A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Pointless handmade items

On a bit of a whim, my friend Cayleigh and I applied for the daytime game show Pointless, auditioned, and actually got offered a filming date! One of my first thoughts was that this would provide a fun opportunity for me to showcase some of my favourite handmade items, and add to my series on styling self-made clothing.

Here are my outfits, in my order of preference for wearing them. They asked us to provide five sets of clothing in addition to what we wore.

1. Paper Totoros

My first outfit shows off the handmade item of which I am most proud- my Paper Tototos sweater. I absolutely love this jumper, and I’ll be pairing it with a simple black mini skirt that lets my top half speak for itself.

This is the outfit I wore so I’ll update the post with a screenshot when the show is aired when I’m about 40.

2. Triple D Dress

My second outfit is the sewn item of which I am most proud. My denim day dress is far from perfect, but I am still very proud of it as the first dress I made without any help, and I think it looks nice. I’m planning to wear it with my me-made Little Wave cardigan.


3. Waterlily

My third outfit will be this lovely knitted top. I’m not decided yet on whether I’ll wear anything underneath- a cardigan is ruled out as it would hide the lovely lace on the sleeves.


4. Octopus Garden Dress

My fourth outfit will be this version of a Sew Over It Betty dress in octopus print cotton. I think I’ll wear it with a long-sleeved top underneath.

5. Orza

My fifth outfit will be a bit more casual. My Orza sweater, either with my handmade trousers, or the jeans that I repaired recently.

6. Cateralls

My final outfit will be my Cateralls. I think the BBC looks for quite conservative outfits, so I doubt they will want me in these, but I’ll take them along anyway. I’ll probably wear them with a striped top underneath.

WiP Wednesday 2: League

After a few months of relative stagnation, I’ve found myself wanting to work on knitting my League jumper and I’ve now managed to complete the front and back, and start the first sleeve.


Check out my new project bag. I loves it. 

I’m pleased with the progress I’ve managed to make on this project, but I am a little apprehensive about the colours I chose. Basically I had my heart set on Titus and ordered the yarn from the website. I wasn’t 100% sure about the teal colour but started anyway as I was so excited about the project. However, the colours aren’t quite as I had in my head. I think that white would pop better than the cream I have as my accent colour. And the teal. I’m just not sure.


I’m way too far into this project to stop now, but this is a lesson to me. I HAVE to stop ordering yarn online without seeing it first. Finding a stockist and going to the store to look at colours takes time, but from now on it will be an integral part of my process.

Yarn: Titus by Baa Ram Ewe

Pattern: League

Ravelry project page

Blueberry muffins

We who run according to the academic calendar are limping towards the end of the year with relief and exhaustion in equal measure. This means a few celebrations are in order, and I decided to bake for my team. I wanted a fairly simple recipe and decided on muffins. I had a chocolate and cream cheese recipe that I’ve had pinned for a while in mind, but then my uncle requested blueberry and I decided to go with that.

I’ve never made blueberry muffins before so I just googled a recipe and this one was very well reviewed. I made no changes except being very generous with the fruit. I used £5 of blueberries in 14 muffins. That’s the equivalent of nearly $1! I think it would also be wonderful with fresh blackberries.

Blueberry muffins

I found the sponge a little dry. Although it was hard to notice because of the juicy fruit, I might try a recipe with buttermilk next time.

I should have filled the liners up more (I got three extra cupcakes from the mix) but I was scared they would overflow. I needn’t have worried.

I choose to believe it was the delicate scent of freshly baked muffins that enticed an exotic visitor to join our party.


Though he seemed more interested in eating our excess strawberries.

Sunday stock-take

I have had a crazy few weeks with very little time for craft. As things have calmed down, I have found myself being drawn to creative tasks again, which is a sign that I’m feeling better. Mostly I’ve been planning exciting projects for the summer and beyond, but I’ve also been doing a few rows of my League sweater here and there, and somehow I have nearly finished the boring knitting on the front, ready to start some intarsia.

I got quite a bit of work done on this while watching Serena winning her historic 22nd major title in tennis, which was so inspirational. Watching her eponymous documentary courtesy of the BBC was very emotional and it’s nice to know that those memories will be associated with this sweater.

I fancied doing another sewing workshop and these Carrie trousers caught my eye.


They look like they will be very useful for smart casual summer wear and travelling. I got time to go shopping on the Goldhawk Road to get some fabric. I love imagining the joyful projects made from fabrics like these.


I had my heart set on viscose but then this Liberty print cotton lawn caught my eye.


And soon it was nestled safely in my backpack.


I also got these mini skeins in the post that I ordered a while ago from the Lemonade Shop.


I want to make a Breton sweater a little like this one.

Copyright notsocrafty on Ravelry

I decided I needed to see in person how the minis looked next to different colours and textures of yarn so I made a pilgrimage to Knit With Attitude in Stoke Newington. It was strange to be back in Stokey, where I lived for three years in my early twenties. The staff in KWA were great but unfortunately nothing in their stock was quite right due to my pickiness. It was a very helpful trio though. I had envisioned using grey as my background colour but no greys really made the minis pop. This slightly muted blue was the best option.
I later popped into a second LYS, with which I have a chequered past, and found this stunning aubergine yarn.

I can’t wait for it to arrive so I can swatch.

It’s nice to have projects to look forward to.

FO Friday: Cateralls

I finished my upcycle project! Check these bad boys out.

After my last post, I got some time with a sewing machine, so I re-did the stitching I undid before and made up my ears.

While I was playing around with ear placement, I thought it looked much cuter to have the ears on the pocket rather than the bib of the dungarees.

I liked it so much that I went ahead and stitched the ears in place.

