Thursday, 30 December 2010

The obligatory resolutions post - 2011

2011 - wow. I can't quite believe it's here already. I wonder what it will bring? 2010 was quite a big year for me and Matt. We dealt with some massive flatmate hassles. We moved out of a shared flat and into our own place. We did a 3 week driving holiday in America. I found out I have exactly the same hand size as Marilyn Monroe.

photographic evidence!

I got back my crafting mojo and began blogging.

I bought myself an electronic keyboard and began practising piano again. I am technically a grade 7 pianist but this time a year ago I had barely touched a piano for more than 10 years. I was afraid that if I left it any longer I would forget how to play. I'm so glad I did, I'll never be a brilliant pianist but my parents invested quite a lot of money in lessons, it seems churlish to let it go to waste!

I taught myself to crochet.

my first self designed crochet project

We have no big plans for next year so I'm afraid if I don't make some now, 2011 will end up a bit 'nothingy'. I'm the type that forgets or belittles my own achievements if I don't have them listed somewhere (ah, lovely lists). So here goes!

This time next year I'd like to have made at least 5 items of clothing that I am happy to wear outside and am proud of. That's not even one every two months, surely even I can manage that! Number one will hopefully be the Rooibos. I would quite like to try another Simplicity 2591, perhaps with contrasting fabric on the interior pocket panels. I'll chart the progress of this goal on this blog. In the meantime I'll be perusing all the super crafty bloggy goddesses I follow for inspiration as to what the other items will be.

Life and that #1
Although I love where I work, there's a lot of upheaval planned for early 2011. I may not have a job by summer and the job itself (if it continues) will be a dumbed down version of what I already do. Sadly this probably means I'll be getting a new job in 2011 - but although I'll be sad to leave my lovely colleagues I'm also quite excited. New opportunities, new challenges - they can only be good things, right? So. Goal number 2 - new job.

Life and that #2
Last year Matt bought me a website with the intention I would set up my own little shop selling crafty things (via Etsy or Folksy). At the time I was doing lots of little cross stitches. Needless to say I never did anything with it, so this year I would like to at least get something up there. I'd like to do craft fairs too if my stuff is any good. This year I want to make up some 'stock' and at least attempt to sell it. Watch this space, you'll be the first to know if I set up shop!

I've been a lurker for years but am only just getting in on the blogging action myself. It has kept me so motivated and the creativity flowing, knowing that I have a few lovely readers out there has made me determined to finish things whereas before I may have just left them for 6 months (Simplicity 2591 being a case in point!). I also met the lovely and talented Tilly and Karen, and maybe I'll meet a few more of you in 2011 - I do hope so. I hope I can continue to blog in 2011 and that you'll keep reading, your comments make my day.

I learnt to crochet in 2010, in 2011 I want to turn my hand to some bigger projects. By Christmas 2011 I'd like to have a granny blanket and another larger piece finished - maybe a cardigan or jumper.

In the immortal words of Girls Aloud, I can't speak French. Well, I sort of can, but I'm very out of practice. I have an A-Level in French and did an intermediate conversational evening course in 2005. However since then I've not been to France and have forgotten so much. And as we all know, if you don't use it, you lose it. Having had this lurking in the back of my mind for a few years, I was inspired to do something about it by Rebecca over at The Thrifty Chick. She plans to learn Italian this year and I am copying her idea of breaking it down into manageable chunks. 15 minutes French practice a day or 30 minutes every other day. I plan to do this for a few months until I feel confident with my verbs and vocab again, and then get stuck into my French literature books (with my trusty dictionary by my side).

So here we have it. My list for 2011. Hopefully I will achieve all this and more. There are tons of other things I'd like to achieve this year but I'll just feel bad if I write them all here and don't quite get there. I guess I'll return to this list throughout the year, ticking stuff off. I've loved reading all your resolution posts too, good luck everyone!


Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas everyone

Just a quick post to say I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas and that you all got to wherever you wanted to be. I managed to get from London to my parents house in Northern Ireland with very little hassle - big thanks to Stansted and Easyjet! Matt drove our plucky little car from London to Duns in the Scottish Borders all on his own as well, I'm so happy he made it ok, had visions of him spending Christmas alone stuck in a snowdrift somewhere around Berwick!

I'd also like to thank everyone who's commented on or read my little fledgling blog over the last two months - you're all so lovely.

Happy Christmas


Obligatory snow photo - the view from my bedroom

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

To toile or not to toile?

