The not so accidental crochet cowl!

I originally had a ball of Rowan’s thick ‘n’ thin yarn from my lovely children for Christmas. I decided to crochet myself a cowl..so bought an extra ball or two and began. Trouble was, the yarn wasn’t really suitable for the pattern and I needed a lot more yarn! So I unravelled, chose another pattern and made this….

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It’s a beautiful yarn…exactly that…thick and then thin..it almost self patterns as you crochet. Lovely and chunky, I crocheted this up on the largest hook I had, a size 9. This created a lovely open pattern with a soft drape. Very snug!

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I found this pattern on Ravelry which, if you haven’t looked at before, you must! It’s a fab forum and library of knitting and crochet patterns..many of which are free or at a very minimal fee to purchase them. You can store your patterns in your own library…so much going on there to detail here so take a look!

The pattern I chose, ‘The Accidental Cowl’ is also available direct from Elizabeth’s blog Crochet in Color and it’s incredibly simple to follow and suitable for a beginner.

I made a few changes…I chained a few extra on the foundation round because I wanted the cowl a little longer. I also did not crochet in the round but joined the finished piece once I’d completed enough rows that gave me the width I wanted…I just kept doing rows, ending each row with a chain 3 and turn and followed Elizabeth’s instructions for the rows. It was very simple.

The yarn is so pretty and I adore the emerald green colour. I think this Rowan yarn is perfect for a beginner as it did not split at all as you work it, which is a plus in my book and works up really quickly! Bingo!

I used just under four 50 gram balls for this cowl.

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I even blocked it to finish it properly! That was simple too, though it did take about 3 days to dry as it’s so thick! I’ve had loads of compliments about it and I will make another one or certainly some for presents for next Christmas! I may try the Sirdar Big Softee next time as its much cheaper and similar to work with and comes in an array of beautiful colours.

Hope you like it too! Have any if you knitted with the Rowan thick ‘n’ thin yarn before? what did you make?

p.s. sorry about the ropey photography and subject…not easy taking selfies from far enough away!!

Ooh…what’s in the bag honey?

This week I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful East Sussex town of Rye. I’m lucky enough to live not far away and guess what? it just so happens that the fabulous Merchant & Mills have their home there! what to do but pay a visit….

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What a wonderful place…it’s like stepping back in time to a working Sheffield cloth factory….a large open space, bright and airy and you can hear the whirring of machines from behind the shop counter.
So what is in the bag?

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Well, beautifully wrapped in tissue paper came a gorgeous dinky pair of Baby Bow scissors…

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All Merchant & Mills shears and scissors are made in Sheffield and are of amazing quality and I can see myself investing in a pair of tailor’s shears just as soon as I can!
I also bought this lovely tape measure…

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I only seem to own cheap tape measures and I realised the difference a good quality one feels like…this one is almost rubber like in texture and feel and ‘Made in Germany’ yay! not China for a change (no offence) but often made as cheaply as possible for a mass market drastically reduces quality.

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A beautiful little box (one of many varieties they sell) of traditional glass headed dressmaking pins…

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And a tailor’s chalk pencil as well as this wonderful pack of 9 ‘Sewing Thoughts’ post cards…can’t wait to get a frame to home these lovelies….

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It did occur to me what a great present for a sewist friend you could put together from the huge choice of accessories the shop stocks. You should have seen the beautiful handmade patterned cotton bias binding!! There are kits for oilcloth bags, dress patterns (all designed by Carolyn herself) and the choice of beautiful linens, wools, silk fabric is breathtaking!
So if you haven’t, do take a look at their website or blog or even better, take a trip to beautiful historic Rye, it’s also very near to Camber sands and Hastings so lots to see and do for everyone! and if you do get to visit the shop, you might even come away with your own little bag of goodies!

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Have a lovely weekend whatever you’re up to!
Kate x

*please note; I was not asked to do a review of the shop, it was just my own opinion and experience of my visit there*

Make a fake fur collar!! Fluffy love!

Hello and a very HaPpY cHriStMaS!!!!

This is a short post but one that may just solve your absolute last minute Christmas present dilemma!!! Oh yeh, read on…..

