My Sewing Room

My new sewing room is complete, so as promised, I had to share. I had my new table delivered on Friday and I put it together all by myself!

As you can see, it’s not a fancy schmancy crafting table, but just a generic office table. I didn’t want anything special, primarily a metal frame and simplicity. My old table was a wooden, assemble out of the box deal, and after a few house moves over the years, was not going to make it up the stairs here.

My new table is longer, 1.8 metres instead of 1.5. I’ll be able to use the free end for some small scale cutting and crafting, and hence keep it off our dining table. My plastic drawer set even fits perfectly underneath. I love it!

My Singer overlocker (which I actually haven’t used yet, due to my lack of sewing last year) and my Brother BC-2500 sewing machine are all set up and ready to go! Got my pattern and fabric pieces for another soft toy which I might start to tackle tomorrow morning.

This used to be our main bedroom, but we’ve moved the bed to a smaller room downstairs which is a lot cooler and hope to survive this summer. So now I get to claim it as my own.

Behind the door and beside our dressing table that won’t fit downstairs, I have appropriated the space to store my fabric and yarn boxes.

I’ve also taken over the top of the dressing table. I have my patterns in the blue boxes, my craft books and my knitting box which needs a serious tidy up, tripod and iron.

My very tiny selection of craft books, and a folder I popped in some loose craft sheets I found in my sewing room mess. I’ll have to go through them and see if there is anything worth making. I know it’s got some quilting patterns, but that will be a dangerous  and expensive road if I decide to take it 😉

Oh hey, I just noticed you can see me in the mirror reflection!

Finally for the rest of the room, I have turned it into a little exercise corner. It’s so nice to get this gear out of our lounge room! At the moment those two boxes that hold my professional cake pans are there until I can figure out where to move them.

So there you have it, my new sewing room setup! I’m very excited to sew up here, it’s so light and open and if I need a distraction I can peer out at my little balcony garden. It will get hot in the summer afternoons but that leaves me with mornings to craft.

Outside of building tables and sorting out craft supplies, I’ve been knitting and am on target to finish that project in 7-8 days. As well as that, the Epic Pokemon cross-stitch has been getting some love during the evenings. Hope to share updates soon.

Until next time, have fun!

2017 Goals

Trying something new here. Writing a list of my crafty goals for the year. It’s bizarre, when I’m in a work situation I’ll write lists to keep me on track and be aware of what I need to achieve, but in my home life I rarely have. During December I was making daily to-do lists in terms of housework which helped me get more done but crafty lists? Never done them. Too stubborn, too lazy?

It’s possibly why I tend to lack motivation, why I forget to do something or lose track of time. So I’m going to try this and see how it goes.

What motivates me?

  • Learning new skills
  • Making something for someone else
  • Finishing a project

My 2017 goals

  • Sew once a week. Not necessarily start and finish something, but just get in there and sew for an hour or two every single week. Try and make it a habit.
  • Finish some old projects I have sitting around. Some pillows and some tote bags come to mind.
  • Make cookies! Try to get better at judging my icing consistencies, reducing air bubbles, and try to be a little more creative, make my own designs.
  • Learn a few new techniques, for example – experiment with sugarpaste flowers, and how to knit cables.
  • Stash busting! I have three enormous plastic boxes with fabric and one of yarn. I’m an impulsive buyer when it comes to crafting (who just bought another 9 sewing patterns this morning).
  • Knit 5 projects this year. Keep working on those skills!
  • Annoy you all by writing about my crafting at least once a week. 😉
  • Start the Sweet Siabee Store on Etsy? This has been an idea lingering in my mind for years now, and voiced by quite a few friends and family.  Being out of work for now is a great opportunity to do this and maybe bring in some money to fund my crafting?

Wow, once I started thinking about all this, it really grew. It’s like exercise….might be hard to start but once you do you feel great and can’t stop. Now, I should print out this stuff and stick it up where I can see it and be reminded!

Until next time, have fun!

Spider Lace Cowl

Ever since my friend Lona sent me over yarn and knitting goodies to get me started, I had wanted to make something for her to show my gratitude. I’ve taken to knitting, to be clichéd, like a fish to water and it’s all her fault. Well, here’s the result of that gift I sent over to her for Christmas. And it was a complete surprise to her. *queue evil cackle*

How do you like my rigged scarf holder? Pegs and kitchen thread and a coat-hanger and strung up using the hooks on the back of the door.