(image taken from The Haberdashery facebook page)

Toile? Muslin? Prototype?! I'm reasonably new to dressmaking, and my approach to sewing has thus far been, shall we say, slapdash. I sewed bits and pieces on my mum's machine when I was younger, but after moving out 10 years ago I've not done much in the way of sewing until reasonably recently. For my first proper project way back in 2009 (a pre-blog dress) I did make a toile of sorts - that is to say I made it using the cheapest material I could find in John Lewis that was also wearable, because I couldn't face the idea of making something that I would never wear. The dress itself (New Look 6848) turned out reasonably well, although I never wear it, the floral material and big puffy sleeves make it look far too hippy dippy, not to mention the cheap material means it's more or less see-through! The second attempt with more expensive material actually turned out worse than the 'prototype'. I think I was over-confident second time round and rushed it.

My second dress (Simplicity 2591) would definitely have benefited from a muslin in terms of the roomy fit - I already talked about the many issues I faced in this blog post!

My third dress project is to be the Colette Rooibos pattern. I am really keen to do this one properly. I want it to be something I am proud of and can actually wear.

To all those more experienced sewers out there - what are your thoughts on making muslins? If I'm being really honest, even if I made a muslin and it didn't fit, I'm not sure I would be confident enough to alter the pattern to address the problem anyway, unless it was just a simple seam allowance or something. Plus I am lazy. And I hate waste. The thought of spending time and material making something that will just be binned really jars with me. 

Do I just need to get over it and on with it? Any advice gratefully received!


PS the image I have used in this post is from The Haberdashery's facebook page. I hope they don't mind me using it. It is a very lovely little cafe in Crouch End and I would recommend stopping there for some lovely cake and tea if you are in the area. They also do fab 'Barboot' nights once a month with lots of vintage/homemade bits and bobs to browse and buy whilst you sip your vino (or something more seasonal!)

Sunday, 19 December 2010

I'm feeling better now!!

I mentioned in my previous post that I've been sick for a week. I don't know if it's the cabin fever, but this advert really makes me giggle:

My favourite is the little dude at the end that shouts 'ahahahaha I'm feeling better now!'

It's back to work tomorrow, so let's hope I am.


I'll have a blue, (flu) Christmas...

I've been feeling very sorry for myself over the last week. My lovely boyfriend brought home a flu virus last Friday, what a thoughtful gift. I succumbed very suddenly on Sunday night (really, I went from feeling ok to being a shaking wreck in the space of about 30 mins) and have been house bound ever since. I missed panto with The Hoff and my work team Christmas meal and secret santa. Being ill over the festive season SUCKS! It's strange for me because I always think of myself as one of those people who doesn't really get sick, and that even if I did I'd just get on with things of course. This illness has taught me a bit of a lesson - i.e. that bodies don't respond to a 'stern talking to' and that I should have more patience with others when they're ill.

As a result I've done almost no crafting. All I've really done this week is watch tv and read blogs - I never want to watch another episode of Friends again and you lot need to write more - I've read everything!

I had been hoping to buy and cut the fabric for my Colette Rooibos before Christmas, but that just isn't going to happen. Anyway, enough moaning, I did manage some little bits and pieces of crafting towards the end of the week - Matt bought me some lovely buttons and ribbons as part of my Christmas present (we don't spend the 25th together so we had our 'pre-Christmas-Christmas yesterday) so I had a bit of a play and made this little bracelet:

Here's a close up:

It's just a couple of lines of treble crochet and the button stitched on. I put a little circle of felt on the inside of the wool where the button is attached to strengthen the stitch a bit and save it pulling at the wool too much. To be honest I'll probably repurpose this button in the near future but for now it's the star of this little bracelet. 

I also made some more little Christmas decorations:

It's a little crochet heart (made from Pip's tutorial) with a little glass bauble (left over from my wreath project) attached underneath. I'm going to make more and string them along my window. Maybe. I'm only in my little London flat for two more days then I'm off to my parents in Northern Ireland (flights allowing - keep EVERYTHING crossed!) so it hardly seems worth it. 

What else can I do with the ribbons and buttons I got? I'm suffering from a bit of a (hopefully flu induced) creativity blockage. Here's the haul:

Boy did a pretty good job eh? Apparently my 'real' present is yet to come (illness and snow thwarted his Christmas shopping plans) - yay!


