New Year’s Resolutions

Yeah I know, they’re a bit tragic but I’m doing it anyway.

  1. Read at least 34 books this year.  Easy peasy, I’m on Goodreads so I’ve set myself a reading challenge.  Click here to see how I’m doing.  Right now I’m doing fantastically well, I have read no books yet this year and I’m apparently bang on target.
  2. Lose 20kgs.  Thought I’d chuck in the traditional fat bum challenge.  Though my bum isn’t actually that fat I have spotted a bit of thigh bulge today that has to be got rid of immediately if not sooner.  Then once I’ve lost 20kgs I’ll still want to lose another 10.  Then perhaps another 5.  We’ll see. I work for a law firm and the cakeage is immense and I loathe exercising so this one is a bit challenging. I also hate exercise clothes and seriously object to any heel lower than a kitten heel.  Keep thinking about taking up running but I also very much dislike outdoorsiness. And running.
  3. Do more embroidery.  I very rarely sew. Its the one thing I absolutely love doing and yet I hardly ever do it because I used to hand sew for a living and now I don’t and it may sound pathetic but its quite emotional for me and I’m a bit frightened I’ve lost all my skills. So much as I’ve amassed a huge quantity of yarn and patterns and stuff I’m going to scale back the knitting and crochet (except for snoods and Gin Poodles of course) and get back into embroidery.  I had a small test piece framed a few years ago and the framers asked me if I’d like to make more for them to sell.  So I might not be a complete ham-fisted duffer.
  4. Stop buying mass-produced junk.  You know that ‘make it, don’t buy it’ idea floating around at Christmas? Well I’m going to stop buying things from major chains and only buy handmade wherever possible.  I’ve had my last clothes shopping spree in 2016 so from now on I’m going to make my own clothes, at least they’ll fit properly and I won’t bump into anyone else wearing the same thing. I can try out embroidery on my own cuffs and that too can’t I? I’ve got a sewing machine up in the loft and I expect that is where it will stay because I don’t really like sewing machines.  Hand made clothes last longer because they’re better and every stitch is beautiful. I’m not expecting anyone else to agree or even see the simple beauty of a white cotton tacking stitch or go into ecstasy over a button hole, but your loss and all that.
  5. New Etsy shop. Once I’ve got my fingers back to being able to pick up with a needle a single thread in any fabric without looking I’ll be able to produce work worth selling. These are not going to sit well with super kitsch knitted poodle bottle cosies or even lovely vintage style hair accessories so they’ll need their own space.

Five resolutions are enough.

6. Oh but hang on. Food. Must stop eating things that make me ill, like fried things, fatty things, dairy, and eggs.  A doctor told me years ago that the odd sensation of my throat going all thick and gagging for hours after eating isn’t really normal and should be avoided. Spose he might have a point.

7. Bugger it I’ve thought of another.  I have a half brother somewhere.  Not even sure what his name is but I should find him in case he’s the head of membership of a major ballet company or something and can get me a hefty discount.

 

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Today I’m Making… gold hair snood

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This morning I finished making my first ever metallic gold 1940s style hair snood.  Its something customers have been asking me about for quite a long time but I’ve never found a metallic yarn in a quantity that makes it possible to make a large snood without a join.

I always have a look in yarn shops for metallic gold but never have any luck, in the end I found this yarn online from the Turkish company, Ice.  Turkey seems to be a pretty enthusiastic knitting country, a lot of yarns seem to be produced there now and its good quality too. Ice make a lot of more unusual yarns, I’ve bought from them before and never been disappointed.

So, I have bought six balls, each one is just enough to make one large snood with a fair bit left over so not entirely enconomic  and the yarn is quite expensive so this batch of six will be the only ones I make.  If you like them and want one please do move quickly, they’re a very limited run.

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The other reason I won’t be making these regularly is the yarn is properly metallic, it’s gorgeous, it has a lovely sheen and teeny tiny little sequins that really catch the light so they’d be brilliant for performers but the yarn is quite stiff so it’s blimmin’ hard going on my hands to crochet with.  Course, this means the snoods are a bit stiff too, so if you have one of my usual acrylic numbers it won’t feel anything like that.

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I am going to keep looking for a softer metallic gold yarn, I think Ice do a lurex thread I can use alongside a ‘normal’ yarn but finding a base colour of a non metallic gold is also a bit of a challenge.  Don’t hold your breath because I’ve been keeping an eye out for gold for years so far.

A pair of sparkly snoods

Things have gone a little quiet over the Easter weekend for me on Etsy orders so it gives me a chance to let you see the progression of an order I have just posted off to America.

