Friday, 31 October 2008

NOT Sew Hip!

There is a new sewing magazine hitting the newstands today, Sew Hip. Hooray! I hear you shout! Erm, well, no actually. On the surface it looks fab, all bright, colourful and full of promise but on the inside it's a little lacking in substance.

Sew Hip is a British magazine and you'd image the contents would be British too? Erm, no. Most of it is American and Australian. You'd think they'd have chosen the best patterns for the first issue? Erm, no. Amongst the patterns are 2 tote bags, 2 quilts and 2 needle cases? Hardly inspiring!

There is a cute toddler outfit and I thought I'd give it a go. I started with the blouse but had a little trouble with the pattern. I had a look at the instructions, the picture captions are wrong but that happenes sometimes in magazines. Getting the pattern is a little tricky as you have to enlarge it 200%. I have one of those all in one scanner/copier/printer things and after an hour of tracing, cutting and cursing I managed to get the pattern the right size. That's when I realised the first problem.

Problem number 1.
The pattern parts are labelled the wrong way around! The "sleeve" part is wider than the body and the "body" part tapers towards the bottom. Hmm, that doesn't sound quite right does it.

Problem number 2.
The cutting instructions are awful!. It tells you to fold the fabric with the selvages together and cut the pieces. Erm, we're doing a toddler top here, the pieces are pretty narrow so you're going to waste a heck of a lot of fabric doing it like that and you'd wouldn't fit all the pieces on 1m of fabric doing it that way. I used my brain and folded the selvages to the centre of the fabric giving me 2 folds across the width. The pattern doesn't actually say to cut 2 of each pattern piece, you are left to figure that out for yourself. It's nothing to an experienced seamstress but a beginner may get confused. Also it says to observe the grain lines and fold lines but there aren't any on the pattern!

Problem number 3.
The elastic guides seem to be a little out. The cuffs end up 4" wide and the neck only 7" wide. I made the cuff elastic shorter but used the 14" measurement for the neck but the neck looked much tighter than the one in the magazine.

Problem number 4.
I should have realised earlier but the sizing of the pattern is really big. It's supposed to fit a 6-12 month old baby and I know peasant tops have a lot of ease across the chest but this one measures 30"!!! If a 6 month old has a 18" chest that gives 12" of ease! I tried the top on my 4 year old daughter, the sleeves and body length were a little short but it fitted her!

I had wanted to make this top for a 1 year old but I'm going to have to draw my own pattern from scratch as this one is awful. I haven't tried to make the bloomers, the top put me off!

I looked at the other patterns to see if they were any better. They aren't. There is a pattern for a felted bag. It says you can felt any pure wool fabric, not just old sweaters. Erm, no. You can only felt handwashable wool because superwash/machine washable wool has been chemically treated so it won't felt in the washing machine. Trying to felt superwash wool is a common mistake to make and you would have thought they'd put something about it in the instructions as it is rather important but no, they didn't.

Now I appreciate there are often teething problems with new magazines but this was too much for me. Did ayone proof read it at all? Do they actually know what they are talking about? I honestly don't know!

I don't think I'll be buying any more issues of Sew Hip and I won't be recommending it to my friends.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

My latest project: A Feeder Cover Version!

Last week I took a little break from the needles and did a different kind of project - recording a cover version of Feeder's Silent Cry.

A few years ago I did a few cover versions of Feeder songs for a fan tribute CD, A Place Inside Our Minds. The lad who organised it got in touch with me recently and asked if would be interested in doing another track I haven't done any music in ages and thought it would be nice to dust off the old gear and give it a go.

6 days and a lot of hard work later my DH and I produced this. Enjoy!

To see more Feeder fan cover versions please visit

Monday, 4 August 2008

FREE Shorties and Longies Pattern

I've decided to share my DK shorties and Longies pattern with the world. I wrote it a few years ago and it's been through a few minor changes since then but it's very easy to do and it works.

It's great for beginner knitters as it's knitted flat (no scary double pins or kitchener grafting!) and being flat it means you can easily work cute intarsia designs or add embroidery to make an extra special pair of woollies.

You can download the pattern as a PDF file HERE. Please remember it is royalty free but not Copyright free. You may not distribute, copy or sell the pattern or use it to produce garments for sale.

I hope you enjoy it! Any comments or suggestions, good or bad gratefully received.

Friday, 27 June 2008

A Special Collaboration

Buy British Month on Cloth Nappy Addicts has been a huge success. There have been so many collaborations between the WAHMs that me and Babylonglegs decided to get in on the action. I had an idea of making a nappy set with some lovely Michael Miller Funky Monkey fabric. Babylonglegs did a custom dye to match the fabric and this is the result!

We're auctioning the set on the Cloth Nappy Addicts forum. The auction ends 6pm BST on Monday 30th June so get your bids in quick!

