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Handmade for Kitty

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Hello Kitty {handmade for Kitty}

20/05/2016

You’ll never guess what I made this week. Just as second socks have to be knit immediately after the first sock or the pair will never ever be finished, it makes perfect sense to me to keep on going and make the second dress after I’ve finished the first, while I can still remember all the tips and tricks that I either used or more importantly, wish I’d used, with the first.  And so this week I made Kitty her Susanne.

Space for the Butterflies - Susanne from Citronelle Patterns in Hello Kitty Wonderland Liberty Tana Lawn

The fabric is more Liberty print, this time Hello Kitty Wonderland, bought from the sale bin in Liberty’s long before I realised how prized and treasured Hello Kitty Liberty print is – had I known I might have bought the other two lengths as well.  Space for the Butterflies - Susanne from Citronelle Patterns in Hello Kitty Wonderland Liberty Tana Lawn

For my quite spectacularly tall 5 year old, whose age 8 dresses are looking decidedly too short I went for the age 10 size – and added an extra three inches to the bottom.  And it looks like it might just last longer than a month before she grows out of it.  At the moment it reaches just about past her knee, while Elma’s equivalent dress came just to the knee, but I like the way it looks, there’s a slightly 70’s kaftan vibe to it, especially as I went with deep orange thread for the topstitching (thank you Instagram and Facebook friends for the straw poll!).Space for the Butterflies - Susanne from Citronelle Patterns in Hello Kitty Wonderland Liberty Tana Lawn

The construction is obviously exactly the same as Elma’s; I didn’t use the elastic on the shoulders this time and I’m in two minds as to whether it needs it, the yoke is just a little bit big on Kitty right now, but she loves it as it is and vehemently protested the mere idea of any alterations so for now it stays without elastic.  I also found that knowing how it fitted together meant that I could use the seam allowances at the side of the yoke to tuck around each other and pin them in place so that they were held in place by the waist seam.  I’d love to show you a photo of what I mean but ever since I finished the dress it’s either been on Kitty or folded up on her pillow so you’ll have to trust me when I say that it looks a lot neater and tidier than the inside of the previous incarnation.

Space for the Butterflies - Susanne from Citronelle Patterns in Hello Kitty Wonderland Liberty Tana Lawn

Despite much watching of YouTube videos on different seam finishes the easiest thing still seemed to be to use a sort of all in one French seam clipped to let it go around the corners for the sides and the sleeves and so far it seems to be holding up on both versions.  The final touch on the construction was to make a little more bias binding to cover up the waist seam as before and then it was all ready to be hung up on the curtain rail to wait for Kitty to come down the next morning.

Space for the Butterflies - Susanne from Citronelle Patterns in Hello Kitty Wonderland Liberty Tana Lawn

I love seeing how much she loves it. I’m always happy when the children like the things I make for them because there’s more than just fabric and stitches in the making, but this fabric has been intended for Kitty for a while and I’m glad I could make something for her before she grew out of every pattern anywhere that would make her her Hello Kitty dress.  And as Elma will be all but adult by the time it fits her as a handmedown I can only hope that it stays Kitty’s dress for a good while to come!

Space for the Butterflies - Susanne from Citronelle Patterns in Hello Kitty Wonderland Liberty Tana Lawn

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for Funky Kid Friday

And if you would lend me a couple of minutes of your time (and you haven’t already voted), I am blown away over the moon happy to be a MADs Finalist for the Best Craft Blog category this year, and I would love your vote.  Anyone, anywhere is eligible to vote, just click on the banner below and look for Space for the Butterflies in the drop down menu for Best Craft Blog – thank you x

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Fluffy eggs and hidden root babies {handmade for Easter}

01/04/2016

Every Easter that we’ve been north with the family my inlaws have put on the most epic of epic Easter Egg hunts around their garden. The only other occasion when you’ll see this much chocolate in one place is inside a shop. The girls think it’s absolutely wonderful of course, they collect it all in, and count the eggs and admire the colours, and on Easter Sunday they can help themselves within reason (after that a degree of rationing kicks in for all our sakes, and my colleagues have been known to benefit from a share of the bounty!). But because the chocolate aspect has already been covered off, H and I try to give them a little non-food Easter treat, the more handmade the better.

So this year we found a rainbow pencil crayon each for the girls, and a book for Pip, and I made these:

Space for the Butterflies - how to make fluffy secret eggs

The cutest, fluffiest Easter Eggs you could ever find.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make fluffy secret eggs

And what could that be hiding inside the eggs? Why three little flower root babies of course!

Space for the Butterflies - how to make fluffy secret eggs

Several weeks ago I was playing around with wet felting with the children, and once we’d made various wiggly worms and they’d moved on to something else, I kept playing, wrapping layers and layers of pretty wool roving around the plastic inside from a kinder egg. It’s not a completely perfect egg shape I grant you, but it’s more egg shaped than anything else I had in the house at the time.

