Comparing self striping socks for Christmas

Comparing self striping socks for Christmas

Comparing self striping socks for Christmas

I thought it would be fun for us to have matching pairs of festive socks this year for Christmas, so had a look around for yarn that would knit itself up into its own design. Yarn that self stripes or designs makes for a quick and easy knit, which was also helpful for whilst I was moving. Some companies, like West Yorkshire Spinners develop special Christmas yarns each year, but I was looking earlier than these were released. I also wanted to find something that was more than stripes so settled on Regia design line by Arne and Carlos. There were two different types that I used to experiment with to create our co-ordinating pairs....

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News! Introducing West Beach Knits

Many of you long time readers will know that I love to craft, beginning with learning to sew 5 years ago and growing to include knitting more recently. This blog has evolved from wider lifestyle and foodie posts to mainly sewing and knitting, reflecting my own growing interests. I'm now taking a further step into designing knitting patterns and posting content on YouTube too. 

west beach knits knitting patterns

Knitting patterns

West Beach Knits is the brand name to the collection of simple, stylish and approachable knitting patterns that are beginning to be released with the following principles in mind:

  • Patterns are interesting and enjoyable to knit

  • Garments are easy to wear and pair with your existing wardrobe

  • Translating vintage inspiration and classic design into clean lines and a contemporary look

  • Accessible for 'adventurous beginners'

I've used the term 'adventurous beginner' because I will continue to post tutorials and tips that can help anyone looking to develop their skills. Personally, I think beginners can tackle anything they want - they just need time and a bit of help for new steps. Knitting patterns will be listed along with the techniques used so that you can see which skills are needed and which you will want to master. Some tutorials will feature on this blog, whilst others will be demonstrated on the West Beach Knits You Tube channel.

To start with, from Friday 4th December, patterns will be available through Ravelry, Love Crafts, Payhip and Etsy. This is because I know that although I prefer to purchase through Ravelry, not everyone finds this user friendly. Etsy may also be used for future physical purchases. 

You can keep up with new releases by signing up to the newsletter or by following the West Beach Knits profile on Instagram. Come say 'Hi' over there and let me know you've come over from the blog!

Newsletter subscribers also receive a code for 20% off their first purchase through Ravelry (one use only, but no expiration date), so sign up here for this and future discounts.

West Beach Knits YouTube channel

YouTube channel

I'll still continue to post reviews and tutorials for sewing and knitting over here on the blog (old habits die hard). However, I've found that I have grown to prefer watching vlogs and podcasts to reading blogs over recent years, and there is more scope for demonstration over on YouTube. The channel is named in line with the knitting patterns, simply because it is a more appropriate name than from this blog! Like many people, I don't find recording easy, but I didn't find  photographing myself easy 6 years ago either. The aim is to produce a monthly episode, rounding up what I'm knitting, sewing and designing. It would be lovely to connect with man of you over there as well, so do click the link and subscribe. Episode one is up and ready for you to check out!

Here's a sneak peek of the first two patterns to be released, the Bridleway Mitts and Kew Fingerless Mitts....

West Beach Knits Bridleway and Kew Mitts

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Andrea Mowry Raina Shawl pattern review

Andrea Mowry Raina Shawl pattern review

Before I started knitting, I wasn't very interested in shawls and didn't have much use for them. Now I love having one to hand, just to quickly warm up or to use as a squishy scarf. I already have two in my collection, the Boho Blush and a Find Your Fade, both designed by Andrea Mowry. The Boho Blush is a singular colour and has tassels, whilst the Find Your Fade is a simpler shape but ahs a lot of colours in it. I felt like having something a little more subtle in my collection, so decided upon the Raina shawl, which I could knit in more neutral colours but still have interesting details. It would also be a good opportunity to practise two colour brioche, which would be a new skill that I haven't tried before.
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Top sewing patterns for creating a casual autumn/winter wardrobe

Top sewing patterns for autumn/winter

I always think it's interesting to look back and see which makes were a good idea - as in, which ones actually ended up doing the job they were intended for. Sometimes I think I have a great idea but in the end it doesn't end up being worn; either the pattern or fabric were not a good choice for what I actually need and wear. On the other hand though, I have some items that I wear so often I need to make more of before they get worn through! These are the ones I reach for most often at this time of year because they are warm, comfortable and easy to wear with other items. Have a look below, and if you have any other suggestions, let us know in the comments at the bottom.

