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Welcome Back

This is a post of two halves, first I’d like to share a picture of my first attempt with cable knitting, and then on to other news.

Rope cable

Rope Cable, my first attempt!

Earlier in the year I posted about New Years resolutions. One of the things I wanted to try this year was cable knitting. I checked out the instructions in my faithful Dummies Guide to Knitting and found the instructions for a Standard Rope cable on page 163. I repeated the cable and added a few rows of rib at the end, just in case I want to turn this in to some kind of bracelet/wrist warmer kind of hybrid ;)

Now on to the other stuff. Has anyone else been following the BBC series ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’? I’ve been hooked from the first episode but would have liked a longer series like with the baking version, it all seems a bit quick at only 4 episodes.

My favorite sewer on there is Lauren, but I love them all for different reasons. Although I don’t share her skills I could have been a ‘Lauren’ if I’d listened when my dear mother tried to teach me to sew. My Mum was ace at sewing, (and knitting and cooking) she made all my clothes till I was a stroppy teenager and rebelled. Mum tried to teach me but I got board and went off to draw or get muddy in the garden instead. If I’d listened to my Mum, I could have been like Lauren.

Thanks to my Mum always making clothes and my Dad’s excellent woodworking skills I have tended to be one of those people who thinks couldn’t we just make that, rather than buy it already made, its also spoilt me for expecting things custom built, which once my parents passed away and their skills with them of course was no longer possible.

I bought an excellent book Sew What skirts, which is full of skirt designs that I love and a nifty way of drafting your own patterns to fit you. This was very tempting as I’ve no idea how to read a proper pattern. I was very lucky a couple of years ago to receive a sewing machine for my birthday and although I’ve made some nice bags in an assortment of sizes, the one thing I’ve always wanted to make was a skirt. I’m only 5 foot 3 and a lot of skirts are way too long on me, I keep seeing styles I like but they are all in linen, what is it with linen? How about a nice cotton? After another trawl through online version of stores only to find options in linen or lary patterns I decided to take the plunge and try making my own.

Simplicity had an offer on their patterns and I ended up buying 4 so I hope at least one I can make seance of. This started out worse than clothes shopping, once again I felt like a freek! My hips are larger than my waist but by the pattern sizing charts they were a smaller size than my waist? I was worried that not only couldn’t I read a pattern if I had to alter it loads before I start it was even worse. I’m still clueless about how to lay out a pattern, how to cut fabric etc never mind getting to altering the pattern as well!

The reason I battled on trying to get a commercial pattern rather than trying to make my own is because I didn’t know what to search for to create a blank pattern onto. I need that tissue stuff, although preferably that nicer fibery kind that Tilly used. Anyone know what it is and where I can get it?

Wish me luck for this project, I fear I’m going to need it.

Billie :)

PS. Still no arty stuff at the mo, between low light and RSI its not been happening of late. I’m still into it, and will get back to it asap.

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Gina Barrett’s; Making Braids and Cords DVD.

Making Braids and Cords DVD

Making Braids and Cords DVD

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Gina Barrett/ Making Passementerie
  • Item Name: Making Braids and Cords; Beginners Selection
  • Item number ISBN: 978-0-9546618-8-5
  • RRP at time of writing: £17
  • Run Time: 94 minutes

Content

Main Chapters

  • Tools & Materials
  • Getting Started
  • Plaited Braids
  • Twisted (Spun) Cords
  • Sewing Machine Cords
  • Wrapped, Knotted & Woven Cords
  • Hints & Tips

Details of projects in each chapter

  • Tools & Materials: What you will need to create the projects shown on the DVD
  • Getting Started: Preparing Warps, Elements & Ends, Constrictor Knot, Half Hitch, Binding
  • Plaited Braids: 4 Element Flat Braid, 4 Element Round Braid, 5 Element Braid version, 5 Element Braid version 2, 8 Element Crossover Braid, 8 Element Soutache
  • Finger loop Braids: Preparing Loops, Loop Replacement & Techniques, Round Lace 5 loops, Broad Lace 5 loops, German Lace 5 loops, Baston 5 loops, Lace Bend, Grene Dorge, Cheveron 8 Loops
  • Twisted (Spun) Cords: Twist S and Z, Monk’s Cord, 3 Element Cord, 2 in 1 Cord, Wavy Gimp, Double-spun cord
  • Sewing Machine Cords: Zig zag Cord, Encased Cord, Cutting Bias Strips, Rouleau
  • Wrapped, Knotted & Woven Cords: Gimp (Bourdon cord), Soutache version 1, Soutache version 2, Spiral, Hand Knotted
  • Hints & Tips: Uses for the braids

