Thursday, 17 April 2014

Colour Crush: Mint

I am in need of colour therapy today. George has not slept alllllll week during the night, so I'm pretty much an angry zombie. I'm not good when I've had too little sleep. Also, I'm on deadline so I have been crocheting like a FIEND. And now I have RSI! Ahhh my old friend RSI. We've been chums since we were crocheting all the blocks for 500 Crochet Blocks in 2012. SO. Enough rubbish from me, and feast your eyes on this pastel palette. 
Isn't mint lovely? I really think that green might be my second favourite colour. I love how many shades of green there is, and particularly this mint. As you can see I have some beautiful mint green yarn and more crafting supplies. I also have some mint green tights in my drawer, and some pretty little frilly socks in a similar shade. 

Clockwise from top: Vintage thread spools; Annell Rapido; Annell Cotton 8; Vintage knitting needles; Mint ric rac from The Village Haberdashery; Drops Paris cotton; freebie hook from Mollie Makes; Mint (scented, too!) pen from Paperchase; Nail polish from Topshop

I'm hoping this fresh breath of colour is just the thing to perk me up! Time to pour a mint tea and soak up the day. 

Have a happy day!
Monday, 14 April 2014

A handmade wardobe

I don't mean a physical wardrobe, though ours was of course self-made when it came in its box from Ikea! What I mean is my clothing. Lately I've been feeling so very disappointed when it comes to clothes shopping. Believe it or not, years ago I was a fashion journalist and stylist and used to create the trend pages for celebrity magazines and style still life photography, too. Since I had Albie, however, my style has changed. I feel old and fat when I walk into shops, and I don't want the kind of cheap, throwaway trends that seem to dominate the high street where I live. I prefer to wear 'pre-loved' items from vintage fairs and eBay, and I have to admit I do love Cath Kidston- the clothes are feminine and flattering and feel so nice to wear. What does a 30-something woman wear in a town that reveres Amy Childs and the cast of The Only Way is Essex as style icons?
Well, as ever, I turn to the crafty community. And again, Mollie Makes comes up trumps with this gorgeous special edition- DIY Fashion. Edited by Lisa Comfort by Sew Over It, its beautifully matte pages are crammed with inspiration. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't very much in there about dressmaking- e.g. where to find nice patterns and some basic skills, but overall I loved the content. (I have also become obsessed with Kate Gabrielle of Scathingly Brilliant- how gorgeous is her style?)

Inspired (like so many of you) by The Great British Sewing Bee, I've decided to start making my own clothes. Clothes that fit nicely, are unique and indulge the rather addictive habit of shopping for fabric and notions. Who doesn't love a bit of ric rac? So, a couple of weeks ago I decided to stop being frightened of my sewing machine and just sit down and sew something. My lovely friend Hannah (owner of Make, Do and Mend, whom I talk about so often on here) helped me to set up Betsey (my 1970s Frister + Rossman behemoth) and gave me the confidence I needed to just get on with it. I can't be that hard, right? Right!

 I rather sensibly started out with a very simple pattern- just two pieces of fabric and some bias binding was all it took to make this gorgeous top. The top is the FREE 'Sorbetto' tank top pattern by Colette. I've been a fan of Colette patterns for a long time, but always filed them in the 'never gonna happen' section of my mental wish list. But this was SO easy! And isn't it lovely? The fabric is a simple polka dot cotton poplin from The Makery (part of my Mollie Makes subsciption gift so it was gloriously FREE also!) and I had the white bias tape in my box from when I made my wedding bunting two years ago. I am planning a whole range of these easy-to-wear tops. My next one will involve gingham bias and sleeves. And then I plan on tackling the rest of the Colette pattern range!

Next up, this fabulous skirt I made on Friday night at a new workshop at Make, Do and Mend. I used the beautiful mustard double gauze from my last blog post with this extra-wide elastic waistband. The technique was pretty simple and I really LOVED sewing together with some lovely Make, Do and Mend chums. I'm thrilled with this, I cannot tell you how pleased I am with that straight hem! All thanks to Han's instruction. It will look marv with leggings, clogs and breton, oui? I envisage a black and white gingham one next, with some mint green ric rac trim. Tasty. 

I have got a real taste for sewing now. Since the inaugural Sewing Bee I've been following the lovely blog Tilly and the Buttons. Her easy-to-follow instructions and tips are pretty amazing, and her first book, Love at First Stitch comes out in May. Exciting, non? I cannot wait to get my hands on it and get stitching. I've already downloaded her Miette skirt pattern, I'm seeing it in blue chambray with liberty binding on the pockets...

But of course my handmade wardrobe won't be limited to sewing. Already I have a couple of hand-made garments in my closet, including THE crochet dress...
And the first and only cardigan I knitted 18 months ago! 

I have another crochet cardigan on my hook at the moment, of course it is MUSTARD. Obsessed, moi? But I'm really looking forward to tackling more of Tilly's patterns and the gorgeous Colette dresses. And I will of course be documenting my experiments in sewing right here. There is a Pinterest board dedicating to sewing, too, of course. 

Would you and do you make your own clothes? Any tips appreciated thanks!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Colour Crush: Mustard

I love the advent of Spring. The sunshine pours into the house again, with that pure, fresh light that has been missing since September. Living in a small terrace on a narrow street, our little north-east facing house misses that light in the colder months. So when the light is back again I'm filled with hope and that feeling that summer is soon, very nearly soon. Until then, I have colour. Colour is the most inspiring thing to me. 

