Magazine Challenge

Years ago I subscribed to or regularly purchased a lot of craft magazines. Last year I stopped buying and subscribing to them. Prior to moving I got rid of most of them as I just wasn’t using them or even at times reading them. I did keep two lots, an American sewing magazine which is no longer in publication and Better Homes And Gardens annual Knitting and Crochet magazines. It is my tradition every year to buy this mag, sit down read it and relax. To be honest I think I have only ever made one pattern (Custard Beanie) from them. I knitted my sister a scarf once and I really thought the pattern came from these magazines but I have gone through them so many times and I can’t find it. I had put the project down for some time and lost the pattern that I had photocopied from the magazine and I had trouble finishing the scarf.

Upon purchasing this years edition of the magazine and sorting out my craft magazines and books I decided if I’m going to keep these knitting and crochet magazines then I need to start using them otherwise what is the point of keeping them? I have 7 magazines and an additional mini mag which was a supplement with one of their monthly magazines. I have set myself the personal challenge of knitting at least one item out of every magazine. This is a fresh challenge so if by chance I have made something from them that doesn’t count. There is no time limit to this challenge. I’m not limiting myself to just working from these magazines so if I fall in love with a pattern from Ravelry I can make that before completing this challenge. I just want to be more aware of the patterns I already have and use them. I might make items for me, charity, friends, gifts. I have plenty of yarn so that shouldn’t be an issue however I still may pick up some yarn for particular projects if I have none suitable in my stash.

I am currently knitting a large gift at the moment so that is taking all my yarn attention but this challenge is certainly milling in my head. I have flicked through the magazines a couple of times and there a few patterns I have yarn ideas for.


Waste Not And Waste Not Everyday

Some things jump my blogging queue as I can’t wait to talk about them and these 2 books fall into that category.

Waste Not and Waste Not Everyday are by Erin Rhoads aka The Rogue Ginger. Full honesty I had never actually heard of Erin until I saw these books advertised in an email from a book shop last month. I’m so glad I decided to read that email and purchase these books. Both books I couldn’t put down once I started reading them. As the names suggest the books are about reducing your waste both at home, work and when you are out.

Waste Not was the first book Erin wrote. Sometimes you read a book or see a program on to tv about the impact your waste is having on the environment and the way the story teller gets their message across to you is by making you feel guilty about what you are currently doing. This book is the opposite. Erin makes it clear don’t ever feel guilty about things you have done in the past, if you can’t do everything the books says or if you do make changes that from time to time you can’t follow those practices for whatever reason. Her big message is just try to do what you can when you can.

The book explains why it is important for people to reduce their waste. Some reasons you might already know, others you may not have thought of before. The book then goes through small changes you can make such as swapping out different plastic items for more sustainable options. A lot of what is in the book and Erin mentions its herself is going back to living more like the way our grandparents lived. Shifting our mindset away from using disposable items all the time and using more reusable and recyclable items. Trying to fix items before throwing them out, thinking before purchasing. It is very much the simple living, frugal living even minimalism concept. The book is full of information on where to find sustainable items and recipes on how to make things at home such as cleaning and beauty products. Although I have been lapsed with my simple living lifestyle in recent years I thought I knew a lot but this book has opened my eyes up even more to ideas to try including wanting to make my own deodorant which isn’t hard.

Waste Not Everyday is like a mini version of its older sibling. It has 365 ideas to try to reduce your waste. Most of it is covered in the main book but this is like bite size grabs. It isn’t a waste to read and I am glad I got it. There are some recipes that weren’t in the main book. Erin emphasises that you can show others by your actions ways to reduce your waste but you shouldn’t force it upon them. It is like anything someone won’t change their ways unless they want to. This book could be a nice little gift you could give someone to hopefully spark their interest in reducing their waste. Both books are really easy to read but this one you could easily just read a couple of ideas at a time. Digest what it says, think about ways you could incorporate things into your life and go back to read more when you are ready.

