Hello all 3 of you that are still reading my blog! I kinda got lost with it last year and stopped blogging regularly. It’s harder to do than it looks! I’ve had this blog since I started Looking Glass Designs over 7 years ago and it’s never really taken off. But that’s OK. I don’t want to be known as a blogger.
I have been busy in many ways both personally and professionally in the past year. My son is getting older – he’s 10 now (not sure where that time went) and he’s getting so grown up (sometimes). I knit a shawl for his housemaster who left in December, she decided to move on after almost 22 years at the school as a parent, chorister parent, staff and housemaster. The photos in this post are of that shawl. (and yes,the pronouns are correct!)
Business was OK last year; it didn’t grow as it has for the previous 6 years — but I think that’s down to outside influences like Brexit and a lot of uncertainty in the world right now. It was steady and while I’d have liked my Christmas Rush to have started before Dec 1 I managed even with going away to York for 4 days before Christmas.
I will be starting up another Etsy shop in the next few weeks (see, now that I’ve told you I’ll have to, won’t I?) for reusable, recycled, and upcycled products. I am setting up a new Facebook page for it as well but will still use this blog to show you those items.
Personally, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I am very good at procrastinating – it sometimes feels like it’s my one true talent. I always hesitate to offer new items because I don’t know how well they will do and I don’t like going out of my comfort zone. However I decided to start this new Etsy shop as I have fabric and supplies coming out of my ears and need to use them! I have been looking for testers and have found a couple while making new items for them to test out for me; some will be redundant as they are items others sell, others will be slightly different so I want to get them tested by others as well as me. I plan on having 10 products ready to go when I open up – so keep an eye out as I’ll be running an opening sale!
The week before last I screwed up. I managed to swap 2 address labels on orders going to France. In 7 years, I’ve done this 2 other times. Usually the buyers are happy to send each other the parcel and I pay them the postage. This time was complicated by the fact that neither buyer spoke English.
It would of course, be the buyer that ordered the more expensive item – an Ante-natal Teaching Aid Set that realised she got the wrong order when she received a skein of yarn. I already knew she was impatient – she ordered a listing with a 2-3 week turnaround time (with a Rush Fee add-on possible) and messaged me 4 days later wanting to know where it was. I sent it 6 days later and 8 days before the processing time was up.
I figured out which orders were swapped and contacted the 2nd buyer. She didn’t respond until the next evening, but before the cut-off I gave myself to remake and send by courier the ante-natal teaching set; I still had to make the set well before that cut-off, so I made it again – in 1 day.
This post shows in-progress photos of making that set, in about 30-40 minute increments. The set was a uterus with a caesarian opening & drawstring top, a placenta, a crochet breast and a drawstring bag. (The drawstring bags are all RTS in the listings that offer them).
In this photo I have knit the ribbing and In the next, I’ve made the caesarian started the body of the uterus: opening and knit a little more of the body of the uterus.
The next 2 just show how much more of the body has been made:
Then I moved onto the decrease section: And the uterus mostly finished:
Now I have started on the placenta and: Here’s the placenta parts with added on loops for the button closure. the velcro added.
The placenta is ready to crochet together. This photo shows the finished placenta, the uterus w/buttons and the crochet breast started.
The crochet breast is coming along in the next 2 photos, the uterus only needs ribbon through the drawstring top and ribbing.
This last photo shows the crochet breast almost done – it only needs stuffing and crocheting shut.
As you can see, they do take a lot of time– and I barely stopped working on the set at all. If I’m working normally on one of these sets, I give myself 2 days to complete them so my hands and arms don’t complain. I know what your question is – Why do I have a processing time of 2-3 weeks if I only need 2 days to make the set? I often have 3-6 uteruses, crochet boobs and sets on order at any one time and if I had a shorter processing time, I would have to work like I did when I made this set – pushing hard to get them made in time. By keeping a longer processing time, I can make sure I never send an order late – and I usually send them in about 5-8 working days, occasionally a little longer.