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Buy British Month

June is Buy British Month on Cloth Nappy Addicts and I've been busy making some special items for Flowerpot Tots. I've made some special wool longies sets with my own handspun wool and I've launced my own clothing range featuring hand embroidered skirts and trousers generous enough to fit over a cloth nappy.

Happy Shopping!

Thursday, 15 May 2008

...and yet more sewing!

My DH hates taking reusable bags to the shops. He always forgets them and thinks they are a hassle, so I made this. It's a tote that folds up to fit inside the pocket on the front. The design was inspired by the kids fold away rain coats, I made it up last night and it works! Woo hoo!

I'll have a rest from sewing for a bit now. I'm taking my family to the New Forest. Will blog pics when we get back.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

More sewing!

I got an idea in my head to make another bag today. It looks pretty good but I need a lot more practice at applique! My stitching is far from perfect but it looks ok from a distance.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

I've given up knitting...

...this week and have been doing lots of sewing! I seem to go in cycles, flitting from knitting, to crochet, to sewing and back to knitting again. This week it's definately sewing. I have made this little skirt for my Flowerpot Tots shop:

And a friend of mine was showing me some wonderful bags with skulls on Etsy and I thought I'd have a crack at making one myself...

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

I got a new toy...'s a Louet S15! Yes, I've been spinning since January and so far I have acquired a drop spindle and 2 wheels. Not that I'm obsessive or anything you understand!

I love the first wheel I bought, it was pretty basic and I thought it was ok but as I started to learn more about the art of psinning I kept finding fault with it. It spun very fast, it rattled so much the mother of all was coming loose and on closer inspection the flyer rod was not only bent but was off centre in the flyer so can't even be repaired.

At Easter I visited my good friend Babylonglegs and she kindly let me try out her Louet S10. It was a dream compared to my rustic spinner so I gather together enough cash and found an S15 on eBay going for a bargain. My finger slipped on the BIN button and it was mine!

I was so pleased when it arrived, my DH helped me assemble it but we had a few problems. The treadle connector was split almost all the way through. Disaster! Thankfully Babylonglegs had told me about a way to fix it with coaxial cable so 10 minutes later my DH had pinched some from the kids tv aerial and it was fixed. The plastic cap bit that went over the bearings was slightly cracked and a piece snapped off when we put it on. I got it together and started to spin, a dab of vaseline soon stopped the horrendous squeaking and I was away!

I hadn't had chance to use it much what with family life getting in the way of having a life of my own, but last week I found some quiet time and I sat down to spin some lovely rainbow BFL roving when disaster struck again. I was in the groove, my long draw was really consistent and then PING! The drive band snapped in two and fell to the floor! Thank heavens for the Louet Lovers Ravelry group! A kind soul on there suggested that I melt the ends of the driveband to stick it back together and it worked. :-)

I love my new wheel but I was disappointed that so many things had gone wrong with it, especially as it was listed as hardly used and like new. I sent a message to the seller and I asked for a refund to buy replacement parts. She agreed, but even that went wrong! Instead of refunding me £10 she paid me 10 Euros, I got charged for accepting the payment and I had to convert the amount into US dollars in order to accept it. I got considerably less than the £10 I needed for the parts but I was keen to get it sorted so I accepted it and learned my lesson about buying second hands wheels on eBay.

Hopefully now everything is sorted and I can get to know and love my Louet. I've been busy with my first lot of handspun on it. I spun, plied, hand dyed and knitted it into a gorgeous paiir of longies which are going to be part of a special set in my shop Flowerpot Tots

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

More Creativeness!

I'm on a bit of a creative roll at the moment. I got all inspired yesterday morning and made this with some scraps of handspun that were just sitting on the sideboard begging to be used. It's a cute little brooch with a silver plated pin on the back and wooden button on the front. Like most of the stuff I make I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it but I'm sure I'll find a good home for it eventually.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Felting Fun!

Sometimes I get too many ideas for my own good. Sometimes I actually follow through and occasionally it works. Yesterday I got lucky. I had an idea to make some felted bowls. I found some left over BFL, grabbed a crochet hook and made these:

I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with them but I have the urge to make some more and experiment with dyeing...

...oh so much yarn so little time!

Monday, 25 February 2008

Wool Longies Charity Auction for SANDS

As some of your may know my daughter Abigail Scarlett was stillborn in November last year. I have made a very special pair of longies for her in my own handspun wool and I am auctioning them to raise money for SANDS, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity. They do some brilliant work and they were there when we needed help after the death of our daughter. Please help support SANDS so they can continue to support bereaved parents and research the causes of stillbirth.

View the auction HERE. Thank you!

Sunday, 24 February 2008

A typical day of madness and wool

Babylonglegs tagged me in her blog and ask to share what I do in a typical day.

