Wednesday, 30 April 2014

WIPs and notebooks

There are various things on the needles following last week's raging startitis, but only two projects that are likely to get finished any time soon - the first is the gold sparkly garter stitch triangle which is just the perfect size for a little bandana and almost ready to cast off. It's really simple, uses only 50g of yarn and I'm planning to write the pattern up for the knitting club kids - I'll post it here once it's finished too. 
WIPs and notebooks
The second is a little project using Rowan Silkystones, from the current issue of Let's Knit magazine. It's the Barmouth headband, and you can read more about it on the designer's blog - a really nice design and there's a lovely story behind it. The yarn is interesting - it's linen and tussah silk and knits up with a slightly uneven texture. I started it yesterday and am hoping to take it away on the weekend, but in honesty there is so much to do before I go, it's unlikely. 

While I was away...
from Let's Knit magazine
When I was looking up the pattern info, I happened to spot the 'coming next month' page of the magazine, which I'd previously missed. Much to my surprise (as I'd missed it on flicking through previously!) my 'secret' project from earlier this year - a wrap pattern which will be in the June issue, on sale May 9th. I'll tell you more about it when the magazine is published. It's exciting as it's the first time I've seen it modelled and now can't wait to see next month's magazine.
WIPs and notebooks
And on the subject of getting orgainsed I know there were many who previously coveted my Midori Traveler's (Crafter's) Notebook, or who went ahead and bought one, and so I thought it worth mentioning a new favourite Etsy* shop - Molsmum aka Tracy makes lovely handmade refills (like these and these) for the TN as well as for various Moleskine notebooks. She also makes her own leather notebook covers (pictured) in the different sizes, which come in beautiful colours and feel amazing.

The covers are based on the TN design but differ in that there is no metal tab at the top of the spine, and the knot for the closure-elastic is hidden within the spine rather than being at the back of the cover, plus the covers seem slightly wider to accommodate lots of inserts. Although those things don't bother me too much about the TN, I do actually think this design is more refined and as they are significantly cheaper than the originals too, definitely worth taking a look if you're a notebook kind of person. Let's be honest, you can never have too many notebooks. I have been delighted with the speedy service and quick responses to my many questions, so a big thanks to Sara from Chasing Corduroy for the recommendation.

In an attempt to get more organised, I've been using my notebook to plan some upcoming posts and spotted an interesting trend - despite always planning to post on Thursdays, it rarely happens! I will make an exception for tomorrow with the final knitalong post. See you then!

*Purchases via affiliate links will attract compensation towards the running of the blog. Thank you for your clicks! 
Monday, 28 April 2014

Snippets: Pirate fever

It is rare that I go so long between posts, but various things have conspired to keep me away since Wednesday. This is what happened while I was away...
While I was away...
I really can't believe Little Miss is five, although one might think she is much older when listening to some of her wry observations. Queen Elsa from Frozen (via Dazzle and Fizz) came to entertain her with a small group of her princess and pirate friends. I think a couple of people enjoyed being pirates a little too much!!!
While I was away...

While I was away...

So now we're back to normality - D and mum in work, the kids in school, and me cleaning up after them all. Not to worry though, I'm heading off for an early Birthday Celebration of my own on Friday. I'll be back before then with the missing knitalong wrap-up post and some project updates. See you soon! 
Wednesday, 23 April 2014

WIPs & Books: While I was waiting

You know that moment when you're struck by inspiration and you know EXACTLY what you want to knit... but you don't have the right yarn? That was me last Thursday - the day before a double Bank Holiday weekend with no chance of yarn arriving for the best part of a week and nowhere close enough to buy what I wanted. Naturally, I did what many of you would have done while waiting - I cast on LOTS of other things!

First there was the clock make-over. It was done in no time so it was followed by an experimental "thing" with some lovely Natural Dye Studio Yarn. It's not going to become anything at the moment, as I used it as a swatch to try something out (which you can't even see in this photo!) for a future design. 
While I was waiting...
Next, the moccasin toe experiment was completed. I like it and will use it on a real sock, but this was meant as a practice, so it'll be bound off and added to my swatch box (which isn't a box yet - it's a big envelope, but it really does need to be a box. I must get one.) My sock investigations lead me to this great free pattern for an Afterthought Heel - the next thing I want to try, but so far I have resisted the (significant) temptation to cast those on.  

