A Honeycomb Basket

A few weeks ago, I was asked by the clever fabric and project designer Beth Studley, if I would be interested in testing her new design, The Honeycomb Basket…don’t think I hesitated in saying yes!

I’d seen the photo of the one that Beth had made, on her Facebook page…it was love at first sight

Beth very generously sent me the fabric from her new range Radiance, and the stabiliser along with the pattern, I simply couldn’t wait to get started

Having made quite a few of Beth’s Storage Pods, I knew that I would enjoy putting this basket together

Now, this basket…there’s a lot of work in her, not a project that you can whizz through in a couple of hours, but something to take your time over. When I set to making this, I was in fast forward mode as is so often the case with my craftiness. But as I progressed through the steps I found myself really enjoying the rhythmic repetition of the quilting, the sewing, the hand stitchingย of the binding. It was almost meditative, I really loved doing the quilting, easy wiggly lines, I do love a good wiggle!…I simply had to slow down and do each of the steps with a smile….

There were some interesting moments, lots of squidging and pushing and a bit of tension in my shoulders

You can do the above step by hand but me being me decided I might do it on the machine….might have broken a needle or two and uttered the odd swear word :/

However, all of a sudden I had completed the project, what an achievement!

I truly love this basket and it was well worth the three days that I spent on her, I woke up with a happy heart when I realised that I was going to spend some more time sewing this beauty. I’m hoping thatย I will get quicker when I make more of them.

I have 2 orders from 2 very patient and lovely customers. I will get on and sew them soon but I have been in Grandma mode and felt the need to sew some little clothes. Mostly stretch knits which are quick and fun to sew. I’ll probably do a blog post on that subject next

The last photo is of the honeycomb basket in situ, it lives beside me and contains everything I need to keep me entertained in the evenings which are usually spent knitting

I do hope that I have encouraged you to go and buy the pattern and have a go yourself, I found the instructions to be clear and concise…let me know if you make one, I’d love to see!

Happy weekend everyone…crafting keeps me sane in these crazy times, how about you?

PS I am teaching a workshop to sew one of Beth’s cute Storage baskets, in Ely at Sew Much To Do on Thursday 30th June.ย ย Great fun was had when I did my first ever proper workshop in Button Up and Stitch in Wisbech, I’m sure the day in Ely will be equally fun ๐Ÿ™‚ If you’re interested in going then click the link above for more details xx

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Dyeing up A Gradient

Yesterday, I decided it was time to dye up the yarn I had bought for the Carol Feller KAL which is starting on the 18th June

I knew that I wanted pink…

With that in mind, I soaked my 5 x 100g skeins of sport weight yarn, I also added a small squirt of washing up liquid to the tepid water. The yarn was contained in a lingerie laundry bag. My yarn is merino/cashmere/nylon, if there had been silk in the blend then I would have soaked it overnight to get a good saturation…when I was ready I gave the yarns a very short spin in my spin dryer. You really want it to be wet but not dripping wet

Then I brought a really big pan of water to the boil and turned it down to a low simmer setting on my hob. I thought I’d dye up the boldest colour first and put a slightly rounded teaspoon of Landscape dye into the water and swirled it around. Slowly added the yarn making making sure it was all under the water and no air pockets, give it a very gentle move about. Set my timer for 20 mins, came back and lifted it out of the water with a pair of tongs and carefully placed the very hot yarn in a bowl. I left it to cool before I touched it again

I noticed that the water still had a pink tinge to it and I felt it might make a good shade of pale pink, so my next skein was placed in the water and again left for 20 minutes, the water was still slightly pink so I put about a tablespoon of vinegar into the water, stirred it very gently,ย and very quickly all the colour left the water and I had my perfect pale pink

For the colours in between, I repeated the process but used less dye, I opted for paler than I wanted with the thought that I could add more colour if I needed to

When all the yarns were cool, I rinsed them carefully, inside the lingerie bag, gave them a short spin and put them on the line to dry…it really was the best fun and something that I’ll be repeating again one of these days!

