Wool Week 2013

Last week was Wool Week and there were some free workshops happening in John Lewis. I got an email asking if I wanted to go to one, I said please could I go to either Christmas Jumpers or Plaid workshops, and I was told I could go to both!

wool week 3

The first was a Christmas Jumper class with Sue Stratford, owner of the Knitting Hut and pattern designer (just as I was leaving did I realise I own her Meerkat book!). We didn’t learn to knit a jumper in the hour-long session, but instead started a pair of fingerless mittens. Sue checked our knitting as we went along to ensure we had the right tension for fairisle knitting (making sure the yarn at the back is loose enough). We were able to take the wool and lovely lovely needles home to complete our projects, so I will show pictures of the finished mittens soon (Camera phone was on very low battery that day).

On Saturday evening (after a lovely day of fabric shopping, food and drink with the Spoolettes, Roisin, Rehanon, Amy, Claire, Sally and Janene) I went back for a Plaid Collar knitting workshop. “How on earth do you knit plaid?” I wondered…

wool week 1Well, we were doing Erika Knight‘s quick and easy version of plaid. We were going to knit a chunky snood/collar and then embellish it to get a plaid effect. There were some experienced knitters in the group (hello again Allison from the yarn crawl/zoo!) and some total beginners, but Erika did a great job of giving everyone something to learn; I finally learnt how to do thumb cast on!

wool week 6The plaid effect was done by either Swiss Darning (white collar) or doing running stitches (mustard and black collars). I didn’t get time to do that on mine (I was knitting very slowly so as not to injure myself) but have some oddments of wool to finish at home.

wool week 5Erika had some great little anecdotes and tips along the way, and was so passionate about being able to create from simple materials.

wool week 7Erika’s website talks about her trend-forecasting skills, and during the workshop she was keen to tell us that pom-poms will be big, both figuratively and literally; she showed us how to make easy giant pom-poms using a book to wrap the yarn around.

wool week 4Before I left (as the store was closing) I had a quick knit on her GIANT needles. This would be so quick to knit a blanket, if you didn’t have to knit the yarn first!

wool week 2


How to… Make a Personalised Croquis

sewing plans

I sketched my autumn sewing plans on a croquis I made from a photograph, and lots of people wanted to know how I did it, so here is the long-awaited tutorial.

For obvious reasons I didn’t want to publish a photo of myself in my underwear, so for these tutorials I am using this image found via googling swimsuits. You will need to take a full length photo of yourself in tight undergarments, standing naturally in your normal posture. It might be a bit alarming, but once you have made your croquis you can delete the original photo! I’m going to show you how I made my croquis on CorelDRAW; if you have different software you may have to explore to find the same settings.


Import your photo into CorelDRAW and convert it to a bitmap (still colour at this stage).

2Select Contours -> Find Edges
Play around with the level to get just enough detail for sketching, but not too many heavy lines. The level may depend on how dark your photo is.

34Now convert to a black and white bitmap, like in step 1.

5To make the image paler, change the transparency. On CorelDraw transparency is the wineglass type icon. Make sure the transparency is set to uniform, and adjust the intensity (approx 80% should produce a grey that is barely there – you need to be able to see the lines, but they should be very feint so they don’t ruin your sketches)

cut and pasteNow you can crop any remaining background out of your image, and cut-and-paste as many figures as you want on a page; 3 or 6 to a page gives a good amount of space around the figures for notes and doodles.

Print your croquis and start sketching!

sketchAs you can see above, the printed croquis is very feint and just visable when sketching, but starts to disappear once it is coloured in. I have totally changed the hairstyle on the central figure, but the original lines fade into the background, so you can be as creative or realistic as you want!

If you make any croquis or sketches, please link below as I’d love to see them!



Wool Week!

Tomorrow is the start of Wool Week (October 14th-20th)!

Wool Week is a campaign to raise awareness among consumers about the unique, natural and sustainable benefits offered by wool, and has led to increased demand for wool which led to an increase in the price farmers receive for their wool.

To celebrate Wool Week 2013, 14th – 20th October, John Lewis Oxford Street and Edinburgh will be running a week of FREE fashion focused knitting classes and drop-ins, focusing on how to use bright colours, and new techniques to create high fashion patterns. Despite not being allowed to knit this week, I’m popping in to watch a few workshops; I want to learn Fairisle knitting as it was colourwork that caused me wrist pain so I’d love to know the best technique.

TIMETABLE-FINWhat are you doing to celebrate Wool Week?


