Thursday, 30 December 2010

Thanks to New Friends & Projects for 2011

A huge thank you to Jane over at the World Embroideries Blog for sending me these two kits from her giveaway a few weeks ago.   

Both kits involve learning new skills.  The Golden retriever is in Tent Stitch which is something that I haven't come across before and I've never knitted with beads so I'm looking forward to getting started with these two! Thanks Jane, they are absolutely adorable. 

I'm in the process of knitting handwarmers at the moment.  I've just completed my first pair, which Eldest can be seen modelling below.

Youngest thinks that they look really cool so now I'm knitting a pair for her to.   The thanks for these go to Stacy over at Golden Bird Knits.  The handwarmers are based on her Fingerless Glove pattern, without which I wouldn't have had a clue how to even start knitting these. Its a lovely pattern, very simple and knits up very quickly. The pattern is on her blog site and it's well worth popping across to take a look. 

  As you know from previous posts, I can't seem to stick to patterns.  Being true to form, I deviated from this pattern a little to.  Due to a previously unknown short term memory lapse issue, I kept forgetting if I'd purled or knitted so I was getting tied in knots.  Now, I'm a great believer in the old addage "if at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again", only with me there is always a twist. I don't cheat, well not much, I just find a different way.  In this case, I switched from the knit 2, purl 2 pattern and used stocking stitch for the main body of the glove.  

I'm making it one of my New Year Resolutions this year to keep to the pattern.  It'll be interesting to see how long I can keep to that one! 

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Bye for now


Sunday, 12 December 2010

A Perfect Day

Moving on from the slight disaster with the floppy brim hat, I decided to have a bit of a break from knitting and turn my attention back to cross stitch for a while.  The cover kit in this month's Cross Stitcher Magazine was for gift tags. Ideal - small, quick and even better, simple! 

 And here are some of the finished items.

What a brilliant way to spend a day.  Better still though, "Ice Cold in Alex" was on the TV this morning and "Dirty Dancing" is on in about an hour's time.  Two of my all time favourite films - on the same day.  Bliss!!  Could the day get any better?

Wishing you all a perfect day to,

Bye for now


Saturday, 11 December 2010

Floppy Brim Hat

You may remember from a few posts back, I treated myself to a copy of "Knitting in No Time by Melody Griffiths.  I bought it because I liked the look of the wrap on the cover and wanted to have a go at knitting it.  As I hadn't really knitted anything before, I thought that I should practice on smaller projects first.  So, this is how I got on with the Floppy Brim Hat on page 34.

The pattern uses 339 Metres of Rowan Yorkshire Tweed DK (double knitting) in Revel, which is a deep purple, pure new wool. Its knitted using 3.5mm (US size 3) needles. I have neither. The wool is discontinued and the local wool shop didn’t have the needles. Not one to let a small matter of lack of material stand in my way, I deviated from the pattern a smidgen. I used some unbranded acrylic DK yarn in a lovely shade of lavender on 4mm (US size 6) needles. Did I do a gauge swatch? Now, don’t be silly, of course I didn’t.

The brim of the hat is knitted first. It is worked in two full rows followed by two partial rows, followed by two full rows and so on. The partial rows are where you only knit so many stitches then turn the knitting around and stitch back to the start. This gives a fan effect.

When the brim is complete, the base of the fan shape is used to pick up stitches for the next stage. The next stage is the main body of the hat.

The pattern said that the hat could be completed in 13 hours, with another hour for making the flower and for finishing. It has taken me twice that and more and I haven’t even started on the flower.

This is the finished hat with the back seam sewn up with mattress stitch.

Up until this point the knitting pattern has been quite straight forward. I’d coped with all the SKPOs, the YBs and the YFs but then, I read the finishing instructions. “Fold 11 rows just before the start of shaping in half and sew to make a tuck”. Fold 11 rows? In half? Which 11 rows? Which way do I fold, inside or out? Which shaping? The hat body or the brim? I have no idea what this means. Oh No! I won’t be able to finish the hat! Oh well, guess I’ll just try it on then, I could always just skip the folding part, right? I'll just turn the brim up, it'll be fine.

