I Want to Ride my Bicycle!

Well we’ve had a few promising days weather wise recently and it got me thinking about getting out on my bike again!  I then remembered that I’d made a start on some rather lovely bike decorations that I’d discovered in this gorgeous book by Shara Ballard and published by David&Charles

 

The project I particularly liked was the bike spoke decoration and after a bit of digging around in boxes I managed to find the pieces that I’d already crocheted using 4ply cotton in a variety of different colours. The book provides patterns for some rather lovely shapes and I just had to make sure I’d made enough of each of them to complete the design.

 

Once I was happy with all the pieces I’d crocheted, it was a case of laying them out on the table and checking how they would fit together.   It took a little experimenting to see what looked best where, but when I’d decided on the final positioning I had to sew them together – this was simply a case of a few stitches at the places where the pieces met.

 

To make the spoke decoration rigid and weather proof, it needed to be varnished, and acrylic  varnish was recommended.   I decided that I’d better do a proper job and bought some spray varnish which I thought would be ideal.  I turned a tray upside down and placed a piece of clingfilm over it.  I then laid the crocheted pieces on top before I started the varnishing – that way they wouldn’t all stick to the tray and I could turn them over once they were dry and do the other side.  I soon discovered however that perhaps the spray varnish wasn’t the best option for use with cotton as I needed multiple coats before it was anywhere near rigid.  In the end I reverted to my trusty pva/glue mixture which worked perfectly – typical!!

Once the spoke decoration was rigid and dry, it was time to fix it to the back wheel of my bike.  To do this, I needed some plastic cable ties.   These I got from Wickes for the princely sum of 99p!  They were much longer than I needed, but it was an easy job to trim the ends once I’d fastened the decoration to the wheel spokes.  I ended up using 8 ties in the end to make sure it was firmly in place.

All in all this was a really satisfying project.  It’s been great to complete another of my WIPS (Works In Progress!) and I’m just waiting for the next sunny day now to get back out again on the bike.  I may even have a go at a few more of the lovely projects in the book!

Valentine Buttons

After a recent framed proggy heart workshop, I was left with a white box frame just begging for some kind of picture to liven it up!   I’ve fancied having a try at a button picture for a while now so I got out my jars of buttons and set to work thinking about a design that might be suitable.

 

After a bit of a play around I decided on a H and a B (for my husband Harry and me) and had a go at sketching out a design.  I used greaseproof paper which I could fold in half then half again to make sure the initials would fit in exactly the right position.

 

 

So far so good, but when I traced the initials onto a piece of card and started to place buttons along the outline of the letters, I soon realised that it just wasn’t going to look good at all!  I loved the 2 heart buttons, but unfortunately even the smallest round buttons in my stash were just too big, so the end result just looked a bit  naff really!

 

So it was back to the drawing board ,,,

Looking at the frame again, and the actual amount of space available, I realised that a simple shape would look best and, with Valentine’s Day looming, a heart seemed the obvious choice.

On another sheet of greaseproof paper I drew a simple heart shape, making sure it fitted neatly inside the mount and, once I was happy with the shape and size, I traced it onto a piece of plain white card.

The next step was to experiment by simply placing a variety of buttons on the heart to see what it would look like before I started gluing them in place.   When this was done, I carefully slid all the buttons over to the left of my heart outline (as in the photo above on the right).  Then I put a bit of UHU glue on the lower part of the heart and gradually moved the buttons across one at a time, pressing them into place as I went.  The glue stayed wet for a while, so it was still possible to slide them around a bit if I wanted to change the design a little to get the best fit.

Once all the buttons were stuck down, I put a sheet of old cardboard on top, then a pile of heavy books on top of that, just to make sure they all stayed in place and also to flatten out the card as the glue had made it buckle slightly.  The next morning the heart was dry, nicely flat and all ready to sellotape to the back of the mount and pop into the frame!

