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#PatternoftheWeek - Marcy Tilton's Vogue 9254

Yet again Vogue have released some fab New Sewing Patterns. None more so than Vogue Pattern 9254 and I am pleased to offer this to you as our #PatternoftheWeek which is 50% off for this week only!
This dress is full of panels with an unusual shape. See the line art...
The following photos show some of the 'weird' shaping within this dress.
The above photo looks like it could be the start of a pocket but nothing is mentioned about a pocket on the pattern. It says "The shaping/extensions are designed to give depth and dimensions to the dress".
Look at the shaping on this next piece. I love this sort of 'odd ball' shaping.
If you choose to do version B this is all in one colour and takes from 2.6 to 2.8 mts but if you decide to opt for version A (my favourite) there are actually 4 fabrics involved. The main fabric and 3 contrasts. 
The following photos show these contrasting fabrics. On the first photo I am pointing to the main fabric which is piece 5.
Piece 4 is cut from contrast 1, this is the right front.
The following photo's show the back view. 
Piece 1 which is the right back is cut from contrast 2, this fabric is also used for the neckband. The last photo in this section shows pieces 2 and 3 which are cut from contrast 3. These pieces are the left back and the right side back (where I am pointing to on the above photo)  and also used for both armbands.
Phew!! glad that's over. Now you can just see peeping out of the left side on version A (on the pattern front) a diagonal stripe. As you can see from one of the above photos, pieces 2 and 3 are cut on the bias, now this is purely and simply for the visual effect of diagonal stripes, not in any way for how the dress will hang because on looking at the cutting layout of version B they are cut straight down the grain.
Before I finish talking about the pattern I must mention the neck and armbands. The pattern gives pretty indepth instructions on attaching these bands. Remember you are using 2 different fabrics for the armbands and the neckband and these will no doubt react differently so this instruction is helping you to see the differences and how to sew them on. 
Now for some fabrics. My old favourite Plain Ponte Roma Fabric would be the obvious choice for Contrast 1 and for the main I would use this Ponte Roma Fabric which is a small dog-tooth check. For the back I would choose this Ponte Roma Knit Fabric which is a black and white stripe and wait for this my last choice would be this Fabric, which is actually a diagonal stripe ponte roma so you could use this as it is!! 
I couldn't help but notice we have some lovely navy ponte roma's in stock and decided to show you these as well!!
From left to right these are Spotty FabricThin Stripe FabricWide Stripe FabricPlain Fabric and last but not least Leaf Fabric.
I hope you like my selections for today, a little different don't you think? Thanks for reading.
Annette xx
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Cross Stitch Review with Variegated Embroidery Threads by Tina

Minerva Crafts kindly sent me a box of Duchess Embroidery Threads to review. I cross stitch everyday and make Floss tube (cross stitch on You tube) video's. So I was excited to use them and see how they compare with my usual threads. The set had 72 skeins which is incredible for the price. They are made of 100% cotton. My pack had 12 variegated colours with 6 skeins of each colour. They are beautiful bright colours and the variegation makes them far more interesting to stitch with. The colour change is long enough that you could use the different shades as solid colours. This means if you have a design that needed three colours, you could cut a dark, medium and bright section. The colours will blend beautifully together. This is a simple way of changing the charted colour with out trying to blend your own shades.

I was first drawn to the rich dark red of number 48. The colour variation changes from bright post box red to deep burgundy. I chose a chart from a cross stitch magazine. Pulling out a small piece of Evenweave I was ready to start my project. The one colour design was a joy to stitch and very quick. I loved how the colour changes appeared on the symbols. I did make mistakes as every stitcher does, and had to pull some out to correct it. I noticed that the thread left red marks where it had been. On the packaging it states that it is colour fast but I wanted to test it to be sure. Cross stitch can take a long time and so it is vital that we can trust the products we use. I did a test stitch with all of the colours on some scap fabric. I then placed it in water  to soak. I then left it to dry.

This is how it looked after being soaked and dried. As you can see there is no bleeding of the colours onto the fabric at all. I am happy that the skeins are colour fast. I would however advise to be aware of the fibers that are left on the faric when using the red. It can be cleaned up but it could get trapped under lighter colours.