Back to the mixed up orders. Both buyers sent out the parcels to the correct buyers and I repaid them the cost. Each buyer now has their order & only a few days later than if I’d been on the ball and put the correct address labels on each parcel.
I made this stole for the first time just over a year ago for my son’s Form Tutor, he saw it on my knitting machine and wanted to give it to her. It’s knit from a fine alpaca/merino blend yarn in a soft, slightly fluffy dove grey. She wore it to a wedding last August and got several compliments on it.
I had planned on making more to sell last summer but it didn’t happen and I finally sat down at my machine to knit this one a few weeks ago; it ended up getting put away for some reason and as they say, out of sight, out of mind… anyway, I remembered about it last week and took it out and washed and blocked it.
It’s not complicated lace, but creates columns of chevrons and eyelets into a striking pattern. It’s hand-manipulated, meaning that I move the stitches around to create the pattern instead of using a punch-card and having the lace carriage move the stitches, so it’s slower than some machine-knitting.
I think it’s a lovely stole, soft and feather-light – it only weighs 75g of yarn, less than 3 oz. if you think in ‘old money’. You would also be surprised how warm it is, the alpaca and merino blend hold in a lot of body warmth.
I tried to show a couple of ways of wearing it, but I bet there are more; if you have a delicate pin or brooch this stole would set it off brilliantly. You can find it here in my Etsy Shop and here on Amazon if you prefer to shop there. This is a pattern I’ll use again – what colour would you love it in?
I started this shawl over a year ago. I started it 3 times, the 3rd time after knitting about 3/4 through. I’m a perfectionist (I think I’ve said this before) and I wasn’t happy with the edge stitches – they were too tight and I thought it might not block flat well.
It’s an asymmetric triangular shawl in purple & black. There are lace sections and garter stitch stripes and the shawl gets wider as you knit it. I used black for 1 of the lace panels and then finished it off in black once I had used up the purple yarn. Both yarns are a fingering weight yarn in a merino/nylon blend – the black is pure black and the purple is a hand-dyed variegated skein of blackcurrant, magenta and wine (you may have other names for the purples in this yarn!)
It’s also huge! The pattern says finished measurements should be 70″ x 17″ and this shawl is 100″ x 30″. For some shawls, bigger is better!
I should try to get a photo of it or 4 spread out but it’s so long, it’s not easy. I enjoyed knitting this pattern; if not frogging it twice…
This is a surprisingly warm shawl even though with the lace panels; they really do add a nice contrast to the garter stitch stripes and I think the black border worked out really well too.
You can find the shawl here in my Etsy shop, or here on Amazon too. For items over £150 I offer free shipping – Special Delivery in the UK and Signed and Tracked everywhere else.
I have been tempted to keep it for myself, so if this shawl tempts you…. don’t wait to get it!
I know several other Etsy shop owners who also knit, and asked Gemma from Snug Creations to test the Mustard & Black knitting bag and review it for me. I’m glad she used it for a couple of weeks before writing the review, it definitely got a good workout! You can get your own here in my Etsy shop.
Here’s Gemma’s review:
As a bona-fide knitting addict, who designs knitwear for babies and children at Snug Creations Children’s Boutique, as well as knitting for myself in my spare time, I know the value of good, well-made project bags, I’ve got through several! With all the time and effort that goes into projects, not to mention the cost of good yarn, you need a bag that is sturdy enough to hold up to to being filled and emptied over and over, that will protect your knitting, will be strong enough that your needle tips won’t poke through and, if you are anything like me, will stand up to being taken out and about – where I go, my knitting goes!
When I received this bag to review, I was excited about putting it through its paces. Read on to find out what I think of it…
Double grosgrain ribbon drawstring
Sturdy, lightweight design
Durable, washable cotton fabric
Contrasting trim detail which complements the drawstring
Good capacity for small to medium sized projects
The first thing that I noticed was the simple, but elegant packaging. No unnecessary packaging materials and nothing wasteful. I love that ribbon was used to finish the package – I like to keep them and reuse for gift-giving.
