Tag Archives: finished projects 2018

Toft Studio and Spencer the Pug

I know I’ve been teasing you with my visit to Toft and the pug I made for Dylan for Easter.  Both my kids are nosy, so I didn’t dare put anything up anywhere they might stumble across it before Easter Sunday.  We’re safe now, so here goes the first of two posts about impossibly cute woolly animals.

Just after Christmas my friend, Julia, and I had a bit of a road trip to the Toft Studio in Warwickshire.  We headed off on the Saturday afternoon, and after a lovely pub supper, a ridiculously early night, and a full English breakfast we didn’t have to cook ourselves, we had a crisp and sunny country drive to Toft.

The setting for the Studio is impossibly bucolic. Classic English countryside, red brick houses and a beautiful building that is home to the studio, shop, and a very warm welcome.

We did two workshops.  One amigurumi and one on stripy blankets. Both were for complete beginners, and I came away confident that although I’d never crocheted anything before I could happily complete the white rat that I’d started.  I didn’t….I poached the yarn for the wee mice I made for Summer!  But I did also purchase the yarn and pattern for Spencer the Pug for my pug mad boy.

And I did complete him.

The hardest part of this project is remembering to count!  I’m not a confident enough crocheter to try and do this and watch a film.  But it’s amazing what you can accomplish with a little quiet concentration.

Dylan is so delighted with him.  Spencer has joined Margaret, the knitted pug, as his favourite companions.

Although now, obviously, he’s not called Spencer.  A new name has yet to be decided on.  But with toy pugs already named Margaret and Phillip Reeve, who knows what we’ll end up with?!

I’m feeling decidedly accomplished and planning other projects as soon as I’ve worked through some more stash.  I can, however, highly recommend Toft workshops.  And the yarn is simply sublime!  I want to knit All The Things in it now.


Flamingo legs (and a denim jacket)

Whilst the husband, Dave, has always been a big fan of the hand-knitted sock, the rest of the family is starting to get in on the act.  Most recently, the lovely Miss Summer.

As she’s growing like a weed at the moment, I decided to go with a tube sock.  With no heel, not only are these a ridiculously simple knit, they also last longer as she grows.

These are knitted from the toe up, so although they’re simple, it was a new technique for me.  Not a difficult one at all.

And as you can see from the pictures, these are well worn.  Summer absolutely loves them and is clamouring for another pair.

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To complete the flamingo love, I embroidered the back of a store bought denim jacket for her.

I didn’t have much choice.  Whilst we were out shopping she said how much she loved the jacket, but that it would be so much better if only it had an embroidered flamingo on the back.  And that would be something I could do for her, wouldn’t it?

You can’t argue with a 10 year old!  She’s got the skills of a Hague lawyer, that one!

Project notes:

Pattern: Tube Socks For Kids by Jane Richmond
Pattern cost: Free
Yarn:    Jawoll (not sure which one)
Colourway:  Pink
Purchased at: No clue!
Yarn cost:  Who knows? Who cares? 😉

A Willow Hare

This year has turned into a year of new creative adventures.

In January, my friend Julia and I went to Toft to learn to crochet.

Hubby, Dave, and I have been having dates to go and learn to make things in clay.

And today I attended a willow hare making workshop run by Joe of Creative with Nature at Cedar Farm in Mawdesley.

I’ve just got to say that I’ve never done anything like this before, but love willow sculpture and love stargazy hares.  So when Ma gave me some cash for Christmas, with the instruction to buy myself something I truly wanted, this course was it!  A day to myself, exploring a new creative outlet, with something (hopefully) lovely at the end of it.

I really appreciated the way this workshop was structured.  Joe took us step by step through the process, working with each person individually to make sure they were clear about what was required.

Slowly, slowly…step by step, the hare came into shape.

Weaving with willow is an entirely immersive and tactile experience.  It’s just you and the lengths of willow creating the shapes.   You bend and weave, unpick, and weave again.

There’s lots of tea.  And cake, of course.

And the magic happens without you even realising.

Until you step back at the end of the day, and TahDah!

A stargazy hare of your own.