Then a Kauni laceweight gradient "tube" - it's fate is uncertain. There are a few things I would like it to become, and I'm not sure whether there is a way they could all be compatible.
While I was waiting....
As if that wasn't enough I cast on something else with yarn I had re-homed. It was pink and fluffy and I was enjoying knitting some mindless garter stitch while reading*.... until the yarn kept snapping. It made me (a) wonder what had happened to it, and (b) feel glad that I hadn't mixed it in with my 'nice' stash, just incase of those hideous winged creatures which shall not be named! Would that make the yarn look fine in the ball but snap off without warning every so often? 
While I was waiting....
Because I had been enjoying it so much, I replaced the same project with different yarn immediately! It's a very simple shawl which I'll post on the blog (as a recipe) when it's finished. Perfect relaxation knitting. 
While I was waiting....
Thank goodness my parcels arrived this morning, with enough yarn for TWO new projects that are in my sketchpad. Now to prioritise which one to start first....
While I was waiting....
*As if all this knitting casting on wasn't enough, I read two books - Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth at the same time with the help of my new ipad/kindle holder (the best £4.24 I have spent in a long time!) although I'm taking a break before the final book in the trilogy, with Rachel Joyce's Perfect
Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Show & Tell: Tying fabric

I absolutely love draping and tying fabric - all sorts of fabric. As a child, I spent many (many!) hours fashioning clothes from scrap materials - there's a photo somewhere but I can't find it. It's likely that this love of wrapping fabric is in my genes and I am not just thinking of my sewing mum and tailoress Nanna Shirl. I am, after all, of mixed heritage including (amongst other things) Indian sari-wearers and Welsh baby-wearers...
Nanna Marion carrying me  in a blanket 'Welsh-fashion', although I'm clearly trying to escape

During my thirties, this fabric love manifested in an obsession with woven wraps which I used to carry my own children. In the few short years I was using them, I went through literally hundreds - collecting and trading specially-woven fabrics from around the world. As well as the special close-ness with my children, it gave me an appreciation of different types of fabric and it's qualities in terms of draping, tying and the feel against delicate skin, and is what eventually led me to creating my own fabric - knitting, crochet and spinning.

LM in Nati-baby Palla Usheri 
As a novice designer, this love of draping and wrapping fabric is quite evident - perhaps you have already noticed that I love nothing more than a simple item which can be worn in various different ways - this has been a key element of my last four designs (Little Bear's PorridgeThe Enormous Triangle PonshawlSeafoam and one you are yet to see).

For some time I've had an item in my "blog post ideas" list - to show different ways to wear the basic knitted shawl shapes, so when I came across this Nordstrom video via Social Media, it seemed too good not to share. It shows 16 different ways to tie four basic scarves, not knitted, but I really enjoyed watching and think you might like it too.

PS. You may have noticed that the latest 'show & tells' haven't been about spinning, and this is because I am not doing as much of it as I would like and have little to show you. 
Friday, 18 April 2014

FO Friday: Clock Makeover

I have wanted to make-over a plain clock for the last few months after seeing some lovely knitted clocks on various websites. But I didn't have a spare clock. Or, ironically, the time to do it. Until yesterday... when I spotted this plain inexpensive clock in the supermarket (£4) and had nothing on the needles.
Quick clock makeover

With limited wall space, this is to go above the doorframe and I decided to use a knitted fabric in a colour which co-ordinates with the room for the circumference, as that will be on view as much as the face.  For the face, a simple crochet mesh to sew buttons onto in a plain colour to prevent it being too overpowering. It took very little time, used up some stash yarn (scraps) and buttons and I'm pleased with the results which gave a very quick FO fix!


