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

 

 

 

 

Last-minute Mummy-make: No-sew sheep costume

Sorry to have been quiet of late, moving house whilst heavily pregnant has put paid to much crafting. 

My Little Man started pre-school last month, his first foray into the world of childcare. At the grand old age of two, he’s able to express to me that he’s not all that happen about this recent development. Shortly after he started, I was notified that he was going to be a sheep in their nativity play. Me being me, my immediate thought was ‘How can I make him a costume?’ even though I’m moving house in a matter of weeks and will have no time to do so. I spotted some sheep costumes in the supermarket and I was going to go back and buy one so I had something in reserve ‘just in case’. Of course, I’ve been back multiple times since and they’ve never had his size. How many times do I need to learn the lesson of: buy something when you see it. So, that left me with no choice but to do a Mummy-make. What I’m sure is going to be the first of many costumes …

Never one to leave things til the last minute 😉, I began work on this yesterday afternoon. (His nativity was today!) Luckily for me, this was a quick make. I based it on a costume I saw here.

For the body, I used a long-sleeved plain white t-shirt, two bags of cotton wool balls, a glue gun and about 10 glue sticks:


I stuck the balls of cotton wool on in sections, like this: 
Voila! I used a clump of balls at the back, for a tail and left it hung up to dry for a bit. The top took about 20 minutes to make, super quick!

  
Once Little Man was safely tucked up in bed last night, and I’d reattached some cotton wool balls which had fallen off the top, I set out to make him a sheep headband. Luckily, I happened to have a white alice band, which also fitted his had, so I used that. I had some leftover black and white felt, from which I cut out two white ears and two black ears, and a circle of white for the head. I’d run out of cotton wool at this point, so ending up ripping some bits of leftover wadding into balls (this actually worked much better than the cotton wool and I wished I used it for the top too).  

Rather than get my sewing machine put, I opted to stick one ear piece in white felt to the corresponding black piece, times two. I stuck the wadding balls to the white circle and stuck the circle to the alice band. I stuck the ears either side of the circle and used extra wadding balls to hide the joins.    

The finished outfit. 

  
Little Man doesn’t own any black trousers or long sleeved-tops, so I left the sleeves as they were and put him in an old pair of grey jogging bottoms. The cotton wool didn’t last long, by the time he made his stage debut, there were a few bald patches!

  
There were cotton wool balls scattered around the hall and he left a trail through the car park on our way back to the car. 😳

Mummy and her, somewhat unimpressed, little lamb.  

Lessons learnt:

  • For a more durable costume, it would have been better to sew the cotton wool on. Or, use a fabric glue, perhaps.
  • Using wadding scraps is better than using cheap cotton wool.
  • This is a hot outfit to wear and cotton wool gets everywhere!

Do you have any costume successes or failures you’d like to share?

A cake, a quilt and a yearning for yarn

Back in April, I made my nephew a memory bear and a car-themed birthday cake for his second birthday. Last week, my son turned two; with him also being car-mad, I felt obliged to recreate the car cake for his birthday party at the weekend.

I baked the two sponge cakes to make up the cake on Friday afternoon. However, when I cut into the first one, it was still raw inside. So, at 9pm the night before the party I had to start again, sending my husband out into the dark and cold for more butter. (A week of baking disasters, if you saw my last blog post.) This also left me in the slight predicament on Saturday morning of having a cake to ice whilst looking after a two-year old (my husband had to work). Fortunately, my Mum came to the rescue and took over childcare, leaving me free to ice the cake. Two hours later, it was done. It tasted pretty good, if I do say so myself.  

Now that I’ve finished the baby cardigan I spent aaaaaaaaages knitting, I needed to think about what’s next. My ‘to do’ list is as follows:

  • Knit a second baby cardigan, for a friend who is due next month. Despite having a whole hamper full of wool, I might just pay the haberdashery at John Lewis a visit tomorrow …  
  • Two memory cushions, to accompany the memory quilts I made last year.
  • A quilt from the hay bale covers I made for my friend’s wedding. (I’ve warned her she’s unlikely to see this before her first wedding anniversary!)
  • My hairdresser has commissioned a memory lion made from her baby’s clothes. 

Plenty to be getting on with then 😬

I’ve often wondered what had become of the giraffe quilt I made for my niece. Tonight, I was delighted to receive a photo of my niece with said quilt. It’s helping her keep warm at night. That’s made my day, if not my week! 

  

Five little ducks …

… went swimming one day … onto a cardigan front. I’ve finished the garter stitch cardigan! Cue fanfare …

My fears about the joining together of pieces, weaving in of ends and sewing together of the sleeves and sides were unfounded.  

Next up, the pattern suggested adding a crochet edge, buttons and buttonholes. It’s been a while since I crocheted, so it was lucky that I had my weekly lunchtime pub craft date with ThePolkaDotGiraffe. I was soon on my way.  

This cardigan is intended for a friend’s baby. She is due next week. So, for regular readers, something amazing has happened – I’ve finished something ahead of schedule! She doesn’t know if she’s having a boy or girl, so I needed to choose some unisex buttons. I was going to go for yellow ducks, but then I stumbled across some teal ducks in John Lewis and had to buy them. Anyone who knows me, knows my love of the colour teal. My mother in law calls it ‘Kate’s colour’. So, buttons purchased in ‘my’ colour, I finished the cardigan last night.  

I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve found the pattern (Garter Stitch Cardigan from Lullaby Knits) challenging. I started knitting this in June and have taken several breaks from it, and almost thrown in the towel. I’m glad I persevered and confronted my fear of knitting things that need sewing together.  I may even make another for a friend who is expecting a baby next month. 

From a success to a failure. A colleague recently offered up cooking apples from her garden, and I ended up with a bag of 20 apples. Having made two of my trusty Dorset Apple traybakes (which always go down a treat in the office), I was on the hunt for other apple-based recipes. Apple rose cupcakes were suggested to me, I think these are a bit of a trendy bake at the moment. These are a puff pastry dessert in which very thin slices of apple are rolled to make a rose effect. I made two errors: my puff pastry was too thick and my apple slices weren’t thin enough. They didn’t look too bad before going in the oven.

  
After baking.   

Generously dusted with icing sugar.  

Unfortunately, despite a second stint in the oven, the pastry was still raw in the middle. And the apples were burnt on top. They had to be binned 😢

You win some. You lose some. 

To end on a happier note, the birthday card I made to appear on children’s TV for my son’s birthday made the cut! His card featured on CBeebies today. Whilst my now 2-yr-old was somewhat ambivalent to this momentous occasion, I was beside myself with excitement.  

That’s all from me for now. Do you have a recent success or failure you’d care to share?