Archive for the 'craft' Category

Circular needle case*

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

I bought the fabric for this case way back at the beginning of the year, after various people had signed up for a facebook thingummy in which I said I would make them things. (The rest of you: I have not forgotten, it just takes me a while. You will be more surprised when something finally arrives, right?). Karen, who presented me with a scarf and hat embarrassingly quickly, knits on circs all the time and I happen to know she stores them in a shoebox. I wanted to do something with my new sewing machine.
I found this pattern. And then everything ground to a halt, partly for moving house reasons but mostly because I could not figure out the measurements in the pattern and as a new sewer was insufficiently confident to just do it. I tried very hard to contact the author but she either didn’t get my messages, has a policy of not replying, or just found my questions too stupid. Come November I decided to get a grip, enough was enough, and I am quite arithmetically competent enough to work the measurements out for myself. So I did, and it actually didn’t take long at all. Though if anybody who knows about sewing can explain the very good sewerly reason why one would cut a 10″ strip in order to make a 6″ pocket (cut 10″, make a 1″ hem, *trim it to 7″*, make a 1″ hem on the other side – it’s the trimming step I missed out) then I’d be delighted to hear it. I can only wonder if it is to compensate for wonky measuring and/or cutting, so you cut it to be parallel to the hem once you have made it…but if that is the case, surely 9″ would be sufficient?

*that is, a case for circular needles not a case that is itself round.

:: right now ::

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

(a la Earthenwitch). Right now I am:

cuddling a sad and bruised youngest daughter and wondering where all the blood came from (update: she’s fine, just got a huge fat lip. Teeth all intact.)

Packing. And fretting. We appear to have extremely nervous buyers who have now sent three surveyors round (and the third, this morning, warned me that a fourth might be forthcoming). Fortunately I have surveyor-charming skills and have made them all tell me what they find (I’m not supposed to tell you but). Seriously: they are buying a 110-year-old house, it is going to have, ahem, quirks. Features. Oddly, their solicitor does not seem to know they are doing all this. On which note…

waiting for our solicitor to call me back. Nothing so far has led me to believe the poor woman knows how to operate a telephone.

reading umpteen magazines (crafty homey ones, mostly) while resolving to kick the expensive, pointless magazine habit.

trying to get a reading group off the ground: who’d have thought it would be so difficult to get more than two people together in the same place, with books, at the same time.

making (a mess, ha ha) – lazy-days skirts. Flowers for M and hungry-caterpillar circles for T.

editing some nonsense about dogs

using up the contents of fridge/freezer/cupboard with weird and unpredictable results.


Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

I ordered some, um, kits from Clothkits in their January sale – cutting and paper patterns is the bit of learning to sew I am most intimidated by, so I thought these would let me practise sewing a bit before I had to do any of that. And here is Jenny in a pretty green pinny; I had to make buttonholes and most exciting of all figured out how to sew on a button using my machine. Given that my usual approach to an off button is to ignore the garment for several months before sliding it into a charity bag, this could change my life!

One mystery remains, which doesn’t appear to be solved in any of my newly bought books: I asked Earthenwitch, who muttered something about folding it tightly or chopping a bit off. (I am considering demoting her from sewing guru, to be honest.) You know when you need to make a hem on a flarey thing, like the skirt of this here pinafore? So the foldy up hemmy bit is wider than the skirty bit to which it is destined to be attached? What does one do with the excess material? The underside of this dress must never be looked at by anybody who knows, because I just sort of made some creasey tucky bits and sewed over them hard.

The back of it is here.

Kneading and ritting

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

(Or, yarn along from small things – where you post what you are reading and knitting with, I hope, no requirement to be able to do both simultaneously.)

Books and needles

The small dull-blue pretty thing on gorgeous wooden needles will one day in the distant future, I hope, be a river shawl. I cast it on approximately 800 years ago, its leisureliness caused by being a pattern that requires attention, ie I can’t do it in front of the telly. The long, long grey thing at the front will one day be a shrug for me. I love the yarn (Rowan lima, all sort of braidedy plaity instead of twisted, soft and cuddly and yum); I can do the pattern with my eyes closed* after so many many miles of it. However, as it is so very long now, it is hardly portable, so the very bright ball of Noro towards the back there is about to start being turned into small, portable, socks. This represents a paradigm shift for me as I have scoffed at the idea of knitting socks: Karen, I apologise.