We are living in unprecedented times at the moment. Some suggestions in the books you can’t do at the moment due to Covid. Coffee vendors won’t accept reusable coffee cups at the moment for example. It is one of those times Erin mentions don’t feel bad if you can’t do it right now. I think now is the perfect time to read these books. Maybe you can try some of the recipes in the books to make products at home to save going to the shops. Look at what you are putting in your rubbish bin, it is extra stuff due to Covid such as coffee cups or plastic straws or are these things you normally throw away that you could make changes to move away from. We will get back to normal life after all this, what would you like to include in your new normal?

I’m putting my hand up and saying I’m embarrassed at how much I have thrown out around our move and I still have stuff to go. In previous posts I have mentioned how much I have sold or given away but sadly there has been a lot gone to landfill. I am also struggling with wanting to move away from some disposable plastics but having OCD issues. I haven’t figured out how I am going to stop taking my sandwich to work in a zip lock bag but eat it without physically touching the bread as I don’t touch my food directly if I’m not at home. Unfortunately I can’t stop eating sandwiches so that isn’t an option. There are a few other OCD issues I’m trying to find a work around for. Both books have been thought provoking. I have ideas ticking away in my head now. Reading the books I’d put them down to google an idea I just read. I discovered a bulk goods store which is accessible by public transport from near my house which I didn’t even know existed. Post Covid I would like to go visit it. This morning on Ravelry I found a pattern for a dusting brush head after last Sunday buying Mr StitchNSew a dusting wand similar to what he saw on tv but this one only had disposable heads. Some changes are easy to make whilst other changes are harder but I’m going to try because that is all I can do.


Sewing Basics For Everybody

Wendy Ward has a new book out which I couldn’t wait to get my hands on. Last week I finally got my copy. This is Wendy’s fourth book and I have them all in my stash now.

In her last 2 books Wendy focused on a particular fabric or style of clothing (knits and skirts) In this book she has 5 basic patterns which are not gender exclusive. They are functional every day pieces that anyone can use in their wardrobe. Like in her other books she offers a basic version of each pattern then gives variations on how it can be made differently for individual tastes or skill level. If you are a beginner you could make just the basic version or if you are adventurous or wishing to expand your skills you could try one of the more complicated versions.

Like her other books you receive all the patterns for the different pieces. There are 3 sheets printed double sided. The book has listed which pattern pieces are on which sheet. To be honest I do find her pattern sheets a little cluttered. Before you start tracing out your pieces you need to just take a minute to see fully where you are going to be tracing and make a note if you have to flip the sheet over and continue tracing from another part. Once you get your head around the pattern sheets they are ok but they can be a bit daunting at first.

Ok so lets talk about the actual patterns in the book. The 5 basic patterns are

  • Felix Sweatshirt
  • Harper Pants
  • Rowan Shirt
  • Kim Jumpsuit
  • Dylan Coat

5 wardrobe pieces which are a bit on trend that you have the ability to make 20 variations of. I like 4 out of the 5 patterns. I am not a jumpsuit person, sorry but I use the bathroom too much to be fussing with a jumpsuit all day (too much information) The jumpsuits in the book look nice but not for me.

So what would I make from the book? I like the sweatshirt but it is raglan sleeve which I don’t like. The diagonal seam annoys me for some reason. I can wear it if it is in a jacket so there is a jacket version which I’m considering making. I like the pants and might try those as I have never made anything with a fly. I’m undecided about the coat and shirt. I have never made a coat but there is a basic unlined version which I could try but to be honest I don’t know if I would wear it. I’m not a shirt person so again I doubt I would wear it.

Although I’m not rushing to make every item in it I still think the book is good to have in my stash. Reading about different techniques or picking up the little hints that are in the book will help me with my sewing skills. I’m at a point now where I making clothing on a needs basis and not as a challenge or on trend basis (not that I have ever followed sewing trends) After giving so much me made clothing away I have come to know what I like and will actually wear and what I won’t wear.


Magazine – Beginner’s Guide To Dressmaking

I’m trying to be really good at the moment and cut down non essential spending but yesterday I came across a magazine at my local newsagent and I’m glad I picked it up.

