Saturday, 31 December 2011

Looking Back and Planning Ahead

As the year draws to a close, this also marks the end of my first year of sewing. Although I did not start my blog until March, my sewing and crafting journey really started at the end of last year, when I was given a sewing machine for Christmas. It's interesting to look back and see how much I have learnt and accomplished in a much more than I ever imagined. Initially my plan was to use my sewing skills to alter clothes I already had, or purchased from vintage clothing sales, rather than to make new clothes from scratch, which I considered to be too challenging at the time. However, in the past year I have done much more of the latter than i could ever have anticipated, and hardly any refashioning!

In the last year i have sewn:

- 3 dresses
- 1 skirt
- 4 Sorbetto tops

I'm pretty pleased with all my makes, not bad considering i had barely made anything this time last year. Also, and most importantly i think, i actually wore the clothes i made! I also made a few smaller items - 7 bags, an apron and 4 small bags/purses.


A few of my makes in the wild: L-R New Look Dress, Lonsdale Dress and Sorbetto Top

As well as sewing, in the second half of the year i also started to improve my knitting skills. Knitting-wise this year i made:

- 2 snoods
- 2 baby cardigans
- 3 scarfs

Knits clockwise L-R from top left: Ribbed Scarf, Baby Cardigan and Snoods

 So that was 2011! What, then, does 2012 hold? I think that for me, 2011 was about embracing the crafts, and picking up as many skills as possible. I went on a number of courses on sewing, knitting, applique, jewellery making and hand embroidery. I am very much aware of the phrase 'jack of all trades, master of none' and so i think that next year, i would like to concentrate on using and improving on the skills i have picked up. The one exception to this may be crochet, which i really am keen to learn.

Rather than resolutions, i would like to list my aims and hope for the next year. These are, in no particular order:

1) Make more basics

So far, i have mostly been making pretty things. I love everything that i have made so far, however most of the garments (with the possible exception of my Crescent skirt) tend to get saved for special occasions. Therefore, i would like to make more garments that i could wear on a daily basis. The first of these will be a Pendrell blouse, which i have been planning to make for a very long time! I would also like to sew more things in plainer colours, enabling me to mix and match garments and therefore get more wear out of them. Of course, this is not to say that i will not still make pretty things...but i do hope to concentrate on more wearbale makes.

2) Stash Bust!

I'm sure this will be on many lists around the blogosphere! I have learnt that fabric shopping is incredibly addictive, and in just a year i have built up a pretty impressive fabric (and wool) stash. This is all very well, but i do tend to shop impulsively and have therefore ended up with a lot of fabric which i have no direct plans for. This year, i would like to curb this impulsive spending a little, and instead concentrate on sewing with fabric i already have. When i buy new fabric, i would like it to be with a precise plan in mind.

3) Interact more with the blogging community

This year i would like to meet more bloggers in real life! I have yet to attend a bloggers meet up, and hopefully this will be the year. I would also like to give back more to the blogging community, for example by hosting my very first giveaway.

4) Be more patient

This is something that i could really do to apply to all areas of my life, not just sewing! To often i am too impatient to get things done, to get a garment finished, and so sometimes i rush things rather than taking the time to make sure that everything is done properly. I really would like to take time with my makes, and finish everything to a high standard, rather than zipping through to finish as soon as i can.

5) Take part in a craft fair

I think it would be fun to try a craft fair, so this will be another aim for this year. I think it would be a great opportunity to get out there, meet other crafters, and maybe earn a little bit of pocket money! Of course i know that there would be a certain amount of work involved, but i am hoping that if i build up a collection of things over several months, it should be do-able.

So there we go - fours aims, hopefully achievable! Other than that, i am just really looking forward to seeing where 2012 takes me! I have really enjoyed my first year of sewing, knitting and being part of the online community - here's to another fun-filled year!

Happy New Year Everyone :)

K xx

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas Gifts - Given and Received

Now that Christmas has passed and all my gifts have been gifted, i am finally able to share with you some of the things i have made over the last few months! 


