Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year!

To all of you followers, old and new, thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read my blog, I truly do appreciate it.  2015 has been a beauty, and here's hoping 2016 is just as good.

Wishing you blessings and best wishes for a happy, healthy 2016! xx

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

A Crafty Christmas

So, the big day itself has been and gone, and now we're enjoying the restful gap before the New Year.  I love the few days after the craziness of the Christmas buildup.  We tend not to make many plans and spend most of the time just the four of us, going for walks, picking our favourite festive flicks from the Radio Times, and eating far too much! 

It's my birthday tomorrow so Mr Y has taken the girls shopping for a few last minute bits so I have some peace and quiet.  Rather them than me battling with the crowds of sale shoppers! 

We had a wonderful time with family this Christmas.  This year, just like last, I decided to make a homemade gift for my nearest and dearest.  And this year, again, just like last, I left things a little late, so was still finishing off the final gift on Christmas Eve.  

As well as the staple foodie makes and bakes that have to be thought about at this time of year, I decided to make Miss C a dress from a rather delightful polar bear fabric from John Lewis.  

There was a slight hiccup with the fabric, and they sent 75cms less than I'd ordered.  A few frustrating phone calls, an email and finally a PayPal complaint later, I received my correct quota of fabric, and was told to keep the original lot, which meant Miss M got a dress also. 

Miss C also took a fancy to a collar in an old Mollie Makes magazine from last year, I think.  

I had to resize it quite a lot, but Miss C loves it.  Miss M wasn't at all impressed, so no need for a second one.

For their actual handmade Christmas gifts, I opted for a cot quilts.  Back in the summer I made a start on a quilt for Miss M's bed using hexies.  Seriously slow going, I knew it wouldn't be done in time for Christmas, so went for a quicker, smaller, machine worked version for her baby boy doll.

Having never tackled quilting before, I didn't know what to expect.  I used a mix if vintage, vintage design reproduction cottons and scraps of dress fabrics they'd had over the years.  I used 2" squares, and learnt as I went along.  

The binding was a pain in the behind.  The binding wasn't bias binding so there was no give or stretch.  The corners are poorly done, but the girls didn't notice and were over the moon with them.

My dad is never an easy option for makes, and it has to either be edible or knitted.  I went for the knitted option and picked what I thought was a relatively easy Fair-isle.  

cheated and made the back plain, and that knitted up really quickly, but the front was somewhat different.  I prefer to work Fair-isle from a chart, so where there isn't one, I make one.  The first pattern was a simple one but the second just wasn't turning out right.  I sought help from a friend who was an absolute wonder.  She not only found out what the problem was, she charted the whole pattern for me! 

Once the pattern problem had been fixed, I was able to start the serious work of knitting.

My most favourite gift to make, by far, was a bag for my amazing mum. Ever since I saw this picture on Pinterest, I knew I wanted to replicate it.

I dug through my felt stash and found some beautifully thick 4mm wool felt yardage.  I drafted the bag and flower shapes by hand and set about picking the right colour felt to match a piece if 1940's rayon silk that I had chosen for the lining.  

I stayed up very late on the 23rd of December to get as much done as I could.

It was finished on Christmas Eve, and 100 hand cut flowers and 150 beads later, this was the result.

I love it so much, that I may just have to make one for myself!!

All the gifts were well received, which made all the hard work worth it.  

I hope you had a fabulous Christmas, however you celebrated xx

Monday, 7 December 2015

A Stripey Affair!

Well, it's been a while.  As we approach the last few weeks of 2015, I figured that if I didn't dip my toe back into the world of blog, I never would!!  So, here I am, and what better post to bring you than a neat little knitted number.  

Many months back, a fabulous customer of mine asked me to knit her a cardigan.  To my joy, it wasn't just any cardigan, it was one of the most pretty patterns I've seen in a long while, a pattern that had been on my rather long "to knit" list.

The pattern came from a Needlework Illustrated magazine from the 1930's. 

Pretty neat, don't you think?!  It was love at first sight.  The colours, the style, those sweet little buttons, I knew I had to knit it.  

The customer wanted it to be as close in colour to the original as I could make it. Luckily, Adriafil Azzura had nigh on the exact same shades, and a little colour test later, and we were sold on the design.  

When you look at the cover photo, it clearly shows that there are four base colours in wide stripes, with thin black rows and slightly thicker white, in between.  However, when I came to work from the pattern, it wasn't turning out the same.  In the pattern, the four strong colours were worked in equal thickness to the white, and the result just didn't have the same wow factor.

As the customer had seen the cover image with the thinner white stripe, I had to rework the pattern slightly, tweaking the thickness of the black and white rows and making it just a little bit longer in the body, for comfort.

The pattern isn't difficult, as the entire cardi is worked in rib, but the constant colour changing slowed the work down a lot.  That, and the fact that a made a mistake halfway up the back and had to re-knit it meant this one took nearly 4 months of on and off work. 
Thankfully the customer was unbelievably patient, which I always appreciate. 
Making up the jumper was a bit quicker, but oh so many ends to sew in.....

And the construction was different to anything I've sewn up before.  The top of the sleeve becomes the yoke, and there are two pleats in the sleeve, which take out some of the fullness and give it a neat finish.   


