I learned Fairisle!

fairisle-hatSo it has been absolutely ages since I last posted here and for that, I apologise. However, from now on I won’t be apologising and you can probably expect the posts to get more and more erratic in their timings. I am about to enter the final year of my PhD and things are going to get a bit crazy. In fact, they already have done and that is part of the reason for the lack of posts recently. It doesn’t mean I have stopped crafting though…far from it! I am finding that crafting, and especially knitting, is a welcome break from all that hard work. So I have plenty to write about but I can foresee that actually writing the posts may not be top of my agenda given the huge amount of writing I have coming my way in the form of the PhD thesis!


So, for now, you will have to bear with me as there will be the odd blog post for you over the next year but they may be few and far between. However, you can keep up with my makes over on your social network of choice (but I mostly share stuff on Instagram and twitter).Key Insight 3-4 sentences This should be an overview of the item, pattern, yarn and new skills

Anyway, for those of you who already follow me on Instagram this latest make won’t be much of a surprise! I decided to learn how to knit fairisle. I purchased some gorgeous alpaca yarn that I want to use to make a fairisle hat but the only problem is that I don’t know how to do fairisle. After a few attempts, I always ended up with lots of bunching and big gaps at the colour changes. A friend suggested I try to hold one colour in each hand. Now, at first this seemed ridiculous. It was like learning to knit all over again. However, after watching a few videos of how to hold the tension in your right hand I was beginning to pick it up. So I decided to start on this hat to give my new technique a whirl. Key Insight 3-4 sentences This should be an overview of the item, pattern, yarn and new skills

The pathfinder pattern has been in my Ravelry library for a while just waiting for me to learn fairisle knitting so what perfect time than to give it a try! It turns out the two-handed knitting was just the trick I was missing as it allowed me to keep the tension in both yarns at once.


After just a few rows of the fairisle I was easing into it and even the back didn’t look too bad!



The details:

Pattern: Pathfinder by Julia Marsh

Yarn: Some acrylic odds and ends that I don’t really like and so didn’t mind if all went horribly wrong

Needles: 4.5mm circular

Alterations: I mixed up the pattern a bit so the colour blocks would be smaller


Now I just need to pluck up the courage to actually try and knit something with my special alpaca yarn!

If you liked this overview of my project why not keep up to date with my current makes over on Instagram or Twitter

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Happy Birthday Granny!


This month marks my granny’s 80th birthday! Like every normal 80-year-old should she will be celebrating her birthday by travelling to Las Vegas! This left me with the question – what sort of present do you make for an 80 year-old who goes to Vegas for her birthday? I started flicking through some of my sewing magazines and it came to me – this travel wallet for storing your passport and travel documents. It’s perfect, something small and personal that can be taken on holiday!2016-08-07 11.28.56

I have lots of small pieces of fabric lying in my stash that I have recovered from old clothes that are past repair and from scarves that are not my colours any more so I decided to put these to good use here. The outside of the wallet is quilted from some floral cotton and a fleece for wadding.

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For the inside lining I used a peach cotton scarf and the pockets are from a purple scarf. The colours all match really well so I am pleased that I didn’t throw these pieces of fabric away. The whole thing is held together at the side seams with bias binding. It is stiffened with cardboard and a piece of white elastic and a wooden button to hold it closed.

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I really enjoyed making this and it was quite quick to come together so I think I will be making some more, especially as it makes such a nice gift for someone going away.

If you liked this overview of my project why not keep up to date with my current makes over on Facebook


Anchor Dress

Anchor DressEarlier this week I showed you my completed Outfit-Along dress and cardigan. For those of you who were paying super close attention you will have noticed I mentioned that it was the second dress I had made using the bodice block from Freehand Fashion. Well, here is the first.  I am really pleased with this make and it was so close to being a perfect fit that I made another straight away for the outfit along..

I decided to make a dress for my holiday which was a couple of months ago now. I had this nautical themed fabric with anchors on it so it was perfect for watching my partner compete in the 3-peaks yacht race yacht race. Also, the race was being filmed for tv so I wanted to be wearing something extra special just in case I was caught on camera!


