Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Sew Time!

I think it's high time I did some sewing, don't you?  All this time blogging and I don't think I've actually sewn anything (other than stitching cushions together).  Thankfully, the Spring Cleaning bug came and went fairly quickly and all of a sudden I felt like I needed to sew.  But what to sew?  I was thinking about embarking on a quilt, but as I'm half way through crocheting a ripple blanket, it seemed a bit of a big undertaking.  I cast my eyes around the house for inspiration and there, on the boy's bed, was the answer!  A very dull and boring cream cushion crying out for someone to come along and give it the covering it deserves.

I was tempted to whip up a quick cover there and then. But then I thought about the time I'd taken to make the other two covers and I thought perhaps a bit of time and love was in order.  And as I was already thinking about quilting, and as I already had a few hexagons on the go from ages ago, well, sometimes these things just come together.

Some nice hand-sewing, slowly but surely, piece by piece.

Being thrifty by using up some old threads for the tacking, not to mention working my way through my big bin of scraps - some from the patchwork quilt I made for him about 4 years ago!

It's amazing how quickly they come together really :-)

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Spring Cleaning!!!

Sorry about the brief absence - I have being suffering from an urge to clean!  Got slightly bored with the rows and rows of rippling and my mind - thanks to the lovely weather we've had of late - started thinking Spring, then naturally straight into Spring Cleaning!  Yes, such is the way my mind works!

First thing I did was stock up on the cleaning cloths.  This is my under-sink stash with lots of cloths, scrubbers, wipes and a spray bottle of water and white vinegar.  I got the bottle from the garden section of a supermarket - completely impossible to find them anywhere else.  I've got a similar stash in the bathroom.

I am trying to wean myself off using so  many disposable wipes.  The reason I got hooked on them is that I never really knew what to do with the wet cloth you would end up with after wiping round the sink, or shower, or whatever.  But then it occurred to me that all I really need is a "wet cloth" container to dump my wet cloths in during the week and then just launder them on a hot wash once a week with my towels/bedding.  But to do this I needed more cloths, so off I went to the pound store and stocked up on dishcloths and microfiber cloths and all sort of goodies in that department (small pleasures!).  I also sorted out some old tea towels to use as dry cloths for shining up things and drying off wet surfaces.  I was rather pleased with these two ideas which will hopefully pay off by saving me money on the wet wipes (which aren't really that good for proper cleaning anyhow) and - of course - I'm saving the environment too :-)

So yesterday I spent 3 solid hours in our (tiny) bathroom cleaning like crazy.  And I thought it was pretty clean to start off with - wrong! - the amount of gunge in the shower cubicle was quite staggering :-(((  But boy, how it sparkles now - loving the white vinegar and water sprayer which could probably benefit from a few drops of lemon essential oil, if I'm honest, but gives a lovely (chemical free) shine.

What a total joy it was to use the bathroom this morning, especially after all my hard graft :-)  I even cleaned the windows, every tile, the ceiling (vacuumed every minute cobweb) and behind the pipework!  It's amazing how you don't notice the dirt until you start cleaning!

So the bathroom is done and I've started on the kitchen (cooker - done).  Thought I'd tackle the nasties first before I run out of enthusiasm.  The rest will be plain sailing, surely?

Friday, 7 March 2014

Picture Problems

Well you might notice that I've changed the look of the blog - not through choice really, it's an attempt to sort out the awful picture quality issues I was having.  As you can imagine, I've wasted hours of my life on Google trying to figure out the problem, but I think it's because the old style blog layout didn't let me enlarge the pictures. I won't bore you with the details, but fingers crossed now we shall have some nice crisp photos.  And they're LARGE - HURRAH!!!!

So - here's my ripple cushion completed! This was really a test for the ripple blanket which I've just started (with the fabulous Stylecraft bag of goodness!).  I used this to gauge how big to do the blanked, by measuring the size of the ripple.

Here's how it's coming on - talk about bright and cheerful!  I guess the colours are so bright because it's Acrylic yarn.  Hopefully this means they won't fade with washing (or time).  You would never know that this is a synthetic fibre - okay, it's not got the feel of real wool, but it's very soft and tactile to work with and I don't think it looks particularly synthetic - apart from the colours!

(Hopefully, these are better pictures?)  Just to check, here is a re-posted picture of that yarn I got ...

The old picture (from my last post) was atrocious.  Phew!  Problem sorted :-)))

Tuesday, 4 March 2014



Oh My Goodness - what is this?  Could it be a very large bag of yarn?  Ordered one (very late) night in a fit of yarny lust?

