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.

January-1

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

Feb-1

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.

Mar-1

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.

Apr-1

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.

May-1

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.

Aug-1

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.

Oct-1

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!

Dec-1

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

 

 

 

 

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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?

(Not much) progress update

Now, where did I leave things … I had started knitting the first sleeve of the garter stitch baby cardigan I started back in June. Hence the title of this post 😊.

Well, nearly a month on, I now have two sleeves knitted. So, next up is putting it all together. Gulp. Time to procrastinate – my usual approach when I don’t know what to do next. Oh, and I need to weave in the ends too. Another thing I hate doing!  

So, I’ve started work on a secret project. Also of the knitting variety. I don’t think said recipient reads this blog, but just in case, I shall keep schtum. This is as far as I’ve got. The deadline for this is next Fri, and then I’ll have to return to confronting my cardigan-assembling fears.

  
I’ve also been baking again. My son turns two in a couple of weeks and we’re now at the tail-end of five 2nd-birthday parties in the space of three weeks! Today, he had a joint party with 7 of his friends. Ideal, as we split the cost of hiring a brilliant venue near us called Little Street, which they then had the run of for 90 minutes. It is exactly as it’s named: a little street containing a mini supermarket, beauty salon, cafe, doctor’s surgery, building site, etc., in which the children can play. Anyway, I made the birthday cake for the party, utilising another of the number moulds my mother-in-law bought me. I made a chocolate sponge, iced it with chocolate buttercream and began decorating it with chocolate fingers, Smarties and white chocolate buttons. But, disaster struck. Last night, three packets of chocolate fingers later, I was only two-thirds of the way round the cake. And I was home alone with my son and couldn’t persuade anyone to do a chocolate fingers mercy dash for me. 

  

I bought another three packets this morning and finished it off, using a touch of hot water to melt the icing a bit to make them stick. Voila! I had to cut the chocolate fingers down a bit as my sponge wasn’t very well risen and they looked a bit silly at full height.   

 

As an end note, a friend sent me this earlier, she said it reminded her of me!

  

As an editor, the lower-case ‘I’ very much bothers me, but I like the statement. I’m currently 24 weeks pregnant and feeling the time pressures of finishing up a variety of craft projects before baby no.2 arrives I never have free time again.
 

Knit, knit, slow

It’s slow progress on the knitting front. I started knitting a baby cardigan back in June. I’m undecided yet as to whether it’s for a friend’s baby due in October or another one due in November. Depends how big the October baby is as it’s coming up pretty small …

I got off to a frustrating start when I couldn’t work out how to ‘continue knitting in pattern’. Having put out a cry for help on my local craft group’s Facebook page, I was soon on my way again and finished the back of the cardigan.   

And then knitting got put firmly on the back burner while I was making all things wedding-related for my friend’s wedding.

Now, I’m back on it, I ran into problems again when knitting up the fronts of the cardigan. It was the knitting in pattern again that I struggled with. Even more so the fact that ‘stitches made and lost in the pattern are not included in the stitch count after row 12’. Kept getting my sums wrong and having to unpick and start again. But, I worked it out in the end, and the left front of the cardigan took much less time than the right.   

Today, I’ve started on the sleeves during my weekly Wednesday pubcraft trip with my friend ThePolkaDotGiraffe. We’ve recently changed our choice of pub and the past two weeks people have commented on us knitting in the pub, but not today. Maybe they’re getting used to the sight of two women in their 30s knitting/crocheting over a Coke and some pickled onion Monster Munch 😀

Meanwhile, I’ve also been busy making a birthday card for my little man’s upcoming 2nd birthday. It’s now been sent off to CBeebies (a children’s TV station for non-UK readers) to arrive well within their required deadline (at least a month before the child’s birthday). Only half the cards that get sent in get shown on air, so I don’t rate my chances. Last year, I submitted the card less than a month before his birthday and it didn’t make the cut. That was a much better card too in terms of the efforts that went into it.  😫 This year, I’ve gone down the easy cheat’s route of buying a magazine and cutting out pictures of his characters, rather than creating them myself, as I did last year. Lazy Mummy. However, I did include a door, behind which there is a photo of the man himself. They love a photo hiding behind a flap on CBeebies, so fingers crossed it makes it on TV! I gave Little Man a sneaky peak before it went in the post as the cards don’t get returned. 

  
 
Oh, and I also made some Peppa Pig-themed fairy cakes for a 2nd birthday party last weekend. I’ve saved 12 cake toppers as I have quite a few nieces and nephews who are Peppa Pig fans.   

That’s all from me for now, time to watch The Great British Bake Off and carry on with my knitting …

Aunty Kate’s Big Bake

As I think I mentioned in my last post about making a memory bear for my nephew, his birthday was to be celebrated a week early due to his parents getting married next weekend. His party was today. The invitation contained a plea for ‘star bakers’ to get baking. Not that I consider myself a star baker (remember my recent Donnie Darko scones?), however, I do like to bake, with mixed results. So, naturally, as I like to put myself under extreme pressure, I offered to make the birthday boy’s cake 😁

He’s car mad, so it had to be car-themed. I found this photo on Pinterest which I thought I stood a chance of replicating.

 

I baked the two sponges Friday night. I only have one 8″ cake tin, so I had to bake them one at a time. At 1hr 15 mins baking time, it was a late night. On the plus side, I discovered a new attachment for my Magimix, a dough blade and the sponges rose better than when I’d made them previously. 

Saturday night was decorating night. I trimmed and halved each sponge, then sandwiched with buttercream and jam before coating in apricot jam to help the icing stick.

 

Nice buns?!

Then, the scary bit. Four packs of black ready-to-roll icing later …

 

Dead on my feet, I couldn’t decide whether to plough on with the decorating, or go to bed. I ploughed on until I ran out of icing sugar.

 

Once my little man had gone for his nap today, I was back to it. I couldn’t get the consistency of the icing right and so had to abandon the star shapes for the grass, in favour of just bunging the green icing on.

 

Not a patch on the Pinterest version, but not a failure like my scones! 

Lacking a big enough cake box or cover, I came up with the perfect solution – which fitted the theme perfectly. 

 

(My son’s car storage box.)

The birthday boy seemed happy enough, which makes it all worthwhile.

   

  

All this baking has taken me away from the memory bear. I’ve also had a rethink on the colours and the new colour scheme works much better I think. No teasers, you’ll have to wait to see the finished bear.

(The birthday boy actually turns two on Friday, so I could have a busy few evenings ahead trying to finish the bear.)