Lampshade Making at Tea and Crafting

Instead of making New Years resolutions, I set myself 12 challenges to complete during 2015. One of those challenges was to learn a new skill. Making a lampshade seemed sufficiently different from my usual fabric creations to allow me to complete this challenge satisfactorily.

I chose the Bespoke Lampshade Making class at Tea and Crafting, a cute venue right in the hustle and bustle of Camden. I follow the Tea and Crafting blog so it was a pleasure to see their Hoop Art (from a recent blog post) on the walls of their neat little crafting room showcasing the classes they offer in a suitably visual way.

Lampshade After

The class materials include all the components required to make a cylindrical lampshade using your own fabric.

Lampshade Attach

There were a lovely array of fabric selections brought in by my fellow classmates. Everything from curtain remnants to former skirts (love a bit of up-cycling). My fabric was purchased specifically for this class (because I couldn’t possibly use something already in my stash now could I?). The print is from the Modern Neutrals collection by Amy Ellis and was purchased from Raystitch.

Lampshade Top

The 2 hour class was taught by Laura of Laura Felicity who has infectious enthusiasm and a natural teaching style. Laura shared her expertise and tricks of the trade with our small group to produce 5 exceptional lampshades.

Lampshade Class

Interestingly, the lamp base was made by my Uncle who likes to do wood turning in his free time. After the class, I couldn’t wait to get home to assemble the base and shade to see the final handmade bedside lamp.

Lampshade On

I’m really pleased with how well they work together, the wood really compliments the fabric and I have plenty of fabric left for a ceiling shade… or maybe cushion covers… or a quilt…

Navy Ponte Leggings – Vogue 1440

When I made my Autumn Southport dress, I wanted to further extend the wearability into winter. I’ve nailed layering with a long sleeve t-shirt underneath and a cosy cardigan on top but brrrrr the chills go right through tights.

I wasn’t the fastest sock knitter so knitting wooly tights was out of the question (although I can’t stop browsing knitted tights on Ravelry and Pinterest!). The next best option was to sew some leggings.

V1440 Front

For the pattern I used Vogue 1440 modifying the tapered leg trouser silhouette to a fitted legging. The pattern is intended for knit fabrics such as ponte so the alterations were relatively easy.V1440 Back

I placed an online order for some navy and some mushroom ponte from Truro Fabrics. This ponte is really very good quality, it doesn’t have the sheen that cheaper options have and is incredibly soft for such a sturdy knit.

V1440 Side

When I attached the elastic waistband, I also incorporated a ribbon tab at the centre back for easy orientation.

V1440 Centre Back Ribbon

Finally, I had some excess length that I should have just cut off and hemmed with a twin needle top stitch but I was overcome with an urge to turn them into ski pants. In the interests of fashion, do not try this at home kids.

V1440 Side Ski Pants

If you don’t care that 3 decades have passed since this look was ‘in’ then go ahead, cut a 2 1/2 inch slit for your heel, zig-zag or overlock the cut edge to reinforce it then enjoy the warmth provided by a second layer on your feet and the knowledge that your leggings will stay firmly in your boots this winter.


Last week: “No second sock syndrome here” was the phrase a very accomplished knitter proclaimed when I revealed at my first meeting of a local knitting group that I was indeed making my first pair of socks and the one on my needles was the second sock.

Let’s rewind to the summer when I received a wonderful birthday present of two Craftsy Classes. Socks have been on my knitting techniques list for sometime. On one hand the shear amount of choice is overwhelming: construction, toe-up, cuff-down, DPNs, circulars, two at a time, yarn choices, stitch decisions. On the other hand, with knitting, I have found it is best to jump right in, no new technique is too challenging when the worst case scenario is ripping out to start again.

Donna Druchunas’ Craftsy Class “Knit Original Toe-Up Socks” seemed pitched at about my level: Fearless sock beginner not afraid of a steep learning banana. The class seemed to have longevity that would take me from knitting my first pair to designing my own. The course materials aren’t well advertised but do add value to the cost of the class – three multi-sized sock patterns, some additional stitch patterns and a planning worksheet.

