My 100th post! Time for some wonderful washcloths then…

Somehow I have arrived at my 100th blog post! That seemed to come around surprisingly fast, so I scrolled through and counted each one, and yes this does make no. 100! Although, in looking back at some of the earliest ones, I’ve noticed what constitutes a post has changed quite a lot.

Really for my 100th post I should have something spectacular to show you, but instead I have these humble little knitted washcloths!

Knitted wash cloths

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Yarn review for FLUFFIEST SOFTEST YARN EVER! – also a hat and fingerless gloves

It wasn’t all amigurumi all Christmas 2014, I also knitted a couple of presents too. Although I pushed myself a bit, trying patterns with unfamiliar techniques and features, it was a new kind of yarn that made it really exciting.

Drops Air

Two things really drew me to Drops Air: its high alpaca content (72% with the rest 21% polyamide and 7% wool) and its unusual construction. Most yarn is spun, either by hand or machine, but Drops Air is described as “blow yarn”. Continue reading

The Knitting and Stitching Show – I came, I saw, I bought the lot.

I had quite a grumble about the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace last year, but the lure of all that beautiful yarn was enough to overcome my reluctance to face the hoards of shoppers again this year. Having been half trampled and totally rushed due to going as part of a coach trip on the Saturday last time (what were we thinking?), this time me and Mum took the train up for the Thursday, and boy what a difference that made! Not only did we have a more comfortable journey, when we got there we could actually walk around freely in what ever direction we wanted without being restricted by the strange currents and tides of the crowd dragging us along! Continue reading

Lovely linen crochet sunhat

It’s been too long since I had a post that is just about showing off a finished crochet project, and guess what… I have one to show you!

This is my lovely linen crochet sunhat! As modelled by the old Christmas tree in my neighbour’s garden that has been taken over by a particularly luscious passion flower plant. I was a bit naughty and picked one of the flowers for the picture. Shh! Don’t tell anyone! It was missing a petal anyway!

Lovely linen crochet sunhat Close up of lovely linen crochet sunhat

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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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Granny Panel Tissue Box Cover – new pattern!

I always like to make presents instead of buying them, but Fathers Day managed to sneak up on me this year. I needed to make something for my Dad that would be quick to make, and something he might actually use! My mum had suggested a tissue box cover to hide the tatty looking box that he kept by his armchair, and I was pretty sure I had a pattern for one in a magazine somewhere, but I couldn’t find the damn thing anywhere! So I improvised one, and it turned out pretty well. Dad was pleased I’d made him something, and Mum was happy that the offending box of tissues was now hidden.

I decided to give the design another go, taking notes this time, using the same cheep and cheerful (and very fluffy!) aran weight acrylic I used for my dad’s present. Again, it was pretty good but the yarn wasn’t quite right for the project, and I was running out of what few colours I had. So I turned to my stash of gorgeous Lily Sugar n Cream worsted weight cotton and with a bit of fiddling about I came up with this!

Granny panel tissue box cover

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My cool cotton crochet waistcoat

I love love LOVE Lily Sugar n Cream cotton. I’ve been squirrelling away the odd ball or two of this lovely worsted weight yarn in various colour-ways for months, only dipping into the stash every now and then for small projects like the wash cloths I made for my mum. But then Woolwarehouse started stocking 400g cones AND had a 20% sale on all Lily Sugar n Cream yarn, and I knew I had to think bigger!

So I went back to this pattern for a draped front waistcoat that I made back in March in cheap acrylic DK. It was supposed to be in worsted weight yarn anyway, and I was pretty sure I could make it out of just one 400g cone, so out came the 5.5 mm hook and….

Crochet mesh waistcoat

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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