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Quilting in quarantine part 3 - free motion quilting in negative space

Free motion quilting in negative space

Yes, actual sewing has been absent for a while. I have managed to get my machine out of storage from moving house into its own room, meaning I can get on with finishing my quilt! In April I posted the quilt top that I had pieced together. Since then I had a go at some free motion quilting practice (and stay at home restrictions have lifted as well, so this isn't really in quarantine any more, but I felt I should carry on with the theme). 

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Spellman Sweater by Dragon Hoard designs

Review of the Spellman Sweater by Dragon Hoard designs

I wanted to join in on the virtual 'Tell me about your Rhinebeck sweater' video that Kristy Glass Knits was producing this year. Given that the New York Sheep and Wool Festival was cancelled this year, like many other events, it would be nice to join in with everyone else coming together at this time. I can't normally go myself, and love watching Kristy's video every year, gaining inspiration from all the makers attending the festival. It comes at a time of the year when the seasons change and I'm heading back into the sweater drawer anyway, so I decided that I may as well aim for the October deadline and join in this unusual year. Thankfully, I did just about finish in time to send a video to Kristy and she did include it in her compilation. You can find her video here. It's 3 hours long (I'm fairly early on) but so full of brilliant makes - lovely to watch.

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Navelli tee by Caitlin Hunter

Caitlin Hunter Navelli tee pattern review

There's something about having a short sleeved top that has been knitted that doesn't make sense. Surely knitting is all about making warm jumpers and cardigans to wear in winter, right? Well, for a start, loads of people have made this pattern, so it must be wearable. Then I got to thinking that wool is quite breathable, so maybe it wouldn't be too hot for days where you want short sleeves. It is still warmer than a regular t-shirt, but actually, it has turned out pretty well on those in between days in late spring. It's also an enjoyable knit, with colourwork and more gentle knitting as well.
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Venezia Shawl Pattern - Joji Locatelli

Joji Locatelli Venezia Shawl Pattern review

This is an excellent pattern for beginners. It only uses one skein and has a simple construction. It's a  little more refined and complicated than a scarf, but not as big as other shawls - more of a shawlette. Personally, I think it's a delicate delicate design and makes for an excellent gift as well.
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Sew Over It Ultimate trousers in stretch denim

Sew Over It Ultimate trousers in stretch denimDuring the time that we are all being advised to stay at home, Lisa Comfort has been hosting sewalongs on the Sew Over It YouTube channel. I was trying to catch up and found out the next one was the Ultimate Trousers, which had been on my to do list for over a year, when I was given some stretch denim as a birthday present. I just about managed to get them cut out in time and was able to join in the sewalong, which I thoroughly recommend. Even if you aren't sewing along, there's a lot of tips that come through as Lisa puts the items together, as well as general chat that it's nice to be a part of/listen to. The full Stay Home and Sewalong list is up on the website if you want to join in next week or see what has already been featured. (I'm wearing mine with my Molly top here) 
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Tilly and the Buttons Freya sweater hack with stripe matching tips

Tilly and the Buttons Freya sweater hack with stripe matching success
After hacking the Sew Over It Molly dress pattern to make my Rainbow T-shirt dress, I had just about enough fabric left over to make another pattern. Considering I had bought a 1.5m cut, I feel that getting a dress and a top out of the fabric was pretty good going - I do like it when I feel like I'm getting value for money! I decided to try and see if I could use the Freya pattern from the Stretch! book by Tilly and the Buttons, and there was not only enough, but enough to stripe match too!
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Rainbow T-Shirt dress

Rainbow T-Shirt dress using Sew Over It Molly dress and Seamwork Astoria patterns
I fell in love with this fabric as soon as Tilly and the Buttons began teasing images of their upcoming fabric line on Instagram. I waited it out until I went to the Stitch Festival in March though, as I wanted to pick up a few pieces from their stall. Then came the difficult part that many sewists find; having an idea of a finished garment in mind but no readily available pattern to make it with. As an expert bodger, I managed to find a way to make the t-shirt dress that I envisioned....and that is going to be mainly what I will be wearing through the rest of spring!

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Quilting in Quarantine - part 2 Free Motion Practice

Bluprint free motion quilting class review

Previously I stitched together a quilt top and was very pleased with the outcome. What I hadn't realised was how much more complicated things were about to get! Seeing as the quilt top I had made is very geometric, I thought that I could do a fair amount of quilting with my walking foot. However, there is a large amount of negative space and I did want to get a little more creative. In order to quilt in more intricate shapes than straight lines, you need a free motion foot for your machine, and a whole new level of skills!

