Tuesday, 13 January 2015

MyBoshi - Two great crochet books, and my attempt at Beanie making.

This month I celebrated my 24th birthday and my uncle was kind enough to buy a set of craft books for me that I'd been spying on in our local HobbyCraft shop. MyBoshi is a set of two books written by two two german guys on crochet, apparently they were inspired whilst on a gap year in Japan and are on a mission to make crochet a little bit more "cool". 

They say that Boshi is Japanese for "Beanie hat", and it goes without saying what the first book in the series (MyBoshi 1.0) teaches you to make! Sadly, it's not available on Amazon in english at the moment, I imagine it's out of print...but check it out here anyway. It is currently available in a set with wool and a crochet hook however! :)

The book itself comes with 3 labels that you can sew on after you're done, and is actually a really great read. They explain about their little trip to japan, and also have some fantastic drawings and instructions for those who have never attempted crochet before. The instructions are simple, clear and there's even a guide on how to read the pattern - it's crochet for idiots essentially! And for someone like me who's never progressed beyond the granny square, it was a great starting point. 

The authors teamed up with DMC (one of my favourite thread and wool makers) to do their own range of wool. The colours are fantastic and it's of a really high quality, although it is a little pricey! £3.50 is the average price for a 50g ball, but it is machine washable and the colour palette is wonderful. The wool itself is really chunky (You would use a size 6 crochet hook) and soft.  

Hobbycraft are stocking the whole palette (as well as the books and the other accessories in the series) but you can also find it all on amazon and eBay too. :) 
There's also a great online community that they've started where you can share your work and find out a bit more about the patterns, the authors and where to buy the wool/books/hooks etc here.

The second book; MyBoshi 2.0 is probably my favourite. It's branching into accessories like scarves, gloves and bags that go with the hats. Again it comes with labels for you to attach to them once you've finished. Also, there are some great patterns for kids in this book too, so you can make mini boshis! :)

Fortunately this book IS available on amazon here. Anyway, enough rambling on about the books themselves, time to show you my spoils! 

I decided on a pattern in the first book called Beppu. It's super cute! 

I actually really love the colours of this hat, but decided to do something a little more everyday colour wise. 

Here's me in my little Boshi!

I really like everything about these books, even the way they are printed! The editorial photos are so lovely, and the illustrations make the whole transition from novice messes to wearable items a lot simpler. The wool is fab, comfortable and washable! The hat I made only took my just over an hour to make, and even someone with no previous knowledge of crochet would do it in two. 

I also attempted a grey and orange hat for work, where I changed colour every round for a striped effect. :)

Finally, there are books with patterns in for things people actually want to wear! Apologies in advance to all my friends/family/colleagues, you'll all be getting hats soon as I'm an addict. 

Now, to master the pom-pom for the top of them! 

Monday, 5 January 2015

Work In Progress - Remnants of 2014

So 2014 is finally over, and I say finally because it's been one hell of year!

I've moved house several times, found an amazing job and finally have my feet on the ground; along with 4 wheels! So much has gone on that I don't think it is possible to remember it all and write it down. 

So with this in mind, I would definitely say things have changed for me in terms of how I approach the craft work that I do. My job is pretty intense some days, and I've found now what it's like to be mentally tired - certainly something I never experienced in my education or any of my previous work. 

Here's a gratuitous picture of me; I got to go to Southampton University to tell their graduates about my work and encourage them to consider a similar career.

A promise I made to myself when I decided to take up crafting again a few years ago, was to only tackle one project at a time. I swore that I wouldn't become one of those people with a wealth of uncompleted projects or UFOs (Unfinished Objects). Alas, that wasn't to be and I found this year that certain projects took priority or I just lost steam over certain things. I certainly started a lot of projects this year just for the sheer hell of it - Crafter's prerogative! 

I thought I'd do a round up of all the UFOs I have in my stash right now...but because I don't want to actually consider this projects abandoned, I am going to call them "Works in Progress" instead and set a deadline for each of them. 