Crochet isn't one of my strong points, but the buttons were pretty simple to work.  Double and treble crochet worked round little button forms, they finish it off perfectly, I think.



If you fancy giving it a go, the pattern is available for sale in my Etsy shop, which she can find here. It's not a complicated pattern, it could certainly be tackled by a beginner knitter, but it does take a lot of patience running in all the ends, but it's worth it!


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Summer's End

Sitting here, looking out of the window, while the rain, which hasn't stopped for the day, keeps falling, it seems like the summer has well and truly finished.

Very shortly, the 7 weeks of family fun we've had will come to an abrupt end, the 5.50am alarm tomorrow signalling that the autumn term has arrived.  Where is 2015 going?!  Soon thoughts will turn to autumnal shades and cosy evenings, while crafting will take on a decidedly Christmas theme.  For now, I shall push festive planning to the back of my mind, and instead look back at the things we did in this summer.

When school finished in July, our heads were filled with thoughts of leisurely strolls in the countryside and long summer evenings, picnics in the shade and paddling in the cooling sea.  As soon as we were able, we packed up and headed West to my husband's family home in a little village near Perranporth.

Cornwall is, quite simply, beautiful.  Come rain or shine, there is always something to discover in this amazing county of hidden treasures, and it will always have a special place in my heart.  I loved the place before I ever met Mr Y.  The fact that Cornwall is his home county was the icing on the cake, when I met him!
We made the most our time there and certainly kept ourselves busy.  

Picking a perfect warm evening, we headed to Perranporth when the tide was on the way out, found ourselves a rock to sit on and watched the sun sink slowly into the sea.  The light was amazing, and the reflections in the sea soaked sand were so beautiful.

I captured this shot of Miss C, my little thinker, on my iPhone.  No filter, no enhancing, just a second in time, and beautiful.  

Miss M prefers to be hands on and spent her time grubbing in the sand!! 

We made footprints in the sand and explored the caves.

You cant beat a National Trust property, and we went to the stunning Lanhydrock House, and fell in love with it all over again. 


What a view.  We sat and just looked at this incredible view.  Imagine that for a garden!

The story of the last family who lived there, the Agar-Robartes, is quite a sad one, and there is a moving display in the gatehouse explaining what various members of the family did during WW1. 
 I visited with my parents as a teen, and remember how awesome the house was, especially the massive kitchen.  The National Trust has done an amazing job, and the house really looks as though a family still lives there.  We loved it so much, in fact, that we made a second visit and walked the estate from the other end, stopping off at the Bodmin and Wenford Railway en route.

Picking one of the hottest days of the summer, we sweltered in the biomes at the Eden Project.  




And took a trip to St Ives on a double decker bus while the car was being serviced.  Such a picturesque little place, but oh so busy!  We went on a baking hot day, and if I'm honest, the streets became a little too busy for us and the seagulls were a menace!  But we found pizza, cooked fresh to order, and then they all had the obligatory ice cream with a dollop of clotted cream on top.  We got through quite a lot of clotted cream, actually.

We felt that we could have stayed in the West forever, maybe one day, but we had to head home, and ultimately, there's no place like home.

There was time spent with family and friends, evenings out and lazy breakfasts, walking through forests and puddle jumping in the pouring rain, and more late nights than there probably should have been, but we really let our hair down in the holidays.

A trip to Norwich to see the GoGo Dragons where, on an 11+ mile walk, we spotted 64 of the 84 dragons, and then shared a train journey home with a carriage of merry football drunks!

Unusually, not much knitting happened.  I finished this jumper that had taken me ages to knit because I lost interest in it, and I've managed to hurt my shoulder so knitting is going at a snail's pace.

Most of my time was taken up with these little pretties!

I've started a quilt for Miss M, and have one planned for Miss C.  M wanted a red, white and blue theme and loves anything with dogs on, so we picked a mix of 1930's reproduction cottons, a couple of Cath Kidston prints, and a few from the Moda range for good measure. Add in some of the fabrics from dresses I've made both girls, and we were well on the way.  More than 700 2.5" hexies were cut and tacked onto paper.  Time consuming but oh so addictive.

Very much channelling the tortoise and the hare with the "slow and steady" mantra.  It's looking good so far, although I have to admit I've not done any for the last three weeks.

We ended the holiday on a high with a few days away in Crewe, Runcorn and Leicester, and threw in a trip to IKEA for good measure.  Got to love IKEA :)

There was a lot of treasure hunting too.  Not so much in Cornwall, the county offers relatively slim pickings on the vintage front, but that didn't stop treasures being found elsewhere!  
Pretty aprons.

Check out that knitting print fabric!
Favourite, favourite, favourite summer find - a WW2 Jacqmar propaganda scarf called Jacqmar Presents!
We have a final 1940's event to prepare for this month, my favourite event of the year, the 1940's Weekend on the North Norfolk Railway.  This is the one where Miss C and my dad go walkabout, and we barely see them for the weekend.  Outfits have been planned and I spent yesterday repairing and altering a tiny size 6 1930's/1940's dress for her to wear.

 We're off out in a bit, a trip to the cinema to see a final summer film before evenings return to marking and lesson planning.  Hope September is good for you xx