I found the best way to get a good felt was to wrap several thin layers around in different directions, then just sprinkle on a bit of hot water to start with and start gently patting. Once it got matted and damp all over, then I would hold it inside my hands and dip it into a bowl of hot water, squeeze gently as it came back out and then add soap directly to the egg. We’d started with our nice child friendly very gentle soap but that just didn’t cut it, and I had a lot more success once I moved on to washing up liquid (we have Ecover but anything ‘stronger’ would probably work even better).

I started by just stroking the fibres down in different directions, you want enough soap that it feels sudsy and then as the egg started to felt I could roll it around in my hands until it felt solid.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make fluffy secret eggs

I found adding extra layers part way through to be quite tricky, some people swear by building it all up a layer at a time and some say have all the fibre there at the beginning, it’s a bit of trial and error, but for me I think starting with lots of thin layers already built up works best, plus if you start with one colour and change to another then you get an egg that’s one colour on the outside and another on the inside.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make fluffy secret eggs

The pink egg is purple inside and the purple one is pink! The blue one actually has some other colours somewhere in the mix but I think they’re all hidden in the middle.  My other top tip is that you need more layers than you think you do.  The pink one was my experimental attempt and it has quite a few more layers than the other two so it’s nice and rigid once the kinder egg bit came out – the other two have slightly flappy lids.

Once the eggs were fully felted I rinsed them in more hot water and then left them to dry for a couple of days.  Then I took a pair of embroidery scissors and sniped them open.  The stitching around the edge is just blanket stitch and three strands of embroidery thread, a loop and a button from my button jar to keep the root babies tucked up safe and sound.  I didn’t make the root babies, I’d been trying to think of what to hide inside the eggs when I spotted them in one of our favourite shops and knew they were just the thing.  The Story of the Root Children has been one of our favourite bedtime stories for ages and it’s very apt at this time of year.

And to accompany the fluffy eggs H and the girls revealed their latest project, a whole clutch of beautiful eggs.  They’d blown them themselves (more Kitty and H than Elma!) and then dyed them with tissue paper and the results were amazing.  We had 10 in the end, strung up along the kitchen windowsills for Easter Sunday in all their gorgeous colourful glory. Definitely a craft to add to the repeat list for next year.

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

If you have a moment, I would truly love a nomination in the MADs and the BiBs blogging awards for writer, craft, or family/school days (all the details are here – short version: anyone can vote, you don’t have to blog or be in the UK and I will be eternally grateful if you do x).  And if you can’t quite decide for who to nominate in the hotly contested pre-school category, can I persuade you into taking a look at Clarina’s ContemplationsDear Little Daisy, Make Do and Push, or A Baby on Board all of which are completely awesome and wonderful 🙂

 

Elma Family Finished Handmade for Kitty Kitty Knitting Photography

My Christmas Cardigan {handmade for Kitty}

04/03/2016

Way back in the summer, before we went travelling, I took Kitty to choose two sets of yarn for two new cardigans.  A summer growth spurt had made most of her existing cardies a bit chilly around the wrist and I thought I’d use all the travelling time to make good inroads on the replacements.  And so she choose a purple and a red; the purple I was to knit for her birthday and the red was “my Christmas cardigan”.

Note to self: don’t promise knitwear if you’re not sure you’re going to be able to make good on it.  In the event my pre-Christmas time was taken up with finishing Elma’s birthday cardigan and the Christmas knitting for all three became crowns.

But even though the yarn was still sat skeined up on my desk, and the Christmas decorations were long put away, Kitty still referred to it as “my Christmas cardigan”.

And so as January threatened to turn into February, and the last of the flurry of baby knitting was wrapped up, I cast on.  And as you might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, Kitty and I chose a very seasonally appropriate pattern, the gorgeous Martinmas Cardigan, named for Martinmas Day…..which is in November!

Space for the Butterflies - Martinmas Cardigan

Ah well, whatever the time of year it is a beautiful pattern.  I knit the size 10-12 on 4.5mm needles because I like the fabric I got at that tension, and it did make it slightly smaller than the original dimensions for a 10-12.  Kitty is five but she wears age eight in commercial clothes, so it’s not the pattern sizing that’s out, I just have a very tall daughter.

The only other change I made to the pattern was that I didn’t slip the first stitch of the button band.  I can see why, if your first stitch tends to be a bit loose, you might want to to ensure a nice firm edge, but I thought it looked crisper without.  That and I kept forgetting so in the end I just went with it.