First is a project that I've got to finish and frame before June. It's the Canada sampler by Stitchrovia, and it should look a little something like this:

However, I quickly lost steam with this project. The issues being is that the pattern doesn't index its colours, there's no reference on the gridding to differentiate two different reds or blues for example. So here's my progress:

This project is intended for two of my friends who are getting married in June, so really I need to start making headway with this project pretty soon. It's so large, that transporting it once framed is a concern for me. I just hope this doesn't become a real hard slog to get finished. 

Next is a little space scene that I started in October as I'd seen someone I follow on Instagram complete it and frame it - so I decided to copy her because it was just so perfect. To say otherwise would be a crime and I just couldn't think of a way to improve it myself. 

So credit to the lovely Erika Glover for her impeccable taste in framing and great work, here's a little pic of her work that I took a screen shot of: 

The pattern is from a great designer on Etsy - Her shop is called Clouds Factory and you'll find a wealth of wicked little patterns in her shop. I'll be doing a feature on her work soon. 
Anyway, this is what it should look like: 

And this is how far I got:

This project came to a halt as I noticed I'd miscounted somewhere - but haven't been able to find out where! So, out of frustration I put it to one side and have said I'll come back to it. However, after rage quitting this project, I found myself settled back into completing a crocheted blanket I began over the summer. This little project is for my god-son, and I want to get it finished before his 5th birthday in October - but preferably before then! 

Finally, is a tapestry kit I bought myself just before christmas as a gift to myself. It's by a great local company called Pearl and Earl - Another little company I'll be doing a feature on in the near future. The designer herself; Jacqui Pearce did a great book called Supersized Stitched (Check it out on amazon here.)

Anyway, I was fortunate enough to catch this kit in their black friday sale. Tapestry kits are notoriously expensive and I'd been wanting to have a go at it for a while. Here's what it should look like: 

Isn't it fab? Jacqui has done a whole collection of "Tuck Shop" favourites and they're all absolutely wicked! 

This is my current progress on this project:

I don't feel too bad about the lack of progress on this project, as it's only been something I've been stitching on the train or when ever I've had a long wait somewhere or no internet. And it's only been barely a month since I began! I think my two main concerns are how sore stitching with wool makes my hands and also, how on earth I transform it from canvas into a pillow! Eeek!

I fully intend to get these projects completed in 2015, and of course many others! 

What strikes me immediately when reading this post of mine, is how lack-lustre things look right now. I guess you forget how wonderful your work looks finished when you've let projects go untouched and uncompleted for so long. 

What does your WIP pile look like? 

Monday, 27 October 2014

My Etsy Pattern Picks of the Week! A walk along Satsuma Street..

Satsuma Street; the gorgeous shop run by the delightful Jody Rice, is one of the shops that really sparked my return to cross stitching. I think she's been somewhat of a driving force for the revival of cross stitch, she's made it cool, modern and most importantly, relatable.

I've featured her work before when I showcased her Biscornus and the Nelson Mandela quote I did for my best friend's graduation, but this time I really want to share the catalogue of her wonderful work.

Her patterns have always captured my imagination, and her Pretty Little City series has absolutely given me thirst to travel. Whats remarkable about the imagery of her work, is that it's instantly recognisable, you know which town it is from first glance. Through fabric and thread, Jody has captured the iconography of each chosen city...And you know, if ever you visited Tokyo or Barcelona, you'd be sad that it wasn't as colourful as they are in the pictures she's created.

And here they are:

BR: Tokyo BL: Sydney
TR: London TL: Paris

They're all so amazing and priced at £3.82 each, they also all fit into 10 inch hoops. They're usually around 6.5 inches wide by 6 inches tall on 18 count fabric.  I spent sometime over the last two years doing my own Tokyo on a beautiful blue 14 count fabric. I also did San Francisco for a dear friend of mine on 18 count, and the size difference is incredible! 18 count is enough to make you blind! Here's mine:


San Francisco! (This is off to the framers this week!)

As it's October, here's a seasonal halloween piece - The Happy Halloween pattern.

I absolutely love this pattern, and in its finished form it's 11"x6.5" on 14 count aida. I can imagine this as a wicked wall hanging or framed in something really dark, but how can you not love the cushion Jody turned this into? It's priced at a princely £3.82 and is available (like all her patterns) to download instantly in PDF format. 

