Doll House Bear Skin | A Finish {Knitting}

Friday, 1 August 2014

You may have already seen the picture of this little bear on IG or Facebook. I was asked which pattern I used, so I thought it might deserve its own short post. 

As you can imagine with one little boy at home, and another one on the way, making accessories for doll houses is not something I do  (or will do) often. One of my friends asked me if I could help with knitting the body of the bear as she cannot knit for a little girl's birthday, but she can crochet. And here we are, this is how one Friday night you end up knitting a bear rug. 

The pattern is available on Etsy - the crochet part does not look hard, the knitting was certainly quite quick (probably an hour). It never occurred to me to make doll houses accessories - but it is actually a pretty cool idea. Would you make one? 

Off we are..

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

It is that time of the year again. We are off for 10 days for a much needed break. We will be going to Brittany again this year (the picture is from last summer). There may be updates scheduled and unscheduled on the blog - or not, depending on how it all goes. 

I am more likely to be on Facebook and twitter whilst I am away - and hope to post a few pictures ... 

The ubiquitous Tibi | Inspiration {Dressmaking}

Monday, 28 July 2014

There are a few reasons why I am keen to improve on my dressmaking skills - one of them is to able to recreate some items worn by fashion bloggers I admire the wardrobe of, and save some pennies in the process. 

Maybe you can see I am already fed up with being pregnant and thinking of my post-pregnancy life (to be honest hot trains are not helping). For a few of you it may be the wedding/summer parties season, and I thought you might be interesting in seeing my inspiration board for the Tibi skirt which currently retails at £495.00 at Net-a-Porter. This is not the most expensive designer item I have my eye on - but still, it is cheaper to make it.  

Pattern: B5929 from Butterick (easy pattern); 
Fabric: there are different colours available on; but one option could be the Dupion Silk in wine which should shimmer a bit to add that touch of gamour
Probable modifications: Lengthen the skirt - to get the Midi Tibi skirt look. 
You could also adjust the pleats if you felt you need more, smaller ones
Tibi Skirt: You can buy it on NaP for £495

So let's do the maths.. 

You are saving quite a bit but what attracts me to this project is that you could really adjust the size of the patterns according to your morphology (as in I have 'usually' a small waist and big hips in comparison). Also it is a great staple garment to have in your wardrobe as there are a lot of inspiration out there to make it work for more casual or glamorous looks. And Butterick says that it is an easy pattern - I do not have a lot of experience with Butterick so hopefully easy does mean easy..  I do love that look with the stripey top - this is will be for next Summer for me, hoping it inspired you! 

You can see my inspiration to make other designer garments here

Highbury + Islington Baby Quilt | A finish {Quilting}

Friday, 25 July 2014

I am so happy this quilt is finished. I talked about the WIP process there - this is for my friend who had a little boy a bit of time ago now (shame on me!). You would have thought that this one was going to be finished within days, but oh no... it took me months to get there. Of course, the top quilt was really easy to sew together (I talked about my choice of fabrics here). 

But when I decided to go for a dense quilting, well who knows what I was thinking - it took forever, and although I like it, I wished now that I had done it in a colour similar to the bias tape I used, instead of white. I think I am more a hand-quilting sort of a girl - it usually works well with quilts that I have a modern feel to them. 

I am really pleased the bias tape I found at Ma Petite Mercerie in ochre. I mentioned in my first post that I was considering gold, and I had the right idea - it really pops and makes it really summery.  I finally spent some time finding out how to put a bias tape properly - and here is the tutorial that actually made sense for me. 

And it works beautifully with the back fabric. I am very pleased it is finished, but also with the actual quilt. I hope my friend will be too, and that she will be able to keep it for a little boy for a bit of time. 

Some quilt stats
Measurements: 140 cm x 105 cm
Pattern: my own - for a baby boy
Fabric: Happy Drawing Elephants; Free as bird | Pollen, Up, Up and Away; Botanics: Graph Paper Garden in blue
Backing: Koi - Smile and Wave in Reed
Binding: Bias tape in ochre from Ma Petite Mercerie


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Here we are... My first ever sale on the blog. I really hope you will be inspired by it and knit this yarn - the skeins are really beautiful but not really my colours. And although I could probably make presents out of them, if I am not excited about a colour I usually procrastinate about the projects. 

The prices exclude postage, but I am happy to ship internationally. I will let you know how much it will be beforehand and make sure you are ok with it. Of course it is a better deal if you are based in the UK. 

Let me know in your comment box which skein you want and your PayPal address. 

First to comment on a skein, first to get it!  I will try to ship as quickly as possible. 

Don't hesitate to contact me for further details. For the TFA skeins there are patterns published for just that one skein on Ravelry. Happy shopping!

Destashing to get to sustainable stashing

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

How many times have I told myself 'I will destash' or 'I will only use fabric from my stash'  and the next thing I know I am buying more (gorgeous, of course) fabric (ditto for yarn). It may ring true with some of you - I have seen many collaborative blogging efforts to stop buying more. Clearly I have my limits - I cannot just stop buying - and in fact I want to buy more, just differently, of a more sustainable kind. 

If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed a total change in the way I use it. To be fair, I did not use that much in the past (usually to notify the publication of new blog post) and therefore the fact that I am using it is in itself a major change. The second change is that I am using twitter as a way of learning and sharing more about ethical fashion, sustainable craft supplies, organic fabric, natural dyes, and the occasional upcycling project. My main interest is of course the craft supplies side of things as I am hoping to make more items myself, but I am fairly partial to ethical fashion too. 

So what has happened so far and what does it mean? 

