Spring birdies

Another make from my Cath Kidson Sew! book. It’s not my best, or coolest make, so far…
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…so I’m not altogether sure about blogging this, but they are what my friend and I have pootled about making this afternoon. She’s the friend I made a tote bag with in January. I’m aware that The Great British Sewing Bee are still advertising for participants for the third series -woo hoo! – but don’t think we’re quite ready to apply…
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If I hadn’t been too lazy to get my iphone, before turning it out the right way, I could have shown you how much my machine stitching has improved. It follows the line of the bird template really well, apart from slightly wiggle on the beak but that doesn’t show much. See the gold stitching on my raw edge applique on the wing? I reckon sewing is about getting used to operating the foot pedal at a good speed, unless you’ve got a fancy speed-limited machine which frankly is a bit of a cheat, and being able to stop in time to turn the material.  I can’t sew in shoes though, I see GBSB keep showing Chinelo’s shoeless foot on the pedal, is it that unusual to sew barefoot? I did take my right boot off at the Mystery Workshop, now I’m thinking about it, I guess no one else seemed to dive under the table. Does that make me eccentric?!

My bird’s head looks slightly rooster-like. I reckon that could be my violent stabbing of the toy filling with a chopstick!
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They’re meant to be lavender bags but it’s not the season for it, also they seem a little big, so we filled them with toy stuffing for pincushions. I’ve got to stop making pincushions now – that’s three this year alone. I guess I’ve used a range of techniques at least. Here are some others I’ve made, all crocheted apart from the cactus, if you fancy going pincushion crazy as well: knitted cactus pincushion, Springtime hat pincushion, flower pincushion and floating pincushion (written on the 16th day of my newly hatched blog I see!)

Who’s going to the Knitting and Stitch Show this week/end? Hands up please!

A lot of measuring, pressing & pinning

This week I’ve got together with a friend who has a new sewing machine and needed a little jog to use it. It’s like anything; if you don’t use it you can lose your confidence and that fizzy feeling of motivation can fade away.
So, as I’d already started to make a large tote bag (working my way through Sew! Cath Kidson) I suggested she do the same. It’s really good making the same item alongside another. Fun, but also I’m sure I’d make mistakes without the discussion and thinking out loud you do together, especially at this early stage of my beginning to sew again.

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It’s not puckered, it’s just the way it’s hanging off the newel post. Maybe it needs another press too after being bundled up on my way home?

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Pockets inside and out! I’m very pleased with this cotton tote. It’ll make a lovely crochet or knitting bag for summer crafting. My friend’s bag is super too. She used upholstery weight fabric so it’s very strong. Next time I make this tote I’ll use thicker weight fabric so it can be used for carrying heavier items. It could be a posh bag for buying fruit and veg at the market.

What are you planning on doing crafty-wise this weekend? Have a good one!

(I’m blogging on the go, on my way into Central London, so apologies if this post is dodgy in any way!)

Really nice shopping

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Supermarket, butchers and fabric shop… I know which was more fun by far!

I’ve bought a few metres of each fabric for my next make. I’m planning to work through my Cath Kidson Sew! book as I like 99.9% of the makes. Of course it might be saved for the next girl’s sewing day as my friend and I have discussed making a different bag every time we get together . You can never have too many bags, right?

On the crochet front I’m still working my way through hooking up mini bunting as a commission from my local shop.

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What crafty items have you bought lately?

Tunisian Crochet

It’s a beautifully sunny and warm Spring morning. I’ve been sorting out a stack of mostly new crafty inspiration.
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So many books, so much to try!IMG_2226The Knitting Answer book is brand new, the other two are library books. I want to learn to knit different types of cables after my first try the other week. But then I also want to learn how to do lace knitting. Apart from a couple of wool scarves I designed a few years ago, one purple for me and a green for my sis-in-law, I haven’t done any lace patterns. In the Knitted Homestyle book there are three lacy sachets designs for lavender bags, I thought they might be a good start.purple scarf

I also want to work my way through the knitted effects section, maybe making a selection of blocks to make into a throw. A collection of knitted leaves appeal too, for some reason. I’ve no idea what I’d do with them.

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The new Mollie Makes arrived yesterday. Cute bunnies but I’d prefer to find a pattern rather than cutting up old jumpers. There must be knitted bunny patterns by the million online.