And there you have it, one Valentine’s Button Picture!

 

 

A Paper Bracelet


Well, working my way through my stash has meant that I’ve gradually been able to organise my craft room a little better – although it’s still a long way from finished!  Sorting through a set of drawers I came across some A4 sheets of paper that I’d marbled a few years ago, but never done anything with. It took me a little while to decide what to do with them, but I thought I’d have a go at making some jewellery and I plumped for a bracelet.  I chose 2 designs with a similar colourway and found a sheet of handmade pale lemon paper too which I thought might go quite nicely so added that in as well.

There are lots of on-line tutorials explaining how to make paper beads, but it’s really, really easy to do.  First you decide on how wide you want each of your beads to be – I went for 2cm across.   Next you mark the back of each sheet of paper with cutting lines so that each strip is the desired width at the base and rises to a point at the top (see the photo).  So basically you’re looking to cut out long, thin triangles 🙂

 

 

Once you’ve cut out your strips, it’s time to turn them into beads.  To do this you need a thin knitting needle or skewer and you simply wrap the paper around as tightly as you can, starting from the wide base.  Try and keep the paper perpendicular to the needle so that you end up with a nicely balanced bead and you don’t get the paper veering off to one side of the bead.  Once you’ve wound most of the paper round, and you’re just left with the thin point, paste the point with some pva/water mixture and continue wrapping it around the needle until it’s all gone.  You can then transfer this bead onto another needle to keep it out of the way and let it dry.  Continue in this way, until you have as many beads as you need.  At this point you can paint them all with a couple of coats of pva/water just to strengthen them.

If you remember, as well as my two marbled sheets, I also chose a sheet of handmade paper, but when I started to work with it I found it ripped too easily, so in the end I opted to just use the 2 marbled sheets.  By all means have a good experiment with different types of paper.  These beads would be great made from old magazines or the dozens of take away leaflets that seem to be posted through the door every week!

Once your beads are all dry they’re ready to use.  I dug out some wooden beads to add to my bracelet and had a play around with positioning before I threaded a combination of paper and wooden beads onto a length of invisible thread.  You can have fun experimenting with different combinations before you commit yourself to the final design.

As soon as you’ve made your mind up, you need to fasten off the ends.  If you wanted to make things easier for yourself, you could avoid this stage by simply threading your beads through some elastic thread.  You would then just need to tie the ends and make sure the knot was hidden inside one of the beads.  However, if you want to be a little more sophisticated you will need some jewellery ‘findings’ (basically all the metal bits that enable you to finish off your piece and make it close and stay closed).

You’ll need a clasp, one or two small jump rings and two calottes.  The calottes are tiny shell like pieces that you open out.  There is a small hole in the centre of them, so the idea is that you slip the end of your thread through, tie a good few knots in the thread, then hide the knots in the clasp part of the calotte.  You can simply close the two sides together to hide the knot, or you can add a dab of glue before you close it up just to make sure.  You can then snip off any extra thread that’s poking out of the calotte.  Once you’ve put a calotte on each end, your bracelet is secure and the beads won’t fall off.

You now need to attach a jump ring to one end and a clasp to the other end, in order to be able to fasten your bracelet.  The jump rings have a small cut in them so that you can hold either side of the cut with a pair of pliers, move one pair forwards and the other backwards to open up a slight gap.  Once you have a little gap you can slide the clasp through, then take up your pliers and reverse the procedure to close up the gap thereby securing the clasp.

And here’s the finished result!

 

 

 

 

If you’re interested in having a go at any more jewellery projects, there’s a great introduction to jewellery making produced by Beads Unlimited, and I’d love to see photos of anything you make 🙂

A Splash of Colour

As well as hosting the wonderful Yarndale festival every year, Skipton is home to some rather lovely charity shops!  Two years ago, on a break from woolly workshops,  I picked up a gorgeous green linen coat that has stayed in the back of my wardrobe until recently.  There were a couple of buttons missing and, whilst I loved the colour and the fit, I thought it looked a little ‘sad’.


