Monday, 7 December 2015

Scrap Hat Recipe (free pattern for a stashbusting hat)

Dearest knitters, verily I say unto you, 'tis the season for elving. And, because of that I thought I would share my recipe for my scrap hats. This is not really a pattern - it has not been tested by test knitters, or tech-edited or checked for mistakes - it's just a loose set of instructions. The extra bonus is that you don't need to buy any yarn for this, just use your scraps!!

This is a one-size hat for a man or woman. Actual hat size is in the region of 58cm. 

You will need approximately 75g of double knit yarn in colours of your choosing. I find it easiest to group together like colours (e.g. shades of blue, or shades of green) with one or two contrasting colours for interest. If you want to add a knitted lining, you will need more yarn. I usually make my linings in one colour - just choose something that will be comfortable to wear next to the skin. 

As the hat is textured, it is also possible to include heavier and lighter yarns.  I find knitting with 2 strands of 4 ply yarn works well, although one strand can be tolerated in small doses. Chunky or aran weight yarns can be similarly tolerated in small doses.

something like 18 stitches to 10cm worked in st st in the round on 3.75mm needles.

Cast on 100 stitches using a 3.75mm circular needle (or DPNs) and using DK yarn. If I do add on a few stitches for a bigger hat/head then I make sure I use a multiple of 4 - just to make working out the decreases a lot easier!

Knit until work measures 5 cm. This will make the roll up brim of the hat.

On the next round begin your first purl band, and purl for at least 2 rounds. 

Knit a few rounds, and then purl again as your fancy takes you.

Continue to alternate between knit bands and purl bands. I tend to make my purl bands between one round and 3 rounds and my knit bands a bit more than that. I don’t count the rounds between bands, but alternate by eye.

Change colour whenever you feel the urge or your current scrap of yarn comes to an end. Since the whole point of this hat is to use up yarn then there is no need to count stitches, rounds or master the jogless join.  When changing colours you can either employ your usual yarn joining technique and weaving in ends as you go or do what I do and knit the old yarn with the new yarn for a few stitches. This might be seen as slovenly, but in a project like this perfection is not necessary and I like the variegation you get when you knit two yarns together. Do what you have to…

Continue until the work measures approximately 18cm finishing with a purl band of 3 rounds (roughly).

On the next knit round, begin to shape the crown as follows:
*k2tog tbl, k21, k2tog , rep from * until end.
Next alt round: *k2 tog tbl, K19, k2tog rep from * until end.
Next  altround: *k2 tog tbl, k17, k2 tog rep from * until end.

Keeping pattern correct, work crown decreases until…

For a flat topped hat suitable for a bobble
… only 8 stitches remain, then break yarn, run tail through stitches and pull tight, sewing in end firmly to secure the top of the hat. A bobble if desired.

For a hat with a stalk
… work until 4 stitches remain then knit a few cm of i-cord before casting off. I like to tie a knot in my i-cord stalks, so I normally make the stalk about 10cm or so.

For a hat with a tassle,
… work crown decreases until only 2 stitches remain then work 15cm of i-cord, cast off and attach a suitable tassel to the end of your i-cord.

Weave in ends, wash hat gently, shape and dry.

If you want to add a knitted lining, then it's fairly straightforward: pick up stitches inside the brim of the hat. The round where the outer hat changes from stocking stitch to reverse stocking stitch provides a useful place to pick up these inner stitches. Knit the lining using your preferred rib pattern - I use either 2x2 rib or 2x1 rib, just depending on my mood. Knit until the lining reaches the start of the crown shaping on the outer hat, then work crown decreases. I usually work these as follows:

round 1: *knit 2bl, knit 8 , repeat from * to end.
round 2: work in pattern
round 3: *knit 2tbl, knit 7, repeat from * to end. 
round 4: work in pattern..

Keep this going until you have only 3 stitches between decreases, then decrease every round. when there are only 8 or so stitches left, then break yarn, pull through and close up. It should look something like this.... 

