Monday, 29 September 2014

Just Keep Knitting, Just Keep Knitting

I go through phases of knitting and I'm currently in full flow of one of them. This one started when I knitted a womb for a friend who has just qualified as a fully functional midwife and I'm super proud of her baby catching abilities. She particularly likes the fact that she can hang it up and as she's going into a house share with two other midwives soon she wants me to knit her more so she can use them as decorations for her Christmas tree.

You can find the pattern on the  Knitty website if you want to knit your own womb...and lets face it, who wouldn't want to do that?

My next knitting project is a remake of an old classic...the ever popular humping reindeer hat! I first knitted a very similar hat as a Christmas present for my dad a few years back. The idea was that he could use it as a ski hat and have the coolest hat on The Alps but it went down so well with everyone he knows that I decided to knit more and sell it in the Mcpoodle Shop.

Here is the first one but I can knit them in any colour so please get your requests in for the winter months. If you want to buy this particular hat please follow this here link.

A few weeks ago I went to Rewind Festival which is festival entirely dedicated to the music of the 80's...think Rick Astley, Go West and Doctor and the Medics. It was my first ever festival and I decided to knit my own leg warmers for the occasion along with making a few scrunchies to complete the look (shell suit top, leggings and an authentically retro bum bag). I looked highly sexual throughout the whole weekend and then when I got home I decided to put the pattern for my legwarmers on Ravelry (it's like Facebook but for knitters and crocheters). I've never tried to write a pattern that other human beings might be able to understand so I wasn't sure how well it would go down but after a week I've had over 100 downloads so I'm hoping that all of those people will be able to follow it.

If you want to knit your own legwarmers please feel free to download the pattern (it's completely free)  but I will be knitting some more in various colours for the McPoodle Shop very soon so watch this space.

Lastly, as I was in the process of knitting some lovely green legwarmers to add to the McPoodle Shop, I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to use my green wool to try and create a knitted snozzcumber (they are the gnarly vegetables that the BFG eats...if you still haven't got a clue what I'm on about I suggest you read some Roald Dahl books). So strong was this urge that I had to cut off my wool mid legwarmer, put them to one side and start planning how to achieve this wondrous feat of engineering there and then. I used some pretty exciting techniques including stranded knitting, bobble making and trying to figure out how to shape the damn thing just from winging it and hoping for the best. I'm pretty impressed with the way it turned out, even if it looks more like a snozzmarrow than a snozzcumber.

I've decided to give my hands a wee rest before they cramp up completely but after a week I'll be back finishing off my legwarmers and hopefully knitting things to be photographed for Christmas cards (since owning my own little business I'm starting to understand why shops insist on preparing for Christmas in's depressing but necessary). 

Monday, 30 June 2014

My Shoddy Attempt at Molecular Jewelry

Yesterday I went to a molecular jewelry making workshop which basically means making jewelry in the shape of different molecular structures (have a look here to see how the professionals do it). 

I spent ages trying to find a decent image on my phone of the molecular structure of cider but I could only get results for cider vinegar and then I tried to find an image of Janus (from the insanely awesome Channel 4 drama, Utopia) before giving up and settling for something that vaguely resembled a hexagonal caterpillar.

Armed with this image, I set about trying to recreate it in wire format. Due to a false start after crushing my first little red bead due to being too heavy handed with the pliers I finally thought I was making some steady progress. My wire was straight, my corners were crisp and looked like they were well on the way to making perfect hexagons...and then I added the blue bead at the wrong corner, tried to rectify the situation and it all went horribly wrong from then on. I also tried to double back on myself to recreate the double lines but then attaching new bits of wire proved to be the biggest pain in the arse. On top of everything else I ran out of time so what was going to be my beautiful colourful molecular inspired caterpillar looks more like a mauled insect with half its head bitten off. Oh well! 

It looks like I need a lot more practice before I make molecular jewelry that looks semi decent. In the meantime I think I'll stick to making earrings out of drinks cans which you can find at the McPoodle Shop.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Making T-shirts (almost)

I've never attempted to make clothes before. I think the reason for this is a mixture between not having any fashion sense whatsoever combined with the fear of garments not actually fitting properly. When you're sewing things like bunting or a stuffed toy it doesn't really matter how big or small it ends up, however when you're faced with making things that you can potentially wear in public places it matters quite a lot.

Saying this, I have always wanted to experiment with home made garments and that longing gets worse round about the time when The Great British Sewing Bee is on my tellybox. Whilst I was mooching around Abakhan one weekend I found some amazing dinosaur print t-shirt material in the stretch fabric section of the shop and I instantly fell in love. So I bought a load and then was faced with the daunting prospect of transforming it into a wearable item of clothing.

I watched many online tutorials of how to make your own t-shirts by cutting up an existing t-shirt and using that as a pattern. The only trouble is the t-shirt I decided to use as a template seemed to be larger on one side than the other and I had to keep trimming bits off to make it work so by the end of it I was too scared to make sleeves for it that I left it as a vest top...who needs sleeves anyway right?

Regardless of the fact that it has no sleeves I was so impressed (or relieved) by how my top turned out that I actually wore it to work the following day and I got many compliments about it, even before I told my colleagues that I had made it myself.

Now that I've made one item of clothing and conquered the initial fear of looking like a complete idiot wearing it, I may just make some more. Watch this space!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Project Bambi

A while ago I decided to decoupage a stag's head so I could give it to my friend as a house warming present.

