29 June 2009

How To: Make a Gorgeous Bag from Old Clothes - Pt One

Felting is paradoxical.
Really, there's no other word for a process that can cause both joy and feelings of depression in your average crafter. How may times have we, as a social subset, threatened death on our washing machine for shrinking a piece of work to Barbiesize when all we wanted to do was freshen it up a little?

But, on the flip side, we have the utter happiness that comes from a well - and intentionally - felted piece.

That's what I'm attempting to do here.

I procured a set of children's clothes at my local St. Vincent De Paul shop. The lable says they're pure merino lambswool, but since they're far from soft, I reckon it's probably pure merino grannywool. But, not to worry, it's still €8 well spent, so far.

As you can see, I have cut open all the seams, to give me the biggest area possible. This will be different for different clothes. At this stage, your best bet is to stare at the jigsaw before you for as long as you can stand it, tetrising them together to see which combination would work best with minimal trimming. Remember: Measure seven times, cut once.

Once you have your measurements written down, clothes trimmed and labelled, get out the old sewing machine (in my case, it actually IS quite old - it's a 1970's model) and sew securely. Or, better yet, find a nice, matching (or interestingly contrasting) woolen yarn, and use that as a design feature, to be felted along with your bag. I'm using self-dyed homespun that's been knocking around for ages. I have no idea if the colour will stick on the yarn, but sure, that's the joy of homecraft - always a mystery.

I was lucky with the shape of these children's clothes. I sewed the hem of the front and back pieces together, to make one long continuous strip, trimmed a few bits off to smooth it out a little, and then added the sleeves as sides of the bag, the curve of the shoulders at the bottom, to make a nice roundy bag. It looks quite big at the moment, but that will hopefully change when I have it felted.

So! after 2 washes in my front-loading machine, the first with a shampoo bottle full of water (to agitate the fabric), a pair of jeans ('cause they needed a wash...) and a 60 degree wash; the second with the bottle still in, no jeans, washing up liquid and a 90 degree wash, the bag has felted down nicely. The yarn... did no stay that perfect shade of pink, however.

I believe a top-loader, with washing up liquid and a tennis ball to agitate is a much more efficient felter, but I'm not lucky enough to have that.

The small mirrors that had been all over parts of these garmets have been left sewn where they started (I have a bit of a laissez faire attitude to things like that), and are now interestingly, on the bottom of the bag.

In a day or two, I'll be tidying this up, adding embellishments with the unused, felted fabric, adding a strap, and will spend time deciding how to line it, and what pockets to install.

24 June 2009


I have a serious problem.

I did a quick run-around the apartment today, picking up all the stray projects I have lying around. I counted 12 WIPs.
A half knitted sock; a half-ripped charityshop jumper; an old charity shop merino jumper to be made into a felted bag; a crochet sock experiment; a wire & lace-weight flower experiment; barrier tape crochet experiment; homespun, homedyed yarn waiting to be skeined; a cabling test; a half-made jumper; the second of a pair of arm-warmers; roving waiting patiently to be spun to be spun; and two lovely new skeins of Dublin Dye Company sock yarn to be socked at the earliest possible moment!

I think I have a bad case of non-finish-itis.

Can you beat me?

The best (read:funniest) list of WIPs, with a photo, will win a free copy of my next pattern, Rasta Kitty, a cool crochet hat, with lots of room for hair, and optional kitty ears. Really, it rocks.
Closing date for this competition will be one week from now, so get gathering, get listing and get emailing me at (mise_5 at hotmail dot com)!

22 June 2009

New to Crochet?

I've had a fair few knitters come up to me lately, to tell me that they're thinking of taking up crochet, now that they see from my recent overflow of designs (I go through phases) that it's not all granny-squares and amigurumi.

Crochet is more versatile than many knitters think. And I think that's simply because most of them are needle-blind, much as I was hook-blind up until last year. The sentence "That's a lovely pattern, but sure, I can do something similar in crochet anyway" crossed my ignorant lips time and again when looking at beautiful knitted pieces. Then, my eyes were opened by socks.

All it takes is one moment, and hopefully for those knitters out there who have shown an interest, I can help them find that moment. I'm going to be adding simple lesson patterns to my blog over the next while, including photos, notes and a full project to make. We'll start super easy, for those who don't know one end of a hook from the other, and work our way up to some lovely finished pieces.

I hope you'll join me on this little adventure!

20 June 2009

Crochet Pattern Download - Hair Flower

There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love, remember: and there is pansies. that's for thoughts. - Ophelia, Hamlet Act III, Scene V.

I've always loved Ophelia, depite her weaknesses. When I studied Hamlet in school, I was fascinated by her journey; starting as a pure thing, before crumpling like an over-extended flower stem, until she was completely lost.

A morbid reason to make a pretty hair-flower, perhaps, but nonetheless a suitable one.

I like to provide patterns for people to try out, and I truly get a kick out of seeing people's finished projects, but I also think it's important to give people the opportunity to say thankyou for the work that has gone into creating the pattern, if they so wish.

So, I have the pattern written out below, in UK stitch names, but if you'd prefer an easy-to-print pdf of the pattern, with both UK and US stitch names catered for, then please, click below, give whatever you feel is appropriate, let me know your email address, and I'll happily email the pdf on to you.

This pattern is written with UK stitch names

Wherever I see pretty, big flowers I think of Ophelia’s great monologue in Hamlet. So, when the idea for this pretty bloom floated into my head, it had a name before it even had a yarn chosen for it.