Now I know I am not a beginner in terms of dressmaking. I’ve made a lot of clothing in particularly last year but lets be honest they have been really basic in terms of sewing techniques. My clothing sewing has developed through attending workshops, reading books and watching YouTube. When I came across this magazine I first thought ok I’m not going to get anything from it. Flicking through the pages I saw a couple of items I wanted to make from it and thought ok I’m going to splurge out on it. If you have been sewing clothing for a while you might think you know all this but do you remember the basics and fundamentals? I don’t know the fundamentals, I don’t know which interfacings and stablisers are best for each fabric, I didn’t know which marking tools are used for what, I’d forgotten the importance of keeping your sewing machine covered whilst not in use (mine has been sitting uncovered for weeks) The magazines is also full of handy hints and tips, things to keep in the memory bank for if you ever need them.

There are also lots of patterns in this magazine. You also get a free download of the Adele dress which is on the front cover, I think I had this pattern at one stage but gave away. A lot of the other patterns shown are self drafted from your own measurements. I see other people who have self drafted skirts and it something I have been wanting to try. There is also a cute poncho which I’m thinking about trying but I’m not sure how it will go walking with my crutch but maybe I will make it first out of trace and toile and try it. Some of the patterns in the book upcycle shirts and other garments to make into new clothing. There is one skirt pattern which upcycles old t-shirts but I’m thinking it could be done with jersey scraps I have in my stash.

My sewjo has up and left me but reading this magazine I think it is making a come back.


Big Book Of Softies

I have made many softies (soft toys) over the years and have countless books with different patterns but my go to book is The Big Book of Softies published by Penguin books.

The most pattern I have made from the book is Polly. She is a really basic doll and she is my go to dolly for little girls but I make her without the ears. She makes a great 1st birthday present as she is cloth doll without any buttons or things that could be choking hazards. This pattern is great for using up scraps because you can make each section out of different fabrics. For the body it is basically a square rectangle with a little curve over the head area. I have added hair before using yarn but I have also made it without hair. I am actually planning to make another Polly in the coming months for a gift.

Looking back I have made the Gnome. I thought I had a photo of it as I made it purple but I can’t seem to have. Sometimes I make things and forget to blog about them.

The Lizard was another pattern that I made from this book. Not everyone has a pink lizard but at the time my niece was liking the colour pink and like reptiles so this was a good combination. That is the best thing about toys that you make you can make them in the combination that you need for that child.

Another pattern I have made is Maisie. Again this is a great scrap busting project because you can make the different sections in different fabrics. This pattern is for more your older child if you add the buttons on the ears, you could make it for a young child without the buttons.

My most favourite toy I have made from the book is the Car and Caravan. As soon as I saw this pattern in the book when I purchased it I thought of my childhood neighbours and the caravan they had. I made this for their great grandson. This is a very sentimental toy.

The instructions in this book are very easy to follow. The pattern pieces list what size to photocopy them to but you can easily make the toys larger or smaller by photocopying them at a different amount eg 120% not 100%. This book doesn’t just have toys to sew but also some to knit and crochet. It is a really comprehensive book to have in your stash if you are thinking of making softies.


A Stash Of One’s Own

A Stash of One’s Own by Clara Parkes is a book that I will admit from the start if it wasn’t for seeing a few people on Instagram reading this book I would never have found it let alone been drawn to pick up and read. I was totally a book lemming on this one and in this instance I am glad that I was.

When I first saw this book in people’s photos I thought it is just another yarn fictional romance novel. I have read a few like that but I lose interest quick in them as I can’t really read fictional stories (except Harry Potter) Don’t judge this book by the illustration on the front, read the words in the title, do a google search, go hold a copy in local store and you will see it is a book of short non fictional stories or essays from various people sharing their account of what their “stash” is and what it means to them. On the back it lists the 22 people who have contributed stories to the book. I don’t know many “famous” knitting names so there was only 2 that I recognised from the list but you don’t need to know who these people are to read their stories. It is the stories and not the persons themselves that makes this book wonderful.

