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Projects Celebrating Special Birthdays

This is a blog I’ve been meaning to write for a while but just never got round to it.

I have wondered if anyone would find it interesting but, if there is one thing that I’ve learnt in the last 6 months or so, it is that you just never know when what you’re doing is inspirational to others.

So, I hope that some people might find my small selection of projects interesting or inspirational. For those that don’t, this little blog post isn’t for you, and that’s fine.

Over the last couple of years, there have been a few special birthdays amongst my friends and family which I have tried to mark by making special gifts for them.

I like making things for people and hope that they enjoy receiving them. Sometimes, you want to give something special, and what is more special than a handmade gift?

For friends who’ve had 50th birthdays I’ve made some patchwork cushions. I tried to choose colours and designs that I hoped the recipient would really like. For some people this was really obvious, you think of them and a clear colour choice comes to mind, for others it was a little more tricky.

I used the same patchwork design for all these cushions. I learnt to make this cushion at a Beginners Patchwork class at York School of Sewing.

I don’t seem to have any photos of the next cushion actually finished!!!

My little sister was also 50 so she needed an extra special gift.

I knitted her a temperature blanket using the temperatures of each day of her 50th year and creating a square for each month.

She has her blanket now as her birthday was a couple of months ago but I need to make a backing for it so she’s going to have to give it back one day so that I can finish it off.

It will be good to make a back for each month with dates on to correspond with the front of the blanket. I added beads to the blanket for family birthdays so I can include a key on the back, then in future years she will know what they mean!!

I also made some 60th birthday presents. These are cushions too, mainly free-motion machine embroidery.

I absolutely loved making these.

This last one was made from a piece of hand embroidery that I’d done quite some years ago. I found it last summer when sorting through some boxes. I looked at it and thought to myself what a shame that I’d done all that work and it was just sitting in a bag, hiding away. Straight away I knew what I wanted to do with it and made it into a cushion for Carol 🙂

Well there we are.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed looking at my work and maybe you’re inspired to make some very special gifts for the important people in your life.

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A Sock Knitting Challenge

Hello, welcome to the latest of my intermittent blog posts!

Today I’m all about knitting socks.

Despite the popularity of this activity, and most of our knitting circle and other friends, having taken it up enthusiastically over the years, I have never felt the urge.

Towards the end of 2018 I decided, however, that it was about time I joined in with the fun.

I knew that I had all the skills required but I really wanted to experience the process so that I could include sock knitting in my list of workshops available. Therefore, I felt that I needed to set myself a goal and a time limit for the number of pairs of socks I was going to make in order to gain the know-how required.

So at the end of November the challenge began!! I was aiming to knit 6 pairs of socks by the end of February.

 

 

 

I had ordered myself some new sock yarn (I already had loads of this but I treated myself to one of the West Yorkshire Spinners Christmas sets), plus some patterns and a book because I didn’t just want to make the same pair of socks over and over again.

 

 

 

This is the first pair of socks that I produced. I loved the pattern and the yarn that I’d chosen but the knitting wasn’t very good. I’d used the needles suggested on the ball band and in the pattern but the tension was far too loose so I learned that I needed to use much smaller needles, which I have done ever since, and been much happier with the results.

For my second pair of socks I used the special Christmas yarn and a different pattern on much smaller needles. I love these socks which have been worn and washed very well.

Before starting this challenge I had envisaged only knitting basic top-down socks but I had bought this book which shows different methods of sock knitting. When I’m learning about & experimenting with my knitting I do like to try a variety of ideas and techniques to see what different results can be produced. The 3rd pair of socks fit perfectly and were knitted from the toe up.

I knitted these lovely red socks on a short circular needle rather than dpn’s.

We were now at the beginning of February, I had produced 3 pairs of socks and needed to knit another 3 to achieve my goal before the end of that month…progress had been slower than I’d hoped.

It was very definitely time to crack on and knit another pair of socks. I’d heard of afterthought heels and thought I’d give one a go for my next sock. Another interesting method of making a sock.

This is a top-down sock also from the Sock Anatomy book.

These socks were finished on 27th February so I’d failed my challenge as I was 2 pairs short!!

I really wanted to try making some very small socks for workshops as it’s obviously not going to be possible to knit a full size sock in a one day workshop.

So, I thought I’ll see if I can make some pairs of teeny tiny socks, good practise for workshops and maybe I could still say I’d made the full 6 pairs.

This is a book I bought from The Loveliest Yarn Company at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate. It’s really cool as it gives a basic sock pattern with options for mixing and matching cuffs, legs and toes.

The socks are really mini & you can create your own set of little socks to make a fab Christmas decoration.