I must say that when I first saw the project bag I was very impressed with its appearance. Denise chose a lovely mustard fabric with a contrasting bold black and white print trim and colour-coordinated black and white grosgrain ribbon drawstrings. The bag is fully lined with ecru fabric, reinforcing its strength and stability. The beautiful colour jumped out at me immediately after opening the package. I love mustard and the contrasting fabric looks great with it. MUCH more stylish than many of my existing knitting bags.
Next, I noticed the IMMACULATE stitching, it made me want to dust off my machine and get up to scratch with my sewing skills – very neat and professionally finished! The overall workmanship really impressed me: with the quality of the fabrics, even seams and stitching gives the bag sturdy construction – not a loose thread in sight.
The bag closes securely and efficiently with a double drawstring. Grosgrain ribbon is a great choice because it’s not a silky, slippery ribbon, so when you pull the drawstrings to close the bag, it stays closed better. The drawstring is long enough, when drawn, to hold as you would a handbag, or looped over your arm.
At the moment, I only have a few projects on the go (unusual for me): a dress; a shawl and a pair of fairisle gloves, all varying in size. I also have a little kit packed full of my knitting essentials such as my snips, stitch markers, mini notebook, row counter and tape measure, so any project bag I use needs to have room for my kit too.
I’ve had the bag for a few weeks now and have been putting it through its paces. It has traveled with me most places I have gone with a project packed away in it and I have to say, I am impressed with how it has performed. When I go out, I always take my dog with me and a little bag that holds all of the things I need for him (he’s in training – so I need lots of treats on me at all times!). I found carrying both bags easy and comfortable, even with the dog pulling me this way and that. It has stood up well to the beach, a day in the New Forest and a long weekend in Devon totally unscathed.
Not only is this a great little project bag, it works great as a knitting bowl too. I even braved knitting from it on the beach – I just rolled the top down and voila – portable knitting bowl!
What I loved
There’s a lot to love about this design. My favourite elements are:
The clever design of the wide base, which increases the capacity of the bag and makes the design stable so that it stand upright on a surface. None of my other bags are designed this way, so I really liked this.
The modern colour (one of my favourites at the moment).
The ability to use it both as a project bag AND portable yarn bowl.
Truthfully, there is nothing about the bag that I do not like. If I had to get really picky, I would prefer an internal pocket to put my little kit in, just incase things spill out, and if I was getting REALLY picky, I’d like that pocket to be zipped.
Overall, I think that this is a great looking, versatile project bag that has been made with great skill and craftsmanship. For a small bag it has a great capacity (all of my projects apart from the dress fitted inside perfectly) and I love the choice of non-slip grosgrain paired with the double drawstring design.
This project bag is a fantastic choice for any knitter, crocheter or sewist. It’s perfect for taking along to your local knit-night or out and about on your travels with plenty of room for most small to medium sized projects.
If you are looking for gifts for crafty friends, you can’t go wrong with one of Denise’s project bag creations!
Thank you very much for the glowing, review, Gemma! If my face wasn’t already sunburned, it would be blushing.
I made a few more drawstring project bags – next up will be some zippered ones; there’s a few more drawstring styles I plan on trying. I do have to sort out zippers, which means deciding what I want to make with which fabric and then not changing my mind. You don’t look up “indecisive” in the dictionary and see a photo of me, no, not at all….
I made a couple of large red, cream, and brown drawstring bags – they are lined in cream fabric but 2 different ones. They are the same size as the mustard ones, but are in a heavier fabric.
Then there are 2 purple reversible project bags made from a light cotton fabric – one is dark purple with large light purple starbursts and the other is light purple with dark purple starbursts. Each side has drawstrings – use the dark side for light yarns and the light one for dark yarns.
I tried a new design – boy, do I need to pay attention more! It’s not a hard pattern to follow – no curves, nothing to miter or anything but I took forever to make them because I kept making silly mistakes and having to unpick and resew. To be fair, I usually don’t follow a pattern so I’m not used to it and whizz along until, ooops, time to get the seam ripper out. I also added in a lining, which adds all of 2 steps to the pattern.
