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Sirdar Noah's Ark Knit-Along Part 6 - Tilly & Tommy Tigers!

MEASUREMENTS 
Height 21cm, (8¼in) approximately when sitting down. 
MATERIALS 
F039 Sirdar Cotton DK Yarn (A) shade 508 or 515 F039 Cotton DK (B) shade 507 or 520 F039 Cotton DK (C) shade 500 1 
Pair of 3¼mm (UK10 – USA3) Knitting Needles
ABBREVIATIONS 
mm millimetres, cm centimetres, in inches, DK double knitting, M main, C contrast, inc increase, k knit, p purl, psso pass slipped stitch over, rep repeat, rem remaining, rs right side, s1 slip one stitch knitways, st(s) stitch(es), tog together, tbl through back of loop M1 – make one stitch. Pick up loop between last and next stitch and work into the back of this loop. st-st (stocking stitch) 1st Row. Knit. 2nd Row. Purl. Repeat these 2 rows.
Stripe sequence. 2 rows A and 2 rows B throughout Back and Front. 
Intarsia Method. When working with different balls of yarn the colour to be used should be twisted round the colour just used to link the colours together and avoid holes.
FRONT 
** Using A cast on 10 sts. 
Next Row. Inc in every st to last st, k1. 19 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Working in stripe sequence as above proceed as follows:- 
Next Row. Inc in 1st st, knit to last 2 sts, inc in next st, k1. 21 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. Rep last 2 rows twice more. 25 sts. ** 
Next Row. K11, m1, k3, m1, k11. 27 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. Work 2 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. K11, m1, k5, m1, k11. 29 sts. 
Next Row. Purl.
Work 2 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. K11, m1, k7, m1, k11. 31 sts. Work 3 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. K2tog, k9, k2togtbl, k5, k2tog, k9, k2tog. 27 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. K10, k2togtbl, k3, k2tog, k10. 25 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. K10, k2togtbl, k1, k2tog, k10. 23 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. K2tog, k8, s1, k2tog, psso, k8, k2tog. 19 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. Work 12 rows in st-st. *** 
Next Row. (K2tog) 4 times, k3, (k2tog) 4 times. 11 sts. Work 3 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. Inc in 1st st, (inc in next st) 3 times, k2, (inc in next st) 4 times, k1. 19 sts. 
Next Row. Inc in 1st st, purl to last 2 sts, inc in next st, p1. 21 sts 
Next Row. Inc in 1st st, knit to last 2 sts, inc in next st, k1. 23 sts.
Next Row. Purl. Rep last 2 rows twice more. 27 sts. Work 8 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. K7, k2togtbl, k9, k2tog, k7. 25 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. K2tog, k5, k2togtbl, k7, k2tog k5, k2tog. 21 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. K2tog, k4, k2togtbl, k5, k2tog, k4, k2tog. 17 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. K2tog, k3, k2togtbl, k3, k2tog, k3, k2tog. 13 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. (K2tog) 3 times, k1, (k2tog) 3 times. 7 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. Break off yarn and thread through rem sts. *** 
BACK 
Work from ** to ** of Front. Work 12 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. K2tog, knit to last 2 sts, k2tog. 23 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. Work 4 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. K2tog, knit to last 2 sts, k2tog. 21 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. Work 4 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. K2tog, knit to last 2 sts, k2tog. 19 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. Work 6 rows in st-st. Work from *** to *** of Front to complete. 
MAKE UP 
Join side edges of head to neck and stuff. Continue to sew side edges of body and stuff as you work along to cast on edge. Close cast on edge with a running stitch. 
MUZZLE 
(Worked in the Intarsia method) Using B cast on 11 sts.
Work 6 rows in st-st. 
Cast on 4 sts at end of next 2 rows. 19 sts. 
Next Row. Inc in 1st st , knit to last st, inc in last st. 21 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Join in C to work nose continue as follows:- 
Next Row. Inc in 1st st, knit 9B, 1C, 9B, inc in last st. 23 sts. 
Next Row. Purl 10B, 3C, 10B. 
Next Row. Knit 9B, 5C, 9B. 
Next Row. Purl 9B, 5C, 9B. 
Next Row. Knit 8B, 7C, 8B. 
Next Row. Cast off 8 sts in B purlways break off B yarn and fasten off. 
Continuing along same row in C inc in 1st st, p5B, inc in next st, cast off rem 8 sts purlways, in B. Break off B yarn thread yarn through last st and fasten off. 
Work on rem 9 sts for central nose section as follows:- 
With rs facing, join in A and work 2 rows in st-st. 
Using C work 2 rows in st-st. Using A work 2 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. Using C, inc in 1st st, k7, inc in last st. 11sts. 
Next Row. Using C purl. Work a further 2 rows in st-st using A. Cast off in A. 
MAKE UP 
Join 4 cast on sts to side edges of first 6 rows. Join 8 cast off sts to side edge of central nose section. Stuff. 
EARS 
(Both Alike) Using B cast on 18 sts. Work 4 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. (K2tog) 9 times. 9 sts. 
Next Row. (P2tog) twice, p1, (p2tog) twice. 5 sts. 
Break off yarn and thread through rem sts.
MAKE UP 
Fold ear in half and sew side edges of ear together. 
ARMS 
(Both Alike) Using A cast on 12 sts. Work 34 rows in st-st. 
Change to C for hand and proceed as follows:- 
Next Row. (K2, m1) 5 times, k2. 17 sts. Work 5 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. (K2tog) 4 times, k1, (k2tog) 4 times. 9 sts. 
Next Row. (P2tog) twice, p1, (p2tog) twice. 5 sts. Break off yarn and thread through rem sts. 
MAKE UP
 Sew side edges of hand and stuff. Continue to sew side edges of arm and stuff as you work along to cast on edge and close. 
LEGS 
(Both Alike) Using C cast on 10 sts. Next Row. Inc in every st to last st, k1. 19 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. K8 (inc in next st) 3 times, k8. 22 sts. Work 3 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. K6, (k2tog) 5 times, k6. 17 sts.
Next Row. P6, (p2tog) 3 times, p5. 14 sts. 
Next Row. K5, (k2tog) twice, k5. 12 sts. Using B, purl. 
Using B work in st-st until leg measures 15cm, (6in). 
Cast off.
MAKE UP 
Slip stitch sole of foot together. Join side edges of foot and stuff. Continue to sew side edges of leg together for a further 6cm, (2½in), leave 1cm, (¼in), without stuffing (knee) then continue to join and stuff leg to cast off edge. Work straight stitches in C through the ‘empty’ knee section to give the leg a bend. 
TAIL 
Using C cast on 8 sts. 
Work 2 rows in st-st. 
Using A work 2 rows in st-st. 
Rep last 4 rows 9 times more. 
Cast off. 
MAKE UP 
Let the tail naturally curl inwards and sew together at this point. No stuffing will be required. Make a tassel and sew to cast off edge. 
FINAL MAKE UP 
Sew Ears and Muzzle to head as illustrated. Sew arms to neck edge. Sew legs to each side of cast on edge of body one stripe up. Sew tail to back of tiger to give him balance. Using C work French knots for eyes, work a straight stitch to each side of the knot. Embroider mouth and whiskers underneath nose as illustrated. Cut a few lengths of yarn to make the tuft and sew centrally to top of head.
We hope you have enjoyed knitting our favourite animals from the Ark and would love to see your finished set!
Bye for now,
Vicki x
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Ollie the Owl

