My friend Lizzie bought me an ice dying kit for Christmas (thank you!) and I’ve only just now found the time to have a go.
The results are pretty cool if I do say so myself!
I’d never heard of ice dying until she bought me the kit but basically you place ice cubes onto a piece of fabric, sprinkle over powdered fabric dye and as the ice melts it makes some really funky patterns depending on whether you scrunch up the fabric beforehand.
I think it’s supposed to give a kind of tie-dye effect.
I placed my fabric on a baking rack over a baking tray (I didn’t have a bowl or bucket wide enough for the fat quarter so I used a tray).
I also folded my fabric into 4 quarters and laid it flat.
Once the ice had melted I realised that on the bottom the baking rack had made a striped pattern which was quite interesting! All 4 quarters had different patterns, I’m just waiting for it all to dry before I decide what to do with it.
So, if you want to have a go at something different and easy to (you could do this with kids it’s so easy!) then this is definitely an option!
I thought I’d write my crafty goals for the year here.
To be honest, it’s mostly going to be knitting for now. Yes, there’ll be the odd crochet or sewing project too, but I have a little list of knitting projects to get out of the way first (or at the very least, started!).
Sock Yarn Shawl
This is an ongoing project with no particular urgency, but it’s the project I cast on before all of the others on this list, so it gets first place! It’s a 4ply yarn by West Yorkshire Spinners in a GORGEOUS colour way (you can get it here from The Knitting Network if you want it in your stash!).
It’s going to take a while to finish it, but there’s no rush!
I have only ever knitted one sock. As in, ONE. Not a pair…but one!
I threw it away last year as it was all twisted and would never be worn!
Socks are my knitting nemesis. They take ages and they seem so slow to make any progress with at all. I’m a bit impatient!
So, this year, I’m going to focus on socks. I’ve cast on and knitted a couple of rows before Christmas, and then I put it aside. It’s time to pick it up again.
I just find DPNs so fiddly and no, I’m going to try any other methods like the magic loop anytime soon as I think it will be just the same amount of fiddliness!!
Fair Isle Top Down Sweater
I have the aran wool all ready for this. I have the book all ready to look at. I don’t have a pattern!
I’m going to have a go at designing one myself, which means I need to measure myself, design a Fair Isle Yoke motif (I’m thinking trees) and then write up the pattern itself for me to follow.
I’ve never designed a sweater before, I’ve only ever knitted 2 in my life in fact. Last year.
But, it’s a huge project I’m really looking forward to!
I have wool for the following projects:
A soft grey hat
A neon cowl
A baby blanket from scraps
Aran wool for a tank top (sweater vest)
About 20 random single hanks/ balls of yarn that I have NO IDEA what to do with!
And I’m currently crocheting a scraps blanket which I’ll donate somewhere that accepts baby knitted items.
Christmas fat quarters
Denim fabric – maybe a skirt or a bag?
Grey wool fabric into a draught excluder?
Fix a pair of shorts I made last year!
I also bought 3 metres of some striped fabric, with the intention of making either a dress or top. I’m thinking a t-shirt, which isn’t my first choice of garment for sewing…but it’s something I’ve never done before and will give me good practice with pattern matching. I could make it into a mix of t-shirt and dress by doing a long tunic type top.
And finally, I’m going to finish a leather handbag I started last year…it’s all dyed red and green, it just needs to be sewn up. I’ll have to refresh saddle stitch, but it should be no problem once I get into it!
That just needs a big chunk of time to focus on it!
Well, that’s it. All my crafty projects for the year.
There is not a lot on here really, I feel like I finished a lot of the bigger projects last year so I’m almost starting with a clean slate this year. And that feels pretty good. 🙂
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It’s set in the early 80’s (in an alternate 80’s) and is about the coexistence of the Old World and the New. Our heroine Susan is caught up in an adventure after witnessing Merlin, who is a Left-handed fighting bookseller, kill a crime boss with a silver hatpin…
I really can’t explain it anymore than that! I enjoyed the book as a fiction read that wasn’t a science fiction book by Isaac Asimov (which feels like all I’ve read over the past 3 years!) and it was an interesting concept.
The writing style was almost a little too simplistic. And the heroine was mostly swept up in things rather than participating in a lot of it. I guess it felt more reactive than active until the very end.
Some things could have been explained or detailed a bit more. And the relationship between Merlin and Susan could have been expanded upon.
