2017!

Hello, and, er, a very belated Happy New Year!

First day of February and I’ve just about recovered from Christmas. I’ve still got a considerable amount of chocolate to consume, but at least I’ve finally got the Muppets’ Christmas Carol soundtrack out of my head.

I LOVE Christmas. My excitement levels go into hyperdrive sometime around breakfast on December 1st (it’s no coincidence that that was the last date I managed to post a blog entry…) and I usually spend the next few weeks in a sort of craze of festive happiness otherwise only found in sugar-high five-year-olds (only in my case with added alcohol). Thankfully, unlike your average five-year-old I have a sewing machine into which I can channel some of my festive frenzy, and there are few things I enjoy more than making Christmas presents. So although this all happened some time ago now, and I’ve got heaps of exciting 2017 stuff to show you, I still fancied sharing my Christmas makes…

For my mother, on her country walks and mini-breaks, I made a second version of the Desmond roll-top backpack, as before scaled to 80%. Again, I used Liberty fabric from Fabrics Galore, reinforced with interfacing, and this time a grey needlecord for the lining. The hardware came from Kleins, in Soho. Such a satisfying make.

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The speed of my knitting is something of a running joke in my family, especially as Christmases past have often seen me wrap up some unfinished accessory – scarf, gloves – complete with needles and yarn and place it sheepishly under the tree. True to tradition, this year my lucky sister received a half-finished scarf in Rowan Kidsilk Haze, inspired by this one. Hey, at least I managed to finish it in the new year, and it is pleasingly fluffy…

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Also this year I had the added bonus of making for J, a man who was never going to realise on his own that what he really wanted for Christmas was a pair of red tartan pyjama trousers. I used Kwik Sew 4088, a versatile pattern that offers trousers, shorts, two top variations and a dressing gown. Unfortunately, he takes these trousers quite seriously and will only wear them for actual sleeping, not blog posing, so you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say they are great.

And, for me (because why stop at giving to others?) – I finally made the Christmas tree skirt of my dreams!

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It’s a project posted on the Village Haberdashery blog back in 2015. Christmas 2015 I was busy leaving my job to go freelance, overhauling my existence and in general freaking out about Big Life Change, which didn’t leave a lot of time for Christmas patchwork. This year, a consuming, unnecessary and completely indulgent craft project seemed the perfect way to mark the fact that I’d actually survived the aforementioned change. Piecing all those little squares (often imperfectly, but hey, it’s a skirt for a tree) soothed my soul, and inspired me to tackle an actual quilt which will be appearing here imminently…

Anyway, sorry to be oddly sharing my Christmas on February 1st; I don’t know where January went but it clearly wasn’t into productive bloggery. I celebrated Chinese New Year at the weekend and I think my rooster resolution should be blog more! x

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside…

I am, quite possibly, the world’s slowest knitter. Not slow at the actual clacking of the needles, just rubbish at keeping it up. A knitting project for me is a marathon, not a sprint, and this one has been a good year and a half in the finishing. But it was (eventually) worth it!

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A crafty guide to the V&A

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Display in the V&A’s Fashion galleries

This time six years ago I did a six-month stint as an assistant curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. I sat with two other young curators in a tiny office overlooking the central courtyard, where we were occasionally joined by a tiny mouse with extraordinary escapology skills. He came, no doubt, for our ever-copious supplies of cake and gossip. These, and the experience of handling diamond-encrusted snuff boxes on a daily basis (it’s very motivating, regular exposure to diamonds; tends to bring one’s ambitions into sharper focus…), left me with an enduring fondness for the big old place.

But my fondness aside, the V&A is in fact a quite extraordinary resource for those of us interested in design, fashion, fabric and craft. We’re all probably vaguely aware that it holds the UK’s national collection of Fashion and Textiles, some of which are on permanent display, but I thought I’d write a little blog post to flag up some of the resources that you might not be aware of, especially if you’re not UK-based. For example, did you know that the V&A website contains a selection of vintage knitting patterns, free to download? Or lists of recommended books on everything from care of textiles and dress to the history of mourning clothing? Continue reading

5 crafty ways to keep warm at work

Ooh, I was a bit down in the dumps in my last post, wasn’t I?! I’ve been a bit all over the place recently, but the change of seasons and approach of another birthday usually do that to me, not to mention the looming upheaval of leaving my job… I find it hard to stay grumpy for long though. Not once I have party dresses high on my sewing list!

This isn’t a post about party dresses however (I’ve got to actually make some first…). It’s rather triggered by one of the (several) points I was moaning about last time, which was the lack of daylight and dry weather available for photographing outfits. This can only mean that winter has well and truly arrived! We’ve had hailstones, and galeforce winds, and storms so big they get proper names (a new thing for the UK – previously they were just ‘very big storms’; now they’re Abigail, and Barney…). Admittedly, it’s not very cold here in London (yet), but the thing with me is – I’m always cold. It’s like Narnia in here.

It’s easy enough to stay warm inside your own home, but because not everyone feels the cold to the same extent I’ve pulled together a few ideas for ways to keep warm in the respectable, communal environment of the office that also happen to be ways to fulfil some of those crafting urges. Continue reading

Travelling with knitting needles

So, this is what happens when a klutz who inadvertently pokes holes with her knitting needles into just about everything (including people) starts dating a slightly OCD engineer: Cork knitting needles

Genius, huh?! I’m sure J wasn’t the first smart person to think of this cork solution, but as it had never occurred to me I thought I’d share it. As J is the toolmaster in our household (and I his eager apprentice), he made the holes in the cork first using an awl or somesuch, as pushing the needles in directly could easily bend them. Obviously over time the holes will widen and become too loose, but if you’re anything like me, finding more, ahem, corks won’t be an issue.

Only, if you’re going to walk around with these sticking out of your bag, it’s important to find the right corks.Cork knitting needles

Only the best for my needles 🙂