Within a few weeks of the Tinsel Hedgehog pattern arriving at Minerva from King Cole, another pattern arrived - this time for a beautifully cute owl! This just had to be another “Will” project, for my five year old, animal-mad grandson.

As with the Hedgehog pattern, this pattern for the Owl shows three sizes and can again be worked in any of the twelve colours of King Cole Tinsel Chunky Yarn. Which combination of size and colour would you choose? Just makes you want to get started and knit a whole family of them, doesn’t it?

Again, as for the Hedgehog I knit, I decided to go the more realistic route in my choice of colour, and as I had already used the copper tinsel, it was either going to have to be bronze (to make him into a sort of Barn Owl) or white ( he would look great as a Snowy Owl). As you can see from the picture above, I chose to go with the Snowy Owl. As a toy for a young child, using the white could have “keeping clean” issues, but if all the materials you use are washable, it should be possible to spruce him up if needed.

The materials used were as follows: 1 x 50gm ball of King Cole Tinsel Chunky in White, 1 x 25gm ball of King Cole Dollymix in White for the face panel, 1 x 25gm ball of Dollymix in Gold for the eyes, 1 x 25gm ball of Dollymix in Clerical (grey) for the beak and feet, a pair of size 5mm knitting needles (old size 6), a pair of size 3mm knitting needles (old size 11), a size 3mm crochet hook (old size 11), two shank buttons for the eyes and polyester washable toy filling.

I don’t know about other people, but I seem to have a “problem” when choosing what projects to work on next. I adore looking at knitting and crochet patterns, all the beautiful yarns, their colours and textures, etc. – and I love looking at manufactured clothing, home decor products and interior design ideas as well , as inspiration for colour and design. My problem is that I can usually see a basic idea but there will always be some aspects of it that aren’t just what I’m looking for! Do you recognise that feeling?

I always seem to be thinking:

“Well that bit’s fine, but could I alter it here?” or

“Could I create this idea but in a different material?” or

“Can I alter the size of this?” or

“Oooh, I love this product, but could I use it to create something else?” etc, etc.

So, over many years, I have adopted the attitude that even if you try out something and it doesn’t quite work, you’ve had a great learning curve along the way. At the end of the day, at least with knitting and crocheting, it’s probably only a few balls of wool that need pulling back! I now know, thanks to a great tip from a crafty friend, that all my “kinky” wool doesn’t need to be a problem either, because there is a very clever way to get rid of them. I will explain what this is, and how to do it, in another post in the near future.

All of the above preamble was really getting round to saying that, although I loved the idea of the owl, I was not really keen on the face panel as on the pattern (shown above). An idea came to mind which I’ll explain to you as we progress. I also wondered if it might be possible to give him a couple of wings as well, so I might try that too.

As I was going to play around a little, I decided that the largest owl would be the best one to make, as it gives me a bigger area to work with.

One ball of yarn (as per the pattern) is enough to knit the large body, but until I’d knitted it, I wouldn’t know how much would be left. 

 You can see on the photograph there was some, but whether it will be enough or not I’ll have to wait and see . I decided to concentrate on the owl as he was on the pattern, and think about “ wings” later.

It didn’t take long to knit the body and I decided this time, unlike with Herbie, that I would sew up and stuff the body first so that I could see what size I would be working with, in order to create my own eye pieces.

The body was knitted in stocking stitch, and in most cases you would probably sew something up so that the smooth side (ie: knit stitch side) is classed as the right side. The pattern does not actually tell you which way to sew it, but I decided I preferred the purl side on the outside – it seemed to show the tinsel effect off a little better (making it look more fluffy!) So I sewed knit sides face to face, then turned it inside out to stuff it. Also, normally, you would think that your cast on edge would be at the bottom of whatever it is you are knitting, but in this case the cast on edge is the top the head and the cast off edge is the base.

I would say the finished height of the owl is approx 25cm/10ins (it does not actually tell you the heights of the different owls on the pattern).

Next I decided to knit the owl’s feet as instructed.

Whilst I was knitting the feet for the Hedgehog, I must admit that the instructions seemed a bit strange, but stick with me, and hopefully I can make things a little clearer for you. They are exactly the same one’s for the owl’s feet. So I decided in this post I would try, with step-by-step instructions and photographs, to explain just what they mean.

