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Sewing Bug

I made a New Year’s resolution to sew a wardrobe for my baby. Instead, I’ve gone a bit sew obsessed, and have made just about everything apart from a baby wardrobe! I did make a pair of corduroy trousers, and also some bibs, but I’ve been distracted by other things.

I’ve been doing “sew with your baby” classes at Red Thread Studio, which are just brilliant. It’s two hours a week of protected sewing time, while your baby gets to play in the corner. Well, your baby is meant to play in the corner, but mine likes to “help” me, which can be interesting. The course is great for someone like me though, as I’m prone to rushing things in the interest of a quick result. Our tutor makes us slow down and do things like tacking and pinning and pressing, and I’m feeling that my skills have definitely improved. One particularly good thing about the course is that I’ve learnt how to sew with jersey, making t shirts and baby leggings.

The first class of the course was last year, and we started out with simple tote bags. I created one for my mum out of some old curtains from her house, in a vintage fabric with really cute mushrooms on it.

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Then I made another one for my friend with lining and an applique hand-embroidered design, which was a little more complex.

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The baby leggings were next. I made them using the pattern we were given first of all, but preferred a slightly more fitted style with a central crotch seam. Without another pattern to use, I drew round a pair of existing leggings and made a pattern to fit by trial and error. This resulted in four different pairs of leggings in various fabrics, mostly found at the Borders Scrapstore.

 

We also learned how to insert zips, so I used two fat quarters to create a little zipped pouch for my sewing stuff.

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The next course started a few weeks ago, and we started making clothes for ourselves. First up were some pyjama trousers. I was a bit sceptical about making trousers, as I was worried about the fit and comfort. I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised, as these trousers are so comfortable that I didn’t want to take them off! They were sewn from some flowered cotton that I found in a second hand shop, and worked up really quickly.

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Next, we started on a more complicated jersey project – a t-shirt to fit an adult. My first one was made in second hand jersey, and I followed the pattern exactly to make a fitted design with three quarter length sleeves. Having had three children and eating a moderate amount of cake, the fitted design wasn’t really for me. I also have a freakishly long body, so could have made it a bit longer. I found a metre of the most amazing unicorn fabric in Remnant Kings, so cut out another t-shirt with no shaping in the body and a bit of extra length.

In between classes, I decided to make a few things myself at home. First up was a Clemence skirt from Tilly and the Buttons. This is a super easy skirt which is made by measuring yourself and cutting pattern pieces to fit. It has French seams and a concealed zip, and can be made with pockets in the seams if you like. I made mine in some amazing swan print cotton from the John Lewis sale, and I’m super happy with it. It will be ideal for ceilidh dancing.

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Next, I made a Lilou dress for a family party. This was supposed to have a pleated skirt, but I changed it to have a Clemence skirt attached to the bodice pieces instead. The fabric was from a duvet cover that I picked up in a charity shop, which had been waiting for the perfect project. I added some length to the bodice, but ended up with a lot of extra fabric in the back. Luckily, my tutor at Red Thread was able to give me some guidance about adding darts, and it’s now a super comfy and well fitting dress!

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Of course my daughter wanted her own skirt once she’d seen mine, so I made her a Clemence skirt next. This was sewn from a remnant of cotton fabric with a Siamese cat print, using a Hobbycraft fat quarter to add a contrast waistband and applied patch pockets. She looks so lovely in it, and has added a dress to her wish list.

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I’ve also been doing an evening class at Edinburgh College in fashion and textiles, and have been learning how to do lots more things properly. I had my first shot on an overlocker, which was highly exciting, and have been discovering how satisfying it is to do top stitching on calico in beautiful straight lines!

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I now have a huge pile of fabric and patterns ready to be sewn, so although I might not have managed to make many baby clothes yet, I’ve definitely been productive! Sewing Bee comes back next week, so I don’t think this sewing bug is going to go away any time soon.