  • What is in my stash? 

It started one afternoon - I took everything out of cupboards, shed/sewing room and the attic and I laid it all out on my bed; and it was scary - there was a lot there, some I did not know I had, some I wondered why I had it, some I liked as long as it was not used on me - a mix of 'it was a bargain I had to buy it', or 'I will use this for a specific project', or 'I just like the fabric/yarn, will see what I make of it'. 

At the end of the day, I do like a lot of what I have - which makes destashing much easier - however I am not always sure I have enough of it for bigger projects. I seemed to have accumulated a lot of one skein of yarn here and 1m of fabric there. There could be strange combo being featured on this blog...

  • How am I going to use my stash?

There will be two ways: I will be using my stash in future projects, and I will sell some of it and generate money for the next stash

I assume that using my stash for projects will be both project-driven and stash-driven. I have 8 skeins of Chickadee for instance, and I have been spending a lot of time finding knitting patterns that I will require that exact amount of yarn (and still fit my growing bump - not easy). 

As for the selling, I have decided to do it through this blog - probably on Thursdays, so it may be worth checking out because you could grab yourself a bargain. I am going to start with my stash of Tanis Fibre Arts yarn, beautiful but not for me unfortunately. Hopefully someone will love it and knit it! 

  • How strict am I going to be with this sustainability malarkey? 

At this stage, I am SO into it - but I am always like this when I start a new project. I read about it, I research it intensely and that is all I think about. I think this is probably ok whilst my left over stash is still quite big and does not preclude any new project. It might be different if a new fabric line comes out or if I am dead set on a new project that requires specific supplies I don't have or cannot find a sustainable alternative for. 

I am not going to be too strict about it. I will try to get organic fabric and yarn whenever I can. I am going to be a bit more relaxed about natural dyes - although that might change as my techniques improve and/or my favourite suppliers list increase. I am totally learning as I am going. I may come back to this post in a couple of years and wonder why I was worried of having a stash of cream, or wonder which planet I was on. 

In addition, and most importantly, I will not judge anyone who is not interested in this, I am not an eco-warrior. I am just trying to spend my money better and find better alternatives if I can. And when I share this someone gets inspired as well, that one person will make me very happy indeed!

  • What will happen on the blog? 

Not a lot will change - this is a blog about handmade stuff, combined with the occasional life snapshots. I may share some of my favourite sellers of sustainable craft suppliers, as it is quite specific and it might be useful. I may try my hand at some techniques such as natural dyeing (I am fairly excited about this) - and share the result with you (good or bad, I promise). I will try to tell a bit more about where the fabric comes from - whether it is destashing or the new stash, and report on project destash - I have at the moment 6 boxes full of fabric and yarn. I am hoping to get it down to 2!

The yarn stash

However in the background I will do a lot more research about what it is I am buying and how it is sustainable, and how it is helping local communities. I am interested in those stories, and it will make that garment I will just have sewn that extra special.

Phew! Here we are.. I did want to write this post for a while. It is not a new direction, but it is certainly something very important to me. Maybe having a second baby had wider impact than I thought. I hope you will carry on joining me and share your own experience of handcraft in my more sustainable world!

Red and White Gooseberries Clafoutis | Recipe {Baking}

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Last Sunday we went out with Baby MiH to our nearest Pick Your Own farm (you can see some pictures in the post) - literally 5 minutes down the road (for those in Hertfordshire, the St Albans Hawkswick Lodge Farm). Mr MiH was not convinced but I nagged - and Baby MiH loved it. He had enough after an hour, but by then I had picked more fruits that the three of us could eat. 

Earlier that week, I had filed a gooseberry recipe found on Moral Fibres - and it reminded me of the clafoutis my Grandma used to bake, so I had to try it. My Grandma used cherries usually, as to be honest I had not seen a lot of gooseberries where I came from in France (I did not know, but they are called groseilles a maquereau). At the farm we found white ones as well as red ones (that are much sweeter) - a great discovery. And as nearly everyone seemed to avoid the gooseberries bushes, it was pretty easy to pick them. 

Baby MiH getting close to some gooseberry action
So I had to bake the recipe as soon as we were back home, and Mr MiH keeps raving about it - honestly I am sure he has eaten 3/4 of it on his own, because the great thing with clafoutis is that it gets better and better as it cools down. 

He is adamant he was to hold his own basket
As I mentioned this is not my recipe, but I copied and pasted it so it is easy for you to refer to it. 
  • 400g gooseberries (I mixed equally white and red ones)
  • 30g butter (plus extra to grease your baking dish)
  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml milk
  • 90g granulated sugar
  • 90g flour
  • 2 tablespoons of icing sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Our little beefeater
We were too slow for him
Preheat your oven to 180°C/gas mark four.
Cut the tops and stalks off of your gooseberries, and give them a good wash.
Butter a roughly 20cm pie dish or baking tin and then lightly sprinkle with a little bit of icing sugar.  Place your gooseberries in the dish.
Beat your eggs and sugar together until creamy.  Then add your flour (sifted), vanilla essence and milk and mix well until combined.
Melt your butter in a small pan and add to the mix, stirring well.
Pour the batter over the gooseberries, and place your pan in the oven for around 35 minutes, or until your clafoutis is puffed and golden brown and a skewer or knife comes out clean. 

An hour worth of pick your own
So you get a great activity and yummy food out of it! A total win-win as far as I am concerned. 

Baby MiH is very much into outdoors activities, any activity close to nature that you can recommend doing with a toddler? I sent the boys to the farm on Tuesday to feed the goats and the alpacas, and ride the tractor - another great hit...