My crafty round up of 2013

I’ve been looking at lots of other blogs whilst eating and drinking way too much over this Christmas period and everyone seems to be doing a review of the year, so here is my little KSS review to add to the blogosphere.

MOST IMPROVED

My crochet skills have come on leaps and bounds in 2013, culminating in this Retro Rainbow Granny Square blanket made for my niece back in early 2012. Since then, I have managed some crochet bunting, a toy, a little amigurumi and some placements and pot holders, courtesy of Kat Goldin’s on-line, summer crochet camp.

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BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT 

Another Ava make, this time a cute ‘all in one’ cardigan. This baby cardigan was my first completed knitted item of clothing. Although it took quite a while to finish, I was really pleased with the result and the professional finish. Just need Ava to get big enough to wear it now!

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QUICKEST MAKE 

Cross stitch is always a quick an impressive way to add a touch of home-made handiwork to a gift and this make was no exception. I had an evening to make a baby gift for my husband’s work colleague so stitched some star motifs onto this cashmere mix baby blanket, using soluble canvas.

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FAVOURITE MAKE 

The Sew in my Knit Stitch Sew blog title gets constantly overlooked in favour for crafts that come more naturally to me. So sewing some make-up bags using a tutorial I found on Pinterest was a highlight for me. Once I’d mastered inserting a zip and correct measuring of corners, I managed to make these cute little bags which went down a storm this Christmas.

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BEST COMMERCIAL MAKE 

I was commissioned to stitch these keepsake vests in the summer for a friend’s children. Such a simple project but a great end result. 2013 was a great year for me making for others, including multiple baby blankets knitted to order and a felt cuddly toy.

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BIGGEST HEADACHE

I’m struggling even to type the words… ROMAN BLIND.. but no doubt this was my biggest craft induced headache of 2013. Having taken on the challenge to make a roman blind for my very wide kitchen window, I wouldn’t be beaten! After making it once and realising it wasn’t working, I had to unpick, re-stitch and use every ounce of my crafty willpower to get this one finished.

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STARTED BUT NOT FINISHED

Taking me into 2014, there are two things I’ve started but for one reason or another, am way off finishing. My Tunnocks Tea Cake stitched picture – a combination of stitching on evenweave and a multitude of red threads means that this is something which has fallen to the bottom of my craft bag.  The other, my black slouchy, knitted cardigan using an Erica Knight pattern, is progressing S-L-O-W-L-Y! I’m finding it tough to do if i’m not wide awake and un-distracted… kind of difficult to snatch any moments like this in my house!

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Making a Roman blind…part 2. Finished!

I am done. Finished. Complete. The Roman blind is up and not looking too shabby.

finished roman blind

My key mistake (and quite a fundamental one) was no dowel rods. So lots of hand sewing later, and I was able to attach the dowel rods to the blind, re-string and hang. Yey!

So I thought I’d recap for my own benefit, and anyone who may find this on the internet desperately trawling for ‘How to make  Roman blind’ instructions on Google, like me. Oh and for my lovely friend Jane who is currently in hospital, bored and wanting something to do… Read on friend.

Materials list:

  • Blind fabric, the length and width of your window plus 20 cm for seam allowance
  • Lining fabric, the same size plus seam allowance
  • Roman blind tape, cut to the width of your window x however many dowel rods/folds you want
  • Dowel rods, cut to the width of your blind x however many folds you want
  • Baton for the bottom of the blind
  • Wider, thicker baton for the top of the blind, to attach the blind to the wall
  • Strong, sticky velcro cut to the width of your blind
  • Clear, plastic eyelets
  • Screw eyes
  • Polyester cord
  • An acorn (not from an oak tree)
  • Air erasable fabric pen
  • A cleat

Step 1:

Measure your window. Work out how many folds you’d like in your blind and draw yourself a handy little picture with all of your measurements on. I found this INVALUABLE!

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I used these links to help me work out how many folds etc  http://www.channel4.com/4homes/how-to/decorating/how-to-make-a-roman-blind and http://lucylovesya.com/?p=4641.