I’ll take this picture by picture and explain what is going on. The first picture is the yarn I use to make the sparkly snoods, the cone on the right is super fine metallic blue lurex which I crochet in with the usual blue yarn.  The lurex is a funny thing, it is really quite strong but feels very delicate as if it would snap at any moment.  In the background of this pic you can see some of my snood making yarn, that wicker unit is crammed to bursting with the rest of my snood yarn and a small amount of Gin Poodle yarn also on the coffee table are a couple of books I’ve read and haven’t decided what to do with yet, a train timetable and a book and map that I intend to make paper flowers from.

Next pic is the snoods nearly finished, the silver one is pretty much done apart from adding the elastic, the ribbon bow and sewing in a label, the sparkly blue one  isn’t quite finished, I’m putting a neat edge along the hair band here.

Next up is the book I am struggling to get anywhere with (The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen) which I’m reading in between making things.  I just can’t get into it, I don’t like any of the characters and don’t really care what happens to them. I’m a quarter of the way through it so surely by now I should care a bit? I’ve set myself a modest target of reading 26 books this year and I’m already three books behind schedule. Ms Bowen is not not helping. Sometimes I just give up on a book I’m this apathetic about but this is a book I picked up through Bookcrossing so I feel like I owe it to its previous owner to let them know what happens to it so I’ll slog on.

The last two pictures are the snoods pretty much ready to go sitting on my bony knees – all I’ve got to do now is wrap them up in tissue paper and add some complimentary sparkly hair grips to the vintage postcard and send them off.  The postcard is just over 100 years old, I bought a job lot of them and while they last I’ll use them as my notepaper or hairgrip holders in all my orders.  This one shows Gertie Gitana who was a music hall actress also known as The Staffordshire Cinderella.  This one was written on and posted, nothing exciting though, just some bloke Dave asking after his mate Jim and saying he’ll be home soon because they expect to be sent off to France soon.  I wonder if he was a soldier in the First World War but he doesn’t say so expressly. If they are blank I usually write a message on the back but if they’ve been used I like to keep them as they are and just pop one in the package as a nice surprise. Not that it will be much of a surprise if the customer reads this post before the package arrives.

 

 

Today I’m Making – Gin Poodles

I have an Etsy shop called GinPoodle its where I sell all the things I make, and seeing as it is called GinPoodle the one thing I definitely have in stock in abundance at all times is of course… well actually I haven’t had any Gin Poodles in stock for a while now.

I don’t know who that happened really other than I’m quite often crocheting 1940s style hair snoods but its not really an excuse is it? So yesterday I decided to pull myself together and get at least one finished and up for sale by the end of the day.

The actual knitting part is fairly quick to do, its making the pom-poms that takes the time. I used to use a traditional pair of discs but that takes forever so now I’m a massive fan of Clover pom-pom makers, they really take the pain out of making them, I can whip one up in no time. I do still need 10 for every Gin Poodle though so its still a hill to climb. I did buy a Multipom but I didn’t really like it, I found the pom-poms come out looking quite cubic at this size, I expect its better for smaller ones.  SAM_2493

Then there are the eyes, nose and ribbon to sort out, until those are on I’ll admit the poodles do not look their cheeky best. That wicker storage unit in the background holds all my snood making yarn.  Yep, there’s a lot of it isn’t there? I’m not ashamed to say every one of those drawers is groaning with yarn and that’s not my entire stash.

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So here it is finished and listed for sale with a very bright peachy orange ribbon. SAM_2501

One Gin Poodle is very far from what I would call fully stocked so here are the beginnings of the next one, though I’m not sure I have enough of this flecked cream yarn so the body colour may well change.  I’ve signed up to do a makers market at the local carnival in the summer so I really need to concentrate on building up some stock for that rather than making things reactively or more accurately, randomly.

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I’ve been very behind with my reading too, I have a very reasonable set it yourself reading challenge on Goodreads – my goal is only to read 26 books this year, which is only one book a fortnight so that should be easily do-able but here I am five books behind schedule and it’s only March. In between bouts of frantic poodle knitting and watching Tipping Point I’m reading as much as I can.  Despite this book being a Daily Mail recommendation its actually pretty good – its about a woman who was put in a mental health institution 60 years ago by her family and then basically just left there and never spoken of again, so when the hospital is marked for closure her granddaughter hears about her for the first time as her only surviving relative.  Its a good read but pretty chilling to think this sort of thing really did happen.

Today I’m Making… 1940s style Ribbon Snoods

Today I’ve finished making two snoods that might already have a buyer, 2016 has been lucky for me already, with an order every day so far.  If things continue like this it will be astounding.

This red is gorgeous, its a nice rich lipstick shade, by that I mean it has blue undertones which I find is the most flattering type of red.

