Wednesday, 27 November 2013

My Adorable New Granddaughter

Penelope Constance 27.10.13
At the time of my last post Paul and I had just become proud grandparents for a third time. This little bundle of joy was my son and daughter in law's first child and they named her Penelope Constance but to be known as Penny.
My creative time has now to be shared a little more thinly so before her arrival they asked me to help with the preperation of her nursery by stitching some curtains. My son is a keen birdy person so it seemed totally appropriate that they should choose this lovely Cath Kidson print for there.

As they had decided not to find out if they were having a girl or a boy it was a little more tricky to start making clothes but my daughter in law (also called Lynsey)  had spent some time in France, as part of her language studies, and said she really liked the way the french dressed their babies.This signalled the time to start looking through old copies of Phildar and Pinguin knitting patterns that I'd kept from when my own daughter was a baby. She selected a gorgeous pattern for some pantaloons, which at first seemed quite boyish but when knit up in a neutral colour and teamed up with a matching jacket we decided they were definately uni-sex, and when Penny arrived it was time to go in search of a girly viyella top to complete the ensemble.

The Panteloons

Completely Reversible Hooded Jacket
Wonderfully Soft Yarn

Smocked dress from Mamas and Papas

Just before Penny arrived Lynsey, Lynsey's mum, my Lynsey and I went to Yarndale, a truely amazing wool feast at Skipton, and I fell in love with a gorgeous kimono pattern from a small company called OneHandKnits. This pattern was definately girly but didn't go up to a big enough size for my granddaughter Martha who is three. Undeterred I bought the pattern described as challenging and thought I could always enlarge it. It IS challenging but I didn't have to modify it (although, due to its' popularity, sounds like I might have to) and this is my progress so far.

"Secret Garden" pattern from OneHandKnits

Basic stitch

Front band detail

Looking good so far!
Martha has not been neglected as I have reknit one of her favourite jackets in this season's colour for her.

I modified jacket pattern due to shortage of yarn

Martha modelling the finished item

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Autumn Knits

Martha on her 3rd birthday
Although I spent a lot of my creative time during the lovely summer months we had in England this year sewing gorgeous summer frocks for my granddaughter Martha I did look ahead to the cooler autumn days and knitted some cute jackets and cardigans to have ready for this three year old fashionista.

1. Sailor Jacket

Sailor Jacket

From all angles
When we were on a family holiday in France earlier this year my daughter Lynsey and I took every opportunity to vist some amazing wool and haberdashery shops and while browsing we spotted this sparkly yarn in the end of line basket. Unsure what it would eventually turn into we purchased it and, using an old pattern from 30 years ago, I managed to just complete this sailor jacket with only a couple of metres of yarn left! The good news is she rather likes it.

2.Gilet in Random Yarn

My lovely and very generous sister paid a visit to a wool shop in Richmond, North Yorkshire earlier this summer and, although she no longer knits herself, decided to treat me to this pattern for a hooded gilet and the wool to knit it. I then had a terrible dilema as she had forgotten that I don't do RANDOM! My brain can't handle the lack of control over where the colour changes are going to appear. Now I know this tells you a lot about my hangups but I spent a whole evening attempting to "de-randomize" it.

 I unwound all 4 balls until I could see a colour repeat emerging. I then started each ball at the same point in the sequence and started knitting the back from 2 balls, alternating every second row as this piece had twice as many stitches as the front sections. It worked really well until I got to the arm shaping on the second front when things started to return to random as that 4th ball had a slighyly different sequence to the others. Not to be defeated I decided to replicate the other 3 by selecting short lengths of the correct colours! This just goes to show the trouble I'll go to to avoid random. (I will spare you the details of how I solved the hood dilemas!)
Checking for colour repeat matching

Yeah! It worked and both fronts are the same.

...and the back

Martha modelling the finished

....and she loved it.

3. Gilet Two in Flecky Yarn

This next gilet was multi-coloured, but flecky not random, and so much easier for me to get my head round. However I was a bit reckless in that I embarked on a pattern for totally different yarn and it soon became obvious that I wasn't going to have sufficient to complete it. After trying to treck some with the same dye lot down all over the North East of England the manufactures came up trumps and sent me two balls free of charge.