Casting on and the first two rows are straightforward, but for some people Row 3 may confuse you. First of all knit 5 stitches, then knit 2 more. Cast the second of these off over the first one. Knit next stitch, then cast it off over the previous stitch. Continue like this until you have 4 stitches remaining on the left-hand needle (you will also have 1 stitch on your right-hand needle). Knit 4 stitches, which then gives you 5 stitches at the end of the row.

On the next row (Row 4 on the owl pattern), knit 5 stitches then turn your work. Using the two needle method, cast on 20 stitches, ie: put the right-hand needle into the first stitch of the 5, knitwise; wrap the yarn round the tip of the right-hand needle; bring the right-hand needle to the front of the work but instead of slipping the stitch off the left- hand needle(as you would for an ordinary knit stitch), slip the loop formed back on to the left-hand needle. Repeat 19 times to create your 20 new stitches.

ON THE OWL PATTERN THERE IS ACTUALLY A MISTAKE AS IT DOES NOT TELL YOU TO TURN YOUR WORK AGAIN, BUT YOU NEED TO DO THIS TO BE ABLE TO KNIT THE REMAINING 5 STITCHES OF THE ROW. When you have turned, knit the 5 stitches that are remaining on what is now your left-hand needle.

Work 2 knit rows and then repeat the cast off/cast on rows again.

Work another 2 knit rows, then cast off all stitches. You now have a finished foot piece which you might think looks a little strange.

When you fold the finished piece in half you can easily see how it will create a foot. Simply overstitch all around the edges to give Ollie his three toes.

Now it was time to consider what to do about the eye panels.

I really didn’t like the look of them knitted in garter stitch as per the pattern, so I wondered what they might look like if I crocheted something instead, as it is easy to create circular pieces of crochet.

I decided to use a deep yellow yarn, as Snowy owls often have vivid yellow eyes with a deep black centre. To achieve the centre I was going to add some shank buttons at a later stage.

Here are the instructions for the eye panels, with photographs of the various stages to help you:

Using the gold yarn and 3mm crochet hook, make 5 chains (ch), join with a slipstitch (s/s)

1st Row: Make 2 ch, work 8 double crochet (dc) into the centre of the ring, join with s/s (9 stitches). Make sure there is a reasonable sized hole left in the centre. You need to be able to fit the shank of the button through it when the pieces are completed.

2nd Row: Make 2 ch, work 1dc into 1st dc of previous row, then work 2 dc into each dc of previous row, join with s/s (18 stitches)

3rd Row: Make 2 ch, work as for Row 2, but do not make s/s at end of the round. (If you make this stitch in gold, it will show in the next round which is going to be white). Break off the gold yarn.

Using white yarn, continue as follows – join to beginning chain of previous row with a s/s

4th Row: Make 2 ch. Work 1 treble (tr) into each stitch of previous row, to end, joining with s/s (36 stitches)

5th Row: Make 2 ch.* Work 1 tr into each of next 2 sts, work 2 tr in next st*, repeat from * to * to end of row, join with s/s (48 stitches)

Next, make 2 ch, then work 1 tr into each of the next 4 stitches. Remove hook from the stitch and pull the loop of this last stitch until it is a reasonable size (this is only to prevent the work being pulled back until the other eye piece has been worked). Break off yarn, leaving about a 30cm tail after the loop.

Now you need to make another piece exactly like this one, including the loop at the end.

Take hold of the two eye panels, placing them back to back, wrong sides together. Put your hook through the loop of the back panel which will be on the right-hand side. Next put the hook through the top of the stitch of the front panel as shown on the photograph (this will be at the opposite end of the joining sts to the loop}. Pull the yarn of the back loop until it is closed up against the needle ready to work. Using this tail of yarn, wrap it round the needle and pull it through all the loops. Using the same piece of yarn, work 1 dc through each of the next 3 tr on both panels together. Now, put the hook through all of the following at the same time: the top ch of the turning ch on the front panel, the last tr on the back panel and, at the same time, the large loop left previously on the front panel. Put yarn round the hook and pull through all loops. At the same time pull the tail of the front panel taut. Tie together with a couple of knots. These tails can now be used to sew the panels onto the owl’s body.

This has now created a ridge on the front side of the panels which can be used to help to attach the beak.

The button eyes can now be inserted in the holes in the centre of each panel. (If the shank of the buttons will not fit easily into the holes, using a pencil or pen tip, twist this in the hole to make it a little bigger). Once they fit through they can be attached by sewing them, through the hole in the button shank, onto the back of each panel.

Place the eye panels on the front of the owl’s body (I didn’t really think there was a definite front or back to the body so either side should be ok). Play around until you are happy with their location, then pin in place - I only used 4 pins, one top and one bottom on each eye panel.

Take one of the long ends left at the end of joining the two panels together. Thread this in a wool needle and make a few stitches to attach the beak area to the body. Next, if you look carefully at your crocheted panels, you will see that there are two distinct rounds of stitches worked in white. Using the line between the two rows as a guide, and using backstitch, sew all round the eye section. Fasten off. Using the other long length of yarn, repeat for the other eye.

You should now have an owl face with attitude, even if he is still missing a beak!

This is a straightforward knitted triangle, which I knitted in grey. It doesn’t say on the pattern which way out to turn this, but I decided that it looked more like the texture of a beak if it was used with the purl side outside. Using the tail from either casting on or off, sew the decreased edges together to form a little cone-shaped piece. I did this by oversewing the edges on the right side. Again I felt this added to the textural effect.

Fill the beak with a small amount of stuffing, making sure you get some right down to the point, without poking right through the end!

Using your fingers and thumbs, I found that if I you gently coax the pointed end, you can actually create a bit of a bend, or hook, in the end of the beak.

Using the remaining yarn at the end of the beak, and using the ridge on the eye panel to help, attach it to the owl’s face.

