Happy New Year: 2013 Craftolutions

Happy New Year! Wishing you all much fun and joy this new year.

I saw this on Apples and Cheese and thought it would be fantastic to come up with some of my own Craftolutions for 2013.

So here goes:

1. Keep a vanilla sock on the go at all times.
I often have found in the past year that it is hard to find a moment to craft something complicated even if it is just a little lacey so I figure I might knit more if I have a vanilla sock to pick up whenever I can.

2. In a strange contradiction to item 1, I am going to try and finish off some lace that I started a while ago. I had started a Cheshire Cat Stole years ago and I would like to finish it. I did get a little lost in the lace so I really ought to rip it or get it going again properly. I used some beautiful Sundara Lace yarn so it would be a shame not to finish it off.

3. Improve my sewing skills and make a mini-quilt on our sewing machine. It doesn’t have to be a hugely complicated one – maybe just some squares. Jeanne has one with squares on in her guest room which I like 🙂

4. Knit a Betty Mouat Cowl. The pattern is for a lightweight version but I have a lot of DK and worsted single skeins hanging around, I thought it would be a great project for those.

I might sound like I’m aiming low but I think these four goals are plenty enough for the year. Life was a bit too interesting at times in 2012 but I did manage some lovely ones with friends who came to visit and am looking forward to more visits this year to come. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to snatch moments of crafting amongst busy-ness.


Besides, when you have kitties like Tamyra who love to play, you learn to craft when they are asleep!!

Caught in the act


We thought we were safe to put the glass balls on the tree this year. I guess we were wrong.


Sirius was soon in on the act.


Tamyra is trying to look all coy and innocent. Butter wouldn’t melt and all that..

Sewing Solo : Tote Bag

I was in the Sewing Shop admiring the treasures within when I spotted some lovely tote bags hanging up so I bought a bit of fabric to have a go myself as I figured it was all straight lines 🙂 Thanks to Louise’s tuition, I understood the bag construction a lot better so got our sewing machine out for a go.


I ironed both outside and inside pieces as they’d been lurking in a bag for quite a while.


I was a little uncertain about what to do with the interfacing so I put it between both fabrics with a bit of dampness. It seemed to stick!


I took a moment to figure out what I was going to do with the strap. In the shop, the strap was long and on the outside of the bag. I found this tutorial for a placemat tote bag which was like what I wanted to do. I had tried out roughly how long I wanted in a handle at the shop by asking the shop assistant to measure what was on one of the sample bags. I had a long piece of webbing so I carefully cut the piece in half making sure I had to equal length pieces.


A bit of measuring and drawing on the line where I’d cut out the fabric. Not all fat quarters are created equally it would seem 🙂 I saw some measurements of 13.5 x 14 inches for this reversible tote but I thought it seemed a tiny bit small for what I wanted as was planning a 0.5 inch seam allowance.


I ended up with measurements of 15 x 16 inches. Those chalk pencils that Louise recommended came in really handy and I got another set for Christmas. I cut two long pieces of fabric the full length of the bag as I folded the fabric so I only had to cut one side so 15 x 32 inches.


I turned all the fabric inside out and made a sandwich of wrong-side facing fabrics and sewed each end up with a 1/2in seam.


I ended up with a long tube which I turned right way out. I pressed the seamed edge to neaten it up and make it crisp.


As it was putting the handle on the outside of the bag, I had to incorporate the webbing into the seam at the bottom so I had to create a seam. If I had just put a normal handle on, I would have probably have just left the fold at the bottom but I also wanted to make a flat end for the bottom of the bag so it was more tote-like than magazine-bag-like. So I carefully folded the tube in half and cut along the centre to create two pieces.


I pinned on my handles at 3 inches from the edge on both main colour sides. I made sure I was very careful not to twist the handle round or my bag would not have hung very well or looked that good.


I sewed the webbing on very carefully trying to follow a very thin line of the edge of the sewing machine foot.


Yes, the sewing on the back isn’t that straight but you can’t really see it on the webbing on the front. I cut out 2 2×2 inch notches at the edges of the bag at the bottom to create the flat bottom.