Perfect with jeans and Kickers

Close up of cable stitch and button detail
I haven't learned from the experience and am curently knitting a short sleeved cardigan knowing I probably can't get more yarn if I do run short. I'll tell you in a later post how I get on.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

A Passion for Fabric

Lush fabrics from Grace & Favour
Anyone who has been following my blog over the last couple of years will realise that I have a passion for textiles in all its form. Well it appears that this is genetic and my daughter Lynsey has aquired the gene. In one of her searches for beautiful fabrics she discovered an amazing company called Grace and Favour ( and embarked on her first dressmaking adventure. Although she needed a little help I am proud to say that the outcome was amazingly successful for a first attempt as this cute cotton top she made for Martha shows.

Just chilling
Flushed with success she went on to use the same pattern again but this time for a full length dress.

Gorgeous pocket details
Of course she finished off both outfits with matching hair clips and hairbands but she does run a bespoke service for this called Handmade by Martha so why not take a look? (

The scraps of fabric and spare trim were too good too waste so I managed to make four pretty lavender bags for Lucas' (Martha's big brother) nursery teachers for their end of year presents.

All four slightly different and personal

Having fallen in love with Lynsey's choice of fabrics I was ready to embark on another project myself - this time a top to put away for her birthday party in September. Sewing machine at the ready I set off.

Lots of gathers

Close up of some of the trims
The four different fabics, combined with the ric-rac braids and lace trim, resulted in a gorgeous little top that she has tried on to check it fit but is hanging in her wardrobe for her special party (after all she hardly needs yet another outfit!)

Complete with matching corsage
Martha trying on her new top

Ready and Waiting

Summer Sewing Projects

Since I last posted on my blog way back in May I have had a wonderful family holiday in France and on returning home I felt full of enthusiasm to take on the challenge of making some more outfits to add to my granddaughter Martha's summer wardrobe. I saw this cute pattern in a local haberdashery and immediately purchased some fabric to get started so that it was ready for the warm weather I hoped we would be blessed with here in the North East of England.
I chose the bottom colourway as they also had  really good plain turquoise and burgundy fabrics to use as a coordinates.

I got straight down to work, modifying the pattern as usual, and it went together like a dream.

The next step was to add some finishing touches like coordinating buttons and embroidery and it was ready to wear.

Luckily we had lots of warm days for Martha to wear her suntop and shorts.

For slightly cooler days I found a couple of balls of burgundy cotton yarn in my daughters crochet bag and so I've knit her a matching cardigan.


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Flushed with Success

In my last post I shared my excitment in making a cute, hand embroidered dress for my lovely granddaughter Martha. After working on interior projects it was great to work on the much smaller scale required for a two year old. Flushed with success I dashed out to purchase a metre of this striking Babushka fabric that I had spotted in our local branch of Hobbycraft.
I loved the fabulous jewel colours that I knew my favourite little model would really suit. So once again, armed with a really old pattern I borrowed from my niece and a bit of design input from me, I set about producing my next designer dress.

So, after making decisions about colour and hem trim, I managed to come up with the complete garment.

Both my daughter Lynsey and Martha were delighted with it and Handmade by Martha rustled up a coordinating pair of slides to add the finishing touch.
"Thank you Grandma"
When, on one of my regular visits to my local branch of Boyes to gather haberdashery supplies, I spotted a range of black and cream coordinating fabrics that made we want to make yet another outfit.

I know that I should have made my selection there and then but instead I went home to look at patterns and consider my choice. Sadly, when I returned ready to make my purchase I had much less choice and my favourite one (at the bottom of the pile) had sold out.

My Selection

I was rather disappointed that there were none with dark backgrounds but settled on the three above. I wanted yet another change of style so decided to use this 80s pattern in the hope that the finished dress would look more current than the one on the front.

I cut out the pieces but wasn't happy as I really wanted more of a contrast for the collar, but that was as far as I got that session.On a Wednesday I turn into "a lady that lunches" and while in Yarm I popped into another branch of Boyes and to my delight I found the exact opposite to the Billingham branch - they had all dark backgrounds and no light ones! For the sake of 30cm of fabric I got the combination I wanted and set off to start production.
Let Production Begin

To complete the outfit I went on to make a little heart-shaped matching purse.

"It fits Grandma"

"Give us a twirl Martha"