Reading-wise: a large pile of sewing and knitting magazines – I basically went into Hobbycraft and bought one of each in a bid to work out which are me and long-term stop wasting money on magazines full of patterns for old-lady cardies. Time will tell whether it works. “The shipping news”, which I started before (like, 10 years ago) and hated so gave up.  I then watched and adored the film, so I am giving it a second chance. And “delusions of gender” which is fascinating, such that I keep reading bits out to anybody who will pay attention. (Jenny is very interested.)

*I can’t really, I can’t even do it and read: I can do it while listening to and keeping half an eye on a television programme. Cameron doesn’t mind at all when I make him rewind because I forgot to pay attention for a bit. No not at all.


Monday, February 14th, 2011

This is my First Proper Thing made with the sewing machine, apart from a couple of scrunchies. I followed the instructions in this oddly titled pamphlet (“I can’t believe I’m sewing!”) for a baby blanket, but added a layer of wadding, batting, whatever you call it, between cotton and fleece. For extra pouffiness (or, as I believe one would say if one knew what one was talking about, loftiness. Or just “loft”. Have yet to learn to speak sewing.) Hence it being a “quinket”; not quite quilt – although I did sew along the edges of the squares in a quilty fashion, the edges were just turned over not bound with scary bias  binding – not quite blanket.

Sew far sew good (har har har)

Saturday, January 15th, 2011
Fabric and what have you

I got a sewing machine for Christmas. I did ask for it, it wasn’t santa gone mad, but me! I was the child who sewed her dolly’s dress to her skirt aged 7. Looking back I find it astonishing that in my lifetime – I am really not that old – Friday afternoons at school were sewing for girls/football for boys/no exceptions to the rule; my main recollection, bar the teacher sighing as she cut things off my pinafore, was using the needle to gouge a hole in my finger so Amanda Wellings and I could be blood sisters and best friends forever*. Fast forward to secondary school, via a few frustrating sessions with my paternal Grandmother, whose good intentions to help me make something were scuppered by her perfectionist tendencies: I watched, always polite but inwardly frustrated, while she used my kits to produce lovely cuddly toys, paper flowers, and so forth. She was very skillful, it must be said. But. She did attempt to show me how to embroider on more than one occasion but my fingers, once presented with a needle, come over all of a wobble and refuse to line up stitches nicely next to one another, rather they straggle all over. All very abstract but not quite the thing.

So – secondary school. I was strongly encouraged to take up music for the “art” option after a term of textiles saw me shedding (quite literally) blood and tears over a padded shell-shaped thing; I was never permitted to touch the sewing machines but had to keep my cack-handedness away where I could not break them. (Proper art left me bemused at the idea of drawing my own hand; woodwork was, if only unofficially, for the boys, as the girls sat at the back sniggering over a dogeared copy of Lace and singing the songs from Grease. What can I say, it was 1988.)

All these years later, I decide to conquer my fears. And do you know what? I still can’t sew on a button in earshot of my children, and I pay people good money to make my trousers the correct length, but machine sewing bears no resemblance! It makes lovely neat stitches all by itself, all I have to do is push down with one foot (I can drive, that’s not too difficult) and make sure it is pointing in a straight line. And keep it far away from my skirt. Maths I am good at, so measuring geometric shapes on fabric and cutting them out is not beyond me. Moreover, it provides near-instant gratification in the way that knitting really does not. (I knit slow. And I have little time.) I have already cut out and made the whole front side of a blankety quilty thing for Jenny. (Maggie has a cot quilt that her very properly talented Grandma, my mother-in-law, made when she was a baby; Tamsin has a panda quilt we bought at the Great Wall of China; Jenny should not be left out, should she.) Now I am feeling a little nervous as I prepare to go off-piste; the instructions say to just sew some fleece to the back of it but I want to cleverly combine with the next pattern in the book which involves batting and quilting in the ditch. Eek! What is the worst that can happen – I can always unpick if it is a disaster, right?

Photos to follow if and when I manage.

*It didn’t work, she’s not even on my facebook!