Tuesday, 4 June 2013

As usual, I'm working on lots of things

It's been a while, hasn't it? I need to get better at blogging regularly.

One of the reasons I've been a bit slack over here is that I've also started a sister blog over at Tumblr: Kafoozalum Crafts. I'm using that blog really as an image board, for quick in-progress shots and that sort of thing, and I'll still be putting longer posts and tutorials and things here.

Here are a few recent projects!

This is my first Dresden block. It was easier than I expected, just fiddly. This is another one that will be added to my new house quilt.

Speaking of which, here are a few more blocks for that one:

Excuse the crap on the floor!

I'm pleased with the seaming and so on, but I wish I'd used red in place of pink on that last one. The pink makes it feel a bit washed-out, I think. I might just make another one with red - the finished quilt will have to have some repeated blocks, so there's no harm in it.

The bunting fabric is from the Simple Life range by Tasha Noel. I love it, it's proper sweet.

And speaking of bunting...

I got a commission for a custom bunting cushion last week, and as I had extra flags left over, I decided to stitch them on to a length of ribbon and make real bunting to match. The customer mentioned the cushion was for a nursery, so I thought it would make a nice freebie for (presumably) a new sprog.

Here's another cushion I've made. It's going to be part of a set of two for my dad, for Father's Day.

The fabric you can see here is Cath Kidston cotton. My dad is a football fan and a perpetual schoolboy, so I think he'll like this. It's backed with green and blue generic cottons. The second cushion will be patchwork in the same fabrics.

And finally, my current in-front-of-the-telly project:

Hexagons! I am sewing them by hand, and they are tiny, so this is going to be a long-term project. Each hexagon has a side of about 2cm. Because they are so mini, I am mainly using scraps for them at the moment, which I love. I hate wasting anything, especially pretty fabrics, so being able to use even the tiniest little pieces is quite gratifying.

I find sewing them really quite meditative, which isn't a word you'll hear me say often. :D I cut them and baste them at my desk, then bring them downstairs to sew in front of the TV. I like the idea that as I work on other projects, I will generate scraps which can be added to this, so hopefully it'll eventually act as a sort of journal of my projects.

That's enough for the moment. How are you? :)


Thursday, 18 April 2013

Skyloft quilt - finished!

Over the weekend I managed to find the right backing fabric for the Skyloft quilt top I blogged about here. It's a cotton print, magenta-pink flowers on a teal-blue background. Isn't the colour gorgeous?

I already had the batting ready, so I basted it on Saturday and I finished the quilting a couple of days ago. In the end I went with a loopy machine-quilting, mostly stippling and loops but with several swirls and curlicues, to give the whole thing a breezy look, full of movement. I hope I succeeded.

I also decided to quilt over the seam where the prairie points join the border. I was worried they might come loose as the quilt is used (and I like my quilts to be things that can be snuggled in and draped and scrunched, not delicate decorative things), so I decided to make a feature of it, and used a red zigzag stitch.

I even made the binding myself, something I've not really done before. In the past I've always bought bias binding from a haberdasher's, but this can be a little restrictive, as you're stuck with only the colours they've got in stock; bias binding also tends to be a bit narrower. It was surprisingly easy to make in the end, and used much less fabric than I had assumed.

Here's the whole thing in all its glory. The edges aren't as wobbly in real life as they look in these pictures; I hung the quilt on the rather unruly hedge in my back garden to take the shots.

And of course, a blog post about a quilt I made wouldn't be complete without an in-progress shot featuring my cat "helping".

The Skyloft quilt is now for sale in my Etsy shop, for the bargain price of £85.

Monday, 8 April 2013

A quilt for a new home

Ever since my partner and I bought our house last August, I've been wanting to make a quilt in celebration of that. I'd bought a selection of fabrics but not really found myself inspired yet.

This weekend I finally found my brain starting to tick over with ideas, and made a start. I've decided to make a sort of a sampler quilt, using all different sorts of block designs. I've made two so far and I've got ideas for several more. 

First, I used English paper piecing (i.e. sewing by hand) to make a hexagon block, which I then machine-appliqued to a white background. The block measures 9.5 inches square, which will be the size of each block or patch in the quilt as a whole.

Here's the back, once the applique was done. I love the way the backs of appliqued things look.

The second block is a granny square. I had assumed this was a traditional block, but I've just discovered it's a relatively recent invention. You can read about it over at Blue Elephant Stitches

I measured this and found that it will trim perfectly to 9.5 inches without cutting off the tips of the blocks, which is rather pleasing.

Here's a close-up of the fabrics:

The fabric in this quilt is largely from Aneela Hoey's A Walk In The Woods collection. I bought a charm pack of it a while ago, as well as some fat quarters. I've since supplemented it from my stash (since a charm pack is nowhere near enough for a double bed size quilt) and I will continue to do so as I see fabrics I like. 