To attach the feet I turned the owl upside down and faced the feet to the front but splayed them slightly to face outwards .When I had decided they looked alright, I then flipped them over to face backwards and pinned them to the body (they will slightly cross over one another at this point). This only needed one pin, but it just made sure it wouldn’t move whilst I was trying to sew them on. Using small overstitches I sewed along the straight edge of the foot. Then I turned the foot back towards the front of the owl and stitched along the straight edge again, then fastened it off securely. I tried to make sure that both the beak and the feet were sewn on quite securely as I had visions of Ollie being transported by his young owner using one or other of these appendages!!!

Once I had finished Ollie I decided that he could look even more cute if he did have wings. I had a little bit of yarn left, but obviously if I tried making them, I would have to have enough for two! My philosophy was that it was not going to take long to knit a piece the size I was going to need, so – just go for it! What did I really have to lose?

To keep it simple I thought that a triangular shape might work for this, like it did for the beak. A bigger triangle with the straight edge at the top, then fold it in half to create a straight edge at one side and a tapered edge at the other. I didn’t know at this point whether I would end up putting any stuffing in it or not, that could be decided later.

The instructions for the wing I decided to make are as follows:

Using the Tinsel yarn and 5mm needles (as for the main body), cast on 6 sts.

Starting with a knit row, and working in stocking stitch(1 row knit, 1 row purl), increase 1 st at each end of every row for 9 rows (24 sts).

Next Row: ** Purl

Next Row: Increase 1 st at each end of knit row**

Repeat from ** to ** 3 times (30 sts)

Work a further 9 rows in stocking stitch.

Cast off knitwise.

Once I had knitted this piece I could see there was enough yarn left to knit the other wing. Pheww!! as by now I was really quite sure that I wanted him to have wings.

I folded the wing piece in half, and as with the body, placed the knit sides together . I then stitched it along the angled side. Next, I turned it inside out and placed it at the side of the body. The decision now would be to see whether I thought it needed any stuffing inserting, or would it look alright as it was. I decided on a half-way house – it needed something but not too much. I also decided, by placing it on the side of his body, that it was probably going to be a bit wide across the top edge to sit comfortably in position. So, rather than pulling it back and re-designing the shape, I decided to try running the sewing-up thread along the top straight edge, thinking that once I had put a bit of stuffing inside, I could perhaps gather it up, thus reducing its length. I love it when a plan comes together!!! It did work- really well!

Gathering along the top of the wing piece gave it a better, more realistic shape, and with not too much stuffing it should mean that the wing would not stick out from the body at right angles!

I now needed to decide where to attach the wings to the body. As with other parts of the project, this is really down to personal preference. Play around with some pins and try them in various places. So long as they are both about the same height on each side it should be fine. I was thinking, that as with the feet and the beak, the wings may well end up being used as a means to carry him around, so the important thing is to make sure you sew them on securely.

So, there we are! One finished owl with some innovations. I must say I am extremely pleased with how he has turned out. I personally feel that the crocheted eye panels give him much more character, emphasising the roundness of an owl’s eyes. By sewing round the inner ring of stitches, it makes the outer row of crochet stand out, almost representing a frill of feathers on his face.

I am also really glad that there was enough yarn left to have a “play” and give him some wings, although he is still cute without them! If, for some reason, you did not have enough yarn left, then if you had to use another ball, I am sure that you could always find someone else who would also love a cuddly owl, or that the recipient of the first one wouldn’t mind a “family” of them! Remember, this was the largest one, the others won’t take as much.

I hope that you have enjoyed following this post, and if it encourages some of you to have a go at tweaking one or two of your own patterns, then I will be very pleased. Sometimes it only needs a small variation to make something your own and stand out from the crowd!

I look forward to bringing you another project soon,

Bye till then and happy crafting

Anne x

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#POW Pattern of the Week - Vogue Men's Shirt

Just for a change I've decided to review a man's shirt pattern for this week's Pattern of the Week. 
I have chosen Vogue 8889 and for this week only there is 50% off! 
This pattern could be made into a dress shirts, a very formal shirt, an everyday shirt for wearing with a suit for work, a casual shirt or a holiday shirt. It is quite a slim fit shirt. 
View B is a very formal shirt with concealed buttons and quite nifty tucks in the shoulder area of each front. Most guys would like this in plain white and therfore I would suggest our cotton poplin fabric. This is a very easy fabric to sew and feels lovely next to the skin. The tucks in the shoulder are such a nice detail that takes away some of the plain look of a formal shirt. This style has a full placket opening on the sleeve and a two piece collar.
A lot of sewers are put off making guys shirts if they have a two piece collar but do give it a go as it's not as hard as it looks. 
Version C would look brilliant in our navy and white polycotton pinstipe fabric. Wear it with a tie for work or roll the sleeves up for a more casual look. Pricewise, especially with the half price pattern, this would work out a very reasonably priced make.
Last but not least I just love version A. The fabrics suitable for this version are endless. I could write pages and pages of ideas but I have settled on this light weight Chambray Fabric in Plain Navy and Cotton Tartan Fabric in colour  'Navy/Ivory/Red'. 
Possibilites are - check body with collar and sleevebands in navy, or plain body with check collar and sleevebands, or how about all in the check with just the yolk in navy. I love combining fabrics and this pattern is suitable for just that. 
I think I would change the fastening from concealed buttons to where the buttons are visible for version A and to do this work as follows - Cut both fronts off piece 1 and work off the instructions for the right front. For most of the seams a flat fell seam has been used.
This seam as the name suggests gives a very flat seam with no raw edges visible. However you could just sew the seam, finish off the edges and press them open. 
If I have inspired you to have a go at this pattern remember you pick up your copy at 50% off (this week only!).
Happy sewing fellow sewists,
Annette xx
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#FabricFriday - Evening Wear for Parties!

