Monday, 30 May 2016

Ursula & Ulysses

Soooo, today I would like to share with you my second knitting project, well second and third.  Please meet Ursula and Ulysses Unicorn:

These were made using a Stylecraft Pattern, which I ordered from Deramores and can be found here.  The pattern calls for using Stylecraft Wondersoft DK but I had one project under my belt and I was feeling reckless, so I ordered James C Brett's Baby Twinkle instead (also a DK yarn) because it sparkled, and unicorns should always sparkle as far as I'm concerned.  I decided that I wanted to make a boy and a girl, so I ordered some blue and pink as well as the white.  I ordered two balls of white, as the pattern called for one ball for the small unicorn. and a ball each of the pink and blue.

The pattern calls for 3.5mm needles, which I think must be the ONLY size I don't have in my needle collection, most of which the mother-in-law bought me for my birthday, so cue the hunt for some needles.  I was heading to Guiseley on the day I discovered I didn't have any needles, to see the Pops and Step-Mother (Non Wicked), so thought it would simply be a case of calling into Hobbycraft.  Oh, how very very wrong.  They did not have any.  It didn't matter how many times I walked up and down that aisle, no 3.5mm needles appeared.  I bit of research on Google and I discovered that in old money needles 3.5mm didn't exist, which might explain why they are difficult to find now.  I did find some on the internet, which I could have ordered, but I was feeling impatient, so when I got to the Olds' house, I thought I might as well as the Step-Mother (Non-Wicked) if she had any, not really expecting her to, but thought it worth a try before I went up to see the mother-in-law.  

As it happens, the Step-Mother (Non-Wicked) has a mahoosive stash of knitting needles.  Problem was, they were all a jumble and needed pairing up.  This kept my Pops busy for a good hour or so.  We couldn't find any needles clearly labelled 3.5mm, but we did find some that weren't labelled at all, so Pops had a measuring tool thingy in the garage (of course he did) so we could measure up these and lo and behold, we found a pair!!!!  Woooo-sodding-Hooo!  I could start my unicorns . . . .  I still think I will treat myself to a pair of 3.5mm needles from the internet, because they were a pretty colour and I can give the Step-Mother (Non-Wicked) hers back.

I started knitting up the white bits first, following the order of the pattern.   I would like to say all went well, but I must have cast the first head on a good 7 times, if not more.  I never seemed to get further than about row 5 without realising that I had already gone wrong somewhere, and as I'm still not very good at fixing my mistakes after the event, it was easier to go back and start again,  Plus, I really wanted to get these correct as I didn't know how much of a problem a mistake would be in the finished product.

Anyway, once I had finally got past the first five rows, I was away, with few problems on teh head, body and legs.  I have now learned how to start a new colour, and am very confident with this now.  Just as a side note, it took me a few attempts at the second head too, so maybe it is just that piece of these unicorns!!!

Once these main pieces were knitted, I sewed the seams using matress stitch and stuffed the pieces.  I then sewed them together.  I couldn't quite understand the instructions for attaching the head to the body, so made it up in the end.  the pattern calls for the arms and legs with buttons, so I used some sparkly ones in my stash, which were left over from the Bertie set, which I blogged about here.

Once this was done, I needed to knit up the extra bits - the ears, horn, tail and mane.  No real problems to report with the ears, tail and horn, but the mane was another matter altogether.  The main is knitted using loop stitch.  I know the principles behind loop stitch, but I could not for the life of me manage to understand the instructions and do it in practice.  I tried numerous Youtube tutorials, but nothing was working.  In the end, this tutorial from Jessica Biscoe finally clicked.  I'm still not perfect at this, and in fact cut the blue mane short when I lost about 5 of my stitches, but I couldn't get them back on the needles and I couldn't bear to start again, so I left it as it was.  

To finish, I just needed to do the faces.  The pattern calls for grey yarn, which I used at first for the blue unicorn, but it sat on my table while I made the pink unicorn and I liked it less and less, so in the end, I ripped it out and used black embroidery thread instead, which I like much better.

That is really all I have to say on these unicorns.  I am tempted to get some yellow yarn and make a yellow Ulrich too, but I am currently on with some other projects, so we shall see.

In the meantime . . . .

Happy Crafting!


Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Things My Friends Get Me To Make

Sooooo, I love my friends and family, I really do, but sometimes I have to question not only their sanity in the things they ask me to make, but also my own in so readily agreeing to these odd requests.

Enter stage right Lucy, actual sister of my honourary sister, Katie, mother of Bertie and Pippa: "Holly, I'm going to a wedding in Barbados on Thursday and would really like to take some Mr & Mrs beach  towels as a present, but I can't find any, can you make me some?"  I am paraphrasing a bit (lot) but that is the gist of it.

Of course, like the idiot I am I agreed, as you do for friends, on the proviso that Lucy provide the towels as I didn't have time to go shopping for some.  It was only afterwards that I realised I didn't have a free night between then and Thursday (teaching Monday and Tuesday, dancing Wednesday).  Not a problem - I am queen of doing things better when I have the time pressure (hello, dissertation!).

Now, I was expecting pretty white towels and had planned to used some gorgeous grey roses fabric I had in my stash from this dress (available here and here too), which I still love and still wear, having put a new zip in it.  Elegant, sophisticated though.

However, when Lucy turned up, she had blue and white stripe beach towels with a red border - the only she could get apparently.  This totally threw me . . . for days.  I rooted through my stash - all two draws and giant box of it to find a suitable fabric and was coming up with nothing. Finally, on Wednesday before I went dancing I remembered that I had some red pindot fabric somewhere left over from the last rainbow dress I made and hunted for it.  It was in an entirely different drawer, where i also found a half-made dress that will no longer fit Pippa if I finish it, so I will have to find another two year old to give it to.

Anyway, my idea was there.  I would applique a Mrs & Mrs using this fabric.  I bonded teh fabric  to some bondaweb before going out and then finished it off when I got back in from dancing.  I was on a bit of a high as I had finally managed to master a step that had been getting my feet in tangles for the preceding few weeks, and I managed  to tap my heels more than my ankles in a jump move for the first time ever . . . and when I am on a high things get done.

I find applique pretty simple these days.  I use an old buttonhole foot so that I can see what I'm doing and so it glides over the stitches easily.  In this instance I used red thread.  I toyed with white and blue but decided red was the way forward.  My only issue was teh twists and curves and trying to get the bulk of the rest of the towels through the little gap in my machine - this is where I should have a quilting machine with an extra long arm, but I doing have a spare few thousand and can't warrant it as I am mostly a garment sewer.

I did get to use my new silk organza pressing cloth, which I am very happy with.  And to make these I have ticked off one of my to-do things for this year from this list - I have used my overlocker!  It has only taken me nearly a year.  Anyway, I ordered a metre of silk organza from eBay and then waiting aaaages for it to come as I didn't realised I had ordered it from Asia.  Then, I cut it into four and overlocked the edges (it was a good starter project).  I then added a ribbon to one corner so I can hang them and a little button for prettiness and voila.  I have also made a start on the jean task - I have made trousers but I am trying to perfect the fitting.  And I keep thinking about the coat, but am unable to decide on pattern/fabric.  I will have to get on with it though as we have had a few days of sun here in Yorkshire so I'm guessing summer is now over.  I always have plans to sew for Phil but never quite get round to it, and I am totally rethinking that Burda dress.

Anyway,  to finish off the towels, I added a little red heart button on each towel from my stash.

I  think Lucy liked them and I hope the bride and groom like them.

I showed pictures at work the next day and got from my colleague, Sal "I'll bring Seth's stuff in and you can put his name on everything!.  Of course, I said OK.

Anyway, I'm on with a commission today and my head is in the right place to get on with it so I had better do that.  First, I'd better go collect the fabric from the Royal Mail sorting office.   I'll let you know how it goes . . . .

Happy Crafting!


Sunday, 15 May 2016

The Pink Fairy Dress

Sooo, I don't often share my Pippa dress makes these days.  If you want to see them, please visit my HolzMolzPolz Etsy shop, but the latest one I have made is so very beautiful that I just HAVE to share it with the world.

This was a commission from my friend, Caroline, whose friend is expecting a little girl in June.  My brief was 'pink and girly'.  So, I set about trying to find the perfect pink fabric.  I found loads of pink fabrics, but not one of them was quite right.  Then I bought some lilac fairies Michael Miller cotton from The Little Fabric Bazaar, totally by coincidence - not intention towards Caroline's dress was there, but she like the photo I posted up on Facebook and an idea was born . . . I wonder if I could get that fabric in pink.  

