Thursday, 10 April 2014

A little gift for a friend

Hello all you lovely bloggers out there, how are you all?  I wanted to write a quick post to say hello to everyone out there in  Blogland.  It has been a lovely sunny day here so I hope you have enjoyed similar fortunes and maybe, just maybe, spring is on the way, fingers crossed.
I have a lovely colleague in work who has been very kind and supportive over the past few weeks. He has recently moved into his first home and I wanted to show him how grateful I was.  I hit on the idea of knitting him a tea cosy but after getting half way through I felt that I didn't actually like it so had to look for more ideas.  I remembered the cushion I had cut up in the hope of up-cycling it again and putting it to good use.  I wondered if I could turn this into a wonderful tea cosy for his new home.  I didn't want to use the little flowers at all as I know that he is very macho and I didn't think he would appreciate the feminine look.

Rob is a lifelong supporter of Liverpool Football Club (obviously close to my own heart!) so I knew that I wanted to include some reference to this if possible.  I was lucky enough to find a small piece of Liverpool FC fabric which I am going to use to make a cushion for my grandson who is also an avid football fan. I thought I might be able to fussy cut the Liverpool badge out of this fabric, still leaving enough for the cushion.  I knew that I wanted to make the cushion into the shape of a house and put his name on the door if possible.  So, I had a few ideas to get on with and I had managed to find a lovely pattern from Bustle and Sew - do have a look at this lovely shop and blog as there are so many wonderful patterns and ideas on it.  I have signed up for the newsletter and already I have received some free patterns - lovely!  
Apologies about the clearness of the photographs as I do not have a colour printer so have to rely on the old fashioned black and white copies which do not do the pattern justice.  I loved the design of this cosy as it was just what I was looking for.

I measured up the teapot I had bought but I realised afterwards that I should have sized up the pattern a little more around the windows as they were a little on the small side.  However, as usual I was trying to meet a deadline so didn't have time to go back and re-do them.  I am hoping to make another one soon so I have learned something from my mistake here.  I cut out the Liverpool badge and put it on the back of the cosy and thought it would be fun to attach a line to this with a Liverpool kit hanging out to dry.  I also found a little rabbit on another scrap of fabric and cut this out too.  I was having lots of fun making this lovely Readers.

The door is from some fabric used to make one of the little Peeps a dress not long ago and my lovely new machine did the honours of sewing his name and the date.  The pattern suggests that you embroider the flowers in the pots and under the windows but I fear that my skills in this area are not quite up to scratch just yet and I only had a short time to complete the cosy so I plumped for the buttons instead.  Do you think they look ok?

I had also found a scrap of fabric in my box which I thought might look quite nice for the roof, it is really cute and I know that Rob loves owls so it was all starting to come together.

So Folks here is the finished piece with a nice little chimney to finish it all off.  I loved the idea of making the lining a little longer so that it rolled over to make a base for the cosy.  This green fabric is a piece from a tea towel which I bought for £1 and looks quite effective.  I managed to get all the lining out of this so it was good value for money.  I do think the windows are a little too small but I don't think Rob was too concerned!  

I have never tried proper 'quilting' before so I just used the lines of the flowers as a guide and it came out quite well, obviously this part of the cosy is well hidden but it is passable although not up to the Sewing Bee standard I fear.

This is my favourite part of the cosy - the back garden.  We had a little Easter celebration today with some of my lovely students - cake and mini Easter eggs and I had invited Rob along.  We had all signed a nice card for him and then I presented him with the teapot and cosy and he seemed to love it.  Making things is really fabulous but the buzz you get when someone really appreciates what you have made is just magic to me - do you get that same buzz as well, I am sure you all do.

Well my lovely Friends I must tell you what I was up to this last weekend when I visited Liverpool.  The knitters among you will know all about the lovely Susan Crawford who works so much of her magic turning vintage patterns into ones we can all use now.  She has such skill and flair and I think I have every one of her wonderful books, they are just lovely.  So how did I come to find out about this fabulous opportunity to be part of a weekend workshop with her? 

