#socktober

A little late to the party with this one but it’s still October so it still counts right?!? 🙂 Socktober is one of those things that has been slightly hijacked by Instagram so everyone could be forgiven for thinking that this is where it all began, however there’s slightly more to it than just flashing a picture of your latest woolly offering. Let me explain …..

Originally launched by Brad Montague four years ago, the aim of Socktober is to provide an easy yet effective way of helping the homeless by simply donating a pair of socks! Not just one pair mind, Socktober is not the time for stinginess, so the idea is to start a sock drive. Whether it’s at your place of work, your school or a group from your neighbourhood, the aim is to collect as many pairs of socks as you can, gather them all up and donate them to a local homeless shelter. This is where #socktober comes into play because these days nothing spreads something like wildfire quicker than putting a hashtag in front of it 🙂 Instagram, Facebook, Twitter ….. go mad and share the love for Socktober on them all! Of course, people don’t just need socks (although they do help on a cold day), there are plenty of other items that homeless shelters could benefit from such as donations of toiletries, bedding, clothing and tinned / dried food but socks definitely help.

Sometimes it’s the smallest acts of love that help make a difference so whether you buy them or make them, donate some socks to this worthy cause and help make someones day a little nicer 🙂

  • Visit the following sites for more details …..

http://www.happysocktober.com

http://www.soulpancake.com/socktober

 

  • For a list of homeless shelters in the UK …..

http://www.crisis.org.uk

http://www.shelter.org.uk

http://www.salvationarmy.org.uk

 

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It’s good to be square!

Knitting squares and joining them together to make a blanket is something so basic that everyone can do it. However sometimes, although you want to enjoy the simplicity of such a blanket, it just needs something that little bit more. This is where mitred squares come into play. Incredibly basic but yet they look so oh so good 🙂

Mitred squares can be made with any yarn and any corresponding size needles so they make for a really great stash buster and they really are as simple as this …..

  1. Decide how many stitches long you want one side of you square to be and cast on said number. Place your stitch marker on to mark the middle point and then cast on the same number of stitches again.
  2. Row 1 – Knit all the way across, slipping the marker when you get to it.Row 2 – Knit to two stitches before the marker. K2tog, slip the marker, ssk and continue to knit to the end of the row.

3.  Repeat the above two rows until you have 4 stitches left.

4.  Working on the right side, knit the first decrease and remove the stitch marker. Knit the second decrease which will leave you with two stitches.  Working on the wrong side, bind off using a basic bind off method.

You’ve now got one mitred square which you could admire lovingly or perhaps do something a little more substantial with such as knitting some more and joining them together to form an afghan 🙂

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It’s a wrap …..

Oh my goodness, there were so many different puns I could have used for the title but well, it’s a wrap so ….. 🙂
Unless you’re completely devoid of social media accounts or you’ve been living on Mars for the last 6 months you cannot have failed to notice the hype surrounding none other than the Skye Wrap. Now as beautifully simplistic as it is, I’ve noticed hundreds of people all asking the same question ‘How do I make it?’. As you may have noticed from other posts, it pains me to spend money on patterns when I can figure them out by myself instead so here’s my take on the Skye Wrap.


1. To get this started you’re going need an outer fabric and an inner fabric. I used coat fabric in grey for my outer and some gorgeous feather patterned cotton in navy from Rose and Hubble for my inner. You’ll also need 5 buttons and matching thread (Guttermans is a joy to work with).


2. For all you ‘normal’ sized people you’ll need approximately 100cm x 170cm of both inner and outer fabric. I, on the other hand, am 5ft nothing so because of my Borrower-esque proportions I had to make mine quite a bit smaller 🙂 What I’m trying to say is, just fiddle about with the sizing until you have something that fits your own shape. As long as you end up with two rectangles of the same dimensions then you can’t go wrong.

3. Once you’ve washed, dried and ironed your fabric, lay both pieces right side to right side and, using a quarter inch seam allowance, sew along one long side, down the first short side, along the next long side and then about 2/3rds of the way up the next short side.


4. With the remaining third still unsewn turn the whole thing the right way out. You’ll need to hand sew the opening closed using the mattress stitch.

5. Press, press and press again. This pattern does not like wrinkles and crinkles!

6. The final step is to pop your buttons on. Hold the two ends of the wrap together, leaving adequate room for it to go over your head and sew your buttons on with even spacing in-between. I’ve sewn mine on so as to join the two sides of the wrap but you could try with button holes or poppers to make getting it on easier.

