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!

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!

The last-minute week

As a person who works to the last minute of every deadline, I’m quite good at not addressing things which are coming up. So last week when the kids went back to school there were ‘suddenly’ lots of things I had to get done very quickly. It’s like there was a blackout on any calendar events after 2nd September.

So I turned the calendar over from August to September late on 1st and realised that it was my friend’s son’s first birthday on the third. That was about how the week went then. I was winding wool for my fairisle workshop late the night before, ordering school lunches about an hour before the deadline and so on.


A few lovely bits of fairisle from the workshop in Solihull. We used Rowan Fine Tweed which I love.

Another last minute job was to make something to wear for Lauren’s book launch party at Guthrie and Ghani last night. I don’t go to parties much these days so I never know what to wear and tend to make something that I think will be just right for the occasion. I bought a great book of Japanese dress patterns  from here and have made the dress on the front cover twice. You do have to trace off the patterns which is a bit of a bind but worth it as the patterns are so unusual.

I bought the fabric for this version from Guthrie and Ghani and it’s a really light handkerchief cotton in a grey/green shade. The pattern has 5 large pleats on the front yoke which I turned into 15 smaller pin tucks which show on the right side and turned out really well. This is a bit of a rubbish photo from when we got home but I thought it best to capture it while I remembered rather than waiting for daylight!


The party was really good. Stuart from the Sewing Bee was there which made it extra fun and I met Tilly and had chance to tell her how much I love her Coco dress pattern.

Lauren’s book is a brilliant mix of projects from wearable garments to homewares and is choc full of beautiful images, fabrics and ideas.

We also managed to sneak a mojito in at Selfridges on the way!

Skirts and dresses

Last weekend I taught 2 days of A-line skirt workshops, one at Guthrie and Ghani and one at Liberty. As ever I loved how everyone’s skirts turned out differently just due to their fabric choice and whether they planned their skirt to sit on their hips or waist which affects the amount of A-lining that happens. Here are some of the finishers at Guthrie and Ghani:



The last time I was at Lauren’s shop I purchased some aubergine jersey to make the Coco dress by Tilly and the Buttons. I had made a stripey one already from some stash fabric but I am beyond pleased with this version.

It seems a bit boring to make the same thing again and again but I am thinking of making a striped one for my summer holiday.

On the knitting front the finishing streak is still going strong, surprisingly. I have resisted starting anything new for quite a few weeks now but I did buy some yarn from Oxford Yarn Store on Saturday because a customer came in to show off their finished socks and the yarn was just beautiful and there were only 2 balls left so I had to get it. Besides I only have one pair of unfinished socks at the moment which is very good for me.

House of Fraser in Worcester have started a Knit and Chat every fortnight on Monday morning 11am-1pm. I went this morning and met lots of lovely ladies knitting a real mixture of projects. Even though I started going as a Rowan support person I think I will carry on going anyway as it’s ages since I went to a knitting club and I really enjoyed it! The next one is on Monday 14th.

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!

Pockets and puddings

Friday was my first visit of 2014 to Guthrie and Ghani in Birmingham. I think it is the third time I have taught a workshop there for making the Rowan Secret Pocket Bag.
There were four ladies all of whom were great at sewing already and were there to learn a couple of new techniques and have a lovely day out, of course.


So left to right is Sinitta, Sharon, Lindsay and Lisa. All the bags turned out great and we had a brilliant day.

I have just got back from my annual visit to The Pudding Club. I only managed 5 puds this year which is a bit poor. The best on our table was 7 from Claire and Zoe -7 is the target. Maybe the portions were bigger than last year…

skirts, bags and ripples

Workshop season is in full flow! I’ve done two great workshops at Guthrie & Ghani in Birmingham over the past couple of weeks. We made a secret pocket bag…

and today we did the first EVER Rowan ‘Make an A-line skirt’ where everyone made their own pattern. It was brilliant! Unfortunately everyone finished at different times so I don’t have a finale picture of everyone but I do have Caroline and Katie who loved their day so much they didn’t want it to end…

and I have been to Milton Keynes where everyone seems to be called Vicki apart from Julie, Charlotte and Karen and we had a lovely day doing ripple crochet. It was meant to be a more varied workshop than just rippling but everyone had a bit of an affinity with rippling so it sort of took over the day.

I managed to fit in a visit to Yarndale last weekend but will blog about that next time.

Happy knitting and sewing!


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!

Aprons Galore!

On Saturday I taught a Rowan Learn to Sew workshop at Guthrie and Ghani in Moseley Village, Birmingham. The shop has just been open a week and is delicious! There is a huge choice of fabrics, trimmings and haberdashery as well as a fine selection of yarn and an in-house barista to make you a coffee while you browse.
The workshop space on the first floor is full of light , spacious and well-equipped. I had 7 ladies who came to learn how to sew on a machine by making a vintage style apron. It was a brilliant day, everyone made a fantastic apron with no disasters that a bit of unpicking didn’t resolve!


Here’s Jennifer gathering the top of thee apron skirt.


Here are Melanie and Sue looking professional.


Dorothy (who travelled from North Wales specially!) was the first to finish but unfortunately had to leave to catch her train before the finale…


Look at the fantastic finished aprons! Well done Andrea, Rachel, Sue, Melanie, Jennifer and Becky. They all used the same pattern but it is amazing how the fabric choice makes them all unique.

I am just in the process of booking a few more workshop dates with Lauren so look out on my workshop page for more details. I can’t wait to go there again!

Learn to Sew Workshop

This Saturday I’m teaching a Rowan Learn to Sew workshop at a new fabric, yarn and haberdashery store in Moseley Village, Birmingham. It’s called ‘Guthrie and Ghani‘ and is owned by Lauren who was in the final of ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’! We’ll be making this vintage style apron.


There is a huge workshop programme and they have a great range of fabrics and trimmings. I can’t wait to explore!