Lest we forget…. Crocheted Remembrance Poppy

I don’t crochet – it’s a well-known fact. Or rather I do, but not very often and I have to look up the stitches every time and I can’t watch TV at the same time!

To all intents and purposes I am a knitter who occasionally dabbles in crochet.

But for some things, I will always turn to crochet because, well it just works.

Flowers is one of them. You can’t beat crochet for flowers, I don’t think knitted ones look anywhere near as good.

This year, I thought I’d try poppies.

Poppy

Fortunately I picked up a copy of Simply Crochet which had a pattern in it (they have it available free on their website). I changed it slightly as I didn’t have any black yarn so I just did the whole poppy in red and added a button to the centre.

I also added a leaf using this pattern which I just did all in one colour (Note: the instructions for this pattern are written using US terms).

And then all I had to do was add a brooch pin to the back.

Poppy_reverse2

For someone who doesn’t crochet I managed to make 3 in one night! My husband turned one down!!

Now we have something rather more permanent than the paper poppies.

And of course, I can still donate to the Royal British Legion. You can do so via your mobile:

To donate £3 text POPPY to 70020*
*Cost £3 plus standard network charges (typically £2.97 goes to the Poppy Appeal)

I’ve been going through a run of smaller projects lately, and well, it’s really satisfying to finish something in a few hours rather than the weeks and months some of my projects take.

Which do you prefer, large timely projects or the smaller bite-sized variety?

 

Iceland – warm and cosy in Rowan Cocoon

Iceland_3I had checked the weather forecast last night. I normally do when we’re on foot for the school run. I don’t like to be caught out and like to make sure I’m not going to have to endure 30 minutes of “Mummy, I’m cold…..” or “but it’s raining….” from the girls because well, it isn’t a great way to start the day!

So I had already spotted it was going to be a bit chillier this morning.

Now the weather has finally decided to become more seasonal, it really is time to break out the woolly jumpers.

I started this jumper last year ( Iceland by Stephanie White from Rowan Knitting & Crochet #42 – it looks as if it’s available as a download on Ravelry too) and had reached the point where I needed to knit the ribbing at the bottom before the weather turned and I wanted to get onto summer knitting projects.

A few weeks ago, I picked it back up again and added the ribbing.

Iceland

I’m not a fan of the button holes that are provided with patterns and I generally convert them to one row button holes. If you have never tried them, then I really recommend them. They’re not quite as stretchy so you do need to give some thought to how many stitches you want to ‘cast off’.

Despite how complicated it might look, this really is a simple project, there is no shaping and the main cable patterned piece is knit in one piece from cuff to cuff. Once I had the pattern set, I found that I remembered it pretty well and didn’t really need to refer to the pattern which was a relief as it was written down. I’m afraid that I much prefer charted patterns for cable or lace work.

The yarn is Rowan Cocoon and it really is very warm and snuggly. It contains kid mohair and does have a tendency to shed everywhere. I’m surprised there haven’t been more complaints of hair in people’s dinner!

If I were to make any changes, I’d be tempted to add to ribbon to the neckline to stabilise it and stop it sliding off my shoulders. I’ve also seen a few comments on Ravelry about the pattern being knit without the buttons on the ribbing. It’s a nice feature but I’ve found completely unnecessary and I’m sure even people who are larger than me aren’t going to be needing to undo the buttons to get it on and off. So my advice? Save yourself a few buttons and knit the ribbing in the round!

Iceland_1

Princess Elsa ‘ Frozen ‘ – McCalls M7000

Pretty much the only things that kept me going with this make were how much my little Poppet wanted to dress-up as Elsa and that its my first White Tree Fabrics blog team make.

I’m hoping the results speak from themselves!

Elsa_2

Elsa_1

 

This dress, I have to say, is not for a beginner.

Firstly, the choice of fabrics means that you can be dealing with things slipping and sliding all over the place. I’m not sure I made life particularly easy for myself as the contrast sequined fabric had a slight stretch to it. Pair that with some slidey chiffon and slinky satin, both in wovens and well, it takes a lot of precision in both cutting and sewing to get everything to line up.

The fabrics from White Tree were beautiful and I particularly enjoyed working with the satin. I deliberately chose fabrics that would make a cost effective dress.

Light blue satin / White chiffon / Light blue sequin knit

There are a lot of pattern pieces – 12 in total. That’s a lot of tracing, pining and cutting.

The instructions are a bit on the sparse side.

