Category Archives: Knitting

Nice Needles Part II


When I made my much needed new knitting needle roll (original post  here)

I did say I didn’t think it would be the only one I made. I didn’t have to be psychic to know that my daughter would be a very willing recipient of her own ‘nice needle’ roll but when my sister also put in a subtle request I thought it was time I got sewing. Well that was back at the beginning of February and my daughter has been waiting a while  so I thought I’d crack on before the weather (hopefully) warms up.

I went into Aberdashery with a particular range of fabrics in mind but, not unusually, something else caught my eye. These fabrics

from  Hantex  Art Gallery ‘Indian Summer’ range by Sarah Watson are beautiful and such great quality. I took a look at the whole range on the Hantex website (take a peek) and fabric love kicked in and sent my brain into overdrive thinking of all the possibilities.

Back to ‘Nice Needles’ I added a couple of pieces from my stash, including  a favourite Kaffe Fassett that echoes my sisters birthday quilt, and got stuck in. I hadn’t written any notes when I made the original so the process was down to measuring up, making it up and tweaking it up,  but this time I did make notes and have a tutorial here.

IMG_1200I thought my original was a bit too bulky so this time I chose cotton domette (recommended by Jane at Aberdashery) as a wadding and it is just the right weight. I’d choose it again for cushions, bags etc.

loveI quilted using the eggy loopy and the heart border stitches from my Pfaff machine quilting stitch menu for ease and speed and then  free stitched ‘love knitting’  along the       outer flap edge.


I used almost the same pocket layout as for the first ‘Nice Needles’ with three levels of pockets. The top  layer has equal sized pockets for pairs of needles; the second has one wider pocket in the centre and the third and shortest row has mainly wider pockets to fit a variety of tools. The only difference is two slightly wider pockets in the top level to accommodate the really fat sized needles.

I debated lots of options for fastenings but my abiding love of buttons and my new-found love of making  buttonholes won out.

IMG_1208When we moved house I found a collection of earrings from Bethan’s teenage years so I decided to incorporate some in decorating her needle roll. I can only hope she had no plans to return to wearing them!

I stitched a length of the tape measure ribbon along the inside.

It’s in 10 IMG_4222centimetre repeats so that it can be a useful tape measure.



labelI remembered to add my label this time too.



Little Jockey Wrap

IMG_4052It’s been all  about the sewing lately. Knitting has definitely taken a back seat. The last knit was the Christmas Elf so it was high time I did some real knitting.

IMG_4031So a jumper for Dougie then. I love knitting with Sublime baby cashmere merino silk. It lives up to its name.  Last year sometime we saw  a sample knitted up in Clare Wools on Great Darkgate Street and loved it.

sublime-book-653The pattern is from the Ninth Little Sublime Hand Knit Book, which is all patterns for boys. Now there’s a rare thing!

It’s a deceptively simple 4 row pattern worked with 2 strands of yarn which gives  a lovely texture to the finished knit.

I enjoyed knitting it but the collar was a fiddle to fit and I nearly forgot to add the gorilla button when it was finally in place.

Dougie looks very snug in it but I don’t know how he feels  – that’s his  ‘Uh oh’ pose!IMG_0333

Ellyll ar y sylf – Elf on the shelf

Ellyll The Elf has arrived. Late. He’s been a long time coming; a long time in the planning and a long time in the making. A long time in little pieces.

I do like him after all, I was a bit worried that his expression would reflect the one on my face for most of the time I was making him.

Not my favourite kind of knitting, all those bits, a disproportionate amount of stitching and fiddly stuffing with hidden pipe cleaners and a beany bum!



Just look at the muddle he once was!IMG_3566 The bit I did like was making his toes curl. His shoes reminded me of some I made for a friend back in college days. He made  a perfect larger than life-size elf.

He is the perfect size and proportion,  so many thanks to Phoenix Knits for the pattern (found on Ravelry).

IMG_3567I know he is very much appreciated so he was worth every minute but I don’t think I’ll be going into mass production any time soon. I know he’s been getting up to mischief already, last night he stole the chocolate!  I’m sure he’ll go on to give many years of Christmas fun.

Who stole all the chocolate?

I wonder if he has an elf-name yet? Have fun my little elfin friend.

Crafty – my own making space


IMG_3498I’m so excited about having my own workspace. It’s great to have everything to hand and not to have to put it all away at the end of a session. I could have done it at the old house but there just wasn’t time when I was working and there didn’t seem much point when we were planning to move. Over the last few days I’ve been adding a few finishing touches to my space. I would have loved this when I was a young girl but back then it would have been kitted out with paints, paper, tiles and such like but I would still have been playing with colour and putting patterns together, so not much change really.  I’ve been using the space since we made the table up but I had some ideas for re-purposing some bits and pieces. First of all there were the 2 little Ikea storage drawers. One used to be in my office at work and the other at home stuck away on top of the bookshelves because I didn’t much like how I’d chosen to stain the wood.

