Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fabulous new stash!

I think you all know that this week is my LYS , Arthur Bales's, big July sale. Big surprize, I have been there twice this week already! I was a bit stumped when I said to one of the ladies working there that I won't be back again this week and she replied that she is sure I will! Ok, not really so shocking...Anyway, before we move on to my exciting new yarn (and fabric) loot, first some exciting post this week from my lovely, talented friend in Staphorst, The Netherlands.
Inside this lovely fabric parcel wrapped with gorgeous ribbon was a selection of fabulous original Staphorst cotton fabric. In lovely shades of purple, lilac and blue. I love the fabric, Gina! I have been keeping it close, staring and touching and I fear I won't use it for a while...but since lilac and purple is my current colours, I might just make that fabric bag I have been dying to make. A lovely postcard of Staphorst and an adorable keyring with Dutch wooden shoes. This is so going onto my car keys soon! Love the homemade strawberry too. Thanks so much Gina! Visit Gina here to see her lovely creations.

On to the new loot. Here are some of my new yarn, and yes, I did buy one piece of fabric. You can see my piece of lovely pink and wine red corduroy fabric in the photo below. It was rather expensive fabric, imported from Japan. I have been drooling over this for a while...I am going through my patterns looking for the right dress. I want to make a country type dress with a flair sewn on the sleeves and hem and since I do not have such a pattern, I will modify one I have.

This time I decided I am going to stock up on the more expensive yarns I hesitate to spend on, instead of stocking up on the cheaper acrylic yarns. So, first on my list was super bulky wool. Of course, Rowan Big Wool was a given. Not sure of the name of this colour, the package and label does not say, but I think it is called "Smitten Kitten". I have a bag pattern from the Rowan Big Easy booklet in mind for this. On the left is Sirdar Denim Ultra Mega Chunky, a mix of cotton and wool and really nice for a natural coloured bag or scarf.

The ultimate spoil for me was this - Rowan Pure Cashmere DK. Horrendously expensive, it arrived very recently and was on about a 20% discount, so I jumped on the last three in this lovely pink. I am thinking a summer scarf or wrap. What do you think?

I also stocked up on the last of the discontinued Elle Merino Solids felting wool (not pictured). My stash is looking good except for the yellow and black which I cannot find anywhere. So, here is the last of my new stash. I could not resist the lovely blue Elle Toy Time acrylic yarn. Not sure what to make yet, so will go in the stash for later. The Vinnis Colours organic cotton is to add to my growing stash to make a lovely colourful bag I have in mind and maybe also some washcloths and tray cloths.

Then I thought I will share what I am busy with right now. I have been working on both these projects during the evenings this week when I have a chance. This is a neckwarmer in moss stitch from a pattern called "Envy" on Ravelry. I already have the buttons picked out, but knitting is so sloooow.
Compared to crochet, that is, which is why I started another project this week. I just love these colours together! This is a wavy type pattern and i am using local yarns from Elle to make a unique bag. In fact, so unique, I do not even know myself yet what the end result will be! I saw a picture of a stunning bag online and sort of started making something similar, but as always, I digressed...

This Saturday I am shopping at the International Fashion Sale at the Coca-Cola Dome near my house. It's now hosted twice a year and an opportunity to buy expensive branded clothing, shoes, bags and perfume at up to 70% off. What woman can resist that?! My best friend, sister and niece will be joining me in a day of shopping and fun! Hope you are all having a fabulous week!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Weekend Sewing - Knit Tops

The arrival of a long-awaited top pattern put me in the mood to sew some knit tops again. That's what I ended up doing the entire weekend! I am so pleased with the results though that I do not mind not touching other WIP's. For several months now I have been disgruntled because I love the cross-over style type top, but after sewing several patterns, were very disappointed with the results. (These are the ones I sew but do not post on my blog!) Recently I found a website of a UK designer and bought several pdf patterns from her website. At last, a pattern that FITS! Go to to see her marvelous patterns.

I am so delighted with the results! A perfect fit. I even played around with my own additions to the pattern and made the sleeves different.
I followed a great tutorial to make your own flounce sleeves here I made a longer flounce in black and then a shorter one on top in the same fabric as the top. I made the sleeve length to just below my elbow as I hate flouncy sleeves at my wrists. It always gets in the way when I work on my computer or around the house. It came out perfect! This black and white stretch knit fabric is the last bit left from my visit to Hobby Lobby in Chicago this year.

You all know me already. If I find a great pattern, I make many! So I did. Here is another plain version of this pattern - Wrap Style Top - in bright pink and green. Looks more like pajamas, but never mind. This fabric is also from Hobby Lobby.

And another one in the same style, but once again I played around a bit with the sleeves. I added white ruffles to the sleeves. Again, I made the sleeves shorter so the ruffle does not irritate me.

A close-up of the simple ruffle sleeves. I did not even bother to hem the ends of the sleeves as I just knew it might change the shape. This white fabric is very stretchy, so it might not look so good. Fortunately you can do this with knit fabric. I like the look!

