Meet Una, my beloved rag doll that I made as a school project back in the early 90s. She’s from an out-of-print Vogue pattern 8336 which included the iron-on transfer face. Her arms and legs move on teddy bear joints and at the time was one of the most challenging things I’d ever sewn.
Her emo fringe hides her eyes as mine did at the time, and her asthetic is more Winona Ryder than Laura Ingalls Wilder because I’ve never been one for twee.
Sadly I don’t have the second doll I made from the pattern about a decade ago, but am currently working on a third. She will be made from black velvet and have a cat head. Have spent most of the afternoon constructing paper cat heads to try and work out how to do it. Think I’m there now…
As you can see, that tutorial is great and was easy to follow I love my new pin cushion. I weighted it down with some 2p pieces in the bottom while stuffing to stop it floating off across the desk. Have since used it every time I’ve sewn.
It was so satisfying that I cut out another 16 and worked them together into a full size cushion. This is the finished item:
Both were entirely hand sewn, so took ages. One of my cats likes the cushion so much he’s slept on the fabric, the pinned project in progress and is now curled up asleep on the finished cushion. Tutors just don’t teach you how to deal with cats in your sewing when you’re taking a class. The cushion pad and grey linen are from IKEA and I used around 1.5m of the fabric, including the plain back. The linen was quite tough to sew, but has given the cushion a really weighty, sculptural appearance.
Suspect both might have been a bit neater if I had cut the fabric more precisely, but still very happy with the results. The jazzy star satin fabric in the background is destined to become a David Bowie/clown disco party dress at some point in the future.
The scraps were from my stash and there are some happy memories in those little pieces of fabric. Every bit of green, yellow, brown and blue in my stash is there, my stash is mostly red, pink, purple and black. Redressed the balance at the Knitting and Stitching show today with lots of greens and yellows.
Planning to have lots of fun with these – think my next patchwork and quilting project might be to use them for a clamshells patterned cushion.
My splendid six-year-old friend F was given some lovely little Lottie dolls for Christmas. She and her mum are turning a shelf into a home for the dolls using odds and ends. Mum asked me to make some bedding for this shoebox which magically becomes bunk beds when turned on it’s side.
Each piece is made from rectangles of fabric sewn together and very lightly stuffed. There are 6 little matresses which pile up for extra comfort and two duvets with pillows. The size of the matresses was based on the size of the box.
I made a paper template slightly larger to allow for seams, cut two rectangles from different fabric and machine sewed the two together, leaving a small gap for turning the right way round and stuffing. The duvets and pillows were done in exactly the same way, although I didn’t use templates as the scraps of fabric were generally only just big enough to make a rectangle.
The award-winning dolls are themed around robots, pirates, ponies and other things which are much more intelligent and purposeful than princesses so the bedding couldn’t be too girly. They all fit snugly back in the box for storage, which impressed my kitten Stormageddon.
And a late addition to the blog post, a picture of the bed in the Lottie doll house, with one little lass tucked up in bed dreaming of adventures in time and space.
I made a little detour on a recent Christmas trip to visit family and popped into the Fluff-a-torium, Dorking’s finest purveyors of fluff. Even the outside in the rain it looks appealing, doesn’t it?
Inside the shop more than lived up to expectation. They sell very nice yarn, cute haberdashery but are primarily focused on needle felting. The fluffymongers were very friendly and did not appear to mind that as a result of the rain, I dripped all over their floor.
The yarn selection mainly contained good-quality popular basics like Rowan and Debbie Bliss, but there were some nice arty yarns including this skein of splendid British yarn from A Stash Addict which was just too tempting. Someday this yarn will be fancy socks!
There are a couple of other interesting wool/fabric shops in Dorking, including The Quilt Room which has very pretty fabric. The other shops that sold yarn mostly offered budget options with lots of acrylic.
Hubbie’s favourite thing about the Fluff-a-torium is that The Kings Arms is right opposite so he didn’t have to pretend to be interested in fluff.
The very splendid Zoe is a huge fan of Shakespeare and we have a shared love of the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. As we recently enjoyed the behind the scenes tour, I knew a little knitted globe would be the perfect present for her.