So, there we go. You’ve now made a simple but lovely looking wrap and you’ve saved £5. No need to thank me! 🙂

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September


Well that’s August done and finished with for another year but don’t be sad because it means we get to welcome in September 🙂 Not really autumn but definitely not summer, September is a glorious ‘in-between’ sort of month. If it were a person, it’d be Forrest Gump – wonderful but never quite fits in!
So, what did last month bring? Well, another superbly eclectic mix of half finished projects and an ever growing list of new ones that I’ve yet to start plus a couple of rare ones that I’ve actually completed! There’s a sweater still sitting on my circular needles, a project bag that was finished in French Knots and lined with adorable dachshund printed fabric as a birthday gift, as well as a shawl which HAS to be finished by Christmas (we’ll see if this ever comes to fruition!). All of which brings me nicely to the subject of WIPs (Works in Progress). I don’t know about you but I tend to flit between projects like most people change their socks. Monday I’ll be all about the knitting but come Tuesday it’ll be sewing that grabs my fancy. Hence why so many projects on the go at once. In all seriousness though, there are so many amazing things that I want to do and try and learn that it’s near impossible to get my brain to concentrate on just one thing at a time. No matter though, there’ll be plenty of time for sitting still when I’m a genuine old lady (as opposed to the pretend old lady I am now!).
But back to September, you just can’t help but love it. Everything starts getting ready for the chilly season and our thoughts turn from t-shirts to jumpers, from sandals to socks. Yarn related projects jump upon our needles and help us while away dark, cold evenings. Ooh I’m excited just thinking about it 🙂
Until next time!

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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 🙂

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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

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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 👗

 

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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!

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Pincushion Tutorial

Pincushions. One of those things which you never have but yet always seem to need. Lets rectify this then shall we by making one (as opposed to buying one, which totally goes against everything this blog stands for!). We could be dull and make a bog standard one but where would be the fun in that. Instead lets go for a Cathedral Window pincushion.

Those of you familiar with quilting will probably already know what a Cathedral Window is, those of you who aren’t quilters are now thinking I’m branching out into glazing for the local church. Don’t panic, I’m not! 🙂 IF we were quilting then we’d be making a quilt without the need for batting which is effectively just a quilt top BUT we aren’t quilting and thats a story for another day. However, making a Cathedral Window pincushion is a clever way of taking one square of said quilt and turning it into a lovely little gift for someone. Alternatively, keep it for yourself, it’ll be our secret!

  1. Firstly, lets talk supplies. You’ll need a fat quarter of any colour that takes your fancy (I’ve used cream), a square of fabric measuring 4.25” x 4.25″ (dotty for me but pick whichever you like) and some scraps of different coloured fabric (flowery for me this time). You’ll also need a square of fabric for the back approximately 6″ x 6″ and some stuffing.
  2. Begin by making a card template 9″ square and another that is 4.25″ square.

3. Lay your fat quarter out and cut a square that is approximately 10.5″ x 10.5″. Don’t worry if its not exact. Lay the bigger template in the middle of the fabric and fold over the edges of the template. Iron it all the way around so as to form a firm edge. Fold the corners over first, as in the picture below, to ensure a neat edge.

4. Now, remove the cardboard template and iron all the way around again to make sure everything is as neat as can be. If the corners are precise now it’ll save you a lot of kerfuffle later, trust me!

5. Once step 4 is complete, fold the square in half and iron. Unfold and fold the opposite way before ironing again.

6. The next step is to fold each corner in towards the middle of the square. The creases you just created when you folded and unfolded will provide you with the centre point marking.

7. Give everything a good iron again and repeat step 6, remembering to iron everything flat again  after folding in all the corners. Try to ensure that your points all meet as neatly as they can. It’s ok to keep playing around until they do.

8. Now, using the smaller template, cut yourself a 4.25″square and place it in the middle of the original square.

9. Sew the points of the corners together with the new square inside. Only do a couple of stitches, its just to keep everything in place.

10. From your scraps of fabric that we mentioned earlier, cut 4 triangles that will fit just inside of each triangle of the square. They don’t need to be too neat as we will trim them up later.

11. Now comes the tricky bit. One corner at a time, peel back the white fabric so that it falls naturally into a curve and envelopes the edge of the fabric on top of it. If you need to pin it in place then feel free to do so and then machine sew along the edge of the curve so that everything is held firmly in place.

