Two new autumn blocks, at last

My autumn quilt mojo is horribly on the wane! I finished the first of these two blocks last October, the second yesterday, and haven’t designed a new one yet. I think I’ve only got 8 more to go so don’t know why enthusiasm is fading, unless it’s the dread prospect of laying them all out to choose the best arrangement and then sewing them all together.

I’ve been doing a lot of knitting, and gardening, and am mostly working from home with the one thing I miss about commuting to my old job being sewing time on the train.

I’m also really struggling with the new (to me) WordPress set-up and can’t find anything. I don’t know if it’s changed or if I accidentally changed settings and now can’t change them back again, but I missed how it used to be, I could just spot what I need and click on it – more or less.

Next with this quilt is to do a count of how many ‘diamond’ and how many ‘star’ blocks I have (i.e. which way the central flying geese are turned), because I need to have an even number of each, and plan my next block accordingly.

In the first block here I was desperate to use a bit more of the hedgehog fabric, even though the background is lighter than I prefer to use now that the project’s more developed, because hedgehogs visit the garden where we live so I want to have a few blocks with them in. In the second block I’ve used a new orangey-brown fabric by Holly Taylor that I think I’ve only used in one other block. The green is one I haven’t used in other blocks though I bought it ages ago. I hadn’t wanted to introduce new fabrics at this stage, but having done the central square and picked the background fabric for the exterior flying geese because it matched so well with the leaves in the bird fabric, somehow that green was the only fabric I had that looked right. The little pinecones went well with the bigger ones in the bird fabric. The whole thing is perhaps a little busy, and the colours maybe a touch Christmassy (though it’s not the only one to slide that way), but I think it’ll be okay.


You wouldn’t think it from the complete absence of blog posts in recent months, but I have been doing quite a lot of crafting! Something about working from home is making me a bit laptop-averse during non-working hours and my blog has suffered as a result. 

Back in April I knitted a cowl for Mum. By the time I finished it the weather was warm, and with the Covid situation I was nervous of going to the Post Office, but also worried that if I just guessed the postage and put it in the village post box it might not get there (they always ask you what’s in a parcel when you go to the actual post office and I had it in my head they might not send it if it only had normal stamps on it), so saved it for her birthday in late summer / early autumn. It was done on circular needles, which I always knew I hated, but this confirmed it! For all I tried reeeeeeeeally hard not to twist it, it got twisted; time and again. I even tried hanging little hair clips from it, but no, it still got twisted, and pulled out and cast on again loads of times. I like the end result, it’s Sirdar colourwheel and though the pattern says to use alternate ends of the ball to get a stripy effect I thought it would like nicer in the larger blocks of colour so just knitted with it normally. It’s an acrylic yarn, which I felt a bit guilty about environment-wise, but it’s nice and light for the neck and not itchy, plus hopefully will last a long time as a garment so long as the yarn and my knitting are good enough quality for it not to get holes in it, so it shouldn’t end up in landfill for quite some time. (This is me wearing it, not Mum, though I felt a bit rude trying on someone else’s gift!).


I also made a hat for my brother, in MillaMia Naturally Soft Aran. The pattern is one of MillaMia’s own and I couldn’t see that they named the designer in the pattern. The yarn has a very nice feel and will certainly keep the head warm! The yarn was for sale on LoveCrafts and when I’ve looked for other colours to make another one I can’t see that anyone else in the UK sells it. (I think it goes without saying that this is also me wearing the finished product!). Oh and yes, that is the bathroom, it was the only place I could find that was light enough and where I could perch the camera (on the bathroom cabinet) to take a photo with the self-timer on the camera! I like the cable in this; it included a twist stitch I hadn’t done before but which worked well.



It took a while, but Paddington has a new jumper. His red felt coat was eaten by moths in our last-flat-but-one, which shows you how long it took for me to make something to replace it with. One of his felt foot pads was eaten too, and I replaced that after a couple of months of it being held together with a safety pin, but the jumper took longer. Of course I couldn’t replace his foot properly, not having been trained in bear surgery, which is why that pad’s smaller than the original on the other foot.

Shame I haven’t the ability to make a small bear sized duffle coat, and oddly enough it’s not something there’s a pattern for, but his long jumper’s not a bad replacement. Even if the sleeves are a bit long, they’ll keep his paws warm! I used a 4-ply wool I happened to have, left over from making little snowman Christmas tree decorations.

