Back here with bird

hello!

I’m here and  it’s nearly July and Albert is 7 months old and growing like a champ (chimp) and I now have my evenings free from holding the baby as he is quite happy to go into his bed. Well done small Albert. This is good progress.

It feels like such a faraway time when I blogged and sewed and crocheted. Ah lovely time. I had decided that being on maternity leave would include all my endeavours but the time feels right to start turning my mind back to other things a little bit (scarily I am technically back at work from next friday – but thankfully I don’t have to do anything until September!)

Before Albert arrived I had been enjoying creating some little woodland creatures and friendly faces. So to help me get back into creating in the evenings and hopefully a little bit of blogging too, I decided to pick up again with something small and here now is a little chaffinch!

Crocheted chaffinch

Unfortunately he doesn’t yet have a tail as I’m just not sure how that should go, but once he’s complete I’ll be sure to share his pattern for you.

Field guide to birds of BritainA page of finches

I really got into this project of turning a bird into crochet. I found a lovely field guide to the birds of Britain and Europe in Oxfam while I was making him which I couldn’t resist – it felt like a gift. It has so many birds in it and has sparked my imagination. I think next I will have a try of another one on the Finch page.

Crocheted chaffinch

heart to heart

Our lovely baby now is three months and although I don’t dare actually try putting him down in the evenings, he sleeps very well on my lap in the dark and I have become a little more confident to stay up a bit later. I recently invested in a headtorch and decided to pick up my crochet hook for these holding baby in the bedroom times. A nice quiet pastime.

In honour of the occasion of the last week I decided to make some little hearts and they are sweet. I missed my Valentine’s Day deadline mostly because I got confused about which day it was, and mainly also because crocheting by torchlight is not so speedy and the torch makes my forehead itch a bit after a little while. But look, I got there in the end and have even written the pattern. They have taken up residence on Rose’s wall and look very lovely there (even though i didn’t line them up with the mirror very well, bit keen with the hammer)

Here’s how to make your own if you like:

Heart to heart crochet garland

U S E F U L  T O  K N O W

Y o u  w i l l  n e e d

DK yarn in three colours. I have used sirdar snuggly DK in colours 419 choo choo train, 344 oatmeal and 456 pretty coral. You could really use anything for this project, try lighter yarn for delicate hearts or chunky for a bigger bolder garland.

A 3.5mm hook

A tapestry needle for sewing in your ends

A b b r e v i a t i o n s

dc        =      double crochet (US single crochet) insert hook into stitch, yarn over hook and draw through, yarn over hook and draw through both loops.

st         =      stitch

sts      =       stitches

slst      =      slip stitch – insert hook into stitch, yarn over hook, draw through stitch and loop

ch        =      chain

dc2tog  =    decrease by crocheting two stitches together – insert hook into first stitch, yarn over hook and draw through, insert hook into next stitch, yarn over hook and draw through,  yarn over hook and draw through all three loops.

(10) – numbers in brackets tell you how many stitches you should have at the end of each round

M e t h o d s  a n d  t e c h n i q u e s

Magic ring  –  to form a magic ring, wrap your yarn twice around your four fingers on your non-hook hand to create two loops. Using your hook, pull the second loop (the one attached to your ball of wool) under the first, grip where they cross and slip your fingers out, then yarn over hook and draw through and pull tight to secure. Continue working into the ring for your first round as per pattern. (YouTube has some good videos which might be easier to follow – this is very difficult to explain in words!.)

This pattern is worked in rounds rather than rows so at the beginning of your round simply continue into the next st.

Also I am left handed if some of my work in progress pictures look a bit backwards!