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Quilting in Quarantine - piecing together a quilt top

Quilting in Quarantine - piecing together a quilt top

Right now, lots of people are staying at home to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Whilst I'm still out doing my job as a key worker, I am also staying at home more which means more time for crafting. I've taken advantage of Bluprint's free access to develop some new skills, one of which being Quilting. I got a taste for it whilst making memory T-Shirt quilts (guide here) and wanted to have a go at something more advanced and intricate, as a break from dressmaking (there's only so many clothes you need when everyone is staying indoors).

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Knitting needles for socks - which should you pick for your first pair?

Which knitting needles should you use for your first pair of handknit socks?

Which knitting needles should you use for socks? Especially if it's your first time?
Well, the main thing is that you get the correct gauge, but this can alter depending on the type of needle you use. Your speed can also vary with the different types but ultimately it's a matter of preference and what you find easiest. However, finding that that means giving everything a go and if you are looking to get started you probably are also looking for a set of needles to buy as well. So the following is a bit of an overview so that you can decide which type you want to try out first, or next!

PS - there's now a video version of this post over on the YouTube channel, here.

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Simplicity 8292

Simplicity 8292 pattern review

Whenever I go to the Knitting and Stitching Shows I get drawn in by M Rosenberg and Son's stall - there's so much on there that sparks inspiration. This was one of those fabrics (yes, even though it is basically, grey); I immediately knew it would be great for a shift dress for work. It took me a while to decide on a pattern, but this one is a really good one for creating some wardrobe basics.

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Nutkin sweater from Laine Magazine Issue 5, hacked

Nutkin sweater from Laine Magazine Issue 5, hacked to be knit in the round

I came across Laine magazine quite soon after I started knitting and fell in love with this pattern immediately. It took me a while to buy the magazine with this pattern in, but it was the main reason for the purchase to be fair. I was a bit disappointed to find that it was knit in pieces and seamed together (not a fan of purling) but eventually found a way to get round that for most of the sweater.

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Nina Lee Park Lane Dress

Nina Lee Park Lane Dress pattern review

I am a huge fan of Nina Lee's patterns - I think they echo high street fashion well and they are written really comprehensively - my Mayfair dresses are worn a lot in the summer. For the winter season, I wanted to make a longer sleeved dress in a solid colour - something lacking from my wardrobe, so the Park Lane was a natural choice. I wore it a lot this winter and I have ideas for summer versions in different fabrics too.

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Speedy self striping socks

These socks were knit so quickly due to a few key choices. They ended up for me but if I were pushed for time to give to someone else, I would definitely look to something like this. Not only were they fast, they were really relaxing because they don't require a lot of concentration - so I managed to read or watch a film at the same time (which is probably partly why they felt like they flew by). There are a few things that I did for the first time with these and they paid off - glad that I gave them a go!
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How to sew a t-shirt quilt

Make a memory quilt: how to sew a t-shirt quilt

New Year, new skills. This month I've been involved in a sewing project of a different sort - memory quilts. It's not my usual kind of make, but has been really interesting to learn to do. I have seen a fair few made as gifts using a collection of t-shirts from festivals or concerts as well as children's baby clothes. It involved a fair bit of research so I've pulled together the best of what I found in case you would like to have a go at making your own. These were made for the lovely Stanley, Freddie and Hayley, who I hope will be able to enjoy them for a long time.

Make a memory quilt: how to sew a t-shirt quilt

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Tilly and the Buttons Stella Joggers

Tilly and the Buttons Stella Joggers pattern review

These joggers are the companion bottoms to the Stella Hoodie that I made earlier in the year. Both patterns are found in the Tilly and the Buttons book 'Stretch! Make yourself comfortable sewing with knit fabrics'. The hoodie is certainly comfortable so it seemed only right that I made the joggers too. Both patterns are incredibly easy to make and very well written so they are definitely something that beginners can tackle and end up with a good result. I'm pretty much living in these joggers right now!

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Welcome to Sewing and Other Stories; my journeys with sewing and knitting; pattern reviews, tips and guides for beginners. I'm also the designer behind West Beach Knits knitting patterns and I host a Knitting and Sewing channel on YouTube where you can see all of this in person. Come have a look!

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