Happy knitting folks! I'd love to hear about any scrap hats that you make.... 

Thursday, 26 November 2015

FO: Twisted Rib socks

Way back some time early in the spring, I cast on for a new pair of socks. I decided to do something a little different, and unvented a little twisted rib pattern (k2 p2 rib, with a little twist on alt rounds*). I got things set up and started to knit.

I knit the cuff and the leg and the heel flap and the heel and then everything 
s t o p p e d. 

I don't really know what or why, but my sock knitting mojo got up and left. In September I decided to just Get On With It and finish the darn thing. I think I told you about the incident with little bean - you know when I was almost ready to kitchener the toe and then he found it and discovered frogging and how to tangle yarn really effectively. 

I recovered my equilibrium after a few weeks of ignoring the socky mess stuffed into my knitting bag. When I got the first sock finished that seemed to break the spell and the second sock flew off my needles. It was helped enormously by spending a day at a conference, with rail journeys to and from the venue and children at home with their dad (thanks dear). In the morning I was at the heel flap, and on the train home I finished the toe. Job done! 

Pattern: top-down socks with a twisted rib
Yarn: I can't remember (Regia maybe)
Started: Spring 2015  Finished: November 2015

* twist detail was worked as follows: k into back of second stitch on 
LH needle, and then front of first stitch. Slip both stitches onto RH needle at the same time. Work all knit stitches in this way, keeping 2x2 rib pattern correct.

It's such a long time since I had an FO to blog. It feels amazing and I have concluded (wait for it: here comes the profound truth) that the best way of experiencing this is to FINISH some of the WIPs cluttering up my life house knitting basket. I'm on a roll, people. 
On a R O L L

Monday, 23 November 2015

Making Monday #10: here endeth the lesson

You will be glad to hear that after all the cursing two weeks ago, I managed to get that scrap hat finished and sent off to my brother in time for his birthday (Happy Birthday, bro!).

After I fell foul of the knitting gods over the whole brim thing, I took a few deep breaths, and possibly a sip of gin, I considered my options. I couldn't see a way of fudging or incorporating the extra stitches into a spiffy new design feature. So, that really only left one option - to detach the brim and then reknit using the frogged yarn. If ever there was a lesson in ultimate yarn thrift, this is it!

Here is the finished hat, with a reknitted brim. 

As is usual for my scrap hats, there was a knitted lining - seen here - , which I also needed to rework. I frogged and reknitted for two reasons:

1. after making that rookie mistake with stitch numbers, I wasn't going to get caught out again (shakes fist at knitting gods), and 

2. because the outside of the hat is mostly wool or wool mix, it has shrunk a bit with inappropriate washing over time. The lining for this hat is made with cotton yarn (a bit cooler than double wool as this is a summer hat, obvs!) and hadn't shrunk, so it was a bit saggy. 

I picked up stitches inside the brim and knitted the innards using a 2x2 rib. 

Nice huh? Remaking and repairing is just as satisfying as making new things I find. What are you mending today? I'd love to hear...

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

How Marie Kondo changed my life (or not)

I caught the Kondo bug a wee while ago, in the middle of a bedroom decorating/sorting project. The timing was perfect: I was already in the mood for getting rid of stuff, and I devoured her book (the magic art of tidying and decluttering) for insights, tips and know-how.

I wrote about my thoughts at the time, and I've been thinking about it all again - since I find myself on the brink of another purge. Did any of it make a difference? Was it just another clutter diet/decluttering recipe book to add to the pile and quickly forget? 

First things first: I have not Kondoed the whole of my home/life in the way that she advocates. I live with 4 other people (one adult, three children) and they have their own stuff, only some of which I have influence over!

I have approached some things (e.g. clothes) fairly systematically in the way that Marie Kondo suggests. Most is hanging in my wardrobe, and the rest is folded - in the Kondo way - in drawers. I really like her approach - being able to see everything easily in one place. It makes it easier to see what you have got; it makes it harder to forget things; it makes it easier to rotate and vary your outfits. 