Step 2:

Cut your blind fabric to size and set to one side. Cut your lining fabric to size. Cut your blind tape to width. Carefully measure where you’d like your dowel rods to go and pin the blind tape. I found a metal metre rule was perfect for this job, to help the lines stay straight. Using the sewing machine, stitch the blind tape to the lining fabric.

Step 3:

Place the lining fabric and the blind fabric right sides together and pin. Using the sewing machine, sew together, leaving a little pocket to turn inside out. Turn inside out, and give the fabric a good press with a hot iron.

Step 4:

Cut the thinner wooden baton to length and place inside the bottom of the blind. Hand stitch the opening closed.

Step 5:

Turn the fabric over, so the lining fabric with blind tape is facing up and insert the dowel rods into the blind tape pockets. Using the metre rule, measure out where your eyelets need to go, marking with the air erasable pen.  I had three rows of five eyelets, evenly spaced at 30cms apart, across the blind. Ideally, place one in the middle, one about 2cm from either end and then fill the gaps in between, evenly, if you have a wide blind like me. You many only need three eyelets if your blind isn’t too wide. Hand stitch the eyelets in place and secure tightly.

Step 6:

Now, this is the bit where you might need a bit of help. Not to say that us girls can’t use a drill or saw but I can’t so this is the bit where my husband makes an appearance. He cut the wider baton to length and screwed into the wall, at the appropriate height above the window. Before that, he measured and drilled holes for the screw eyes which were exactly the same distance apart as the eyelets. We also had an additional screw eye at the end of the baton, to feed all the cord through. This needs to be at the end where you will be pulling the blind up and down. Thanks husband.

Step 7:

Using the sticky velcro, stick one side to the baton on the wall and the other to the top of the blind. I draw another line with my metre rule, just to make sure the velcro was on super straight. I also machine stitched the velcro onto the blind to give it some added strength.

Step 8:

Stick your blind to the baton. Then start threading.Don’t cut the cord, just thread through and only cut once it’s travelled through all of the eyelets and screw eyes. You’ll be surprised how much you need.  Starting from the line of eyelets furthest away from the pully side, tie the cord onto the bottom eyelet, thread up through the other eyelets, through all the screw eyes along the top baton and down. Leave a long cord hanging down at this point and cut. Do the same for all the other eyelets.

Step 9:

Pull! Your blind should pull up nice and neatly into shape! Hooray! I twisted all the cords together and then threaded my little wooden acorn onto the end. Tie the blind off onto the cleat (also drilled into the wall by Husband. Thanks again Husband) and spend a little time primping and preening the folds to make sure they are lying how you need them too. You may need to use a little steam from the iron to encourage them into place. Ideally leave the blind folded up in position for a few days to help the fabric memorise the fold.

Step 10:

Put the kettle on. Put your feet up. You’ve just made a Roman blind!

Happy 1st Bloggy Birthday To Me

It’s my first birthday!

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It’s gone by so quickly I almost missed it. It really has been a whirlwind 12 months for me, in addition to starting my blog we’ve sold and bought a house, I’ve changed jobs and generally been all over the place.

I can truly say that I don’t know what I did before I launched Knit Stitch Sew. Watch too much TV probably. The blog was on my list of things to do for yonks before I actually took the plunge and wrote my first post back in late August 2012. I don’t know why it took me so long – a combination of time and focus but more overwhelmingly, the worry that people would think ‘what IS she doing? Knitting? Cross Stitch? WHAT???’.

My liking of craft has always been bubbling away in the background, never something to admit to but with the launch of various craft magazines and my journey into the world of blogs as a reader my liking reached obsession status and the blog was born.

So what were my aims when I started? I wanted to connect with like-minded bloggers and crafters. I wanted to try to make my mark in the UK craft scene (not as a crafter as much as a writer/commentator – I can only follow patters, I can’t write them!). I also wanted to add a focus to my crafting – by telling others what I was doing, I’d have to do it. Right?!

And what have I learnt?

1. I love blogging. It really has added focus to my crafting adventures and its great to have a record of the work I’ve done over the past year

2. Bloggers are a friendly lot. I joined the bloggy community with the aim of connecting with like-minded people. And boy, did that work! Tick! Craft bloggers are a lovely lot. I’ve been to a blogging conference (TOTS100 in Bristol), taken part in numerous Twitter chats and parties, attended exhibitions and generally had the most lovely reception on and off-line from the bloggers I’ve met. Thank you.

