A look back on my crafty year…

As a teacher, I have two beginnings each year, one in January and one in September. These mark two new fresh starts for me and although I am not a person who particularly believes in making new year’s resolutions, on occasions these times in the year do encourage a flurry of action in me, particularly if I have an ambition in mind.   The last time this happened to me was back in the new year of 2010 when I signed up to the dating site OKCupid and by January 2011 I had met and moved in with Mr B, my lovely husband.

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Unsurprisingly a handmade knitted version made an appearance on the big day!

It was in September last year, in another flurry of action, I decided this was the year to start on a new journey and expand my crafting skills in new directions. Since then I have embarked on a busy year of learning and have met some really lovely people along the way.

Learning to sew was my first foray, although I had tinkered with my Mum’s sewing machine whilst making superhero masks and capes for my husband’s stag do, I really wanted to feel more confident and able to create more professionally finished items.  After a short search via Facebook, I enrolled on a beginners sewing course with the lovely Janet over at KitchenTableSewing who, over the course of four evenings and fueled by cups of tea and wonderful homemade cakes, helped me to master the basics of using a sewing machine and produce some wonderful first makesDSC_0205 DSC_0208 DSC_0212 DSC_0223

Can you guess which superheroes they represent??

As usual once the I had been bitten by the bug it was hard for me to stop so inspired by my success on the beginners course I proceeded to create at least 75% of my Christmas presents for friends and family using the sewing machine and learnt a couple of new patterns and processes in the progress.

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My Christmas sewing bounty!

I have since returned to the kitchen table for more cakey yumminess and, of course, sewing guidance from Janet, attending two more of her courses, making my very own Coco from the Tilly and the Buttons pattern and a pair of fancy knickers using some fantastic Liberty print fabric. I was also inspired enough to buy my own machine, a super duper Janome DSK100, which has made my sewing experience so lovely and saved a lot of time with its numerous nifty time saving gadgets.

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Some very fancy pants sewn on my super duper machine x

As the New Year approached I decided that my next skill to master would be needle-felting. This was a skill I felt I could teach myself (perhaps with a little help from the internet) and so bought myself a kit to make a felted hedgehog from Hobbycraft.  Although little Wimpole, as my nephew and niece soon Christened him, was a bit rough around the edges I was pretty proud of my first attempt at this new skill.

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Meet Wimpole the Hedgehog

Next I tackled what had become, as a seasoned knitter at least, my nemesis – crochet!  It has always appealed to me but when I have attempted it previously I have found that my knitting technique has worked against me. Professional help was definitely needed. So on a wet Wednesday evening in March I travelled to Hitchin to a recent yarn discovery, the fantastic Knit Knacks shop, and settled in for an evening of wool and hooks.

In the company of three other crochet novices and with the assistance of resident expert Helen Ingram who runs Woolly Chic, a fantastic website selling hand sourced British wool and crochet/knitting kits, I finally got through my hook block and managed to produce a lovely crochet flower by the end of the evening. In these few hours my wool nemesis had become an ally to its much loved knitted friend.

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Floral crochetness x

The final destination on my crafting journey involved travelling the longest distance yet as I signed up for a workshop at Needle and Thread (near Lincoln) to learn how to create textile art using applique and free motion embroidery with the very talented Cathy Emmott of Dear Emma Designs.

I have always admired this kind of needle work and had been searching for a workshop to attend for a long time so was so pleased when I came across this gem.  Over a busy six hours Cathy inspired and assisted a lovely group of twelve crafty enthusiasts to become novice needle and thread artists. This was a fantastic conclusion to my crafty year and definitely worth the four hour round journey!

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Cathy’s inspirational needlework x

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The novice needle and thread artists proudly present their work x

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My design in progress

The last twelve months have certainly been busy and I have really enjoyed learning new crafting skills. I wonder what the next twelve months will hold for me.

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The wonders of Knitting Nancy and beyond…

I have always enjoyed making things, tinkering and creating loveliness with my hands has always seemed like the perfect way to spend my spare time.

My crafty life started with Knitting Nancy. This was, upon reflection, a rather strangely named item as I don’t think that William and Kate ever had Nancy as an option for their newest addition to the royal family but for some reason it was deemed appropriate for this rather royal (and grumpy) looking crafting gadget for budding child knitters. Much to my parents delight, it would keep me entertained for a least enough time for a cup of tea to be made or perhaps even dinner, as I sat winding wool round ‘Nancy’s’ royal crown to create a long knitted tail which magically emerged from between her feet. Keeping me entertained and quiet was perhaps it’s sole purpose as I don’t think I ever found a use for this neatly produced cord.

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The rather stern Knitting Nancy

Although Nancy may have piqued my interest I was ultimately inspired to take up knitting whilst watching my Great Auntie Vi’s needles moving at the speed of light creating ‘Vi-digans’ for the whole family, a snuggly cabled Aaron cardigan (or occasional jumper) which kept us all warm throughout every winter of the 1980’s.  It was, at about the age of 10, under the instruction of our family’s knitting matriarch I first learnt how to knit however I then didn’t pick up the needles again properly until I was about 20 when my real passion for needlecrafts really began.  My first ever project, for reasons I can’t even explain, was to make what we soon christened ‘Polly Dolly’, a peddler woman doll carrying a basket full of items to sell. Since then I have dabbled in creating a variety of items but always seem to come back to small makes like toys and accessories which I enjoy as they are not only quick to make but I also find more interesting patterns to follow.

A collection of 'Sarah Kate Makes'

A collection of Sarah Kate makes

Since learning to knit, in recent years I have explored and developed my skills in a number of other crafts including crochet, needle-felting and sewing. I love the simplicity of needlecrafts, taking a few simple materials and creating something beautiful out of them.  I have to admit however to being quite a perfectionist (probably an understatement if I am honest) and whenever I take up a new craft I am not happy until I feel I have mastered it, a path which often starts with frustration and sore fingers but ultimately usually ends in happiness, satisfaction and hopefully beauty.

There will be many more Sarah Kate makes to come in the future and I look forward to sharing my crafty journey with you and hope you enjoy coming along for the ride xx