Sunday, 16 July 2017

Stylecraft Candy Swirl

Today I'd like to share with you a little yarn review! Let me introduce to you Candy Swirl, the latest yarn from Stylecraft. I've just made up a scarf using this yarn and I'd love to share the project with you...


By day, I work in the wool department of a family run art and craft shop. This is both brilliant and dangerous- it is very hard to resist buying everything because there are so many lovely things! I was really looking forward to the arrival of Candy Swirl, which is the much anticipated latest yarn by Stylecraft and I have knitted a scarf in this new yarn to display in the shop, in return for blogging about it here. All opinions here are my own and although Candy Swirl is available to order from my place of work, it is available from many yarn retailers.

With American "cake" style yarns, which are colour changing yarns rolled into a spiral to show off the colours, proving very popular in the knitting and crochet world at the moment, many of the big UK yarn brands are releasing their own take on this trend and Candy Swirl is Stylecraft's.

Candy Swirl yarn is a cake yarn released as part of Stylecraft's Special range, which is their economy acrylic range. I really really love wool and pure fibre yarns, but Special is such a popular yarn range, with the appeal only increasing as bloggers and designers such as Lucy from Attic 24 championing it in their work, producing brilliant colourful blankets and accessories. I've got an ongoing crochet granny square blanket project that I'm making in Special DK. 

Pure fibre yarns are, quite rightly so, expensive. The cost of the upkeep of the animals whose fleeces used to make the yarn, plus the production costs and many other factors make it a luxury item. I make small woolen pieces and I can't afford to make many large pieces using pure fibre yarns- I'm not going to change my wool loving ways and convert to using acrylic (very often),  but I appreciate the accessible appeal of yarns such as the Stylecraft Special range and I can therefore understand why Stylecraft would want to add a cake yarn to this range.


Candy Swirl is a 150g DK weight yarn in eight colourways, all with sweet/fruit inspired names. I chose to work with the shade called Coconut Ice.



The yarn is beautifully rolled together to show off the lovely colours. However, unlike some cake style yarns where you can start the ball from the outside edge or the middle and knit away, with the Candy Swirl I found it best to start from the outside and re-roll the yarn into a ball first to stop it all collapsing on itself. I got in a bit of a knot to start with because I didn't realise. This would be my only criticism of the yarn because other than this initial issue, it was a pleasure to work with.

Work in progress! Tea and cake to go with my cake yarn. You can see what I did there...


Unlike some of the similar yarns available, Candy Swirl doesn't come with a free pattern on the ball band, but the cheaper price reflects this. However there are many separate patterns for knitted and crocheted accessories available to go with the yarn, lots with several designs on the single pattern and most of them just require one ball. I chose pattern 9413, which has three designs. I chose to make the "Petit Points" scarf, which has a lovely lacy edge.

Certainly where I work, people have expressed an interest in using the yarn to make children's garments, so perhaps this is something Stylecraft will explore in the future


The yarn was lovely to work with- it is beautifully soft- not scratchy at all like some acrylic yarns and It doesn't split as you knit. It was a very enjoyable pattern to knit


On display at work

I hope you enjoyed a little insight into the world of Candy Swirl!

Happy making!

Louise xx

Sunday, 9 July 2017

How To Make A Rag Quilt

It may not be quilt weather here in the uk at the moment, but I made this rag quilt for my niece recently and I wanted to share how to make it. This certainly was a fun project to make and I want to make everything quilted now, hehe!


A rag quilt is made from squares of fabric pieced together with the seam allowances on the outside. The seam allowances are snipped at intervals and the whole quilt then goes in the washing machine- the snipped edges fluff up to create a lovely fluffy border!  I wanted to make one as I have never made a quilt before and I had heard that a rag rug is a great introduction to quilting, as there is no need for a seperate back or border. It's also a great project if you're not confident with a sewing machine, as you only sew straight lines. Even if the lines end up a little wobbly like mine, once the seams are all fluffed up no-one will ever know!

 This can also be a very thrifty project as it is a fab way to use up small pieces of fabric from your stash. Also, the backing is made from wynceyette, which is a type of brushed cotton- check if you have an old wynceyette sheet you could use before heading to the fabric shop.

 You don't have to use it as a quilt- a rag quilt would make a great picnic blanket or throw for your sofa. You could also use these ideas to make rag quilt cushions. 

