Thursday, 30 January 2014

Recently, Craftily

 Felt star Christmas decorations for friends - I'd left all my beads and sequins at home so I had to improvise some embroidery. I still can't do french knots. I stuffed these with polyester stuffing & hung them on ribbon loops.

I made a baby blanket for a colleague. I had it almost finished for ages but only got round to weaving the ends in and blocking it after the early arrival of said baby! It's lying on a bath-sheet-sized towel folded in half here. I wanted it to stay useable for a good few years so made it quite large.
I started off with stash wool and purchased a few balls of white to make the blanket up to the size I wanted. I think the Peter Pan by Wendy was the nicest I used, the Hobbycraft bargain baby wool was nowhere near as soft and lovely. The whole thing is on Ravelry here. I'm not one for cooing over babies but I must admit that he looked very cute wrapped up & sleeping.

I started making a collection of little crochet stars out of scrap wool. Eventually I may have enough for some sort of garland.

I was lucky enough to receive this beautifully presented parcel in the Sewists' Secret Santa... The card was only signed from Secret Santa so I don't know who was responsible! All I know is the postmark.

And this is what was inside! Bravo Santa, such well chosen bits - I really love when someone unexpectedly gets it so right - not that I help much with my rather sparse blog.
I'd been admiring Fashionarys from afar for a while so it was lovely to be indulged - I think it'll help me get my ideas down when I'm having a fit of inspiration as I tend to completely forget all my ideas completely. I wasn't sure what the giant button was at first and had an abortive attempt at using it as a kind of window sticker! Then I had a flash of inspiration and googled button coaster. If this isn't what it's meant to be, I'm very sorry but it does a good job :)
I'd like to thank Kat very very much for organising this swap - I'm looking forward to being involved in more, and hopefully being far better at my part of the bargain. I have not seen yet if my Santee has received her parcel - it was going right round the world and I sent it shamefully late :-(

On Christmas day I decided to teach myself to knit in the round using dpns. The perfect willfully lazy winter afternoon activity. This was my first attempt and it only bloody worked! 
I followed instructions in How To Knit by Debbie Bliss which I find to be a pretty good book for learning knitting generally. I kept going and eventually decided to experiment with decreasing every 4th & 5th stitch, resulting in an interestingly pointy little hat. Currently it belongs to a toy dog as I don't know any children of the right sort of age.

This is my first pair of Wristwarmers from Learn To Knit Love To Knit, as recommended by Magpie Mimi. For this first pair I naughtily used the same sized needles throughout so my rib is a little *too* stretchy. My mattress stitch is not the prettiest either but practice will help. They're on Ravelry here.

Speaking of which, I'm already on my third pair of LTKLTK wrist warmers. I obeyed the needle instructions for the second minty pair and also changed colours for the third. These two sets are presents. The pink & brown ones are waiting to be sewn up (and washed after an unfortunate beer incident).

I've been enjoying spending cold wet weekend afternoons (and some evenings) in my craft room(!) arranging things and making plans. I found that this little cabinet - which came from a jam gift set - is the perfect size for holding reels of cotton. I've recently inherited quite a few from a friend's aunt. Some of it is labelled quilting cotton so I need to look that up - I imagine it might be stronger and thicker than normal thread and possibly too thick for dressmaking?
I've also been through my whole (far too large) collection of crochet hooks selected the sizes I didn't have from among the inherited lot. Now I'm in the process of giving away the rest & have had quite a bit of interest from friends.

And this is what I've been doing on the sewing front. Simplicity 9175 is an A-line shift dress pattern from 1970. I picked up the pattern at the sewists' meet in Birmingham back in June, right at the end of the swap after having initially thought that there was no way a vintage single sized pattern would be big enough. But it is! To my inexperienced eyes the bust on my toile is nigh on perfect.
The hips were another story (as you'd see if you follow me on Instagram) and I thought I'd have to do some drastic re-drafting to make it work. However I tried taking out the side and centre back seams by 1/4", curving out gently from below the ends of the french darts, et voilá! Suddenly all was well. I was amazed by how much difference this made. I have a slight suspicion I may have stretched the fabric when trying it on, but I intend for my first real version to be made of the leftover cheap navy cotton from for New Look 6154. I've re-pre-washed it so hopefully its shrinky tendencies have been tamed now.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Lytes Cary: Hedgerow, Riverbank & Woodland


A long-delayed sequel to my Lytes Cary post, these are some photos from outside of the formal gardens. Boy and I took the path down to the River Cary, walked alongside it a little, and then found our way back along some field edges and through a lovely little bit of wood.
Since it was quite late in the afternoon by this point we had the place to ourselves and there was some lovely late afternoon sun lighting up the trees and berries.

I meant to post this in late December but there was some kind of Flickr stupidness with the photo sharing code becoming iframes. I've got my good old html img tags back now so it's all playing nicely with blogger and mobile browsers again.


