Friday, 29 January 2010

Overdose of Purple

Remember this post a few weeks ago, when I talked about my plans to make a sweater dress with some appallingly bright and sparkly purple yarn? Well, I'm currently wearing the finished result!

I used the Grouch pattern by Elspeth Kursh as inspiration, casting on the same number of stitches and working the decreases in the same way. Then I just went off on a tangent, and made the pattern up as I went along. I shaped the dress up to the armholes, then divided to knit front and back separately. I knitted the bodice with wide straps and added set-in sleeves, edging the whole lot with several rows of double crochet. This is the finished dress - apologies for the terrible picture!

The pattern is now available in my Ravelry store - here.

Some more bags

Here are a couple of bags that I was commissioned to make for the gallery where I'm selling my designs. I was asked for something green, with a star theme, so made these two bags.

The first one is created from a Ted Baker scarf and a man's jumper, plus an old bed sheet. I made a sort of star-like corsage with the felted fringing from the end of the scarf, and finished it off with a big wooden button.

This is a bag for people who have a lot to carry - students, mums or business people perhaps. It comfortably holds books, files and papers, or even a large craft project. The handle is lined so that it will take quite a lot of weight without stretching.

The second bag started life as a tweed skirt, felted and transformed into a cute little handbag. I made a yo-yo corsage and finished it off with a mock leather green button and a felt circle.

The bag is fully lined in green, and has a star detail on the front. I added rolled felt handles to make it extra sturdy.

Apologies for the appalling pictures, I'm in rehearsals full time at the moment so I'm never home in daylight!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

I'm so excited!

I was trying to come up with a sensible, professional title to this post, but just couldn't think of anything. I'm so excited - says it all! There's a new gallery opened up in my local town centre, called the Make Room. It's a community project, bringing together artists of all mediums from across the county. I was tempted to go in for a look about after I spotted a display of knitting in the window, and discovered that there was a possibility that I could show my work there also.

Well, I took down a whole selection of things that I'd made, and they're now proudly displayed in the gallery! Better still, the Make Room will sell the items for me, and take no commission. It's such a fantastic opportunity to promote my work and really develop my business, and I'm really quite chuffed about it. Selling on Etsy and Folksy seems to be such a long, slow process, as it's hard to be noticed with so much competition. At this gallery I have my work displayed in a window on the main street, where I can reach a much wider audience.

The Make Room isn't just a great thing for artists selling their work though. I think it's going to have huge benefits for the local community, introducing people to a wide range of arts and crafts. They are running taster sessions and workshops in everything from glass to ceramics, textiles, photography and art. There are also opportunities to network with other artists and craftspeople, and find out about groups and classes in the local area. Everything is free, although some classes need to be booked to keep numbers manageable. Unfortunately, the project is only planned to run until June at the moment, although I'm hoping that it will be successful enough to be extended.

I went along to one of the workshops today, run by Nic from Nic's Eco Knits. Her philosophy is very similar to mine with regard to crafts, with an emphasis on using recycled materials, trawling the charity shops, and reusing everything possible. A group of us were let loose on bags of felted sweaters, fabric scraps and buttons, to make whatever we wanted during the two hour session. Nic demonstrated the technique for making a flower corsage and some yo-yos, and then we got to work. I decided to make a bag, and this was the result:

It's made with a gorgeous heathery purple felted sweater and some grey tweedy fabric, with a purple cloth lining and plaited handle. I enjoyed learning the yo yo technique, and I can see that they could be very addictive - I'm tempted to add them to everything!

I was inspired to make the bag by a larger version that I sewed yesterday, when I was getting together some stock for the gallery. This one was made with felted scarves that were hand woven in Ireland, found in one of my local charity shops.

I decorated it with a bit of the felted fringing from the scarf, with a lovely purple button as a centrepiece.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Let's go retro...

I would like a 70's or 80's dress that I can wear with a big chunky patent belt, tights and boots.
This idea -

This yarn -

This pattern?

I think I will adapt it so that I knit in the round to the armholes, then divide for front and back, making a wide strapped bodice. Then crochet edging in a contrasting purple, perhaps adding sleeves in the purple as well. I do love to experiment. Watch this space!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Busy weekend

It's lovely to have a quiet weekend when you can get things done, and don't have to rush around anywhere. They're few and far between for me, so I like to make the most of them.

