Jul 14, 2015

Sewing, Knitting, Crochet, Studying, Holidays...

I didn't know what to call this post, so it's a little bit of everything I've been doing in the past few weeks.

I finished this little bird shaped lavender bag for Emilie's teacher which she gave her on the last day of school:

I got the lavender in TK-Maxx (yes, I know, it's not the first place I would have thought of either, but I grabbed it all the same when I saw it) and I have some left so I'll make some more for the car and the house when I get a minute... Or a few days;)

I also made my teenage daughter this laptop bag which I'm very proud of. I couldn't find a sewing pattern for a padded bag with handles and velcro fastening and I wouldn't settle for a pattern that didn't do everything I wanted it to, so I mixed the instructions for a tablet cover from a sewing book I have at home and watched a Craftsy video tutorial to learn how to attach strong handles. I also added a little inside pocket that's really handy for storing earphones (also learnt through the Craftsy tutorial).

I haven't listed anything new on my Etsy shop, but summer is usually quiet enough for knitted and crochet accessories, so I'm happy enough renewing items as they expire for now.

I spent the last 2 weeks doing quite a bit of studying - as much as I could anyway, not easy with my daughters now on holidays and at home most of the time - so not doing a lot of knitting during the day but I managed to finish my summer top while watching "Who's That Girl" on Netflix in the evenings.

I even managed to finish crocheting my youngest daughter's top that was left unfinished since last month (oops!)

I've just applied for my mock exams so that I can sit the first set of exams before going on holidays next month - I'm not the stressed-out-about-exams kind of person, but I'd rather have them out of the way when I'm visiting my family for 2 weeks in August - then I'll be ready for more studying as my next modules should be available by the time I'm back from holidays (if I do pass my exams, that is;).

In the meantime, I have to finish my eldest daughter's knitted crop top and I have a few little sewing projects in mind to use up some of my fabric scraps. I hope to make a few more Fimo buttons for using on new crochet or knit mug and phone cosies (the last buttons I bought on Ebay are very cheap looking so I don't want to use these on my accessories, maybe my daughters can find some craft projects to use them for).

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Jun 26, 2015

Taking It Easy

As the title suggests, there's not much happening at the moment, apart from a few small things I made, as I'm still doing my accounting course.

I've made a few crochet mug cozies for which I made my own buttons out of Fimo clay but I haven't listed these in my shop yet (they do look a bit out of season, the ones with an applique heart looks too much like a Valentine's day item to list yet).

Last week I bought some cute fabric that my daughter picked herself as I promised her a padded laptop sleeve - I need to find a nice pattern with a handle on it to make it easy to carry, maybe also an inside pocket for her earphones or a little matching purse she can use to tidy them inside.

My evenings at the moment are taken up by the box top I'm knitting for myself. The pattern is for a crop box top but at my (advanced!) age I won't get away with a crop top so I'm making it a little bit longer; since the pattern is just 2 rectangles it's easy to adapt the length:)

When my eldest daughter saw me starting my top she immediately requested one for herself too, but she's young and get get away with wearing anything so of course for her it's going to be a crop top! The yarn has already been bought and between her yarn and the materials for her laptop sleeve I've already spent over €30 (I think she's paying me back with the crochet cushion she's crocheting for me as a late birthday present...Using some of my own stash!)

And the last project I want to share here for today is a cross-stitch bookmark I made as a gift for a member of the knitting group that has been coming to my youngest daughter's class once a week and teaching them how to knit: it took me 3.5 hours and I had to do it in one single session as I was given very short notice. I can tell you cross-stitching isn't easy on the eyes: I'm just starting to recover 3 days later (well maybe also a little less time on my Facebook feed might help;)

That's all for now folks!

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May 29, 2015

(Mis)Adventures In Sewing

As I finally made up my mind to make a pretty padded cover for my daughter's tablet (I bought all the fabric, lining, interfacing, wadding back in January or February from my favourite craft shop in Galway;-), I told myself there was no way I could go wrong if I took my time and followed the instructions very closely (I am still a little scared of my sewing machine:).

Of all the things that could go wrong:

1- The interfacing I got was fusible (iron on): well of course I had to iron on the wrong side of the interfacing and since I didn't think of using a tea towel to protect my iron, the iron ended up with a sticky layer of goo stuck on it!

Luckily enough I called Google to the rescue and grabbed an old towel, wet it and started ironing it, which took a bit off but not all, so I grabbed a bottle of white vinegar and sprayed a bit on the towel, which was successful (remind me next time to put the slightly shiny side against the fabric, not the iron!)

