March 15, 2015

Happy Mother's Day, and a Pom Pom Flower tutorial


Happy Mother's Day! We're very lucky, our family gets to celebrate two different "Mother's Days" each year. One for the UK tradition (today) and one for the South African tradition (in May). Because really, there should be a mother's day every month shouldn't there?

To celebrate, we made pom pom flowers. You know, as you do. Especially when your house is more-or-less overrun by pom poms aplenty. Ooh, poofy.


If you don't have pom poms lying around waiting to be made into something fabulous, you can make your own from scratch. There's the tried-and-tested cardboard rings method, or the oh-so-fun instant-pom-pom version using a Clover Pom Pom Maker. Obviously I'm zipping through my scrap yarn with the maker: all you need to do is hold the yarn quadruple (or more if you're feeling reckless) and wrap it around the arches of your preferred size. Cut through the wraps as per instructions, tie up, and you have a pom pom in about 20 seconds. 

I use the green pom pom maker, which is the smaller size from the Large Size pack. Giant ones (the blue one) look great too if you like added fluffiness.


You'll also need some florist wire (or craft wire), green felt, a kebab stick or skewer and green florist tape. You could use paint instead of florist tape, or wrap green yarn tightly around the stick, but the florist tape makes this a super speedy craft and cost me a princely sum of 75p online.


Start off by cutting out a leaf shape from your wool felt. You could do any shape and size you like, but I liked one large floppy leaf (but mostly because I'm lazy and didn't feel like adding lots of little ones along the stem).


Then, thread a length of craft wire through the end of the leaf and bend the wire over so that it's ready to wrap around your stick. 


Once your pom pom is ready,  you'll need to thread a piece of wire through the middle of the pom pom and bring both ends down, ready to wrap around the stick as well.


Push one end of the stick into the middle of the pom pom and secure in place by wrapping the wire down the top bit of the stick. This doesn't have to be neat because you'll cover it up later. Position the leaf about a third of the way down the stick and secure in place by wrapping the wire around again.


Then wrap wrap wrap with florist tape, starting at the top and making your way down to the bottom. Adding this kind of leaf is easy: you'll need to bend the leaf back to get right down to where the wire joins the felt, and then bend it back up and fold it around the stem and start wrapping again.

That's all. Easy peasy. Now, go make some more.


Warning: you may be tempted to use up ALL of your other scraps of yarn and create a huge bunch of long-lasting oofy-poofy flowers.

March 11, 2015

Best baby booties (and some more knitting)

Cutest Booties Ever.


And more pom poms.

Just sayin'.

These are the Pom Pom Booties pattern from Hadley Fierlinger's Vintage Knits for Modern Babies (pattern online here). Seriously cutie booties. They're easy to knit and could easily be the most-used knit item in Isla's wardrobe. I'd imagine that they'd be a great way to use up yarn scraps...


These are the 3 - 6 months size and are quite snug on Isla's tiny tootsies.

March 9, 2015

Giant pom pom hat

Because....

... everyone needs a giant pom pom hat
... I needed an excuse to make a giant pom pom with my * new * pom pom makers
... I am trying to clear out all the stuff in the house, which includes a very healthy selection of beautiful yarns and this oh-so-wonderful soft merino


... and mostly because this cute baby head needed a cute baby hat to match. Aww.


We wrap up warmly and layer up the blankets before heading out for walkies. We walk here, we walk there, and everywhere we walk we get lots of compliments about the giantness of the fluffy pom pom and the cuteness of the baby. I'm a little biased about that, of course.

This is the pattern for the Classic Cuffed Hat from the Purl Bee blog, knitted in baby size. I added a little more length to the cuffed ribbing, and used the largest size Clover Pom Pom maker for an oversized addition to the top.

