Friday, 31 December 2010

2010 Review

It's been a busy year!  This time last year I'd only just started sewing again after a 20-year break and had made just a handful of things.

2010 was very different.  
  • By my reckoning I've tried at least 15 new purse / bag patterns (some of them many times over - I've had more requests for the 200mm purse frame above than anything else I've made) - in total I've made 40 bags or purses of all descriptions.
  • I started knitting again - hadn't done that in about 20 years either!!
  • I learned to crochet - there was a lot of swearing involved, but I got there in the end and even managed to make some clothes!! I even think I prefer crochet to knitting now!
  • I learned japanese braiding (kumihimo) and plan to do much more next year.
  • I took some jewellery-making classes and now can make basic bracelets, necklaces and earrings.  Maybe not my forte ... but it was useful to to learn some of the techniques.
  • The fabric stash has expanded quite dramatically - even A has noticed!!  And my library of craft books is also growing.  
Not quite sure what I ought to learn in 2011 ... any suggestions?

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Some Christmas Presents I can now blog about...

It's hard finding things to make for men, isn't it?  I'm afraid that I used the 'one present fits all' approach and spent many a summer evening this year knitting very warm, woolly scarves from Jade Sapphire's booklet: 7 Manly Scarves.  Note to self: summer possibly isn't the best time to be knitting really warm stuff!

On the left is a lovely chevron pattern knitted in a wool / angora blend for my Dad; in the middle, my brother-in-law received the burgundy cashmere scarf (love that pattern) and on the right, the blue number for my father-in-law is merino scarf with an off-set rib pattern.  The easiest to knit was definitely the burgundy one ... the other two both involved some swearing and frogging.  Here's hoping the recipients don't start looking for the odd mistake that I overlooked / discovered too far past to unpick and fix!!  

As I don't have any more ideas on the subject of what to make for men, I'm back to buying them presents next year (I can hear the sighs of relief even at this distance!).

This almost made it into my closet instead of my mother-in-law's... but I'm unfortunately allergic to wool (not on my hands apparently - but I couldn't put this anywhere near my neck!)   This is a merino / alpaca / silk blend and is oh-so-very-warm.  The pattern is from a great blog ... the author had seen a Burberry cowl on sale for the 'bargain' price of $750 and baulked at paying so much for something she thought she could recreate .. . and she kindly shared her pattern online (which I would link to it if I could find the link again in my long list of favourites - watch this space; it'll appear here eventually).  This was an absolute pleasure to knit - although it's a cable scarf, it isn't a traditional cable pattern by any means.  Love it - will be making myself one soon as soon as I find that blasted link :-)

So, my mother-in-law did quite well this year as the cowl above wasn't her original pressie.  I started by making her a specs case from a Nicole Mallalieu pattern ... if I'm honest it didn't quite work out as well as I expected / hoped, but having binned one attempt completely I was determined to make this one work.  I persevered and got a half-way decent effort - but I wasn't entirely happy.  

Hence present number two.  As she seemed happy with both, maybe I just worry too much!?!

If I'm honest, I think the problem with the specs case was partly down to the skill level of the pattern - this is really quite advanced sewing - but also my very old sewing machine has a very clunky, large free arm and it didn't make sewing anything this small in diameter at all easy.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.  Alright?!!

Last, but by no means least, my sisters-in-law also got similar presents!  Two matching purses using Nicole Mallalieu's 200mm purse pattern and some gorgeous Japanese fabric.  This fabric is just the best - wish I could have bought some more before my supplier ran out.  I love it and only have a very small amount left.

I think that's about it for the presents you haven't already seen.  I made pencil cases in the summer for the kids and various pouches which could be used as make-up bags or just bags to transfer handbag contents between handbags ...

And this teal scarf was something I unwrapped yesterday - made for me by my sister-in-law:

Isn't it beautiful?!  And so warm too!  

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

Yesterday I crocheted some snowflake decorations for the tree ... thanks to Lucy's excellent tutorial.  Having seen so much Christmas crafting in blogland, I decided it was time to participate and these were really quick to make and not beyond my crocheting skills.

