Eclectic Knits

October 19th, 2014

Rather you than me if you’re out and about today. Weather is wet and windy. One of those days where you come in with a face wind-whipped red like a smacked bottom. It was even worse yesterday. Still, got a busy bee on me and surfed the net for those wonderful internet mavens that post tutorials and videos on all sorts of things. A very interesting and eclectic mix. And what brilliant people sharing their skills.

I get fed up with craft magazines that promise so much but deliver so little but bulge with advertisements. And the cellophane packaging to stop you even looking inside – why? To prevent you having a quick squiz and seeing how easy the projects are. In Ireland, we pay around €6.00 for craft type mags. And if you want more than one the cost quickly mounts up. I find there’s very little in them to justify the price and now go to Google for inspiration and help.

There is Pinterest, of course but I’m not keen on it, personally. Ultimately, I want to learn how to do things myself and Pinterest often has nothing but pins and repins ad infinitum. I use Google images to inspire me then follow the links to blogs, websites and videos for the How Tos. I have found that many of the links back to Pinterest become nothing more than circular references – not what I’m after.

Debbie Shore has a whole bunch of fabulous sewing videos – I made a pencil case based on her knitting case tutorial (not pictured). Boxed bottoms and a zip in no time at all.

And if you want brilliantly easy to follow tips, techniques and short cuts have a look at Collen G Lea’s fashion sewing blog . I struggled with mitred corners until I saw her You Tube video. Oh Wow. Simples!

What I love about both Debbie Shore and Colleen Lea is that they use conversational ‘grown up’ language. Neither use ‘super cute’ squeeeeee language or worse – that awful tone adopted by the patronising ‘me teacher, you the hard-of-thinking thickie’… ‘This is a crochet hook – see it has a hook at one end’ with seconds and seconds of video time focused on a crochet hook being twirled between a disembodied thumb and forefinger. Have you got it yet? This is what a crochet hook looks like. Need a little more time?  See it looks a little like a spoon? The hook acts a little like a spoon as it scoops up the yarn… Now get out your colouring books and draw the letter ‘C’ with a picture of a crochet hook.  Is that a curly C or a kicking K, please miss?

I do like to be given some credit for owning a functional brain. What a complex and wondrous world we must be living in if every simple implement needs the equivalent of a chapter in Grey’s anatomy before we can use them.

A quick aside… I used to volunteer for a charity shop. One lady always liked to do the till. When the till was cashed up, two people had to check the figures and the money. One day she asked me to check them. Looking at her figures I had to ask her what a couple of her hand-rendered squiggles were, eights or twos, before I could check the amounts. Her response surprised me.

She told me to remember that if the units column came to more than ten, I had to carry one over. If the number in the ten column came to more than 10, I had to carry one over… etc! I was deeply shocked that she considered me so poorly educated. So stupid. So inept. Dear-O-dear. I didn’t make a fuss as there was nothing to prove and I didn’t really care a flying fairy cake what level of ed she thought I did or didn’t have! But it showed me the power of personal perception and core beliefs and how it filters our view of others and therefore how we interact with them. Maybe the ladies in the videos have been plagued or attacked by dissatisfied viewers who wanted first principles for every tutorial. So, I must learn to be a little more tolerant and understanding but pedestrian is not my way so I leave them to those who want that type of delivery.

Moving on.

I found a tutorial for the wonderful crocheted rose in the picture above. It is very simple to do and if you search for ‘rose crochet pattern’ you will find Oogles!

And see the wooly heart? Found the link to the pattern on Attic 24‘s site. (The grey heart in the first shot  is made from the same pattern, btw). The round ‘concentric’ flower on the heart is a ‘No sew rosette’ another give away from the internet people. Google is your friend!

This idea wasn’t from the internet but something I saw at last year’s Christmas market in Manchester. Basically it’s made from 28 triangles, stitched together leaving an opening  to poke and push some stuffing into. Each one is closed up with a ladder stitch. They are stitched together with a bead in between (glass ones bought from a charity shop for a pinch). The base is a large triangle with its top chopped off. The bottom row is lightly tied at the joins around a thin length of dowelling that I bought at B & Q for €1.20.

It’s finished off with a few jingle bells and a short ribbon on the top triangle to hang it with. Now, if Mrs Trellis from North Wales inundates me with a comment asking for the templates for the triangles and the base I will post them. Otherwise, I will assume you can create these shapes using any drawing package or free hand.

And this little leafy beauty? A You Tube video from Sheruknittingcom (it is a crochet pattern) – she has posted lots of super video tutorials. This makes up very quickly. Not quite a mile a minute but pretty nippy. Remember, I am fairly new to crochet so my crochet may not be up to a ‘professional’ standard but I’m happy with the results.

More Google magic. See the text in a spiral above? It was created in Illustrator. I used some text from ‘The Art of Looking Sidewards’ by Alan Fletcher – one of my favourite dippy-in books. The text is on a path (obviously) but notice the spiral? It’s not based on the spiral tool. I covered the basics of the spiral tool and a free poem on a spiral path a long while ago:

Life is a spiral

Tapering Spirals with the Width Tool  At the bottom of the post is a link to a free PDF Spiral tutorial – not the Width Tool.