I also made this lilac top. Love the style of this pattern! It has a V shape in the back and front. Finally I have a lilac top to wear. This is one of the patterns I bought from Will update this blog entry with pattern details soon.
I cut out a few more tops and a few corduroy skirts, but ran out of time. Today sees the first day of the big annual Arthur Bales July Sale! I am real excited as there are always amazing bargains on both yarn and fabric and I am off to Linden in the next 30 minutes! I will share my new loot later this week. Hope you all have a great Monday!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Positively Crochet - Patchwork Purse

I am an undying fan of Mary Jane Hall now! She says she is busy with another book and frankly, I cannot wait to see how she can improve on Positively Crochet and Crochet That Fits! I could not wait to share my Patchwork Purse. I finished the bag this past weekend, but still had to attach the lining, tassles and a few other odds and ends. So here it is!
Don't look too closely! My handsewing sucks! I used three of my favorite colors that reminds me of my visit to Mexico a few years ago. I incorporated all the colors into my handle and the tassles, but otherwise stayed very closely to the original pattern. A first for me! The little squares crochet up real fast. The most time is spent on assembling and finishes.
I used my favorite (discontinued - bah!) Elle Wool Boutique Merino Solids felting yarn. I am not planning to felt the bag, but this yarn is so nice to work with and the colors are simply awesome. I used plain black lining that is strengthened with stiff interfacing and also sewed lining to the long handle to avoid stretching. I can pack quite a bit into my bags every day, so it needs to be strong and big enough to hold all my stuff. Overall, once again, a fun easy bag to make!

On another note, all three our dogs have paid a visit to the VET in the last two weeks! This is our cheeky little man, Buksie. He was in on Monday to, hmm, have his manhood removed, poor thing. I cannot see any change in his aggressive attitude though!

And here is Jessie, our new baby. She is doing so well now and has grown three times her size when we got her a few weeks ago. She is such a lovely dog. Playful, sweet and yes, naughty too. She still pinches yarn! Here she is on her "bed" next to the heater.

Our old girl, Maxine, had her turn at the VET yesterday and was diagnozed with breast cancer. Fortunately it's in the early stages, so she will be operated the first week in August to remove the growths. I will post pics of her next week. She is such a lovable lady and caused great comotion at the VET. She loves people, especially kids and puppies, but she hates cats and the VET has two resident cats! The VET was extremely busy but the waiting room cleared very fast!

My next project? I am keen to make a very large, bulky crochet bag with my (very expensive) Rowan Little Big Wool yarn. I found a perfect pattern on Ravelry and hope to start on it tonight. Hope you are all having a good week!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Crochet That Fits - Completed Sweater Bag

I finished the Sweater Bag from my new book, Crochet That Fits. I crocheted this bag with Elle Toy Story yarn, a local brand, using two strands at the same time throughout the pattern, in Magenta. Not sure why the colors never show up right in my pics. Maybe I need to take pictures in daylight. Another super-easy and fun bag to make! I made this bag on our weekend away in ONE evening!

Because I crochet so lose, lining is essential for my bags. This bag presented a problem to line as the top opening was very narrow. After trying several ideas, I had a brainwave. I turned the bag inside out, attached the lining by hand just below the narrower top and turned it back right side out again. Worked like a charm!
This is a nice, roomy bag. It came out quite big, but I love it! The handles are made from my new leather fabric called "a touch of leather". I am not sure how fabric can have a touch of leather and not be leather, but this is great fabric. Soft to the touch, easy to handle and almost like real leather. It sews so much easier too. I attached O-rings to the handles and handsewed it onto the inside of the bag.
Despite all my plans to do some sewing this weekend, I never did. Instead I started on a new crochet bag from another new book, Positively Crochet, from Mary Jane Hall again. This is the Patchwork Purse and I selected three colors I think look awesome together - brown, orange and turqoise blue. I am almost finished with the bag and will share soon.
Hope you all had a great weekend and a fabulous week ahead.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Crochet That Fits - Lining my felted Houndstooth-check purse

As I mentioned in my previous post, this is a fantastic book with extremely easy, classy items to crochet inside. There are hats, scarves, belts, dresses, skirts, tops and my favorite, handbags, inside. I have made two bags from this book and last night worked like a crazy woman to finish the first - The Houndstooth-check felted bag.

Lining a felted bag is a bit easier than lining a plain crocheted or knitted bag. Mainly because the non-felted bag still has a lot of stretch in it, so you have to be careful to ensure the lining is big enough. I normally cut my fabric way bigger than the actual bag as you can see in this photo. I then start sewing the side only until I am happy with the fit. Then I sew the bottom and make a flat botton last. I leave a long extra piece at the top, which I fold over (on the inside) and then sew to the bag. With felted bags, sewing with the machine works well, but with plain crocheted or knitted bags, I find that machine sewing stretches the bag out of proportion and takes the elasticity away, so I handsew. Not my favorite, but it looks better.

Now I have finished sewing the fabric lining, complete with 4 pockets that I require to keep my necessities neat and handy in my purse. You will see above that I have already folded the long top piece of fabric back, but have not sewn the lining on yet. If you are putting a magnetic snap in the lining, this is the time to do it.

