Author Archives: Pendlestitches


Oh my amazing little man,


How did you get to be 5 already?


It’s seems only a blink of an eye that you were such a small and frightened little boy.  A little boy uncomfortable in his own skin and unable to articulate the confusion and frustration you so obviously experienced.


And yet on Monday, your birthday, you charmed the optician, flirted outrageously with the nurse, and had all the little old ladies in the waiting room eating out of your hand.  Then you skipped into school laden with goodies for the multitude of friends you have made since September, without so much as a backwards glance.


I was so very proud.

Proud of the fearless little man you have become.  Proud of your old fashioned manners and insistence on carrying bags and holding doors for ladies.  Proud of your hilarious sense of humour and impeccable comic timing.


Proud of just how kind and loving you are.


Most of all I am proud to be your mummy.

I know everyone always says that you are so lucky that we found you.  But you and Button and Daddy and I know the truth.

You found us.

And we are the lucky ones.

Happy birthday, my wonderful boy.


We love you.

The Almost Orla Mitts

KCW came and went and still the wee small boy doesn’t have a completed shirt. I’ve only the cuffs, collar and hem to do so it will be finished this week. I have 6 days till his birthday (although, and let’s not tell my brain this, I’ve actually got 10 days until his party which is when he’ll wear it!).  So all is well.

However, I did finish the Almost Orla mitts in time for my friend Liz to fly to Australia with them and gift them to her daughter-in-law.  As Liz had done the final stitching on these I’d not had the opportunity to photograph the mitts.  I was really happy to receive these photos from Oz.


Liz also sewed the brown stems on afterwards in duplicate stitch.  I’m eternally grateful.

AO2These little mitts are far from perfect but given they were my first attempt at intarsia and the colourwork was very tiny and fiddly, I’m really pleased with how they turned out.  They haven’t scared me off colourwork, which is a good thing.

More importantly, the recipient loves them. That’s the main thing!

PS…I’ve put all the pattern/yarn details on Ravelry here.

Kids Clothes Week – Day 1

Having taped the pattern together last week it dawned on me that this week is Kids Clothes Week.


I am a bear of very little brain at the moment and it had completely failed to sink in until yesterday morning.

At which point I decided that, yes, I could manage an hour a day of sewing, and yes, this would be the perfect opportunity to make a shirt for Boy in time for his birthday celebrations in a couple of weeks.


So Day 1 saw the pattern pieces being cut out and a shirt kindly gifted to us by our friend Martin for just such a purpose being hacked into small pieces.


Oh artificial light…you are so gloomy!

Note to the wise.  Cut your collar before you cut your yokes.  Yokes can be finangled.  Collars not so much.


This is a better representation of the colours.

Boy’s shirt will now have a grandad collar! 

I can live with that!

Button’s baby dolly birthday quilt set

Button has, until recently, been a neglectful mother to her baby dollies.  The poor things have been dragged around the house by their ankles, butt naked and bedraggled. A favourite game has been to swing baby dolly by ankle and wrist, higher and higher, finally letting go at the apex of the swing, allowing baby dolly to swoop high and fast into the bedroom wall.

It’s a good job I have social services on speed dial!

Recently, however, there has been a change and, thankfully, she’s starting to dress the poor shivering souls, and even create little beds from blankets in which to tuck them up at night.

baby dolly bed

It seemed only right, therefore, that she should get a dolly bed for her birthday.

I knew she’d be thrilled with the bed, but the sheet and pillow that came with it were nothing short of pitiful.  I knew that poor baby dolly really needed a beautiful quilt and pillow so she’d be comfy and warm in her new bed.


I also realised that I’m now officially certifiable.

Having recognised that, I snaffled a bag of scraps left over from the Hello Kitty quilt top from Ma, and set to.  Not only would baby dolly have a lovely cosy quilt, it would match the quilt we’re making for Button when we redo her bedroom this year.

dolly quilt centre block

Which tips me into the territory of completely cray-cray!

dolly quilt border

Thankfully, this isn’t really news to anyone.  And baby dolly now has a lovely cosy bed, and Button is finally a fit mother!

dolly kitty pillowThe only problem now is that Button has commandeered a basket from my sewing room to use as a Moses basket for a second baby dolly.  Baby dolly is currently swaddled in a blanket….