If you couldn't tell, I'm a huge Satsuma Street fan and if like me you can't decide which pattern to buy first, she does a great offer of 3 city patterns for just under £10 here

Oh and did any one notice that christmas is coming? 

This gorgeous Joy pattern is so beautifully retro and would be gorgeous as a wall hanging! On 14 count aida, this is a large project at 18 inches tall by 8 inches wide. Beware the metallic thread though, it's worth the extra effort! You'll find the Joy pattern here, again for £3.82! 

Christmas ornaments were also on the list this year for Satsuma street! :) 

6 of them in varying sizes between 3 and 6 inches, available here for £3.82 (or $5 in green money). 

The thing I love about the Satsuma Street patterns is how consistent they are, in style, in quality and in price. Her work is so easily accessible, and simple to follow. The patterns are laid out in a clear and concise way and if you've never stitched before - they're somewhere good to start! 

If you've got instagram too, check her out @Craftnik - There's always a cheeky photo of her two cats Stoli and Mal, and she's terrible for sneak peaks of her up and coming work! 

Happy Stitching everyone! ^_^

Friday, 22 August 2014

My Etsy Pattern Picks of the Week! Wedding and Birth Record Samplers Galore!

Finding a wedding sampler or a birth record sampler, has been something of an eternal search for me. Finding one that is indicative of the couple you're stitching it for, or in keeping with the decoration of their home seems impossible. But, I solider on and in the past have done a few successful stitches which have been received with the love and joy I'd hoped. 

I came across one of my favourite stores for wedding and baby samplers last year on Etsy; Happy Cupcake Creations.

I bought her Princess Peach pattern for the birth of a friend's baby:

Isn't it to die for? I'll do a post on this project itself later on once I've framed it. This is also available with Mario instead of Peach for those little princes out there. You can purchase this pattern here for a total of £3.07 and this little Mario one here for the same price. It is also available in a kit too. The finished piece is 12x16 inches once complete and has a palette of 22 colours. Here's a little sneak peak of the Princess herself!

She also has other Mario themed birth record samplers, as well as ones from Zelda and Dr Who. Here's another of my favourites:

This lovely Dr Who themed sampler is available here for £3.07 and is a total of 13.75x10.75 inches once complete with a colour palette of 7 colours.

Her wedding samplers are so cute too and full of geekery. There are Dr who, Mario and Zelda ones too, my favourite being this one:

This wedding or anniversary sampler is available from her shop here, again for £3.07. This is quite a small piece however and measures 8x6 inches when finished with a 22 colour palette. It's perfect for a standard 10x8 frame, which means you can avoid that ever so costly trip to the framers! 

All of the patterns from Happy Cupcake Creations are available as instant PDF downloads and they're clear and concisely laid out. My only trouble when stitching was that the pattern was in black and white, and whilst many don't find this a problem - I've always struggled with it.

My next pick is from the lovely Emma Congdon of Stitchrovia. She's my favourite designer at the moment and I adore her work, especially her contributions to CrossStitcher magazine. She designed the wedding sampler I did for my friend Emily and Chris in June (here). The pattern I've chosen from her collection is this one:

It's a great pattern that you can change the colours of to suit any d├ęcor. You can purchase this pattern for a princely £7.95 through her Etsy store here. It's a completely customisable pattern and again is available in an instant PDF download. The pattern itself is available in full colour and with instructions on how to change the numbers and letters in the banner. The completed design is 9x9cm so is quite small and easily frame-able.

Lastly I've chosen something simple from a store called Not So Modern Millie. Her store is largely full of beautifully simple patterns and quotes.  I chose her simple bunting wedding sampler, which she has entitled "Life's a Happy Song". This is a perfect pattern for a beginner and is very simply modified to include the initials and date of the happy couple.

The finished size of this project is 8.5x7 inches, so it's again easily framed or like in the photo, kept in the embroidery frame. It's an instant PDF download and you can purchase the pattern for £3.69 here

Don't forget to have a nosey around the stores of these lovely designers, there is plenty to be found amongst the rest of their patterns! Finding modern and easily customisable patterns for these sorts of occasion is particularly difficult and the pickings are often small, but luckily there are a few great designers out there who provide some choice.

