Conquering my sewing machine fear

I think this has been the year of the sewing machine, for me. I inherited a Singer from an elderly neighbour, and my parents gave it a bit of love and attention (it hadn’t been used for years) and so all together, it means rather a lot to me. I’ve always been a bit nervous of sewing machines, they have a habit of running away with you, but this one is perfect!

Singer sewing machine

(All todays photos are terrible, incidentally. Camera only likes bright sunlight, and I haven’t got any.)

The machine isn’t complicated, it’s a 1930s Singer, and it only goes as fast as you want it to. Only does one stitch, and you can’t really change the tension. (Or you can try, but it doesn’t like it much). I’ve made a lot of lavender bags this year, but I also started my first patchwork quilt. It’s now at the quilting stage, and while it’s not *perfect* it’s going ok.

Quillt corner

This is a corner of the quilt sandwich. I bought the batting from a shop I think I discovered through the local Ravelry group – Thread Bear. They were so helpful – showed me the different types of batting they had, made sure I got the right amount for my rather randomly sized quilt. They were also just… kind. They didn’t go ‘oh my god, what have you DONE?!’ which is what I was expecting, because I’ve just been teaching myself as I went along, nor were they patronising, which, I would imagine would be pretty easy looking at my, errr… skills. Even the other customers were nice. So, if you need anything, I would recommend them.

I’m about half way through the quilting – it’s not easy, as I don’t have a walking foot, so you kind of have to use your whole body to get the layers through the machine – but hey, I’m getting there!

basket

I needed to check I could actually get three layers through the machine, so I tested it with this fabric basket. It’s made of patchwork from two old sheets, and some linen. I was beside myself when I finished it – it stands up! I love it! No idea what I’ll use it for, but who cares! I made it using this very easy tutorial.

Once I’d finished that, and looked at the colours, I thought I would make one last gift for someone who likes motorsport – it’s a container really to put another gift inside, using the same sheets and some cream quilting cotton I had anyway:

bag

We haven’t swapped presents yet, so he hasn’t seen it, but I hope he likes it. I used some iron-on interfacing for the bottom, as the cotton isn’t that thick. It’s lined with the grey cotton inside. I know… ridiculous, but I was pleased with it.

So, I still have the quilt to finish – need to finish the quilting itself, make the binding and then actually bind it. Having said all that, I’m starting to think about my next one! In the meantime, I’m about half way through crocheting the Tiramisu Baby Blanket for a pregnant-due-soon friend.

I should really stop writing this, and get on with it.

PS. Following the scarf conundrum, my mum liked them both, and so I gave her them both in the end!

Broomstick lace scarf no: 2

So, a while back, a Ravelry friend happened to mention that Kemps had a big sale on baby bamboo yarn. I have to admit, until that point, I’d remain blissfully aware of Kemps – but if you’re in the UK, and you don’t know them, keep an eye on their newsletters, as they have great deals for all kinds of yarn.

Broomstick lace

I bought 12 balls of blue baby bamboo and decided I’d make a broomstick lace scarf for my mum for Christmas. It’s been an ongoing project for a while – it’s a good TV making project, really. I’ve made one before – if you haven’t and you’re looking for a tutorial, I used this video – it was the first one I found when I searched!

wearing a broomstick lace scarf

Like the previous scarf I made, I decided to edge this, as I worry about the bare threads catching. (It’s unblocked in all the photos, incidentally). For this, I did one row of single crochet, one row of double, and finished off with a picot every 4 stitches. It’s a really chunky scarf – which I like, but actually, now I’m worried it’s too chunky for my Mum…

Broomstick lace rows

I really like the raised rows you get on one side of the scarf. I usually do the row of looped stitches, and then two rows of single crochet above that. I know some people don’t do the rows in between but I like the texture. Overall, this kind of crochet is great – it looks really clever, without being too over the top, and it’s very easy to do (and quite forgiving if you miss a stitch or two here and there).

In the meantime, I’ve also been making a scarf with laceweight yarn. Actually, it’s a bit thinner than lace weight. Stupidly, I decided to make quite a dense scarf:

Other scarf

Having said that, it looks really nice. For some reason the colour is really hard to get with my camera, but take it from me, it’s a beautiful mossy green – hand dyed, so different tones. It took forever to make this – to the point where I ended up sacrificing tatting on the train for a while to get it done. (I really missed the tatting, way more than I’d expected).

Other scarf 2

Frustratingly, the scarf looks so nice and delicate in real life and just rubbish in pictures. But anyway, after all this, I think this one will be the gift for my mum, with the option of swapping it for the other one. I have a feeling she’ll like the green one more… We shall see.

December snowflakes

How did it get to be December – and so close to deadline for Christmas post? Yes, it’s that time of year when you wish you’d started making things for Christmas in August. I’ve been a bit quiet on here recently, but I have been making things. I’ll try and get some pictures over the next day or two – if we actually get some decent light. For now though, a tatting update.

Just like everyone else, I’m manically making snowflakes. Well, more or less:

As it happened, I had some spare (size 80) thread on a lone shuttle that I needed to use up. So I *had* to make one of these really. And for the first time, I’ve used beads! I really like it actually. Looks a bit spiky in real life – like a snowy holly wreath. Umm, I also had another shuttle of thread to use up so I’ve got another one on the go, with different beads. They’re coppery, and really pretty. Next year though, must find an addiction for a different pattern, this is getting silly.

So this one, I started, or attempted to start at the local Ravelry group meet up. We met for breakfast (sensible breakfast, in a pub, at 10.30am not too early), and I just couldn’t get to grips with it. For a start, I hate leaving bare threads when I make small flowers like the one in the middle, and so it worked out at 5 rings, not 6. Then trying to chat and read the pattern proved impossible, as it’s not worked in the way I’d worked out in my head. So I came away with nothing done! Managed to get to grips with it at home, and then finish it on the commute.

The one sort of centre in this shot, everyone who tats/blogs has made recently, and so I decided I should make it too. It’s a lovely pattern. From the look of it, this is size 80 thread though (I’ve forgotten), which makes it a bit weeny. Having said that, I’m still tempted to make another one, but with beads added. The beads for that size are too small to thread any way than on the thread at the beginning though, so I can’t do anything too tricksy. Also if you’re adding beads to your tatting, this is very useful to read. It talks about the difference between adding beads to the core vs shuttle thread. (Sadly, on the posy with one shuttle, both threads are the same!)

And finally, I bit the bullet and bought some size 40 Lisbeth thread. I noticed Fox saying she liked it, and recently I’ve been thinking some of the things I tat are a bit tiny to use.

This is one of Jon’s patterns. The left is size 80 and the right is size 40. (I made another of Jon’s patterns in size 40 too, but I’ve sent it out already). I dunno. I’m just not sure about tatting with thick thread. For some reason I just don’t enjoy the feel of it so much. Everything just looks gigantic! I’ve got a few things in mind to try next (like clunys, which always get twisted at size 80), but on the whole, while my eyes are able to cope with it, I think I’ll stick with smaller thread, I’ve got used to it now.