Saturday, 28 February 2015

Feminine Lace Bolero to Knit Now

I knit this glamorous lace bolero up in a few hours once I had got used to the changes in thickness in the yarn . 

Its a super quick knit with a feminine finish. Great number to throw in to your suitcase for a holiday by the sun or to glam up your party frock. And why not knit in white or cream for a lovely wedding accessory.



Today I'm sharing the pattern for a medium size bolero. I'll include some tips at the end for making this in a smaller or larger version.

The yarn I used was : 1 x 100g ball of King Cole Opium (54% cotton , 42% acrylic).  There is approx 273 yards / 250 metres to each 100g ball.

I needed 3 sets of needles:
5.5mm straight needles
7mm straight needles
5.5mm circular needles


Instructions

With the 5.5mm needles cast on 35 stitches

Row 1 *K2, P2,* repeat from * to * to the end of the row ending with P1
Row 2  K1, *P2, K2 * repeat  from * to * to the end of the row

Change to 7mm needles  and work in this simple lace pattern until the work measures 20"

lace pattern:
K1, *YO, K2 tog* repeat from * to * to end of row

Change to 5.5mm needles and work 2 rows as follows

Row 1 *K2, P2,* repeat from * to * to the end of the row ending with P1
Row 2  K1, *P2, K2 * repeat  from * to * to the end of the row.

Bind off in the rib pattern.

OK , so you should now have a piece of work measuring approx 12.5" (wide)x 20" (long).  



folded in half
Fold the piece of work in half lengthwise (there is no right and wrong side to this piece of work) and sew together 1" at either end of long edges. 

This will make the armholes.





before the ribbed edging


Now for the ribbed edging.

Using the 5.5mm circular needle pick up and knit 128 stitches evenly around the circular long edge, being careful not to twist the stitches as you join the round. 

Work in rib K2 , P2 for 2". 

Bind off using the 7mm straight needle. 

Weave in all the ends.

So what do you do if you want smaller or larger versions of this? 

Well I would say:

Small - cast on 6 stitches less , so that's 29 stitches and only knit until the work is 17"

Large - cast on 6 stitches more , so that's 41 stitches and knit until the work is 23".

Hope you have fun knitting this lovely bolero. The main thing is that it can be knitted in any cotton dk yarn, is knit up super quick and only takes 100g! 








Thursday, 26 February 2015

"Life Covers" Harris Tweed covers etc that you will treasure for life!

This blog posting has been written as a BIG HUGE thank you to Sally @ LifeCovers for inspiring me to start working with Harris Tweed. She supplied me with her off cuts to make my well liked heart garlands and she told me where to go to find the weaver's when visiting Harris


I could see the versatility of the woolly fabric just by viewing the products in her on-line shop and I know 1st hand that her sewing skills are superb. 

Below are just a few of her more feminine products.








And here are the answers to some of the questions I've been wanting to ask Sally for ages.......

Who are you?


My name is Sally and I live in the beautiful countryside of East Lothian, Scotland. But not always, I grew up in Oxfordshire and have spent a number of years in the United States.


What's been your career? 


Yes, I've had a few interesting jobs; shoe seller, garden designer, yacht charter consultant, project manager and chef. However, my best job description has to be 'Cat Socialiser and Adoption Counsellor'. 

Most famous moment?

I was in a movie with Richard Gere. 

When did you start up your business?


 I retired (very early!) in 2009 after a stressful time working as a Project Manager. After 3 months of leisurely lunches, I knew I wasn't ready for retirement and got out my sewing machine. I had always secretly envied those handmade goods at local Craft Fairs. 

Why Harris Tweed? 


It's totally unique which sounds a bit of a cliché. I love the history and the fact that the whole process is carried out from start to finish on the Islands. Regardless of the world's economy, Harris Tweed is here to stay. 

Advice to new businesses?


 'Just do it!' Running a small business requires more skills than you can imagine and there are some jobs that are always at the bottom of the pile. Don't waste time procrastinating, get them out of the way first. 


What next? 