First off, I made some little boots for H from a Sublime pattern in Knitting magazine, using some lovely soft cotton mix Sirdar Calico. They are baby Ugg style boots with a thick lined cuff, to keep little feet cosy. I made them in size 1-2 years, so will add a sole to stop her slipping on the floor as she'll be walking by the time she wears them.

Next, I continued working through my stash by using up some scraps of Sirdar Snowflake Chunky. I made these slippers for my mum, adding a little snowflake embroidery on the fronts, and contrasting buttons.

Finally, I went through my collection of sweaters and scarves to felt. I threw the whole lot in the washing machine on a 60 degree cycle, and these are the results.

They will be become bags and accessories in my Folksy shop very soon! I also salvaged these beautiful clasps off a vintage Fair Isle cardigan, which I plan to reuse on one of my current knitting projects.

A very productive weekend I think - off to watch Dancing on Ice and do some knitting now!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Winter warmers

My mother in law gave me a fantastic gift for Christmas - money for yarn! So I allowed myself one treat in the New Year, even though I'm not supposed to be buying anything craft related. Since I was treating myself, I went to John Lewis and got some yarn that would normally be way out of my budget - Rowan Silky Tweed and two balls of Rowan Felted Tweed DK, both in a lovely heathery purple.

I made a Slouchy Copy Cat Hat with the silky tweed, which I've worn non-stop ever since. It's a great easy pattern, knitted up in an evening, and the yarn is so warm and lovely, although it doesn't have a lot of elasticity.

Then I made a pair of gloves from a Louisa Harding accessories book, using one ball of the felted tweed. I still have a ball of this left to use in the future, so I might make another beret or something, haven't decided yet. I really needed some warm things for the winter, so I'm very happy with my new hand-knits!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

First makes of the New Year

I've been knitting away busily since 2010 started, finishing off some of those WIPs that have been lingering in my living room. First up was a little bamboo cardigan for H, which I cast on months ago! The pattern called for a knitted edging and ties, but I couldn't be bothered knitting five stitches for ages. Instead, I edged the cardigan with several rows of double crochet, and added ties of ivory satin ribbon. Then I sewed on a little teddy bear patch to finish it off.

The second thing I finished was a postman hedgehog for F. He is obsessed with Camberwick Green, thanks to his grandad's vintage DVD collection! His favourite character is Peter the Postman, so I made a little Jean Greenhowe postman for him to play with. This was so easy to knit, but the finishing took a long time and was rather fiddly.

My pile of WIPs isn't any smaller though. I cast on for a lovely red cabled coat from The Knitter magazine, made two pairs of fluffy slipper socks for my sister, and knitted myself a cosy hat and gloves with some wool I got with Christmas money. Will I ever get through the to-do pile? At least I've used 10 balls of yarn towards my yearly target of 100. Back to the knitting now!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

New Year

Well, it's 2010 already! Time for me to make some New Year's resolutions. Here's what I've decided to do in the upcoming year.

1) Knit from stash
There is far too much yarn in my loft, and I have a terrible habit of being unable to resist a bargain. This year, I'm going to try and knit from stash as much as possible, only buying new yarn when absolutely necessary if it's for a gift.

2) Use 100 balls in 2010
This will help with the stash burning. I'm going to try and get through at least a hundred balls by the end of the year, but more if possible.

3) Make time for a new craft
My aunt gave me some felting stuff ages ago, and I haven't had a chance to use it yet. I'm definitely going to experiment with at least one new craft this year, and hopefully develop skills that I can combine with my knitting.

To help with the stash burning, I've compiled a list of things I want to knit this year. I do still have a lot of WIPs on the go, but I've been working through them and trying to finish some off recently.


Denim sweater for my brother
Vintage nautical sweater for me
Long line 4ply coat for me

Things to make

Owls sweater
Glacier cabled coat
Ribbed sweater
Tapestry sweater

That'll do for the moment, I'm sure there will be plenty more things to add to this list as the year goes on!