Sewing a zip in a knitted project

It’s been aaaaages since my last blog – sorry about that! Things have been very busy lately and I’m struggling to get everything done (but what’s new).

The other day I had an urge to just get something finished. One of my projects that I’ve had ongoing for ages – and there are many of these at the moment! I’ve been knitting a cushion cover for my living room. I wanted quite a chunky but professional-looking finish but was pretty short of cash when I first started this project when we’d just moved house and got back from holiday! I found some aran yarn in Poundstretcher – somewhere I’d never normally think to look for knitting supplies but I just walked past it and it was the perfect colour. It also seems pretty good quality for an acrylic and is really soft and warm, but best of all it was only £2.49 for a 200g ball!

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I bought two. One day I’ll get around to making a matching cushion cover!

The pattern for the cushion was from The Knitting Book and is called the Strawberry cushion. It was easy to follow and the cable stitch was straightforward. The fact that it is on a garter stitch (knit) background made it fairly quick to do once you get going. The two sides are worked in the same way and there is a special “cable” cast on that creates a pretty edge where you sew the zip in. I’d had to look this up for another project previously. It is easy to do and creates a lovely edge.

So here was my kit for sewing the cover together…

2013-09-25 20.34.43  16 inch long zip, pins, matching sewing thread, contrasting embroidery thread and spare yarn for sewing up the rest of the cover.

I began with some trepidation as I’d never added a zip to a knitted item before. I followed the instructions in the book and it turned out to be pretty straightforward, if somewhat lengthy. I’ll summarise the process here for you… First I pinned the zip to one side of the knitting, working with the right side facing and pinning the zip to the decorative cast-on edge. I started with the ends of the zip then spaced my pins evenly along the zip. I used lots of pins and the instructions advised to pin at right angles to the zip rather than along the same way. Using the contrasting embroidery thread I then tacked the zip in place on this first side. Then I used the matching sewing thread to back-stitch all the way along the edge and then turned the work over and ran a zigzag stitch along the edge of the zip to secure it to the knitting. I did everything by hand as I didn’t dare try to do it on the sewing machine. I made sure the decorative cast-on edge was quite close to the teeth of the zip. I then repeated this with the other side – which was a little bit tricky to do by hand as it was quite a big piece by this time and you’re stitching across the middle of it rather than an edge.

2013-09-25 22.40.58  My finished zip closure!

After I’d added the zip, working on the wrong side, I pinned the remaining three sides of the cushion, ensuring that the zip was open so that when I’d finished stitching the cover together I could turn it back the right way out! And here she is, the finished cushion…

2013-09-25 23.19.23 (the colour doesn’t look that great here I’m afraid but in normal light you can’t see the cushion pad through so much).

I’m really pleased with it and am looking forward to doing another one later in the winter when I’ve caught up with some other projects. Do you thing I should do another identical one or in a slightly different pattern? I think I’d like to stick with the cable but do a slightly different version – it would be great to hear your thoughts!

Here’s an update on my patchwork blanket made of knitted and crocheted squares that I showed you earlier in the summer – I still need to make a few more squares but I’ve started to sew them together!

2013-09-19 18.02.39  No grand plan – just trying to spread the different colours out throughout the blanket. I’ll keep you updated in future posts. I’m also working on a rag rug made from old t-shirts which I plan to feature in a blog post soon hopefully…

2013-09-18 22.34.54 What do you think of it so far?

Finally before I go, I thought I’d mention that I hope to finally feature some baking on the blog pretty soon! After moving into our house the landlord didn’t provide a cooker so we had to save up for a little while and make do with an electric hob thing for a few months. We finally have a cooker though and I’ve organised a “bake-off” at work which we do every so often in homage to the Great British Bake Off. I can’t believe we’re more than half way through the series already, I don’t want it to be over!

Until next time… x



Time for a teddy

It’s been a little while since my last post as I’ve had lots of things on the go, but hopefully that means I’ll have lots to tell you about over the coming weeks!

When I found out one of my friends was expecting a baby I felt like making something different to the usual little cardigans I tend to go for. So, I had a look through all my patterns and the one I couldn’t resist was a gorgeous little teddy bear from a book called Baby and toddler knits made easy. The link takes you to the book people’s website. I have no affiliation with them, it’s just where I got the book from! Anyway it is full of lovely patterns using some of my favourite wool brands and the patterns I’ve used from it work really well and are easy to follow – just like the title suggests!


When I was younger I had a nasty habit of collecting bits of projects in my basket and never quite getting around to making them up. This probably stems from the fact that I’m not as confident with my sewing as I am my knitting. So on this one, as it was for a friend and had a time limit of the baby’s arrival, I decided to try to follow the instructions and make it up as I went along. It sort of worked out!

