Ravelymics - crochet blanket

>> Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I think I'm already set up for failure here because this month has turned out to be crazy busy with a tight illustration deadline, but I entered the Ravelympics with a WIP project.
I posted about this project ages ago here. It's a crochet blanket intended to use up a bunch of little scrap balls of yarn. What happened is I got busy at some point and tucked it away. Which in our old house involved emptying half the hall closet and cramming it into some kind of bag, box or basket, then piling a bunch of stuff on top. So it was a combination of not seeing it around, plus not really being able to find it that led me to putting it aside forever.

Also I couldn't actually remember how I did it in the first place. I searched and searched but couldn't find any notes jotted down that told me the hook size I had used or how I made the granny square which has a slightly different centre than they usually have, with eight "petals" rather than four.

So my big tip today is to write down how you're making something if you're making it up as you go along. You think you'll remember, but if you put your project aside, a few notes will come in handy later on!

So entering the Ravelympics forced me to find all the squares I had already made, the bits of yarn in the right colours to make more squares, figure out the hook size and pattern (a lot of trial and error there) and figure out how to sew the squares together. For some reason I had a mental block about this. I didn't know how to do it, I had read detailed instructions for somehow effortlessly crocheting the squares together but couldn't make head nor tail of it.

I ended up sewing the squares together using the white yarn and a basic overstitch. It's good, it really does seem to just blend in, plus there's no raised ridge that you can get with some crochet joining techniques. I decided to start sewing them together as I go rather than waiting until the end. Waiting to the end would have been nice because you can move around the squares until there's a nice balance of colours, but then you kind of dread all the sewing together you have to do later.
This will look smoother at the seams once it's been blocked..

So I like the fact that I've sewn the squares together because now it looks more like a blanket and I can actually have it on my lap as I go which is cosy.

So there's two ways of looking at this. I'm not going to finish the blanket in time which is a failure, but now it's revived from an abandoned project to one on-the-go that is already kind of nice to have around. Which is good. So I guess that's how I'll look at it! I'm the kind of person that frets about not finishing things I've set out to do but for some reason in this case I'm ok with it.

I'm also in a cheerful mood today as I finally nabbed a much coveted Made by Hank bag today! I'm so happy about it as I'm a huge fan, plus those of you who have tried to buy one of her amazing bags will know that it involves basically refreshing her etsy shop constantly as they are snapped up minutes after she adds them. It leads to a bit of a panicky shopping experience if you really really want one because while you are looking at the pictures you know it could disappear at any moment. As it turned out, Bradley was refreshing the shop from time to time as well and he actually phoned me today to say there were bags in the shop.

Sorry to disappoint my fellow Made By Hank fans, but I bought the best one ever. I can't wait until it arrives!


Barkcloth messengers

>> Thursday, February 18, 2010

I have two new barkcloth messenger bags in my new shop now. I think these are the last I'll be making in this style. I kept a smaller one for myself... I wish I had more of that print!
It's a charming country scene with houses, a church, a mill, a farmer's field, a forest and an orchard. Quite a lot for one print, but the simple style and limited colour scheme really ties it all together!

This is the second bag made with a tropical barkcloth.
This is the last I have of that print as well... I often find fairly small pieces of barkcloth but luckily just a little goes a long way.
Can you imagine, most of these pieces of barkcloth used to be curtains!

Coming up soon, I've cut out lots of fabric for some Sweethaven bags, and finished sewing up the first one. It's a combination of red and pink fabric with a white doily applique.


Valentine's craft project

>> Friday, February 12, 2010

 For some reason my camera doesn't photograph red well. It turns into flourescent bright red which I toned down in Photoshop. This is a cherry red sweater.

