I don’t know why, but the meals we have on picnics always taste so much nicer than the ones we have indoors.‏

…And finally from my world-cup induced sewing extravaganza (and from this rather embarrassing “photo-shoot” was Tilly’s Picnic Blanket skirt.


You may recall that this has been on my to-do list since the end of time. I first started making this with some vintage fabric from The Shop, however this was before I knew a thing about fabric and stretch and weight etc (I still know next to nothing, so just imagine how little I knew a year ago), and not only was the fabric an absolute b*tch to work with and cut out, it absolutely refused to gather – instead defiantly causing me to snap thread on a minute-by-minute basis.

Needless to say it soon went to the Great Basket of Unfinished Objects in the Sky (the GBUFOS for short), but the guilt of never finishing that first project remained.

So, with this new burst of sewing enthusiasm that the football inspired, I decided to revisit this pattern, this time with a far more suitable fabric. I have no idea what the fabric is  – I got it for the grand total of 20p at a craft stall that my WI ladies were manning. It’s a lovely pink colour, fairly heavy weight (but not upholstery or curtain heavy – a key point!) – and if you look really closely, every 30cm or so there’s a gold coloured R embossed on the fabric, which I only noticed after I’d bought it… You have to really want to see it though, so I’m not that bothered. At the very least it will make a good talking point.


Now I had a more suitable fabric, this pattern came together like a breeze – even the gathering was fun to do – nothing like the headachey clusterf*ck of last time. I changed nothing, apart from to sew the button holes parallel with the length of the dress (rather than parallel with the waist, as suggested by Tilly) – this was mainly to stop me having to do more maths to work out where to place them. And me, a maths graduate. I should be ashamed.

I think I still need to do something about the top button though, it’s sitting kinda funny. To sort out later…


Because the dress has a folky theme, and I liked the contrast of the white thread against the pink fabric, I hemmed all the way around in this lovely decorative stitch on my new machine.


Pretty but slow.

Why did no-one tell me decorative stitches take approximately 3 years to sew?

Anyway, I think it was just about worth it in the end – apart from the fact I think this is a little short, no? Could do with about an inch longer – it kinds of risks all sorts of flashing, and given that this is a picnic blanket skirt, made to be worn at picnics, sat on a blanket, it might not leave much to the imagination. I’ve left enough in the hem for me to sort this out, but right now (if ever) I can’t bear the thought of unpicking all that lovely stitch and re-doing it. We shall see! 

Today’s quote was said by George in Enid Blyton’s Five Go Off in a Caravan

(I found a nsfw quote from Christopher Hitchens about picnics, but decided I was too ladylike to choose it. Feel free to look it up at your leisure…)




From the manner in which a woman draws her thread at every stitch of her needlework, any other woman can surmise her thoughts.

Oh this blogging lark is just too hard to do when you don’t have wifi. We are still having all sorts of problems with it, although we currently have it working just about, but only when we have the landline off the hook. Not ideal.

Anyway, I thought it was about time I told you about some of the things I’ve been making. After having a looooong break from sewing (mainly due to being mid-project and then suddenly deciding I hated what I was making, but then feeling too guilty to start anything else – and then having not one but two disastrous attempts at PJ shorts), I’ve had a fairly productive time of it recently. Especially during the world cup when I am no longer drawn into what’s being shown on the telly. I’ll endeavour to update you chronologically over the next few posts, and you can judge for yourselves whether my sewing skills have improved at all.

First off was this one, from my to-do list. It’s the tunic top from the first Great British Sewing Bee book, and it’s made using some vintage flowery satin-y fabric from The Shop on Cheshire Street. Beautiful fabric, not so beautiful make. Based on my measurements, I sewed up a size 14. But look how big and roomy it is! This is not how it looked in the book. And I think there was something screwy going on in the instructions for adding the interfacing and turning it all inside out. I followed the instructions to the letter (at least I think I did) but it just didn’t work. Could there be a step missing? Anyway, I ended up having to machine sew my slip-stitched shoulders as it just didn’t stay together, so now there’s a weird bulk that shouldn’t be there. And the fabric, although beautiful, doesn’t half like to fray so there’s threads coming out all over the place.


Colour. Colour everywhere.

That said, I actually have worn this quite a few times – it’s good for holidays and sunny days when you want something bright that gives you room to have as many gelato lunches as you wish.

I think next time I’m going to a) sew a size smaller and b) scout around the internet for some better instructions for the interfacing. I’m determined to try this one again, as it’s the kind of top I’d wear all the time (if a better fit) and I love an exposed zipper.

Today’s quote is from Honore de Balzac

To-do list 6: I like to hear a storm at night. It is so cosy to snuggle down among the blankets and feel that it can’t get at you.

