Sunday, 19 February 2017

Knitting?

If you follow this blog, you probably know me more for crocheting than anything else, although I enjoy all manner of crafty pursuits!

I've actually known how to knit for far longer than I've known how to crochet, as my Mum taught me to knit when I was a child.  You can see a few of my knitted creations in my Knitting Tab.  There are, in fact, only five that I've made since blogging!  (There is a lot more to see in my Crochet Tab.)



But do you ever get the feeling you're being pulled/pushed in a certain direction?!  I think more knitting is definitely on the cards for me!

Firstly, my boyfriend's Mum gave me a knitting machine that she refurbished for my birthday/Christmas in December.  I need to put aside some time to set it up and learn how to use it.  I haven't got a clue at present, but I'm looking forward to experimenting, once I pluck up the courage - it's a bit daunting!

Then in December I won an advent competition run by @knitcrafthq (the yarny part of Hobbycraft) on Instagram - you can follow me @dinki_dots.  I didn't actually know what the prize was going to be, until it arrived in January... an amazing set of KnitPro Symfonie knitting needles!



Now these are some fancy-pants knitting needles - they aren't cheap and they feel so smooth to the touch.  The yarn must just glide over them, I really need to get started on a knitting project to try them out!

Then... as if knitting wasn't calling my name loudly enough... my kind friend Alex of The Interior DIYer sent me this Cath Kidston knitting bag!



How gorgeous is that?!  She wasn't really using it, and felt that it would find a more useful home with me.  It was a complete surprise package to come home from work to, which was very exciting!  I was very touched and it will receive lots of love with me!  Thanks Alex!



It's such a cool bag, with the retro styling on the outside and the classic Cath Kidston florals in the lining.

Those fabulous knitting needles featured in the bag were a gift from my friend Anna for my 30th birthday seven (seven?? - how did that happen?!) years ago.  I used one of the pairs to make my knitted cowl which I have got loads of wear out of.

So, I think I can safely say I'm well kitted out for this knitting malarkey and it's about time I got my backside in gear and got on with it!





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Sunday, 12 February 2017

Zip Pouch with Neat Corners

I have a small zip pouch that I keep in my handbag, containing a few make-up supplies - powder, lip balm, lipstick.  Just to try to keep me vaguely presentable during the day!

For the last four years (nearly) I've been using this one I made.  It has held up really well despite being in constant use.  However, a month or so ago the pull on the zip broke so I decided to make a new pouch.  It was also looking a bit grubby from four years of abuse (I suppose I could have washed it....!) and, well, it's nice to have a change every now and then.

So, without further ado, here is the new pouch!


I decided to record a bit more detail this time - the measurements of the fabric, etc - in case it's useful to anyone, and in case I want to make another one in the future.


These are the pieces I used.  I had the zip in my stash, and the fabric was a gift from my friend Anna for Christmas 2015.  It is so cheerful and bright, I love it!  This project means I can enjoy it every day.


Measurements:
Lining pieces:  17cm x 15cm
Outer top pieces:  17cm x 10.5cm
Outer bottom pieces:  17cm x 6cm
Zip tabs:  1 inch x 2 inches
(Yes, that was a flagrant swapping between metric and imperial units of measurement!)
Zip:  My zip was longer than needed, so I cut it down to size by eye, lining up against the fabric.

Note:
I use the side of my sewing machine foot as my seam allowance - which is between 7 and 8 mm.  Depending on what you decide to use as a seam allowance, cut the outer pieces accordingly.  As a guide, measure as below:

Outer top pieces:  17cm x 10cm+seam allowance
Outer bottom pieces:  17cm x 5cm+seam allowance


Sew the outer pieces together, as above.  If you have a directional print, such as my top fabric, remember to ensure it is the right way round when sewing.

It is also a good idea to put your outer fabrics (once sewn together) on top of your lining fabric and if there is any difference in size, give them a little trim.

I'm not going to go into a full tutorial on resizing a zip and using zip tabs, as it has been covered online by far more skillful sewists than me (and I kind of muddled my way through!)  However, here are a few notes...


I tried something I've not done before, with regards to the zip, in an attempt to create neat corners at the top of the pouch.  It is notoriously tricky to sew a zip into a pouch without creating a lot of bulk in the corners, where the ends of the zip and lots of excess fabric seem to gather, leaving dented not-that-neat corners.