I made it up as I went along, and didn’t make notes so am pretty sure the dimensions of front and back aren’t quite the same, nor are the tops of the sleeves, but it fits and it’s got a neck, so on the whole it’s not bad – and at least he looks decent now!

No self-discipline

4C7E7A4D-B71B-43D6-A19E-6C3CCC1C00E9I succumbed to temptation and bought these Lewis and Irene Christmas fabrics when an email advertising them dropped into my inbox. Like I don’t have one machine- and two hand-sewing WIPs (one of which I started c. 5 years ago) plus a large fabric stash and projects that exist in my head. Just look at those robins, though! Particularly in the cream background. That’s my favourite and I really just bought the others to go with it.

I’m thinking a small Christmas ‘shopper’ would be nice, with a stash fabric to line it, though it’s belatedly occurred to me it’ll look grubby pretty quickly with that light colour.


‘Country charm’ cushion

I finished the 22 inch square cushion / pillow made from Moda’s ‘Country Charm’ fabric designed by Holly Taylor. I’m pleased with the overall look but unfortunately the mitred corners don’t come to a point at the corners of the cushion, which is a shame. I made borders with mitred corners to front and back and managed to get them to meet, but when sewing front and back together somehow didn’t have the corners of the cushions precise enough. It’s difficult because they’re back-to-back and of course the front is quilted so you can’t see the front fabric, but to be honest I hadn’t really thought about it until I turned it the right way out and saw the problem. If I’d given it more thought I guess I could have put pins through the points to try and get them to line up, and while it may not have been perfect it would have been better. I’d already reinforced the opening at the back where the pillow or cushion pad goes in with an extra line of stitching and really couldn’t face unpicking it, so it’s staying like that. I’d already trimmed the fabric and wadding at the corners and think unpicking and resewing it would have done more harm than good anyway. Oh well, it’s not like it’s an exhibition piece! I really like the colours of this fabric range. I wouldn’t usually use some of the brighter colours, nor the filler that’s got sort of geometric lines on it, but as they were part of the pack included a few and they do help balance it all out.

Pillow front


Pillow front

Cushion back
Pillow back

I need to get on with the autumn quilt that’s composed of flying geese and squares, and have almost finished a block I started back in December, but with I think 53 blocks finished and about 10 to go I’ve run out of enthusiasm. It’s trying to come up with fabric  combinations that’s getting to me, so much mental energy and time required! I do know that’s pathetic, and the longer I leave it the less keen I am on some of the blocks I’ve already done, so must give myself a prod.

Having said that, today’s warmer so I’m off to the garden to plant some plants – go to take the opportunity to be outside when it presents itself!


Quilted pillowcase front

I finished quilting the front of the big square pillowcase on Sunday (not Saturday as I’d intended!) and am pleased with the result. I’ve wanted to try quilting lines parallel to the seams of the square patches for a while, but the first time I tried it was a disaster, so my skills with the sewing machine must have improved – that, and getting a quilting foot. I can’t do a few backward stitches to anchor it like you’re supposed to because I find it hard to see exactly where the needle is and I don’t want to overshoot the edges, so I sew them all in by hand which is time-consuming.

I was inspired by (i.e. copied) the quilting on a quilt I bought from a catalogue years ago, before I started doing patchwork, but for various reasons only brought out of its packet this year after we moved house. It’s lovely shades of green and yellow with a little bit of white and blue floral mixed in, and has squares in the middle then strips round the outside. That quilting pattern is the squares-within-the-squares thing then parallel lines around the edges where the strips are, so I put two parallel lines round my mitred borders. I decided they’d be too close together if I made them equidistant, but that one line only would look daft, so the space between the squares and the first line is 6/8 inch like the lines within the squares, then the outermost line is 1/2 inch from that.

The second photo is of the back of the quilting because you can see the pattern more clearly. You can also see where I’ve got threads that still need to be sewn in!

Sorry if the blue background looks odd, I took it outside to photograph because the light’s better and needed something to keep the item off the ground, and this is all I had to hand. Taking it outside has actually made it look over-exposed; the colours are darker / brighter in real life, more like in my previous post. But I’m no photographer!


Next step is to finish sewing the ends in then to sew the front to the two back pieces. Before I do that I also need to hem the edges of the back pieces where they overlap for the pillow to be inserted.