I am totally in love with these colours and can’t wait to start the cardigan…I might just knit a tension swatch!

I’d love to see what you do with this info….come back and tell me won’t you?

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Did you win?

I had 18 comments on my last blog post to win the gorgeous fabric bowl from the charming little book of Mini Patchwork Projects by the talented designer Beth Studley

I put all the names into a random name picker

pushed the button and this happened

So the winner is Josiekitten!!

Well done you…I’ll be contacting you for your address

Thanks to everyone that posted a comment….

My next post is about another wonderful new design that I have road tested for Beth…I think you’re going to love it!

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Mini Patchwork Projects and a Giveaway

Beth Studley is a genius in designing wonderful things for me erm us to make..I have made loads of her Storage Pods and a few of her Project Baskets. I am an incessant shower offerer (that sounds wrong) and after showing Beth a few of my makes, the clever designer asked me if I’d test out one of her new patterns. I, of course jumped at the chance! More about that in my next blog post….

In the meantime, Nadine from Stitch Craft and Create emailed me and asked if I would like to take part in a blog hop to promote Beth’s new book, Mini Patchwork Projects. I could feel a smile creeping across my face as I read that email. There was no hesitation in replying with a very definite yes!!

So, Nadine sent me a gorgeous pile of Beth’s new fabric range, Radiance, to play with and make something from the book, you can purchase the fabrics for yourself using this link It was a surprise when the package arrived, I thought I had been bad again and had forgotten what I’d ordered, then it dawned on me haha

 

The colours and design of these fabrics took my breath away, I simply loved every one of them…

I then had to choose something from the book to make using these fabrics, now that was hard!

I decided I might try something that was new to me, Foundation Paper Piecing. It looked fun, and I loved how the process gives you sharp points

The Curvy Coaster Set

I tried it out on some of my own scraps first, there was no way that I was going to cut into the fabrics that I had been sent to try out without doing a trial run first, and also to see if I enjoyed the technique

DSC_1766 copy.jpg

It worked brilliantly well, I was hooked! Beth’s instructions were clear to follow.

I didn’t like how all the threads met in the corner though, I needed to refine my work!

I have that Curvy Coaster on the side table next to me where I like to sit and do my handknitting. I love it, and keep smiling and picking it up and admiring it ๐Ÿ™‚

Next I had to decide on which of the Radiance fabrics I would use…I chose the ones that I felt might look good together, that was easy though, they all look good with each other ๐Ÿ™‚

I didn’t stress too much over it and just went with my gut instinct

 

Don’t they look fab all together? So much fun to make, if you’ve not tried foundation paper piecing then you’re in for a treat

Then of course, I wanted to make something else and I knew exactly what that was going to be…the very pretty Reversible Trinket Bowl

I was in a hurry to make this one, don’t know why, maybe it was the shaping of it, I know that I love the clever shaping of those Storage Pods so making this pretty dish was going to be a doddle!

Well yes it was a doddle and yes, I made two but can you spot the difference? In my haste I’d misread the instructions which caused me to sew my darts 1/8th of an inch too deep. Do you know what? I love that error, it has made a deeper taller dish, I’ll make more like that and no doubt more of the proper version!…

Sewing the curved top edge needed a bit more concentration but the clever clever way that Beth tells us how to get a really crisp clean edge was a revelation to me ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe I am late to the party and you might know how to do it already but it will be something that I use again and again in my bag making. If you want to learn this magic trick then you might like to buy the book ๐Ÿ˜‰ If not the whole book then the individual patterns are all available here and also on Amazon

the difference is more noticeable here

and here lol

DSC_2004 copy

The one above is the perfect one…

Maybe you’d like to own the gorgeous trinket bowl in the above photo? Just leave me a comment telling me which project in the book you like the best and why, and I’ll put all the names into a hat and draw a winner in a week’s time. So Friday 3rd June..who said June? Where is this year going???

