Sunday, 31 January 2016

And Baby Makes Three

I am super excited to say that my first grandchild has arrived!  Oscar David was born last week and I've flown over to meet him. Needless to say I think he's adorable! But then I'm sure every Nana thinks the same when their grandchildren are born.

I've been busy sewing and knitting for him for the last few months, and when I arrived he was dressed entirely in Nana made clothing.

The blanket is organic wool that I bought years ago, and my own design. The hat is organic cotton interlock from The Village Haberdashery. It's one of manyI've made! They are so quick and easy to make.

He also has several pairs of pants from the same fabric. The pattern is from an old Ottobre magazine. I'm so glad I purchased a few of these magazines when I saw them. They are going to be so useful over the next few years.

I knitted him several tops, but omitted to photograph them. Here's one I did take a picture of.

Once again its my own design and is knitted from Debbie Bliss Eco Cotton.

Every baby I knit for always gets a hat knitted from my Logan Pattern, and this one was no exception!

I made all the crib bedding from organic cotton percale sheeting from The Organic Textile Company
and finally I made him a hooded bath towel. 

Towelling is also from The Organic Textile Company

Of course, I have ideas for many more things I want to make him, but right now it's just time for cuddles and to enjoy watching my son and daughter-in-law do a wonderful job of looking after him!

Friday, 15 January 2016

10 Minutes a Day in 2016

Hi! and welcome to my first post of 2016.
This is going to be a busy year!
I have such plans for my pattern designs, both knitted and quilted, I'm going to become a grandparent for the first time and I'm going to do a lot of travelling. It's going to be a lot of fun!

Knowing what was ahead, I started to be careful what I committed to towards the end of last year. 
The usual rounds of quilt alongs and swaps needed be declined. It was hard to say no, but its no good agreeing to do something if I don't have the time to see it through.

My little grandson will be born any day now, and I've been busy making organic baby clothes, blankets, fitted crib sheets, all of which I'll show you in another post. I've been to Toronto to help his Mum and Dad get their house ready for his arrival, and I'll go again as soon as he is born.
I've managed to keep up with some of the groups I'm in, but deadlines are hard, especially when you're not even on the right side of the world.

My sewing has to be done as and when it fits into my schedule this year, but I don't want to give up on the things that are important to me, like making quilts for Siblings Together.
Last year I made several for them, including this one.

and this one.

It was whilst I was rushing around trying to complete everything I'm committed to for this month, that I had an idea. Just because I can't commit to deadlines, doesn't mean I can't still make a Siblings Together quilt or two. I just need to make it slowly, on my own, rather than as part of a group where I might let people down.
I looked at my stash of scraps. Its huge!

I keep even the tiniest pieces. I have this box full of odd size little scraps. They are so little they usually get rejected whenever I'm hunting for pieces for a specific quilt bee block.

I have this box full of squares I cut over a year ago in preparation for a postage stamp quilt. Those little pieces are just 1.5" square! The quilt of course never got started!

I have Jelly Rolls that I've never used and lots of blocks that were either experiments or just didn't make the cut when I was making previous quilts.

So my plan is to try to spend just 10 minutes a day, or an hour a week, sewing up the scrappy pieces into a scrappy quilt for Siblings Together. They will be simple blocks that take no thought or preparation - nine patches and string blocks. Anyone can find 10 minutes a day, surely. I'm not putting any pressure on myself. If it doesn't get done, or I'm away, then no worries. But when I can I shall put that 10 minutes to good use. 
A 10 minute coffee break spent chain piecing. Getting up 10 minutes early and cutting up some scraps. Doing 10 minutes sewing before I go to bed. 10 minutes sewing instead of 10 minutes on social media.

Its surprising just how much you can get done in 10 minutes. 
I chain pieced 40 postage stamp pieces into twos yesterday. 
I made them into 20 four patches today!

To keep myself accountable, to spur myself on, and hopefully to encourage someone else to do the same, I'm documenting my progress on Instagram (I'm mackandmabel). I shall be using the hashtags
#10forsiblingstogether and #10minutesaday

I'll share progress on this blog from time to time when there is more to see.
If you have scraps to spare why not join me!