Pillow / cushion cover using Holly Taylor’s Country Charm fabric by Moda

I’ve been working on a 22 inch square pillowcase, to replace a shop bought one I got years ago that has fallen apart. I chose this fabric because I wanted the brown leaf fabric for my autumn quilt but it sold out before it hit the shops here so the only way I could get some was in a charm pack, and this is how I chose to use the rest of the charm pack. There are some fabrics in it I wouldn’t have chosen myself, but of course they work as part of the whole – and those I was least keen on are going to be inside the flap on the back! I loved using the pre-cut squares and not having to choose for myself which colours to put together; would have been better if I’d done that with the still unfinished autumn quilt! I have added a mitred border and had to buy fat quarters for that.

Anyway, today is quilting day. I finished the front the week before last, made the two back pieces over the long weekend (except two mitred corners that I did yesterday), and today is for quilting the front. Here goes!6FB1388E-2028-406F-821B-7F02B93C2252

Christmas presents

I stayed with my parents last week, as I can’t stay with them at Christmas this year, and just managed to finish the Christmas presents I was making for Dad and brother before I left. Contrary to my giddy expectations of a previous post, Dad’s cardigan was not ‘the one’ – the first one I’d have completely finished ready to take with me or even, the pinnacle of endeavour, to have posted before I left in order to reduce the amount to carry on the train. It is a very heavy cardigan!


When I got home I’d almost finished sewing it up (partly on the train!) but had still to make the buttonband and collar and of course to sew on the buttons. Due to having other things to do when I was there, a large hitch with the buttonband, and my usual inability to judge how long things will take to do, I ended up having a couple of nights of very little sleep while I worked on it and only finished sewing on the last button 2 hours before I was due to leave. Do I never learn?

I don’t recall ever having done a buttonband with a circular needle before, and found that my usual modus operandi when it comes to picking-up-and-knitting (which I hate) didn’t work here. I usually use a thinner needle to go along in the opposite direction, then knit on the way back, because I find it really hard to pick up the right amount of stitches. But pushing a circular needle all the way round, which was in any case difficult because I used the actual size you’re meant to use rather than a thinner one, and it kept getting stuck, left me with the unforeseen circumstance of then actually not being able to knit. Idiot! Thus we live and learn. I think it took me a whole ‘evening’ (after I’d gone to bed because I didn’t want Dad to see the garment, so for ‘evening’ read 10.30 p.m. – 1 a.m.) to push the needle through and a large chunk of the next ‘evening’ to pull it out again.

I also ran out of yarn for the collar, because I did a yarn substitution due to the yarn for which the pattern was intended not being available, and guessed incorrectly how much yarn would be needed. In the end, though, I think it’s better like this because I don’t know how much he’d love having a big lumpy collar. That did mean I never got to try short row shaping (wrap and turn), which I’ve never done before, but it was leaving it rather late to try a new technique so is no doubt for the best.

The pattern is for Berocco Vintage Chunky and called ‘Fitzgerald’. The actual yarn I used is Paintbox Wool Chunky, sold only online by LoveCrafts in the U.K., so far as I can tell. When I ran out I looked online and they’d sold out of that colour and the product couldn’t be bought anywhere else so may be made exclusively for them. It’s 50% wool, 50% acrylic. I thought I preferred 100% wool but that’s expensive and I actually think this is okay, though not eco-friendly.

It’s a very heavy garment though, especially with the moss (seed) stitch and cabling, so I hope he’ll wear it. It looks as thought it should be an okay fit.


The other present I finished was a pair of pyjama bottoms for my brother, with pockets, made from glow-in-the-dark fabric. Just what every self-respecting 29-year-old wants! Ah, what it is to have an embarrassing older sister. Fortunately, no-one except you need know!

Because I’ve made this pattern before I didn’t struggle with it, praise be, and when I set off to visit my family had only to sew the ends of the waistband elastic together, slip-stitch the casement edges together over hole for the elastic, and put the waist tie through. I’ve long since given up on that difficult bit for finishing seams (can’t remember what it’s called: overstitching?) and just use pinking shears instead. I used to think I was a perfectionist, then I discovered what it really takes to be a seamstress and settled for third-best.