And for those who know me 'IRL' (in real life) and even over on Instagram, I'm known as 'Lady Mustard'. Some might regard it as an autumn colour, but for me it works all year around.

Mustard for crafting...

The knitting needles and thread are vintage (from my nana's sewing box), the bow brooch is made from Rowan Handknit Cotton in Ochre, Drops Paris cotton aran in Mustard (isn't this the most perfect mustard yarn?), Clover Soft Touch hook, Fabric- Japanese double gauze from The Village Haberdashery and those beautiful vintage barkcloth buttons from Folly & Glee

Mustard for wearing...
THE mustard dress, tights and cardigan from Primark years ago, purse made in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran and 1940s felt posy brooch by Hen House Handmade

And even mustard on the walls!

After two and a half years we finally got around to decorating our bedroom. Me and the Mr couldn't decide whether to decorate my way (Cath Kidston) or his way (Sherlock Holmes) so we compromised with mid-century modern. Just like the downstairs of the house! We painted this main wall in Crown Vintage Mean Mustard, and accessorised with my handmade cushions and new Orla Kiely bedding from TK Maxx. The other three walls are a soft pigeon grey- Crown Vintage Easy Rider- and we have huge posters from our favourite movies- Breakfast at Tiffany's and North by Northwest. The prints above the bed are from Woop Studio. I re-covered the Ikea lampshades with my favourite Sanderson Dandelion Clocks fabric and we installed a super duper retro Ikea lamp on the ceiling. I'm still searching for the perfect fabric for a roman blind. The crochet cushions are of course my own work! The longwave stitch cushion was made for 500 Crochet Blocks, and the granny circle was a recent make using Drops Paris yarn and Whitney from The Purl Bee's pattern

In my basket at the moment I have more projects in mustard lurking, biding their time until the moment when I can do some selfish hooky. For now I'm fully immersed in my projects for Simply Crochet. 

What are your colour crushes? I have many more to share over the coming weeks. In the meantime, I have set up an ode to mustard over on Pinterest...

Monday, 7 April 2014

Untitled (trying not to think about time...)

I've been thinking a lot about time lately. Well, more pressingly, the lack thereof. 

Time has flown by since George was born five weeks early, almost a year ago. I barely had time to get my head around the fact he was early before the next problem arose. To be frank and honest, I have found having two children to be more of an adjustment than I had imagined. I never feared that I wouldn't love my second child as much as the first, before he was born I already knew I'd love him with every maternal fibre of my being. But I had a tough pregnancy, and his early arrival, although welcome, was also shocking. I think it's taken me this long to be able to deal with it all. Luckily, he had a very smooth delivery and fed brilliantly from the off. 

Colic, reflux and a spell in hospital last month for a virus are all setbacks we've had to deal with and it's not surprising that I have, at times, felt exhausted by it all. My eldest took time to adjust to being a sibling, and he's been pretty miraculous really, being patient and making room for his little brother in our household. But family life has not been without its problems and I'll admit that throughout the past year I've felt exhausted, overwhelmed and rather depressed. The black dog paid me a visit a couple of months ago, but we've dealt with George's reflux, turned his sleep around and helped Albie learn and grow and I think we've come through the other side as a stronger family.

Last summer when I gave my blog its rather good-looking makeover, I was determined to blog again regularly and with renewed vigour. But alas, life took over. I worried that my posts were boring- who would want to read them? Do people even like my crochet? What do I have left to say? And why am I so crap at taking photos? Oh, my poor neglected blog. And oh, my poor, neglected crafty soul.

But, do you know what? I have brushed Mr Doubter off my shoulder and really do have that renewed blogging vigour. I've found that I absolutely do I have stuff to blog about. George is one next week, and then I celebrate five years of learning to crochet! Of course I haven't stopped learning, and teaching and writing patterns continue to be as much as a learning experience for me as for my students and readers. Thank YOU, readers, for sticking with me. I hope this post has not bored you too much. I hope some parents can relate to these feelings, and I hope that my blog continues to be a creative little space where I can express myself in the way I really want to- through colour, craft and inspiration. 

I like to think of social media in general as a continuation of the blogging experience, and although I am rubbish actually at the facebook and twitter and ravelry thing, I love 'micro-blogging' with my Instagram feed and am constantly being inspired by Pinterest. So, although I won't promise to blog every day, or even every week, I will continue to document ideas and inspiration elsewhere. Won't you join me? Buttons are up there in that there sidebar underneath my profile picture. 

Cripes, this post is a lot longer than I anticipated! Sorry about that. See? Loads to say. Ahem.

Anyways, here's to more rambling posts about current obsessions, yarn, crochet, and colour. And some grainy iPhone pics. 

Happy hooking, friends. 
Friday, 4 April 2014

Simply Crochet

It's no secret that I am a total magazine addict. I blogged about Simply Crochet over a year ago now, and have seen it go from strength to strength in the year and a quarter since its launch. 

How cute is this cover on issue 17? I would love a bike. With a basket. Covered in crochet bunting. There is a lovely hook freebie, too. I'm totes going to make that collar tonight. 

But even more excitingly, this very blog has been featured on its beautiful matte pages!

Eagle eyes will spot me on page 13...

So who's up for hooking up some hangers? Visit the tutorial here....

I do have some rather exciting news...I'm joining the Simply Crochet family! I'm so proud and excited to be designing some exclusive pieces for the magazine this coming summer, though obviously I can't say too much. All I will say that it involves fringing and Rowan Handknit Cotton.

Anyways, I have a deadline and an 11-month-old that is trying to eat the laptop cable. 

Have a happy, hooky weekend!