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Cottage Ripple {handmade}

28/04/2017

I feel that there should be some sort of fanfare to announce this post, or possibly bunting.  You are please to imagine one as appropriate because this is a finish I have waited a long long time to be able to share with you.

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

Yes, it’s true, I have finally, finally finished my Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket (“ta da!”).  This blanket has been 2 years and 4 months in the making; it’s the longest I’ve ever taken to make something, and that includes my children. Cumulatively. Even though they were all three of them late.

I started on Christmas Day 2014; itching to get into this enourmous squishy bag of yarn, armed with a crochet hook that seemed vaguely about the right size and my usual “how hard can it be?”.  The answer, for the record, is that when your entire crochet experience to date comprises the bag you made in Learn to Crochet class, the odd edging on a blanket or jumper, a baby wraparound, and your swatch, the jump to a project that starts with “chain 213”  is, shall we say, sudden.

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

That first precarious starting chain took several lots of counting, and the first row seemed to be the product of an entire day’s stern concentration; each stitch intensely executed.  I can see from the tension in those first fews rows just how tightly I was holding onto everything as I figured out my crochet holds for yarn, project and hook.

And then, probably about the same time I finished the ripple pillow, it all seemed to click and I relaxed into the stitches. Suddenly it didn’t take an entire episode of Game of Thrones for just one row; I could feel my hands start to move instinctively, and with that came the speed.  It became my non-thinking project, the piece I picked up just to do a couple of stitches of an evening to take the edge of the day off, and it perched on and under the end of the sofa for many months while I dipped in and out of other projects.

There’s a section just after the middle where suddenly it gets a big wider over a couple of rows. I lost my crochet hook, and for all the searching, and despite being certain that I’d found it on the lounge carpet and put it somewhere very safe, it continued to elude me.  Of course only at that point did I discover that my hook, bought long ago on my first trip to the States, doesn’t match any of the UK sizes.  We went up to the next size (and it got bigger), we went down to the size below (and it still got bigger), and then with relief I finally found the original hiding out inside a ball of yarn I’d last touched in the summer.

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

There comes a point with every project where it hits a curve, and suddenly the finish is in sight, and at that point, no matter how much I’ve dilly dallied in the past, or put it to the back of the cupboard, it becomes the one and only thing that I want to work on, a sprint finish to a marathon project.  And so it was with the blanket.  As I started the final column of colours in the pattern I could feel it gathering speed.  When I got to the crease in the page that marked 7 rows to go, I started calculating the possible finish date, and then suddenly all the ripples were done, and all that was left was the border (and 168 ends to darn in but let’s not dwell on those).

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

It’s a beautiful border, but not a very big one; just enough to hold everything together and then it was done.  So here it is, in full show off mode, my gorgeous blanket:

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

In terms of the knitty gritty we’ve already mentioned the changes in tension, and I’d be misleading you if I said that the result was anything other than a seriously trapeziodal creation.  I suspect that when I started the hook was slightly too small, but by the time I finished it was a bit too big.  That’s what happens when you learn on the go and while it’s rather noticeable if you try to fold it up, yuo’d never notice when you’re snuggled up underneath it, which is after all what really matters.

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

The tension issues also mean that it has a bit of a unique feature on the final border round.

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

As I started the final border I’d said to John how unusual it was for me to be making something exactly as written in the pattern, right down to the colours of yarn; in fact I would go so far as to say that I’ve never knit something that hasn’t had a bit of knitter input, even if it’s just adding length or changing the colour, and a little voice in the back of my brain wondered whether it’s somehow lesser for it.  And so when the yarn ran out, I chose to audition leftovers rather than buy another ball.  The winner is the nearest tonal colour (Magenta) and for all the pink to Lavender’s purple, you do have to look for it to see it, it doesn’t jump out at you.  It’s the best of both worlds; a gorgeous exercise in colour from Lucy and a tiny tweak from me to make it my own. Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

As for the yarn itself, as acrylics go, it’s not bad.  That there is very high praise from a self confessed yarn snob.  It isn’t the same as working with wool, but it makes a soft warm blanket that the kids can haul around without my worrying too much, safe in the knowledge I can just bung it in the machine if I need to.