I thought I’d have a go at making one of the basic socks to see if you could do it in a day.

This one took me just a little bit too long to knit so I found a pattern for an even smaller one!!  I managed a pair of these teenier tinier socks by the 1st March and decided that that was satisfactory

The end of my challenge but definitely NOT the end of me knitting socks.

I will be running my first Beginners Sock Knitting workshop at Create in Wetherby on 8th June 2019…maybe I’ll see you there 🙂

 

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My Big Waves Brioche Cowl

This blog is mainly for people who have been to one of my recent 2-colour Brioche Knitting workshops.

Anyone who hasn’t tried this technique might also find it interesting to look at how the work grows and the kind of fabric that can be produced.

For those who haven’t heard of brioche knitting before, you might be  wondering what on earth I’m talking about,  maybe you would like to know a little bit more, or perhaps you could be interested in attending a workshop. For these reasons, I should probably write another blog about brioche knitting in the future!!

Thank you to all the people who have been along to one of my 2-colour brioche knitting workshops, I am sure that you will all agree that learning to do brioche knitting was quite entertaining.

Last week I was chatting with a lady who was making the cowl following on from the workshop, and she mentioned that it would be good to have photos of the work as it went along so that she knew what it ought to look like.

I thought that this was a splendid idea so I came home, chose some gorgeous colours of the Croft yarn  and cast on a new cowl for myself.

I have knitted the cowl and photographed it at significant points so that you can check your work as you go along if you need to.

I hope that these images will help to give you the confidence that your work is progressing ok or to show any errors that may have occurred.

I have amended the pattern as I realised that I have written the end section incorrectly.

I have sent a PDF with these changes to the person who organised your workshop.

Please ask them to send you a copy or email me directly stating which workshop you attended, and I will send it to you.

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Footstool Workshop in Tadcaster

This year for my birthday my sister very kindly booked me a footstool making workshop with Louise at Scruffy Upholstery in Tadcaster.

I haven’t done any upholstery before but it’s something I’m keen to try.

The first challenge (and I didn’t have much time) was to find a piece of fabric to take along with me. I checked my stash and found nothing to inspire 🙁

Then I remembered that I’d seen a pile of different remnants of fabric in the Home Farm shop where I meet up with a group of ladies (aka the good humoured ladies) every week for a crafty, cakey, tea drinking morning. So, the next time I was there, we got it all out and enjoyed a good route through.

Some of the fabrics were truly vintage and we had a fine time deciding which ones were suitable, and what we might/could/would/should make from the rest. Here a selection of some of my favourites.

Finally I narrowed it down to 2 contenders.

Then came the workshop!! Run by Louise in her studio in Tadcaster we were well looked after with lots of instruction and information so that we knew what we were doing every step of the way.

It took place over 2 evenings. We were only a small group, we learnt a lot about how the footstool is constructed and which materials to use.

 

None of us had every used a compressed air staple gun before and we were all a bit cautious…but we survived!!

 

Here you can see some of the stages of construction that the footstool went through. Louise was excellent at showing us where to staple and how to fold the fabric so that everything was held in place without it showing.

Thank you Deborah for buying me the class, thanks Angela for allowing me to buy some fabric from you (even though you wanted to keep it all for yourself!) and thank you Louise for running such a great workshop xx

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Changes for Chains and Stripes

This blog was originally written in April 2015 but I wanted to re-visit it as I have recently added these knitting kits to my website having not had them on there for a while, so here is the story of my Chain Stripe Cushion knitting kits…

 

Today I’ve been finishing off something I started back in September!
IMG_0177After our annual visit to Cawood Craft Festival I realised that my original version of one of my knitting kits could do with a bit of updating. I designed this cushion some time ago now and we talked about it on the blog back in the summer of 2013.

When I had the idea for the cushion we had just started selling West Yorkshire Spinners yarns and I really wanted to make something which would show off the natural colours of the wool from Jacob sheep which they produce. I had been playing with the chain stripe stitch when knitting samples for my City and Guilds course and I felt that it was an ideal choice. I designed this little cushion, which can be knitted in a number of variations using the 4 natural colours available Ecru, Light Grey, Mid-Grey and Brown.

I don’t like having to insert zips and I really like these cocoanut shell buttons so I used this simple construction for the cushion. One long piece is knitted, folded and side seams sewn up, finally attaching the beautiful buttons which are included in the kit. I am very happy with the way the cushion looks, I love the Jacob wool which is ideal for home wares and many people have bought the kits and given positive feedback.