So as I said, I created the bodice block using Chinelo Bally’s book and fitted it by making a toile in white polycotton. Once I had the fitting just right I cut out the bodice in my fashion fabric and attached it to the lining.


AS I was making this dress way back in June I couldnt help but be influenced by seeing all the great makes over on the monthly stitch for Indie Pattern month. That definitely got me in the mood for sewing and whilst I didn’t have time to contribute anything myself I decided to get into the spirit of the ‘hack it’ competition and use the skirt from one of my favourite indie pattern designers and used the skirt from theLilou dress in love at first stitch by Tilly Walnes. I took about 10cm off the length to allow me to squeeze it out of the fabric (I only had 2.5 m).

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I really enjoyed making the skirt – look at all those pleats. I think fabric manipulation such as pleats and gathers is definitely one of my favourite aspects of sewing!


I would have quite liked to put in an invisible zip but couldn’t find a red one long enough so opted for a centred zip instead. I think it actually fits in quite well with the dress.



The details:

Pattern: Bodice block and Lilou skirt from Love at First Stitch

Fabric: Anchor print polycotton (I think it was from Abakhan a while back)

Notions: Gutermann thread, red zip

anchor dress

I love this dress and now I have a well-fitted bodice block can see myself making lots more dresses in this style. I really like the fit and flare look but have never had many clothes like it before because of all the fit issues with ready-to-wear stuff.
anchor selfie

If you liked this overview of my project why not keep up to date with my current makes over on Instagram

oh and I almost forgot…the obligatory twirling photo!


OAL2016 fabric yarn

OAL2016 is complete!


Who doesn’t love the chance to both knit and sew whilst discussing it every step of the way with a group of like-minded crafters? I personally love it and the Outfit-Along has not disappointed. For those who missed my previous post about this and have no idea what I’m talking about it is a challenge to create an outfit in two months. There is a set pattern for both a sewn skirt and knitted top which you can choose to follow along with a series of guided posts from Lladybird and Untangling Knots or go your own way and make something different. This is what I chose to do as I have quite a few skirts and was looking to make a great summer dress. Also, another cardigan was top of my list for knitting so I decided upon the Agatha cardigan and got started.


I picked up this gorgeous fabric from the knit and stitch show earlier this year and knew the subtle ivory and black print could handle a bright cardigan so chose to go with a red yarn. I used the suggested yarn for the pattern which was Cascade 220 and I actually really loved working with it. It is 100% wool so it’s really warm and will definitely make the cardigan great for the Autumn and Winter (even if it is a little bit much right now!)


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The dress is self-drafted. I used the bodice block from Freehand Fashion, a book by Chinelo Bally from Series 2 of the Great British Sewing Bee. This is the second time I have used this bodice block and after a few tweaks it is almost perfect in terms of fit. I also drafted a semi-circle skirt. I am really pleased with it and the fabric is perfect for this kind of skirt. It drapes really well but has some body to show off the fullness.


Also, I put the biggest pockets known to man into the side seams! Why doesn’t every dress have pockets this huge??


I really enjoyed taking part in the Outfit-Along and I’m already looking forward to next year. It was a great experience to think about making an entire outfit as so many of my handmade clothes are one-off pieces that I have to mix and match with shop-bought to create a wearable outfit. Perhaps I will consider this more from now on and start thinking about creating a more cohesive wardrobe.

If you want to see more of the outfit along and see all of the other wonderful outfits people have created you should definitely head on over to Ravelry where there is a wonderful forum of delights awaiting you!

If you liked this overview of my project why not keep up to date with my current makes over on Instagram or Twitter

a stripy spotty ikea fabric

A Stripy (and spotty) Pencil Skirt

Pencil SkirtRecently I have seen a lot of really great pencil skirts popping up on sewing blogs, in magazines and in real life. I decided it was time to make one for myself. Pencil skirts are often tricky to find one that fits well and as fit really is key I decided to draft my own with my Freehand Fashion book as a guide.