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Thursday, 31 December 2015

The Best of 2015

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Well here we are at the end of 2015. I think its been a good year!
I've picked my favourite makes for the year, both quilted and knitted.
The Hazel hedgehog quilt (bottom right) was one of my first finishes of the year, and was sent to Siblings Together to be one of many made by volunteers and  handed out to children in foster care at their summer camps.
The puppy dog quilt (middle left) was made for the friends of one of my sons.
Bottom left and middle are still works in progress - My La Passacaglia (bottom left) has stalled for the time being. It is hand pieced and I just can't see well enough in the artificial light of the winter to accurately continue with it.
The Farm Girl Vintage quilt is so near to being finished, but other things have to take priority right now.
I have done a lot of paper piecing this year and the rest of the collage shows my favourites. I love that I can make something very intricate and still have accurate piecing.

These are just a few of my knitted finishes of the year. The stocking was finished an hour before midnight on Christmas eve! That was cutting it fine!!
The bunny (top right) is a free pattern. Click on the Knitting Pattern tab at the top of the page to access it.
I have also made quite a few baby items.... more than are shown!
My eldest son and his wife are expecting their first child in a matter of days. At the time I was knitting though, it seemed like tempting fate to photograph and blog about them, so we will have to wait until I'm sent a photo of him wearing them!

So, what does 2016 hold in store, I wonder?
I probably have more plans in my head than I can possibly make, but then that's a good thing, right?

Wishing everyone a healthy, happy and creative 2016!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Back Home and Some Last Minute Christmas Makes

 I'm back home after almost a month away visiting my eldest son and daughter-in-law in Toronto.
They are expecting their first child at the end of January and have just bought a house in need of a lot of repair and love. So I flew over and spent my time ripping up carpets, scraping off layer after layer of wallpaper, removing mould and skimming crumbling walls. It still needs a lot of work, but at least it is clean, dust free and quite welcoming for the new addition to their family.

Of course I went armed with lots of handmade baby clothes, including these that I made from organic cotton jersey.

I also knitted them some Christmas stockings which gave a homely feel to their lounge even though off camera there are piles of boxes waiting to be unpacked.

We bought their first tree and decorated it with natural items like dried orange slices and made strings of fresh cranberries. I like the idea so much I'm going to do the same for my own tree!

So now I have just 10 days to organise Christmas back home, but that doesn't mean there can't be some hand crafting on the agenda.
The wreath at the top of this post will be unpacked and I shall knit some more of those little stockings for the tree. They are knit flat, just 14cm (5 1/2") tall and so quick to make ! I have a free pattern for them HERE

Sitting quietly make a few of these will be the perfect antidote to my current jet lag and the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparation!

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Saturday, 21 November 2015

Advent Bunting Pockets

Are you beginning to think about your Christmas sewing projects yet?

About this time last year I designed a pattern for some mini Advent bunting for Justine and Lisa's Simply Solids blog and this year Justine asked if I could design a larger version.

Each of the pennants along the bunting is actually a pocket that you can fill with little treats to be opened one day at a time throughout Advent, just like a traditional Advent calendar.
The pockets close with a loop and button, so little hands can't go prying before the day!

Simply Solids have a fat quarter bundle for the Christmas fabrics available here and will be selling kits for the advent bunting at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show next weekend.

To make the bunting you need 6 fat quarters of Christmas print fabric, 6 fat quarters of solid fabric for the lining, 1.5 metres of ribbon for the loops, 24 buttons and 5 meters of tape.
This Christmas Dreams line by Dashwood Studios is the perfect fabric, I think!

Download the Free PDF pattern to get detailed instructions with photos and full size templates. The pattern is easy to sew and suitable for beginners. 
I used a machine zig zag stitch to sew the numbers on, and a Sewline glue pen to hold them in place whilst I sewed, but you could just as easily use a regular straight stitch or sew them on by hand.

If you are short of time, you could use adhesive felt numbers instead.

