Friday, 12 December 2008

Wool Pincushion

We've had some nice bright weather this week, so I've got some sewing done despite the short December days. I like to work in natural light where possible, and of course decent light is necessary for taking photos. This was a nice quick project which I really enjoyed.
It came about because I wanted to make something with the lovely blue hand-dyed wool I used for the background. I didn't have a pattern, I just played around with colours and shapes until I was satisfied with the arrangement.

I deliberately left the flower petals unstitched, but I wanted to "work into it" a bit, as my daughter's art teacher used to say, and I added some touches of embroidery and some beads. The beads were left over from the Christmas card I made a couple of posts back.

It was just a bit of fun really, to see what I could come up with. I might do it differently if I did it again, but I love these colours, and as a pincushion it will be useful as well.

I'm taking a Christmas break from blogging now. I hope you have a lovely Christmas and I'll be back in 2009.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Squares and Other Shapes

Remember these crocheted squares? Well I've been gradually adding to them and now I've got a basketful! I only need a few more to have enough for a throw.
The yellow is what I was thinking of using to join them together and for making a wide edging.
I wasn't going to bother blocking these squares, but looking at the photos, maybe I should.

There are actually about three different dyelots of the off-white here, so I think I'll have to be careful to mix them up evenly before joining them. It will be 14 squares by 12. Don't know what that comes to, but I know it's a lot, LOL.
I've been playing with wool fabric and cutting out shapes.
This photo reminds me of those packets of gummed paper pre-cut shapes you use to be able to buy. I remember buying those regularly with my pocket money as a child.

A pincushion perhaps?

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Knitted Holly

I love mixing different textures in the same project. This is a Christmas card I made this week. The heart is wool fabric. I did all the sewing on the heart first, then glued it to the card.
My holly was from a pattern in Knitting Over the Edge by Nicky Epstein. This book and her earlier one, Knitting On the Edge, are both really good resources for patterns which could be used in unlimited ways, not only for edgings.
I used 4 ply and very fine needles for the knitting.

I find that hand quilting needles are good for sewing on seed beads. They're fine enough to go through easily, and don't bend as soon as you look at them like beading needles are inclined to do.

I seem to have done well for fun mail lately - last week I won a lovely parcel of goodies from Gemma of Dancin' Puffin. She had a surprise giveaway on her blog, and without even knowing it I left the 100th comment and won!

She sent all these goodies - I love the colour of the Debbie Bliss Cathay, and the sew-cute keyring is now holding my keys. Thank you, Gemma :) If you haven't seen Gemma's blog, do go and read about her new puppy, knitting and beautiful chickens.

Friday, 21 November 2008

A Different World

A long, long time ago, before I was married and before the responsibilities of home and small children took over, I used to go regularly with my father to visit local fleamarkets and second-hand book sales.
He was looking for authentic old fittings for our house which he was renovating, or old books for his collection, while I kept my eyes open for old needlework patterns and magazines.
This was in the early 198o's, long before eBay existed. There wasn't the level of interest in crafts then that there is now, and I was usually able to find interesting items for a pound or even 50p.

These are just a few examples of what I bought at that time.
In the early 20th century, not all publications were printed with a date, but if they aren't, you can usually get a good idea of their age by looking at the styling and advertisements.

There are some lovely illustrations.

Wouldn't you love to have these applique curtains hanging at your window? I would.
Cottage garden flowers like foxgloves were popular subjects for needlework in the 1930's.

The usual way to get your embroidery design onto fabric ready for stitching was to use a hot-iron transfer, and many magazines gave away a free transfer with each issue. In other cases the reader was invited to "send for" the transfer needed to complete the project.

I've always thought it would be quite possible to copy some of the designs, because the stitch diagrams often give all the information you need.

Crochet patterns were often designed to be worked with extremely fine thread - in this case, size 80!

I've kept them all these years, and I still like to look through them from time to time, for inspiration and just because they're so interesting. For me they bring back memories of time spent with my Dad, who encouraged my interest, and they really are an authentic glimpse into another age.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Sewing Machine Time

I put in some serious sewing machine time this week and got my quilt top finished. Now it's all put together, I really like it. Not sure how I'm going to quilt it, though.

While we were away a couple of weeks ago, I took some knitting so I had something to do in spare moments. I do like to do some knitting sometimes. I know I've said it before, but there's something good about the rhythm of working and the warmth of the yarn.
I made some handwarmers fom the pattern posted by Little Cotton Rabbits. (Scroll down that page for the pattern.) I've only just got round to sewing the side seams to finish them.

I think it's a very nice simple pattern and I would definitely make these again in another colour.
But how strange does it feel photographing your own hand?

They add some extra length to your sleeve on a cold day.
I used 1 ball of RYC Cashsoft DK in Parma. I love the softness of this yarn.
Some fun mail this week - aren't I lucky? These lovely fabrics arrived from Karol-Ann.