DSCF1922  How cute are his little legs!

DSCF1925 Nearly there now…


And he’s finished! I think I put his ears on a little low down and his nose is a bit too pointy so he’s looks a little bit more like a mouse than a bear, but I’m still pleased with him as it was my first attempt at a toy since I made one of Jean Greenhow’s classic doll patterns when I was a little girl.

My favourite thing about doing projects like this is that they’re quick to do and so you get that instant hit of satisfaction! He’s also made of simple garter stitch (knit) throughout with just a little bit of stocking stitch for his nose (alternate knit and purl rows) and a smidgen of embroidery for the eyes, so it’s a really easy pattern but looks pretty impressive. I’d highly recommend you to have a go!

It’s showtime!

A bit of a different post this week. I have so many projects on the go at the moment so I haven’t got any completed work to show you. So instead I thought I’d share some photos from the weekend.

We’ve started to enjoy going to local agricultural shows. The first we went to was Emley a few weekends ago. We enjoyed great food and some good beer, as well as looking at all the lovely stalls in the craft fair.  These made me envious and one day I’d love to have a stall of my own! One of the aspects of the show we most enjoyed were the flower, vegetable and domestic shows. Looking at everyone’s produce and other exhibits is really inspirational and made me wish I’d joined in. So this weekend was the Mirfield show and I decided to enter a photograph in one of the photography classes.

DSC02614 (Here’s a selection of the vegetable entries)

The classes included “seasons of the year,” “humorous with a caption,” and the class I entered “water scene.” We had to get there for 10:45 to enter the photo and following a rather heavy night the night before this proved trickier than anticipated but we just got to the marquee in time! We queued up for a while behind other entrants who had entry forms full of exhibits and there I was with my one. I’m sure in future I may be able to rustle up some more entries as I’ve now definitely caught the bug! I placed my picture alongside the others in the class and had a good look at the competition. There was a lovely photo of some colourful boats which I thought was great, as well as several more traditional water scenes that I thought would impress the judges.

After waiting patiently for a couple of hours for the marquee to re-open following judging, we hurried back to see if my photo had been placed. To my utter astonishment and enormous satisfaction, I’d come first in the class! I got to collect my £2 winnings later in the afternoon which was a significant increase to my 20p entry fee but the sense of achievement far outweighed the financial gain! So I’ll put you out of your misery –here’s my winning picture…


The one I liked with the boats came second but I’m afraid I don’t have a picture of that to compare.

And here’s some more photos of the other exhibits from the day – lots of inspiration for me for next year’s shows…


Beautiful dahlias, gladioli and a succulent.


And just for fun, a little bit of duck herding!


Let’s get crafting!

I seem to have got through quite a few projects lately so I wanted to update my progress on my blog but today I’ll just focus on a couple of them. A few weeks ago I bought a copy of Let’s Get Crafting! Knitting and Crochet (Issue 52 if you’re interested!) because it contained a kit for a fox cushion – which given my last name (and that of the blog) I just couldn’t resist! I’d never bought this magazine before and at almost £8 I thought it seemed a little pricey but in this case it was definitely worth it. I also like the concept of the magazine – it contains several balls of wool and an appropriately sized pair of knitting needles and crochet hook and you can choose from a whole collection of patterns which ones you make, but obviously I went for the “Crafty Fox.”

So here he is…


He’s positioned on my reading chair on the landing and cheers me up when I walk past!

So with the leftover yarn I had from the kit I wanted to make another one of the patterns from the magazine. A large, bright crochet flower really caught my eye. I wasn’t sure what I’d ever do with it but just had to make it! I did have to buy a new ball of orange yarn as I knew there wasn’t enough left over and didn’t have anything suitable in my stash.

Here you can see it in the un-finished state…


As it turned out I didn’t have enough of the green yarn to finish the last row of petals either so I had to “re-interpret” the pattern from the magazine! It took a couple of attempts to work out how to complete it with the yarn I had but I managed in the end. The pattern is created by working a chain (which was meant to be a chain of 18 in the green section but I used 16) to make a series of loops behind the last row of petals and then you go around again crocheting different stitches along the loops of chains. The green petals should have been 1dc, 1htr, 1tr, 2dtr, 16trtr, 2dtr, 1tr, 1htr, 1dc (standard UK abbreviations). I used 2 trebles then 3 double trebles at each side instead of 1 and 2 respectively and only 12 triple trebles in the middle but this was enough to ensure the green petals still showed behind the red ones in front. Ta-da…!


Having started out not knowing what to do with it when it was done I think I will try to find a way to mount it in a box frame so that it can go in my kitchen with the big green cupboard (see first post!) and won’t get damaged. What do you think?