Sunday, 12 December 2010

Simplicity 2591: a dressmaking learning curve

Hello, I hope you are having a lovely Sunday. I'm hoping to crack open some mulled wine and have a mince pie in a bit. Have to wait until after my pilates class though, I rather think a tummy full of wine and pie would be frowned upon by the tiny Japanese lady that takes the class (not to mention making me feel even more like a heifer than I usually do in her company). I have finally finished this dress which I started in the summer, inspired by Karen at Did You Make That. Six months later, here it is!

Excuse the photo, Matt is in bed with suspected flu, so I've had to learn how to use the timer on my camera and this was the best of a bad bunch. So, here are the points I will take away from this experience:

Well, the first thing I learned from making this dress is DON'T leave it lying untouched for 5 months, after which time you realise you've lost the second page of pattern instructions. This wasn't going to deter me though! Thankfully I'd made the pockets already as there was no way I would have been able to figure those out on my own. However I had to make up the rest of the pattern myself. The only thing I think really suffered from this was the armholes - I sewed in the interfacing, however I forgot to fold in the raw edges before topstitching, so they look pretty awful on the inside. There may also be some shaping details I missed out such as cuts around the curved seam. Oh well - no one will ever see the inside apart from me.

As in, I should learn how to sew them properly. I chickened out of attempting to use the zipper foot on this occasion because of the expensive fabric and lack of instructions. Instead I machine sewed the zip into place then topstitched it by hand. It looks fine but I need to gain more confidence in this area.

If you are a sewing novice, it's probably advisable not to shell out on an expensive Liberty print fabric for one of your first projects, no matter how pretty it is. That is all.

Karen had said that the pattern was on the roomy side and that she'd gone down two sizes with it. I erred on the side of caution and cut it just one size smaller. Nevertheless the finished product was roomy. I fitted the bodice as I went along, so it fits reasonably well. It's perhaps a little blocky around the armholes (although this might have more to do with my putting together than the pattern - see above). The pattern includes a little gathering at the back waistband, however once the dress was sewn up I felt there was far too much material in the region of the derrière, making for an extremely unflattering fit. I ended up unpicking the back seam, zip and part of the waistline and removing most of the gathering, bringing the back skirt seam in by about 2 inches at the waist and probably nearer 4 towards the hem. Thank goodness for seam rippers!

And the good...
I realise I've dominated this post with all the bad things about this project - but there are good things too. I love, love LOVE the fabric (a little 'busy' for some tastes but it's very me). Here's a close up as you can't see it that well in the above photo:

I am also a big fan of the pockets, I actually hadn't realised the pattern involved pockets - the picture doesn't show them at all, but I love them.

In the end, the dress is wearable, just. Result! I'm a bit scared about wearing it out though - does anyone else have visions of their self-stitched clothes splitting at an inopportune moment? Or people looking at the ever so slightly wonky seams and thinking you're a weirdo for making your own rubbish clothes?

I learnt a lot making up this pattern and am looking forward to using my newfound skills on the Colette Rooibos pattern which is next on my stitching list. I promise I won't lose half the pattern and bodge it together myself this time!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Shrinky dink snowflake ring: or a complete crafting DISASTER

This week we had our work Christmas lunch and my colleagues all decided to wear their Christmas jumpers. Not having a Christmas jumper I was determined not to feel left out so I decided to fashion myself a Christmas ring instead. I have had a packet of shrinky dink plastic lying about for ages but never really done much with it. I had grand visions of a shiny snowflake creation. Unfortunately this is not how it turned out, and the whole process was just a disaster. I am not friends with this ring. It's STUPID.

Disaster 1
I burned my hand taking the baking tray out of the oven (ok, 'disaster' might be a bit hyperbolic...but it's been a tough week)

Disaster 2
While squishing it flat (the plastic curls up in the oven and you smash it flat with a book or something when you take it out) I managed to dent the soft plastic. You can see it in the top left of the photo above.

Disaster 3
I like the snowflake design I drew, but the surface is really rough and dull. Does anyone know how to combat this? A couple of coats of PVA later and it's still not the shiny, polished surface I had in mind. Clear nail varnish?

Disaster 4
The PVA needed to dry overnight so I had to fix it to the ring base on the morning of the Christmas lunch. I splodged the glue in place and went off to have my shower. Once dressed, I put it on my hand and decided that although it wasn't perfect, it was fine to wear for the day to add a festive touch to my outfit. Settled down with a cup of coffee. As the caffeine kicked in I realised that I'd been a bit hasty in putting the ring on and it was in fact now superglued to my finger. Cue much panic and some swearing. A layer of skin later and I was off to work, sans ring and not feeling in a very good mood at all!

