Lion on the loose

Spotted in a Hampshire garden, a lion at large!

Meet Larry the Lion. He’s a Funky Friends pattern I’ve used to create a memory animal from babygros as a keepsake for a friend’s son’s forthcoming first birthday.

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I used six babygros to make Larry. Most were newborn size, which didn’t leave me with a lot of fabric, and therefore, not much room for mistakes. As luck had it, the pieces which I did cut out wrong were from the fabric I had most of, so I had enough spare to re-cut them. Phew.

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I hit a few obstacles along the way:

  • the eyes: I forgot to insert the craft eyes before sewing the head to body, making it much more difficult as I had to pull the head back out through the stuffing gap. Having not used craft eyes before, I had to watch a video tutorial to learn how to do so. All went well, until one was positioned incorrectly, and then I had to watch another video to work out how to get the washer off the back of the eye so I could remove it!
  • pattern markings: not that I’ve done a great deal of sewing from patterns, but in the little I’ve done, I’ve not been too bothered about transferring pattern markings. This time, I dutifully got out my carbon paper, washable pen, tracing paper, tracing wheel and transferred the markings. Only to realise when I started sewing that I should’ve transferred them to the right side of the fabric, not the wrong side like I had. Rookie error.
  • hand embroidery: not my strong point. I really struggled to get the toes on the first paw looking right, but once I had mastered it, the rest were quicker. As for the French knots on the cheeks, that took two attempts. I gave up last night and tried again today, with more success.
  • interfacing: the mane is a little floppy, I think I could definitely have used stiffer interfacing. One to remember for the next one.

Once I’d finished him, he went for a spin in the washing machine, followed by hanging out on the washing line for the afternoon.

I’m pretty pleased with how he turned out.

Third time lucky?

This is the third cardigan I’ve knitted for my friend’s baby girl: Willow. She was born at the beginning of November last year. My first two cardigans came out too small.

First there was this one, which I started in June and finished in October, thinking I was being organised. Since it came up too small, I gave it to another friend who had a baby in November.

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Then there was this one, which, again, was going to be too small for little Willow. I started this in October and finished it in December. I kept this one for myself, as I was convinced I was having a baby boy. I didn’t, I had a girl, who did wear it once.

So, on New Year’s Eve, I started baby cardigan no.3. I was even knitting away waiting for my contractions to start when my waters had broken. Nearly four months on, I’ve finally finished it. And, I’m pleased to say it’s too big for my little model, who is a couple of months younger and several pounds lighter than her little friend Willow. So, I’m hopeful it’s third time lucky.

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Now it’s all wrapped up ready to go to its new home. I even used my new baker’s twine.

Fingers crossed it fits!

Easter Crafternoon

Time for another Crafternoon and the date that everyone could do just happened to be Easter weekend, so we went with an Easter theme, naturally.

There was lots of chocolate consumed; this photo is very misleading in that we have just savoury bits on the table.

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There was crochet:

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And cross stitch:

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And knitting:

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Whilst I made an Easter wreath which I’d started earlier in the week. You may have seen it on Pinterest, the idea is to create ‘eggs’ made from stiffened yarn or thread, then glue them together to make a wreath.

Rather than buy a load of new thread to use, I was lucky enough to find odds and ends of wool in the stash I’ve inherited from my Nan, who sadly can no longer knit. She just happened to have lots of pastel shades, perfect!

I started by cutting lengths of 36 inches (8 yards). I figured as I was using wool rather than embroidery thread, I’d only need one length per water balloon.

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I then blew up a good 30+ water balloons. Note to self: don’t buy the cheapest next time. They were quick to pop/deflate.

I then mixed together some glue with water in a bowl and soaked a length of wool, then wrapped it round a water balloon, then used a clothes peg to hang it out to dry. I did this 20 times. Wasn’t quite as quick or easy as I hoped.

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I did this on Thursday. You’re supposed to allow 24 hrs for them to dry. As I was busy yesterday, they had nearer 48 hours. Today, at the Crafternoon, I had the task of popping the water balloons and removing the balloons using scissors and tweezers where necessary.

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Then, once I’d worked out my preferred layout, I glued the ‘eggs’ together using my trusty glue gun (best craft purchase, ever!).

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It’s now not very securely attached to my front door. Not sure how long it’ll last in this lovely weather we’ve been having.

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I feel like I’ve avenged the demons of my Easter baking failure last year, where my bunny scones ended up looking like Donnie Darko.

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Also, on the Easter crafts front, I helped my son make an Easter bonnet. When I say ‘help’, I mean I did 99% of the work. Again, thank God for glue guns!

It wasn’t the most creative creation, and he didn’t win a prize, but he loves it. In fact, he’s worn it four days running now!

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Happy Easter to you all. What have you been making?