I have a friends birthday coming up and so I thought I would like to make her a fun card. The Duchess set was lovely to dip into. It's always a pleasure to stitch a card that reflects the person it is intended for.

Aperture cards make stitched card making so much easier. I always back my stitching with Iron On Interfacing to stiffen it to give more stability. I then cut to size leaving plenty of room to attach to the card. Glue or double sided tape can be used to seal the card together. Applying the glue to the card means you can have the stitching face up and lower the card into position to see it is central. The extra card backing is then stuck in place behind.

I think this set is ideal for card making and small projects. It's fun and affordable and would be perfect for a child who is learning to be really creative and make something to be proud of. I will be reaching for the Duchess threads for my next card project. I think they have a place in any stitchers stash. It would be a welcome gift for any stitcher if you are unsure of their style.

Thank you for reading my review I hope you found it helpful. If you enjoy stitching why not take a look at our Floss Tube Community on YouTube. As well as having so much fun encouraging each other, I have learned so much to help improve my stitching. I have seen things I didn't even know was available and made stitching friends around the world.

Best wishes,

Tina @ Simply in Stitches

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Guest Post: A Quilted Coco by Lara

Hi Everyone! This is Lara from Handmade by Lara Liz. I’m so excited to be on the Minerva Crafts Blog to write a guest post.

While browsing my favorite things on the Minerva Crafts Blog for my Q&A Post, I fell in love with this beautiful quilted stretch Jersey Fabric. Once I saw it, I couldn’t get it out of my head! I thought it would be a perfect fit for the Coco Top from Tilly and the Buttons.

I haven’t sewn many Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Patterns before, but always admire them when I see them on other sewists! The Coco Top is a quick and easy sew and can be sewn on either the overlocker or the sewing machine. I sewed the majority of mine on the overlocker, and used the sewing machine for finishing. I am always a big fan of patterns that offer lots of different options – different necklines, lengths, optional details – and this pattern fits the bill! While this is just one version of the Coco, it can be made in so many different variations.

I chose to sew the top version with no pocket or funnel neckline. I did add a neckband to the pattern, as I find hemming knit necklines to be a bit fiddly. I never realized how easy it was to add a neckband on to any pattern and will definitely be doing that in the future! I’m sure others might already know how to do this, but if you’re newer to sewing like me – here’s my quick and easy neckband steps!

Lara’s Quick and Easy Neckband:

-          Measure the neck opening using a tape measure

-          Take length * 0.70 to get 70% of the neck opening

-          Divide that by 2 to determine the length of pattern piece to cut on the fold

-          Make yourself a pattern piece of the amount we calculated above x 1 ¼”

Once you have the neckband cut out, you just follow the same steps as your favorite knit pattern’s neckband – sew the short sides together (right sides together) and then press wrong sides together in half. Sew with either your overlocker or sewing machine.

I used a twin needle to hem the sleeves and hem of the skirt and to finish the neckband of the Coco Top.

My favorite thing about this pattern (besides how quickly it came together) was surprisingly the part I thought I would dislike – I really love the way the hem bells out on the top. It makes something that is basically a sweatshirt look much more dressed up – the fabric also makes a huge difference! This quilted fabric looks so unique and really elevates the top. I made a toile version out of a more drapey knit to check fit and it doesn’t look quite as dresses as this more stable knit. I would definitely recommend a stable knit for this pattern.

Minus the change in neck finishing, the only other modification I made on this pattern is to not stabilize the shoulders. In a drapeier knit, it would be very helpful, but for this fabric it wasn’t necessary.

I am really thrilled with the way this turned out! I will be making a few more and might even try out the dress version. I generally steer clear of dresses, but this seems like a super comfy work dress option so I might give it a go!

I’d love to see your versions of the Coco Top or hear your experiences adding neckbands onto patterns – make sure to reach out to me on Instagram or connect with me on my blog! Thanks for stopping by today!

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Product Review: Clover Pompom Makers by Sarah

These Clover Pompom Makers are so much fun to use, all you need is some wool and a few spare minutes to whip one up. And honestly once you start they are completely addictive! I had four different sizes to try out; the 20mm and 25mm from a pack labelled as ‘extra small’ and the 35mm and 45mm from a pack labelled as small.

