29 April 2013

Jumping on the bandwagon

Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

I'm still in denial about the end of Google Reader, and can't decide between Bloglovin and Feedly. Which means I'll end up signing up to both and seeing which one I use the most. In the meantime, I'm jumping on the Bloglovin bandwagon and staking a claim to my blog.

I'm also jumping on the Me-Made-May bandwagon, in an attempt to push myself into wearing the clothes I have made more often. Or at all. Baby steps though - I'm taking this first one easy.

'I, Helen of Josie and May, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavour to wear at least one item of me made clothing each week for the duration of May 2013, and finish making the Deer and Doe Chardon skirt.'

This isn't the full on one item per day pledge that a lot are signing up to, mostly because I just don't have enough finished items to do that (hence the pledge to finish the Chardon skirt)! But I will upload pics to the flickr group and blog about it, especially as I have at least two finished items that have yet to be shown to the world internet.

Just two more sleeps....

18 February 2013

154 granny squares later...

Yes, I've finally finished it! 154 squares, 7 months (WHAT!!) and around 30 balls of yarn later, the sofa blanket is complete.

Crochet blanket

I used Rowan handknit cotton in 7 different shades: Ecru (shade 251), Linen (205), Brown (315), Slate (347), Celery (309), Delphinium (334) and Aubergine (348). I used around 4 balls of each colour, plus a few extra of the slate for the scalloped border. When I started, I wasn't sure how much yarn I'd need so I just bought a couple of each to begin with. I carried on buying in bits - this yarn's come from Liberty, the Make Lounge, Deramores, and (I think) John Lewis. And surprisingly I got away with the the different dye lots. Just. (I have a ball of linen that really didn't match the rest of it - it's currently sat in my stash waiting for another project.)

Crochet blanket

The squares themselves were pretty simple to crochet - just a standard granny square without any colour changes. Most were created on train journeys and visits to family over Christmas, and I could generally finish one within 20 minutes, but putting this together seemed epic! My tension was all over the place throughout this project: first it was too loose, then too tight. I got it right for most of it, but some definitely had to be pulled out and started again once I've finished them all and knew what size they should be. Once I'd arranged them in their crosses, the completed squares sat on my living room floor for what seemed like ages (probably about a week) while I slip stitched them together in strips. To be honest, I'm not entirely certain if this was right but I wanted (and almost achieved) invisible seams and didn't think the arrangement I wanted would work if I joined as I went along or crocheted them together.

Crochet blanket

I knew this blanket needed a border, so made it up (eek!). I did two rounds of double crochet, then (after *a lot* of internet research and a bit of a practice run) figured out how to do the scalloped bit (7 triples into one hole, in this case). It is mad skillz blind luck that the scallops meet perfectly!

Crochet blanket

I'm so pleased with this blanket. It wasn't as cheap as I'd hoped (to be honest, I started this because I felt the nice yarn from Purl Soho for the granny stripe blanket would cost too much but I think I'm pretty close to what that would have cost), but the blanket's perfect - I've already spent several nights snuggled up under it on the sofa.

19 January 2013

What would Delia do?

When Claire at Miso Funky got in contact after I wrote about renegade craft fair, and asked if I'd like the 'What would Delia do' kit, I replied in the only way I know how. "Hell yeah!" (ok, technically that's not what I wrote in the email, but it was definitely the response in my head.)


These kits are the perfect introduction to cross stitching. They're small, so you're not overwhelmed by too much fabric, or too many stitches. The kits include everything everything you need - fabric, thread, chart and instructions. The only thing it doesn't include is a hoop (although the instructions say you don't need one, I used one and think it's better for it).


You get plenty of thread in the kit - this is what was left!
The instructions included in the kit are easy to follow. Which is good, because although I'd wanted to try cross stitch for a while I'd never bothered looking into how you do it - I think it's fair to say I was a complete novice! I did separate the thread into 2 strands as instructed, but I think next time I would try it with three or four strands.

I'm pretty proud of this little baby. It's going up on our kitchen wall, so next time I'm in the middle of a culinary meltdown, I can just look up and ask myself...


