More tatted sketches (more noodling about)

sketches

I’ve been quiet on the blogging front recently as a few other odds and ends have taken over at the weekends. Mostly, but not always of the work variety. That said, I’ve also been getting in to baking (for some strange reason), and I’ve now made the no knead loaf, a couple of white cobbs, and an oat and linseed loaf. All of them have been edible, although I must admit to a slight panic at the first white cobb which needed a *lot* of flour adding as that was way too much water. If you try that recipe, add the water in bit by bit as you might not need all of it.

Anyway. I digress. Ive also been working on my own tatting ideas recently. I’ve managed to snatch a little bit of time here and there, and I’m really enjoying it.

sketches1

I’ve been looking at layering the tatting as I’ve seen quite a lot of it about and I really like it. Mostly people use this technique for jewellery, but as I’ve mentioned before, while I love it to look at tatted jewellery it ends up being way bigger in size than anything I would normally wear.

sketches2

I’m a fan of square designs so I ended up moving in that direction. These are all variations on a theme…

sketches4

And this was the outcome of those ideas. They’re not sewn down or blocked so they’re a bit wonky, but you get the idea. As you can probably see, they’re made up of two sections, loosely threaded through. I did expand one out to secure the second section in, but it all got a bit unfocussed so I stopped. Looking at it now (not sure why I didn’t take a photo) it’s not as bad as I thought – I might go back to it. Either way I quite like these little squares. I think they’ll look nice when they’re sewn down.

sketches3

These are based on the idea of a crown, as it suddenly occurred to me that each corner was quite crown like…

sketches5

And this is the outcome of that.  I can’t seem to get a good photo of the black one but I really like it. It feels quite solid. The black thread is still size 80 but the dye really affects the thread and it’s a bit stiffer than the ecru. I think it would work well on black fabric, and possibly beaded, so that’s probably the plan.

sketches6

But in the meantime I have a little pile of thread-and-bead jewels. I keep looking at them and wondering what to do next. 

IMG_0750

Always amazes me that I can make something like this with a ball of thread and two shuttles.

I’ve also started tatting on my commute again. New journey and a different train means I can sometimes get a seat, which is really nice. First few times it felt a bit weird – I’ve not tatted that much in public for a while. Then you realise everyone’s so engrossed in their phones and Facebook you could be sitting there naked or on fire and no one would look at you – so there’s no real need to be self-conscious.

Zipping about again

I bought this bird fabric a while ago on Etsy, on a bit of a whim. Today I decided I was going to make a zip pouch, and the plan was absolutely to use up the green fabrics I had left over from the spaceinvaders monitor cover the other week.

pouch_1

Then I opened the drawer to get out the cotton twill I bought ages ago for interlining, and saw the bird fabric and changed my mind. Its really lovely. Its almost like a very stiff linen, it’s not a regular cotton print. It actually creases really easily so it’s been ironed a million times. Its stiffness makes it great for something that might get thrown about a bit but its excellent creasing ability is a bit of a pain.

zipper_1

I had this pink zipper knocking around, which is actually not a bad match for the details on the birds. That said, it can look a bit too pink in a certain light. But hey, it’s just a zip, and I kinda like it being so bright – it feels like a feature.


zipper_2

Last time I made a pouch I used the hand-cranked Singer sewing machine, because I thought it had a zipper foot. It didn’t. This time I used the John Lewis Mini (its a bit like this) and it is also without a zipper foot. Actually I think that Elizabeth’s Hartman’s Zipper Pouch Pattern is so good that if you follow her instructions you can live without one. I’m sure it’s not perfect but it seems to work for me.

Its a great pattern, and I like the nice neat ends it gives the zipper. (Although you can see the stitching is a wee bit wonky there!) I must admit – I didn’t do a great job on the zipper pull. I found topstitching it really tricky – its not at all straight, but I’m trying to ignore that. I didn’t make a pull last time.

both

Here’s the first and second side by side. The monkey pouch is full of ribbons! It puts a smile on my face for the fabric AND the contents 🙂 Not sure yet what I’ll keep in the bird pouch. Looking at it now, I kinda think it looks better in real life… you’ll have to trust me on that. I’m not sure why I like zipper pouches so much, but there’s something really nice about them. There’s a woman on Etsy who screen prints fabrics which I really like, and I’ve almost bought a pouch from her a million times. I stopped myself because I don’t really need more, and the shipping is a bit expensive from Canada. If you live a bit nearer though, I think her work is lovely.

neat

Sorry – this is a totally gratuitous shot, and it’s not even from today. Look at it! Its so neat! I doubt I’ll ever match that on anything ever again.