By Jove, it is!!!  17 balls of the most glorious colours you ever did see.  It is my shiny new, very first ever pack of Stylecraft Special DK, one in every colour - a pack put together by Attic24 and available from Deramores for an utter bargain price of less than £30 AND they are 100g balls!!  How about that for value?  The only downside here is that it is 100% Acrylic yarn - something I have always avoided like the plague, but spurred on my the praise heaped upon it by Lucy, and also wanting to attempt my very first blanket and not want to spend loads on expensive yarn, I decided to give it a go.

It's a shame that these pictures do not do it justice - again, I don't know why it looks like it's a bobbly yarn - it isn't, in fact it's lovely and soft and smooth.  Hopefully, you'll get an idea of the lovely colours though.

My only problem now is deciding on what combination of colours to choose to turn them into a gorgeous ripple blanket.  I sense a totally wasted afternoon looming ;-)

This idea helps - at least to keep a tab on what's what.  Obviously, the colours are readable, not blurred like these pictures (grrrrrrrr!).

AWFUL picture quality - I don't know why (I have a very expensive Olympus camera!!!).  Anyways.  Breathe.  Focus. 


Monday, 3 March 2014

Ripple Effect

Aaah, here I am, back after half term (week late in Wales), and I'm still on my cushion mission.  Actually, I'm working myself up to a crochet blanket but I decided to take Lucy's advice and try a 'test' piece for the ripple pattern which she so brilliantly (as always) describes how to construct on her blog.

I did once try this before but ended up with very wonky edges - probably because I didn't read the pattern properly.  This time, however, I got very nice straight edges (the sides, that is). Obviously, you get a wavy edge on the top and bottom, so I used this tutorial to make them straight again.  It isn't perfect (mine, that is) but I'm going to now work a border all the way round of probably triple crochet, perhaps twice, so that it's nice and straight and will fit my cushion pad, which is about a 20".

In fact, it's bigger than I wanted it and won't now be right for the lounge, but I think I'll give it to my son, who already has this, which I made for him a few years ago

This is a cushion made from knitted squares, stitched together. 

Looking at it, I even worked a grey and yellow border (sometimes I surprise myself), and then I backed it with a bit of red fleece blanket - you know those really cheap ones you can get in supermarkets? They are great for chopping up and using like this.  I think I'll use the same idea for the back of the ripple cushion, so they match. 

Then I'll put it in his bedroom and see if he even notices ;-)

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Cushion Mission

You might remember my last instalment on the subject of cushions - I was going to use my new cotton tape yarn to attempt a replica of a design I had seen in a magazine.  Well, that didn't work out.  No particular reason, just didn't look that good.  Such is the hit and miss nature of ideas!  However, it has started me on a bit of a cushion mission. 

Sometime last year I made these two crochet cushions - just a simple granny square - but instead of doing the right thing and making a cushion cover I could actually remove, for some (stupid) reason I decided to simply crochet a grey granny square for the back and basically sew the cushion pad into the cover!  Lordy knows why I did this because after only a few months they were in desperate need of a wash and it then became apparent that I would have to completely destroy the seams in order to do this.  Doh!

So this weekend I decided to put this right.  I started by removing the cover (I had to cut the last round of crochet to do this as it was nigh on impossible to unpick it!) and washing the (by now, filthy) crochet fronts. 

 I then had the cunning idea of using old pillowcases as a slip cover for the feather cushion pads (again, laziness had ensued last time and I hadn't bothered doing this, resulting in me picking feathers off the settee on a daily basis).  I just turned the pillowcase inside out,  stitched a line at 16 inches (the size of my cushions), zig-zagged the seam edge and turned it back through.  Simple!
However, making the backing for the crochet cover wasn't quite as simple.  I used Lucy's tutorial on the subject - I pretty  much followed it step by step, starting with acquiring an old jumper from a charity shop, which becomes the cushion back.  I managed to filch a man's jumper, so I had enough for my 2 cushions (hurrah, for £2.49!).  After washing, I cut out my backs

 I pretty much eyeballed this bit.  You can't be too accurate with stretchy knits anyway ;-)  For each cushion I needed basically a piece 2/3rds the size of my front and then another one 1/3rd the size, but with a good overlap PLUS a good inch all the way round EXCEPT on the rib of the jumper which you will use for the finished edge on the biggest panel (as above).