This was a really quick and easy makeover. The plain box got a couple of coats of Jasmine White wood stain left over from the garden shed and then I chose a selection of orange/aqua fabrics and drew around the drawers, sprayed with fabric glue and it was done. The second set were left sludgy-blue but covered with some ditsy blue and white fabrics that cheered them right up.

The next makeover was a little more problematic! Jeff had made a comment that made me consider using a the frame of a picture that was damaged in the move to make a noticeboard. I was going to throw it away – although I had liked it hanging on our old bedroom wall I hadn’t been particularly worried about the damage. It wasn’t expensive and I really didn’t know where it was going in the new house. So now I had a repurposed noticeboard in mind. Cork tiles were what I needed but I couldn’t find any locally so I ordered them on the internet. Simple – no! That led to phone calls from the supplier but eventually I got the tiles and set about painting the frame (magnolia would suit better than the original colour) covering the tiles with fabric and sticking them into the frame. Well, trying to turn the fabric with tiles stuck to it and place the ensemble into the frame was like wrestling with jelly but I got there in the end. Then when we went to screw it to the wall the tiles and fabric decided to part company with the frame. Next up a pot of evostik. For once I read and followed the instructions and opened all the windows but even so I nearly passed out from the fumes and thought I might have an asthma attack (and I’m not asthmatic)! Won’t be rushing to use it again! Well the result is I do have a notice board. It would actually have been cheaper to buy one but I guess that is not the sole point of repurposing.

Once the board was up I popped in some pins and then had another thought. How much more nifty would it be in a sewing space to have button push pins. Out with the glue gun and the button box.


The room is south facing so it is usually light and bright but for when it isn’t and for working in the evening Jeff has installed some really good lighting below the wall cupboards and hidden them behind a wooden slat.


The light is really good at any time of day or night.

But best of all is the table. It’s huge. It easily accommodates my machine and my large cutting mat. When I need to I can put my machine away and really spread out. Best of all are the two Ikea trestles. They can be raised and lowered which is fantastic. When I have a lot of cutting to do I can raise the table up to standing height then lower it again for sewing. It isn’t difficult to do either.


I was going to paint the table top but the lovely lady at Aberdashery suggested covering it with calico. A fabulous idea, it looks and feels just right, it’s none-slip and can be replaced easily if needs be.

IMG_3507There is plenty of storage. As well as the shelves and cupboards of the units there are two Ikea ‘Benno’ CD racks that are just right for fat quarters.

You can see the old  Singer sewing machine at the bottom of the picture . My daughter spotted it for sale in Aberdashery. I love it and although is does work it’s really  just for decoration.

Just to the right is the bag I made for carrying my cutting mat around. It has pockets for my rulers too. It’s really useful for taking out to classes.

I love having lots of hooks and pegs around too. I know exactly where everything is and all the things I use most often are right there close at hand.

Jeff gave me the black rustic nails he had bought to hang his aprons, they were just perfect for the little hang-up baskets. I’ll buy him some more when we next go to Machynlleth.

IMG_3508One last indulgence. I did buy a new chair. Here it is.

Next steps

I know I’ll make lots of little adjustments as time goes on, in fact I’ve already tidied the stack of fabric on the top shelve since I took the photos – and decided on a way to fold it consistently. The only thing I would really like to add would be a really retro looking wooden ironing board!

I’m working on a couple of quilts at the moment and have such a long list of projects in my head. I might just be spending a lot of time here – and enjoying every minute of it.


If Winnie the Pooh could knit

…. this would be the jacket he would make for himself.

He would probably sing a knitting hum while he knitted.

IMG_2553‘The more I knit

Tiddly pom

The more the rows.

The more the rows, Tiddly pom

The more it grows

The more it grows, Tiddly pom

The more I knows.’

Anyway, it’s actually Dougie’s summer jacket, knitted in Debbie Bliss Eco Baby cotton and he will look even better in it than Winnie. I hope he loves the fabric covered dinosaur buttons as much as I do.

The jacket has been a long time in the making, there were other projects that kept creeping in and seemed more urgent (like the waistcoat for his outfit for Jeff and Sarah’s wedding) IMG_2519and beginning his new playmat. And it seemed to take such a long time to sew together for such a little garment.

Well it’s finished all in good time; it will fit him for the summer and he will get it before we go off on holiday

To quote wise Winnie the Pooh Rivers know this, there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.’

Nice Needles

Yesterday I finished my new knitting needle roll. My old one looked like something the dog brought in. I made a whole batch of them for a school fair and mine was a bit of a reject even when it was new!