Now this is generally something that I have come to expect from the Big Four patterns, so I can’t say I was surprised. I largely ignored them and did my own thing. For example, would it not be sensible to suggest that seams are sewn with a french seam on sheer fabrics? The pattern suggested using a ‘double seam’.

Errrrrr…

Yep, I had to look it up too. It suggests, sewing one seam and then another close to it to create two seams, you then trim close to the second seam. I didn’t bother!! Had I engaged my brain before starting, I’d have worked my construction to that I could use french seams, but I didn’t, so in the end I used my overlocker and I’m largely happy with the results. This is after all a dressing up costume, not a couture piece of evening wear!

I was also somewhat puzzled by the lack of instruction to sew a rolled hem on both the chiffon and satin. Instead it suggested sewing a ‘narrow hem’. I checked their definition and nope, they didn’t mean rolled hem. So I ignored that and out came the rolled hem foot!!

I also mostly ignored the construction order, as well it wasn’t particularly time efficient.

I did however manage to impress myself by setting the sleeves in without a single gather or pucker (this was especially impressive as my seam allowances were all over the place – I’d messed up on the bodice and a touch of unpicking was needed).

And I feel I surpassed myself with my sewn button loop!

Elsa_6

One thing I did discover when setting in the sleeves was that there were a lot of layers to match up – the sequin bodice, the bodice lining and the chiffon overlay. So I basted everything together and then pinned and basted the sleeve head in place.

Any helpful guidance from the instructions on this point? Not a sausage!

I used the fabrics suggested by the pattern and if I’m honest, whilst it makes a fabulous replica Elsa dress, it isn’t overly practical for an exuberant 4 year old. I mean, who in their right mind puts a zip in a dressing up costume?

I had intended replacing the zip with some velcro to make it a bit more child friendly and had amended the pattern slightly but realised once I’d cut it all out that my fabric just didn’t have enough strength or structure to cope with the velcro. If I were going to venture down this route again, it would need a separate placket and plenty of interfacing.

Alternatively, whilst this pattern is neither written for nor suggests using knits, I’d use knit fabric and just size down!

My little girl loves her dress. So all the time taken to make it is forgotten.

I’ll leave you with some of the finer details.

 

The importance of dye lots – My Myrna cardigan

You may remember a passing reference to my Myrna here.

This is where we last left it….

Myrna-in-progress

Unfortunately, it has been frogged three times since then and is well, now a collection of balls of yarn hibernating at the bottom of my knitting bag. Rarely have I had such misfortune with a knitting project.

First off, Andi released some amendments to her pattern as the row gauge had been shown incorrectly. These things happen and it was  clearly explained and a number of versions of the pattern with various row gauges are now available.

I fished out my tape measure and checked my Myrna against the measurements that I should have at that point and realised that I did need to undo the fronts as the revised pattern was every so slightly different.

I quickly re-knitted the fronts – perhaps too quickly? Once again I came to joining the back and front to knit the rest of the body and…….. arrrrgggghhhh……

I’d managed to twist one of the fronts when I picked up the stitches along the shoulder of the back and I had one front facing one way and another in a completely different direction – this was NOT going to make a cardigan!!

Cue unraveling number two….

Following the correct pattern, making sure I checked that the fronts were both facing the right way, I started again and reached the point where I needed to join under the arms. I held my handiwork up to admire the pattern…….

Hmmmpphh – what more could go wrong you ask?

All I could see was a stripe across one of the fronts where I had changed balls of yarn.

Now I’m sure many a knitter out there knows that you need to buy your yarn all from the same dye lot. Occasionally I flout this rule (*gasp*) and so far I have been lucky. Some yarns are obviously better at hiding any slight variation in colour.

Drops Paris is NOT one of those yarns.

I was all too aware that I was using different dye lots. I was trying to use two part balls from a previous project and I had compared them both in natural light and couldn’t see any difference but well, trust me when I say that knitted up there was a significant difference!

In almost disbelief I started unraveling again and this time flung the balls into my knitting bag consigning them to the ‘another day’ pile in what was probably close to a teenage strop!

The next day though, I revisited the pattern, looked at the yardage I had (in the same die lot) and decided that I probably did have just enough to make my Myrna.

But those balls of Drop Paris are still in the bottom of my knitting bag as I really couldn’t face another installment of the dreaded frogging.

So instead, I’m plodding my way through a second school cardigan (I’m quite bored of it now!) whilst dabbling in a spot of crochet (from the self-confessed non-crocheter!!).