This one’s a lime green cotton with a Liberty MacIntosh Roses lawn fabric. I haven’t sewn with a Liberty fabric before and it’s a little more slippery than I thought it would be. The zip is cream and the pocket is large enough to hold some notions, a small pair of scissors and a folded up pattern. The lining is cream cotton.
These 2 use the same main fabric – a kelly green cotton, and then the accent fabric are Summersville Fabrics: black houses, libraries and cars/buses and the other is a green with small houses and trees. They have either black or green topstitching and dark green ribbon to close. I think I like the black one better – which do you prefer?
Some of these are already listed in my etsy shop here. If you prefer Ebay, they are also listed here.
and here’s the first one – Mustard & Black.
The others will get listed over the next couple of days.
I bought this yarn a while ago, but hadn’t gotten around to making mini-blankets with it until last month (yes, I know…) It’s an alpaca/merino blend yarn in a chunky weight that was lovely to knit up. Shame it’s discontinued – so this is all I’m going to get. I have 3 colours: peach, blue & green.
I usually do neutral colours and I thought I needed some that weren’t. The peach was labelled as pink, but there was too much orange in it to my eye so I’m calling it peach. If it looks more pink to you, well, that’s brains and colours for ya!
I have enough yarn to make 3 more of each colour; if you’d like to get them, they are available in my etsy shop – Peach, Blue, Green.
Use this exclusive code to get 10% off if you’d like to get 2 or more – 2CHUNKY10. It’s only available until the end of May!
(Only for 1 use per person, for 2 or more chunky blankets only. If used for 1 blanket, I reserve the right to cancel the order and ask you to reorder without the code, or to add another blanket to your order).
I plan on making more fabric items this year and I started with this lovely knitting/crochet projectbag. It’s made from high quality quilting cotton and lined in cream cotton. There’s black grosgrain ribbon pulled through an abstract black & white quilting cotton to close it, and it will hold 3-4 skeins of fingering yarn + needles/hooks and notions. I have enough fabric to make 3 but after that, no more. So kind of “Limited Edition”…. 🙂
It’s listed in my Etsy shop here and I plan on having more join it soon. What do you look for in a knitting bag – pockets for notions? Do you prefer a zippered bag, or a drawstring with a toggle on it? How about fabric — funky, elegant, cheerful? Give me some ideas!
As some of you know, I’m a Hiya Hiya stockist selling some their knitting needles, accessories and Gift Sets exclusively on Etsy in my- Hiya Hiya Shop Section. The range is huge, and I’d need to take a new mortgage out to get the full list of crochet hooks, knitting needles, gift sets and accessories that Hiya Hiya make.
I’ve found that their bamboo DPN’s are very nice to knit with – smooth and non-snagging. How well they ‘grab’ depends on the yarn you use with them but they are certainly less slippy than metal DPN’s!
I like their fixed circulars too – I tend to use them over interchangeables most of the time but do have a few interchangeables. I don’t have any larger Hiya Hiya knitting needles – over 5mm right now so I don’t know how they are different from the ones I use now.
If you could add anything to the Hiya Hiya selection here in my Etsy shop, what would you want to see? Comment below and maybe you’ll get a little gift from me!
About a month ago, I was approached by Hiya Hiya Europe regarding stocking their products. I wasn’t sure, so asked quite a few questions, which were cheerfully and quickly answered.
I had a good look at their catalogue, trying to decide if I should go for it or not. I had some unexpected expenses in September – my printer had to be replaced for one – and didn’t go ahead right away. I let them know I was interested but that I couldn’t order right away and they extended the introductory offer for me.
I ordered this week and it only took a couple of days to arrive. I got a retail pack, so a good assortment of Hiya Hiya bamboo,steel fixed and interchangeable needles and lots of accessories. The sheep needle gauges are especially cute!
I spent 3 days writing listings and editing photos and they are now live! Join me on my Facebook page – Looking Glass Designs to enter the Giveaway on the pinned post!