But overall, a good read.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they turned this into a film…
I’m currently reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott...it’s about the art of writing. Some writing and life advice. It was going OK, until she started mentioning God every 3 pages and made a comment about France losing the war! I can’t get that throwaway comment out of my mind and it’s coloured the whole book now, haha!
So, we’ll see if I can finish it!
I thought I’d show you some of the crafty bits and bobs I got for Christmas…
I got some fabric. Denim in dark blue and yellow/ gold. I’m thinking a bag or a skirt. Not sure yet!
You can just see the yellow and blue denim in the background below…I couldn’t get the other pics to upload, internet just went funny at the crucial moment!
I also got a set of gorgeous dark red Christmas fat quarters. The colours are a lot darker in real life. I’m saving them for next year as the desire to make ANYTHING festive has completely left me.
My brother bought me a wool winder and since I’ve treated myself to 3 new balls of wool today and all of them are in hanks and not balls…well, that’s going to come in useful!
And the wool I bought?
Some 100% British Wool by West Yorkshire Spinners (Jacob in Aran weight) on the right of the pic below. I bought 2 balls of that, thinking it would be good for a hat or as part of a Fair Isle yoke for a jumper I have in mind to start soon.
And I also bought just the one ball of Washted Malabrigo (684 Chameleon colour).
You can get that one here from Wool Warehouse if you like the look of it(the one on the left). It’s really squishy and soft!
And for Christmas I got some more wool by West Yorkshire Spinners in brown and cream colours for the jumper I just mentioned above…so I’m all ready to start measuring and designing my first ever top down jumper!
And these are natural fleece colours…no nasty chemicals or fixatives, just pure wool as it came off the sheep! So…an eco-friendly option!
The next post will be looking at my 2022 crafting goals. And then, hopefully back to blogging with a vengeance in January and beyond.
Last year in February I did a 30 day blogging challenge and I’m thinking of doing that again this year. Last year was about crafting, not sure what the topic/ theme could be for this year. Maybe a specific craft like knitting or crochet?
I was almost thinking of sharing a small business or a pattern I’ve enjoyed every day…something like that? Not sure! What do you think?!
This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may get a small commission of that purchase with no extra cost to yourself.
Last week I sent another box of knitted goodies to charity. It’s great for me as I have more room to make more stuff now!
Do you remember some of these below from previous posts this year? All gone now as well as more blankets that I forgot to take pictures of!
I loved the Christmas blankie so much…but there comes a point when you have to say to yourself “Actually, I have ENOUGH knitted blankets now!”.
I have a few projects on the go which are:
Knitted baby cardigan
Knitted sock yarn shawl
Orange granny square blanket using up scraps from a jumper I made earlier in the year
That’s enough to be getting on with now. I have a few ideas for future projects which is basically, a top down sweater and more socks! Also a tank top and a neon fair isle cowl.
Since I got rid of a lot of scrap fabric the other day, I don’t have a lot of sewing projects planned. Although I did buy a couple of cute Christmas fat quarters from a local sewing shop a couple of days ago…I couldn’t help myself!
Just look at the traditional Christmas colours on the fat quarter on the right!
I never go for weird Christmas colours…I remember as a teenager in the early 2000’s when they bought out black Christmas trees for the first time, as well as purple and silver as a festive colour combo…I hated them! What was wrong with golds, red and greens?
Anyway…I have NO IDEA what I’m going to make with them…probably zipper bags as they are my absolute favourite sewing make!
Last week was the week I sewed up all my outstanding sewing projects. I even managed to sneak a few small extra ones in too!
I had some fabric scraps leftover from a previous project and thought I’d make a headband. The fabric is quite stretchy, I’m not sure exactly what it is. But I love the colour!
I basically kept wrapping the fabric around my head and trimming a little bit off until, including seam allowance, I thought it was the right size to stay on without sliding off or giving me a headache. Not an exact science, to be sure.
I sewed up the long side, right sides together and turned inside out. I then tucked the end of the tube into the other end, folded the edges neatly over each other and then sewed it up. It took 15 mins if that.
And it’s my favourite make on the sewing machine yet! It’s practical, it FITS perfectly and it’s not too hot to wear in this heat!
If you look on Pinterest you can see lots of ways to make much more interesting ones, like a turban or knotted headband. I just made this off the top of my head (which is where it is currently!). And it used up scraps which would otherwise have been thrown away. I’m really happy with it!