One of the consequences of placing folded clothes on their edges (in drawers), rather than putting them in piles, is that it allows for effortless rotation. I already did this for my handknit socks, but I now also do it for underwear too: freshly laundered and folded items are added at the back of the drawer, while items to be worn are almost always taken from the front (I do make the occasional exception!) This means that each item is now being worn regularly. There are numerous advantages to this: less time needed for dressing in the mornings; everything is getting worn - so favourites are lasting longer, and old things don't languish for ages before they are discarded.

I have also been working on gathering things into single locations - another of Kondo's central tenets - everything together. I recently found myself looking holding a handbag and wondering where to put it. A wee whisper in my head told me to put it with the other bags - and so I did. I'm working on this with the children's toys too - but that's a rather steeper mountain to climb(!)

Apart from these rather practical things, one of the more personal changes has been about joy and enjoyment. Although asking yourself whether a particular book or vase or thing brings you joy seems rather, um, pretentious, I have come back to the idea of joy several times when trying to decide what to do with something. Using joy as a benchmark is good because it cuts through the 'I should keep it because...' dialogues; it's a high hurdle - and it gives me permission to get rid of things. And, you know, I can't think of anything (so far) that I have regretted giving away.

Another by-product of Kondo, has been an appreciation for the fit between space and stuff. I realise (maybe I'm just late to the party here?) that it is possible - to make stuff fit into the space allocated. If it doesn't fit, then the strategy should be to make it fit, not accommodate the overflow somewhere else.  I am slowly coming to the conclusion - thanks to Marie Kondo - that my next step is to deal with my stash. It no longer fits into its hidey holes, and is starting to encroach on and into all sorts of places where it doesn't belong. I have to make it fit into the space allocated. Nibbling away at the edges with a project here and project there is unlikely to do it, and I need to do something a lot more radical. I'm not sure what, but it's going to be my priority for 2016. If you've got any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Has Marie Kondo's book changed my life? Yes, and no. My home is far from clutter free, and far from tidy, but some of it is more organised, and the transformation is gradual rather than radical. Readers might also like to know that my husband now folds and arranges his drawers in the same way as Kondo. That's life changing! 

Monday, 16 November 2015

Making Monday #9: pocketses

Here we go again, some more mending to share. This time, it's of my own creation. See here, a fine pair of enjoyable purpley velvet troosers, I bought a couple of years back. They have quite a lot of stretch (good) but on the downside, the corners of the pockets started to tear quite soon after I bought them. Major apathy and a newish baby, meant I couldn't be ar$ed to take them back (pun intentional) at the time.

As I've been mending my way through these last few months, I picked them out of the mending basket a couple of weeks ago, and zigzagged across the weak points with my machine. Despite having enough thread to sink a small ship, I didn't have anything that matched these fine trews. The upshot - as you can see - is a natty and bold explosion of bright blue across my b u m.

Yay! another quick mending project and a garment restored to full use....


Last week, the bean (age 8) told me I had holes in my trousers. I think he observed them while I was on the floor doing a jigsaw with little bean (age 2). So, despite the repairs holding firm, the fabric -  in combination with my ar$e area and my energetic bending/stretching lifestyle(!) - means that these fine trews are in the unwearable pile. Again.


Monday, 2 November 2015

Mending Monday #8: hat it again (or what knitting taught me this week)

It doesn't seem possible that my house/life has quite so much mending in it, but I am not making it up, people. I live with ruffians I tell you. 

I saw my brother recently and he presented me with a very sorry looking hat. It is one of the three scrap hats I have given him over the years (he wears a hat most of the time, even in the summer. No, I don't understand it either). One of the yarns I had used had started to disintegrate with the result that the hat was developing organised holes in various places. I say organised because the fabric and stitches around was intact, so picking up live stitches seemed fairly straightforward.

