Knitting With Cotton

Most of the clothes I sew are made from woven cotton.  I love it.  You can iron it into really sharp creases, pleats, hems and seam finishes.  It stays put while you sew it.  It behaves.  Cotton fabric does exactly what you ask it to.  Cotton yarn does not!

Yarn made from wool is just great to knit with.  It feels nice and soft.  Wool yarn seems to merge together hiding any joins and inconsistencies.  Cotton yarn does not.

I long ago learnt various ways to join wool yarn in my knitting and whichever method I choose (and I am always changing my mind as to which one is best) there are a few rules I always follow: never join in new yarn at the edge of my knitting, never ever knot my yarn and one of the most invisible ways to weave in ends is to use a duplicate stitch from the right side.  Each wool garment I make has fewer mistakes and looks more professional than the previous one but I was close to giving up with the cotton ones until I discovered that the rules I needed to follow were exactly opposite to the ones I use for wool: only join in new yarn at the edge, you need to knot the ends or it will unravel and don’t attempt to do duplicate stitches when weaving in ends because it will be very visible!

So, knowing the rules, I have now completed a couple of cardigans that I am really pleased with.  I still don’t really like knitting with cotton, it’s hard going and quite tough on your hands.  But it is nice to overcome problems and learn new skills and I refuse to be beaten by a ball of cotton.

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I was so pleased with the little shrug I knitted for my new niece that I decided to make one for myself.  The small version was from a pattern called Entrechat by Lisa Chemery that I found in One Skein Wonders For Babies and the adult sized one is called Madame Entrechat which you can find on Ravelry.  Rashly, I chose some purple cotton from my stash and it’s not turned out too badly, except for one minor hiccup.  It was knitting up really quickly and three quarters of the way down the back I tried it on for fit (perfect) and was quietly congratulating myself on creating such a lovely garment (mainly because I was following the simple, but essential rules for knitting with cotton) when I made an error in judgement and decided to play yarn chicken.  Why do I do these things?  I am normally very cautious and, frankly, it was obvious I did not have enough yarn left in the ball to get to the end of the row.  But I did it anyway and only got half way across.  So, obviously I undid that row…  No, I did not!  I decided that the reason the shrug was looking so good was because my knitting had miraculously just improved and that I could cope with a join in the middle and carried on knitting…  I can see the join, so everyone else can see the join!

The reason my recent cotton garments are successful is because I followed the rules.  The second I decide not to do that – disaster strikes.  I will not make that mistake again.

 

 

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  This post also contains links to other products, websites or patterns.  I do not receive any reward for mentioning them.  I only recommend books, patterns or products I use personally and believe will be of value to my readers.

Felt Art

Recently I have been working on creating felted textile pictures to put in my shop.  I had never thought I would be making felt of any description, it just didn’t really appeal.  Then I discovered felt art pictures and nuno felting and cobweb felting.  There are some really talented felt art artists out there like Moy Mackay who is a huge inspiration.

Wet felting is really, really hard work, but I love it.  It’s got everything, colour, texture, creativity, wool fibre, embroidery (both machine and hand) and it saves me from going to the gym – not that I ever intended to do that anyway.

These two are based on local Cornish scenes.  The first one features the lighthouse at Godrevy with thrift and corn coloured grasses growing on the cliff and the second one is the engine house at Chapel Porth near St Agnes with bright purple heather in bloom on the cliff.  I just love the different blues, greens and turquoises in the sea.  I lined both of these with calico and sewed a ring on the back so that they can hang on the wall, but they would also look very effective framed under glass (I just wouldn’t want to risk putting them in the post like that).

This one was inspired by the gorgeous paua shells which you find strewn about the beaches in New Zealand.  This seems amazing to me as the shells on our Cornish beaches are very tiny and less colourful in comparison.  I have sewn it to some mount board ready to be framed.

Very different again is this field of foxgloves.  I enjoyed the free motion machine embroidery on this one and decided to sew pockets to the back to enable it to be hung with a piece of doweling.  This could easily be removed allowing the picture to be framed.  Again, it just makes it easier to post.

These were all fun to make and they are looking lovely decorating my walls until they have a new home to go to.

 

 

 

 

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  I only recommend books or products I use personally and believe will be of value to my readers.

An Elfin Rag Doll

My second rag doll pattern is now available in my shop.  This one is an elfin-like, quirky doll.  I just love her striped legs.  (Not that she has to be made with striped legs.)  I have called her Ailla which is a Cornish girl’s name meaning ‘most beautiful’ and I think she really is!

She has a beautifully shaped face and a soft rounded body (but not too round; just right to be carried around by a small person).  I have added slim arms and legs, combined with pointy ears and large pixie boots to update her.  There is also a pattern piece for more realistic ears, so that you have the choice of making a little girl doll or a pixie/elf doll.  I think this pattern lends itself to being made in bright, unrealistic colours such as blue, green or pink for the hair.  Obviously, normal ‘hair’ colours would work just as well but you could also go a bit over board with this one.

Normally if I am making a rag doll, an embroidery, a drawing, or even a cake, I avoid trying to recreate something to look exactly as the real thing – this almost always results in failure and anyway, that’s what photos are for.  However, due to the shape of the face on this rag doll it does really need to have more of a real eye shape (sort of), but larger.  I always find that choosing how to embroider the face is the hardest part of making a doll.  There are so many variations and the slightest change makes a huge difference to the expression and way the rag doll looks.

