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Knitted Lace Baby Shawl

Way back in June I was contacted by a childhood friend whom I haven’t seen for thirty years and asked if I would consider knitting a shawl for her upcoming first grandchild. 

I don’t normally take commissions for something like this, but she asked so nicely and was so obviously a fan of my work that I decided to make an exception and agreed on the basis that this would be my evening project. You know, the kind that you pick up for a couple of hours every evening so your fingers have something to do whilst watching TV.

The baby was due in early October, which meant I would have to get cracking as three months is not very long in shawl-knitting terms, and I estimated that about 60 hours of handknitting would be required. I had no problem choosing the perfect yarn – the softness of Alpaca combined with the smooth quality of silk made this the obvious choice.

A laceweight yarn, the silk adds a subtle sheen and would make an incredibly light and delicate shawl.

I ordered 4 skeins in “Wedding White” as the gender of the baby was to remain a surprise, and off white would be ideal. Each 50g skein contains 439 yards of yarn so, although I hadn’t yet decided on a pattern, figured that 1700 yards should be plenty.

Look how fine the yarn is!

It all got off to a bit of a false start because I wasn’t happy with the first pattern I chose and had to unravel it and start again from scratch.

A bit more research resulted in the purchase of this lovely pattern by Sirdar – the circular design, rather than the square one.

And so the lengthy process began!

It soon became apparent that I had VASTLY underestimated the time and quantity of yarn that this beast would consume!

After 60 hours over 2 months, I was about two-thirds of the way through the main body of the shawl, and it took both boys to hold it up for me to take a photograph.

I just love how gossamer-fine it is and how you can see right through.

I also had to order another 2 skeins of yarn which took another 2 weeks to arrive before I could continue.

With the body of the shawl finished, I moved on to the pretty bit – the show-stopping lacy border, which was an absolute joy to knit after all those rounds of stockinette.

You can see the pattern beginning to develop here.

Despite being over a week overdue, the baby had now arrived…..but I still hadn’t finished the border. 

It was a baby girl!

Eventually, all the actual knitting was complete and ‘all’ I had to do was to join these two piles of knitting together.

It ended up being several evenings worth of work, starting with pegging the border evenly to the centre section and then sewing ithem together.

Wet blocking was the next step in the process, whereby all 120 points had to be pinned out to their final shape.

I commandeered The Boy’s bedroom and banished them for two days while it dried, pinned to a combination of three towels and the carpet!

When it was completely dry, I took it downstairs to try and photograph it as the contrast against the oak floor showed up the pattern more clearly.

There wasn’t enough spare floor space!

Here’s a close up of the edging after blocking – such lovely lacy detail.

By screwing it up in the middle, I managed to take a photo of the whole shawl – it really is massive!

It looks lovely here, draped over the arm of the sofa.

Off it went in the post and I waited a nerve-wracking few days before hearing that it had reached its destination safely – what a relief!

Very soon, some photos were sent to me of the shawl in use, and I have permission to share them with you on the blog.

Do you want to have the final stats of this mammoth project?

Here goes…….

– 2760 yards of yarn

– 137 hours of knitting

– 161,852 stitches

Would I do it again?

In a heartbeat – only next time it will have to be for MY grandchild because it was so hard to part with after all that effort!


Knitted Lace Cardigan

Just after Christmas, after months of making things for other people, I had the urge to knit something for myself.

I love Artesano (and was gutted to find out recently that they have gone into receivership – another independant yarn shop gone) and I found this lace cardigan pattern on their website, for free, no less. Here’s the link – download it while you can as I assume the website will be offline soon: – free lace cardigan pattern


The suggested yarn was their Alpaca Silk Lace, so I went ahead and treated myself to four skeins of ‘French Rose’.


The lace pattern is a simple repeating pattern and, although I lost concentration and made a few mistakes, the pattern is quite loose so they don’t show at all.