Space for the Butterflies - Martinmas Cardigan

The yarn is Malabrigo Worsted in Geranium; the softest and bounciest singles yarn you’ve ever met.  It’s going to pill like crazy I’m sure, but it is so snuggly and warm and cozy it would make cashmere look scratchy.  I think I might want to knit something for me in it, and I know Elma is eyeing it up for her next knit.

Space for the Butterflies - Martinmas Cardigan

When it came to the buttons, it seemed only fair that Kitty should have the final say, having so far chosen both yarn and pattern.  I had some nice simple wooden buttons in the stash but her heart was won as soon as I pulled out a little bag from Paris and the reindeer buttons spilled out onto the table.  Lil Weasel had the most incredible amazing selection of buttons (and yarn, and patterns and everything – if you have to choose one yarn shop to go to in Paris go there); I could quite easily have bought a set of all of them without regret, and that I came away with six each of only half a dozen is testament to some serious exercise of willpower. If we end up travelling past Paris again in the summer I know exactly where I’m headed!

Kitty adores it, and has been wearing it nearly every day since (she just didn’t fancy having her photo taken hence the fence is standing in for her in the pictures).  The colour she chose is fabulous, a very appropriate colour for Martinmas (pictures of St Martin tend to draw him sharing a red cloak), and it all but glows in the sunshine, just what you want to be knitting in the greyest months of the year.

Space for the Butterflies - Martinmas Cardigan

The next knits on the needles (apart from H’s socks) will be for Pip and then it’s Elma’s turn, but here I have a quandary: I really like the Martinmas pattern and I’d happily knit it again for Elma in a different colour, but I’m very aware than in a few years time assuming Kitty doesn’t wear straight through this one, Elma will be the owner of a Geranium red Martinmas Cardigan.  Part of me would love to make matching knits for the girls because I think it looks adorable and I’ve got to get all the matchy matching in while they’re small enough that they think it’s fun, and part of me wonders whether that’s a bit unfair on the little sister who gets everything twice.  But I’m an eldest so I don’t know what it’s like to get matching handmedowns, I can only guess.  So, little sisters of the internet, let me know; when you were small did you mind getting repeat outfits? would you rather have had your own? or if it’s in a different colour does it not matter?

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

 

 

 

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Hearts and Butterflies {handmade for Kitty, Elma and Pip}

19/02/2016

As of the end of last week I became the poster child for the power of subliminal messaging.  Or possible the power of liminal messaging, is that a thing? Anyway.  Ever since the calendar flipped over into 2016 I have spent my working days happily ensconced below Emily Quinton’s gorgeous pictures in this year’s Mollie Makes calendar.  They’re all lovely inspiring pictures (I may have taken a sneak peak into the year ahead) but February’s picture is so pretty and the crafting idea so simple, that after two weeks sat staring at it I was powerless to resist.

And so with Valentine’s day rapidly approaching I spent last Friday evening happily immersed in felt and ribbons and thread; listening to an audiobook and stitching away.

Space for the Butterflies - Valentine Hearts

The girls gave me some stacks of lovely soft wool felt for my birthday  (which I’m 99.99% sure came from Berylune) and I loved dipping in to it to choose the perfect colour combinations for each of my three, fairly heavily influenced by what they’d made a grab for the last time we were all playing felt.

For Kitty, a pale rose and a deep coral, for Elma, jewel-like pink and purple, and for Pip the same coral as Kitty but matched with a darker orangey red.  The ribbons are all from my stash too; I can’t remember where Elma’s purple velvet came from but in a moment of beautiful kismet I realised that the ribbons I’d chosen for Kitty and Pip were both free cover gifts from old issues of Mollie Makes.

Space for the Butterflies - Valentine Hearts

I cut little hearts from one of their pink and yellow watercolour paintings to write them little valentine messages, and when the hearts were sat on the breakfast table there were three tiny chocolate eggs in each (we’re just not that organised to have actually managed to buy hearts so H went for Easter as a fall back!) but somehow and quite mysteriously, by the time I came to take pictures of the hearts, all of the chocolate had disappeared!

Space for the Butterflies - Valentine Hearts

And the butterflies? Well Kitty and I have started to do a little finger knitting again.  We tried back in the autumn but unfortunately, tucking it back into a basket just wasn’t enough protection from the “assistance” of small siblings, and it kept being pulled undone, or tipped out all over the floor when the basket was needed as some crucial part of a castle or something.  We started again after Christmas with a new and very pink ball of yarn, kept safely wrapped up in a paper bag and tucked into my knitting bag between times, but I wanted Kitty to have somewhere of her own to keep it, and for that somewhere to be beautiful, just to add to the already great charms of all things wooly.

