Sunday 31 January 2016

On Instagram In January

With January now coming to an end, 2016 is now well and truly underway. It's been a busy month, here's a look at what I've been up to through my Instagram photos...

Happy New Year! Knitting this sparked some ideas for new products featuring lettering, watch this space!

One of my Harris Tweed Button Brooches all packaged and ready to be sent to its new home

I was chuffed when a lovely customer got in touch to ask me to design a Fair Isle necklace as a gift for her friend, using her choice of colours. I love making custom orders!

New colours in beautiful Fenella British wool, which I'm currently knitting into Fair Isle jewellery designs

Zandra Rhodes said you should always wear what you make and I try to wear something I've made everyday. I often wear a group of my brooches together because I can never choose which colour to wear!

The weather in January has been a strange mix of warm, freezing, wind and rain, but there were signs of Spring on our walk around Hyde Hall 

Nelson sleeping, which is his favourite pastime. Love those toes!

Knitting new Shetland Wool Fair Isle jewellery pieces, coming to my Etsy Shop soon!

Working on a How To with hot chocolate and marshmallow fuel. It's been so cold, I've enjoyed the excuse to drink more hot choc!
Nelson's other favourite pastime is "helping" by sitting on whatever it is I'm trying to do!

Tiny Clanger! I knitted her for my little niece and she was so pleased. I'd like to make one for myself to keep as a mascot!

We don't take many pictures of ourselves but I've decided we should take more for posterity! This is Mr Writer and I all wrapped up for a Wintery walk. This was also a good chance to snap a pic of him wearing his Winter clothes. I really feel the cold but he won't wear his Winter coat and hat unless it's below 5 degrees!

I've been making more of my Swarovski Crystal and Freshwater Pearl "Half Moon" necklaces, incorporating beads from broken jewellery. I haven't managed to add any to my Etsy Shop before I've sold them, so this is a goal for the new year!

I'm working on some new Harris Tweed Button Brooches in Spring shades of pale pink, lilac and blue. Coming to my Etsy Shop soon!

Nelson doing more "helping" while I was taking photos for an upcoming How To!

And gate crashing while I was taking photos on a chair by the window, He stayed like this for the rest of the day. It's a cat's life hey?!

If you would like to have a glimpse of what I get up to behind the scenes at Louise Dawson Design, you can follow me on Instagram here. I'd love to follow you too!

What did you get up to in January?

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Small Project Challenge

In January 2015 I set myself the task of completing one small craft project (separate to my textile jewellery) a month, as a way to combat my growing list of unfinished projects- I called it "The Small Project Challenge." Sadly, I didn't manage to complete one project each month like I intended- life got very busy, but I'm pleased to say I completed six projects and I'd like to share them with you today. Although I didn't complete the challenge as I wanted to, the projects that I did make reminded me that it's nice to make things for myself and to keep trying new things. So, here is what I made...

I wanted to try knitting in the round on a circular needle as this was something I hadn't tried before. I was really pleased with my first attempt and this hat is still keeping my ears warm now! I love the pom pom too

I was searching for craft kits to try and I discovered the Flo-Jo Knicker Making Kit! These were so much fun to make and a lot simpler than I thought they would be. I really must make time to make some more, I really enjoyed making them

I really don't like waste and so the fact that I was using disposable cotton wool pads for applying my cleanser and toner didn't feel right to me. That's how I came up with the idea to make these crochet face pads, which I could throw in the wash and re-use, plus also giving me the opportunity to practice my crochet skills (I'm still learning). 

I was chuffed to discover these vintage suitcases and set myself the challenge to line them to use to display my brooches

I'd been wanting to with Crystal Clay for some time, so when I spotted some in a bead shop I knew that would be my next Small Project Challenge! In the end, I wasn't really happy with the ring I made, but I was pleased I tried the Crystal Clay and I'd definitely like to experiment with it more

Having taught myself Fair Isle knitting for my jewellery making, I wanted to practice Fair Isle on a larger scale, so I made this little slouchy baby hat for a friend who had a baby boy in November. This was a great project for practicing Fair Isle on a larger scale, although I had SO MANY ends to sew in! 