Any more crafting disasters this week?! Anyone else managed to mess up shrinky dink plastic?

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

An update and some links to spread the festive cheer!

a little cross stitch I made last year...who doesn't <3 tea?

Hello, happy Tuesday! What are you all crafting?

I have a few projects on the go this week - I have finally finished the Simplicity dress I started making with Liberty fabric back in....June? I won't have time to take any photos until the weekend though (and I am hankering after a better camera as my photographs leave a lot to be desired - most are iPhone pics), so I'll post the results then. And last night was spent extremely pleasantly watching Elf and playing about making fabric brooch prototypes. I think I'm happy with the results now, so I'll hopefully find time this week to perfect them and maybe write up a wee tutorial in case any of you like them enough to make them yourselves.

In the meantime this week, and in spite of an impending cold, I will be attempting to keep up my festive cheer by avidly following :

  • Elsie who blogs at A Beautiful Mess and her '12 Days of Handmade' project
  • the Penniless Guide to Christmas for the frugally festive
  • and perhaps, if I'm VERY lucky, making it along to the Rust open day to pick out my Christmas pressies from my boyfriend Matt (ha, wishful thinking - I have picked out my engagement ring from there, sadly it is £3550 so a little more saving is required). Rust is run by the lovely Artemis who writes one of my favourite blogs, Tales of A Junkaholic

Luckily my work is feeling pretty festive just now, so it's not hard to get in the spirit. The two pics below are from the photo booth at our Christmas party (I think I suit a moustache? Perhaps I should have done Movember), and the Narnia themed events that are going on in and around the library - can you see Aslan hiding amongst the trees? You entered Narnia via a massive wardrobe, I kid you not. It looked magical!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Snowflake garland and Christmas festivities

This week has been light on the crafting as it's been filled instead with Christmas festivities.

Tuesday night was mulled wine night at Drink Shop & Do. For just £1 we were given all we needed to sew mulled wine sachets and fill them up with cloves, bay, nutmeg and cinnamon. There was also a tempting array of cakes and cocktails on offer, and we all went for the 'Hot Granny' which was delicious. I was particularly charmed by the tiny candy cane that comes on the side! Karen from Did You Make That organised the meet up and it was lovely to meet both her and Tilly for the first time. I've been a fan of their blogs for months now so it was great to finally put faces to names. I loved that we were all wearing handmade things as well. Tilly and Karen have both blogged about the event much more eloquently than I could so check out their postings!

Wednesday night myself and my colleagues went to the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park where we froze our toes off drinking mulled cider, trying to knock coconuts off sticks, were snowed on rather heavily and invented our signature dance moves for the work Christmas party....

...which was on Friday! Today has been largely spent recovering. We had lots (too much?) wine, dancing and a photo booth with a dressing up box, all on the house.

So this week all I've managed to craft is a crocheted snowflake garland using this tutorial from Attic 24. Here's a close up:

And this is it hanging in pride of place on my fireplace (please excuse the rubbish photos, I'm too tired to take any properly):

I plan to get back on the crafting horse tomorrow and finish off the snood I've been making for my sister (who just got engaged yesterday! She's 5 years younger than me and I am not yet engaged so I have mixed feelings about this. Humph.). I made it ages ago but have yet to decide how to embellish it. Flowers, bows, a felt badge with liberty appliqué...I can't decide!

And now for some Alan Partridge and another cup of tea.

Monday, 29 November 2010

More Christmas wreaths

I've mentioned previously on this blog how obsessed I've been with wreaths this Christmas. It all started here when I fell in love with the felted wreath on the Pickles blog. I promise this is the last wreath post (for this year at least). Unless I come across any more brilliant ones.

My other half doesn't like anything too twee or 'country cottagey' so I've steered clear of anything using branches and berries, although there are plenty of tutorials for those online if that's your thing.

I decided I wanted a bauble wreath but didn't fancy the price tags on the ones I saw in Paperchase, plus they weren't quite what I wanted. I stocked up on little glass baubles, grabbed a wire hanger (those things are tougher than they look!) and came up with this:

I have to say, threading baubles is extremely therapeutic following a day of tube strike madness in London - can anyone beat a 2.5 hour morning commute (bearing in mind I live less than 5 miles from work)? I could have walked it quicker. Anyway, I digress. I threaded the baubles straight onto the wire for a more 3D effect (yes I know life is 3D, I guess I just mean it looks the same from the back), so it took a LOT of baubles! You could probably use less if you used wire to keep the baubles round to the front. I made the flower using this tutorial from Marie at A Sewing Odyssey.