Heart to heart crochet garland

T H E  P A T T E R N

P o i n t  a n d  b o d y

To begin, 6dc into a magic ring, pull end tight to close the ring and continue working in continuous rounds as follows:

  1. 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into next st, 2 dc into next 2 sts, 1 dc into next st, 2 dc into last st (10)
  2. 1 dc into every st (10)
  3. 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into next 3 sts, 2 dc into next 2 sts, 1 dc into next 3 sts, 2 dc into final st  (14)
  4. 1 dc into every st  (14)
  5. 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into next 5 sts, 2 dc into next 2 sts, 1 dc into next 5 sts, 2 dc into final st  (18)
  6. 1 dc into every st (18)
  7. 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into next 7 sts, 2 dc into next 2 sts, 1 dc into next 7 sts, 2 dc into final st  (22)
  8. 1 dc into every st (22)
  9. 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into next 9 sts, 2 dc into next 2 sts, 1 dc into next 9 sts, 2 dc into final st  (26)
  10. 1 dc into every st (26)

B u m p s

(please note that these rounds blend together as the last stitch of the previous round and first stitch on the next round are crocheted together to shape the edge so although I have numbered the rounds they are not quite so separate)

Crochet heart in progressCrochet heart in progress

  1. 1 dc into next 7 sts, miss the following 13 sts, 1 dc into following 5 sts, dc2tog (12 in this small round)
  2. 1 dc into next 11 sts, dc2tog (11)
  3. dc2tog a further 5 times (6)

Slst to finish. Break yarn and sew in end to close the opening at the top.

Crochet heart in progressCrochet heart in progress

Rejoin yarn at the opposite outer edge, dc into next 11 sts, dc2tog (12)

Repeat rows 2 and 3 once more and finish in the same way.

Press heart flat with your fingers so that your shaping falls at the outer edges. Sew in your loose ends.

To create a garland like mine you will need 7 hearts and simply thread a length of wool through. You could also use some for a mobile or sew a pin on the back of one to make a brooch, or maybe just leave one on your boyfriend/girlfriend’s pillow, or through their letterbox if they are only your boyfriend/ girlfriend in your imagination.

Heart to heart crochet garland

If you make some hearts please let me know, I’d love to see them.

Albert

Hello and happy new year! A little bit of a long overdue greeting from me. I am pleased to announce my best creation of 2016- Albert. Six days late and born on Rose’s birthday!

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Here he is with his wonderful big sister just a few days old (he is almost three months now – slow down time). She has been a real gem, I never imagined how patient she can be. And she just loves her brother. One day this week I got a bit cross with her and she went and sat with to him to sulk and tell him all about how misunderstood she was. Little partners in crime. I have been trying very hard to photograph them together every week to record how they grow. I’ll be sure to share some of those as the months pass.

Sorry if I vanish again for a bit – it’s quite busy here, but very nice and we’re having fun (despite the frozen winter and pouring rain) my evenings are mostly spent in a dark room with a sleeping baby and iplayer, but I am hoping for a chance to pick up some crochet again soon. I’ll let you know!

 

 

 

 

Woollen friends

So here I am – getting very fat, but at last on maternity leave! I have had a bit of a tiring few weeks of work, doing a few more hours than I was used to, and really struggling to keep on top of my life – but am pleased to be at home again now, and although Rose and I are not really doing any blog-worthy activities (our favourite pastimes at the moment are making ‘just add an egg’ cakes and ‘shout singing’ to Frozen!) we are enjoying this new pace of life and the new routine the autumn brings (I am sure she agrees!)

After Rose has gone to sleep though, I have really re-discovered my crochet hook and it is proving to be the perfect activity to relax with. I am mostly making woodland creatures. It’s nice to make some things just for fun. And I like the faces and taking pictures of them for instagram and seeing the other gems posted there. I have been trying to write up the patterns too, but this is a little bit more brain work than I can really manage at the moment, but maybe a project for the future.

Here are some pictures of some foxes – Felix and Sylvia… little friends…

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Happy woolly faces!

Wedding dressmaking 

I just wanted to share a little bit of dressmaking I did last month for my dear friends Lios and Phil’s wedding. I decided it would be nice for Rose and I to have something nice to wear to this occasion and found some really nice fabrics perfect for a summer wedding day.

