Monday, 27 October 2014

Stash bust crochet granny square cushion

The ongoing stash bust continues!  I had a big clear out recently and got rid of a few balls of yarn languishing at the bottom of my stash box, having not seen the light of day in years.  It's amazing how easy it is to accumulate these things, 50p from a charity shop here, inherited from a friend or elderly relative there.  I'm pretty much done with my yarn stash now, everything I own I either have plans for or is nice enough to keep for the sake of keeping, knowing I will find a use for it in the future.  All the aged, nasty acrylic in bizarre colours are gone finally, used up or passed on.  I feel very zen...

...she says, eyeing up the bulging piles of fabric...

One step at a time.


I made this cushion for my Gran as part of her Christmas present.  She's one of those women who is impossible to buy for, in that she has a house crammed full of STUFF, half of which she never uses.  I try not to buy her STUFF, since I know half the time it disappears into the house, never to be seen or heard from again.  I fully expect to find every DVD I ever bought her, still in the shrink wrap, when the time comes to clear that little bungalow.


A cushion or throw though, that's the kind of stuff she'll use.  She and my Grandad have a stove and like to sit and doze in front of the fire at the end of a long day of extra curricular activities.  They are the busiest people you'll ever meet, their social calendar amazes me and makes me tired just looking at it.  A nice plump cushion will be used every day I reckon.  Just need to think of something to go with it in a similar vein, maybe a second smaller cushion or throw...


I used a selection of acrylic from my stash.  The lightest blue is actually doubled up because I think it's 4ply and the darker blues are worsted weight.  Or something similar.  I didn't have enough black for the entire back, so I added on the 3 matching colours of blue.  I like how it looks, though if I'd planned it instead of making it up as I went along, I would have put the blues in the centre as well, to break up all the black.


I backed each front section with black fabric from my stash (yes! Fabric stash busting! See, I'm not entirely a hoarder).  I didn't have enough for 2 full squares, so each square is actually made up of two halves, sewn together on my overlocker.  There's black corduroy and cotton/acrylic mix in there, I figured it doesn't matter too much so long as it's black as no one will see through the crochet.


I sewed the black backing to the front sections, and the front and back to each other, using the overlocker.  Not my best idea ever, the cutting blade on the overlocker sliced up some of the edging crochet nicely, without actually catching with the thread, meaning the worst of both worlds - seams not sewn closed AND unwravelling crochet left, right and centre.  Nothing a bit of stealthy handsewing can't fix, but not my finest hour.  Added to that, the thickness of 2 layers of crochet plus 2 layers of fabric, and the poor overlocker was groaning away.  I was lucky to get away with it as I did but it's holding together so far and looks pretty professional I think.


All in all though, a success.  Just got to think of a coordinating present to make or buy to go with it.  Any suggestions?

Monday, 20 October 2014

Lacy Grey Cowl by Whisper Twister

I bought my first crochet pattern off Etsy a few months back, as my easy project to make on the honeymoon.  I chose the Lacy Grey Cowl by Whisper Twister, a pattern labelled as 'Advanced Beginner'.  "Sounds super simple" I thought to myself as I clicked 'add to basket', "perfect for some beachside crafting".  Well, like many things on the honeymoon (or VomFest '14), things didn't go according to plan...


I used the remains of the lovely Studio Donegal left over from my green cable knit hat.  There wasn't quite enough for the 6 rows of fans detailed in the pattern, so I made do with 4 and a half.  The result is a rather skinny cowl, totally wearable but definitely more suited to late summer/early autumn weather, as opposed to the almost-winter type temperatures we've had recently.  As you can see from the photos, it does tend to hang with a bit of decolletage on display (read: exposed chilly gooseflesh), which I think may just accentuate the fact that it's just a WEE bit too skinny.



The pattern itself on the whole was easy enough to read, but the author definitely assumes some prior knowledge that I found myself sadly lacking.  My normal attitude to this is 'plough on and see what happens'...meaning I spent a decent amount of time frogging.  Boo.  When holed up in a Premier Inn with a vomiting husband on what is supposed to be the first few days of your honeymoon in the Caribbean, this was more upsetting than normal, rational Amy would find.




Saying that though, at one point I emailed the author to look for direction.  This normally puts me right off a pattern, since a well written pattern shouldn't need guidance from the author, but to his or her credit, they got back to me within the hour.  Great customer service there!


Overall, I'm pleased with my cowl and it will definitely get a lot of wear on warmer autumnal or spring days.  I like that it matches my hat and I love love LOVE the yarn, it's super soft and I heart the colour.  I'm not sure I would buy another Whisper Twister pattern, but now I've got this one and I know better what I'm doing, I would probably make it again.  Another wider cowl, possibly in slightly chunkier yarn would be nice for those winter dog walks.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Lola t-shirt planning

Remember when I told you all about my refashioned men's fairisle sweater for the Sew Amy Sew Repurpose Reuse Refashion competition?  WELL, I WON!!  I know, right?!  Who ever thought it possible that I would win a SEWING competition?!  I won the 'So Simple but So Effective' category but to be honest, I love that cardi with a passion so even if I hadn't won the competition, I definitely won at this particular project!

