Friday, February 27, 2015

Unravel 2015

Last weekend Unravel, a festival of knitting, descended on Farnham Maltings so Orla and I put on our best knitted booties (or at least one of us did) and headed down to check it out! The Maltings is such a great exhibition space and I loved Thread, the festival of textiles, back in September of last year and was excited to see what this knit fest would offer! I really enjoyed checking out all of the stalls and discovering some great new suppliers and makers!

Louise Walker of Sincerely Louise designs the most amazing knitted taxidermy and her brilliant tiger skin rug immediately caught my eye. It was great to chat to her briefly and hear a bit more about her products. Her tiger rug sample was knitted using super luxurious Wool and the Gang yarn and felt so sumptuous and plush! The pattern is included in her new book Faux Taxidermy Knits and I am so desperate to make one for Orla's room - I'm even thinking it could be the project which finally gives me the shove towards dying my own yarn? I think I'll ruminate on that one a bit more but in the meantime I'm seriously considering one of her Fox head knit kits. She kindly showed me one and it's so well designed - the kit comes with all the yarn you need plus the stuffing as well as the wooden mount you attach the finished animal to. Some of her animal heads were on display and were seriously brilliant - the shape of each animals head, whether it's a moose or a badger is spot on!

I loved Susan Crawford's first book, A Stitch In Time so it was great to see some samples from her second book, A Stitch In Time Volume 2! Seeing the garments up close really re-ignited my love for Shetland yarn and 1940's silhouettes! Susan has actually brought out her own range of yarn, in collaboration with John Arbon, with a colour palette especially designed for vintage style knits! You can shop the yarns as well as both books through Susan's website here.

Speaking of John Arbon Textiles, I scooped up this sunny yellow skein of DK wool from a remnants bin for about £2.20. You can't see all of it hear but it's a good sized hank and is super bright and gorgeously soft. I think it might just be destined to become a yellow bobble hat for Orla!

I picked up a few more cheeky balls of yarn for another upcoming project which I'm looking forward to talking more about soon! In the meantime here's a few more pics from my visit! See you next year Unravel! :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lucy's Hat...

My good friend Celina recently welcomed her beautiful baby girl into the world! This time of year is pretty grey round these parts so I thought baby Lucy would appreciate a little sunshine in the form of this sweet bobble hat. This is an adaptation of the wonderful umbilical cord baby hat from Debbie Stoller's Stitch and Bitch. You can see the original pattern here on The Guardian's website. I skipped the circular needles and knit the whole thing using 4.5mm double pointed needles in Rowan's wool cotton in shade 980 (Brolly). This yarn is a wee bit slimmer than the one reccomended in the pattern resulting in a smaller hat - perfect for a precious newborn! To make the pom pom version just follow the instructions as normal, stopping just before you do the i-cord. Whip yourself up a little pop pom instead, sew it on securely and you're all done!

If you have a pom pom maker but aren't sure how to use it, you can find my tutorial here!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Do It Yourself...

Now that I'm sharing my home with a collection of cactuses I need something to put them all in! Planters or plant pot covers are the perfect way to display house plants as you can just leave the plant in it's existing plastic pot but hide it with something pretty!

Here's a roundup of five of my favourite DIY planter tutorials...

1. I absolutely love this geometric clay pot tutorial by Delia from the brilliant craft blog Delia Creates. The technique she uses to create this multifaceted geometric shape is so clever and I really like the way this tutorial makes use of the natural texture of the clay! As Delia mentions in her tutorial, air dry clay isn't water tight so you wouldn't be able to re-pot your plant directly into this bowl but I reckon with a bit of modification you could make the bowl the right shape to accommodate a small plastic plant pot?

2. These sweet little house shaped planters are made using oven bake polymer clay! The tutorial shows you how to seal the edges to make the planters water tight so you could plant directly into them if you wanted to. Head over to Say Yes for the tutorial and be sure to check out Claire's beautiful blog, Fellow Fellow.

3. Another great painted plant pot idea - I love the way this gold dipped plant pot carries the colour of the dish through into the pot itself. Pastels and metallic look so great together!

4. These faux copper plant pot covers by Brittni Mehlhoff at look so slick - I can't believe they're actually made out of contact paper (or sticky backed plastic for us UK folk!). Such a simple but effective idea!