Each story is about 6-10 pages long (some shorter, some longer) It is fascinating reading everyone’s stories. Not everyone thinks of their stash in the same way. Some people are really emotional about their stash, some aren’t. Some people have really organised stashes, some have yarn stashed in the bathroom. Before I had even finished reading the Foreward I was already drawn into this book knowing once I had finished it there was no way I would be passing it on, this book is staying in my book stash. I am glad I didn’t actually borrow this book from a friend like I was considering when I was trying to decide if I needed to buy it or not. I haven’t even finished this book yet but I can already relate to little bits here and there from different stories after just reading a few. It is really comforting to read things and think you are not alone with the way you are dealing with things whether it be emotions or storage. The stories are the perfect length to read the book in small bites. If you wanted to you could sit down and read this in a day, I would say it would be a very emotional day so maybe have the tissues handy particularly if you find yourself relating to a lot of the more in depth parts of the human psyche. Unfortunately I don’t have any dedicated reading time at the moment so I have been reading 2-3 stories a day than putting the book down for a day or so and going back to it for another short read when I can. For me this works perfect as in this short periods I am reading I can really take the words in and reflect on aspects of my own life that relate. Don’t just think it is all depressing stories you will laugh so much as well. My favourite sentence so far “If Barbie and My Little Pony dropped acid” I would never have imagined I would ever read those words!

Even though this book is centered around yarn stashes anyone who has any form of craft or hobby stash can relate to this book. Each time the term yarn is used insert your preferred craft term and it is just as relatable. When you get home, close the door and look around at your stuff and how you deal with it you discover from this book you are not alone. In this book real people with real stories share their experiences with their stash. I have always enjoyed reading autobiographies and have always believed that everyone has a story to tell they just need the opportunity to tell it.




A Beginner’s Guide To Sewing With Knitted Fabrics

When Wendy Ward started showing previews of her latest book late last year I jumped online and pre-ordered a copy through an online bookstore in Australia. A Beginner’s Guide To Sewing With Knitted Fabrics is Wendy’s 3rd book. My book was delivered the same time that the book was released in the UK (ok maybe even a couple of days earlier than the official release date in the UK) It was one of those from the minute you flick through it you want to make things from it books. I love sewing with knits so this book was perfect.

The book has 6 projects in it

  • Peak t-shirt
  • Derwent wide leg pants
  • Winnats tank
  • Monsal lounge pants
  • Kinder cardigan
  • Longshaw skirt

So as the names of the projects suggests you get patterns to make a t-shirt, wide leg pants, tank top, cardigan, skirt and lounge pants which I would say are more like what we call trackie pants in Australia but stylish ones. What I love about this book and all of Wendy’s books really is that she gives you a basic pattern for the garment for example the t-shirt so that if you are a beginner you start with that or even if you are not a beginner anymore it is a wardrobe staple pattern, we all need a good crew neck t-shirt. She then gives detailed step by step instructions on how to alter the base pattern to change the style like turn the t-shirt into a dress. She lists what fabric requirements are needed for each style in every size and the pattern cutting layout on the fabric. These little checklists and visual pictures are a sewing confidence booster so if you are not a seamstress wizard who can visualize things in your head and miraculously than have them turn out the way you want in the end piece you can still give the project ago and it will work.

You could do an entire wardrobe for both summer and winter from this book. Some of the projects you can combine to make dresses which can be tank style or long sleeve. You could make both pant styles either as shorts or long pants, you could use lighter weight knits for summer or thicker knits for winter. The cardigan could be short sleeve or long sleeve. This book is very versatile and not just for beginners, experienced knit fabric people will also enjoy it. A note to point out is that I found the pattern sheets in this book a little easier to follow than I did Wendy’s skirt book, there isn’t as many pieces to the patterns in this book I don’t think so visually the pattern sheets looked less cluttered. I have been meaning to blog about this book for some time because I have actually made 2 Kinder cardigans already. I’ll post about them in the coming weeks but I will say they were simple to do and are very comfortable.

From the previews of the book I thought I would make one or two patterns from it but once I got the book and saw all the patterns and the variations of them I’m now thinking I am going to sew my way through the book like I am the skirt book.



A Beginner’s Guide To Making Skirts

Have you ever liked a designers patterns a few times and before you knew it you had become a fan of theirs without realising it? To be honest I can’t remember where I first started seeing Wendy Ward’s designs but now I own 2 of her books and have just seen she has another one recently out.