Here you can see one of the smaller holes.

This hole was a bit more dramatic. As there was a complete round or two of dodgy yarn here, it soon parted company with the rest of the hat. It looked very scary, but I did my best not to panic. I cant possibly comment on rumours about gin. 

Anywayz, I made a start with some duplicate stitch over the top of some of dodgier areas, and to fill in the gaps in the smaller holes near the top of the hat. 

Once that was all fixed, I moved onto repairing the body of the hat. I ripped out the dodgy yarn and picked up stitches around the bottom of the hat. I needed to add some length back in to compensate for the bits lost through dodgy yarn and felting. It was all going so well. I was bossing it big style. I added a few more rounds and then set about grafting the new live stitches to the old live stitches of the brim. 

Me and old Kitchener are great friends, and I am sure (although I have never tried) that I could successfully graft a sock toe in near darkness. I set about the great graft. I took it steady, working on groups of 10 stitches at a time just to break it up a bit, and allow myself an opportunity to drink tea, wrangle children or put it down occasionally. I didn't think I would be able to guarantee a whole 6 hours of uninterrupted grafting that this would surely involve.

I did half of the grafting and then stopped for some family event (dinner maybe). After bed time, I picked up the hat again. I was going to nail this mother. I grafted and grafted and grafted. I sipped my drink, I admired my work. It was looking so good. I was down to the last 30 stitches, the last 20, the last .... 

Um. Something didn't look right. I looked again. I stopped. The knitting demons laughed and laughed. 

The remaining numbers of stitches did not match. It wasn't a fudgeable 1 or 2 stitch discrepancy it was EIGHT - 8! Eight whole stitches had somehow disappeared between the brim and the rest of the hat. 

I should have counted my stitches. I should have counted my stitches. 

There endeth today's lesson. 

to be continued... 

Monday, 26 October 2015

Mending Monday #7: pyjamarama

No patches this time (phew), but just a straightforward seam repair on some pyjama bottoms. 

Overlocker to the rescue!

What are you mending today? I'd love to hear about it - so please leave a comment!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Kids Clothes - sizes, sustainability and consumption

I've been thinking about kids clothes recently - it's kids clothes week again - and then there is Slotober and all of the stuff on the tinterwebz about capsule wardrobes, and project 333, and slow fashion and self-made fashion. 

One of the things that strikes me is that much of the discussion around ethical fashion, fast fashion and capsule wardrobes focusses on adult clothes. There seems to be little of this discussion directed at children's clothes. Why is that? 

We all need clothes, and arguably, children need more clothes than adults, because (in my experience anyway - your children may be different!) they tend to get their clothes dirtier, more quickly, and their clothes need washing more often. In addition, because they are growing, clothing a child necessarily involves an on-going process of discarding and acquiring items, as things become too small and bigger clothes are needed.

The prevalence of supermarket clothes for children - cheap and plentiful and often v e r y cute - make the temptation for parents, and grandparents and others to add something to their baskets when they do the weekly shop.  As ever, this sort of mindless consumption is problematic  - creating demand for low price items which are often produced at great social and environmental cost in communities far away, and adding to an already bursting wardrobe rather than filling very specific needs. And then, all the fabulous childrens clothes available from indie designers and presented in Stylo and other places, just seems to add to the feeling that kids need to have lots and lots of stuff. 

On the other hand, acceptance of hand-me-down and thrifted childrens clothes seems to be greater than for adult clothes. I have received, and given, many bags of clothes to friends, colleagues and neighbours with new babies, or smaller children. Then there is the in-family recycling that goes on when clothes are passed from child to child. And, I have been to many nearly new sales which give parents the opportunity to buy and sell baby clothes and baby equipment.  So, should I feel guilty about the clothes my children have when a good proportion of them are not new?