Happy Stitching people! ^_^

Friday, 15 August 2014

Floss and Mischief's Stag Beetle - Review and Progress Photos.

In 2012, the lovely Genevieve of Floss & Mischief published a beautiful pattern for CrossStitcher magazine, in issue 256 and as soon as I saw it I knew one of my best friends would absolutely die for it. She's crazy into bugs and anything creepy crawly! 

So, I convinced her to have a go at stitching with a starter kit and she did great:

 Isn't it cute? Spurred on, she bought all the fabric and thread:

Aaaaand it all sat in a drawer for over a year...and when it came time for me to move house to change jobs, I had to spend some time at home beforehand and to dampen my boredom; I finally stitched this up for her. 

The Completed Article:

I really enjoyed doing this pattern and the symmetry of it it was perfect. Crossstitcher standardise all of the patterns they publish into a specific simplified format for their readers so it was well displayed, easily counted and the colour palete was great too. 
I know that Floss and Mischief have done quite a few large patterns for CrossStitcher Magazine and they've all be really earthy nature orientated designs. She followed this Stag beetle pattern on with a series of bug, butterfly and moth patterns in her Etsy shop. Here's a few of my favourites! She sells them as both kits (£14.99) and patterns on their own (£4.99).

Purple Beetle Pattern

Yellow Moth Pattern

Wine Bug Trio

Her patterns are fab and the yellow moth pattern is certainly on my to-do list! What do you think of all these creepy crawly cross stitches? Don't forget to check out her Etsy shop here.

Meanwhile, the lovely friend who I stitched this for turned 30 at the beginning of August and to celebrate we took a trip to the Ritz for high tea. I planned it to be a surprise and invited her mum to come along too in secret. It was a glorious day and the food was to die for! 

Gratuitious photos of the day:

Happy Birthday Mell! I love you! <3

Happy Stitching everyone. ^_^

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Satsuma Street's "Impossible" Nelson Mandela Pattern - Review and Progression Pics.

I'm super proud to say that one of my best friends graduated from university this month, and I wanted to mark the occasion with a gift as not only for congratulatory reasons, but a house warming; to hang in his new home which has been a long awaited and hard worked for goal.

I decided upon one of my favourite patterns from Jody Rice's Etsy store Satsuma Street.
It's a wonderful quote from the late Nelson Mandela:

It retails for £3.61 and the finished piece is 8.5 inches tall by 9 inches wide. Jody stitched it on to a beautiful piece of rustic style linen and displayed it in a 10 inch hoop. It's to die for isn't it?
I decided to go for a different style with it though, and wants to emphasise the colours in the pattern. 

So I chose a 14 count piece of Aida in a very pale grey, almost baby blue colour. I also changed the white detailing around "Impossible" for navy blue to make it stand out a bit more on my fabric. That being said though, the true colour of the fabric was almost impossible to photograph - much like the glitter fabric I used for the wedding sampler I did. 

Anywho, here are my progress photos:

Almost there...


This project over all I would say took me about 30 hours, and the blackwork I really enjoyed doing. I didn't do the shading on the back of the word "Impossible", I felt if I used the navy thread for the banner to do that, it would be a little overbearing and would darken it too much. The pattern was so simple to read, and Jody has such a great way of displaying the pattern. It's so convenient as a PDF that I can just read from my iPad. The key is clear and consistent and you can download it straight away from her Etsy store.

Next, came the task of framing! I've never framed anything before, and Doncaster is definitely lacking a good framer. I was really unhappy with the work that was done with my wedding sampler from the local one that is here.

So I decided to do it myself this time, I ordered a custom mount from a shop online (which was surprisingly easy to do) and I was totally petrified the colour of it would be wrong or I'd measured wrong. My uncle peter always tells me "Measure twice - Cut once" - I measured repeatedly and I was lucky! It turned up and although the card stock was a lot darker than it showed online, it was still a great contrast to the work. 