You might like to go and read the other blog posts from this blog hop, there’s still more to come so keep checking them out ๐Ÿ™‚

Mini Patchwork projects

23rd May โ€“ Stitch Craft Create

24th May โ€“ Popular Patchwork

25th May โ€“ Yellow Cat Quilt Designs

26th May โ€“ Strawberry Patch Ramblings

27th May โ€“ Picperficโ€™s Fluff-n-Stuff

30th May โ€“ Sew Justine Sew

31st May โ€“ Very Kerry Berry

1st June โ€“ Very Berry Handmade

2nd June โ€“ Guest blog on Stitch Craft Create with Beth Studley

Happy stitching

Marianne

x

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A Beanbag Stand for my Mobile Phone

I have been concentrating really hard on testing a gorgeous new sewing pattern, this design took me three days. In my book that is a long time on a project, mostly at the sewing machine too! The finished item was so worth it though. I’ll show you once the designer has given me the go ahead….I totally love it!! ๐Ÿ™‚

During those three days of busy-ness, my phone kept slipping around, I propped it up on the flip up bit of the top of my sewing machine but as I started stitching it travelled sideways to a spot
where it fell forwards. So then I propped it up in my Bionic Gear Bag which worked fine until I needed something out of the BGB. Then it slid somewhere and camouflaged itself when I wasn’t looking! I keep my phone on silent for the most part so it did have me going up and downstairs looking for it at times…I sew upstairs ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, I put out a call on facebook for one of those sewn phone stands, I had a quick search but didn’t come up with anything that looked quite right for my needs until my lovely young friend Emily found this for me. It looked perfect and I needed a diversion from all the concentration I had been using so I grabbed a half empty bag of out of date rice and set to work!

The fabric I have used is from Beth Studley’s new range called Radiance..it’s such a lovely quality fabric and the colours in the range are gorgeous

It works perfectly, my phone stays where I put it now…I must admit that yesterday evening when I was watching Wallander and knitting, on occasions, I kept leaving my phone on the sofa rather than putting it in the beanbag. Old habits dye hard!

Talking of Wallander, I really enjoyed watching it, the first time I have actually understood what was going on, maybe it’s because I don’t overly enjoy Kenneth Branner so he wasn’t a distraction haha…I couldn’t tell you much about the storyline of Peaky Blinders for example as I am usually, looking at the costumes and the lead character, enjoying the title music, I love that music,

OST `Peaky Blinders` – Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Red Right Hand

Don’t forget to look out for my blog post on Wednesday Friday, it’s all about Beth Studleys new book, I’ve never taken part in a blog hop before, so excited to have been asked to do this!

Be back soon!ย …. X

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Mix and Match Cardigan

I have my designers head on, machine knitting designers head no less!

I have no idea where the inspiration for this cardigan came from…I knew I wanted to knit some texture into a design but would it work?

I decided to use a tuck stitch card that was part of the set that came with my knitting machine, I tried a few different yarns and various tension to create a very long strip of knitting . I then washed and dried the sample before measuring the stitch and row counts with my green ruler. I also chose the fabrics that I liked the feel of. I was surprised at just how few stitches you need for tuck but also, just how many more rows are needed to get the length. It is a useful thing to learn. I then thought I wanted to use some smooth stocking stitch within the design so I made another long piece of knitting in different fabrics to check out the tensions of the fabrics that pleased me the most

Of course, the knitted pieces that pleased me the most were the delicious merino and angora, Lamora, from Uppinghams. Not a cheap yarn by any means but oh so very luxurious. As I am also a hand knitter, I have come to appreciate and love the feel of natural yarns and how they change once blocked. They don’t mind being pressed on the whole…so I have moved away from the cheapy cones of acrylic that used to please me in the 80s and 90s. Even though this yarn seems expensive compared to many other yarns out there, the garments produced from it will please you so much more than one knitted in a cheaper yarn. The drape, the look, the touch…it is all worth it! Neither of these garments used a full cone of yarn either, it seems to go a long way ๐Ÿ™‚

I just adore the feel of this yarn, especially after the oil has been washed out of it. I use eucalyptus fragrance Eucalan to wash my knitwear, it doesn’t need rinsing so the wet garment is handled less and I love the gentle smell of the eucalyptus essential oil in the wash. I use an old fashioned spin dryer to get out the excess water and then…do this at your own risk…I give it a 10 minute tumble dry on low. The garment is still damp but the fluff starts to pop out and the shape sort of springs into place. I then smooth out the garment and lay it flat on a towel to finish drying. Once dry, I then press the seams gently, more of a puff and pat technique, no hard plonking down of the iron on the knitting at all!