So, getting on for 6 months after moving into our flat, I finally finished the cable-throw-of-a-thousand-deadlines (“I’ll get it done before we move home”, I said, “I’ll finish it for Christmas”, I vowed…)

instaquote-12-09-2013-20-51-51 (1)

This was my first attempt at cabling, and I was very surprised at how straightforward it was. To cable, all you need is a cable needle, which is a small knitting needle with a bend in it. When you get to the point in your pattern where the cable starts, simply slip the required number of stitches onto the cable needle. Then either move them to the front of your needles when you carry on knitting the rest of your stitches (a left cross cable), or move them to the back of the needles (a right cross cable) – the direction will be clear in the pattern.

The two different directions of cable.

The pattern I used was the Lion Brand cable comfort throw pattern – available free from their website, all you need to do is register. The throw is knit on 9mm needles in five long panels, then sewn together – which means you don’t have to worry about lugging around a huge throw every time you want to get out your knitting. It’s a great pattern for people who are new to cabling as it’s knit on big chunky wool, so you can see what your doing. I don’t think you can get Lion Brand yarn easily in the UK, so instead I used Hayfield Super Chunky yarn, which is so easy to work with and feels really cosy in the finished throw. It’s 80% acrylic and 20% wool, so it’s machine-washable too.


So here it is!


It seems to be a big hit with Maeby too – as soon as it was finished and on the back of the sofa she lept up and tried to get her claws into it, before finally settling down to sleep. Sorry Maeby, you’re going to have to share this with me…

Proof of cosiness.

Proof of cosiness.

Today’s quote is from L. M. Montgomery

To do list 5: On the other hand, you have different fingers

Oh dear, I seem to be slowing down on completing my crafty to-do list. However, I finally got around to finishing the three pairs of fingerless gloves I’d planned for my three closest friends for Christmas. Luckily for me the first chance we had to all get together was at the end of January, which gave me some much needed bonus time on the needles. But hey, better late than never, right?


The fingerless gloves in all their glory. Spot the deliberate mistakes.

I got the pattern from a book my sister got me for last year’s birthday (I feel bad, she didn’t get a pair herself) – and knitted the gloves up pretty quickly (my issue was with picking up the needles to knit, not the knitting itself)using some dk wool from John Lewis. Three balls in 3 different colours were enough to make 2 pairs of gloves – in fact I think there would be enough to make 2 pairs with to balls of yarn, as long as you swap around the colour contrasts.

This is how they’re meant to look.

It’s a really straightforward pattern – the two ends are in 2×2 rib, and it’s a simple stocking stitch for around 15cm in the middle. It’s knit flat, then sewn together with mattress stitch. You probably can’t tell from the pictures, but only one of those pairs went to plan – I sewed up one of the purple pair inside out so now the seam is on the outside, and the blue pair I somehow managed to knit upside down. Ah well. My friends seem pretty happy with them!


So back to the to-do list. What shall I tackle next?

Today’s quote is from Steven Wright.

To do list 4: There’s really nothing quite as sweet as tiny little baby feet

The to-do list goes on. Slowly slowly. Although I’m adding to it quicker than I’m completing things, I am still working away at the things on there!

Baby booties. Acting as cutesy ornaments until baby arrives...

Baby booties. Acting as cutesy ornaments until baby arrives…

My most recent completed project were these adorable baby booties. Originally meant for a friend who is due in February – but I since found out that another friend is due sooner – any day now I think – and so the to-do list simultaneously decreased and increased by one.

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Apologies for the rubbish photo. I finished these late at night, the night before flying to Hong Kong for Christmas, so didn’t get a chance to take any better photos!

I used this free pattern from Ravelry – I wanted something straightforward, as I find knitting on small needles so tricksy (am all fingers and thumbs, and a frequent dropper of stitches), and also knitted on straight needles – so I could use what supplies I already had. I got the wool from John Lewis – My First Regia (picture below), which cost less than two pounds for a 25g ball, and was really easy to work with. I used less than one ball, and I reckon I could squeeze another pair of booties out of what’s left. Although of course I got over excited in John Lewis haberdashery, and bought two balls.

The second ball of yarn, ready for more booties.

The second ball of yarn, ready for more booties.

  I’m quite pleased with how they turned out. The pattern is really straightforward, and it doesn’t take long for it to start to come together and look like something suitable for tiny feet. I had to learn one new stitch – ssk, or slip slip knit* – but other than that, it was pretty easy. I really like the ribbons as a tie, too. Let’s hope the bump likes them too!

Big foot, little foot.

Big foot, little foot.

* ssk is a way of decreasing when knitting. To do this, slip two stitches knitwise, one at a time, on to your righthand needle. Then insert the lefthand needle through the front of these two slipped stitches. Pull the yarn up and over the righthand needle, then pull it through – and so knitting these two stitches together. The lionbrand website has a good picture of this stitch here – always better than trying to describe it with words!

Whenever a boy comes, you should always have something baking.

Well, I do love a list. So I thought I’d do another one. This time, it’s less a to-do list (don’t need more pressure, thanks!), more just a list of things I want to try out in the kitchen. This was sparked by my trip to Paris this weekend (pictures to follow…), where at every corner I was met with a delicious display of macarons, and reminded that I’ve been wanting to try making these for a long time. That, and the return of Great British Bake-Off, of course.