Each bobbin maker has two sides that slot together with a pin in the middle. On each side there are two curved arms which you pull out, and holding them together you slowly wind the wool around the curves, keeping the thread taut and close together so that when you have gone from one side to the other you can’t see the plastic underneath. Pushing the arms down you then repeat on the other side. I found that the best pom pom resulted in winding the wool several times around and around the arms. The denser the wool is packed means you get a fluffier and rounder pom pom.

Once both sides have wool wrapped around them then you can cut through the centre of the wool, between the arms on each side.

Taking a piece of the same yarn you then need to tie the threads together so that when you pull the pom pom out it won’t fall apart. To do this you pass the cord through the centre of the pom pom maker and tie a knot. At this point you can then pull the sides apart of the pom pom maker and the pom pom appears!

And here it is, a fluffy pom pom! All done in a couple of minutes whilst sat in front of the TV. I found I needed to give mine a haircut to get it properly round but all in all it was super easy to make. I love the little ones especially. I was imagining making a colourful string of them as a Christmas decoration to pin up on the wall or wrap around the Christmas tree and aside from putting a pom pom on top of a woolly hat you could also embellish clothes, think of them as ends of ties maybe on shirts or a little line of them around the edge of a nice scarves etc…. The possibilities are endless.

Thanks for reading,

Sarah from Sewing Beautifully

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Sewing Ironing Mat Product Review by Sophie

Hi, guys! 

It's me Sophie from www.sopbac.com again. I'm here for the second time, but first time being a product tester for Minerva Crafts. I have been very fortunate and been reviewing a new Ironing Mat from Prym.

The testing period couldn't have come at a better time. I have been struggling a bit with my ironing setup as it is now and trying to figure out what I could do about it. The solution was simple - an ironing mat instead of a board! So here is my setup before the mat.

 

I got this uneven ironing board made out of tree at a second-hand store. I unscrewed it from its metal frame and put it on top of a dresser where I store my fabric to save space. The board wobbles a lot and I can’t use the pointed end of the board for sleeves. To fix that I purchased a sleeve board (which I love!), but that doesn’t fix my wobbly problems. The board takes up space where I intentionally want to have my other pressing necessities, like the pressing ham and sleeve board. That is before I got this Iron Sheet from Prym!

The sheet is measured to be 50 cm x 92 cm. It’s a little big for my dresser, but I make it work. The mat is printed with metric measurements, which is perfect for me in Norway. This has been very helpful for when I sew pockets on my dresses at exactly 10 cm from the raw edge of the skirt. The mat also has 30-45-60 (and of course 90) degree angles if you need it, I personally haven’t been using it yet.

The backing of the mat is this silver heat resisting backing. I have tried using it with the highest heat option on my iron with steam over one area. The result was that some steam did come through and the dresser got wet. I wiped it away, waited for it to cool completely, then I repeated the ironing with the same heat, but less steam - nothing came through!

On one side of the ironing mat, there is three pouch pockets, one removable pocket attached by velcro and a pincushion. It is great for storing small items related to ironing. In the first pocket, I have my plastic point turner and embroidery scissors (don’t worry, the pocket is big and the pointer and scissors are always inside the pocket, I just pulled them up for the picture for those of you worrying for my safety). The second pocket I have my bias binding makers and the last one I have some markers and a loop turner.

The downside about the pockets is that bigger or more items will weigh the mat down making it slide of the dresser or whatever you put it on. I have to put my iron on top of the mat so it stays there.

All in all, I’m very happy with the ironing mat. It uses my dressers space to the max without taking up too much space and it does its job. If you didn’t know, it is currently on sale so head on over and put it in your shopping cart.