And the winner is…

Yesterday was the start of the school year and we definitely hit the ground running so I got home and slumped on the sofa, too tired to do anything. I was even too tired to turn on my computer to pick a winner for my giveaway. But today my classroom looks good and while I was sorting the home-corner wardrobe I remembered I still needed to pick a name out of a hat.

Instead of a hat I found a Darth Vader helmet…

…the winner is Nessa! Congrats!

Thank you so much for all the lovely comments; re-reading them all today really made me smile. I am still thinking about them and what wishes I will act on first, so stay tuned!

Back to business

Apologies for the blog silence lately, things have been hectic in real life; big presentation, end of year school report writing, lesson observations, school summer fete and visiting family = no free time to sew or blog. I even missed my 2 year bloggerversary as I’ve been so busy. Plus physio says I have to rest my wrist and I caught a cold.

However things are finally looking up. All my reports are finished, lesson observation went well and there is a full free day of the weekend available for sewing and crafting. Hooray! To cheer myself up midweek I bought some pretty flowers and got home to find the latest issue of Threads in my postbox.
Hopefully I’ll have a finished project or two finished this weekend…

Self-drafted cardigan

Today was a gloomy day; weather was grey and I woke up with a sore throat. I didn’t feel like wearing a jacuzzi bright cardigan, and then remembered that I had experimented with making this cardigan last weekend when I realised that lots of clothes didn’t got with aqua or red cardigans. It was super cosy and I got told I looked very smart (obviously I refused the compliment by asking people to guess how much it cost!)


I used my jersey bodice block, cut the back and sleeves as normal, and cut the front in two parts with an extra inch on each side. I tried it on and pinned where I wanted the neckline to be before cutting the v-neck shape. Then I added folded bands around the neckline and sleeves, and hemmed the bottom (not enough fabric for hem bands) I decided not to add buttons as I didn’t want to risk buttonholes on the ribbed jersey.


The fabric was a remnant from the Peter Jensen sample sale and half had been used to make a polo/cowl neck jumper, so this cardigan cost a whopping £1.50, however this meant I had VERY little fabric to play with. I had way too much ease in this make as I didn’t account for the weight and stretch of the ribbing- I took a good few inches from the side seams to get a nice fitting silhouette.


Quick post on a quick make. Sorry about the phone pictures, due to being full of cold. I had planned to show you my new trousers this week, but a lovely child at school tapped my leg with a chalk-covered hand; photos after they have been in the wash!

Giveaway results!

WOW! I can’t believe the response my little spur-of-the-moment giveaway got!

It was really interesting reading what colours everyone is into (and trying to guess what hemisphere the colour choices were from!) and there were a few choices that kept appearing.

There were over 35 different favourite colours, so I took all the colours that more than one person liked and analysed the results:


Green was the most popular with 45 mentions, followed closely by aqua with 43 mentions. I was really suprised to see so much love for grey – I love it as a neutral to pair with bright colours, but thought I was the only one. Next up are pink and purple. Should I be surprised readers of my blog also like these colours?!

There were also lots of colour combinations that kept re-occuring. For simplicity of data analysis I only used pairs of colours for this, so people who mentioned 3 colours got divided into multiple pairs (red, blue and yellow became red +blue, blue + yellow and yellow+red). Unsurprisingly given the high popularity of the colours, the most popular combination was green and purple.

colour combos

A surprise second place was aqua and red; I love both these colours but have never combined them before so will give it a try. Hopefully these colour combinations will inspire you too!

Oh, did you want to know the winner of the crafty goodies? Are you sure? Okay then…

winnerComment 132 was jillamsberry who has just blogged a cute coral top with black and white stripy details. Please email me your postal address and I’ll pop your goodies in the post.


Thanks to everyone for entering and visiting my little blog – hope you stop by again soon!

Giveaway reminder!

I am so amazed by the response to my giveaway and look forward to spending the weekend discovering lovely new blogs.

If you haven’t entered, you still have time to do so. If my time zone calculations are correct then the giveaway ends at 2am Saturday morning (UK time) so I will pick a winner at breakfast time.

Good luck, and thanks for taking part.

No more Google Reader

After reading a million posts about the demise of Google Reader I downloaded some different apps and have finally got used to reading my blogs via feedly (opposite swipe actions from my old newsify app). My criteria was a system that works on computer, android and iOS, since I read blogs everywhere. Sadly this was where bloglovin’ and me fell out (I can’t stand iPhone-sized apps on the big iPad screen) however lots of people seem to have chosen this option so I am claiming my blog:
Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Follow me on whatever system you prefer.

In other news I have spent two days knitting on my Basic Bella cardigan (and read two novels in the process) so, if I didn’t have knitter’s finger cramp, fingers-crossed there will be a finished post any day now!