Then I thought what a genius I was for buying extra fabric (the fabric wasn't damaged, but I wasn't finished yet...), lots of interfacing and wadding, so I could afford wasting a little of that interfacing.

2- Of course I had to to sew the loop the wrong way: right on the inside! I blamed the instructions for not being adapted to sewing dummies like me and assuming I would know I had to sew it on the inside of the inside (so it comes out on the outside of the finished thing, if you know what I mean), so I pulled the whole thing inside out again to undo the stitches and inserted the loop inside out this time so that it would come out on the outside when I put everything the right way out again: this is a very useful mistake to do, one I'll remember every single time I have to sew a fastening system on a sewing project and that illustrates perfectly the old saying that wants me to learn through my mistakes;)

3- the tablet fits snugly in the cover, but I could have made it an extra cm deeper, but this will have to stay like this now because I don't have super powers that allow me stretching fabric yet: I was careful to add an extra 3cm to all 4 sides, as indicated by the pattern, but maybe an extra cm on the top would have made it look better; nevermind, once it's cut, there's no going back:(

In conclusion I'm glad to say that sewing machines aren't all that scary after all, especially once you know stitches can be undone, you can fix your mistakes, and in the end I came out with a lovely padded tablet cover for my daughter:
Finished tablet cover for my sweetie-loving daugther
Now I really wish I could clone myself because there's a lot of knitting and crochet I need to do (I'll show you my knitted socks in my next post), some studying, more listings to add on Etsy (that's not going to happen for some time now, I'm after listing 6 items this week:), and more sewing and cross-stitching projects calling my name: I'm wondering how would my teenage daughter like a marketing job experience this summer helping me out with promoting my stuff online - if only I could afford to pay her (maybe I'll bribe her with a knitted scarf and a laptop cover;)

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May 12, 2015

Studying And Cross-Stitching With A Fury

I've been busy with the accounting course I started over the past 4 weeks, and, because I can't seem to focus on it for more than an hour at a time, I need to take breaks.

I could be reading, watching "House Of Cards" on Netflix, knitting or crocheting during these breaks, but one thing that seems to work well for me is cross-stitch. I think it's the fact that once I have a chart and cross-stitch fabric in front of me, there's no much thinking required, just fill these little squares with little crosses using the colours indicated in the charts.

Of course one thing I'm guilty of is turning my breaks into hour-long sessions of cross-stitching, but as long as my children are picked up from school on time and fed and that I'm not behind in my online course, who cares? (I could do with a clean house during the week but I'm trying to keep the same routine as if I had to go out to work and most of the housework get done on Saturday mornings - life is too short to spend too much time on things I hate doing;-)

I did crochet a top last week for my daughter (I still need to shorten the shoulder straps and crochet a decorative pink flower on the belt), losely following this pattern as I was doing it for a bigger size in a different thickness yarn and I was a bit confused by the XStitch instructions (I got a little bit of help from Google again:) and finished knitting something for a new baby due to be born soon in my neighbourhood (sorry, I'm not posting the picture until I've given it to the mother), but since I've taken out the kit for an embroidered purse that came with a Cath Kidston book I've been given last year, I've been mostly studying and cross-stitching - I'll have to be careful not to put the assembling of the purse on the long finger like the tablet case I'm supposed to sew for my daughter - that reminds me...

Cross-stitch motif finished, before washing leftover soluble canvas out

Crochet top with stretched out shoulder straps that need to be shortened

In other news there's been a delay for my headband knitting patterns because I accidentally stretched them out too much when blocking them! I've washed them and pinned them again on my foam mat this morning; hopefully they won't take another week to dry and I should be able to take some decent pictures before I'm able to list the headbands and the corresponding knitting patterns in my Etsy shop.

Re-blocking 3 headbands

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Apr 22, 2015

Headband Knitting Patterns

I've started typing 3 knitting patterns for 3 different cabled headband designs, in English and French. I like cables, I think it makes the headbands look thick and warm so once again I guess I'm knitting out of season. I thought I would have these headband patterns done within about a week but it's actually taking more time than I thought as I'm clearly not good at making decisions:

1- What wool should I use? I'm working with Drops Nepal for now; it's a lovely wool/alpaca mix Aran weight yarn (worsted in US terms) but I don't want my pattern buyers to be stuck with that one brand, so I've knit them in acrylic and wool/acrylic mix. I would like to know if they would work in cotton too but I might leave that for another summery, lace design.