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New Year

It’s a new year, and traditionally the time to make resolutions, but I couldn’t think of anything apart from the usual “eat less cake and tidy up more” sort of thing. 2018 has been a pretty busy year – I almost finished uni, had a baby, started selling my work online and in store at The Leith Collective, published 8 patterns, and did a whole lot of other stuff as well. I thought – “maybe in 2019 I won’t set any goals, I’ll just go with the flow and have a chilled out year”. Well, we’re six days in and I’ve already been tempted by a few challenges – not resolutions as such, but just things I’d like to try.

First of all, I logged in to Ravelry. Ravelry told me that I’d knitted and crocheted 94 items in 2018. These weren’t all big things – for example, 15 of them were sets of crochet baubles, and there were lots of baby items in there too. But that got me thinking, could I make 100 items in 2019? Ravelry now has a project challenge feature where you can set yourself a goal for the year, so I decided to aim for 100 and hope that I don’t end up with RSI by the summer. Unfinished projects from 2018 will count towards the total, so I already have a head start.

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Part of the reason for setting this goal was that Ravelry also told me I have 14,809 metres of yarn in my stash. That sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Unfortunately it doesn’t tell the full story – I have yarn waiting for several sweaters, a couple of bags worth earmarked for designs, and a whole pile that’s for knitting items for my shop. Oh, and the enormous scrap bag.  None of this is counted in the total. So, goal number two. I’m going to aim to knit 10,000 metres over the course of the next year. Apparently, my projects for 2018 used up over 15,000 metres of yarn, so this is a perfectly reasonable goal. The main problem will be that the Edinburgh Yarn Festival is in March, and I don’t have much willpower when it comes to resisting yarn. Part of goal number two, then, is that I’m not going to buy any yarn until March. Even if it’s in a charity shop and it’s super cheap and really pretty – this one will be a challenge!

Goal number three is a big one, and something that I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’ve blogged before about wanting to support small and independent brands, and to shop locally and handmade wherever possible. I also buy a lot of second hand stuff. I love trawling round charity shops, and very rarely get myself any new clothes. Ruth McGilp has been writing some excellent blogs about the ethics of the fashion industry recently, and really making the case for living sustainably. Recently she shared an article from Sophie Davies, who is challenging herself to buy all non-essential items second hand for a year. I liked the idea of this challenge, but wanted to add an extra element to it. Since I love making things, I’ve decided that my big challenge for 2019 will be to make my baby’s wardrobe. I already buy most of her things second hand, and I’m really lucky to have been given some beautiful clothes as presents for her. However, from now on, I’m not going to buy anything else. I can knit socks, jumpers, and cardigans. I’ve just had my sewing machine fixed, and with the help of the classes I did at Red Thread Studio and a great book I got in a sale today, I should be able to make trousers, t shirts, dungarees, dresses and so on. I’ll be using mostly fabrics from my stash, and if there’s anything else I need then I’ll look in charity shops and scrap stores for it. It will be a lot of work, but it will also be really satisfying I think. If all goes well, I might do the same for myself and the older kids next year!

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If you fancy taking up the handmade challenge or shopping sustainably for yourself, I’ve found some great blog posts which might give you some ideas –

Sustainably sewing your me-made wardrobe

Sustainable sewing blog series

My green closet

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Cinnamon Hat

It’s almost Christmas, so it’s the time for last minute gift knitting! If you’re making something in a hurry you want it to be simple yet effective, and I hope this hat fits the bill. It’s knitted in soft chunky yarn with a wool content, making it super warm, but you could substitute any standard chunky from your stash. You need approximately 125m (136yds) of yarn. The hat is knitted in the round on circular needles, and fits a standard sized adult head. It features a simple cable pattern, and is topped with an optional pompom. The folded brim makes it very cosy.

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The pattern is available for free, but if you’re not a knitter then I have a few of these hats for sale at The Leith Collective. If you knit this, please upload your projects to Ravelry or tag them on Instagram #cinnamonhat – it’s always so great to see what people have made!


Cinnamon Hat

Size – to fit average adult head of 56cm, finished unstretched circumference is 51cm

You will need –

1 ball of Hayfield Chunky with Wool, 80% acrylic/20% wool, 145m (158yds) per 100g ball. 6mm circular needle (40cm, or larger for magic loop) and 6mm DPNs for top of hat. Yarn needle for sewing in ends. Cable needle. Pompom.

