Friday, 14 April 2017

Baby steps into advanced crochet

Its been a year give or take a few days since I completed my learn to crochet course and my Easter wreath is hanging once more in the kitchen, bringing the Spring indoors.  I recently revisited a coaster pattern and played around making several up in neutral shades for a birthdy present.  It's satisfying to see how much easier and quicker these were the second time round, and also how my tension has improved and regularised.  

Coffee and mint coloured coasters in Drops Paris cotton
So now the basics are well practised I've started trying patterns that are more challenging and working with different wools, including Drops pattern 'Baby Steps' in Drops Baby Alpaca Silk.  I've put my review of the pattern on Ravelry (@CharGoonan) but in short, it's pretty decent once you've worked out how to follow the instructions for the size you're making.  There are three useful questions and answers in the comments section of the pattern online which I'd recommend reading before you start to help with this.   

Here are my baby steps into complex crochet...

Size 6-9 months

A little present for a little boy

Friday, 7 April 2017

Enjoy today

Enjoy today.  The sun is shining, and that's a pretty good reason to.  Enjoy today, because it will be over before you know it. This is the deeper message behind my blog title which I've pinched from my latest cross stitch.  

This sentimental pattern was picked up from the Knitting and Stitching show in November 2016; I bought it when my mum's back was turned with the intention of stitching it for her after she got quiet emotional reading its sentiment.  Little does she know that I caught her buying a pattern when my back was turned (ironically, it's of a clock showing time passing) which hasn't been gifted to me yet. Judging by where I found it the other week, in with her old work papers, I think it was a Christmas present which was forgotten about. Perhaps this will remind her. I do hope there are no tears when I present this completed project as a birthday present next week (and that I don't get told off for it's unframed appearance)!  

You can probably make out that it's a very straightforward chart made up entirely of whole cross stitches.  If you're interested in making it too, it's produced by Lizzie Kate, 'Let them be small'.  I kept quite true to the pattern using DMC threads; the only change I made was to substitute the main text colour from brown to a variegated blue from Classic Colourworks called mermaid's fin. I think the subtle varieation adds some more depth and is effective against the rustico aida.  

The last seven hours or so of stitches were completed listening to S-Town - the new podcast from the team at Serial and This American Life.  Imagine my pleasant surprise when the story, which delved into the life of a man from 'Shit' town Alabama, unfolded and touched on his work as a clock restorer and sundial maker.  The man named John had a tattoo of a Latin motto, reflecting his sentiments as a maker of sundials - vulnerant omnes, ultima necat - ‘they all wound, and the last kills’.  Time is a gift, but it's also a punishment.  I hope this cross stitch will remind not only my parents, but also myself, to live a full life and not to worry about the little things. 

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Take two: lined bedroom curtains

Its been barely 18 months since I excitedly blogged about finishing my lovely lined bedroom curtains. Who would have guessed that I would get less than one year's benefit from them?!  The last six months has seen me move to London, meaning my blood, sweat and money has remained hanging, albeit prettily, on two windows over 200 miles away in my parent's house. 

And so I'm left with a feeling of déjà vu as I put the finishing touches to another pair of bedroom curtains after four days of back breaking work and a couple of evening sessions.  This time, I only have one pair to show you, I consider myself lucky to have a decent sized bedroom window in this city!  
Making only one pair sped up the process, as did using curtain tape rather than making the heading myself.  

I decided to make standard window ledge length curtains using hand stitching techniques and followed my four blog posts which turned out to be decent reminders.  

Getting the curtain tape in place
The new technique of applying curtain tape was passed onto me from my mum who opted to finish her bedroom curtains this way.  After lying the curtain flat on the floor I measured 156cm (the finished length of the curtains) from the hem, and folded and pinned the top seam allowance down, so that it sat on top of the lining.  I tacked this in place and then cut a length of curtain tape to 5cm wider than the curtain.  At one end I tied off the cords (the end that will be in the centre of the window) and at the other I made sure they were loose (the end that will be nearest the finial).  I used the extra length so that I could turn 2.5cm of the tape under the hem of the curtain at either side.  Once this was in place I tacked the tape down only a few millimetres from the folded edge of the curtain. 

Cord bags
The final step before sewing was to add a small bag for the cords to live in once they have been gathered.  To make the bags I cut two strips of fabric 12 inches long x 2.25 inches wide. Fold each strip in half length ways right sides together and invert the fold by 2.25 inches. Then sew the side seams using a 0.25 inch seam allowance, before snipping the corners and turning right side out.  I placed one bag under the bottom edge of the header tape, just inside the lining side seam, on the end that will be nearest the finial.  

Sewing the heading tape
I was then ready to take the curtains to the machine for the final sewing part.  To sew the header tape down, start at the bottom edge of the tape, near the edge that has had the cords tied.  Sew a small amount there, then sew the width of the tape and then turn again to sew the long top length. Continue to sew the other side and come back on yourself so that you cover the part with the cord bag.  Then stop and turn the curtain the other way so that you start at the same point as the first line of sewing, only this time you're going in the opposite direction (albeit the same direction that the top edge of the header tape was stitched).  This little diagram illustrates what I mean:

Now all that's left is to try and stay in this flat for at least one year to get my monies worth!

Bedroom curtains:  February - March 2017
Item Supplier Quantity £
Snowfall leaf fabricAbakhan 6.5m @ £5.98 per metre 38.87
Crease resistant cream liningAbakhan 6m @ £4.94 per metre 29.62
Curtain weights Abakhan 6 @ £0.16 each 0.96
Steel curtain hooks  Abakhan Bag of 30 0.9
Thread Any haberdashery - already had
3 inch rufflett regis pencil pleat tape netcurtain2curtains 6m @ £2.50 per metre 15.45
Curtain poleB&Q 1 27
TOTAL £112.80