Monday, 27 February 2012

Sew in... Upcycling Homeware

Bit of an 'aspirational' one from the Post Mistress today! Ahem... what I actually mean is I haven't actually made anything for a few days but as ever, I have lots of ideas brewing. First off, I have a dearly loved blue marble effect cushion I bought back in the 1980s and noticed on Sunday that sadly, the corners are now frayed and the piping is looking worn. These days, I hate throwing quality textiles away so as the cushion pad inside is still in near perfect condition, I have decided to get my beautiful new sewing machine out and re-cover it. I can even re-use the zip on the existing cover as it's still in perfect working order. It goes to show, if you invest in quality items, with a bit of ingenuity, they can last a lifetime.

Old cushion from the '80s with scuffed edges and frayed piping
Another idea I had was to recreate something similar to the vintage style round velvet cushion my grandmother used to have. As I remember, it had a panel that went around the edge which was about 2 inches wide and the front panel gathered in under a central fabric covered button. I'd really like to incorporate some fabric from my old thick cotton Paul's Boutique bag into the new cushion as I love the day-glo paisley flowers, but I will need to buy another complimentary fabric to go with it as there won't quite be enough. Scouring the net, I've managed to find a free pattern on how to sew a flat drum shaped round cushion, so watch this space!

Tatty oversized Paul's Boutique bag in neon with cream background
And finally, a habitual magpie, my husband rescued this footstool when a neighbour was throwing it out and I immediately spotted its potential. IKEA offers a wide selection of fabrics with cheerful modern prints and I will almost certainly breathe new life into this footstool by re-covering it in one of IKEA's colourful materials.

Reclaimed footstool with leatherette cover, ripe for a makeover

The reclaimed footstool with its cover removed

Lilac John Lewis sewing machine, isn't she beautiful!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

What's the Best Camera for Bloggers?

Lights. Camera. Action! As part of my ongoing bid to improve my blog, I've been saving up for a new camera. I've had a Rebel 2000 Canon SLR for many years, which served me well but getting hold of films these days is so difficult I've decided it's time to make the switch to digital. As I already have my SLR for 'proper photography', I basically need an inexpensive and competent point and shoot that's light enough to carry around in my handbag.

Although I take any customer review with a pinch of salt, I do read Amazon reviews a lot and these played a big part in my decision to purchase the Nikon Coolpix S8200 Digital Camera. Check it out!

It looks quite plain but apparently takes good pictures and even has a video function - perfect if I decide to film my own free knitting tutorials or do some vlogging (video blogging). Joy!

I haven't made the purchase yet but pay day is fast approaching so if anyone has tried this camera or knows of another one suitable for bloggers that they'd like to recommend, do leave a comment.  

Thursday, 23 February 2012

How to Knit an iPhone Cover

Hello one and all! I have something in the pipeline to show you; it's a knitted iPhone pouch. I just need to reassemble my sewing machine to put a label on it and it's all complete!

As I've been up since 6am with only four hours sleep, I decided to forego my gym class this evening and have melted into the sofa instead.

I don't know whether I told you but I live in a flat. We are having a few problems with the property management company which is a source of huge frustration. It's got to the point where I'm so irritated by them, I can't even bare to look at them. Oh dear.

I guess I'll just have to knit my way back to serenity. Just a few rows and I'll be at peace again!

London Fashion Week 17-22 February

I couldn't let London Fashion Week pass me by without so much as a mention! Why? Well, because whether we want to admit it or not, what's on the catwalk will filter down to the high street and influence what we wear and make to a greater or lesser extent. Having just excitedly scoured coverage on the collections, I am able to bring you my snapshot of Autumn/Winter 2012 knitwear highlights. Visions in wool, these garments are by established fashion houses and headline grabbing newcomers alike. A guaranteed mood lifter, there was quite a lot of fiery burnt orange around, particularly from Matthew Williamson.

Here's my quick and dirty...