In the past few months I explored the possibility of moving onto larger projects for the home and attended an upholstery course. I like the idea of being able to buy greater quantities of Harris Tweed.

To find Sally, just visit



PS, Please ask in the comments if you just NEED to know which Richard Gere movie Sally was in. 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Scrumptious Harris Tweed / Mohair Pillows

I fell in love with these pillows when I made the purple/ black combination one a few months back.

A wonderful lady from Canada purchased a set of 4 and wiped me out of my purple / black Harris Tweed for now. 

Anyway I set to and knit the back of the pillow for a gorgeous stunning pink tartan Harris Tweed. 

This pillow is larger than normal size , it's 17" x 17" and the price reflects this , sorry but its £55. 

I can make theses cushions up in a range of Harris Tweed and mohair colours and obviously sizes too. 

Interested? just contact me 


Sandra




Sunday, 22 February 2015

4 Free Flowery FairIsle Charts


Sorry , the title is a bit of a tongue twister, but I didn't know any other way of saying that today I'm giving you 4 Free Flowery Fair Isle charts. 

If you remember, last week I reviewed a great Craftsy mini course called "Picture to Pixel Quilt", thinking that I may be able to use the techniques I learnt to create some unique fair isle charts. 

Well these are my first attempts of taking some flowery clip art photographs and turning them in to Fair Isle charts for you.

I used the pic2pat software mentioned in the course (and which I used in my review) to transform clip art to pixel diagrams. 




From each of the pixel diagrams I retyped these in to my Intertwined software (one up from Excel for creating knitting charts).I cut down on the number of colours used in the finished fair isle charts. Mainly because I tried knitting one with 6 different colours and got totally tangled with all my little balls of wool. 

Well here are the Fair Isle charts. Click on each of the pictures and either save or print the chart.



Just 3 colours used in this great symmetrical flowery motif. Make sure you use lovely contrasting colours to really show off this flower to its full potential. 










2 abstract flowers this time , another great motif.














A row of tulips, great for spring time themes, will make a great border.













Another flowery motif



With the motifs , be adventurous with the colours, make sure you can see the contrasts and most of all have fun!




Saturday, 21 February 2015

My Blog ideas -> Your blog ideas

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I spring cleaned my blog, went through all my blog postings and made a decision on the types of things I thought and I wanted to blog about.

Things that would interest

a. crafty people, small business people trying to make a little living on line

b. knitters, with free patterns, tips, link to other knitting blogs and my own unique knitting patterns

and

c. potential buyers of my knitted accessories.

Bit of a tall order covering all this, but looking back on the blog postings I already had done it became apparent I was partway there.

And I'm happier about blogging now I can see a purpose, a way forward, see where I'm going with it instead of thinking its just me rambling away.

So here's my Blogging List, maybe you find it useful for your own blog, copy it, make it personal to you, you may want to cover more crafts or more homely stuff, well that's OK, write about what your happy with.

Personal stuff

1. Story of how you got started
2. Who/what inspires you
3. What other jobs you’ve held
4. Share a goal you’re working towards
5. Share your “big dream”
6. A quote you love and why
7. Share holiday snaps with some witty sayings
8. Share holiday destinations & crafty buys
9. Crafty things that family members do

Business tips
1. How you start your day
2. How you end your day
3. Customer Service tips
4.Time management/balance tips
5. How you stay energized and focused
6. Helpful websites you use frequently -
7. Top tools that are helpful
8. Book, course reviews
9. Review what you learned from an event (live or virtual)
10. Social media tips
11.Etsy tips
12. Web site management
13. How to Blog tips

Promoting you / others
1. Profile the Craft Britannia team and share their tips
2. Share other craft sellers
3. Share an interview with you that was published elsewhere
4. Interview someone else and share it
5. Recognize a top affiliate, team member or customer/client
6. Feature a success story (case study)
7. Write about new products, how and why made
8. Write about old products, how and why made
9. What you’re working on in business
10. What’s launching soon
11. A photo of your workspace
12. Photo of you with clients or working
13. ** Freebies **

Chuffed with my list, how about you?