Please do share your knitting disasters because I’m really hoping that it isn’t just me!

Petite Anna from By Hand of London

Anna-at-Greenway I’m sitting here with my leg on a chair and a bag of frozen peas draped around my ankle. 17 days after spraining my ankle whilst out running it’s still swollen and sometimes painful. My physio tells me that it’s heading in the right direction pretty much as she’d expect it to but chances are it’ll still be another 3 – 4 weeks before I can run.

Oh well….. there’s always sewing :-) And there has been plenty going on recently, but first I need to get my summer makes out of the way!

I’d forgotten how hectic the summer months get. I had thought that I’d get some sewing done over the school holidays but this year, for some reason, my girls decided that they were going to fall out, scream ‘I hate you’ (generally at each other, occasionally at me!) and go into complete meltdown on a regular basis.

I did however manage to make a dress for ME!!! That was before I realised that the start of term was looming and I needed to get myself together so that the girls both had things to wear – more on that soon.

Last year, I had wanted to make Colette’s Hawthorn but ummm’ed and ahhh’ed over it, mostly because I knew that I was going to have to do an SBA (small bust adjustment) and well, couldn’t quite bring myself to it, plus the fabric that I’d chosen to make it in is a striped seersucker and, well, I couldn’t face the pattern matching either!! Does anyone else get like this?

Anyway, fast forward to this year and I was still procrastinating. For some reason (probably a bit too much reading of Lynne’s blog Ozzy Blackbeard!!), I changed tack completely and downloaded By Hand of London’s Anna dress. Now I know you don’t need to read many sewing blogs to see them cropping up with regularity but the style really appealed to me.

I started off sewing it as is – no alterations. I was pretty confident it wouldn’t fit but I was willing to give it a go! It was obvious I needed a SBA and a few other changes too. Four muslins later, I’d done a 1″ SBA, a small back adjustment and a similar change to the front as well as raising the neckline. I only did a muslin of the bodice, mostly because by this stage I’d had enough!! Despite being 5′ 1″, I didn’t find that I need to shorten the bodice or the length ( I used the PDF  pattern) but I guess that most of the other changes I made are in line with changing something to fit a petite frame.

Anna-at-Eden_1

SBA’s, I find aren’t discussed with as much regularity as their larger sister the full bust adjustment (FBA). When looking for instructions on how to do an SBA, I’ve often found that you’ll simply see ‘just do the opposite of a FBA’. For those who have been puzzling over the exact same statement, I’ll explain. In a FBA adjustment you draw your adjustment lines on the pattern, cut and move the pattern pieces apart. If you’re doing a SBA, you draw the exact same adjustment lines, cut and this time move the pattern pieces together so that they overlap. How much you overlap them by will depend on  how much you need to reduce the cup size by. A muslin can help determine this by pinching out the excess fabric and measuring it. I did see a reference chart on Pinterest recently but I’m not sure it’s incorporates the full picture.

Fit wise, I’d still like to see a few changes – the shoulders are too wide for me and the neckline doesn’t always sit very well most probably because the shoulders are too wide. Because I hadn’t muslined the skirt and my alterations had meant that the pleats on my bodice had moved, the paneled skirt didn’t line up with the pleats as I imagine it is meant to. I’m sure most people wouldn’t spot that, but the perfectionist in me wants to line them all up.

I had chosen the v neckline on purpose, as normally I’d have gone for the slash neck but I was sewing it to go with a Myrna cardigan as part of Lauren and Andi’s OAL (Outfit Along)

The least said about that the better …. but maybe I’ll share with you one day as there are always lessons to be learned.

The fabric is a cotton lawn from Stone Fabrics and I lined it with an off-white lightweight cotton poplin on their recommendation. And they were spot on, if I had lined it with a darker colour it would have shown through on the lighter coloured flowers.

I really love this dress – despite its minor imperfections – and it has been a bit of a wardrobe staple throughout the summer. I had completely forgotten how easy dresses are to wear and the lack of wardrobe dilemmas involved!

Anna-at-Eden_2

Well that could be summer all wrapped up. I’m looking forwards to getting some autumn and winter sewing underway, finishing off my first White Tree Fabrics make and getting on with some winter knitting.

How about you? Are you mourning the passing of summer or looking forwards to those cosy knits and snuggly coats?