Trimming the excess zip ends off and encasing them in zip tabs helps remove bulk.  When I made the previous zip pouch, I did this.  However, I sewed the tabs into the sides of the pouch when sewing it together, which is a common method.  The corners are not the best, though, and I guess I probably should have tried to trim some of the bulk in those places after sewing together, before turning the fabric to the right side (I can't really remember what I did now!)

Old pouch - zip tabs reach to width of the pouch fabric

In fact, looking at this - I think I may not have trimmed the zip within the tabs... that would definitely have made it bulky in the corners!

I have since seen another method, where the zip tabs do not get sewn into the sides at all.  This naturally leaves less bulk, but means that there would actually be small openings in those corners.  That thought bothered me, but I thought it was time to give it a go.  Therefore you will notice that my zip - once trimmed and with tabs on - is the width of the pouch fabric, minus a seam allowance on each side.

New pouch - zip tabs do not reach to width of the pouch fabric

To make a zip tab, fold the 2 inch length in half (making it 1 inch), open it and fold both ends into the middle and fold it back in half again, giving it a good press with an iron.  Do this for both zip tabs and these little 'sandwiches' then get sewn onto the ends of the zip, trimming your zip to size as you go.  (Again, best to consult other tutorials online if you need help with this.)

Sew the outer and lining fabrics to the zip as per usual pouch making, top stitching afterwards.

Sew the pouch together as normal, leaving a 2 inch gap in the bottom of the lining for turning, and ensuring that the zip is half open.  When sewing past the zip on both sides, sew close to the tab but do not sew through it.  I also like to sew back and forth a couple of times when going past the zip, to reinforce that section.

Before turning the pouch the right way round, I trimmed down the seam allowance fabric next to the zip a bit, to help reduce bulk there.  I also trimmed down the seam allowance in the corners to help create nice pointed corners at the bottom of the pouch when turned the right way.

Once turned round, poke all the corners out neatly and carefully.  I used a crochet hook inserted into the gap in the lining, to push the corners out.  Sew the lining up by hand and press the finished pouch.


I cut out the top pieces so that I focused on different parts of the design on each side.  I love that they are different on each side!  Which side do you prefer?  (The side with the strawberries is a bit wonky as I cut lined up to the selvage which I thought would be straight... not sure what happened there, probably something I should know not to do!  For the other side I did it by eye more carefully.  But I don't really mind the wonkiness, I don't think it matters.)


So... did the zip method work to create neat corners?  I would say they are the neatest I've managed when making pouches.  And what of the openings in the corners?  Well, they are nothing to worry about!  I don't think you would realise there was a gap there without examining it, and you couldn't get anything in or out of it, so I am quite content!


This is zoomed in on one of the 'openings' (the other one is actually more tightly closed) and you can see compared to the size of my nail that it is small.  There are also no raw edges, everything is encased.  I was bothered by the idea of a gap before trying it, but I am happy with this, and would use this method again.

Wow, that was a long post - I hope it will be useful to someone out there!  (Maybe just me in the future...)


Check out my other sewing projects here.


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Sunday, 5 February 2017

Handmade Crochet Hook and a 2017 Goal

I've been meaning to share this with you since Christmas... a beautiful handmade present from my friend Anna...


She actually MADE that gorgeous wooden crochet hook, can you believe it?!  Such a cool present, one-of-a-kind.  I love it, thank you Anna!

The buttons shown with it are some that my sister-in-law picked out for me - she found a lovely selection of different cute buttons that I am determined to actually use in projects rather than save forever because they are too pretty to use!

Actually that brings me onto a bit of a craft goal of mine for 2017.  I know it's already February and maybe a bit late for waffling on about goals now... but better late than never, I say!

I have decided that 2017 is going to be a stash-busting year for me.  I want to finish works in progress that I've had hanging around for years... (I'm talking to you stripy blanket!) and also try to make things with all the crafty stash I currently have.  I've got yarn, buttons, ribbons, pretty fabrics... I want to turn them into lovely and/or useful items rather than leave them languishing in my craft room.

I'm not saying I won't buy new supplies, but I'm aiming to only buy new things if I have an actual project in mind for them that I plan to make imminently (not at some point in the dark and distant future) and rather than just because they're pretty!

I will be sure to update you on how this goes...



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Sunday, 29 January 2017

Crochet Finger Sloth

I follow Alia @thelittlebeenz on Instagram and saw the most adorable little sloth on her feed in December.  I knew I had to make one!  Luckily, despite the rush of Christmas, Alia worked on and released the pattern for this cute little guy which I snapped up straight away!