This was the first time I have ever used black Aida fabric and I gotta say, not a fan! The result of the colours I chose (I didn’t stick to the exact ones from the pattern) and the contrast between them and the fabric looks good, I think.
But the fabric itself was really difficult to use and my stitching ended up looking horrible! The fabric was stiffer than usual, maybe because it’s been dyed black? I don’t know, it was really hard to use, especially to see where the needle needed to go – I did make sure to have a white piece of paper underneath to help, but I found my fat sauasage fingers blocked the white and made a shadow so it was still hard to see!
I still have more of the fabric to use up! Eek!
Here is the finished piece, not sure where to put it as of yet, maybe I’l just pin it to a pin board?!
I have one more cross stitch pattern to go, but a much bigger one.
I’m loving using up my stash – all I’ve paid for so far are the digital patterns. So, a lot of the colours might be the same, but that’s called a cohesive and consistent colour palette, right?!!
I started this project last month and honestly haven’t done anything on it for about 2 or 3 weeks.
I’ve been so preoccupied with my new digital hobby, creating digital ‘art’ and messing around with Photoshop etc. that all crafting has been put to one side.
After several years of ‘BLAH BLAH BLAH’ (which I won’t go into here), I feel like I have emerged with a hit-the-ground-running kind of attitude in the last couple of months or so. Things which have been on my list to do for ages have got done, things I wanted to start have got started. I am MOTIVATED!!!!
So, naturally, knitting and sewing has been put aside for the moment. Although, saying that, I did manage to get about 10 rows of my Neon Fair Isle Bag done last night whilst listening to some Youtube channels.
I also opened a brand spanking new Etsy shop last week too. Yay! There’s nothing on it yet, still doing the back end stuff like policies, making nice banners that kind of thing. But it will eventually become a digital download place where I sell printables (but better quality than what I’ve been posting here! You know…do it ‘Professionally’).
But it’s empty at the moment. I also have to, you know, CREATE some printables for the shop, but just having it opened and ready to go is motivation in and of itself.
I am also leaning towards doing some more sewing again, I feel like sewing is a bit of a faff compared to say, knitting. I have to actually set the sewing machine up downstairs, collect my sewing box, materials, threads, patterns etc together and it just seems to take more time to set up and get started, so I might do some sewing on Saturday or Sunday. [Spoiler alert: I didn’t!!]
Saturday 17 April
I treated myself to a Fat Quarter of fabric from Lovely Jubbly Fabrics which came in the post today. I’m getting seriously fed up of my current fabric choices, I think I might make a bag (my favourite things to make) and if there’s anything leftover then a scrunchie too.
I also went for a walk down the country lanes near me, it has been so sunny and ‘warm’ lately, it looks like not just Spring, but Summer (although occasionally feels like Winter!).
Sunday 18 April
I have bought and printed off a couple of new patterns from an Etsy shop called Stitchrovia. I did a cross-stitch piece a few months ago and after years of putting cross-stitch aside I realised I loved and missed the hand embroidery element to it and so I bought 2 more to do.
They’re text based patterns, not what I usually go for, but I’m feeling motivated lately like I mentioned above, and so, why the heck not?!
A motivational quote makes for a motivated person…maybe?!!
I’m going to stitch the first one on some black Aida I have, that might be a little hard on the eyes, I can’t remember ever having done cross-stitch on a black background before. If it gets too difficult to see, I can always start again on a white background.
Another project that I dug out to finish is a leather handbag. I went on a workshop last year, luckily right before lockdown happened, and made a mini leather handbag and got the pieces ready to make another one.
I dyed the main pieces a dark green and red (looked more pink) last year and bevelled the edges, got the buckle on and then I got sort of stuck sewing on the buckle strap. On the day of the workshop, the teacher did this part for all of us to save a bit of time because saddle stitching takes ages!
I used up a lot of the thread she gave us, and I sort of lost interest a bit. But, now I have some thicker black waxed thread so we’ll see how I go.
I have all the tools and materials, I needed there to be strong natural light really. It was too dark and cold to work downstairs in winter. I’m ready to try again!
Monday 19 April
You know those days that you know you have been productive but there is absolutely NOTHING to show for it? That was today!
House cleaned, paper recycled, papers shredded…so much boring admin stuff done! Dumped so much old stuff…files on computer, old papers (that’s one thing that piles up for me…I love to scribble random notes on paper). I sorted a bag of books to take to the charity shop…and yet the place still looks the same!! 🙂
Part of me being motivated and productive is cleaning and de-cluttering, I never knew years ago, how good it would feel to throw stuff away!