It was billed as Sky Blue, but the place where I ordered it from gave me Sil Blue instead. What a lucky mistake! If you're interested in custom cut mounts though, definitely check these guys out at Merlin Mounts - this mount was 12" by 12" on the outside, and the hole was 10" around. It cost me a princely £2.40! So, I was hugely happy with that and it came by normal post. Massive thank you to the lovely people at Merlin Mounts. 

Next I had to actually stretch my work. This was probably the most daunting task of all of it, as there are so many different techniques! I decided to use a 5mm thick foam board and I bought some flat headed pins and masking tape. The idea being that you cut the foam board to size and then pin the work to one side (pushing the pins into the foam down into the board, so only the heads show along the top - See photo below), and then pull the opposite side tight and pin that and vice versa for the other two sides. Once it's all pinned in, you can adjust it in places to get rid of any rogue wrinkles and then you cut the fabric down with an inch worth of excess, fold the excess down (taking extra care to get the corners neat), and then masking tape the edges down to seal it.

Once I had this all done, I ordered my frame. I ordered from a seller on eBay who made frames to a custom size. I wanted to buy something bright and cheerful and a lot of framers don't carry quirky coloured stuff as it tends to not sell too well. I ordered a sunshine yellow frame (12"x12") and because it came by post, instead of glass it came with acrylic. I almost lost a finger peeling the protective acetate off of it though, it's deadly sharp! Luckily, I'd measured correctly again and here's the finished product!

 Ready for it's new home with my friend Dan. 

It was such a wonderful day, and it meant a lot to me to be able to give him something like this. Marking a day so special was incredibly important. So much work has been done over the last few years, and I know that it'll hang somewhere for years to come and that it'll be there to remind him (and me) of this time in our lives. Congratulations Dan!

Gratuitious graduation photographs! 

 Happy crafting everyone!! 

Friday, 18 July 2014

My Etsy Pattern Picks of the Week - Week 2, Biscornu Bounty

Following on from my last few blog posts about Biscornu, it stands to reason that I should share with you all my absolute favourite patterns from Etsy. 

Making a biscornu can be a little bit of a daunting task for those who've never done it before, but hopefully my blog post from last week has made it seem less so. (here)

I begin with a pattern from a lady who's work I have followed continuously for some time, it's designed by a lovely lady named Jody for her Etsy shop Satsuma Street. I've done about 3-4 of her patterns now and this will be the next one I do. 

How lovely and fruity! I love the geometric style of this and all the colours...

Jody has done this pattern on a beautiful light linen, and I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to fabric - I'm so comfortable on aida. It's safe and when you're daft like I am, counting that can be a enough of a struggle! Perhaps when I'm brave enough, I'll give it a go on linen. This pattern was going to be featured in Crafty magazine before it folded earlier this year, but luckily enough she was able to then sell the design on herself. You can buy it for £3.01 in here Etsy store here. 

She also did the cutest Elephant Biscornu as well:

 Honestly, If I made all of her patterns...I'd have nowhere to put anything! But this one has the loveliest elephants on one side and an american-indian esque pattern on the reverse. Having worked with her patterns many times before, I can definitely say that it'll be easy to read and follow and I know she attaches a guide on how to put them all together. You can buy this cutie here. Definitely have a scout around the #SatsumaStreet hashtag on Instagram, you'll see all sorts of variations on her patterns and may be lucky enough to come across my work.

The next biscornu pattern I found was this super cute retro cassette tape design from Tiny Modernist. Her Etsy store is full of loads of goodies from geekery, to retro and classic patterns with a twist. I simply love this! You can buy this pattern here.

The lovely lady at Tiny Modernist has done some fantastic work, and there's a great range of patterns in her shop. Also, her facebook page is a wonderful place for free patterns! Here's another my biscornu favourites from Tiny Modernist; the Western Cactus biscornu.

How sweet is this? It makes me want to eat nachos and fajitas just looking at it! You can buy this one here. Both patterns retail for £3.61 :) The Cassette tape one is smaller at 58x58 stitches, whilst the cactus one is nearly 50% larger at 75x75 stitches.

If only I had a reason to make all of these...I would!