Well, I am on the mailing list for Purlesque.  This used to be a fantastic shop in Liverpool which sold so many lovely craft things, I always tried to visit them whenever I was there.  Unfortunately it had to close in June last year because the lease on the building was not being renewed so Susan and Jane decided to put their energies into their website.  They are both the most delightful girls and so talented so it is always a pleasure to keep up to date with what they are both doing.  They work closely with Susan and run lots of knitting workshops with her as well as running other knitting groups around Liverpool.  I jumped at the chance of going and was so pleased when I managed to secure a place on it. 
The aim of the workshop was to explore fairisle knitting, something I had tried a few years ago when I stayed on Shetland for three weeks.  However, that was a few years ago and I wanted to update my skills on this technique.  Susan has a real flair for this type of knitting and I just love the patterns she has developed and refashioned.  She also offers kits in many of her patterns and I did fancy knitting up the sleeveless pullover - those of you lovely Folks who have watched the Wartime Farm will have seen a version of this worn by one of the presenters - it is just fabulous.  Susan is also donating 50% of the money taken on these patterns to the Landgirls Association which I think is just a tremendous thing to do.  Do pop over to her website and feast your eyes Folks, I promise that you will not be disappointed.  In the photograph below you can see a little part of my knitting - I must say it was hard work and you really hard to concentrate on what you were doing.

We were using two patterns - a small one followed by the larger one - these were repeated throughout the work - which was going to be a little cardigan for a teddy or dolly.  We were also getting to grips with steeks which are the extra pieces put into knitting on the round which are eventually cut at the end.  I must admit that it was one of the quietest workshops I have ever been on as everyone had to concentrate hard on what they were doing.  Saturday just flew by and we were taken such good care of by the girls from Purlesque and Susan with a lovely lunch thrown in plus lots of wonderful lattes to keep us going. 

I decided that as it was a vintage weekend I would use one of my lovely old tins to keep my bits and pieces in.  I have always used needles to knit in the round so using the wire took a little getting used to but it got easier as the day wore on. 

The yarn and colours were gorgeous and I really enjoyed doing this.  The only problem was that I had been so busy the week leading up to the weekend that I was exhausted by the Saturday night when I returned home.  There was quite a lot of homework to do and by the time I had done all my chores and some marking I didn't get to bed until quite late so was very tired on the Sunday morning when I caught the train into Liverpool once again.  Many of the ladies stayed over in a hotel and part of me wished I had done the same but I had to get home to make sure my husband was ok so couldn't.  They were such a great group from all parts of the UK including Scotland and London.  I think this is one of the reasons I love doing these courses as the talented people you meet is just unbelievable.   

Susan was pure delight and kept us all entertained.  She is so talented and creative and I would love to go on more of her workshops.  She has just relocated to Cumbria and has some exciting developments in store so I am keeping a close eye on her blog to keep up to date.  If you get a chance to go on one of her workshops please do as you will have lots of fun and will learn so much.  She kindly had her photograph taken with me.

Now I must admit lovely Folks that my steeks were not the best but I know that I was very tired so am not beating myself up about it.  I am so pleased that I am not afraid of these anymore as Susan helped us all see that they are so easy to work into your knitting. 

What I am pleased about is the wrong side of my work - when I tried fairisle before I was pretty much on my own trying to figure it out, although I did get lots of help from the knitting shop in Shetland.  I think I was trying to strand my work as I knitting which made it very tight and a little untidy looking.  The way Susan showed us helped me to really knit in a logical and steady fashion meaning that I didn't need to strand as it happened naturally.  I haven't sewn in my ends yet but you can see that the back of the work is quite tidy and loose, something I never thought I could do so a huge thank you to Susan for this.