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#PatternoftheWeek - Vogue 9261 Little Girl's Dress & Leggings

Vogue patterns don't bring out many Children's Sewing Patterns but when they do, there is usually something quite special about them. My #PatternoftheWeek offer for you this week is no exception. It is Vogue Pattern 9261. This pattern is priced at £9.00 so for one week only you can purchase it at a fab price of just £4.50.
Can't you just picture your little daughter or grandaughter in this ever so cute dress or top and leggings. I certainly can with my latest little grandaughter Emily. I can't believe she is one tomorrow, where has this year gone. Rather than re-sizing the pattern which I hate doing at the best of times (I just like to crack on with the sewing!) I have decided to make this dress for her next year for March when Phil and myself are off on holiday with Emily and all her gang!
So even though I'm not making it yet, with it being a brand new pattern from Vogue, I thought maybe you won't want to wait while there is a Vogue sale.
The long top, version A has been made up in a Georgette Fabric and boy is there some beauties here at Minerva. My first choice (I am not believing the price of this fabric) is at an incredible price of just £2.99 per mt. It is a mid shade of grey with black dots and although some would say "grey for a little girl??" but I'd say its trendy right now - and just look at the pattern, that has been made in black!
The underlining (which you have to include because this creates the 'bubble' hemline) could be made in just a Plain Lining Fabric although Organza Fabric has been suggested on the pattern.
My next choice, especially if you or your little one wants something lighter is this Heart Print Fabric
It has a light background with modern red hearts with a black outline scattered through it. This fabric drapes beautifully so possibly a Plain Georgette Fabric would be best used for the underlining then they can drape together so to speak! This is priced at £6.99 per mt, more than the previous fabric but certainly not expensive. 
On to the leggings, these are so pretty with the tie detail at the hemline. Probably the best choice would be a Cotton Jersey or if you want a silkier look how about a Viscose Jersey
The bubble effect on the hemline of the top/dress is easy to sew. The underlining is a couple of inches shorter and certainly narrower than the outer piece.
Note how piece 3 is longer and wider than piece 4. The outer is gathered and sewn onto the underlining.
Before sewing, the lower edge is pulled through the back neckline opening, re-pinned and then sewn. A very clever way of sewing this together. 
The gathers in the leggings are created by sewing a piece of elastic onto the inside. The elastic is stretched as you sew therefore creating the gathers when you let go.
Thanks for reading and until next time,
Annette xx
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Lark Tee How-To by Monique

Even though I would have classed myself as an intermediate sewist, I was reluctant to work with Jersey Fabric until a few months ago. I had heard about how difficult it could be - mainly from Patrick Grant pointing out how contestants had stretched it out of shape on the Great British Sewing Bee. However, jersey has a lot of advantages, including comfort, easier fitting and a lovely drape. You can also achieve great results with a home sewing machine - no overlocker is required, though of course they do come in handy.

The Lark Tee Sewing Pattern is a great pattern for a first time trying out using a Knit Fabric. It’s a quick and straightforward make that can produce professional-looking results. This simplicity means that you can really take your time focusing on the small details, and still have a finished garment in a day. What have you got to lose?

1. Get all of your equipment together

Necessary

  • Sewing machine

  • Fabric and coordinating thread. I used this gorgeous bear print Cotton Jersey Fabric from Minerva

  • Ballpoint/jersey/stretch needle (these are all terms for the same thing)

  • Dressmaking scissors

  • Tape measure

Optional but recommended

  • Ballpoint pins

  • Rotary cutter and self-healing mat

  • Paper and any other equipment you use for tracing off

2. Prepare your fabric as you normally do- either pre-wash or at least give a thorough press with plenty of steam.

3. Read through and familiarise yourself with the pattern.

Top tips before you start

  • Use a ballpoint/jersey/stretch needle. Since jersey is knitted rather than woven, it can ladder (like a pair of tights) if pierced by a regular needle. Specialist needles are designed to stop this from happening.

  • You must use a stretch stitch (the icon will look like a lightning bolt) or narrow zigzag when sewing seams. A straight stitch will not stretch with the jersey fabric, so your stitches could pop out.

  • Don’t allow the fabric to hang over the front of your sewing table when working- this can make it stretch out of shape.

4. Either trace off or cut out your pattern. I traced because this is an expensive pattern. If you are unsure about what size to make, check the ‘finished garment size’ table in the pattern. Get out a few RTW t-shirts that fit you well and measure them. You can then choose which size in the pattern corresponds to the type of shirt you normally wear. Since this pattern has tiny seam allowances, bear in mind that you won’t be able to let it out later if it is too small.