My idea for a Valentine's craft project is a cosy for your hot water bottle. This project is very easy and you can do it in a couple of hours and have it ready for a gift in no time if you like. Mine was going to be a Valentine's present, but it turned out a bit girly... anyway here's how you make it.
Step 1
Felt a sweater. Mine was a lovely soft cashmere sweater from a thrift shop, but it had frayed a lot at the edges and had developed huge holes in the elbows that made it less than cosy. Felting is fun because you can do the opposite of whatever you usually do to look after your woolens. Throw it in the washing machine. Use lots of soap and hot water. Agitate it as much as you can. Shock it by throwing it into cold water, than back into hot. Run it in the dryer until it's piping hot. Once it's shrunk and thick and felted you're ready to go.
Step 2
Trim your sweater at the seams so you have two nice big panels to work with. This way if you have a medium sweater you can probably make two cosies.
Step 3
Fold the panel in half and cut around the bottom and other side using your hot water bottle as a guide with a little extra seam allowance. I curved the corners at the bottom.
At the top you can curve around the shoulders and make a collar around the neck. This keeps the bottle snugly inside the cosy. To get the bottle in, just roll it lengthwise while it's empty and put it in, then fill the bottle while it's already in its cosy. Sounds simple, but it took me a long time to figure this out!
 Step 4
Sew the seams up, then add some zigzag stitching to finish the seams if you wish. If the sweater is well felted you shouldn't have to worry about it unravelling.
Step 5
Sew a bit of bias tape around the neck, or roll the top down and stitch it for a nice finished look.
Step 6 (optional)
Embroider a picture on the front with yarn. I used a chalk pen to draw a heart, then embroidered it with light blue wool yarn.
You're done! Now stay nice and warm in bed until Winter's over.


Lilac yarn

>> Thursday, February 11, 2010

This is the finished yarn that I made with the merino I dyed recently. I divided the top into 5 parts lengthwise, then pre-drafted a little bit. I was trying to spin thicker yarn than I've been spinning lately, and to spin it thick and thin. But it turns out that once you've been spinning for a while it starts to get a bit automatic. So this yarn turned out thinner than I planned and more even.
You can see the thick and thinness in the picture of the single above..
And this is the result. When I first started to spin I really wanted to spin thin yarn, but it can be time consuming and I thought it would be nice to have a thick single with this yarn. Anyway, as the single turned out a bit thinner than expected I ended up doing a 2-ply after all.
I kind of like the way a yarn will kind of develop as you spin and you sometimes end up with something you didn't expect. In this case I like the way the colours blend together and I'm happy with the results.

Thank you Kristyn for the tips on leftover singles. In this case there was hardly anything leftover and I decided to just keep the last scrap of single and wash it to set the twist. I think I'll make a tiny pincushion with it or something like that. I actually like the single a lot, so in future I think I'll try keeping more of my handspun unplied.

Thank you to all you spinners who leave me tips and suggestions as comments, I appreciate every one and do always get around to trying them eventually!


Love and Rummage

>> Wednesday, February 10, 2010

As usual the Love & Rummage show was so fun. While I didn't have a table there (and really it's for the best as I've been sick for the past few weeks with not one but two different colds) I delivered a repaired needle book to Becky, and picked up a giant bag of envelopes from her.

As usual there was a whole lot of fun rummage and handmade goodness. I bought some quilt batting while I was there - a bamboo/cotton blend that feels so nice you wish it was on the outside - then had a rummage through Karyn's fabric scraps. I always find good things when Karyn dips into her basement. And look at the results here, amazing!
 Notebook by Leah Bukareff of Coldsnap Bindery

But best of all I swapped a mustard linen needle book with the lovely and talented Leah Bukareff of Coldsnap Bindery. I couldn't believe my luck that she was interested in swapping as I've been covetting this beautiful yellow notebook ever since I saw it at City of Craft. I love it so much. I want to frame it and hang it on the wall and gaze at it. But I know notebooks are meant to be used...