This is the back of the cardigan and you can see that I still have the steeks to cut here before picking up the stitches to knit the little sleeves.  I think this little cardi will fit one of the Peep's dollies and I am certainly going to try another one.  My eldest Son is very interested in the sleeveless pullover but I think I need a little more practise before starting that one!

Well lovely Readers I must finish now.  I know that a lot of you have commented on my long days of work but the fact is that I have over 100 students to look after and we are at a crucial stage of the course when they are preparing for university.  What this means is that I have to give them my full attention which I do willingly as I love my work but the downside is that I get very tired sometimes and run out of hours.  Today I have been reading the lovely Annette's blog when she talks about when blogging v life becomes a fight.  I know exactly what she means as there are not enough hours in the day and I know that all of you understand this only too well.  I am sorry for the delay in making comments on your wonderful blogs and will catch up with all of you I promise.  Life is pretty full at the moment and it is not easy at all but I take strength from all of you - you are my fabulous virtual family and keep me going.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I hope you are all well and happy and I will speak to you all very soon.  Have a wonderful weekend.  Sending you lots of loves and hugs.  Dorothy :-)xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


  1. What a thoughtful gift for your colleague. I'm sure he will treasure it. Steeking is something I've never had the courage to try. I think I would need 3 Weetabix before I felt strong enough for that!

  2. Your gift for your colleague is fantastic and yes the Bustle and Sew site is great I get the newsletter too. It sounds as if you had a wonderful time last weekend and your fair isle knitting is lovely. I hope you gave a nice weekend
    Take care
    Jackie x

  3. Super post dorothy and a gorgeous gift ....suitably match too!
    bestest daisy j x

  4. Wow! Your tea cosy is amazing! You have such a creative mind, I love it. As for your fairisle, I am in awe. I wish I could knit like this, it is so good. Thank you for sharing this lovely post, it is always such a joy to stop by and see what you've been up to. Have a lovely weekend.

  5. How fantastic to go to a Susan Crawford workshop and on fairisle too.
    Jacqui x

  6. Well what can I say? ...... apart from WOW! the tea cosy is amazing and such a kind and thoughtful gift, you are a sweetie Dorothy, thats for sure x
    Your knitting looks beautiful but tricky, enjoy.
    wishing you a wonderful weekend
    love Jooles x x x

  7. Your tea cozy is beautiful and will be a much loved gift I am sure!! Glad that you had such a good time at the knitting workshop, I look forward to seeing what you make as what you showed already is amazing. Hope that you have a good weekend. xx

  8. You did a wonderful job with the cosy Dorothy, and your fairisle knitting is looking great too - I think I've mentioned before how my Mum used to do a lot of this work but me? No, the itch has never really grabbed me - taking charge of all those colours down the back of the work - but you are doing a tremendous job of it my dear friend!
    I am still playing catch-up since my celebratory time away, so must rush but sending you much love, Joy xoxo

  9. Hi Dorothy! What an amazing tea-cosy - it looks fantastic. I like Susan Crawford's patterns too; I bought the Wartime Farm pullover pattern but I haven't yet started it. Steeks etc are still completely beyond me! Lesley x

  10. My goodness, you sure are busy!!
    Love your tea cosy, and I bet Rob did too- what a treasure.
    And I think your knitting looks amazing- I am totally in awe of anyone who can knit fairisle- brilliant job!
    Have a great week,
    Sarah x

  11. Hi Dorothy! Thank you for your wonderful comment, especially when you're obviously a very busy bee! I completely echo your blog vs life balance dilemma, I suspect it's something a lot of us face :-( Sometimes I think I follow too many blogs but I just love them all! I try to comment because I know how nice it is to receive them, but there just need to be more days or hours! Perhaps I could work 4 out of 7 days and have one of for blogging ;-)

    Anyway... Your fairisle is looking amazing! I've tried it once and haven't tried again. I guess it's on my knitting bucket list. Your friend is also one lucky man, what an awesome tea cosy and so personalised, it's beautiful :-)

    Nicole x