I won't be trying to complete a project for the Small Project Challenge every month in 2016, but I will still continue to share my "non-work" projects.

Have you set yourself a similar challenge and how did you get on? I'd love to hear about it! Share in the comments below

Sunday 24 January 2016

How To... Hand Coloured, Embroidered Gift Tags

I never seem to have gift tags when I need them so I often make my own and this has inspired my latest How To! As always, I have designed this How To with thrift in mind- you just need basic materials that you probably already have in your craft stash. This is a really simple idea that will bring a lovely handmade touch to your gift wrapping. Also, If you enjoy the trend for adult colouring, this is the how to for you! Happy crafting, here's how to make them...

1) You will need

Swing tags (or make your own using spare cardboard), drawing pencil, coloured pencils, hole piercing tool/a needle if you don't have one, sewing needle, embroidery thread, scissors

2) Draw your design on to the swing tag. The world is your oyster here in terms of designs and colours, just bare in mind you will need to make holes and stitch around them, so a bolder and less intricate design would be best. I have been given some seventies style fabric so the designs on this inspired my gift tag designs!

3) Choose your colours and colour in your design. You could use felt tip pens rather than coloured pencils if you wanted a bolder look

My lovely pencil roll was made by my friend Karen, check out her Facebook page at Karen Felt Sew Crafty

4) Use the hole piercing tool or needle to pierce stitching holes along the outline of your design. I have found it easier to make one row of holes and embroider this row before moving on to make holes for the next row, as this can mean you need to make less holes.

When I first made these tags I didn't pierce holes before starting to stitch and I found it difficult to bring the needle up in the right place every time

5) Stitch the outlines of your designs in embroidery thread. I chose to use four strands of embroidery thread but you might like to use more or less depending on the look you are going for. I've just used a simple back stitch here, but again, if you would like to use other embroidery stitches, go for it!

6) Stick some plain paper or card onto the back of your tags to hide the stitching and there you have it, very simple but effective gift tags to add a handmade touch to your gift wrapping!

If you try this How To I'd love to see your gift tags,share in the comments below!

Wednesday 20 January 2016

New Etsy Shop Products #WIP

Here is a sneak peek at some new work in progress jewellery pieces that I'm working on at the moment, coming soon to my Etsy Shop!

Working on new hand knitted Fair Isle Necklaces, hand knitted in Shetland wool and knitted to my own designs. I really need to stock up as my Fair Isle jewellery was popular over Christmas time- thank you if you bought a piece from my shop, it makes me so happy to think that there are people out there wearing my designs

A custom order I made for a lovely customer using her choice of colours. I love receiving custom orders- if you'd like me to make something just for you, visit my Etsy Shop, click "Request Custom Order" and I'd be very happy to design something for you

Something a little different... I have an obsession with Swarovski Crystals and I love making jewellery with them just as much as I enjoy wearing them. I'm working on some Swarovski necklaces and rings that I'd like to add to my Etsy Shop as occasion wear. Watch this space!

I've also been making what I call "Half Moon Necklaces," embellished with Swarovski Crystals, Freshwater Pearls, Mother of Pearl and glass beads upcycled from broken jewellery, but they've never made it to my Etsy Shop, so this new year I'm determined to change that! They would make lovely occasion wear-  I can make them in most colours so they are ideal for accessorizing your wedding/party outfit, but look just as lovely worn with your favourite jumper (how I can often be found wearing mine!) Watch this space on this one!

Are there any pieces you'd like to see me stock in my Etsy Shop? I'm always open to suggestions and I'd love to know what you think, leave a comment below and I'll see what I can do!

Sunday 17 January 2016

Knitting Project- Tiny Clanger

The Clangers are back and my three year old niece loves them, and this inspired my latest knitting project! I bought the Clangers book which shows you how to make all of the characters (I'd love to make the Soup Dragon next!) and how to make their planet (they live on a moon like planet far away in space, in case you were wondering!) and I've knitted her Tiny Clanger, as she is her favourite character.