Thanks for reading my blog – I’d love to hear what you think! One last thing before I go – I ordered some yarn to work on a knitted/crocheted patchwork blanket I’ve been working on all year and I got so excited when it arrived…

DSCF1715  It started out life as the Knit and Stitch Collection from Bergere De France but I got bored of getting the magazines each week for £4.50 when I didn’t like the rest of the patterns very much so I’ve decided to free-style it from now on! Look out for my progress in future blog posts.

‘Till next time… happy crafting!

Breathing new life into an old Wardrobe

Two rented properties ago, R and I bought a really cheap flimsy pine wardrobe and chest of drawers that we thought would “put us on” until we could afford something better quality.  When we moved from our old flat to our last house we thought it probably wouldn’t survive another move as it was pretty rickety. However, when it came to moving again this year R persuaded me to give it a chance and promised he would sure it up a bit to make it strong enough to stay in use, at least in our spare room. I agreed – on one condition… the pine finish had to go!

I forgot to take a photo of the wardrobe before we started but here is a picture of the matching chest of drawers so you can see the original style.


Not very attractive, I’m sure you’ll agree.  So we set about a transformation! At first I thought the best thing would be to paint the wardrobe white and I bought some spray paint and some lovely new handles in a light green with polka dots that matched the curtains in our spare room. I say “spare room” but it is the room we’ve been in since we moved as what will eventually become our bedroom is still a general dumping ground. I digress. The spray painting was easy to do but we were really unsatisfied with the finish. It appeared quite “stripy.” I’m sure it was probably our technique rather than the product’s fault (we used Rust-oleum Universal spray paint in satin white) but we also didn’t achieve the coverage stated on the pack and had to buy more than we’d initially estimated and we still didn’t like the final effect, even after two coats. We’d thought the advantage of spray paint would have been not having to prime the wood first but in the end it would have been a better option! Anyway, I won’t keep you guessing any longer – this is what it looked like after each panel had two coats of the spray paint and the wardrobe was re-built (with lots of extra screws to keep it together!).

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That’s R on the right, busy applying the next finish! The handles did look nice on it when I tried them out – but it needed a better finish and I didn’t like the white in this room. So I decided I’d like a greeny-grey colour to complement my curtains and the dark wood furniture in the room and thought I’d look for an eggshell paint.  I settled on this   2013-08-05 20.07.34 Acrylic Eggshell in Moonstone Grey by Graig & Rose from B & Q. It was a bit of a punt really as I felt inspired to get on with it and didn’t want to spend ages poring over the different options and never getting around to actually painting the wardrobe! So I decided to trust my instincts and just go for it!

2013-08-02 19.14.31    This was after the first coat. Pretty rough – lots of brush marks!

We applied two coats of the eggshell paint by brush (we tried both gloss and emulsion rollers and both gave an awful finish!). Once it was dry I reapplied the handles (which now blend in more than stand out as I’d originally intended) and decided to lightly distress the wardrobe in places to give it a bit more character.  To do this I just used some fine grade sandpaper and went back to the wood in some places and in others just back to the white coat underneath, which looks quite effective although I wasn’t very brave with it and it doesn’t show up in the pictures too well I’m afraid.


It was all a bit of an experiment but was good experience and I think we’ve turned something ugly into something much more attractive – I hope you’ll agree! We’re planning a bigger project further down the line that I will report back on here eventually, and the experience with the wardrobe will be invaluable I’m sure. Doing this project has reminded me how much I love painting – I can’t wait till we own a home one day and I can paint walls not just furniture!

Finally before I go I just wanted to share a couple of photos from the weekend. On Saturday when we weren’t busy painting we went to the Emley show and had a great day out. These shots are of the mast and the beautiful sky… (I’m now totally inspired to enter my craft projects and photos in local agricultural shows in the future too!)

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A taste of things to come

It’s been great to see that people enjoyed my first post. I thought my next one should be a little taster of some of the other projects I like to do, as I’m generally into doing anything creative!

The first is this present that I made for my parents’ wedding anniversary. 

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I put the design together from various motifs in Jo Verso’s cross stitch books.  Despite having these books for years (probably over a decade, eek), I’d never actually done that before but I really enjoyed the process. I adapted the colours to match the clothes my parents’ had worn on their big day, and their hair colour etc.  I already had loads of colours left over from other cross stitch projects I’ve done over the years, so it was just a case of selecting the right ones.  The whole process for this one was really enjoyable – as was the reaction from Mum and Dad when they saw it!