A Beginner’s Guide To Making Skirts is the second book I purchased but the first book that I have made something from as it may have become apparent from my posts I am a bit of a skirt addict so no wonder I have been attracted to this book. The book contains 8 skirt patterns that can be modified to make 24 different skirts. The instructions go through how to make each basic pattern and then the ways you can modify it. There are a range of fabrics used in the various skirts including denim, jersey, cottons, rayons. The instructions are written with accompanying line drawings pointing out key areas to watch and helpful hints. For each of the skirts there are line drawings of the cutting layout on the fabric. There are also lots of beautiful photos of the finished items.


The only slightly confusing part in the book is the printed patterns. Each skirt comes in 10 different sizes and the books comes with pattern pieces for 7 of the skirts (no pattern for the circle skirt as you draft your own) So in theory that is like 70 different skirt pattern pieces all printed on a series 6 pages of paper pullouts. Each skirt is colour coded and all sizes are marked out the same for each pattern so you need to just keep an eye out that you are following the correct colour and size code for the skirt you wish to make. I trace out my patterns on to trace and toile which is fairly transparent but I would not try tracing this out under the normal overhead lighting I have above my craft table as it is a yellowish light instead I would wait until I had enough natural day light that surrounds my craft table so that I could see the pattern markings easier.

I have made one skirt from this book thus far with plans to make more. It is a great little book to have in your collection demonstrating how you can tweak a basic pattern multiple ways to create different looking items.


The Dressmaker

Over this past week I read The Dressmaker by Roaslie Ham so I can tick one thing off my To Craft list this month.

I started reading it when I first got the book a few years ago but from where my bookmark was placed it looks like I only read the first few chapters. I started reading it from the beginning again. I think the reason I put it down and never got back to it is that is slow to get in to. There are a lot of different characters and at times I did get a bit confused of who was who. Once the story line got going I found it to be ok, I read some each afternoon but could easily stop and do something and come back to it without needing to rush back to it. Some books I can’t put down or I have to read to the end of the chapter and struggle to put it down for the day, sadly not in this book. Some days I would read to the end of the chapters other days just to the end of the page. There was some moments in the book that I wasn’t expecting so it does have twists in the plot. I liked reading about the characters wearing all their different fabrics and I did try to imagine them in my head and I think that maybe what kept me interested in the book. The ending for me was a little bit unfinished, I could reason with most of the ending but one part made me think why?

My overall thoughts are it is an easy read. I think it would be a great book for a holiday where you can pick the book up at your leisure and read some casually. You have to get past the first few chapters which are a little slow but then it gets better and your mind gets lost in a world of fabric and fashion. It is worth the read if you haven’t seen the movie which is my next step. I thought I had brought the dvd but it turns out I hadn’t so I will be getting it this weekend to watch over Easter. From everyone’s thoughts on Instagram the movie is better than the book. Normally I always think that books are better than movies but I think this may be the exception to the rule as I think the clothing and fabrics need to come alive visually and you need the real life expressions in the characters to really understand them.



The Better Bag Maker

The Better Bag Maker by Nicole Mallalieu has been on my wish list since almost its release in 2014. As I’m trying to reduce the excessive amount of craft books from my stash recently I borrowed a copy of the book from my local library, within 5 minutes of reading I knew I needed my own copy.


I’m not a complete novice bag maker I have made 2 messenger bag and numerous tote bags, zipper pouches but within in the first 8 pages alone of this book I had learnt so much. As the front cover suggests this book is full of useful techniques, tips and tricks. There are some great bag makers out there who have wonderful patterns and fantastic instructions / tutorials that go along with their patterns but sometimes they tell you to do a step but don’t tell you useful gadgets that will help you do the step. If your familiar with bag making sometimes you told to trim back the interfacing / stabilizer from the seam to reduce bulk  but how do you do that if it has been fused to the fabric? This book explains how and shows you a tool to use. There was another little cutting tool that was mentioned in this book to cut inner points in corners, I wish I had known about this tool when cutting out the box corners on the make-up pouches it would’ve been handy.

There are 10 bags in this book that you can make. They start at a beginner level and increase in difficulty with each bag adding another layer of skills but all techniques used are covered in the book.  To be honest I’m not sure how many of the bags I will make but I will use all the skills from them on other bag projects I’m doing but also sewing projects. The skills you pick up in this book can be used in any sewing project. Whether you’re a novice bag maker or advanced you will get something out of this book. I’m glad I now have it in my stash.