Anyway…

tatting

 

Still experimenting with tatting patterns, but that’s for another post.

dodge

Annnnnd, I made some jammy dodgers in a fit of trying to seem productive on a day when my leg was driving me a little nuts. Hope you’ve had a good weekend wherever you may be.

 

Tatted sketches

beads

I’ve been working from home a lot recently, which has meant getting three hours of my day back. It turns out the commute from upstairs to downstairs is a lot quicker than the 3 hour round trip to the office. In the first few weeks I picked up a good habit, which I’ve swiftly lost — taking that time for myself. Starting the day with a cup of tea and some tatting instead of standing in the queue for a bus. Must try and pick that up again this week.

beads_2

I was working on a pattern for earrings. It’s still not right really — but trust me they look much nicer in real life! The grey thread makes the silver-lined beads look like water droplets; it’s a really pretty combination. That said, I had shuttles full of ecru thread so carried on experimenting with that.

beads_3

I’d really rather tat with size 80 thread, so I ended up adding lots of beads to see if that made the earring feel more substantial. It does make it a bit stronger, but I think more experimentation is needed. I do love the patterns of some of the bigger tatted earrings out there, but the finished size is just too big for me!

beads_4

This is what it looks like on – horrendously wonky, but I’m guessing changing the stitch count will help. I’d like to play around more with layered tatting too, as that will make it more sturdy. Trick at the moment is not to go up a thread size and see what I can do with what I’ve got.

We shall see.

Crochet, tatting, knitting, patchwork, secrets and lies

Little man

You know some weeks, nothing seems to work? I got so frustrated finishing this chap on Friday that I threw him in the bin. My boyfriend spotted him in there yesterday and took him out – then gave me a telling off for being mean.

He’s supposed to be a little mismatched, his ears and eyes are different, but really, his jumper was actually supposed to fit. I had to unpick half of the jumper when I realised I’d mis-counted due to a phone call. Then I realised that even after re-making, the dimensions were never going to work. The nice cuffs were going to be hidden as the sleeves need rolling up, and don’t even talk about the neck… (I’m so pleased I guessed it all correctly for the giraffe – looking back it’s a miracle!)

lil_chap2

In the end I stitched him into the jumper at the back, so it kind of fits, but it’s not ideal. I also made him some trousers – it’s not that easy making trousers, is it?! I just guessed the shape; imagine two pieces of fabric shaped a bit like an upside-down ‘V’. I ended up cutting them in half and re-sewing down the centre to get the right shape – but I think I might understand a little more about trouser construction than I did before!

lil_chap3

Actually after all that I really like him. In real life he looks like quite a gentle, bookish soul. It’s really the jumper that does it. Now I can actually knit I think every crocheted toy needs a jumper. Due to the slightly delicate clothing construction he’s definitely not for playing with, so I think he’ll live with me. I have a feeling he’ll be happy on a bookshelf though – I just need to be nice and apologise for throwing him away. (!)

Patchwork

Before I started fixing him yesterday, I got the sewing machine out and had a bit of a play. I’d already decided what I wanted to make, but I fancied playing with a few scraps first. These were all small pieces from my scrap bag, but I think they go nicely together. Not sure what I’ll do with it yet.

needlecase

This is not the most inspiring photo, but I decided to make a needlecase, loosely based on this tutorial. The tatting has been knocking around for ages… Eeek, since 2013 in fact! I thought it might be nice making something a bit less girly for a change.

inside

This is what it’s like inside – a little pocket front and back, perfect for the essentials (like a rabbit). Don’t look too closely at the binding. Ahem.

inside2

Just like the previous one, this is all made of scraps – which includes the dreadful, cheap, synthetic felt. So just like the previous one I stitched around the edge of the pages, but this time with darker thread on one side. (Yes, that rabbit is hiding a mismatched corner… thanks for asking).

prev

I love how different the new case feels when compared to the old one. And talking of the old one… I use it all the time.