Holly Fulton

Pringle of Scotland

If you followed the London Fashion Week coverage yourself and spotted something worthy of a mention, leave a comment including a link to the picture and I'll publish it.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

My First Crocheted Granny Square

So here it is, my first crocheted granny square! I've completed the first three rounds and it's a little untidy, but the basic shape is there. Remember to check my previous post for the Crochet Geek free pattern YouTube clip if you would like to learn how to crochet one yourself. Hopefully one day, I'll be able to create something as nice as the finished objects featured on Meme Rose and Planet Penny's blog spots...

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Baby Blanket Goes Under Cover

My second ever knitting project, you may have caught sight of this in my finished object coffee cosy post last week. As I created this zigzag baby blanket before I started the blog, I felt it was a shame not to give it a mention. Although due to its size it took me a while to knit, I was pretty pleased with the result at the time, so much so, I couldn't face giving it away. The purple, cream, grey and light blue colourway really works, don't you think?

Missoni Resort 2012 collection, image from
I've also always been a fan of the distinctive zigzag pattern Italian fashion house Missoni so often incorporates into its range. Even as a super novice at the time, I got on ok with this pattern and would definitely knit another one.
Special thanks to Debbie Orr for providing such a lovely free knitting pattern via Ravelry. I used Debbie Bliss double knitting yarns for the blanket, the sea grass chest is from John Lewis and I picked up the cowhide rug many years ago in Sydney, Australia.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Happy Valentines Day

It's actually my birthday today so I never really do the whole set meal with partner thing as I think it's a bit tacky. Besides, I believe people should celebrate their love every day, not just because they feel obligated to.

My best pal baked me these glam biscuits - shoe shaped with a purple glaze! They taste of gingerbread and remind me of the yummy specialist German ginger biscuits you can buy. She also bought me this fabulous book called Shadowfolds. It basically contains tutorials on how to make eye catching homeware and accessories with origami style folded fabric. There are patterns for lampshades, cushion covers, neck ties and more. I can't wait to have a go!

Monday, 13 February 2012

How to Crochet a Granny Square

Juggling my new job with seeing friends and all the usual stuff, I finally managed to snatch an hour yesterday to attempt some proper crochet. I really wanted to have a go at a gorgeous hexagon three round pattern I found online but couldn't find the exact same pattern as a You Tube tutorial. Instead, I had a stab at a basic crochet granny square. Using the video clip from Crochet Geek (see right), I got through the first round in just a few minutes. It's not quite right yet but I know that after a couple more attempts I will confidently have cracked it. Of course, mastering simple granny squares and crocheted hexagons will mean I can learn how to produce crocheted afghans, blankets and much more. You only have to look at my Meme Rose kaleidoscope blanket post to see just how far you can go with this simple crocheted block.  
Here's my humble first attempt at a crochet granny square

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Essential Amigurumi How to - Making Arms and Legs

From time to time you come across some real gems when travelling through the twittersphere. Yesterday I spotted a tweet from Erich containing a link to their helpful blog post on making amigurumi toys. Joining limbs and other body parts to knitted or crocheted toys can be tricky the first few times; it may sound obvious to seasoned knitters and crocheters, but pinning limbs in place before stitching them on is also essential for getting that rounded shape where the limb meets the body. Rosie here (see below) was my first knitting project. I had trouble putting her legs on evenly; however, I still adore her! I intend to check Erich's blog more regularly as I found the way they pinpointed and addressed a specific crochet technique like this really handy.

At time of posting, the Roman Sock blog which I featured in my top 10 crochet sites list last week  published a useful video tutorial on amigurumi tips. Video clips are so accessible and have helped me with many techniques since I started knitting. Check it out, Brie knows what she's talking about.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

How to Knit a Coffee Cosy...

...and a lesson in knitting pattern design.

I could present you with near perfect pieces every week without giving you an insight into my learning curve, but that just wouldn’t be an honest account of my experience. I’ve also always believed it's ok to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them!

Finally I have completed my cafetière cosy. Et voila!