I reckoned a little bit of colour was what was needed, so it was time for my fabric stash to make another outing!  I draped a few possibilities over the shoulders and left them there for a while so that I could decide which I liked best.

Once I’d picked my favourite (a lovely Liberty fabric), I had to decide how I was going to use it.  I didn’t want to overdo it, but just add a bit of colour, so thought I could redo the pockets maybe and the ties on the back of the coat.  Initially I thought about removing the pockets entirely and replacing them in the Liberty fabric, but realised that, as it was a tana lawn fabric, it wouldn’t be strong enough, so decided to simply stitch the patterned fabric directly on to the existing pockets.

I made a paper pattern template for the pockets (it turned out they were slightly different shapes) and the back ties, adding a 1cm hem all the way around, then cut out the pieces once I’d ironed the fabric first to make sure there were no creases in it and it would lie flat.

I folded over 1cm all the way around and tacked each of the pieces ready to sew onto the coat.


I pinned the pieces onto the coat then, using a green thread I slipstitched the pieces in place, one at a time.

 

 

 

Next it was time to hit the button stash to see what I had!  In the end I plumped for the plain wooden buttons as I thought the others, pretty as they were, would just be too much colour, and they didn’t really match.

 

 

Once the buttons were sewn on I gave the coat a good iron and hey presto – it’s ready for its first outing!

In The Car Wash

I tend to do a lot of my knitting and crocheting in the car as my lovely husband usually does most of the driving, and my latest project started life in the car wash on our way out to lunch last week.

I don’t know about you, but once all the Christmas decorations come down, the front room can look a little bare?  I decided that a nice quick fix would be to make some bunting to go across the mantle piece, so I set about crocheting some small pennants.  I thought about fancy shapes and patterns, but in the end I kept it simple and went for a classic triangle ‘granny square’ pattern as follows:

Chain 4 then slip stitch to form a circle

Round One:
Chain 2 (counts as one treble) then work 2 trebles into the centre of the circle
Chain 2, then work 3 trebles into the centre
Chain 2, then work 3 trebles into the centre, chain 2
Join with a slip stitch to first chain 2

Round Two:
In any of the chain spaces from round one Join new colour and chain 2 (counts as one treble) then work 2 trebles.   Chain 2 then treble 3 into the same chain space (this will form one of the points of the triangle)
Chain 2, then work 3 trebles, 2 chains and 3 trebles into the next chain space
Repeat above in the final chain space
Chain 2 then join with a slip stitch to first chain 2

Round Three:
Join new colour and repeat as for round 2.
As well as points of your triangle, you will also now have side spaces on this round.
In all side spaces work chain 2, treble 3 and chain 2 before working the points.
In a traditional granny ‘square’ there’s only 1 chain in between the side spaces, but I found usually only 1 meant the triangle didn’t lie flat, so I used 2 chains between every group of 3 trebles.

Round Four:
Join new colour
The patterning repeats that used in round,  working points and side spaces as appropriate.

Once your triangles are complete it’s simply a matter of sewing in the loose ends.  They really benefit from a quick press to make the points nice and pointy!  To do this you simply pin them out on the ironing board and give them a quick steam (making sure the iron never touches the yarn).  As soon as they’re dry they’re ready to use.

Although I used a different colour for each round,  you could just as easily keep to the same colour for each of the triangles.

Initially my plan was to just used crocheted triangles, but then I thought about popping a little flower in between each of the triangles to break it up, so I set about making a few flowers too.  There are lots of really lovely flower patterns available, and Attic 24 have some gorgeous ones.  Their Teeny Tiny Flowers are particularly cute, but feel free to use whatever pattern you fancy and make them as simple or decorative as you fancy! I added a button to the centre of each of my flowers just to liven them up a little bit and add a bit of extra interest (and to help get rid of some of my buttons too!)


