Shopping and drooling at Fibre East

How is already a week since I went to Fibre East with my mum and lil sis Katie?

This annual two day event celebrates every aspect of British fibre and craft, literally from the sheep to the finished jumper! it’s not just about spinning and hand knitting wool, although both those crafts are strongly represented. It also covers crochet (yay!), felting, weaving, rug making, machine knitting, button making, and… I can’t actually think of any more, but I’m pretty sure I’ve missed quite a few! Continue reading

What a week! Ravelry success, surprise knitters, loud over-excited sisters, and a quiet craft fair.

What a week! Ever since I posted my Granny Panel Tissue Box Cover my daily stats have shot up, and ten people have added my pattern to their queues on Ravelry! I’ve been plodding along, doing my own thing on this blog for nearly a year now, mostly just because I enjoy it, and not really expecting many people to read it, so my sudden little success is very exciting! Mr BAM can tell just from my expression when I’m checking my stats because the massive grin is a dead give away. I really hope someone does have a go at my pattern and posts pictures of it!

I made another one, this time in Soft Violet and Lava Lamp, for my neighbour Betty

I made another one, this time in Soft Violet and Lava Lamp, for my neighbour Betty

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How to use the foundation double crochet method – my first video!

When I made my sky blue waistcoat back in March, I mentioned that the pattern used a different way of working the foundation chain and first row of double crochet. This method eliminates the risk of the chain getting twisted around, it’s super fast AND it’s much easier to count your stitches. I’ve been using this method a lot recently, so when I got a new digital camera (thank you Nectar Card!) I decided to make a quick how-to video…. and here it is!

I used this method to start off making this tissue box cover that I made for my Dad for Fathers Day, and I’m in the process of writing up the pattern.

KODAK Digital Still CameraHopefully I’ll have it done in time to share it with you later this week.

If you watch the YouTube video, please let me know if you found it at all helpful!

Ooh! It’s HandmadeMonday!

🙂

 

A restyled skirt, a little bit of weaving and the original Bond….

As you might have noticed, I’ve settled into the routine of blogging once a week (doesn’t routine have a nicer ring to it than rut?), which means my posts tend to ramble around several topics, covering whatever craftiness I’ve been up to over the previous week. I always start with the intention of doing a separate post for each topic or project, but it never seems to happen! This week I have the usual hodgepodge of things to write about, but it suddenly struck me that actually there is a common theme uniting them after all! Everything I’m blogging about this week has a connection with the Community Wise charity shop in Eastbourne’s old town and/or the community centre it is attached to.

The Community Wise shop is a great place to find second hand clothes at incredibly cheap prices, and a couple of weeks ago I found a full length blue cotton skirt that reminded me of the kind of thing my mum wore as a primary school teacher in the 80s. I loved the fabric, but the skirt itself was a just a shapeless sack with a drawstring waist, but a could see the potential for a restyle.

So here it is!

Before and after!

Before and after!

Using a red skirt I already had (incidentally this one was also bought from Community Wise!) I made a template for a wide waistband out of brown paper.

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I also used the red skirt to gauge how much fabric to cut off the bottom  of the blue skirt, and from the excess fabric I cut four waistband pieces, two of which I backed with iron-on interfacing.

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I measured from the original hem up to were I was going to actually cut the fabric and marked it with water erasable pen every couple of inches, then all I had to do was cut along the dotted line!

I stitched the four pieces together: the two with interfacing to form the outside of the waistband, and the other two forming the inside. I left the bottom and one side of the waistband open.

Next I cut off the nasty elasticated waistband, being careful to leave as much of the skirt and its pockets intact. I cut a slit behind the left pocket to accommodate the zip, and gathered the top of the skirt in two parts, front and back. I used the sewing machine to do the gathers this time, but all the practice I got in last week with those zakka style pouches certainly helped when arranging the gathers! I found that you really can’t use too many pins when you are working with gathering!

Then it was just a case of enclosing the top of the skirt in the waistband, adding a zip and a button, and whizzing round the bottom with a quick hem!

The pretty button was from charity shop too.

The pretty button was from charity shop too.

I was very pleased with the results, especially as the only skirts I’ve made before this were of the shapeless sack with an elasticated waist variety! I will definitely be reusing the pattern piece for the waistband that I cut out of brown paper again to make more skirts like this.

I managed to keep the original pockets. I love skirts with pockets!

I managed to keep the original pockets. I love skirts with pockets!

And the first time I wore my restyled skirt?  When I went to my textiles group at Community Wise! Everyone seemed to be impressed, which was lovely and reassuring!

I took my peg loom to show the group, which (I promise!) I was already planning to do even before Simply Crochet printed that photo of me with a similar loom. I hadn’t done much with mine since I first got it, but it still had the piece I’d been working on attached, and I’d forgotten that it was quite good! I wove a little more before taking it off the loom and knotting off the warp threads, and now I just have to decide how to neaten the edges.

