The Bothered Owl

Alex and Sarah's crafty corner of cyberspace

Make With Me June 21, 2011

Filed under: General Crafty Chat — thebotheredowl @ 5:50 pm
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This week is Learning Disability Week.

Mencap are encouraging people to get involved with their campaign to stop hate crimes against people with learning disabilities. And part of the campaign is about making something personal and uploading pictures to the website.

We didn’t have the time, concentration span or ingredients to make personalised gingerbread men but we did have large amounts of glitter glue, pens and half-face mask shapes to hand, so Orlaith, Esme and I got into the spirit of things and here’s what we made:

I’ll spare you a ridiculous photo of me in a mask, though I did make one and finish by saying:

1. Don’t let Esme near the glitter unsupervised or it will end in sparklepants. And carpet. And sofa. And…

Twinkle, twinkle...


2. Do have fun.

3. Go here and get involved.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some serious vaccuuming to do.



Completion May 17, 2011

Filed under: General Crafty Chat — thebotheredowl @ 6:00 am
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Ooh lookit, lookit, I actually finished making something!

It’s the second pair of socks I’ve made as part of ORASH (Operation Replace All Socks with Handmade. Still not sure why it’s not ORAWSH but then I am an enormous pedant and it’s not my invention! And ORASH sounds like Oh, rash, which in hindsight signing up to knit a lot of handmade socks while being …ahem… snuggled by 3 small people, 2 cats, a husband and a handcrafting business may have been. Also, did I mention I am completely sleep deprived? Hence this very long run[on sentence filled aside! Roll on the caffeine, people. *twitches*)

Strange cloven hoof style toes

The pattern I chose was Hedera by Cookie A. I really like it. You get these lovely, almost architectural, columns of twisted stitches and lacy holes. Very graceful feeling.

Obligatory sideways pointy toe shot

I altered the toe somewhat, opting for a round toe construction rather than a wedge toe as written in the pattern. I’ve been wanting to try one out for ages because my socks always wear out at the side of the toe, where all the decrease stitches are. Round toes don’t have that little line of decrease stitches so I want to see if these wear out less quickly.

They look a little strange, slightly like I’m hiding a pair of cloven hooves in there.

But they’re very comfy, no pressure on my toes at all and I would probably use a round toe again.

I definitely recommend the book and this pattern in particular.

And now, bring me the caffeine, people. BRING IT.



Clubbing May 1, 2011

Filed under: General Crafty Chat — thebotheredowl @ 10:43 pm
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You may remember from this post a while ago that I have a bit of a sock yarn problem.  Although it’s only a problem if you feel it’s a problem. I see it as my own little private art collection. And insulation.

In any case, I decided it was time to do something about it, after the discovery that I seem to have over 70 skeins of sock yarn kicking around. Inspired by my friend Suzanne, who was, in turn, inspired by this, I resolved to make myself a sock club aimed at using up what’s in my stash.

In the intervening period I got a little distracted by tiny things, like finishing off custom orders and having a baby. You know, the little, every day things that suddenly crop up and absorb every minute of your waking life.

But then this week I had a little time to myself so I ordered a big parcel of brown paper bags and today I went stash diving.

Snorkel is optional. But probably useful.

Stash diving is So.Much.Fun.

If you haven’t done it recently, you really should.Every so often, even if I’m not actually planning on making anything I like to dig through mine and roll around in it remind myself of what’s in there.

There's no yellow in my rainbow.

In my case, a surprising amount of purple and green. But no yellow.

One of the things I love about indie yarn is the way each dyer can take a particular colour and produce their own totally unique spin on it. (No pun intended. Genuinely sorry.)

Here’s some examples I retrieved from my heap this afternoon.

Sweet Clement, Enchanted Knoll, Knitting Goddess and Yarn To Knit.

All nominally green. All totally different. The Sweet Clement is incredibly intense, almost glowing. The Yarn To Knit is intense too, but it has a really grassy feel.

Another good example is purple. True purple, or so I understand from dabbling and much reading, is really hard to dye. Something to do with the different uptake times of red and blue dyes. It is also one of my favourite colours, as evidenced by the fact that I have a HUGE amount of purple yarn in my stash. I like purple because there’s such enormous variety and subtlety of shade in there. And it can be so rich.