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

And speaking of the kids… when I first finished it it lived on the end of the sofa, and I happily snuggled up underneath with my knitting or a good book and it was mine.  Pip liked to hide underneath it and poke his fingers through the holes, Kitty liked it because she could hide underneath but still see us coming in enough time to jump out, and Elma, the only one of my three children who has ever had a blankie (a now remarkably grey-beige Debbie Bliss Alphabet Blanket) observed, planned, and at one bedtime executed a graceful coup by declaring that there was no way she could ever ever get to sleep unless she had both her blankie and “Mama-blankie”. It’s been on her bed ever since.

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

Even though I’ve got more than enough projects around here to keep me busy, even though I’m making a little mouse, and I’m really enjoying knitting Kitty’s cardigan, there’s a part of me that misses the blanket.  It was my companion for so many months; the thing I picked up when I didn’t want to think, I just wanted to do, and it honestly feels strange now that it’s all done.

And you know where this one’s going don’t you! I haven’t done any actual shopping just yet, but I have got the next blanket all picked out; and possibly the one after if Kitty has anything to say about it.

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

 

Crochet Elma Family Handmade Inspiration Kitty Knitting Photography Pip Sewing Work in Progress

Progress and Planning

29/04/2016

This week I have been plotting.  I’ve been making as well but I’m having one of those phases where I flit between projects depending on mood and concentration levels and while some things have got a little bigger since the last time you saw it, none of them are anywhere near finishing.  The backing and wadding and binding for the Fishing Net quilt are still in their bag, as is the background fabric for my next quilt, mostly waiting for me to tidy my desk up even just a teeny tiny bit to make room for what will be a quite gargantuan quilting effort.

Space for the Butterflies - Cottage ripple Space for the Butterflies - Cottage ripple  I picked up my crochet again when the weather turned cold, mostly because it’s so cozy to work on while it’s all spread over my lap.  I have now finished the first third of the central section, although given that that has taken me a year and a quarter I can only hope that the rest won’t take as long to finish.  I’m definitely getting faster, and my trebles are getting more fluid, so I have high hopes.  I’d say maybe by Christmas but it turns out that after all these years I am actually learning that given that the last third of the year has all three children’s birthdays and Christmas, I might want to rethink what I’m going to be able to do on top of all of the deadlines for birthday jumpers.  Maybe a year from now – what do you think?

 

The chief distraction from the crochet has been Christmas knitting. Of the 2015 variety.  I was doing so well with H’s Christmas present balls of yarn; he had his January socks in January and his February socks in February and his March socks are ….

20160429-DSC_0073 two inches of the first sock that keep falling off the needles as soon as Pip even looks in their direction.  I do like the pattern but I think it’s my least favourite of all four yarns and when I was looking for something to grab for car knitting while we were travelling last weekend I’m afraid I glanced in their direction, and then went to pick up the loveliness that is Socks that Rock medium weight to make a start on April’s socks.    Space for the Butterflies - handknit socks

It’s proof that lovely yarn practically knits itself because by the time we arrived back on Sunday night I’d got to the toe shaping.  Forgive me for my sock infidelity lovely March socks, I promise I’ll get back to you just as soon as I’ve finished the second April.

But I mentioned plotting.  I picked up one of my stash of Oliver + S patterns the other day and realised that not only has Kitty grown out of the sizing (that’s not that much of a surprise, she may be five but she wears age 8 and 9 clothes) but Elma is on the cusp of being too grown up for them too.  Well that will never do.  And so on a rainy wet evening this week that felt entirely borrowed from February, I pulled out a good chunk of my dressmaking fabric stash, divided the patterns into Kitty and Elma sizes and asked them to do some choosing.  And so I have a summer sewing list of sorts.

I’ve done this before; make lists and lined up fabric and pattern and then that seems to have satisfied that particular creative itch and I’ve never actually got around to doing the cutting and sewing, a sort of textile equivalent to joining a gym making you think that you’ve actually done some exercise.  So lets just say that this is the intention, even if we have to wait a little bit for the reality.

So what do we have?

Space for the Butterflies - campervan skirts

Well probably first on the list is going to be the girls’ souvenir from our weekend away – H and I both fell in love with this camper van print, to the point that even a similar print but with beach huts couldn’t distract us from the vision of two little girls running around in camper van skirts with dotty pockets.  My plan is to make more (yet more) of the Purl Bee’s Skirt for All Ages, it’s a great pattern and the previous incarnations have been top of the wardrobe picks all year round.