I think that's just about it for making things this for year - I've got a couple of things  left on the cutting mat ready to sew up and one new purse style waiting for its frame to be glued on, but I'm not planning on starting any new projects.

Have a Happy Christmas everyone!!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Knitting to Stay Warm


A couple of hats knitted using the Operation Christmas Child pattern from their website.

These are very quick to knit up (about 2 hours each while watching telly) and ridiculously cheap to make too.  WalMart is the source of all things cheap round here - each ball of yarn cost $4 and I think I might get 3 hats from each ball (if I don't add pom-poms .. still thinking about that one!)

I've obviously missed the boat for the Christmas 2010 campaign... but I'm getting a head start (pun intended!) for next year.  That should keep me busy this winter!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A Quick Project

A home for my iPod made using the off-cuts from another project.... 

Yeah, that'd be the one I was supposed to be spending the afternoon fixing a problem with. I'll get round to it eventually!!  

Didn't need a pattern for this one - it is just a rectangle, after all!!

Monday, 13 December 2010

The Snap and Other Purses

Introducing my new purse, the Snap Bag.

This one's all for me!  It's not the most practical bag size or shape wise.  But I still love it.  

It's completely different.  

No-one else is going to have a bag like it around here.  Now, you may think that's no bad thing ... but keep those thoughts to yourselves please!!  I may have to wait for more clement weather to actually use it ... it doesn't exactly scream take me out in the snow with a michelin man-style down jacket and winter hiking boots, does it?!!! Although it would turn definitely heads with that ensemble!!

This is made with yet another pattern by Nicole Mallalieu Designs and using an Alexander Henry print called Deco Dot.  

I've also finished up a few other purses recently:

Some Liberty fabric put to good use (left)
Off-cuts from my Snap Bag (centre) made into a purse which I think my niece 'down under' might like
Another grey purse with red lining for my mother-in-law complete with purse chain (right)

Otherwise I've been spending the day working out how to do photo collages in Photoshop Elements and other bits and bobs aimed at keeping me warm and indoors.  

Hope the weather is better where you are ... it would be hard for it not to be though!!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

A Woolly Tale

I finally got round to crocheting all the pieces of this sweater together and sewing in all the ends (I just hate that bit).  It's turned out quite well given my lack of crochet experience - more impressively the sizing is right for me, so my gauge must have been spot on.  It's a very snuggly, warm sweater and it's mine!

This is the result of last week's knitting - it's an old-fashioned net bag.  So easy and quick to knit - I'm quite pleased with this one and can see it's a pattern that may well be repeated many times (you can never have too many shopping bags!).

I've also been sewing this week - trying out a new pattern.  If I get round to glueing the frame on, I'll blog about that one in a few days' time.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

My Creative Space

Hmmm .... diversionary knitting! 
(OK, so it's really procrastination)

Maybe you'll get to see some finished stuff soon ... it's not like I don't have lots of things nearly finished, but I just haven't got back to them yet!

To see what everyone else is making this week, take a look at Kirsty's blog.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

My Creative Space ....Work in Progress

Not much finished round here....

... but at least there are some things in progress.  After several trips to the chiropractor my neck (and arm) are feeling much better, so the sweater is coming along nicely.  Just the sleeves to go now and I need another ball of wool to complete those.

Then there are two purses waiting for the frames to be attached.  I need another pair of hands to help with the glue, so they'll be sat there until the weekend.

I was trying really hard to get these finished before I started on anything else, but that's just not going to happen!  The postman brought a parcel of new purse patterns from Australia this afternoon and I'm really very tempted to stop crocheting to play with the new stuff - especially as I've bought the one pattern to make a purse just for me ... it's this one!  

For more creative spaces in blogland, take a peek at Kirsty's blog.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

My Creative Space: Kumihimo

My sweater hasn't made much (read: any) progress this week, but I have been trying out my new marudai and doing some sewing.

Setting up the marudai for braiding took absolutely ages - who'd have thought winding some bobbins could be so complicated?!  Getting the traditional japanese knots right proved to be quite tricky.  Got there in the end and made a flat braid ....