 This is by no means my own original idea as rag quilts are widely made, but read on to find my interpretation of how to make one!



You Will Need

Selection of cotton based fabrics for the top layer of the quilt.  I used three designs
I think that polycotton fabrics would work too, but if you are unsure if the fabric you have will fluff up in the washing machine, perhaps try washing a small sample first

Winceyette (a soft brushed cotton) for the backing fabric. You will need twice the amount of the top layer fabric, including seam allowances

Fabric scissors or fabric cutting wheel. If you are using a cutting wheel you will also need a cutting mat and quilting ruler. If you are cutting the pieces by hand, you will need a piece of paper and a pencil and ruler to make a template

Pins 

Sewing machine

Thread for machine sewing

Needle and thread for tacking


1)

Decide on the size you would like each fabric square to be and how many sqaures you would like in each design. I cut my squares 7"x7" and stitched them with a 1/2" seam allowance, to leave finished squares of 6"x6".  Cut out the amount of squares in the top layer fabric to make a quilt to your required size. Use a rotary cutter and quilting ruler with a cutting mat, or a paper template pinned onto your fabric and then cut around it with fabric scissors.

For every square of fabric for the top layer you will need to cut two identical squares from the winceyette




2)

Now to make your quilt sandwiches! Take two squares of winceyette and pin one of your top layer squares on top to form a fabric sandwich


3)

Repeat this step until all of your squares have been used up. You can now either machine stitch an x across each square from corner to corner to hold all the pieces together, or leave the pin in place and proceed to the next step

Now you should lay your squares out on a table or on the floor and decide on the design to make u your quilt


4)

Once you've decided on your design, stitch the squares together in rows of the desired number. My quilt was 6 squares long.

Place two squares wrong sides together and pin along the side edge, leaving a 1/2" seam allowance.You need the seams to all be on the right side of the fabric





5)

Continue until all of your squares are pinned together in rows. You may like to tack all the squares in place


6)

Sew the squares together using a 1/2" seam allowance in a contrasting coloured thread. Ensure that you also sew a 1/2" seam allowance on the squares on the end of the rows too




All of your squares should now be sewn into strips, with the seam allowance showing on the right side and each end square should be sewn with a 1/2" seam allowance too. Press the seam allowances flat



7)

Now to sew your strips together! Line the strips up together in your chosen order and pin along the long sides, again using a 1/2" seam allowance and with the seam allowance on the right side of the fabric. Pin the seams out flat


8) 

Now that all the pieces for the quilt are sewn together, it's time to snip the seam allowance.

Use fabric scissors to snip through the exposed seam allowances at approximately 5mm intervals, taking care not to snip through the stitching. Don't forget to snip along the outside edges too.

Once all the seams are snipped, give the quilt a good shake outside- try to remove as many of the loose threads as you can

When washed, the snipped seam allowance will fluff up




9) 

Pop your quilt in the washing machine, along with something extra like a pair of jeans to give some friction. I washed mine at 40 degrees.

You will find that many loose threads will come away from the quilt in the wash, so it's best not to wash it with lots of other things!

When the quilt comes out of the washing machine, give it a good shake and hang it up to dry. Shake it again once it's dry to remove any more loose threads. You will find that the more you wash the quilt, the fluffier the seams will get.

Enjoy your quilt! If you make one, please share a photo in the comments below, or tag me in your photo on social media @louisedawsondesign

Happy making!

Louise xx










Sunday, 2 July 2017

Back To The Blog

Hello there! It's been a little while since I last published a blog post but I'm excited to get back to it again. I hope you are well!

I don't usually go into lots of personal detail but I feel that I should explain my absence! This year has been very eventful. Back in February, my Dad was taken seriously ill and we nearly lost him. It was the most awful time, but I'm pleased to say that he is now fully recovered and we are all very grateful. The NHS doctors and nurses that took care of him were all amazing and I can't thank them enough for giving him such great care and bringing him back to health. I'm feeling quite emotional writing this!

Following this, my sister had her baby girl one month early- she was so teeny but she's more than made up for it now! So I'm now a proud Auntie to two lovely nieces.

After all of this, having been looking for a long time, Mr Writer and I bought a house! It took quite a few months, lots of paper work and meetings, but we've now exchanged contracts. It's a new build and we will be moving in around about the end of September, so we are busy organising for our move. We don't currently live together, despite having been together for fourteen and a half years, so we are very excited! I will be sharing some homeware How Tos soon.

