21 December 2013

happy christmas

Hi, just a quick post to wish you all a Merry Christmas, as I wont be posting now till after the holidays. Thanks to all who have visited my site or have become followers over the last year. I hope you have found some use for the knitting patterns and maybe been inspired a bit as well. Thanks also for those who have taken the time to leave comments as they are much appreciated. I do try to respond to them all but if you are a no reply blogger it is difficult.

Now all is left is to overcook the turkey and burn the sprouts! Ali


14 December 2013

spool tree decoration

If you read my last post - I wish to announce that I have now a pair of socks completed!
Now if you are looking for a sewing themed tree decoration......look no further. I recently made one using a wooden spool.
I purchased my wooden spool from a craft stall but you could use a real vintage spool..... mine were too precious to use.
Firstly, I sprayed mine with silver metallic paint which can be bought cheaply and can be found amidst the Christmas Decorations at this time of the year.

I decorated the "thread" part of the spool with machine embroidery. First I measured a piece of iron on pelmet Vilene to fit the spool. I covered the Vilene with white cotton, making it slightly larger than the Vilene on all four sides, so it could be folded over.
The Vilene is a good foundation for machine embroidery, so no hoop is required.

If you prefer not to machine embroider you could wrap a pretty ribbon round the spool or even paint a pattern. I then stuck the Vilene to the spool and sewed the edges where they met together. I thought the white fabric was too white so splashed some colour on using my Koh-I-Noor palette.

Using beads, buttons and a sewing machine charm (plenty of inexpensive charms to be found on ebay) I decorated the top and base of the spool. I used a silver cord, threading down one way and then up the  other way. I lost the knot inside the spool. Here it is .......the finished item..............just have to put the tree up now!

Hope your pre Christmas preparations aren't too stressful. Ali


7 December 2013

sock saga

I have always have a mental block as regards sock knitting. Recently, a friend of mine explained the different methods of constructing a heel and so after carefully choosing a pattern, I have decided to take the plunge. The pattern I chose after wading through all the sock patterns on Ravelry, was Cat Bordhis's Hidden Treasure Pocket Socks (click here) with what she calls her Sweet Tomato Heel. It has to be said the pattern is superb ...concisely written with links to videos on her site. I have had two false starts, the first sock was too large for my narrow foot and the second too small for my large heel.

The third attempt fits my strangely shaped foot and I am now on to my second sock. I am using Lang Jawoll Magic yarn, which knits up lovely.

The idea was to knit a pair for myself to get to grips with the pattern and then knit up some for Christmas gifts. However progress has been so slow, I will have to see how time goes. Are you knitting up any Christmas gifts at the moment?
Bye for now, Ali.

2 December 2013


We took a quick whizz up to Londonderry, for the final night of the Luminere festival of lights. I had seen pictures on the news but it was even more  spectacular in real life. First thing we saw were the massive inflated coloured cones.

Crossing over the Peace Bridge was the installation "The Travellers". Illuminated men made out of what looked like chicken wire. They were dotted and suspended at various points along the bridge.

The neon balloon dogs made me smile.

There were many other installations, dotted round the city but my wee camera struggled with the darkness.

Have a great week everyone, the sparks will be flying off the knitting needles as I try to complete some Christmas gifts.

22 November 2013

pompom challenge

My friend Ali from blogland, writes Random Wooliness. In her last post she wrote about the Pompom challenge for the Sense charity (a charity which supports and campaigns for adults and children with deafblindness).
When I read about the Great Sense Pompom Challenge I knew I had to join in. The idea is to make pompoms, which can be any shape, size, colour or material. The donated pompoms will be made into a massive tapestry. For more details visit the site, click here.
I only intended making a few but once I started I could not stop and I haven't finished yet. Here's some photos of my finished pompoms....


The challenge ends on the 2nd December, so still time to make some and either post or deliver your pompoms to nearest Sense Office.
Have a great weekend, Ali

18 November 2013

winter hat

Firstly, apologies for my last empty blog post. I was experimenting with cut and paste in the new post page and hit the "publish" button by mistake.

I want to share with you some photos of my latest project.
The Textile Studio, a real treasure trove at Ballyhackamore was running a competition to make a hat. All hats are to be donated to the Hosford Hostel, Skainos and are to be distributed to homeless people. Such a great reason for picking up the needles. I used Amanda Kaffka's Top Down Trapper Hat pattern as a starting point and came up with something which would hopefully be warm and cosy.
The light is so dull these days for photos, but here it is heavily photo shopped ....

The inside lining was knit with double stranded Whisper, a fuzzy novelty yarn, an absolute nightmare to knit with but I think it suited the hat.
I just found out this afternoon that I won the competition, so I'm well chuffed about it.
Enjoy the rest of the week.......supposed to turn very chilly here! Ali.

