genevieve – print and pattern

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DIY wedding pom poms

wedding pom poms - genevieve blog

I was craving a bit more colour at the wedding venue but couldn’t think how to make a bigger splash until Lotte at BBF pointed me in the direction of a tissue paper pom pom tutorial.

These were an ideal way of upping the colour intake (big, cheap, simple).  I went for pastel grey and green, with bright pink.

mexican papel picado - genevieve blog

I confess I wasn’t convinced they would look very good, perhaps a little *too* obviously DIY, but an evening’s trial run with a friend put paid to those worries. Here are some great things about them:

  1. They’re super simple (and satisfying) to make
  2. They’re cheap (you can get good-value big fat rolls of tissue paper sheets in Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road for London-dwellers)
  3. You don’t have to make them well or even accurately for them to look great
  4. It’s quite hard not to rip the tissue paper when fanning it out but IT DOESN’T MATTER OR NOTICE IN THE SLIGHTEST
  5. They look fantastic


Cue my mum and I creating a pom pom factory on the kitchen table a couple of days before the wedding. We used fishing line to hang them up on the beams which was much stronger than invisible thread and didn’t show like string did.

I like them so much that I’m considering putting some up at home. Great party decoration idea too.

wedding pom poms - genevieve blog

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pickles wedding shrug

wedding shrug - genevieve blog

morning of the wedding

I mentioned before about a top secret project I was planning. Well, here it is: a hand-knitted shrug for my wedding day!

I didn’t have many shots of the shrug itself from the day, so I was forced to put on my wedding dress again to take these… what a hardship!

pickles wedding shrug - genevieve blog

pickles wedding shrug - genevieve blog

back of wedding shrug - genevieve blog

And all the credit goes to my talented friend and knitting buddy, Ali, who made it for me, after I spotted the Pickles pattern on Ravelry.

I spent a few weeks agonising over which yarn to go for. It was tough to find a shade of white/cream/in-between that exactly matched the ivory dress but I was determined to find one.

wedding yarn - genevieve blog

decisions, decisions

I love the way things work out sometimes, because I found the most wedding-appropriate luxurious silk and merino yarn in my local knitting shop Knit With Attitude, which just happened to be a darn good colour match.

wedding yarn - genevieve blog

scrumptious dk/worsted - genevieve blog

scrumptious dk/worsted - genevieve blog

wedding yarn - genevieve blog

I was thrilled with how it came out. Having had most of the outfit planned for a while, I only saw and tried on the shrug for the first time a couple of days before the wedding, and it was wonderful to feel the super soft yarn in classy moss stitch and see it fit perfectly. It was like the icing on the, er, wedding cake. The moss stitch draped beautifully and was a great contrast to the satin on the upper half of my dress.

On the day itself, I put it on in the evening when it got a little chilly and it totally did the trick. It felt pretty special to wear such a beautiful hand-knitted item.

wedding shrug - genevieve blog

Ali has come up with the genius idea of dyeing it a different colour to give it a new lease of life. I’m still in the afterglow of the wedding and feel a bit protective of it right now, but it’s a great idea and one I may well try…. I’ll keep you posted.

wedding shrug - genevieve blog

ooo pretty shoes

I asked Ali if she’d like to write a mini-guest post on making it, and she wrote the following which was just lovely for me to read 🙂

Jen and I bonded long ago over a love of knitting, and soon learned we shared more than that in common. We would put the world to rights after work over a hot drink and a little knitting session, and did some great projects together. 

I couldn’t have been happier to watch Jen prepare for her marriage, and although I couldn’t be there in person to celebrate, it was only fitting to be there in spirit with this project.  

I tend to be a bit of a maverick knitter, using patterns as a guide (and occasionally messing up along the way!) but I wanted this to be perfect for the big day. After talking through the fit she was after and knitting up some swatches to get the tension and needle size right, I followed each stitch to the letter and was pleased with the result. Having a five month old at the time meant it took a little longer than expected, and the shrug came all the way across the Atlantic with me (knitting in the Florida sun was bliss!) but arrived in the UK just in time. 

