Sunday 23 December 2012

Happy Holiday Hat (and The Importance of Swatching)

Panda hat
In the past few weeks I've made quite a few hats, most of them have been beanie type hats using nice chunky yarns and a K2 P2 rib. So far they have been well received. I gave one to my long suffering partner; I made the first hat for my brother for Christmas and then decided I had been neglecting said partner so made him one too (instead of doing the washing up which is what I probably should have done.) I also made one for me in gorgeous colours but then decided it made me look like a boy so I gave that one to my partner too.

Beanie detail

Lovely colours beanie

Anyway, I digress. This post is to showcase my purple panda hat. I picked up a copy of Rachel Hendersen's '25 Animal Hats' for cheap a few weeks ago and have had my eye on the panda hat from the start. I've been avoiding making a panda hat as there are so many on the high street but they are very cute. I decided to put my mark on it by making a purple and white rather than black and white panda.

Crochet panda hat

This pattern was a good example of why you should swatch. I used a different yarn to the one specified (same weight and fibre, just a different brand) and used the recommended hook size. It soon became apparent that this was a bad plan. However, being stubborn I carried on and tried to convince myself it was fine. It clearly wasn't so I tried felting it, but I'd used super-wash wool and even at 60 it wouldn't felt. So I admitted defeat (sort of, I still haven't actually unraveled it) and started again. This time I used a hook 2 mm smaller and found this gave me about the right tension ( I still failed to swatch but I did measure after a couple of rounds.)

Shell edge detail

Back of the hat

I added a shell edge to my hat as I like little touches like that but otherwise mostly followed the pattern in the book. When I had completed the crochet hat I used felt, buttons and embroidery thread to make the face and made two fluffy pom-pom ears. These waggle in a slightly disconcerting way when I walk but the hat is warm and cosy and I think everyone should have a silly hat at Christmas. And on that note, Happy Christmas Everyone!

Eye detail

Monday 17 December 2012

Life Drawing 13th December 2012 (plus buttons)

Detail of drawing. Water soluble graphite on prepared paper

The last life drawing session this year; our model Martin gave us some excellent poses as always and this time I managed not to cause him too much suffering! I started off with my usual pen drawings and for the longer poses I used the water-soluble graphite. As I had some prepared paper to work on I got a different effect to last session as the paint I use to prepare the paper mixes with the water to make a paste, giving a different texture.

Permanent marker
Permanent marker


I was also very excited as one of my regular attendees (not sure that's a word) very kindly gave me two tubs full of old buttons. Collected over two generations there are some lovely buttons and I've had great fun already having a look through. You can never have too many buttons!

Sunday 9 December 2012

More Doorstops

Green and purple elephant doorstop
Front view of elephant

I thought I'd share with you a picture of the finished green elephant mentioned in my last post and a few owls, just for good measure.

Button free owl

Eyes not made of buttons

This owl was made for a friend who has a fear of buttons. It seemed strange making an owl without buttons but I decided to face the challenge head on and he's actually one of my favourite owls so far. I really like the layered felt and stitching and the fact that he's very purple helps!

Green owl

Tartan owl

I have also listed a couple of owls in my Folksy shop, a green fellow with very large eyes and a seasonably tartan chap.

Wednesday 5 December 2012


Sunshine Elephant

On Saturday I did a craft fair at the Tithe Barn in Carlisle. It's a really lovely venue so it was a real shame it was so quiet. However, the people organising it (Masseuse Smooth, who also have a shop in Penrith stocking some of my stuff) came to me to tell me they'd sold one of my owl doorstops and the person who'd bought it wanted to know how much an elephant would be. So, I set about designing an elephant and came up with this design.

Design for the elephant doorstop

They took it away to show the person in question who said yes and so last night I made a lovely sunshiney elephant. Now I'm off to make one in green, as you do.

Side view

Back view


Friday 30 November 2012

Life Drawing 29th November 2012

Water-soluble graphite (detail)

A busy session last night with some new faces which was great. Having missed a session because of the Police Commissioner elections it felt a bit strange to be back but it was good to get drawing again. Even though I'd had all that time I still didn't manage to prepare any more papers so I was just drawing on cartridge paper, which felt like a bit of a let down so I'll have to try harder this time!

Water-soluble graphite, 25 minutes

I again experimented with the water soluble graphite, I really like using this as I think it creates quite an interesting effect and I like letting the water run down the drawing.

Ball point pen, 10 minutes

Pen, 1 minute

2 pens, 3 minutes

Red pen, 2 minutes

I also did a lot of pen drawings tonight as I was feeling rather tired and unimaginative, however, I'm pleased with how some of them have turned out. Last time Nick modeled for us we joked about super-hero poses so at the end we did an action pose to finish off, it actually worked a lot better than expected!

Action pose, 30 seconds

Action pose, 1 minute

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Stitching Friendships

Tea and Stitching, this is my kind of prep!

Today a Community arts project that I'm working on truly got off the ground. Today was the first of hopefully many workshops that my friend and colleague Helen Tuck and I will be running. This morning I worked with a group from The Prince's Trust to get them started on their patches. Although none of them had done any textiles work before they all picked it up really quickly and it was a surprisingly quiet session as everyone was deep in concentration!

