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.





World Wide Knit In Public Day 18

On June 9 was the annual event of World Wide Knit In Public Day. Now I can’t tell you the origins of how it started, who even thought of the idea or how long it has been going on for but for the last few years I have celebrated it in one form or another. This year I took part in an event with my NSW Knitters Guild Group held at Blacktown library.

We had a lovely turn out of people. Between our group and some other people who regularly knit at the library we had about 30 people in total who were knitting and crocheting and one guy even making metal jewelry. For about 3 hours we all chatted, ate food (you can eat in a library!) drank coffee and got a little bit of work done on our projects. Some people were making gifts, some making charity items, I was working on shawl/poncho that I haven’t blogged about yet. I ran into an old acquaintance and for the first time ever sat and knitted with her. It was really fun day. Even if you didn’t know all the people there you could easily walk up and chat to anyone as we are yarn people you have that bond in common.

Over the last few months many of us contributed to a display of flags that was hung around a pole just beside where we were sitting. Even my dodgy little Welsh flag was up there proudly. The display looked great, everyone did such an amazing job. To be honest I am not a fan of yarn bombing but this looked really good.

Now if you are like me public knitting is not just something that happens one day a year. If I know I have to wait anywhere I will always take some sort of yarn project with me, even if I go to the pub for a few hours for lunch I take my knitting. Confession in the past I have organised my knitting project before calling an ambulance for Mr StitchNSew (it wasn’t a life threatening emergency) If I know I have to sit I want to keep myself occupied. Recently whilst we were away we went to go and take photos of the sunrise so I took my knitting as I knew I had about 30 minutes to kill. I sat by the Opera House knitting and watching the sunrise. It was a beautiful way to spend the morning.

When I see people knitting and crocheting in public I have to resist the urge to run up to them and ask them what they are making. I have to control my craft craziness as that might just be a bit too weird for them. I personally don’t have a problem when people come up and approach me to talk yarn, I will happily chat to anyone who is interested.


Purple Paws

Do you ever see a design or pattern and instantly know who it is perfect for? Last year I came across the Meandering Paws patterns by Amy B Stitched. They are a series of crochet patterns with the key design of a set of paw prints. There are a number of patterns in the series now including scarves, beanie and mug cozy.

To learn the initial design I made a dishcloth which was one block repeat of the scarf pattern. These are always easy to practice on and an item that I can never have too many of. It was like doing a tension square when you are knitting. The pattern is easy to follow written in US terms with the only unusual element of the cross stitch in the centre of the paw, once you get the hang of it you will find it simple to do.

Thinking of my friends lifestyle I decide the blanket would be the best pattern to make her. The original blanket pattern is done in multicoloured stripes but the benefit of making gifts yourself is that you get to select which colours you want to make it in so I chose 2 shades of Stylecraft Special DK in purple tones Violet and Wisteria. I wanted a low fuss blanket that could easily be thrown into the wash without thinking so that is why I used this yarn, it is really soft too.

I crocheted mine a little different to the pattern. I chained 180 stitches (plus 2 extra) and used a 4mm hook. The original pattern has 3 paws to be a repeat of the pattern like I did in the dishcloth. The way I wanted to do even colour blocks this would have looked messy. By doing a repeat of the first 8 rows of the pattern I could line 2 paws up per colour block. I like the look of it, it doesn’t look cluttered if that makes sense. There is a bit of counting in this but really only in your set up row for each paw. Once you get that initial row in which has the gap in the base of the paw you then really don’t have to count because as you do the pattern you learn where you are meant to be in each section so for example if you are not one stitch off from where you need to do a chain 1 skip then you have made mistake somewhere. I did have to frog it back a few times the biggest was about half a colour block. Doing the 8 row repeat meant you learnt the pattern quickly.

For the border or edge I opted for something simple. I did one row of trebles half the blanket is light purple the other half in dark. It was a short edge and a long edge in one colour so at 2 opposite corners you can see the 2 shades. As I started my colour blocks in a light colour I ended in it a dark colour. On the border I did the opposite so the border frames it. I started this August 2017 and finished March 2018. A lot of tv crochet. It was very relaxing to do and once I finished it I missed it. I wasn’t sure how much yarn I needed so I purchased 6 in each colour. I used a 5 and a bit of each colour. The finished blanket measures 48″ x 72″ so it is a nice lounge blanket.

It is fitting that I write about this blanket today as it is the recipient’s birthday and she has received her gift.


TMNT Eye Masks

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Heroes in a half shell
Turtle Power!

Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo to some these might be famous artists but if you were a child of the 80’s these will always be the Ninja Turtles in your heart.  Can you believe that the original movie came out 28 years ago this week back in 1990.

I wanted to make a gift for Mr 4. I picked up some fabric in a swap day that was printed with Ninja Turtles thinking this is great boy fabric I can make a bag or something with it but I want something to go inside it. I remembered seeing on Ravelry a pattern for crocheted eye masks so I decided to give it ago.