I really like the new Red Riding Hood print by Tasha Noel for Riley Blake, which you can see here. The colours aren't an exact match for the ones I'm already using (they seem brighter and more saturated) but I rather like that. I might have to invest in some, and if it doesn't match, well. I've bought myself some lovely fabric to use later. :)

Also this weekend, I worked on a Super Secret Project for my sister. On the offchance she visits here, I won't be posting any pictures that give much away -- but here's another picture of my cat "helping", in which you might catch a glimpse of what I'm working on.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Skyloft quilt top

I tend to work on sewing projects concurrently, rather than one at a time. As a result, it often takes me several months to complete a project (that and the fact that I work full-time). So it's a particularly satisfying feeling when I finish something.

I started this quilt top a couple of months ago, after receiving a precious metre of Liberty's Bloomsbury Virginia print for Christmas. This weekend just gone I finally finished the top. Here it is!

I used a real mix of fabrics in this quilt, which is my favourite way of working. As much as I love the ease of using a charm pack or all fabrics from the same range, it's also lovely to know that something you've made is unique because you used all sorts of things to make it. This contains three prints from that Liberty collection (Virginia in rich red blue and magenta teal, and Bell in rich red blue); African shweshwe (the bright pink one with yellow bits); at least three fabrics that are reprints from feedsack; Cath Kidston prints; and several generic polka dots I picked up as remnants.

This quilt top about a metre by a metre and a half, maybe a little more. It'll be a baby-sized one when it's quilted. I am absolutely in love with it.

I don't normally name my quilts, but I'm going to call this one Skyloft, because the colours and the feeling of motion and the flags and pinwheels put me in mind of the floating town, Skyloft, in Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword:

(For a better idea, you can watch this video, which gives you a good idea of the general breeziness and airiness of Skyloft. I'm a Zelda geek and I have no regrets, by the way!)

I rather like making pinwheel blocks, though I haven't quite perfected the art of it yet. A close-up look reveals how I can never quite get my corners lined up. Grr!

I did trim the blocks before sewing them together, which I never used to do, and which did make a big difference. Here is Agitha "helping" me trim.

Here are some prairie points (the little triangles) before being sewn on. 

And here is the edge of the quilt with prairie points. I'd forgotten how fiddly the little bastards are. Got there in the end, though.

So the next step is to find a suitable backing fabric and to quilt it. My original plan was to machine-quilt in a freeform stipple design, but now I'm wondering about quilting in a pattern that adds to the airiness and breeziness (those words again!) of the design. I'm going to have to do some doodling.

I've made a version of this design before, when my nephew Elliott was born:

This version is hand-quilted, which I like, but I'm not sure it would work with this new design. What do you think?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Cushions and a pair of socks

Here are a few of my recent and current projects.

My pal Ali bought me some beautiful sock yarn (in a colourway aptly called "gothic") a couple of years ago. After many fits and starts, I finally finished these gorgeous socks. This is my first ever pair where the stripes match across the socks, which rather pleases the perfectionist in me.

Meanwhile, I made this cushion as a mother's day gift for, er, my mother. I'm not 100% sure on the text - if I make another of these I'll use a darker colour for it. I also wonder if the design is too shoved up into one corner. On the other hand, I'm mega-pleased with the gull.

Here is another cushion, a commission for a work pal's birthday. It's a variation on my Berni's Blues design, available in my Etsy shop.

I also bashed together this start of a pincushion one evening, using scraps. It turned out bigger than I expected - maybe 12cm square - and I have no idea what I'll stuff it with. Google brought me several other craft blogs suggesting I buy a sack of crushed nut shells from a reptile pet shop. I might just use lentils!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Embroidery + pr0n

I started this project months ago, but only just got around to finishing it.

The phrase comes from (or is paraphrased from, rather), an infamous porn clip in which a young couple are interrupted in the process of admiring their lemon tree by a "lemon whore", who is squirrelling their lemons away inside her transparent leotard. Obviously the logical conclusion is that they all have sex with each other. Hey, I didn't say it made sense.

This is the back. I was really pleased when I found the lemon-print fabric!

There's also a ribbon loop so it can be hung on a wall. 

I have listed this piece for sale in my Etsy shop

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Snow day!

On Monday night it began to snow, and it snowed so heavily overnight that yesterday work was closed. Brucie bastard bonus! 

It's been a while since I've had a day off with nothing that specifically needed doing and I wasn't ill, so naturally I stuck on a couple of films and got sewing.

I'm currently working on log cabin blocks in half bright, saturated prints and half muted greys, pastels and white. Here is one. It's a bit crumpled!

Each one of these blocks measures about two feet across. Once I've made nine or twelve I'll start figuring out how to arrange them into a quilt top. The fabrics are a real mixture - in the block above, there are prints by Amy Butler and Kaffe Fassett, at least one from Liberty, several shweshwe prints I bought in South Africa, and various others from my stash.

The finished quilt is going to be for my mum and dad. Mum keeps talking about commissioning a quilt from me, but she doesn't know exactly how she wants it to look -- so I figured I might as well start and then surprise her with this design.

Also yesterday -- since I clearly don't have enough to do already! -- I found myself fiddling about with my box of scraps, and before I knew it, this was happening:

I love the way they look on the back as you start to piece them.

This might end up being my in-front-of-the-telly project for the next however long. There's something oddly meditative about hand-sewing like this.

