Oct 13, 2015

That Time Already? Catch Up Show And Tell...

It's been over 2 months since I last updated my blog: I will blame my accountancy course but if I'm honest it's probably all the time I spend on Facebook that's the guilty party.

Here are a few things I've been doing since August:

2 knitted dogs: one for each of my daughters. Not my favourite things to make but if my kids are happy with them, I'm happy:)

I've decided to learn a few new knitting stitches: here's entrelac, which would probably be good for a cushion cover or a blanket, but since I'd rather crochet large home accessories than knit them, I don't think that's really for me (my curiosity about knitting entrelac has been satisfied, I can move on;)

Cheering for the Galway hurling and gaelic football teams with a maroon/white headband: I'm not into sports but if I'm going to support a team, might as well be a local one (I won't mention the French rugby team that miserably failed at beating the Irish team last Sunday, I should really forget I ever tried to take an interest:(

More knitting experiments, and I've discovered twisted stitches: now I can twist to the right, and I can also twist to the left! I'm not sure how I've lived (knitted) for so long without knowing about these, but I immediately started to see a few possibilities:

 A crochet blanket (or afghan if you want me to be posh about it;) in progress: 77 of these circles made so far, the blanket is supposed to have 132 but I'm not sure whether I'll make it full size; these little circles are going to be made into squares and joined using grey, this is my week-ends project (but I can be seen working on it from Friday to Thursday if I'm between other projects;)

My lovely shiny wool that I've decided to start using at last:

I had planned to make a lace wrap that can double up as an oversize scarf (I do like accessories that have more than one use) but since it's looking like I'll need at least 4 balls of each colour and possibly also 4 weeks each to complete - especially if I'm going to continue studying AND caring for my children at the same time. I only have 2 balls of each colour, I can't see it working with different colour stripes (did you call me stubborn?) and even if I could afford buying more wool I wouldn't be guaranteed to find the exact same shades, so I've decided to made some smaller accessories...to be continued in a few weeks (or follow me on Facebook) if you want to see what I've decided to make with it.

Oh and I nearly forgot to include the mini project I made at the week end: these are 2 microwavable heat packs made with fabric scraps (I'm trying to use cotton but I don't have labels of all my scraps so I'm closing my eyes hoping they won't melt or explode in my microwave oven while I heat them up). I filled these with rice and set the oven for 30 seconds on full power (I think mine goes up to 850W), but I think they need to be heated for longer - hopefully nothing bad will happen!

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Aug 4, 2015

July Crafting, Exams, A Birthday And Holidays.

I successfully sat both my accountancy tests last week and I'm due to go to France in 3 days so I'm taking a break from studying until I come back (or until the girls are back in school at the very end of August if I can get away with it:)

My latest make is this reversible tote bag that I made for my youngest daughter - she wanted to make it herself but it took me so long to get the supplies ready and I must admit I was being a bit of a control freak and was afraid of mistakes. I think maybe a smaller project like a small lavender bag may be easier for her to start with (and for me to let go a little of my control-freakedness)

I've also been working a little on my yarn stash and used the best of a giant 400g ball of aran yarn with this knitted infinity scarf for my eldest daughter (I made her a grey slouch hat last year so now she'll have the scarf to match), as well as 2 crochet hats that will be listed in my shop probably from September as I'm a bit poor on time at the moment - one slouchy and the other in a more classic shape.

I also finished my daughter's green cropped box top (or turquoise - we tend to fight about colours a lot as I don't seem to see colours the same way my daughters do - They see blue when I see green!)

My daughter's birthday is tomorrow and since both my girls are spending a few days with their Dad I had an early little birthday party with a not so little birthday cake:

I wanted to cross-stitch a birthday card and since she loves "My Little Pony" I decided to do Rainbow Dash: I just hadn't planned on it taking so goddamn long! It's a surprise so I started making it in my room during the day when she's in her room or outside playing - I did manage a few hours per day but now that she's at her Dad's until tomorrow I've been spending most of last night and today on it (while binge watching "The Killing" on Netflix). I do have to go to town tomorrow so really putting in the time today and I hope to have it finished by tomorrow evening when she comes home (but I can't promise anything).

The day after I get my girls back I have to pack for our annual holiday in France so I really, really need to finish thay Rainbow Dash quickly (especially since I'll be driving 4 hours to get to the Ferry and I'll need to rest my eyes from all the cross-stitching before going on a long drive). I'm overdoing it on my eye drops (because I suffer from dry eyes and I need eye drops even when I'm not cross-stitching) so hopefully I'll be able to see the road and not billions of tiny rainbow coloured crosses!

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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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