4 January 2013

In the jar

Although I'm not really one for new years resolutions, I've signed up for Karen's In The Jar 2013 Sewlutions pledge.


Why? Well, for a start I'm far more likely to stick to any craft based resolution/aim/objective than I am to eat less chocolate. But also because it's just the kick up the backside I need.

I did make quite a lot in 2012, although you probably wouldn't believe it reading this blog. Some of the finished items have yet to make it past draft blogpost form, but some are also still in WIP status. (Granny square blanket, I'm looking at you.)

However, I didn't make any clothes last year. Despite picking up a few patterns and having good intentions, I am yet to make the Peony dress, Kasia skirt, or Pendrell blouse. Or the second coffee date dress or V1179. (And we'll not even mention Deer & Doe now that Tilly has pointed out the patterns are now available in English. Mon Dieu!)

Not this year. I have pledged to make at least one wearable item this year. I hope to make more than that, but sometimes life just gets in the way and I don't want to beat myself up over not making a specific number of items of clothing. What I will beat myself up over is not finishing the seams properly so I have to hand wash it. Oh no. That baby has to go in the washing machine. Which also means pre-washing my fabric (my kryptonite - I do it, but probably not enough. I'm sure I've read somewhere that you should pre wash fabrics more than once - do you guys do this?).

So there you have it. Karen's going to check back at the end of the year to see how we all did - I have a feeling 2013's going to be a very productive year for us crafters!

2 January 2013

A present for you, but also for me

After the great christmas jumper escapade of last year (and no, he didn't get the arms this year), this was the only cCristmas present I made this year.

My mum had mentioned that she wanted a knitting bag and as soon as she said it I was sure I'd make it myself.  I've seen a few in the shops, and have a Cath Kidston one myself, but none overwhelmed me so I thought I'd be able to knock one up fairly easily.

But then whilst researching spending hours on Pinterest, I found this pattern from The Sometimes Crafter. I was sold. $9 later and I had the PDF pattern on my hands.

A quick trip to Ikea to pick up some Aida linen (on Flossie Teacakes advice) and a shop at M is for Make later and I was all set.

Amanda Bag

This pattern is a lovely make. It went together really easily, even the zipped pocket. This was my first time inserting a zip like this, and the instructions were extremely easy to follow. And Christina's thought of everything - you can even add a bit of ribbon in the pocket to tie in your scissors so you don't lose them. Perfect!

Amanda Bag

And I love the pockets. When I first saw the picture of the bag, I couldn't work out how they were put together, but again it's very straightforward. There's also a huge amount of space inside for yarn and WIPs (for me, this is where my Cath Kidston one falls down - it's one or the other).

Amanda Bag - pocket detail

One note of caution with fabric choices - it's probably best not to use directional or large prints with this. In fact, I realised a little too late that it would be perfect with Liberty print if budget allows.

I loved this so much I made two of these in two days, and instantly regretted not buying enough fabric for a third for me. The second was supposed to be for a friends 50th birthday, but she requested donations to a charity she previously worked with (she's a better woman than me) so that one's staying with me. I felt a little guilty that I felt so happy she didn't want her present (in the nicest way possible!), but at least I know my time wasn't wasted!

Amanda Bag

22 December 2012

Deck the halls

Apart from one present, I've limited my crafting this Christmas to decorations (especially after the big faff last year with the brother in law's rudolph jumper).

I have a whole board of Christmas decoration ideas over on Pinterest, and here are a few that actually made it into reality.
Merry Christmas banner
Excuse the frog tape - we've just decorated!
I loved this idea for a thanksgiving banner, but adapted it slightly - using the words Merry Christmas instead, and keeping the felt colour to just one - red. I bought the felt from Raystitch, and although I bought two lots of the felt I might have been able to squeeze it all into one, so it doesn't cost a huge amount to put together.