As I currently have no waist, I decided to go for old faithful empire dress. I love this pattern even when not pregnant because it’s so comfortable and so perfect for any occasion that involves a meal!

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I really loved what I managed to achieve with Rose’s little dress pattern – especially how cute the easy fit design looked. So in a minor moment of madness – forgetting I am not a cute tiny toddler – I decided this time to alter my pattern slightly to give it a more easy fit feel too. I did this by sitting my pattern pieces away from the centre point of the fabric by about 15mm to make them a little wider. I then got a little nervous as realised this was overall quite a lot of extra width, and I panicked about the extra fabric and how it might fit under a cardigan, how much of a whale I might appear, etc etc, so I ended up trimming the same amount away from the outer edges. It was a bit of a wreckless risk as my fabric was quite a small piece really and there was no spares for recutting – but I very happily report that it came out so so well. I love it when that happens. I actually think I will make this alteration on all future versions of this dress – it really looks lovely.

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Rose’s dress was another version of the aforementioned easyfit empire style I made her previously. I added a little bit of lace trim to make it extra special though. And we were ready to go.

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The wedding was super fun. The evening party was on a boat which Rose loved – she really danced the night away and still talks about dancing on the boat. It was difficult for a while to explain we weren’t going on any more boats…

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Jumping for joy beans

I am very pleased at the moment, after having been a little bit unobservant of my little kitchen windowsill garden, (although you can’t really see out the window anymore so really it is quite hard to miss) I have noticed that it’s making some grand progress. We’ve got a bean! A really big bean! (yes, just one of them) And tomatoes too! Such a happy feeling to see. I can’t wait for those to grow a little bit and maybe turn red.

tomatoes growing little beanbean in a kilner jar

The basil is a big success too – I recommend this a lot – such a lovely flavour in our pasta sauces – especially this time of year. On the road to self sufficiency?

Hooray for indoor gardens. x

Little Red Cardigan

I am feeling very happy at the end of this long weekend as have finally finished this work in progress knitting project – my first cardigan in a really really long time! Little red gem. I got the wool for Christmas when Rose was six weeks old, and now she’s two and a half! But I had a good incentive and am really pleased with the end result!

fluffy red yoke cardigan - adriafil soffiofluffy red yoke cardigan

I used my trusty yoke cardigan pattern as tried and tested previously here, and here, and here. Debbie has also made one! I love this one so much, it’s just such a great pattern, a good fit for me, and economical with wool and not very much sewing up at the end. Lots of good features.

For this one I used Adriafil Soffio Plus yarn, a nice fluffy one, colour shade 055 – red, nice and bright. I got the buttons as a gift and think they are a perfect finishing touch. This time I decided to elongate the body of my cardigan a bit by adding a few rows between increase rows. It worked out nicely. The original pattern can be found in this book if you like the look of it. There are lots of projects in there inspired by different decades, but I admit this is the only pattern I’ve tried. But a lot of good use it’s got!

And I think my next big knit is actually going to be the same cardigan again. I got some more of the rowan colourspun wool I used to make this version and I think I am just going to remake it exactly the same! It is my absolute best cardigan- I could wear it everyday (instead I just wear it most days!) I think I will really enjoy making it, the wool is so luxurious and I love the colours, and hopefully can finish before the end of the year to complete my new year’s resolution (and bolster my winter wardrobe)

Apart from knitting we have really been enjoying the better weather recently. Rose just loves to be by the sea and throwing stones and paddling. And I am enjoying this interest of hers too. I hope the sun is shining for you too.

Hearts and heatwave

I have enjoyed this weekend so so much! It has been filled with dressmaking and sunshine – what a treat for me.