Thank you to the lovely Tilly Walnes, tillyandthebuttons.com @tillybuttons for giving us this•*•*•free pattern•*•*• for her easy peasy fake (fur) collar….

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Here is Tilly’s gorgeous collar….

And here is my version….

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This was for my lovely friend Sarah…and she loved it!!!!

Here she is wearing it….

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Cute heh?

I didn’t go with the slinky lining and instead used some left over red cotton gingham from my stash as my friend loves the stuff! The pattern uses a hook and eye to close it but I went with some gorgeous polka dot red ribbon! Very Christmassy!

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This was a super easy pattern to follow with Tilly’s fab picture tutorial to follow…warning: there’s a whole lotta fluff!!
So if you’re looking for a last minute present to make, give it a go!!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 🎄
Kate xxx

Crochet fingerless mittens…try taking these babies off!

This is a very short and quick post!!! I just wanted to show you these beautiful (well, it’s only one in the photo as I had to use the camera with the other hand!) …where was I? oh yes, some beautiful crocheted fingerless mittens. This pattern is free from the lovely Made with Loops for the wonderful Brenhines Eira “Snow Queen” fingerless mittens pattern. Here is my version….

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I made them using some beautiful Debbie Bliss Blue Faced Leicester yarn in a gorgeous mustard, and a sort of powder blue Rowan alpaca…they are just so soft and boy are they warm! These are my first attempt so I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out…I’m already thinking of the next pair!

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I’m not super speedy at crochet but these are quick to make up and easy too…fancy having a go? I think they’d make a great Christmas present if you can prize them off your own hands first!! Follow the Made With Loops link above for the pattern!!

Kate x

p.s. I’m not sure if I’ve set up my twitter and Instagram links properly but you can find me on both; Twitter @thepolkadotroom and Instagram thepolkadotroom

Completed!! Burda summer linen dress – Burda 7796

Oh it finally happened….I completed the linen dress I posted about an eternity ago!! Thanks to the gorgeous summer we have been having, I’ve even managed to wear it…whoop! whoop!

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Burda pattern 7796

Please excuse the awful photo!! It’s the first time I’ve ever posted a picture of me and in something I’ve made! It was also taken by my 10 year old son on my camera phone!! It’s linen, so boy, does it look creased…oh well, it can’t be helped!

This is a dress of “firsts” because, it’s the first item of clothing I’ve completed.

It’s the first time I have made my own bias binding…

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…and the first time I’ve made a sleeveless bias bound armhole…. (*not sure if that makes sense) and I’m actually quite pleased with how well the bias on the armhole matched up with the side seam….yeah!

It’s the first time I’ve ever made gathers!! Just look…how proud am I?!

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It’s the first time I’ve ever made a handmade thread eye!! Took me two attempts but I’m rather proud of my teeny tiny blanket stitch! And look at my little vintage button too….

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It’s not perfect….but it’s so pretty and has lasted a wash or two…

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I’ve learnt such a lot from making this dress…my wonderful buy, Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing has been invaluable in helping me work through some of my more “challenging” moments, and there’s been a few!! Do you remember the clanger I made when I slashed through the front of the dress (in two pieces = epic fail), when it should have been one piece!! Oh I was so angry with myself…but I managed to salvage it…see the tiniest seam I managed to get away with to put it back together?

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I finished the hem with some red cotton tape…well, it kind of links with the red button!! I like it, it’s quirky, I think.

And the fit?

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Hmm, well, it’s a bit small round the shoulders….the bust fit is fine, but the bodice around the armholes is a bit narrow? short? I’m not sure what it is really as I’m simply not experienced enough to put my finger on it but the neckline at the back seems too high, though the front looks fine….

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The back has a little slit in it at the neckline (held together with the button and loop closure) and this came together very neatly…

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I don’t have an overlocker, so used the overlock stitch on machine for the first time!! worked quite well….though I had a few practice attempts first…how do you decide how close to the edge to stitch?? Still not sure I got this right, I just went with what I thought looked about right!

