble is that I knit quite tightly, so when I come to the part of the pattern that says 'pick up and knit' I get a bit anxious because I can't do it very well.

The current cardi I'm doing  requires me to pick up and knit up the right front, along the back and down the left front all on a circular needle. A lovely lady called Sue from the group kindly showed me how to do it neatly, whilst bamboozling me with all sorts of instructions to ignore the pattern, change the ends and alter the rib. All very well meant but a little overwhelming.

Sue showed me how to pick up and knit, but she only used one needle and I couldn't grasp the technique myself. Eventually she offered to do it for me, which I readily agreed to as now I have a perfect join.

I managed to knit the next three rib rows without trouble, but now I have come to the buttonhole rows. As Sue deviated from the pattern and I'm not confident enough to freestyle buttonholes I think I might just get on with something else and take it back next week.

That being decided, I thought I would get some new wool to make a girls cardigan with, should said friends little one not be a boy.

Some Aran weight also fell into my basket - I want to make a knitted mug cosy from Mollie Makes.

The pattern uses moss stitch (knit one, purl one), which I have never attempted before and wouldn't want to do on a large scale but I think a mug cosy is about right for my talents.

For those of you visiting for sewing related chat, I do hope to be making a return to it next week, it is just that for now, knitting is suiting my temperament and circumstances. I find that if I try and sew when I don't feel like it, everything goes wrong, so sometimes it is better to wait. Just as well I'm not dependent on my livelihood for it! Does anyone else feel like that?

Thanks for stopping by,
Beth x