Maybe not. It’s a bit on the large side. Maybe I’ll grow into it. Maybe next time, I’ll make sure I check the gauge! This project has turned into a real flop-py hat! Te He.

Bye for now


Monday, 22 November 2010

Where did you get that hat?

I always find that this time of year is tinged with more than a hint of sadness.  The long, warm days of summer have slowly given way to the longer, cooler nights of autumn.  Leaves have gone from greens to golden browns, russets and yellows.  Winter is on its way which means its going to get colder.   In a way this is good news because I have finished the hat I was knitting.

Just in time to by the sound of it. According to the weather forecast for this week, we have arctic winds heading our way.  That means the possibility of snow. 

Great.  My least favourite season is coming early this year.  I hope that means that summer will be early next year.

Anyway, Youngest will be super toasty if it does snow.  She's really taken to this hat and scarf set.  Umm... if I want to be super toasty, I guess I'd better start knitting another hat!

It seems to have been ages since I last did some cross stitch.  My main problem at the moment is lack of light.  We have energy saving light bulbs which I find are just not bright enough to stitch by.  I can't see the difference in the colours so have to wait for time at the weekends so I can stitch in daylight.  Needless to say what with Christmas just round the corner, there isn't much daylight time left at weekends at the minute! 

Bye for now


Sunday, 14 November 2010

Remembrance Sunday 2010

“They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old:
 Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
 At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.” 

Bye for now 


Saturday, 23 October 2010

Now I need a Hat

Having successfully completed my scarf, I thought I'd have a go at a hat. 

It's a bit of a challenge using four needles to knit with.  There are three holding all the stitches and then one to do the actual knitting.  Sounds great in theory but its a bit like trying to knit with an octopus! The needles you aren't knitting with go everywhere.

This is an easy hat pattern, well it said easy on the internet.  It's knit in the round so there isn't any purl to do, which is good as I'm not that good at purl yet.  Just doing knit stitch in the round forms stockinette stitch.  It has a natural roll which neatly forms the brim.  Cool eh?  I need to stitch in stockinette for about 7 inches. 

I'm just under 5 inches here.

The next step is decreasing.  Not sure how to do that yet.  I feel a Youtube moment coming on!

Still, in the meantime I'll leave you with an update on my Lion - he now has a nose!

Bye for Now


Saturday, 2 October 2010

First Completed Knitting Project!

I feel like we need a bit of a drum role here, for the first time ever in the history of me, I have completed a piece of knitting! Yea! The years my mum spent trying to get me to grasp the basics have finally paid off. 

Casting Off!! So Exciting!

I started working on this back in August, and finally completed knitting it today!  Yippee!  Now, I know it sounds like I've been knitting this for a month.  I haven't. The last three weeks have been, well hectic, but that really is an understatement. 

T fell off a horse and fractured his back on 11 Sept. It was a bit worring to start with as no one seemed to know if he'd be OK.  The girls, bless them, were devastated.  Youngest was so upset she missed school.  Eldest went quiet - she seemed to think it was her fault in some way.  And there was me in the middle of it all trying to stay strong for all of them, saying its going to be fine. Of course, I failed miserably - I was just as devastated as the girls.  There's been a lot of tears shed in Chateau Simply over the last few weeks.  

On top of all that there has been a bit of a press announcement at work with all the related organising, unorganising, changing this, changing that. It even made the telly!  Its no wonder the poor old scarf has been left forgotten!  

Forgotten no more though. T is back home and on the mend and I finally finished the scarf this morning.......



and Me...

T passed at the chance to be a model, said it wasn't his colour.  Not so sure it's mine either. Bit bright but the girls love it!

Bye for now


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

A little Creativity

You might remember these glow in the dark threads from a few posts back. 