Check it out:

Knitting Goddess, Sweet Clement, Old Maiden Aunt

Again, all purple, all semi solids but the differences between each dyer is incredible.

And then you have all the variegated and striping yarns. And again, no two dyers will do the exact same thing with the same colour palette.


Fyberspates, Solstice Yarns

The yarn on the left is some Fyberspates I got in a 12 month sock club a few years ago. It was the February skein, as I recall. The yarn on the right is a skein of Solstice Yarn I picked up just before Christmas. They use a similar colour palette but each dyer has done something different and striking with those colours.

Anyway, I digress.

I’ve spent a very happy morning and afternoon going through my books, paper print outs and Ravelry.

Yes, yes I do have a slight penchant for Cookie A's patterns. How could you tell?

I’ve picked 30 or 40 patterns and matched them up with appropriate yarns.

Make sure you work out whether the pattern will suit variegated or semi solid yarns best.

Knitting Goddess, Paintbox

The end result of the exercise: a massive pile of brown paper parcels:

Not *quite* as attractive as before. But intriguing!

I’m really looking forward to dipping into these. I figure with approximately 40 odd packages, there should be enough to keep me occupied for a good long while. You know, in those dull moments between changing nappies, feeding and generally stimulating the older kids, breastfeeding, making stuff for the shop and sleeping.



A tiny new arrival April 4, 2011

Filed under: General Crafty Chat — thebotheredowl @ 12:20 am
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Wee Foxy Fox

Made you look!

Brutus continues to be an obstinate little creature and refuses to come out of its own volition, so I am off to hospital tomorrow evening to begin a controlled explosion. Otherwise known as being induced.

But not before I managed to finish this little lady for Esme. She was in need of some solace and consolation the other day after a 2 hour shrieking session and I happened upon this pattern via the lovely Skein Queen’s blog.

Esme was mesmerised and the ensuing search for appropriate yarn calmed her down.

The pattern is called Intrepid Fox and you can purchase it from Ravelry. It’s a lovely, quick and easy knit with the option of making it somewhat more complex if you fancy some colourwork. I have never tried colourwork so I went for a slightly more vanilla option this time around.

I already have orders from Orlaith that I am to make her her very own fox, who shall be named Cuddles, apparently.

Esme’s name choices thus far are fairly predictable: she says the fox is to be named either Sleeping Beauty or Prince Phillip. Curse you, Disney classic movies, curse you.

Anyway, I couldn’t sleep until it was finished and Brutus makes it rather difficult to sleep any way, so I thought I’d share this with you, in case you’re also troubled with insomnia and in need of a comforting wee face to help you snooze.

Hopefully the next time I post, I shall have something else small and pink to share with you. Here’s hoping, eh.

In the meantime, I believe Alex will almost certainly have some delightful things to entertain you with in the coming days. Keep your fingers crossed for safe delivery, please!



World Book Day March 3, 2011

Filed under: General Crafty Chat,Life — thebotheredowl @ 9:12 am
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Thought I’d just very quickly share a few photos of the completed costume for World Book Day. Orlaith headed off to school, very excited in her full Captain Flinn regalia about half an hour ago, waving her sword and looking absolutely delighted with herself.

So full of piratey glee

She was in fact attempting to stab me in my belly in this photo. And giggling unrepentantly throughout her attack too. Rotter.

Piracy is serious business, doncha know?

Like her tricorn? I used a fantastic tutorial from over here, to refresh my memory of how the outer brim should be pinned, mainly. For the most part, a tricorn can be made in the same way as a sun hat, it just has a much much wider outer brim and you have to stitch it up in a particular way to make that lovely pointy triangular shape.

And because it would be wrong to leave Esme out of the action, here is the costume she devised for herself. We’re not ALL about home/handmade here at Owl HQ:

A princess? Seriously? An owlette as a princess? But that's just so... vanilla!

As obsessed as Orlaith is about pirates and dinosaurs, Esme trumps her with her current passion for Sleeping Beauty. We have resisted her urging to buy her a Sleeping Beauty costume so she fashions her own from all the other girly princess dresses we’ve been given. Most days are spent either in this fabulous frothy creation or more often than not, draped in her big sister’s Snow White costume. She insists her name is Princess Sleeping Beauty.

But there’s a twist.

What's that, Lassie? Timmy's in the well? With some dragons? Avaunt!

