Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Weave a recycled Easter basket

Diane Gilleland has created this pretty Easter basket out of woven strips of recycled cardboard food boxes. Full instructions at craftstylish.com. Start raiding that recycling box!

1940s child's beret and loveheart hat

This 1940s school girl looks ready for anything in her striped beret with matching socks! Her rough-textured blazer and softly-curled hair are so typical of the period. The Juliet Cap, on the other hand, looks very modern in both shape and motif design. I can see this looking wonderful worked in pink with a red heart motif.

Cap, beret and socks are all worked in 3 ply oddments and are suitable for a girl aged 8 - 10 years old. Measurement from centre of crown to edge of beret is 6 inches, width all around edge (slightly stretched) is 20 inches.

Make Do and Mend alteration ideas

How to turn an old coat into a two-piece dress and jacket, and how to change the style of a summer coat, using fabric from an old dress or blouse. Two useful and thrifty alteration ideas from a WW2 Make Do and Mend leaflet:

"With light summer coats, a changeover can often be done by unpicking the facings and reverse, adjusting the neckline and seaming the coat up the centre front. The sleeves will probably need taking in a little.

You may have an edge-to-edge summer coat which will not quite join down the front. A narrow panel down the centre front will solve the problem. You may have a frock which has become too worn to be of any use as it is, or a blouse worn under the arms. You will probably be able to get enough material out of this to make the panel.

An old coat that is on the long side can be made into a useful two-piece dress and jacket, providing a fairly long blouse or jumper is available to make a top for the dress. Cut the coat round at hip level, and remove facings from the lower part. Join up the centre front seam and sew this new skirt on to lower edge of the blouse.

Then face lower edge of jacket. The original coat must be cut to correspond with the length of the blouse used, so that the jacket and matching part of the skirt just overlap."

Monday, 22 March 2010

Easy one-stitch crochet baby top

This vintage baby top from a 1970s Woolworths magazine is perfect for a first crochet project - the only stitches you need to know are the chain stitch, and the UK treble stitch (that's USA double crochet stitch). There's minimal shaping - just one easy decrease stitch, explained below, and to make things even better, this is a perfect stash-busting project - an excellent way to use up all those pretty odds and ends of DK yarn.

I made mine in shades of lilac, pink and blue, or you can try making it in the original pattern's bright colours. Or different shades of just blue. Or neutrals... Or...

You will need: oddments of DK yarn, 3.5mm and 3mm crochet hooks. Buttons.

Measurements: To fit chest sizes 46 (51-56) cm or 18 (20-22 inches).

Tension: 19 sts and 11 rows = 10 cms square measured over tr on 3.5mm hook.

Special abbreviation: Dec 1 = work 1 tr until 2 loops remain on hook, work next tr until 3 loops remain on hook, yo and through the 3 loops.

Back: Using 3.5mm hook make 49 (53-57) ch and work 1 tr into 3rd chain from hook, 1 tr into each ch to end.

Next row: 2 ch (count as 1 tr), 1 tr into each st to end. 48 (52-56) tr.

Rep the last row until work measures 15 (16.5-18) cm (6 (6.5-7) inches) or required length to armholes. Tie a marker to each end of last row to mark end of side seams.

Work straight until back measures 9.5 (10-11) cms (3.75 (4-4.25) inches from markers.

Shape back neck: next row work 17 (18-19) tr, fasten off. Miss centre 14 (16-18) sts, rejoin yarn to next st, 2 ch, work to end. Fasten off.

Left front:

Using 3.5mm hook make 23 (25-27) ch, work 1 tr into 3rd ch from hook, 1 tr into each ch to end. 22 (24-26) tr.

Work straight until front measures the same as back to markers. Tie a marker to one end of last row to mark end of side seam. Work straight until front measures 4 rows shorter than back to shoulder ending at side seam.

Shape front neck: next row work 19 (20-21) sts, turn. Dec 1 st (see special abbreviation) at neck edge on next 2 rows. Work 1 row. Fasten off.

Right front:

Work to match left front reversing shaping.


Using 3.5mm hook make 27 (29-31) ch, work 1 tr into 3rd chain from hook, 1 tr into each ch to end. 26 (28-30) tr.