Once I’d crocheted a few triangles and flowers it was time to spread them all out on the mantle piece to work out exactly how many I’d need.  Once that was sorted, I needed some kind of cord to sew them all on to.  I started out just making a long row of chain stitches thinking I would have to work back along them with a double crochet maybe to get the thickness I needed, but as it happens the row of chain stitches was perfectly adequate on its own, so it was nice and quick to crochet up.

 

I also realised that instead of sewing the triangles on to the chain ‘cord’ I could just thread the cord through the holes in the triangles – simples!!  I popped a safety pin on one end of the cord and threaded it through the triangles one by one.  Once they were all on it was an easy job to spread them out to the positions I wanted them, and then sew the little flowers in the gaps between them.

When it came to the ends of the cord, I decided to tie a little bow at each end rather than leaving them hanging, but again that’s entirely up to you.  I used blu-tac to fix the bunting to the mantle piece so fingers crossed it stays up there for a while!

Can you spot Knit and Purl – the two little mice I crocheted as my very first project – up there on the mantle piece too?

 

 

 

Baby Baby Bunting

I’ve come across all sorts when I’ve been rooting through my stash recently – lots of unfinished projects that might finally see the light of day now.

 

One thing I found was a short piece (5 pennants) of bunting that I’d made to sell a few years ago.  I really loved the colours, but unfortunately I couldn’t make use of it at home as it said ‘baby’ on it!

 

 

However, the length fitted perfectly across the front of one of the cabinets in the kitchen so I decided that I’d just turn the bunting over and sew some hearts on what would now become the front.

A quick search through my Liberty bag found a lovely blue floral print that was perfect for what I wanted.  On a scrap of paper I drew a heart freehand and cut it out to make my template.  Rather than putting the heart on all 5 pennants, I opted for just the blue ones, so I only needed 3 hearts.

 

It couldn’t have been easier to sew them on.  Once I’d pinned them in place (2 pins, 1 on either side), I used a zig zag stitch on the machine to applique them on (no tacking needed).

Hopefully you can see from the photo that the stitching doesn’t have to be perfect (neither does the cutting of the heart for that matter) as it just adds to the rustic look of the finished item.

 


I’m really pleased with the finished result, but looking at the photograph it’s made me realise it’s probably time to sort through my crockery – I can’t believe how many plates and bowls I’ve accumulated!!

 

 

 

Time For Bed Said Zebedee

When I was sorting through all the bags of wool that are currently hiding under my table the other day I came across the Attic24 Jolly Chunky Bag that I’d started to crochet last year.  I’d got as far as finishing the main bag, but still needed the handles and all the ends were waiting to be sewn in.    I was about to start when I wondered if there was anything else I could use the bag for instead.

Now, as well as her basket in the kitchen (see Project 11) Coco the Chihuahua also loves to sleep by the radiator in the front room.  Currently she uses a couple of thin cushions, but I thought this bag would make a much nicer bed for her instead, I just needed a nice comfy cushion to put inside the bag.  When it comes to bedtime, Coco chooses to sleep upstairs on a large foam bed that has frankly seen better days.  So, I decided to cut some of this foam to make the cushion for bed number 2  and make bed number 3 smaller (I hope you’re following all this!)

I drew around the base of the bag to make a paper template which I then used to draw a circle straight onto the foam.  Because the foam was quite thick (it was 8cm deep)  I had to put the scissors in vertically and ‘chop’ my way around the edge of the circle, but it wasn’t too difficult once I got started.

Now to cover the cushion I found a rather lovely blue print in my Liberty stash.  Because the sides and base of the cushion wouldn’t be visible once it was in the bag, I opted for a plain white cotton and decided to just use the Liberty fabric for the top.