  • Round clock 
  • DK weight yarn in two colours (which co-ordinate with the room)
  • 4mm knitting needles
  • 4mm crochet hook
  • Assortment of 12 buttons in different colours
  • Needle and thread for attaching buttons
  • Measure the depth of the clock frame/edge and knit a small swatch - yes, really! - to determine the number of stitches to cast on. The knitted section should be just wide enough to cover the sides of the clock with a very slight overhang - as it's stocking stitch, the sides naturally curve around to hug the edges. My clock is 33mm deep. Based on the swatch I had to cast on 12 stitches.   
  • Using the main colour, cast on the required number of stitches and knit in stocking stitch until the work measures a few cms less that the clock circumference for a snug fit. Check by stretching the knit fabric around the clock. Mine has a 69.5cm circumference so I knit for 65cm before binding off.
  • Sew the ends of the knitting together to make a loop. It should fit quite tightly. 
The crochet section depends on the depth of the border around the edge of the clock face, so you will need to determine how many rounds are appropriate for your clock. Mine was worked as follows:
  • Using the crochet hook, join the second colour onto the front edge of the loop and make a single crochet stitch into alternate stitches around the loop, as seen in the photo at the top of this post.
  • At the end of the first round, join with a slip stitch and chain 2 then work a treble crochet into each of the crochet stitches from the first round. At the end of the second round, join the first and last stitches with a slip stitch. 
  • Chain 1 to start the final round, then work a single crochet into alternate stitches around the edge to decrease and give a neat finish. Make sure it's not too tight! At the end of the round, join with a slip stitch and sew in ends. 
  • Put the clock in place and sew on buttons or other embellishments. (As the sewn join is  slightly visible in the knitting, I made sure that the join is positioned to be in the least visible spot, on the side that will face towards a wall.)
It's the long Bank holiday weekend here, so I'm not sure whether I'll make it back to the blog in the next few days but I wish you a lovely weekend whatever you're doing. 
Thursday, 17 April 2014

Spring KAL week 5 - Finished!

It's done! With one week to go until the final Spring Knitalong blogpost, I finished and blocked Miss Winkle today. After planning to use a new-to-me bind off for this project, and trying both the Icelandic and Knitsofacto methods, I ended up undoing both part-way through the row, and using a plain and simple standard knit bind off.  I'm perfectly happy with it, too. 
Binding off Miss Winkle #cftcspringkal

One of the best things about being slow to finish a knitalong project, is that you get the benefit of the group's experience, and I'd had time to plan how I would block the loops, long before it became necessary. Others had used various pipes, and poles but I used the cable of the enormous circular needle purchased a few years ago from Ingrid Wagner. (They hadn't actually been used for anything until today which reminds me that I should really find a better use for them!)

If only you could feel the softness of this (discontinued) Nimu Isel yarn - it's wool, silk and cashmere and so lovely next to the skin. It was a little tricky to work on metal needles (the only tips I had free in the right size) as it is slippery and very easy to split, but the result is worth it. Yes, I really like this one. The colour really doesn't capture well - it's more purple than it looks in any of the photos to date, so I've added a filter to the picture below - it's much closer to the real colours.
Miss Winkle FO #cftcspringkal
As usual, the linky is below for any bloggers who have not finished yet. Next Thursday will be the final post for this knitalong and will include a selection of FOs from the group!  Be sure to upload your final pictures to the Ravelry group if you'd like the chance of having them included. 
Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Six* new things

The sun is shining, there are new leaves, shoots and fresh things happening all around. What better time to try something new? So it's a week of learning... and of course, trial and error.

1. Software and charts - my new design has a patterned border so I am writing a chart attempting to write a chart for inclusion in the pattern. I bought Intwined Pattern Studio software a little while ago, and am figuring out how to use it to chart the pattern repeats and increases. I'm not a natural with maths or charts (or software that wasn't designed by Apple, although this is quite intuitive) so it's all a bit of a learning curve. Once the chart is done, the pattern will be ready to go to the test knitters. ( Thanks to everyone who has volunteered - if you haven't had a reply yet, you will do - there are rather a lot of people to contact.)
Seafoam Shawlette-to-Shrug ... Ready to be photographed for the pattern
2, 3 & 4 - all sock related - In my last post I mentioned a Craftsy class I'm taking. It's made me want to try two new techniques immeditely - the mocassin-toe (looks so comfy) and the afterthought heel. I have always made socks on a long circular needle and after giving it a try, I think it is a bit fiddly for the magic loop method - so it's also time to try again on DPNs (...even if they are swapped for a circular when it's time for the foot). 
Trying new things: moccasin toe socks.
5. New books - I have a few books on the go at the moment. Let's Pretend This Never Happened, by the Bloggess Jenny Lawson, Still Alice by Lisa Genova (for book club) and I downloaded the sample of Divergent last night to see what all the fuss is about. I was enjoying it too, until I fell asleep and the Kindle hit me in the face. 