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Limited Time Only ! FREE Craftsy E-Guides

This post contains affiliate links - read more about affiliate programmes and sponsorship here

I just had to let you all know about Craftsy's latest freebies available now, but only for a few days. Each are worth $4.99 each! 

I've downloaded one of the knitting ones to take a look. its geared up for beginners, but moves on to more complicated stitches too, so quite useful for all. 

Below are the ones I found particularly interesting. Just click on the picture and it will take you straight to the right place on the Craftsy Site where you can download there and then. 

OK here goes.......

ooh , delicious bread !




some good ideas here as to what to do with your left over fabric scraps



oops , should I be telling you how to make your own pillows?




Obviously this knitting one




and this one for beginners 



interesting ....




and lots lots more covering gardening, photography, drawing, crocheting etc etc.

If you are thinking about taking up a new craft then why not start here, or download a guide for a loved one.

Sandra

Course Review - Craftsy Pictures to Pixel Quilts

Pictures to Pixel Quilts
This post contains affiliate links - read more about affiliate programmes and sponsorship here

I have had this Craftsy course sat in my "Wishlist" for a couple of years. Why? you might be thinking would a knitter be interested in a quilting course?  

I had thought that this might find me a quick and cheerful way to produce fair Isle charts for my knitting. Just read my review to the end and you'll find out whether I think it will do the trick. 

Each of the Craftsy courses is broken in to a series of lessons , so you can learn at your own speed. I ended up doing this full course in 3 separate sittings , doing a quick review of the things I had learnt in the 1st lessons as I went along. 


Lesson 1 and 2 are the welcome and introduction.


Lesson 3 is great . At the end of the lesson you have enough information to choose the correct sort of picture to pixelate. I'm thinking that these pixelated picture would be suitable for Cross stitch work and Fair Isle work too , not just quilting.There is a lot of IT techie stuff covered;how to pixelate using the Mac and PC and what free software you could use. Even how to do it manually using an Ipad and graph paper!


Lesson 4 - This is where it starts getting quite technical and if you are not comfortable using Excel then either keep away from this course or take a lot of notes. But if you are determined that this is what you want to do then this process is great ! You get great instructions for sorting out columns and rows in your spreadsheet , creating legends for each of the colours and conditional formula to change the legend to the correct colour. As I said its a bit techie and probably only useful if you are used to excel even though she explains it very well.   

Working with excel and background image is even easier , I have used this method years ago.

Counting how many squares of each colour and counting what cuts and how many you need to make - great for quilt making!
Lesson 5 - calculating yardage - for quilters only


Lesson 6 - assembling the quilt

I didn't do Lesson 5 and 6 , sorry , but I'm sure the quality would have been good as the rest of the course was.

This was a very well instructed class. If this is what you fancy doing , its fiddly but the course covered EVERYTHING !

Straight away after doing the course I attempted to pixelate one of my pictures. I used the pic2pat software the instructor recommended and I turned my heart avatar to a series of pixelated pictures, which ranged from the use of 32 different colours to 7 colours. 




This has confirmed to me , that this software will produce the pixelated pictures that I need for Fair Isle work. Its just a matter of choosing the correct picture in the 1st place (as simple as possible). Once that's achieved then what I learnt in lesson 4 could be used to get the chart in Excel. 

Ooh ! the possibilities are endless.

And for you quilters, Craftsy (my fave on-line store at the moment) is giving away a great e-guide. That is FREE for you to download Now ! , only available for a limited time! Just click on the piccie below



Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Is your Web Site Blocked?

Can you imagine it, finding out that your web site is blocked from a whole load of people because one particular ISP provider thinks your web site has malicious content! Wow!


Today, one of my on-line friends told me she was unable to access my web site, she kept getting the message about it being blocked by Web Safe. Neither of us could really understand what was going on but then another friend confirmed this and told me the whole error message.

Error Message: "Sorry, Web Safe has blocked this site.
This site has been blocked by Web Safe because it's listed as having malicious content. It could put your personal and financial information at risk or cause damage to your files.

