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150 Thrifty Knits

It’s been a while since I’ve knitted anything – crochet seems to have been demanding all my creative time! So it was fun recently to work on a knitting bookazine, 150 Thrifty Knits, which is on sale now:

150 Thrifty Knits bookazine

150 Thrifty Knits bookazine

My involvement was to compile the patterns inside from previous issues of Simply Knitting magazine. The most fun challenge of working on this was trying to get 150 patterns into 132 pages – not easy!

But I’m pleased to say I managed to squeeze in all sorts of patterns for every occasion, including sweet little makes for babies and kids, gift ideas for all the family, treats for yourself or a very special friend, fashion and accessories, and homewares.

At just £7.99, I think this is a real bargain. You can find out more at www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk or purchase a digital copy from within the free Simply Knitting app (see here for more).

I’m surprised how this bookazine has reignited my enthusiasm for knitting – now, where is my needle stash…

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Posted by on November 29, 2014 in Knitting

 

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Simple sewn mats

You might remember that we redecorated our bedroom in July, and I got busy crafting little extras to make it truly ours. Maybe you even remember this photo of our windowsill:

Bedroom temporary plant mat

Bedroom temporary plant mat

Yes, that was a spare oven mitt being used as a plant mat, to protect the wooden windowsill that I’d very carefully painted. Well, I’m happy to tell you that the oven mitt is back in its kitchen drawer, where it should be, because we’ve made a whole windowsill full of pretty, sewn mats:

Six simply sewn windowsill mats

Six simply sewn windowsill mats

The best thing about this sewing project is that all six mats were made by both me and Jonny (the other/better half). We had chosen the fabric together, I’d cut all the pieces and threaded the sewing machine – I was all ready to get started by myself when (as a joke) I asked him whether he might be interested in learning to sew by doing the first (easiest) sewing stage on the mats. To my surprise, he said: “Yeah, I’ll give it a go.” I was surprised and delighted in equal measure!

I think his willingness was, in part, due to a television programme that we’d watched the night before. The BBC do a show called The Great British Sewing Bee, which I really enjoy. Well, they did a series of three charity specials recently, for Children in Need, with celebrities – some of whom were men (some of whom were pretty good). We watched it together and I think seeing other men sewing had made it acceptable for him to do the same.

So I pinned two pieces right sides together and showed him the basics of using the machine, backstitching, sewing in a straight line, turning a corner and leaving a turning gap. And he was really good. He’s not too fond of any task that is “tedious and repetitive”, so his attention span only stretched to doing three mats before he had to have a break. But he came back and sewed the other three. He also helped me turn them all through to the right side and then I just added the wadding and did the topstitching to finish them off. Here’s one a little closer:

Side 1: beige flower fabric

Side 1: beige flower fabric

We made them so that they have a different fabric on each side and each one has a different feel. Sometimes I’m in the mood for the beige side with its delicate little white and blue flowers. Other times, I crave the visual stimulation of the blue side with its geometric patterns:

Side 2: Blue fabric

Side 2: Blue fabric

So far, we’ve got the best of both by having some of the mats on one side and some on the other side. It’s really lovely to have a few different handmade items decorating our new bedroom, but what’s makes these mats even more special is knowing that we made them together. They’re the product of a crafty romance 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2014 in Sewing

 

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101 Quick & Easy Crochet

Just wanted to quickly tell you about the latest bookazine I’ve been working on, which is out now. It’s called 101 Quick & Easy Crochet Makes. I compiled the patterns inside it from previous issues of Simply Crochet magazine.

There’s a huge amount in here – 101 patterns in fact! There’s something for everyone, including cute babies and kids makes, gifts for men, treats for yourself or a friend, fashion, accessories, homewares and gift ideas for Christmas (yes, I said the C-word!).

You can order a copy for £7.99 from www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk or purchase a digital copy from within the free Simply Crochet app (see www.simplycrochetmag.co.uk/digital for more).

101 Quick & Easy Crochet Makes

101 Quick & Easy Crochet Makes

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2014 in Crochet

 

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Make do and mend

Like a lot of crafters, I’m a big fan of the ‘make do and mend’ philosophy. I’d much rather fix something than throw it away and buy a new one. Plus, I like the challenge of working out how to fix things.