6. New bind offs - My Miss Winkle shawlette for the Spring knitalong is (sort of) finished. I started to cast off using the Icelandic bind-off others on the group have been using but I didn't love it more than my usual sewn bind-off. Wanting to try something new, I've ripped it back and am going to try Annie's Knitsofacto bind-off instead. I've been meaning to try this for some time so I'll let you know how I get on in tomorrow's update. 

(*There is actually a 7th, I also have half a new front tooth after an incident with a boat swing last week... but I don't really feel like talking about it!)
**This post includes affiliate links to products I have purchased myself and recommend.**
Monday, 14 April 2014

Plotting socks (and looking for shawlette test knitters!)

Looking back through some old notebooks, I saw that I'd set myself the goal of designing a pair of socks before the end of June. It's already half way through April so I'd better get cracking! Armed with Cookie A's Sock Innovation, my 'ideal sock' measurements, some yarn from stash, and a Craftsy class which covers various different toes and heels for toe-up sock design, I'm plotting.... whilst doing the ironing! 
As the Sewing Bee has finished, my usual 'WIPs and Books' post will be back on Wednesdays so I'll let you know how I get on in my update. In the meantime, I'm looking for some volunteer test knitters who would be able to knit Seafoam. Before I post on the Ravelry test-knitter group, I wanted to ask if anyone here would like to do it.   UPDATE: Thank you so much, I now have too many volunteers! I'll let you know when I need any more for future projects. 

Seafoam is a one-skein shawlette which can also be worn as a shrug (more pics here, knit up from stash yarn). One size will fit from age 5 to adult, worn in different ways. If you have 100g of 4ply/fingering weight yarn you're wondering what to do with, and would have time to knit it, and complete a feedback questionnaire by May 1st (it took me a couple of days but I think I'm quite a fast knitter), please email me letting me know how much knitting experience you have and who you'd make it for (age/size). I am looking for a range of different knitters to try it out, and it's suitable for beginners. In return you'll get my eternal gratitude and a copy of the finished pattern before anyone else. 
**This post includes affiliate links to products I have purchased myself and heartily recommend.**
Saturday, 12 April 2014

The GBSB Final & an interview with Chinelo Bally

The Finalists - Tamara, Heather & Chinelo
Source: BBC/Love Productions
All interested UK-based readers should have seen the final episode of the Great British Sewing Bee by now. (If you didn't, you can catch it here for three more days.) What a final it was! You may have seen that I accompanied Mum* on the night of the final challenge, but as I hadn't seen what went on before the winner was announced, and Mum wasn't there (for the first time), it was the only episode I watched with no prior-knowledge of the challenges. 

I'll admit that until I saw this episode, the result had me a little surprised. You'll already know from previous weeks that if I'd been a judge, Heather and Tamara might not have made it to the final, but there was no point at which I'd thought Chinelo would go. Knowing that Heather had won the title, I was interested to see what had happened during the final week to make so much difference - she had progressed through the competition in the middle of the pack until then - nothing truly outstanding, no garments of the week, but also nothing that got her evicted by the judges. Just bucket-loads of laughs... and, from what she said on the show, gin!

I would say the final episode really showed that slow and steady can win the race - it was the hare and the tortoise all over again. Based on the three challenges in the final week, Heather absolutely deserved to win the title - she saved the best for last with a fabulous 'dressage-inspired' evening gown. 

Heather's triumphant design coincided with a difficult week for Chinelo, and a big risk from Tamara that just didn't pay off.  (I think it really could have gone either way for Tamara as the judges loved some of her other less conventional garments - I'm thinking particularly of the shirt-to-skirt conversion in one of the early episodes, which they adored). On the night, Heather's reaction was exactly as it looked on TV, one of complete and utter genuine surprise to have won - modest and utterly charming. 
A huge smile from  winner Heather!  Source: BBC/Love Productions
I promised last week that there'd be an interview with one of the finalists. I really wanted to talk to Chinelo before she got inundated with other things, as I know SO many of you have enjoyed her creations and been inspired by her freehand cutting. It's taken longer than planned due to technical issues, but I'm delighted to welcome Chinelo Bally to the blog.

