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.


Poop Dude

Introducing Poop Dude!

I wanted to make a Christmas present for an 8 year old boy who wasn’t into little kids things anymore. I knew he had seen the Emoji movie so I wanted to make something with an emoji theme. On Ravelry I found the pattern Emoji Dudes by Adonia Neona Emerson which was perfect. It is a crochet pattern written in US terms. I used Stylecraft Special DK yarn which I had in my stash.

This toy was fairly quick to make. At first I started using a crochet hook with a metal grip but found my hand was really aching. With amigurmui toys you pulls the stitches tight so not to leave gaps between the stitches and I was really gripping the hook and putting strain through my hand. After I finished the head I had to order a 3.75mm clover amour hook before I could finish the rest of the body and the limbs. Once I started with the new hook it was a breeze to finish as the hook was so comfortable.

For me amigurmui toys are not something I can do in front of the tv, they involve so much counting that I need to concentrate on that only. Poop Dude was fun to make. Did I ever think I would crochet sh#%^ no but now I have 🙂 This is a great little pattern for your stash, it has 3 toys in the set which are all easy to make up.


Pollux Virus Shawl Finished

It seems like ages ago I finished my shawl but I only started wearing it to work last week. In total this was on my hook for about 2 weeks. I didn’t do any other projects during that time so I think this is how I finished it so quickly.

I blocked it using the wet blocking method. I’m not sure how long you are meant to let things dry but I left it for a week. It took up my entire craft table plus had the center piece half hanging over the edge. I actually had the mats slightly off the edge so that the center section could balance more on the table. I will have to check if a week is too long or ok for sock yarn to dry.

I used metal T pins specially designed for blocking. They are very long and very sharp. I couldn’t find a suggested way to block it so I just placed pins at regular intervals along the straight edge and then evenly along the curves. I may of accidently pinned some of my curves wrong so they were a bit angular but in the final product you can’t really notice.

Although I am really happy with this I couldn’t use it as a shawl to cover my back. I’m a little bit on the wider side and although I have length on my back I don’t have the width. To wear it on my back I would need to need to increase the size so that my lower back had more coverage. This is just personal preference as I like my lower back covered.

The way I have been wearing it is wrapped around my neck. It is nice and comfortable. I was a little worried that it would look like a bib particularly as I have large surface area in front but it sits really nicely.  Most days I was wearing another coat over the top of this but I could have the zipper open as my front was kept warm under the shawl.

To recap the pattern is the Virus Shawl. Bella Coco has a great tutorial on how to make it. I watched the tutorial twice. The first time without anything in my hands, the second time with yarn and hook doing each step along the tutorial. She also has a great additional clip which is very useful. From what I have read online this is a pattern you either love or hate just by the design, some people struggle to follow the pattern. You are only doing UK trebles and chains but you do have to do a little counting. You can also get print out charts of this pattern. After a few rounds I memorised the pattern and it was easy for me to build and grown my shawl. I hate keeping count but this wasn’t hard. I even worked on this over lunch in a crowded food court whilst chatting with friends. I only had to frog it back once for about a row and a half earlier on but after that I never had a problem. The yarn I used is Wren & Ollie sock yarn from Skein Sisters. This was the first time ever of buying fancy yarn and actually using it. Years ago I brought some alpaca yarn and ended up giving it to a friend as I knew I would never make anything with it but this yarn was special. It I am being brutally honest if I was to do this pattern again I wouldn’t use this colour yarn. It is maybe a little bit busy in the darker colours to see the pattern. Virus shawls in lighter colours show the pattern more.  I love this shawl. I mastered a pattern that is difficult to some, I worked with sock yarn for the first time, I made something that was blue, I worked with a smaller crochet hook than I normally do. All these things make this shawl really special. It is my shawl.



Clover Amour Crochet Hooks

At the Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair I spoilt myself and invested in a set of Clover Amour Crochet Hooks.

The clover hooks have a rubber grip and have are a slightly different shape handle to a regular hook. They are designed to be easier on the hand. I purchased one hook a few months ago to try and it was brilliant so I invested in the set. I purchased mine from a shop at the show (sorry I can’t remember which one) Whilst I was looking at them someone told me you can get them cheaper online which may be true but by the time you factor in postage online shopping is not always the cheapest. Also by purchasing them in shop you have them in your possession right then you don’t have to wait for them to arrive in the mail.

I used the 3mm to make my Virus shawl and it was heaven. I spent nearly 2 weeks crocheting every chance I could yet my hands and fingers never got sore like they would using regular hooks. I have never used such a small hook either but I have no trouble. I did have a minor panic one day when I was travelling on a ferry that I would drop it on the ground and it roll over the side through a gap into the harbour!

I will be honest and say yes the clover hooks cost a little more than regular hooks but if you are doing a lot of crochet they are worth investing in. You can buy them individually or in sets. Mine are a set of 9 (one was missed from the photo) The biggest size is a 6mm so at some point I will look at getting the larger sizes. Most likely I will keep onto my set of metal hooks that are in a carry case for easy light projects like dishcloths on the go but I will give away all the other random hooks I have.


Pollux Virus Shawl Part 1

I think it was last year the virus shawl craze started, well it may have started before that but it is when I first saw the pattern anyhow I put it on my to crochet list and finally I have started it.

The virus shawl pattern looks a little complicated but once you get your head around it the pattern is very repetitive and easy to follow. The day I started this I was reading comments in a Facebook crochet group how so many people just couldn’t get this pattern to work for them and I thought oh no what I am I about to start, I am not a complex crocheter I will struggle. The night before I watched this very extensive video by Bella Coco which gave me the urge to make one. When I did actually start my shawl I sat down with the video again and went through it step by step, pausing when she said to and began my shawl that way. I also printed off a chart as well which helped me both during the video and afterwards. Once the pattern became ingrained into my brain I stopped looking at the chart but it is still there just in case I have a brain snap and can’t think.

The yarn I’m using is Pollux by Wren and Ollie which I purchased from Skein Sisters at Knitting Camp. It is a 4ply sock yarn. I love the name of this yarn, yes I know Pollux was a Greek god (thanks Google) but pollux just sounds like it would be the name of a virus “oh dear the doctor says I have Pollux”

So far I have used one skein and I will continue to crochet until I use up the second skein. After one skein it was measuring approximately 41.5″ wide and 17.5″ long. I think with the second skein it will be a nice size to wrap around my shoulders, it is light enough to wrap around your neck too.  This shawl is really addictive and I haven’t stopped working on it. I did have one major rip back towards the beginning where I added an extra 4 chain space in that I didn’t need, I had to frog it back about 1 row. I now double check all my chain spaces and count the trebles in my shells every time. This is a really easy project to work on whilst travelling on public transport too as you can put it down without loosing track of where you are up to. During a recent weekend away it kept me entertained on a train, the light rail, a ferry, in the hotel.

The virus is growing!