Seaweed Full Sock

In the short-term, chapters on sock anatomy, calculating for a good fit and fully demonstrated toes and heels gave me enough information to knit my pair of socks. That fit. Successfully.

Seaweed Socks

Now that my first pair is complete, I can return to the class to tackle another of the 3 toe or 3 heel options or maybe use the bonus section on knitting two socks at a time. I’m not quite ready for designing yet but altering an existing sock pattern seems do-able and Donna gave some great tips along the way for knitting for gifts if you don’t have the recipient’s measurements.

Enough of me waxing lyrical about the Craftsy class, lets talk about the pattern. The Seaweed sock pattern looks, to me, like the bobbly dark green seaweed that I remember washing up on UK beaches when I was a kid.

Seaweed Sock Pattern

As stitch patterns go, it’s not too complicated to knit (although I didn’t manage to memorise it, I had to keep the chart with me at all times) yet very visually effective. I see it as a unisex pattern – some of the patterns that incorporate lace seem a bit girly to me.

Seaweed Sock Toe

This sock pattern has a short row toe and heel which are fairly similar to knit so are a good way to consolidate learning.

Seaweed Sock Heel

The yarn is Malabrigo Sock in playa which I purchased from Tangled Yarn. The fact that the pattern and colourway were sea themed amused me. It is incredibly difficult to photograph but is predominantly dark green and navy with highlights of gold, grey and grey-greens.

Seaweed Socks Steps

The new-to-me knitting group did warn me that sock knitting was addictive. I have hats in the pipeline but do see more socks in my knitting future.

Second Stripe Renfrew

This is my fourth Renfrew but my second in stripe fabric.

Sewaholic Renfrew Stripe Front

In fact it is the same fabric but reverse colorway as my other one. I loved the first fabric, predominantly navy with narrow white stripe version so much that I purchased a couple of meters (ebay seller brunswickmill2013) of the white with narrower navy stripes too.

Sewaholic Renfrew Cowl

I wear the first one weekly (or there about) and it is still going strong. The fabric washes so well and no bobbling over half a year later. With the fabric so similar, I attempted to keep it different by making the cowl neck Renfrew version this time. Do you ever worry people will ask why you have the same top (or any favourite sewing pattern garment) in multiple different colours?

Sewaholic Renfrew Stripe Shoulder

I really enjoy sewing with stripes, there are a lot of areas to pay attention to in order to get a really satisfying finish (check out my top ten tips here).

Sewaholic Renfrew Stripe  Side

On the plus side, pressing beyond the border of the stripe at the hem and cuffs and hiding the twin needle top stitching in the navy strip worked a dream.

Renfrew Twin Needle Top Stitching

Voting is open for SIM2015

Sewing Indie Month

I entered my Autumn Southport Dress into the Sewing Indie Month 2015 Everyday Casual Contest. Check out my competitors and cast your vote here.


Autumn Southport

It’s not often that I repeat a pattern but sometimes, just sometimes, a really good one comes along that allows for a variety of fabrics and spans multiple seasons. C&H lawn

Finding a bolt-end of lawn on the C&H remnant table certainly helped push me towards a third True Bias Southport Dress.

soutport true bias autumn

I knew I could fit a short Southport dress out of 1.5m because I had only 1.1m when I made my first purple paisley one (so I have 40cm left for another project!). The changes I made to the pattern pieces for my neon maxi Southport were carried forward to this make.

autumn southport backThe colours of the lawn are particularly autumnal to me so a transition dress that I could layer up with tights and a cardigan (and maybe a long sleeve tee underneath towards winter!) was the look I was going for.

Southport with cardiI added a lining so that the skirt doesn’t ride up my tights and used satin bias binding at the neck and armholes.

southport lined skirt

The buttons were selected by my husband because I was being indecisive… “maybe these ones, but these ones are nice too and I like these but I think they’re too big” You know how it is. Anyway, I agree now that he made a good choice. They have a slight ombre effect so I was careful to sew them on so that the direction of the gradient was all the same.

autumn southport sun

When I finished the dress and placed it on Thelma, the autumn sun was beaming into my sewing room and I knew it was going to spend more time in the washing basket than the wardrobe!