I used parts of 5 fat quarters from my stash, I love them all but especially the retro outer fabric. I saw it first in Aberdashery but when I went to buy it it was gone. I can’t operate a ‘buy it when you see it’ policy with fabric – there’d be no room for anything else in the house. Happily I did find it again in Ray Stitch in Islington. I used calico for the linings – I love calico, and not just for linings. The outside is quilted using a thin batting and I practised some free motion quilting following the pattern on the fabric.

Of course I chose buttons for the closings. I had been thinking orange but I had hardly any so I plumped for pink/red colours, I like the way they pick up the red from the fabric. Sadly I have used all but one of the vintage flower buttons. I actually bought them, along with some others, at the very same school fair mentioned above! Cards of 6 buttons cost 10p and back in the 70’s that was a giveaway. I might just go into ‘grumpy old lady’ over the price of buttons.

The roll has plenty of space for all my kit with 3 layers of pockets and the bottom 2 having a variety of sizes of pockets to accomodate a  variety of tools. There’s a flap at the top to prevent needles slipping out and that is held at each end with poppers. I’ve used the plastic ones again, but only because I’ve got them. I’ll definitely be looking out for good old-fashioned metal ones with a satisfying ‘snap’! Under the flap I’ve sewn a length of tape measure decoration that I found in Papillon, Greenwich on Wednesday. It has repeats of 10cms so it can be used as a measure.

I haven’t got any photos of the process to make this a tutorial but I have a suspicion that it won’t be the only needle roll I make, so next time! I have a few improvements to make already. I think I need to sew a line through the sandwich to stop the inner fabric creasing; I’ve got some ideas for better button loops and I also fancy adding a flap for pins and needles.

Little Charmer

IMG_2355I made this little sweater for Nathaniel, the new baby on our street. He is a real sweety but I haven’t seen a lot of him or James and Jerrica, his mum and dad lately. All to do with this awful extended winter keeping us all indoors. It’s been such a long one.

It’s actually very pale green but that got a bit lost in the photo. The pattern was a Debbie Bliss one but I used Sublime and in spite of the gauge being very, very close the sweater was bigger than I intended. One to grow into then! I wasn’t going to add it to my blog but I did want to show off the little charms that I bought in The Makery in Bath when we were there at the beginning of the year.

It’s the first time I’ve used one – I forgot all about them when I finished Dougie’s ‘spring green’ sweater.

Baby Bunting update

Jan'e buntingJane’s Bunting

This week my sister, Jane, completed a baby bunting using the translation of the Phildar bunting pattern. Pleasingly (especially as someone else has downloaded the pattern) it all worked out fine. Jane used a double knit yarn and the sizing was all good. She made it as a gift for a friend’s baby. I hope she loved it as much as Bethan loved her’s. What a great gift.

Dydd Gwyl Dewi

Happy St David’s Day


A little bit -dipyn bach- of frivolity this week knitting daffodils for St David’s Day. I was thinking back to school days and the annual school St David’s day Eisteddfod in Neuadd Buddug. I’m much better at knitting than singing, and as for adroddiant (recitals); in those days I would rather have faced dragons than get up on a stage.

I would have loved the chance of a knitting competition!

The daffodil pattern is from ‘Beautiful Botanical Knits’ by Nora Bellows. Follow this link to the pattern.

Making not blogging.

It seems a while since I wrote on my blog but I’ve been busy making not blogging. I’ve also been attempting a major clear out of our shed and attic in preparation for our hoped for move to Aberystwyth.


I finished my long fingerless gloves some time ago and have worn them a lot and they’ve had lots of interest from friends. I love that in this cold weather the wind does’t blow into my sleeves. Strangely even though my fingers are bare the length keeps me warmer.

And Yet Another Cowl

On my trip to Loop in Islington  I bought 2 skeins of Burly Spun as well as the Colinette Point 5. I had been thinking of making myself a cowl while I was making them for presents at Christmas and I had spotted ‘Owl Cowl’ on Pinterest, it’s there to download from ‘All free knitting’. Sitting on the train I had a look at the pattern again and was amazed to find that it was a Loop pattern. Another of those weird coincidences! Just like the ‘no commitment’ cowl there are no buttonholes so it can be worn in many ways, and the shape and the bulkiness make it perfect to wear as a hood.

I’ve worn the cowl out and about and it’s definitely one for the coldest days.

Here is the pattern. It was a step back in time having to wind skeins, I haven’t done that for years. Luckily Jeff had childhood memories of being the ‘holder’ for his mum on plenty of occasions.

Loop is a wonderful shop with such beautiful, quality yarns, it’s truly inspirational; I could (and have) spend hours there trying hard to exercise a little self-control. Thank you Juju for the pattern.

