Sewing for Pleasure 

This weekend I was working with the Craft Network at Sewing for Pleasure at the NEC in Birmingham. Freddie Patmore and I were teaching four workshops, crochet, sewing and arm-knitting! It was a great weekend, lots of fun and we met lots of lovely people.

I did manage to squeeze a bit of shopping in… There seemed to me to be a lot more fabric and dressmaking than in previous years which is brilliant and I suppose driven by the popularity of the Sewing Bee to some extent.

All of my fabric came from the same place, Dots ‘n’ Stripes, who specialise in children’s dressmaking patterns and they stock a brilliant range of jerseys, corduroy and cottons in prints and designs you never see anywhere. Unfortunately my daughter is not into wearing things like that anymore, but I persuaded my 14 year old son to let me make him a hoodie jumper so that’s something.


The skirt fabric is gorgeous soft baby cord which goes perfectly with a gold/mustard cardigan that I’ve just finished. I had to buy the Tshirt fabric because it is so innovative; you buy a panel which has this large picture print on the one half and a smaller repeat print on the other half. My daughter thinks it would be very sad if I made a Tshirt for myself but I probably will anyway.




mdfI also ventured into the Hobbycrafts area of the show after a tip-off from a couple of ladies on one of our workshops about the MDF Man. You buy cut outs of MDF shapes and stick paper on them then sand off the edges and ta-da it looks amazing.
All this was ten pounds, a bargain.



My latest knitting project is Cornwallis from the Rowan Summerlite dk book. I have just finished the back after a minor setback on the garter stitch portion after I decided to work the first 2 stitches on each edge in stocking stitch so that it would look neater when sewn up. It took me about 10 rows to realise that the tension was going to be too different between the garter stitch and stocking stitch to work. Doh.

Happy knitting, sewing and sticking!

Professional Finishing fun at Liberty

Professional finishing techniques is the workshop that I teach the most often and although it is always good fun there are rarely any photo opportunities unless you want to see a lovely example of mattress-stitched squares. But yesterday at Liberty, with a select group of only 4, the opportunity finally came. Here is Carol who was worried about the light levels.
One of the other ladies was visiting from Japan and while she did not speak very much English, the common language of knitting prevailed and I think she really enjoyed herself. We agreed that she is super brave as none of us would ever dare to go on a knitting workshops we were in Japan!
Rather than a picture of the knitting, I took a pic of the 4 of them as we had had such a lovely day. Here is Jill, Claire, Fumiko and Carol. Thanks for a fantastic Saturday at the most special place to knit in the world!
Happy knitting.

Cushions, Skirts and Steeking!

At this time of year my workshop schedule is really busy so I have been hoarding pictures of the beautiful finished things for a few weeks. I have visited Black Sheep Wools for the first time; it won’t be the last! It is Fantastic. A wonderful workshop room with top notch sewing machines, tons of space and endless tea, coffee and cake. We were making cushions and here they are:



Sadly, I left having spent a brilliant day with the 5 ladies, sure that I would remember whose cushion was whose and have now forgotten :(



























Having been so rubbish on that occasion, I actually made notes on my phone for my skirt workshop at Guthrie and Ghani on Friday. Fabric envy is rife on any workshop I do here because Lauren has such a yummy range. I inevitably end up wanting the fabric someone has chosen. This time it was Nicky’s. While I didn’t buy the same fabric, I did succumb to some mustard jersey to make another Coco dress.


And everyone had fabric envy of Lucy’s wool and cotton tweed. A great choice for autumn.








Then there was Rachel who was channelling Orla Kielyesque stems and Sarah who had set her heart on the Tula Pink fabric before she even arrived!








Knitting wise we had fun at The Knitting Parlour doing magic loop fairisle and some steeking. Here is Karynne chopping into her knitting and Penny with a before and after shot.
After all that I am going to do some sewing today, maybe make the mustard dress, maybe not…
Happy sewing!

Yarndale Prep

My knitting buddy, Catrin and I are off to Yarndale again in September. We decided, and made a pact, that we would finish up all the projects and yarn that we bought there last year before this year’s trip. It doesn’t include patterns that were purchased without yarn but it does include everything else, even Dorset button kits. Catrin.
My prep is going pretty well, I am on my last 2 projects. One is a cable Aran wrap and the other, after a couple of frogs, is Romney Kerchief by Jared Flood.


I have finished my orange cardigan, another Brooklyn Tweed pattern, but I can’t find the buttons I bought the first time I knitted it so it’s just hanging around waiting.

Oh, and the other Yarndale prep is making a crochet mandala for display purposes. It gets sent off to Lucy at Attic 24 and gets made into some spectacular display for Yarndale. I’ve just pva’d the back to make it stiff, hopefully, and it’ll go in the post tomorrow ahead of the deadline for once in my life.


And for the rest of the evening I will be filing pages that I ripped out of magazines before I recycled them a few weeks ago to try and make a bit of shelf space. Great.


Finishing Frenzy!