We did a sort of swap and this is what she sent me - Liberty, no less. Thank you, Karol-Ann!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Small Crochet

There are quilt blocks sitting looking at me, but no progress has been made with them yet, so this is some crochet I did a while ago. You may have gathered that I like making small things!
The patterns are not new - the heart-shaped purse is from an old Kindred Spirits book, Handgifts. I also made the frog-shaped purse from the same book, but I'll show you that another time.
The rectangular one is a crochet pattern by Janet Miller (The City Stitcher), which I bought from Quilters' Warehouse. Coincidentally, I've just checked and the Kindred Spirits heart is also designed by Janet Miller. I like her crochet patterns.
I did both in 4 ply cotton yarn.

I don't suppose I would use a purse like this in a practical way, but it gives you a lift to make something pretty, and I have them hanging in the sewing room where I can see them.

Saturday, 1 November 2008


We had a few days away last week, travelling all the way down to Sussex and the south coast.
Brighton was lovely - fresh, crisp and sunny.

The beautiful blue sea and sky.

Brighton Pavilion, built in 1822 for the Prince Regent, later to become George IV.
We did a lot of driving round the area and visited other towns as well.
This is Winchester Cathedral, which dates back to 1709.
One of the tombs here is that of Jane Austen.
We caught the train into London on one of the days, but because of the distances in London itself we didn't get very far in one day. We went to Peter Jones and John Lewis and looked in Selfridges, saw Buckingham Palace and walked across Hyde Park. We crammed in as much as we could, but one day is definitely not enough time to see London.
The only shopping I did was for yarn! I got all this Cashmerino Aran to make a striped blanket. Not cheap, but such nice colours!
On the way back home yesterday we stopped at the Autumn Quilt Festival at Malvern, just like we did last year. It's not as big a show as Quilts UK at the same place in May, but it was well worth going because I bought these fabrics.

I told myself I would exercise restraint and only buy what I really liked, especially after all that yarn shopping. I fell in love with this print:

It was a really nice few days, less than a week, but so refreshing to get away, have a change of scene and do something different!

Saturday, 25 October 2008


Last month I posted about the book Crochet Bouquet - this is the poppy I made from the book.
I thought this pattern looked really tricky because it involves pulling up threads to make the flower bowl-shaped. Also, there are a lot of stitches to squeeze into a small space at the start of the petals to make them full enough, but I wanted to try it just to see if I could do it, LOL!
I used Patons 4 ply cotton. My poppy is red just because that's the classic poppy colour, but it could be made in any colour. A pink or mauve poppy would be nice. I found the perfect button for the centre, and the grey radiating lines are long stitches, sewn after the crochet is finished.

I've been piecing quilt blocks, 9 in all, and here are 3 of them:

It's busy, but I'm hoping that the stripe borders will bring an element of order.

I do like those sparkling nine patch centres. That was really what drew me to the pattern. The simplicity and symmetry of the nine patch.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Some Sewing

For some reason it's been difficult trying to get back into sewing. I spent a day looking through books and spreading out fabrics, but nothing seemed to be working.
It was time to make a decision so I chose one pattern and started pulling out possible fabrics. I went through 3 different colour schemes before I finally decided on these fabrics, and I got the centres of 9 blocks made.

There will be more light fabric around the edges of the blocks.
The pattern is called Blueberry Pie and is from a book I've had for a long time, Buttermilk Farm by Black Mountain Quilts.
I used to buy all the books by Black Mountain and Cabbage Rose as soon as they were published, and although they're a few years old there are some very nice patterns in them.
This pattern is a little gem of a small pieced quilt.

Enjoy your weekend :)

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Buttons, Beads and Fabric

I was looking for a small sewing project to ease myself back into sewing, and I decided to make the 2 sizes of cosmetic bag from Sew Pretty Christmas Homestyle. This is a nice book with some very do-able projects.
The pattern is for a plain purse in all one fabric, but I can't help messing with a perfectly good pattern. I decided to try the larger size with a foundation-pieced flap, and it turned out not bad.
When I first read through the pattern it wasn't clear whether the outline was the cutting line or the sewing line, but once I had worked out it was the sewing line they were really easy and quick to make, even for someone like me with not much experience of bag-making.

I used Velcro for the fastenings. Those sticky Velcro dots are difficult to push a needle through! The buttons are just for decoration. The beads weren't actually my first choice of colour, but they were all I could get locally.
I think this is a great plain pattern which is suitable for individualising (is that a word?) in all sorts of different ways. I had loads of fun playing with different trimmings and buttons.

It's nice to have some handwork on the go as well, and I've got into the habit of crocheting squares in the evenings. Squares are addictive! The pile is slowly growing.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Crochet Indulgence

The quilt I finished a couple of weeks ago was so labour-intensive it seems to have caused temporary quilting burn-out, and I haven't even started another quilt yet.
At the moment I seem to be leaning more towards yarn than fabric. I don't know now how I ever managed without having some crochet or knitting on the go.

I've posted about potholders before, for instance here and here, and now I've made myself another one. They are fun to make, but no, I've never actually USED them.
I liked this one because of its unusual shape and the big shaded flowers. (The pattern is from a book called Baker's Dozen Potholders, published by Annie's Attic, 2oo2.)
I think if I call my potholders a "collection", that will mean I can make as many as I like, and it won't matter if I use them or not, LOL!

Don't they make a lovely scrunchy-textured pile of colour?