I searched all my usual fabric stores, bricks & mortar and online, and finally found some on eBay, just as I was about to give up hope and try to convince Caroline that lilac was so much better than pink.  Anyway, I ordered it straight away, pre-washed and ironed it, and then it say in the fabric stash for a couple of weeks while I caught up with everything I was doing - mostly alterations!

Anyway, I cut an age 6 months (which I usually only do for commissions) and cut some pink satin lining to go with it.  I think I can make these things in my sleep now, so altogether from cutting to final stitch, I think this one took me no more than two hours.

how beautiful is the glitter on the
fairy wings?
I was quite careful of print placement, wanting to get a column of fairies down the centre front, which I have managed to do, and not be cutting fairy heads off anywhere it could be avoided.

I just love love love the glitter on the fairy wings on this fabric (and have made myself a skirt from a similar fabric simply for the glitter wings), and decided to go with the glitter theme and get some pink glitter buttons from eBay and I used some sheer organza ribbon  to make a little bow.  I didn't want to put anything else on the dress really, as it would then distract from the awesomeness of the fabric.

I was going to put the ribbon on the neckline, but decided on such a little one that it would probably irritate, so I moved the bow to near the bottom and attached it to a flower stalk to make it look as though the little flower is now a gift . . . genius I know :-)

Anyway, that is it.  I just thought it was too pretty not to share.

Happy Crafting!


Sunday, 8 May 2016

Return of the Flamingo

Soooo, I am writing a few blog posts up as a way of taking a break from writing my dissertation, which is driving me nuts - I know what I want to write, but getting the actual words on screen is just not happening.  It must be bad when I 'rewarded' myself with doing the dusting after a wrote my first 1000 words.  So far this morning I have also emptied the dishwasher, changed the bed and swept the kitchen floor, all just to procrastinate from writing this damned dissertation - Phil will be making me do more dissertations, just as a way of getting me to do some housework - I would much rather sew normally, but I made a promise to myself that I can't sew until I have got somewhere on this dissertation at least, or unless it is really stressing me out that the only way not to throw the laptop and books at something is to sew a few seams.

Anyway, one of my recent procrastination techniques has been to learn to knit.  My Mother-In-Law bought me loads of needles and a stitch counter for my birthday in December (she seems to buy me crafty stuff, and I like it).  My big sister taught me the basics and then I got bored of waiting for her to teach me something good so I took it upon myself to get on with a project.  I also seem  to suffer from the 'Mother Effect' with Kay, as in, if she is about I am pretty much guaranteed to do it wrong because she makes me nervous - my mother has the same effect - I think its the expectation of the 'constructive cristicism' that I am going to get even if I have done something perfect, so I might as well do something wrong to be criticised about.  This I accept.  But even the step-mother started on it with my knitting, so we are now in agreement that she is not to comment on my knitting skills.  The step-mother keeps commenting on my facebook posts about my knitting, but I am ignoring her!  Seems the best way.

So, this is my first attempted project (rather than just knitting rows for nothing), and it is far from perfect, but do you know what - I don't care.  I have done it all by my lonesome (with some assistance from YouTube tutorials) and yes there have been tears and tantrums, but I am proud of the end result.

This is the slightly adapted Flamingo Cushion from the Knitting Smitten book, which I purchased from Hobbycraft.  It was the Flamingo cushion that made me buy the book (as you should know by now, Flamingos and Unicorns are my spirit animals) but I cannot recommend this book enough for beginners.  There are loads of easy but interesting projects, and the instructions are mostly clear (my brain can't always understand written instructions too well when I am learning something new).  Each project tells you what skills you will be learning and I have already earmarked my next project.

Anyway, this particular cushion has the following skills:
Stocking Stitch
Wet Blocking
Swiss Darning

All of which are pretty new to me, but you don't learn unless you do.  

It is made using the loveliest yarn - Cashmerino Aran from Debbie Bliss, which I purchased from Laughing Hens (great customer service and speedy delivery - again, highly recommended and I will be ordering from them again).  I couldn't get the Rose colourway, as detailed in the book, but I substituted for Coral instead and I quite like the darker pink.

