Designing Sewing

Rachel’s Got a Brand New Bag

I’m working on a mini sock collection and I’m currently knitting the second sample out of Triskelion Elen Sock that I got at Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I always like to co-ordinate my knitting with its project bag and stitch markers and I knew the best bag for these socks was one that hadn’t been made yet. I bought a kit from Watercolours and Lace at Festiwool last year with a lovely green sheepy print that I knew would be perfect, so it was time to exercise my rusty sewing skills and try to put it together.

Festiwool purchases ©Rachel Gibbs
The kit, along with my other Festiwool purchases ©Rachel Gibbs

I found the instructions mainly very clear, although there were a few things I had to look up (including which way to iron interfacing). I learnt how to sew on patch pockets, how to bring thread to the back to tie off and how to top stitch. My Mum is very into patchwork and taught me the basics of sewing when I was a kid but it’s been a long time since I tried anything on my own. I did have to ask her for a little help with the assembly as I was struggling to get the lining to fit into the bag (my seam allowance wasn’t always perfectly to size) but apart from that I managed everything.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out and my sock has already moved in. By the time the bag was complete I had started on the second sock, which I’m hoping to finish for the Joeli Create’s No Nylon Sock KAL, but I finished the bag before the socks so I’m counting that as a win.

Designing Knitting Life Sewing

15(ish) in 15

My blog posting frequency is definitely correlated to my mood. I started last year quite well and it went downhill which pretty much sums up last year. I’m hoping 2015 will end in a better place but it’s going to take a lot of effort to get there.

Several people have suggested goals for the year instead of resolutions, which I think will work better for me as I’m terrible at sticking to resolutions. So, to join in with various people in the knitting world, I’ve been trying to come up with a 15 in 15 list. This is how it currently stands although it is open to change.

1 garment sewn: probably a pencil skirt as I found a nice grey pinstripe wool blend on sale and it’s one of the simplest things to make that I might actually wear.

2 Jumpers/cardigans finished: I’m part way through two cardigans and one jumper, and have been in that state for most of the year. I seem to keep casting things on and never finishing them. If only people wouldn’t keep realising patterns that I love, like most of the ones in Yokes by Kate Davies which I got for Christmas (kidding, please don’t stop).

3 designs released: while I had some design ideas that even made it to a finished sample last year, none of them were written down or published as my brain wasn’t really up to it. Now that VATMESS is a little bit less horribly complicated with the Ravelry/LoveKnitting collaboration that might help, or then again it might not.

4 project bags sewn: I’ve been accumulating pretty fat quarters for a while in the intent of making some project bags (although that will probably only increase the WIP collection which isn’t a great idea).

5 cross stitch projects: also including blackwork, hardanger and anything else embroidery related. I’m doing quite well at finishing bookmarks and cards but I would like to try some more challenging things (and maybe find the blue thread I need to finish the badger I was working on last year which has gone walkabout).

6 letters written: I am atrocious at keeping up correspondence and I really want to try and be better at replying in particular. My Grandma has sent me quite a lot of letters of the past year and it has really helped when I’m in a low point to know that someone is thinking of me (and to receive post that isn’t a bill or a medical appointment).

7 social gatherings: as a sufferer of depression and anxiety it’s really easy to turn down opportunities to see people, especially if they aren’t local. I know I usually feel better once I’m there but that doesn’t help when the thought of leaving the house and having to interact with the outside world causes a panic attack.

8 goals met: I’m sure I won’t meet all of these, so this one is a bit tongue-in-cheek and a bit of a reminder to myself to focus on the ones I do achieve, not the ones I don’t.

9 recipes tried: I have quite a few recipes books but tend to stick to things I know how to cook. They may not work out very well, or even be very edible but it can’t hurt to try (strange allergic reactions aside).

10 blog posts written: I managed 17 last year which is more than one a month on average so I’m happy with that. I’m never going to be someone who posts every day because I just don’t have that much to say, especially when I’m finding life difficult, but 10 I might manage.

11 projects made from stash: There’s a new Ravelry group called Stash-Heap Challenge which is encouraging me to first work out exactly what I have in my stash and then to try and use it instead of buying more. This is especially important as due to being on long-term sick leave my disposable income is very reduced and food is more important than yarn, probably.