I love baking, and I’m ok at it, but I’m pretty slapdash about the measuring, and the following of instructions, and I think many of these things on my list require a level of exactitude/concentration that doesn’t sit well with me.

– Macarons

– Marshmallows

– Cake pops (I know, I know, I’m totally behind the curve on this one. In about three years time, I’ll be talking about how delicious those Cronuts look)

– Italian frosting

– Char siu buns (My other half grew up in Hong Kong, and these are his favourite snack. I’ve mastered char siu pork, and never thought the buns were something people in their kitchens at home could realistically do – surely there’s some kind of magic involved? – but this Jamie Oliver recipe looks so simple, I think I need to give it a try)

– Salted caramels

– Rainbow layer cake

– Mojito cupcakes (Or any booze-related cupcakes. I’m not fussy)

– This chocolate strawberry nutella cake (Difficulty-level isn’t the reason I’ve waited for this one -my other half sent it to me back in June and I promised it would be the first thing I baked in our new house. Not long to wait now!)

No doubt, I will post any resulting successes/disasters here!

Today’s quote is from Cher (Clueless, not Turn Back Time)

To do list 3: As you walk down the fairway of life, you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.

Well, I’m flying through this to-do list now. Nothing to do with the fact that everything I’ve now finished, I had already started (to various degrees) before I wrote the list.

Is that cheating?

This latest project was a cross-stitch kit that came free with issue 30 of Mollie Makes. A very pretty pattern, which I was originally intending as a gift, but then someone somehow managed to get strawberry juice all over it, just minutes after I’d finished it. I’m not going to lie, there were tears before bedtime. I’m not a calm crafter.


We managed to get most of the juice out and I think you can barely see the stain. But I don’t think it’s suitable for a present now… The frame, I covered with some washi tape that my boyfriend had got me in Hong Kong last time he was there. I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out, and can’t wait to get it up in our new home!

Oh, and I’ve made start on the throw. Still a long way to go but look:


Quite chuffed with that! Only about 39 more like that, and I’ll be done…

Today’s quote is from Ben Hogan.

To-do list 2 – All my life I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind‏

Although still daunting, completion of the to-do list is starting to feel more likely now I’ve ticked two things off it. Let’s not mention that one of the things on there is a gigantic knitted throw that uses 13 balls of yarn. Let’s not even think about that.


I made this lovely thistle bookmark using a cross-stitch kit that I bought on my recent trip to the Highlands, and had intended to make it whilst on my holiday, giving it to my mum as I passed back through Dunfermline on my way home. But obviously that didn’t happen. Ah well, better late than never!

Today’s quote is from Abraham Lincoln

To-do List 1: Let them eat brioche

I finally finished the first thing on my to-do list – the scarf – and it looks like the weather has changed to Autumn just at the right time! I made this from some yarn I picked up in a little shop in Dunblane (near Andy Murray’s gold postbox!) whilst on my holiday in Scotland.

The shop was closing down and was selling off balls of this lovely Rico Creative Liesl yarn for 2 balls for a tenner, instead of £13.99 for a single ball! So, despite not having a plan, I bought 2 balls in a lovely maroon colour, with a bit of sparkle running through – as a Yorkshirewoman, I can never let a bargain pass me by. Of course, I’m now kicking myself for not buying more, but there was literally no room in my suitcase for anything else.

988ba3194298b898a6e2d49dafe91355(Image from the Rico Design website)

I basically just wanted to recreate the design on the picture on the packaging, which was a brioche stitch scarf. It took me several goes with different sets of instructions before  I could get going with this. I’m not sure why I struggled so much with the stitch, as once I got going, it really is a simple stitch to use. I finally found a pattern that made sense to me on Ravelry, for a brioche stitch infinity scarf – although I’ve left the ends loose for a normal scarf instead of joining them together. You might also see from the pictures that there is a slightly different pattern at each end – this is basically because I made a mistake for a couple of rows (bringing the yarn to the front of the knitting in the Yarn Over, instead of leaving it at the back), and decided to just recreate this error at the other end instead of unpicking it all and starting over (for the 5th time!). I’m going to give this away as a gift – packing for my move has uncovered an embarrassingly large stash of scarves, so I certainly don’t need any more – but I’m not sure who to yet.


(Not sure why I look so annoyed in this photo!)

To make this I used 1 and a quarter 200g balls of Rico Creative Liesl yarn, although according to the website you can use just one ball – I guess I like my scarves extra chunky…

Cast on an even number of stitches to the width you want your scarf to be (I did 24 stitches)

Row 1: *Yarn over, Slip 1 purl wise,  Knit 1* Repeat *_* to end

Row 2: *Yarn over, Slip 1 purl wise, Knit 2 together* Repeat *_* to end

Repeat Row 2 until you are happy with the length of the scarf.

I’ve now got 3/4 of a ball leftover. I would plan to make a matching hat, but that would mean my to-do list will never be completed!

Today’s quote is from Marie Antoinette