3. I’m still a bloggy baby. Blogging is hard work. It takes time to build your page, your followers and it’s a cliché, but you really can only do it for you. If you’re blogging to make money forget it. I’ve been lucky and have already received invites to press events, been included on PR media lists so I receive press releases and have been sent crafty product to trial BUT there has been no money changing hands…. ah well, maybe next year… 😉

4. It’s a great learning experience.  Writing my blog has motivated me to try out some new crafts – crochet which I LOVE LOVE LOVE, machine embroidery and paper craft

5. It’s opened up the world of commissions. Far from being laughed out of the park with my revelation of being a craft addict, I have been commissioned – yes people have actually paid me money – to craft for them. WOW. This is something I never, ever thought would happen. I’ve knitted wedding shrugs, embroidered new-born baby memory keepers, crocheted baby blankets – amazing.

I hope my second year brings more brilliant crafty things. Watch this space! Here’s a quick pictorial round-up of my favourite makes from this year.

round up of the first year

For the love of… The Purl Bee

I started my little blog after discovering a whole new world of knitting, stitching and sewing out there in the blogosphere nearly a year ago. And one of the blogs I’ve really, truely fallen head over heels in love with is called The Purl Bee. http://www.purlbee.com/ Do you know it?

The Purl Soho is a very cool shop in SoHo, New York. For those of us who, sadly, can’t trot over to NY on a monthly basis, they also have a great online store http://www.purlsoho.com/purl to peruse and ponder over beautiful yarn, fabric, starter kits and more.  The needlepoint canvas arer really lovely and not at all twee. No ye olde English cottages or Geisha girls here… AND they ship to the UK. Brilliant.

Anyway, back to the blog. Each week, the team at The Purl Bee blog a tutorial – usually yarn or stitch based – with excellent photos, tutorials and handy hints. And each week I find myself adding one of their tutorials to my to do list! The colour and styling of the tutorials really appeals to me – the colour choice is always subtle and stylish. Greys, lemons, creams, tan compliment pops of neon pink, rich blues and banana yellow. This colour pallette on beautiful wool looks sumptuous and expensive. I love it!

The stitchy projects are just as stylish. Bags are usually featured and again the contemporary choice of subtle colours and trendy shapes such as totes and clutches make the projects irresistable.

You may have come across the Ravelry ‘Knit The Queue’ activity – whereby Ravellers who (like me) have added favourite patterns to their online queue are knitting their way through them in 2013 – well I have a ‘Knit the Queue’ going on with Purl Bee. Here’s a list of Purl Bee makes on my to do list. Not sure I’ll get them all done this year but I’ll try!

1 – Baby Bloomers

http://www.purlbee.com/the-purl-bee/2013/7/7/whits-knits-baby-bloomers.html

These gorgeous baby bloomers are on the list for Ava. I’m thinking of doing these in a dark red to add a pop of colour to winter outfits.

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2 – Baby Jumper

http://www.purlbee.com/the-purl-bee/2013/3/14/whits-knits-baby-jumper.html

Another one for Ava… I’m going to stick to the pink and grey colour pallette here

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3 – Cap Sleeve Sweater

http://www.purlbee.com/the-purl-bee/2012/5/3/lauras-loop-cap-sleeve-lattice-top.html

Thinking I will do a grey bottom half with a subtle cream on top, as per the picture

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4 – The 40 minute tote

http://www.purlbee.com/the-purl-bee/2012/6/3/mollys-sketchbook-the-forty-minute-tote.html

Definitely doing a denim version but I also have some pretty patterned fabric I’d like to try, perhaps lined with demin. Reversible maybe? There are loads of great bag tutorials on the site.

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5 – Toddler Socks

http://www.purlbee.com/the-purl-bee/2013/3/28/whits-knits-toddler-socks.html

I am DETERMINED to conquer my hatred of sock knitting! There must be a way! And these beautiful little socks look like a great way to start

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An Embroidered Door Hanger

As my baby girl grows up – she was five in January – the old toddler toys and clothes are slowly making way for things suitable for a little school girl. One Direction playing replaces nursery rhymes whilst the LeapPad and iPad are suitable upgrades for fuzzy felt and train sets. *sigh*

Missy has a lovely white framed single bed too, to replace her cot bed, complete with Ikea canopy and heart fairy lights. So looking at her room as we begin to pack to move house, it seemed like the old baby wooden letters spelling out her name on the bedroom door were looking a little sad and out of place.