12 new books read: I know I’m not the only with a pile of books I keep meaning to read but don’t get around to. This is not helped by volunteering in the book section of a charity shop. I’m also including audio books in this, I often listen to books while knitting, especially if it’s something complicated so I don’t want to be splitting my focus between the knitting/pattern and the TV.

13: unlucky for some and uninspired for me. Any suggestions welcome.

14 lbs lost: a side effect of many anti-depressants is increased appetite and weight gain. I wouldn’t mind so much but I just had to get rid of half my clothes because they weren’t going to fit any time soon.

15 pairs of socks finished: an ambitious target but I have a lot of sock in my stash that needs using and I’m including WIPs that have fallen foul of Second Sock Syndrome. I’m working on converting my sister to the hand knit sock appreciation society so there may be several pairs on their way to her in her recently purchased old and rather draughty cottage.

I’m going to pretend that I posted this on the 15th of the month on purpose and that it has nothing to do with me being indecisive and disorganised. I’ll try to keep you posted on how progress is going (or not as the case may be) so be warned of the likelihood of lots of sock pictures (not necessarily in pairs).


Daffodils for Mother’s Day

It’s tradition at the church my mum goes to that all women are given daffodils on Mother’s Day. This year I decided to give her a more permanent form of daffodils. It’s a kit from Anchor and the first major piece of tapestry needlepoint I’ve done.

Daffodils Tapestry Needlepoint
Daffodils Tapestry Needlepoint ©Rachel Gibbs

I had a bit of trouble because I ran out of two of the colours of wool and discovered my LYS only has DMC tapestry wool, not Anchor, so the replacement didn’t match exactly. I framed it myself which was the first time I’d used foam board and although I found a frame that said it was 7×5, the mount was actually less than that so I had to cut it a bit larger. I wish embroidery kits would come in standard sizes so it was easier to find frames. I’m finding it particularly difficult to find square frames in suitable sizes.

My mum’s craft of choice is patchwork but she taught me most forms of needlework when I was younger and it’s all coming back to me now. There was a Young Embroiderer’s group which mum helped out at and me and my sister went to in the school holidays. We made all sorts of things over the years, some reasonably sensible like a sewing kit that I still use and some more obscure like an appliqué version of our house, which doesn’t even look right any more since the front door and garage have changed colour (not that it was a particularly good representation to start with).

I’m spending the weekend with  my parents, partly so I could give my mum her present in person and didn’t have to trust it to Royal Mail. We went to Longshaw yesterday which is a National Trust estate with some nice gentle walks and lots of sheep to see. No lambs in sight though, it must be a bit early. I always like to get out into the Peak District when I go back to Sheffield, it’s one of the things I miss the most down south. It was a bit misty yesterday but I still got to see some good views and got a scone with jam and cream in the cafe which is always a good reason to visit National Trust properties.

Knitting Sewing

Works in Progress

Cross Stitch

I’ve finished all the cross stitches and half cross stitches on my Badger, now to start the decorative touches: the backstitch and the french knots. It’s only 11 x 8cm but it’s on 18 count Aida so that’s still quite a lot of stitches.

Badger Cross Stitch Almost Finished
Cross Stitch WIP ©Rachel Gibbs

I like how the half cross stitches are used to form the background but that’s either a very small badger or really big flowers.

Follow Your Arrow


Don’t Knit to Destress, Cross Stitch

I love to knit (you may have noticed) but when I’m going through a bad patch knitting just requires too much brainpower. Deciding on a pattern, finding yarn to suit, getting gauge, it’s just too many decisions. I find cross stitch really helps me. I don’t have to decide on the thread to use, it all comes provided in the kit, it has simple instructions and I don’t have to worry about fit. It’s also easy to see the progress that you’re making and can be set down and picked up again months later without worrying that your gauge has changed, or you can’t remember where you were in the pattern.

Badger Cross Stitch
Cross Stitch WIP ©Rachel Gibbs

This is my current project which I’ve been working on since Christmas. It’s a kit by Anchor that I picked up at The Knitting and Stitching Show in the Black Sheep sale, they don’t just sell of packs of wool very cheaply, they also have a good range of needlecraft kits. I’m working on the greenery at the moment, having finished with the 50 (ok 5 really) shades of grey for the badger.