Reason For Buying

When I first saw Gina demonstrate some of these techniques on Create & Craft,  I knew I wanted this DVD. There were so many ideas I had, for all the different things I’d use the cords with, especially to add a new dimension to my bookbinding projects and with boxes too.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • There are 25 braids and cord designs shown on the DVD
  • There is a full pictorial list of all the designs, on the inside cover of the DVD, to help you find just the one you want.
  • The eye level camera work, means it is like standing next to Gina as she braids. This makes it much easier to learn the techniques.
  • Each design has a page about its history and how it has been used in the past. Next comes a slow walk through of the technique itself, followed by a really helpful page you can freeze frame and make notes from. This page lists the steps used for the project you just saw. This is really helpful as it’s the ‘chant’ you can use as you create the braid/cord for yourself, and helps to keep you on track, while you are learning.
  • There is a clearly laid out menu system, each style has a dedicated chapter and then a large number of projects in each one. After you play a design, the menu returns you to the start of the chapter, to choose where you would like to go next.
  • Very clear instructions and I like that it has the written element as well as the visual demonstrations. We all learn in different ways and the extra dimension means that the new technique stays with you for longer.
  • There is an excellent description of the tools and materials you will need and for how to start and finish your chosen project.
  • Buying directly from Gina’s website, you also have the choice to have the DVD in NTSC or in PAL formats.

Cons

  • The menu system does not have a play all feature. Being new to the subject, I wanted to watch the whole thing, see what it was all about and then pick a design to re-create. Which without the play all feature, made it a bit awkward, as after each design, you kept being bumped back to the start of the chapter. Just a niggle, as in normal usage, I’m sure you would just go straight to the design you wanted to make, so for longer term use, it’s probably not a problem.
  • The ‘theme’ is played at the start of each chapter: This is normal enough, but it it’s quite loud and without the ‘Play all’ feature you will hear it a lot, which gets a bit wearing. It also plays at the same volume as the narration throughout the getting started section, which was distracting and made it difficult to focus on what was being said. It does not play through the main demonstrations though.

Build Quality

Fantastic! The lighting is superb as is the camera work and angles used. You can see clearly what is being demonstrated and the view is as if you are standing next to Gina, so you get almost the same view of the braid, that you would have, when you make it. This makes learning the techniques MUCH easier.

The demonstrations are superb as are the explanations of what is happening, Gina is a very calming, encouraging teacher.

Value for Money

Excellent! In each section there are lots of designs a total novice could achieve and later in each chapter the difficulty/complexity increases so still plenty to stretch your new abilities as your skills and confidence grow.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes. This is a fantastic DVD. Even though my own limited dexterity will hamper what I can achieve with this craft, I still enjoyed learning about how the braids are created and the history behind them. I highly recommend this DVD to anyone interested in making or learning more about Braiding and cord making.

Summing up

This is a fascinating subject. Gina has a wonderfully calming voice and walks you through everything step by step. Even if my lack of fine motor skills don’t let me braid very much, I have still highly enjoyed this DVD, to learn more designs and how they were used in the past. I highly recommend this DVD to everyone interested in using cords or braids with their creative projects. The projects would suit a wide age range and some of the simpler briads could also be achieved by younger children too. Great for jewellery making as well as for decoration.

I’m currently experimenting with alternative ways of holding thread/yarn, to see if I can find a work around for my poor dexterity. I’ll let you know how I get on and if I find any useful suggestions that may help others with dexterity problems.

Links

Do follow the links below to find out more about Gina Barrett and where you can purchase this excellent DVD.

Many thanks to Gina for this DVD, it has been a joy to watch and I look forward to your continuation of the series.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

After watching the recent Docrafts & Beaders Companion shows where they demo’d Shamballa style bracelets, I was inspired to have a try myself. Wanting to add my own spin to the concept I created a book tie.

Shamballa inspired Book Tie

Shamballa inspired Book Tie

Materials Used

  • Waxed cotton cord 2mm thick
  • Note book is a Daler Rowney sketch book

I find book ties helpful in keeping a page, like a book mark. For keeping a book closed, and for holding pages in place while you are sketching on location.

In place of beads I tied Chinese Button knots on the ends of the cords.

Hope you like it, it was quick to make and perhaps I’ll make some of these for Christmas gifts.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be picked from the cup of chance on Create and Craft TV, to win a crochet flower that Wendy Poole had made. The flower is made from Patons Fusion yarn and feels delightful.