If you ever get the chance to do a workshop with Joe, I’d highly recommend it.  I’m already contemplating which one to do next.  I have a thing for baskets, so maybe some bread baskets.

The hare is sat on my kitchen windowsill as I type.  I’m inordinately proud of him, and astonished how much fun I’m having stepping outside my comfort zone creatively this year.  It’s like a breath of fresh air.

Are you trying anything new this year?


Sew Me Something Imogen Top – wearable toile

The Sew Me Something Imogen Top has been on my sewing list for what seems like forever.  And as I’ve a few lengths of pretty prints in my stash that are perfect for this top, I decided to make a quick toile to see what it looks like and fits like.

Fit is still a massive challenge to me, but for this top I decided to compare the measurements to a RTW blouse that gets heavy rotation.  Although the fit on the RTW blouse isn’t perfect, it’s still good enough, and it’s one of my favourite wears.

Taking some measurements from the RTW blouse, I decided to cut a straight size 20 and added 4″ to the length.  I’ve made no other adjustments to the pattern.

As you can see, it’s come up a bit long.  I will go back at some point and chop probably a couple of inches off the length.  That’s an easy enough fix and due to me being overly cautious – you can always shorten but it’s tough to add length once you’ve cut.

The bust is the problem area.  You can see drag lines pointing clearly to the bust, indicating that although, theoretically, this top fits around the circumference, it does need a full bust adjustment (FBA) to make it hang nicely.

I like the gathered neckline and elasticated cuff.

All in all, I really like this top.  It’s an easy wear and, although it’s been very shoddily sewn, as it was intended only to be a toile, it’s had several outings and a compliment every time it’s worn.

Construction wise, it’s simple enough, apart from the placket.  I couldn’t get my head around the instructions, but that could just be user error.  I’ll let you know the next time I make it.

For the next iteration, I’ll go do an FBA and the shorter length, and see what I end up with.  If it’s half as wearable as this toile version, then I’ll be a happy sewist!

Project notes

Pattern: Sew Me Something Imogen
Pattern cost: £16.00 (£9.00)
Fabric:    Blue print poly
Purchased at: Birmingham Market
Fabric Cost: £3.00 ish.  Not very much at all.
Photographs by Miss S. Jones iPhone 8


Twiglet Mitts

I’ve had some lovely red yarn in my stash for years.  Since my last visit to Yarndale, in fact.  Which was, according to this wise old blog, in 2013.

High time it was knitted up, I think.  Especially as I’m all about the stash busting this year.

I had planned to make it up into the lovely mitts in The Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible, but they called for DK, and this was most definitely 4 ply.  (In hindsight, I had enough yarn to use double, but there we go!)

So I put the Ravelry Pattern Search feature to work, and spent a happy while looking at pretty mitten patterns.  So. Many. Pretty. Mitts.  It was a dirty job but someone had to do it!

In the end, I stuck an imaginary pin in the screen and chose Twiglet Mitts by Martine Ellis. How could I resist this all over lace pattern?

It turned out to be such a good choice.

These were a joy to knit, and are equally joyful to wear.  The colour is a deep saturated burgundy red, that goes with all my coats.   They are lighter weight than the Kindling Mitts of my last post, but perfect for warmer days when you still need something on your hands.  I added a few pattern repeats to make them longer on my wrist.  An easy enough modification.

I was always rather resistant to fingerless mitts, no matter how pretty.  But as a dog walker, unless it’s so bitterly cold that you need your fingers covered so you don’t part company with them, fingerless mitts are a joy.  Clipping leads off and on (not to mention fiddling with little plastic bags when nature calls) is so much easier.  I’m a convert!

And if you knit these mitts, I think you might be too.

Project notes:

Pattern: Twiglet Mitts
Pattern cost: Free Ravelry Downlad
Yarn:    Drops Baby Alpaca Silk
Colourway:  Red
Purchased at: Yarndale
Yarn cost:  Who knows? Who cares? 😉

The Kindling Mitts of Kindness

Still harping on about the Christmas Lurgy, even though we are racing towards the end of February, but it’s all relevant to this  story with another happy ending.

