Friday, 29 April 2016

Beret Good (eventually)

My friend wears a beret in winter. She has been wearing the same one for as long as I have known her, maybe she really likes it or maybe she would like a new one for her birthday, we'll see.

I have another ball of the Cygnet Boho Spirit yarn that is really soft with beautiful colour runs. Seriously folks, this yarn is 2.99 a ball for 230 metres! I started this hat 12 days ago...

The pattern is on straight needles but I tried it in the round on circular needles by omitting the K1 at the beginning and end but I kept loosing the lace row stitch count.

I cast on 4 more times and still couldn't follow the pattern. I am sure it is not the written pattern that is the problem but it was driving me crazy. Time started to become an issue (I need it for Sunday) and that is no way to be knitting a lace hat.I am so rubbish at lace work, it is because I don't concentrate. I use knitting to numb the mind in the evenings so I am not always thinking about what I am doing.

In the end, I used the row counts from this pattern to get a sizing but did stocking stitch for 5 rows then 2 rows of knit to get the garter pattern. I repeated this 5 times and then followed the pattern for the crown decreases.

The pattern is called Silky Merino Beret by Michelle Meadows which can be found free on Ravelry. I am definitely going to have another go at it when I can relax and concentrate more.

Thanks for popping in. Enjoy the weekend. Jo xxx

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Old meets New

I have been looking for a footstool for ages. I have been crossing my legs when knitting and crocheting in the evenings and I know this is not good for me. I have a board under my side of the sofa to help me sit up straight but then my feet don't touch the floor properly. I NEED a footstool.

I bought it in an antique shop on the way home from work. I pass it all the time but had never been in. Then this week there was a parking space right outside, it must have had my name in it.  I swung in and scoured two floors in 15 minutes to buy this Victorian oak stool for £20.00. It is really heavy for such a small object.

I borrowed Bloke's tool kit. Actually, I used some tools in a very inappropriate way but managed not to stab myself too seriously. I was thinking, men don't feel the need to store their kit in glass jars with ribbon tied round them do they? funny that I thought.

It was old, really old. The stuffing was sheep wool, there had been both a hessian lining and a leather one under the tapestry stitched top but it didn't have woodworm.

It was a filthy job which ended with me blowing black dust out of my nose but I was a woman on a mission.

I removed as many nails and upholstery pins as I could. It was fascinating, there were so many from all different eras. There were clearly hand made ones with very chiseled edges and sharp points to brass ones to domed tacks which the tops came off when I pulled them with pliers. This foot stool needs some modern materials I thought. I reached for the staple gun and my last few pieces of linen silk embroidered curtain material.

I cut a piece of foam from a couple of old chair pads, then stretched over the fabric. I have no skills here, I just smoothed the corners as I went along. 

Finally I used my glue gun to add an edging. I didn't have a burning desire for an edging but I bought a few crochet trims which seemed more up to date than shiny braid to cover those staples.

Want to see how big it really is? 

Teeny - my yarn bowl is as big as a cereal bowl. Hooray! I may be able to stave off varicose veins for a little while longer.

Talking of home crafting I can announce (after nothing more sophisticated than writing everyone's name on a piece of paper) that  by picking two at random, the winners were Kestrel makes and Knitwitsowls. Congratulations both! Please email me with your postage details so that I can get the lampshade kits posted out to you.

What are you folks up to in the home? Jo xxx

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Lampshade Kit GIVEAWAY

Hellooo! welcome to my blog if you are new here. Today I have two fabulous Lampshade Kits to giveaway from They saw my post on the last one I made and have kindly donated two kits for me to give to two lucky readers. 

This one is for the office so it has a fun side to it. The fabric is from IKEA which was kindly gifted to me by Christina from A Colourful Life. I mean how long would you have to search for a funky lampshade like that? 

Obviously that is the joy of covering your own lampshade; you can either go all matchy-matchy with curtain off-cuts or completely nuts with a fun print or simply indulge in a small piece of your favourite fabric that you couldn't afford a whole chunk of. I am thinking of a nurtured piece of Liberty I have upstairs which is too small for anything other than this kit.

The kit includes the wires, tacky material for the cylinder, tape, easy instructions and a little dibber thing to neaten the edges.

It takes an hour to put together at the very most and is so professional looking at the end. No sewing needed.

In situ it is a bit tricky to photograph as I am looking into the window light in what is essentially a cupboard under the stairs on the second floor which we affectionately call the 'office'!


If you want to buy a kit from they cost £11.66 for the 30cm drum lampshade. But if you want to win one, answer this question and I will pick names out of a hat or possibly a lampshade from the correct answers on 23rd April 2016. Good Luck!

How much is it if you buy two 30cm drum lampshade kits? Check out their website for the answer.
Jo xxx

PS. I was sponsored the first lampshade at CHSI trade show and I have purchased this second one myself. I do not get commission on sales, I just loved this kit and wanted to share my own views. Thanks.

PPS: I have put my top ring on upside down on purpose because the office light has a short cable and it needs to be higher up to avoid our heads but the ring the bulb goes through should be inside the lampshade. 

Monday, 25 April 2016


Shhh!I don't tell anyone, I keep it a secret but I make my OWN curtains. You have to keep that sort of toxic information to yourself otherwise people seem to think that you would wish to give up your evenings for nothing and make them cheaper curtains. I am due to make a new curtain for the cabin - it is my least favourite sewing job.(notice I call it a job not a project!)

Hence this narrative continues with how I roped in Big Sis. I needed another pair of hands. Curtain sewing is so much easier with another person on the other end of the tape measure or holding the weight of the curtain as it goes through the machine and this was a perfect apprentice job. Because these are for the new cabin, they are a single door curtain so there was no matching of hems for me to stress about. Also we needed a bit of a sibling break this weekend with the right-handers sticking together.

