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.

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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

 

 

 

 

Westie has a wash

Can’t quite believe that it’s been 6 months since I finished my Westie cross stitch. I never did make a decision about framing him or making him into a cushion. Now that I’m going to be visiting my grandmother – who the cross stitch is for – in a couple of weeks, it was decision time. I opted for framing. But, this meant I needed to give him another press and, possibly a wash.

I found a really useful tutorial on how to wash a cross stitch, here

Before – a bit crumpled and a bit marked from the hoop:  

Into the washing-up bowl: lukewarm water and a little Fairy Liquid, soaked for 15 minutes. I put a little lemon juice on one of the marks before soaking. Note to self: don’t do this in future.  

Onto a white towel, folded in half and then rolled to remove some of the excess water.

  
 

Then onto another white towel and topped with a clean tea towel, pressed with a warm iron until dry.

 
After:  

In the light of day this morning, the lemon juice had left a bit of a mark. But, the framer assures me it won’t be noticeable once it’s mounted and framed properly. Just as well, for the amount it’s costing! Just the 6-8 week wait for the finished frame …

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.

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!

Flagging

I’ve now cut out 419 flags for the bunting for my friend’s wedding. I’m one of her six bridesmaids. Her colour theme is ‘sunset’ and the six of us are all wearing different dresses, two in each colour: coral/orange, fushia and daffodil. I think it’ll look great.

So, I finally got around to using my new toy, the pinking blade I bought for my rotary cutter. Once I was up and running, I was cutting through 4 layers of fabric at a time. So it hasn’t taken me long to do. MUCH quicker than cutting by hand with pinking shears. 

  

I cut the fabric into 8″ strips, then marked the points of the triangles using tailor’s chalk. No messing around with washable fabric pen this time.

 
I switched to a different bunting template, which left me with 419 flags in total, instead of the 426 I’d calculated.

  
Work has stopped while I await the arrival of my ebay bargain – a job lot of 120 metres of bias binding for £10!

So, I’ve done a little on my cross stitch and, today, I’ve started thinking about the rag doll I’m making for my friend’s little girl. Like my pirate rag doll, she will be based on Laura Hunter’s Mollie the Dolly pattern, which was featured in The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon. Having raided my scraps box, I was toying with putting her in a t-shirt and jeans …
  
But having discovered Laura Hunter’s Facebook page, I’m now overwhelmed by possibilities … Pretty dress or ballerina outfit … Decisions, decisions. 

This week, I’ve also finally embraced Instagram. Better late than never, hey?! You can follow me here, I hope.  

I’m playing around with watermarking my photos, having found that some of my photos are coming up in Google image searches now. I know opinions are divided over doing this, but I read a very compelling argument for doing it here.

Back soon!

Friendly frog: back to the ’90s

I needed a small project to work on during my weekly pubcraft trip. With nothing immediately available, I had to raid my sewing box. This is literally a time capsule. I still have the gift tag that came with it:  

It had remained at my parents’ house since I went to uni and only came back into my possession a year or two ago. It probably hadn’t been opened for getting on for 20 years! There’s a few kits in there half completed and some uncompleted ones. Well, I must admit, the box itself is in the loft because it’s past its best (I’m saving it just in case I was ever to have a girl).  

I selected a DMC kit called ‘Friendly frog’.  

It comes with a frame and a frog button.  

Having sorted my threads out over a Coke and bag of crisps at lunchtime, I managed to get started on the half stitches on the train journey home from work.  

My new Frixion highlighter got its first use! But I need a bigger hoop.

Cast your vote …

I need your help to choose between two French knot designs. But, first, Happy Easter! Here’s one I made a lot earlier (circa early 1990s).

My parents are preparing to move nearer to me, and when having a sort out, they came across this and decided to pass it back to me. I can’t remember when I made this for my Dad, but I’m fairly sure it would’ve been when I was at primary school. A loooooooooong time ago!

Right, back to the task at hand. Inspired by the amazing work of Ambrosia Stitches and with a friend’s birthday on the horizon, I decided to have a go at some hand embroidery. Following the Ambrosia Stitches tutorial ‘A project that will make you love French knots’, I was aiming to create something like this, but for the letter ‘L’.