I used my paper template to cut out one Liberty fabric circle for the top and 2 white circles for the base, making sure I added a 1.5cm seam allowance.  I then used a piece of wool to measure the circumference of the template as this would be the length of white fabric strip I would need to make the side of the cushion (again allowing a 1.5cm allowance).

 

Once I’d sewn the side to the top blue circle, I folded the 2 white fabric circles and positioned them so that they would overlap slightly on the base to create a gap to insert the cushion.  (I wanted to keep it nice and simple and didn’t want to have to put a zip in as I didn’t have one, but obviously that would have been an option).

Now that the 2 base pieces were sewn in place, it was simply a case of trimming the seam allowances, turning the cushion cover the right way round and inserting the cushion pad!

 

As you can see, the cushion fits nicely inside the bag, and Coco now has a comfy bed for all her front room sleeping 🙂

All that’s left is for me to try and get a decent photo of her in it!

 

I Could Have Been A Contender!

Well, I think my latest project is a serious contender for my favourite so far!

 

Mum and I went to York just before Christmas and came across this lovely book in a vintage teashop.  It’s called Granny Chic, published by Kyle Books and is packed full of what it calls “crafty recipes and inspiration for the handmade home”.  I was lucky enough to find a copy of it in my Christmas presents and have been leafing through the pages ever since deciding on what to make first!

 

 

The ‘perfectly peachy’ half pinny caught my eye straightaway as it seemed such a brilliantly simple idea – basically you use a tea towel for the main apron, add a pocket and some ties!   Duly inspired, I set to work looking through my supply of tea towels until I found the one I wanted (the one I chose had quite a lot of floral detail at one side, with the rest of the tea towel being pretty plain and I reckoned that would give me scope to use some of the floral Liberty prints in my stash).

To be honest I think playing around with different fabric and ribbon combinations was possibly the most enjoyable part of the project.  It really is up to you how decorative you choose to make your pinny and that’s what makes it truly unique.

I decided for the ties to join a selection of different fabrics together rather than use a long strip of the same print (I ended up with 5 sections in each of the ties), so this part took a little longer than it could have done.  Once the ties were complete though, I simply stitched them to each side of the front of the tea towel and turned my attention to the pocket.

Once I’d chosen the fabric for the pocket and decided how big I wanted it, I had a play around with other bits and pieces.  In the end I opted for a strip of ribbon across the bottom of the pocket, and a contrasting top, but again, just go with the flow and see what combinations you can come up with depending on what materials you have available.

Once the top and ribbon were sewn on, it was time to sew the pocket itself on to the tea towel.  I made sure I tacked the pocket on first and checked I was happy with the position before I sewed it on.  It would have been nice maybe to add some lace to the bottom of the tea towel but I didn’t have any in my stash so I couldn’t.

I made the ties long enough so that they would go around my back and then come round to the front again to be tied, but again this is something you can adapt to your preference.

Ooh, I feel like a proper Domestic Goddess now – time to bake some fruit scones I think! 🙂

 

New Year – new phone cover!

My old felt cover

 

A while ago I made myself a felt phone cover which I loved.  I knew it wouldn’t be long however before the felt started to bobble as felt is wont to do, so I thought it was finally time to make a replacement.

We spent New Year in the Highlands and I wanted something nice and easy to knit while my lovely husband was driving us around.  A new phone cover seemed the perfect little project!

 

 

Because I’d be knitting whilst the car was moving, I didn’t want a fancy pattern that I’d have to keep checking as I knew it would make me travel sick, but neither did I want plain stocking stitch or garter stitch.  In the end I plumped for moss stitch which looked lovely in the tweed DK I was using.  It took a few attempts to work out the right number of stitches to cast on mind.  The only way was to actually knit up a few rows to see how wide it would be.  Once I’d settled on 22 stitches it was plain sailing!

 

I could have just made a pouch, but decided to add a flap with a buttonhole to keep my phone secure and stop it sliding out in my bag.  I also wanted to put a buttonhole in too, so once I was back home it was time to root through my stash to find a suitable lining fabric and button.