I didn't have a project in mind when I bought them.  I've been thinking about what to use them for - possibly halloween designs.  Maybe a skeleton, or a pumpkin.  I've even thought maybe a nice bright bookmark. 

Eldest found a really cool use for them. 

She has spent most of the bank holiday weekend making friendship bracelets for her two best friends. 

She is going to give them to her friends when she goes back to school next Monday.  I think they'll be tickled pink.  

I am also tickled pink but for a completely different reason.... I found a cross stitch kit with my name on it.  

Bye for now


Tuesday, 24 August 2010

A New Challenge

I bought this book on a bit of an impulse. I love the colour and design of the wrap on the front cover.  I also like a couple of the bags that are in there as well.

My mum would have knitted this wrap up in no time, but unfortunately, she is no longer with us.  So, if I want a wrap like this one I'm going to have to knit it myself.

There is just one slight technical hitch though.  I don't really know how to knit. I know the knit stitch and sort of know the purl stitch - but that's it.

Still, I'm not one to pass up a challenge.  How hard can it be?

I've had a look through the instructions. It tells you what wool to use, what size needles and even what gauge to keep to.  This pattern is 5.5 sts & 7 rows to 4in over  on size US 35 (20mm).  Umm... so far sort of OK.  Well, I know that 20mm is the needle size so that's a good place to start.   There are also a few SKPOs, PFBs, and YOs in there.   Isn't YO another way to say hello? 

I had a re-think and decided to start with something a wee bit simpler.  A nice scarf.  I found a nice easy pattern on the internet which just said cast on 50 stitches then knit 2, purl 2 and do as many rows as you like.  What could be easier than that?

So armed with some Mohair-Look wool and a set of 5.5mm needles I started on the scarf. 

After each row of knit 2, purl 2, I noticed that instead of 50 stitches, I was getting an extra 20.  That's not good I thought.  So I unravelled it all and started again.  I must have done this 8 times before I decided to deviate from the pattern a little. 

So here is the scarf so far, knitted throughout in plain knit stitch.  Its growing nicely and best of all I still only have 50 stitches! Yea!

The tension is a bit suspect in places where I've gone from a bit too tight to a bit too loose.  It feels lovely and soft though and I can feel the warmth in the wool already. I've been working on this since Sunday morning...

...I think it's going to take me a while to get to the wrap!

Bye for now




Wednesday, 11 August 2010

My Eldest's Stitching

It's not just Youngest who is getting into cross stitch, Eldest is also having a bit of a dabble. 

This is the kit she is working on:

She's working very methodically and doing a pretty good job. She has said that stitching with 4 different shades of blue thread on a blue background is a bit of a challenge but she seems to be rising to it.  Actually, for a starter's kit, it is a little tricky in places and dear old mum has had to come to the rescue a couple of times.

 She has so far avoided the temptation to start looking for the next project. She says she wants to finish this one first.  Bless.

Bye for now


Monday, 9 August 2010

Busy Needles

T said that my Born Free cross stitch was starting to look a bit like a lobster....

Umm.... I can't see it myself, but then I've seen the picture on the front of the packet so I know what the finished picture will look like.

This is where I am at the moment.......

I've got a fair way to go yet.......

This next picture is the Winnie the Pooh kit that I was going to do after finishing the cute teddy in a previous post.

My youngest had other ideas and decided to bag this one for herself.  Of course, she has to finish the hedgehog she started first...

Ah, Bless, just like her mum.  Always on the look out for the next project before finishing the one you're on!

It's a good job I had Eeyore on standby.....

Bye for now


Friday, 18 June 2010

Cover Kits

This is Lickle Ted by DMC. Did I mention that I have a soft spot for teddy bears? Its a cover kit from The World of Cross Stitching Magazine from a couple of months back -April's issue I think, could have been March, I forget.  I like doing cover kits as they are usually small enough to finish in a short space of time.