I knitted the fronts and back sideways, I have no idea why, I just did! However, this has given me a lovely and quicker way to seam the sides…..one of those lightbulb moments!!

I love how the shoulders of the raglan curve, and the fully fashioned shaping, I love that too…I use my multi pronged transfer tool to do that. So glad I kept all this stuff from the first time round of my machine knitting exploits

On this version I chose to do a simple rolled hem around the bottom of the garment. It needed something, and having been wearing the cardi, I really like how the hem behaves

I am going to do away with the ribbed bands to make this a garment that can be done on a single bed, standard gauge, punchcard knitting machine. No ribber required, although the knitter can of course choose whether they’d like a rib here and there…

The rolled edge neckband works well in bringing all the stitches together to sit so beautifully on the body

A day or so later, I thought about how easy it might be to change the style of the fronts to a more classic shape

So, using the same yarn base but in a different colour, I set about this version

I must get some buttons!

The first thing that struck me was that this cardigan had come out smaller, even though I used the same main tensions! Let this be a warning to you all out there, different colourways do knit up to different tensions even though they are the same yarn base! The dyeing process must change the yarn structure somehow…far too technical for my brain to cope with, I’ll just take it as is haha

So gorgeously soft and fluffy, like butter is the only way to describe the handle of this yarn, I also thought that a simple facing would look good on the hem of this garment, I am now thinking that I’d like to see the hem in a different colour, like a secret pop of colour that is hidden for the most part…I guess that means I have to knit another garment!! Oh dear, what a chore….

I used the rolled hem on the neckband though

The front bands came out a bit floppy for my liking so that is something I will adjust when I make the next one but I really love the hems! This is going to be such a useful addition to your wardrobe and it will be perfect for so many outfits, I am thinking a pretty summer dress or maybe some relaxed linen trousers….or jeans…

All the different features of the design will be included in the one pattern, hence the mix and match element, you choose!

This pattern is still at the writing up stage, the design will cover a range of sizes varying from 30″ up to 50″ so that’s lots of tech editing. I will announce on facebook, twitter and my blog when the pattern is ready. Next step will be to get the design off to some testers

In the meantime, I have been asked to take part in a blog hop to promote Beth Studley’s lovely new patchwork book, so watch out for my post on Wednesday..I have been sewing and taking lots of photos..it’s a fab little book

Have a lovely weekend…

Marianne
x

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An Interview of Sorts

A few days ago, a machine knitting friend of mine Marianne Henio sent me a questionnaire so that she could write up a blog post about my creativity

If you’d like to find out a bit more about me then you can read it here

I am enjoying my knitting machine again at the moment, but really I should be decorating, or at least doing a bit of painting, I will, I can’t wait to have our study in working order, I will keep my knitting machine in there once it is finished, so it is in my interest to get it done as soon as possible.

Barry has painted the ceiling and filled in all the gaps everywhere and it looks great, the gloss bits are next, I quite like doing that, not the skirting boards though, my poor knees!!

Thought I’d add a photo of the latest bunny to come of my needles, I do like a photo in a blog post ๐Ÿ™‚

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Machine Knitting

I bought the pattern for the Slanted Rib Jacket ages ago as I really liked the shape of it. Then I read the notes and realised that the tension was so small and I didn’t think I had anything suitable in my stash and the yarn used in the pattern is not available in the UK ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I put it to one side and forgot about it

Then I saw that somebody had made a lovely version of it on Facebook in the Machine Knitting Group and it sparked my imagination again. The yarn that I wanted to use had also been in my stash for a while, the colour was so perfect but the yarn looked a little unstable and also it was a slightly boucle yarn which might give me problems?!?

