Thursday, 26 September 2013

Halloween Pumpkin Ornament (free) Knitting Pattern

There's an autumnal feel in the air, early morning mists, hazy sunshine, pumpkins ripening in the veg plot, all of which have set me thinking about Halloween. I love Halloween! Even though my own kids are grown up, I still get in a good store of treats, put out a lit pumpkin to encourage Trick or Treaters and always give the best goodies to those who have gone the extra mile when putting together their costume.
My kids and I used to have great fun making Halloween related art and crafts projects, and I look forward to when (maybe!) I can do the same with grandkids.
All these Halloween thoughts reminded me that this time last year I designed a little knitted pumpkin pattern and posted it on the blog. I then realised that no-one is going to find it way back in the archives, so I posted it as a free pattern on Ravelry and Craftsy.
This little pumpkin is just 3" diameter if knitted in double knit yarn (a bit bigger if knit in aran or worsted) and would be great addition to a costume. You could attach one to the brim of a witches hat, temporarily sew them to the back of some mittens or dress up a Trick or Treat bag with them.
The pattern had only been on Ravelry a matter of hours when a lady contacted me to show me what she had knitted. PRINCESSSANDY had already knit about 8 pumpkins!! and she is going to knit a total of 21 as Halloween gifts for her son's Junior Kindergarten class. How wonderful is that!!

Unfortunately her photo was very low res, so I can't make it any larger for you, but you can see how great they are all going to look together, and her son's class are going to be thrilled!

These pumpkins are very quick to make, use only tiny amounts of yarn and are beginner knitter friendly  so if you want to make some too, the free pattern is here


If you do knit some, please share a photo on my Facebook page (the link is in the sidebar) and let us know what you are using them for.

Monday, 23 September 2013

I'm on a (knitting) Roll !!

I don't know whether it's the darker evenings making me want to curl up on the sofa with my knitting needles in my hands, or the fact that I've got a few knitting projects in my head that I want to get  started on so I can share them with you all, but I have been steaming ahead with my Greenfields Africa Challenge. I set myself a target of knitting 52 items in a year and I'm pleased to report with that with these 9 hats that I've knit this week, I'm very nearly there !!
I now have a grand total of 7 blankets, 10 cardigans and 30 hats, so only 5 more items to go !!

I shall of course continue to knit for this great charity once I've finished the challenge, but at a slightly slower pace. I do feel I've neglected the knitting pattern designing this year. There's a few in various stages of development and a whole bunch more in my head, so watch this space!!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Swoon Progress

Pin ItI've been making good progress with my Swoon blocks this week.
Having completed 5 blocks, I had just 4 left to make, so I set up a little production line.

I cut out all the pieces for the final four blocks and paired up all the squares for the half square triangles. There are a LOT of HSTs in four blocks!!

Then I marked all the diagonal lines for the half square triangles.

I chain pieced the seams.............Still feeling pretty pleased with myself here.

Don't they look pretty, strung up like bunting, waiting to be cut apart and pressed flat. All is still going well....

Then I did the same for the flying geese units. I'm imagining four finished blocks pretty soon....
The geese went well too, and then I came to piece the blocks.Take your time, Julie. Do them one at a time - don't rush them..... But, from this point on NOTHING went right! Points didn't quite match up to my satisfaction. I unpicked and re-sewed. I pressurised a few seams into submission. There is nothing quite like a hot iron to show then who is boss.
I finally laid the block out ready to photograph it, when I realised I had sewn one of the thirds on the wrong way round! I din't have a star in the centre, I just had this weird shape!! I really wish I had gone ahead and photographed it. It certainly would have given you a good laugh!
So, back to the seam ripper, and finally I had block #6

I can't face the other three for a few days. Fortunately it's supposed to be a dry weekend, so some gardening will be just the distraction I need before resuming progress on these next week.
I hope you have a good weekend, too :-)

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Anyone for Tea?

 If you live in the UK, you'll be needing a nice hot cuppa right now to keep you warm. Autumn has certainly arrived and we are all feeling a little chilled.
I have been busy making a block from this book by Sarah Fielke.

A while back, Sarah asked if people might like to make a teacup block or two and send them to her. She is going to make a quilt from everybody's blocks. Would you believe that, other than her Mum, no-one  has ever made her a quilt! Well I had the book so I volunteered to make one.
It started off fairly simple - just cutting wedges off a 4 1/2" block to make the main part of the cup

but then I really struggled with the half square triangles on the side of the saucer. They were cut from templates and I thought I must have cut them wrong. I cut again, I sewed, I unpicked, I sewed again. What I thought would take me an hour, has taken a whole morning! In the end I just made an ordinary half square triangle and trimmed it to the right size. Now, I'm laughing about it - having just this minute searched for and read Sarah's original post  requesting the teacup blocks, I notice she said there's a mistake in the book and the template is wrong!! Why oh why didn't I look for the post first!! 
Never mind, my block is finished and I aim to make a second.