5. Cut out your fabric, preferably with a rotary cutter. Of course you can use scissors, but be mindful of the fabric stretching. The seam allowances on this pattern are tiny (1/4 inch, which is about 0.6cm). Make sure you bear this in mind when marking your notches!

6. The first step is to stitch the shoulders.

7. Next is stitching the sleeves in place, then the side seams.

8. Check the fit of your t-shirt at this point. I was happy with mine, though you may be able to see that the shirt is very long on me. I am short and I have a short torso, so I expected this. If the shirt is looking a little baggy, take it in now.

9. The next step, the neckline, is the trickiest, but definitely manageable if you take your time. Stitch and press the neckband as indicated in the pattern.

The following instructions will help you to achieve even stretch in the neckband. Lay the neckband piece flat and place a pin in the fold at each end. Bring the pins together in the middle and lay the band flat again, pinning as before. These four pins divide the neckband equally into quarters.

In the same way, mark the centre front and centre back of your t-shirt with pins. Bring these pins together and place two more pins so that your neck-hole is also divided equally into quarters.

You will be stitching the neckband right sides together so it will be ‘flipped up’ when finished. If you are using a directional print like me, make sure you don’t pin it on upside-down!

Next pin your neckband to the neck of your shirt, matching the pins on the neckband piece to the pins on the t-shirt. You can then stretch the neckband between the pins and add some more pins to make it easier to stretch evenly when stitching. I used sixteen pins in total.

10. Carefully stitch on the neckband. Try on again to ensure it is sitting nicely.

11. The next step- stitching around the neckband to anchor the seam allowances- is optional. I looked and lots of my RTW tees don’t have it, but my fabric rolled a lot and I thought my neckline might look a bit lumpy if I didn’t.

I decided to use a zigzag stitch for aesthetic reasons, but I think a stretch stitch would have looked just as good. If you do zigzag, test how this looks on a piece of scrap fabric first.

12. Finally, press and pin the hems on the sleeves and bottom of the shirt. Try on first to admire your handiwork, and also do a final check on the length.

13. Stitch those hems. I used a zigzag again to match the topstitching around the neckline.

And you’re done! Wear your beautiful new t-shirt with pride.

Thanks for reading!

You can find more from me over on my blog @ Crafty Crusader

Monique x

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Jersey Knit Fabric Bundle Makes by Di

Minerva Crafts recently asked for bloggers to review their products, so I jumped at the chance! Every so often I get an email with some of the products from their extensive range available to review.  So when an email arrived that included Fabric Bundles I chose a 10m bundle of Knit Fabrics, retailing at £19.99.

I love fabric bundles, they often contain fabrics I wouldn't actually choose when searching the Internet. I find them a great way to get fabric at greatly reduced prices, that challenges me to think how I will use them.

There are loads of fabric bundles on the website, some by colour ranges, some by fabric type and at different costs. The description of the one I chose included

"Each fabric piece in your pack will be at least half a metre long and your pack can contain any number of pieces in various lengths and widths to make up the total amount of metres.  I.e. you may receive 20 half metre pieces, 1 ten metre piece, or anything in between. There are no seconds or soiled fabrics in these packs, they are all as you would buy  them per metre in a shop."

My pack contained 8 pieces of cloth, all of lengths I could make something useful with. Non of the fabrics are labelled, so my comments are based on my knowledge of fabrics and how to identify them using a burn test. 

There were 2 pieces of viscose jersey in plain colours. I have no immediate use for them, but they will be useful in the future, I often use lightweight jersey for tops or lining. There was only one piece that I don't know what I'll use it for, but it may come in useful to make a sample garment when trying out a pattern.

There was just under 1m of a stretch net/lace fabric with a velour type finish in brown/beige, after a bit of thought I searched my pattern collection and made Kwik Sew 3467 with short sleeves. I've already worn it quite a lot, it's surprisingly warm and not see through considering its lacy construction.

Next I decided to make an exercise top from a grey and pink striped single jersey that contains some Lycra, it's quite stable with good stretch and recoil. I made use of another pattern I already had McCall's 7116 as I wanted something close fitting, but not tight to wear to Zumba. I used strips of the horizontal stripe to bind the front and armhole edges. I've  worn it and it washed well, giving freedom of movement without being too clingy.  