Having completed the lace baby blanket, I definitely wanted to tackle another lace pattern with a little more detail but in a much finer yarn. Got to challenge yourself you know? I searched Ravelry for a pattern furiously and decided on the Orchid Cowl by Jo Strong. While being free was not a requirement, I certainly am a sucker for something that is! It also makes me more comfortable as I can see the pattern before I try so I can judge whether I think I can manage it.

This pattern struck me due to its contrasting parts. It’s got parts of alternating garter and stockinette stitch, which would knit extremely fast, and a reasonably simple lace stitch called spider lace that looked amazing. Some of you know how much I hate spiders but I sucked it up for this pretty pattern. FYI – I HATE SPIDERS!

I cast on a trial swatch to begin and practiced the lace. What. A. Mess. Only my determination got me through after I had to restart three times. It’s like my brain took a walk partway through and I’d end up dropping stitches, or doing one in the wrong order, or forgetting altogether. And then it’s frustrating when you can’t even see where you went wrong and somehow have two stitches less than you should. But I finally got it, and when I did, I could cast on for real.

One of the things I’m loving about knitting, is that it is just so fascinating. All it is, is wrapping and looping yarn in different ways and it can create such complex, fantastic and beautiful designs. I’ll be walking past a person wearing something knitted, and I say to myself – I know how that’s done, or what that stitch is. I was over at my bestie’s place a few weeks ago and she showed me her knitting attempt. The stitches kept changing from stockinette, to garter and back and to moss stitch. She was just perplexed how it was happening because she swore she was doing the same thing. The awesome thing was I could read the knitting and see what was happening. Don’t worry friend – my first attempt was exactly the same and we still need to have that knitting lesson 😛

I used one skein of Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in the colourway Orbit. You know I love ya when I use sock yarn I had put aside for myself, but since we both love the same colour, I figure I can always buy more 😉

It’s a beautiful variegated yarn of blues shades and it’s soft and delicious to touch. It’s of fingering weight (4-ply) but does seem a little thinner compared to typical Australian 4-ply. I didn’t like how it knit up using the recommended US 7/4.5mm needles, my gauge looked really gapey. The knitting gauge on the yarn suggests 2.25mm – 3.25mm. Rather than finding another yarn to match, I adjusted. I really wanted to use this due the colour and it’s weight. Lona doesn’t live in a crazy US state where the winter temperature drops to stupid degrees, so I wanted something she’d happily wear when she needed just a bit of warmth, and would give a lot more flexibility on the times during the year it would be appropriate.

I ended up using 3.5mm needles. It allowed the stockinette stitch to appear solid but let the lace really open up still.

The beauty of this pattern is that a lot of people have made it and shown their pictures and results and changes on Ravelry. They were really helpful when I was making this. One of the suggestions was starting part way though a stockinette section so that you can more easily join the ends to make the cowl. Otherwise you have to try join a stockinette and a lace section and it can get a bit tricky.

I thought I’d show you a bit of my process for this project. I realised with all the different sections of the cowl, I was likely to get lost and I wanted to make sure each section was uniform. Really simply, I drew out the pattern onto paper and placed tally marks for each row I would complete. When I did it, I would cross that mark off. It reduced the thinking needed, no remembering numbers, just mark off that row.

SS – stockinette row, knit one row, purl the next

G – garter stitch, knit both rows

Lace – Spider lace is a repetition of 8 rows, with each row being different. So on this page I had 5 repetitions of the lace, with 8 rows each.

This is only part of the pattern….I had another page just like this. Maybe I won’t need this in the future, but it just made it super easy this time!

So, here are the changes I made to the pattern.

  • Increased cast on stitches (oops I forget how many!) This was because my gauge was much larger than the pattern due to the finer yarn
  • The pattern calls for stockinette (SS) 11 rows, garter (G) 5 rows, stockinette 11 rows, garter 5 rows, stockinette 10 rows and then move onto the lace. I instead did SS 15 rows, G 7 rows, SS 15 rows, G 5 rows, SS 14 rows. I wanted a little extra variation between the garter breakups, and of course increase the rows because of the gauge difference
  • I did not slip the first stitch of each row purl-wise, but instead knit it normally. I liked the bumps this gave along the edge, it adds some really nice texture to the cowl. It’s not a look I like on thicker yarn but I think it worked really well here.
  • A lot of knitters of this pattern found it too short. The pattern asks you to do the lace pattern with 9, 5, and 3 repetitions, so that there are three lace panels in the piece. I ended up doing 5 lace panels in total, of 10, 5, 3, 5, 3 repetitions each, which also meant extra plain sections
  • With my variations, I still had 11 grams out of a 100 gram skein left but it was enough to comfortably put twice around your neck and not choke yourself. Plus Lona is little 😉