Knitting has always been something special to me and to make this for Jen felt like the perfect way to share in her happiness. The years ahead of us will hold a lot of changes but I know we’ll always be able to sit down with a cuppa and our knitting, and pick up right where we left off.
+++++

(NB. Top and penultimate pics by Camera Hannah)


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mexican papel picado

mexican papel picado - genevieve blog

Before I even knew where or when I was getting married, before I had planned anything at all for the day, I knew I wanted papel picado. It was pretty much the first decision I made. And not the plastic stuff either – the proper, authentic, tissue paper version from Mexico.

mexican papel picado - genevieve blog

papel picado, “perforated paper”, is made by cutting out intricate patterns from layers of tissue paper with chisels

Mexico has been a bit of a theme in my life – I’ve lived there twice, visited twice more – and I love the traditional banners Mexicans put up at celebrations. I love how beautifully delicate they are, and the elaborate different patterns on each one. A bit like a Mexican version of British bunting.

It was a bit of a mission to get the strings of banners up at the venue, as they can tear so easily, but I was chuffed with the result.

mexican papel picado - genevieve blog

I bought a brightly coloured string of them a few years ago from eBay shop Beyond The Trees, which I was very pleased with, so I didn’t have to look far to buy the wedding version. (Having said that, I can’t seem to see them on there now, perhaps they are re-stocking). I had the coloured ones up for my hen do, and only just managed to bring myself to take them down. They are so cheery.

(Photos by Camera Hannah)


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so long, stokey part II: knitting nirvana

mirasol yarn - genevieve blog

One of the most exciting new places to open up in Stokey over the last few years is Knit With Attitude, run by the lovely Maya. In its first incarnation, it was a tiny shop tucked away on Northwold Road, drawing me in with its delectable all-natural yarns. I didn’t knit when it opened. I must have lasted about two weeks before I caved and announced my decision to Learn Properly. I spent most of the next few weeks poring over online video-tutorials*, lurching wildly between tears of frustration and extreme satisfaction.

It remains my all-time favourite yarn shop. Some yarn shops I walk in and – nothing – no inspiration. And some, within seconds I’m planning the next hundred projects (and struggling to stick to my ‘no buying yarn more than one project in advance’ rule designed to help with stash control). And Knit With Attitude is the resolutely the latter.

knit with attitude - genevieve blog

yarns at knit with attitude - genevieve blog

knit with attitude shop - genevieve blog

I simultaneously blame and thank it for my yarn snobbery (no acrylic thanks very much) and steadfast loyalty to Japanese Clover ‘Takumi’ bamboo needles. And the start of a major new hobby which is showing no signs of going anywhere fast.

Happily, the shop has moved to larger premises on the High Street, and has a knitting group every second Thursday of the month, the key elements of which are chat, nibbles, wine and your work-in-progress. So what better way to say farewell and toast my time in this corner of the city than with a glass of red, DPNs in hand.

knitting group - genevieve blog

knitting and wine - genevieve blog

For fun, and because I do love a list, here are my top three yarns from Knit With Attitude (all of which you can buy online):

  1. Eco-Alpaca by Viking of Norway

Eco-Alpaca by Viking of Norway - genevieve blog

This was the yarn that got me when the shop first opened. I never realised yarn could be that soft, and instantly saw countless projects in its subdued but classy hues of cream, dark grey and brown. Hampered as I was by my total lack of skillz, I made a moss-stitch scarf but eventually progressed on to a stripy tea cosy. I’m pleased to see the shop is stocking more colours now but the original muted tones remain my faves.