Finally I have had the time to get to work on one...


I have a friend whose daughter is mad about sloths.  I find that amigurumi can take me forever (as in the case of Gary the Snail!) so had shied away from committing to make a sloth in the past.  But a finger sloth!!!  The mini size made it much more manageable and most importantly... finishable!


I love how these finger sloths are designed to be bright and colourful too... it makes it more fun to work on than it would have been in more accurate browns!  Much better!!


Looks like the finger sloth and the monkey are getting on well...!



Details
Pattern:  Finger Sloth by TheLittleBeeNZ
Hook Size:  4.5mm (due to my tight tension)
Yarn:  A mix of King Cole CottonSoft DK and King Cole Bamboo Cotton DK


So that's yet another completed amigurumi creature - my first finished item of 2017!  For someone who doesn't really enjoy the making part of amigurumi I seem to make a lot!  But they are so cute!!


Check out my completed crochet items here.


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Sunday, 22 January 2017

Stripy Blanket - Two-Thirds Through

I've been meaning to update you on the progress of my Stripy Blanket for ages... as it is at the two-thirds through stage (and has been for some time, oops) and I thought I'd take the opportunity to share it.

Why two-thirds through is that significant, I don't know - but I've decided it should be marked in some way.  It also means I can tell you a bit more about it, as I have never actually given any yarn information, despite sharing peeks of it in the past (such as in my most viewed ever post!)  Yes, I started it over three years ago... there is no excuse for not finishing it by now!


The yarn I'm using is King Cole Cottonsoft DK, which is such a lovely soft yarn to work with, with a 5mm hook (instead of the 4mm recommended, as I have tight tension).

The colours are:

White (710)
Sky (714)
Mint (715)
Saxe (718)
Jade (781)


Above you can see all thirty completed stripes of colour.  I plan to do fifteen more.

Current measurements are:

Width: 128cm / 50 inches
Length: 108cm / 42.5 inches (which will presumably grow by half again if (WHEN!) finished)

It's going to be a big one!


The pattern is a very simple - just rows and rows of double crochet (UK treble crochet) in a seemingly random pattern.  (It's not random, of course - I have it carefully planned in a spreadsheet!!)

The good thing with stripes is that the blanket becomes a blanket on its own, so to speak.  There is no pile of squares that are useless (apart from eye-candy purposes, that is) until sewn or crocheted together.  Even though it's not finished, I've been able to cosy under it for ages - so that makes up a little for my extremely slow and lazy approach to finishing it, surely?!

However, I do hope that I'll be able to show-off the completed blanket at some point this year.  But don't hold your breath!

Check out crochet items that I have actually managed to finish here.



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Sunday, 15 January 2017

Stabby Granny

You know when you just want to try something, for no particular reason and with no end project in mind?

This is what happened here...


It's a "Stabby Granny", a fun and funky granny square from Set Free My Gypsy Soul and Make.E - you can find the pattern here.

Mine is a bit twisted, which is a common issue with granny squares.  I think some blocking would sort it out, if I decide to actually use it for anything.

I really like the stabby design - the way the colours almost seem to bleed into each other.  It's created with spike stitches and I love the effect it gives, especially in these blues.  When I saw the pattern I could picture it in these gorgeous colours from my stash, which is why I had to drop everything and try it out.  I just love different blues together!

There are a couple of specific patterns to go with the stabby granny design - a cowl or fingerless gloves - but my square is a lot smaller than it should be for those patterns (without adding extra rows).  My yarn is DK, rather than the aran recommended, and I have tight tension.  (I used a 5mm hook, rather than the 4mm recommended on the yarn, or the 4.5mm recommended in the pattern, and my square measures approx 12 to 13cm across.)

I didn't really have a project in mind, anyway - I just wanted to see the square in these colours!  But now I'm thinking maybe I should try to make something... but what?  Not a big project, like a blanket, but a small quicker one - any ideas?!


Check out my completed crochet items here.


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Friday, 6 January 2017

Creation Consolidation - 2016!

Hello and happy new year to you!

The past few years I've enjoyed putting together a post consolidating all my makes from the year.  It's nice to see everything in one place, so without further ado here are my 2016 creations!

Click on the title of the picture to be taken to the relevant post.