Hi Chinelo and welcome to Crafts from the Cwtch. Firstly, congratulations on making it through to the final of GBSB. Can you tell my readers a little about your background and how you first got into sewing?
Hi Sarah, I’ve been sewing for just under 3 years now and it all started with me not able to find tops that I really like in the shop so I decided to make my own. When I got my first second-hand sewing machine, it sat on the dinning table for 3 months after 2 failed attempts at making a top for myself without a pattern. I finally decided to learn how to sew, so I went to aunt who is a tailor and shadowed her whilst she did dressmaking for her clients. I was really fascinated by the way she worked and instantly fell in love with the idea of making my own clothes over again.

During the competition, you demonstrated a real flair for design and your garments have a strong identity -  flattering shapes and figure-hugging lines are prevalent. Have you always been interested in clothing/fashion? Who has inspired your style? Are there any designers that you particularly like?
I have always loved fashion and always did quirky little adjustments to my store bought clothes so learning to make my own from scratch was just perfect for me. Fashion is a big part of my life, I love to look good and love to make other women look and feel good. My favourite designers are Tony Ward and Christian Dior; I love the detailing in their garments and how feminine all their silhouettes are, Victoria Beckham is another one of my favourites; I love how tailored her clothes are. I draw a lot of influence from things around me and being a British Nigerian, I would say that my style is a hybrid of these two cultures.
Source: BBC/ Love Productions

I can't interview you without asking about your wonderful earrings. Even my husband, who has no fashion-sense or interest in jewellery, has been commenting on them each week! How many pairs of enormous earrings do you have? Do they all come from one shop? And which are your favourites?
Lol my earrings seem to be quite famous, I actually offered my large plate pair as a gong for time on the show. I don’t even know how many earrings I have, I buy them from all over the place mainly markets and whenever my friends and family travel abroad I always ask for a big pair of earrings, I wear my hair low so I balance it with the big earrings lol

I don't sew, but knit a lot of my things without patterns (or write them myself) so in my own way I can relate to your freehand style of cutting garments. How did you learn to work this way? And is it something you think is easy to pick up, or is it just something that some people find easy and others don't (which seems to be the case with knitting)?
I picked up free handing because my aunty who taught me to sew never uses a pattern. Free handing is something that takes patience but if you have an interest in sewing you probably already have that patience because sewing requires a lot of patience. Anyone with a genuine interest in sewing can pick-up this skill. Actually in my first workshop I was quite surprised at how everybody picked it up and did quite a good job of it especially as it was their first time. The first time I saw it done I was afraid but after watching my aunt for a couple of hours and doing a few doodles as she worked I was instantly reassured; it began to make sense. One of the ladies in my workshop also did this

Source: Instagram
Do you make all (or most) of your own clothes and what is your favourite garment that you've made for yourself to date?
I make all of my clothes, I haven’t bought clothes in over two years aside from jeans. I can’t say I have a favourite garment that I made because all my garments have something about them that I love; however I do look back at some of the things that I made and ask myself “what on earth were you thinking?”

Are there any other crafts which interest you?
Beading and Knitting interests me (your mum was going to teach me on set so maybe you can teach me now), I can do the basic knit but nothing as fabulous as Lynda’s technicoloured shawl. I really love baking but I’m sure that’s not a craft!!!!

Once my mum left the competition, I felt 100% sure you would win - I know I'm not the only one. How did it feel to get so close to the title, only to be pipped at the post by Heather? And what was it like watching it back on the TV?
To be honest I did really think your mum would be a finalist also. I felt really proud of myself for having made it to the finals with such accomplished sewist. Obviously I wanted to win; I’m sure we all did, but Heather was a great sewist and she really deserved her win.

Source: Instagram
What have you learned (about sewing and about yourself) from taking part in the Sewing Bee? 
I have learnt that I’m a fighter because each week I battled for my place on the Sewing Bee. I picked up a lot of handy tips from the other sewers which has been useful for my personal projects.