12. Take a piece of fabric that is about an inch bigger all the way round than the square you’ve just made. Cut it in half. No, I haven’t got mad, cut the fabric in half and with the two pieces edge to edge, lay the square on top so they are right side to right side. Sew all the way around using a 1/4″ seam and then trim off any excess.

13. Carefully turn the whole thing inside out and stuff it until you can stuff it no more. You can use normal stuffing but for a pincushion you might like to use wire wool so that your pins are kept sharp.

14. Using Ladder stitch carefully sew the back shut.  For more details on Ladder stitch see English Paper Piecing (EPP)    

15. Finish the pincushion by sewing a button into the middle of the ‘flower’.

16. The best part of Step 16?!? There is no Step 16! 🙂

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English Paper Piecing (EPP)

EPP, yes it sounds a little like the acronym for a strange, tropical illness but in reality it stands for English Paper Piecing. Or in other words, a way of forming a quilt top that involves wrapping fabric around carefully cut out paper shapes. In case you were wondering the ‘English’ part of the title apparently comes from the fact that us Brits loved it back in the day and we still love it now. There’s very few past times as tranquil as hand sewing some beautiful hand sculpted shapes together to form something that is even more beautiful than when you first began. That isn’t to say it isn’t without its trials and tribulations though but we’ll put those down as part of EPP’s charm.

EPP - Hexagon Template

So, where to begin….. well, grab yourself some fabric and lets embark on the wonderful journey that is English Paper Piecing.

  1. First things first, you’ll need some fabric. Any fabric. Bust your stash or go to town with some nice new fat quarters from your local fabric store (any excuse!). You’ll also need some paper templates (try http://moxyideas.com/downloads/), paper clips, good quality thread such as Guttermans and scissors.      
  2. After  super carefully cutting out the templates, lay one on your chosen fabric (keeping the fabric the wrong side up) and cut around the template, leaving approximately 1/4″ hem. Fold the edges of the fabric over the edges of the template one by one, securing each edge with a paper clip as you go.

    Front View

    Back View

     

  3. Once step 2 has been completed for a few of the shapes you can start arranging them in the pattern you prefer.
  4. Ideally you want your joining stitches to be practically invisible so we’re going to use the ladder stitch as a way of connecting the shapes. Ladder stitch (also known as slip stitch) is normally used for joining seams on things such as soft toys so its strong plus you can hardly see it. To work the ladder stitch, begin by holding the two shapes right side to right side. The folded edges of the fabric will provide a nice straight line for you to guide your stitches along. To hide the knot of your thread, push the needle up from under one of the folded edges and pull it through the fabric until the knot is hidden.
  5. Take the needle across to the opposite side, push the needle through both top edges being really careful not to catch the paper inside. Pull the thread tight but not overly tight. Tension is important in this stitch, too tight and the fabric will pucker but too loose and you’ll be able to see the stitch which is not what we want.

    Hold the shapes firmly together and work the needle along the inside edge.

  6. Go back to the other side and work the needle back under the fabric but instead of going through to the next shape, push the needle along the inside edge and then out on the same side to create a tiny little stitch under the fabric. Once the needle is back out then take it to the other shape and and repeat the process. Every time the new stitch will start just up from the previous one but on the opposite side. If you keep the stitches running along the edge then you’ll get the neat join that we’re aiming for. Remember that if the edge is neat then joining the next shape to it will be a piece of cake.

    The stitch should be practically invisible

    Make every edge a neat edge!

  7. Keep repeating this until you get to the end of the edge. Give the thread a final pull to ensure its as tight as it can be (without being overly tight!). Secure by pushing the needle through the edge of both shapes. Do this twice in the same place and cut the thread. Don’t remove the paper templates until a shape has been joined to another on all sides, that way the fabric will keep its shape.
  8. Ta Da! Your first two shapes are securely joined and you’ve earned yourself a nice sit down with a cream eclair and a cup of tea. Well, you could OR you could just keep going. Let your imagination run riot and keep adding shapes until your thumbs are giddy with the sheer excitement of it all 🙂 Before you know it, you’ll have a quilt top or a cushion cover or a bag or ….. whatever you make will be wonderful I promise!

Back view of EPP

Final step ….. don’t worry about the back too much, nobody ever said the back wasn’t going to be messy!

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