Sunday, 26 February 2017

New Project: Crochet V-Stitch Baby Blanket

I have started a new project!  And - despite my goals for a stash-busting, WIP finishing year - I have bought new yarn for it.  However, it was yarn for a purpose, rather than just to stock pile!

Let me back up... last year a friend of mine and Rob's from work (we work for the same company) announced that him and his wife were expecting a baby.  In a moment of goodwill and enthusiasm, I said that I would make a blanket for the baby.  Well, the little one arrived five weeks early on 8th February (a completely well and healthy boy weighing 7 lb 1 oz!) and was there a blanket to be seen?  No, there was not!  I can't blame the early arrival, I hadn't started or even bought yarn.

I nearly didn't bother, but after chatting to our friend I felt he actually would really appreciate the blanket, even though he didn't expect it.  So, fuelled by a big dose of my own guilt, I have been spurred into action!

Below was my inspiration, it is the border version of the wallpaper they have in their nursery.  So I wanted blue, green, orange, yellow and a soft red.


I made a yarn order late on Wednesday night from Love Knitting which arrived on Friday - lovely and quick!


I didn't get a picture before I started using the colours, as it was too dark when I got home from work on Friday.  I think the colours work - they are not as muted as the wallpaper, but I like the brightness.  I think it'll give a pop of colour, whilst coordinating with the nursery theme.  (I hope they'll agree!  It's always a bit nerve-wracking!  But without taking a swatch of wallpaper into a yarn shop, it would have been a difficult to get a perfect match... I'm actually starting to worry about whether they'll like the colours as I type this...!  Must stop worrying!)

Colours are:

Paintbox Simply Aran:
Paper White
Sky Blue
Daffodil Yellow
Mandarin Orange
Spearmint Green

Stylecraft Special Aran:
Pomegranate

I've never tried Paintbox yarns before, so I decided to give them a go after hearing good things.  I wanted a soft red, though, and they didn't seem to have what I wanted, so I went with the Stylecraft Pomegranate which I've used before and knew was the colour I was after.


I decided to go for a v-stitch design, with 6 rows of colour separated by 2 rows of white.  The red was in a bit of a shadow in this picture, it's not as deep as it looks there.  This shows it better...


Looking at that picture, I do love the colours.  I think they make a lovely cheery baby blanket.

As you can see, I am doing rather well considering I didn't get the yarn unil after work on Friday evening!  This is by far the quickest I have every progressed with any crochet blanket.  I've been working my fingers to the bone on this one - guilt will do that!


I still have plenty of ends to sew in, as you can see.  But... I have tried running the white yarn up the side of the blanket rather than cutting it off, to minimise on the ends.  I'm planning to go round the blanket with a row of white single crochet, so the white carried yarn should be hidden away.  I will let you know how it goes!

Anyway... I haven't got time for blogging - I've got to get this blanket finished!!





Check out my completed crochet items here.


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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...)


Sew a cute zip pouch with neat corners, perfect for make-up.



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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