10 November 2013

latest finished projects

I'm just trying to finish off a few projects before I start knitting a few Christmas gifts. I finished a wrap last week which was languishing in the work basket and all it needed was the tidying up off the yarn tails. For this project I used James C. Brett Aria, double knit yarn, which has tiny sequins through it. A bit of sparkle without being over the top. I found a nice pattern on Ravelry - Miss Silver's Cloud.
And the result......

To match the scarf/wrap I used a favourite pattern to knit up a pair of fingerless mitts. Another free pattern to be found on Ravelry - Susie Rodger's Reading Mitts. I just need somewhere nice to go to wear them both!
Now on with the Christmas knits and I better hop to it as time is marching on!
Have a good week, Ali.

4 November 2013

knitting and stitching show

I was lucky to win a free ticket on facebook, courtesy of Abacus Breads, to the Knitting and Stitching Show at the RDS in Dublin. So yesterday, I headed off with my sensible shoes and my packed lunch.
The show did not disappoint oodles of stalls selling yarn, beautiful threads, lots for textile art and feltmaking.
However away from the retail frenzy there was a quiet Gallery section. There was work by textile artists who I studied on the City and Guilds course and have only seen online, all displayed.
Such works by Jan Beaney. I was able to see many of her landscapes including this one the "Purple Hedgerow."

Ruth Issett also had a space and her colourful work was amazing. Here is an example entitled "Spring Light II."

Many of the artists were in attendance and willing to answer questions and talk about their work!
I just loved the section made up of work by young quilters. One work "Spring has Sprung" made by a school in Galway was so colourful and vibrant.

All in all, I had a great day and my head is buzzing with ideas for new projects.
Bye for now. Ali.

26 October 2013

free christmas MISTLETOE pattern

Instructions are given for a full knitted version or alternatively use beads and a ribbon if preferred.
Add a loop and use as a Christmas tree decoration or make a bunch and hang from the ceiling. Alternatively tuck a sprig into the brim of a hat.

st(s): stitch(es)
k: knit
p: purl
kfb: increase (knit into the front and back of same stitch)
sl: slip
psso: pass slip stitch over
tbl: through the back loop
pwt: pull wool through (thread yarn onto needle and then through stitches on needle, pull tight and secure) 

two dpns size 2.75mm  (US 2)
green 4 ply (fingering) yarn
white 4 ply (fingering) yarn or white beads (aprox size 5mm)
red 4 ply (fingering) yarn or a piece of ribbon
darning and tapestry needle

Cast on 3 sts with green yarn.
ROW 1: kfb, kfb, k1tbl (5 sts).
Pull the sl sts tight, especially on the purl rows.
ROW 2: sl1 purlwise, p3, k1tbl.
ROW 3: sl1 purlwise, k3, k1tbl.
Rpt ROWS 2 and 3 until work measures aprox 3.5cms (1½ ins) ending in a mostly purl ROW 2.
NEXT ROW: sl1 purlwise, k1, psso, k2, k1tbl (4 sts).
NEXT ROW: sl1 purlwise, p1, psso, p1, k1tbl (3 sts).
NEXT ROW: sl1 purlwise, k1, psso, k1tbl (2 sts).
Break off yarn and place sts onto a safety pin.
Make another leaf, repeat pattern until 2 sts, but do not break off yarn. 

Return to first leaf and place the 2 sts alongside other 2 sts on needle (4 sts).
Keep the stitches joined to the yarn on the left.
Slide the four stitches to the other end of the needle, pull yarn along the back and continue with i-cord until desired length is reached.
If a hanging loop is required work an extra 8cms (3 ins). Which folds in half and the end sewn in place.
  • Loose end yarns inside stem.
  • Reinforce the part where the two leaves meet with the tail at the end of one of the leaves.
  • Bring the yarn tail at the tip of the leaves up the centre on the reverse (purl) side of the leaf and loose in stem. 
  • Gently press leaves on reverse sides. Use a cool setting and do not put the full weight of the iron on the leaf. 
To form a bunch make one long main stem, sew smaller stems to this one. 
BERRIES (alternatively used white beads)
Cast on 3 sts with white yarn.
ROW 1: kfb, k to last st, kfb (5 sts).
ROW 2: p.
ROW 3: sl1, k1, psso, k1, k2tog (3 sts).
Cast off purlwise.
  • Thread one yarn tail round the edge of half of the berry, with the other yarn, thread round the opposite edge.
  • Pull tight and tie in a knot. Push into spherical shape. 
  • If using beads attach with sewing thread.