Eco-Alpaka yarn - genevieve blog

moss stitch scarf - genevieve blog

black and white tea cosy - genevieve blog

  1. Blue Faced Leicester Dazzle DK by The Natural Dye Studio

dazzle dk - genevieve blog

This yarn is all about the colours for me. It’s pure wool, so not as soft as others, but I do love a comfortingly straightforward wool yarn for some projects. I found that I couldn’t live without spice, sugar and sunflower in my life, so I promptly bought them all. I’m yet to make the stripy pink/orange ‘sugar and spice’ hottie cover which is their ultimate destiny.

sugar and spice yarn - genevieve blog

hot water bottle cover - genevieve blog

  1.  Mirasol by Du Store Alpakka

mirasol yarn - genevieve blog

Aha, now this yarn has bitter-sweet memories for me, but it’s not the yarn’s fault. This is the perfect match between stroke-worthy alpaca and bang-on colours. I’ve spent a long time dreaming up gorgeous combos. I still have the grey and pink logged for future reference. It had the misfortune to be used for my first project knitting in the round with DPNs (cue tears, needles sticking out everywhere and several hundred froggings). That project was my first and only grudge-knit (it will get finished, or else I will die trying) but all credit to the yarn.

slouchy beanie hat - genevieve blog

A special mention must go to Scrumptious DK/Worsted by Fyberspates, a luxurious mix of merino and silk, which has been set aside for a top secret project which will be revealed in due course.

scrumptious dk/worsted - genevieve blog

scrumptious dk/worsted - genevieve blog

So farewell Stokey and Knit With Attitude, but I’ll certainly be back.

* As recommended by Maya, www.knittinghelp.com is all you need, should you be in the market for free video tutorials. Their videos are brilliant and very clear, and the voice-over isn’t annoying (not a given).


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sewing school finale: le weekend bag

weekend bag - genevieve blog

And now for my final trick…

Yep, as the main event and big finale to the excellent six-week sewing school I’ve been doing at Ray Stitch, we made a rather fetching weekend bag. Or large handbag, depending on how you see it. It was certainly the most complex project I’ve tried, and so the sense of achievement is jump-up-and-down high. I loved the cheers of glee and applause that erupted periodically in the room as each of us turned our bags the right way round to reveal the final thing. It took me and my lovely fellow bag-ladies three sessions to complete, and incorporated a zip, lining, piping, an inner pocket and various panels (just don’t mention the gusset…).

weekend bag - genevieve blog

weekend bag - genevieve blog

weekend bag - genevieve blog

weekend bag - genevieve blog

weekend bag - genevieve blog

We were advised to pick out a medium/heavyweight cotton which makes for a more sturdy bag, and I found this dark blue herringbone design in Ray Stitch, and chose a bright yellow lining, yellow zip and orange tape handles. Certainly a summery combo which is making me yearn for warmer days.

herringbone fabric - genevieve blog

orange tape for the handles - genevieve blog

weekend bag pattern - genevieve blog

Prior to the bag project, we had a whistle stop tour of all manner of seaming and finishing techniques such piping, bias binding, French seams, gathering and more besides. I never realised that gathering simply involves pulling the thread until it bunches up to the desired length, much like a drawstring. Much less complicated than I thought. And piping is definitely my new favourite thing – so satisfying and looks mega pro.

gathering - genevieve blog

practising gathering – pjyama-bottoms drawstring style

We also made a cute stuffed heart in time for Mother’s Day. I intended my mum’s to be a pin cushion but I think it’s ended up as a grab-able and chewable soft toy for my baby niece. Endless uses!

stuffed heart - genevieve blog

disclaimer: this pretty heart is not mine, my one was shipped down to my mum before I got a chance to take a picture…

I’m really tempted to sign up to the sewing school dress making course, which Moyna our teacher is taking, but sadly I think I’ll have to wait as I’m going to have a lot on in the next few months (moving house and getting married!) It will be first on my list of courses once I’m back in the groove though.

tape measures - genevieve blog


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week-night sewing with ray stitch

sewing at ray stitch - genevieve blog

Although I know my way around a sewing machine, it’s not quite second nature yet and there are a lot of techniques I don’t know. So when I saw a six-session crash course ‘sewing school’ on at my favourite fabric shop, Ray Stitch, I signed up in a flash. I was loving the claim that by the end, I will know how to do: “zips, darts, piping, elastic casings, pleats, gathering, hemming, facings, handmade buttons and machine buttonholes”. My reaction to that list is still an incredulous ‘really?!’ but I’m keeping the faith!