You know what I’ve noticed? Everyone who makes a needle case and then photographs it does what I did up there ^. They show a perfect selection of pins or needles, perfectly aligned. Who keeps a needle case like that?! No one, surely? Certainly no one that ever uses their needles.

reality

 

This is what the old needlecase looks like now. Its all bent out of shape and a mess.

But I love it.

 

Bags of joy (or craft as therapy)

bag_1

It’s been a weird month or so. My partner has been travelling a lot and for a boring health reasons (herniated disc) I’ve been stuck at home. Like many people who work in London and live in a town outside I don’t really know anyone locally. The last few weekends have stretched out endlessly – but in a bad way. When you’re feeling super-cheerful, a free weekend feels like a brilliant opportunity. When you’re a bit fed up, it feels like it will never end. Social media doesn’t always help – perfectly posed photos of friends having amazing times, going places and doing things, and there you are home alone, climbing the walls (or you *would* climb a wall, if you were able to stand up).

There’s a lot been written and researched into the therapeutic effects of knitting and/or making things; here’s one article. Google and you’ll find loads more. I have to say I agree completely. I find that tatting and knitting both require counting, which calms a busy brain, and that sewing is good because often the projects are started and finished in a day and you really feel like you’ve achieved something.

There is no physical position I can get in that is pain free at the moment (can’t sit on the sofa, can’t lie down) – BUT on the upside, the closest I can get is a hard chair at the kitchen table, as long as it’s not for too long.

I decided this was the perfect weekend to make the most of a few things aligning: free time, no interruptions, a free kitchen table. What did I plan on making? Another zip top bag. What did I make? A drawstring bag!

bag_2

I’m really pleased with it, even if I do say so myself. I bought this the Elementary Mini Charm Pack from Moda just before Christmas. I’d sort of said that I would make my partner a quilt, but the one I have planned needs some black fabric. I bought the charm pack as a tester to see what would and wouldn’t work. I must admit, it’s a really nice pack. You get 42 squares in total – which when they’re all laid out, is quite a lot.

The zipped pouch I was going to make would only take 4 of these squares and when I put them together, it seemed like a shame. It felt like it would be nicer to put a few more together and make something bigger.

bag_3

I made this drawstring bag in 2013, and I use it all the time. It’s quite big, and of all the things I’ve made, it’s the thing I enjoy using the most. (Although I think that could be because most of the things I make aren’t that useful!) It’s tatted and embroidered – which despite being a bit flowery for my tastes I really like – and thinking about it, I wonder why I’ve never repeated? Anyway. I decided to make another bag roughly the same size.

bag_4

(Sorry for rubbish iPhone photos – the blank patchwork square actually has a pattern on it!). I didn’t measure anything – I just started with the charm squares and went from there. I ALMOST had a wobble when the charm squares were put together and the grey border added… would make a really nice quilt, but I decided I wanted to finish something there and then and actually, I have a use for the bag already. The white fabric with tiny blue stars was a speculative purchase ages ago, the grey fabric was in my stash and I managed to cobble just about enough calico together to line the inside. The ribbon handles I found in the back of a drawer – I was really pleased as they’re not a bad colour. I think they’re the handles from a posh carrier bag. (Always save those ribbons and cords, they’re usually just the right size for *something*).

bag_5

In terms of construction, I used this tutorial again, I quilted the main section after the patchwork was complete and before I started putting the panels together. By which I mean I stitched through the front straight on to the batting, with nothing behind it. The top grey section has iron-on interfacing to make it stronger, as it’s the bit that gets the most stress. Inside it’s just basic calico, which is heavy duty enough, and cheap, of course. I actually didn’t do a *terrible* job of that top stitching on the outside – but yes, I was too lazy to hunt for a more discreet thread colour.