I even let her do the pattern join down the centre because it was not critical but it felt like a really important job to her.

The fabric was a donation from a work colleague who was re-homing her 92 year old mother in an annexe at her home and some of her belongings were being sorted out to save space. I had the lining and some contrasting hem fabric too. Perfect pattern for the countryside cabin.

I put my apprentice inside the curtain to push the points out on the top corners - she really loved helping and learning. We just need a cabin now to hang them up and show you. That is next weekends big job so stay tuned.

As for the left-handers in the sibling separation afternoon, they made cakes in the kitchen and we were treated to these beauties.

I have started to prepare the handover of this curtain making skill because although I love them both dearly, I don't ever want my girls to come and ask me, "Mum, can you make me some curtains?"

Thanks for stopping by. 

Do you secretly make curtains or secretly eat chocolate cake?

Friday, 22 April 2016

1967 Vintage dress in Chambray

This month my Minerva make is a vintage pattern I have used before, Simplicity 7193, but I have chosen to make the longer sleeved version. I live in the UK, lets face it, how many summer dresses do we all really need? I decided a long sleeved version would get far more wear throughout the year.

The fabric is a good quality cotton chambray with dots which I thought would look good teamed with navy or red as I have cardigans in both of these colours.

Making this dress really was a lesson in fitting. I made it in my pants, seriously, and kept altering until I had a well fitting dress to wear to work.
  • I shortened the body with a seam around the waist rather than on the pattern pieces. Not intentional but I forgot to shorten the waist when cutting out and it looks fine like this.
  • I added darts at the back all the way down past my the waist rather than just at the shoulder tops.
  • I took 3 inches off the length 

This fabric would make a great dress,skirt,shorts,tunic or summer capri trousers. It is not stiff and the cotton is really smooth on the skin. I have some left over so I will get my thinking cap on. 

There is nothing like a modelling shot with a tea towel hanging on the stairs to scream classy working woman!

I love it and will be wearing it to work today. This one definitely counts towards my vintage pledge makes of 2016. If you are new to vintage sewing there is a great tutorial on The Foldline at the moment with some useful notes on sizing vintage patterns.

Thanks Minerva for another great fabric to try out.

Jo xxx

Psst: two more days to enter my Lampshade kit giveaway.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The good, the bad and the ugly

So I cast on some more socks. The yarn was good, Regia sock yarn designed by Arne and Carlos. I met them at the CHSI trade show I attended earlier this year and this was in the freebie bag from the Coats stand. Arne showed me how to purl using continental style, yes the very man himself, I sat by him on a sofa.

My new Addi needles are good. The different colours really helped me to get the stitch count right on each needle and they are super pointy. All good.

The pattern that emerges is good, really good. This is my needle to needle join and you can only just see it, no ladders here, so this is all good too.

These sock blockers I bought online were bad. They were cheap and rough. I had to make a trip to the hardware store to buy sandpaper to smooth the edges so that my socks would slide on without snagging.

The pattern I used was bad. The stitch counts for the pick up on the heel were not right. Over a 36 row heel flap I could only pick up 8 stitches to add to the heel turn to keep my 72 stitch total. I even went through it with my mum to check I wasn't going bonkers. I had it from Ravelry but can't tell you to avoid it because I can't remember which one it was.

The ugly pair of odd socks ensued. I lost interest even matching the colour runs of yarn for the second one after I had grappled with the pattern so much on the first one. There was much unpicking and angst but they are finished. I am a fighter you know!

In the end they looked good on because the heel pick up stretches greatly on wearing. My brother is an eclectic sort of guy, with a great sense of humour and a love for his dear sister who makes things so I am going to pop them in the Christmas present box for him. Te He!!

Right I am going straight back to the Susan Anderson tutorial, I only strayed from it because I wanted a mans size, I am not moving until I understand this whole sock thing. I have come to realise I have all the gear but no idea!!!

Jo xx

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Too soon??

Sun hats. Too soon??

We have booked a sunny holiday, going on an aeroplane for the first time in our family years. We are all quite excited. So I started going mad for summer stuff even though everyone else is desperate for a glimmer of Spring sunshine. So bear with...

The pattern is from issue 15 of Sewing magazine. The girls liked it because it has a place for a pony tail to pop out the back. Little M liked it too because I could adjust the back for her teeny head.

I used scraps of this and that, a fat quarter here and there, reached for some ric rac and then headed over to my crochet flower display on my basket in the front room and selected a few flowers.

I know, it really is too soon for this type of senseless happiness but I simply love making things. 

Jo xxx

Pssst. Don't forget you can still enter the Lampshade Kit giveaway before 23rd April. Good Luck!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Over the top

I have made this tunic/over top/blouse/thingy for Big Sis out of my left over fabric from my shirt dress.

 I tried a new pattern from Ottobre but in all honesty it was way too big round the neckline so I have had to add two tucks at the front. I made her the polo neck too from this page.

The back has a slit opening and press stud which she can do herself. I used binding on the arms because I really was completely out of fabric on this one.

The rest of my daisy trim was used on the hem to echo the fabric pattern. She wore it with the polo neck which she loves.

In all honesty, I would not make this pattern again. For the overall effect of the finished garment I would rather use this peasant dress pattern which I used for her white blouse and make the top with elastic casings so that I can get a better fit on my skinny girlie- twirly. 

The construction was a bit 'over the top' for the top I got in the end but it is always good to try new things. 
In the end she looked lovely in it.

Thanks for popping over.
Jo xxx