Couldn’t find a pattern so had to improvise from pictures. Started with the roof because that’s the most distinctive bit and needed to be just right. Then I picked up stitches around the roof and worked the outside, followed by a circular base and the inner tube back up to the inside of the roof. The inner tube has three orange stripes to represent the tiers of seating.
Finally the stairwells and stage roof were knitted separately and sewn on.
Baa, the intarsia sweater is on hold because the purple yarn ran out with just a few rows to go and it’s been discontinued and every ball vanquished from the entire internet in the two weeks since I bought it which is silly.
So this is the temporary replacement project. It probably wouldn’t have been possible to get any further down the colourwork obsession road without tackling one of Kaffe Fassett’s awesome patterns. Have been madly in love with this floral jacket pattern for a while and finally cast on yesterday.
Some rows in the jacket have three colours in them which is stressful, but looks fine so far. Also produced 13 pages of notes about project management from the pile of books from the library yesterday, but that project is far less photogenic!
Missed the show last year so made a big effort to get there this year. The highlights included this tent decorated with unfinished projects (and the stories inside), Rowan‘s cute dinosaur panorama, as well as a stunning embroidered car door from the imaginative Mr X Stitch.
Have to confess to not buying much. A lovely skein of hand-dyed yarn and some cheap DK acrylic James C Brett Twinkle sparkly stuff in midnight blue and a second-hand book of collected articles about colourwork was pretty much my entire haul. Was a bit hampered by making some strict rules with myself about no new hobbies and no fabric. Still none the wiser about why people buy giant cardboard giraffes and cover them with wrapping paper.
Currently obsessing about intarsia, knitting with little blocks of different colours to make pictures. It’s the most fun although I’m sure everyone else has nice neat strands waiting to be sewn in, rather than a spaghetti monster like this which has been carefully and deliberately nurtured on the back of my work.
The pattern is from a book called Susan Duckworth’s knitting. Looks so nice in the pattern, hopefully the mess can be tidied into something wearable. Sewing in the ends so they close the holes and don’t show on the front is a separate skill to master.
Making three modifications – omitting the pocket because it will be bulky, omitting the 3 flowers on the back because it feels more modern to just have motifs on the front but not all over. The other modification is that the black main body of the jumper around the flowers is supposed to be basketweave stitch but I’m working it in stockingette stitch because it’s hard enough learning the intarsia without complicating things further.
After spending lots of time reading up about the technique online and taking the intarsia class earlier in the year, it seemed that not using bobbins is the sensible way to go. Small lengths of yarn can just be pulled loose from the spaghetti and I haven’t had to spend much time at all sorting the yarns out, it is organised chaos despite appearances.
Not sure why there’s worms in colours I’m not even using in the mix. Ah well, all fun. And time to make lots of sweaters by adapting mad 80s children’s patterns for adult sizes. Am thinking a Thunderbird 2 sweater would be quite cool, and perhaps the USS Enterprise.
It seems to be accepted wisdom that making clothes from stretch fabrics is impossible and that overlockers are the evil mechanical octopuses of the sewing world.
Black jersey is the greatest thing to happen to fashion. It’s so easy and comfortable. Even when it goes grey I think it looks kinda cool and a bit rock. Reading Stretch-U, the best book about sewing stretch fabric I can find indicated that overlockers were the best way to sew stretch fabric so time to learn overlocking.
So last month I booked an evening of overlocker wrestling at The Make Lounge and overlocking turns out to be far less scary than it looks.
Although we were sewing with pretty printed cottons it was easy to see how useful the overlocker would be for sewing stretch fabrics. Having talked myself into wanting one, I’m now trying to talk myself out of it having discovered that they’re really expensive. *twitchy coveting*
More tidying, this time organising little bits of fabric by folding them into small even fabric squares and arranging them like those irresistibly tempting little fat quarters of fabric they sell at craft shows. Which is how most of us got into this mess in the first place.
Folding the fabric like this means that it’s easy to see what’s in the box and also possible to remove one piece of fabric without disturbing everything else.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been focused on tidying my stuff rather than making more. I’d come out of the closet and admit to being a very messy hoarder, but would never get in the cupboard in the first place because there’s so much stuff shoved in there. Half my drawers, boxes and cupboards don’t close and the ones that do won’t open.