Hello everybody. Fabric Friday again! 
Our lovely staff here at Minerva Fabrics can't wait for our christmas party. All of our girls are talking about what to wear, myself included! Although my outfit for this year is sorted it did make me think how many sewists out there are scratching their heads wondering if they have time to source a pattern and fabrics. Hopefully I can give you some ideas woth this week's #FabricFriday!
The first fabric is a polyester jersey fabric in black with a fairly subtle silver glittery floral design. This is one of our clearance fabrics and priced at just £4.99 I think its a super bargain. 
This Butterick pattern is exceptionaly easy! For this fabric I would suggest the top of version A and the bottom of version B. For those short of time this is the ideal dress pattern, there are just 4 pattern pieces. For the other versions there is a seperate band for the neckline and either a short sleeve or a narrow hem for the sleeveless version.
Just to throw in a good idea for choice of pattern with this same fabric - look at butterick 5955 perhaps for a party at the New Year when we may have a few more lumps and bumps from indulgance at xmas!! I made this top, version B, for one of my blogger network posts. I wore it as a top in summer and I wear it over a black cowl neck jumper now in the winter months.
Back to 5955. The reason I have chose version A, apart from the fact that I love bare shoulders at party's, is I would love to wear my next choice of pattern (Butterick 5992) over it.
Just look at version B which leads me to my next fabric choice. Messina black ribboned lattice fabric. This is a sumptious fabric at just £7.99 per mt which is made literally out of ribbons which are twisted and turned and then sewn into a floral design. Yet another of our fabulous clearance fabrics!
How good will this fabric look made up as a cape?
There is no lining so as the above picture shows, your shoulders and arms will show through the lattice effect of the fabric. The only additional item you need is 3.2 mts of black 38mm satin ribbon. (Dont forget this fabric comes in ivory as well so my mind is leaning towards weddings, how different would that be). 
Because of the nature of how this fabric is made, there is no selvedge as such. I have tried to show this in the above picture so there is no need to hem the bottom. The pattern pieces would have to be placed along this edge and care taken in sewing the seams. 
Version A would also look terrific in this fabric. This fastens at the back with a bow made out of 1.9mts of 75mm satin ribbon. 
Or how about making version C in the jersey dress fabric?
My last choice of fabric this week is our 'Skeleton Leaf Pleated Georgette Fabric'. This is a black pleated georgette at just £5.99 per mt and yes it's a clearance fabric again. 
Butterick pattern 5529 is perfect for this fabric! Design D is the first style to jump out at me for this fabric. Just 3 pattern pieces. There is a centre back seam but I would be inclined to leave off the seam allowance here and cut the back out on the fold. Just a thought - how about making the band in satin ribbon. It is after all just a straight piece of fabric for this band.
A and B would equally be suitable. The piece that forms the front and lower back is cut on the bias so a lovely drape should be acheived. 
Jacket E would be stunning. The instructions for this are amongst the easiest I have ever seen. It is 1 pattern piece which is for the front and back together of which you cut 2. One of the pieces is for a self lining.
My last pattern choice for this georgette fabric is McCalls 7289;
Version A is very similar to A on the last pattern but I am including it because of Version D. Dare I say this is even easier than E on the last pattern.
Any of the tops I have suggested will compliment the dress pattern and the fabrics look quite stunning together.
Until next week Happy Sewing,
Annette
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Herbie the Hedgehog

WOW!! My first post for the Minerva Blog!
Don’t know whether I’m excited or a bit scared!!! Anyway, here goes, and hopefully you will find something to help you improve your own crafting experience.
I know in my introduction to my Blog I said that I don’t usually work on projects without making some sort of adjustment. Well, hopefully, this will be one of only a few exceptions. The reason for this was timing. I wanted to make it as a Christmas present, and didn’t have much time, initially, to think of what else could be done with the basic pattern. As I was making him, however, I did think of one or two ideas that could be tried, and I have included these at the end of the post.
Herbie the Hedgehog
How Cute Is This Little Fellow?
This was always going to be a “must do“ project – as soon as the King Cole pattern arrived - we were all smitten!
Tinsel Chunky Yarn has been around for a while but the only patterns available were either for scarves and other accessories, or for sweaters or cardigans, decorated with panels/stripes. However, the designers at King Cole have now come up with a real winner in this gorgeous hedgehog pattern.
You can choose from 3 sizes, and as the pattern shows, he would look brilliant in any of the lovely shades.
My decision as to which version to make was an easy one. It had to be the largest one and it had to be knitted in Copper with a natural coloured yarn for the face, as it will be a gift for one very savvy grandson called Will! He is only 5 years old, but his knowledge and love for anything from the animal world is mind-boggling!!! If I make it anything other than as realistic as possible, he will not hesitate to tell me I have got it wrong!
All you need to get started is King Cole Pattern 9015, 1 x 50gm ball of any of the colours of King Cole Tinsel Chunky Yarn, a small amount of any contrast DK yarn, (or a 25gm ball of King Cole Dollymix DK), a pair of size 5mm knitting needles (old size 6), a pair of 3.25mm knitting needles (old size 10) a small amount of black DK yarn to embroider the eyes and nose as per the pattern, OR a pack of Trimits 9mm black safety eyes and 12mm safety animal noses (as I have used). The final ingredient is some polyester washable toy filling.
I wondered what it was going to feel like using this yarn as I have not really knitted with anything like it before (the nearest thing I would probably have used before would have been mohair). I nearly always cast on using the thumb method and that felt ok, if a little “tickly”. After the first few rows I was beginning to quite like the feel of it running through my fingers. What I did find though (but not in a bad way) was that there was very little “stretch” to the yarn, so it feels a bit odd at first, when you are pushing your stitches along your needle as you work your rows.
The only other thing that I found was that you do have to concentrate a bit more than usual, as, if you aren’t careful, you can mistake some of the tinsel fronds for an actual stitch, and end up with too many by the end of the row. You also have to be careful not to drop any stitches as there would not be much chance of picking them up again easily.
Once you get used to all of this you should find that it grows really quickly, and before you know it you have your hedgehog’s spiky body!
For those of us who love the knitting process but “hate” the sewing-up part, the next bit is brilliant – the change from body to head doesn’t involve any sewing! It is simply a change of needle size, a change of yarn and reverse your stocking stitch!
Whilst it was tempting to start sewing up, I decided that I would knit all the pieces first, then I could see what I would be working with. I knitted the ears first, and I think it almost took me longer to read the instructions than it did to knit them! I don’t think I have ever knitted anything so small!
Next I knitted the feet. That was quite fun as I wondered how I was going to end up with three toes! The finished piece looked a bit weird, but when you fold it in half and stitch it together, it really does look quite convincing.
All the bits were now done, so I started putting Herbie together by sewing up the head section first.
Next I took the plastic nose section and pushed it through the knitted fabric, right on the very point of the nose. Then I turned the head section inside out and pushed the metal ring over the protruding nose piece. It needs to be pushed as far as it can up to the back of the plastic part of the nose, the effect being to actually stretch the knitting at the end of the snout, giving it a more realistic shape. I felt that just embroidering the nose and eyes would not give the face as much character as I wanted it to have.
The eyes need to be a little bit more considered, as where you place them can give your hedgehog a completely different expression. Probably the best way is to put a small amount of stuffing into the end of the nose first to pad out the face, then play around a little, pushing the eyes through the stitches until you create an expression you like. You can then remove the stuffing to put the backs onto the eye pieces to fix them in place. The head stuffing can then be replaced.
I then sewed from his head to about half way along his tummy, and also from his bottom (the cast on edge) towards the middle, leaving a gap to put the stuffing through.
Everyone will vary, according to their own preference, as to how much stuffing to put in. I prefer stuffed toys to be quite firm, so I kept pushing more in until he felt quite sturdy but still with a bit of “give” when you squeezed him. So long as the stuffing in his head gives his face a nice shape and is well packed, it is not too critical with the body. Once you have stitched up the opening after filling, you can then adjust the shape a little, using your hands.
Once I was happy with his body shape, I then added the ears and the feet.
I started by playing around with the ears, facing them in both directions, to see which way they looked best, and, to be honest, they looked alright facing either. I ended up choosing to sew them on so that the “cup” shape faces forward. The ears are placed along the line of change in yarn, between the head piece and the body. Again, as with the eyes, the placement of the ears can create a totally different expression, so play around until you find a look you feel happy with.
I placed the feet on the underside of the body so that the toes can just be seen jutting out at the front when he is sat flat on his tummy.
This little fellow is a pleasure to knit and he could be the starting point for other variations. You could quite easily step the pattern up and make a slightly bigger version. You could also think about making him with a different filling – it could be dried beans or lentils, etc., to turn him into a “beanbag”. You could try some type of heavyweight tin/stone/piece of wood, etc, perhaps with some softer stuffing around it, to turn him into a doorstop! You could even try knitting him in a different type of yarn. One pattern, many options - all without too much thinking!
If you decide to have a go at making Herbie, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I’m sure my grandson will love him too!
I’m going to be bringing you another project in the very near future, and it will probably be one that has developed from things that I learned while making Herbie.
Looking forward to the next time
Anne x
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Win Your Christmas Wishlist