Another Cowl

Don’t you just love it when things come together. I thought the ‘Wasabi Cowl’ I saw on Pinterest was yummy, it was a pattern from ‘knit the hell out’.  I loved the slubbby look of the yarn.  I had never seen Colinette Point 5 for sale and looked for something similar whenever I was able but nothing measured up. Then a couple of weeks ago I decided on a trip to Islington to visit one or two craft shops. It was in the lovely ‘Loop’ yarn store that I noticed the distinctive colour on the shelf and sure enough it was the very one! There were other colours but I was going to visit Liz soon and wanted to take her a little present and the colour was just the perfect one for her.

It was  a really quick knit on 15mm needles and I loved the finished article – but – one niggle. I washed the cowl very gently in very cool water and with a non-bio product but it lost a lot more colour than I would have liked.

We had a lovely couple of days in Lyme Regis with Liz an Hilton, talking and eating; eating and talking, we had a lot of catching up to do.  And the cowl had it’s first outing on a lovely walk on the cob.


What’s in my knitting bag?

I fell in love with with these ‘Winterwonderland Mitts’ from Knit for Victory when I saw them on Pinterest. I was in the middle of my Christmas knitting but I went to Clare’s and bought the yarn anyway.

I’ve been knitting them on and off since. I knitted 3 cowls and a jacket for Dougie and did some sewing as well but now I seriously have to get back to the mitts before we run out of mitt weather!

Long, fingerless mitts.
Long, fingerless mitts.

I can’t remember the last time I knitted on 4 needles (well 5 when you count the cable needle) but I’m enjoying it. I’ve had a few hiccoughs on the way, but only because I didn’t read far enough ahead on the pattern. I’m a complete novice when it comes to following patterns on my iPad but I’ve got a list of projects longer than the mitts and growing daily, so I’m going to get used to it!

Check this out –

Another fab Pinterest idea.
Another fab Pinterest idea.

I saw this holder for DPNs on Pinterest and an abiding memory of knitting in the round was having to pick up stitches before beginning every session. It’s made with a strip of elastic with fabric pockets. Its a fantastic little tool but I would make an improvement if I make another one. The points of the needles poke their way through so I’d reinforce the folded ends, I’ll be thinking about the how in the meantime.

Well one glove down so time to stop blogging and start knitting……

Christmas Cowl


For Christmas 2012 I wanted to get back to giving some handmade presents. I don’t think I’ve done that since college days and that wasn’t for financial reasons.

Looking back, creating a stimulating learning environment in my classroom was excitement enough, then amusing and clothing two young children took over. Keeping up with two growing youngsters and keeping up with a class was more than enough excitement. There wasn’t much time for making an effort with handmade presents.

I have to admit as responsibilities in my working life grew if the idea of crafting something crossed my mind it was quickly overtaken by something else, and when the holidays came, they just went!

I love that I’ve started not only thinking about making things again but am back to always having something in hand and a whole long list of things I’d like to do.

And I can’t resist looking for more.

Oh dear, back to not having enough time, maybe I’m just programmed that way!

I didn’t start making for Christmas until we got back from our travels in Spain at the beginning of November so to make a start I needed to get on with it. When I saw the ‘Fear of Commitment Cowl’ on Pinterest I thought it would make a great present . It’s designed by Julia Weisenberger at I found it on All Free Knitting.

I knew this would be a quick knit, that it would look beautiful and be very wearable. I knew who to make it for too.

To make the cowl I chose Sirdar Big Softie yarn, pink for Arlene, green for Bina and cream for Bethan. I knitted on 10mm needles and t was so quick to make. Four balls of yarn and an evening’s knitting and a cowl was made. The pattern is a seeded rib, simple but effective. Big Softie is just that; chunky and comfy to wear.

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The toggled button is a great idea; it means that you can style the cowl however you want it, close and snug or worn like a collar or a shrug. We found at least five ways. I was very pleased with the results. I hope the recipients were too. I hope to hand make more presents next year, some knitted, some sewn. But one thing is certain – I’ll be starting a lot earlier this year.


Cosy Hot Water Bottle

Nanna’s Hot Water Bottle cover was looking rather bedraggled so Matt decided it had reached it’s sell-by date. When I saw the pattern for this one I knew it would make a cuddly replacement.
IMAGE_1224E9EC-4E26-42D4-9311-5069ACF10AB1I found the pattern on the ‘All about you’ website, which has some great free patterns.

The alpaca yarn would have been beautiful but was a bit too expensive and I would have had to wait for it (yawn) so I went to Clare’s shop and bought Sirdar Big Softee and knittted  with 10mm needles. Velvet ribbon is another touchy feely fabric.

Mmm much nicer than bare rubber for those cold toes. Nanna’s very pleased.