Monday, 29 October 2018

Chambray Fabric Review

I love chambray fabric, it is so versatile. It always looks so stylish and gets a lot of everyday wear when I make something in it. However, I know not everyone is confident enough to sew clothes to wear so this review showcases a wonderful fabric for indulging your sewing mojo; but not as clothes, as homeware.

This cotton Chambray fabric made a laundry basket liner and matching peg bag. This liner is also useful if you store yarn in a basket so that the balls don't catch on the wicker sides.

You can line any basket with a tape measure and a bit of maths. This technique doesn't require any pi calculations and relies on the power of gathering to make a forgiving basket base. Here's how:

Measure the depth of your basket plus 6" for the fold over. Then measure the circumference of your basket plus 1" for seam allowance. Fold the fabric right sides together and sew the side seam making a tube.

Measure the width of your handles. Mine are 8 1/2" wide. You need to make a slit so that your handles fit through the fabric. Look out folks, here is the maths!

STEP 1: Folded fabric width - handle hole = X (60" - 8 1/2" = 21 1/2")
STEP 2: X divided by two = the fabric either side of the handle.
        (21 1/2" / 2 = 10 3/4")

Mark a handle slit in the centre with your surplus calculation either side. Repeat for the other handle on the other side of the fabric. Turn back the edges and stitch.

Draw around the base of your basket. Cut out a circle. Make two rows of gathering stitches around the bottom of the basket liner and draw it to the size of the circle. Pin and sew with a wide seam allowance.

 Put your liner in your basket.

I had some fabric left over to make a peg bag too. I used a pattern similar to this. It was quick and easy and would make a great gift.

This fabric is good quality and would make great clothes but if sewing clothes isn't your thing you can always enjoy sewing in different ways.

Jo xx

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Jersey Tunic Mash Up

 This month I have worked a little magic with some John Kaldor Cadiz jersey fabric from Minerva. 

I had some red Cadiz jersey left over from my Walkley summer T-shirt and Minerva sent me some navy in the same fabric to complete this tunic. She already had the leggings I made a last year and there were a few scraps left to make the pockets. 

The pattern is Burda 9380. It is a bit deceiving because you would think the pattern is for a little girl but with the right fabric choices it works well for this pre-teenager outfit. 

I modified the pattern by using a jersey knit and omitting the zip in the back. I cut the back and front on the fold making two pieces without a zip opening. I added a neck binding instead of facings and it worked a treat.

She had new chelsea boots the very next day so she was jolly excited. She has worn it to two Christenings and it was a triumph. Warm but smart; she had a lot of compliments.

The John Kaldor fabric is really fine quality with good stretch recovery. I made the sleeves longer than required and hand sewed them up so that I can turn them down when her arms get longer - as they tend to do!

It is a lovely pattern for younger and older girls. I think you may have guessed that I need to make another one for my other girl now.

Jo xx

Monday, 22 October 2018

Baby Girl Ripple Blanket

"That pink isn't really your thing," my man commented. If we were on the quiz show Mr and Mrs we would do quite well I think. The baby pink isn't really my thing but I have had this selection of wool in my stash for a while now and wanted something easy to make in the evenings when my brain cells are spent.

Can you believe that in all the years I have been crocheting things, I have never done a ripple pattern? It is so soothing and rhythmic - I absolutely love making it.

Sure, I am not mad for that candy pink but used sparingly amongst the beautiful pastels it is just fine for a baby girl blanket. I have a few baby celebrations coming up over the next year. I will have all bases covered if I add an obvious girly blanket to my gift box.

The wool was all given to me and a free blanket that is soft, soothing and sumptuous is just what I have been looking for on the crafting front.

Have a good week folks. Jo xxx

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Baby Boy Blanket

Hurrah!I think when all else is failing in your crafting world, the best plan is to fall back on the granny square. Thanks for all your knitting advice. I have decided to just put it down for a while. This particular blanket, however, has been on the go since August.

The wool was all donated a few years ago and I tried to knit a rather gorgeous Kaffe Fasset cardigan in 2107 but in reality it looked awful - that's magazine modelling for you! 

I rolled up the yarn and saved it for another day. I chose a colour palette for a boy, removing the pink and red from the balls above. 

Happily, I just chipped away making little squares here and there, throwing them into a basket. I left long tails on each one to use for sewing up which I did with a large darning needle to keep it nice and flat. Sewing together and finishing the ends, what a great idea.

My favourite border of crab stitch (reverse dc) adds a fuss free edge, especially on a baby boy blanket. 

I have been playing with my dad's old camera. He used to love photography and I have enjoyed trying out its features. I like the way it gets a really good depth of field fading out in the background as above.

Maybe I can get some better winter blog photographs which I have always struggled with in the past. I did a photography GCSE at college in 1990. I wonder what I can remember about F stops and aperture settings! We'll see. Jo xx

Monday, 15 October 2018

Bloody Knitting!

I have lost my knitting mojo. I can't find it anywhere: I have looked under sofa, in the yarn cupboard, amongst my pattern books but I just can't seem to get anything going. The last good thing I knit was finished at the start of September ready for Little M's ninth birthday.