This princess comes complete with her own pirate sword – I get told off for sugesting it’s a pirate sword, it’s a PRINCESS sword – and she fights dragons. And builds her own towers.

Ignore the sweet smile and pay attention to the flash of sharp sharp steel. Well, all right, foam. But that's not the point.

And there you have it, folks, our first ever World Book Day is off to a cracking start. Onwards and upwards!


PS Have a link to The Guardian’s brand new children’s book site. Huzzah!


It’s a Mum Thing… February 25, 2011

Filed under: General Crafty Chat,Life — thebotheredowl @ 10:41 am
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I’m not quite sure where the burning need to make Amazing Costumes for our offspring comes from.

My mum had six kids and I don’t think she slept for at least 20 years, let alone took a quiet five minutes for a cup of tea and a chat on the internet (Internet? Pfff! I am OLDER THAN THE INTERNET!) But I remember always having the most incredible costumes for dress-up days when I was at school.

Whether it was a Holly Hobby style stripy skirt and mob cap for our special ‘Olden Days’ open day or a bright pink boob tube and gingham rah rah skirt for the school production of Joseph And The Technicolour Dreamcoat, she pulled it off, somehow. (Yes, somewhere there is photographic evidence of me as an Adoring Girl. No, you don’t get to see it. Ever. Some things are best kept hidden from the world.)

So when the lovely Julie of  Tilly Flop Designs reminded us all that next week is World Book Day (Thursday 3rd March, specifically) I was filled with dread.

Could I live up to my Mum’s amazing creations?

Would Orlaith agree to wear what I made? What the hell would my eccentric child want to wear for World Book Day anyway? She has somewhat… eclectic taste in books and I could see her asking for something completely undoable like a Captain Biceps outfit or Herb The Vegetarian Dragon or something. I have no idea how to pull off a dragon costume. None.

In the end it was fairly easy. One of her favourite books is Captain Flinn and The Pirate Dinosaurs which was a much treasured perfect birthday present from Alex and Scott (I seem to recall). We’ve subsequently acquired and devoured each new episode in Flinn’s fantastic adventures. They’re hilarious, full of swash and buckle and just the right amount of naughtiness. Dinosaurs and pirates are two of Orlaith’s all consuming passions in life, so the books are just perfect.

And of course, she wants to be Captain Flinn for Book Day. (So proud my daughter is continuing my own penchant for cross-dressing on Book Day. I remember going dressed as Prince Caspian at least once. Gender, schmender. Swords are cool.)

Flicking through the book I realised with dread I was going to have to make an actual *gasp* garment. A pirate coat, no less.

It sounds silly to be so daunted, but you have to remember that it’s been almost a year since I last made anything that wasn’t a knitting bag or a sun hat. I haven’t made myself any maternity skirts and I’ve never ever made a top, let alone a whole coat.

Still, armed with my trusty tools, I went to work with a will. I took Orlaith’s measurements and we sketched out what she wanted the coat to look like.

Look! I drew something. And it actually looks like the thing it's meant to represent.

I started out by looking at her existing coat and trying to figure out what I would need to do to adapt that shape to be more… piratey.  SarahAbroad suggested hitting up the thrift shops and finding a jacket to modify. And then I remembered my handy stash of Sew Hip contained in it, somewhere, a pattern for a duffle coat. I hunted like a pig for truffles and sure enough, there it was!

The kid in the photos is just so cute.

I used the pattern pieces for the lining as a starting point. One of the best tools you can get, if you’re going to be working with templates or patterns is a tracing wheel. Looks a bit like a tiny pizza cutter with little bumpy bits all over it and you can use it to copy pattern pieces without having to ruin them by cutting them out.

I traced the lining pieces, then I modified them.

Always, always, always write down what your pattern piece is.

Mark which bit is the neckline, armscye, hem etc. Really important to transfer any markings as well.

Not sure if you can see the markings too well in the photos, but I took Orlaith’s collarbone to ‘waist’ measurement, marked a line at that point on each of the pattern pieces, then basically extended the line of the bottom of the coat, to make it into an A line shape. Effectively, I added an A line skirt onto the bottom of her coat. Sort of.

DIdn’t need to alter any of the sleeve pieces so after that it was time to cut it all out and get sewing.

Sleevish! The funny looking bit at the top is where your shoulder goes.

All pinned together. Pinning is super important when making a garment.