Crochet flower made by Wendy Poole

Crochet flower made by Wendy Poole

Last year I had made a little tote bag, which was until now, un-embellished. This was the perfect place to put the flower.

The tote bag I made, with Crochet flower made by Wendy Poole

The tote bag I made, with Crochet flower made by Wendy Poole

DO check out Wendy’s blog, she has all kinds of amazing projects on there, and a lot of patterns for knitting and crochet too.

Thank you so much for the flower Wendy, its beautiful. I cannot crochet, due to limited dexterity, which makes this flower very dear to me.

The Patons Fusion yarn, is lush! I treated myself to a ball of the blue and its one that’s almost too nice to use, at the moment it’s just ‘saved to stroke’. Tell me you do that too?

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

The Virtual Crafting Challenge theme for March 2012 is:

Yarns, Fibers & Textiles

Great I hear you say, but now what? Well for those of you who would like a few ideas to get you started, here are some  colours, products and techniques to help you choose, where you could go with this month’s theme. Feel free to use your own ideas for this theme too.

Colours

  • Create something in your favorite colour
  • Create something in a colour you have never used before
  • This month’s birthstone is Aquamarine, try using this colour in your project

Products

  • Try out a different yarn to the type or weight you normally favor. There are some exciting fashion yarns around for something completely different. They knit up very quickly and often have patterns on the ball bands.
  • Fabrics; Had your eye on some wonderful fabric? Go get it and lets see what you create with it.

This doesn’t have to be an expensive project; lots of the manufacturers have free patterns you can download. Check out the Yarns tab at the top of the page, for links to yarn manufacturers.

Surfaces

  • Create something you can wear
  • Add fibers or yarn to alter an item of clothing
  • Use Textiles/fibers or yarn to decorate a card project

Techniques

  • Knitting, there are some superb tutorials around the web, if you have wanted to learn how, try it now :)
  • Crochet. Check out You Tube for tutorials on how to crochet
  • Sewing. You Tube is again the place to go for inspiration and tutorials for textile projects
  • How about making a bag?
  • Perhaps find out more about quilting.

The most important thing about this challenge is that you have fun and explore. Don’t feel pressured to have a finished item at the end of the month. Explore different styles and techniques either in person, if you have the supplies, or through research, looking online.

You learn so much more when you take away the rules and just PLAY. Adapt this challenge to a creative style that interests you. Enjoy :)

Links

For inspiration around the web, have a look at my Textiles and also Yarns tab at the top from here you will find some interesting sites you may not have found before.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

As the year comes to a close I thought it would be a good time to look  back at some of my favorite things of 2011. Today I’d like to share;

My favorite projects of 2011

I have two favorites;

First place goes to. Gift Bags.

Holly Gift Bags with handles and tags

Holly Gift Bags with handles and tags

This was a project I started only recently and its a favorite, as I can see a lot of potential for designing different styles and shapes with it as well as lots of different papers for it too.

A close second goes to; Hand Warmers

Hand warmer, with gift bag and instructions tag

Hand warmer, with gift bag and instructions tag

This is a personal favorite with me, as thanks to RSI and bad circulation they are a simple project to put together but also using them makes a huge difference to pain levels. So a winner for several reasons :)

How about you?

What project have you most enjoyed creating or reading about this year? Would love to hear about it or see pictures of your finished pieces.

Links

To find out more about the gift bags and the hand-warmers here are link to their original posts.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

Today I’d like to share a picture of the hand-warmers I made for the family for Christmas.

Hand warmer, with gift bag and instructions tag

Hand warmer, with gift bag and instructions tag

Often hand warmers are scented, which not everyone likes. My husband’s family have wheat intolerance and often the hand-warmers sold are filled with wheat. I have filled these with dried lentils and no fragrance :)

There is an inner bag that contains the filling and then an outer cover, this allows the cover to be removed and washed as needed. These are a small size, so they will fit into your coat pocket. Great for when your hands get cold when walking the dog/ de-icing the car.

Hand making Christmas gifts are a great way to share meaningful presants with friends and family. You can create them in the warmth of your home, no long cues, no bad weather and if you start making them early in the year, no rush :) Take the stress out of Christmas and hand make your gifts. Short notice for this year, perhaps, but make a plan for next year for a more relaxing build up to the holidays.

The card explaining how to heat the hand-warmer and what it contains, I created in Craft Artist :) Really pleased how professional they look. I also layered papers to make the gift bag using digikits in Craft Artist, plus matching gift tag. These were a lot of fun to make and I’ll be showing a video tutorial on how to make the gift bags next year, once the brighter weather returns.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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