Having consulted my friend on her preferred colours – keeping it vague by saying I was making something for her new home – I decided to go for blues and greens. Two blues, two greens. I ordered some silk noile online, which ended up coming from someone who lives down the road (so to speak), so I’ll save myself the postage in future. My local haberdashery had never heard of silk noile. Neither had I. Thank god for the internet!

It didn’t take me too long to master French knots before I began. That was the easy bit. I’m still not sure what the centre of the letter ‘L’ is. For my first effort, I put off working that out for so long that I ended up with this instead.

  

Not exactly what I was aiming for. I wasn’t happy. So decided to have another go. This time, with a smaller ‘L’. And trying to create more of an ‘explosion’ of French knots, I have this.

  

I’m not 100% happy with that either. So, I need your help! Please comment and let me know which you prefer, or if you have any suggestions (start again?). Pretty please! I’d really appreciate it. Let’s call them Option 1 and Option 2.

  

Look forward to hearing your responses!

***UPDATE*** Well, that was unanimous! Option 1 it is.

28 (and a bit) days later

I set myself the challenge of finishing my Westie cross stitch by the end of Feb. Did I make it? Of course not. But, I was oh so close.

My dedication to the cause was such that, when taking my little man on a trip to a farm on Friday, I took my cross stitch with me ‘just in case’ he fell asleep en route. And he did. So I spent a lovely half an hour cross stitching in my car, with the sun shining through the window. I got a few odd looks from people parking up nearby, but who cares. Must make the most of this precious time. Another plus was that my little man recharged his batteries which meant we could spend longer at the farm.

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I was desperately hoping to finish it at the weekend, but I didn’t quite make it. Very sadly, I had to miss out on a crafternoon due to my husband working, so, on Sunday, I used little man’s nap time to put in a solid hour and a half on the cross stitch. I then worked on it on the train on my way to and from work on Monday, and ‘finished’ it on Monday night. I’ve then spent the next two evenings, and yesterday lunchtime, tidying it up. Tightening loose threads, redoing stitches which had come out and filling in missing stitches. Never will I let a cross stitch get in such a mess again! I will be much more methodical in future, she says hopefully.

Having given it a quick press last night, here it is as of this morning. The finished cross stitch!

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Now, to decide whether to frame it or make it into a cushion …

Other lessons learnt from this are to photocopy the pattern first. This pattern has been well-loved, to say the least. Which made deciphering some of the stitches rather difficult.

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For anyone wondering about the colour-coding, the red is what I’d done when I first started this cross stitch way back when in early 2013, and the green is everything since. I’d hoped to have finished it for my Nan’s birthday in December 2013, but I had my son in October 2013 and that went out the window. I picked it back up in June last year, when it looked like this.

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Since then, I’ve sporadically worked on it around other projects. Then, in January, I set myself the challenge of finishing it by the end of Feb.

I really did start to give up towards the end, hence why my threads are now in a tangled mess like this.

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So, what next? On my ‘to do’ list I have:

  • making something to sell at my work’s Comic Relief Crafternoon stall next Friday. I’m thinking something Mother’s Day-related may be a winner
  • two memory cushions to match the memory quilts I’ve made
  • a poppy tapestry I was hoping to make for my Mum for Mother’s Day, but which I think I’ll now save for her birthday in July
  • a memory bear for my nephew’s 2nd birthday in April
  • bunting for my friend’s wedding in September

Lot’s to do. Better crack on! After having a little rest first, of course.

Keep calm and cross stitch

Family dramas, my husband being away on business and catching up on housework are my excuses for lack of posts and lack of progress on my cross stitch. However, I’ve had a bit of a spurt on it in recent days, which brings me back in the game, so to speak. The game being the challenge I set myself of finishing this cross stitch by the end of the month. Here’s how it’s looking.

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I just might finish it in time. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll be familiar with me missing my self-imposed deadlines. I think I need to take a leaf out of a motto we came up with at work a few years ago: however long you think something will take, times it by 5 and that’s how long it will take. On that basis, I won’t be finished this cross stitch til July though, which even at my slow rate, would be pushing it.

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*Keep Calm photo blatantly stolen from Google images.