Fast forward to May and the goal was to take it to Spain as a light cover up in the evenings. Well, the knitting was finished in time….but not stitched together, so I took all four panels with me with the intention of finishing it on the first day or two of our holiday.

I blocked it.


I even sewed it together.


Then it came back to England with me and I forgot all about it until the other day.

Re-discovered underneath several WIPs in my lovely sewing cabinet, I dragged it out and sat down, determined to make the flowers there and then.

Look, matching nails and dress, too:)


Half an hour later, the flowers were completed and all that was left to do was the chain cord that would act as a buttonhole, joining the two flowers.making-cord-chainknitted-chain-cord



It’s quite special as cardigans go, so I thought I’d glam it up with a pair of designer mules for the photos.


I love the scalloped edge at the bottom.


It’s so easy to wear and not at all restrictive.



The pattern calls for twelve knitted roses dotted about on various seams, but I left it at two, on the front opening edge.



I slapped on a matching lippy and met hubby for a drink at lunchtime and he loved it. Or was it the heels…….?




Guest Bedroom Makeover

After several sneak peeks on the blog and on Instagram, I have finally got around to blogging about the guest bedroom makeover which we finished a few weeks ago.

This post is picture-heavy, so you might want to get yourself a cup of tea before you start:)

guest bedroom makeover15

Of course, there’s no point in having the ‘after’ photos if you don’t show the ‘before’ photos, grim though they may be.

guest bedroom before1

Believe it or not, this room was actually quite nice when it was first decorated but, ten years on, it was looking really tired and in desperate need of a facelift.guest bedroom before2

No.1 Son returned home after four years at Uni and decided that he would like to move from his old bedroom into the guest bedroom as it has a double bed. Although he’s generally quite good at keeping his room presentable, boy ‘stuff’ has a habit of piling up, corners get bashed and, before long, redecoration became a must.guest bedroom before3

We have plenty of nice, plain white, inoffensive bedlinen but, being male, he just puts on any old set, in this instance his sister’s faded old duvet cover from when she was at Uni.

Hmm, not a good look.guest bedroom before

The window treatment may look OK at first glance, but when you look closer…..guest bedroom before6

….the silk edging of the roman blind has disintegrated after ten years of sunlight.guest bedroom before4

Embarrassed though I am to publicly display these pictures, it does mean that you can’t fail to be impressed at the change!

Having looked carefully at the room, I came to the conclusion that we didn’t have to do an awful lot to make a huge difference – some wallpaper, new curtains and a new bed were all that were really needed. Other elements like the bedside tables and lamps were still in good condition so there was no reason to change them.

I fell in love with this ‘Yellow Chinoise’ wallpaper ages ago at Homebase and managed to buy it when there was 20% discount.

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The men set to, stripping off the old wallpaper.

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It’s always exciting to see the first drop in place, isn’t it?guest bedroom makeover1

The existing pine bed was solid enough so I made the decision not to go to the unnecessary expense of buying a new one, but to update it with chalk paint instead.

chalk paint

No.1 Son helped out with that task, too, and it only took a couple of evenings to apply two coats and a finishing wax.guest bedroom makeover

I remade some silk curtains to fit – the leading edges of the originals had also disintegrated in the sunlight, and I had long since replaced them with new ones in the dining room.

I even removed the beading from the pelmet, washed it and restitched it to the leading edge of the new curtains. Hopefully, this will give them a longer life as the sunlight now only falls on the lining and not the silk.

guest bedroom makeover18

The curtain pole was kept as it ties in perfectly with the new scheme.guest bedroom makeover22

I swapped the huge tasselled tie backs with the ones in the dining room.guest bedroom makeover21

Since this photo was taken, we’ve put up tie back hooks on the wall:)

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The nasty orange pine has been banished and newly painted bedframe sits much more subtly in its surroundings.