In short she needed a project bag, and armed with the great tutorial at In Colour Order I had a quick stash dive one afternoon, spent one evening armed with a rotary cutter, and another evening sewing, and made this:

Space for the Butterflies - Drawstring Butterfly Bag

A lined drawstring bag, with two strings so that (a) it stays shut and (b) it can also act as a backpack on a five year old.  The main fabric came from a fat quarter I bought in a little craft barn on the road to Edinburgh (which dates it as at the very least, pre-Kitty).  I loved it at first sight and love it still and I’m so glad that I finally found a project that didn’t involve cutting it up too much. It’s been rejected for goodness knows how many projects over the years as being just too pretty to water down the impact of such a glorious flutter of butterflies.

Space for the Butterflies - Drawstring Butterfly Bag

The accent fabric (and the fabric ties) are leftovers from a quilt that I made for one of our NCT friends, Heather Bailey Swing Toss in pink, and then the lining is what in yarn I’d call a semi-solid, is that the right terminology for fabric? Whatever it’s called, it’s a variegated pink and just the thing for my pink loving girl.

Space for the Butterflies - Drawstring Butterfly Bag

It’s a great tutorial and really easy to sew up and I love how polished it looks as a finished bag, from the matching ties all the way to the nicely boxed off corners that make it so very good at standing up by itself.

Space for the Butterflies - Drawstring Butterfly Bag

I left it on Kitty’s chair the morning after I’d finished it, tucked in so she wouldn’t see it until breakfast and as I got to the office a little video pinged in my text messages. Never has a bag been hugged so hard.Space for the Butterflies - Drawstring Butterfly Bag

So now all I have to do, is make one for Elma.  Déjà vu, coming to a blog near you, probably next week!

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

Elma Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Elma Handmade for Kitty Handmade for Pip Kitty Knitting Photography Pip

Three Crowns for Christmas {handmade for Kitty, Elma and Pip}

04/01/2016

As is often the way with these things, I had grand plans for Kitty, Elma and Pip’s handmade Christmas presents.  But as the days rattled past and we drew ever deeper into December the yarn for Kitty’s cardigan stayed skeined and for Pip’s jumper sat in neat tidy balls, and the plans for Elma stayed simply in the planning stage.  It was clear that some drastic rethinking of the plan was needed.

It was Kitty herself who gave me the idea.  She was talking about going to visit Father Christmas and what she’d ask him for for Christmas; dressing up shoes, a microphone and an Elsa crown.  Well the first two weren’t going to happen; her feet grow faster than I can keep up with in school shoes, let alone dressing up shoes and a microphone is the very last thing this house needs, but a crown? A nice stretchy knitted crown that would stay on her head, not dig in, and could even be used to hold a playsilk in place for the full medieval princess look.  Now that I could do.

And there in the stash lay the very yarn for the project; a little skein of 50g of my hand spun Florida Tidepools; proper Elsa colours with teal and turquoise and pale green and even a bit of angelina in the mix for some added sparkle.  It was too little to use for more than an accent in any major project and so it had been sitting in the stash for years just waiting for its moment of glory. And this was it.

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The pattern is the Elegant Knit Crown by Kathryn Andrews and it’s the perfect knit for emergency Christmas (or Birthday) knitting.  I started on the smaller size but with my slightly thinner yarn and using 4mm needles not 4.5mm it looked a bit too small so I pulled it all out and started again.  Even so, two evenings’ work and I had a beautiful sparkly crown blocking on the ironing board, discretely covered by a tea towel to hide it from curious eyes, and more importantly than that, I had the pattern memorised.

The next two crowns, first for Elma and then for Pip, flew off the needles.

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They’re both knit in the smaller size, still on the 4mm needles, Elma’s from the end of a ball of handspan that once made Kitty a hat and Pip’s from the end of the yarn that made Elma her very first newborn baby surprise jacket.  This is a brilliant project for using up the tale end of a beautiful ball of yarn.

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The crowns do need wet blocking after you finish the knitting, just to make the points all pointy and everything unfurled and crisp like a crown ought to be, but they were a quick enough knit that they were all blocked and dried and wrapped on Christmas Eve, ready to be tucked up in the tree.

And once we were back from church and all set for a round of presents it was to these squishy little parcels that the girls made a beeline.  They’d seen me knitting in the previous days and wondered what it was but I’d always said I was just knitting, which I’m pretty sure they know translates into something for them.  I’m happy to report that (a) they fit, and (b) the girls love them.  Pip is fairly ambivalent about being a prince, although I did find it was quite a useful extra ear warmer when we were out on a windy day; a multipurpose crown if ever there was one.

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And with that we wrap up the Christmas knitting, of sorts anyway.  H’s Christmas present (four skeins of sock yarn and the label “some assembly required”) is well under way, but I’m pretty sure it’s not Christmas knitting if you never had any intention of casting on until after the big day. Epiphany Knitting perhaps, or maybe even Easter?!

joining Crazy Mon Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dream for Keep Crafting On and Make Do and Push for Funky Kid Friday