This picture gives you a better view of the lovely look of this crochet pattern. It is the best, and easiest, houndstooth pattern I have ever seen. Next comes the handles and magnetic snap. As you know, I make my own leather handles and I found these dark grey handles in my stash, all made up already. I have opted to attach the handles to the lining instead of sewing it onto the outside of the bag as per the pattern.

The lining and handles are all nicely sewn in now. I decided to make a firm bottom for the bag and quickly cut a piece of my plastic I use for this. I sewed a fabric cover for it and inserted it lose in the bag. I decided to put the magnetic snap in the flap as the pattern did, but had to search for an extra piece of felted yarn I could handsew the snap to. This is just extra re-inforcement because the felted yarn will eventually get damaged with frequent use.
I will upload this project to Ravelry today as well and will list the yarn details there if you are interested.
All done! I am already using my bag today! Love, love, love it! Can you believe that I often, like today with a new bag, chose what I will wear that day according to the bag I want to use? Is that crazy? Maybe you girls won't think so, but my non-crafty friends think I am!

Tonight I hope to finish the lining of the black and orange crocheted bag I showed you recently as well as make the leather handles and lining for the other project I made from this book, the Sweater Bag. Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Crochet That Fits - projects and review

Not a very productive weekend, but I do have an excuse! (Apart from the FIFA soccer finals) I spent last Saturday in Pretoria with my sister, her kids, my cousin and my kids, a belated celebration of her birthday, on 4th of July. It was a fab day with lots of laughs and great food.

Then a cold front moved in this week and it is freezing! (I know, I know, not freezing like the snow in the Northern Hemisphere at all! But we are used to sunny, mild conditions here!) I have been looking for earmuffs for several years now and last week found a pair locally! Since my second annual visit to Chicago, I have developed problems with my ears in windy weather, so these are fantastic. I have been wearing them inside and outside for three days now!
I found the most fantastic book - Crochet That Fits by Mary Jane Hall. At first glance, I would never buy this book as it appears to be garment patterns. But inside are the most gorgeous patterns for scarves, gloves, bags, and yes, garments too. They all have one thing in common - extremely easy! I have already made TWO bags from this book! The first is the above pattern, the Houndstooth-check felted purse. Such a very simple pattern, yet stunning.
This was my first attempt at felting in my new washing machine. The first try was unsuccessful because I could not figure the machine settings out, but the second was right on the dot! And how lovely does this machine felt! The machine has a gentle spinning cycle and no more badly creased felted bags for me!

I will share more about the actual pattern and yarn I used when I post the finished, lined bag soon. I just love the lilac and grey together.

The second bag I made is the Sweater bag. I made the bag in magenta. Looks so classy. Another super easy pattern with a stunning result. I just need to add lining and handles to both bags and they are done!

I admit I am so bad at taking on bigger projects (like sweaters and coats), so I might just look at the gorgeous clothing patterns in this book, like the cap-sleeve top above. Another extremely easy pattern.

And isn't this sweater gorgeous? There are many more stunning, extremely easy patterns in this book. Worth buying!
I am also still busy with my T-shirt yarn bag. I ran out of yarn for a second time and need to cut more fabric before I can finish it. Last night I started on a yellow drawstring felted bag, this one knitted with circular needles using some of my precious stash from the USA. I am also very keen to make some fabric bags. Gina's reversible bag is on top of my list! See hers here Then of course, I have a pile of stretch knit tops I want to make. Let's see what time permits. Hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Meet Jessie!

I have been very distracted lately. Many reasons for this - I can admit to reading a lot, following the Soccer World Cup games and being very busy at work, but here is another reason for my distraction. Meet our new baby (the closest I will come now to a new baby!) Jessie. Not the greatest picture, but I must have taken 20 pics before I got her to sit still long enough AND look at the camera!
Jessie is a pitt-bull terrier, our 5th one, and no, they are not aggressive dogs unless you treat them badly. When we got her a few weeks ago, she was really ill. She was tiny and did not pick up any weight, despite eating well. The Vet gave her lots of injections and medicine and in 4 days she grew double the size! Now she runs around the house chewing on everything and steals my balls of yarn! I see a long line down the hallway and find the yarn in the lounge, "hidden" under the couch.

This is my latest craze. Fabric yarn. I saw the most awesome tutorials on Ravelry and just had to try it myself. I have almost completed a bag with the orange and brown and will share when it is done. I did not have the heart to cut up any of my T-shirts so I used some of my clothing fabric. There is an awesome tutorial here: You use stretch knit fabric and I used a very large crochet hook, size 10mm or 12mm. it gives you a very thick, very strong bag. I am already planning my next bag!

I also made a lovely scarf last week in preparation for our short 3-day break into the country. I used Rowan Biggy Print yarn in 100% wool, using a size 20mm needles. A quick project and great fun.

I also crocheted 3 new bags during our few days away. The long cartrip was ideal to crochet. I will share these soon too. I just need to get going on finishes like lining and handles.

Hope you are all having a great week!