Ripple me this

No, there’s been no sewing going on in these parts. And precious little knitting too. It’s all about crochet my dears!

Ripple blanket

I’ve revisited my first woolly hooky love in recent days by starting a lovely ripple blanket using up scraps of wool left over from this project and these projects and whatever else I can find. It’s for general purposes (in other words – it’s MINE, gerroff baby, gerroff husband and gerroff cats). It’s the width of a double bed so it’ll take a while…

It’s so relaxing sitting of an evening with this on my lap, hooking away. Terribly easy but terribly yarn-hungry. Oof – it gobbles up £5 balls of wool quicker than you can say ‘another Hob Nob dearie?’

To those who were wondering if I ever finished the Baby Sophisticate cardigan – yes I did and it’s been worn countless times now. Wish I had a pic of it in action but this will have to do.

Baby Sophisticate

It was fairly straightforward. Used vintage buttons I think I picked up in a second hand shop in Norwich – I love that metrosexual shot of pink in a boy’s cardigan (let’s ignore that they’re a bit leany to the left – dunno what happened there but it’s not obvious when on!). My boy can rock colour you know. He’s got yellow trousers and everything. He gets it from his dad who wore pink shoes on our first date. Make of that what you will.

In sewing news… eurgh. I just can’t get round the lack of time and space thing. I’m trying, really.. I’m often to be found sadly pawing through my patterns and fabrics but I don’t take it further. It’s just getting over that hurdle… any tips on making a return to the needle? I’m just about to watch the Great British Sewing Bee on iPlayer so maybe that will galvanise me into action! I tell you what else has got me excited – Tilly’s brand new pattern! Check out Coco – she’s a proper little madam.

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The evolution of the cardigan

I’ve just finished my third crocheted baby cardigan, using a pattern from (Cute and Easy) Crocheted Baby Clothes, and I just have to share this pic of all three as it tickles me so much to see the difference!

The evolution of the cardigan

Apart from the size (which IS deliberate by the way) you can clearly see some sort of development in confidence and skill. I’m not saying the most recent is perfect by any means – but look at the difference! Makes me almost sorry for the baby when it’s tiny as it has to wait a couple of months before it can wear the good stuff!

Here’s a closer look at the latest addition to the family. The pattern is called the Baby Shell Cardigan  on account of the shell-style detail in the skirt. Apparently it’s been adapted from an old vintage pattern.  It’s quite feminine in style as a result of the shells but hopefully the colour and the traditional buttons make it more gender neutral.

Cardy close up

A few of you expressed amazement in my last post that I was so far along in pregnancy so I thought I’d share a pic of the bump from last week so you can see how big I’ve got! Bonkers eh? Gracie is wondering if it’s a new place for keeping kitty treats. Gracie, you’ve got no idea what’s coming sweetheart. These are the salad days. Cherish them my little fluff-duster.

Le bump et le chat

Finally – I’ve managed to make a start on the winter coat. I’ve traced out all the pattern pieces onto Swedish tracing paper, ready to cut out my muslin pieces.

Winter coat pattern piecesI’m trying out a new tracing paper this time. I used to use Kwik Trace (92cm by 4.6m) for £10.21 but I’ve recently found Gloriarty’s Swedish Sewable Tracing Paper in a roll (74cms by 9.14m) for £9.99 which is much better value.It’s thicker which means you can really make out the pencil notes on each piece which is great in this failing autumnal light.

Next up – cutting out the muslin and putting it together! Slow and steady Joanne, slow and steady…

Planning ahead? I can’t see my own feet…

I was filled with good intentions not so long ago of making a stylish and comfortable maternity wardrobe. Bolstered by some fabulous donated patterns and a haul from Walthamstow market I dreamed big, BIG I tell you. But then my abdomen swelled and my ankles swelled and my waist disappeared and heartburn and back ache began and I thought ‘sod it – I can’t be arsed’.

Massive respect to those bloggers who post glama mama pics throughout each trimester, but that’s not for me. If I can lace my own Converse up in the morning without emitting 100 decibel OOOFs I’m high-fiving everyone on the way to the train station.

But I’m not stressed or frustrated by my slight lack of sewjo. It’s just a gentle winding down in my opinion. It’s my body reminding me that bending over a cutting table or sitting at a sewing machine for a couple of hours in a hard-backed chair just isn’t the way forward. It gently leads me to the sofa where I settle with a cup of tea and a slice of something sticky and do a bit of crochet instead. Which is so much easier to do when your mind has zoned out. (I zone out regularly now into some kind of catatonic state, unable to recall what I was thinking about just a moment ago. I think it’s a coping mechanism for impending childbirth. At least I hope so.)

I would like to make a few more things though – the Renfrew with Zoe’s maternity adjustments is calling out to me as a third trimester must-have, as is an easy maxi skirt with elasticated waist for going over the bump – a la Megan Nielsen.

DIY Maternity maxi

DIY Maternity maxi

I think the winter coat project will see me through the next six to ten weeks at a leisurely pace. I plan to do a fairly robust muslin beforehand and I’ve ordered the teal wool and had it dry-cleaned in advance. I just have to … peel myself… off the sofa…

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a little pic of these booties I’ve crocheted to match the apple-button cardy I completed a couple of weeks ago, using the leftover yarn. I want a pair in my size!