Every day is chaos at the Flowerpot house! I wake around 6.45am to the sounds of my DS2 kicking his cot to bits. I swear one day I'll go in and find him sat in a pile of firewood! I get DS1 and DD up, change DS2's nappy and convince them all to go downstairs for breakfast. I make breakfast for everyone, which is not an easy task when everyone wants a different cereal and a different drink AND they change their minds at least 3 times.

At around 7.45am Mr Flowerpot gets up, drinks a cup of coffee and then at 8am we all get washed and dressed. 8.40am and DS1's childminder picks him up to take him to school, 8.45am and my PA arrives to take DD to nursery. My PA returns and we spend the morning playing with DS2, doing chores, I check messages on my computer and perhaps doing a little knitting.

11.45am and my PA fetches DD home from nursery and DD plays on the computer until dinner is ready. I make dinner and DH comes down from his office to eat. (DH works from home in the corner of our bedroom AKA the office.)

After lunch is quiet time, DS2 goes down for a nap, DD will watch a DVD or play jigsaws and I can get some spinning, sewing or dyeing done.

3.30pm and the chaos starts. DS2 gets up from his nap, DS1 comes home from school and kids and cats all pester me demanding snacks. Much screaming ensues and I try and keep the peace until 5.30pm when we have tea. We watch tv before bed then at 7pm it's bathtime.

By 8pm the kids are all clean and tucked up in bed and I sink into a hot bath or bottle of wine. I spend the evening talking to DH, knitting or crocheting, wasting time on the internet and planning world domination with handcrafts. By about 11pm I am exhausted and I fall into bed.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Chocolate Box Sunset

We get some wonderful sunsets, the sky turns the most amazing colours it takes your breath away. I took this photograph last night from my daughter's bedroom window. I guess it's a bit "chocolate box" as my old art teacher used to say but I think it's amazing.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

My first wheel handspun

I think I'm getting the hang of my new wheel. This is the first thing I've spun on it. 75g of Corriedale kindly given to me by my friend Babylonglegs. I spun it, plied it and then hand dyed it. My 3 year old daughter chose the colour, she kind of likes pink!

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

It's here!

The waiting is over! This afternoon a large package was delivered to my door and inside was this little beauty!

It took me a little while to put it together and figure out what went where but I think I got it right and after a few false starts I managed to spin this:

Not bad for a spinning novice eh? I love it!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Just call me Mrs Impatient!

I am not the most patient person on the planet. I like instant gratification. When I buy something I want it now, next day at the latest. When I ordered spinning wheel from the Netherlands I knew I would have to wait. It takes time to ship something like that from one country over the sea to another. It's only been a few days but I WANT IT NOW!

I have been so impatient I have been browsing spindles on Etsy. I like my spindle but it seems way too plain and boring in comparison to the wonderful exotic wood, stone and decorated spindles available. I can't really afford to buy another spindle but browsing is passing the time until my wheel gets here.....

I might do some crocheting to take my mind off it, or design that bag I'm going to make with my spindle handspun...

Happy pancake day! The Best Before date has rubbed off the bottle of Jif lemon juice. It has been lurking in the fridge for quite a while but lemon juice doesn't really go off does it? I guess we're going to find out!

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Happy Birthday Samuel

It's Samuel's brithday today, He's 2 years old. I can't believe it's been 2 years since I gave birth to him in a paddling pool in our living room. He's such a little character, so cheeky and so adventurous!

We took him to the soft play at the pub this morning and he loved it. We're having a small family party for him this afternoon and Nanna has made one of her famous chocolate cakes. Will have to post pics of it later.

I have been a little distracted today trying to decide what kind of wool to buy for when my spinning wheel arrives. I had some BFL in the kit that came with my drop spindle so I spun a little of that this morning to see what it is like. I'm spoilt for choice when it comes to wool, will all the different breeds, white or natural, dyed roving or plain tops? I think I'll have to try a bit of everything!


Wednesday, 30 January 2008

I got a blog!


I've tried to do this blogging thing a couple of times before but I never had the dedication to keep it up. I promise this time it will be different!

Who am I? I'm Clair, wife to Trevor, mum to Joshua, Emily and Samuel and a total craft addict. I knit, crochet, sew, embroider, design, create just about anything. not everything turns out the way it should but it's all fun!

As a hobby I run Flowerpot Tots, an online shop selling wool soakers, little woolly shorts, trousers and skirts that go over the top of cloth nappies instead of wraps or plastic pants. I also make cloth nappies.

I am embarking on a new craft at the moment - spinning wool! I have a drop spindle and it's been great fun but very tiring so I've splashed out and ordered a spinning wheel! I can't wait for it to arrive. Handspun heaven here we come!