Christmas felt wreath

I fell in love with this wreath as soon as I saw it, but really didn't like the idea of cutting out loads of felt circles. I may have been time and cash poor this Christmas, but I was more time poor than cash so I bit the bullet and ordered some already cut out from Etsy. I was going to make it in white felt, as I thought the version pinned on Pinterest was so lovely, but quickly remembered that it would be hanging on a white door, so went for red again. It was really simple to put together, and only took me a couple of hours spread over three evenings. (The wreath form was from Craftmill, where I also bought some papier mache cardboard cones for something else that I haven't quite got round to making yet - next year!)

Finally, 3d paper snowflakes! I've been wanting to make these for years, but never quite got round to it. This year, however, the office (well, my team anyway) went a little mad with the decorations and I made a few to hang over my desk. After getting some admiring comments from colleagues, I spent my last afternoon at work last week teaching seven others how to make them. You have never seen a more attentive bunch! So here's the results...

Paper snowflakes

I also made a paper version of the Merry Christmas banner, and some of the pictures around my desk got in on the act too.

Paper merry christmas banner

Santa hats Santa hats 

Hope you all have a lovely Christmas x

11 December 2012

(Secret) santa's little helper

Now it's December, I think we can officially start to talk about Christmas. Most years I do the majority of my shopping on Amazon, but this year me and the boy are boycotting the company. I know technically they're not doing anything illegal, but just as they make the choice to structure their business in a way so as minimise the tax they pay, I also have the choice to take my money elsewhere*.

So we're having 'indiecember'. Where possible, we are sourcing presents from smaller companies, or larger ones we know pay (a respectable amount of) corporation tax. People keep asking me if it's hard. It really isn't. It takes a little longer (after all, there's more than one checkout process), but I'm yet to find something that can only be bought on Amazon (admittedly, I don't have a Kindle).

For me, the hardest thing to buy for Christmas is the secret Santa gift. Finding something that isn't tat and comes within budget can be nigh on impossible. I've been extremely lucky the past two years with my names out of the hat, and they've been relatively easy to buy for as they've been colleagues I know relatively well. My secret this year? Etsy.

I was already on there buying some other gifts, and thought I'd see if I could find anything suitable. So I played with the location and price filters, and there were so many beautiful things that I thought I'd share some of them with you guys...

(My location filter was set to UK and budget to £5, although I've also added a few up to £10 in case yours is bigger. Try changing the location and budget filters to suit you)

  1. Make Tea Not War mug from Second Heart Crafts, £3.50
  2. Deja Brew mug from Second Heart Crafts, £3.50
  3. Bloomsbury bone chine mug from Summersville, £6
  4. Star Wars personalised mug from Gelert Design, £7
  5. Whale from Wales print from Hello Dodo, £4
  6. Batman tote bag from Hello Dodo, £10
  7. Hand dyed bamboo tape yarn from Dye Spin Knit UK, £4
  8. T shirt yarn from Fireside Yarns, £7.50
  9. Handpainted bamboo crochet hook from Logii, £3
  10. Pencils for every occasion from Dusty Trinkitten, £4.50
  11. Letterpress ruler labels from Present and Correct, £4.47
  12. OMG engraved pencils from Vivid Please, £3.50 
  13. Polyhedra Jotter from Present and Correct, £4.15
  14. The Big Book of Ideas from oh NO rachio, £10
  15. Blue Library Cards from Knot and Bow, $4.25 (This one slipped through the location filter, but it's such a lovely thing for people like me that dreamt of being a librarian when they were 8 that I thought it was worth keeping it in!)
  16. Polka dot washi tape from Little Grey Clouds, £2.95
  17. Classiky Little Garden washi tape in yellow from Joe and Flo, £2.70
  18. Washi tape in Liberty Art Fabric from Big Birds Boutique, £2.50
  19. Pale green long stripe washi tape from BeryluneUK, £2.40
  20. 2013 desk calendar from misterrrob, £4.95
Apologies for the consumerist nature of this post - I promise there will be handmade posts soon, but this does come under the spirit of a handmade Christmas.

* This is my decision, but I realise this isn't for everyone. Christmas can be hard enough without making it harder. And yes, I am also boycotting Starbucks, and my over reliance on google, not least using blogger, worries and annoys me.