My darling girl,


I cannot believe that you are six already.  The time has flown since you came home and made me the proudest, happiest mummy in the world.

Because you are only six (I’m trying to convince myself that you’re not growing up far to fast, despite all evidence to the contrary) you cannot know the joy you bring to Daddy and me, and to your grandparents.  We all love you beyond known words.

Red dress is a Heidi and Finn cowl neck dress I finished before Christmas. I love this pattern! You may have noticed ;-)

Red dress is a Heidi and Finn cowl neck dress I finished before Christmas. I love this pattern! You may have noticed 😉

Every day you amaze me in some way.  You are kind and funny.  Bold and brave. Smart and beautiful.  And sometimes you find my last nerve and stamp it into the ground.

I love you for all these things.

I love how you are so gentle with babies and animals.


Flouting the "no dogs on the furniture" rule!

Flouting the “no dogs on the furniture” rule!

I love your immoveable sense of justice.

I love the smell of your hair and the feel of your tiny hand patting my back whilst you bear hug me.

I love your tuneless singing and how you dance with abandon.

twirling summer

I love your eclectic fashion sense.

summer style

I love how you go to school clean and smart and come home looking like an extra from St Trinian’s.


I love how the whole world is an adventure to you, and you never, ever shy away from it…even when you’re scaring the pants off me (climbing walls are a prime example!)

I love you in a million different ways for a million different things.

I love you, my adorable girl.  Happy birthday.

Matilda – Made by Ma!

I finally have something new to share with you.  Although it’s not one of my makes.

This is one of Ma’s!

It’s from the book Labour of Love by Vibe Ulrik Sondergaard.

Labour of loveThis is such a lovely book.  The pattern here is Matilda and the yarn is Rowan cotton.

IMG_9850_edited-1I love this rich cranberry colour on Button.  Especially at this time of year when she’s looking a little tired and pale.  It really perks her up (roll on the Christmas holidays and some time off school!)

IMG_9843_edited-1I also love how this yarn has beautifully crisp stitch definition which enhances the lovely textures of this design.

Where did she learn to pose like that?

Where did she learn to pose like that?

Ma knitted the largest size (a six I think) and we’re of the opinion the sizes run to the small side…but this still works perfectly for Button.  The only change to the pattern was that the neckline was very low so Ma added another repeat of the neck band in a single strand of yarn, rather than doubled as per the pattern instructions.

IMG_9826_edited-1As always, it’s a triumph!  Thanks Ma!


Way back in the summer I promised the local library that I’d do a “talk” at their December coffee morning on some, at that point undecided but definitely sewing related, subject.

It was months and months until December at that point and so, obviously, I forgot all about it until a few weeks ago when they reminded me.


Cut to this evening.  Although I’d planned that I’d talk the ladies through making some very simple felt Christmas decorations, and I’d collected together all the materials I’d need, I’d not actually done anything with them.

More oops!

felt hearts

So I’ve been drawing simple shapes, cutting some of them out and packing a small box to take with me tomorrow.

felt trees

This stocking, however, is for another project altogether.

felt stocking

One of The Husband’s colleagues is, Jude, a craft blogger who is knitting up a storm, making little stockings, which she is planning to fill with chocolate and sell for charity. All monies raised will be sent to The NIHR / WT Children’s Clinical Research Facility and the AT Society.

Both the stockings and the photo are Jude's

Both the stockings and the photo are Jude’s

When she asked me if I’d be willing to help out a little, of course I said yes. And promptly volunteered Ma as well!

Ma immediately set the needles clacking and whipped up a bagful of these little lovelies in no time flat:

IMG_9861_edited-1I, on the other hand, am characteristically tardy, but will, on my return from the library tomorrow, crack on and get my contribution done.

With such good causes at stake I really need not to let the side down.

I’m out!

So…a visit to the doctor on Tuesday morning decided my participation in KCW. Another course of antibiotics with a side order of steroids. Both in bigger doses than before.  Eugh! I started taking them immediately and by Tuesday afternoon was feeling even more out of sorts than before. The lovely side effects of dizziness and insomnia meant that by yesterday morning I was fit for nothing but sitting on the sofa knitting and hand sewing.

It does mean that I’ve made progress on some mitts I’m knitting as a favour for a friend:

IMG_9443_edited-1and the hexie quilt is coming along nicely, thank you very much.