After several attempts at trying to find the right glue to use to make the foil based wrapping paper stick around the antlers without it being completely tacky and horrible, I have finally finished and I'm quite glad that I stuck with it instead of throwing it out of the window which I was tempted to do several times during the making of this thing.

I just hope said friend appreciates it otherwise I'll be taking it back home with me.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Future Perfect

During the Bank Holiday I was helping out at the Future Perfect music and arts festival down by the canal in Manchester. It was set up in 2007 in memory of Lee Wyatt, a 25 year old who lost his battle to cancer. Ever since his mum, family and friends have organised an annual festival featuring local bands and art and crafty things to do for all the family with all proceeds going towards The Christie. It was such a lovely event to be part of and it had a wonderful family feel to it. I strongly recommend going to it next year.

The themes were happy and healthy and I was assisting an army of kids decorate paper bunting flags with things that make them happy and these were strung up around our tent. We also made fruit to go on the "healthy tree" and our corner looked very colourful and vibrant by the end of the day. Here are a few photos:

Happy bunting

More happy bunting (and a monkey)

The healthy tree

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Operation Spider Plant

My latest project has been a long time in the making. I have a slight obsession with spider plants, mainly because they are the only plant that I can successfully keep alive but I also love the way that they just keep on growing and producing babies without having to go through the whole flowering, pollination and seed planting process (saying this though I've had two spider plants that have produced flowers as well and it was quite exciting). I love how you can cut off their offspring and stick them in water until they develop roots and then plant them in a pot of their own until they grow up and have babies themselves thus keeping the whole circle of life going for generations and generations right in front of your very eyes. They are my substitute for dogs whilst I continue to rent flats from landlords that don't allow pets although in an ideal world I'd have loads of spider plants and dogs running around and maybe a tortoise as well. It is my life ambition to one day set up a shop that sells just spider plants and when you walk in the door they'll all be hanging down from the celling and there will be a thick jungle of spider plant babies cascading down to the floor. This is my vision...I do realise that I may have issues!

Currently I have two spider plants. I acquired Aragog, the Daddy of all spider plants, in a pub* when he was just a baby.  Just like his namesake he grew and grew and had millions of babies and now he's taking over my whole flat. I've had him for about three years and I love him dearly with all my heart.

The other spider plant I have is a special curly leaved spider plant. I heard about these years ago but they are really hard to come by. I found one in a pop up stall in the middle of Chester about 6 years ago and went back a few days later to purchase it but the stall had already vanished and I haven't seen another curly leaved spider plant since. And then in November last year I bought one off Ebay. I wasn't sure how well a plant would take to being battered around in the post but he was packaged very well and he's still alive today. I decided to call him Norman [Watts].

From left to right: Aragog and Norman. Aragog's babies have got so out of hand that they are now trying to take over Tracy Island!

I used to have two other spider plants prior to Aragog and Norman but sadly due to an unfortunate incident where my ex housemate cranked up the heating too high whilst I was away for Christmas, it resulted in them both being dead by the time I got back. It was very upsetting and I will never forget Obi Wan or Cassie, may they rest in peace.

Anyway, now that I've told you about my entire family tree of spider plants I can get onto the whole point of this blog post which is the fact that I decided to try my hand at making fake spider plants out of fabric and the whole operation turned out rather well I think. The leaves are stuffed with pipe cleaners so you can bend them and shape them anyway you want them (just like a Cheese String) and the pots are upcycled cream pots that are painted to look like they are actually made out of terracotta. I wanted to make this a novelty item and thought it would be pretty exciting to make a batch of "pot your own fake spider plant kits" to sell on Folksy so I started experimenting with materials to use as a substitute for soil. In the end I decided that felt was the best thing for it and I am so pleased with the way the first one turned out.

This is the fake one

At the moment I've only made one but I will be making more as soon as I have another free couple of days to spare. I'm also trying to formulate a cunning plan on how to go about making a gigantic spider plant with millions of babies dangling from it so watch this space.

I would  love to find out what you (ie people who are slightly more sane than me) think about about operation spider plant. I am very aware that not everybody is as enamoured by these truly beautiful plants as I am but it would be nice to know other people's thoughts on the subject. Or you can just send me photos of your own real spider plants or any other plants you may have in your house/garden.

You can leave me a message below, send me a tweet @McPoodleShop or head on over to The McPoodle Shop Facebook page. If you would like to purchase your very own fake bendable spider plant please click on this here link.

* the pub wasn't The Hog's Head unfortunately

Monday, 22 April 2013

Quick Curtain

At the start of the year I acquired a rather useful shop fitting after a local kitchen shop closed down. I wheeled the damn thing half a mile down the road and somehow managed to get it up a flight of stairs and into my flat (imagine the most stubborn supermarket trolley you have ever come across, times the stubborness by ten and then add a few extra tonnes of weight onto that and you'll be able to build up a decent picture of me trying to navigate curbs, tram lines and uneven paving slabs). It was worth it though, it holds so much stuff but as you can see from the picture below, I'm not the neatest when it comes to storing things so I decided to make a curtain to hide the things I hastily chuck in there.

I found a cheap net curtain rail from Wilkos and then set about making a curtain to go across the front. I've never made curtains before and I think I could have done with using slightly bulkier fabric as it doesn't hang very straight at the edges but it does the job and it also detracts from the boring white walls and the laminated wooden furniture in my room.