I hope you enjoy wearing it as much as I enjoyed making it.

5.5mm crochet hook,

10g Sublime Kid Mohair (I know this is a discontinued yarn, but any DK mohair should do just as well)

Darning needle

petal = 2 1/2 inches from base to tip,
petal = 2 inches across at widest point

Abreviation Key:
ch chain
sl st slip stitch
tr treble crochet
dc2tog double crochet two together
st(s) stitch(es)

Finished Size:
Finished diameter approx 6 inches


This pattern is crocheted in one continuous piece, cutting down considerably on the amount of weaving-in that would need to be done.

(the ch sts at the start of a row count as sts)

1. ch 5, ss into first ch to close.

First Petal:
2. ch 1, dc 1 into each of next 2 ch (3 sts)
3. ch 1, turn, [dc 2], dc1, [dc 2] (5 sts)
4. ch 1, turn, [dc 2], dc 3, [dc 2] (7 sts)
5. ch 1, turn, [dc 2], dc 5, [dc 2] (9 sts)
6. ch 1, turn, dc 9
7. ch 1, turn, dc 9
8. ch1, turn, *dc3tog* three time (3 sts)
9. ch1, turn, dc3tog (1 st)
10. ch 1, dc9 down left side of petal (i.e. one dc into each row.

There’s no need to be especially accurate with this, a bit of variety in the petals can be very pretty)

Second Petal:

2. dc into the leftmost st on the base of the first petal, and dc into next two sts in base. (3 sts)

3. ch 1, turn, [dc 2], dc1, [dc 2] (5 sts)
4. ch 1, turn, [dc 2], dc 3, [dc 2] (7 sts)
5. ch 1, turn, [dc 2], dc 5, [dc 2] (9 sts)
6. ch 1, turn, dc 9
7. ch 1, turn, dc 9
8. ch1, turn, *dc3tog* three time (3 sts)
9. ch1, turn, dc3tog (1 st)

10. ch 1, dc 9 down left side of petal (i.e. one dc into each row.

Remaining 3 Petals:

Repeat pattern as for second petal until you have five in total.

Inner petals:

1. Make two loose ss to centre of flower.

2. [dc 2] into each centre st, ss to close (10 sts)

The sts you will be working into for the inner petals are already being used by the outer petals. You’ll be working on top of the base dcs for every outer petal.

3. ch 1, *[dc 1, tr 5], [tr5, dc 1]* repeat four more times.

4. ss to close, thread yarn ends through to back of flower, affix a small butterfly clip, weave in ends and wear with pride!

19 June 2009

Surprise Present Fluff!

The things in life that make me happiest are the simple things. I guess that's true of anyone who loves their crafting. A simple, well-made hat on a cold day can give more joy than the most expensive fancy watch at any time.

And sometimes, you are lucky enough to be surprised with a gift so lovely and perfect that you end up hopping around with glee. This happened to me yesterday after work. I had the good fortune to track down a spare ticket for a friend who was dying to go to the Faith No More concert in Dublin. In return, out of the blue, she presented me with this:

I've played with a bit of it, single plyed, and it's just gorgeous.

Being kind is its own reward, but sometimes, present-fluff is a better alternative...

17 June 2009


A sad day it is.

I found out that the hat I had designed, spun and crocheted for my little sister for Christmas found it's handwash-only way into a washing machine there to be felted into a tiny fuzzy mess. A sad day indeed.

The original Beyond The Sea hat is no more...

To mark this sad occasion, I'm making the Ravelry download free, and have added it to my Download section, on the right.

16 June 2009

Baby Bear Band

Working today, we had the pleasure of setting out lots of gorgeous new Dublin Dye Company yarns, among them a personal favourite, Teal Appeal. It's a rich mix of teal and a hot pink that just zings. At the bottom of the delivery bucket I noticed a tiny little skein of Teal Appeal. I remembered this particular skeinlette well as Yvonne - Dublin Dye Company master dyer - had presented it for naming only a week ago.

So, unable as we were to sell it, I decided to make up a small sample with it. And thus was born a tiny little baby hairband, with bear ears. Once I get some photos of the finished product, I'll have it for free download on Ravelry, but until then, just imagine, if you will, the cuteness of a baby in bear ears.

= cute

15 June 2009

Wisdom doesn't come to me easily, nor does prose that doesn't come off terribly contrived or underhanded. Nonetheless, I'm going to try and up the language in my blog.

I have been blessed with a great job offer, which I was more than happy to accept. Since losing my job at the graphic design studio - in which I was resident these past two years - due to cutbacks, life's been a bit of a struggle. Not a bad thing, though. Struggles make me realise all the great things I still have; my lovely boyfriend, my friends, my family who are there to help me without me even having to ask, and my hobbies.

Really, all in all, my live is rich beyond measure. I have love everyway I turn, and the ability to create with my hands. Losing either would be unbearable, I'm sure, and being offered a job working in my favourite yarn store This Is Knit in the Powerscourt Centre in Dublin has made me so happy.

I will now get paid to play with yarn, talk about yarn and during quiet moments, crochet!

Secondly, on the whole reactions to Rapunzel seem to be positive, which has given me the impetus to send a few more proposals to Inside Crochet for their consideration. I'll keep you posted.

These photos are from a night spent on the beach close to my home. It was just too beautiful a night not to post them. The first beach-party of the year! But still clearly an Irish becah party. Blazing fire, rosy cheeks... and heavy wooly jumpers.


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