This pattern is very easy to make. It is written in US terms and only consists of 4 rows. It does require a bit of counting particularly in the eye section but I’m not a big fan of counting and had no trouble with it. You could easily whip up a set of these in a day if you wanted a last minute gift.

One thing about this pattern is that you need to use 100% acrylic yarn. I used carnival acrylic 8ply, they have perfect Ninja Turtle colours! The reason it needs to be acrylic is because after you crochet these you need to “kill” your yarn. Moogly has a good tutorial on how to do this. Basically you melt the fibres together to make your stitches lie flat and it stiffens the piece. You do it between wet towels so not to ruin your iron. Don’t be scared to do this as it really does make a difference to the end result.

You can make these for kids or adults. Don’t just think Ninja Turtles change the colours around and you could have Zoro or any other super hero (sorry I have limited super hero knowledge) I am thinking of making these in pink for my nieces for Christmas just because well why not.


Frocktails Bag

I thought my outfit was complete after I had made my top, skirt and cape but something was niggling at me. I had the leftover portion of the fabric left that had the paint markings on it, the fabric looked really useful and I didn’t want to throw it out as it seemed such a waste. My brain got ticking and I got experimenting.

I decided I needed a bag. The fabric was very drapey and lightweight which was great for the skirt and top but not so great for a bag. If I did a traditional bag where I cut pieces from the fabric I was going to have to stabilise it all and line it. In my mind I wasn’t happy with the type of bag I would get from it, plus I couldn’t cut around the paint markings so you would see them. After much pondering I decided to cut up the fabric into strips, sew them together and make my own fabric yarn. I attempted fabric yarn once before and it was a disaster so I was hoping it would work this time.

I cut strips of the yarn around ½ wide using my quilting ruler and rotary cutter. All up it was about 50cm of fabric that I cut. It was interesting to see where the paint markings were on the strips.

To join the strips I used a zig zag stitch on my sewing machine. I sit it to a width of 5.0m and length of 1.0. This width and length gave it a nice secure join.

My machine can sometimes eat narrow bits of fabric so I cut a length of tear away stabiliser and placed that on my sewing bed. I took each strip and overlapped the ends on the stabilizer and stitched across to join them. I chain pieced them just like you do when machine stitching multiple pieces at once when making quilt blocks. this way was really easy to do and sped up the process of joining them all. I joined the strips in a random order so some had paint markings on them some didn’t.

In the end I had a large length of cut strips which in a way reminded me of paper dolls. I trimmed each piece apart from the chain and removed the stabiliser. This was a little fiddly but a pair of tweezers and a thread catcher container beside me kept the mess under control. Once it was all trimmed up I rolled it into a ball.

To make it up I chained 37 and did double crochet stitches back and forth to form a rectangle piece. I first started with a 6mm hook but I wasn’t happy with it so I switched to a 6.5mm. I just keep going until the piece looked large enough to fold in half. To create the bag shape I folded it in half and did a single crochet stitches up the 2 sides so it formed a pouch. I then hand stitched a zipper in to close the top. My sewing machine would have had a heart attack if I tried doing this on it, it took no it took no time at all to stitch the zip by hand plus less stress. For the strap from scraps leftover when I cutout my clothing pattern pieces I cut strips and joined them in the same way as I did the bag. This time I divided the strips into 3 lengths so I could plait them. Using upholstery thread as it was thicker I hand stitched the strap to the bag. I left a length of fabric at each end for a tassel. The cut strips did shed a bit so I did place this in the dryer after I finished to take off any excess loose fabric.

This bag was complete experiment that worked. I’m really happy that it did. It combined my love of crochet and sewing so it is a very unique piece. I love that I have been able to turn fabric that would have else just been wasted into something that is usable. The paint flecks and the strip joins add interest throughout the bag.



Water Balloons

Last year a very clever person came up with the idea of making a crocheted water balloon and as soon as I saw the idea I thought these are brilliant one day I will make them for sure. Well I have decided this year I am going to make them as my Christmas gift to the majority of the kids that I make for.

Now I know you are thinking a crocheted water balloon what the heck??? How does that work? So with a traditional water balloon you fill it up with water, tie it up and then toss it at someone. With a crocheted water balloon or water bomb you don’t fill it up instead you soak it in water for a few minutes to plump up then you can toss it at someone, you can keep doing this until all the water is out then place it in some water to plump back up. They are made from a really thick yarn that will absorb all the water, similar concept to how a microfibre cloth absorbs water. The pattern calls for Bernat Baby Blanket. The ball is a big 300g ball which is like the size of a football. It is thick and squishy.

The pattern says to use a 9mm hook. I have made them using a mixture of both 9mm and 8mm and to be honest there isn’t much difference in the size once you are finished. I can’t tell the difference between the ones I have made with the different hooks. I’m using Clover Amour hooks. They are comfortable on my hands, I invested in all the larger size hooks just after Christmas once I decided I was making these.

I know at the start I was putting an extra row in them by accident so I do have a few taller ones but the majority of the ones I am now making are about 6″ tall. To be honest it doesn’t matter what size they turn out they are still going to be played with. The reality is you can make these any size you like.