And thus, mission completed. Just the right project – took long enough, but not too long. Required the right amount of sitting, but enough to keep that spine moving, as you need to get up and iron things, or chop things up. It also needs a bit of thought, but not enough to make you worry about it.

If you need  a project to cheer yourself up, and you like sewing, I would recommend it. (If you like knitting, I would recommend a hedgehog.) I’m hoping though, that if you are sewing things, you’re happy both before *and* after you start!

Here’s to it, us and making things.

 

Seasonal tidings

hedgehog

Hello! This is just a quick post to wish you a happy new year while I get a chance. Thank you to everyone who’s stopped by this past year and shared a thought or a quick comment, it’s been much appreciated.

I had a hectic few weeks in the run up to Christmas, but a large amount of work-travel meant a lot of waiting for planes, trains and automobiles (or that kind of thing) and so I did manage to tat a few snowflakes for people. I did not, however, manage to take a snap of them before I sent them off. This year they’ve been very well received though, which is really nice.

Just before Christmas I managed to make the little chap you can see hiding in the lemons up there ^. I absolutely love him! He’s not the neatest hedgehog ever made, but heavens, what a CUTE pattern. It’s by Little Cotton Rabbits, and you can find it on Ravelry, or Etsy. He’s quite quick to make, and his nose is just lovely. He was a gift for my mum, and I think she liked him, so I’m glad he’s gone to a good home. I also made a strawberry (from this pattern) for a friend, to bring a little bit of summer back to the dark winter months. I found out that I’d actually made the others one row short every time! It’s amazing what you spot when you’re concentrating on someone else’s behalf.

starToday I learnt how to make these. My mum happened to have the strips of paper, and we figured it out from memory (hers), You tube, brute force (mine), and sheer determination. Sheesh, they’re not easy when you start! I’ve made another four this evening to decorate gifts yet to be given. I think I might actually need to make them once a month or something, so I don’t forget. I’m not sure I could cope with learning all over again. There is something quite magical about origami though. Tuck, fold, fold, tuck, fold, fold…. ping! An origami star. (Not counting the swearing, if course).

Anyway. That’s all for now. I hope you’re enjoying the holidays – here’s to a happy, healthy and productive new year.

Patchwork and tatting to beat the rain

quilt_3Hello! It’s a wet and windy weekend in the UK, and due to my other half being away for work I’ve had time to get on and make an eye-wateringly cheerful quilt top, in record time. Not only that, but it’s much less wonky (so far) than my previous quilting efforts. I bought this fabric at the Knit and Stitch show in Ally Pally (London). It was a pack of quite tightly-rolled fat quarters – so you couldn’t really see what you were getting – which worked out at £12 a pack or £20 for two. As a lady next to me was contemplating a pack at the same time, I said, “let’s buy them together and we both save £2”, which is what we did.

quilt_2

Sorry – terrible lighting, don’t really have anywhere I can photograph a quilt.

I had to improvise with the pattern a bit; originally I wanted it all to be colour and pattern with no plain solids in there, but I used up all the fabric and it was a bit small so I added the sashing in. The sashing is actually a pale turquoise left over from quilt two, which is quite handy.

quilt_4

At the edge of one of the pieces it said “Flea Market Fancy”, and I was just in the process of discovering that the collection was based on retro designs, when my boyfriend arrived home, looked at it and said ‘Nice… have we gone back to the seventies?” It *is* a bit seventies, but I still love how bright and cheerful it is. To be honest, they’re not the usual kind of fabrics I’d choose.

Which leads me to the William Morris quilt, which I started here. Believe it or not, I’ve actually finished the top of that too, just not had time to take the pictures. Next I need an expensive trip to the quilting shop, to buy batting and backing fabric.

quilt_6

Actually, looking at the light on these photos, it doesn’t do it any favours. I promise you it’s nicer in real life! This was a pile at the start of Saturday. It was a lot bigger by the end. For once, as I was making squares, I measured them up and trimmed them down properly.

tatting

On a more restrained note, I also got a little bit of time to tat the other week. This is a new pattern that I’ve been working on. Not there yet actually, but almost. And on that note, better run. More things to do.

Hope you had a good weekend too.