I always save MM till I have the perfect time to read it, preferably cover to cover without stopping or speaking. Someone else loves the oasis of silence craft magazines create.

The Cath Kidson Stitch book was for my birthday and the Sublime transfer books were Christmas presents. I must find things to embroider on, more linen t-towels perhaps. Maybe I should be going to the Sewing for Pleasure show the weekend after next? But it’s the Spring Knitting & Stitch show on Saturday and then I’m going to the Wool House with Natasja next week. AND I’ve just heard of a new yarn shop which must be checked out.

It’s sooo funny to remember that when I learnt how to crochet a few years ago, because of a childhood ambition, I accidentally discovered the world of crochet blogs when googling crochet techniques. I found Attic 24 along with a host of other craft blogs but still felt pretty solitary during my crafty adventures. Then over the last year or so there’s been an explosion of magazines, new craft shops both on the high street and online, craft shows, knit, crochet & natter groups (did you see what I did there?!) I’m hearing many ‘I think I’m going to become more crafty’ resolutions from friends too. Hurray! I hope this trend for all-things-craft lasts a long, long time and doesn’t fade away again.

IMG_2230I didn’t get on very far with my plan to embroider this cushion,as you see, before going to a workshop at the Make Lounge in Islington, London with my cat mad friend last September. Crochet and other yarny projects have taken over. I must use the Sublime books for inspiration and sew.

Ok, enough of the chatter and stop linking to everything PLeeaAsE….

Last night I dug out the 5mm Tunisian crochet hook I bought last month along with Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet and some left-over wool from the jewel baby blanket I’m currently finishing (Stylecraft Special DK.) I’ve been busy with other things but -LAST ONE I PROMISE- Matt’s last blog post prompted me to get on and try crochet Tunisian styley.

My cousin and I often send photos of what we’re up to, here was mine last night at the beginning of my first Tunisian Crochet lesson. (In case you’re wondering hers were of various cats peering into the lap top webcam and pics of her really long Tunisian Crochet hooks. Apparently she had lessons at school and crocheted a stripy neck-tie! I didn’t know.)20130314-115012.jpg

So, here are the four little stitch swatches I made last night. IMG_2238Tunisian Simple Stitch

Easy! Easy and fun. I like making all the stitches so it looks like a knitting needle full, then reversing down to one stitch again. Ingenious. If you can crochet you can do it Tunisian style.  Kim Guzman puts instructions for lefties into each pattern. Kudos to Kim Guzman I say! The book is a goodie. I contacted her to say so and straightaway had a nice reply.

It felt more natural to hold the hook on top, then when I came to this paragraph: ‘When working in Tunisian Crochet, you will always use an overhand hold. Imagine yourself holding a bicycle handlebar” I felt a real flush of pleasure; it’s fab when you just guess a technique and it’s right. Sorry. Getting all giddy again, more photos less chat ahead.

IMG_2243Tunisian Knit Stitch

Easy and it makes such a thick fabric. It would be excellent scarf material apart from the curliness. There is a scarf pattern in the book where you fold it in half lengthwise and sew the seam end of rows, that might be the solution.IMG_2235Tunisian Purl Stitch

I did go to YouTube for extra tips with this one, searching for ‘Tunisian Crochet left handed purl stitch’. There’s a video on there by a woman with a really nice American accent but the filthiest fingernails! Yuck! She was too fast for me to gather how to do her technique of putting the yarn in front of the hook, but I developed my own thing. Not my favourite stitch because of the yarn in front thing.

IMG_2231Tunisian Reverse Stitch

This is basically the Tunisian Simple Stitch but going into the vertical bar from behind. It’s fiddly but I was tired; it was nearly 11pm and I need to try again. It’s probably very easy.

The next lessons are to increase, decrease and change colours. It’s like starting with crochet all over again. Learning those  skills are going to have to wait because I’ve got very achey shoulders this morning. Ooops, but when I’m enthusiastic I tend to go at a million miles an hour.

Overall holding the hook overhand doesn’t feel as comfortable and speedy-easy as crochet but like everything you get faster the more you practice. I’m not sure TC will replace crochet for me, though I like the smooth knit-like look, but it’s nice to have a new skill.

Tempted to try Tunisian Crochet too?