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Trying to be as neat and tidy as possible…

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It’s not the most figure flattering dress…reminds me a bit of something out of “Annie” but it’s very comfortable and cool in this hot weather and I’ve had a lot of compliments about it. It’ll do me as a summer staple, and it feels quite expensive on because of the colour and fabric type….linen works quite well like that. So overall I’m very pleased! It’s given me a confidence boost despite being quite a stressy dress to make! I’m not sure it’s an ideal beginners dress as there’s quite a lot of fiddly bits to make and the instructions threw me a bit! However, I’m planning my next dress and I feel this has paved the way well for (I’m hoping) a better second project….do remember I’m a complete beginner!
Tah dah!!!

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And the name “Brittany” dress….it was meant to be finished for my France holiday but never was…it became a bit of a joke in this house so it’s the Brittany dress that never was…maybe next year…!!

What do you think? Is linen an ‘easy’ fabric to sew with? Is it an ideal ‘beginners’ dress?

🍒

The Anna dress…sew excited there’s a Sewalong a coming!!

Ok, first, my apology….I have been so quiet….neglected my blog, I know…this is not wise. In truth, the summer holidays are 6 weeks of a large degree of chaos, lack of routine and generally family life turned upside down! We have not long returned from a holiday in beautiful Brittany, France. It takes such an effort to get back to some degree of ‘normal’ after being away.

I took some crochet and hooked and bumbled my way in calm and peace, by the sea, outside my tent, sitting in the sun….who could ask for more? Pics of one of my completed projects to follow…

I finally completed my dress (post to follow) a huge achievement! In the meantime I’ve seen this just arrive in my inbox….

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For those who may not know….this is the beautiful Anna dress from By Hand London….. and guess what….there’s a Sewalong!!!!

I recently bought the pattern after seeing a Handmade Jane version….gorgeous…..and also Lizzy’s version of the midi Anna Blue at Sew Busy Lizzy and let’s not forget the lovely Lauren at Lladybird her silk sexy thigh high split maxi version is hot hot hot let me tell you!

Take a look at these gorgeous ladies’ versions….inspiring!

I’ve NEVER participated in a Sewalong so I’m definitely going to join this….my first one! This dress is being raved about and rightly so! Here’s the link to the Sewalong that starts in September, so there’s time to buy your pattern and supplies!

http://byhandlondon.com/topics/anna-dress-sewalong/

Will you be joining in? Have you already made the Anna dress?

Would love to hear if you have!

Fun, Fabs and a pretty Gathered Bag

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Mini Fabs in the garden were the order of the day today….boy has it been hot! Even the dog was drinking out of the paddling pool….sensible boy!

Fun time spent at my sister-in-laws at their biannual Village Fayre…there was a dog show, falconry displays, competition tent….best ginger cake, best rhubarb, best single rose……

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‘Tequila Sunrise’ single rose 1st prize went to my lovely sister-in-law….well done lovely lady!

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Marvellous. The WI tent, band, and even the ‘Green Barrows’ the most hilarious but talented group of men in red overalls, and Biggles goggles and headwear, charging around with green wheelbarrows in formation! Set on the village green…a brilliant afternoon.

It was my sister-in-laws birthday so I decided to make her a present, I much prefer that personal touch. She’s a cloth bag kind of girl so I chose this lovely bag to make from my local great independent fabric, wool and haberdashery shop The Owl & Sewing Cat that stocks great patterns for all sorts of home accessories and bags, clothing, children’s and baby accessories….do take a look. They also stock wool and gorgeous fabrics and supplies as well as running sewing workshops. Anyway, back to my bag. I purchased the pattern from The Owl & Sewing Cat and this is The Gathered Bag and it’s rated as an intermediate level. I chose a lovely Elephant print hot pink fabric for outside of bag and a sage stripe lining, finished with grey ribbon trim and hand made bow.

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Gathered bag lining

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Ribbon trim and hand made bow

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The finished bag!