Work 1 row in tr. Continuing in tr, inc 1 st at each end (by working 2 tr into first and last st) of next and every following 2nd (2nd-3rd) row until there are 36 (38-40) sts. Work straight until sleeve measures 12.5 (14.5-16.5) cms (5 (5.75 - 6.5) inches. Fasten off.

Finishing and edgings:

Join side seams up to markers. Join shoulder and sleeve seams. Insert sleeves.

Edgings: With right side of work facing and using 3mm hook, join yarn to lower edge of right side seam, work 1 round of firm tr all round outer edge of jacket, working 3 tr into each corner, sl st to join.

Next round: 2 ch, work 1 tr into each tr, working 3 tr into each corner tr, work to end, sl st to join.

Next round: 2 ch, work 1 tr into each tr to end, sl st to join. Fasten off.

Work 2 rounds of tr around each cuff.

Sew buttons on left front edging as illustrated. Sew round corresponding space between 2 trs on right front edging for buttonholes.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

1950s tea cosy and egg cosy knitting pattern

Welcome in the spring with this cute 1950s knitted tea-cosy in the shape of a dove cote, and a sweet dove-shaped egg cosy.

You will need: 1oz blue and 2oz white double knitting yarn, 1 pair no 9 knitting needles, padding and lining.

Measurements: Tea cosy, round base 18 inches, 7 inches high.

Tension: 6 sts and 7 and a half rows to 1 inch.

The tea cosy: cast on 55 sts with Blue (B). K 4 rows. Proceed thus:

1st row: K (11 B, 11 W) to last 11 sts, 11 B.
2nd row: P as first.
Repeat these 2 rows 6 times more. Work 2 rows, working B over W and W over B. WOrk 14 rows as before. Now reverse colours again. Work 18 rows, then turn up wrong side of work and K tog 1 st from needle and 1 from the 1 st row worked in corresponding colour on the wrong side, thus making a tuck to represent the eaves of the roof. P 1 row, keeping continuity of colours. Work 8 rows, then dec in next and every 4th row following, thus:

9th row: (K 2 tog, K 7, K 2 tog tbl) 5 times.
13th row: (K2 tog, K5, K 2 tog tbl) 5 times.

Proceed thus until 15 sts remain. Work 3 rows. Next row: K 3 tog 5 times. Break wool, thread through remaining sts, draw up and fasten off.

Work second side of cosy in same way, reversing colours.

To make up: Join seams, leaving openings for spout and handle. Pad and line the cosy. Embroider the doorways.

The egg cosy: Cast on 32 sts with W. K 4 rows. Work 2 inches st st.

Next row: (K2, K 2 tog) to end (24 sts). P 1 row. Work 10 rows st st.

Next row: (K1, K 2 tog) to end. P 1 row.

Next row: K 2 tog to end. P 1 row. Break wool, thread through remaining sts, draw up and fasten off.

Join seam. Pad head and gather round neck. Embroider eyes and add felt beak.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Victorian papier mache chair

These days, papier mache is associated mostly with small objects: boxes, plates, ornaments. The Victorians used papier mache on a much grander scale, with ornate papier mache furniture being very popular, especially after the display of this spectacular Daydreamer chair at the Great Exhibition of 1851.

"This chair was made from papier mache... and inlaid with mother-of-pearl in the forms of snowdrops, poppies and angels, and covered with buttoned upholstery. It was decorated with "two winged thoughts": one "troubled", in the form of bat-like wings, and one "joyous", illustrated by a crown of roses, both divided by a symbol of hope, the rising sun". (Introduction to Victorian Style, David Crowley, Eagle, 1998)

As anyone who has ever spent hours tearing up little bits of paper and glueing them round a balloon would testify, papier mache is a time-consuming craft. Imagine the number of labour hours that would have gone into making a chair like this. A Victorian papier mache chair would have been constructed from over 100 layers of paper, all applied by hand: testimony to the almost limitless supply of cheap labour that could be tapped into in this era.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Recycled gift bows

Thumbs up for anything that involves rummaging around in your recycling bin, rescuing and remodelling waste into something beautiful.

Miss American Pie has posted a step-by-step guide to making pretty gift bows out of cast-off glossy magazines at Craftster. These would also look great if you used recycled wrapping paper. Be warned - she says that these are seriously addictive to make...

Friday, 12 March 2010

How to darn holes

Official UK government advice on darning, issue by the Board of Trade in the 1940s. Wish today's government would spend tax-payer's money on useful leaflets like this, rather than bailing out banks, and bringing Western-style democracy to the Middle East.