Hexie quilt in progress

But the sewing loft is closed for the time being.  I’m fine with that.

And whilst I knit and stitch and watch movies, I’m dreaming of our wedding anniversary weekend in November, because Alice-who-isn’t-a-cat and Ma and the Stitches-in-law are treating us to dinner.

But not any old dinner…nooooooooooo!  Dinner at the scene of the original crime!

Northcote Manor

Northcote Manor

I may have wept with joy when I opened the envelope.  It’s such a wonderful treat and a complete surprise.

We are very, very, VERY excited…as you can imagine. And, with a fair wind and a bucket load of drugs, I’ll be feeling fine by then.

In the meantime, I’m off to the sofa.  I have mitts to knit! But…I’l leave you with cute cats.  Just because I can.  And they’ll make you smile.  Which is a good thing, no?


She wore Red Velvet – FO 19/2013 – pattern review

You may have had a version of this post pop up in your reader yesterday.  Ooops!  I had a WordPress Meltdown Moment, for which I apologise.  This is the post I meant to publish.

Ok…I finally get to spill the beans.  I, dear reader, am having my Cake and eating it.

I’m a Cake Patterns Red Velvet Muse.

RV cover

I can hardly believe it.  You know I love Red Velvet. It was our wedding cake, for goodness sake!

But here am I wearing my red Red Velvet dress…so it must be true!


I’ve had so much fun making this dress.  Obviously I made mine from the PDF version. I know many folks don’t like PDFs, but, Steph has spent so much time working on the fine details of this that I think even the most die-hard PDF-phobes could be persuaded to use them.

This pattern is as close to perfection as a PDF is going to get because you don’t have to print off 732 pages just to get the ones you need.  Steph has done all the work and tells you which page ranges you need to print for the size you want to make.

It’s genius.  And time/paper/ink saving too.

And the tiling on this pattern is fabulous.  It goes together perfectly and therefore quickly, meaning you can get on with cutting out and sewing your dress, rather than swearing at piles of paper and setting fire to your sewing room in frustration.

Secondly, the drafting and sizing are amazing.  Below is a little table that shows a comparison between my sizes and the pattern sizes:

measurement on my body on Red Velvet
high bust 42” 45D
full bust 47”
waist 43 45
bust length 15¾ 14 3/8
height 5’ 7”

Because all the information is there for you, printed on the pattern, it’s so easy to work out what, if any, alterations you need to make.

Now, this is where it gets interesting.  My original alterations were 1″ added to the bust length because I have, ahem, a bosom, and 1″ removed from the waistband depth because I’m very short waisted.

This is Red V1.0.  Almost straight out of the “envelope”.  Almost perfect apart from a little bunching around the underarm.


I have pattern tested before and am used to working exactly to the pattern with only minimal, or even no, alterations.  My job is usually to check out how the PDF goes together and how the pattern itself sews up.  Steph takes a more collaborative approach, and with her guidance and blessing, I cured that bunching at the side of the bust very quickly and easily.

I removed the 1″ from the back bodice that I’d added to the original length.  I carried this around to the front bodice at the side seam, and then tapered out to the seam at the pleats.

Its called a Deep Bust Alteration and Steph explains is far more elegantly than I do over on her new, and fabulously detailed Red Velvet Measurement and Size Guide.

This is what the alteration looked like on my front bodice: IMG_9192 So simple.

So effective.

This is how my dress looks now. Red V2.0.


Morning photos…this is the most smile I can conjure before coffee! 😉


And because the drafting is superb, the dress comes together quickly and easily. If you’re used to battling the wonky drafting that we often encounter in the Big 4 pattern offerings, this will come as a delightful surprise.


Also, Steph has written excellent instructions that, if you’re a beginner sewist, will walk you through the process from start to finish.  However if, like me, you’ve been around the sewing block once or twice, her tips and techniques are a wonderful reminder of things you may have forgotten, such as block fusing and under-stitching a neckline.

Either way, you’re not alone in the sewing room.

My fabric is a red ponte from my local sewing shop, The Buttonhole in Chorley. Without a cardigan to break up the lines, and because I’m not skinny, it’s a whole lot of red! But, for me this isn’t a bad thing.  The world in my neck of the woods gets awfully grey at this time of the year, as you can see from the morning photos above. A boldly coloured dress is the perfect antidote to that. And, with a cardigan, it’s just to adorable for words!