I am sure you have a very bright future ahead, and that the GBSB will be a great springboard for future projects. What are you working on at the moment, and what do you have planned for the future?
I’m currently working on my women’s wear line (the website will be launching very soon) but I am taking bespoke garment orders and teaching people how to sew free hand.

Now that we won't be seeing you on our screens each Tuesday, where can find you?
I’ll also miss The Sewing Bee - not quite sure what I’ll do with myself on Tuesday nights. I write a blog where I offer some freehanding tutorials. There are lot of exciting things in the making and you can stay updated by following me on twitter. I have an instagram page where I post some pictures of my projects. I am currently running workshops, current dates are sold out but new dates will be posted next week, so keep an eye on my twitter.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. I'm sure my readers will join me in wishing you the very best of luck with your future projects.
Thank you very much and thank you everyone who rooted for me during the Sewing Bee.

*Many of you spotted Hitchkiker which Mum was wearing, but only two eagle-eyed people spotted the Color Affection I had on, which was visible for a few seconds in the background of one of the shots. Well done! 
Friday, 11 April 2014

Snippets: Spring Holidays

The blog has been somewhat neglected this week due to it being the school holidays (I owe you a Sewing Bee post, which hasn't been forgotten) so I thought I'd show you a few of the things that have been keeping us busy between spending time with different friends. 

:: Woodland walks with a dog that's impossible to photograph
New life is popping up everywhere, and the longer days mean that we are getting a chance to enjoy it a lot more. D had some time off and enjoyed playing silly games like 'hoodies in the woodies' with the kids ... 
... but cleaning up afterwards is never as much fun!

:: Marvelling at the fleeting beauty of Spring
Spring. Blossom.

:: The beach at low tide
I managed to take some snaps of the new design I've been working on -  it's called 'Seafoam' and is a one-skein convertible shawl/shrug. It was freshly off the needles when it got shoved into my bag so it's not blocked or properly finished, but here's a peek...

Little Miss has been crafting too - with my mum's help, she's made her first garment - a skirt. She's wearing it in the picture below and is very pleased with it.
At the beach
I can't promise next week will be much better as school is off until 23rd April, but we are enjoying plenty of fresh air and fun - I hope you are too!
Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Spring Kal Week 4: Knitting Along ... but not on that!

This week's knitalong update - a day early so I can post about the Sewing Bee final tomorrow - is really a confession. I have been neglectful this week (boo)... but the second sample for another new design will soon be finished (yay).
#cftcspringkal and a new pattern in the works
It appeared just as I was about to start the 28th loop - a nagging feeling that wouldn't go away until I cast on this idea I've had for a long time. I am totally blaming the gorgeous "Island Beach" yarn pictured above which was custom-dyed by Devon Sun Yarns, and is based on the picture that inspired the design. (The first sample worked out really well in cheap sock yarn from my stash, but this is something else - merino/bamboo scrumptiousness!) Can't wait to show you more.

In the meantime, a little reminder that the prize draw takes place tomorrow, for the participants who have joined in the Ravelry group discussion, and a linky - although many of the participating bloggers have already finished:
Saturday, 5 April 2014

New Pattern Alert! Dangly Springtime Bunny is now available

I am delighted to tell you that my Dangly Springtime Bunny pattern is exclusively available to download FREE from .... but only for a limited time! Head on over to their blog where you can also find full details of the 'name the bunny' competition - one lucky winner will receive the materials to make their own bunny!

Those extra-long legs are designed to dangle over the edge of a shelf, or can be posed into different positions for added cuteness - you can also customise your bunny with a bow-tie, hair-bow (included in the pattern) or just about anything else you can imagine.
The pattern includes full instructions and numerous pictures, and would be suitable as a first DPN project if you're an adventurous beginner. You can change the size very easily, using different yarn and needles, and making the arms and legs to your desired size. Two different sizes are detailed in the pattern for DK and Aran weight yarns.   
If you can't wait to make a bunny (or two) of your own, you will find a full shopping list at the back of the pattern and Crafts from the Cwtch readers can get a special 15% discount on any of the supplies needed, using the code 'BUNNY15'. The Ravelry page for the pattern, with lots more information is here - remember to link up your projects so I can take a look at all those dangly legs (and faces, which are always the hardest bit for me). Happy (hoppy) knitting!
Friday, 4 April 2014