Really pleased with this. It took me longer than I thought….largely because I started it at a Sewing evening in Lewes. A friend invited me to this monthly event of like minded sewing lovelies….each bringing along a sewing project they were working on, a pinnie, a child’s dress, hankies, cushion, and my friend was making this gorgeous Cath Kidston ‘Stitch’ pattern quilted bag….I’ve yet to see her finished item but it was looking fab! Anyway, a lovely evening, however, I’ve realised it’s easy to get distracted in a big group…so I missed cutting out a pattern piece for starters and I cut it incorrectly and spoiled the fabric….had to later seam two pieces together to get the ‘fold’ I needed back for the missing piece! Yikes! Still, I saved it, but after a discussion with my friend we both agreed that sewing is often a solitary past time, filled with concentration and thought and maybe we need to learn to talk less and focus more if we do the group thing again!!! I had to catch up the next evening as a result of my distractions!! Although we plan to start our own ‘Drop Everything & Sew!’ (think that’s what we’ll call it) evening in our home town!

Do any of you take part in group sewing nights or days?
What have you been up to this hot weekend? Any crafty projects in the making?

Burda Summer Linen Dress “sew easy” sew what went wrong? or in the words of my children….”epic fail!”

HELP NEEDED PLEASE!!!!

Friday started well. My day off, and I had promised myself to allow myself 2 hours to cut out and make a start on the linen dress that I have been harbouring a pattern for…for ages!!

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I had chosen some lovely grey linen and some rather random buttons of which I only needed one but have yet to decide on which one….

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I spent time, a lot of time, carefully pressing the linen (which quickly proves to be a waste of time!) but that’s linen for you…..laying out fabric, pattern pieces and finally cutting….

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This is where it all goes wrong!!!!!
I have to wait until today to start to sew….I’ve transferred pattern markers with thread, removed my first pattern piece from the back of the dress and then horror strikes!!!!! Oh my ****! expletive, expletive! I cannot believe what I am looking at…..

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I have cut the wrong pattern piece on the fold!!!!!!
So, now, I am stumped….I have managed not to cry but I am stuck and so angry with myself. How, just how did I do this?? I’m no great seamstress, but I’ve never done this before.
This is where I could really do with some help please!!
The front of the dress should have been cut on the fold and the back in two pieces….I have done the reverse!!! The back of the dress as you can just make out in the pattern black and white picture has a seam straight up the middle just to where it meets a small opening to allow for buttoning it up to slip over your head. I can cut the back piece in two I’m sure with no problem, but the front? This should be cut on the fold so one front piece and is gathered at the neckline in the middle to form some pretty folds (?) If I seam up the middle to rejoin the fabric, will this not totally throw out the gathers/folds and look incredibly strange with a seam up the middle?!! I can’t think of any other way because I’m such a basic sewer…..if anyone has any ideas or advice I would be so grateful!!!! It’ll either be ok or just look plain odd, there’s not much to lose I guess as I’ve already spoilt it. I’m so gutted….and I was hoping to wear this to a job interview on Friday!!! I am going to return to my crochet project….at least I can unpick any mistakes!
Just total pants. K x

Crochet granny bunting triangles…..it’s cold, it’s wet, it’s June….but there’s always room for some of these to inject a bit of cheer….ooh, and a Cub camp blanket!

Goodness, it has been a long very long time since my last post… I’ve been very preoccupied with all sorts of things and not had much time to do too much on the creative front.

We very sadly and very unexpectedly lost our darling little French lop rabbit, Myrtle…….

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Such a shock….we’d not had her long and she was only 3 months old. I was more taken by surprise as to how upset I was, and for days…..but then if you have animals they do become part of your family and that’s the way it should be. The children were so sad, particularly my youngest son. So we brought her home and buried her in the back garden beneath the raspberry shrub….mini crochet bunting was made and a little pot of pink faux flowers….and the children popped little shells in with her, collected from our holiday last year in Brittany, each individually kissed as they were placed next to her. I am constantly amazed at just how beautiful children can be in thought and word and deed….

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The picture quality is awful and doesn’t do it justice. They made a little willow arch (as she loved to nibble away at this). It didn’t last too long as the heat of the one day of warm sun we had quickly wilted it but hopefully the little bunting will last longer….