    

I have been crocheting these snoods for about ten years now, a whole decade! Its a bit of a shock to realise it has been that long. My first ones were made following an original 1940’s pattern to the T but I wasn’t overly keen on the fit so I reworked the pattern until it gave me the fit I was looking for.

I have fine hair so the standard size was too baggy on me and didn’t look great so I tweaked the pattern again to give three sizes:

Short – for bob length hair off the shoulder
Medium – for hair down to the shoulders but not lower than the bottom of shoulder blades.
Long – hair is below shoulder length

The red and purple ones shown here are both large.  When it comes to hair, one size definitely does not fit all.

This aubergine colour was quite hard to track down, I do have another chalkier shade of purple in stock and one that is quite bright too in a cotton.

    

A saggy baggy snood does not look good at all and not all of us are good at fiddling about with padding and hair pieces so why bother.

I also did away with the traditional drawstring ribbon to gather it up because I think that is the one thing almost guaranteed to make it ping off the back of your head and besides it makes getting it on way to fiddly.

So my snoods have elastic running around them which makes them much easier to get on and you can still have a ribbon bow at the top.

It was at this point in the process that another Etsy seller based in America bought a couple of my snoods in different sizes and by an amazing co-incidence they now sell snoods that look quite similar to mine. Best of luck to her and her karma, she sells lots of them but I still believe mine are the better fit and quality, my prices are better too.  I do think it was more than a bit cheeky of her to so flagrantly copy mine but it happens.

In some ways I would like to sell more of them but then would I still enjoy making them so much if I was under pressure to get them done? I have tried teaching other people to make them for me to build up my stock but I am very very picky about quality control and I’ve never found anyone who can make them to a standard I find acceptable.

What I really enjoy is the personal contact I have with a lot of my customers.  Take a look at my feedback on Etsy if you have time and you’ll see some lovely reviews and some utterly gorgeous photos from customers.

Now all I need is to track down a good metallic gold yarn, and that’s a quest I’ve been on for years and years.

Today I’m Making… Knitted squares patchwork lap blanket

ImageSeveral years ago, back in 2009 in fact, I made this lap blanket and sold it in my Etsy shop – http://www.ginpoodle.etsy.com – and it is still getting views. I made this one because I either read an article or heard a piece on the radio about people with advanced alzheimers seeming to enjoy handling things that have a variety of textures so I made this one with all different texture yarns and stitch patterns and it sold pretty much straight away. It took ages to make and was a labour of love to sew up and its the sewing up that’s put me off making another one for all these years.

 

Now though, I’ve hit on an idea that means I don’t have to do any sewing up at all which is fantastic but I’ve only got one stitch pattern that I can make work with it but I think it’s still going to be good.

I am always tempted to use lots of colour but this time I’m going to stick with two colours and introduce variety through shade.  The main colour is white, but its acrylic yarn so it won’t matter if it needs washing regularly its not like it will felt or anything.  The other colour is grey for now but I might branch out into other colours if all this restraint proves too much for me.

The other thing I like about it is that its such an easy pattern I can do it while watching tv or commuting because I don’t have to think about it, the squares are pretty quick to make up too so hopefully I will finish this in time for winter! Mind you I haven’t finished that cathedral stitch cardigan yet either and I feel like I’ve been making that for about a year now.

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Today I’m Making – reuseable cotton make-up remover pads

I cannot remember who directed me to it but an absolute age ago I found this blog giving a pattern to make your own  make-up remover pads by What You Sow. See below for a link to the pattern.  Its a rainy old Easter Sunday so not much to do here but housework and crochet while the Mister gently snoozes in front of Touring Cars on the telly.

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I’ve made a few of these for personal use now and they come out really well in the wash, I made them all in white cotton but one of them has gradually gone a nice pale blue in the wash.  I love them, cotton pads are so wasteful, you have to use them to take off nail varnish but there isn’t really any need to use them for your make up when you can have these little fellers.

20140420_115332 20140420_115221[1]I use them to take off all types of make-up, they’re great for taking off eye make up as well as for foundation. I use them with toner too and I can’t say I’ve had any problems with them, they’re not rough on your skin but it is a different feel to cotton wool pads, these are much chunkier and they have the advantage of not shedding fluff all over the place.

I am also a big fan of the Dettol anti-bacterial additive that you put in the washing machine (£4.60 from Waitrose) if you’re worried about them festering bugs and bacterial this stuff will sort it out – its also fantastic to use on sportswear because it stops it getting whiffy as it ages.

If you don’t crochet you can buy ready made cotton pads from her here: http://www.whatyousow.co.uk/product/reusable-eye-makeup-remover-pads

She’s on Etsy too, you get five for £9.95 and she does nice muted colours too.