One piece was quite a bright, but thin, nylon Lycra that draped really well. It took me a while to decide what to make with it, it's not absorbent and too thin for another exercise top. Yet again I turned to my pattern collection and found Vogue 8251 I adapted this pattern so that it is more loose fitting. The fabric worked well with the shoulder area design and the looser fit makes it comfortable to wear in hotter weather, allowing air to circulate. 

There was one larger piece of fabric. Approx 3.5m of 100% cotton double jersey. The design immediately made my think of home wear designs as a child, but then I'm 62, so I suppose that just makes it Vintage rather than old fashioned. Double jersey is a stable knit, but 100% cotton is prone to bagging so it took me a while to decide what to make with it. What I realised was that this cloth will be quite warm and good for 'lounge wear' i.e. duvet day type winter wear! So another trawl through my patterns found McCall's 6658. The slouchy top is similar to Japanese patterns and certainly something I need the instructions for! I was able to make the top and pyjama trousers from this cloth and they're sure to be a winter favourite.

Up to now there is only one piece of fabric I'm unsure what to do with. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just black and quite bulky, two things that I avoid! I'll probably use it to make something for someone else, I just have to decide who and what!

I now have 5 garments, plus 4 pieces of cloth all for under £20. I'd certainly have to pay more than that for the winter loungewear. Everything I made only needed a bit of interfacing and elastic, however I know I'm lucky to have collected loads of patterns and I'm happy to adapt them.

There are so many different fabric bundles to choose from I feel there's something for everyone. If, like me, you have clothes with nothing to go with them, buying a colour coordinated bundle could give you an  opportunity to make clothes using fabrics that you might not normally choose.

If you're up for a bit of a challenge, especially if you usually stick to the same type of fabric, then I'd really encourage you to give a fabric bundle a try. 

Thanks for reading everyone!

Di @ www.sew-it.biz

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Machine Stars Wrap Around Skirt Pattern Review

My daughter has watched me sew for as long as she can remember. She's spent many a time sat upon a chair watching me redraft patterns, mimicking me with her own pen and paper, tongue invariably poking out in concentration. She's watched me cut out fabric and played at cutting her own from the scraps; she’s watched me pin, sew and twirl in the garments I've made and has often asked “when can I have a go?”

She now has own pink mini sewing machine, which sews steady and slow with a little foot pedal; perfect for little sewists. She's sewn line after line, perfecting her straight rows and has made blankets for her dollies; so when Minerva kindly gave us the opportunity to test the Machine Stars range of super simple Sewing Patterns for Children aged 7+ we jumped at the chance. 

We received their ‘wrap around skirt’; there is also a lovely little apron; a sundress; kit, book and sleepover bags and a room tidy in the range.

The wrap around skirt Sewing Pattern is designed to fit any child over the age of 7, with its ribbon waist ties – the pattern itself therefore simply consists of two pattern pieces, skirt front and skirt back, together with a sheet of instructions and a glossary of sewing terms. 

My Pixie Princess was so excited to open the envelope! She smoothed out the paper and she got to cutting out her very first pattern piece. My huge paper scissors were large and cumbersome in her dainty little hands and especially given that she's left handed, I quickly realised if she wants to carry on sewing, she's going to need her own range of equipment! But she persevered – the pattern pieces have extra thick lines to help little hands navigate the shapes! With only a little assistance, she did such a great job! We decided to trace one of the pattern pieces, the skirt front, as she needed to cut two plus she wanted to have a go. I was sooo impressed with how well she did.  She was tired with all that concentrating and it proved enough for session one!

Our next session consisted of pinning the pattern pieces to the Dressmaking Fabric (we used a remnant of beige shimmer twill I had stashed) and then cutting them out. She found putting in the pins quite tricky, and the paper is quite thick, but she got there in the end! I love how evidently proud of herself she was throughout! 