I am really pleased with how it turned out. The fit is not 100% perfect but I think it is much better than I would have got from any shop, or even sewing pattern.

Getting the fit just right

Although this is just a pencil skirt there are still quite a lot of measurements that go in to creating it. I dutifully took them all and drew out the pieces on a plain white poly-cotton which was to become my lining fabric. I fitted this and sewed it up to check it was right before cutting into my fashion fabric.

pencil skirt casual side

Well I say fashion fabric…it is actually upholstery fabric from Ikea! Can you believe it my dream to become Maria from the Sound of Music is turning into a reality! So, it’s not quite dressing an entire family from one set of curtains but it is a skirt from curtain material so I’m counting that as a win!

pencil skirt casual front

The fabric did confuse me for quite a while. I kept trying to match the stripes at the seams. I could get the side seams right but couldn’t figure out why they were misaligned at the back. After quite a lot of head scratching I eventually figured out that the stripes are not all straight! I am sure this gives a great effect on a pair of curtains but perhaps not on a skirt! Oh well, I am happy to live with it as is.

pencil skirt dressy back

The pattern suggests an invisible zip but given the weight of this fabric and the fact I didn’t have one to hand I decided to go with a centred zip and I am glad I did. I think it fits in well with the style of the skirt.

pencil skirt dressy front

The fit is not quite perfect across my stomach but I can live with it and I think it looks much better in the pictures where I am wearing heals so perhaps I will keep this skirt for those occasions when I want to wear heels.
pencil skirt dressy side

The details:

Pattern: Self drafted following guide in Fashion with fabric

Fabric: curtain material from Ikea

Notions: 10in white zip, gutermann thread

I love the fact that this is a really fun fabric paired with the smartness of a pencil skirt making for an unexpected combo but I really think it works!

You can also read about this make over on the monthly stitch. This is an awesome collective of sewers posting on a monthly theme. This month the theme was spots and stripes!

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Blue Heart

Heart CowlI was looking back through my old posts to find out when I first started knitting this cowl and it turns out it was way back in April last year!For a long time it was a bit of a love-hate relationship. I hadn’t really knitted lace before and was really struggling with the pattern. After a few weeks I decided to give it a break and started work on my lacy shawl instead.

Both patterns are by designer Ambah O’brien and I really love them both. There is enough lace to make them feel delicate without being to fiddly and retaining that chunky knit feel I really love.


Having given this project a break I was quite pleased to come back to it. I love the yarn, and the pattern – and whilst hearts and normally my thing these have a geometric look to them which I find really appealing.

How could knitting this not make me happy - look at that blue on blue on blue!

How could knitting this not make me happy – look at that blue on blue on blue!

Once I was more confident with the lace this wasn’t too difficult a pattern to follow and a couple of long train journeys got me well on the way to being done.

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I actually finished this project quite a while ago and it managed to sneak into some of my me-made-may outfits. It was actually really great for those days when the weather is being particularly fickle and a cardigan isn’t quite always enough. This as an extra layer was perfect for taking on and off as the temperature dropped.


I really like the length. It is plenty long enough to comfortable wrap around twice without being tight. Also, because it is blue it goes with pretty much all of my clothes! I’m so glad I persevered with this pattern as I think it will get a lot of use!



If you liked this overview of my project why not keep up to date with my current knitting projects on Ravelry where I share more details on what I thought of the yarn, the pattern and any tips or tricks I found to make it easier  for me to make.

Slow Progress

Just thought I’d give you all a quick update to explain my absence this week! My partner, Rob, is currently taking part in the 3 peaks yacht race. This is a crazy event where teams of 5 sail up the west coast of the UK dropping off a pair of runners at various points asking the way where they run in land and summit the highest peaks in Wales, England,  and Scotland. Rob is one of the runners in team Sail 4 Cancer raising money for them and the work they do. Its a really great cause so if you do have some time you should find out more about the work they do our if you are feeling super generous you can support them with a donation.