This Christmas we have teamed up with the Sewing Directory to let several of you win your wish list to celebrate the festive season. 

With over 50,000 products to choose from you are sure to find plenty of sewing/quilting or craft supplies that you’ll want from the Minerva Crafts website.

How to Enter

To enter simply comment on this blog post letting us know what you would put on your wish list (up to the value of £100). You can choose anything you like from the Minerva Crafts website. 

You will need to create an account if you don't have one already to be able to leave your comment. This will tell us your name and address, so we can send your prize out to you straight away should you be one of the winners!

3 people will be chosen at random to receive the goodies on their wish list! It’s as simple as that!

Terms & Conditions

3 winners will be chosen at random to win their wish list to the value of £100. 

If your wish list is over £100 Minerva Crafts will chose which of the items on it to send to you. 

If any of the products chosen by the winners are out of stock Minerva will contact you to choose a substitute. The prizes can only be shipped to address in the UK or Ireland. 

 All entries must be received by 6pm on Tuesday 22nd December.

Good Luck!

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#POW Pattern of the Week - Kwik Sew 4027 V Neck Jersey Tops

The pattern for this weeks Pattern of the Week offer is a very easy jersey top. It's Kwik Sew 4027.
It could be made in silky jerseys for evening wear or cotton jerseys for everyday wear. On looking through the instructions I find they are very easy and straight forward. When sewing a jersey top most patterns tend to tell us to apply some tape to the shoulder seams to stop them stretching but these instructions go a stage further. The pattern suggests to use a 1 inch wide piece of iron on interfacing and apply it following the cut edge of the back neck and shoulder piece. My thoughts on this are as follows;
Option 1 would be to use your pattern piece and cut round the neck and shoulders edge then take off the pattern piece and cut 1 inch in to the interfacing to the same shape. This would 'fit' and be ready to iron on and you wouldn't have to 'fiddle' to get it to fit round the neckline. This picture off the pattern instructions leads you to believe that this is what they have done;
Option 2 would be to use vilene iron on bias tape. It is always handy to have some of this tape in your stash both in black and white. Because this is a bias tape it curves round the neckline with ease and because it has a stitched line through the centre of it it will not stretch out of place.
As with many jersey patterns this one suggests to sew the shoulder seams and then insert the sleeve before sewing up the side seams, this makes for easy sewing.
My choice of fabrics for this pattern are endless but I have chosen 4 fabrics to share with you today.
This is a plain stretch jersey made up of 94% viscose and 6% spandex. The right side of this fabric shows a knit stitch and the wrong side shows a purl stitch. It is machine washable but I would suggest washing it before you cut it out then any shrinkages will occur then. If you have read my blog posts before you will know that I wash virtually everything before I cut it out. It is quite a silky fabric, drapes like a dream, at a very reasonable price and comes in lots of colours. Shown here in Fuchsia Pink;
This is a slightly heavier version of the above with even more stretch. It only comes in 4 colours but what fab colours they are. My favourite is the black as shown below;
This fabric is yummy yummy! It is described as natural, muted and subtle and thats exactly how I would describe it. Again it has plenty of stretch both ways so would be ideal for this top. I would wear a top made in this fabric with ivory jeans in the summer months or still find it easy to wear with darker shades of mushroom taupe or brown.
What can I say about this fabric. It has the WOW factor. It is a cotton and model fibre blend. It is described as having a beautiful artistic brush stroke design. It is quite stunning. This would look fab with black trousers or leggings and boots if you make the longer version.
As I said earlier there are endless jersey fabrics that we stock here at Minerva that are suitable for this design, why dont you have a browse and tell me your favourites.
Until next time fabric friends!
Annette x
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Sirdar Noah's Ark Knit-Along Part 5 - Hatty & Hector Hippo!