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The bedside tables work well in the yellow and cream colour scheme. A bit shabby in places, but that’s fashionable right now, isn’t it?guest bedroom makeover26

Duck egg blue silk lampshades are still fine after surviving three house moves – a quick hoover was all that was required to make them look like new again.guest bedroom makeover29

I remember adding the beaded trim to the shades when we moved to this house, nearly ten years ago. A quick way to transform them.guest bedroom makeover27

The mirror seems to stand out more against the yellow wallpaper whereas, previously, it just blended in to the cream painted walls.

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The shelf beneath the mirror was painted to match all the woodwork and some essentials for guests put in place. guest bedroom makeover14guest bedroom makeover17

The magazine rack is filled with reading material and recent magazines that might be of interest.guest bedroom makeover19

I could reupholster the chair, but the duck egg blue ties in with the lampshades so I think I’ll leave it.guest bedroom makeover23His ‘n’ hers towels are stacked on a blanket box at the end of the bed.

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Fluffy robes on the back of the door and disposable slippers in the wardrobe along with plenty of wooden hangers (I can’t stand the plastic ones!) are items that are well received by people that stay.

guest bedroom makeover13

It’s just across the hallway to the bathroom for now, but……guest bedroom makeover12…..the ensuite is in place behind these doors ready to be kitted out.

guest bedroom makeover16So that’s it, really. Do you want to see some photos of the overall effect?

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Here are some direct comparisons of the before and after shots – much more warmer and welcoming, don’t you think?

Best of all, by keeping changes to a minimum and concentrating on things that would have the biggest impact, it only cost just over £80 in total!!

That’s five rolls of wallpaper and some chalk paint and wax! The rest was just hard work and a little vision to see the potential of what was already there.

It may not be to everyone’s taste, but there’s no denying that it’s a vast improvement on the tired old room that it used to be and it’s going down well with our guests so far, so that’s all that really matters:)


Handmade Christmas Presents – Progress

Q: What do you get if you cross seven jewel-coloured balls of Drop’s Kid-Silk…….


…..with 266 of the finest Swarovski crystal beads?


A: Seven of the softest, lightest lacy scarves you will ever come across!

Party Lace Scarves3

Using the FREE ‘Party Lace Scarf’ pattern by Lisa Sisk on Ravalry (available here), I thought these scarves would make perfect Christmas gifts for the women in our family.

The yarn is 75% Mohair and 25% Silk (so no itching) and weighs just 25g per ball. Each scarf requires just one ball which means you end up with a superwarm scarf that is so lightweight that you barely know you’re wearing it at all!

In case you are interested in making your own, you can buy the yarn from The Wool Warehouse or Love Knitting.

From the top, the colours I chose are: – Beige, Pink, Off White, Light Beige, Lavender, Medium Pink and Sea Green.

Party Lace Scarves2

I bought mine with an introductory 15% discount at Love Knitting, getting each ball for just £3.91.

I also used 300 Swarovski 3mm Xilion Bicone Crystal Beads (£2.50 for 50) from The Bead Shop, which equates to £2.14 per scarf.

Assuming you already own a set of 4.5mm straights, each scarf works out at a £6.05 and takes about ten evenings to complete – a bargain, if you can spare the time!

Would you like a closer look?

Party Lace Scarf 4

Party Lace Scarf 6

The lace pattern is a two-row repeating pattern, alternating with a row of purl – very easy to memorise and a great one to start with if you are new to lace knitting like I was.

Party Lace Scarf 5

Party Lace Scarf 7

It’s so hard to photograph the crystal beads, seen here along the edge, but they sparkle in the light and add a subtle glamorous touch.

Party Lace Scarf 8

Party Lace Scarf 9

The beads can, of course, be omitted for a plain scarf…..but why would you?!

Here they are again – don’t they look lovely piled up together like that?


Party Lace Scarves

This one was reserved for a follower of the blog and is ready to be sent in time for Christmas.

Party Lace Scarf

I think they make a great present, a real touch of luxury at a ridiculously low cost.

You’ve still got time to make a Party Lace Scarf – who do you know that would love one?