Gauge – 14sts to 10cm (4in) in stocking stitch on 6mm needles.

Special Abbreviations –

C3R – hold next 3sts at back of work on cable needle, k3, then k3 from cable needle.

C2R – hold next 2sts at back of work on cable needle, k2, then k2 from cable needle.

Instructions

Cast on 72 sts on 6mm needles, join to work in rnd.

Work 28 rnds K2 P2 rib, starting K2.

Patt rnd: *K6, p6, rep from * to end of rnd.

Rep this last rnd three more times.

Cable rnd: *C3R, p6, rep from * to end of rnd.

Work patt rnd five times.

Rep these last six rnds once more.

Dec for top of hat:

Rnd 1: *C3R, p2tog, p4, rep from * to end of rnd. 66sts.

Rnd 2: *K6, p5, rep from * to end of rnd.

Rnd 3: *K6, p2tog, p3, rep from * to end of rnd. 60sts.

Rnd 4: *K6, p4, rep from * to end of rnd.

Rnd 5: *K6, p2tog, p2, rep from * to end of rnd. 54sts.

Rnd 6: *K6, p3, rep from * to end of rnd.

Rnd 7: *C3R, p2tog, p1, rep from * to end of rnd. 48sts.

Rnd 8: *K6, p2, rep from * to end of rnd.

Rnd 9: *K6, p2tog, rep from * to end of rnd. 42sts.

Rnd 10: *K6, p1, rep from * to end of rnd.

Rnd 11: *K2, k2tog, k2, p1, rep from * to end of rnd. 36sts.

Rnd 12: *K1, k2tog, k2, p1, rep from * to end of rnd. 30sts.

Rnd 13: *C2R, p1, rep from * to end of rnd.

Rnd 14: *K4, p1, rep from * to end of rnd.

Rnd 15: *K2tog twice, p1, rep from * to end of rnd. 18sts.

Rnd 16: K2tog to end of rnd. 9sts.

Draw yarn through rem sts and fasten off. Attach a pompom if desired.

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Skinny Rib Scarf

One of the most popular free patterns in my Ravelry store  is the Chunky Woven Scarf. It’s a simple textured scarf in super chunky yarn, and will knit up easily in an hour or two. It’s perfect for a beginner who is just learning to combine knit and purl stitches in patterns.

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I sell some of my knitwear in Edinburgh, and recently designed another very simple scarf pattern which is on sale at Leith Collective in Ocean Terminal. This one uses knit and purl stitches to create a ribbed effect. It’s also ideal for a beginner, and creates a lovely stretchy and squishy fabric. I’ve used Cygnet Seriously Chunky for the two scarves pictured below. The yarn is a super soft 100% acrylic, meaning that it’s machine washable, won’t affect those with wool allergies, and is vegan friendly. It’s also incredibly cosy! You need two balls of one colour if you’d like to make your own scarf – there are twenty different solid shades to choose from as well as mixed colours and metallics. I chose Just Denim and Plum.

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Here’s the pattern if you’d like to knit your own! If you need help with the basics, I’ve linked to some videos that might be useful at the bottom of this post. You can knit the scarf longer or shorter, and cast on more or less stitches to vary the width.

Skinny Rib Scarf

You will need – Cygnet Seriously Chunky, 100% acrylic, 48m per 100g ball – 2 balls per scarf. 1 pair 12mm knitting needles. Yarn needle with large eye for sewing in ends.

Gauge – 8 sts x 10 rows to 10cm in stocking stitch on 12mm needles, although gauge is largely unimportant for this project.

Instructions –

First of all, cut 10 lengths of yarn around 6″ long. Put these aside for the tassels.

Cast on 9 sts.

Row 1 – *K1, p1, rep from * to last st, k1.

Row 2 – *P1, k1, rep from * to last st, p1.

Rep Rows 1 and 2 until there is around 15″ of yarn from second ball left.

Cast off in rib pattern.

Sew in yarn ends, and attach 5 tassels to each end of scarf as follows.

Fold each 6″ piece of yarn in half. Insert the loop through the end of the scarf. Pull the ends of the yarn through the loop. Pull taut. Make sure the tassels are distributed evenly.

