Kitchener Stitch

Kitchener stitch, possibly named after Earl Kitchener during World War 1 but then again, possibly not. It seems no one is too sure of exactly where or how it originated. One things for sure though, its guaranteed to cause palpitations in all but the truly seasoned knitter but whether it’s socks or shoulders the Kitchener stitch comes in super handy for seamless, well, seams! 🙂

Used as a finishing technique in knitting, Kitchener, or Grafting as its otherwise known, is a way of invisibly joining two sets of live stitches. Contrary to public opinion the Kitchener stitch really isn’t all that tricky. Once you’ve done it a couple of times, it’ll be like riding the proverbial bike and you’ll be wondering what all the bother was about.

So, lets get to grips with this right now. You’ll need two pieces of ‘live’ knitting (you can just knit two small samples to practice with if you like), a darning needle and some scrap yarn.

  1. Hold both pieces of knitting next to each other, wrong side to wrong side and put the threaded darning needle through the first front stitch as if to purl. Pull it nearly all the way through but leave enough of a tail to weave in later. 
  2. Still holding the knitting pieces tightly, push the needle through the first back stitch as if to knit
  3. Bring the needle round to the front and pull it through the first front needle as if to knit. Pull the yarn all the way through and take the stitch off of the needle. 
  4. Push the needle through the first front stitch as if to purl but this time, leave the stitch on the needle. 
  5. Take the needle all the way through the first back stitch as if to purl and take the stitch off of the needle. 
  6. Pull the needle through the first back stitch as if to knit but leave the stitch on the needle.

Now, you need to repeat steps 3 – 6 until all of the stitches have been worked. Remember to keep  tightening the new stitches every now and again to ensure an even tension.  The tricky bit is keeping track of where you got to after the initial first two steps so remember –

KNIT – front – OFF

PURL -front – ON

PURL – back – OFF

KNIT – back – ON

It really is as simple as that 🙂




French Knots

Bonjour, Je m’appelle CraftyMrsRiley et Je suis accro a des noeuds francais! Or for those of us not fluent in le francais, my name is CraftyMrsRiley and I’m addicted to French Knots! 🙂
Those tiny little bundles of knotty loveliness fill my heart with hearts (as my four year old would say) and make my head a little giddy. However, it seems not everyone shares my affinity with the little saucy French ones. It would appear that whilst almost everyone loves the appearance of them, the general consensus is that they’re a little tricky to master (this ‘official’ poll took place in my kitchen and consisted of myself, a rather opinionated 4 year old and 2 potentially bored silly guinea pigs but we all know the result would have been the same whoever I’d quizzed🙂). Well let’s resolve this right now then shall we. Grab your needles, grab your thread and let’s speak the language of love with these beautiful little knots!

1) Before we begin, remember whichever thread you use for these little beauties, be sure to use two strands to maximise their shape.
2) Once your needle is ready to go, push it through the fabric from back to front just ever so slightly away from where you want the knot to be.

3) Pull the thread taut (but not too taut) and wrap it around the needle twice starting with the thread at the front of the needle and bringing it round anti-clockwise.

4) Keeping the thread around the needle, push the needle back into the fabric in the spot where you want the knot to be. Remember to keep the thread taut using your free hand. Pull the needle all the way through to the back of the fabric and you’ll have one tiny but beautifully formed French knot.

Your only issue now is to decide how you’re going to use your new skill….. Hoop art? Fabric decoration? Contemporary design?!? The choice is yours for the taking!

My own take on using French Knots to create negative space hoop art


Ruby Red?!?

Simple Sew dress pattern – Ruby

I’m a girl so I must like dresses, yes? No! Because A) It’s not 1950 and B) I’m a bit too tomboy to wear dresses. It helps if you’re all Claudia Schiffer whereas I’m just a bit Claude! That’s not to say I don’t own any though. I’ve some lovely, I’d go as far as to say beautiful, dresses, some bought for me as gifts, some just bought on a whim but they inevitably end up gathering dust at the back of the wardrobe whilst the shorts see all the fun on a sunny day. However, whilst perusing the virtual shopping aisles of eBay what should I stumble upon but the Ruby Dress by SimpleSew. As I said, I’m not a big fan of dresses (years of growing up in scrap yards put paid to too much girliness) but Ruby is a beauty that was begging to be made so I thought I’d pop my dressmaking cherry and give it a go.
This is the part where I introduce Matilda (say Hi!), my dressmakers mannequin. I’d use the word dummy but I don’t want to be unkind 🙂 Here’s Matilda modelling a previous creation of mine

Skirt modelled by Matilda!