Work in progress

Working on the marudai is really different to using the braiding disk I had before...   This braid was just a test to sort out how it all worked using some cheap yarn from my stash.  Lots of learning and things to do differently next time!

The sewing machine has also been set up again and I've got some more purses on the go, but the light has gone now, so no photos!

For more creative spaces, visit Kirsty's blog.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

My Creative Space

I haven't been making much since I got back from holiday.  First there were all those jobs to prepare for winter that really should have been done in October and secondly the weather has been glorious and I wanted to make the most of it.

However, I have started crocheting a very simple sweater for myself and have completed the back so far.  It really is very, very easy to make - single crochet all the way - but I decided simple was good and may help me to keep the right number of stitches per row (so far, so good!).  Whether it actually gets finished while it's still winter is another matter - it has been very slow going due to whatever is up with my right arm (tendonitis I think!), so I can only do a little bit at a time.

On the sewing front, there are several fabrics on my cutting mat waiting for me to get enthusiastic about making some more bags.  Maybe next week....

To see what everyone else is making, head on over to Kirsty's blog.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Loot from my UK trip!!

I haven't been ignoring you all - just away seeing family and friends in the UK for 3 weeks.  Unbelievably, 3 very sunny weeks - I think we got the best of the weather again!  If you would like to see photos, please hop on over to A's blog ... he's beaten me to it and posted some pics already!

Back in Canada now and steeling myself for winter - which means lots of opportunities for staying in and crafting!!  It's got a lot colder in the last few days although I know it's nothing compared to what's coming.  Zero is almost warm in these parts - I'm the wimp wearing hat and gloves already and marvelling at all those walking around in this cold wind with nothing covering their ears!!

I managed to squeeze a few treats into my suitcase on the return trip along with a load of Christmas presents.  At the top of this post is my new marudai for Kumihimo (japanese braiding) plus a book on the subject. You may remember my earlier posts about kumihimo when I tried to improvise a marudai - this will be so much better! These were a present from my in-laws who just happen to live in the same town as the author of the book, Jacqui Carey.

Then I was lucky enough to get a box full of goodies from my very good friend, Ady of Crafty Ady fame.  She very kindly sent me one of her fold-away shopping bags and a stuffy; Ady is enabling my laziness as I had bookmarked her tutorials and was planning to get round to both of these projects some time (OK - the timeline was a bit vague, but I did have them on my mental list!)

Also in the parcel was this dinky iron - it is so small and perfect for getting into the corners of all those small bags - plus some gorgeous Alexander Henry fabric and loads of purse hardware.  I'll be making myself a purse using one or both of these fabrics - they're wonderful and in some of my favourite colours.

Thank you Ady - very much appreciated and you will be getting a parcel from me when I can find what I've been looking for!

On the final leg of our trip I managed to book a hotel right across the road from Liberty's ... coincidence?   Hmm - maybe not!!  I love Liberty fabric - in my stash I have a large off-cut of peacock feather fabric that I bought from their remnants bin about 10 years ago and still haven't used (it was going to cover a seat cushion .. but either laziness prevailed or I was too busy working!).  This time their remnants bin wasn't in evidence, so I limited myself to a couple of metres of these lovely prints - there really wasn't much space in my case for more:

The photo really doesn't do much for them (the light is going) - in real life they're more vibrant.  I have no idea what I'm going to do with them yet, but I'm sure they will be made into something soon and I'm going to dig the peacock feather material out too and make something fabulous!

Anyway, the holiday is over and I've caught up on the laundry and other jobs, so now I'm free to get the cutting mat and rotary cutter out again and start work!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Hostess Gifts

Art Nouveau fabric from Robert Kaufmann

The last remnants of some fantastic Japanese cottons.  Shame I can't get any more - my supplier is sold out.

The perfect gifts for the lovely people I've been staying with on my UK trip.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


A quick dishcloth - teaching myself front post double crochet using this great tutorial.

Another of my birthday presents - I need to buy some yarn in suitable flower colours to play with this one.  It's on my list ....

Thursday, 7 October 2010

I think I'm turning Japanese....