MEASUREMENT To centre Back 12.5cm (5in) 
MATERIALS 
F071 Snuggly Baby Bamboo shades 158 (A), 148 (B), 170 (C) 1 50g ball each 
or shades 159 (A), 109 (B), 155 (C) 1 50g ball each 
1 Pair of 3¼mm (UK10 – USA3) Knitting Needles
ABBREVIATIONS 
Beg beginning, cm centimetres, mm millimetres, in inches, k knit, p purl, inc increase, rem remain, rep repeat, st(s) stitch(es), tbl through back of loop, tog together. M1 make 1 stitch - pick up loop between last and next stitch and work into the back of this loop. st-st (stocking stitch) 1st Row. Knit. 2nd Row. Purl. Rep last 2 rows.
BODY 
(Worked in 1 piece commencing from back end) Using A cast on 26 sts. 
Working in st-st (throughout) and stripe sequence of 4 rows A, 4 rows B and 4 rows C. 
Proceed as follows:- 
Next Row. Knit. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. (K2, m1) 5 times, k6, (m1, k2) 5 times. 36 sts. 
Next Row. Purl.
Next Row. Inc in 1st st, k16, m1, k2, m1, k15, inc in next st, k1. 40 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. Inc in 1st st, knit to last 2 sts, inc in next st, k1. 42 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. K20, m1, k2, m1, k20. 44 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. K4, (m1, k1) 4 times, k13, m1, k2, m1, k14, (m1, k1) 4 times, k3. 54 sts.
Next Row. Purl. 
Work 16 rows without shaping. 
Next Row. K24, k2tog, k2, k2togtbl, k24. 52 sts. 
Work 3 rows without shaping. 
Next Row. K4, (k2tog) 4 times, k11, k2togtbl, k2, k2tog, k11, (k2tog) 4 times, k4. 42 sts. 
Work 3 rows without shaping. 
Next Row. K18, k2togtbl, k2, k2tog, k18. 40 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. K2tog, knit to last 2 sts, k2tog. 38 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. K2tog, k14, k2togtbl, k2, k2tog, k14, k2tog. 34 sts. 
Next Row. P2tog, purl to last 2 sts, p2tog. 32 sts. 
Next Row. K2tog, knit to last 2 sts, k2tog. 30 sts. 
Next Row. P2tog, purl to last 2 sts, p2tog. 28 sts. 
Next Row. K2tog, k9, k2togtbl, k2, k2tog, k9, k2tog. 24 sts. 
Next Row. P2tog, purl to last 2 sts, p2tog. 22 sts. 
Next Row. (K2tog) 11 times. 11sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. (K2tog) 5 times, k1. 6 sts. 
Break off yarn and thread through rem sts and fasten off.
MAKE UP 
Sew side edges of body together working towards the cast on edge and stuffing as you work along. Fold cast on edge in half and close.
HEAD 
Using B, working in st-st (throughout), cast on 16 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. Inc in every st to last st, k1. 31 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. K5, (m1, k1) 5 times, k12, (m1, k1) 5 times, k4. 41 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. Work 12 rows in st-st. Break off B and join in A. 
Next Row. (K2tog) 20 times, k1. 21 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. Break off A and join in C. Work 6 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. K2, (m1, k1) 6 times, k5, (k1, m1) 6 times, k2. 33 sts.
Work 6 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. K1, (k2tog) 16 times. 17 sts. 
Next Row. P1, (p2tog) 8 times. 9 sts. 
Break off yarn and thread through rem sts and fasten off.
MAKE UP 
Sew side edges of head together working towards the cast on edge and stuffing as you work along. Place seam central to cast on sts and close.
LEGS (Make 4) 
Using C, cast on 18 sts. 
Beg with a knit row, work 4 rows in st-st. 
Break off C and join in B. 
Work 6 rows in st-st. 
Break off B and join in A. 
Work 4 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. * K3, m1, rep from * to last 3 sts, k3. 23 sts. 
Next Row. Knit. 
Next Row. K1, (k2tog) 11 times. 12 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. (K2tog) 6 times. 6 sts. 
Break off yarn and thread through rem sts and fasten off.
EARS (Make 2) 
Using B cast on 7sts. 
Beg with a knit row, work 4 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. K2tog, k3tog, k2tog. 3 sts. 
Next Row. P3tog. 
Fasten off.
FINAL MAKE UP 
Sew head to gathered end of body placing head slightly to one side. 
Sew ears to top of head as illustrated. Using grey work French knot for eyes with a straight stitch to either side of the knot. Work 2 straight stitches for the nostrils as illustrated. Cut 8 lengths of A yarn 30cm, (11¾in) long to make a twisted cord tail. Make a knot at the end and cut straight. Fasten to top of cast on edge of Back. Cut 8 lengths of yarn 10cm, (4in) long and fasten together, sewing to centre of head to form tuft. Trim to allow 2cm, (¾in).
As always, please share your finished makes with us!
Bye for now,
Vicki x
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#FabricFriday - Dogtooth!