One of my crafty Christmas presents was this fab embroidery book by Aneela Hoey http://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Stitches-Embroidery-Designs-Projects/dp/1607055252/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365449830&sr=8-1&keywords=little+stitches. Despite reading it cover to cover, i’d yet to try any of the projects. So, using my free calico from issue 1 of Crafty Magazine, I decided to stitch Missy a beautiful door hanger.

Together we choose two, iron on patterns to appear on the hanger, a blonde girl on a bike and a little dog chasing a ball.

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We chose a colour palette of reds, pinks and blues. I was slightly nervous of messing it up, apart from cross stitch I haven’t tried embroidery for many years and certainly have never used anything other than a backstitch or running stitch. The finished piece looked so pretty on the page! Aneela’s instructions and easy to read tips made this one of the simplest and most satisfying things I’ve made in ages!

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The stitching of the girl on the bike and the dog and ball took me one pleasant evening to complete, whilst the lettering was quickly finished the following day.

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I’ll definitely be doing something like this again soon, I already have my  eyes on a couple of pictures I’d like to embroider (have a look at My Weekly Glint post) and will be making some cute gifts using Aneela’s book again.

Aneela’s blog is here http://comfortstitching.typepad.co.uk/ for more cute stitching inspiration.

Valentine’s Day

We don’t really go in for Valentine’s Day in our house.

“Too commercial” is Hubby’s opinion and I tend to agree. We exchange cards (a bit begrudgingly on his part) but other than that it goes unmarked and sometimes un-noticed!
However, another seasonal event means another excuse to trawl blogs and Pinterest for crafty inspiration! I’m determined to crack crochet and really want to make some beautiful heart themed gifts I’ve seen on favourite blogs Attic24 and Cherry Heart.

So last night, whilst Hubby was out on his usual Wednesday night football and pub night, I set up the iPad and arranged my hooks and wool, determined to finish at least one teeny, tiny heart. Starting with Lucy at Attic 24’s pattern I completed a little heart in no time! I made a second to check the first hasn’t been a fluke and a third to check I really could make them. And I could! Here’s my attempt. Cute eh?

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So, full of confidence I moved onto Sandra at Cherry Heart’s pattern for a granny heart (granny as in granny square for those not so au fait with crochet terms). This was quite tricky for a novice like me but with a bit of a wiggle, a wing and a prayer I finished a granny heart!! Here it is…

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Bit wonky, but with Sandra’s clear instructions and photos I was able to make it. I’m so pleased and am walking around with a big smile on my face now. So, what did I do with my cute crochet hearts? Final piece of inspiration came from Meredith over at http://onesheepishgirl.blogspot.co.uk/

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Here’s hoping this special Valentine’s Day card with find a place in Hubby’s heart. Happy Valentine’s Day x

Handmade Shepherd Costume

So here it is! One Ikea red single bed sheet, one Ikea taupe pillowcase, one old red checked tea towel, a lot of ironing, one temperamental sewing machine and a couple of hours work have created a pretty respectable shepherds costume…. What do you think?

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Making this costume brought back great memories of my childhood nativity plays. I was always the narrator. I think once Angel Gabriel – who was also the narrator. Never, ever Mary which was gutting every year! As per my last post my sisters were angels in their first ever nativity play at pre-school but after that Sister number 2 was cast as the Donkey for three or four years in a row!

Missy’s play is in a few weeks time, so I can’t wait for us to start building family memories of our own.

Making a nativity costume

I love Christmas (haven’t you guessed that yet?!). As well as the making of cards, wreaths and cakes there is the fun of children’s nativity costumes to tackle. Ever the glutton for punishment, I have decided again this year to make Missy’s nativity costume for the school play. I’ve only recently started attempting to sew/make costumes and have zero dress making skills. My approach is ‘make it up as you go along’ and ‘hope for the best’.

