Tag Archives: the makery

Buttons. And a Lisette pattern review (Simplicity 2211)

2 Apr

Do you like buttons? Me, I LOVE me some buttons.


I am quite restrained when it comes to collecting them. For ages my button collection fitted in an old Altoids tin. There are a few too many now to get in the tin, but I try to keep it reined in.

This week though, was time for a button splurge. After much procrastinating (waaaaaay too much stocking stitch for my liking) I finished my Chickadee cardigan this weekend.


I’d already lined up some stunning buttons from The Makery Emporium, which has become my go to place for pretty Japanese painted wooden buttons. I bought nine of these large chintzy ones..


…and also, some tiny ones with tropical looking orange flowers, to decorate a blouse I just finished in time for our mini heatwave.


The blouse is by Lisette for Simplicity (pattern 2211, view E) and this was a dry run for some Liberty Tana Lawn which was too perfect to risk on a first attempt. It’s just as well I did the dry run – I managed to sew the collar on inside out (duh) and had to cut it off and bodge the neckline.

And then the sleeves turned out to be smaller than the armholes, which made it kind of hard to gather them in, as per the pattern – definitely a grading error as I followed all the seam allowances exactly. Luckily my lovely repro feedsack fabric was 130cm wide, not the standard 115cm, which meant I had a little spare, so I recut a new pair of sleeves two sizes larger and used those.



Shame about the ‘wasted’ fabric. It’ll go into a quilt one day. The blouse only needs a metre of 150cm wide fabric if you fancy making it (a little more if you use quilting width).

I do have some glorious vintage glass buttons, which I bought at the first Knit Nation. They are from L Nichols, a company set up by the daughter of buttonmaker Lionel Nichols to sell off her huge collection of buttons he made in his lifetime. She releases them in collections a couple of times a year. Each set is totally unique and priced accordingly. Ahem.


Nearly two years on, they still haven’t found their perfect project. They nearly went on the feedsack shirt, but it just wasn’t quite right.

Their time will come…


Crochet Christmas snowflakes

8 Dec

This weekend I taught my last class at The Makery for the foreseeable future. I’ve really loved working with Kate and Nigel, the lovely owners, and their fantastic assistant Anna.

But travelling to Bath and back to teach for just a few hours was eating up a lot of time I could be spending with Storm, so I’ve decided to concentrate on teaching in my home city next year.

Four lovely ladies turned up for Sunday’s learn to crochet class. As it was December, and Bath was enjoying its ever-so-festive Christmas market, I decided to forgo the granny squares for once, and create some pretty tree ornaments instead.

I made the pattern up on the train in, and finished crocheting my sample on the short trek from the station to Walcot Street, where The Makery’s main workshop is.

Happily, despite my rather spontaneous concept, all went swimmingly, and my ladies left with ornaments they’ll hopefully be proud to hang from the tree this season.

If you’d like to make one, you’ll need some cotton yarn – mine were made with Rowan Cotton Glace, which is great for crochet, a 4mm crochet hook, and some basic skills.

Then you just need one of the zillion free crochet snowflake patterns online. I particularly like this one from Attic 24 and this collection of lots of them!

When you’ve finished your lovely snowflake, you might find it looks a bit wobbly-bobbly (like this ‘before’ picture).

Just give it a squirt with a plant sprayer filled with water, or a bit of steam from an iron, smooth and stretch it out, and then spray it with starch and leave it to dry on a radiator. Lovely!

See how nice and smooth it is?

If you came to one of my classes at The Makery over the last couple of years I just want to say thanks! It’s been great fun, and I’ve been so happy to send so many people off with a new skill I know will bring them years of pleasure.

I’ll be teaching my Knitting In The Round class at Get Knitted in April (21st) and November (10th) in 2012, but that’s the only teaching I’m doing. It should leave me more time to design, tech edit, write, and, most importantly, spend time with my family.

That’s what Christmas is about after all!

Teaching knitting and crochet at The Makery

8 Aug


It’s about a year since I began teaching at The Makery in Bath.

A lot has changed in a year.

I started there as a tutor for fun sewing classes, mostly for hen parties.

I never graduated to leading the nipple tassel class (secretly relieved about that one..), but after many a Saturday afternoon keeping a watchful eye on ladies enjoying some Bucks Fizz and operating sewing machines (never simultaneously, I promise!) I can make a saucy garter in about 5 minutes.

Should the need arise.

In my time at The Makery I’ve also taught a lot of jewellery classes, and sent lots of hens on their way with divine fascinators to wear on the bride’s big day.

These days, though, I mostly teach knitting and crochet. I do love sewing. But it’s sticks and string that I feel the most comfortable with.

My classes cover the basics of knitting and crochet, and these are the most popular. But I also run knitting finishing techniques classes, which are great fun, and really collaborative.

