Sunday, 4 June 2017

Tunisian crochet - inspiration from a free gift

Drat these free gifts on the front of magazines that tempt me into experimenting with new crafts! They are a glorious curse, or maybe a damnable blessing. Either way, the Tunisian crochet hook on the front of a crochet magazine was perfectly timed, as I had been reading about the technique and was already interested. I like the way that it seems to combine crochet and knitting to produce something thicker (and therefore presumably warmer) than both.

The instructions I followed were clear and easy to understand. (Tunisian crochet basics ). Initially I had some difficulty keeping the edges straight. After a few rows I realised this was because I was missing the additional chain stitch between the forward and return pass. I like to think of this as the equivalent of the "turning chain" in ordinary crochet, but since Tunisian crochet isn't turned this might be confusing for other people. It also only appears at one end of the piece.

Once I had worked out this little glitch I had a play with crocheting in stripes. This is when the technique really became inspiring to me, because the finished pattern varies completely according to where you introduce the new colour. So, introducing the new colour at the start of the forward pass (going forward and then back) gives a classic striped pattern. However, doing the same stitch in the same way but introducing the new colour on the return pass (going back and then forwards) gives a kind of tweed-like pattern.

This has sent my mind spinning with ideas - the "tweed" pattern using a combination of space-dyed yarns, or one space-dyed and one solid colour. Jackets, pullovers...... cosy clothes for cold weather. I can feel the need to extend my yarn stash!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas cards by hand

There are few perks to having an illness that limits your energy - particularly when you are by nature an active person. However, lengthy periods of having to sit and rest can be useful if you can find a way to utilise them.
 Homemade Christmas cards is one such activity. In my days of being fit and healthy, I would never have had the time to make my own cards. Nowadays, however, cutting and sticking paper is a good way to fill periods of enforced stillness. It's satisfying, distracting, and generally appreciated by the recipient too.

This was my first foray into the world of paper-cutting. It was simple enough to be able to replicate for multiple cards, and the finished result was satisfyingly effective. That's another craft to add to the list!

Happy Christmas, everyone.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Beaded stars and strings of hearts

Oh dear. I've found Pinterest. I had avoided it for ages, but have finally succumbed. Why didn't I do this before???!!!

I am simultaneously drowning in inspiration and gasping with a drought of time - too long spent gazing excitedly at the computer screen. So, quite apart from the compulsory Christmas makes, I am only allowing myself to be distracted by the quickest of makes... or those which could become Christmas presents. (The justifications of a self-confessed crafting-addict!)

These two projects fall into a category each. The string of hearts was so ridiculously easy that I felt the need to complicate it slightly by needle-felting the fabric before making up. Fun, and still speedy, and at about a metre-and-a-half in length, it looks impressive too.

The beaded stars came about because I saw a tutorial at the exact moment that I needed an absorbing project that wasn't too complicated or time-consuming. Perfect. As a result I've made a fair few, and most of my friends will be getting one for Christmas.

Have a happy and crafty Christmas, everyone.


Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Two-tone dress

Another garment made with thanks to grandma's stash of fabric! In this case, there were a variety of pieces of vintage crepe in  various pastel shades and a broad range of qualities. None of the pieces was large enough on its own to make a complete garment. Some of them had annoying moth holes, and others had some unusual patterns across them caused by fading. However, after a bit of laundering and sorting I was able to get enough usable pieces together to make this paneled shift dress. I liked the areas of fading on the blue fabric, particularly as they almost match the shade of pink, so I decided to incorporate them into the dress.

The pattern came courtesy of Prima magazine (who now also helpfully have a website where you can find details to order some of their sewing patterns). I'm looking forward to trying some of their other designs soon.

Saturday, 24 September 2016


I've always had a bit of a scatter-gun approach to crafting. Like many crafters, I love trying new techniques and experimenting with different crafts. Unfortunately this can lead to quite a few UFO's (un-finished objects!) as I spot a new technique before I've finished a project, and just can't wait to dive in.

I have tried to be strict with myself, making an unwritten rule that I will only have three projects on the go at any one time and that I am not allowed to start an new project until I have finished one. This fails. One glance at my "PHD list" is evidence of this. The list has a couple of items that have been there for months (if not years). These are projects that have been abandoned for one excuse or another, but always usurped by another idea.