I might fairly smug about the things I have made or upcycled for my children, and the things that I have been mending (like this, and this, and this) but should I, if its in the context of overflowing drawers and wardrobes and no attempt to curb consumption? 

Zoe shared some thoughts related to this recently, particularly in relation to charity-shops. My advice to her was to identify things that she really needs (for her daughter), and be fairly ruthless about not picking up lots of other cute stuff which simply duplicates existing items/sizes. For example, I know that my 8yo doesn't need ANY short-sleeved t-shirts, but has only 2 or 3 long-sleeve tops, so if I'm browsing anywhere then that's what I focus on.  

I am also ruthless about passing things on when they are too small. However, one note of caution here - some things can have a longer life-span than you might think, so my other tip: don't believe the age labels! Baby leggings are one example, once nappies are abandoned they can find further use as toddler shorts/capris. Some dresses also work well as tunic or top as girls grow, and shirred sun dresses can easily become skirts later on. If you have slim kids, then baby/toddler trousers can double as shorts for older kids. As a case in point, earlier this summer I noticed my older son (aged 8 1/2) wearing a pair of grey shorts I didn't recognise. They looked great - but seemed just a little bit neat around his backside. He had been wearing them all day - so they obviously were comfortable enough for summer camp. I asked him to take them off, and we checked the label. They weren't his shorts, they were his 2 yo brother's trousers, and were labelled 12-18 months (little bean has REALLY short legs and all my kiddos are slim around the waist/hips)

I don't really have a conclusion about all this - but I think bloggers and designers and parents need to think and talk as much about the sustainability and ethics of childrens clothing and fashion as we do about adult clothing/fashion. Children aren't in a position to think about all of this. We need to model the behaviour and habits we would like to see them adopt (e.g. conscious consumption and a recognition that we cant have ALL the things), but we cant expect them to weigh up the options - we need to do it - accepting of course that children should be able to influence what they wear and be given the agency to choose for themselves.  

In addition, I would really like to see some indie designers producing garments which are designed to be long-lasting - with features that make them adaptable over several seasons for growing children. I love making things for my kids, but when they grow fast, I want to invest my time in making items that will last for more than a couple of months. Has anyone got any links/advice to share about building a coherent/capsule wardrobe for kids? 

I'd love to hear what you think. Do share your thoughts!  

Monday, 19 October 2015

Mending Monday #6

More patches on knees here (yes, the stream of holes does seem to be never ending, thanks for asking). This time a pair of worn cords have been rescued from the can't-be-worn pile. 

They belonged to the bean, but are now much too small (nothing to do with languishing in the mending basket, ahem). 

I ironed on a couple of those cute car patches again (see the iron shapes?) using my friend bondaweb. 

And then, I got my Boro mojo on again and stitched on top to secure the patches really firmly. You can see that I took care to stitch across the edges of the patches to make them extra secure.  You know, because boys.

Cute huh? They are much too big for little bean, but have been stashed in the appropriate place for later.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Mending Monday #5

This week I was inspired to approach my mending in a different way, and rather than just slap some patches on the outside, I took a different path.

Reading around on the tinterwebz somewhere or other, I came across Boro - the Japanese name for a very specific type of repaired textile. The examples I saw all seemed to be blue, repaired with indigo thread and patches, and knowing I had a wee pair of toddler jeans to repair I set to to work.

First I found some suitable patch material, culled from an old top of mine. I cut two patches, and roughly worked out where to place them on the trousers. Then I marked on a stencil of dots to guide my stitch work. I used one of the children's washable markers and a ruler to give me a rough grid to work with.

I pinned the patches in place inside the trousers, and then set to work, stitching across and then up and down to create teeny crosses. 

The inside is fairly neat - and I caught the edges of the patch with a simple running stitch.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

When everything goes to plan (FO)

Today I impressed myself with a little project, fixing up a favourite RTW skirt. I bought it from a sale rail last year, and have really enjoyed wearing it. It's navy jersey - with some wool - which makes it super cosy. It's also super comfy, and has been in heavy rotation through the year. When I realised it worked with bare legs and sandals, it became a summer staple too.