Autumn stripey jumper

I wanted to call this ‘rainbow’ jumper but it isn’t the ROYGBIV colours. It’s knitted in Sirdar Colourwheel, which I wouldn’t normally go for because it’s acrylic, but I’m glad I did, I do love it. It fits nicely, is comfortable, and because it isn’t wool doesn’t make me itch. The pattern’s by an independent designer and I bought it from Ravelry, being the only pattern I could find for the yarn that was for a garment rather than accessory (shawls). I only just managed to make it with the two balls of yarm, as I had to cut pieces out periodically for the sewing. I did faff about unravelling one ball and rerolling it from the other end, so I could have the dusky pink at neck and cuffs rather than the yellow or orange, I just thought it would look better that way. Did have a few problems with the pattern and had to contact the designer, but it turned out my problems were because her team had accidentally posted and sold the interim rather than the finalised version of the pattern! I actually finished the knitting and the neck a few months ago, but didn’t bother finishing the sewing up until the weather got cooler and I wanted to wear it.

In other news, I’ve a new job so we’ll be moving house / flat in January – once we’ve found somewhere to move to. I’ll be really sad to leave our allotment, so am looking to rent somewhere with a small garden, which fingers crossed might be possible where we’re moving to, which is a bit less expensive than where we are now, where renting somewhere with a garden would be far beyond our means. I’m already really busy trying to finish work and continuing professional development projects before I leave this job, but will get even busier soon when it comes to packing the flat (and garage!) up. I’ve got two Christmas present craft projects to finish but am nearly done with one and making good progress with the other. Whether I’ll have it finished in time to take to my parents’ when I go to visit them shortly, as opposed to my usual rush to finish it at nights when I’m staying there, is another matter…

Could this be ‘the one’?

No, not the bestest garment wot I’ve ever knitted. I don’t think I even like it that much, in truth. But it could be the first garment intended for a Christmas present that gets finished without it being a last-minute rush at 1 a.m. Not necessarily on Christmas Eve, this one, like previous ones, is for Dad and I go to stay with my parents in early December, so I want it finished about a month before Christmas. Usually what happens is that I have it almost finished before I go home but then end up staying up til past midnight in my old bedroom, night after night, til it’s done just before I leave! The plan is not this time. This time, I want to have it finished in plenty of time and post it home, because it’s big and heavy and it will be a significant non-addition to my luggage.

It’s okay, but not what I’d choose to make with unlimited funds and time. The yarn’s chunky so it’ll be warm but really heavy, which the recipient might not like (the weight, not the warmth, he’s always cold), but that can’t be helped.

The yarn’s Paintbox Wool Chunky, 50% wool and 50% acrylic. That’s a substitute for Vintage Berroco Chunky, which is 52% Acrylic 40% Wool 8% Nylon and costs twice as much. I used the website to find it – it said Paintbox has very similar qualities but less yardage, so I guessed and bought 14 balls instead of the 12 called for in the original pattern. I’ve used 3 and a tiny bit to make the back, but because it’s so thick I’ve changed balls mid-row instead of at the end, so as not to waste yarn, but I don’t like doing this because it leaves a thick bit mid-row. I’ve done it on the back because I think that’s less noticeable, but won’t for the front. The colour is British racing green, not the teal colour the photo’s come out as.

The pattern’s a bit complicated in that the chart’s got colours as well as dot-and-dash symbols to indicate different cable stitches. I printed it out (it’s a pdf download) on my black and white printer thinking the symbols were enough, but hadn’t checked and didn’t realise sometimes the same symbol appears in different colours on different rows, so when I did spot that I’d done a whole repeat and had to pull out 20 rows. I also forgot that after the first go of the chart you start each repeat on row 3, and did my first row from row 1 – fortunately these two mistakes were both on the first repeat, so it could have been worse. The eagle-eyed will spot that I made a mistake with one of the first cables, just above the rib, so that one goes forward and the next goes back. I decided to just leave it, I’d done so much by then and being on the back and base I don’t think anyone will notice, and I can guarantee Dad won’t care! He won’t be able to see it from where he’s sitting anyway!

I have actually finished all the pieces of my multi-coloured jumper, including the neck, but have left stitching it up for now as it’s too warm to wear it so I thought I’d crack on with this cardigan and sew up the multi-coloured jumper later. That means I’ve got three unfinished cardigans & jumpers on the go… ah well, come January I’ll be back on target. Maybe even December, if this is indeed ‘the one’.

Chunky cardigan back