Apron and Book Bags

Gift Tags

Edible goodies! Clockwise from top left: Marzipan fruits, Cherry and Ginger Fudge, Lebkuchen,
Rum Truffles and Orange and Pistachio Stollen

Links to recipes for all the edible goodies can be found in this post i wrote for the Crafty Christmas Club.

As well as giving some homemade gifts this year, i was also lucky enough to receive many gifts handmade by some of my very talented friends! I love how everyone is embracing the homemade this year, it's just fantastic...not to mention the fact that it gives me inspiration for next year :) A crochet owl made by another of my friends can also be seen here.

Homemade goodies i was lucky enough to be given this Christmas! Clockwise from left: Orange Liquor,
Mini Christmas cake, Chocolate Chip Biscuits, Maple and Cinnamon Nuts, Chilli Jam and Mango Chutney. Yummy!

I was also given a few sewing related gifts...

Adding to my library!

Little sewing kit from Father Christmas...i especially love the ribbon of thread
 I'm very lucky to have received so many goodies! While i was visiting my parents i also popped into a craft shop which has recently opened in my hometown. While i was there i picked up a collection of fabric scraps...sorry for the terrible pictures but you get the idea!

My boyfriend is especially impressed with the Magic Roundabout-related scraps! I'd love to make him something with these scraps but not sure what yet. They are very small more than about 20cm x 30cm. Hmm. Any ideas welcome :)

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas :) Did anyone else get any fabulous sewing goodies?

K xx

Monday, 26 December 2011

Discovering Ravelry

I hope that everyone had a very merry Christmas, and that those who were gift making got everything done in time! I did...just about...phew! I have really enjoyed following everyones progress with handmade gifts this year, largely through the Crafty Christmas Club. I now have so many ideas of gifts for birthdays etc, which is just fantastic. I'm so inspired! I intend to summarise my finished Christmas gifts soon, but for now i want to mention something else...Ravelry!

I have been aware of the existence of the online knitting and crochet community Ravelry for some time now, mainly through other bloggers who knit, however i must admit i hadn't really investigated it until very recently. Last week a crafty friend of mine persuaded me to sign up, not that i took much persuading if truth be told! So i am KraftyKat20 if you want to look me up :)

I am very excited about getting to grips with Ravelry, as i have heard great things. The number of free patterns (yes free!) available is just astonishing, and the added bonus of being able to read reviews and follow others knitting the same projects is just fantastic. I am still getting to grips with the site at the moment, so any hints and tips are greatly received. If you are already a do you use Ravelry? I can't wait to get stuck in! Off to have a play right now...

K xx

Friday, 23 December 2011

Revisiting the Knitted Squares!

Regular readers of my blog may remember the blanket my mum and I are planning to make out of knitted and crocheted squares, first mentioned here. Back in the summer i was giving regular updates on my progress which was considerably (and quite embarrassingly) slower than my mum's who is a super speedy knitter. The knitted square count got a bit waylaid as i got caught up in my holiday wardrobe challenge, and you may have thought i had forgotten. But no! Here is proof!

The plan was always to try and complete all the squares before the end of the year. Now i am back home for Christmas, 'Operation Squares' is back with avengence. And i am pleased to report....that there are but 6 squares left to complete! Let's not dwell on the statistics of how many i knitted and how many my mum knitted (it's probably 3 or 4 to 1....shameful!), the point is we are NEARLY THERE! It will soon be time to brush up on my mattress stitch and get joining those squares together! It would be overly ambitious to hope that the blanket will be completed by the end of this year...but there is definite progress :)

What with all the frantic knitting i imagine this will be my last blog post before HAPPY CHRISTMAS everyone, i hope you all have a very merry time!

K xx

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A Crafty Christmas Update!

Hello Everyone,

Despite the radio silence of late i can assure you that i have been busy beavering away on Christmas presents! I was more than a little ambitious at the start and didn't quite manage to live up to all of my (rather optimistic) plans...however i still did manage to complete a number of homemade gifts. Most of these i cannot share with you just yet, but here are a couple which i can....