5. I love the colours of these dip dye plant pots by I Spy DIY - think of all the colour combinations you could do! If you're a crafter in a hurry you can buy everything you need for this DIY (minus the plants of course!) as a kit!.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Succulent Situation...

I picked up this sweet little Money Plant last week at my local garden centre - a few more spiky succulents might also have jumped into my basket at the same time ;) I'm reading up on how to take care of these bad boys but in the meantime this little dude needs a cosy home. There are some brilliant planter DIYs popping up on some of my favourite craft blogs at the moment - I'm looking forward to sharing a few of my favourites later in the week!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

So fresh and so clean...

Hello 2015 - oh I do love a fresh start! 2014 was one hell of a year - I haven't really spoken much about childbirth and motherhood and all that here. Mainly because there is just too much to say and I wouldn't know where to begin. Eva Wiseman kind of says it all perfectly in her recent article for the Guardian - go take a peek!

I'm so excited for this year. I feel like I've finally hit my stride with motherhood and am really enjoying my days with sweet Orla. Now that Orla goes to bed at a reasonable hour I've suddenly got my evenings back again so am hoping to get some good sewing done this year - as usual I have a million ideas buzzing round my head and am itching to get started!

Last year was understandably sporadic on the posting front but I'm hoping to get back to some kind of regular schedule this year. I love sharing my projects and tutorials here and personally, I find blogging and being part of the craft blog community just gives me that little shove towards picking up my scissors and making something rather than just daydreaming about it. Blogging for me right now is all about making and doing and sharing the love!

I haven't made any resolutions this year - I'm just kind of in the moment and it's a good place to be!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Crafting with the Kindle Fire HDX!

For the last couple of weeks I've had the pleasure of playing with a gorgeous new toy - the Kindle Fire HDX! The lovely lightweight tablet is made by Amazon but this particular one came from Argos as part of this tablet range. It allows you to access over 240,000 apps, emails, documents and music as well as your ebook library. As a keen crafter I was particularly interested to see what apps are available that could help me learn a new skill or inspire a new project and I'm here today to tell you about what I found!

I'm already an enthusiastic knitter but so far the art of crochet has totally eluded me. Back at uni (when I had plenty of time on my hands...) I bought a little instruction guide at the local yarn shop with the intention of teaching myself how but wow - that book was dry as dust! I tried my best to copy the step by step photos but just couldn't get it. Some things are much better taught in person rather than read off a page but if you're not lucky enough to know someone with time on their hands to teach you, the next best thing is a video! With this in mind I downloaded ProTube (a YouTube viewing app) and dived right in!

The screen of the Kindle Fire HDX is crystal clear and super bright which makes viewing any kind of video content a pleasure. I curled up on the sofa with my crochet hook, yarn and cup of tea and got ready to learn! I decided to begin my journey into crochet with a simple granny square as they're nice and small, look pretty and best of all, you actually get something at the end of it rather than just producing endless rectangles (like in my early days of knitting!).

After a bit of browsing I came across this fab video from Sarah-Jayne at Bella Coco! I found Sarah-Jayne's instructions really clear and I liked the way she talks you through every stitch rather than jumping ahead and assuming you know what to do! It was really easy to balance the tablet in my lap so I could see both the screen and my crochet at the same time - Sarah-Jayne understandably works a lot faster than me so I found it best to hit pause whenever I needed some time to catch up before moving on to the next section. The tablet connected easily to my wifi and the video streamed beautifully. It was really easy to spool forwards or backwards through the video to re-watch a section or skip ahead if I needed to and best of all, whenever I paused the video the picture was really clear so I could see exactly what I needed to do with my yarn and needle!

Here's my first ever Granny square - not to bad eh? I'm very tempted to embark on a whole blanket as I like the way you can make the squares here and there when you have little pockets of time and then connect them up into one big blanket later! YouTube and the ProTube app get a big thumbs up from me and I'll definitely make them my first port of call the next time I want to pick up a new crafty skill.

If you're interested in learning knitting and crochet or even if you're already a pro, another app I would definitely recommend is Ravulous which is the app version of the super popular online knitting and crochet community Ravelry! If you don't have an account already you'll just need to hop over to their website first of all to register, then you can use the app to access thousands of knitting and crochet projects. I find Ravelry really useful when choosing a new knitting project because no matter what the pattern, you can guarantee that hundreds of Ravelers will have made it already and generously shared their photos and experiences. I find it really helpful to see how a garment looks on real bodies as well as getting inspired by other peoples yarn choices and colour combinations. If there is a particularly tricky bit in a pattern or even a mistake you can guarantee that someone will have picked up on it and there will be a forum post on the subject.

