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So you'll have noticed a definite theme over the summer - short, quick, I've only got 10 minutes to myself makes!  I've been solidly sticking to pimping and customising existing things rather than trying to whip things up from scratch.  It's just as gratifying but takes way less time!

The key to this is, don't be afraid.  Taking a pair of scissors to a top, sleeve, waist band can be intimidating, so maybe don't try it with your lovely Boden tee.  However, a quick scout around a charity/thrift store, or everbodies favourite - Primani, and a bargain grabbed for small change, and you'll happily do anything to it!  (I'd totally advocate the charity shop route though, you can actually find things made with really good quality material or much more interesting patterns than the plastic nonsense from cheap, high street stores.)

Want to do it yourself?  I'd recommend working up your crochet piece before chopping bits off.  That way you can pin it in place, and mark it up nicely before you actually make a cut.  If you're going to do cuffs or sleeves, then use the first one that you cut off as a 'template' for the second - so lie it in place and mark where it come sup to on the sleeve.  If you're going to do a yoke on a tee, then once you've marked it up, fold the tee in half and cut the neck line that way, so it's symmetrical.  (Otherwise you can spend AGES nibbling bits off to try and make it even.)  Also, make sure you give yourself a little bit of seam allowance.

Here's my fave thing I've been attacking this summer.  My denim jacket has now almost become a crochet and stitching sampler, and the more I add to it, the more I love it.

This week the summer hols was starting to get to me.  The littlest has come down with the pox, we are now housebound and all the fun, super-mum style activities have long been used up in the early weeks of the holidays.  but then, something happened that changed all that.

Today a freaking GORGEOUS surprise turned up at my door, one of the new 'Crochyay!' boxes.  Here's how they work: you pay a monthly subscription, they send you a surprise box of crochet treats with patterns each month, full of yarn and makes form all sorts of excellent designers and companies. 'Crochyay!' have a very bold, contemporary style (think geometrics, monochrome, you get me?), and this month was a super cool ice cream make, and a chunky yarn bracelet.

So far, so crochet, but look, we all know I'm a complete yarn junky, but I also have a lesser know,  massively inappropriate stationary fetish. The packaging, paper and stickers in this box of wonder are to DIE for.  I mean really.  I would buy it just to squeak over the tissue paper, it literally brought me out in hot flushes.  Totally check them out, it's a proper treat and has totally made my day!

It's nearly ready for sale people!  SO ridiculously excited!! xxx
I am so lucky to do the job I do, but trying to do it with two feral boys tussling all over the house is flipping hard work!  So instead of taking on enormous projects, I've been working up part-crochet-part-upcycled pieces.  This way I can make the fun part, and then use the body of something that would otherwise have ended up in a charity shop to finish it off.  It's also a PERFECT way to use up single skeins of pretty yarn that aren't really enough for a whole garment, and we all need more excuses to buy those!

Last week we jetted off to Berlin for a week to stay with pals.  Not wanting to go through the rigmarole of having to check our luggage in and out, we settled on taking hand luggage only.  Luckily Berlin is hot this time of year, so we didn't need lots of big jumpers and snow boots, but I still wanted to maximize space, and still have something I could throw on in the evenings as it started to cool off.

This little shrug is one of three that I made a few years ago, as a novice crocheter.  It's the simplest pattern know to woman kind as all it is is a rectangle.  This one measures 75cm x 45cm and uses a basic granny stitch worked side to side.  All you then do is fold it in half and sew together 7cm at either end.  That is literally it.  And it was perfect while on holiday.

You can make yours wider and longer if you prefer, all you need to make sure is that the width goes across your shoulders, and there's enough length so that when you sew the edges together, you can get your arms through the holes.  And you can use any stitch that you like, I have another in an open scallop which looks awesome, and another in super chunky yarn which is great as a winter body-warmer.

So you know I take a LOT of yarn porn?  And it's not necessarily obvious what it's for?  Well, I can finally show you!

This is the first piece of clothing I've ever designed, and it was inspired by the colours of the autumn leaves in the Sussex countryside.  It's a really REALLY simple design, you start at the neck, and work your way down, this means you can keep trying it on until it fits you  perfectly across the bust, and then it's a case of just joining up the body.  If you fancy giving it a whirl yourself, you can get the pattern here, I promise, it's a perfect place to start if you've never made clothes before.

I'd also fully advocate playing with your own favourite colour palettes, and experimenting with your own stripes.  I'd love to see them!  If you want to share just tag me up on instagram (@steelandstitch) xxx

Hello ladybirds, one of the things you learn during teacher training is that people take things in, in different ways and at different times.  So to support the students on my current course, I've been making vlogs of the techniques and patterns we're following each lesson.  They're all there for you to access too, from the very beginning (it still doesn't quite match up tp being in an actual lesson, where you get proper guidance on things you don't understand, and helpful hints and pointers, but it's a pretty good start).

This weeks lesson is going to incorporate how to make a magic ring.  This is one of the single, most useful things I ever learned, and as a result it has a video all to itself.  It is quite technical to master, and definitely takes a few goes, but it's really worth sticking with.  Here you go: How to Make a Magic Ring.

p.s. everyone asks about this yarn!  It's Debbie Bliss 'Cleo', it's super easy to work with and gives great definition.