I tried making kanzashi with very mixed results last year (see the photo at the bottom of this post) but I recently found a great book in the library and thought I'd give it another go.  I definitely need practice - but this was a great improvement and it helped that the instructions this time were in English!

Then I was given this lovely book for my birthday ... more Japanese-inspired things to add to my To Make list.

I've been toying with the idea of making temari for a while and there are also some lovely wee dolls in here that don't look too difficult.  There are however some extremely ornate and intricate projects in this beautiful book that I may only dream about making!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

My Creative Space

A Slouch Bag

OK - so I'm not totally sold on this one .... yet!  I love the pattern / shape of the bag and I love the main fabric, but I did a couple of things that I now regret.  

The first I will fix as soon as I find a better fabric for the strap - I'd really like to find some chocolate brown canvas, but the patterned fabric I used here really doesn't work (even A thought so and commented and it isn't like him to have much of an opinion on these things).  

The second one isn't fixable, but I can live with that ... I used fusible fleece because the main fabric wasn't my normal cotton duck and therefore wasn't as sturdy - now I wish I hadn't added it in; I think it spoils the slouchy shape slightly.

Never mind - you can't get it right all the time (at least not in my world!) and sometimes you just have to try things out.

I was given several crafty books for my birthday last weekend - this one seems to have a lot of good tips about bag construction plus some patterns to try at some point in the future.  I've only had a quick flick through so far and have an overwhelming impression of some very big bags in which I would inevitably be searching around for what I need amongst too much 'stuff' for a very long time!!

Head on over to Kirsty's blog to see what everyone else is making

Thursday, 23 September 2010

More Finished Objects!

Here is the finished panel bag that I started on last week:

It's really not my style (I prefer a smaller bag with a zipped closure), but I think it's turned out quite nicely.  I'm sure it won't stay in my stockpile for too long! 

And this is a quick present for a friend's birthday later this year:

I love the grey and red combination (it's lined in red too) - very similar to another one I made in a slightly different shape a few months back.

Things have been going slowly as I'm having a few problems with nerve pain in my right arm - so, no crocheting or knitting at the moment - and then yesterday I saw fit (don't ask me why - no, really, don't!) to slam the patio door shut on my right thumb.  The air was blue round here for a while!

Accidents and injured arm allowing, I'm hoping to cut out a bag for me tomorrow!!  We'll see!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

My Creative Space

I think I've just about got Christmas sewn up ... literally!  All the presents are sat on my spare bed waiting to be packed into a suitcase for my trip or parcelled up and posted.  What a relief!!

And I'm completely up-to-date on my orders!!!  Shhhh - don't tell anyone!

So, what next?

I had meant to make myself a bag (for which I have the fabric ready and waiting!) but instead I've been tempted by one of the new patterns that I've got recently and been itching to try.  So, this one is for stock - and, as my stock has dwindled to virtually nothing in the last few months - that's no bad thing!

Just cutting it all out at the moment:

I knew that this would be a big bag ... but now that I've got the pieces cut out, I can really see the size.  Possibly my largest bag yet!

The odd thing is that this is the only thing I have on the go at the moment - having had weeks of sewing small, fiddly things and always having some other projects on the go too.

That should mean it goes faster, right?!!

For more creative spaces, visit Kootoyoo

Monday, 13 September 2010

More Finished Stuff!

It doesn't feel like I've been very productive recently because I've been working on Christmas presents and I can't show you those yet.

However I can show you these:

This is the crocheted cardigan for my niece's birthday (she's not aware of blogs just yet - so I'm safe posting about this!), made using Lion Brand's Bebop Cardi pattern.  Took me a while to figure it all out but I'm quite happy with the result and I think she'll like it.  Made with some lovely nubbly cotton yarn from Mission Falls.

I got there in the end and I even had the right number of stitches on the last row - quite an achievement for me!!  My crocheting skills are still rather limited and I'm always surprised when it goes right.

I finished off this frame purse for a customer yesterday - it's been waiting for the frame to be attached for nearly a week, but I've been waiting for A to be at home to help (it's do-able on my own, but goes so much faster with a second pair of hands!).