Getting my ‘sew-jo’ back

Since we moved house at the end of December and I had a baby in early January, my sewing machine has been lying packed away, unloved. I had reason to get it out last month though when a friend asked me to make her newborn son some personalised bunting for his bedroom. Here it is:

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I love making bunting, particularly the appliqué part, so I really enjoyed doing this. In fact, I made bunting for this little man’s big sister back in July 2014.

Another friend then asked to me make a sash for her friend’s hen do. She didn’t like the look of all the pink naff ones you can get online and wanted something a bit classier. She choose the fabric and I then found some coordinating fabric in my stash for the lettering. I combined bits of two online tutorials here and here, as neither worked fully for the fabric I had. Here’s how I made it, step-by-step.

I took a wild guess at how much fabric I would need, and told my friend to get 1 metre. In hindsight, it may have been better to have gone for 2 metres, as I had to make the sash in two pieces. But, there would have been loads of leftover fabric if I’d opted for 2 metres just to have one single length.

I cut two strips of fabric, 1 metre long by 26 cm wide. This was for a tall bride, otherwise, I may have gone a bit shorter in length.

As advised in the wikiHow tutorial, I added interfacing to the fabric strips.

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I laid the strips right sides together and, having worked out the centre point, marked on the edge of the fabric 2.5 inches from the top, and drew a line to the centre of the fabric, on both sides as below. I then sewed along this line to create the shoulder seam. If you had just one piece of fabric, this would be easier and involve drawing just one line. I later had to adjust the angle (see below).

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Then I cut off the fabric above the line/seam.

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I don’t seem to have a picture of this, but at the hip end of the sash, I folded the sash in half, as it would be once sewn, and cut the fabric at an angle, to create a diagonal edge. By cutting through both sides of the sash at once, it ensured that both sides had exactly the same angle.

Having traced my letters onto Bondaweb, ironed this onto my contrasting fabric and cut the letters out, I then ironed the letters onto the front of the sash, ready for appliquéing.

Then I folded the sash, right sides together and sewed 1/2 inch from the edge all around the raw edges, leaving a gap at one end of the sash to turn it out.

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It was at this point, once I’d turned the sash out and draped it over my shoulder, that I realised the shoulder seam wasn’t sitting right. So I had to unpick that bit and recut the edge, this time marking on the side 1.5 inches from the top and cutting on the diagonal from the side, so that there was less of an angle. In hindsight, I think I should have had the diagonal going the opposite way, but never mind…

This time, once I turned it out, it was sitting much better on my shoulder. All that was left to do was join the hip edges of the sash together, about an inch from the bottom of the sash.

Ta-dah:

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I used the leftover fabric to create some matching bunting, about 7 metres long.

My friend kindly sent me a photo of the bride/hen modelling her sash, it looked great!

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My sewing machine has now been temporarily put away whilst I get on with Easter crafts. I hosted an Easter egg hunt on Saturday for 8 toddlers and their mums (madness, I know. But my house actually ended up tidier than before they arrived thanks to their post-Easter egg hunt tidy-up). I whipped up this little sock bunny on Friday, who is now kept company by some felt chicks I made for last year’s Big Comic Relief Crafternoon.
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Next up, I’m going to attempt an Easter wreath!
 

Falling in love with crochet

Back in November I went to a preliminary meeting for a proposed new local WI. (Much to the amusement of my friends and family who – like most people – still think of it as an institution for the older lady, shall we say.) The turn-out was huge and the WI was formed. I missed the launch meeting last month due to having just had a baby and subsequently failed to send in my membership form in time, so I’m currently on the waiting list to join. Bear with me, there is a point to this story … On the Facebook page for the afore-mentioned newly-formed WI, someone shared an appeal from Makey Mamas – a Bristol-based set-up offering creative workshops for pregnant ladies and mums of new babies. This appeal was for crochet hearts, with each individual heart being given to a mum spending mother’s day in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with their baby. The same campaign, initiated by BLISS (a UK charity providing care and support for sick and premature babies), was run by Makey Mamas last year with the hope of covering Bristol hospital, but they were so overwhelmed by the response, they ended up distributing hearts to NICUs throughout the South-West of England. Anyway, I saw this appeal, and having recently had a baby myself, I thought I’d have a go.

A video tutorial was provided on the Makey Mamas Facebook page. Not being much of a crocheter, my first attempts were somewhat ‘wonky’.DSC_0212

I persevered, and getting fed up of watching the video tutorial again and again, I found the pattern and wrote it down in my ‘Book of Great Ideas’.

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And, voila! Twenty crochet hearts have today begun their journey to Makey Mamas, to hopefully cheer up some mums who may be experiencing a difficult Mother’s Day.

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These were so easy and addictive to make. They take no time at all. I had grand plans of making a Valentines Day garland, but that’ll have to wait til next year now. Instead, I have a baby cardigan to finish knitting and I’ve also dusted off my neglected sewing machine for a bunting commission.