And then there are projects that are completed before they can even make it to the list. These are generally quick makes that I've seen somewhere else, that I just have to try out immediately. So, in homage to the long-suffering unfinished pieces (they'll get completed one day), and as a tribute to those rapid impulse projects, I am listing them both here. All the pictures are of the distraction projects.

Unfinished/interrupted/stalled projects

  • the guilt quilt (a pile of patchwork squares and cut pieces in the bottom drawer of my craft cupboard)
  • the T-shirt patchwork - I blame this stalling on my overlocker becoming temperamental. It's a flimsy excuse
  • A teddy bear - I've got as far as cutting it out....
  • Canvaswork embroidery - to be fair, I can only do this for short intervals
  • and then there are any larger dressmaking, knitting or crochet projects that I might have on the go at any one time.....

Interrupting impulse makes

  • wet-felted flowers - I saw how easy this was on TV, and had to try
  • Flat-wire "rose" rings - I got a lucky-dip jewellery-making bag, and had no idea what to do with the flat wire enclosed. After researching, I had to see if it was possible....
  • Crochet hexagons - just make up a sample to see if my idea will work on a bigger scale
  • French beaded flowers - seemed like a good way to use up some of those masses of seed-beads I was given
  • Beaded dragonfly - same excuse!
  • Underwear - well, I need some new ones, they're fairly quick, and I have to perfect comfort as well as prettiness
  • Hairpin crochet - this is great! It will work up fast and looks amazing. Need to check I can do it before I try and tackle a big project.
  • Netting bag - again, I can do this quickly just to experiment. I think it will be really useful in the future...
Well, you get the idea. I'm sure I'm not the only crafter guilty of such fickleness! Hurrah for eclectic skills!

Friday, 29 July 2016

Cushion covers

 These cushion covers were a kind of commission/Christmas gift. My Mum has two larger-than-average cushions that she wanted covers for, and having dropped a couple of massive hints, and told me the size of the cushions, she left me to it.

The design is all my own - the slashed effect was in my mind all along, but the actual dimensions got worked out as I went along. The slashes were created by sewing in panels of a contrasting fabric, with a slight overlap - in a similar way to stitching in a regular zip. I then alternated opening and closing the overlap, holding it in place with a few hand-stitches.

The detail I am proudest of in these cushions is the piping. I had never attempted adding piping to anything before. Here I made it from scratch - wrapping cord in the same contrast fabric I used in the slashes, before attaching it around the edges of the front panels. I really like the effect, and the way it pulls all the details together.

As an interesting aside, we are always told to photograph pieces in natural light. My Dad took these photos of the completed cushions (you can tell by the superior quality of the pictures!). Both the cushions are exactly the same, and we couldn't work out how they look like they are different colours in this picture. Eventually we realised it was because of the lighting. To the right of the picture is a large window streaming natural daylight, and to the left he had switched on an electric lamp. It's the clearest example I've seen of the difference lighting can make  to pictures.


Friday, 15 July 2016

A treasure trove of necklaces

I was given some beads. My best friend had been having a clear-out in her craft room, and gave me some things she no longer had need of. Among them were what she described as "some leftover beads". She evidently buys in bulk, as her leftovers included two giant jam-jars, one filled with black seed beads, the other with golden bugle beads.

I'm impressed (not to mention extremely grateful for the windfall!). Whenever I buy seed beads, it is by the 28g tube. I don't think I have ever seen so many beads all together.

She also gave me a large bag of featherweight silver headpins. And a bag of short golden eye-pins. And a bag of plastic crystal bi-cone seed beads. And a bag of..... well you get the idea. I'm a very lucky lady to have such a generous friend, and suddenly I had a heap of materials and inspiration.

So I set to making some necklaces - playing with ideas, indulging myself with this unexpected glut of beads. I've quite enjoyed the experience of creating without restraint. Usually I'm a fairly frugal crafter, making the most of every scrap. However, with this amount of raw material I am able to be completely indulgent and just play with ideas. Sometimes I am making small samples of designs to learn techniques, sometimes I just keep adding beads until an idea turns into a completed necklace.

So far I'm up to nine bead-heavy completed pieces; quite a little treasure trove. Most of all I am excited, and a little daunted, to see that there is no noticeable reduction in the materials. Better go and get back to work!