Now the formalities are out of the way, let’s get back to Ruby. Ruby is a stunning, vintage inspired, skater style dress with a high neckline, deep V back and a flared full skirt. Simply stunning.
I’ve made the odd piece of clothing here and there but nothing quite as structured and lovely as this and, being a bit of a tight arse to be honest, I didn’t want to waste perfectly good fabric on something I could completely mess up so I bought a duvet cover to make Ruby from. Yes, you did read that correctly, a duvet cover (from Wilkinsons for those of you that are interested!). The amount of material you get for the small amount of pennies is amazing.
So, this is how it went …..
1) Initial pattern cutting went as well as could be expected. It’s basically cutting out shapes, I’ve been queen of this since I was 3 years old 🙂

Lets make a dress

2) After ironing the pattern itself, on a very low heat I must add, I ironed the duvet cover and sliced it open along the seams.
3) I laid out all the pattern pieces to ensure I minimised the fabric waste (I told you I was a tight arse!) and pinned them all down.
4) The pattern calls for 1/4 seam so I devised what I thought was quite a good technique for ensuring even seamage (possibly not a real word, in fact I think I just made it up). I took 2 pencils and held them side by side, then carefully drew around the pattern. Voila, even seamage 🙂

5) Next up was the actual sewing part! No need to panic, it was pretty much as easy as 1,2,3. I started by sewing in the darts at both the chest and the waist and then joining the front bodice to the back bodice at the shoulders, right side to right side. I then joined the facing pieces together at the shoulders and again right side to right side. It does ask for the facing edges to be finished with a zig zag stitch first which you could do on an overlocker for a neater finish but I don’t have an overlocker because I’m not the Mary Berry of the sewing world ….. yet! 🙂
The bodice and the facing then needed to be joined together (right side to right side) and then sewn all along the edge of the neckline and the armholes. I trimmed off any excess and cut a few notches into the seam allowance so that it all sat nice and flat.
6) Now came the really tricky bit of pulling the whole thing through an armhole one side at a time. Sound awkward? Yes, it was!
7) Press, Press, Press! I cannot reiterate enough how important it is to press this dress at every opportunity.
8) The next stage was matching the bottom of the front bodice to the top of the front skirt and then repeating this for both the back right and back left bodice / skirts. Then came a smidge more sewing to connect all the seams.
9) By this point it looked a little like a dodgy tabbard in that it went over my head but didn’t do up at the sides. So I then sewed along both side seams, top to bottom.
10) Now came the concealed zip part. Not to say I was worried about this bit but I was sweating like a mouse in full view of a cat. I’d never put in a concealed zip before but guess what, it actually wasn’t too awful. I’ll be adding a concealed zip tutorial very soon so panic not if you’re in the same boat 🙂

11) The next part asked for the remaining skirt seam to be sewn together which was relatively easy and …..
12) The final part! Ooh I felt like I’d run a marathon fuelled by chocolate biscuits, fizzy pop and a slightly cheesy 80’s soundtrack. The final part was hemming the skirt. I nipped round the skirt first with a finishing stitch to stiffen it slightly and then carefully, very carefully hemmed a quite narrow hem.

Ruby Dress

Dress done! Skill set added to!
Ooh I take it all back, I really rather like this dress 👗



Hello August …..

Well it’s goodbye to July and a big hello to August. We’ve calmed down a little on the moving front now so it’s a bit less unpacking and a little more actual living in our new house. I’m hoping that my blog posts can become more frequent now that my Mac has a home of its own and isn’t hidden away inside of a box 🙂

So, what did July bring us? Well, I made a dress, a pincushion and a skirt (all in a week I hasten to add), popped a new jumper on my needles, added to my skill set by learning all about concealed zips,  the smallest member of the Riley household turned 4 (when did that happen? It only feels like yesterday that we brought her home), painted 3 rooms because I just couldn’t live with floral wallpaper or brown paint any longer and we gained 2 little guinea pigs and 3 fish. I’m exhausted just reading it.

Talking of reading, which we kind of were in a roundabout way, what are you all reading at the moment? I have to admit that I rarely ever have just one book on the go at a time. I’m a self confessed serial bibliophile and at the moment I’m reading Parting Shot by Linwood Barclay, Almost Human by Lee Berger and 11:22:63 by Stephen King and if that wasn’t eclectic enough for you I’ve also got A Dogs Purpose lurking somewhere! Why limit yourself to one genre when you can cover them all.

As I’m writing this it’s torrential rain outside so I’m hoping August hasn’t started how it means to continue. I’m also hoping to finish off the jumper I started in July, cast on a shawl for my friend Jean, make something wonderful with the Liberty Tana Lawn that I’ve had for months but have had no idea of what to do with it, make another dress (same pattern, different fabric), write loads, read plenty and continue working on CraftyMrsRiley. So whilst I’m busy taking over my corner of the world, I hope you have a good one!