I have also been cutting out the pieces for the remaining Swoon blocks.

I's going to be a bit more blue/grey than I had originally intended, as I didn't quite have enough of the beige fabrics to include them in the remaining blocks. This is what 4 completed blocks look like

I really hope to have this finished very soon. With the weather turning colder, everyone's hugging a quilt round here!

Linking up with Work in Progress Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced.
Have a good week!

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Friday, 6 September 2013

A Quilty Gift

I received the most wonderful gift in the post this week. This beautiful bag was made for me by Jennifer of Glinda Quilts. I feel really guilty actually. She is an online friend that I've recently made through a sewing bee. She had blogged about the Pants Bags she had been making and I commented on the post saying I was really lazy, didn't bother to unpack my case when I went on holiday and just stuffed my pants into the corners of my case. Well, she replied straight away saying she would make me one, and even wanted to know what colours I liked!! You know, quilters are some of the kindest, most generous people I have ever come across.

This bag is so beautifully made! Jennifer's sewing skills put mine to shame !
What is more I am totally in awe of the design of this bag. Don't think old school pump bags that were hard to draw up, this bag glides open and closed with amazing smoothness. It took me a while to understand how it works (yeah, I'm the sort of person that struggles to operate even the simplest of things)

Fortunately my son showed me - it's two separate drawstrings, so that when you pull it closed the fabric doesn't all bunch up at one end. Duh! I guess everybody knew about this except me - well, I know now, and I'm going to have a go at making one.
The other thing I really like, that I wouldn't have thought about doing, is attaching the band in two separate pieces so that there is plenty of room for the strings to move freely.

I really look forward to using this bag next time I go travelling. In the meantime I really wanted to look at it and appreciate it, so,  ....... ooh, Look! some knitting just happened to find it's way inside !!

I'm very pleased to say it makes an excellent knitting bag too !! Thank you so much Jennifer. Your kindness has made me very happy and I'm going to have a go at making one for someone too :)

Talking of knitting, I have been busy trying to catch up on my Greenfields Africa Challenge. I've completed 2 baby cardigans, and another is almost finished.

For this one I used up a couple of balls of Rowan Purelife Revive that I had bought a while back to experiment with. This is an eco friendly yarn as it is made with 36% recycled silk, 36% recycled cotton and 28% recycled viscose. It isn't a baby yarn, but I had played with, decided I didn't like it, so it needed using up. Why didn't I like it? I didn't like the feel of it in my hands as I worked. I love working with cotton, I like using silk when blended with wool, but this? It just didn't feel good. Also it has very little stretch. It will breathe nicely, so it will be good for a little African baby in that respect, but I won't be buying this yarn again.

The second cardigan was made with my all time favourite yarn Debbie Bliss Eco Baby. This is sports weight organic cotton, and the only reason I was happy to part with this was because the oddments I had were from old dye lots that didn't match. Some prudent placement of white stripes however meant that you can't tell where one dye lot ends and the next starts.

And finally, the WIP uses another of my favourite yarns - Rowan Belle Organic by Amy Butler.
This is 50% organic cotton, 50% organic wool - BUT, it's been discontinued !! 

I love this yarn. Why did you do this, Rowan ?? Was I the only person in the world who liked and bought it? 

This is made completely of oddments, and I didn't think the lime green would last out to complete the stripes, but it has and I'm very pleased with it.

So, I'm probably still a little behind with my challenge to myself (I want to make 52 items for the charity during the 52 weeks of 2013, but I can always catch up with a few quickly knitted baby hats!
It's been a productive start to September so far.
Have a good weekend, with lots of craftiness!   Julie

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Sunday, 1 September 2013

Swoon Progress

Its September already, and I'm determined to have a productive month. I have been working on my Swoon quilt, and have not just one more, but 4 more blocks completed!

Please excuse the appalling photos - I love the sun, but it was playing havoc with my photography. I get lovely dancing shadows from a big tree outside when it is sunny at this time of the day. Or rather, they are lovely to look at, but not to photograph large quilt blocks in!

I set up a bit of a production line and cut out the pieces for 4 blocks. I then chained pieced all the half square triangles and the flying geese.

I love seeing nice neat piles of flying geese!

As one block swiftly followed another

I was able to remember the construction and so refer to the notes a lot less.

It took no time at all to get these four blocks made.

I had made the mistake of using a directional print for this last one. I'm quite pleased that I took the time to line the stripes up as much as possible, but if I was doing it again I would  fussy cut the centre square to get that diamond right in the centre. I'm not stressing too much though. I'm enjoying making this quilt and I don't think it will stand out so much when it is part of the whole.
Only another 4 Swoon blocks to go!!

Linking up with Fresh Sewing Day at Lily's Quilts and Anything Goes Mondays @ Stitch by Stitch Hoping you feel as inspired by the start of September as I do :)


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