I have to admit that starting the ribbing took at least three attempts whilst trying to watch The Good Wife on Saturday afternoon, and in the end I gave up and put it to one side and did some sewing.  I came back to it the next day, YouTubed a tutorial and apart from a massive hole from missed stitches, I got it in the end.  You can't see the hole as it is covered by the buttonhole band, and I knew that was going to be the case so I decided my first project did not need to be perfect.  

It turned out to be a good job as I don't think there are two consecutive rows with the same number of stitches, but again, I don't care.  It is my first project and I decided quite early on that I had a plan to deal with the resulting holes - they would be covered by sequins.  If in doubt - add a sequin - and THAT is why I do panto costumes ladles and jellyspoons!

The knitting of the cushion panel probably took me about a month picking it up here and there whilst trying to fit it into my tres busy life at the moment, and to date I am far from the fastest knitter . . . one day maybe.  I even tried knitting on the train a couple of times but people attempting to sit on my knee made that difficult - I get that I am alluring and all that jazz (either that or invisible - most likely invisible), but a girl wants to knit :-)

So, it came to the buttonhole band.  Now, I am blaming the fact that I had just had my B12 injection and was simply exhausted, and I have also just been that way out of late, but this caused tears - lots of tears.  I could do the casting off section easy peasy lemon squeezy but my head just could not get around trying to cast on mid-row.  I googled and googled and googled, but all methods were casting on with your thumb - I was not taught to cast on avec le thumb and there was no way my head was going to learn that particular day - bear in mind I didn't even bother getting dressed that day - slept loads, showered, then put clean pyjamas on - that was my state of mind.

Anyway, after my tears it was hubby to the rescue.  I really don't know how he puts up with me - I am awful to him and then cry over buttonholes!  But he still sticks around and generally treats me like a princess, which I really don't deserve most of the time.  Well, I believe we should all be treated like princesses by our other halves, but I don't think I deserve it when I acting like the wicked witch/ogre that I know I can be.  

He found a tutorial for me, but I can't remember which one, sorry.  I still struggled with my first one, but my second and third buttonholes were perfect.  Thank you Philip.

Then it was time to block.  And testament to Phil, he didn't bat an eyelid when I wondered downstairs with towels and laid my wet rectangle of wool on it and added lots of pins - he never asks questions bless him.  He just lets me get on with it, until I paddy, and then he usually offers to help.

So, I let it dry on the living room floor (on a towel) for a day or two, then moved it upstairs to the craft room out of the way until I had time to do my swiss darning, which is how the flamingo ends up on the front.  For those non-knitters out there, swiss darning is where you sew over your stitches to create a picture, in this case following a colour chart in the book.  I have many plans for swiss darning pictures now.

The instructions in the book have you put the flamingo central, but I don't think my brain would cope with that.  If it was slightly off it would annoy me, so I decided to put it to one side instead.  Also, most of the holes were on one side, and I wanted to avoid them in my flamingo if possible, which I managed to do.   Again, the flamingo isn't perfect because I wasn't concentrating properly.  I think I was trying to watch The Flash at the same  time, or it could have been Grimm, or any other crap I watch on the televisual.  BUT it looks like a flamingo and this is good enough for me.

Next, to cover the holes I sewed on some turquoise sequins and then sewed up the side seams of the cushion and added the buttons which are from my stash, but I think went quite well with the overall look of the cushion.

And that is it.  I need a slightly smaller cushion pad as I bought the wrong size, but I can remedy that at a later time.

I am tres proud of myself on this one and am now on with my next project, the progress of which you can follow on my instagram should you so wish.

In the meantime . . . 

Happy Crafting!


Thursday, 5 May 2016

Bertie Goes All Dapper

Sooo, first and foremost, a very happy burpday to my honourary nephew, Jake, also known as Bertie.  That was my name suggestion when my friend, Katy, was expecting him, and just because her and Mark vetoed that suggestion is not going to stop me going with it . . . #determined.

Anyway, Bertie is the dapperest (not sure if that is a real word or not) little boy I know (although no so little these days) and I choose to believe that it has nothing to do with the awesomeness that is Mark and Katy, no, no, he is dapper because I gave him a dapper name . . . so there.