Anyway, I thought this little guy was so cute I started stitching it as soon as I got the Magazine, which was pretty much when it came out. I finished him today - 18 June 2010! He only takes up a 4" square!  So much for cover kits being quick to do! My main problem was not being able to see the difference in some of the colours.  It has two shades of cream and two shades of beige.  My other problem was running out of thread.  

The back stitch for the outlining is in DMC 3371 which is the chocolate brown above.  The kit only had one length of around about 8" of the thread.  I ran out before I had done his legs, arms and face.  I got the skein above from the internet for 58p which I thought was pretty good.  So good in fact that I thought I would treat myself to some more threads.  


A gift set of glow-in-the-dark threads.  Cool.  I can have some fun with those.  The really great news though is, thanks to Lickle Ted's eyes, I have finally figured out how to do French Knots!!!! Yippee!

Of course, all this time spent concentrating on Lickle Ted has meant that the main project that I am working on has suffered a little.  I haven't touched my born free kit for a few months now.  Its moved on a little since the last picture I posted - but not much.....

At this rate it'll be this time next year before I finish it!  I'll spend some time on it over the weekend. Possibly.  Although, there is a cover kit of Winnie the Pooh calling to me.....

Bye for now


Friday, 16 April 2010

The Frankenstein Cat

This is Chunky. It’s a counted cross stitch kit which I purchased way back in 1989/1990. From memory, I think it was a DMC kit called Fluffy Kitten and is possibly on 18hpi Aida. It took months and months to complete. Well, more like years really because I was a bit disappointed with it. It finally got framed in 1994.

It was the first counted cross stitch project that I had ever attempted. And yes, I made mistakes right from the start, hence the disappointment. Unfortunately, I didn’t know I had got it wrong until half of the face had been pretty much completed. There was no way I was going to unpick any of it at that stage!

My first mistake was not really understanding what was meant by two strands of the fabric. My second was not realising that the threads can be separated into 6 individual strands and when the chart said use one strand it didn’t mean a whole thread of all 6 strands.

These two seemingly trivial errors led to two unavoidable facts. The finished article is about twice the size that it should have been, chunkier in the face than it should have been and I started to run out of threads and space on the fabric.

I had already put a fair bit of time and energy into this so binning it wasn’t an option. Instead, I bought more threads in colours which were as close a match as possible and used one strand of old and new together. When the old finally ran out, I switched to two strands of the new colours. This has led to the feet having a fluffier appearance than the rest of him. I also had to miss whole rows of stitches out and mingle a few lines together to keep the shape, particularly with the ears and the legs.

So all in all, it could have been a bit of a disaster. However, it did teach me something. Never give up. Mistakes are just things which didn’t go according to plan and can be rectified. You might not be able to fix it so you can go back to your original plan but, they can be turned around to be a positive change. Resolving mistakes might even lead to something being a lot better than expected. Overall, I’m happy with Chunky. He's my monster cat. He isn’t perfect, but then neither am I.

This is the one I am working on at the minute. It’s called Born Free and is part of DMC’s Pollyanna Pickering collection. It’s on 28hpi evenweave and is currently on track to be the right texture and size. ☺

There are some small unintentional deviations from the chart in there. These are just my way of adding a personal touch!
Bye for Now


Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The Animal Family Quilt

I put this quilt together over Christmas 2009.  The top is made up of pillow panels and the backing fabric is cotton lawn with an all over parrot design.  All the fabric has been in my stash for years as I didn't really know what to make with any of it. 

Inspiration is a bit weird isnt it?  You can rack your brains trying to think of something and nothing comes to mind.  Then, all of a sudden, it just hits you.  Literally in my case.  I was in our attic, sorting through the stuff in readiness for our forthcoming house move. I was going through my fabric stash.  Honestly, its amazing how much you can collect over a short space of time.  I'd got a pile of stuff to get rid of and a pile of stuff to keep.  Well anyway, one of the piles slid a little and knocked over some wadding I had still attached to its cardboard roll which was leaning against the wall.   It fell over and smacked me across the back of my hands.   So there I was surrounded by my favourite pillow panels and some wadding.  Nothing says Quilt louder than that. 