KNITTED CORD (alternatively use a piece of ribbon)
Cast on 2 sts with red yarn.
Continue with i-cord until work measures aprox 30cms (12 ins)
Loose yarn tails inside cord.

knitted version

copyright Alison Hogg 2013

20 October 2013

once upon a time

I've been doing a wee bit of sewing lately and trying to brush up on my hand embroidery skills. I have just finished a piece for an exhibition, the title of my work is "Once Upon A Time." Sorry photos aren't great, it was a grey day when they were taken.

The text and image were printed using a paper backed fabric which I inserted into my inkjet printer. The text comes from a fairy tale - "The Princess Who Stood on her Own Two Feet". This story is part of a book "Don't Bet on the Prince" edited by Jack Zipes. The stories differ from traditional fairy tales as they portray female characters in strong leading roles.
The background was machine pieced using a crazy log cabin block. I then tacked a piece of wadding to the back to add stability for the embroidery. I really wanted to practice my hand embroidery and used the seams for lines of different stitches. Here's a few detailed photos of my attempts......

I then added a backing fabric, my hand quilting method, to hold the three layers of the quilt together was quilt in the ditch so the stitches would be unobtrusive.

Definitely more practice is required with the hand stitching, particularly the French Knots which tend to be a rather hit and miss affair!
Bysie Bye, Ali.

15 October 2013

flora fibre and fabric

I spent a very enjoyable morning wandering around the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild's exhibition at the Island Arts Centre, Lisburn. It is the Hands Across the Border joint exhibition with the Irish Patchwork Society and the title is "Flora, Fibre and Fabric."
There were some amazing pieces.
Here's one by Anne James "Cream of the Crop". A beautiful calico quilt with a collection of patchwork flowers. My photo of one of the flowers does not do the quilt justice.


The colours in this "Floral Fantasy" quilt  by Maureen Burns just zinged. This photo of a small part of the quilt shows appliqued violas.

I marvelled at the flickering images in Irene MacWilliam's quilt, entitled "Wonder of Nature." I could not work out how she had come up with the end result.

The exhibition is on until the 19th October so still a few days to go.
Bye for now, Ali.

6 October 2013

all day breakfast

I have just recently finished my latest knitting pattern. It is another knitted food pattern - what else!
Has all the items for a good hearty breakfast and I must confess to feeling very hungry as I was writing it up, despite the fact I haven't eaten a slice of bacon or a sausage for over thirty years now.

As you can see the pattern includes instructions for the fried egg, slices of streaky bacon, pork sausages, mushrooms, baked beans, slice of toast and a dollop of sauce. Here's a few close ups of some of the items

Some of the items are knitted flat with two needles and some are knitted in the round with dpns. The pattern is for sale in my etsy shop and my Ravelry store.
I have ditched the knitting needles for now and have been attempting some hand embroidery , so I'll be on later with photos of my latest project.
Hope you are all enjoying the weekend, Ali.

29 September 2013

tea cosy day

It was tea cosy day in St Georges Market today. I couldn't wait to get down and see all the other cosies. There was a great selection......

Mine is in the back row. Here's a few which I particularly liked.....

"Beautiful Battenburg"
Nuala won three categories including Best Knitted
"Cottage Garden"
My "Witches Brew" cosy won the category for the "Peoples Choice" - Everyone voted for their favourite cosy - so I was well chuffed with that.
Hope everyone had a nice weekend and back to porridge tomorrow as the saying goes, Ali.

21 September 2013

witches brew tea cosy

St Georges market are running the tea cosy competition again this year in conjunction with AgeNI.
I decided to go Halloweenie this year. So meet Edna......

All the tea cosies will be on show next Sunday 29th, when they will be sold, proceeds going to AgeNI. So, looking forward to seeing all the other cosies. I did jot some notes down as I was knitting her, so I'll maybe write up the pattern sometime, although it won't be for this Halloween.
Have a great weekend, everyone, Ali

14 September 2013

cultural heritage

This is the title of the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild's latest exhibition. I was in town this morning so went to have a look, as the venue is in the City Hall.
Angela McCormick had the most amazing art quilt on display. Her piece is called "Rifleman 444" and in her poignant statement, she explains that the Rifleman was her great grandfather who died in the Battle of the Somme.


A very touching memorial to him and all the others who fell in that Battle. Angela writes a blog so you can follow her work at Pin Fiddle Quilts.
The theme of the exhibition has generated a great diversity of work. I particularly liked the colourful quilt called "Journey Through Belfast 2008" by Valerie McKeown.

Of course after perusing the exhibition, I had to visit the Bobbin café for a cappuccino and a traybake.
The exhibition runs until the 4th October and entrance is by the side door.
Have a great weekend, Ali.