If you’d like to find out more about all the amazing classes on offer from all the other delightful tutors at The Makery, do check out the full Makery workshop calendar here.

Felt badge making. Literally hearting it.

29 Jul


Working for the lovely peeps at The Makery is truly ace.

Not only do I get to dream up classes to teach even more people how to knit, crochet and sew (hurrah!) I also get to hang out at The Makery workshop in Bath. It’s a truly delightful space, with shelves overflowing with fabric, ribbon, buttons and felt.

But sometimes I need to talk to The Makery’s owner Kate, quickly, so I pop into The Makery Emporium instead, as it’s closer to the offices of The Knitter, where I have my ‘proper’ job.

Last week I swung by Bath’s best haberdashery to discuss a sewing workshop, and somehow left with three needle-felted hearts, and a mini square of thick grey organic felt too. Total cost £2.72 (with my tutor discount – yay!)

It was the perfect mini project. That evening I sat down with the husband, a big bowl of salty popcorn, and a good film, and by bedtime I had a new (giant) badge! I can’t really call it a brooch, as it’s not exactly ladylike in proportion…


As well as my Makery goodies, I added a few cute buttons, and finished the edge with blanket stitch in some amazing handspun wool I bought from Two Sisters Stringworks on Etsy.

OK, it didn’t exactly reduce my burgeoning to-do list, but a quick easy project was just the treat I needed before wading back in to the ol’ pattern spreadsheets. Happy times!

Pattern writing. Warning, spreadsheets involved…

24 Jul

If I’ve been a bit quiet the past week, it’s because I’ve been busy teaching advanced knitting and sewing at The Makery, working on deadline for The Knitter, and pattern-writing whenever I’ve had a spare moment.


If you’re reading this blog, then chances are, you’re familiar with knitting patterns.

But, unless you’re a designer, or tech editor, you probably don’t get involved with the numbers side much.

This is a snapshot of what it looks like.

I say a snapshot, because this particular spreadsheet actually has 711 active cells or calculations…

My friend Jen Arnall-Culliford, The Knitter’s last technical editor (I’m dep ed, but with a tech ed’s remit, plus other fun stuff) introduced me to using Excel for pattern checking a little while ago.

It’s extremely useful for that, but arguably even more so for pattern writing in my case.

Yes, you can sort out a schematic for different sizes of the same garment with some fairly simple maths.

But add in lace or colourwork motifs, and other complicating factors, like working seamlessly, and that’s a lot of sums to do on the back of an envelope.

One of my favourite designers Ysolda Teague, recently tweeted about an Excel pattern writing tutorial by designer Marnie Maclean, and it really is excellent.

If you’re up for the challenge of writing graded patterns, Ysolda’s own sizing information is also incredibly useful.

Of course, it isn’t JUST maths (thank goodness). But it’s not surprising to me now, just how many technical editors and designers have a maths or science background.

I never thought I’d say it, but I really do heart Excel.

I’m off to Camp Bestival later this week, and will be popping in to the knitting tent run by the delightful chaps at iKnit London, so perhaps I’ll see you there!

Giant crochet granny square blanket. Cosy!

27 Jun

So, yesterday was pretty darn hot, but I was beavering away on some new designs which are going in the next few issues of The Knitter.

What I really wanted to be working on though, was my giant granny square blanket.

Of course, I luuuurve knitting, but crochet has got me increasingly hooked (ahem, sorry) recently. There’s something about the granny square, which, a little like knitting in the round, is terribly addictive.

So far my mini blanket is pram sized, but when I’m finished it’s going to cover our living room sofa. Which is no mean feat.

If you fancy having a go, I teach learn to crochet classes at The Makery, usually about once a month. We make our own mini granny square to top a pretty pin cushion.


Once you’ve got the crochet basics you should be able to progress to pretty much anything. But if you’ve made one granny square I guarantee you’ll want to make another.

Happy hooking!

Anyone for tea?

8 Apr

IMG_1970When I had my big ‘minimalist’ clear out there wasn’t much that got spared.  Even my yarn and fabric stashes got dented considerably (not that I’m struggling to find stuff to make, I promise).

But a few indulgences remained, among them a set of six Royal Vale tea cups, saucers and cake plates, which I’d picked up in my favourite charity shop about five years ago.

Yet, as much as I like to think I’m the kind of person who serves tea and cake on elegant bone china on a Sunday afternoon, the sad fact is, I’m not. And five years later, my beautiful white and cherry colour polka dots with gold rims were still languishing in a  cupboard completely unused.

For a while I thought I’d sell the set on ebay for a small profit, but never got round to doing it. I was just struggling to part with them really.

The Makery came to my rescue in the end. On a visit to their Emporium in Bath I spotted some lovely teacup pincushions on a shelf. A quick email chat  later and I had been tasked with turning my lovely tea cups and saucers into pincushions for the shop.

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