I've been meaning to post for ages anyway -- so in the next couple of days, I'll see if I can put up a few of the things I've finished recently.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Don't drink the Kool-Aid

I spent a big chunk of Sunday dyeing wool using Kool-Aid.

The Blackbird and I travelled to Iceland (thecountrynottheshop) about a year ago, where I discovered that wool (100%, barely processed, natural-as-hell wool) is very cheap. Turns out that sheep are one of the few things that can be farmed there. I bought tons, even though I didn't know what I would necessarily do with all of it. (I've since bought more online, too.)

Anyway, yesterday I found myself in the mood for dyeing, which I haven't done in a couple of years. I've got loads of Kool-Aid stashed away in my craft room, so I grabbed a few packs and started putting the wool into long skeins.

I used Einband laceweight wool. The first ball got looped around the legs of a chair. My legs are aching like nothing else today as a result of all the stretching I did. The second ball, therefore, ended up wrapped differently, resulting in a shorter repeat of the colours.

Agitha got involved. I had to shut her in the bedroom for a bit.

First, I soaked the wool in the bath while making up the dye. I had a light blue in mind anyway, but I thought it was nice that it was called "ice/glacier blue" - appropriate, right? I love the vaguely milky quality of the colour. Obviously this is about 100 times stronger than it would be if you made it up for drinking, and there's no sugar in it.

Next step: start squirting the dye all over the wool. I wanted the colour more intense in some places and lighter in others, so I decided to grab some dye, squirt, water down the dye in the cup, grab some in the syringe again and squirt it, dilute the dye again, and on and on like that until the dye is almost clear.

Here is the wool mid-dye. See the strands of darker wool holding the skein? The last time I dyed wool I didn't bother to do that, and untangling it all afterwards took me hours. I learned my lesson.

I also used my hands to gently roll the skein in the dye, to ensure a more-or-less even dye. Should probably have worn gloves.

Having dyed only half this skein, I ran out of blue. I ran upstairs to my stash, grabbed another blue packet, and tipped it into water. Disaster! 

Turns out Tropical Fruit Punch is red (and, judging by the smell, predominantly cherry-flavoured. I don't know about these things. I'm British. If we want artificial fruit-flavoured sugar drink, we're all about Ribena and Robinson's). This is where the decision to do a second skein came in. I put the red gunk to one side for a bit while I found a packet of dye that was actually blue, and completed the dilute-and-squirting from earlier. I left that to soak while I put the second ball into a skein and tied it up.

Here is the second ball mid-dye. I ended up using some orange dye (orange flavour, orange colour, orange packet - I know where I am with this one) for a bit of colour variation.

Here are my hands mid-red batch. In for a penny innit. (It came off surprisingly easily once I started scrubbing.)

 Finally, both skeins of wool were plonked into my bamboo steamer and set over a pan of simmering water. I let them sit in the steam without the stove on for most of that time, for fear of the wool felting.

Here are the skeins post-steaming...

... And hanging up to dry. (As I should probably have said earlier in this post, please excuse my filthy bathroom. It was like that when we moved in, and no amount of scrubbing will get rid of the dirt. I eagerly await the day I can afford to rip the bathroom out and put in a shiny new one.)

I am so so pleased with the colours. It's just this second occurred to me that they look like fire and ice. Have you ever seen ice that shade of blue? There really are glaciers like that. And the milkiness of the colour makes me think of the Blue Lagoon, where the water is opaque and white and the bottom of the pool is covered in black volcanic pebbles and grit. I haven't decided what I'll use these for yet, but when I knit the blue one up I think it would be interesting to incorporate little black or silver beads into it.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Sold a brooch!

Woke up this morning to find I'd sold this brooch, which I made a couple of years ago. I haven't sold much jewellery recently, so that was a nice Friday morning surprise.

The sparkly part behind the key was actually the start of a bead, only the resin didn't cure properly so it stayed sticky and soft.  Rather than throw it out, I dropped it into the middle of this one, and I think it came out rather well. As I've said before, I love being able to use things up. 

Brooches like this are made front-first in a silicon mould, working in many layers. Because these moulds are usually opaque, you have to trust in yourself that it's going to look good once it's finished. I've ended up with a few duds from time to time for exactly that reason. But when they go right, they look like this.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

A finished quilt

I've recently finished this quilt, which I am naming (inasmuch as I name quilts) Ruby Soho.

It's made from a charm pack from Moda's Ruby collection, plus a grey from the same collection for the back, and a bunch of generic plain white quilting cotton. I love the colours from this collection -- they remind me of apple blossom and new leaves and other such things. The binding is half red polka dot and half bright aqua, both from my stash, which was pleasing. I love being able to use up scraps from previous projects rather than buying new crap.

I managed to get home from work in time to photograph it in the sunset. I think this means spring is almost here. As much as I love the crisp cold, the dark does start to get to me after a while.

It's available in my Etsy shop. It's something like 84 by 96 cm, so slightly bigger than crib size, or perfect for a lap.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013


Good afternoon!

This is where I will be posting my craft projects, tutorials, progress reports, and general musings on my crafty life.

I knit, sew, crochet, and make jewellery, and I dabble in lots of other crafts, depending on my mood. I also cook and bake.