The first is an apron i made for my boyfriend, complete with hand embroidered chicken....

Secondly a little washbag i made for my Nana (thanks go to Handmade Jane for tips on the use of waterproof lining!). If you recognise the material, it's because it is made from the remnants of fabric from my Crescent Skirt...see i'm trying to get over my adversion to reusing garment fabrics!

Finally, i made a lot of baked goodies this is some Lebkucken i made using this recipie. They are so simple to make and taste yummy (i think!), so all in all a great gift idea...i made two batches! I bagged them up and tied with ribbon to make them look pretty.

I will show you a few more crafty gifts after Christmas, but for now i would like to leave you with a homemade gift i was lucky enough to receive, made by a very clever friend of mine....regular readers will know of my love of awesome is this!

I so need to learn to crochet....!

I hope everyone else is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for crafty gift making...there's a few more days to go yet, so no need to panic!!

K xx

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Hand Embroidery Fun!

Back in October I blogged about an appliqué course I went on, run by the lovely Donna of Spinster's Emporium. Well today was the second session, in which we learnt hand embroidery. I know after the last session I enthused that appliqué was my new favourite skill...well now it has competition! While I have dabbled in cross stitch before, hand embroidery was completely new to me. We learnt a whole host of cool stitches, which you can see in the sampler below, and then put these into practise by continuing to work on the garment we used last time for appliqué.

A sampler showing the different stitches we learnt

I love how these stitches are really quick and easy to do, but they are also really effective. I think my favourite is chain stitch, once I got the hang of it! We used quite thick thread for our embroidery, I think it was in fact thin knitting yarn, but you could also use a few strands of embroidery thread or even a single strand, depending on the desired effect. I personally like the chunky effect that you get from this sort of thread.

Adding some embroidery detail to a top

I now have a whole host of ideas as to how I could apply my new found skills to add to my makes...a little bit of embroidery may find its way onto some of my Christmas gifts methinks!

In other news, I was lucky enough to be given the chance to have a month of free advertising for my blog on Ohhh Lulu...if you are not familiar with Sarah's beautiful lingerie I highly recommend that you pop over to her blog and Etsy store and have a look around...her makes are just divine!

K xx

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Snood Glorious Snood(s)

So unless you have been hiding under a particularly large rock for the last few months, or perhaps sunning yourself somewhere far away in the land of no Internet access (and if you have i am very jealous!) you may have noticed that the blogosphere has gone a bit mad for the humble snood! Some call it a cowl, some call it a snood, i see it as a handy solution to a cold neck and an unravelling scarf. The craze all started off when Karen from Did you make that? posted her version of the free snood pattern so kindly made available by the Guardian. Since then it's gone viral, with many versions popping up all over the place. So of course, i couldn't resist giving it a go myself! So far i have made 2...

Snood #1, made with the free pattern mentioned above and 2 50g balls of Sirdir Indie shade #0155 (I'm sure it had a name but it's not on the label!). I used Moss Stitch - you basically knit one stitch, purl the next etc and then on the next row do the opposite...knit on top of a purl and purl on top of a knit. I love the bobbly effect this stitch gives!

Snood #2 was made using one of the suggested modifications to the pattern - i cast on 140 stitches. This was knitted using a circular needle - it was the first time i have tried this and i must say i loved it! It was very easy to get in the zone and just knit away whilst watching TV without worrying about counting rows or changing needles. 

Close up of the Moss Stitch

For this snood I used a 200g ball of wool i picked up from a local shop for a bargainous £4.50, and basically kept knitting until the ball finished. The wool is so soft and lovely, and i like how i can wrap it round many many times! I hindsight though, i chose a really boring colour....expect to see a more cheerful version 2 coming up in the near future!

I love knitting with chunky wool, it's so easy to knit up. I think both these snoods were completed in just over a week. Now if you'll excuse to start snood number 3...!

K xx


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