Why did I feel the need to improve the pattern then? Sitting in a tent in a field in North Yorkshire, I realised that, if I was designing the cushion today I would have made the stripes match up all the way round the cushion, and they just didn’t. It bothered me so much that I just couldn’t forget about it and I took one of my sample cushions and actually unravelled the cushion, re-knitting it to my new specifications. I have now knitted 3 samples in all of the new cushion and I am happy to say that the stripes match up beautifully all the way round except for where the rib occurs for attaching the lovely buttons which I don’t mind.
IMG_0770I have replaced the old  patterns in the kits and will re-vamp the packaging when I make some more and I now feel very satisfied with my little cushions again.

The kits contain all the wool you need to knit a cushion, plus the pattern and 3 buttons. You can buy them  online.

As I explain on the website, this kit makes a great gift for a knitter friend and the pattern is easy to follow for those who have not knitted for a while, or who are just learning but interesting enough for those with more experience to appreciate it

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Popping Up All Over Again!!!

Hello. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get to my blog and it’s looking a bit neglected.

I thought I’d tell you about Judith and Jeans Pop-Up-Shop.

We had lots of stock which didn’t sell in our closing down sale when we left Tadcaster and it was all being kept at Mum’s house until she decided what to do with it.

Mum and Dad need to move house now so the time had very much arrived for all that lovely wool to be found new homes.

We had our one day only EVERYTHING MUST GO pop-up-shop at York School of Sewing in January when Nadine very kindly let us join in her monthly shop Saturday. It was a very lovely day with quite a crowd of people coming through the doors when we opened at 10am. It was very nice to see people from our days in Tadcaster and there were also plenty of Nadines’ customers popping along to get supplies for sewing and a bit of yarn at the same time. There were plenty of bargains to be had as we’d taken as much along as we possibly could of the beautiful yarns that we needed to say goodbye to.

We were kept occupied all day long and were very happy to have cars much emptier on leaving than they were when we arrived.

Mum held another little sale of her own at our local Methodist Church and managed to supply lots more people with something to add to their stash. I’m happy to say that, with the help of Ebay all that enormous pile of yarn is now re-homed.

HOWEVER, Judith and Jeans one day only EVERYTHING MUST GO Pop-Up-Shop is to return!!

We still have stacks of stuff and it is not going in that removal van with my parents 🙂

So, on Saturday 3rd March we will be re-popping at Yorks School of Sewing and once more EVERYTHING MUST GO!!!

Take a look at some of the goodies on offer

That’s just a selection. I have much more including cross stitch kits, knitting needles and much much more!

As usual you can also stock up on Nadines lovely Fabrics, Jelly Rolls, Layer Cakes, Charm Packs and Fat Quarters.

It’s not just all about fabric – there’s lots of Equipment and other Sewing ‘Must Haves’ too

Special offers and plenty of bargains.

Come along and have a browse, we’d love to see you.

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Intarsia Knitting

Intarsia is a technique used in knitting to create patterns with multiple colours. It is possible to introduce areas of colour in any shape, size, and number.

The Intarsia technique is often used for sweaters with large, solid-colour features or ‘picture jumpers’ with designs such as fruits, flowers, geometric shapes or Christmas motifs like snowmen and robins.

Here is a new cushion I have designed (pattern available to buy) using the Intarsia technique to create these cute sausage dogs. There will be a workshop available in the New Year where you can learn how to make one if you’re not confident to do it alone!

Unlike other multicolour techniques (including Fair Isle, slip-stitch colour, and double knitting), Intarsia fabric is lightweight because it is only one strand thick, and yarn is not carried across the back of the work.

Not unlike a paint-by-numbers canvas, you place the coloured stitches in an intarsia design by following a chart row by row. It is much more difficult to follow a pattern written out line by line than to use a chart for this technique.

The most popular stitch for Intarsia knitting is stocking stitch but it is possible to use other stitches or combinations of stitches with often very attractive results.

Here reverse stocking stitch has been used combined with Trinity stitch.

 

This ‘M’ was an experiment which didn’t quite work out. A combination of Trinity stitch and stocking stitch for the ‘M’ shape may work out better.

 

When working in intarsia, it is easiest to use untreated yarns. Cotton, silk, and synthetic fibres are much more challenging to use because they are slippery.

Changing colours – When changing colours, you drop one strand of yarn and leave it hanging for use in the following row. Following the chart, work all the stitches you need in the first colour. Drop the old strand and forget about it until you need it again in the next row. Twist the new strand around the old one. Work with the new colour according to the chart. To change strands, bring the new colour up from underneath the old one. This twists the strands together, preventing holes from forming on the front of the work.

Knitting in intarsia theoretically requires no additional skills beyond being generally comfortable with the basic knit and purl stitches. It is important that your tension is even as it is easy to pull the yarn more tightly where the colours change and create uneven tension which does not look attractive.