Recently, the fabric has begun to get a little translucent, and rather than reveal the details of my undergarments to the world, I've been thinking about how to fix the problem. I researched wool jersey, a lot. I knew I could attach another layer of fabric on the inside, but couldn't quite decide what to use. 

And then the other day, I found myself looking at the Alabama Chainin website. I was smitten by all those lovely jersey projects, embellished with itsy bitsy piecs of fabric. Super inspiring slow fashion sort of stuff, and I can foresee some of this ideas coming along here sometime soon.  It got me thinking about that skirt again, and what I could do with it, and then I realised I could do something with colour. 

And, I had something in the stash that would be perfect. Double win!

Once the idea crystallised in my head, my fingers started to get impatient. This afternoon I took advantage of a sleeping child, and got to work. My methods were not particularly refined, but they worked!

First I laid my skirt on top of my chosen fabric (folded) and using a kids washable marker I roughly traced the shape I needed, adding a small seam allowance as I went.  I cut the shapes out and joined each side with my overlocker. 

The skirt has a double layer yoke/waistband which is attached to the single layer skirt with an overlocked seam. I used this to add my new skirt lining - lining it up carefully and overlocking over the existing seam. I was really careful here, and didn't remove any fabric with the blade of the overlocker - I wanted to preserve the length of the skirt as it was.  

Once the lining was attached I cut the it to the same length as the skirt, and finished it with a double fold hem. 

I'm so pleased with the result. I used about a metre of jersey from my stash - a remnant I bought earlier in the year for £5. I used my overlocker - so fast! The whole thing took less than hour, including all the setting up, the clearing away and hugging a toddler who was not best pleased about waking up from that sneaky nap. I'm so happy with the result, and so proud to have done it - to have rescued a favourite skirt, with a little bit of skill, a little bit of time and a few pounds worth of fabric from my stash. I don't think I'll be able to resist flashing my pink petticoat at everyone!  

Monday, 5 October 2015

Mending Monday #4

More patches.

Two velvety hearts for the jelly bean. I started with one

but she insisted on patches on both knees.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Cupboard Love

Autumn is upon us and, although the sunshine has been glorious, the cool mornings are the giveaway that the season has now turned.

Maybe it's the change in weather, or the start of the new academic year at work (university rather than school), but I've been clearing out a few things. One of my current projects is to do with food cupboards and freezer. I'm trying to use things up, so menu planning is getting interesting. Last weekend I defrosted puff pastry and some salmon fillets and cobbled together a simple salmon en croute. There is more salmon and mackerel in the freezer, so I think it might be time for a fish pie soon. It's as much about clearing and cleaning as it is about thrift (and the run up to Christmas) I've been feeling a bit uninspired about meals lately, so this is an attempt to jolt myself out of a rut, and rediscover the dark recesses  of my cupboards!

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Knitting 0 Little Bean 1

My knitting mojo has been lying low for a while. Not completely awol, just kicking its heels and skulking around the corner.  The last time it went awol I was pregnant, and that's definitely not the case this time. 


Since the Rugby World Cup 2015 started, I've been making myself do some knitting while I watch grown men bash into each other whilst trying to get an oddly shaped ball over a white line. I picked up a sock of my own unvention, which I started earlier in the year. Things have been going very S L O W L Y with it since the heel flap. I love the look of the sock, but something about knitting it is really annoying me.

Last night, I sat down with my husband for an hour or two and we caught up on the last episode of Bake Off some serious documentaries. I picked up the sock, and managed finally to start the toe shaping. The end was in sight.

I put the sock aside, happy and relieved. I was looking forward to the Kitchener stitching to come, and went to bed.

This morning, on my way to the shower, I noticed a tangle of yarn on the carpet. It was a bit like - oh, b*gger, it was the sock yarn. All 4 DPNs were scattered to the wind, and the yarn tangled and stretched from one side of the room to the other. 