I started a book called The Testaments by Margaret Atwood today. It’s the last book on my shelf that I haven’t read, once this is done then my reading list will be complete.
It’s a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, I love dystopian future fiction. Give me a book about the world ending any day, I mean come on. Who wants a romantic comedy when you can have death and destruction?
I’m going to try and get some more of the Neon Fair Isle Bag done. It’s only small and it’s only knit and purl, but the colour changing and untwisting takes me forever! It’s soooooo slow going. I have about half of the second side to do and then sew it together and make an -icord strap/ drawstring with my French Knitting Doll.
Well, that’s all for now folks, I’ll try and post more regularly but I’m all steam ahead on the digital stuff now. I even planned out an e-book at the weekend. I do want to get my crafty projects done though, sometimes they hang over your head for ages and they become bigger things than they really are. Some things, like the bag, were only meant to be short and quick projects, and yet they drag on for so long that they almost aren’t fun anymore.
Goals for April:
-Finish Neon Fair Isle Bag
-Do some more on my leather bag (doesn’t mater how much, just SOMETHING)
-Try and finish The Testaments book
-Knit a bit more of my orange jumper that I’ve done half of
-DIGITAL STUFF: open Amazon KDP account, finish all the back end of Etsy stuff (FAQs, Policies, etc), do a bit more on Pinterest and RedBubble sites, Figure out commercial usage fonts and then it’s all go! Start designing printables and work on my book.
Every so often I have a clear out and donate unwanted items to charity shops.
I’m a bit sceptical about donating wool and fabrics because I never see them for sale in the shops (honestly I never even shop in them, I just mean I don’t see them in the super quick 10 seconds when I drop stuff off!) and frankly, I do wonder if they can even use half a ball of yarn and a bag of scrap fabrics.
Usually I put a few bags in my car boot and wait until there is enough to donate in one go but there has been a big bag and a big box of stuff in there for months now due to the pandemic and not being able to drop off stuff.
I did place a bag of scrap fabrics in there, thinking maybe someone could use them…but then, seeing all the eco-friendly crafting and re-purposing posts everywhere, I thought, you know what? I’m going to get them out of there and actually do something with them. And so I went and dug them out of the boot.
I have enough bigger pieces to cut up if there aren’t enough in this tiny bag, but I thought either a patchwork blanket or something small, like a bag. I already have MILLIONS of both knitted and sewn Christmas stockings from last year, so I don’t need any more of those. Quite a few of the scraps are Christmas fabrics.
After a week or so of really warm, almost summer weather, the weather took a drastic turn for the worse – it snowed and tiny ice-hailed yesterday! It was like regressing back into winter and when I got up today the water in the bird bath had frozen over! Poor lil birdies!
BUT…I did manage to find a use for the fabric scraps after all – wrapped around my plants as insulation on my windowsill!!!
I re-potted them that day too…so you can see a bit of dirt on the spikes, I’ll knock that off later. Hopefully it wasn’t too much of a shock to their systems!
In the last couple of weeks my creativity regarding designing and using Photoshop has just exploded.
I have a better understanding of Photoshop and have been able to create repeating patterns. So, naturally I thought, why not get one printed onto fabric?
The first website that springs to mind for this is Spoonflower, a company from the USA but which has a manufacturing centre in Germany.
I uploaded one of my designs and yes, in hindsight I probably should have waited because I have since created other designs that I like better than this one! But this one is special because it’s the first ever one that I had moved all the pieces into place and created layers and figured out shortcuts…it’s special, you know?!
So, I received it in the post today (Tuesday) after ordering last Wednesday, which to create and ship and have it delivered in the space of a week in these pandemic and Brexit trying times I think is pretty good!
The fabric was a cotton, I can’t remember the exact name of it, but it feels quite nice and the print quality is pretty good, the lines will never be as crisp and clear as when you print onto paper because that’s how it goes with fabric, but overall the colours are pretty true to my design and it looks good. There is only one real downside…
The print is MASSIVE!!!!!!!
I hold my hand up, I think that’s my fault for missing the part about sizing (although I’m pretty sure I read it through before I ordered) anyway, I think I know where I went wrong, aside from ordering the biggest piece of fabric as a test piece. It’s all in the pixels and how many and what size canvas etc. Oh well, I know for next time and to be frank, for figuring out everything in a fortnight, it’s all still pretty good!