As it turned out I found that the yarn knitted beautifully at TD5 on my Knitmaster 360, I liked the fabric but the tension was looser than that stated in the pattern. I decided to knit the second size which was smaller than the size I would normally choose. I knitted all the pieces, only have a few problems with the ribbing at times, in my defence, I hadn’t done much work on the ribber for quite some time. I got caught up on the right hand side a few times but I think I got away with it as I sewed the edge to the cardigan and hid the errors in my stitching…this was for me so a couple of bunched up areas wouldn’t bother me

The colour of this lovely cardigan really made me happy and I couldn’t wait to wear it on our anniversary day out on Monday

We visited Gunby Hall in Lincolnshire, a National Trust property…the house and gardens have such a lovely feel to them, it was a very good day and we both took lots of photos. Thank you Barry for these two photos, it’s not that often that I like myself in photos ย I didn’t realise quite how good my cardigan looked but I knew that I was really enjoying wearing it

Sadly the colourway that I used has all sold out, I would definitely buy some more if it comes back into the shop

You can read more info, including a link to the shop that sold me the yarn, on my Ravelry project page

Barry and I are really working hard in the garden and in the room which used to be out dining room but is now our junk room. A wasted space as we have just put everything in there that didn’t have a real home. Emptying it is proving to be an endless task but the results will be worth it. It will become a study and also a home for my knitting machine and all the paraphernalia that entails!

I’d better go and get this day started but I will leave you with some darling little fairy houses that we found at Gunby Hall as we walked around the gardens

fairy house 5

fairy house 5

fairy house 4

fairy house 4

fairy house 2

fairy house 2

fairy house 1

fairy house 1

fairy house 3

fairy house 3

Some lovely fabrics and yarns have arrived and they are really calling to me to get creative with them but I shall have to wait until that room is finished…..!

new stock 1

new stock 1

new stock 2

new stock 2

new stock 3

new stock 3

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Early morning gardening and stuff

For some reason I woke early this morning and gardening would not leave my mind. For a while now, I had been thinking about digging the border and moving some plants around and removing others

So at 6.50am, I got dressed in a funky comfy outfit and some old boots, twisted my hair up out of my face and set to work…I really enjoyed it and have half filled the wheelie bin with weeds and unwanted twigs etc

After a while, I realised I was waning and came in for a coffee, it was 7.30am…my intention was for half an hour now and then until I have got the job done. Some of the shrubs in the border are not to my liking but are really too large for me to tackle on my own. I will enlist the help of my husband for those tricky activities.

Sadly, my gardener Mark, who used to come to do an hours work every other week or so, has had to go out to a higher paid job so I am on my own until I can find someone to help me out

Anyway, I was really surprised to have woken so early this morning after the busy time we’ve been having lately

On the 31st March, Barry and I travelled up to Scotland to spend the night with my lovely Aunty Sally and Uncle Allan, those two are around the same age as us and we get on really well. Sally has a creative business painting reclaimed pieces of furniture, she has also recently finished the decor in a holiday cottage. I’ll do a blog post about the new combined venture we are working on soon, so much to tell you!! If you’re on Facebook, you can see Sally’s work here

The next day, Barry and I caught the ferry to Larne and then drove down to Enniskillen to spend a long weekend with my Mum, when I got there and went in and called woohoo! I got no answer, so I went into the front room and there was Mum sleeping on the sofa, I kissed her and woke her and she gave me the biggest hug!

On Saturday, my brother Matt took us all out for lunch to celebrate Mum’s and his birthday…we went to The Smuggler’s Creek Inn and had a very special meal indeed, gourmet fish and chips for me!

That’s just the fish, the mushy peas and chips came in a separate bowl…oh my it was so good!!