The next few pictures show how much much my crochet skills have improved this year. I taught myself to crochet from books last winter and am loving it. Though I’ve always enjoyed knitting I’d been itching to learn to crochet for ages and finally bit the bullet. My favourite things about crocheting are that the projects seem to grow more quickly than knitting does and it’s also so versatile. Here is my tablet cover that I knocked up on the morning of my birthday to protect my brand new present!

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It is basically just a long piece of double crochet that I joined up at the sides with single crochet. Then I started this project from Crochet Today magazine.  It was designed to be a basket for a bicycle but as I don’t have one of those I thought it’d make a great craft bag, so I made some longer handles to put on it. It was made from oddments of yarn that I had in my stash so all I had to buy was the plastic canvas to line it and the cotton to sew that to the crochet pieces. I must admit this took some time and I would tend to make a section and then leave it for a while. I probably started this last winter and have only recently finished it but I’m so pleased with the result! I also had to learn the difference between British and American crochet terminology as I discovered that the stitches are the same but have different names! I kind of love the 70’s vibe of the colours and it is definitely my most adventurous crochet project to date.

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The last crochet project that I wanted to share was inspired by a post I saw on Pinterest. The original pin was for a framed piece of wall art made from 9 granny squares.  However, as I had tons of little balls of different coloured yarn I found I just couldn’t stop – and in the end decided they needed to be made into something practical. So they became a cover for my ugly black printer!

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I had to look online for tutorials for the half granny squares along the bottom row (the printer is deeper at one side than the other) and in the end pretty much just worked it out for myself as I found it easier that way.

Finally, I’ve been trying my hand at a little sewing. I’ve “borrowed” my mum’s sewing machine which it almost 30 years old but she’s never really used it much and still works really well. Although it terrified me at first I’m getting used to it now. I was determined to make my own travel laundry bag for our holiday to America earlier this summer so I bought some lovely Clarke and Clarke fabric and some matching ribbon.  I started adapting some instructions from Knit and Stitch Collection (Bergere de France) but was freestyling it by the end (as usual)!

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It’s the first thing I’ve ever made in this way and am really proud of it.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post and if you have please feel free to spread the word! Now I’d better go and get on with some more projects or I’ll have nothing to write about next week… Smile

Upcycling, retro style!

Hi, welcome to my new blog!  I love crafting and have recently moved into a new house which has given me lots of new crafting and upcycling opportunities.

The house we moved into is a rental so we would prefer not to spend too much money decorating it with things we wouldn’t be able to take with us next time we move.  Conversely we also plan on staying here quite a while so we’d really like to make it as homely as possible.  Plus I love interior design so I can’t help it! By the way, “we” is my boyfriend R and I .

So our new kitchen looks like this…


(Thanks to Whitegates Mirfield for the picture from the house particulars)
We didn’t get the washer or microwave so it was even more bare when we moved in! So as they seem to be pretty old units I thought I’d try not to fight the styling and go with a retro feel.  There’s no understairs cupboard in the house so I needed somewhere to store my cleaning things and hoover out of sight.  So I trawled eBay and found this…


(Thanks to Keith’s secondhand saleroom for the picture)
However let’s face it, this is not the most attractive of items!  I do love the mid-century feel of it that seems to fit with the kitchen style though. I also have lots of lime green kitchen cookware and accessories and I’d seen a brochure for glossy spray paint. Putting those two things together and I thought if I spray painted the doors and removed the shelves from the inside, it would make the perfect hiding place for my hoover and things!

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So off came the doors! (These were put on with old-fashioned hinges that were the full length of each door – many many screws!) We lightly sanded the surface and covered the handles in masking tape. Then we sprayed the doors with Rust-Oleum Mode Primer grey filler spray paint.  This gave a good surface for the next stage – the lime green gloss!

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We ended up using two cans of the Rust-Oleum Mode Lime Green Gloss as we struggled to get the finish properly glossy.  As first-time spray painters we weren’t sure whether that was because we didn’t have the right technique or we were trying to spray too thinly.  However we managed to get a good finish in the end.  Next we removed the shelves (also easier said than done due to a great many screws in the shelf fixings) and nailed three cheap wooden slats across the back to stabilise it.  Finally I screwed some hooks into some of the holes left by the shelf brackets to hang things like my bag-of-bags (everyone has one of those right?!) and dustpan and brush.

Et voila…

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It does look a bit brighter green in the flesh and I absolutely love it!  Our first piece of furniture up-cycling!

Hope this has inspired you to have a go. The whole thing including cabinet, delivery from Lancashire to Yorkshire and spray paint cost approximately £70 and was the only thing I could find that perfectly fitted my needs – with a bit of inspiration and TLC that is!

As usual I have several craft projects on the go at the moment so I best get back to them.  I will post on my progress next week!

Until next time…