So when the lining on our linen basket tore off, I switched into my ‘make do and mend’ mode. The original lining was just a thin plastic, which had torn off before and I’d just sewn it back in place, through the wicker of the basket. But this time it broke, it had become too short to reach the bottom of the basket if I mended it. So I got to play with some fabric instead…

Linen basket inside

Linen basket inside

As you can see, I didn’t have enough of any one fabric in my stash to line the whole thing, so I used three different fabrics, which I think go together – and anyway, I like the patchwork look!

Now, figuring out what size pieces I needed was a challenge of mathematics, involving the use of a tape measure and pi – no, not apple pie (although I’m sure that would’ve helped!), but the old 3.14 pi that relates to circles.

Linen basket side

Linen basket

So if you need help lining a basket, or anything else, here’s how I did it…

First, I worked out the size of the circle to go in the bottom of the basket. For this, just measure across the inside of the basket, at the bottom, from the widest point to the widest point. This is the diameter, mine was 24cm. Draw a circle with this diameter onto some paper, plus your seam allowance all around (I used a 2cm seam allowance, so my circle was 28cm in diameter). This will be the template for the lining bottom.

Linen basket diagram 1: lining circle

Linen basket diagram 1: lining circle

Next, I worked out the height of the two side pieces I would need. For this, just measure the side of your basket, on the inside, from bottom to top. Mine was 45cm. I added a 2cm seam allowance for the bottom, making 47cm. At the top, I decided to create a 15cm fold of fabric over to the outside to help hold the lining in place. So I added 15cm to the height, plus a 2cm hemming allowance, making 17cm. The overall height of each of my side pieces is 64cm, divided into 47cm for the area inside the basket and 17cm for the fold over to the outside.

Linen basket diagram 2: measure side of basket

Linen basket diagram 2: measure side of basket

With me so far? Good, because this next bit is where pi comes in.

Next, I worked out the width of the bottom of the two side pieces. For the bottom, take the diameter measurement you took before – for me, this was 24cm – and multiply it by pi (3.14). For me, this comes to 75.36 – this is the circumference of the bottom circle of the basket. Since I wanted to have two side pieces, I needed to divide this by 2, which for me equals 37.68. I rounded up to 38cm. Then I added my 2cm seam allowance to both sides, which comes to 42cm. If you only wanted one side piece, just use the circumference measurement (such as 75cm) and add your seam allowance to both sides of that (such as 75 + 2 + 2 = 79cm).

Linen basket diagram 3: side piece bottom measurement

Linen basket diagram 3: side piece bottom measurement

Next, I worked out the width of the top of the two side pieces. Follow the same process as above, first by measuring the diameter of the top of the basket, from the widest point of the circle to the widest point on the other side. For me, this was 35cm. Multiply this by pi (3.14). For me, this comes to 109.9 – this is the circumference of the top circle of the basket. Because I was having two side pieces, I divided this by 2, which equals 54.95. I rounded up to 55cm. Then I added my 2cm seam allowance to both sides, which comes to 59cm.

Linen basket diagram 4: side piece top measurement

Linen basket diagram 4: side piece top measurement

I cut a piece of paper using all these measurements to form my side piece template (I tend to use wrapping paper because it’s so nice and roomy).

Linen basket diagram 5: side piece template

Linen basket diagram 5: side piece template

Then all I needed to do was cut my fabric, sew all the pieces together and hem the top. It’s a fairly snug fit at the top, but this is good for helping to hold it in place. Have fun lining your baskets and other items!

Linen basket side

Linen basket

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2014 in Sewing

 

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Review of 2013

A lot of people find January quite depressing, but I love the New Year. It’s a chance to wipe the slate clean and start again. A time for reviewing the situation (in a slightly different way to Fagin!), making changes and improving everyday life.

As part of that, I’ve been looking back at my crafty 2013 and the resolutions I made at the start of 2013. I’m surprised how many of them I have achieved and also how much I’ve actually made!