This brought me to having a go at some normal size bunting, crocheted granny triangles, to be precise, as the mini version was so sweet. I’d seen this pattern over at pinkfluffywarrior and loved her designs especially with the flowers added. So I decided to have a go at some and was rather pleased with the results….what do you think?

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Quite pleased with these even if I do say so myself! They’re a great stash user upper and evening/pool side time passer….I’m just going to keep making them as I fancy and see where they end up….probably my daughter’s birthday?

Meanwhile, the middle one had a Cub camp last week. Cub camp blankets are a must but they’d all sold out, everywhere! So I decided to make one. It would be bigger, far lovelier and personal and he was SO happy with it!! Result!

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I even personalised it with his initial! It’s a gorgeous teddy fleece material which I bound the edges with a suitable ‘cub’ colour! Tricky to sew as very thick fleece and boy, the fluff it shredded everywhere! Still, it was a resounding success as was the camp! One happy smokey smelling boy returned home happy, if not a little grubby!

Enjoy your weekend…..whatever you’re up to, K x

My Colette ‘Laurel’ dress pattern has arrived and it’s looking good!!!

It’s arrived!! I’ve taken the plunge after reading so many glorious reviews for the ‘Laurel’ dress by Colette, I decided to buy it and make my own………

The Laurel dress by Colette

The Laurel dress by Colette

It’s not just the dress that looks to be a gorgeous design…oh no, the pattern and instruction booklet is a work of art in itself and like nothing I’ve seen before!! Just look at what you get…….

Pattern book back page

Pattern book back page

For those of you new to Colette patterns (like me), I’ll explain why I’m so impressed……I had no idea how the pattern was packaged and presented….imagine my surprise when I opened the package and out popped this wonderful ‘booklet’ style pattern instructions and paper pattern (you can get downloadable versions I understand). Being a total newbie to independent pattern designers and companies, this was such a welcome change. Having recently decided to start sewing again, clothes I mean, I’ve spent a lot of time lately pouring over what patterns are out there….usually in a shop and looking at Burda, McCalls and Simplicity for example. I was quite shocked at how much these patterns cost now…..£8.00 plus!! I don’t always feel the choice is that great and find that a lot of these patterns have at times, quite a lot of unhelpful information in them, sometimes, not greatly proof read either! However, these are not to be scoffed at as there’s some fab designs out there. Yet, I can find it quite frustrating the way they’re laid out or can use sewing terms I’m not familiar with! (such as with an American pattern) I like simple, I like well laid out…something a lot of these patterns are not, and that just means I’m thinking ‘complicated’ before I’ve even picked up a pair of scissors!!

Enter Colette patterns!! Presented in the lovely booklet form, with well laid out instructions, tips and definitions of terms used etc…. like this….

Laurel pattern 'tips' example page

Laurel pattern ‘tips’ example page

and this…..

Laurel pattern 'definition' example page

Laurel pattern ‘definition’ example page

An example of how the pattern helps you with some of the terminology used…. How about that then heh?? There’s even a ‘notes’ section at the back of the booklet for making your own, well, notes!! see…….

'Notes' page in the Laurel pattern booklet

‘Notes’ page in the Laurel pattern booklet

I think that is so thoughtful and even more useful! and the pattern itself is tucked in it’s own back pocket as you can see from the pic above.

There’s help on customising your own fit……

Custom fit guide in the Laurel pattern booklet

Custom fit guide in the Laurel pattern booklet

Now you can see why I think this pattern is so lovely? I had no idea! Clearly I still have to make the dress but as a beginner/advanced beginner (lapsed), it makes a huge difference if I feel more confident after looking at a pattern rather than…err, what was the word?? that’s it…confused!!

To top this off (as if it really could be topped off), the lovely Susan from http://www.sewbox.co.uk/ is including a free gift with all pattern orders in June AND entry to a prize draw for a copy of the Great British Sewing Bee book! and this was MY free gift……

Turquoise heart buttons from Sewbox

Turquoise heart buttons from Sewbox

Aren’t they divine?? turquoise heart buttons. I love collecting buttons….what would you use these for I wonder??

I’ll keep you posted with progress on my dress!

Hope you all enjoy a glorious sunny weekend whatever you’re up to??!!
Kate x