ray stitch fabrics - genevieve blog

I’m two weeks in now, and what I’m enjoying most is the guaranteed two and a half hours of quality time with the machine each week, and a highly satisfying ‘thing-I-made’ to show for it at the end of each session. Moyna, our teacher, is great – it could so easily be stressful but she sets us all at ease and the hours fly by in what feels like a second.

wine and brownie - genevieve blog

wine, snacks and killer chocolate brownie come as standard

In the first week, we made a good old tote bag – a staple of beginners machine sewing classes – but it was a better than usual pattern, and I liked using tape for the handles rather than the same fabric, aesthetically and practically. I chose a slightly heavier fabric with an owl pattern. I liked the way the fabric was very soft and strokeable, which made it feel more luxurious than the standard cotton.

tote bag - genevieve blog

tote bag - genevieve blog

owl fabric - genevieve blog

owl fabric - genevieve blog

Our next challenge was a lined zipped pouch, which definitely upped the difficulty stakes. The zip was the trickiest bit, as you would expect, but it’s a nice hurdle to have overcome finally.

pinning the zip - genevieve blog

I wasn’t in love with the fabric I chose, which pained me, as life is too short for less than amazing fabrics, right? But we only have (free) access to the ‘sale rail’ fabrics, and a lot of the ones I liked were too ‘big’ a pattern for them to work on a small pouch. I’m looking forward to the last project where you have to buy the fabric, as I intend to lay aside plenty of time to ponder / drool over Ray Stitch’s lovely selection, in order to choose the perfect one.

lined zipped pouch - genevieve blog

lined zipped pouch - genevieve blog

Talking of amazing fabrics, I’ve fallen in a big way for this range of soft brushed cotton, ‘pyjama’ fabrics (as I like to think of them), which wink at me from across the room while I’m sewing.

brushed cotton fabric - genevieve blog

One day, I will sew a pair of perfect pyjamas with one of those. I actually have to – I have no choice now I’ve seen them.

A great perk of the course is 15% off Ray Stitch fabrics as well as a copy of the Merchant and Mills sewing book, which is a thing of beauty. Merchant and Mills have really nailed the utilitarian chic, practical-but-beautiful market in sewing, and I, along with the rest of the craft world, am head over heels.

merchant and mills book - genevieve blog

I’m dying to go to their new shop in Rye. Along with Rye’s many antique shops, it’s an excuse for a weekend away if ever I saw one. The patterns in the book are all flawlessly stylish as well as practical (fisherman’s top anyone?) and I want to make all of them. So many patterns, so little time…

the maker's apron - genevieve blog

Stay tuned for more sewing school updates.


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sewing and snowing

janome sewing machine - genevieve blog

Well, after agonising for many months, I decided to bite the bullet and get a brand new sewing machine. I’m very pleased with it. It sews like a dream and everything just seems so easy. Shock of shocks, even the product manual was simple to follow.

It was like a snow dome outside last Sunday with big fat flakes falling all day so I when I got back into the warm, it seemed an idyllic moment to crack out the new machine.

snowy view - genevieve blog

I decided to test run it on an easy project: two tea towels with hanging loops.

When I was in Japan, I found some lovely linen (in an enormous craft shop called Okadaya) which had ‘cute kitchen fabric’ written all over it. It was the perfect cloth for the job. It’s quite unusual in that it has a different pattern on each side – spots on one side, stripes on the other – which in my eyes is the best of both worlds. You get the double-sided pattern without having to line it separately. It also means there’s no ‘wrong’ side on a tea towel. In fact I actually prefer the ‘wrong’ side as it has the thin line of contrasting fabric around the edge, in a bias binding effect.

tea towel - genevieve blogpinned tea towels - genevieve blogsewing tea towels - genevieve blogI followed the instructions from Simple Sewing by Lotta Jansdotter but barely needed to, as tea towels are as simple as it gets really. A great quick win for adding some colour or pattern to your kitchen.

hanging tea towel - genevieve blogtwo tea towels - genevieve bloghanging tea towel - genevieve blogI have quite a bit of the fabric left over and, if I’ve interpreted correctly, it seems to be saying  ‘make me into an apron’. I’ll post the results in due course!