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For Otis. As I sit every night at the moment, huffing and puffing grumpily into a dust mask as we scrape and sand hundreds of reclaimed hardwood parquet blocks, I try to remember that not every purchase of second hand goods from gumtree means blood, sweat and tears. Although Otis’ antique brass bed, acquired at a price to make the bargain hunter in me very pleased indeed, did require some serious polishing and a bit of repair work on three decorative spindly bits, it was nothing compared to the mammoth task of restoring Sol’s bed.

I really wanted a metal bed of a similar age to sit next to Solomon’s, which meant waiting a while for the right one in a reasonable location to pop up. But pop up it did, and we’re all really pleased, none less so than Oti!

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They do say children growing up is bittersweet; surely part of the sweetness is a legitimate reason for making them new versions of what they’ve grown out of! Sol needed a new hat and his previous one had been such a success I just repeated the pattern, adding a few more stitches to the cast on and a few rows to the length.

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This time he declined a decorative button <sniff> because he wouldn’t be as well camouflaged in the woods, apparently. He chose the colour, which is another Erika Knight yarn, this time in a chunky weight, in the shade ‘Gunge.’ Such was my revulsion at the name I nearly didn’t buy it but I just re-named it ‘Moss’ in my head and sallied forth.

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This time my skills have grown to include a three needle bind off which I really like the look of- but otherwise it remained unchanged: a moss stitch border, knit stitch in the round and I lined it with red fleece.

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This does make it look like some sort of frog puppet, but when you’re 5 that is in no way a bad thing.

Next up: still knitting, but back to DK instead of chunky, and some delicate little cables.

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Cable knitting is amazing: you spend one fiddly row faffing around stretching stitches all over the place, then a couple of rows later the weaving, winding nature of the fabric appears almost magically.

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I hope to finish this (it’s another present, so I can’t say much more about it!) soon, then on to more knitting, this time a rescue mission on a project I abandoned almost two years ago, more of which later. I do have plans to return to quilting soon, but the weather is so… knitterly it seems only appropriate to put the kettle on, chuck another log on the fire and cast on another project.

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Not only simple, but also super speedy. I made this as a birthday present for one of Sol’s friends, turning 5. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make a skirt from scarves at first, so bought four silk scarves of varying lengths and widths from a charity shop. I then toyed with the idea of just giving her the four scarves, as my two had some serious fun just running, shaking, tying and rolling around in the scarves as they were. But no: I had some unfulfilled crafty urges that needed to be realised into an actual skirt. I found a photo of one on Pinterest and that gave me the idea of cutting a hole in the centre of a square scarf to create an asymetric, twirly hem.

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I stitched on a cotton waistband, threaded some elastic through it, and made a little flower from the circle I’d cut out. It was really very easy and extremely satisfying!

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Every so often I need a quick, easy and pretty project to break up the long quilts, calendars and knitting. Florence over at FlossieTeacakes blogged recently about the heartbreak of realising something you’ve spent hours over is just Not Going To Work and will never see the light of day.  It’s a bitter feeling and this wee skirt was the perfect antidote. I think Holly liked it too!

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Wedding fever continues apace and today, in very fitful bursts of standing-up sewing and in between nursery runs and nappy changes, I made the boys’ bow ties. It was not the most tricky of dressmaking tasks, but I’ve put together some step by step photos anyway as even though simple, it was quite satisfying!

To make one bow tie, I cut two pieces of fabric measuring 21x12cm and matching fusible interfacing to make the bow (no seam allowances required for these). I cut one long 40x2cm strip with small seam allowance down the long edges. I also cut a little 7x1cm strip, similarly leaving a small seam allowance down the long edges.  You can see four bow bits in the photo below because I made two bow ties.

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I ironed on the interfacing, dotty fusible side against the wrong side of my fabric, and folded it lengthwise towards the middle as below, then widthwise also towards the middle (it has sprung open in the photo but you can see the fold lines, and the finished fold in the second picture)

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This resulted in a neat little book-like rectangle and I machine stitched the edges down. I did the same with the second rectangle.