Each area of colour in your design requires its own individual yarn supply, resulting in many strands hanging from your work. One way of keeping control of all these yarn ends is by winding a few yards of each colour onto its own bobbin.

Weave in the ends –Your intarsia fabric won’t be finished until all the ends are woven in on the wrong side, using a wool needle. If this is not done well it can spoilt the finished look of your work so take time to do it well. Because there will be so many ends to weave in, the very best thing to do is  weave them in every now and then as you work , rather than leaving them all to be sewn in after your knitting is finished.

Take time to play – If you are not familiar with this knitting technique it is worth taking some time to play with some odd bits of yarn and practice knitting from the chart you are about to use. Allow about 6 stitches either side of the motif and knit at least one sample. This will help you to choose what type of yarn to use. If you’re not sure try it in different yarns to make a comparison as the results can be surprisingly different in different fibres. Use simple geometric shapes to begin with, from squares and rectangles to diamonds and triangles. As your confidence develops, move on to more complex shapes and combinations of shapes. This is also a brilliant opportunity to incorporate small amounts of different textures and types of yarns into your knitting. Some exciting effects could be achieved by using multicolour yarns with the Intarsia technique, adding yet another dimension to your work.

 

 

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My 50th Year-part two!

It’s finally over. I’ve had a fantastic year celebrating and now my 50th birthday has been and gone.

As I said a couple of weeks ago I had 50 treats spread out over 50 weeks. It was brilliant fun sharing some treats with friends & family and doing some other things I really wanted to do on my own.

Here’s the last lot of treats to complete the picture…

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Officially a Knitter!!!

Yesterday was a big day for me when the fabulous piece of paper arrived in the post.

This is the culmination of almost 7 years work (if I’d been quicker I’d have received a proper City&Guilds one) and I guess it now means that I’m officially a knitter & designer!!!

I have been knitting for a very long time, since I was taught by my grandma as a child. My grandma and my mum were always knitting and I wanted to be able to do it so much.

Grandma enjoying some riverside knitting!

I learnt so much from both of them, and from trial and error.

I was very lucky having someone on hand to ask when I was struggling and as a result of  learning at a young age I’ve had a lifelong passion for knitting and everything connected to it.

Early in 2010 I decided that I wanted to build on my passion and add some more formal learning to all that I’d managed to learn so far. I did a bit of research and chose to sign up with Loraine McClean of Knit Design Online. There was a waiting list so I had to wait a few months to get going and I think I began the course early in 2011. If you are at all considering doing something similar I would recommend having a look at Loraine’s website & thinking about the courses she is offering.

It is no exaggeration to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed working through the 12 modules that would arrive in the post.

It has been a marvellous opportunity to experiment with so many different techniques, stitches & yarns which is something that I’d never thought to do for myself before. I wasn’t afraid to substitute yarns and try things I hadn’t done before, but always following a pattern.

I have learnt to be much more strict with myself and re-do things until they are spot on as Loraine doesn’t accept anything less than your very best, and I hope this means that I will always produce items of a high standard which I can be proud of.

I’ve never had any training in art, as I was not considered creative enough to do art at school, so I was a little scared of some of the artwork we had to do. I had, however, had alot of experience doing painting, gluing/sticking & making creative messes with toddlers, and I just approached most of the tasks from this level, followed the instructions in the module and managed to present some pleasing results most of the time.  It was always a delight when the assessment came back and I found out I was actually quite good at some of these tasks.

I’m more confident now but there is definitely room for new skills to be acquired!

We also studied different types of yarns and fibres and learnt about their properties and which ones work best for certain projects and why. Finally we had to design and knit our own garments which I now have the courage to do independently. I have so many ideas and inspirations which I now can’t wait to follow up over the next few years.

Doing this course has been an absolute joy and I never ever ever want to stop building on the foundation it has given to me.

Here are the main items I have produced throughout the process.

 

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My 50th Year – part one

Warning…this post is a bit self indulgent!

Having taken a year out after closing the shop I’m being a bit slow getting going again and finding it hard to discipline myself around settling down to do some work.

There are so many distractions and other things to do!

Also it’s my 50th year and I’m celebrating  in style by giving myself 50 special treat so I’m rather busy!

There are a number of reasons I decided to do this but the main one is that, I feel like sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to be spoilt and tend to say ‘oh yes I’d like to do that one day when the children are older/we have more money/we have more time ‘etc etc, when really we should be living life as fully as possible, doing the things we love.

It’s also been a fabulous opportunity to share the fun with some of my fantastic friends.

So here’s a taste of some of the things I’ve been getting up to over the last (almost) 12 months.