If you don'’t think this page should have been blocked, let us know.

Well, then a whole research campaign started. I was concerned about the extent of the block, how many people would not have access to my web site and how long it had been going on. To date, I still don't have an answer to these 2 questions.

But I do have a little more information and have some knowledge as to how to get this problem sorted

1. Contact Virgin Media and ask for your site to be unblocked

Virgin Media Help and Support pages says

If there is a website that you believe is safe, but has been blocked, or there is a site that you believe should be blocked, you can report by emailing websafefeedback@virginmedia.co.uk

I have emailed Virgin and Tweeted them too.

2.Check out other ISP providers and make sure your web site is not blocked by them too

https://www.blocked.org.uk/  This web site lets you submit your site url and they will test it for you for access by the different ISP (ie Sky , BT , O2 , Virgin etc).

Here are the results for my web site.


So this confirmed what my friends were saying and alleviated my concerns that it could be a bigger problem.

It seems that the Blocking techniques vary from one Internet Service Provider (ISP) to another with some sites or specific URLs blocked by some ISPs and not others.

These ISP results shown on the blocked.org web site worry me a whole lot and the fact that web sites can be blocked without the owner of the web site knowing about it doesn't seem fair at all. Who do these Internet Providers think they are, making random decisions about my web site.

I have paid for my domain and expect it to be available for everyone to view!

It’s difficult to measure the financial impact of being blocked but I feel that I must have lost some business and, of course, it doesn't look great telling people the site is not suitable for them!

I'll keep you updated with the outcome of this when it happens. 

Sandra

http://www.thefemininetouch.org.uk/

PS .
Web Safe is a new network parental control application that helps protect your Virgin Media broadband connection by blocking access to websites that contain the following material:
• viruses and malicious software
• malicious or content unsuitable to children including: pornography, hate, crime, drugs, violence, hacking, self-harm and suicide

AN UPDATE

After lots of email sending , filling in forms and sending tweets I finally get an email today (11th March 2015) saying that my site was unblocked on the 03/03/2015.

So I checked via the blocked.org.web site and yes my web site is unblocked ,phew


In fact it looks like it was unblocked a few days after I reported it being blocked. No explanation of why or when it was blocked ,humph not impressed Virgin Media.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

WATG Valentine Heart Beanie

I loved knitting this gorgeous valentine heart beanie for Wool and the Gang. I was only asked last week if I fancied making one, which of course because I like a little challenge I said Yes ! 

I was a little taken aback with the stripes , yikes , could I make a neat job of those? and then there was the red heart sewn on afterwards, would it be neat enough?




As you can see from my work in progress photos , all was OK.  

The heart , took 2 attempts before I was totally happy with the result. I think the photo above was taken in the middle of the 1st! 


And the stripes , well I was told that I had to do a "jogless stripe" . Good old Google told me that there was a few variations of the jogless stripe and after reading about them I decided that a "travelling jogless stripe" would do the trick. The photo above shows the change over of yarns travelling at a slant. 


Finished result ! 








And on the web site 


What an ace hat! 

Great for anytime , not just for Valentines!




Wool and the Gang

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Very Berry


One of my "Thursdays ColourWays" series of blog postings.


Normally, this would be a colour that I would love to see in the height of summer, but because I had been out in the garden yesterday, doing a little tidying up, dead heading the lavender and rose bushes I hadn't done in autumn, then I was rudely reminded that summer was on its way. 

Hence today I'm celebrating a lovely combination of berry colours in style



Above is a lovely array of UK handmade products I found on Etsy this afternoon. 2 or more of them together would set off or make an outfit and you wouldn't have to wait for the summer to wear them. 