Yummy Drops Nepal Yarn
More Drops Nepal

2- Sizes: I would like to have at least 3 sizes, ranging from children age 7 to large size women, but where do I stop? I have a small head for an adult so I find it hard to knit for a large head: between my 2 daughters and me, the 3 heads in my household measure between 20.5 and 21 inches and the heads of my dummies are also 21.5 and 21 inches but when I search for hat/headband head sizes I see that the average head size for a woman is 22 inches, meaning that there must be some women out there with a 23 inches or more head size (I find it hard to believe, with the tiny brain in my child-sized head;). I don't think it really matters that much as all the headband designs are knitted flat, meaning I could just write the pattern for a repeat and indicate to knit as many repeats as your need for your head size, but that for me, is a lazy pattern, making me look like I couldn't be bothered stating how many repeats for a certain head size, and I don't want to give my customers that impression.

The Acrylic Test
3- I want to list the finished items in my shop too, and I think I should just have a medium size headband to use for my photos but with 3 designs and the 4 new beautiful colours of Drops Nepal yarn I picked, but I need to make the largest size too, in order to determine whether 1 ball of yarn is enough for all sizes; I wonder if I should list just 1 design per colour or go crazy and knit the headbands in lots of different colours, knowing that I might get an order for a colour/size combination I didn't make and then need to have all the colours in my stash just in case so I don't have to wait close to a week for yarn on a custom order to be delivered?

Decisions, decisions....I might have a clearer idea once I've had some coffee;)

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Apr 4, 2015

Free Easter Knitting and Crochet Patterns

Today I've decided not to bore you with any new items I have available in my Etsy shop (in order to do that I would have to have new items to show you!), but instead to put all the hours I spent online looking for free Easter patterns to good use by writing a blog post about my finds.

First is Moji Moji Design's Little Chirpy Chicks: I was working on filling an egg box with mine but I won't have time to make 6 before Sunday since I only started earlier in the week and all that online browsing is very time consuming (and with Irish Water installing a water meter outside my house with no warning and leaving the water mains switched off, I've had more than my fair share of distractions, like trying to fix the airlock that caused my heating to be out of action for 2 days:(
Moji Moji Design's Little Chirpy Chicks

Next are the very popular and easy to make Easter Chicks from Linda's Crafty Corner: these can be knit or crocheted and can be stuffed or filled with a Cadbury's Creme Egg (these don't stay full for long in my house;)
Easter Chicks from Linda's Crafty Corner

If you prefer knitted bunnies, Red Heart has these Five Little Bunnies free knitting pattern available for download:
Five Little Bunnies from Red Heart

Julie at Little Cotton Rabbits has some handsome knitted Easter egg decorations with 4 different colour charts for those brave enough to try intarsia knitting:
knitted Easter egg decorations from Little Cotton Rabbits

And finally to display your handmade Easter decorations, I found a free crochet pattern for a pretty Easter basket by Jam Made:
Easter basket by Jam Made

As usual my not very good timing meant that I only got to finish one Easter chick so far, hopefully I'll get to finish the 3 I started to crochet by tomorrow, but the main thing is that the Easter Bunny visits my house, because I haven't eaten chocolate for a few days, and I'm in serious withdrawal, craving for a Lindt Bunny now;)
The Easter Chicks I'm making (work in progress)

Happy Easter!

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Mar 29, 2015

Crochet Baby Sets Now In My Etsy Store

I busied myself over the last few week making these crochet baby sets in matching colours with my crochet baby blankets.

Blue and White Crochet Baby Hat and Booties Set
Pink and White Crochet Baby Hat and Booties Set
Green and Grey Crochet Baby Hat and Booties Set
Yellow and Purple Crochet Baby Hat and Booties Set

For those who wish to buy the full set of Hat + Booties with the matching blanket, I am offering a 10% discount when 2 items are bought together: use the coupon code BABY10 at checkout to avail of the discount.

The hats were easy enough to crochet but the booties were a bit trickier: I had an image in my mind and because I'm very stubborn, I made up my own design rather than using something I half liked.

As the booties were fiddly and tricky enough to crochet, I only made them in one size. I will make them in a different size if anyone requests it but I don't think I'll publish a pattern for it (I'm not really confident enough to make proper crochet patterns in different sizes and I need to focus on designing more knitting patterns anyway). The pattern for the hat is too easy to ask for payment (I also only made it in one size), so I don't feel I should ask for crocheters to pay for the pattern; I might try and write it up on here if I have an hour or 2 during the week (or next week, or next month...) so watch this space;)

During the week I also knitted 3 new headbands so I hope to have the 3 corresponding patterns soon; once again I only made them in one size so I'll have to spend a little longer knitting them in at least 2 other sizes and using different yarns before I can publish the patterns: designing is a very slow process for me.

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