Make the recipient try it on before you sew, scratchy pins and all. It will save you much heartache.

You can kind of see the new shape, no? Slightly swingier from the waist down.

I didn’t take any photos while I was sewing. I was too busy swearing at the thread for breaking and sweating over things like pocket placement and so forth. I roughly followed the instructions from the pattern in the magazine which were really nice and clear. I’d definitely make the duffel coat based on the pattern instructions. One of these days…

Anyway, skipping over the hours it took me to actually sew the things together – interspersed with breaks for taking people to the potty, making lunch, reading stories etcetera – here’s the finished product, like magic.

Ta dah! Pirate jacket, with dinosaurs. See what I did there?

(Um, Alex? I may have been forced, forced I tell you, to raid the stash on the table a little. Sorry about that. But the dinosaurs say they like living on Orlaith’s coat and they really wanted to be pirates rather than knitting supplies anyway.)

Best of all, are the buttons. I am so happy about the buttons.

Anchors away!

Jake bought himself a lovely coat earlier in the Winter – I think it might be a pea coat? – but the buttons were sewn on very badly. I repaired them three or four times in the first week or so he had it, until he finally got sick of not being able to wear his shiny new coat and we cut all the buttons off and replaced them with plain navy ones.

Not being one to throw anything away (Random birthday cards from when I was 6? Still at my Mum’s house somewhere.) I held onto them, just in case I should one day have a need for nautical themed buttons. And lo, I looked upon them and realised they were good. Oh yes!

I bound the cuffs with some offcuts of satin ribbon leftover from making drawstrings for our yarn pouches:

Mmm, smooth.

It took me all blinking day and most of my evening to put it together. But when she saw it this morning, it was all suddenly worth it.

Menacing, no?

She has yet to remove it for more than 5 seconds at a time and she and Esme have constructed a pirate ship on the armchair.

Arrrrr. Etcetera.

I’d like to think my Mum would be proud.

Captain Flinn and Pirate BicBic

Of course, the only problem is that now I have to make one for Esme. She’s already picked out the fabric. A mum’s work is never done…


PS Stay tuned later, we should hopefully have an Unravel Preview Post for you…


Shawl Preservation Society… February 20, 2011

Filed under: General Crafty Chat — thebotheredowl @ 9:02 am

I have a quick question which I hope some of you smart crafters out there might be able to help me with.

My grandma gave me this very very old shawl a few years ago.

I think it must have been made by a relative back in the far reaches of time but I really don’t know. I’ve never worn it because it’s very very scratchy and it’s also incredibly delicate and starting to disintegrate in places.

It looks like it’s at least partially crocheted and I have no idea where to even start with regard to restoring/preserving it. The whole thing is constructed from circles:

The circles are joined together by really fine mesh which looks like it might be made of really tiny chain stitch? I can’t even begin to comprehend how the circles themeselves are made. The wool is so fine, doesn’t appear to have been made into stitches, just drawn together in the centre of each circle somehow.

The edges have a fringe of tassels:

The tassels seem to basically be looped into place somehow.

Looking more closely at the circles, there’s a really curious ring of stitching around the centre of each one.

I’m really curious about how it was made, I just can’t conceive of how someone constructed this thing from such fine strands. And I want to preserve it before it sustains any further damage.

If it helps to narrow things down, my grandmother is from Hungary, her family were Hungarian Jews from just outside Budapest.  A large portion of them didn’t make it through the war. I have a feeling it was probably one of those relatives that made the shawl, hence Grandma wanting to pass it on. Like the various handstitched tablecloths and napkins she’s given me over the years.

I have no idea where to even begin researching this or how I would go about getting the existing ravages mended. Any ideas, fellow crafters?


Edited to Add:

Huge thanks to some very kind fellow Ravellers, I think we have an answer.

Cynalune, Ingridsera, Geoknitter, Schrouderknits and Patriciaelizabeth all concur that this is almost certainly hairpin lace. Possibly knitted on a loom and possibly with a crochet chain webbing to join it all together.

Schrouderknits was kind enough to post a link to a photo of a shawl that looks very similar, it can be seen here:

Thankyou so much to all you lovely people who took the time to have a look and help me out, hugely appreciated! Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to go about mending it, or whether I’m going to wrap it carefully in tissue paper and put it away somewhere special, with lots and lots of cedar balls to keep the moths away!