Ok just one more look at the beautiful embroidery:


Wool lace wallet tutorial

>> Monday, February 08, 2010

So this is the new wallet that I mentioned in my last post. I made it from a thick piece of wool fabric and I think that was a nice way to make it sort of soft and cushy without using any interfacing or such. The tricky part was really just figuring out the steps to sew a wallet together.
If you want to make one in this style, just measure the size you would like the wallet to be, ie. the main panel, and decide how many compartments you need to fit the things you need. You'll need to have fairly good sewing skills to follow this, ideally you'll have made similar types of things. Then here are the general steps:

Get started
Create your pattern pieces with paper or cardstock (so you can make another one later!) then cut out the fabric, I recommend linings for the pockets to add structure and give a nice finished look. Embellish the outer panel of the wallet as you wish. I added lace, you could add an inset quilted panel, applique, or anything you like.
Bottom cards section with large slip pocket
1. The card dividers should all be the same height to fit your cards, and the same width as the main panel of the wallet. Attach each to its lining at the top side, turn right side out and press.
2. Attach main slip pocket to its lining, turn right side out and press.
3. Attach card dividers onto main slip pocket. Attach the top divider first, stitching the sides and bottom so that the cards will stay in place with the top of the card showing. Then layer extra dividers on top, each one lower than the last.
4. Stitch a dividing column down the middle.

Top zipper pocket section
1. Create the main slip pocket, sew to its lining, turn right side out and press
2. Sew the zipper to the front of the zipper pocket pieces and its lining
2. Fold in the bottom of the zipper pocket (the outside and lining) and top stitch onto slip pocket.
1. Sew tab to its lining, at the sides and bottom, turn right side out and press, the tab can be square or rounded
2. Top stitch tab (if you wish) and add a snap
3. Attach the tab to the outer panel of the wallet
4. Add the other half of the snap to the outer panel of the wallet
1. Attach bottom pocket panel and top zipper pocket panel to the lining
2. Pin the outer panel of the wallet to the lining/pockets with right sides facing in. The tab will be on the inside. Make sure you have it the right way around, ie. the snap is at the top. Stitch all the way around, leaving a gap a few inches wide at the bottom.
3. Trim off the four corners, close to the stitching but careful not to snip too close!
3. Turn right side out and press, slip stitch the gap closed.

I know it sounds like a lot of work but once you work your way through the first one you will know how to do it and can make one to suit you exactly. I love mine so much. I feel much more organized and I've been getting lots of compliments on it. I'm planning to make some to put in my shop soon. So if after reading all those steps you're thinking "there's no way I'm going to sew that", but you still want one like this, you can find one there!

If anyone is interested in a full pattern for this, leave a comment and if there's enough interest I could make one and put it in my shop..


Knitting needle case

I've been meaning to make this for ages! It's a new case for my Boye interchangeable circular knitting needle set. The case the set came with was a bit yucky - plastic slots and an ugly brown vinyl cover.
Lately I finally figured out how to sew a wallet, and realized afterwards that the needle case would basically work the same way. You sew the dividers onto the lining first, then afterwards sew the lining to the outside (leaving a gap) and turn right side out and press. Adding extra layers and dividers is just another step but the basic idea applies.
Lately I've been enjoying combining different prints, so for this case I used a combination of polka dots, faux bois and a floral all in green. I'm also loving lace right now, so I embellished the outside with some white crocheted lace.

This set has needle sizes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10.5, 11, 13 and 15, so I have a slot for each of them, plus a large slip pocket for the cables, and three small pockets for the extra bits that come with the set. To figure out the right width for the slot for a pair of needles just measure the diameter of each needle and multiply by 4. For mine I added an extra 2mm to this measurement so the pockets aren't too snug.
While I was making my case I cut out fabric for a second one so that one is going into my shop (www.etsy.com/shop/NeedleBook) shortly... 

p.s. I've renamed my shop, so now it's called NeedleBook. I didn't realize when I created my username for Etsy a long time ago that I would open a shop later on, and that my shop name would have to be the same as my username. If you have this problem, there's a great article here that describes how to rename your shop. It's a bit of work but I think it can be really worthwhile if you're not happy with your shop name.


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