I had to call for some technical assistance as I wasn’t too sure about refilling the bobbin and did it by hand. The feed dog (?) wasn’t pulling up the bobbin thread so I had to get pao to take a look. We’ve since decided that the feed dog needed a clean and pao took it apart to give it a good service – he said it was pretty dirty. Don’t do what I do and sew round the notches. I eventually remembered that I was folding the wing bits out and sewing in a diagonal.


Luckily I had a bit of thinking time as my glamorous assistant took at drink out of my glass so I didn’t go mad and cut out a straight seam which I was going to do when I was looking at my strangely notched bag. Luckily, I had only sewed one side up before I ran out of bobbin thread so I had a chance to fiddle about with it and examine the construction before I started sewing again.


pao went to bed not able to get the bobbin to pop the thread through the tiny hole so I tried a different bobbin and it seemed to work ok. The tension was a little off but it did manage to sew ok.


Of course, I had to wake Sirius up to take a look at the bag. He wasn’t all that impressed so I’ll have to try harder next time. It’s not perfect but I figured it was good enough to tote some lunch around and it has been a good experiment to see if I could do something by myself.

Boxing Day Hunt

Every year for the past few years, pao has gone to fetch his grandmother from her house to have lunch at ours on Boxing Day. He has usually been gone quite a lot longer than it would normally take and it was the first year that I got to see the huntsmen in Wingham which he talked about.


I was slightly bemused by this one as those hunters looked like they were waiting for a bus at the bus stop.


Lots of horsemen and women outside the pub where people seemed to be drinking punch.


There was quite a hold up especially involving angry men in Range Rovers. Some people are so impatient and try and force their way through gaps where they are clearly not going to fit.


Not a sight you see every day!

Santa’s Little Helper


Louise will be well-acquainted with our little helper cat, Sirius. On Christmas Day, I thought I’d put together a few bits of greenery from the garden to make a pretty centrepiece for the table. It didn’t take long before Santa’s little helper arrived to ‘help’.


Thankfully, he left it alone after it was made!

2012 Knits

Oh dear, oh dear. Not much knitting occurred in 2012. Just a small few things that can be counted on both hands so here are some photos and reminders of finished objects from this year.

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Black Rose Cardigan

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Snowflake shawl


Matchy match socks


More stripey matchy socks

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Ravellenics Shawl


Dr Who Shawlette


Osk Boot Socks


Toddler booties


Nom the Mouse


Wavy Lacy Socks

Even though I have a new sock project on the go, I doubt it will be finished by the end of the year as I’ve only done a little and I’ve not been doing a lot of knitting at all. So unlike me!

Forgotten Socks


I totally forgot to post about these socks. I started them when Jeanne and Michael were here and finished them when Louise and Bob arrived! They are mainly based on the vanilla knitting pattern with some repeats out of the Charlene Schurch book.

In non-knitting news, I was in awe of this lady who was browsing my craft stall at the last show of the year as she was wearing a had with a fox on it with long, giant paws that hung down the front. As I was admiring her giant paws, I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye and spotted this chap:


This is Porta-poes (pronounced porta-puss) which goes everywhere with her in this specially designed handbag. I’ve seen a lot of dogs in handbags but this is a first!

Happy Holidays from our second home to yours


It is traditional for pao and I to go to Leeds Castle on Christmas Eve to inspect the Christmas decorations. We were amused to find a peacock on duty upon our arrival – no doubt waiting to see Michael again.


We took a quick walk to the castle as we were pretty hungry and the lure of roast turkey was at the forefront of our minds.

Once again, the Christmas trees were impressive. Louise and Bob got to see a sneak preview when they were here 🙂

Wishing a very Merry Christmas to all my lovely friends! Happy Holidays to you all. Have a wonderful time!

Christmas Stan

There is a lovely man who decorates his house and his neighbours with the most amazing display of Christmas lights that it is a wonder to behold. He even does the back garden, plays Christmas music and has a snow machine.

Making Merry


I made this wreath for Sirius’s other human mummy. I hope she likes it.


I had this little photo of young Arthur lurking on my computer. It is from last month but doesn’t he look handsome? I haven’t been past his lair for a while so no new photos of him or his squirrelly friends.