I decided to overlock all the edges of the pieces; it does say they could use a zig zag stitch to stop the edges fraying but I wasn't convinced she'd be able to do that yet. Plus overlooking neatened up the cut edges …. Shush, don't tell her I said that though! ;-) 

Session three saw her sat the sewing machine! She'd used Wonder Clips to pin skirt back and fronts together and then off she went! We had a few little wobbles but overall her seams were really good! I stood by her as she hefted the iron and pressed them flat and watched with pride as she ran into the other room to show Daddy what she had achieved!

Once the side seams are sewn (leaving a gap on one side to thread the ribbon through), you move onto creating a facing at each skirt front, hemming and attaching the ribbon. Then ta da! She'd made her first skirt!!! 

Is it perfect? No of course not but she thinks it is! She loves it! It's actually a tad too big - she's not yet quite 7 – but importantly, I really hope this will be something she always remembers; the first time she made something ‘all’ by herself. Do I think the pattern is worth the £8 price tag? Well, you could probably draft the pieces yourself but there is no denying just how special my little one felt in opening her own first pattern envelope, in tracing and cutting out the pieces and reading through the instructions. And, who knows; it may be the start of a life long passion and, as we all know, that truly is a priceless gift! 

Thank you Minerva for supplying the pattern in return for this review. It's been a great mother-daughter experience! 

You can catch more of my sewing antics over on my blog or as part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network.

Until next time,

Sarah xx

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Product Review: Prym Ergonomic Knitting Needles by Nadine

Before we start I should perhaps make a confession, when it comes to knitting needles I have simple tastes. I am not normally one to be caught up in the latest trends, popular brands or hot new needles, when it comes down to it I have one basic question – can I knit with it? If the answer is yes then that is usually enough and I'm away on with the project. I was however intrigued when I saw some adverts for the new Prym Ergonomics Knitting Needles which extolled the virtues of the innovative new shape and design and showed lots of happy ladies knitting. When I saw an email from Minerva Crafts calling for product testers and the Prym Ergonomics were on the list I decided it must be fate and signed up to give them a try.

So, what is all the fuss about/what is so innovative about these new needles? Surely if it has a pointy bit at one end you can knit with it right? It doesn't need to be much more complicated than that does it? The design team at Prym seem to think there is actually a bit more to it than that and have come up with 3 main points of innovation (these are taken directly from the Prym website):

 

1.      “The new drop-shaped tips optimize the picking up and guiding of the yarn. These hook tips make the start easy for the beginner and enable the experienced knitter to work quickly and quietly - even with complicated patterns”

2.      “First round, then triangular - the triangle shape of the shaft offers as few contact points as possible to the piece of knitting. The stitches can thus glide noticeably freer along the needle shaft - for more fun when knitting without having to push the stitches along as one knits”

3.      “Two ideas have been combined in the click heads: These ingeniously designed end knobs simply clip together two needles as a pair - and as soon as the knitting is on the needle, the stitches are secured between the two click heads. In this way the click heads function as integrated stitch stoppers”

Sounds fancy doesn't it. In order to find out if these were really the hot new thing and a must have for any keen knitter I agreed to trial the single point needles in both the 3mm and 6mm sizes. Being a bit of a geek I worked out a plan for testing the needles as thoroughly as possible so I set about creating swatches which covered the following elements:

·         100% wool yarn

·         alpaca/ silk blend yarn

·         acrylic yarn

·         lace stitches

·         textured stitches

·         stocking/ stockingette stitch

·         ribbing

·         stranded colour work

·         cables

·         bobbles

I could have got carried away and gone even further with my swatching, for instance I didn't test them to see how they fared when it came to picking up stitches, but this would have meant my toddlers turning feral and running around in some Lord of the Flies type adventure whilst I sat knitting in a corner for hours on end.

With these tests in mind, how did the needles perform? I have to say the results were mixed depending on the size of the needles.

Lets start with yarn type/ fibre composition, both sizes coped well with the 100% wool yarn, by coped well I mean the stitches flowed well and it was comfortable to work with. Acrylic yarns and the alpaca/silk blend flowed well over the 3mm needles but were considerable more “sticky” and tough to work on the 6mm, a lot of stitch manipulation was needed to slide them along the needles but I shall come back to this later when I talk through how the needles live up to the manufacturers claims.