Space for the Butterflies - Susanne from Citronille

After that, and in the spirit of fairness and the slightly more important spirit of dressing them as near to matching as I can get away with while they’re still small enough to find it fun, I have the Citronille pattern for Susanne, in sizes to cover both girls.  It’s a beautiful floaty gathered smock dress, which will be perfect for the hot days I’m convincing myself are coming (even if we have to go travelling in Europe to find them), and work well with leggings underneath for the rest of a British summer or when Kitty grows 10 inches overnight.

I can easily imagine that this is as far as I will actually get, but if I indulge myself for a second and press on, both girls have chosen a skirt from my stash of Oliver + S patterns;

Space for the Butterflies - Oliver + S skirts

Kitty’s is the Badminton Skort to be made out of a blue quilting cotton (Toy Box II by Sara Morgan for Blue Hill Fabrics), with possibly something of a contrast for the shorts underneath depending on how far I can make the fabric stretch, and Elma chose the Hopscotch Skirt and a pile of fat quarters from a seaside print. It’s crazy to think that when I bought that fabric it would have made her a dress. Oh well!

And last, but by no means least, we have the challenges;

20160429-DSC_0141

a Fairytale dress for Kitty from fabric from the weekend’s haul, a beautiful albeit nameless quilting cotton, and for Elma an Ice Cream Dress from two of the oldest lengths of fabric in my stash.

20160429-DSC_0110

They’re both Liberty Tana lawn, one a birthday present from the days before the children arrived, and the other bought while I was on maternity leave with Kitty.  Liberty print is far too special not to be treasured and held onto until exactly the right project comes along, and I think this might just be it – always assuming I can get around to making it before Miss Elma grows again.

And lest you be worried that poor Master Pip Squeak is missing out in all of this, (a) his birthday comes first, (b) he needs a new jumper before then and (c) I have some truly amazing navy blue fabric with a white lobster print that needs to be something for him, I just can’t quite decide what – any suggestions for sewing patterns for little boys?

Joining Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On.

If you like talking about sewing, and knitting and making things both with and for the children, please would you vote for me? I’m a finalist in the MADs blog awards and I need your vote to win – to vote click here.  You have to give an email address, presumably to stop us spamming the results and then look for Space for the Butterflies on the drop down menu for Best Craft Blog.  You don’t have to be a blogger, or based in the UK, just be someone who enjoys reading and can spare a couple of minute to vote sometime between now and 27 May – thank you so much x

 

 

Crochet Handmade Handmade for Elma Handmade for Kitty Knitting Quilting Sewing Work in Progress

Starting, well everything

11/09/2015

In a move that surprises no one, and is probably, by which we mean almost absolutely certainly, driven by my impending return to work and a feeling that I’ve achieved absolutely nothing over the summer/the last year, I’m starting things.  Lots of things.

Even though I know that in actual practical terms I will have about the same amount of crafting time while working as I did while staying home with three small children, somehow I feel that all my time is about to disappear in a puff of smoke and I must therefore make all of the things right now.

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

I’ve started with a hat.  Kitty’s birthday cardigan (still waiting for its buttons and a good blocking) took two and a smidge skeins of Malabrigo Rios, leaving me with a nice squishy ball of leftovers that I’m hoping will be just the right amount for a Cabernet Hat.  I’m in that early stage where you look at the hat bunched up on the needles, and look across at your tall four year old daughter, and back at the needles again with a little frown.  I didn’t take any chances, I know that Kit does not wear anything that says aged 4 on it (or even 5, it’s more like 7-8), so I measured her head and I’m knitting a medium.  It should be perfect, but hats always look so little when you’ve only down a couple of inches don’t they.

I’m knitting on with faith and hope, because if it fits Kitty is going to love it (and if it does’t, guess what Elma, you have a new hat!).

In the background, sitting on the arm of the sofa, I’ve got the yarn to cast on a super top secret secret secret project which I’ll be able to tell you all about as soon as a tiny person makes an appearance within the next couple of months, and underneath it my beautiful crochet ripple.  Poor thing, it’s been rather neglected since Game of Thrones ended and I could go back to knitting and actually looking at the television when we want to watch something, rather than crochet and merely listening (which if the only way I can watch GofT).  It is great for picking up and just doing a couple of stitches, I know exactly where I am in the pattern and row 20 is growing slowly but surely.

