Pretty baby bibs

There’s a baby on the way in my family.  Sssshhh, not everyone knows yet.  But I thought I’d get a head start and make some bibs.  Babies need lots of bibs, don’t they?

I don’t know whether this new arrival is a girl or a boy.  Its parents possibly do, but not me and I’m not going to ask, if they want to tell me they will.  But I have lots of flowery cottons and broderie anglaise so I thought I’d make some pretty, girly bibs to start with.  This is the design I came up with.

Baby bibThe inside – the side that will be against the wee one’s body – is made from sweatshirting, with the brushed side facing outwards.

Girl bib 2It will be nice and soft and also quite absorbent.  I’ve had this remnant of sweatshirting for years, ever since I bought enough to make a T-shirt and shorts for my dear husband to wear in the gym and then never got around to making the T-shirt.  (The fact that he was quite rude about the bagginess of the shorts probably didn’t help.  But who needs to look stylish in the gym?)

The flowery side is cut from fabric left over from a summer blouse I made for myself in the 1990s.  I sewed a pleat down the centre and slipped the broderie anglaise under each edge of it, then added buttons – sewn on very securely – to make it look like a buttoned opening down the front of a dress.  This baby is going to feel very grown up in her bib, except for the fact that she’ll be too small to know that little girls wear flowery dresses, of course.

ShirtingBut what if new baby is a boy not a girl?  Fortunately, I found some scraps left from a couple of striped business shirts I made for myself around about the same time as the flowery summer blouse.

Continuing with the same theme, I’m going to applique on a tie instead of the lace trim.

The bibs fasten with Velcro dots at the back.  I’ll make half a dozen of each type because they’re not going to stay clean for longer than 5 minutes.  Much nicer than plain shop-bought versions, don’t you think?

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The last mohair scarf

I’ve finally used up the mohair I bought in about 1984.  The last of the 4 scarves, in red yarn, is in a diamond and bead stitch which has opened up beautifully in blocking.

Mohair scarf in diamond and bead stitchNow, what to knit next?

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Mohair – legacy of the 80s

Younger readers might not know this, but in the 1980s we liked fluff and frizz.  Our hair was poodle-permed and we wore a lot of mohair. (I know, the past is another country …)  I’m ashamed to say that I even knitted a few sweaters in brushed acrylic.

I have my own personal legacy from this period in the shape of several part balls of mohair yarn.  I used up one a few months ago by knitting a small scarf in a classic Shetland all-over lace pattern, Cat’s Paw.

blue-mohair-2The other day I came across the remains of my 30-year-old mohair stash and decided it was time it went.  To that end I have been knitting more small scarves and using them to try out different Shetland stitches.  I’m restricting myself to all-over patterns to use up as much of the yarn as possible.

The first of this new batch of scarves is a lilac version of Mrs Montague’s Pattern from Barbara Walker’s “A Treasury of Knitting Patterns“.  Ms Walker tells us that Mrs Montague was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria who knitted her monarch a pair of stockings in this pattern.

Lilac mohair scarf 1

Shawl pinI chose to knit a garter stitch version because I like scarves to be reversible, as far as possible.  I simply don’t have the patience to have to think about whether a scarf is right side out when I tie it around my neck. There wasn’t much of the lilac mohair and the end result is more of a neck-warmer than a scarf.  I’m planning to make a shawl pin with some amethyst beads to fasten it, something like the one I made to wear with my green Nanook cardigan.

These scarves are really quick to knit on big needles – 6 or 6.5mm – and each one is only taking me a couple of evenings.  The next one was also from Barbara Walker’s “Treasury” – she gives three variations of Miniature Leaf.

Green mohair scarf 1At present I’m knitting a red scarf in a diamond and bead pattern – like diamonds, but with a “bead” in the middle of each.  Unlike the other three scarves, this pattern involves working lace on every row rather than every other row, and I am purling on the reverse side rows.  It’s taking longer as a result, and I have more of the red yarn than the other colours so this will be a full length scarf.

Red mohair scarf 1

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Fidget spinner bearings

All the kids locally are playing with fidget spinners, as they are everywhere.  I’ve been wanting to make a yarn holder for a while, a stand that will hold a cone or ball of yarn and rotate to deliver the yarn smoothly and without twisting. For that, I need a bearing and it occurred to me that buying a fidget spinner might be a cheap way of acquiring a suitably small, smooth-running one.

After a few minutes’ Googling I discovered that you can buy the fidget spinner bearings separately – the more nerdish kids upgrade their spinners with high spec bearings to achieve longer spins – and the basic ones are very cheap, thanks to the huge market now that the fidget spinner craze has spread worldwide. I found a set of 3 on eBay for under 30p including postage all the way from China.