  1. Wool asymmetric coat with kimono sleeves from Malure Studio
  2. Organic beaded gloves from Maimy
  3. Purple Berry Cloche from AndtheyLovedhats
  4. Wool fingerless gloves from TheFeminineTouch
  5. Camille Backless Purple Cocktail Dress from AnnaPopovitch
  6. Silk Band with Handmade Beads from LunaMiaLtd
  7. Berry Beautiful Burgundy Blooms from RockaBillyRedBristol
  8. Cover boots from NomadGypsyDesign
  9. Hand-painted 100% Silk Bow Tie from SharonBennet



Wednesday, 11 February 2015

3 ways to wear your Snood

Snoods have been gracing the runway for quite some time, and are now starting to make their way to the general public. The relaxed, loose fit of snoods make them casual yet chic. 

The original definition of a snood, type of female  headgear designed to hold the hair in a cloth or yarn bag  has been replaced by the words "hair net" whilst nowadays this unique variation of a scarf is now classed as the "snood".


While a snood can certainly be used as a regular scarf, the hood portion makes it the ultimate cold weather accessory

Snoods provide warmth for the head, ears and neck, all at the same time. They are made to fit loosely and comfortably around the head, offering further protection from the wind and cold.


I was first asked to knit a snood for my step son Steve, he wanted one to keep out the cold when he drove his bike. I got the impression from him that he never ever took it off , it was so luscious and warm, but hey that's a different story. 







The snood can be worn draped like a scarf if you prefer , when the weather is a bit warmer or the wind is not blowing a gale. 

You could even wrap it twice round the neck to keep you snugly and warm.












And why not drop the snood over the shoulders for a casual new outerwear , the capelet. Great to wear over a jacket or sweater OR underneath a chunky jacket.


Total versatility with the snood. 3 different looks, 3 different uses. 













Today I sell a few variations of my 1st knitted snood in my shop as well as 2 different knitting patterns so you can knit your own. 

The snood shown in the photographs above is a wonderful chunky knit snood, hand knit in 100% wool yarn in a cream (with darker tints). Its a reversible scarf that can be worn in numerous ways , off the shoulder , wrapped round the neck and as a hoodie over the head. 

It's 11 inches /21 cm wide with a circumference of 3’2 inches / 82cm 


The snood itself is available to buy here  and the pattern here.

Other Snoods are available to buy too , some in a traditional moss stitch pattern, others in my unique chevron pattern. You can view them all here.

Big thanks go to the  photographer Marieanne Cavaciuti and her models Hannah and Poppy x 

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Valentine Cowl All Packaged up and ready to go

Well didn't I have a busy weekend, organising the random draw of the Valentine GiveAway winner, writing up the Cowl knitting instructions and sending emails out to everyone that subscribed , Phew , busy but very satisfying. 

I was a little worried that the winner wouldn't be opening her email, but Jen did yesterday. I received this message back, which made it all very worthwhile.

Oh my gosh!  What an awesome email to come into on a Monday morning!!!  This cowl is absolutely beautiful and I can’t wait to show it off.

Thank you so much for offering such a beautiful prize.  You are so very talented and I appreciate that you share that with us.  Thank you for all of the hard work you do and for blessing me with this amazing prize!



So this morning I packaged up the cowl in pretty pink tissue along with my new care instructions and business cards.

And I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Jen does really like it when it arrives. 

Monday, 9 February 2015

Ah , those lost stitches

I've decided ! 

There is nothing worse to knit than black mohair (well that's how I feel this morning).  I had knit quite successfully yesterday sat in the lovely bright sunny conservatory, but last night was a bit of a nightmare. Took my knitting inside so I could knit whilst watching the TV and I really struggled seeing the stitches so I put my knitting down and decided to continue in the morning when the light was better. 




This morning I was out in the conservatory again and I still lost A STITCH. I never did find it, perhaps I never cast on enough stitches , who knows but one of my cables was out my 1 stitch the 2nd time I did a cable run. 

But all was not lost, the sun was shining again, the light in the conservatory was brilliant so I managed to create another stitch (as if like magic) on one of the 1st rows and make it look like its always been there :)


And if you are wondering why a crochet hook is in the photo, I really find with slippy yarns that its tons better to use a crochet hook than a cable needle to keep my stitches in check. Although it didn't quite work out that way this morning did it?

Do you have any tips for working with mohair or any other slippy yarns?, please let me know in the comments below.