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

When I started it on Boxing Day I had a vision of spending the next Christmas snuggly tucked up underneath it and while I have no doubt that that will be the case, it’s probably going to be because I’m working on row 35.  I’m sure if I wasn’t working on anything else I’d finish, sooner, though still probably not by Christmas, but we all know that isn’t going to happen.  Maybe I should assign myself a day of the week for crochet, and a day for knitting and a day for sewing and all the rest just to make sure everything gets a turn.

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

On the other end of the sofa is the little pile of intended sewing projects.  I’ve not stopped making the triangle quilt although I did have a bit of a pause over the summer when we went to Europe because even had we been able to get power, there was no way the sewing machine was fitting in the car, and the back of my desk is piled high with lengths of blue and gold chain pieced bunting.

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

 

It’s so very pretty but with little ones around it’s not always possible to sneak off to the studio for a little sewing so I’ve been hunting out some hand sewing, starting with the ‘cover kit’ from Cath Kinston’s Patch book which has been on my shelves for goodness knows how long.  The pattern is for a tote bag with instructions to make a pillow instead and I think that’s the route I’m going to take.  I’ve got a sizeable collection of fabric tote bags and I can just see a pretty Cath-print Dresden Plate cushion sat on one of the girls’ beds.

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

And then, and this was probably the point where sensible forward planning crossed the watershed, the latest Mollie Makes arrived (issue 57).  I love this issue, it’s one of my favourites both in terms of the articles and the projects.  I usually find that I like looking at the projects but they rarely scream “make me now”, and then I turned a page and saw this chandelier mobile:

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

Only in pink, with pink and purple flowers, and maybe a little green if the girls would let me sneak it in.

And then this little zip up bag:

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

Which I’ve only not started yet because I can’t decide whether it’s the perfect thing for the vintage fabric squares that we got in our Blogtacular goodie bags, all the blue scraps I can find for a seaside sort of effect, or full on glorious technicolour.

Realistically, I’m going back to work next week.  I might finish a hat, a row or two on the ripple, or a few more triangles on my quilt, but isn’t it lovely to think and plan and dream, and book up every millisecond of crafting time until next Easter.

 

Crochet Knitting Work in Progress

Knitting for Girls

10/06/2015

it seems that my need for instant gratification last week has transformed into its more commonplace and virulent cousin, starting-itis.  I have huge urges to start as many creative projects as is humanely possible, of course at all times ignoring the fact that there are only so many hours in the day and days in the year, and that time when I’m not actively parenting is, to put is mildly, a little scarce.

I’ve tried to rein it in I promise, I haven’t started either of the quilt projects that call my name as clear as bell, or even shopped the stash and made a fabric pile for them, probably because even in my weakened state I can tell that that’s a side effect of only being part way through cutting out the 235784392485 half triangles I need (and you think I’m exaggerating – ok I am, but the real number is still around 460).  

I’m still steadily rippling away on the blanket, watching the colours stack up, row upon gorgeous row as I continue to avoid looking at the actual television screen during Game of Thrones (I’m hooked on the story but it’s too graphic for me that close to bedtime – my subconscious would take it and run with it).

And then there is the knitting, and this is where I mysteriously appear to have two works in progress.

   

   

The first is my ‘thinking’ knitting, Ysolda’s Cria (the long sleeved version) out of Madelinetosh ToshSport in the glorious deep purple that is Flashdance.  I’ve been planning to make this since well before Kitty was born so it’s lovely to have it underway and not so lovely when it reveals the inadequasies of my late night brain in the simple matter of following instructions.  Having got it back on track I’m determined to pick it up when I’ve got a bit of time and space to properly work out where I’d got to.

Which might explain the very ‘gentle’ progress I’m making.

   

 

The ‘pick it up and go for it’ knit is the girl baby sweater to partner the Stacked Stagrhorn.  It’s the Maile cardigan, and by courtesy of a little yarn auditioning on Instagram, and because both girls chose it as their pick I’m using the very lovely Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in “I can’t quite remember where I left the skein band and I’m too tired to go in search of but it could have been called something really random like MacArther Park”

It’s pretty, it’s lovely and soft and fine and will be perfect for a summer baby or an autumn baby, and I could just stop interpreting, pick up and go knitting, for “don’t pay even the slightest bit of attention” and stop adding stray additional yarnovers, I think it’s going to be rather sweet.