In Australia it isn’t the easiest to get the particular yarn the pattern is calling for. During the post Christmas sales I noticed Spotlight sold it so I stocked up on the yarn to make these but I could only get 2 plain colours that I thought would look fun. I purchased online 4 balls of each colour and they arrived in a big box that luckily Mr StitchNSew was able to bring home from the post office for me as there was no way I could carry it. I underestimated how many I would get from each ball, I basically calculated 1 ball per child thinking I would get about 5 balloons each. It turns out I am getting between 13-14 out of each ball. I’m happy with that it just means that each child will get more making it a nice Christmas gift.

There are many great things I love about these water balloons

  • Environmentally friendly – No rubber balloons you need collect all the tiny pieces and toss in the bin.
  • Reusable – Toss them in the washing machine to wash again for next time again better for the environment
  • Great for any age – Under supervision of course a child of any age can fill these up and toss them about (even adults)
  • Can be used in the pool – Who doesn’t like a water fight in the pool
  • Super quick to make – These don’t involve a lot of counting so super easy to make
  • Perfect to make in bulk

To give myself a break I decided I would start making these in January and work on them slowly. For 2 maybe 3 families of kids I make for these are the only toy they will get this year for Christmas. It is a pretty fun gift and I know they will enjoy them. These are really simple to hook up. I can sit in front of the tv and whip up 2 -3 in no time. I’m just doing a ball of yarn at a time placing the finished ones in a box. By starting to make them so early I’m taking the pressure off myself to finish them by a set deadline. I don’t want my gift making to stress me out this year. This is the perfect Christmas gift project.


2018 Temperature Blanket

A temperature blanket has been on my mental to make list for some time. If you have never heard of the concept a temperature blanket is a blanket where each row represents the weather temperature for whatever time period you are making it for. You have a choice of the colour range you will use but the rest of the design of the blanket is out of your control. If you didn’t want to make a blanket you could also do this with a scarf. Full confession not a great deal of planning went into this blanket. I only decided I would start one for 2018 as I was going to bed at 9:30 NYE (yes as you can see I am a big party person) Wine was not involved in making this decision 🙂 Mr StitchNSew has taken an interest in recent times in recording the daily temperatures for his own enjoyment so I thought why not finally give a temperature blanket a try and make him a blanket at the same time.

The amount of colours you use in your blanket is completely up to you. You allocate a temperature range to each colour so for example you might say each colour represents a 5 degree range in temperature so you look at what your minimum and maximum temperatures will likely be and decide how many colours you want to use from that. Most people go for a rainbow choice of colours. The concept is lighter colours for cooler weather and darker colours for the hotter weather. In my cupboard I had a stash of unopened balls of Stylecraft Special DK yarn which I had purchased for other blankets and never made. As I had chosen the colours they were mostly blues and greens. I put them all on my craft table and told Mr StitchNSew to pick his colours and choose his temperature ranges. He has decided on the following:

  • 12-15 – Spring Green
  • 16-18 – Sherbet
  • 19-21 – Cloud Blue
  • 22-24 – Aspen
  • 25-27 – Turquoise
  • 28-30 – Storm Blue
  • 31-33 – Sage
  • 34-36 – Aster
  • 37-39 – Kelly Green
  • 40-42 – Green
  • 43-45 – Bottle

I really like the colours that he has chosen there is a good mix of light and dark even though they are all blues and greens.

To record the temperatures I have created some charts in Microsoft Excel for him to fill out each day. I printed these on recycled paper. I try to print a lot of my craft patterns and charts on recycled paper (pages that have only had stuff printed on them on one side) if I can. Some patterns aren’t suitable for scrap paper if you need to trace over them as the print from the other side of the page shows through. Back to these charts. Each month is on one page. I have made the squares big enough for the numbers to be written in and I can tick them off as I complete the row so I know where I am up to. The good thing about doing these in excel you can create one and copy it for each month just adjusting the month at the top and how many days in it.

I’m doing this blanket in crochet. The pattern I am using is called Linen stitch or commonly known as Moss stitch (yes if you know me in real life I have done this on purpose) I didn’t want an overly wide blanket just something you can put across yourself on the lounge. Also I am being realistic if this blanket was the width of a bed I wouldn’t get it done this year as there are 365 rows going into this blanket and I want to stay on track with it. To start it I chained 180 stitches. After the first 6 rows I am estimating the size will be 40.5″ x 90″ which should be a nice lounge blanket.

This is only the beginning but I am already happy with it. I do have to watch I am doing the stitch correctly as admittedly I have had to fudge one or two stitches already where I forgot to chain between stitches. We are still haven’t decided if we will do a row of say black between each month to separate it all. I am going to have to think about yarn tail management soon. If possible I am not cutting the tails between rows but I know I will have to particularly in Sydney when our temps can jump day by day. There will be a lot of ends to weave in. I’m not sure how much of each ball I will use. Some of the balls I have only one of others I have up to 6 as these were purchased for other blankets. I can always order more as I am not worried about dye lots just colours.