February 26, 2015

Knitted Whirligig Shrug for Isla :: with added sparkles


Everything is better with added sparkles. We went to an evening party and baby Isla needed something glam. It was a good excuse to dig around in my yarn stash, especially as Graeme has been threatening to throw out all of my yarn unless some of it disappears.

I found some teal sparkly yarn in my stash (I bought this to knit up a bolero in my size but never got around to it) and chose one of my favourite baby-sized knits: The Whirligig Shrug. It's a fun and quick knit which takes about two nights of knitting while watching NCIS (or other TV drama of your preference). The TV bit is essential, obviously.

Raveled here, pattern by Stefanie Japel.


Here's the baba posing with dad in her shrug with a rather large ice cream sweetie. Aw. Thank goodness for mobile phone cameras. 

February 24, 2015

Navajo plying handspun singles (say that five times fast for a tongue twister!)


Lucky me, I spent a lovely few hours spent plying up two very thin stored spun singles. One, a moody ocean-coloured cornucopia of greens and blues. The other, a bold purple-grey-petrol-white-black shock of striped colours.

I navajo plied them to preserve the colour changes and create a self-striping yarn when knitting (and also because navajo plying is great and is almost as good as spinning, really. It reminds me of arm knitting, except you're finger crocheting. Sort of.). I haven't measured the wpi, although it feels lighter and thinner than a DK yarn but thicker than sock yarn. Sport weight? I need to get/make one of those yarn gauge thingamajigs. 

Navajo plying also seems to even out any handspun lumps and bumps, which is great, but then you don't get those lovely candystripe sections where colours cross over to create unexpected barber poles in traditional plying with two separate singles. I really feel the need to break away from the neatness and thin-ness of lace-weight spinning and make some art yarn.  


I spun these without any particular project in mind, and I have about 100 grams of each which should be plenty for a shawlette or a pair of socks -- or to add to another project that requires lots of soft yarn loveliness. Stashed for a future project!

February 20, 2015

Hoop-la! Issue 3 Cover Feature


Lookee! My "Life is Beautiful" stitchery is on the cover of Hoop-La! Issue 3. It's also looking fab on their Facebook page all stitched up on simple white cotton. Cover feature, yay.


Inside the magazine are step-by-step and letter-by-letter instructions for the design...  


... and an interview with me too. Yeah, that's my name in capital letters. *Almost* as good as lights.

February 13, 2015

I cannot brain today.


This is how I feel these days. I think they call it "baby brain". There's a lot of not-sleeping, bottle-washing, baby-feeding, baby-bathing, washing and overall frazzledness. I get to knit a few rows every now and then, and I am oh-so-slowly rearranging my office/craft room to make it baby friendly so we can spend a few afternoons there. Progress is slow. Sewing and quilting are distant but happy memories.

I am very grateful that my phone has internet for late-night craft inspiration and of course, much pinning on Pinterest. Time for crafting is a distant memory ... for now, I have to craft (pin) vicariously). Is anyone else mad about pom poms? I want a pom pom rug, and pom pom bunting, and pom pom bunnies. Oh, Pinterest. I salute you.

Follow Stacey Siddons's board Crafts on Pinterest.

I may have just ordered some pom pom makers in a fit of 4am online shopping and craftlessness while baby was awake and coo-ing. Thank goodness for Amazon. I justified it thus: I shall get through my enormous yarn stash AND feel creative at the same time. It's a win-win situation, really.

January 14, 2015

Quiet and cosy

This.


She is amazing. She laughs and giggles and rolls about, delighted with the world around her. She is ticklish and curious, and babbles along with songs and stories. 


She has just discovered toys, and how to hold them. It's amazing to be allowed into her little world of discovery, excitement and happiness. 

We've had visitors - and we've been away too - so crafting has been minimal. 

Instead, we've been walking, and sightseeing with friends and visitors.


This baby has been all over London and further afield in England. She's a well-travelled little lady with a well-used raincoat.