Cutting out patches to applique

Design work

The guys had some great ideas and had come prepared with some sketches. I'm very much looking forward to seeing their finished patches. I also started my patch off last night and when I've posted this I'm off to do some more stitching on it! You can follow the progress of the project here or on Facebook.


More stitching!

Sunday 18 November 2012

The Big Knitathon

Bags and bags of donated squares and yarn. Thank you!

Today I am suffering, I have a sore throat and am full of sniffles. I think it may have something to do with being out in the cold all day yesterday for The Big Issue's Big Knitathon. It was, however, totally worth it! As Faye and I set up we were joined by several keen knitters who'd heard about the event and had come to join in. Throughout the time we were there people came in to see what we were doing and get involved. Several people also came and donated bags of squares they'd made which was very generous and very much appreciated. Also much appreciated was Mike (my boss at The Heathlands Project) turning up and not only putting up our gazebo but also providing us with chairs and a spare table. Much swearing and cursing was thus averted!

The paper got all the good pictures but here's a quick snap!
We raised £14.62 through our collection box but more impressively we collected and knitted over 250 squares with a further 70 or so already sewn together as the start of blankets. Well done Cumbria's Knitters! A special thank you to Jill of Jill's Jams who donated a huge bag of patches and a crocheted blanket. Thank you also to Cornerstone who donated yarns and needles to the event and Sue of Truly Twisted Yarns who also kindly donated yarn and came and joined in.

My friend and Co-Knitter Faye

We were also joined by The News and Star and ITV Border News so hopefully they will feature us and help raise awareness. If you would like to help out you can still donate through Just Giving. All money raised goes straight to The Big Issue Foundation.

Close up of donations

Friday 16 November 2012


Tomorrow is the big day! My friend Faye and I will be in the centre of Carlisle from 2pm knitting away. If you can make it come and join us as we knit scarves and blanket squares for The Big Issue as part of The Big Knitathon. If you've never knitted before we can help you or if you just want to do a couple of rows rather than a whole square that would still be a great help. Cornerstone have very kindly donated some yarn so if you don't have any supplies don't worry!

This week I have been in the paper and on radio promoting our event, being on the radio was scary, I was so nervous! However, the presenter (Kevin Ferniough, BBC Radio Cumbria) was very friendly which helped and I had my knitting so that kept me busy.

You can also help by donating money. I have a Just Giving page whee you can donate or you can text KNIT 48 followed by the amount you'd like to donate to 70070. Thank you for your support!

Sunday 11 November 2012

Appleby 10th November 2012

Yesterday I did a craft fair over in Appleby. I really like travelling over to Appleby as I think it's a lovely little town. I didn't do so well but I had lots of nice chats with other crafters and have come back with new plans and ideas for the New Year. I also got plenty of knitting done which is always good! My next craft fair will be at Tithe Barn in Carlisle on Saturday 1st December, 10-4.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Get Your Knit On!

So, what started out as a funny idea between myself and my friend seems to have taken on a life of its own and become an organised event. Said friend suggested doing some knitting in the city centre and seeing how many people would join us. I said it was a good idea, we could even make it into something a bit more and make scarves for the Christmas angels that they have on display every year in our city centre. She said good idea.

Then I saw that The Big Issue were doing a Big Knitathon so I thought maybe we could be part of this. So I contacted a friend at the council and he said fab idea, I'll get the press department to do a press release. And so what started out as a bit of a giggle is now a fully fledged knitting event. Which is nice.

On Monday I went to a new knitting group at Cornerstone which was really good, the people were really friendly and when I told them about the event I was organising they were very enthusiastic and have already helped out by putting up a poster for me and donating some wool and some needles.

So, if you want to get your knit on and be part of a world record attempt to get as many people as possible knitting simultaneously then get yourself to Carlisle on Saturday 17th November from 2pm and come and get stitching!

Sunday 4 November 2012

Christmas Printing

Christmas Gift Labels

I've had a productive day today, which makes me feel good. I've got a load of boring paper work out the way (still plenty left but there's only so many bits of boring I can handle at once!) and more interestingly I've made a start on Christmas paper and tags.

Gingerbread Gift Wrap

I always like to try and make as much stuff as I can for Christmas, I think it's much nicer to receive something hand made and it is more in what I think of as the spirit of Christmas. Bearing this in mind I decided to make my own wrapping as well this year. I've made a lot of neck based gifts this year (not made of necks, made for necks; just so there's no confusion) and today I've printed some labels to go with them. They feature what the gift is made from and how to look after it. 

Reindeer Gift Wrap

The other advantage to making my own gift wrap is that it is cheap. As we are hopefully moving house very soon this is quite important! The stuff I've made today has been super cheap, the tags were 79p for 10, the brown paper was £1 and the stamps were also a £1 (for all of them, not just one!) It's really simple, just very basic block printing but the stamps are cute and it's all hand-made!

Reindeer Gift Wrap