Sewing through so many layers of denim was a big challenge for the machine. I found I had more control winding the stitches by hand rather than using the foot pedal on the thickest parts. My stitching is not totally straight but it’s the best I can do.

The next step was to dye the denim. I didn’t do it in this order for any particular reason, it was just when I got a chance to sew, or when the dye I ordered arrived.

I was a bit worried that the dye job wouldn’t go well because the things I dyed indigo didn’t come out how I imagined. I even dreamt that the colour had leached out of the denim overnight. However, I followed the instructions more closely this time and that made a big difference.

As I had suspected might happen, the stitching didn’t take any dye so now it really pops against the black, but I think I quite like it.


I was starting to sense the finish line of this project at last. I took some time to practise different cat faces on paper to decide what I thought was cutest. I think moustache cat was the most fun, but in the end eyelash cat won out in a tight race.


Actually painting the design on the pocket caused me a lot of apprehension. The cat face will be pretty noticeable, so any errors will really draw the eye.


The next step was to shape the curved patch pocket. I read a couple of tutorials that recommended using a cardboard template to press it in place. I did this while I ironed the cat face design to make it washable.

I then carefully pinned the pocket in place and checked it lined up before stitching. I checked the alignment in the mirror and added another line of stitching for strength.

Recipe: Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake 

I seem to be slightly obsessed with baked cream cheese lately. Which is understandable, because it’s bloody delicious. I’ve been looking for a recipe to use up 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree that’s been hanging around in my freezer, and this pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust really fit the bill.

I’m not actually the world’s biggest fan of cheesecake. I think that’s because most British cheesecakes aren’t baked, and I think it’s the baking that transforms the cream cheese into the silky, luxurious texture you get in an American-style cheesecake. I also think that digestives are the most boring biscuit on earth, so any recipe that uses something else for the base gets points from me.

I got quite a few cracks in the top of my cheesecake, as you can see in the pics. I wonder if baking it in a water bath would reduce this problem.

Ingredients- for the base

  • 230g (2cups) ginger nuts, finely crushed
  • 40g (1/4 cup) pecans, finely chopped
  • 60g (1/4 cup) butter, melted

For the topping

  • 3/4 cup pumpkin purée- you can use around 1/4 cup less if this is all you have
  • 1tbsp plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4tsp ground cloves
  • 680g (24oz) full-fat cream cheese
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar, depending on taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Line bottom and sides of 9″x13″ baking pan with dampened parchment paper or foil, letting it overhang on all sides. Set aside.
  3. Blend biscuits, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor until finely ground
  4. Add pecans and butter. Combine.
  5. Transfer crumb mixture to prepared baking pan, and press into the bottom until even.

Bake until fragrant and a little firm, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl stir together pumpkin, flour and dry spices until combined. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, using mixer or by hand, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until combined.

Stir about a cup of the cream cheese mixture into the pumpkin mixture and stir until smooth.

Pour the remaining cream cheese mixture over your crust.

Place spoonfuls of pumpkin mixture randomly over the cream cheese. 

Using a knife, gently swirl the two together to achieve a marbled finish


Bake for 25-30mins, until centre is just set.


Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Cover and refrigerate for 4-24 hours before lifting the cheesecake out of pan and cutting. Store in the fridge until serving.

WiP Wednesday: Fun-garees 

Last week was half-term, which gave me a little extra mental space for creativity (even though I was still working, boo hiss). I was looking in a box of stuff I don’t use much for some rubber gloves and happened upon these dungarees that I bought years ago for a Halloween costume.

It’s-a-me.

I’ve also been mourning not discovering this awesome pinafore before it sold out.

While desperately searching the interwebs for a site where it was still in stock, I happened upon a tutorial to make a lookalike.

I got the Mario dungarees cheap on eBay so I didn’t mind running the risk of ruining them with ham-fisted customisation attempts.

Here’s a before shot.

I decided to remove the front pocket as this would interfere with the cat face.

I also decided to dye them black. Since I was dyeing some clothes navy anyway (this is why I needed the rubber gloves), I tossed in the dungarees to give them an under-dye.

I made a hole in the front while removing a stud from the pocket, and I also noticed several other small holes in the dungarees while examining them, so I decided to do some patching before the second dyebath.

There’s a hole in  one of the back pockets that will be difficult to mend invisibly, so I think I will put a patch over that bit instead.

Denim clothing seems to be sewn using some kind of polyester thread- I’ve noticed when dyeing before that the thread doesn’t get dyed. So I’ve decided to make a new front pocket for my dungarees, on which I will either embroider or draw the cat face.

I also removed some of the original stitching on the bib and I will re-stitch in black, again so the stitching doesn’t interfere with the cat face.

The next step was cutting out the new patch pocket and ears from denim scraps I had left over from my Day Dress. I interfaced the pocket and ear pieces for strength as the denim isn’t very stiff. I’ve been having issues getting the trapezium piece symmetrical. It’s a work in progress. The grainline also looks wonky. Oh dear. I mean, work in progress!

The next steps will be re-doing the stitching on the bib, stitching down the top of the new pocket and dyeing the fabric.

I’ve bought some fabric paint pens ready for drawing my cat face. I think I’m going to go in a slightly different direction to Lazy Oaf rather than doing a straight copy.



Not sure which face to choose now. Any thoughts?

I’ve spent quite a bit of time on this project here and there over the past couple of weeks and I’ve got to say I’ve really been enjoying it. Even though the patching was a little dull, I like the fact that I am trying to breathe new life into this garment, which was clearly loved by the previous owner. I felt like I was giving some respect to the woman (or, let’s be real here, child) in China who spent time piecing my clothing together.

If you want to follow my progress I’m using #cateralls on Instagram.


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