However, I have mixed feelings about it. Delighted with the bobble texture of the main body, I love the navy Rowan and white Debbie Bliss yarns and pretty crocheted bows with mother of pearl effect buttons. What I'm disappointed with is the fit.

The first proper object I've made without a pattern, this knitted coffee cosy has taught me an important lesson in pattern making. Even though I carefully measured the coffee press, somehow the knitting increased slightly when I pressed it and the finished object is now slightly too deep for the cafetière. It seems a shame to unpick it, so other than finding a larger coffee press, my options are to i) leave it as it is ii) add extra ties at the side to pull in the slack iii) somehow sew down the slack as a pleat. Any suggestions?

My view is that adding an extra tie to the sides would be too much and the item is too bulky to sew horizontally across the middle. I will keep this project at the back of my mind and troubleshoot it. However, even though it didn't turn out exactly as I expected, it's really helped me think about structure and planning. If I was to make another coffee cosy I would reduce it by an inch in depth to allow the yarn to spread when it’s pressed. I would also look again at where the ties go and ensure the cosy sits more neatly under the spout.

Best of the Rest
If you’re a coffee lover and fancy making your
cafetière its own little jacket, check out these highly covetable creations from Frankie Brown.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Miffy's New Home

Do you remember the amigurumi rabbit I crocheted at the end of last year? Well, he's apparently very settled in his new home now. I sent him across London to blogger pal Anna for her son Luke and they are now firm friends! Check out her lovely post here.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Seaside Escape

I've just enjoyed a blissful weekend in Bournemouth, staying at the sumptuous Green House Hotel which I thoroughly recommend. As an eco hotel, many of its furnishings are locally sourced, as well as the food and beverages in the restaurant and bar.
The weather has been 'fresh' to say the least but the bright mornings, delicious hotel breakfasts and  exhilarating walks along the beach have certainly added warmth and colour.

I've hardly had a moment to knit. However, because I wasn't happy with where I'd placed them and because their edges weren't very even, I unpicked the ties on the coffee cosy on Friday. I've since knitted them in white and will finish the cosy off next week and do a 'big reveal' of the finished object.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Top 10 Inspirational Crochet Websites

I do love a top 10 and thought that other beginner crocheters would find it handy to have a list of inspirational blogs and websites for learning how to crochet.

In no particular order, here's my top 10 and why...

1. Ravelry - The mother of all yarn craft websites, not-for-profit community social media site Ravelry is an Aladdin's Cave of patterns, forums and news used by 'craftivists' across the globe.

2. Spontaneous Joy - Taking amigurumi bears to a whole new level, Gurumi 'O' Rama will melt even the iciest of hearts.

3. Crafty is Cool - A website containing Alison's quirky collection of amigurumi characters based on real people and familiar TV and film characters such as Wonder Woman and Michael Jackson.

4. Ana Paula's Amigurumi Patterns & Random Cuteness - It is difficult not to raise a smile when you see these itty bitty cutie creations. Ana Paula's crocheted toys are really lovely.

5. Isamo Crochet - Super stylist lacy gloves and modern crochet accessories abound.

6. MemeRose - Easy on the eye, Meme Rose’s blog features blanket projects that will make you seethe with envy wishing you'd created them yourself!

7. Crochet with Raymond - In a class of its own, Alice's 'Kiwi Experience' is a heady mix of yarn dying endeavours, insider tips on spinning wheels and colourful knitting and crochet projects, all presented by her creative director, Raymond the handsome siamese cat.

8. Roman Sock - Showcasing iguanas and many of the adorable animals from Brigitte's best-selling book, Roman Sock also includes a helpful Must Have Crochet List to point novice crocheters in the right direction.

9. Planet Penny - Combining craft projects with pet news and tasty recipes, this new blog is like a great night in with all your favourite home comforts.

10. Amigurumi Today - I always check it for the adorable animated amigurumi clips which are occasionally featured.

Pictured: my tea cosy, inspired by Alice’s Spring Explosion tea cosy on Crochet with Raymond.