Do not wait for holes to develop. It is better to darn as soon as garments wear thin. Imitate, as well as possible, the texture of the fabric being darned. When darning a big hole, tack a piece of net at the back and darn across it, and this will give extra support for the stitches. A tear should be tacked round on to a piece of paper, to hold the edges in position.

Darning a hole:

First clear the loops of fluff and broken ends of threads from knitted garments or clip away ragged edges from machine knit fabrics. Always use a darning ball under large holes.

1. Make the darn the shape of the hole.
2. Darn up and down the hole first; work on the wrong side.
3. Choose mending as fine as the material of the garment.
4. Begin a good distance away from the hole in order to reinforce the thin parts round the hole.
5. Space the rows of darning the width of a strand of mending apart.
6. Pick up the backs of the loops only unless the material is very fine.
7. Leave loops at the ends of each row and darn so that stitches alternate with spaces between stitches in the previous rows.
8. Pick up the edge of the hole in one row then go over the edge of the hole in the next row. If you have cleared the edges of the hole you will find this will be easy and will make a neater mend on the right side of the garment.
9. Continue the darn over the thin place beyond the hole.

Darning over the first rows of darning:

1. Darn over the hole only and about two stitches of darning beyond.
2. Leave loops at the end of each row, and only pick up on the needle the darning stitches.
3. Pick up the alternate strands of mending in first row.
4. In alternate rows, pick up the strands of mending you passed over in the previous row.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Make a nest

Love this idea from Tali at Growing Up Creative - how to make your own bird's nest out of bits and pieces that you find around you, just like a bird would. Gather bits of interesting string, yarn, leaves, rags and create a little nest of your own. It's a great way to get kids to welcome in the spring.

Beret knitting pattern

For Renee, who wanted to knit a beret.

This pattern makes a beautifully-shaped adult sized-beret. It's adapted from an early 1950s booklet, Berets for All. The beret in the book includes a fairisle motif, which I have removed from the pattern, so you get a simple, plain-coloured beret with elegant shaping.

You'll need: DK yarn, 1 pair each nos 10 and 11 knitting needles (3 mm and 3.25 mm needles)

Tension: 13 sts and 17 rows to 2 inches

Abbreviations: tbs = through back of stitch

With no 10 needles, cast on 120 sts. Change to no 11 needles and work 6 rows in K1, P1 rib.

Change back to no 10 needles and proceed as follows:

Row 1: (K3, inc in next st) to end
Row 2: P
Row 3: (inc in first st, K23, inc in next st) 6 times
Row 4: P
Row 5: (inc in first st, K 25, inc in next st) 6 times
Row 6: P
Row 7: (inc in first st, K 27, inc in next st) 6 times

Starting with a P row, work 7 rows in stocking stitch on these 186 sts.

Row 15: (K2 tog tbs, K 27, K2 tog) 6 times
Row 16: P
Row 17: K
Row 18: P
Row 19: (K2 tog tbs, K 25, K2 tog) 6 times
Row 20: P
Row 21: K
Row 22: P
Row 23: (K2 tog tbs, K 23, K2 tog) 6 times
Row 24: P
Row 25: K
Row 26: (P2 tog, P 21, P2 tog) 6 times
Row 27: K
Row 28: P
Row 29: (K2 tog tbs, K19, K2 tog) 6 times
Row 30: P
Row 31: (K2 tog tbs, K 17, K2 tog) 6 times
Row 32: (and every alternate row from now on) P
Row 33: (K2 tog tbs, K15, K2 tog) 6 times
Row 35: (K2 tog tbs, K13, K2 tog) 6 times
Row 37: (K2 tog tbs, K11, K2 tog) 6 times
Row 39: (K2 tog tbs, K9, K2 tog) 6 times
Row 41: (K2 tog tbs, K7, K2 tog) 6 times
Row 43: (K2 tog tbs, K5, K2 tog) 6 times
Row 45: (K2 tog tbs, K3, K2 tog) 6 times
Row 47: (K2 tog tbs, K1, K2 tog) 6 times
Row 49: (K2 tog) 9 times. Break off wool, thread end through remaining sts, draw up and fasten off, then join seam.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Crochet bat wing headband

My daughter is crazy about the My Sims Wii games, especially her favourite character Violet, a very stylish goth girl, who sports a marvellous floor length-black dress and bat wing hair accessories. She wanted to dress up as Violet for her un-birthday party on Saturday, so I made her this Violet-inspired headband.

