The Bothered Owl

Alex and Sarah's crafty corner of cyberspace

Something new! December 28, 2010

One of the fun things about doing custom orders is getting the chance to try out a new technique or even sometimes invent a whole new design, or just add something new to an existing design.

So when my friend/student Syeda asked me if I’d make something for her cousin’s birthday I jumped at the chance because what she wanted was something I’ve been meaning to have a crack at for AGES: a box purse. I’ve seen them around, heck I even have a really horrible plasticky one I got free with a knitting mag years ago, but I’ve not yet had a chance to sit down and figure out how they work.

Had a brief scout about for tutorials and confirmed that I was right about basic construction and then I went to town, tinkering. All the tutes I found were for purses made without a bottom seam, and with the side stitching showing on the inside. Which is fine but I am a little … funny… about exposed stitches. (The day I figured out how blind stitching works was one of the happiest of my sewing ‘career’. ) Couldn’t be too hard to do one with the stitches all neatly concealed, thought I.

And it wasn’t! I think it took me about an hour and a half, all up, to make this little cutie and part of that was just because I stopped part way through to figure out how to make this work and how to trim that seam and so on. The actual construction is fairly simple.

And as always, it’s all about the right fabric! This fabric is amazing – subtle hints of gold mixed in with the paisley. And with that black background, the colours just BURST out at you.


I’m already thinking about ways I can improve on it, make it longer, make it wider, put a handle in here, stick a little pocket on there, maybe attach some kind of clip so you can attach it to the strap of a bag…Then I can say I’ve really mastered a new technique!

Now, if I can just find a decent tutorial for making a mitred corner pocket, I’ll be really happy…




Sewing By Numbers May 28, 2010

Filed under: Knit Nation,markets — thebotheredowl @ 10:03 am
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I think I may have cracked how to streamline my sewing on the yarn bags.

They were taking me forever because I was doing each one as a separate whole process. By breaking the bags down into a number of freestanding sections e.g. pocket, side seam with opening, other side seams, base, I can then sit down and sew all the pockets for all the bags I have cut out. Then all the side seams with openings, etc etc etc.

Because my hands begin to have muscle memory for the task they’re performing, it becomes quicker and easier than sewing each bag as a discreet whole. If that makes sense.

It’s like marking exam papers. Break it down so you mark all the responses to Question One, then go back to the beginning and mark all of the next question and so on. Seems like it should take longer but because you don’t have to constantly change gears between processes, it’s much, much quicker.

I can’t show you pictures of the stuff I’ve made over the last couple of weeks but I did want to show you some more general pictures of some of the bits we’ll have on offer at Knit Nation. We’ve been really tweaking all our designs and figuring out what works and what needed improving and we’re pretty happy with the results.

Here’s a small selection: a tall yarn pouch – long enough to fit your straight needles and big enough to fit a jumper’s worth of yarn; a short yarn pouch, intended for sock or lace knitting; a zippered purse, sized to fit a project and needles or just to store your tools; and a needle roll.

These are a few of the smaller yarn pouches we’ve been making. We’ve designed them to stand up by themselves. They are reversible and each one has a wee pocket inside for sock needles/notions. They’re fairly generously sized, so you can fit your notebook and so forth in there too.

Next up, the tall pouches. These are long enough to hold a pair of straight needles – we sized them for the longer length of needles – and you can fit an awful lot of stuff into one of these babies.

That’s my Tubey you can see in the pictures. I’m busy re-knitting it because it was a little shapeless round the middle bits. The curse of knitting to fit one’s chest.

Anyway, enough of my ample figure, more shiny things.

Needle rolls:

We designed these to fit circular needles. Every one we spoke to about needle rolls kept saying that they couldn’t find ones that would fit their circular needles. Our ones do!

There is a second row of pockets hidden behind the outer pocket too, so you can fit double the amount of needles in there. Plus, at the side you have some smaller pockets designed for either sock needles or if you have interchangeable needles, you can store the needle tips in there. Neat!

Last up are the zippered purses. We’re doing these in a variety of sizes. Some are small enough for a skein of sock yarn and your needles, some are long enough for a set of straight needles and yarn.

All are made in glorious, glorious fabrics!

So there you have it. There’s a few things which we’re holding back as surprises when we get to Knit Nation. And apart from what’s already listed in the shops, I probably won’t be listing anything new before the show as it seems somewhat redundant! So, if you want to see what we’ve got up our sleeves you’ll have to come visit us in our little booth.

We’ve been buying up more fabric than I thought was humanly possible over the last few months and trying to get a fairly wide selection to suit most tastes. It’s quite difficult because I think fabric inspires quite a visceral response in people. Whenever I sell people a hat or bag, it’s usually because they’ve seen the fabric and just  loved it. I find it difficult to distance myself and switch off my own personal tastes when buying fabric.

For example, there’s just no way in Hell I am ever going to buy this but there’s clearly a market for it because there are over 500 listings if you search for Elvis and fabric. And actually the lime green poster style Elvis head print is almost appealing…

Um. Hi.

I think I may need to go have a shower and lie down in a dark room for a bit.



Worth a thousand words March 8, 2010

Filed under: General Crafty Chat — thebotheredowl @ 11:03 pm
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It’s so good to have my camera back. By happy coincidence today was absolutely glorious with sunshine, so I managed to get a few pictures of some of the new bits I’ve been working on.

All the little purses are handstitched. I really prefer putting the zippers in by hand.

I also  made up three new yarn pouches this afternoon, but I’ve not had a chance to photograph those yet. Maybe tomorrow.

And now, I have to go order some more interfacing and paper bags. How very exciting.I’ll try to upload some of the new bits to the shop this evening too.