Fidget spinner bearingsThey arrived yesterday and I can’t remember when I was last so delighted with something costing so little. (Possibly when I found a pack of staples for 6p that fit the odd-sized stapler I’ve had since my student days, but that was about 10 years ago now.) You can see from the photo that they aren’t of great quality, but they will be fine for low-load, low-speed applications.

Old wooden bobbinThese bearings are the most common size for fidget spinners, 608, with a 22mm outside diameter and an 8mm bore. I chose them rather than the smaller R188 size (12.7mm outside diameter, 6.35mm bore) both because they are cheaper and because 8mm is a better size for the first thing I intend to make, the yarn holder, and also for the ball winder I’d like to build some day.  For the yarn holder I may re-purpose this old bobbin from a silk mill, or perhaps a cheap kitchen roll holder, or start from scratch if I can find a nice piece of hardwood. I know I bought some American white oak from Boddy’s not long ago, now where did I put it?

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One down, one to go

The first of my two chair covers is finished, apart from some sort of tab or ties to hold the rear pleat closed.  It needs a good press, but I’m pleased with it.  It certainly makes a rather horrible, cut-down, vinyl-upholstered dining chair presentable enough to go in a bedroom.

Chair cover 3

… now you don’t


Now you see it …








Chair cover 4As for the fastening at the back, I still can’t decide what’s best – a tab secured with a button or Velcro? ties or ribbons that can be tied in a bow? just a hook and eye?

I’m hoping that inspiration will strike by the time the second cover is made.

Vigneto Wrap

Knitting-wise, I’m making very slow progress with the lacy scarf I’m working on, called the Vigneto Wrap.

BdB 2It’s worked centre-out from a provisional cast on and I’m only a few inches into the first half.  I’m in a section that has a 52 row pattern repeat at present, with lace worked on every row.

It’s virtually impossible to knit it while doing anything else save breathing, which has made me a most unsociable member of my knitting group for several weeks now.  I’m inclined to give it a rest for a while by knitting something simpler that will allow me to speak while I’m in company and catch up with boxed sets on the TV when I’m alone.



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Refreshing the bathroom

We completely refurbished the bathroom 14 years ago and have done very little to it since then.  Not surprisingly, it’s been looking rather “tired” for a while now.  Corners and edges of the textured, white-painted wallpaper were lifting and it wasn’t even all that white any more.  The grout and sealant in the shower were even more discoloured, despite much scrubbing with bleach.

Bathroom before

Grubby walls and lifting paper

Shower before

The embarrassing shower

Last weekend I decided I couldn’t ignore this state of affairs any longer.  It had got to the point where I was embarrassed to let anyone into the bathroom, even family.  So I took down and removed everything fixed to the walls (mirrors, window blind, pictures, hooks, rails, etc) and deep-cleaned the room from top to bottom.  Then I set about sticking down all the loose edges of wallpaper by sliding glue underneath with an artist’s paintbrush and pressing the paper down with a seam roller.  I sent my dear husband off to a DIY store for a tin of kitchen and bathroom emulsion – the type that can withstand a lot of moisture and cleaning – and when he got back we started painting while the enthusiasm was still with us.

The repainted walls and ceiling

The bathroom looked an awful lot better after just this lick of paint, but the evil-looking grout still needed tackling.  I tried a diamond-encrusted disk on a vibrating tool and a Dremel-type multitool fitted with a cutting disk before concluding that the manual grout rake we’ve had for donkeys’ years was as good as anything.  It was hard work raking out all the old grout from between the tiles, and very tedious cutting out the old silicone sealant where the tiles abut the shower tray and the enclosure.  I did it in stages, an hour or so at a time, over a couple of days.

Shower after regrouting and sealing

The shower – what a change!

We’ve just finished the re-grouting and re-sealing.  The room looks like new and I am no longer too ashamed to let anyone see it. Fortunately, we have a separate bath which is so seldom used that its tiles and grout are still in pristine condition after 13 years, meaning it hasn’t been necessary to shower at friends’ houses while this is going on.

Chair covers

Chair cover 1I’ve been sewing this week as well as decorating.  I still need new chair covers for the old dining chairs we use in our bedroom for piling clothes on (as you do).  I found two remnants of John Lewis fabric in The Shuttle which are a very good match for the carpet and I’m in the process of making the covers.  They will have an inverted pleat in the “skirt” at each front leg and another long inverted pleat down the back to allow room to get the covers on and off.  I need to decide how to hold this rear pleat closed at seat level; the previous chair covers have a button on each side with cord wrapped round them and tied in a bow, but the new fabric isn’t as strong and I’m afraid the buttons will pull and distort the fabric.

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