You can choose to place all the pennants in one long line or make 2 separate pieces.
I made 2 separate ones with numbers 1-12 in the first section and 13-24 in the second, but then ended up placing both together to get this shot!

They will make a lovely bright start to the Christmas festivities, so download your pattern and start our festive sewing today!

As always, if you're on Instagram, show me what you've made with the pattern using the hashtag #mackandmabelpattern I'd love to see your version!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Buddy the Bunny - a free knitting pattern

A few months ago I was asked by Craftsy if I would design a pattern using a new yarn which they were to launch in mid November. I agreed. I know a lot of designers were not happy that it wasn't a paid commission, and everyone is entitled to their own view. Personally I see it as a chance for people to try one of my patterns, and then hopefully, once they see that they are clearly written, with progress photos  included where they are helpful, they will then want to purchase some more of my patterns.

The yarn is called Cloudborn Fibers, and comes in a variety of weights. It is ethically sourced in Peru. (I'm sorry, I haven't any more details than that. Hopefully they will elaborate on this point once the yarn is launched).
The one I was given is a worsted weight, that's the equivalent of aran in the UK.
It is called Superwash Merino Wool Worsted, and I can honestly say that this yarn was a delight to work with. I haven't tried washing it yet, but it is beautifully soft to handle,  evenly spun and had no infuriating knots to deal with.

I chose to design a simple bunny. The type of bunny that even a relatively new knitter can make.
Buddy is simply constructed and softly stuffed so that he is a delight to cuddle.

He will sit and is poseable.

He has a little tail, too.

He is knit flat on straight 4mm (US size 6) needles and is 38cm (15") tall, excluding his ears.

The pattern has row numbers throughout so you can mark them off as you knit, and plenty of helpful photos, like this one showing you how to attach the arms.

You can  download the pattern here
I have also added it to the Knitting Patterns section in the blog header.
I do hope you enjoy knitting him!

Oh, and did I mention he likes carrots!

He stole this one from my veggie garden!!

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Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Dog Gone Cute Quilt

Today is my day on the wonderful Dog Gone Cute Blog Hop hosted by Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts
Originally I was going to make an overnight bag for this little guy that I dog sit quite often.

  His name is Bruce and he is very at home at my house. His Mum & Dad are always forgetting his bowl or some other item when they return home from a visit though, so I thought it would be a good idea to make a bag to keep all his possessions in. 
However, my middle son recently visited friends who have a new beagle puppy and returned saying that they really did need a quilt or blanket for him. We knew the Dog Gone Cute blocks would be just perfect, so poor old Bruce is going to have to wait for his tote!

The pattern gives instructions for 2 sizes of block, with many, many variations of dog faces. I chose to make 4 of the larger blocks. I made two of Dog 1, one Dog 5 and  one Dog 7.
I added a 3 1/2" background strip to the top and bottom of each to make them square.


  I then added 2" finished grey sashing to the blocks and I found the most perfect backing fabric.


It's called Patch Bones as is by Makower UK.
I quilted wavy lines horizontally across the quilt using Aurifil 50/2 in shade 2600, and bound it with the same blue solid as I used for background of the top left hand block.
The pattern was a dream to follow. Lorna lays everything out in a clear and concise way. Her designs are all so adorable!

I think this little guy (his name is Bobby) is going to be very happy with his new quilt!

And here is Bruce proudly posing next to the quilt. He's going to be quite disappointed when he realises it's not for him!

Be sure to visit some of the other participants in the Blog Hop. The schedule is here:

Thursday, October 15
Anita of Daydreams of Quilts
Gina of Quilts and Cakes
Beth of Words & Stitches
Rachel of Quiltineering
Julie of Mack and Mable

Tuesday, October 20
Cathy of A Quilting Chick
Selina of Selina Quilts
Shauna of Shauna’s World
Gayle of Pedal Sew Lightly
Kathy of Kayak Quilting

Thursday, October 22
Sandy of Upstairs Hobby Room
Heide of Heide’s Quilty Hugs
Britt-Inger of Hill Valley Quilter
Judy of How ART You?
Louisa of Sewmotion


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