Here we go:
I still have a lot to learn about pattern placing and making good patterns that are specifically for fabric but overall, it’s not bad for a first go! 🙂
As a comparison, this is what it looks like when it’s small, as on my RedBubble shop…it looks WAY better as a tiny design! I guess size really DOES matter!!
But seriously…what the heck do I do with such a HUGE pattern?
Patchwork is mostly out because the squares would need to be huge. Maybe a cushion, of which I have a million already, or a tote bag? I haven’t made a proper tote in years…oh dear!! What should I do with it?!!!
These are strange and interesting times. Uncertain ones too. Especially if you own or work for an independent small business in the arts, fibre, or crafting world.
Now, more than ever, small businesses need your help and support, whether by sharing or purchasing their work.
As a crafter – knitting, crochet, and sewing mainly – I try to buy local and small as often as possible. This past year of 2020 I basically used up all my wool stash, so I didn’t really buy much new yarn. In the future, I will be trying to buy hand-spun and hand-dyed as much as possible. Of course, this can get quite expensive (and why should it not? You are after all paying a premium for time and experience and creativity), so, where I couldn’t buy handmade, I bought local, whether in my local town or in the UK.
I have bought fabric from UK Etsy sellers and even flour from Kat Goldin – knitters and crocheters will know that name! (See Gartur Stitch Farm on Instagram for more details). I have shopped from local independent chocolate shops on the high street for presents and bought handmade, one-of-a-kind pottery pieces from UK potters – Sam Throws Pots on Etsy and Instagram does some beautiful oil burners and trinket dishes.
I try to support artists I like by buying something small (for example an enamel pin) if I can’t afford/ don’t have room for a big piece such as an art print or original.
Some businesses like Shetland Wool Adventures will have had to pivot completely to how they used to work as a result of the pandemic. Instead of offering guided tours around Shetland, this small business instead opted to write, design and have published their own beautiful journal.
I bought the journal pictured above a few months ago, it has a few knitting projects, recipes, articles about Shetland, walks, information about wool. All sorts. I really want to visit now! And by the way, the apple cake recipe was NOM NOMMY NOM!! 🙂 See Shetland Wool Adventures on instagram for more details – I can’t wait for volume 2.
So here are a few independent shops I like. All of them I have purchased from in the past and can heartily recommend.
FusedGlassCornwall – Etsy
This shop sells a variety of fused glass objects such as jewellery, light catchers, hanging decorations, Christmas decorations, cards, art pieces. All in a chunky, bright style that I love. Her penguins and snowmen are particularly adorable.
FabricJungleUK – Etsy
This shop sells fat quarter fabrics in really cool patterns – think Marvel superhero fabric, Harry Potter, Star Wars and much more. I bought fabric to make my Dad and little brother sewn zipper bags for Christmas.
AllSewnUpBySophia – Etsy
Again fat quarters, but the ones I got from this Etsy shop were slightly more traditional (I bought sewing themed fat quarters from here) but still pretty – the Christmas striped fabric was my favourite.
thelittlestfalcon – Etsy
I bought some of my Christmas cards from this shop this year – robins, whacky penguins! Pretty cards with prints of hand painted animals on. And since I am in Yorkshire, I think they are relatively local to me too if I remember rightly.
EarthKindCreations – Etsy
A shop selling natural, eco-friendly products and kits. I bought my mum a beeswax wrap kit. They sell kitchen items, re-usable cloth sponges and towels, sanitary products, all in beautiful fabrics.
CottonandTwigg – Etsy
I bought a few hand sewn gingerbread men from this shop. They had facemarks and were holding a roll of toilet paper with the year 2020 sewn on!!! 🙂
WonderWeaverDesign – Etsy
Willow basket weaving shop which sells beautiful handmade baskets (the orange pumpkin and black cat baskets would have been perfect for kids if I had any!!) as well as kits. I bought my mum a pot holder kit for her birthday last year – all these kits I buy my mother and she hasn’t even started one of them yet!!
These are just some of the shops I have bought from last year. Definitely have a look at them the next time you are browsing Etsy looking for something to give as gifts or to try yourself.
The smaller shops need your custom and support much more than Amazon or Wish or Ali Express or whatever, so support them now and hopefully help keep skills, local heritage crafts and traditions continuing well into the future!