First, zig-zag around all the raw edges, and finish one long edge on the smaller panel by turning under a 1 inch hem.  This will be where the buttons will go.

Then you overlap your two jumper panels (with the rib on top) and pin together (right sides facing up)  Now place your crochet on top with right side facing DOWN (i.e. right sides together).  Pin all the way round and

using some matching wool, over sew the two together.

You can now use the enclosure to turn the cushion the right way round.  Next, Lucy advises to use a small crochet hook to work a line of single crochet into the ribbed edge.  Well, a) I didn't have a small hook, and b) my jumper was pretty fine knit, so I simply placed a line of blanket stitch along the edge, using a large sharp needle.  I then worked a line of single crochet into this.

When you get to the end, you will work another line back, this time placing button holes (I strongly recommend you see Lucy's tutorial if you want to know how to do this properly!!).  It does involve some mathematics, which is why mine are not evenly spaced (ahem).

Then just add some colourful buttons!

Hurrah, a proper, removable cushion cover!  Or 2, as it turned out.  This basically took me an entire weekend, I have to say (including the washing and drying), but I am really chuffed with myself for putting this right and now I can whip off the covers, no problem.

Next up I am going to attempt Lucy's ripple pattern for a cushion cover and if that goes okay, possibly progress to a blanket.  Nothing like a bit of ambition, eh?

P.S.  Don't forget the Sewing Bee tonight!  BBC2, 8pm.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Making Space

Warning! Today's post is not really sewing, knitting or crochet related!  Instead I'm sharing one of my other passions with you and that's home organisation.  I know, it's a bit of a weird one, but for some reason I can't stop reading blogs on the subject and there's nothing I like better than a good before and after story!  So I'm going to attempt my own here, even though I don't have any before shots.

We are, for various reasons, currently renting a house until we can sell our own.  It came with a little conservatory on the back, overlooking the garden, which at first I thought was very nice indeed.  Unfortunately, it was more of a greenhouse last summer with those unbelievably long hot days.  I would open the sliding doors from the dining room and the wall of heat would hit you and practically take your breath away - it was so absolutely unbearable and totally useless for sitting in, even with doors and windows open.  Then, as soon as the hot weather went it seemed to turn itself into a freezer :-)

So, not much use as a conservatory, basically.  But the one thing I was desperate for was a utility space.  The kitchen is pretty small and there was no space for a dryer or any kind of laundry area at all.  Even finding a home for the ironing board was a challenge. Having a room which was unusable seemed such a ridiculous waste of space in such a small house, so .... the thinking cap went on ...

And I decided to turn the conservatory into a laundry room/utility area.  (The other half of this room is George's little pen and bed area, so it was already never going to be a proper conservatory). 

It was originally a very un-lovely shade of green so I got the brightest tin of pink paint and splashed it on.  Then I got the husband to put a (cheap) worktop across this wall and off I went to Ikea to stock up on laundry essentials (a 5 minute drive from the house, so you can imagine how often I "pop" in).

First were the laundry "bins" which were measured carefully before putting in the worktop, so that I got an extra shelf on the top.  The 2 big bins here are for wet washing in the bottom, it then goes into the dryer and comes out into the top big basket, ready for ironing.  Obviously, the baskets come out and so can be used for carrying washing (wet or dry) around the house, as necessary.

Of course, when the weather allows (i.e. not in the winter) I needed a drying rack but I was really not into the idea of folding, finger-trapping contraptions which take up so much space.  Again, Ikea had the answer ... a wall mounted rack.  This is absolutely fantastic as clothes are up out of the way and you can fit a surprising amount of stuff on there, especially if you use hangers for shirts and tops. I do have a wirlygig outside for summer drying, so this is really just for inter-season use and items that can't go in the dryer.

(These are dry, but you get the picture).  Next came the iron holder for £4!  Ingenious - and you can put the iron away when it's hot.

There is a plug point down behind the ironing board, so I can iron in here too and use the worktop as a folding space. 

The other end of the worktop is a dog feeding area and the baskets underneath house the dog towels and other dog-related stuff, as well as cleaning gear and laundry gear.

Sorted!  I'm really pleased with this neat and cheery laundry/utility area and its been working brilliantly all over the winter :-)  I think it's a good use of the space I had available and makes laundry much less of a chore as everything is to hand.

P.S.  I have no idea why these pictures do not pick up the details, they are absolutely fine on my camera - must be a BlogSpot thing.  Most annoying :-(