Gorgeous crochet bag and the accidental muumuu

When I make something with the intention of selling it, I know I’ve done something right if I want to keep it once it’s finished. It’s not a bad standard to aim for, because if I don’t like it, how can I expect anyone else to give it house room? Of course there are times that I’m so fed up with something by the time I’ve finished it that I can’t appreciate it for what it is straight away. It needs to be hidden away from my over critical eye for a while to be given a fair chance.

The granny square bag I’ve just finished is definitely something I’d love to keep though!

Granny square bag Continue reading

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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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…

SONY DSC

… 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!

SONY DSC

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

PJ bottoms in funky vintage floral fabric & some nifty little kit projects

Last week I was showing off my foxy PJ bottoms, and this week (as promised) I have a new pair to show you!

Vintage fabric PJs

As I didn’t have the pattern I used in the sewing class, I dug through the patterns I bought a while ago from simplicitynewlook.com when they were on sale, and chose option C from Newlook pattern 6710. I had to use the largest size 😦 and I made a slight adjustment so I wouldn’t have to cut a separate piece of fabric to enclose the waist elastic, but over all I was very pleased with how easy it was to use this pattern!

SONY DSC

Continue reading

Bucket full of eggs, the Frankenflower, vintage fabric and February’s finished socks.

It’s been another week of organising and sorting through my crafty bits and pieces, labouring under the illusion that if there’s some kind of system I must still be in control. (There isn’t. I’m not.) Still, I should count myself lucky that I’ve managed to accumulate some fantastic resources, along with a very supportive husband who trusts me to make something from all this stuff! He really does deserve a medal of some sort. Yesterday he drove me an hour up the coast to go beach combing for driftwood. We stamped around for an hour getting our faces sandblasted in gale force winds, and he helped me carry loads of it back to his nice clean car! It’s all drying out by the radiators, so I’ll post pics when it’s not so sad and soggy!

With Easter and another craft fair coming up, I’ve started making crochet eggs. Trawling round town, trying to get polystyrene eggs for a decent price is a story too boring to tell. Short version: Hobbycraft overcharges by A LOT! (and yet I still bought some there -WHY?) I did start out with a pattern from an old issue of Simply Crochet but my eggs were too big, so I very quickly went off in my own direction, which was a lot more fun!

I love this bucket.

I love this bucket.

I found the little purple bucket in that picture for 85p in a charity shop, and I hooked up its little jumper last night. I absolutely love it, but it will go on the stall so I only get to keep it if it doesn’t sell. 😦

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about starting to spring clean and reorganise my stash of craft supplies. Continue reading

Vintage and crafty shopping

I love a good rummage through the goodies at charity shops, and I’ve been meaning to do a post about some of the gems I’ve found already this year.

My number one absolute favourite thing I’ve found has been sitting in a cardboard box in my kitchen for a couple of weeks now, but today I got it out and used it for the first time. And here it is! (Or part of it anyway…)

Colclough bone china cup, saucer and tea plate in pretty rosebud pattern

Colclough bone china cup, saucer and tea plate in pretty rosebud pattern – plus a tea towel that just happened to match! The flowery tea cosy is one of my favourite improvised crochet creations.

I picked up this beautiful tea set consisting of six cups, saucers, side plates and one larger serving plate for the princely sum of… wait for it… £6.50!

I couldn’t believe it! Continue reading

Life getting in the way

It’s felt like so much has been on hold recently, mostly because my mister had to fly out to South Africa for a couple of weeks to tend to his mother after a heart valve operation. All went well and the mother-in-law is now in good health, but I procrastinate at the best of times so you can imagine what having the love of my life 9,000 miles away did to my best intentions! I carried on with various little projects but updating my blog and my online shops fell by the wayside. I still have plenty of catching up to do but I thought I’d do a little rundown of what I’ve been up to since my last post.

I’ve joined the Knitting for Victory group at the Redoubt Fortress Military Museum on the Eastbourne seafront. They meet every other thursday and they specialise in knitting vintage patterns and squares to make up blankets for charity. Although I can knit, I decided to stick to crochet, focusing instead on making things that they can sell on their Christmas stall. I’m hoping to work out a design for an amigurumi Spitfire, but to start with I made this trio of gnomes using a pattern from Simply Crochet magazine. There is something quintessentially English about garden gnomes, and although I wouldn’t give them space in my garden, the crochet versions are quite cute!

2013-08-12 16.34.35

Continue reading