I do generally try to stick to one project per craft at any given time, but I do like a lot of crafts and by the time you’ve got one knitting, one crochet, one embroidery, one quilting and so on and so on it can add up even before extra knitting sneaks in. But I think that’s how I like it best; surrounded by all sorts of crafty creative endeavours, even if I can only dream of having the time to finish them.

But it’s made me curious, how about you? Do you work one project start to finish regardles? Do you generally have one project per craft at any one time? Or are you happily submerged under wonderful piles of creative plans?  (please say there’s someone else who’s like that!)

I am utterly thrilled and over the moon excited to be a finalist in Baby category of the 2015 MADs Awards. To have made it to the final six in the blogging equivalent of the Oscars is a dream come true. But truth be told, I would really love to win! And so if you enjoy reading here, please would you vote for me? It literally takes seconds, you don’t need to be in the UK or a blogger – parenting or otherwise – and it might just make my year! Voting is open until 16th June.

Crochet Elma Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Elma Handmade for Kitty Kitty Sewing

Instant Gratification

05/06/2015

Do you ever have that feeling want to make something completely new, and that you can finish really quickly so that your existing projects don’t quite count as having been abandoned? As sort of hit of the lovely happy feeling of having finished something to boost your commitment to the giant ripple blanket gently growing but months and possibly even years away from completion.  I think it’s the creative equivalent of writing something on a list that you’ve already done, just so you can cross it off again.

So I picked up the free cover kit from the latest Mollie Makes and the little crochet hook that came with it and got going.  The girls have been sighing in anticipation over the dream catcher ever since the latest issue arrived and with Kitty complaining of terrible dreams about onions it seemed only right to do something about it and find a way to make all their dreams full of sunshine, rainbows and ice cream.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

It’s a really sweet little project, it took me an evening to make, even after I had to look up double crochet on you tube because my ripple blanket is all trebles and it seems to have wiped my ability to remember any other crochet stitch.  The mandala came together very nicely and very quickly, and as it didn’t need to be sewn onto the hoop but was crocheted instead it was all a piece of cake, right up to the felt feathers, which I roughly sketched and approximated from the pattern rather than cutting out a template, ostensibly because all feathers should be unique but mostly because I couldn’t be bothered to get up off the sofa and go to find some tracing paper.

20150603-DSC_0380

The girls discovered it hanging from the handle of my chest of drawers the next morning, loved it, hugged it (gently) and called it theirs.  It has been hung on their drawers, on the head of each of their beds (alternating, depending on who’s home at the time) and has now finally found a universally acceptable home dangled from Elma’s name bunting (that’s why it looks a bit blurry in the top picture, I’ve smooshed her name out).

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

And so far, there have been no more reports of dreams about onions.

Having done one mini project I was itching for another, and to be honest, itching to do a little sewing without having to cut out the rest of the hundred gazillion triangles that I am womanfully making my way through at the moment.  And I remember that although I’ve had a copy of Cath Kidston’s SEW for a while, and even used the patterns as inspiration for a few projects, I’d never actually got around to making the cover kit, a handbag in my favourite sort of Cath fabric, all little flowers and duck egg blue.  It’s the kind of fabric that reminds me of my Grannie’s kitchen curtains in the best possible way. Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

I pulled out the bundle, realised that the fabric was pre-cut (PRE-CUT!!!) and about 30 seconds later I was at the machine, loading up a bobbin and rethreading the machine in a nice pale blue.  The pattern is deceptively simple for what looks like it could be quite complicated; the whole assembly took me two evenings, and that’s only because I started at 10pm the first night.  The most tricky thing in the entire thing was getting the button loop to turn inside out.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

I love the pattern and the style and I think the only thing I would change if I make it again would be to make the shoulder strap about half an inch narrower, but I think that’s personal style as much as anything.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

If I make it again – who are we kidding.  I am absolutely determined that this is going to be my bag but I’ve already rescued it from Kitty prancing around the garden, and discovered it full of Elma’s building blocks and a fairy, and when I explained that this was Mummy’s there was only one response:

“So Mummy, when you make one for me…”

It’s a good job I like the pattern when I’ve got two more to make!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

I am utterly thrilled and over the moon excited to be a finalist in Baby category of the 2015 MADs Awards. To have made it to the final six in the blogging equivalent of the Oscars is a dream come true. But truth be told, I would really love to win! And so if you enjoy reading here, please would you vote for me? It literally takes seconds, you don’t need to be in the UK or a blogger – parenting or otherwise – and it might just make my year!  Voting is open until 16th June.