Knitting baby beanies

One of my friends at work is pregnant, like super pregnant by now. 

So I knitted a beanie for their soon to be newborn. The yarn is from Clementine and Thread and possibly the nicest wool I have ever used. I started with a 2x2 rib and then alternated knit and purl (I'm sure there is an official name for that).

I also learned that I am terrible at making pom poms! This was the second one I tried to make and even then I wasn't 100% happy with it. 

I sent these off with another goody and this cute card. I can't wait to see their inevitably gorgeous newborn in the coming days/weeks.

xo Isabel

Handmade Christmas Gifts 2016

Christmas is upon us and I have been doing some making but of course couldn’t share it until they had all been gifted.

This year my family reduced the numbers of gifts we each gave and received. For my immediate family (siblings and parents) we broke it down into four categories: handmade, books, charity donation and other. This was very handy otherwise I would have tried to make everyone’s gifts.

There was one gift that I was most excited to see opened. My eco conscious sister has been reducing her use of plastic and gave up grocery bags a few years ago so for her handmade gift, I made her some vege/bulk bags. These were made with old pillow cases that were worn thin so they would be light. It’s important for it to be light when you are paying for the additional weight. She is also a major beyonce fan so I stitched them with food puns and her lyrics. I overlocked the edges so that she could just throw them into the wash and not worry about any fraying. That was an experience and a half. I used L's mum's machine and managed to snap a few threads somehow which took awhile to fix. my sister definitely liked them and they were well worth the effort :)

For L’s family I did a gift basket of food goodies. I made them plum chutney and hokey pokey (and hokey pokey chocolate bark). Oh and I made them crackers, and then the next day read the recipe and realized I had made them about 6 days too early... So I took those into work. Making Chutney was pretty exciting and scary at the same time. When I heard the jars seal I did a victory dance around the kitchen. I had been staring at them just waiting, waiting for the pop. The hokey pokey is just the classic Edmonds recipe. These were bundled up with some wine and beer. I also had this idea in my head that I wanted to make a Christmas tree decoration to go with it all because it wasn’t feeling particularly Christmas-sy. I made these with some felt scraps and embroidery thread. It’s just French knots and back stitch for the design and then blanket stitch to hold it all together. I wanted this to be a relatively low-waste gift, so the basket is one that can be reused for storage or again as a gift basket, the drinks were in glass, the food was packaged plastic free and the stuffing in the decorations was fluffed up fabric scraps from projects over the year. 

I baked some gifts for the ladies at work. I made a double batch of my shortbread and gave them each a stack. I finished them at about 11.30pm the night before so I didn’t take any pictures. I assure you it looked pretty yummy. I wrapped the stacks in a piece of crepe paper and cut out red and gold triangles which I stuck on like Christmas bunting. They liked the shortbread enough that I was then asked to email out my recipe so they could all make it at home.

That is all that I made for Christmas specifically, but I have also been working on some owl brooches. I’m trying to find the best order of doing things because the light thread disappears into the fabric and is very hard for me to see, especially when stitching in the car or in front of the tv.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

xo Kirsten Isabel

Jeans Repair #3

I had said to myself that I would work with my jeans for a year and just mend them as needed. However, I tore a ligament in my ankle falling down the stairs. Being on crutches led to those jeans being a bit tight. They're still in my cupboard as I am sure I will go back to them at some point. But in the meantime, I bought a pair of jeans so that I would have something I could actually wear comfortably.

And after almost daily wear for five months this new pair needed some mending.

I decided to go for a sashiko style mend. I watched and read as much as I could about it before I started. I was greatly disappointed by the lack of academic writings on the subject. I did only search for english papers which may have been the downfall, and textiles is a still-growing area of study thanks to the old hierarchy of art. I got to the point where I felt comfortable to start stitching. I chose sashiko mending as it is very durable. There is an additional layer of fabric and then running stitches of thick thread bind this to the clothing. It is also pretty in it's decoration and follows the idea of Kintsugi (being more beautiful having been broken as it is part of the history of the object).

I used a piece of thicker calico that I already had in my stash for embroidery. I did not have any sashiko thread so instead used 4 strands of embroidery cotton. I highly recommend that you use a thimble otherwise you will ruin your fingertips trying to pull the threads through. (There is a particular thimble for sashiko which I do not own, instead I used my normal one on the ring finger of my stitching hand.) I did not prewash my threads so I've left the tails in the jeans in-case they shrink in the first wash. They're in the washing machine right now. Fingers crossed my plan works...
In my first lines the stitches are very uneven and in the last lines, they are too big. It really is something that needs some practice! There is a little puckering which I had expected. You are mending them when they are not on your body so it will not match exactly. But it isn't uncomfortable or too tight.

I found it quite an enjoyable process, as I could just sit there with my stitching and an audiobook or doco on in the background. I was very nervous to wear these out because I had this silly notion that people would judge me for it, or might ask me question, when I am terrible at talking to strangers. Which was, of course, absolutely ridiculous. The only people that have commented have been my grandma and the friends/family that know about my mending projects.

I did have a small worn patch on the other side so I mended that with my machine with this process that I did on my last pair. It is definitely much quicker but less decorative.

