Bank Holiday DIY

We’ve been so lucky with the weather this week! It definitely made me extend the bank holiday vibes and get lots of diy done.

I started with a few of those ‘I’ve been meaning to do that for ages’ jobs. I put up a wall mount for Beardie’s guitar and replaced our bedroom mirror with a big mirror that used to live in the kitchen.

I’d been putting off moving the mirror because I thought it would be tricky… and it was! It’s really heavy and oval – so difficult to get straight without making markings on the wall. We ended up making some markings on the wall and getting it wonky. Oh well… at least Beardie can now see his head a feet!

I gave my garden bench and outhouse doors a lick of paint so they look lovely and fresh… but the most exciting bit was painting an old chest of drawers with paint left over from our kitchen refurb.

This used to be my Dad’s chest of drawers when he was growing up and it’s lived with me ever since I moved away from home. It was looking quite worn and tatty, but is a really good, solid piece of furniture so I wanted to give it a new lease of life.

It was difficult to get a good picture in the sun and the colour looks a bit darker in real life – but hopefully you get the idea…

I think the colour (Farrow & Ball Inchyra Blue) works really well and it looks pretty classy! I had thought about replacing the handles but the original ones scrubbed up nicely with a wire brush and I like them with the blue.

Did you do any bank holiday diy?

Facemasks

Last week in the UK we were advised to wear a face covering when in enclosed places like shops. I’d already been thinking about making one – but this announcement spurred me on to make a big batch of masks for myself, family, friends and neighbours.

I’m really happy with the finished masks – so I thought I’d share the resources I used. Please feel free to share what’s worked for you in the comments!

I started by making one of the simple pleated masks from The Big Community Sew, but it turned out really bulky at the sides and wasn’t a good fit. I think that style would work better with a dress weight fabric and I was using quilting cotton.

Also – as I couldn’t see everyone in person to fit their masks, I wanted the ties/elastic to be in a channel rather than fixed to give the wearer more flexibility. Fixed elastic/ties would probably have helped to avoid some of the bulk on that particular style.

My final masks were made from Juliet Uzor’s tutorial and everyone seems happy with the fit!

The fabric Juliet used looks the same on both sides so if you find that confusing have a look at the video below. It’s pretty much made in the same way but the right/wrong side of fabric is a bit clearer.

I only had a small amount of elastic so I used that on mine and then used gros-grain ribbon on the others in the same was Juliet did. The ribbon ties are pretty good if you’re making masks for people you don’t live with as they make the fit more flexible.

I made mine slightly differently because I was using the machine. I cut out my circles using pinking sheers to avoid fraying and allowed a little extra for seam allowance. I also top stitched along the top and bottom edges which makes them a bit stronger and helps with keeping the shape/structure after washing.

I wore mine to do the shopping on Monday and was worried it might make breathing difficult- but it was fine!

An elderly gentleman dropped some shopping – I was within two metres of him to pick things up and was really glad that we were both wearing masks. Of course the masks don’t completely protect us – but I felt like it reduced the risk for both of us in that situation and perhaps he felt more comfortable asking me for help because I was wearing mine.

Does anyone have thoughts on gloves? Have you been wearing gloves to do the shopping? If so – what kind? I’m thinking about making some cotton gloves that I can wash with my mask, but I don’t know how effective they would be… and I might start to look like a walking patchwork quilt (which would be totally fine)!

Stay safe and well x

Virtual Garden Fest 2020

One of the things I’m missing during lockdown is looking around other people’s gardens! I love visiting National Trust places with walled gardens and neat veg patches… but mostly I love looking around ‘real’ gardens and picking up tips and tricks.

So this weekend over on Instagram I’m hosting a virtual open gardens! Yesterday I did a live tour of my front garden/veg patch which will be available until 3pm today – and this afternoon I will be doing a live tour of my back garden.

Everyone is welcome to join in! Whether you have an allotment, a messy small garden (like me), a few pots on a patio or a house plant that brings you a lot of joy… I’d love to hear about it. Just share pictures on your grid and/or in your stories using the hashtag #virtualgardenfest2020. And if you’re doing an Instagram live tour – make sure you let us know on your grid/in your stories so that anyone following the hashtag can find you!

And if you just want to follow along and have a virtual mooch around our gardens – hop over to #virtualgardenfest2020 and give us some love!

Happy gardening x

Me Made Plans

I decided not to take part in me-made-may this year but I’m really enjoying seeing all the handmade outfits on Instagram!

My wardrobe is very slow changing and I haven’t added much to it over the last year – so my outfits this month are pretty similar to me-made-may 2019 anyway (mostly the lounge-wear/secret pyjama outfits)…

I know that I’m not the only one who’s been struggling to focus on things during lockdown… so I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s lacking productivity at the moment. But I am feeling really inspired by both me-made-may and having The Sewing Bee back on tv… so I thought I’d share a bit about what I’m working on and what I have planned next…

I’ve finished knitting the back section of this little jumper which is based on Sheen from Indigo by Kim Hargreaves. This is going to be my (classy) festive jumper. I normally decide far too late in the day that I want a festive jumper so I’m trying to be organised!