I think crochet has been the biggest winner of 2013 – I’ve made a lot of crochet projects, although knitting and sewing have also played their part. I’ve even started blogging about baking! If this was an award ceremony for Make Me Do Crafts of 2013, my baking posts would win the award for Best Newcomer. Let’s see what other projects would win awards…

I think the project that would win the award for Surprise Success of 2013 is these sweet little dishcloths – the photo has been really rather popular on Pinterest, making me quite proud:

Crochet dishcloths

Crochet dishcloths

The award for Best Fashionable Make of 2013 would have to be my flower neckwarmer, which I still love wearing:

Flower scarf © Becky Skuse

Flower scarf © Becky Skuse

The Most Difficult Yet Rewarding Project award would go to this fiddly little bridal garter, which was totally worth the effort because it’s soo pretty and the recipient loved it:

Bridal garter

Bridal garter

Best Toy or Most Adorable Make of 2013 would be won by this cute orange cat, called Ffion Ffon. My 2-year-old niece just adores this little lady and still gets hugely excited that she can hold this knitted creature while watching her namesake on the TV at the same time:

Fiona cat – she's waving!

Fiona cat – she’s waving!

The judges may well fight over the winner for the award of Best New Skill Learnt in 2013. I loved crafting with wire and crocheting over it to make a pink heart. But for sheer practicality and creative potential, the winner would have to be super-size crochet – I loved creating my own massive yarn out of odd balls of yarn and making this basket:

Bowl

Super-size crochet basket

And finally… drum roll please… the top award for Best Post would go to… my granny square blanket. I’m afraid this is still a work in progress, but hopefully it’ll be finished in 2014:

Granny square ring © Becky Skuse

Granny square ring © Becky Skuse

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2014 in Baking, Crochet, Knitting, Sewing

 

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Teddy bear

Given the royal baby news that’s been everywhere this week, I thought it was time to share some teddy bear news with you.

You might remember my previous post about Hug Me Bear, my beloved childhood teddy. Here he is:

Hug Me

Hug Me

Well, I’ve been working on sewing my own version. It’s been quite difficult, given that original Hug Me was obviously made from printed fabric, so all his features are detailed and quite life-like.

So I decided that my new teddy bear would be more of an homage to Hug Me rather than a replica – a cute bear that would be soft and hug-able for a little one. Here he is:

Teddy bear © Becky Skuse

Teddy bear © Becky Skuse

For various reasons, he’s turned out a little wonky in places! (But I’m hoping that just adds character?)

For his body, I used a lovely, soft fleecey fabric in chocolate brown (it was actually the last bits remaining after I made this pet bed for my cat).

For the appliqué patches, I used some small fabric scraps left over from cutting up an old pashmina for another project. Note to self for next time though: this fabric was gorgeously soft for small children, but totally wrong for appliqué! It started fraying away the instant I finished zig-zagging around the edges. I had to do some pretty delicate and emotional emergency surgery to rescue his eyes and mouth. (I think this is when the wonkiness occurred.)

I chose a cheerful yellow fabric for his little T-shirt, rather than trying to sew the words ‘Hug Me’ onto his chest. (The trauma of the appliqué patches had made me a nervous wreck by then!)

I backstitched his features with a chocolate brown thread to match the fleece fabric, and I really like his happy smile. His face didn’t quite feel complete at that point though, so I looked back at original Hug Me and, inspired by the heart on his chest, I decided to give my bear a heart for a nose. That’s actually become my favourite part!

Now that he’s finished, I’m in a bit of a pickle about who to give him to. My nieces are very young, at 2 and almost 4 years old, and I’m afraid they might be a bit too rough with him – his mended appliqué patches are still very delicate and might not survive much of their play. So I think he needs to go to an older child, while I make another one with some sturdier fabric!

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Sewing

 

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Wedding fever

This summer seems to be very popular for weddings – I have 2 cousins getting hitched, plus 3 girls at work. So wedding fever is as hot as this weather!

Given all the freelancing work I’ve done for Wedding Ideas previously, I do have a soft spot for weddings.

In August, my very special cousin, Adam, who grew up in New Zealand, is marrying a lovely Polish lady called Mirella, and they live together in London. So their wedding will have a truly international feel, with a variety of national traditions.

To help bring a touch of English tradition to their nuptials, I’ve sewn a special gift for Mirella – this bridal garter:

Bridal garter

Bridal garter

It’s the perfect item for fulfilling the old tradition of: ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.’

I bought the vintage blue lace in Beaten Green, a gorgeous vintage store in St Ives. So that’s her something old: check! And her something blue: check!

The elastic inside and the white fabric are both brand new: check!

Finally, I added a little poppered pouch on the inside of the garter, which is the perfect size for a ring or other little keepsake that she can borrow from someone special for the big day. Something borrowed: check!

I’m planning to give it to Mirella this weekend at her hen party, so I really hope she likes it. And I hope you like it, too.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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