The Ravulous app works particularly well on the Kindle Fire HDX as you can search through hundreds of projects easily, using keywords to find what you're looking for. If you see a project you like you can then add it to your queue for quick reference later. Ravelry also allows you to create a database of the needles and yarns in your stash which is handy when you're out and about shopping - you can pop the tablet in your handbag and, providing the yarn shop has wifi (hello John Lewis!) you can use the app to quickly check what you've already got back at home. There's nothing worse than getting home and discovering you already have two pairs of bamboo 5mm straights! If (heaven forbid) the shop is all out of that yarn your pattern calls for, you can also take a look at other peoples projects to get ideas for yarn substitutions. I've been a member of Ravelry for many years and I think this leap from website to app makes perfect sense - the database function especially is so handy when you're out and about.

If I find myself in a bit of a slump creatively or just in need of some inspiration, the first thing I do is settle down to catch up with my favourite craft blogs! There are so many crafters all over the world making wonderful things and sharing their projects and ideas on blogs. Checking out new craft blogs always leaves me feeling inspired and I love trying out other peoples DIYs. If you're a craft blog fan too then the app 'Find and Craft' is handy to have up your sleeve - you can browse through tonnes of DIY tutorials by category, skill level or keyword search then once you've found something that takes your fancy, the app then directs you to the blog where you can read the full tutorial! Some of my favourites are this cute DIY cardboard box sewing machine by Little Red Window, these geometric planters by Homemade Ginger and these fabric coil bowls by The Red Thread!

Do you have a favourite crafty app? If so I would love to hear about it!

This post is written in collaboration with Argos - thanks for reading!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Liberty Print Bias Binding DIY Tutorial!

Bias binding is so versatile - I use it all the time to finish off straight and curved seams on all sorts of projects (like my Liberty print hot water bottle and Liberty print ballet pump tutorials!). Knowing how to make your own bias binding is a handy skill to have - make it using your main fabric for a neat and discreet edging or using a contrasting fabric for a pretty, contrasting look! Liberty print bias binding is perfect for adding just a touch of floral prettiness to your project and best of all, you only need a 10 by 10 inch square of fabric to make nearly two meters of bias binding!

I learned how to make continuous bias binding using this brilliant tutorial from Coletterie. 

You'll need...

A 10''10'' square of Liberty print fabric
Ruler / tape measure
Water soluble pen or tailors chalk
Thread that blends in with your chosen fabric
Bias tape maker (I've used a 12 mm bias tape maker)
Fabric scissors
Sewing machine

Step 1: Make sure you cut your 10''x10'' square of fabric parallel to the selvedge then cut it in half diagonally along the bias.

Step 2: Arrange the two fabric triangles as below, so that the piece on the left has the right side of the fabric facing you and the piece on the right has the wrong side of the fabric facing you.

Pin and then sew along the bottom edge, as close to the edge of the fabric as you can manage! Open out the two triangles into a rhombus (such a satisfying word to say...) and iron that seam flat.

Step 3: Grab your tape measure or ruler and mark lines one inch apart, horizontally along the wrong side of the fabric.

Step 4: Once you've drawn all your lines, turn the fabric over so the right side is facing you and fold the outside corners towards the middle. The fabric should now be making a square shape but before you pin the two edges together, offset the lines by one at each end like so...

Step 5: Sew a seam close to the edge like before and iron it as flat as you can. Grab your fabric scissors and cut along the lines you drew - before you know it you'll have a gorgeous length of Liberty print ribbon!

Step 8: These bias tape makers look the business but I actually found them a little tricky to use at first.

Start with the wrong side of the fabric facing you and feed it into the wide end of your bias tape maker. Have your iron at the ready! I find it best to pinch the bias tape closed as it comes out the narrow end of the tape maker then press it flat with the iron (it helps if you have asbestos fingers!). Work in small sections and pin as you go.

Winding the bias binder around an old cotton reel helps keep it nice and crisp until you're ready to use it!

Now you can add a Liberty print trim to all your projects - enjoy!