I found the needles. I picked up the yarn, and the sock, and I stuffed it in my bag. I didnt inspect the damage - my first glance was enough to confirm some serious damage to the toe, and quite a lot of squiggly frogged yarn. 

I glowered at the culprit. 

He gave me his winningest smile. 

Reader, I forgave him everything. 

Monday, 14 September 2015

Mending Monday #3

When I was pregnant with the little bean I stole borrowed a couple of my husband's merino wool sweaters. They were warm and comfy and roomy enough for a growing bump. Perfect to throw on over pyjamas, or with work clothes, or any time I needed a cozy layer to keep me warm. 

My fondness for these sweaters has not abated and we have now perfected our system for sharing these fine garments. The man wears them first, and when an elbow hole appears (as verily it shall), he willingly gives the sweater to his wife. Sometimes she mends the hole and wears the sweater herself. Sometimes she just wears it without mending the hole. Yes dear readers, I am a Bad Woman. 

Elbow repairs were needed recently, and couldn't be put off any longer, so I found some suitable sock wool and a needle and set to work. I love the whole visible mending thing that Tom of Holland has perfected, so I went for a circle on one elbow, and a square on the other. 

I started with the outline of the shape in running stitch, and then worked a basic darning stitch across the hole. The circle darn is a bit less tidy than the square one, but I don't think anyone will be checking for consistency.

I'm not quite sure why I haven't tried to persuade my other half to wear a darned jumper - I have offered to sew on elbow patches for him. So far he has declined my offers. Funny that. 

Monday, 31 August 2015

Mending Monday #2

A different sort of mending is going on here at the moment.

Its nothing to do with sewing, and all to do with repairing flesh. I fell on Saturday and shredded the palms of my hands - along with nose and chin - on a gravel path. I was doing some running, as you do - and suddenly I wasn't running but flying. And, then I landed. 

O U C H.

It wasn't pretty. 

Crafting has taken a back seat.

Excuse me while I put my feet up. I might be here a while, okay. Just talk amongst yourselves...

[I am okay btw, just flesh wounds and severe bashing of pride and confidence]

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Mending Monday #1

My active children, who love climbing trees and doing sliding tackles on the lawn and lots of other rough and tumble things, can be quite hard on their clothes. The jelly bean in particular seems to have an ability to shred the knees of a pair of leggings in no time at all. 

I don't mind at all (and feel a little bit proud when I am shown a hole that happened during whilst climbing a tree) - but I do seem to have a never ending mending pile. I have thusly declared that Mondays will henceforth be Mending Monday, when I dedicate whatever small portion of the day remains after everything else is done, to the activity of mending. 

Some recent casualties, here awaiting triage. 

Today, then is about patches. 

These trousers belong to the bean - but need a swift repair before 8 year old fingers make that wee hole a lot bigger and turn the trousers from mendable to binnable. 

As the trousers are lined (see that blue lining peeking out?), I didn't want to sew patches on with my machine. The potential for wonky/twisted and uncomfortable results was too high, so out came the bondaweb. 

I went for a patch on each knee, rather than just the one that was holey - and used a cute cotton fabric I picked up in a remnants bin last year sometime. I eyeballed a suitable shape, and then whizzed around with the overlocker to finish the edges. 

I might have slightly overlooked the fact that the overlocking would affect the stick at the edges of the patches. However, after ironing the patches onto the trousers, I hand-stitched the edges of the patches down. It was a bit quick and dirty, but I figured the stitches would be lost in the overlocking and noone will ever know. 

The bean put them back on at the first opportunity, and tested the newly restored knees/patches by slide tackling his way across the lawn. Those cute patches stood up well to the rough and tumble, but who knows if the grass stains will ever come out... sigh. 

Feel free to join in with the mending thing y'all. What are you mending today?