New things learned:

  • PSSO – pass the slipped stitch over (there’s a little tutorial here if you like) So in this pattern, I needed to slip one stitch PURL-WISE (the tutorial above has you slipping it knit-wise), then k2tog or knit 2 stitches together, and then take that slipped stitch over the k2tog. You can see this slanty little stitch on picture 3 above. It’s used to decrease the number of stitches you have
  • Three needle bind-off – With this cowl you knit it flat, so it looks like a scarf, but both ends are temporary. You start with a provisional cast-on, and when you finish, you slip those live stitches onto a scrap piece of yarn. You then wash and block the piece and when dry, you put both ends back onto needles, and use a third needle to knit them together and bind off. I was actually surprised at how easy this was as it sounded quite daunting. You can check out a tutorial here. You can see my result below, and if  I did this pattern again, I think I would start at the garter section instead of part way through a stockinette, so I could hide it beside the garter bumps.

Blocking the cowl was really easy but time consuming. Having learned a lesson from my first scarf, I needed to use many more pins to avoid the points I got. More pins = less pull from the yarn. I went through my two cases of blocking pins and realised that dressmaker pins would work just as well and are cheaper. Wish I’d discovered that before buying my second set of blocking pins.

You can get an idea here just how many I had to use, there’s like 19 on that top side of that small portion of the cowl.

It was a ridiculously hot day and it was dry in no time at all. Oh, I can actually be grateful to summer for something. That’s a first!

To end off, this took me three weeks to knit at a fairly decent rate and I thought it perfect for my second lace project, learning something new and challenging myself with something more complex than before. By the end though, it felt easy. I do think I need to make one for myself because I love it so!

If you made it this far through this enormous post, I hope you enjoyed the journey, and;

Until next time, have fun!

Monkey and Nut

Just a quickie post today. Monkey made it to the US on Christmas Eve. I was pretty impressed that the package did make it in time especially at Christmas, though I was severely disappointed by the tracking. It arrived before I was even told it had left Australia. But it got there so that’s what matters.

We popped onto Discord, a gamer chat program and Nut, Lona’s nickname for her little boy, gave me a gasp and a “monkey!” before the faintest call of “thankyou” as he had run off to play. Wonderful manners though, I highly appreciate a thankyou!

Check out this cuteness!

Oh my gosh, it’s almost as big as him!

Thanks for sending through some pics Lona, I love seeing him play!

Until next time, have fun!

New Year’s Eve 2016

Once again, the earth has rotated around the sun and we come to the end of the year.  It’s been a bit of a meh year for us, Jason’s had a lot of change at work and I’m still looking for a great job after the last one was not the place for me. I’m positive 2017 is going to be good.  But blog wise….it’s been a great year for me. I challenged myself to do more, and in 2017 I want to do even more.

Here’s a few things I done or achieved during the last year (or rather since I got back into it in May)

  • I’ve made 45 posts in 2016!
  • My 100th post ever was on the 23rd of December with Gingerbread
  • I learned to knit which is something I had always wanted to do and I’m totally being awesome at it 😉
  • I pulled out the Epic Pokemon cross stitch again and my sewing machine
  • Started to learn a lot more about my camera and have been trying to improve my photography

So what are you doing for New Year’s Eve? I’m going to be watching some horror movies with the husband, eating homemade pizza and drinking bubbly until we get too tired. The classic evening for us!

But for now, let’s finish off 2016 with some cookies! A celebration in sugar!

I love fireworks. We are lucky enough to see our local ones from our balcony, so I always rush over to watch when I hear them exploding. They just feel me with awe at their beauty. These cookie fireworks are ALMOST as good.

We watch the clock for when it strikes midnight, and what is a New Year’s Eve without a glass of bubbly.

Until NEXT YEAR, have fun! I hope your 2016 ends wonderfully, and let’s all look forward to 2017 together.