Here’s a quick photo gallery of my previous attempts;

alice costume

Alice in Wonderland using a Disney Cinderella dress as the base

angel costume

My daughter on the right…apologies for the white blobs!!

So this year, Missy is a shepherd. Bit of a weird one – we assumed she’d be an angel (not that we’re stereotyping our blond, blue-eyed girly girl!)  but she is a narrator so all the narrators have to dress as shepherds. We had a look in Asda and Sainsbury’s at the ready to wear options but these were met with a resounding no. “They are brown, Mummy” “My favourite colours are pink, red and purple” (said with a strong little Somerset accent…).

So I’ve decided to attempt a tunic dress, long waistcoat and headdress using a couple of red cotton single sheets and camel pillowcases from Ikea. I’ve been sourcing ideas from YouTube and using Google so am thinking I’ll make this kind of outfit – long-sleeved, long tunic with the red sheet and a shorter waistcoat type top with the pillowcase. Just need to source some rope to belt the tunic together.

Shepherd (Standard) - Kids Costume

Whatever happens, at least she’ll stand out from the crowd of Asda shepherds, angels and kings. And can’t be any worse than my sisters who were made to do their nativity as angel’s with ‘L’ plates on their backs… gotta love my mum’s sense of humour! (Hi Mum *waves*).

This weekend has mostly been about…

Finishing my handmade Christmas cards

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Casting off and blocking another baby blanket

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Baking cakes for Missy’s school Christmas Fair

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Learning how to knit socks – on five needles no less – after an evening course at The Bristol School of Sewing and Textiles (more on this in a later post)

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I’ve also managed to squeeze in swimming, manning the cake stall at said Christmas Fair (which made £98!!), winning the raffle (again at the Christmas Fair), dinner with friends and some Christmas shopping.

Phew…after all that I’m off for a large glass of wine and some Sunday night TV!

Pillowcase Dresses

Last night I was lucky enough to visit a gorgeous new sewing cafe in the heart of Clifton, Bristol called Cordial and Grace who were playing host to a charity sewing day. The charity project, Dress A Girl Around the World, encourages sewing a simple dress from a pillowcase which can be sent to a child in a developing country.

Picture credit: Sew Scrumptious Blog

I discovered Louise (@sewscrumptious /http://sewscrumptious.blogspot.co.uk/) and her worthwhile project on Twitter so when I heard there was a free sewing workshop, I jumped at the chance to meet the Louise and try my hand on a sewing machine! As you know, I’m still making friends with my machine so I wasn’t feeling particularly confident in my seamstress skills but I needn’t have worried.

The ladies running the sewing room were really helpful and Louise had created a very self-explanatory pattern which I was able to keep close by at all times! Although there was the option of creating a dress from a fabric length, I decided to choose a pillowcase for ease (and not to mess it up!!).

I decided on a green and pink colourway, so got started. It really was unbelievably easy. After chopping the top of the pillowcase off, creating an opening for the neck, I used a simple sleeve pattern to make the arm holes. So far so good. Next came the sewing – eeek! Afer ironing a channel for the elastic, I was let loose on the machine and managed to sew the channel cleanly and thread and secure the elastic for the neck. My dress was taking shape!

Next came the bias binding for straps. I ironed the candy pink bias in half and sandwiched it between the armholes, pinning all the way. Thinking about it, I probably should have used a contrasting green thread but as my machine was already threaded with pink I continued with this and used a fancy criss cross stitch to secure the straps to the arm holes.

Before I knew it my hour and half session was up and I had to pack up my dress. Before I left I managed to quickly find some contrasting pattern fabric to add some embellishment to my dress (much more in my comfort zone). So I have taken my dress and one other plain dress home to finish off and decorate.

Louise and all of the people who took part in the charity day yesterday managed to make over 20 dresses to be sent to girls across the world.

What really made it for me was seeing two 10-year-old girls sat opposite me, learning how to use a sewing machine and actually make something functional and beautiful, to be sent to girls of a similar age somewhere around the world, who aren’t as lucky and privileged as they are. Can’t wait until my Missy is old enough for that! Until then I might practice by making her my own version of the pillowcase dress.