Can I borrow a peacock feather for a minute?

I was awake early today so thought I would pop out for a bit of retail therapy.

I went to Goldhawk Road with a few projects in mind – animal print for zoo-inspired clothing, and cotton to make a wearable muslin of a dress I’m making for my brother’s wedding. Sadly I didn’t see any cotton prints that caught my eye, but the remnant bin at A One Fabrics was overflowing…

I impulse bought just under a metre of pink, purple and blue swirly, silky fabric (a sorbetto perhaps?), just under a metre of purple knit (for a little cardigan or shrug), almost 2m of black jersey (you can always use black jersey) and two and a half metres of tiger-print polycotton (for a top secret project…). I also got the black and white leopard print jersey that was actually on my list.

Next on my to-buy list was some trimmings and haberdashery. Next month will be busy for sewing as I have an outfit to make for my brother’s wedding. He is getting married in a zoo so I wanted to make something with an animal reference. Leopard print didn’t seem sophisticated enough, snake skin is not me, and anything fluffy would look weird so I decided to take my inspiration from the peacock.

I am awaiting an ebay order of various peacock feathers to make a hair clip, but luckily when I saw a pile of guterman beads the man in the shop let me borrow his from the display to check the colours in the feather.

I picked up a few tubes of beads (in the clearance bin) in a range of turquoises, blues and greens, some beading needles, and “Caribbean” coloured felt. I couldn’t find any hair clip backs, so I grabbed a hair-slide in the sales that I can rip apart. Now I just need to wait for my feathers to arrive so I can get started.

Crochet club

A colleague at work got a lovely crochet book and asked me to help her get started (inspiring my Crafty Resolution). Word spread around the staffroom and a few more people wanted to learn, so after work on Friday we took over a table in the pub. There were so many people, I didn’t have enough hooks to go around!

Crochet club in the pub

The lovely Miss C spent all of last week practicing (and visiting John Lewis and Hobbycraft to stock up on supplies) and I am very proud of her – very neat, even stitches. She came prepared to learn more last night, even bringing a mini lamp as the ambient lighting in the pub was not suitable for crochet. I’m hoping the kids in my club at school are as quick at learning!

The work of Miss C


Among all the teaching I have managed to make just a few squares for my Crafty Resolution (and maybe picked up a few balls of yarn in the sales…)

I have now made 11 squares which is 1 over my 10-a-month target but next month will be full of sewing (details to follow soon) so it should balance out.

Another little crafty resolution 2012

So it is new year and everyone is reflecting on their crafty year and making resolutions for the next twelve months. Last year I have done a lot of crafting, I started this blog and learned lots of new techniques (cable and lace knitting, invisible zips, trousers) but there is still a lot that I can still learn to do (fit the perfect skirt, sew formal fancy clothes, maybe knit a cardigan…).

Pjs in the making...

However that wont be my crafty new year’s resolution. Instead of planning to do something I would be doing anyway (a few weddings this year need dress(es) made) or something I will never do, I thought I would set myself a project to last the year. Yup, something to last a whole year! Considering the past few months have been filled with weekly projects (knitting a new present every week) or even daily sewing (simple classic patterns) I am going to try and slow down some of my crafting to, hopefully, create a long-lasting memento of the year.

I really love some of the speedy tops I have rustled up this year but I know they wont last forever, and I am also really proud of the first pair of trousers I spent weeks making but cashmere isn’t practical for primary school. What is the balance between the two? Something with lots of quick to make components, that together make something amazing – each little bit will give me a bit of instant gratification and be quick and stress-free to make, but the whole will create something a bit more special and long-lasting.

So here it is – my little crafty resolution for 2012 is to make a blanket! I was thinking about knitting or crocheting a square a day (too much pressure) or making a square a week (not enough for a big blanket) so after some maths I have decided to make 10 squares a month (for a 10×12 blanket) or 2.5 squares a week. Hopefully this will be enough of a challenge, but also managable.

I am planning to make some traditional crocheted granny squares, knit some different textures and patterns, learn some new stitches and techniques, and maybe sew or patchwork some pieces too. As much as possible all the yarn will come from my growing stash and be a reminder of other knitting I have done, starting with left overs from Christmas, and will probably feature a few buttons from my collection. I hope that there is a bit of a story behind each square, and I shall document their stories and my progress (when I can work out how to make a special button on here!)

Knitting needles on the move

During the pre-Christmas crafting rush I spent a lot of time knitting and crocheting on public transport and have come up with a few tips.

  1. Choose your method of transport carefully.
    Bus journeys stop and start frequently and are usually too jumpy for fiddly knitting. The big exception is any bus route near Marble Arch during evening rush hour, as these move so slowly there is no chance of sudden movements disrupting your knitting.
    When travelling by train I prefer Southern or First Great Western trains to get the balance between speed and table access – Virgin high-speed trains are too fast and tilt too much for me, but the slower London Midland trains didn’t have tables to learn my pattern on.
  2. Carry your projects in a bag or a case that you can work from.
    It sounds obvious, but there were a few times I looked up at my stop and panicked that I had left some yarn in my seat as I rushed off. I now keep my projects in a little polka-dot suitcase that can open and close quickly, keeping everything accessible but safe (also the lid acts as a little bookstand)
  3. If you have multiple projects, take a variety with you on the go. I had a tricky cable pattern for long journeys and staffroom knitting, and simple stocking stitch in the round for quick knitting on the tube. This way, what ever the journey, there is always something you can do. (I have once managed some simple crochet while standing up on the tube for one stop, but it is a skill that needs practice!)
  4. Try and get a seat by your self for plenty of elbow room. If this fails then smile and be nice to the person next to you in preparation for the many times your yarn will roll off your lap and need to be returned by them. Also be prepared for stares and questions – A woman got on a train and sat opposite me as she had seen me knitting through the window and wanted to see what I was doing, as it reminded her of watching her Grandma (the knitting only I hope!)
  5. My top-tip is for cabling. Having only recently learned how to cable I was finding it tricky constantly changing needles, and was scared I would drop it. Then I discovered I could hold my needle in my watch strap – secure and easy to access!

As much as I enjoyed the challenge of knitting on buses, trains and underground tubes I am relieved that I can take a break from the pressure of knitting around the clock. I will post a summary of all my holiday crafting later on when I have sorted all my photos.

After reading lots of blog resolutions and a random chat with a colleague, I have come up with my 2012 crafting plan (or one of them). After some number-crunching on excel I will let you know the plan…

p.s. It wouldn’t be a post-Christmas blog post without a picture of my classic Christmas chocolate log 🙂

mmm... chocolate