The yarn is from The Fibre Fox, which I bought at one of the fantastic Virtual Yorkshire Yarn Fests and the beads are from Debbie Abrahams. I decided to do a simple all-over beaded pattern rather than just beading the front section – I’m really happy with how it’s looking so far.

I think that my next sewing project will be a sleeveless version of the Peony dress with a gathered skirt using the tweaked bodice block from my denim version. I’ve got a few fabric options in my stash… but won’t be touching the expensive Liberty floral until I’m sure I’m happy with the pattern!

I think this will tick off ‘summer dress’ on my make-nine-2020…

For the ‘knitted summer top’ I’m planning to make another Burnt top from Indigo by Kim Hargreaves.

I love the green version I made last year – but when it’s warm and I’m wearing it tucked in, it feels a bit bulky around the tummy. So I’m planning to make a black cropped version that sits on the waist – to wear with high waisted skirts (or these fantastic culottes that I’ve got my eye on!).

Are you super productive at the moment or just making plans?

Garden Log Book

Although we’re not able to see each other in person – I’m still having regular catch-ups with Dad about what’s going on in the garden!

Dad keeps a record of what he’s growing and what’s successful or not and he recently told me that he also keeps a list of which species of butterflies he’s seen each year. I felt inspired to start my own garden log book!

I stocked up on lovely Amy Blackwell notebooks when she had a collection in Sainsbury’s – and I’ve been saving this last one for a special occasion… It’s perfect for my garden book!

 I’ve been enjoying identifying butterflies and also decided to keep a log of birds. We don’t get many in our garden because there are so many cats around, but blue tits have started to regularly visit the cianthus.

I’ve always kept a note of my crop rotation, but I normally forget where I’ve written it down or saved it, so it’ll be lovely keeping all my notes in one place.

Please note – brokali is a kale/broccoli hybrid- not just a misspelling! Please forgive any other spelling errors though…

I’m keeping more detailed notes about each fruit/veg, including the seed packets so that I can see what’s worked and avoid repeating things that failed.

Do you keep a garden log book? Have you got any tips?!

Peony Dress

The Peony dress has been on my to-make list forever. I finally made it… although the finished dress doesn’t really resemble the Peony!

The most major change I made was to the skirt section. After following the pattern… with a bit of grading out to allow extra hip space – I just wasn’t happy with the fit. It looked nice on the hanger but didn’t sit right on my bum! After removing and reinserting the zip three times I decided that I hadn’t done anything wrong… the shape just didn’t suit me – it was too straight.

Luckily I’d bought more fabric than I needed so I whipped up a gathered skirt which is much more my style. It also gave me the opportunity to fix the hugely wonky waistline!

I spent a long time preparing to make this dress and made three toiles of the bodice before I was happy to move over to using wearable fabric. I used US size 2 for the top part and graded out from the underarm to US size 6  at the waist… then made numerous tweaks to the darts.

Using the smaller bust size created issues with fit above the chest because I have broad shoulders. When I added the sleeves it was too tight and pulling across the shoulders, so I took the sleeves out and put them back in with less seam allowance. This helped the fit but the sleeves are now a bit messy and slightly gathered at the top.

I might have achieved a better fit if I’d chosen the bodice size based on the correct size for my waist and then done a small bust adjustment. I think this would maybe allow for the wide shoulders/small bust… but I have no idea how to do a small bust adjustment. If you know of any good tutorials please let me know!

I wanted this dress to be slightly fitted and have some shape to it – whilst also being loose enough to be comfy for working at home/mooching around in. It’s not perfectly made… but it fulfills the brief! And it replaces an old denim chambray dress which is too tight and far too short.

It also ticks ‘denim dress’ off the Make-Nine-2020 list!

 

At Home Spa Day

A lot of people are now working from home during lockdown… and discovering that it can be difficult to “switch off” at the end of the work day when you’re still in the same space.

I always find switching off most difficult when I have time off work planned… with no holiday booked. I normally like to do something away from the house for the first day off to reset my mind into holiday mode – such as driving to the country for a long walk and a meal out. Of course that’s not possible right now!

So with Beardie and I in the same position of working from home and having a week off for Easter… we decided to kick it off with a relaxing spa day! We really enjoyed it and it would be the perfect way to switch off on a weekend if you’re finding that your days are blending into one.

All you really need for your at-home-spa is hot water and an internet connection – anything else is a bonus! Here are a few ideas for you…

Creating your spa ambience…

As soon as we woke up we found some “spa music” and had it on in the background all day. We also found ourselves talking in hushed tones so as not to disturb the spa vibes! We played this video for a while which is rather nice to stare at in a trace-like state.