Please send help… February 10, 2010

Filed under: General Crafty Chat — thebotheredowl @ 6:18 pm
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… I am trapped beneath the weight of my gigantic groaning Stash. Oh my God, I have got to stop going on Ebay…

Mystery FQ pack

Ebay lovelies

Fabric Rehab, my a*se


And finally, the haul from our trip to MacCulloch and Wallis the other day, some of which has already found its way to the scissors of DEATH:

Many colours in the fabric rainbow...

Just so you don’t think it’s all internet profligacy and so you know I’m not just eating peeled grapes whilst reclining on a mound of material, here is a picture of what I started working on last night:

Purple skullies

I’ve been doing a few purses by hand, this is the pocket of the latest one. There will eventually be a pouch in matching fabric. When it’s finished the purse will look like this one.

I’m particularly pleased with the teeny tiny pockets, I think they look good and they will also solve the problem of never being able to find a stitch marker. Mine always roll around inside my knitting purse and get tangled up in stuff.



Nice way to start the day January 7, 2010

Filed under: General Crafty Chat — thebotheredowl @ 9:21 am
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Woke up this morning feeling utterly wretched. I’ve got a revolting cold at the moment and it’s settling into my chest and throat, so it’s hard to swallow and hard to breathe. The kids have both got colds too, so they’re miserable and grotty and cranky which makes for fun days, I can tell you.

It’s frosty and cold outside and everything is covered in snow, but not quite enough snow to mean Jake can work from home, which would have been handy today as I’ve got almost no voice left.

The two metres of calico I ordered the other day for lining some new hats hasn’t arrived yet, so I can’t get on with those or the cute little draw string pre-schooler bags I want to make.

I was just settling into a nice solid grumpy mood when Alex sent me a text saying we’d sold something. So I logged in and found that we had indeed sold this:

So thank you very much to the lovely ‘Slam10’ (Folksy name), Lin Lin, you made my morning a whole heap better! I will be popping out to the post office in a bit, so it should be with you shortly :->


A slightly unconventional use of a purse December 18, 2009

Filed under: General Crafty Chat — thebotheredowl @ 6:06 pm

Not exactly what I had planned for it when I finished stitching it up this morning, but Esme has come up with a new way of using the tiny purse I finished this morning:

Cute purse, you say? Why thank you.

Esme's hand knitted piggy

Esme thinking it over

Putting one and one together

Et voila! Pig in a pouch.

Not the intended use but it kept her amused for ages, first figuring out how to get it in there and then figuring out how to get the zipper shut (I had to help her) then open again. Then figuring out how to get the piggy out again. Not easy with chubby little baby fingers.

You can see the look of concentration on her face!


In which the Bothered Owl encounters Snow, the difficulty of photographin a purse and many bibs.

Filed under: Administration,General Crafty Chat — thebotheredowl @ 12:10 am
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Alex phoned me this evening while I was getting the offspring out of the bath to tell me it was snowing. Cue very excited naked toddlers attempting to escape out of the bathroom window to go play in the snow.

The cold weather is making me slightly more excited about craft than I have been lately. It’s funny, craft is definitely a lot more fun when you’re not trying to sell what you make.  I’ve been feeling a might slumpy about it of late, starting to feel slightly green around the gills whenever I look at my machine. So I took a couple of days off this week, no sewing at all, just playing with the kids and reading stories and totally immersing myself in that, ignoring the mounds of fabric piling up in corners and taking over the house. (No, really, it is taking over the entire house. It doesn’t matter how many boxes I buy to keep my yarn and fabric in. It spreads everywhere. Although I’ve yet to find any in the fridge.)

Anyway, a couple of non-crafty days have helped a little. I’ve handsewn a couple of zipper purses and pouches this week, and today I got cracking on a few sets of fabric coasters we’ve had sitting around for ages. We bought a bunch of Christmassy fabric a while back and have done nothing with it, so coasters it is. I’ll try and get them polished off tomorrow, ready for the Misty Moon Market on Saturday and Sunday.

The other thing I’ve been cracking on with this week is cataloguing all the fabric bits and pieces I’ve made and uploading lots of stuff to Folksy. All the bibs we have left are now up in the store here.

The zippered purses I’ve been working on are here and some of them are big enough that you could quite easily fit your sock knitting inside. Or use them to store your needles. They’d even make cute pencil cases if you don’t want to keep them for yourself.

And of course there’s the little button pouches which I’ve made a new batch of. They are really sweet and hold a surprising amount of stuff for something so teeny. Each one is totally unique, I try not to do the same fabric and button combos twice. Some of them have cute sheep buttons.

As always, if there’s a particular fabric or theme you’re interested in but you can’t see one ready made, why not email me? I am more than happy to send you photos of stuff from The Stash and I can make you something custom.

The one thing I found when doing the shop update is that the purses and pouches are really hard to photograph well. I am not great at photography to begin with (Alex has a much better eye for what works than me. ) and trying to get a decent photo of the interior of a teeny weeny pouch or purse is surprisingly difficult. I ended up taking some fairly wobbly photos, using my phone and car key as weights to hold the damned things open so I could get a half decent shot of the inside.

I think the answer is just to make them with the feature fabric on the outside. Stuff the sensible fabric, novelty skeletons and food stuffs all the way.

Either that or invent a reversible zipper.

Anyway, go forth and look at my wares, I am done touting them for the evening. I am off to bed to try not to dream about sewing. You may look askance, I genuinely often wake up at 2am and cannot get back to sleep because I’ve been dreaming about designing a new purse and I can’t figure out how to get the zipper in. Sad? Perhaps. I like to think of it as supreme dedication to our arts…