Knitting and nattering

It has been some time since I’ve been to our local knit and natter group – without really counting I’ve been once in the past 4 years! Blame pregnancy, babies/small children who don’t like sleeping and more recently running.

A sprained ankle has knocked running on the head for a little while so a timely window of opportunity presented itself.

Evening chores completed, I grabbed my bag of projects (yes – note projects (plural)) and headed out the door.

DB-silk-bolero

Finishing the Debbie Bliss silk bolero. The picture doesn’t really do the yarn (so soft & silky) or the colour (purple) justice.

I can honestly say, it was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours and I even got some knitting done (with limited unpicking! – am I the only one to get so distracted that I forget my pattern altogether??).

Myrna-in-progress

My Andi Satterlund Myrna in progress. I am knitting the 24 rows version using Drops Paris (and I struggle to not think of dishcloths whilst knitting!) omitting the keyhole back.

Everyone else was crocheting but I’m yet to be a serious convert. “Let’s ‘stitch and bitch’ instead!” came the cry. But let me tell you, it wasn’t a popular alternative. We’re clearly a bunch of natterer’s.

Topics were varied & plentiful from impending teenage proms, weaving ends in on granny squares (“what!!!” cried the finishing phobic), capital gains & inheritance tax, housebuilding, to why Jo (Three Stories High) buried her cross stitch in the garden! It’s both a hilarious and yet poignant story of what one does with those projects that have gone south but with which we cannot break the bond of the work and investment that has gone into them. I’m hoping Jo will share the story with her readers one day, as it really is a story worth telling.

So shall I become a regular again? My schedules need a bit of juggling – as a girl’s got to run, especially with half-marathons on the horizon – but I certainly hope to make it more frequently than once every 4 years!!

From maxi-skirt to cape – sewing to order

As I was reading my friend Jo’s blog (Three Stories High) the other day, I realised that a lot of the clothes, accessories etc that I make are very much to order. When I’m sewing for the girls, it just makes sense to sew what they want and get them involved in pattern and fabric choices. As Honey is 8, she’s pretty clear about what she’d like although often has difficulty visualising what things will look like (I’m sure this isn’t only with 8 year olds!!).

Today Honey has taken part in her class assembly where they put on a performance of Julia Donaldson’s ‘The Highway Rat’. It was a fabulous take on a children’s classic and she really looked the part as a ‘highway rat/robber’.

Last week, I was told they needed a ‘costume’ (my heart always sinks a little at this point, as I know I’ll no doubt have to cram some swift refashioning into an already busy schedule). I’m sure there are some amongst you who think ‘why not head to the shops?’ but (a) that’s not very practical for me as it means dragging a 4 year old on the bus and around quite a few shops with no guarantee of success; and (b) why buy new, when really, you can probably ‘make do’?

The brief was a white shirt (preferably frilly), dark trousers & cape. Now I decided that I really didn’t have the energy to go adding frills to a school shirt but we did need to find something that would work as a cape. A root through the lower confines of my wardrobe unearthed a navy sarong which showed promise but after a bit of fiddling I realised that Honey was going to spend all her time making sure that it didn’t slide off her shoulders. I didn’t think her teacher would thank me for that.

Then I discovered a discarded maxi-skirt. I plonked it over Honey’s head…. and hey presto… the beginnings of a cape were born.

It was a very straightforward transformation.

All I did was to cut it up the middle and finish both sides with my overlocker (in fact I didn’t even cut it first, I just went straight in with the overlocker). If you don’t have an overlocker, you could use pinking shears as a no sew option, finish the edges with a zig-zag stitch or for a fully finished approach sew a narrow hem along the edges.

The skirt had some belt loops, so I removed these and used one as a button loop. Other options would be a piece of elastic or piece of bias binding folded and stitched.

To add the button loop, I folder the waistband in half to the inside (so its inside out) and tucked the button loop ends into the seam allowance on the inside (so when you fold it the right side out, it’s on the outside). I then simply overlocked the seam. I created the same seam on the other end of the waist band and turned it the right way out.

I realised that the ribbing of the waistband was going to curl a lot and not stay put. So to put that right, I simply folded it in half, pressed and used a narrow zigzag stitch along the loose edge to keep in place as a double waistband.

Finally, I dug deep into the button tin and found a perfect match!

Et VOILA – from maxi-skirt to highway robber’s cape in less than 40 minutes!!

Now that’s what I call success.

Next on order, I’m afraid it’s a round of school uniform.

How about you? Do you sew to order?