As I'm more likely to work with smaller gauge yarn I decided to test the different stitch types on only the 3mm needles. I'll take the stitch types in order:

Lace stitches – I tried a simple yo, k2tog, k1 lace rather than a more complex design and I wasn't that happy with the process, the tips weren't pointed enough to make knitting the 2 stitches together effortless and neat.

Textured stitches – I worked a straight forward checked stitch with 3 rows of k3, p3 followed by 3 rows of p3,k3. No problems, a good comfortable knit which I suspect would apply to most textured stitches based on just knit and purl stitches.

Ribbing – an ordinary 1x1 rib posed no problems at all, I can't guarantee that a twisted rib would be as easy but that is a whole other set of swatches.

Stockingette – quick, easy and comfortable, I did have the odd split stitch but no more than I would with any other needles I have previously worked with.

Stranded colour work – I knit my stranded colour work 2 handed and this seemed to work relatively well, the only aspect to complicate the process was the flexibility of the needle but I shall return to that in a minute.

Cables – with a C6F pattern I found no issues of concern.

Bobbles – I should have known that if k2tog was difficult then k5tog when making bobbles was never going to be a pleasurable experience, not only was it not pleasurable I also ended up permanently bending the needle! One solution would be to use a crochet hook for knitting together more than 2 stitches at a time but realistically I would just avoid patterns featuring bobbles full stop with these needles.

When it comes to needle flexibility, this was only an issue with the 3mm needles, the 6mm needles were stable and reliable. Even before I permanently bent the 3mm making bobbles it was already making life difficult by flexing and bending during the course of knitting the swatches. The left hand needle was fine it was only the right hand needle (see picture). I thought this could have been as a result of my knitting style, I knit English style with my yarn in my right hand and I hold the right hand needle on top (possibly betraying my working class origins) so I decided to alter my hand positioning/knitting style to see if this helped. Holding the right hand needle from underneath (more like a pen), tucking the right hand needle under my arm or knitting continental style with the yarn in my left hand made no difference the right hand needle still moved and flexed whilst knitting so much so that I was worried that I would snap it!

Returning to the 3 innovative selling points, the tear drop-shaped tip, the triangular shaft and the click heads:

1.      Tear drop-shaped tips – it is claimed that these help you pick up/ work stitches more easily and efficiently, this may be true in part. I had some difficulty knitting the first row after the cast on as it just felt a bit tight and awkward, without further experimentation I couldn't say for definite that this was entirely down to the needles rather than just a side effect of me using a tight cast on. Knitting during the body of the swatch did seem to flow nicely (but still with the odd split stitch) and as I am a pusher/ poker when knitting, the tear drop shape was a lot kinder on my finger tips than needles with a sharper point.

2.      Triangular shaft – the shaft is only triangular up until about an inch before the needle tip and over the triangular section stitches did indeed seem to slide up and down the needle more freely however as soon as they hit the traditional circular shaped section at the tip this ease of movement/ flow was lost. This was particularly acute when using the 6mm needles, when using the alpaca/ silk blend and the acrylic yarns I physically had to push the stitches over the hump where the shaft transitions from triangular to circular. The 100% wool yarn didn't seem to suffer from this problem.

3.      Click heads – as a concept this is a fabulous idea, having needles that lock together so you can just throw them in to a project bag without requiring needle stoppers, safe in the knowledge that your knitting isn't going to come off the needles and that you aren't going to have to spend the first 10 minutes each time you get your knitting out picking up dropped stitches. In practice the click heads are not quite so wonderful. There is a definite “sweet spot” for getting the needles to click together faffing about finding this each time you want to put your knitting down may become quite tiresome. The second issue is that they don't lock securely, the slightest bump or jolt of the needles and they pop open again.

My conclusion – if you prefer simple knits with medium to larger gauge yarns (DK upwards) and have a tendency towards real wool yarns then you would probably be happy with these needles, but if you prefer to work with fine yarns regardless of fibre composition then the single tips might not be for you. That being said I feel it only fair to extend my knitting experiments in the future and test out how to Prym Ergonomics perform in smaller sizes in the circular needles, any excuse for more knitting.

Thanks for reading,

Nadine @ The Many Knits of Nadine

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