My sewing room is incredibly untidy and I’ve been gradually tidying it up and organising things into boxes and getting rid of things to make a bit of space. Anyway, I keep coming across projects that are just a tiny bit not finished. Look what happened last night



So from the top, Mirasol handwarmers, just needed the thumb sewing together. Regia baby socks, needed grafting and the same for the Koigu socks. That gives you an indication of my desperation to start the next project; I can’t even spend 10 minutes on a bit of sewing. I wonder what I’ll find tonight to finish…

Liberty and Tension Traumas

What a brilliant workshop I had at Liberty on Saturday. A very lively bunch who, I think, had a great time and learned a thing or two!

From left to right we have Theresa, Sue, Liz, Victoria, Ellen and Livvy. We did have Diane as well but she had to shop before I realised and could get her in the photo too. Never mind, see you for the sewing Diane!
It was a knitting in the round workshop and we were making little drawstring bags from Rowan Softknit Cotton. It turned out that Victoria, Livvy and Ellen were novice knitters so they were starting from scratch but amazingly Victoria managed to knit the bottom of the bag using dpn’s, what an achievement. She was thus nominated ‘man of the match’ by Ellen.

I have been busy re-knitting Levenwick, a Gurun Johnson pattern. I have already knitted the whole thing but had a major tension issue despite having knitted a tension square and agonising about it for ages. I decided I would knit a bigger size, to be on the safe side, and the safe side was too big. What a twit. At least it is fun to knit and I was able to salvage the button band which will save time later. The yarn is Rowan Tweed. Lovely.


It’s Quilts UK in Malvern over the weekend and I am working with Lady Sew and Sew which will be fantastic fun, hard work but a great laugh. I’m aiming not to buy anything but if I do I’ll show you.

Happy knitting and sewing!

Spring at last!

I ventured into the garden for the first time today (I am strictly a fair weather gardener) and ripped up a lot of weeds ready to grass the bottom part of the garden. I had had a very lazy morning watching the London Marathon trying to spot my friend Kate in the crowds so I did need to get off my arse and do something as it is such a nice day. Although it was a good excuse to knit all morning, I didn’t manage to see Kate.

One of my current knitting projects is Sailor from Rowan Magazine 55, with Softknit Cotton. It’s knitted in the round and is looking great so far. I have just got to the striped yoke so it won’t be long before it’s finished. It is so exciting waiting to start the stripes, I highly recommend it.


As it’s the Easter holidays now I have done my last workshops for a couple of weeks. I had a great time teaching Learn to Crochet at John Lewis in Milton Keynes. It was a very successful day!


This week I was at Guthrie and Ghani in Moseley teaching another great bunch of ladies how to make an A-line skirt from their own measurements. It has proved so popular that we have added yet another date so if you are thinking about learning to dressmake it would be lovely to see you there in June.

I think I deserve a huge glass of wine after my gardening efforts.

Happy knitting and sewing!

Love My Cowl

I have just finished a cosy cowl, a pattern called knitted London Cowling with beautiful alpaca from Town End Alpacas. I bought it at Yarndale in Skipton and as usual started it straight away and then left it for ages. But it turned out to be my least complex knitting so it got a good look in when I needed easy knitting for coffee or the car.
It is so cosy, I am sat by the fire with it snugly round my neck.
I just bought Kim Hargreaves’ Shadows pattern book and am going to cast on Tod, a slouchy ribbed hat, before I go to bed. I have a feeling it is going to start being hat and scarf weather in earnest…

Happy knitting!


sock fever

On Tuesday 9th July I’m hosting a drop-in sock session at John Lewis in Milton Keynes. I’m really excited because I love knitting socks and it will be a treat to be on the shop floor sharing the sock love with everyone!

As you may have seen, I knitted my first skein of Rowan Fine Art into a Hitchhiker scarf. I love it but it left me wanting for a pair of socks in that yarn, as had been intended. The colour distracted me. That is the only explanation I can think of in hindsight. Anyway, I have since procured a skein each of the dark purple and the green.

The purple one has been turned, so far, into one vanilla sock with a reinforced heel. The toe is ungrafted for demonstration purposes ( she says :-) and the green skein is on its was to being Bunting socks from the Rowan Fine Art book.

So if you are in the Milton Keynes area on Tuesday come and have a mooch at the socks, have a go if you like, learn something new – maybe magic loop, all for free!

Happy Sock Knitting!

stitching and reading

My sister is now happily married and all of the hectic making is over. There was so much to do that something had to go on the back burner and it ended up being the present. I finally finished it last night and I am so pleased with it. ETA: can’t rotate this flipping picture. Aaaarghh!

It is part of the reading I did in church which was from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres, one of my favourite books. I went to a wonderful Friday morning stitching workshop here a few weeks ago and that encouraged me. I don’t often do hand sewing and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Luckily my mum had scraps of fabric left from her mammoth bunting and tablecloth production so I incorporated bits of that and some bling from the bridesmaids dresses.

My next project is going to be some socks in the new Rowan Fine Art sock yarn ready to show off at my drop-in sock session at John Lewis Milton Keynes . I was lucky enough to get my hands on a sample skein of it in the pink/minky shade and have turned it into a Hitchhiker.

But I couldn’t resist the Raven colourway so that will be my socks.

Well, I am off to deliver the belated wedding present!