Hello again. How quick do the weeks roll by! 
This week I've chosen dogtooth for my theme for #FabricFriday.
Dogtooth or houndstooth check designs are available in lots of different types of fabric although it originated in the lowlands of Scotland as a woven wool cloth. It is characterized by broken checks or abstract pointed shapes and is most often in black and white or black and cream. It first appeared in the 18 hundreds and was used for workwear. By the 1930s it had become a fashionable fabric and seems to be reinvented every 20 to 30 years
My first choice of fabric is a very traditional fabric as photographed above. This fabric is 70% wool and 30% other fibres. This fabric would lend itself quite nicely to the following patterns; 
First on my list would be Vogue 9137
This is a basic coat pattern with design D being the easiest. If I was making this coat I would cut the side panels on the cross. This would look really effective and also would eliminate having to match the checks! I quite like the idea of design C having the lapel in black and to compliment this the side panels in black. 
High on my list of patterns would be McCalls 7014.
Garment A on this pattern speaks for itself with the pockets being cut on the cross. 
For more of a challenge Vogue 9099 comes to mind. This is a tailored garment with a lot of work in it but it has to be said that Claire Shaeffers instructions are brilliant. Incidently the fabric used on this pattern is sometimes refered to as puppytooth!
My second choice of fabric is this lovely medium to heavy weight jersey in black and ivory as shown above. 
A classic pattern that comes to mind is McCalls 7016
View D is the obvious choice and how about using Dill button 390156. Love these buttons!
Again like the coat pattern the lapel could be done in black. 
Jersey dogtooth check has been used really well in Burda 6847
They seem to have used a metal open ended zip. Now my choice would be a chunky plastic zip in black to go with a black collar. I do like my black contrasts dont I haha! 
My last two pattern suggestions for this jersey fabric are Simplicity 1072 and McCalls 7244. 
Both of these give a hint of what dogtooth would look like. The simplicity one is such a simple skirt I love it, dare I mention black again... yes I would wear it with a jumper of this colour! The McCalls is a fabulous dress with very few pieces. Years ago a near circular skirt would never have been made with a fabric that had an obvious horizontal design but hey anything goes these days and I do think it looks really good.
My last choice for #FabricFriday is from our quilting range. This is 100% cotton and comes in quite a few colours.
At first glance most people see the white shapes but on closer inspection you see the black scottie dogs. How cute is that? 
For this fabric I have chose Kwik Sew 4083
I think this fabric would really suit this and guess what - black panels. 
My second choice is McCalls 7014 again but this time design C. 
With all of the colours in this fabric you could choose a co-ordinating plain cotton for the side panels. You thought I was going to say black panels again then didn't you? 
Last but not least Ive just been looking at McCalls 6936 and thought yes a bag would be great. 
I think I would have to do a bigger bag with all the junk I carry round though. Most craft patterns for accessories around the home would suit this fabric.
Please let me know how you have used your dogtooth fabric!
Bye for now
Annette x
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Introduction to our new Guest Blogger

Hi there. I’m Anne Hall and I work at the Minerva Craft Centre in Darwen, Lancashire.

I have always been fascinated by anything to do with colour, so just looking at shelves full of coloured wool or fabric every day is a real treat.

Ever since I was a little girl I used to love colouring in, either drawing my own pictures or competing with my three sisters to see who could be the best one at keeping in the lines in our colouring books! It must have been genetic, as my mum was exactly the same, she always enjoyed the wonder of colour and how it could lift your spirits!

However, it wasn’t just colour. She also had a great love for all things creative, whether it was drawing, painting, gardening, knitting, crocheting, sewing, or decorating.

We were lucky that our mum did not have to work when we were little. As a result I, and my sisters, were encouraged to be creative from a very early age. This meant that we were given the “tools” to be able to pursue various hobbies and pastimes which we have enjoyed throughout our lives.

Before I was eight I could knit and sew, and I remember using my mum’s Singer treadle sewing machine to make clothes for my, and my sister’s, Sindy dolls. By the age of ten, my grandma had also taught me how to crochet.

So, when my mum bought her first wool shop when I was twelve, I was so excited to be able to choose some wool to start my first “grown up” project! I remember it was a mustard coloured sweater, and, if I made a good job of it, was promised more wool to go with it to make the matching skirt. Needless to say, from then on I was hooked!

When I was fourteen, mum took on a bigger shop. We now had even more choice – we were so lucky! I distinctly remember at the time, that ponchos had appeared on the scene - and I just had to have one. This time it was a crochet project and I made it in a gorgeous apple/lime green - I wore it for years, only giving it up when they went out of fashion. Surprising how things go in cycles, isn’t it - they’ve been very popular again recently.

Over the years I sewed for my children when they were little and knitted them many a cardi, jumper, hat, scarf, etc. For a period I actually designed my own knitwear and tapestry designs, selling them at various craft fairs. After that life changed a bit - my husband and I had our own business for 22 years, unfortunately not to do with yarn and fabric (but it did involve colour in a different way – it was an art shop!). Putting so much time into that meant I didn’t have much left for sewing, knitting or crocheting anymore!

So, when life moved on another big step and I came to work at Minerva, it was a kind of “coming home” for me. To see, and work with, all our beautiful yarns and fabric is a real pleasure. The yarns have moved on so much since my mum had her shops, and the choice of fabrics today is just mouthwatering!

I’ve already completed a number of my own projects, but I have now been asked if I would like to share some of my ideas and working methods with all you lovely people who enjoy our Minerva Blog. What I will be aiming to do is provide you with some food for thought over the coming months.

My “problem” has nearly always been, that whatever pattern or project I look at, I always seem to think “ Well, I like that idea, but what if I did this to it?” or “ I wonder if you did that with it, would it work?” or even being as drastic as taking an item in one medium and converting it into another, such as using the shape of a fabric garment and recreating it as a knitted or crocheted one. So, over the years, I have tended to take something as a starting point and then give it my own twist. Hopefully, by taking you step-by-step through various projects, and explaining how I have looked to alter, expand and enhance them with my own interpretations, you may be able to see how you can start to do something similar yourself!

I hope that through the coming months, I can help you to gain the confidence to look at some of your own projects in a new light. I look forward to bringing you my first post very soon,

Bye for now,

Anne x

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