Wear and enjoy!

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How to cast on

How to knit stitch

How to purl stitch

How to cast off

Knitting rib stitch

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The Leith Collective

Over the past few months I’ve noticed that there’s been a definite drive to move away from consumerism and shopping with big retailers, towards independent businesses and shopping handmade or second hand. Campaigns like Just A Card are raising awareness of local small businesses, and there’s a great image going round social media encouraging people to shop ethically for the festive season.

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We don’t need to make lots of new things, especially plastics, when there’s so much good stuff in the world which can be reused and repurposed. The Leith Collective in Ocean Terminal certainly share this philosophy, showcasing the work of lots of independent designers and makers. They have a particular emphasis on stocking products which are created from recycled and upcycled materials, from beautiful driftwood art to amazing sculptures made from scrap metal.

I love this table, although unfortunately I don’t know who the maker is.

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This jewellery is made from bicycle inner tubes by Upcycled World, and the designer has other beautiful pieces which are painted in gorgeous marbled jewel tones. It’s so pretty, yet made from what would usually be considered a waste material.

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I also love this gorgeous knitwear from Janer Designs, the colours are beautiful.

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I’ve just started selling my work there, which I’m super excited about! Most of what I sell is created from repurposed materials, allowing me to keep prices reasonable and affordable. I try to keep my packaging to a minimum and recyclable where possible.

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I usually make unique items, and currently have some knitwear in stock as well as crocheted Christmas baubles and lavender hearts. The baubles are made in pure cotton and wool mix yarns, and sold in colour coordinated sets of 3.

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The hearts are hand embroidered and sewn from offcuts of Harris Tweed and tartan, then filled with French and Albanian lavender which is a natural moth repellent.

The shop is a perfect place to do some Christmas shopping, as there are many items under £10 or £20 and lots of things that would work well as gifts. Pop in and have a look around if you’re in Edinburgh!

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Christmas Time!

I haven’t blogged in ages, because I’ve been doing this –

I’m currently playing Smee in “Peter Pan” with the Takeaway Theatre Company. We’ve travelled the country from Wiltshire to Aberdeen and most places in between, and I’ve got 10 days off before going back for the final week of the show. There hasn’t been much time for crafting in between doing two or three shows a day, and travelling around 5000 miles (so far)!

It’s been a fantastic job, but it’s great to be home as well, coming back to these cheeky little faces.

Hope you’ve all had a very merry Christmas, and may 2010 be a fantastic year!

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Hats for the Homeless

I belong to a local knitting group who are currently knitting hats for homeless people, so I’ve spent most of the week working on a quick and easy pattern. I wanted something quite simple so that it would suit a beginner knitter, and would hopefully appeal to the tastes of a wide range of people. Not knowing the recipients, I also opted for colours that were likely to be neutral and weren’t strongly associated with any football team. The yarn is a super soft acrylic, which will be really warm but will also dry much faster than wool after wet weather. The resulting pattern is available below – feel free to use it to make hats for gifts or charity causes. It’s really easy to customise it by adding motifs, stripes, pompoms or other embellishments.

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Basic Hat

Size – to fit a medium (large) adult head

You will need – King Cole Big Value Chunky, 100% acrylic, 153m per 100g ball – 1 ball per hat – I used Seaspray and Grey, 5.5mm circular needle or long DPNs, yarn needle.

Gauge – 15sts to 10cm/4in on 5.5mm needles

Instructions –

Cast on 72 (80) sts and join to work in the round. Place stitch marker to mark beg of round.

Work in K2 P2 rib for 28 (32) rounds, starting with K2.

Work 18 (22) rounds in st st, dec 2sts on last round for smaller size only. 70 (80) sts

Decrease for crown –

Rnd 1 – *K8, k2tog, rep from * to end of rnd. 63 (72) sts

Rnd 2 and every other even numbered rnd – k to end

Rnd 3 – *K7, k2tog, rep from * to end of rnd. 56 (64) sts

Cont in this way until 14 (16) sts rem.

Next rnd – K2 tog to end of rnd. 7 (8) sts

Draw yarn through rem sts and fasten off.

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