This new spiral is based on concentric circles! The trouble with the Spiral Tool is that it’s based on some progressive decay algorithm. It is not great for creating text pathways. Text legibility is the first casualty and aesthetics a close second. So, unless you want to create text that shrinks rather like the words in The Mouse’s Tale from Alice in Wonderland you probably would prefer a spiral that maintains a reasonably concentric separation of lines as in the example above.

I am writing up the tutorial and have got a bunch of screen grabs prepared so will get the instructions posted by mid-week. If you want to find out how to do it, watch this space. I adore Illustrator but it has its limitations like any programme. This little work around the spiral tool is easy and you’ll love it.

And here’s kitten-cute Gracie May giving me the ‘Aren’t I adorable? You know you want to fuss me’. She trots around like a little pony and is  around 9 to 10 months now. The queenly (very imperious) Jess is getting over some of her issues. We have good days and not so good days but she’s much more relaxed and happier than she was. Her coat is looking so much glossier and healthy as well. We’re getting there. My lovely girls. I do take pictures of Jess but she tends to lurk in the shadows and being almost completely black, it’s hard to get a good shot of her. Gracie just loves being the centre of attention!

Have a great weekend, what’s left of it.

Crochet Hooks in a Roll

October 14th, 2014

My latest absolute pash is crochet and You Tube has tons of juicy tutorials to keep me going forever! I found this lovely rolled crochet hook roll on You Tube, if you want to have a look-see, Google ‘DIY Crochet Hook and Case’ or look for the Quilters Workshop. I would give the actual link but it inserts the video rather than provides a jump to.

Mine is slightly modded – I have a top flap to stop the hooks slipping out of the open end but it’s an easy enough addition to work out for yourself if you want to do something similar. It will also work for crayons and pencils, btw. An idea for quick and easy Christmas gifts could be a roll and you fill it up with some drawing pencils or crayons.

Half open…

And now a proper good look at the inside. It’s perfect for keeping hooks accessible and is easily be popped into a bag with some yarn. Very handy and quick to make.

Crochet Lattice Hearts

October 8th, 2014

Another pattern mastered. I love these. This design is adapted from one I found on the net.  I can’t wait to add these to my projects. So pretty. I love the green, orange, reds and yellows, very autumnal.

Just so fab!

They must be easy because I can do them. I’m a relative newcomer to crochet and can make them easy now.

What do you think?

Scotty Dog Lavender Sachets

October 8th, 2014

Aren’t these guys (and gals?) adorable. If you want to make your own, Google Debbie Shore Scotty Dog sewing tutorial. I tried to insert a link but it inserts the whole video. I love Debbie Shore’s tutorials.

My little doggies are filled with dried lavender and toy stuffing. here are just three I’ve made from a proper little gang of these pals.

Lacy Butterfly SVG for Deep Picture Frames

October 5th, 2014



Last night I got more excited than an excited thing with a special reason to be excited. I discovered a present put away for me. Something I’d been dropping hints like housebricks about. Now I have the tough job ahead of  keeping mum about it and not spoiling the ‘surprise’. Not too much of a problem – by the time I get to open it I will be over the moon.

However… it also gave me a shock like someone had stuck a bat up my nightie. Christmas is looming. Again. Happens every year. Not Christmas though, Yes, technically, that is an annual event … The thing is, I think Christmas is ages away then something reminds me that it’s actually sneaked up and ready to bite me on the bum. Again. So, the bat up the nightie was a good thing – it gave me a kick-start to get on with a few things before it’s too late.

This year I am hoping to have a stall at a Christmas Fair. I will be making tea cosies, (domes and frillies), Tilda santas and angels, stockings, drawstring bags, felted and beaded phone cases and (hopefully) lots of other things. But what other things? I remembered that I’d bought a couple of those deep picture frames from Ikea and how I’d seen they also sold the frame with cut-outs of butterfly flurries. Well, as you know, the m-i-l from Goodness Gracious Me would have said ‘I can make it at home for nothing’ and I sing with the same sitar, lady!

I sat down at the computer, opened up Illustrator and created a new version of an old favourite I designed a few years ago. Mine is cut from Conqueror metallic champagne but will probably replace with Cartridge paper at some point as I’m not sure how moisture-resistive the Conqueror will be. Don’t want it to droop like a Wilting Walter.

It looks be-uuuuu-tiful. The frame, the big one in the picture cost €4.50 (approx 300 x 300 mm with  a 120 x 120 mm aperture). Not big money. Their own picture with cut-out butterflies is €13.00. I like my butterfly better – they say you shouldn’t toot your own horn but… heckers… Toot Toot!

So am going to make a few of these – birds, hearts and butterflies and put them on the stall. I reckon €10 would be fair and am sure they’d make a lovely gift. If you want to have a go, I’m selling the file.

I cut mine on A4 even though the big frame is essentially a 12″ x 12″ judicious use of picture tape or sellotape on the back keeps the cut-out in place. All of our lovely cutting machines cut A4 so you’re good to go. Yay.

The design is reasonably delicate so there’ll be a squinchy-poo of weeding but nothing onerous (or so I found) and the end result is well worth it.

The price is €4.50 for the template in SVG format. There is a surprise though – there are TWO different butterfly cut outs. The one in the pictures above and another, very different but just as pretty! There, you can have a nice surprise, too.

Payment is through Paypal and your file will be sent within 24 hours to the address on the Paypal account. Remember, this is for the electronic file only, and you will need a cutting machine like a Cameo, Silhouette, Silver Bullet, Cougar, etc, that can read SVG format.

Thank you for looking


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