Yeah I’m happy. I love this dress. The Husband loves this dress.  I can see it getting lots of wear this autumn because it’s as comfortable as pyjamas.

But pyjamas you can do the school run in:

Please excuse the fuzzy background.  I didn't feel it was appropriate for the kid's friends to feature here without parental approval.

Please excuse the fuzzy background. I didn’t feel it was appropriate for the kid’s friends to feature here without parental approval.

And if that wasn’t enough….

rv collection

There’s a whole Red Velvet Collection.

I know…so cool.

I’ve already got fabric on order for the Cocoa Shrug and cannot wait to give the innovative Espresso Leggings pattern a whirl.

espresso chart

I love leggings (and would probably live in them given the chance) but have trouble getting them long enough or in a fabric that doesn’t show your pants every time you move.

No more.

I also quite fancy making these as funky training leggings for CrossFit.

So much Cake, so little time. And not a calorie in sight!

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this pattern in return for my opinions and photos. All opinions, of course, are entirely my own.  I should also tell you that going forwards I’ll be the UK/EU distributor for Cake Patterns.  So exciting!

The gift

I’m sure by now you all know just how blessed I am with friends.  I am surrounded by funny, clever, ballsy women who grab life by the throat and shake it until it gives up the goods.

They are astonishingly well read, well travelled and talented.  And they are generous in never making me feel less than them, even though I’ve not read as much, seen as much or been as well educated.  It might seem like an odd thing to note, but trust me, I’ve know enough folk who would happily try to belittle folk even when they hadn’t got the wherewithal to pull it off (and no, I don’t spend time with them any more.)

For as long as I’ve know her my friend C has suffered from end stage renal failure. This has resulted in her life being made smaller by her illness.  Her food choices are restricted to only the blandest of things.  Her travel is limited by the need to be close to her hospital.  Hospital appointments come thick and fast. She gets tired. And, most recently, she has been on dialysis.

And let me tell you, dialysis is brutal.  BRUTAL.  Don’t be fooled by the TV images of folk sat around in big comfy chairs chatting whilst the machines do their work. Think bruises worthy of a car crash.  Lumps and swellings.  Painful surgeries to insert the necessary gubbins.

C has borne this with a grace and calm that I don’t possess when everything in the garden is rosy.  Never mind when I’m exhausted, nauseous and in pain.  I’m crap with a cold.  I cannot imagine how I’d deal with a life threatening illness. Certainly not without complaining…which C never does.

She is pretty bloody amazing, you know.

And on Thursday of last week…she got The Call.

You know the one.  The one that has you out of bed in the wee small hours and on the way to the hospital for a day of more tests and interminable waiting.

Waiting for the kidney to arrive.

Waiting to know for sure that it’s all going to go ahead.

Waiting to know if the transplant has worked.

On Thursday my friends and I turned the phone lines red hot as we waiting with her.  Constant texts and emails kept the information flowing and our spirits up as we hoped for the best, and tried not to explode with hope and joy.

Late in the night, C sent a final text.

We waited and prayed.

And at a little after 8am on Friday morning, she texted again.

The kidney was in, it was working and she was feeling fine.  Sore yes, but most definitely fine.

She’s still in hospital, of course.  But is making great progress.  Fast progress. She’s on her feet and will be home very soon. We are beyond all words to express how grateful we are that our amazing friend will be well again.

But we have not forgotten the family that lost someone they loved so that we could feel this joy.

They have been in our thoughts and prayers these last few days.  We don’t know who they are, but we are humbled by their gift of life at such a heartbreakingly sad time for them.

Most probably they will never read these words, but I hope that in some way they know that across this land there are families and friends of people whose lives have been transformed beyond recognition, and our gratitude and thankfulness is as deep as their grief.

Let’s not forget that we can all change someone’s life.  I’m not sure of the position in other countries, but here in the UK, at the moment you need to register to donate your organs.

It’s a really simple thing to do.

It doesn’t take very long.

But should, God forbid, anything happen to you, your organs can save another’s life. And not just one person.  But several.

So please, please, please…before you read the next blog, or make another cup of tea, go to NHS Blood and Transplant, or your country’s equivalent, and register to donate your organs.  Tell your family members of your wishes, and, if you can, get them to sign up to.

Thank you.