It's been the biggest craft hit of the year so far, even more so than her Severus Snape doll. She's worn it round the house every day for a week, so far.

The headband is based around an old pair of deely boppers. I removed the old antennae, leaving just springs, and then cut out large bat wings out of felt and glued these over the springs, sandwiching light card in the middle to give them more strength. The skull in the middle is crocheted, with black wool embroidery, and is attached to the headband using a glue gun.

Monday, 8 March 2010

This doll will kill us all

Sometimes when you confront the things that scared you in your childhood, they don't seem all that frightening now. This golly, however, still scares the living crap out of me. It was made for me by one of my Dad's Romanian work colleagues and I remember, aged about 5, asking him to take it away. He did. He brought it back yesterday, 35 years later.

Everything, from the mournful blue eyes and sharp little teeth, to the weird hips and shrunken head, shout out "I will kill you all", loud and clear.

Has anyone got a scarier home-made toy?

Thursday, 4 March 2010

1960s Japanese knitting machine clothes

I recently baggsied a fantastic 1960s Brother knitting machine off Worthing Recycle. It's insanely complicated to use, with a manual that looks like you need a degree in 1960s computer science to decode - it's all punch cards and baffling tables and diagrams.

Luckily, it also comes with a hardback book full of incredible photos of 1960s Japanese models, showing off the garments that could be mine, once I've knitted my time machine and earnt that 1960s computer science degree.

I love the air-brushed, Techicolor quality of these photos. I'd better start learning how to use those punch cards...

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Craft miles

It drives me crazy how hard it is to buy locally-produced wool in the UK. We do have sheep in this country: I've seen them. Yarn shops are stocked to the rafters with Australian Merino wool, Fair Trade Bolivian wool, American hemp yarn - but not a British, low-air-miles ball of wool in sight.

When I buy food, I always try to seek out locally-grown produce. Failing that, something that hasn't travelled half way round the world. I wouldn't buy baby sweetcorn that came all the way from Peru, so why should I buy wool that has clocked up the same air-miles, when the same product could be produced closer to home?

So I made two new year's resolutions this year: one was to learn how to hand-spin, and the other was to learn how to use natural dyes (don't get me started on UK crafters who think that using Kool Aid is a form of natural dyeing... it's chemical slop that's been exported half-way across the globe...)

Here's my first-ever hand-spun ball of wool! It varies enormously in width from 1 ply to super-chunky, but it's all mine and I'm ever so proud of it. I used a drop spindle (which I presume is called a drop spindle because I keep dropping it on the floor every 30 seconds or so) and some Shetland fleece, both kindly given to me by my lovely Polish mother-in-law, along with a patient lesson and years of spinning expertise.

If I make another ball of yarn this size, I think I'll have enough to make a hat. Excited!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Pretty knitted edging

I love the edging on this pretty knitted baby matinee coat from a Lee Target wool pattern. It's pretty, and weighty enough to stop the edge of the garmet curling.

To make the edging:

Work 4 rows in st st.
Row 5: K2, * yfwd, K2 tog, rep from * to last st, K1
Work 3 rows in st st, commencing with a purl row.
Next row - make a hem by knitting together one st from the needle and 1 loop from cast on edge to end of row.

Here's the stitch science - the holes you create in row 5 with your yarn forwards become the scalloped edge of the hem. Pretty clever...

Monday, 1 March 2010

Mr March

Three for the price of one this month, with this trio of dapper chaps from Simplicity's Sewing For Men and Boys book (1974).

From the back, we have the "Now Generation" guy - "He's outgoing, personable, in-the-know. He loves the new fashion, is eager to be part of the scene with all the latest shapes, fabrics and colours. He prefers the mix and match possibilities of shirts with texture and colour interest, vests with patterns and important neckwear."

In the middle, we have Nick Cave.

No, hang on, he's the "Tailored Traditionalist" - "solid, successful, mature. His favourite suit? A no-nonsense double-breasted variety with few details to clutter the mind."

And finally, here's the "Young Executive" - "A man on the way to the top, he bright, ambitious, but reserved. He chooses a classic single-breasted suit with a more fitted look. He likes rich fabrics, mixes patterns with flair." Nice bow tie.