Whilst I’d been really sick the week before Christmas, it was Boxing Day when the flu took hold of The Husband.  Although born in Somerset, he’s a Northern Bloke by heritage, and made of stern, manly stuff.  For him to actually take to his bed when ill is unheard of in the 12 years we’ve been together.  For him to be in bed for nearly 4 days was like stepping into the Twilight Zone.

The kids were under the weather and I was still reeling from it, so we hunkered down and worked on getting well.  After a few days of this, though, Cabin Fever struck and my cherubs morphed into obnoxious little hellions!

By the evening they’d shredded even my last nerve and I’d sent them to bed, poured a stiff drink and turned to Instagram for solace.

Kristin (@kristinm100) had posted the most adorable pair of mittens, and they hadn’t been lost in the craziness of Instagrams algorithms!  I commented and asked if she could share the pattern name.

5 minutes later my inbox pinged and there was the pattern for the mitts.

I’ll admit to being rather overwhelmed by the kindness (although it’s not the first time Kristin has done something lovely for me.)   That little pattern, sent across the miles from Canada by the magic of the interwebs, from a woman I consider a friend, but whom I’ve never met, absolutely turned a truly shitty day into a positively magical one.

I instantly set to work to source the perfect yarn, and came up with Blacker Yarns British Classic DK knitting yarn in Grey.  This is a crisp, hardy yarn, in the fashion of Shetland wool.  The colour is the perfect grey, and whilst I wouldn’t knit this as a sweater next to my skin, for mitts it is cosy, and warm, and, I suspect, will take a bit of a beating!

Now obviously I had to wait for the yarn to arrive, it being the holidays and all, but that didn’t matter.

I was making friendship mitts.  Mitts that every time I wore them I would think of Kristin and her kindness.

I’ve got other mitts like this.  My lovely Goats of Inversnaid mitts were a yarn and pattern gift from my friend Christian (who lives considerably closer than Kristin).  And the hat that goes with them has been commandeered by Miss Button, who also gets to share the love.

It strikes me as nothing short of miraculous that such a simple act of kindness and friendship can result in bonds forged in the shared love of an age old craft.  Bonds that transcend age, race, background, education, socioeconomic status and good old fashioned geography.

That a few clicks of a keyboard can lift the spirits of someone thousands of miles away.

They say that random acts of kindness can change the world.  That you never know, if you do something small, how big an impact it can have on the recipient.

I have a pair of hand-knitted mittens that are testament to the veracity of that sentiment.

They are a happy blessing indeed.

Project notes

As an aside, this pattern is so beautifully written.  Every row is clearly detailed, so even an relatively inexperienced knitter could make these.  Those of us with a few yards of yarn under our belts can whip these up in no time, but still feel a happy sense of accomplishment.

Pattern: Kindling Mitts
Pattern cost: £3.90
Yarn:    Blacker Yarns British Classic DK
Colourway:  Grey
Purchased at: Blacker Yarns
Yarn cost:  £4.80

Embroidered Squirrels

Over Christmas I simply couldn’t have knitted or sewn to save my life.

The whole family was down with a flu bug, and whilst we all rallied for The Day long enough to open gifts, cook the delicious meal cooked by The Hubby, and sip a therapeutic glass of prosecco or 2 (or 3!), the rest of the holidays was spent doing some very serious lounging about and recuperating.

Thankfully, I’d recently purchased a delightful embroidery kit from Jenny Blair on Etsy.

I can’t even remember where I first stumbled across Jenny, but when I saw this design I was entranced.  The two squirrels that live at the bottom of our garden (whom we’ve named Fred and Ginger, of course!), are an endless source of glee, and this just seemed the perfect project for our home.

Jenny was a joy to purchase from.  The design is screen printed onto fabric, all ready to sew, but the colours she had on her site didn’t go with our decor.  A quick convo and she’d found the perfect fabric and we were good to go.

Shipping was so prompt and I had embroidery thread and a hoop in my stash.

So I was all ready to go when the lurgy hit, and a little quiet stitching was all I could muster.

This design in done in four simple, basic embroidery stitches and is easy to make up, even if you’re a beginner.

Once completed I just re-stretched the fabric in the hoop, secured with magic tape, and taped a circle of felt to the back, ready to hang.

It’s so sweet and I’m really pleased with the result.