The Good
The pattern is from Sirdar which is made with Sirdar wash n wear. This is a synthetic yarn but good for regular washing, especially children's wear. This is the third time I have knit this cardigan, it is one of my favourite patterns. Each patterned section gives an air of satisfaction before moving onto the next. The body is knit in one piece to the armholes and then divided so there is limited sewing up at the end. She had it for her Birthday and was really pleased with it, sparkly buttons and all.

The Bad
That was the good news, now for the bad. I have been trying to knit the Beatnik sweater since last Autumn. I chose some wool I knew would be warm for winter and didn't pill. Drops Nepal is a great value yarn which my mum made my Aftur sweater in. Aftur is now the only winter jumper I have so I wanted another one. 

The agony of thinking I was getting the hang of it only to find there was a mistake in the first rope cable on the left annoyed me,  I let it go, but as I progressed I spotted that the lattice cables on the left were all going over the top not dipping underneath. I painstakingly unpicked 16 rows stitch by stitch but couldn't get it going again. I took the whole lot out back to the rib and tried again but after a week of evenings knitting and unpicking I decided that I had been beaten by the Beatnik. HELP! I need my mum. I have knit the back and am going to make a start on the sleeves. Maybe I can kick start it again when my brain is less cluttered. I actually realised on the second attempt that I was supposed to put the lattice in the centre and a rope either side - I mean, how wrong can you be??

I thought I could get my knitting mojo back by buying some new yarn but it was not the right gauge for the pattern I had in mind and it has no purpose at the moment other than taking space in the craft shelf but it is a keeper.

The Ugly
I eventually thought right, I am going to knit that long stripy garter stitch - knit every row while wathcing TV - scarf I promised for my brother but that turned out to the ugliest combination of colours I ever did see so I rolled it all back into balls.

After heading to the yarn cupboard for inspiration I came away with some hand dyed Araucania aran weight cotton. I knit a tension square and decided on a sweater I have wanted for a while. The green yarn above was what I initially wanted to use but it was DK. It is knitted cuff to cuff in one piece so I thought I would blend the variable dyed yarns across the work. It was all going so well and then I couldn't work out how to cast on for the body from the sleeves. I swore a lot and my mum was in Cardiff so I couldn't ask her. I stuffed it to the bottom of my basket. Another false start. AGHHGHHH!

I think I will just leave it for a while and see what happens. Life has been a bit hectic of late what with work, two houses and two children at two different schools - it is a wonder I can remember how to knit at all!

Any ideas? What should I do?
Jo xxxxx

Friday, 12 October 2018


Welcome to

Making - A little card holder from this free pattern. It is really useful. I can now close my actual purse properly.

Buying - Cast iron guttering for our new house. Yawn!

Building - Scraping tar from 320 parquet blocks. I was given them for free so I have to put in the time. I have done 199 so far.

Thinking - What is next on the enormous house list.

Fixing - My big girls school tie. She has found the metal clip so uncomfortable. A little hidden felt sleeve over the clip did the trick.

Loving - Some new fabric choices, both stretch. 

Wondering - Where the minutes of my days, weeks and months are going?

Eating - A coffee cake in the shape of a hedgehog - it was requested!

Growing - My late flowering Hebe.

Getting - As many blog photos as possible before the shorter days.

Watching - Megan turn into the best little independent reader ever.

Disliking - The Beatnik Sweater process. I have spent a week of evenings knitting and unpicking 16 rows stitch my stitch. More later...

Considering - What to knit instead. 

Enjoying - Alternative yarny time with an ongoing crochet baby boy blanket whilst simultaneously finding out one of best friends is going to be a grandma - twice over!

Feeling - The squeeze of having two jobs, two houses and two children. 

Deciding - To hand in my notice on one of my jobs. I really like my two children!

Wanting - To relax a bit more and be kinder to myself. 

Jo xxxx

Monday, 8 October 2018

Quick Knit Yarn Review

Today I am reviewing a yarn by Erika Knight called Studio Linen. It is made from recycled fibres and creates a summer weight fabric.

I am lured by yarn on a skein, are you? but this was a pig to roll into balls. It is slinky and smooth therefore my yarn winder was hopeless because the ball didn't have any purchase and just kept slipping and unraveling. Andy spent 2 hours one evening unknotting one ball that I had made a hash of. That said, knitting with it was sublime.

The pattern is free from Ravelry called The Summer Vacation top. You knit it with two strands held together on 7mm needles, this creates a very free flowing fabric. It is a quick knit and ideal for taking on holiday or knitting in the garden because it is simply two squares with no shaping. Great for a beginner too.


I used six skeins comfortably. Six would enable you to make the S, M or L sizes available on this pattern. The linen based yarn is so cool to wear on hot days and I love that it is made from recycled fibres - 85% viscose and 15% linen giving it a beautiful silky feel.

It is a very versatile pattern: you could change the length, width, mesh section to suit by using more or less of the lovely yarn. If I was to knit another, and I surely will, I will lengthen the stocking stitch and make a more shallow mesh section. Mine seems to have a larger section than others on ravelry which gave a bit too much bra to the general public. 

Thinking ahead though, I am currently wearing it with a white shirt underneath for work. The drape means it does not stick to the cotton shirt. Perfect for Autumn!

Thanks for dropping by. Jo xxx