After refashioned men's fairisle sweater by Craft & Thrift

My prize?  My choice of pattern from a range of awesome indie designers.  I chose the Lola T-shirt pattern from Tessuti Fabrics, I figured it would be a simple but effective (see what I did there?  Eh? Eh?!) pattern to help me master my new-to-me overlocker but also the kind of pattern I would wear over and over.


It's a download and print at home PDF affair, which I love because there's less pressure to trace or cut it out, where I inevitably go wrong and waste an expensive paper pattern.  I raided my stash (in my ongoing 2014 resolution...) for fabrics and came up with these that I think fit the bill as either cotton, viscose or linen knit.  I think.  They are all thrifted after all so I'm actually not sure what they all are.


First up, scrap of knit bought from St Albans market (where my folks live) approximately 75 years ago.  I kid.  But seriously, it was YEARS ago.  I'm not so keen on the slightly wacky, 70's style pattern, but I like the brown and I figured as a possible wearable muslin, it would be a good place to start because if it doesn't work out, I'm not hugely fussed by the fabric.  Down side though, it's pretty thin and stretchy, which I think might make my life difficult.  Plus side, cost me 75p because the stall holder had vanished and after waiting in the rain for 10 minutes for him to return, I got bored and left the change in my wallet on the table and took the fabric. I feel guilty about it now (sorry St Albans market Fabric Dude), but to be fair, who leaves their market stall unattended without at least a sign?


Second up and second favourite, black with red flowers.  I like this a lot but large prints don't tend to suit me, being of the small variety.  Also, black will go with nothing in my wardrobe since brown is the base colour for my clothes.  But still, wearable muslin and all that.


Third and best, the green.  I really like this and think it'll suit me best and get the most wear but we'll see.  That's why I'd like to do the first two first, as a practice run so by the time I get to this one I hopefully won't make any stupid mistakes.  This is the thickest weight-wise though, so not sure if that's going to work with a drapey t-shirt.  We'll just have to wait and see!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Sewing room tour!

I'm back!  The wedding was amazing, honestly the best day, I really couldn't have wished for anything better.  The honeymoon, on the other hand, ended up being cancelled due to Andrew and I both contracting a horrible vomiting bug, which landed poor Andrew up in hospital briefly.  We spent 3 nights in Premier Inn Gatwick then limped our way back up to Edinburgh to recuperate.  Not quite the start to married life I had envisioned but in sickness and in health and all that!  We're claiming on insurance so fingers crossed will be able to rebook some other time but in the meantime have spent my remaining time off spending our wedding money on new furniture!


We've been planning on reorganising the spare room for years now, but never had the funds available to see it through.  Thanks to our very generous friends and family we spent a fun day in Ikea, picking out storage solutions and sofa beds.  It's really given the room a new lease of life, it's much more open and spacious now, with more storage for my sewing and knitting supplies and more room for me to spread out if necessary.

The sofa bed is a Vilasund from Ikea.  It was surprisingly easy to put together and we slept on it the first night (don't tell anyone, you're supposed to leave the mattresses to 'plump up' for at least 72hrs before using them...).  It's lovely to have the fire on, snuggled in the sofa bed, looking at my stash and planning all my autumn sewing projects.  You may have seen a view from the sofa bed on my Instagram feed (Craftandthrift).  I'm planning some bright, tweed wool cushion covers for the sofa!


We're using a vintage metal trunk donated by Andrew's folks years ago as a coffee table/storage solution.  I love the brass coloured clips and nails and the black corners, not so keen on the person who wrote all over it in sharpie though.  I'm thinking maybe some white spirit or nail varnish remover might bring that off but I'm worried about damaging it, or ended up with odd looking lighter patches.


This beautiful silver tea set was a wedding gift from Frances.  It's from the 1920's and I love it.  It goes perfectly with my silver tea strainer (see original post here).



Aren't these prints adorable?  'Adopt a buddy' was a gift from Victoria and 'A Tiny Visitor' is Laura George.  I love her stuff, I could seriously buy almost everything in her shop.




The storage unit is the classic Ikea Expedit, renamed as 'Kallax'.  We built two of these this weekend (the other is in the kitchen) so this second one went up in about 20 minutes.  I love that I can see most of my stash now (the rest of it is in the trunk - shame on me for having ALL THE FABRICS...).  It's super handy to have somewhere to store my sewing machine and overlocker as well, rather than them gathering dust under my desk.  The wicker basket on top was £5 from a charity shop, I bought the red leather straps off Ebay and used it to hold cards at our wedding.  Now it's being used to store craft supplies!  The knitting needle holder next to it is a recycled champagne bottle, rose Moet no less!


My antique sewing box, inherited from Andrew's gran.  I love it, I love the design and all the little corners to store things in.


Even the puppy approves of the new craft nook.  I love sheepskin rugs, I only ever buy them second hand but I love that it uses the whole of the animal, rather than just the meat.  This one was from an auction room and I hand washed and blew it dry with my hairdryer, it took 2 days but came up super soft and fluffy so was totally worth it.  I want to buy more for the lounge, this one and it's pair get moved around the house all the time because we love them so much.

All in all, I love my new craft corner.  So much more organised and relaxing, I'm looking forward to some autumn/winter sewing, with the fire on!