By the time we got back to the house it was definitely late late afternoon and the sun had become low and lovely. It did make it quite hard to walk across this very lumpy field, but it was pretty all the same :)


Friday, 17 January 2014

25 Before 24 - January Update

Something is buggered with my post editing - the text keeps jumping around and becoming indented randomly. This wasn't happening on the last post I edited so I assume it's something to do with having copy & pasted some bullet points, or the continuous re-interpretation of the html that's going on.
On the plus side I've managed to get rid of the Flickr "iframe" thing by effectively writing my own html - they'd replaced the old img tags with iframe ones which used a different photo source url on top of being bloody annoying. I can at least arrange my photos how I like from Blogger again, but it makes photo posts much slower having to re-write html for each photo rather than simply grabbing it already done from the Flickr photo page.

Oh dear, I can see why I gave up on writing this post. Anyway, December was... busy. Finishing moving, various birthdays, and Christmas. I thought going home for Christmas might be relaxing... nope. There was something familyish to do every day - no sitting about doing nothing like I'd have liked. I did see various family members and survive all of my immediate family living together for a few days fairly happily so that was a plus. Coming back to Bristol afterwards wasn't hard (apart from missing a coffee date with friends) and I had a slightly surreal single day of working from home before a very home-based NYE.

25 Things

  1. Cycle to Bath
  2. Visit K at RHUL
  3. Go to a sewing meet
  4. Make 5 items of clothing
  5. Go to Cornwall and/or somewhere warm
  6. Learn some Perl/Ruby/C++/SQL - C++ looking more useful
  7. Keep a list of things to cook and make 2 new ones per month - oven-baked pilau rice! Vegan cake - my apple/carrot/banana cake but with flax seeds - which came joint 2nd in the office bake-off. I sabbotaged myself by voting for the winning entry. Too honest! I also made N a birthday cake - it was a recipe I'd made before but never with proper butter or actual ganache. Ganache is surprisingly easy!
  8. Read twelve or more books
  9. Cut down my photo-uploading backlog - On K1000 roll 5 now
  10. Scrapbook - Nope. Session needed.
  11. Visit 5 new towns or cities
  12. Keep job/get good/become independent - Scrum mastering going ok - definitely got the basics but still not keen on speaking to large groups or leading meetings. Have been working almost independently on a project for a month or so and am getting along ok despite self-doubt.
  13. Go to a pop-up restaurant or supper club
  14. Finish things - Finished the baby blanket and gave it to the baby! I've seen some very cute pictures of said baby using the blanket too. I also finished a bit of crosss stitch I've been working on since September.
  15. Mend/alter
  16. See cousins - One set came round on Boxing Day & we did a secret santa :)
  17. Go to a gig/film/... every month - Went for supper at the Watershed but lamed out of cinema. Saw some surf/ska/funk at the bar where we met for Boy's birthday. Surf-style Norwegian Wood was pretty good.
  18. Walk lots - a few vague attempts but it's COLD. Went up & down the lane at home a couple of times and along a beach in Devon
  19. Visit new cafés/things - Work do took in The Hophouse and The Albion, neither of which I'd visited before. Visited the new Boston Tea Party up Gloucester Road and Grounded Café even further up. We also tried out the little café/Bistro in Henleaze with visiting friends and had a pretty good and reasonably priced brunch.
  20. Do something creative every week - Further bus crochet on the baby blanket, some embroidered felt stars for Christmas presents, little crocheted stars, a (wonkily) quilted stocking for Boy, a funny red accidental hat to teach me to knit in the round with double pointed needles (dpns), and the start of a pair of wristwarmers for myself.
  21. Make an effort to go to things - Several coffees with groups of friends, work Christmas do, a birthday evening I organised for Boy, pre-cinema dinner (even if I didn't stay for the cinema part), Christmas dinner with school friends, an afternoon Christmassing at a friend's house, coffee with old flatmate.
  22. Learn to knit properly - Definitely getting somewhere! Managed to teach myself to use dpns from How To Knit by Debbie Bliss and started on some wristwarmers from Learn To Knit Love To Knit by Anna Wilkinson (a Christmas present)
  23. Listen to the radio regularly - Boy generally has it on in the evenings so yes!
  24. Use stashes - Bought new fabric for Boy's stocking but otherwise everything I've made has been from my stash.
  25. Find a dentist & get teeth fixed 
 Going back over this list I'm quite impressed with what I managed to cram into December. January is feeling a bit tired and full of nothing, perhaps I'll get started on this month's list early to try and encourage myself. I might do a round up of everything I made last year too - I genuinely have no idea what my craft output is. I feel like it's pretty low but could be entirely wrong.
I've been rather inspired to do some kind of year summary by all the Top 5s I've been seeing - Gillian has some excellent ideas, including the sewcialists blog.