I have had on my to do list for a long time to make a little dress pattern for Rose and then make her some dresses. She only likes to wear dresses now, and gets through at least one a day, and is quite picky, so I was starting to feel the pressure. The last (and first) dress I made her was when she was about 9 months old, but it didn’t go over her head so I think this experience had put me off a bit making her anything again, but it felt like it might be a good time to put the past behind me. I got her to pick out some fabric she liked when were last shopping, and despite her normally going for anything flowery or pink, she chose a blue fabric with white hearts which I thought was a good choice and was a bit of extra motivation for me.

a little bit of pattern cutting

Rich was out yesterday evening and so to give me a bit of time he took her out in the day and I really got a lot done. I found pattern cutting for children was a very much simpler and quicker process than for women’s wear. The shapes are simpler, and the pieces are smaller. I managed to not only draw the pieces but also cut them out in quite a short space of time! Triumph! (To make my pattern I referred to this book by Winifred Aldrich which sets out step by step how to draw a block and then adapt this into a pattern. I did do some evening classes on pattern cutting which helped me get my head around the process, which I think is actually the biggest challenge of all! But it’s easy when you know how – grand skills.)

a little bit of pinninga little bit of cutting out

As I was on a roll, I decided why not make a start on the sewing too, and managed to put this little gem together in about half an hour… The bodice part is fully lined so that really just involved sewing around the edge and turning inside out, which I think was actually a much better plan than dealing with facings, even though lining it sounds like more work. The skirt is just a very simple shaped and slightly gathered piece and sewed on very easily too. It took me much longer to finish off all the finishing off bits (and made a bit of a mess with my poppers and buttons really) but I am really encouraged now that making dresses for Rose isn’t such a big chore.

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I left the little dress out over night and Rose was so excited to find it in the morning! She really loves it and she really looks great in it. I did use measurements for a slightly easy-fit shape (to really be sure it would go over her head!) and I really love the way it looks on her. It is always a little bit of a gamble with a new pattern but I think this one I got it in one!

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And today was perfect summer dress weather (and first bare leg day of the year). We spent all day at the beach. The sea was freezing, but Rose was undeterred! And when we got home I started some more cutting out for some special dresses we need for a special event next month.. I hope I can keep up this sewing momentum a little while longer.

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And hope you had a lovely sunny weekend too.

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Little cook’s apron

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A little while ago I found this great fabric in a charity shop. I was hoping there would be enough for a pillowcase, but alas not (it was bundled in a bag so I couldn’t tell) but for a while I have wanted to make Rose a little play apron for when she is playing in her little kitchen (which is quite a lot really) and this seemed the perfect use for my fabric find.

I had the perfect home alone morning at the weekend which was the perfect time for a little bit of sewing machine action. A sweet but simple little project.

finished little apronfinished little apron

Here is how I made my little apron in case you would like to make one too…

t h e  t h i n g s  y o u  w i l l  n e e d :

A piece of cotton type fabric about 90cm x 70cm
Scissors, pins, a hot iron, a sewing machine, a tape measure

w h a t  t o  d o :

Cut out a piece of fabric  90cm x 35cm (my fabric was 90cm wide and this was perfect). Using a hot iron,  turn up the hem 1cm, then over again. Turn in the side edges 1cm. Then sew all the way around with your machine to secure everything.

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Next you want to put some gathering in the top of your apron. To do this, put two rows of a long running stitch along your top, unhemmed, edge. The first needs to be about 1cm from the top and the second another 0.5cm below. Start and finish these lines about 5cm from the side edges and remember to leave long threads at each end. I find doing two rows is useful to give a good even gather, and also good if one of your threads snaps (argh!). Snip a little notch at the top centre point of your apron as a marker for later.

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To prepare the waistband, cut an 8cm wide band which is about 130cm long. You may need to cut two bands and sew them together to make up the length (as I did). Next press over the top and bottom edges of your band by 1cm, then turned in the ends by 1cm and finally fold and press the band in half all the way along (see pictures!)