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


The sewing stars are aligning, at last. The jelly bean will be 6 (?!!) in a few days, and I am making her a top (or two) for her birthday. 

I snaffled this viscose jersey the other day, from the splendid stitch  (with splendid customer service - a very quick turn around and a couple of free swatches in with my parcel) and got to work last night tracing the pattern (from Ottobre 4/2015).

I bought a goodly length (2.5m) so there will be plenty left for me to make myself a thing or two. Just don't tell anyone I bought more fabric, okay.... 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Upcycled baby wipes (or whatevs) FO

I've been having fun playing with my new overlocker. And, since Zoe started the whole thing off with her comment about making washable wipes for her daughter with hers, I thought I would make some too. 

An easy first project :-)

Fortunately I had stashed the cut-off sheet edges after making the muslins a couple of weeks ago. I cut the remnants into pairs of squares (eyeballed rather than measured) and serged rounds those edges, using Winnie's tutorial on scarves to work out how to turn the corners (although I notice that I didn't actually follow her instructions at all really, but things turned out okay).

A few minutes later, I had a gratifying stack of 5 smaller, and 5 larger washable wipes to go with that pile of muslins.

The overlocker thing is going really well so far. I even managed to rethread one of the loopers when the thread broke. It was a bit fiddly, but really not too bad. I will just gloss over the small accident that befell one t-shirt that I was trying to repair.  Corners are tricky, it seems, and I managed to make a much bigger hole than the one I was trying to close up.  Oops!

Monday, 10 August 2015

Shiny. Happy. Gadget

Confession time.

Today I bought a new gadget. A new sewing/crafting thing that I really *need* (cough) so that I can do stuff, and more effectively use up. The. Stash.


Cos, obvs I am on a stash diet, so I cant spend any ££ on yarn or fabric, but it's okay to buy a new toy, because that is Not Stash. No. Sir. It. Does. NOT. Count.

Actually, I blame Zoe. She made me do it. I had been idly thinking about buying a new sewing machine, cos the one I have got has been with me since I was 21. And that was roughly (cough) 20 years ago, I was wondering about replacing it. And then Zoe commented about using her overlocker, and a light bulb went on.

That's it.

That's what I need. An overlocker. 

I googled. I waited. I thought. I googled more. I googled all of the overlockerz and all of the overlocker tipz. 

I casually mentioned to my husband that I was thinking of buying myself a birthday present (as noone showered me with lovely things this year, and I got to eat my birthday dinner at a service station in Exeter, but I am over it now). You know, just to see the reaction.

I thought more. I googled more. I slept on it. 

This morning I rang up a shop, gave them the long number on my credit card, and a few hours later I dropped in to pick it up. It's sitting here, in front of me. All shiny and white and full of promise. 

Wish me luck as we get to know each other. Over and out. 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Upcycled muslins (FO)

Howdy chaps. 

The other night I got a little bit of sewing time and decided to mop up one of the WIPs on the 'pile'. A wee while ago I found a threadbare sheet softened from many washes, but too narrow for any of our beds. I decided to upcycle into some muslins (or burp cloths for those of a North American disposition).

Easy peasy. Here's what I did:

1. Cut the sheet into squares about 22 inches square (I think).

2. Because the sheet was worn - and had a few thin patches, and because I wanted to end up with something that has a bit of life left in it and can withstand quite a lot more washing, I used two squares for each muslin. I lined two squares up, whizzed around the edges with the sewing machine, leaving 3 or 4 inches open for turning.

3. Turned the two layers, so that the raw seams are on the inside, and finished the muslin with some top stitching to close. 

4. Inspected for thin patches, and darned using a zigzag stitch on the machine. 

5. Tidied up loose threads and press. Folded and admired. [Take pictures for blog*]

6. Gift to expectant friends. 

* optional, obvs.

Clearly, these could have a number of uses, and small ones (about flannel/washcloth size) make good washable baby wipes, or window polishers, or dusters or whatevs. You know it.