Tension - Spring Knitalong week 3

Since starting to knit the loops of my Miss Winkle 'backwards' instead of turning them (as mentioned in the last update post), there is a definite change in the tension (gauge), although I'm hoping that it will magically disappear with blocking.
#cftcspringkal week 3 - 24 loops and a change in tension.
There has been much discussion on the Ravelry group about the best way to block the loops, and although the pattern suggests using dowelling, I'm going to try my 25mm circular needle cable which is flexible and should fit through the loops well enough. But not for a while yet as I am about to start my 25th loop and expect to get at least ten to twelve more before binding off.

If you like the look of this pattern, you can still join in as the Knitalong runs through to the end of the month and many people have finished one or two of these already - it won't take long if, unlike me, you actually have time to knit it! Details are here. Our prize draw takes place on the 10th April, you just have to be knitting along and participating in the group discussion to be automatically entered!

My apologies to all who have been waiting to link up your blog posts. Little Miss has a sickness bug (I'm writing this from her bed, where she is finally sleeping) and this prevented an update last night. I'm loving all your blogs and I can't be the only one, so please add your links below:
Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Lynda Lewis on the Great British Sewing Bee semi-final (ep. 7)

I can't tell you how hard it's been to hold my tongue when being told that people felt sure my mum (Lynda) would win the Sewing Bee title, knowing that she left at the end of the semi-final. She was the only contestant with three Garment of the Week accolades, as well as other "1sts" so it's not surprising that many people felt she was assured a place in the final. Despite winning the first challenge, a disaster occurred this week when she didn't have enough fabric for the third challenge (she really should have checked it after purchase - it was such bad luck!) and it all went downhill from there.
Winning the first challenge, with Heather in second place. Image: BBC/Love Productions
I was following the tag #GBSB on Twitter while watching the show and mum and I were both astounded by the response of SO MANY people who said that she was "robbed" of a place in the final, or felt it wasn't fair for her to leave after her performance in the weekly challenges. I too felt that she had earned a place in the final, but then I haven't agreed with the eliminations of the last two weeks either, so what do I know!?! In my version of events, I'd have lost Tamara in the week Jenni left (her yoga outfit this week was fabulous, so I'd have missed that) and Jenni instead of David last week. This week Heather or David would have gone, and either way, the final would really have been between Mum and Chinelo - technical ability and experience v flair and creativity.

Several times on the show, mum said that her daughters would be "disappointed" "gutted" or "kill her" - I feel the need to set the record straight! My sister and I, as well as the rest of the family, are incredibly proud of mum. Although it's true that we are gutted she left the show before the end -especially when the final challenge would have been PERFECT for her. You'll have to find out more about that next week. In the meantime, here is what mum said about last night's show:

Tell us how you felt watching the semi-final, knowing how it ended?
Watching the programme was horrendous. I was dreading seeing that awful dress [from the third challenge] again. If I'd made that at home it would've been in the bin and I wouldn't have bothered finishing it. Thinking of everyone seeing it on national TV... I was ashamed!!

When I watched it, all the feelings I experienced during filming came flooding back. As you know David left the week before me and Jenni the week before that, and when they went all the fun went out of it for me. I only entered for a laugh and didn't like the tension and stress that I felt during the semi-final. I actually felt relieved when Claudia said I was the one leaving and thoughts of spending time with my grandkids dominated my mind!!

I had been working full time during the weeks of filming and I'd had a chest infection the week before - I felt so tired, and also a little guilty when having time off work. I was honestly quite relieved to be going back to my normal everyday life.
It was all worth it for a cwtch with Patrick Grant! Image: BBC/Love Productions

What has being on the show meant to you? What did you learn about yourself?
I think that I was in a rut with my sewing, maybe as I sometimes go for months (or even years!) without getting my sewing machine out. Being on the Sewing Bee pushed me to try new techniques and sew materials that I'd probably not have considered trying otherwise. It was a massive learning curve for me and I enjoyed every minute of it. I fell in love with silk fabric and the wonders of the overlocking machine, and wish that I had discovered both before.

