Recent knits

Since my sister got me into knitting, I have become a bit obsessed.  As I have said previously, it is the perfect meditation after a busy, stressful day at work, and since my knitting has improved with practice I am really enjoying trying out new techniques.  My recent projects include my orange cowl, which is very lovely and soft, and was quite a time-consuming project.  It is essentially a big rectangle, which you knit from the wide edge, so each row was over 200 stitches!  At the beginning, it took me 15 minutes to knit a row, and by the end I was down to around 10 minutes.

For my last birthday, Lizzie got me the wool and pattern to knit my own pink cashmere bed socks, and they were my first introduction to cabling.  When I look at them now I can see the unevenness as I struggled to find the right way to hold the wool, and keep the tension even (I knitted them before the cowl) but I am still proud of my first proper knitting project.

The wool for my cowl was so gorgeous I bought some in a different colour just on a whim, and then decided to make wrist-warmers with it, to keep my hands and wrists warm while I knit (how very circular).  I have just finished them and am very pleased.  Next project!

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A lovely Christmas present

My mum has just retired, so naturally she is busier than ever.  One of her many current projects involves honing her skills as a potter, and thus I am the grateful recipient of an increasing (but not yet large) number of pieces of pottery.

She gave me this bowl for Christmas, together with a dish and a little pot which are also very lovely.


A little hat

I have been doing lots of knitting recently.  It is calming and meditative, a counterpoint to a busy day spent in front of a screen and piles of paper, speaking to people and reading and writing.  I love the feeling of the wool in my hands, and watching progress being made (sometimes veeerrry slowly, sometimes surprisingly quickly!)

One recent project was a little hat for a newborn, which I will shortly send to my colleague who has just had a little baby boy.  It has a bit of lace in it, which might be slightly ‘girly’, but I’m sure we don’t need to be so gender-prescriptive at this stage (or indeed at any stage).

The pattern is here: the story of a hat.  I used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, a lovely soft washable wool blend.  I might scale it up and knit it for myself…


Continuation of themes: Valentine’s Day and paper garlands

I am unapologetic about my current enthusiasm for paper garlands and chains.  They are just so visually effective!  For Valentine’s Day I tried out a paper chain instead of garlands (bonus: no lugging out the sewing machine).  I cut a strip of thinnish red craft paper with fibre bits in it that looked like it would be absorbent and fold well, and painted tiny little gold hearts all over it randomly.  When I say ‘painted tiny little hearts’, I mean made little ‘V’ shapes with a small fat paintbrush that would, from a glance, look like hearts.

Then I folded it in a zigzag to make a paper chain, being (mostly) careful to make all the folds the same size.  I cut it into a heart, and voila!

A sweet little paper heart chain, which I then glued into a card.  I glued the right-hand side down, then folded the hearts down onto the card and put glue on the back of the top-most one, then closed the card on the stack to make sure it would open and close properly.

And with that, I will conclude Valentine’s Day for this year.  I think I’ve now properly outed myself as a devotee of all things sweet and pink, as if it wasn’t obvious before!

Golden garlands

In my last post I mentioned some paper garlands I’d sewn for christmas decorations- here they are.

I used up the last of a little pot of Windsor & Newton gold ink which I’ve had for about 10 years by using a big brush to paint rough stripes across some watercolour paper.  I then exercised my scissor-muscles cutting out rough circles from the paper, and fed those through the sewing machine with cream thread.

I think I should probably take them down now, or they won’t look christmassy when I put them up in 10 months time!

Birthday bunting x 2

A long time ago I came across a blog that showed a paper banner made by feeding bits of paper through the sewing machine, which seemed a deceptively easy way to make something very decorative.  I mentally filed it away and thought no more of it until I was playing around with bits of paper to make my mum a birthday card, and thought I’d have a go at making some bunting, which seems to be all over the place in cutesy crafty blogs.  This paper-sewing method seemed to be a way of indulging in a bit of bunting frivolity without making too serious a time commitment to an affection (or affectation) for all things cute.

Making the bunting involved painting some watercolour paper in rainbow washes of colour, waiting for it to dry, and then cutting it into triangles.  I stacked up all the triangles, sat down at the sewing machine, and fed them through.  There were a few snags figuring out the machine’s tolerance for sewing paper and dropping stitches (which is how to get the little bit of space in between each piece of paper) but I got there in the end.

The result made me happier than I have been with a craft project for a long time, mostly because I wasn’t expecting it to actually work.  With most projects I have a vision of how I want it to look, and then I’m a bit disappointed when it necessarily looks different to how I’d imagined it.  This bunting was BETTER than I’d imagined.  Proof that the easiest way to exceed expectations is to lower them first!  I was so pleased, in fact, that I proceeded to make some for my dad for his birthday, and also make some christmas garlands along a similar theme which I’ll take a photo of at some point as they are, in late January, still hanging up in the flat.  I take the view that white and gold garlands are not season-specific, myself.

I neglected to take photos of the completed bunting I made my dad, but I was a bit more experimental with the colours and took a photo of the finished ‘painting’ before the paper was cut into triangles:

I painted this sheet by doing stripes of blue, stripes of orange, etc all quite spaced out, and then trying to fill them in with colours that would contrast next to one another.  A sort of random-yet-planned colour splash.  Up until the final few stripes were applied, I was not happy with how it was turning out and almost scrumpled it up to start again, but once I’d finished I was glad I hadn’t.

The result was very cheerful, and I am sure to be deploying this particular crafty idea for celebratory events in the future!


New cushion covers

I made something!  Actually sewed something!  This should not be such a big deal, but somehow it is… if you were to ask me what some of my favourite things are to do, high up on the list would be sewing and embroidery.  I love textiles, and textile arts, but in a kind of secret ‘I wish I could do this more often’ kind of way.  I even like folding washing.  BUT recently other things seem to have gotten in the way, so I have had the beginnings of sewing projects lying around which have been left untouched for an embarrassingly long amount of time.

But no more!  I was in Ikea the other day, and noted that they have cheap, fun fabrics, so I picked up some cheery rainbow-y fabric with which to adorn my sofa.  It’s probably not the sort of thing that will stand the test of time (or my shifting tastes) but the fabric was less than £10 in total, and it took me about 2 hours to make the covers, so I am happy.

My design aesthetic at the moment seems to be whitewhitewhite with some wood and neutrals, and little pops of rainbow colour to liven things up and make me smile.  These cushions certainly provide the last element.

I also subconsciously purchased white fabric for the backs of the cushions which is actually the same fabric as the sofa (the benefit of buying sofa and fabric all from Ikea), so if I want things a bit more minimalist I can just turn them over.

So there we are, my first completed sewing project in well over a year.  I am now inspired to continue and make some more things…