Crocheted baby booties

I’m just loving this book, Cute and Easy Crocheted Baby Clothes. It has a selection of gorgeous projects like the booties above, plus blankets, cardigans, hats and toys rated at three different ability levels: beginners, improvers and enthusiasts. I’ve just started on another cardigan (this time at improver level) in a muted blue-grey cashmerino wool which features the most adorable shell patterning and it seems to be working out just fine – fingers crossed.

I can definitely recommend crochet if you want to try something new. Here are my top tips for getting started (and why you should):

  • The easiest way to learn is to watch someone else doing it and copy them, whether it’s a willing friend or a youtube tutorial.
  • Granny squares are probably the easiest and most rewarding project to begin with. You get to try out lots of stitches and styles, have loads of fun with colours and put them all together for a unique and cosy blanket.
  • The thicker the wool, the bigger the hook, the chunkier the project. Most yarn will have a recommended hook size printed on the side of the yarn wrapper but if in doubt ask a sales assistant.
  • Crochet is portable! You can take it anywhere – the tube, the plane (yes – hooks are allowed), the park…
  • It’s a conversation starter almost everywhere you go, people just can’t resist leaning over and asking you about it.

Finally, I mentioned in an earlier post about some news I received a while back which took some getting used to. Now that it’s all sorted I can reveal what it was; I was made redundant a few weeks ago! I know, it all seems rather bad timing given that I’m almost seven months preggers. But actually, I think I’m fairly happy and relaxed about it all (or maybe I’m just zoning out again?!) and I got a fairly good package that should keep me and the baby in fetching fabrics for a while yet.  My only concern will be coming out the other side of maternity but to be honest with you that’s so far away it’s not worth worrying about right now. I quite fancy a change of direction in any case, so the time off will come in useful for deciding where I want to go/what I want to do next. Hey everyone, let’s move to New York! Just kidding… what about Portland instead? 😉

P.S. Must just give a shout out to my fellow pregnant sisters in sewing – there’s something in the water! Huge congratulations to Pincushion Treats, Casey, Julia Bobbin and True Bias! Watch out for some serious maternity style.

Works in progress

It’s been all go here at S&W towers. I’ve been busy this week crocheting up a storm, whilst the weather continues to NOT play ball. Bad weather, naughty weather. It’s June. Why have I got the heating on again?

I had crocheted about 120 little granny squares and had started to despair that I’d be crocheting into my pension years before I had enough to make a blanket… until I had the (durr) brainwave of adding an extra outer rim of ivory wool to make them bigger – hence less squares required! Genius? No. Genius for me? Yes.

Woollen loveliness

In fact I much prefer them with this lovely soft ivory outline – it should lighten the whole look of the blanket. I’ve started stitching a few together using a basic blanket stitch. I reckon 12 by 12 squares ought to do it. The wool is gorgeous soft merino by Millamia of Sweden but by god it’s expensive stuff. Just one ball sets you back about £5.50 and there’s already at least 14 balls in here. Cripes! And to think I bought a massive crocheted throw off Etsy for about £20 recently.

I’ve almost finished another sewing project – I downloaded this simple kimono pattern from Salme Patterns:

Kimono Salme Patterns

I figured I could easily shorten it to make tops as well as the dress, but first up – the dress! Here’s a sneaky peek.

Kimono

I’ve used some gorgeous Marc Jacobs crepe de chine I’ve had in my stash for a couple of months. I just love these colourful parrots. I seem to be developing a taste for birdy fabric!

It’s also fully lined with this sumptuous silky plum lining which really bolsters the dress’ volume and makes you feel all slinky when you slip it on. I just have to hem it now. More pics to come later this week hopefully!

Kimono lining

Hope you’re all having wonderful weekends wherever you are. xxx

Time, time, time… see what’s become of me…

Where does the time go, I ask you? Is it hiding from you as well? At the moment it eludes me all day, only popping out at bedtime to say ‘You missed me again today – see you tomorrow sucker!’

Because time has been such a precocious imp, my sewing has pretty much stalled in the last week. And I’m away this weekend so there won’t be much more done. But I did manage to practice a bit of crochet this week – here’s the big reveal!

Crochet-tastic

Stop that sniggering at the back. Don’t mock the yarn-challenged. It’s a start isn’t it? I couldn’t have got anywhere near this without the help and guidance of my good friend Bridie, who is currently churning out about a squillion granny squares in the most gorgeous colours of teal, ivory and fawn for an as yet undecided project (wish I’d got a pic).  We hooked up (sorry) at a pub in Islington last night for a natter and an impromptu tutoring session

Her patience and ability to resist the urge to rip the crochet needle from my fat stuttering fingers and do it herself is exemplary. Not only is she a wonderful teacher, she’s also a wonderful friend. Check out this wonderful gift she presented me with last night. (Should I say wonderful again? Alright – wonderful.)

Handmade with love by Stitch and Witter

How amazing is that? I mean, seriously? Couldn’t you just kiss her yourself?! Thanks Bridie I can’t wait to use them! x

In other news I have been a colossal t*t when it comes to diary scheduling. I had planned to go away glamping with a bunch of chums from school and I had it in my head (and my diary) that it was the last weekend in October. Hence my complete and utter surprise and panic when I was alerted to the fact that it is (ahem) this weekend. And tragically my husband now cannot come because he’s on the rota for working the weekend :(. So it’s going to be me, my hot water bottle and three couples. Sans husband. Sigh. I shall have to pack extra socks and a thermal vest for bedtime. Wish me luck and warmth. Oh and, I’ll bring the crochet…