It's currently displayed in my fireplace along with lots of other magic and sparkle!

I blogged last week that I'd fallen in love with this tinsel wreath that I saw on the Creature Comforts blog. I hunted high and low in Crouch End for tinsel to no avail, but finally came across some in the Alexandra Palace garden shop - yay! Here's my interpretation:

It looks a little brash in this photo, but when all the fairy lights are lit it's gorgeously twinkly and festive. I may switch the crocheted heart for a flower at some point.

If you're looking for more inspiration, EZ at Creature Comforts posted a fantastic round up of the best DIY wreaths. The Channel 4 website also have a few good ideas here

I'm off to sip the rest of my red wine (it'll soon be time to mull it, I LOVE the smell) and play about with the crocheted snowflake wreath I have in progress. Stay cosy everyone. 


Saturday, 27 November 2010

The best garland?

Garland? Is that the right description? Or just a festive chain? I dunno, but I've just come across the Pretty Much Penniless blog and fallen in love with this idea of making a garland (or whatever you want to call it) out of old keys and bits of jewellery:

(image from

I think this is AWESOME, I'm completely charmed by the idea. I'd keep it up all year round if I'm honest (don't tell the boy, he doesn't like clutter and he hopefully just wouldn't notice if I 'forgot' to take it down...)

Happy Saturday everyone, I hope you've all got lovely days planned? It's freezing here (although not as cold as for my Scottish friends who are ankle deep in snow) so I'm planning a lazy day doing some Christmas shopping online, watching old films and drinking gingerbread lattes. I woke up with some sort of weird spot/bite on my face so I don't particularly feel like facing the world anyway!


Thursday, 25 November 2010

Christmas hearts and bunting

This week, amongst other crafty endeavours, I've been making some Christmas decorations.

I used this tutorial to make these heart decorations:

I'd already made a tiny string of them in pink just because, but using this chunky wool and a size 8 hook makes really cute big hearts. I think I'll make a lot of them and string them by the window.

I've also made this 'ho ho ho' bunting.

I used red and white felt and a checked ribbon I found in my stash. I think it's quite cute, I'm going to put it underneath my wreath (when I finally manage to make one - I may just cave and buy this one from Paperchase). I haven't decided what to put on the blank pieces yet - thinking snowflakes on the red, but what on the white? A stocking? I think it should stick to the red and white colour scheme. What do you think? 

Carly xo

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Christmas inspiration...

Image from the Attic 24 blog

I don't know about you but Christmas is my favourite time of year. I'm really excited about this Christmas as it's our first in this flat, and the first time we've not had pesky flatmates getting in the way! I'm trying to make a lot of my own Christmas decorations and have been trawling the web for inspiration. The Boy doesn't like things to look too folksy or twee, so I'm trying to avoid anything too country cottagey. These are some of my favourites ideas/makes: 

  • A selection of wreaths from Good Housekeeping - I loved the idea of using ice and cherries to create an outdoor one - if only I didn't live in a flat!
  • These crocheted snowflakes are lovely (see pic above) - Lucy from Attic 24 has kindly provided a tutorial which I'm planning to have a go at tonight.
  • For me, this wreath is the one. I think it's just great. However I have been completely unable to find any silver tinsel - thwarted! Crouch End must be too sophis for such tacky decorations. 

Image from the Creature Comforts blog

  • Yarn wreaths (I'm a little obsessed with wreaths this year, can you tell?) from Danielle who blogs at Take Heart - they look really simple to make but I think they make really lovely festive decorations.
  • These little animal baubles are SO cute, I am definitely going to try making a version of the owl! I like these little heart ones too. A perfect project for sitting in front of the telly with a glass of vino..
  • This string of origami boxes are just gorgeous - I absolutely love them. If only I could bring myself to rip up an old book...

Image taken from Creature Comforts blog

  • This 'whatnot tree' is a great alternative for those (like me) who don't have room for a proper tree. I'm off to Ally Pally in the next couple of days to hunt for twigs!
  • This garland from Anthropologie has the perfect style balance between folksy and funky.
  • I've absolutely fallen in love with this little felt deer bauble from Lowell and Son's etsy shop:

That's just some of the lovely ideas I've found online - you're all such an inspiration! I'll pop back in a few days to update on how I'm getting on with my own projects. How are you decorating your home this year? Have you any crafty Christmassy ideas you'd like to share? I'd love to see what other people are doing.