I'm still amazed that I entered the competition let alone reached the semi final. It was a little scary due to my hearing loss but I'm pleased that I had the courage to give it a go. I feel more confident now that I'll be able to do other things that might be out of my comfort zone.

You've had lots of messages of support from the Crafts from the Cwtch readers, what would you like to say to them? I've loved reading the messages from your readers, here and on Twitter and Facebook, and would like to thank every single one for so many lovely wishes and all the support. Please come and say hello if you ever see me in person, it's so lovely to meet you! (If Wendy Dutton sees this, please get in touch again, as I'd love to send a personal reply to your last message.)

I'll leave you with the updated Burda Style leaderboard, which highlights that the top prize could still be anyone's. I already know the outcome* so I won't be making any predictions except to say there'll be interview with one of the finalists after the show has aired!
* Keep an eye out for a glimpse of more knitwear next week - I'm not sure if it'll make the final cut, but you just might spot one or two items made from popular Ravelry patterns!
Tuesday, 1 April 2014

An update: All sorts of things!

My blog posts have been full to bursting with the Sewing Bee, various interviews, tutorials and new patterns and I haven't had chance to  have a good catch up on news over the last few weeks. So today's post is an update - a bit of 'this and that', if you will. Spinning Show & Tell will resume next week and I have some great spinners lined up.

Firstly a big congratulations to the winner of the Knit the Alphabet giveaway. The winner, Rachel (aka Petersson), was randomly selected and has been notified via Ravelry so her copy of Claire's lovely book will soon be sent out by the publisher. Rachel says she'd like to make cushions for her classroom and I bet they'll look great - perhaps she'll send us a picture? I've started making some letters myself and really enjoying it. I originally had plans to use oddments of yarn but then started knitting with Rowan Handknit cotton and it's so nice I don't want to use anything else!

I also wanted to tell you about a few events coming up. Firstly Let's Knit and Let's Get Crafting Magazines have launched a Love Your Yarn Shop campaign and on Saturday 3rd May there will be a nationwide Yarn Shop Day with events taking place around the country.

The event is being supported by many well-know designers including Erika Knight, Louisa Harding, Sarah Hatton, Lauren O'Farrell, Jenny Watson and more as well as big-brands within the industry. If you're lucky enough to have a LYS, then I'd certainly recommend checking out any events which are taking place in your vicinity. You can find lots more information here.

In July we have Unwind Brighton - a brand new event taking place so close to home it would be rude if I didn't go! This is looking like a seriously awesome weekend including a fantastic range of classes and talks from top names (seriously, take a look!) as well as a lot of great sellers in the Marketplace. I'm sure this is going to be a pretty cool place to hang out and knit even if you don't have lots of cash to spend - that's my plan anyway! Perhaps I'll see you there? 

Noro Kama in colourway 10With all the interviews, giveaways and new tutorials happening over the last few weeks, I haven't had opportunity to mention that I was awarded Blogger of the Month by Black Sheep Wools a few weeks ago. You can find my interview with the BSW Blog here. My prize was six balls of Noro Kama which I'm planning to use for one of my next design projects - it's so pretty, I can't wait to start working with it as I've been fancying it for some time. If you have a favourite blogger you'd like to nominate, you can find the details here.

I have another interview being published later today on another blog, so I'll come back and add that link when I have it - EDIT: here's my interview with the Woman's Weekly blog - and there's also a new pattern I've been working on in partnership with another of my favourite online yarn stores being published this week. I'll be sure to add details of that to Friday's post when I'll also show you some of my recent FOs.... There seems to be so much to catch up on!

Don't forget the semi-finals of the Great British Sewing Bee are on tonight. I know a lot of international readers have been frustrated not to be able to watch, and thought I'd mention an article with a link to a casting call for potential contestants for a US version - you can find details here.

I'm pretty sure I've forgotten something, but have to do the school run now - I'm sure it'll come back to me later....
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DISCLAIMER: Crafts from the Cwtch is part of the Deramores, Craftsy, Etsy, Creativebug and Amazon Affiliate programmes and works with a few carefully selected sponsors. Where posts or projects are sponsored, the opinions will always be entirely my own. You can find out more about affiliate links and blog sponsorship here.

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