Here’s a photograph of us all after the meal, Matt put his camera on a tripod and set it for a few seconds delay on the timer, but every time he tried to get into the shot, the camera clicked before he got there. A man at a nearby table did the deed in the end

On the Sunday, Barry went out early with Matt to take some waterfall and bird photos, they both came back really happy as they’d seen a little dipper, Barry got some fab shots of that

In the afternoon, we all went up to Matt and Sylvia’s where we were treated to a BBQd steak dinner and plenty of prosecco! I did end up on my own later on in the day though as Matt and Barry were fiddling on the computer. I didn’t mind though, I tried to do some knitting but the prosecco kept making me go wrong so I gave up for the evening haha

The next day, Barry took Mum and me out for a long drive, when I say long consider this, he just kept driving to find new treasures to view and photograph, the miles we travelled I reckon we fitted three days of places into one day…I was in the back of the Mini which was surprisingly comfy but I did feel a bit sick but perked right up when I saw a sign for Studio Donegal …. no complaints for the driver either, he likes a happy Marie ๐Ÿ˜‰

Mum couldn’t manage the stairs sadly but she managed to buy herself a gorgeous hat and was looked after very well by the staff, I think she tried on a few before choosing this one.

While Mum was busy downstairs, Barry and I went upstairs to the weaving room, oh my, what an aladdin’s cave of delight awaited me

The two chaps in there were very friendly and didn’t mind me taking photos so I clicked away to my heart’s content

Not sure if this will work but I took a video of one of them weaving, it’s on Facebook and it might work, click here

I just love these old shuttles and the pretty colours of the yarn

The difference in the feel of the fabric after it has been milled is dramatic, it becomes so very soft. This old loom used to be a carpet loom but they cleverly transformed it to a cloth loom and it has such a great width to the fabric. Imagine warping up all those yarns!!!

Look at the size of that carding machine! I only just missed the weaver spinning some more yellow yarns for the cloth he was working on

That big drum is the warping machine, not sure how the warp gets transferred to the loom though…look at those pretty colours ๐Ÿ™‚

I did succumb to buying myself some of the gorgeous, wonderful and colourful Donegal Tweed fabric

You can see it being cut in the next photo

I bought just 1 metre of these two colourways

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Donegal Tweed

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Donegal Tweed 2

and also treated myself to some of their lovely yarn to make myself a cardigan, no plans of a design yet but I’m keeping my eyes open for the right pattern!

and more driving later…

Mum and Barry at Fintra Bay, we were spoilt by the wonderful weather that day

That last photo is one of my favourites, I love the sparkling Atlantic Ocean

What a lovely happy busy time we all had…it was really hard leaving Mum on the Tuesday morning ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Life didn’t stop going fast forward for me until yesterday, Sunday…but that’s another story, I think I’ve said quite enough for now

If you’re interested, you can see my whole album of photos here

Postman has not long been and he’s brought me even more beautiful tweed fabrics to play with, Harris tweed this time..layterrs!!

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Harris Tweed and Liberty Tana Lawn

Oh my, what an amazing combination these fabrics are!

I never used to rate Tweedy fabrics, I found them far too itchy, but then, in one of my online sewing groups, I kept seeing these beautiful, colourful bags that one or two of the girls had been sewing

I did some research on Facebook and managed to buy myself two pieces of such beautifully woven and milled Harris tweed

I bought a blue version and

a pink version

This gorgeous fabric is not at all itchy but it does feel like wool, sturdy…but it also fills my heart with joy!

I found in my stash two perfect pieces of Liberty Tana Lawn fabric with which I will line the bags, I also found two contrasting or matching long pull zips to complete the project

So I set to work and created a gorgeous 2 Zip Hipster, one of my favourite designs by Dog Under My Desk

It looks and feels beautiful!

When I showed the photos, so many people reacted so positively to it…

Rather than bombard you with individual photos, if you click the collage above, you will be able to see the bigger picture ๐Ÿ™‚

This bag is sold, but I do have more Harris Tweed on order so hopefully I will be able to make some more of these for my shop…oh the ideas!!

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