FAQs

Find the answers to some questions here!

What is a FO?
On this blog, FO stands for Finished Object.

An unfinished object is sometimes referred to on the Internet as a UFO, but I prefer the term WIP (Work In Progress).

When did you learn to sew?
I first learned to sew at primary school back in the 1970s. In those days, sewing was on the curriculum only for girls.

I learned hand-sewing and embroidery stitches first - I made a felt needlecase with an embroidered cover, and a pink gingham tray-cloth, which I had to hem as well as doing decorative embroidery.

I learned to use a sewing machine at secondary school during needlework classes, and then continued to make clothes at home. However, when my daughter was small I found I just didn't have the time then and stopped sewing for a number of years.

Re-started sewing again in 2009 and from there, it is all documented on this blog.

What kind of sewing machine do you use?
I have Jones machine c. 1982. You can't get these in the shops any more, but the Janome feet and needles fit it.

Actually, I would quite like a more modern machine, as my machine does not do much compared with today's versions. It has straight and zig-zag stitch (which can be set close enough for applique), plus a four step button-hole. It also has a triple stretch stitch, which means it can be used to sew jersey fabric. And according to the manual, it can also stitch with a twin needle, but I haven't ever tried this.

How can I learn to sew?
For most sewing projects, a sewing machine is necessary. Sewing machine shops often offer a free lesson if you buy a machine from them. I also recommend the recent book Me and My Sewing Machine by Kate Haxell. It covers the main aspects of sewing machine use - seams, hems, gathers, pleats, binding etc.

If you want some beginner's projects to try, I've published a couple of easy sewing tutorials on this blog (see links on right) - quilted table mats, applique laundry bags, and a roll-up case for knitting needles, which could easily be adapted for crochet hooks, pencils or make-up brushes. You could also try a Google search for free patterns - envelope cushion (pillow) covers and tote bags are very easy for beginners. If clothes are more your thing, skirts are easiest to start with. The book Sew What! Skirts is good for all sewing levels - loads of skirt styles are covered in there.

If it's more advanced dress-making you want to learn, I would suggest taking a class.

How long have you been knitting?
I have a hazy memory of attempting knitting in lime green yarn at primary school, but really, my granny taught me to knit properly when I was 11. The first thing I ever made was a hot water bottle cover.

I did more knitting when I was in the sixth form, using Fizzknits patterns - these were worked on very large, odd-sized needles - one 10mm and one 20mm - so sweaters grew very fast indeed. With a little help from my granny, I made a couple of batwing sweaters (blush. But they were very fashionable then!).

I took up knitting again when I was expecting my first child. At first I just made baby cardigans in graduating sizes. But when baby no. 2 was on the way, I branched out and have since been knitting pretty steadily. I now consider myself an intermediate-to-advanced knitter.

Can you crochet?
I can now! I learned in 2011 and it was a completely self-taught and self-managed experience. I learned the basics by watching videos on YouTube and then practised by making crochet projects in a progressive approach (that means the projects got more and more difficult!). I wrote up my notes about learning to crochet, so if you want to learn, hopefully helpful hints can be found here.
 
How can I learn to knit?
Beginner knitters need to know how to cast-on, knit, purl, and cast-off. You can find video demonstrations of all of these on YouTube. Actually, YouTube is a great resource for more advanced knitters, too - you can find video demonstrations of provisional cast-on, dropped yarnovers, steeking etc.

Stick to larger needles (4mm or more) and dk (double knit) weight yarn at first. Cast-on 20 or so stitches and try knitting 20 or so rows, then cast off. This is garter stitch (every row knit). Try casting-on again and alternate between knit and purl rows - this is stocking stitch, the most commonly used knitting form - it produces one smooth side of knitting.

It is normal to find knitting difficult initially - some perseverence will be necessary.

After you've practised the four basics, it's just a matter of finding and following some patterns.  Scarves and cushion (pillow) covers involving squares are probably easiest for a beginner, especially the ones knitted entirely in garter stitch (every row knit.)

You could also join the awesome knitting resource that is Ravelry - you'll find loads of help, beginners' forums, free patterns etc, on there, for knitting and crochet too.

Do you recommend any books on knitting?
I own one basic knitting reference book: How to Knit by Debbie Bliss. Although this is quite an old book, it covers all the basics, plus has stitch pattern libraries and chapters on colour work, cables, lace, entrelac and beading. Also has v. helpful section on how to pick up dropped stitches, very necessary when starting out!

If you've already mastered the basics and are looking for something on the next level, Debbie Stoller's book Superstar Knitting would probably fit the bill. It has more advanced information on techniques such as short rows, wrap and turn, intarsia knitting, two colour cabling etc.
 
Do you do any designing?
I've had one sewing pattern published a while back in a UK sewing magazine, plus published a couple of others on this blog. I wrote up a very simple pattern for baby mittens and published that on Ravelry. I have lots more design ideas, but limited time, as I also have a job, two children, and a home to look after. Sewing and knitting for me are recreational, at least for the moment.

Can I use your photos?
Nope. Photos on this blog are all mine, personally, of my own projects or home, and therefore not for re-use. I'm happy for others to link to this blog, though.