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By the way, I bought this loom at Fibre East last year, but you can find Fire and Fibre, the company that make them,  online at fireandfibre.co.uk

On the last Saturday of every month there is a farmers market at Community Wise, and Rita, the manager of the charity shop, always organises a stall with a theme stocked with items she has been putting aside from the donations she receives for the shop. This month she had a stall stocked with craft materials, which was heaven!

I’d already picked out this wonderful little stash…

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… when I heard the magic words: “who wants a knitting machine for £3?”

Telling myself not to get too excited, that it was probably only a child’s knitting loom, I nearly bowled poor Rita over in my enthusiasm, saying that yes, I would very much like to buy a knitting machine for £3. And lo and behold, IT WAS A PROPER KNITTING MACHINE! An original 1980s Bond knitting machine in mint condition in its original box NEVER EVEN BEEN USED!

Fortunately Rita was able to decipher my high pitched squealing and wild gesticulating, and popped a sold sticker on that bad boy for me. Even when I pointed out that the machine was worth a lot more than £3 she absolutely refused to accept a penny more, and I went home a VERY happy bunny!

My Bond! I don't have a table big enough so it is currently clamped to my ironing board.

My Bond! I don’t have a table big enough so it is currently clamped to my ironing board.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with knitting machines, the Bond machine is a very basic model, that is often referred to in a somewhat disparaging tone as a hobbyists machine. There are no fancy-pants pattern punch cards, tension masts, row counters or automatic functions, it just cranks out row after row of stocking stitch unless you painstakingly manipulate each stitch one at a time by hand.

My younger sister (the hardcore hand knitter, weaver and spinner extraodinaire) bought a Bond second hand recently, and I was lime green with envy. I knew from watching her that when it is all running smoothly it is a miracle to behold, but that you need the manual dexterity of a brain surgeon to correct mistakes like dropped stitches. I just knew it would be perfect for making items to be felted though, and I wanted a machine of my own…

If I had written this post on Sunday I probably have said: be careful what you wish for. The Bond is not an easy machine to master, even with the invaluable help of YouTube. You need to learn its quirks, not only of the design of the model in general, but of your particular machine. I’ve found I need to exert more pressure on one side than the other, or else it will jam and/or drop stitches (I can’t even tell you how many attempts it took to discover this!). As tempting as it is just to keep going when you are on a roll, you can’t operate this machine if you are tired or distracted because it will chew up and spit out you and your knitting!

Blocking my first (successful) swatch!

Blocking my first (successful) swatch!

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More swatches waiting to be felted.

Despite its very temperamental nature, I already adore this machine, and I completely understand why it has such a cult following online. I haven’t managed anything much more than a few swatches so far, but I have BIG plans for my machine! It can use any yarn from light dk to chunky, so I’m going to do some serious stash busting!

But the first thing I must do is make a thank you present for Rita!

Checking in to HandmadeMonday and Link it or lump it! Plus I’m giving Moogly and My Merry Messy Life’s Hookin On Hump Day a try this week too!

 

Moogly HOHD

Cute little hand sewn pouch purses, quick dash to Germany, and (very) minor brush with fame!

I’ve well and truly fallen in love with sewing again. It’s not that I ever really fell out of love with it, but lack of practice had undermined my confidence leaving me too nervous to even try. Fortunately learning how to follow a pattern to make pyjama bottoms, together with the kits I made last week, gave me the confidence to get cracking on some of the projects that have been a very long time in the planning stage! But it was a pattern for a little pouch purse sewn almost all by hand that really captured my attention and pushed its way to the head on the queue.

Kyaza Pochi

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More crochet cosiness and a little birdie.

Last week I finally got around to finishing a pair of leg warmers I’d promised to the mother of one of my bestest friends in the world. I was a bit worried that summer would have arrived before I was done but as the intended reciprient lives up in the always chilly north I think she’ll be using them for a while yet!

Lacy purple crochet leg warmers (please excuse the weird feet and saggy knees!)

Lacy purple crochet leg warmers (please excuse the weird feet and saggy knees!)

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The Hillarys Blinds Country Craft Competition: the result, the backlash and some awkward lingering questions.

A sore loser is only really an embarrassment to themselves, but someone who keeps asking questions as to how and why decisions were made can be a more persistent problem for the organisers of any competition, particularly when there is an attractive prize.

Which brings me to the Hillarys Blinds Country Craft Competition with its first (and only) prize of £1000 cash. Billed by Hillarys Blinds  as a competition for UK craft bloggers to be judged by a panel of influential craft bloggers (ukcraftblog.com, thenewcraftsociety.com and liveitloveitmakeit.com) the brief seemed simple enough…

My entry in the Hillarys Country Craft Competition

My entry in the Hillarys Country Craft Competition

Choose a fabric from the four available designs, and then Hillarys sent out a free sample of the chosen material. The rules stated that you had to make an original craft design and publish a blog post with pictures describing how you made your entry. Continue reading