Crochet Gloves (with fingers)


Stripy Crochet Baby Blanket


Chunky Knit-Look Crochet Cowl


Tapestry Crochet Mobile Phone Case


Squares for 'Jenny's Blanket of Hugs'


Tissue Paper Pom-Poms


Tilda Fabric Zip Pouch


Tilda Fabric Strawberries


Tilda Fabric Trinket Tray


Crochet Snail


Decorated Gift Box


Crochet Elephant


Crochet Snowflakes


Crochet Christmas Baubles (with free pattern!)


Crochet Santa Cushion


Christmas Gift Can


Crochet Gary the Snail (from SpongeBob SquarePants)


Crochet Pokeball


Phew, I started slow but certainly ramped up as the year went on!

If you are interested, here are my consolidation posts from previous years:

2013
2014
2015

I didn't do a round-up for previous years, but you can see other finished items at the below links:


Here's to a great 2017 for us all, and lots more crafting!



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Saturday, 31 December 2016

Crochet Pokeball

Just time to share one last make this year!

As a little birthday present for my nephew, I made him a fun little Pokeball...


It's just a small one, as you can see!

I made it by crocheting one half of a ball in red, finishing with a row of black.  Then another half of a ball in white, finishing with a row of black.  The two halves were sewn together with black yarn, and stuffed as I went.

I can't quite remember how I did the middle circle!  I think it was twelve dc or hdc (US) / twelve tr or htr (UK) into a magic ring, in white.  Then two sc (US) / dc (UK) into each stitch in black.  Then I sewed it to the ball.  Sorry to be a bit vague on that - I made it as I went along and didn't make notes!

Anyway, happy new year!  I hope 2017 is a craft-filled year for us all!


Check out my crochet items here.



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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Crochet Gary the Snail

This project has been a long time coming!  I started it back in the summer as a little gift for my nephew.  Well, I only finished it just in time for it to be a Christmas present!



Remember a while back, I made this snail for my sister-in-law?  She suggested one in the colours of Gary the Snail from SpongeBob SquarePants for my nephew, as he loves Gary.  She sent me a picture, as I didn't know the character, but I decided that the shape of the other crochet snail just wasn't right for Gary.

I thought there was bound to be a pattern online for him, but I really struggled to find one so in the end I made it up as I went along.  Hence why it took me so long as I had a fair few struggles and ripping it back along the way!  But now he's finally done, I think he looks quite like the image my sister-in-law sent me, don't you think?



It wasn't feasible to make the eye stalks as thin as the cartoon version, not with crocheting them and wanting them to stand up.  I actually crocheted around a turquoise pipe cleaner to make them, which means they can be bent and moved around which is a good feature.





Now he's finally done, I'm quite pleased with him.  He's a little wonky I think, and not perfect, but I hope he looks like Gary!

What do you think - do you like him?!




Check out my crochet items here.



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Monday, 26 December 2016

Christmas Gift Can

Merry Christmas!  I hope you're all having a lovely festive time!

Here is a little Christmassy make to show you.  I've had this idea pinned for ages, but I finally got round to having a go this Christmas.



It's such a fun idea!

You use a tab-top tin can - in my case, this was a chopped tomatoes tin - and you open it with a tin opener from the bottom, leaving it slightly attached.  This means that the top with the tab opener remains intact.  I used the contents to make my dinner and washed and dried the can thoroughly.

I took the label off as neatly as possible, so that I could use it as a template to cut out my Christmassy paper for the new festive covering.



Very simple to do - cut out your paper and stick one edge to the tin with double-sided tape.  Wrap the paper round and stick the other edge down in the same way.

I used a strip of sparkly fabric tape that matched the paper, to cover the seam.



I cut a circle of coordinating paper and cut a wedge out of it, so that I could slip it under the tab and secure it to the lid.  (I slipped more paper under the wedge at the top of the tab so that you can't really notice the missing wedge.)




My favourite bit was using pink and alphabet beads to make the message - "pull my tab" - which I attached to the tab, followed by ribbon tied in a bow.



Then I filled it with a little gift for my sister-in-law for Christmas.  You could put sweets in, or other small goodies.

The tricky part was re-attaching the bottom of the tin using a hot glue gun.  Where I'd opened it with a tin-opener, it was now smaller than the tin circumference.  I managed to get it to stick, but it was a bit of a gluey mess, so I covered it in a circle of felt and another circle of paper matching the top.  That neatened it all up at the bottom, and my Christmas gift can was done!




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