Anyway, here it is. The finished article.  All the panels mean something to a member of my family.  The cabin fever ones, right at the top are for T, who loves the outdoors.  The horse and the donkeys are for my eldest who loves everything equestrian. The cats and the puppy are for my youngest who loves anything cute and fluffy.  The teddy bears are for me because I've got a soft spot for them.  It was a teddy bear that started my thimble collection which is covered in another blog.  

This quilt is the largest I have made so far and fits nicely onto a single bed.  My youngest loves it and sleeps under it every night.  She also says that its just the right size to snuggle into and watch some telly :)

Bye for Now



Saturday, 3 April 2010

A Springtime Quilt

This quilt was designed and made on a soggy spring weekend a couple of years ago.  The top is made from fat quarters with a pillow panel as the centre square.  A fat quarter is a piece of fabric cut to a generous quarter of a yard.  Normally 22" x 18" or thereabouts.

My girls picked out their favourite pieces and chose the order for them to appear in the quilt.  Then left me to stitch them together!  I trimmed the fabric down a bit to make sure all the squares were the right size before making the quilt sandwich. 

The quilting is fairly light on this one.  I've only gone around the outside of the squares.  I get a bit teesy quilting something this size on a sewing machine.  Rolling it up to fit under the arm of the machine and then moving it about is just too much hassle.  I didn't want to hand quilt it as this would have taken longer than the weekend to finish! 

The quilt is also self-bound.  I left the backing fabric slightly larger than the top so that it could be turned over and stitched to the front.  Another time saving solution.  Cutting extra fabric to make separate binding would have taken longer.

Anyway, regardless of the shortcuts - the girls both love it - and that's what counts.

Bye for now


Friday, 2 April 2010

A Horse Quillow

A quillow is a lap-sized quilt which folds in on itself to become a cushion or a pillow.  This is the one I made for my eldest who is seen modelling it below. Well, her fingers and elbows can be seen.  She hates cameras. She loves horses though and as I had some horse related fabric, I thought I'd put it to good use.

This is the front cover when it is folded up into a pillow.

And this is what it looks like when it is opened out to a quilt.  My eldest is behind there somewhere.
The beige looking squares don't show up too well on the photo but they are covered in little horse shoes.

Quillows are easy-ish to make.  Its two quilts in one really. The front cover panel is made up into a mini-quilt, with its own wadding (batting) and backing fabic.  Its then stitched to the back of the completed main quilt on three of its sides.  It needs to be right at the very top of the main quilt and in the middle.  On mine above, its behind the top middle beige panel. Make sure that the picture on the mini-quilt is placed face down before you stitch! (Right side facing the back of the main quilt.) Stitching it on three sides forms a pocket which the rest of the quilt can be folded up into.  The wadding needs to be kept fairly light to make folding easier.   

Everything I make needs to be usable.  I'd hate to put this much effort into something and then have it end up in a box to stop it from being spoilt.  That's why I'm tickled pink that this one is as creased as it is.  It shows that someone has been sitting on it!  

Bye for now


Daffodils & Tulips

These two cushion covers are made using the sewing technique called applique.  Both have a 3D effect which was created in different ways.  With the Tulips, it was achieved by slightly padding the pieces with wadding (batting) before stitching to the backing fabric. With the daffodils, a slight fold to bend the top petals down and then a couple of small handstitches to hold them in place.

I made these covers as part of a patchwork/quilting course at the local college just a little over six years ago.  They are looking pretty good considering they have been in continual use and washed loads of times - hence the creases and the squished daffodils!

Special thanks go to my helpful assistant, whose job it was to hold the covers while I photographed them.  Not only is she skilled in modelling cushion covers, but she is also incredibly adebt at hiding so you cant take photos of her!

Bye for Now