 

You could customise the flap depending on what size or shape you wanted it, but I knitted 4 rows straight before decreasing 1 stitch at each end of the next 7 rows, then casting off the remaining 8 stitches .  The size of the button I’d chosen meant that to make my buttonhole I cast off 2 stitches in the centre of the appropriate row, then cast on two stitches at the gap to complete the following row.

 

Once the knitted was complete, I set about making the lining.  The material I’d chosen wasn’t quite long enough, so I simply joined 2 pieces together with a 1.5cm seam.  The lining needs to be just a little bit narrower than the knitted cover and I simply folded the edges over, ironed them, then pinned the lining in place.  No need for any tacking.

 

Next you need to work your way all the way around the cover attaching the lining to the knitting with neat little slip stitches.  Keep making sure that you can’t see the stitching from the front – you don’t want to get all the way to the end and realise some of your sewing is on show!

Once the lining is secure you can complete the buttonhole.  With the front of the phone cover facing you, carefully pop some small, sharp scissors through the buttonhole to the lining below and make a small cut in the fabric.  Gradually increase the size of the slit to match the knitted buttonhole.  Make sure that the button fits snugly through the hole (whilst there will be some give in the knitted fabric, there won’t be any in the lining so you’ll need to make sure the fabric is cut to the right size).  You can then work blanket stitch all the way around the button hole making sure you catch the knitted cover and the lining.  The colour thread you chose is up to you – you could go for the same colour as the cover, or maybe chose a nice contrasting colour instead.

All that’s left at this point is to sew up the seams.  You can do this as decoratively as you wish really.  I chose to work my way all around the cover in blanket stitch (starting from the bottom left, I worked up the left hand side, all the way around the flap and down the right hand side).

I went for a subtle colour choice when it came to thread, but you could be as adventurous as you like.

And there you have it – one new phone cover made from scraps of yarn and fabric.   Fingers crossed this one lasts a bit longer than the last one!

 

Frankie the Fish

For some reason I seemed to have acquired a rather large collection of jars (I think I had romantic notions of making lots of lovely jams and chutneys to give people for Christmas but somehow that never happened!)   After a bit of Googling, and a few lost hours on Pinterest, I decided to make a little crochet goldfish to keep me company in my craft room.

I came across a really excellent free guide here from Eden Reborn, which I can highly recommend.  I’ve adapted it slightly as the jar I chose was smaller than the one shown,  so there wasn’t as much room inside, hence my fish is minus a dorsal fin (but he seems to be managing okay without it so far).

The guide gives a really detailed pattern to follow, but basically it’s a case of crocheting a rectangle and a couple of oval shapes for side fins, the size of which will depend on the size of your jar and what else you want to pop in.   The rectangle becomes the fish’s body and after you’ve sewn on the fins and added a couple of beads for eyes then hey presto!  you have a little goldfish 🙂  You then need to attach a length of invisible thread to the fish as this is what you’ll use to make him ‘float’.

Basically you can be as creative as you want when it comes to decorating your fish’s new home.  When I’d made Frankie and glued his invisible thread to the underside of the lid (watching out for those awful strands of hot glue that seem to get everywhere when you use a glue gun) I decided he looked too lonely all by himself.

 

However, because my jar was on the small side, there wasn’t really much room to pop anything else in.  In the end I decided to print out a photo of a coral reef (there are loads of royalty free images available if you Google).  I popped a strip of double sided tape along the top edge so that the photo would stick to the jar (the bottom end is just held in place by all the tiny seed beads I put in).

 

Just as I was screwing the lid back on again I noticed a little jar full of the charms I’d used for the previous bottle bank project, and decided to pop one of the turtle charms in too to keep Frankie company.  I think you can just about make him out on the sea bed having a well-earned rest!

This project has got me thinking now about the potential for a whole menagerie of animals in various containers!  What do you think?