Have a lovely evening, I'm off now to finish sewing up my Simplicity 2591 - slightly disappointed as preliminary fittings lead me to think it's going to make me look fat, but we shall see...I'll post the outcome (good or bad) here once I'm all finished up.

Carly xx

Sunday, 21 November 2010


Yep. Yawn. I've been a bit under the weather for the last week or so and as a consequence the crafting (and therefore blogging) has taken a bit of a back seat. I'll get back on track over the following week as I'm on annual leave, woop woop! I've got a trip to Hobbycraft planned for tomorrow (my first ever visit, I'm very excited!), and then a week of crafting. My plans are to:

Finish off the dress I started in June
It's Simplicity 2591, as inspired by Karen at Did You Make That? I'm using a Liberty print fabric and I love it so much! I laid it to the side, learnt to crochet and so forgot about my past as a wannabe seamstress.

Make Christmas decorations
I'm thinking wreaths, bunting and other decorations. My flat is too small for a tree. I'm taking inspiration from several places, including here, and from one of my new favourite blogs, Creature Comforts who have loads of inspiring Christmassy ideas.

Finish off half made Christmas gifts and start more
Snoods, wristlets, coffee cup holders...

In the meantime as this is a rubbish post, please see this AWESOME video that I came across via the lovely Shopholly:

Monday, 15 November 2010

Snuggly snoods: tutorial

I am officially in LOVE with snoods this year. I've crocheted two so far and am working on my third which will be a Christmas gift. I didn't follow any pattern, just played about and this was the outcome.

This blue one was my first attempt - I stopped when I ran out of blue wool, but I don't really use it much as I think it needs to be bigger. The cherries motif is just a series of crocheted circles, I think it turned out quite cute.

I am re-creating the one I'm wearing in the photograph above as a Christmas gift as I love mine so much. I can't decide whether to decorate it with a bow, or with cherries or with crocheted flowers...or something else?

Another difference with the one I'm currently working on is that I am crocheting it in a continuous round so that there is not a join up the back.

Anyway, just in case any of you would like to know how I made them, here's a little tutorial - they're easy peasy!

You need:
A big fat crochet hook (I used 8mm)
Big fat wool (I used 1.5 balls of Rowan Big Wool)

I'm using UK crochet terms, but I've linked to videos (some of which use the US terminology just to make it more confusing!) so you can see exactly what I mean.

Row 1
Chain 60 (this fits as shown in the pic of me above - but you could make it longer so you can wind it round your neck a couple of times, or shorter so it sits more snugly) * join into a circle with a slip stitch

Row 2
Chain 2 * treble crochet (tr) into each chain along the original row * when you've got all the way round slip stitch into the very first stitch treble crochet to join

Row 3
Chain 1 * double crochet (dc) into each treble * slip stitch into the first double crochet in the row to join

Rows 4 - end
Repeat rows 2 and 3 until you get to the length you like. I did 8 reps altogether to get one measuring about 35 cm. It might be nice to make it even longer though so that you can pull it up over your head!

The bow is really simple too. I used  a 3 mm hook.
Chain 20 * half treble crochet into 3rd chain from hook and all the way along the row * chain 2 and repeat for 7-8 rows or until the bow is as large as you want it to be.

To do the middle of the bow, chain 8 * htc into 3rd chain from hook and all the way along * finish off and stitch together to form a bow.

Stitch it all together, weave in the ends and snuggle up!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Christmas wreath

This Christmas wreath from Heidi and Anna at the Pickles blog is just beautiful. I love the styling with the bunting and stag head too. I found it while googling Christmas wreaths, in desperate need of inspiration for the one I'm trying to make. Everything I try is either too twee or just not as I imagined (the tin foil incarnation was particularly foul).

Finding these felt balls online seems to be harder than I imagined, have found a few UK stockists on Folksy but they all seem to be sold out. A more intensive google session is required I think, unless anyone knows where else I can find them?

I will post a pic of my wreath once I've decided what it will's currently wrapped in red wool with white crocheted hearts and flowers on, but I don't like it either. Watch this space...

Friday, 12 November 2010

Space invaders Christmas cross stitch!

How cool is this wonderful space invaders cross stitch pattern? I absolutely love it and it is definitely going on my to-do list. (from even-star's Flickr stream and via the craftzine blog)

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Another Christmas idea and the Day From Hell

So far, today has not treated me kindly. Wednesday, I do not like you.