View from my sunny conservatory this morning , lovely sunny winters day. There was a cold blast though , hence the heater. 

Saturday, 7 February 2015

How to wash your woollies

When you buy from The Feminine Touch you can be sure your hand knitted and felted items will have a high wool % content. 



It's important then, that such a loved, quality item should be handled with care when it comes to washing.

This is a simple guide that I've put together, just to help you along

1. Place the item in a sink, cover with luke warm water and  some woolly detergent.

2. Soak and squeeze your woolly, being careful not to pull it out of shape.

3. Let out the water and fill the sink again with clean luke warm water. Soak and squeeze again to get rid of all the detergent.

4. After soaking & squeezing, lay the woolly between clean towels and roll the towel up to take up the extra moisture.

5. Lay your woolly out on another clean dry towel and leave to dry. 







Hope this helps in keeping your woollies as nice as the day you bought them <3




If you are wondering why I brought this little tip bit to your attention , well I was told a little sad tale the other day. One of my most loyal customers was purchasing yet another hand knit headband from me and I asked how her daughter liked the one that she got last Christmas? Sadly she said that she hadn't thought about how to wash it and had just bunged it in the washing machine. Well you can guess what happened can't you, the poor little thing turned out twice as small and could not be stretched over her head whatever she tried.  That was just a headband and could be remedied by quickly knitting up another for her. But I would hate it if something as wonderful as a lace shawl or a bolero was ruined just because you didn't think before washing. I'd rather customers contacted me to ask for advise any day than to see this happen. 

Have you had any disastrous washes ? Many years ago I had a lovely red dressing gown bought by my husband reduced to child size :( just because I put it in the wash , lol

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Get your blog out on the clothes line , revitalise it for Spring

My Blog has had a Spring Clean ! 




I know, its not Spring yet , but I'm getting ready for this brilliant year ahead.

I took a good hard look at my blog over the Christmas period and decided it needed a major overhaul. If I wanted the crafting world to take me seriously then I needed to blog writing seriously (yes some humour may slip in, lol).

So over the last week, I have taken each of my blog posting, stuffed them in to the washing machine, let them whizz round for an hour and then hung them out to dry. 

And when each and everyone of them was dry I have put them away in to my new set of drawers with clearly defined labels.   Some blog postings have put away in to charity bags but in the majority of cases my old blog postings will be used alongside new ones!

The thing about blog postings is that they are available on your blog for ever! I have some going back to  2011 and I wanted to find a way to bring them to the forefront again; to make sure that if someone wanted to read them then they could easily get to them, hence the new drawers and labels. 

You can see my drawers at the top of my blog - Business Tips / Etsy Shop Preview / My Product Gallery / European Sellers / DIY (for free) / Personal Stuff.

With some extra drawers , that you can drill down in to (right hand side column) - My Web Site / Clearance Sale / My Knitting Patterns / Thursdays Colourways.

And each drawer will either take you to another web site (my own for example) or to a stand alone blog page. On each blog page , you will find tables of photos with links to the appropriate blog postings.

 Personal Stuff



So if you click on the "Personal Stuff" drawer you will be taken to a new page that shows you some of my more personal photos, linked to my personal blog postings. 



Go on try it , click on this Personal Stuff link or the image and take a look at my new page. 




 Business Tiips
Or what about this one ? click on "Business Tips" and it will be soon full of some great tips for you and your crafty business.  


I feel so much happier about my blog now , happy to promote it and I can see where it is going. I can see what blog postings I need to write to fill my new drawers.





Do you think your blog needs a Spring Clean; needs a little revitalising to bring old postings to the top again? needs a little organising to help you decide what to blog about next? 

Please tell us your stories, your revitalising tips in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.

Over the next few weeks , I plan to write about blog postings in general, how you can write postings that people will be interested enough to read , that should be fun. See you then.........

Quick View of Woolly Goodies available on my web site

Quick View of Woolly Goodies available on my web site
Click on photo above to see detail / to purchase

Thanks for reading.... but don't stop yet, take a read at old blog posts or other blogs I like below