These events all snowballed into me going a little off track, which is why I've been away from the blog for so long, but I'm grateful that things have now (touch wood!) settled down a bit and I am getting back into a routine. I've been making some new pieces that I will share with you soon.

Thank you for letting me share this with you today. I hope you are all well and enjoying the summer.

I'll be back soon!

Louise xx






Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Valentine's Gifts In My Etsy Shop- Take 10% Off!

It's the season for all things romantic! Valentine's Day is just around the corner and I'd like to share a coupon code for you to treat your loved one or yourself to something from my Etsy Shop. Use the code "HAPPYVALENTINES" to grab 10% off any purchase in my Etsy Shop until 14th February. Have a browse in my Etsy Shop here. Happy shopping!

Here are just a few handmade pieces that you can find in my shop...






Sunday, 5 February 2017

How To... Fabric Scrap Photo Frame Valentine's Gift

No matter what the occasion, coming up with original gift ideas for your loved ones each year can be tricky. With Valentine's day just around the corner, in the coming week I will be sharing some How Tos and ideas for making your own unique Valentine's gifts for the ones you love. I'm starting by sharing my How To for this fabric scrap photo frame, which is the perfect way to give the gift of a special photo. This is a really simple and very thrifty make, which goes to show that you don't need to spend lots to create a unique and special gift.

You can find the How To here. Happy making!


Are you making any Valentine's gifts? I'd love to see your makes, please do share in the comments!


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Louise Dawson Design On Instagram In January

Happy February to you all! When I look back on my "On Instagram" blog posts from last year I really did repeat words like "This year is flying by!" an awful lot and I'm beginning to think that this year will be no exception. January whizzed by very quickly!

Today I'd like to share my Instagram photos from January- I have shared the photos in the order that I posted them on Instagram, so you get an idea of how the month unfolded.

I hope you had a good January. Thanks for letting me share- what did you get up to?


We saw in the new year with friends and I shared knitted best wishes


I began working on new designs, starting with sorting out my Shetland wool stash


I'm determined to complete some long standing projects this year, like this Granny Square blanket


These hand knitted, Fair Isle Shetland wool necklaces were the first new pieces I added to my Etsy Shop this year


Sharing my lovely sparkly hair bow from the lovely Jo, aka Adventures and Tea Parties


The particularly cold weather was a great reason to cosy up indoors and knit new designs!


Nelson approached January in his usual laid back style!


Thinking of Spring and stitching new Harris Tweed necklaces


Two friends of mine went out separately to buy me a Christmas present and a thank you present and both bought me the same lovely box, so now I have two very sweet boxes to store my sewing kit


Two more projects that I'm determined to get finished this Winter- a lovely super chunky jumper and cardigan


And another one! This was part way through knitting a foot stall for my Mum. I'm pleased to say I've now finished knitting it, I just need to sew it up and stuff it. I'll share some photos when it's finished. It was lovely to knit as it is made using two strands of super chunky yarn held together, so it's super squishy and kept me warm while I was knitting it!

This was another new piece that I added to my Etsy Shop- a lovely bright mustard Harris Tweed button brooch, with upcycled fabrics


Some work in progress and tea! I am usually found with a cup of tea close by


A lovely customer knitted me this very cosy fisherman's rib jumper to her own pattern- so clever and so kind


I shared a look back at 2016 through photos


Recent designs that can be found in my Etsy Shop


Nelson loves to get involved in everything I do, especially if he can sit on things and stop me working! I love this photo


Close up of some of my Harris Tweed mini embroidery hoop necklaces


I was pleased to make some progress on the blanket throughout the month. I love my orange Knit Pro Waves soft grip crochet hook


I made this Shetland wool necklace and brooch as a custom order for a lovely customer asa gift for her knitter sister. I love working with customers to create special gifts


Group shot of some of my Fair Isle necklaces


As it's been such a chilly month I re-shared my bead embellished gloves How To. I wanted to add a bit of sparkle to the cold days


These are the latest new pieces that I've added to my Etsy Shop- three Spring inspired Harris Tweed mini embroidery hoop necklaces



I hope you had a fab January and here's to a great month ahead. Share what you got up to in January in the comments!