Team Sail 4Cancer excited to start the race

Currently their progress in the race is pretty slow as we have had no wind so the teams have been doing a lot of rowing rather than sailing. They set off from Barmouth in Wales on Saturday afternoon and reached Caernarfon around 2 in the  morning – that’s when they had to run the 24 miles to the summit of  Snowden and back. They then sailed/rowed to Whitehaven to make the long journey to the summit of Scafell Pike (around 54 miles cycle and run). Just this morning they have set off again to  Scotland where the highest peak of them all, Ben Nevis, awaits.


Looking calm in Caernarfon

It really is a crazy challenge I think you’ll agree and all to raise awareness of this amazing charity!

So, i’m sure you’re not here to read about crazy sailing/rowing/cycling/running races… On to the crafting!

Well I actually made a new sailing themed dress to wear at the start of the race to see them off. I was hoping to get some pictures on the beach but we didn’t have time. I’ll just have to get some at the end in the beautiful scenery of the Scottish Highlands


I am also making great progress on my cardigan for the outfit along. Once I saw the boat off at Caernarfon I undertook the epic drive to Fort William


I stopped off on the show off Loch Lomond

I am now here and it is beautiful but I will probably be waiting another couple of days for the boats to show up given the lack of wind making for poor sailing conditions so there’s plenty time for knitting in this beautiful scenery.


Hopefully they will get here before we  are due back at work next week!


Ps. Sorry for the rubbish photos but i’m writing this whole post on my phone so there has been no chance to edit!


Planning Moneta

I have had my eye on Moneta by Colette patterns for some time, and so when they had a sale last week I decided to snap up a pdf copy. I have recently come round to liking pdf patterns. Although they can be a bit of a pain to stick together, there is no need to trace the pattern just cut out your size. Then if you want to make another size at a later date, you can just print it out again!

I am currently a bit snowed under with sewing projects! I started a pencil skirt from Freehand Fashion but then decided I should make a dress for my holiday instead. It turns out this was a good plan as we go away on Thursday, and the dress is not quite finished yet! So when I get back, I will finish off the pencil skirt and then get to work on my dress for the Outfit-along. Once those are all done, Moneta is next on my list. Jersey dresses are just so comfy yet still look like you’ve made an effort with your wardrobe. I hope it will quickly become one of my sewing staples! I have already been admiring lots of lovely jersey fabrics but am holding back from buying them until I am ready to make it!

Here are some of my top picks at the moment

I would love a good basic dress that can be worn with anything and I think a jersey dress is perfect for this. This grey jersey has just enough texture to it to make it interesting while still being versatile. I think I could make one in every sleeve length in this sort of fabric!


 I always love a good stripe fabric, and these two are just perfect. Monochrome for autumn and winter and a bright red and teal for summer. But which one to make first?

 And speaking of summer, I love this abstract palm tree print it would be perfect for strolling down the beach in.



So many potential Moneta dresses to make I don’t know where to begin. I hope this is an easy make so I can make them all in super quick speed!



#MMMay16 is complete!


Me-Made-May has flown by and I’ve loved every minute of it: getting the most out of my me-made wardrobe, discovering where I am in need of new items to fill gaps and discovering everyone else’s brilliant makes all at the same time! Here’s a round up of my month and some of those long awaited selfies!

I am pleased to say I completed my pledge and wore something me-made every day! I am quite pleased with this and think I will continue to try and wear my handmade clothes more often as it has not been as challenging as I thought.

I, Helen of https://hshandcrafts.wordpress.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made item each day for the duration of May 2016

2016-05-16 08.17.51I also managed to identify some areas where I needed more items and even made one thing to fit the bill! My oversized sweater was perfect to fill the days when I needed something comfy and easy to do a lot of manual work in! It even got worn 4 times over the course of the month!

2016-05-15 08.44.52It has been quite warm this May and so obviously that has swayed the kind of clothes I have worn but I have still managed to get three wears out of my Chuck jumper. I really love this jumper and can’t wait to knit more jumpers and cardigans…in fact, there are two on the way at the moment (oversized Vianne and OAL2016)

2016-05-17 08.10.23Speaking of cardigans, I have also worn Miette twice this May. I was unsure how much wear I would get from it seeing as it is not my usual style but turns out it is great for the warmer weather we have been having!

