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?

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.

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

 

 

 

 

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 …

One year on …

Today marks a year since I started this blog. Happy blogday/blogiversary/whatever you call it to me! I’m pleased I’ve stuck at it. And I thank you for reading. At the end of last year, when everyone was doing ‘end of year’ reviews, I said I’d save mine for when I’d been blogging a year. So, here goes.

I kicked off with two lots of bunting and refashioning an old pair of my husband’s jeans into a toolbelt. 
Meanwhile, I’d continued work on the giraffe cot quilt I’d begun in January 2013 and finally finished it in August. Plus I hosted the first Crafternoon of the year, where I made some baby booties.  
In September, I received my first commission: a boy’s memory quilt. A mishap with my rotary cutter cost me the tip of a finger. But, do not be alarmed, it did grow back!  

Finished the memory quilt and made a Waybuloo-themed birthday card for my son. It didn’t make it on to children’s TV 😦

Started my next commission, a girl’s memory quilt.  
Turned an old babygro into a Chrismas stocking and had our Christmas Crafternoon. 
Finished my second memory quilt and made a calorific salted caramel chocolate torte.  
Back on to birthday presents, this time for my niece’s 3rd birthday.  
March was a productive month (by my standards)!  
As was April …  
And, back to the present:

 

Not too bad for a mum of a toddler who doesn’t have much free time. This blog – and reading others’ – has certainly motivated me to try new things. Perhaps at the expense of not finishing some of my existing UFOs/WIPs …

Looking back, my favourite makes were the giraffe quilt – a labour of love – and the memory bear. I’m particularly proud of those two.

 Thank you for sharing in the past year with me!

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.)

The chicks that were and the mouse that nearly wasn’t – Comic Relief Crafternoon

True to form, I was crafting against the clock this week to have some items ready in time to sell at our office craft stall raising funds for Comic Relief yesterday.  

Having purchased ‘The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon’ magazine, I shortlisted a few crafty ideas. My deciding criteria was things which I could make from what I already had. First up, I decided to have a go at making a mouse or two.



I dutifully interfaced my fabric and cut out my pattern pieces.



I assumed this was a sewing machine job, so started assembling the mouse using my machine. This soon became quite fiddly and I had to do some bits by hand. Shame my hand-stitching skills are very poor. To do the seams, I had a go at back stitching by hand. Whilst in my Sewing Bee book, it says that back stitching doesn’t look as neat on one side as the other, mine was really messy on the back. Need more practice, although sewing machines are for seams, in my book. 

After two evenings’ work, by close of play on Wednesday, I had a mouse with no eyes, nose or mouth and no clothes either. This left me Thursday afternoon’s nap time and Thursday evening to make some felt chicks, finish my mouse and make it some clothes. 

I prioritised making the felt chicks, as these would be much quicker to make. 



More hand stitching required. This time, I had to master blanket stitch, which, fortunately, I picked up quickly. Having made two chicks during my little man’s nap, I decided we should take a trip to B&Q to get some wire and wire cutters to make the legs. The jewellery wire I’d bought for the legs was much too thin. I then managed to whip up another two chicks while he was playing/getting every single toy he owns out and throwing them all around the room.

Once my little man was tucked up in bed for the night, I spent wasted an hour attempting to make a dress for the mouse. It didn’t fit, was mostly too fiddly to do by machine which meant it took me eons to sew by hand. An hour later, I was ready to throw the mouse  out the window or in the bin. Once I set my mind on doing something, I don’t like being defeated! Anyway, I decided to refocus my attention on the chicks, first having a go at making some legs for the ones I’d made earlier. They didn’t take long to make, so I decided having legs was a goer. I sewed up another 4 chicks and added legs to 8 of my 10 chicks, leaving two without wire in case anyone wanted them for little ones. 

Friday morning, still reluctant to give her up for good, I thought I’d try finishing the mouse. I added a bead for her nose and stitched on two eyes and a mouth. Then I tried making a different dress for her. Despite taking far more than the ‘few minutes’ promised in the magazine, this worked out better than the last dress. Not having any poppers, I went for the Elizabeth Hurley look – safety pins!!

Here’s how she looked before clothes. Avert your eyes if easily offended. She’s not shy.



And here’s her modelling ‘that’ Elizabeth-Hurley style dress.





Off we drove to my office in Reading, where we dropped the chicks and mouse off to join the other crafty goodies on sale. 



Being photobombed by our Design team.



Note: These photos were taken about 11:30 so don’t show everything that was available in the beginning. 

These decorations were made at our Christmas Crafternoon by the talented Maddy. I bought a squirrel and a rabbit/hare, which are now adorning my Welsh dresser. I don’t think they’re too Christmassy so can get away with it.



Our Marketing Manager and family welcomed a baby girl this week, so everyone clubbed together to buy a crochet blanket for the new arrival. What a lucky girl to receive this beautiful creation!





And the grand total raised for Comic Relief is £150, with more still to come! We are blown away as we were only expecting to raise a fraction of that. Having blubbed my way through the Comic Relief TV coverage last night, it’s nice to know that our crafting has contributed towards such a good cause.