We enjoyed some of the sights we hadn't yet seen. This one in particular. There's something rather wonderful about wandering the streets inside the Tower of London, following our very own Yeoman tour guide.


Still, I haven't been entirely without craft. A bit of knitting with cables in front of the fireplace while on holiday in the countryside; these pieces destined to be a cardigan for dad. Perhaps it'll be done by next winter.


Some lazy spinning on quiet days at home, mixing a few of my favourite colours together in anticipation of some navajo plying (soon, very soon).

Lucky, lucky me. 

January 3, 2015

Noodlehead's Diaper Keeper


That is a totally weird blog title, but I haven't lost my marbles: I promise. The "diaper keeper" is one of those projects making the rounds on the internet as a must have gift for new mums. It is, essentially, a pouch that holds baby wipes and a stack of nappies that can be stashed in your bag for quick on-the-go nappy changes.

The idea is that you can just grab one of these when you're heading out for a quick visit or outing, and you don't need to worry about taking along your whole baby gear bag with every-essential-under-the-sun.

Fantastic.

Here's a link to the tutorial on the Noodlehead blog, which explains the first bit of that blog title. I didn't call her that: she chose the name herself. Promise.


It has a velcro strap covering the top which means you can see at a glance how many poopy nappies you can handle when you're off for a walk in the park. 


Also, it takes a whole massive wipes pouch (even though the tutorial says that it will hold a travel wipes pouch). A full wipes pouch is giant, presumably in anticipation of many nappies that require changing. And hands that need cleaning. And foodstuffs that need wiping up. And mums that need cleaning while doing all of these tasks. 


I made two. They're quick and easy to make up, and that means that we can have one of these in dad's emergency car bag, and one in my everyday-use bag. The fabric matches the bags; I was in a matchy-matchy mood, had some leftover panels, and figured that we might as well personalise them. Aw. 


Very easy boxy construction with separate fronts and backs, and a separate lining. I think they took about an hour and a half to piece together, sew up and finish (for both). I didn't have any webbing so I made the straps using leftover bits of linen folded over a piece of batting - just like the straps of the Amy Butler Weekender Travel Bag. Quick and easy.

I used quite a soft batting as I had loads spare, but they still hold their shape when empty. I was a bit careless when matching up the seams on the side panels, but that doesn't bother me - they're only out by a few millimetres and I don't even notice it now. The only (remotely) tricky part of this sewing project is attaching the lining to the bag exterior: if you're even a little bit lazy with your measuring (ahem), you get tiny little puckers in the seam where they don't match up. 

I think these would be really nice with am all-over print instead of the zakka linen-and-canvas look, and might be more recognisably baby-ish if you used a fun children's print. Overall, though, I'm quite pleased with myself and they've been super useful for dashing out when you don't want to take the whole baby bag or you forget. Which, is often. I'm blaming it on baby brain.

December 21, 2014

Witterings on the web and festive treats


Things have been busy around here as we move into the festive season. We've got friends visiting, baby's first outings on the underground, nights away, Christmas dinners to plan, lights to go and see, gifts to wrap. It's all rather festive. Coffee brews on cold afternoons and stollen has become an everyday essential. 


I haven't been completely absent from the internet though; I guest blogged over at Wayfair.co.uk and made three delicious DIYs that make fantastic gifts for friends and family this festive season.
Oh go on: an indulgent Choc-Nut Kugelhopf to enjoy with coffee lattes, tomato chilli jam for cheese and biscuits, and linzer cookies for Santa and his reindeer.  Read my post on Wayfair.co.uk to find out how to make your own.


I had every intention of giving these delicious treats away but of course it didn't happen: we indulged ourselves and now need to make more chilli jam yum yum if we want to give any as gifts.

And so, the Christmas Tree is up and the lights are twinkling. The ribbons are twirled and most of the cards made it into the post in time. Here's wishing you all a very Merry Christmas indeed; may you be warm and comfortably full of festive treats, and may the turkey go according to plan.