Although I haven't made many toys and I found the sewing up the hardest part, I really enjoyed working on something a bit different- ooh and knitting in lovely King Cole Baby Alpaca DK. The pattern is very clever too, it's all worked in one piece apart from the arms and ears. I hope my niece loves her- I think they are so sweet I'd quite like to make one for myself!

What are you knitting at the moment? Share your projects in the comments, I'd love to see what you are working on!

Wednesday 13 January 2016

How To Knit... Knitting Kit

Welcome to my new series, How To Knit! This is the series for you if you've always wanted to learn to knit but don't know where to start. Through a mixture of step by step photos and videos, here you will learn how to cast on, how to knit and purl, exploring basic patterns and much more. I'll also be exploring everything from what you need in your knitting kit, to how to choose your yarn and needles and how to check your tension. I want to share my passion for all things knitted and woolly and to pass on what to me is a very enjoyable, relaxing and useful skill.

So here is the first post of the series- these are the basic tools you will need to start knitting. Take a peek inside my knitting kit...

1. Knitting needles 
Metal, plastic, bamboo or wood. I personally love to use bamboo needles because they feel so nice to use. However, if I'm using very fine needles I opt for metal ones which are less fragile than their bamboo equivalent. It's all about personal preference here really, it's good to get a couple of pairs in different materials and see what feels best to you.

In the next post in the series I will discuss how to choose the correct size needles to match your yarn

2. Tape Measure

I always keep one handy in my knitting kit because although I own about a thousand of them you can never find one when you need it! Useful for measuring tension squares and for measuring your work when working to a pattern. Oh and measuring yourself to see what size jumper you should knit!

3.Needle Gauge

The thickness of knitting needles is now measured in minimetres. If you have inherited a set of needles with imperial measurements (these will have a number printed on them but no mm) you can still use them, just use your handy needle gauge to find out their metric/mm size. My needle gauge is from Quince Pie on Etsy

4. Row Counter

These handy little things come in a variety of sizes to fit onto the end of your needle and you simply twist it to indicate that you have knitted a row and it displays your number of rows worked

5. Notebook and pen

Personally I prefer to use a notebook and pen to keep a tally of my rows, instead of using a row counter, but this is personal preference. A notebook is also useful for making notes about patterns that you may need to refer back to later,

 It also can be helpful to keep a notebook where you store your tension squares, to keep a note of yarn used, needle size, etc. This is really useful if you come to use the same yarn or pattern again

6. Stitch Markers

Occasionally a pattern may ask you to mark a certain stitch or point in your knitting and that's where stitch markers come in. These come in all sorts of varieties but I find the mini safety pin type the best to use as they fasten shut like a safety pin and don't fall off like some varieties do

7. Stitch Holder

Sometimes a pattern  may require you to leave some stitches on a holder to come back to at a later point in the pattern and a stitch holder is essentially a giant safety pin that does this job for you

8. Cable Needles

These come in average sizes to suit the yarn you are working with and are used as tools to create cable designs

9. Pencil Case

Keep all of your knitting kit together so you know exactly where to find everything, I use this pretty Liberty fabric pencil case from Oh Squirrel to keep me organised

10. Small Scissors (not pictured)

You may have a lovely local wool shop where you can buy the supplies you need to get you started (a great place to pick up knitting advice too) or check out Wool Warehouse, Sconch and LoveKnitting for a great selection of supplies.

For my next post in my How To Knit series I'll be showing you how to pick your yarn and needles.

 If there's something you'd like me to include in this series, let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to include it!

Sunday 10 January 2016

How Tos Roundup 2015

I love sharing crafty How To ideas with a focus on upcycling or customising what you already have- I love a thrifty make! Today I'd like to share a look back at the How Tos I wrote for the blog in 2015 and ask if there are any How Tos you'd like to see on the blog in 2016? I am planning a How To Knit series with videos (watch this space!) but let me know if there's something else you'd like to see. Also, if you tried any of my How Tos last year I'd love to see, share your photos in the comments. Happy making!