This before and after photo shows the result of yesterday’s tidying. The tangle of knitting needles that has been a total pain for years is now a nicely ordered drawer with lots of little plastic wallets (from WH Smith) all neatly labled with sizes. There are two wallets for each size, one containing circulars and the other for DPNs.
The wallets are a little too deep for the orignial drawer so are now in a lower, deeper one which had to be cleared of crayons I’ve been hoarding since primary school in the 80s.
I’ve also recently conducted a full clothes hanger audit and learned to fold my clothes sensibly to make more space in the drawers. Watching youtube videos about folding pants can truly change lives. Plus I’ve been through all the accessories I’ve knitted and worked out which ones I wear, made a big pile to rehome (did this on the heatwave weekend – not ideal for rehoming knitwear!) and am now planning to make more of the ones I love in all my favourite colours.
Hoarding and crafting are a troublesome pairing. There are so many little cute things to pick up – one little packet of beads or a fat quarter of a pretty fabric doesn’t seem like much but they mount up and pile up. Anyway am hoping if I take action now to get organised, the future won’t involve being burried alive in rubbish.
Well it just about got finished in time for the closing ceremony, but only just. None of the other grand plans to make things were anything but dreams in the busy rushing about during the second week of the games. All good fun though, and this shawl is lovely, if a little too lime green.
Hurrah hurrah the London 2012 Games are in full swing and London is a very exciting place to be right now. Have already visited a London live site and seen the torch relay finale concert, chased around the city looking for the life-size (!) Wenlock and Mandeville statues, eaten Swiss chocolate at the House of Switzerland, seen the giant crochet lions at the Natural History Museum, and thoroughly enjoyed watching the opening ceremony on telly last night.
And now onto the important bit, what I’m knitting during the games. The Ravellenic Games are the Ravelry knitting community’s yarn challenges when the awesome people on Ravelry come together to knit our socks off (or on) for 17 days.
I wasn’t able to knit through the opening ceremony so have only made a tiny start on the first two projects. I haven’t committed to any really massive projects. I’m just going to work on lots of little ones, including entering a few frogging events to frog back some old projects I don’t want to finish. My goal is to aim for more than 8 projects frogged, finished or started, as 8 is the most medals any athlete has ever won at one games.
In the green lane is the Lacy Kerchief Scarf which is probably going to be a little too ambitious for such a short time period, but is working perfectly with the yarn which has been in stash for over a year, allowing the project to be entered into the lace longjump as well as the synchronized stash busting.
In the grey lane is the JC Slouchy Hat, a quick and plain hat pattern which will hopefully show off the shiny bobbly pigeon coloured yarn beautifully, win me a medal for the hat dash and not be taxing during moments of exhaustion.
There was just enough fabric in this tiny remnant of exclamation mark fabric from Broadway Market haberdashery Our Patterned Hand to whip up this little Sindy dress. I stumbled on the shop by chance and was quite tempted by all the lovely dress fabric, but just chose this remnant and a couple of metres of rainbow coloured bias binding to feed the hungry haberdashery stash monster under my desk.
The pink ruffled trim is from The Wool Shop, an even more astonishing haberdashery in Walthamstow Market. Really it is quite unreasonable of London to have so many tempting haberdashery shops, now I want to go shopping again and collect all the things.
I’ve been wrestling with this on a train, hoping that it looked like I knew what I was doing. Actually it’s as much a pickle as it looks, knitting, frogging and re-knitting these mitten cuffs trying to end up with something that looks pleasing. Finally ended up with these:
Which isn’t what the pattern should look like, but is fine and nice in a different way.
Hello! I'm Lettice, a knitter, embroiderer, weaver, occasional crocheter and cheerfully obsessive craft fanatic.
You'll find me on Twitter, Ravelry and most likely in the middle of a pile of messy yarn.
I'm a London expert and curate information for visitlondon.com, but all thoughts, reviews and opinions on this blog are my own. Nobody tells me what to write here (apart from the many weasels in my brain).