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The long neck strip was folded in half widthwise, right sides facing, and the long side sewn up to make a tube. I turned it inside out (faffy: you can buy special instruments to facilitate this, which might be worth it) and pressed it flat, seam to the edge. I then attached hook and loop tape, taking care to make sure they were on different sides so they match up when the bow tie goes round the neck. I did the same with the small rectangle, minus the hook and loop tape.

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The bow pieces were then sandwiched together with the folded edges  facing each other. I pinched them to make a nice bow shape and held it in place with a few hand stitches.

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I placed the bow on the table, and then put the the long strip on top of it at the centre of the bow, with the longer loop bit of tape facing away (so if the bow tie is on its tightest setting the excess is tucked against the neck and not left flapping out)

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The smaller strip was then wound round the long one and the bow to keep them together and it was secured with a few hand stitches, thread doubled for strength.

 

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All done!

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Very sweet photos of the full ensemble should follow in two weeks’ time -barring any jam-related disasters or toddler refusals to wear hand crafted bow ties of course…

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I think it’s fairly safe to say, all puns intended, that I am nesting. We are house hunting but as that seems to be one tiny mouldy dry-rotted time warp after another, I am now in the sort of mind where I want to instead make our rental cottage as homely as possible. We’ve come a long way from August 2009 when we moved in and spent two weeks cleaning the place, but the years of neglect and plain old lack of love do show. Especially when it rains. Then those years of neglect show all over the coombed ceilings in sinister, spreading damp marks…

I digress! Sol’s bedroom seems to be the room where we really ran out of steam- the ceiling is mildewed, and a legacy of three sticker-obsessed girls faintly shadows the walls in various pony, ice cream and monkey shapes, covered but not totally obscured by peeling lilac paint. Poor Solomon. And, possibly, if we are here long enough, poor Baby Two, who will be sharing the sizeable but rather depressing room. So we’ve decided to at the very least paper and paint the walls and ceilings, and of course this has lead me on to fantastical internet trawls of children’s bedroom and décor ideas. It has to be on a woodland theme I think (there is a battered old wooden toadstool for the Brownies in the Guide Hut, site of one of Sol’s toddler groups, which the children love, and which set me off I think) and first up is the owl lamp, above. It’s from a company called White Rabbit which stocks beautiful lamps and night lights. Sol got very excited upon seeing it on the laptop. The wallpaper is gorgeous too- I dread to think how much it costs per metre though!

Next is a toadstool seat/table/fairy hideaway like the one above, previously available from Cox and Cox- but now sadly withdrawn as they don’t adhere to EU fire regulations! If I was feeling extra crafty I might try to make one, but I think I’ve got enough on my plate at the moment: one for the to do list. Or for Oli’s to do list perhaps.

This owl rug (design and in particular children’s design is very owly at the moment it would appear) is absolutely gorgeous but at £495 it certainly will not be gracing Sol’s floor any time soon, sadly- it’s from Mini Moderns, who also stock fantastic wallpaper. I particularly like their new nautical one.

 

 

(Slightly) more attainable is this sweet 1970s style tree wallpaper from Cloudberry Living; I love the colours.

An even better way to dickie up your walls -and probably the best bet in a house you’ll never own- is reusable wall stickers. These cheery toadstools are also from Cloudberry Living, and are £34.95. I love them but they do have a rather trippy Alice in Wonderland edge to them. Perhaps it’s the size?!

 

Last but certainly not least is illustrator Judy Kaufmann, Chilean but residing in Barcelona and creating the most beautiful prints. Newborn babies are utterly bamboozled by black and white, and I confess I am too by this stunning tree print. It has tiny birds in amongst the swirling leaves, and she has more urban images of traffic jams and apartment blocks too in glorious colours.

Really I could go on and on, especially with artworks. There’s a whole host of linocuts and woodcuts out there that are too beautiful for words. But perhaps those are for another post another day. Back to quilting now!

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