Southport dress autumn

Selfless Stripe Scarf for Someone Special

When someone special asks for something special knitted for them it’s difficult for me to say no. Instead I say “yes” followed by deferral tactics…

“Here’s my current list, your request is going at the bottom and the list is subject to change or re-prioritisation.”

Then I put the list into perspective for them.

“I only complete 2 or 3 knitted items per year because I’m slow at knitting.”

Adding, only if I really don’t want to do it “you provide the yarn” because they won’t know what yarn to get.

It’s not that I don’t want to make things for other people, quite the opposite in fact. I want to make them something they will love and they will use for a long time. When you live with the person making the request there are a number of advantages: you know they are very aware of the time invested in hand-knitted items, you know them well enough that their request has been carefully thought out, you know that they’ve asked for something that they will cherish and that the design inspiration is something they hold close to their heart.

And you know they’ll wait patiently if it takes 2 years to start the project and a further 3 months to complete it.

Stripe Scarf a

The request was a stripped scarf in specific colours. Finding an exact colour match was a little tricky but together we managed to find the right pairing with a reasonable yarn weight (I really did not want to knit a gentleman’s scarf in fingering weight yarn). Cascade yarns superwash (aran weight) in Navy (2 skeins) and Ruby (1 skein) was purchased from Deramores (<— refer a friend link).

A few crude design diagrams easily solved the horizontal or vertical stripe debacle and online images provided an idea of possible variations of ribbing (other non-curling stitch patterns were shunned by the requester due to stripe disruption). We settled on 3 x 3 ribbing which is nicely balanced by the three stripes. I have typed up the pattern at the end of this post. Although it’s only a basic beginner level pattern, I have already been asked for it by a relative who saw me knitting it and I know (from not so long ago) that it’s nice if you are new to knitting to have instructions for basic patterns.

Stripe Scarf b

Desperate to try inject some interest in this project (let’s face it, 3 x 3 ribbing is hardly exciting) I cast on and off in ribbing. I like the look of this visually blending well with the pattern and it’s practical too because the edges have the same amount of stretch as the main body of work.I also used Ysolda’s tips for avoiding ears when casting off the last stitch. There is no reason why a boring pattern shouldn’t be treated with care to give a perfect finish.

I decided that 1.5m was a minimum length for a men’s scarf and exceeded this target to use up all the yarn. The red ran out first, navy could have gone another two rows!

Final scarf statistics were  16cm x 168cm, 72 stitches per row (24 per colour stripe) and 388 rows. That’s 27,936 stitches knitted with love on 4.5mm needles.

Stripe Scarf c

3 x 3 Rib Horizontal Stripe Scarf

Casting on:

Cast on 72 stitches (24 stitches of each colour) in 3 x 3 ribbing – cast on *3 knitwise, 3 purlwise, repeat from *
The three stripes will not be connected at this stage.

Knit 3 x 3 ribbing:

For every row *knit 3, purl 3, repeat from * to end of the row.

To change to a new colour:

Take both the old and new colour yarn to the back of the work through the gap in the needles.
Pick up the new working yarn from underneath the old working yarn.
Begin knitting with the new working yarn (the old yarn can stay at the back of the work).
Pull the working yarn after the first stitch to snug up the stitches and prevent holes.
Continue in 3 x 3 ribbing.

Cast off:

Cast off in 3 x 3 ribbing – knit 2 pass the first knit stitch over the second.

*Knit 1, pass the previous stitch over this new knit stitch.
Purl 1, pass the previous knit stitch over this purl stitch.
Purl 1, pass the previous purl stitch over this purl stitch.
Purl 1 pass the previous purl stitch over this purl stitch.
Knit 1, pass the previous purl stitch over this knit stitch.
Knit 1, pass the previous knit stitch over this knit stitch.
Repeat from * until one stitch remains on the needle.

Cut the yarn and pull through.
Weave in ends.