2016-05-26 08.26.19Moving on to tops, I wore a new (unblogged) freehand top I made once at the start of May but just don’t like the sleeves at all so think I will rip them out and try and do something else with them. I have, however, worn my gingham top twice. I really like the pop of red in the buttons – it makes an otherwise quite plain top really fun to wear!

2016-05-23 08.25.02I have also wore my new Susie blouse twice (Watch this space for more info on this one…I’m still awaiting a time when I can get some good photos!). I definitely need more tops in my wardrobe and I think this may become a pattern I use time and time again. It is a style I really like and I have lots of similar RTW tops so can see myself making more of these.

2016-05-14 10.01.402016-05-18 17.43.49As for dresses, my first chevron print Megan dress saw 3 outings whilst my tartan print  second  only saw 1. I don’t think this has anything to do with how much I like them (in fact I think I secretly like the tartan one more) but has a lot more to do with the weather. The chevron print dress just seems right for summer!

2016-05-20 08.33.56I also wore my Lou Lou dress twice this May. Whilst I was unsure of the style at first I think I just was a bit unsure how to wear it. I really love it layered up with a  cardigan for a relaxed smart-casual style.

2016-05-11 08.34.09Moving on to skirts my first ever skirt, Delphine, was worn twice and my newest (unblogged) black midi only got worn once each. Delphine is definitely more of a winter skirt made from a  heavy fabric it is best layered up with tights and boots. Conversely, the midi skirt is so light and floaty it is really only for super hot weather.

However, my other skirts were really the stars of the month!

2016-05-03 07.57.53My tulip skirt got worn a lot – it’s really versatile and I absolutely love the fabric. I will be making more of this pattern as it fits into my wardrobe so well.

2016-05-24 08.23.24Also, my waterfall skirt was worn 5 times(!) in May. It is great for warmer weather whilst still feeling like I don’t have my legs on show too much for work. I hope to make some more of these soon as they are such an easy make and a great way to show off beautiful fabric!.


Who else has been taking part in Me-Made-May? I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did and completed your own personal challenges. I can’t wait for next year now. It will be the perfect opportunity to see how my handmade wardrobe has grown and adapted to over time. First thing though…the Outfit Along!

Remember you can keep up with my OAL2016 progress on my Ravelry project page or head over to the forum for lots of fun and interesting discussion!


Outfit along 2016

As Me-Made-May draws to an end I have been thinking about what I could do to keep the part of my brain busy that enjoys snooping  looking at all the amazing things everyone else has been making. I thought I would be at a loss come June.

However, the awesome crafting community has come to my rescue! This time in the shape of the Outfit along. What could be more exciting than a bunch of crafters creating outfits by both sewing and knitting whilst discussing it every step of the way! Cue major excitement! I really enjoyed the selfish sweater knit along at the start of the year so can’t wait to take part in this one!

The Outfit along is run by Untangling Knots and Lladybird covering the knitting and sewing aspects respectively. This year the chosen patterns are Zinone for the knitting and Sewaholics Hollyburn for the sewing. Unfortunately, neither of these two really inspires me but never fear! I will be taking part anyway – I will just be choosing different patterns .

Right now I am thinking of making a different untangling knots pattern – the Agatha cardigan (one day I may make a knitted garment by a different designer but for now I am in love with all of Andi Satterlund’s patterns!) During Me-Made-May I have realised how muted my colour palette is in my makes so I think I will make the cardigan in a red yarn – possibly Cascade 220 in ruby.


I will be pairing this with a dress made from the fabric I bought at the Knit and Stitch Show (bottom left in the picture above). A gorgeous cotton poplin floral (oh look we’re back to monochrome again!) I am open to suggestions for the pattern but I am thinking possibly the Lilou dress from Love at First Stitch or a Sew Over It Betty...or I am actually currently working on a custom bodice block, so depending how that goes it could be in the frame. Any suggestions are more than welcome.

Who else is joining in with the Outfit Along? What are you making?




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