That's it for now.  One more present to finish for my UK trip and then I may have time to make myself something - what shall I have?

A new bag?
Or maybe a beret?
Or perhaps I'll work out what to do with some internal frames that I bought a while back and just haven't sorted out how to use them!  I know what I want to make with them - just need to draft up a pattern and try it out.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

My Creative Space

Thankfully the sewing machine is over its tantrum and is working for the time being, so...

.. the 'To Do' pile is growing again!

.. my work in progress is this chunky 200mm purse frame - nearly finished.

And here's last week's finished project - a Baguette bag using a Nicole Mallalieu pattern.

I've got lots of secret projects underway too - but you'll have to wait until after Christmas to see those!  My deadline is fast approaching as I only have 3 and a half weeks before everything needs to be finished (Santa's delivering early this year!).


There's some crochet on the go too for when I want a change from sewing ... this should have been finished by now, but I kept getting it wrong.  Think I've now just about sorted out how to do the bobble stitch properly and I've found my missing 3-chain spaces (long story!).   

This is the start of a birthday present for my niece:

And it too needs to be in the post sometime in October if she's to see it for an early January birthday (the Australian post office seems to like sitting on my parcels and delivering them just after the intended celebration - I'm determined to beat them this time round!).

That's everything on my work table at the moment.  Take a peek at what everyone else is up to over at Kirsty's blog.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

My Creative Space

Work in Progress...

A baguette bag ... nearly finished.

It's been a bad sewing week ... my sewing machine seems to have hiccups.  The timing is off and it isn't sewing reliably (yes, I'm blaming the machine and justly so). 

It's entirely possible that it's an effect of running for a year on a transformer with the wrong hertz (or something), but it's also a very old machine (25 years) and feeling its age.  

Here's hoping I can keep it hobbling along as I have no wish to buy a new machine over here.  Murphy's Law states that if we make a major electrical purchase we will swiftly be relocated to somewhere that said electrical product doesn't work ... on second thoughts, maybe I should buy a new sewing machine for just that reason!!

Anyway, the bag above has been made extra challenging as a result of the machine problems and I'm honestly not that happy with it.  I'm going to finish it and see what I think when its completed.

To see what is happening in other people's creative space this week, visit Kirsty's blog.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Enabling a Fabric Habit

Apparently my other half knows me really, really well and has started enabling my fabric obsession.

Look what he picked up for me on his latest business trip:

Hand-stitched fabric made by the Kuna Indians of Panama

I've only seen this photo - can't wait for him to get back next weekend to see them properly (and to see him - of course!).

Each panel is approx. 30 x 50 cms and, given the hours of work that must have gone into them, the price he paid was a pittance ($25 US for the pair).  It's criminal, but I'm rather glad he thought I might like them.  

I think I can see a very funky tote bag in my future.  It would be a shame to cut into these, so I'm going to keep it very simple, but I'll have to wait until I've taken possession before I really know what I'm going to make them into.

Any suggestions?

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Some Finished Stuff

More pencil cases!

A pink crochet scarf.

And I added a fringe to my first ever crochet scarf (in fact, my first ever crochet project!) - it looks more 'finished' now, I think.

There's a couple more things in my To Do pile left, but I feel like I'm making progress!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

My Creative Space

Lots going on this week:

I started turning my To Do list into a To Do pile.  Hoping this will galvanise me into action.

Watch this space!

Still lots more waiting to be cut out though!

And I'm trying oh so hard not to be diverted by new parcels arriving in the post, but this fabric is just too cute to resist!  I got the last of the bolt - so only a scant 3/4 of a yard to play with and I'm still undecided what to make with it.  

Any ideas?

And there's some crochet on the go at the moment too - a scarf using Buy Design's tutorial (thanks Fiona!) and some scrummy Japanese yarn (a cotton / silk mix).  However,  I'm seriously considering frogging this and restarting with fewer stitches to make a narrower scarf ... of course, I waited till I was a good way through the skein before deciding that it's too wide.  Doh!

My Creative Space is hosted by Kirsty - take a peek at her blog to see what everyone else is up to.