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?

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!

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

 

 

 

 

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?

Summer crafternoon

Apologies for my quietness of late. I’ve not had much to report as I’ve been busy beavering away on my friend’s wedding bunting, which hasn’t left time for anything else crafty! But, the end is in sight. Sort of.

On Sunday, a few colleagues (old and current) got together for a crafternoon. We usually only manage about two a year due to everyone’s busy schedules. But this year, there have been two already. The previous one was in March, a Comic Relief Crafternoon (which I missed, sob sob).

Our numbers dwindled from six to four, so there was lots of leftover cake and snacks, which got taken into work on Monday. As usual, we were all working on completely different things.

Emily, pro-crocheter, fixed my little man’s blanket (which had suffered from a run in with a peg and a toddler, no names mentioned …) and worked on her latest commission, a rainbow blanket.

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Maddy made some bracelets. Look at all her lovely beads!

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Lucy worked on a Pocahontas cross stitch, a birthday present for a friend.

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And can you guess what I did? Yes, my trusty sewing machine came along so I could carry on with the bunting. First, I had to sort out this horrid tangle of binding though.

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I really have lost the love for this bunting now. It’s become a real chore. But with 120 metres to do, I suppose that’s bound to happen. (For anyone interested, 120 metres equates to nine and a bit double-decker buses lined up in a row.) I’m going for the little and often approach as it’s so dull, but that means it’s taking aaaaaaages. So, it was nice on Sunday to whizz through some whilst having conversation, company and cake.

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At last count, I had about 130 flags (of 420) left to sew. For my own sanity – and because there’s a few other bits I’d like to make for the wedding (hay bale covers, anyone?) – I’m aiming to have it finished by the end of July. Which doesn’t give me long!

Oh, and for those who’ve hung in there til the bitter end of this post, I have an announcement. My craft time is going to dwindle even less as I’m expecting a baby in January. With a toddler and a newborn, I suspect my ‘me’ AKA ‘craft’ time will be somewhat limited! So I better get cracking, while I still have a little free time.

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. 



Christmas crafternoon!

On Sunday, it was time for our annual Christmas Crafternoon. An excuse for colleagues old and new to get together, wear Christmas jumpers, eat Christmas food and, most importantly, craft. While watching Love Actually, as we do every year. Apologies for the grainy photos, my phone camera doesn’t have a flash. Or take good photos.

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For my friend Emily (ThePolkaDotGiraffe) and I, it was also a precious child-free afternoon where we could craft without interruptions. Emily had a productive afternoon crocheting:

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Lucy, our hostess with the mostest, (who also blogs) worked on a Christmas cross-stitch:

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Clare knitted squares for a baby blanket:

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Maddy made Christmas decorations out of modelling clay. These will go in the oven to harden and then will be ready for the tree. They were so intricate, it was fascinating to watch.

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And I worked on my cross-stitch. When I started this blog back in May in an attempt to motivate myself to finish my unfinished projects, I said I hoped to have this finished for my Nan’s birthday or Christmas. It’s her birthday tomorrow, so as you can see, that’s not going to happen. Maybe next year?

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Anyway, a lovely afternoon was had by all. Roll on next year’s Crafternoons. Let’s hope we can fit in more than two next year.