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As an end note, I just have to share this beautiful quilt which a friend made for my baby girl. As someone who loves to give handmade gifts, there’s nothing better than receiving one. I love the colours of it!

Craft time is my me time

Shortly after my last post, our daughter arrived – 15 days ahead of her due date. We were convinced we were having another boy, so were very surprised to have a girl. She was in such a hurry to arrive that we didn’t make it to hospital and she was born at home! Her name is Alba (inspired by a character in the book The Time Traveller’s Wife). She’s been supervising my craft efforts of an evening …

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I’m busy knitting my third baby cardigan in a row. The two I previously knitted both came out too small for the intended recipient – a friend’s baby girl. So, I’m going for third time lucky. I’ve changed pattern and am making a bigger size.

Such is my dedication, I was even knitting it when my waters had broken and I was waiting for contractions to begin. It was a nice distraction. Which is the reason for this post really. That, how, as a mum, I find that I crave/need craft time as my ‘me’ time.

I read a blog post shared on Facebook this week about how crafting is good for your mental health. And I couldn’t agree more. Despite having my hands more full now, with a 2nd child, I’m more determined than ever to fit in craft time. Even if just to spite the naysayers who think that such a thing is impossible! Speaking of which, toddler and baby are both asleep, so I’m off to squeeze in a few more rows on the cardigan.

My 2015 makes

Here’s what I got up to in 2015 …

January saw me complete my 2nd commissioned memory quilt, for a friend’s little girl’s 3rd birthday. It was made up of her baby clothes.

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In February, I made my niece some teddy bear/doll’s sleeping bags for her 3rd birthday.

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In March, I finally completed my cross stitch of a West Highland terrier. I made some felt chicks and a mouse as part of the first ever Comic Relief Crafternoon; these were sold at my workplace along with other crafty contributions to make money for Comic Relief. March was a productive month, as I also made another niece a pirate doll for her 3rd birthday.

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In April, I had somewhat of a baking disaster. Attempting to make Waitrose’s ‘bunny scones’, mine ended up rather scary looking – very much like they were modelled on Donnie Darko! However, I did have a baking success too, a car-themed birthday cake for my nephew’s 2nd birthday. I also did an embroidery hoop for a friend’s birthday.

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In May, I finished my nephew’s memory bear, made from his baby clothes. This was also for his 2nd birthday (the one I made the car-themed cake for). I also made a ballerina doll for a friend’s little girl’s 2nd birthday. The memory bear was probably my favourite make of 2015, it came out really well.

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June and July were fairly quiet months on the crafting front, no finished objects to show. But I did begin knitting a baby cardigan and I’d also begun the bunting for my friend’s wedding. In July, a summer crafternoon was had by myself and some colleagues.

August was the culmination of my months of work making things for my friend’s wedding, at which I was also a bridesmaid. I made about 90 metres of bunting, hay bale covers and heart-shaped decorations, all for the wedding reception. All the hard work was worth it on the big day when it all came together and fitted the colour scheme and festival theme perfectly.

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September was another quiet month, perhaps as a result of working myself so hard finishing all the wedding bits in August.

In October, my son turned 2. I made two birthday cakes, one for a joint party with his friends – a chocolate finger and Smarties decorated cake. For my son’s party, I recreated my nephew’s car-themed cake as my son is also car-mad. I also finally finished knitting the baby cardigan I started in June. A little crochet was even involved, to do the edging and buttonholes on the front.

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In November, again with work colleagues, we had our annual Christmas crafternoon. I didn’t get any good photos of this, otherwise I would have done a blog post about it. I moved house at this point, so crafting very much took a back seat.

Onto December, and settled into our new house, I made a last-minute sheep costume for my son’s pre-school nativity play. I also did a wreath-making workshop with my Mum – a lovely Christmassy way to spend an afternoon. And, very recently, I finished my second baby cardigan. Unfortunately, like the first one I knitted, this one is also too small for the intended recipient. So, I’ve started a third one and have kept the second one for myself as I’m due to have a baby any day and I’m convinced it’s another boy!

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So that’s my round-up of my 2015 makes. Lots of things made for children! This is obviously where my interest lies. This year, I’m hoping to get some sort of craft business going, in the hope that I may not have to return to work from maternity leave in Jan 2017, or at least it’s something I could run alongside work. That’s the dream, anyway! Whether it happens as a mum of two, I’m somewhat doubtful …

My ‘to do’ list for 2016 currently looks as follows:

  • two memory cushions – one to match each memory quilt I made
  • make the hay bale covers from my friend’s wedding into a quilt
  • a memory lion, commissioned
  • poppy tapestry for my mum
  • froggy cross stitch
  • baby cardigan no.3, 3rd time lucky, hopefully this one will fit my friend’s not-so-new-anymore baby

 

What makes do you have planned for the year ahead? I’d love to hear about them. Wishing you a happy and crafty new year!

Kate