Anyway, I have racked my brain for months about his birthday present.  His sister, Pippa, is easy - pretty dresses, the latest of which can be found here - but I do struggle with boys.  I think this is because Bertie is the only boy in the family - we really are all girls.  Boys have to marry into the family and good luck to them - we tend to welcome those that are willing with big open arms and I still maintain that my husband is in fact the favourite child - no-one else gets a look in when he's around and I am forever being told that I 'need to be nice to Philip , . . you don't want to lose him now'.  No, I don't, but he doesn't want to lose me either so he needs to be nice to me, but it doesn't work like that in my family . . . Think My Big Fat Greek Wedding - that is my family.  In fact, I took the nieces to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 a couple of weeks ago and all the way through Georgia was looking very embarrassed and muttering to her self 'oh God, this is my family'.  Yes, child it is, but like the rest of us you will just have to learn  to embrace it, because you can't escape it . . . I object to being compared to Aunt Voula though, but then again, I can see some similarities . . . but I shall embrace them and just make sure I embarrass Georgia as much as possible, as is my duty as most Awesome Auntie.

Anyway, as usual, I digress, back to Bertie's birthday present . . . 

I had toyed with a few ideas, but when making Pippa's present somewhere the idea came for a waistcoat.  I browsed the PDF offerings but nothing took my fancy, and then I came across Simplicity 8023 which is a full 'dapper' set - waistcoat, ascot, bow tie and cummerbund.  AND it included boys and mens sizes, so as I think my husband looks quite dashing in a waistcoat, I could even make him one . . . unlikely, but I might.  I was going to say my husband looks hot, but the niece has issue with me finding men hot (i.e. Hugh Jackman).  Apparently "eeewwww Auntie Holly you can't say that!"  I admit, her mother can't say that, but surely the most fabulous Auntie in the world can say these things?!?  best not go down the Zac Efron route . . .  

Anyway, I know she reads this blog so I'd best not say that I think my husband is rather hot in a waistcoat had I?  Because that would, like, totally gross her out!  Oooops, too late . . . unlucky Georgia!!!!!

So, I was originally going to just make the waistcoat, but then decided that I would also make the Ascot, then thought I would quite like to have a go at a cummerbund, and then thought, well there's only the bow tie to go, so he might as well have the whole hog and have choices . . . 

I struggled to find the cummerbund fastening in small sizes for the boys sizing, but eventually found some over at Minerva, described as Waspie Buckle Fasteners, and they come in a colour other than black, which is just bon et marvy, so I ordered silver in the smallest size they had.  They are still a little bit too big, but totally manageable.  I accidentally ordered some belt sliders for the back of the waistcoat from Asia, so had to wait for them (I really should check where my things are coming from when I order on eBay), but in the meantime I could get on with everything else. 

I started by cutting everything out, which in total took about an hour.  I used the same main fabric as I used for Pippa's dress, because they go to a lot of weddings, christenings etc. and I know Katy would love to have them matching (I don't know that, but as they always family-dress for Halloween etc. I am guessing that she would love this idea).  For the linings and the back of the waistcoat I used some ice-blue satin from my stash.  I toyed with Elsa-blue and yellow to match Pippa's dress, but decided against both of these, and I am glad I went with the ice-blue - It just looks so nice.   While I was waiting for supplies to arrive, I got on with the ascot, which was a very simple make and I love how it looks when finished.  My cummberbund fastener arrived fairly quickly so then I made that, and then I waited . . . and waited . . . and waited . . . and then panicked the belt sliders weren't going to arrive in time.  In the end, they arrived with 5 days to spare so I then got on with the waistcoat, which was not a time-consuming job at all in the end, possibly 3 hours tops.

To finish the waistcoat, again I toyed with matching buttons for Pippa's dress, but in the end went with some sparkly buttons which I used for a skirt recently, and they go perfect I think.

Anyway, not too much to say, the instructions were pretty straight forward and no major mishaps along the way.  The only thing I had to unpick with the belt on the waistcoat when I put it on the wrong way.  Limited cursing and only 10 minutes to sort out really, and that is it.  I couldn't get the bow tie fastening set in time after I'd decided to do a bow tie so I made an elastic version, which is probably better for kids anyway.  And that is it.

I really like this cute little set and hope that Bertie (and Katy and Mark) does too.

I'm on with some commissions now so I will blog about them all in good time.  I should really write my dissertation too . . . .

In the meantime . . . 

Happy Crafting!!

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