Resources I found helpful:
gazing at this instagram
this youtube channel
these tutorials which will be brilliant for more decorative mending in the future
a cloth in the Auckland Museum's collection

And for those with access through school or work:
Japan Knowledge Library has a good definition by requires login
Mottainai: The Fabric of Life, Lessons in Frugality from Traditional Japan by Sasha Rabin Wallinger from Textile: Cloth and Culture, 2012

xo Kirsten Isabel

Izzy's Doll

I made a decision early on that every year, my goddaughter Izzy would get one handmade gift, at least one book and one costume. So for her first birthday it was high time I made her something.

This doll was lovely and soft and has spent most of it's time in her mouth!

The limbs and body are cotton, the hair is felt, the dress is some scraps of patchwork fabric and the features done with DMC embroidery thread. I used the same process as the mini moopy soft toy where the limbs are folded in and then the body is stitched around. Things came out a little wonky but that was okay. Once she was dressed you couldn't really notice it.

I had great expectations of myself and spent an evening trying to do plaited rag doll hair with embroidery thread but it got to midnight and I hadn't even completed one line! I will have to try that again another time when I haven't left finishing the doll to the day before. The felt hair worked out quite well in that it is super soft and I don't have to worry about it falling out if there's some rough play.

Izzy had open heart surgery very young so I decided to stitch the chest scars onto the doll like she has. So there is the main center scar and two drainage scars. I may add the kidney ones later on but they are currently quite faded.

I had definitely overestimated my skills in make a soft toy. There was a fair bit of swearing when things just wouldn't quite go as I had planned and it definitely is not as detailed as I planned for it to be when I first started. But that's okay :)

let me know what you think!

xo Kirsten Isabel

Grey tee mending

Does anyone else get little tears in the front of their shirt? I'm so confused where they come from! I got some on a relatively new shirt (new this winter) and was devastated. The shirt looked crap leaving the holes there, but I had no clue how to mend it.

This shirt is modal fabric which is lovely and soft (and from a ethical brand) and supposedly well wearing. I was worried that mending would result in distortion of the fabric or just look poorly done.

I used a scrap of interfacing fabric leftover from a previous sewing project and pinned this behind the holes. I then embroidered on the interfacing and fabric to cover the holes. I then trimmed the excess interfacing away. The mending is very visible but decorative.

And I think it looks okay/not too noticeable :)

Jeans Repair #2

When my jeans ripped this time I was like darn! Cause it was a chance to try darning...

I used this page as reference.

I found it a bit difficult to with the weaving to start off with (cause I started in the middle). But I think I figured it out as I went on. It did take awhile! I had to sit in front of the window to get it all  finished before the sun went down.

It has held up so far but it's only been a few days. 

xo Kirsten Isabel

Jeans Repair #1

Being someone who grew up with The Sisterhood of Travelling Pants, I loved the idea of clothes holding stories. Time goes into the creation of a garment, and then time goes into the wear of it. When it is old and filled with holes, oh the yarns it could tell. 

This was my first pair of jeans in three years. They marked a time of mass change in my life and I’m not ready to be rid of them yet. There is a Japanese art form, Kintsugi, which repair pottery with gold (and sometimes silver or platinum). Kintsugi embraces the imperfections of the mended object, acknowledging its history and the beauty in it.

So in the interest of sentimentality and environmental sustainability I thought I would take inspiration from Japan, and try to make do and mend these jeans for the rest of the year.

The inner thighs have shown wear first at the seams that rub together. I took some wool felt and cut it to cover the worn section (one side had a hole). I then pinned this and stitched it on my machine with a cotton thread. I went forward and back of the area to kind of weave sections of it. 

I expect that it is an area that will over time need further repair so I'll let you know how this wears.

xo Kirste Isabel

The Sad Businessman

My sister asked me to illustrate a story of hers (I'll put a link here when it is live on her site). The basics is that there was a character I interpreted as a sad businessman.

I was heavily inspired by the style of Tsurubride. I have admired her work for awhile and thought I would give it a go with this project. It made for great procrastination and de-stress during the exam period.

I tried the reverse way of putting the fabric through my hoop and I found it much easier to keep the fabric taut. It is something I will definitely be using going forward.

The fabric is a cream calico.
Everything is stitched using backstitch.
The pupils are a french knot wrapped around the needle one.
The suit buttons are a french knot wrapped around the needle twice.
The coat is a piece of natural wool appliqued onto the fabric.

Colours used (all DMC):
Hair: 300
Skin outline: 3799
Skin shading: 169
Iris: 312
Pupils: 310
Lips: 223
Shirt collar: 310
Tie: 312
Suit: 317
Coat: 899
Blue bag: 3843
Red bag: 666
Purple bag: 718

xo Kirste Isabel

Bright Baby Blanket - Part 1

I am embarking on my first foray into quilting. I have tried crazy patchwork before... does that count? Either way, quilting is mildly terrifying.

This is a baby quilt for my dear friend who has moved back to the UK. She hasn't found out the sex of the baby so I just went for bright colours. It is five fat quarters, each cut into four inch squares. I am sewing them with a one cm (about two fifths an inch) seam allowance.

New experiences so far
Using a rotary cutter. Most of the time I was thinking oh god am I going to cut off my fingers off
Mapping out the fabric pieces and trying to get them to look good
Swearing at the machine three times in two minutes
Loads of excitement for completing all of my rows

Now to sew them together! Any tips on getting all the seams to match up?

xo Kirsten Isabel