Mark the centre of the waistband with a pin, then place two more pins one each either side at 20cm  away from your centre pin.

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Pin the edge of your apron to the first outside pin on your waistband. Pin the centre notch on your apron to the centre pin on the waistband, and then the other edge of your apron to your last outside pin.

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Draw up the threads one edge at a time until your apron fits the waistband. Make sure the top of your apron is sitting straight against the fold line in the waistband. Fold the band over and pin evenly along the length. This bit can be a little bit tricky to get your gathers even and fitting properly but persevere, it’ll fall into place.

little apron waistband sewn

Secure everything with a sewing machine line close to the bottom edge of the band, sewing from the end to end of your waistband.

preparing the patch pocketslittle apron patch pockets

To add pockets cut out two squares 12cm x 12cm. Press in the edges by about 1cm, then stitch along the top edge. Pin and sew your pockets onto you apron about 20cm in and 9cm up from the outside edges of your apron (or where you think looks about right). I added my pockets last as it can be tricky to work out how the fabric will gather and effect the spacing, but it might have been easier to get them straight and even if I had done these before gathering the fabric…I’ll leave this decision up to you!

Then all that is left is to cut off your loose threads and find a little baker to model your creation.

finished little apron

Rose really likes her little apron. And not just for the kitchen – it has proved also a good shop keeper’s apron for when she is selling icecreams – the pockets are a win to put the money in. I am pleased she likes it.

Rose in her apron checking recipesRose in her apron, whisking a cookbook

A play with macramé

On pinterest I seem to have a rather large collection of pictures of plants, and have seen lots of these lovely string plant hangers.

Most of my house plants sit together on a little table in the corner of our sitting room, but I’ve long been thinking it might be good to suspend a couple of them to add a bit of dimension to that area.

I wasn’t really sure where to start with the macramé – it looked quite complicated, but actually was really super easy, and after watching some youtube videos, I was feeling rearing to go! (I hope this description of what I did has the same effect on you and doesn’t put you off!) I warn you, I did go off in my own direction a bit….

I used some twine I had and some white knitting cotton I added in to make it a bit more robust. And found some wooden beads left over from my crochet beads which I thought would look nice with this natural colour scheme.

To start with measure out 4 lengths 4 metres long. Lay the lengths together, fold them in half and tie a loop in the top (so you are left with 8 lengths each 2 metres long)

I hooked my loop over a door handle and seperated the pieces. It was a bit confusing at first because I was using two different threads together, but had to remember that I was working with 8 (double) lengths and not 16. If you don’t use double thread though and use cording or something similar you won’t have this confusion to worry about.

DSC04914making a macramé plant hanger

Start by knotting two lengths together all the way around (4 knots) 20cm from the top knot. (There are a lot of different macramé knots to try, but I kept it very simple using a basic overhand knot throughout)

Next measure 10cm down and you want to seperate your two strands and tie one of these to one of the strands from the neighbouring pair. The strand that is left from that pair you want to tie to one strand from the next pair round. Repeat this all the way round. (make sure you always pair up with the neighbour – I did get in a bit of a muddle at one point and had to unknot!)

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At this point I added a bead to each knot by threading them onto one of the twine threads and knotting below the bead to secure it.

easter cactus in my macrame plant hanger

The next knots are another 20cm down (always seperating and knotting with the neighbour) with some more beads attached, then the next 10cm with beads, then another set 10cm with beads and finally some more knots another 10cm without beads. Lastly I tied all the strands together in one big knot 10cm from here to make a tassel. (I trimmed the ends and tied some more beads on for fun)

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I definitely want to make another one of these and will change my pattern a bit as realised that the top sets of knots hang tightly together so perhaps were not really needed, although do add a bit of interest, but could have been replaced with a plait or more beading or something like this. It was a bit of trial and error with the spacing of the knots and I think this will be fun to experiment with a little bit.

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Maybe have a go and report back for me!?