I opened my eyes this morning and checked my phone to see the time. 9.55. Cue lots of OMG! WHAT? I was meant to be at work 25 minutes ago! I texted my boss to say I was running REALLY late and got ready at lightning speed, all the while wondering how such a travesty had happened. I never sleep solidly through til 9.55, not even on the weekend. Arrive at work just before 11 only to run into a colleague at the door - I then proceeded to panic her by shouting 'How are you so late as well?!'. Confusion ensued and it finally came to light that my iPhone was an hour and a half ahead of itself (it also thought it was Sunday, which I hadn't noticed) and I was bang on time for work. Cue much embarrassment. I'd texted my boss at around 8am to say I was late! Plus I walk past a massive clock tower every day, STUPID.

So, as a result I've felt extremely discombobulated all day, a bit sick and very tired and can't wait to go home. After work I'm planning to head home via the massive Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road to pick up crafty things and a Secret Santa gift - I've not been before but apparently it's 3 floors of stationery goodness! Love Paperchase. I'm then going to play about with my Scrabble picture Christmas idea, drink wine and watch The Apprentice.

The Scrabble picture is something I thought of the other day. This is one of my preliminary shots:

taken using the Hipstamatic app for iPhone to get the retro feel

Cute isn't it? I think so anyway. It's for my wee sister (who is called Laura, funnily enough). I am still not sure what to do with it. My ideas so far are:

  • leave as is, put in a simple but nice frame
  • add in something else to the bottom left corner - maybe a snapshot of her?
  • put in a box frame so I can put actual objects in front of the print

I have a tendency to over-work things so any feedback or even any BETTER ideas would be appreciated! I'm off to post this on Crafty Christmas Club too to see if any of the lovely ladies over there have any feedback!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

A bit of a muddle...or how I botched together a rather cute iPod cover

It's my wee sister's birthday next week and she had requested a handmade cover for her iPod nano. Easy peasy I thought! Nope. Not so much.

Does anyone else have trouble deciding what fasteners to put on iPod/iPhone/camera/glasses/etc covers? I am terrible at deciding, so usually I just go for a button and a loop of ribbon. This time I decided to go a bit more sophis and make a proper flap and button hole. My downfall was not deciding this until I'd already sewn the main body of the case, so I have bits and pieces of random stitching that could have been covered up much better had I made it more logically. Unfortunately I don't have time to re-create with the knowledge of hindsight it as it needs to get to Ireland quicksmart. Here's a close up:

My button hole stitching also left a lot to be desired. It was the first one I'd done, and I probably should have practised before attempting it on my (almost finished so no going back) present. The fabric frayed a little bit - I think I should have made the stitches bigger and used a sharper needle. But hey, we live and learn. I just reinforced it with a coating of PVA glue. I told you I was sophis. It doesn't look too bad and you can't see it when it's closed anyway. 

I'm obviously going to buy her something as well, seeing as this hasn't turned out so well. Still, I think it's cute even if it's not perfect and hopefully she'll at least appreciate the love and care that went into it. 

Has anyone else made any cute iPod covers? I'd love to see some more ideas.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Christmas baubles: tutorial (from Meet me at Mike's)

(Image taken from Meet me at Mike's blog)
I can't wait to try making these gorgeous crocheted Christmas baubles. Pip over at Meet me at Mike's has kindly posted a tutorial. I'll let you know how I get on!

The weekend

Gearing up for the weekend, what is everyone up to?

I plan to crash in front of the tv tonight, eschewing fireworks on Clapham Common for my sofa (although I'm sure I shall feel very left out as all my work friends will be out at the fireworks). I'm not feeling too hot this week so socialising is not top of my list. I will be mostly:
  • crocheting up the snood I'm making for my sister for Christmas
  • finishing up the iPod cover I'm making for my sister's birthday (priority)
  • attempting to finish up the Liberty print dress I started way back in....June??
Will hopefully get round to formally introducing myself and my Crafty Christmas Plans on Tilly's Crafty Christmas blog

I may also be tempted across the road to the Haberdashery for the Barboot event tonight - but the call of my sofa may be too strong!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

crocheted wristlets: tutorial

I'm new to crochet, and I'm absolutely loving it. But I never seem to find the exact pattern for what I want to make, so I made these wristlets as a gift for my friend from a 'pattern' I made up myself just using a simple fan stitch. They are by no means perfect as I've only been crocheting since September so am not that experienced, but in the spirit of sharing here's how I made them:

Start: Using a 3mm hook chain 32 (this fits an average wrist - I gave them away before measuring, but I think this was about 16cm)
Row 1: * 1 treble crochet (tr) into 4th chain from hook * miss 2 chain then 5 tr into next chain * miss 2 chain then 1 tr in the next 2 chains * miss 2 chains then 5 tr into the next chain * repeat to end of row.
Row 2: chain 3 * 5 tr into the space between the two side by side tr stitches * 1 tr into the space between the 2nd and 3rd trs in the group of 5 and 1 tr into the space between the 3rd and 4th trs in the same group of 5 * (the previous two steps may be reversed depending on whether you ended your last row with a group of 5 trs or 2 singles) * continue til end of row. 
Rows 3 - end: repeat row 2 until you have the length you require. 
To finish: darn/crochet/stitch up the seam. If you want to leave a space for the thumb you can, mine don't have this. I am currently experimenting with crocheting these continuously in the round so that there is no seam, if I manage it I will update. 
Embellish: I used a flower pattern I found in an old book, but you could embellish with anything - bows, ribbons, pom poms....or you could crochet in a brighter colour/stripes and leave the crochet to speak for itself. There are heaps of flower tutorial videos online, but if you'd like me to share mine just let me know and I'm happy to do so.

If you have any tips or tricks to improve my pattern I'd love to hear from you in the comments. How do you crochet something like this without a seam?

Carly xx

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Nest, Crouch End

(image taken from Nest website)
Today I went to check out Crouch End's new (and only) knitting shop, Nest. First impressions, very nice decor and pretty window display. They had some lovely wools and tools and bits and bobs. As well as wools, they sell gorgeous ribbons, beads, buttons and various other embellishments. It's a little sparse inside, I'd like to see more books and ongoing projects, but those will probably come with time. I work very near John Lewis on Oxford Street and spend many lunch hours in their haberdashery department, but I think Nest has a much more inspiring selection of wools.

If you'd like to learn a new skill (or improve on an old one) Nest are also offering a range of courses and drop ins, including jewellery making, crochet and felting.

My only criticism would be that there wasn't much 'fanfare' outside to draw in the customers. Had I not been looking for it I may have easily walked straight past. Perhaps an eyecatching sign on the street? It's on Weston Park, so a bit off the beaten track, and it's not open on Sundays, so I think they're going to need help to spread the word. That said they are on Twitter and Facebook (details on their website) so go and friend them! It's definitely worth straying off the main thoroughfare to take a peep and I'm sure I'll be a regular in the run up to Christmas. I hope they have some crafty Christmas events planned!

snow globes: tutorial

I bloody LOVE these snow globes as seen on the Well Worn blog (pics courtesy of

There's a tutorial and some more lovely pictures to look at over at Well Worn.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

learning to crochet: tutorial

I had wanted to learn how to crochet for ages. AGES. But no matter how hard I puzzled over the pictures in books or the online tutorials I just could NOT get the hang of it. I'd get so far then, convinced I was doing it wrong, would stop and rip it all out.

Then in September this year I discovered the granny square tutorial from the gorgeous Pip Lincolne of Meet me at Mikes. This was without a doubt the best online tutorial I found, and made learning to crochet easy. It did. Easy. Lovely Pip.

Once I had the hang of a granny square, I found it was much easier to pick up different stitches and techniques from books. Once you can do a chain, a double and a triple crochet you really CAN do anything. Honest. On the subject of being honest, I will say that at first I was a VERY clumsy crocheter, and if it wasn't for the encouragement gained from Pip's brilliant tutorial I would have thought I was still doing it wrongly. All thumbs I was. My first squares looked like this:

Thanks Pip!

I then added white borders to each of the squares and joined. Unfortunately I am very distractable and a serial non-finisher when it comes to projects, so I don't have a finished granny square project to show you unfortunately. Maybe one day. I've got others to share over the next few posts though.

Have you learned to crochet from these tutorials too? Do you know of other fab crochet tutorials? What was your first project? Please leave a comment and let me know!


Hello! I'm Carly. I would like to be a Domestic Goddess of the crafting variety, and this blog is my attempts to become one.

Having failed massively at being Nigella I have decided cookery is not my forte, and that my strengths lie as a crafter. I want to share my learning, my projects and hopefully learn stuff from you lovely people too. Let's see how I go!