Something all spas seem to have in common is that they’re unnecessarily warm! So we treated ourselves to an afternoon with the heating on (our house is old and cold), but snuggling up in blankets, an electric blanket or with a hot water bottle would do the trick.

Treating yourself to a bath or an extra long hot shower in the afternoon feels like a luxury and also doubles up as a steam room if you keep the windows shut! Keep the relaxing music going and light a scented candle to make it feel even more spa-like.

Lovely scents are another thing spas share. We were down to our last cheap vanilla candle but it was better than nothing… and I also chopped up some lavender and rosemary from the garden to create a “smelly bowl”!

Treatments…

So now that you’ve got your spa vibes – what treatments can you do?!

My pilates instructor is really keen on looking after feet and every week we do foot massages with a tennis ball. If you don’t have a tennis ball you might have something similar – maybe a pet’s ball? Stand on one foot and roll the ball around on the sole of your other foot, focusing on the arch and pressing and holding on tender areas (carefully!). The harder the ball the more careful you need to be when pressing.

A tennis ball foot massage followed by soaking your feet in a bowl of hot water feels lovely.

You might feel in need of a hand massage to ease your aches and pains from all the lockdown crafting! You could do this self-massage while your feet are soaking…

And if you have what you need for a manicure/pedicure then go for it! I’m enjoying having summer-ready toes even if no one else sees them.

A full back massage might be a bit more difficult if you’re on your own for lockdown… but an online yoga or pilates class might help relieve some shoulder tension from hunching over a laptop.

Or you could try a guided meditation. Headspace have added more free meditations – including some walking meditations. Your at-home-spa would be a great time to practice some mindfulness!

We incorporated a mini facial into our spa day – cleansing, exfoliating and sharing a tiny sample pot of a Lush face-mask! If you haven’t got a face-mask or exfoliator you might be able to make your own. Search Pinterest for ideas of what you could make from kitchen cupboard basics. And maybe steam your face… because spa days are all about the steam!

And finally… one of my favourite parts of a spa day is the lunch! So if you don’t want to spend your at-home-spa day cooking, make sure you plan something simple the day before. We had gnocchi with roast veg and a honey & lemon dressing – quick and easy but felt a bit fancy for lunchtime. We’d also saved some vegan brownies from our friends’ virtual birthday party… got to have a treat on a spa day!

Take care everyone x

 

 

 

 

Cosy Alpaca Knits Ebook!

Since making the decision a couple of weeks ago to temporarily close my online shop while we are in lock-down – I have received a number of queries regarding how to get hold of copies of Cosy Alpaca Knits.

You can buy my books and yarns to knit the projects from Rowan stockists – many of whom are still open online or taking orders via phone/email, so please continue to support them if you’re able to.

If you don’t have a local Rowan stockist or they have had to close for orders during the lock-down, I have listed a few below who are still open for orders…

Black Sheep Wools, Culcheth

Ewe Wool Shop, Stamford

Ippikin, Much Wenlock

Laughing Hens

Additionally… from today onwards you will temporarily be able to buy an Ebook version of Cosy Alpaca Knits from my Ravelry store!

Cosy Alpaca Knits Ebook – £11.99 buy now

Once the lock-down is lifted and my online shop is re-opened I will return to selling physical copies of Cosy Alpaca Knits and the digital version will no longer be available.

I hope you have a lovely Easter weekend! Stay home and stay safe x

Working From Home

There’s an overwhelming amount of advice online at the moment about how to work from home. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been falling into the comparison trap of feeling like I’m not doing things “right” or not being productive enough… so it was time to have a stern word with myself!

I’ve been working from home for years. Some days/weeks are better/more productive than others. I’ve learnt to remind myself regularly that I’m not a robot and that it’s important to take down-time to process things and reflect on how I’m feeling

If (like me) you’re struggling to focus at the moment or you’re not feeling as energised and productive as usual… don’t beat yourself up! At the moment there is so much information to process that we need to allow ourselves the head-space to do so, and some extra time to feel all the feelings. 

This does mean that I’m running behind on the new patterns I was planning to launch in April… sorry about that! But don’t forget that there’s still 50% off all of my existing Ravelry patterns at the moment to help you keep you’re hands busy (no code required).

One of the things that’s really helping me to clear my head and maintain a routine at the moment is jogging. Of course I’m doing this on quiet roads and keeping my distance if I see anyone. I’ve never been a natural runner and can’t quite believe how much I’m enjoying it… but I think Couch to 5k is genius. I’ve just completed week 5 of 9… wish me luck!

I thought I’d share my jogging playlist with you. It’s approx half an hour of uplifting bouncy tunes with nice gentle warm-up and cool-down tracks. It would also definitely be suitable for a kitchen disco!

Stay home and stay well please x