The fabric I chose for the body, face and arms is a lovely soft, woven cotton especially for doll making and comes in a range of skin tones and a striped quilting fabric for the legs.  But, again, calico would work fine and could be dyed to your chosen shade using tea or coffee.

This pattern is more involved to make than the French-style rag doll.  It still isn’t difficult, there are just extra pieces to make a more rounded, 3D shape and the arms and legs are jointed so that they are re-positional.  There is also more detailed embroidery for the facial features, but obviously they can be simplified.

I have included patterns for her outfit.

 

Kerenza Dress pdf

Even though it’s pretty manic around here with Christmas being far too close I have finally managed to get another of my girls’ dress patterns ready for sale. Kerenza Cross Front Dress is now in my Etsy shop.  I’m not really sure why it has taken me so long.  I drafted it and tested it over a year ago.

Kerenza means ‘love’ in Cornish and the pattern is in sizes 2-3, 4-5 and 6-7 years.  The front bodice crosses over so that it looks wrapped but it is actually in one piece which is much more secure for a little person while they’re running around.

The version on the front of the pattern has been made with an opening and fastened with a cute little button and rouleau loop but I have put a variation on the dress pdf pattern to make it without the button as the cross over front will allow a child to get it on and off without needing an opening at the back as well.  The sizing on my patterns is quite generous to allow for growth and movement but, obviously if you chose to make it without the back fastening it would be more of a squeeze to get in and out of in a year or two’s time, so might not last quite as long.

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I hope people like this dress pdf, it is a popular style with companies selling hand made children’s dresses but none of the pattern companies seem to sell a pattern for people to use at home.

More Daturas

OK, so I have not been very motivated this week.  I had intended to make some more lingerie so that I could put the patterns in my Etsy shop.  The problem is that I have too many projects backed up and this week it seemed a bit overwhelming.  This is entirely my own fault because I see some gorgeous fabric (at least twice a week) and know exactly what I could make with it and then I buy it without thinking about the fact that there are only a certain number of hours in each day and that I already have a whole cupboard (and the top of my desk) full of fabric that I knew just what to do with!

Anyway, this week I did not do what I was going to.  But I did make my youngest daughter a cover for her tablet.

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My oldest daughter has been asking for a new make-up bag which I will now have to get on with or I shall be getting complaints.  I have been dragging my heels a bit on this one as she wants a frame clasp and I’ve not used one before and haven’t even got around to making the pattern although I have seen a tutorial on U-handbag.  I’m just going to have to take the plunge.  I have bought the fabric.  So that’s a start.

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Also, I made another couple of tops in the Deer and Doe Datura style.

The first Datura was in a grey, embroidered cotton voile.  I did the peter pan collar version but lengthened the back and put in a pleat to give some extra room at the bottom.  I attached a lovely diamante button to a bow and sewed it to the front bodice, which doesn’t show up particularly well in the pictures.

Then I made a Datura similar to the original in a really soft floral fabric and added some bright cerise and diamante buttons to the back.  I am beginning to notice a bit of a theme with the diamante buttons!

After the first peach coloured one I shortened the yoke and lengthened the top of the bodice.  I think it works much better like this.

Hopefully, I will be inspired to sew lingerie next week.

 

A New Sewing Room

It’s official, I have too much stuff!  My lovely husband has just spent weeks making me a new desk for my sewing and jewellery making things and it’s already full, with things squashed in underneath as well.

The left hand side of the desk is for jewellery making (but soldering will still be done in the kitchen next to the patio doors and sink, and away from my fabric) and the right hand side is for sewing.  I have recycled lots of old jars for storage in my desk (I knew if I just kept hold of them they would come in handy one day), but wanted something slightly more aesthetically pleasing for the things which I use more often and which would be out on display.  So, after much research as I call it, but others might say an enjoyable morning looking online at other people’s brilliant ideas, this is what I came up with.  I bought lots of cheap matching jars from Asda for buttons, threads, elastic, zips, ribbons and embroidery silks.  I have wrapped the ribbon and elastic around lolly pop sticks and secured with diamante pins and I found this brilliant idea for the embroidery silks.  I have wound them around wooden pegs which conveniently have a built in clamp to secure the ends.  I think they are very effective. While I was on a roll, I decided that the plastic pockets I kept my sewing patterns in weren’t up to the job so I ordered lots of plastic document folders with snap fastenings and spent an afternoon sticking labels on them all with a description and a picture of the garment.

This room has had several previous incarnations.  It had been my oldest daughter’s room for about twelve years and I have used it as my yoga studio for the last three years.  I gradually filled it with my sewing bits and pieces as well and then found myself carrying them up and down the corridor to the kitchen where I normally sew.  So it made sense to put a desk in here instead.  It still has to double as a spare bedroom hence the chaise sofa bed and as it is just inside the front door where everyone can see it, I also tried to make it look like a nice reception room.  But it still ‘my sewing room’.  I’ve re-painted my Gran’s old display cabinet and lined the doors with fabric to hide the contents as it is full to the brim with lovely fabrics and a couple of yoga mats.  I’m not sure what she would have made of that as it was a dark mahogany when I inherited it.   Hopefully, she’d be pleased to see it being used.

I have enjoyed sewing in the kitchen as it’s a warm sunny room with lovely views out across the garden and fields, but it will also be really good to be able to use the table for its intended purpose and to not be squashed up at one end of it at dinner time!

All in all I think it’s turned out OK and should be a good base for my sewing.

Next time I will be sharing my efforts at making my version of Deer and Doe’s Datura pattern.