Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Reasons to be cheerful...

I was up way past my bedtime last night as I took my 2 eldest girls to Milton Keynes theatre to see Wicked. And it was!  It was brilliant, an excellent show. We all enjoyed it immensely and I loved being out with my big girls. They are at an age now where it is like more of an adult outing, and they are such lovely company. There are lots of things that cheer me through the days of my life, from big (expensive) things like theatre visits to much smaller, everyday things. I'd like to share some here with you on this gorgeous sunny day.

The start of yet another project. That makes 10 things I have on the go. Yes 10!! Oh my! They are a mix of quilting and crochet, all at different stages. Some dating back a long time, others are just babies. Oh who cares? It makes me happy....

A sweet book I picked up in Oxfam on a recent visit to Bristol. Hubby and me had gone down to see Del Amitri in concert and had stayed the night in a hotel. We had a really good time despite the awful weather. I really like Bristol - it seems like a very interesting city and worth more of an explore at some point in the future. And of course seeing my beloved Justin performing with his old band and obviously having a blast was just perfectly amazingly wonderful!!!

Here are some pages, just because it's such a pretty book:

I would love to be able to paint like this...

It felt so good to be able to hang some washing out this morning with a reasonable chance it will dry (see I told you small things make me happy) While I was in the garden I noticed these pretties basking in the morning sun and it made my heart do a little leap of joy. Crocuses, yes? I think so :0)

And my potted hellebore. Doing surprisingly well considering the total lack of attention it (and the rest of the garden) has had.  I'm such a fair-weather gardener, but if we are to be having some fair-weather I will have to be out in the garden more for a good tidy up.

My favourite mugs to have my tea in. They are always stacked like that in my overcrowded kitchen cupboard. I love the colours together.

My cross stitch is near completion and it does mean there is a good chance the gift will be finished in time (fingers crossed). I feel chuffed with my first major cross stitch project.

I will end with one of my WIP that has been hanging around for forever. I spread it out on the carpet yesterday and thought "yep, time to get this finished" 

Well you know not everything is rosy, but I'm determined to concentrate on the goods things - there certainly are plenty of reasons to be cheerful!

Thanks for the hang-out my friends

'till next time...


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Summer Skirt

I have wanted to make this sort of style of skirt for a while. Last summer I found some fabric suitable at a fabric sale that pops up from time to time at the corn exchange in town.

My motivation to get it made has come partly from the start of the new series of 'The Great British Sewing Bee', and more so from the fact that I bought a new Cath Kidston skirt in the exact style I wanted so was able to rip-off the pattern so I could reproduce the skirt again (and hopefully again) in my choice of fabric.

The first hurdle was to do the shearing elastic:

Much, much easier than I thought! Just hand wind the shearing elastic around the machine bobbin quite tightly, pop in machine as usual and start sewing. I can't tell you how surprised I was that this actually worked!

I gathered the skirt back on (just a rectangle piece) to give a bit more fullness than the elasticated section was giving, but my gathering is a bit un-even and it's fuller on one side than the other. Poop.

The front skirt (again a rectangle) is gathered onto a interfaced front waistband, and...

... the most complicated part of the pattern is the side pockets. But they aren't that complicated at all really.

I did make this for myself but daughter no. 1 has her eye on it (which surprised me as her normal attire is tight jeans, Doc Martins, a big metal belt and what she calls 'ugly' jumpers. All with heavy black eyeliner and jet black hair - she's got a great rock chic look going on) 

But if she likes it, I might let her have it.

Many thanks to my very svelte mannequin for modelling again today. I have had to pin the skirt in to make it look like it fits her - I can only wish I was as tiny!!

Linking up with Chrissie :0)

'till next time...


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Calming Cushion

Hello Lovelies, how are you today?  It's the school half term here and I am trying very hard to keep my chin up. Yes, bit of a negative start to this week off, so I am going to have a good old go at turning things around to more of a positive slant as I don't like it when things are not harmonious.

I generally love the busyness of our house. With the 6 of us here there are always lots of things to do, stuff going on, mess everywhere and plenty of comings and goings and that is how it is. And I love it.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I do seek a little sanctuary.  Taking myself off to my bedroom, away from the TV, the toys and the hustle and bustle is good for my soul. I like to 'tidy my bedroom' (I wish others did too) and to prettify it. My four star quilt still lives on my bed and it makes making the bed a pleasure so I can smooth it over and admire it's loveliness. I have a crochet throw in mind that I would like to make to go at the end of the bed to add a layered look, and a few cushions added in would be good.

So in an attempt to clear the decks of all the WIP's I have (the resolution itself is still a work in progress!) a few weeks back I picked up a little project that I had barely started. I had made one square of this, so does that count as a project in progress, or just a 'work just started' WJS? Well either way I was quite motivated to carry on and I really enjoyed making this pattern, it really is lovely to crochet. (So why didn't I finish it at the time? I don't know...)

You may recognise it as the 'something pretty' pattern. I have seen it around a lot and it really sings out to me, it is something of a classic. I had these jades and aqua colours in mind, and just wanted to give it a go.

The front of my cushion here is made up of the gorgeous puffy circles. It is very tactile, the puffs stand out well.

The back squares were made the same except I replaced the puff (or popcorn) stitches with a 3 treble cluster stitch. A nice little square.

The front

The back (I like this side just as much as the front)

Button opening.

The one square and 5 balls of yarn had stared at me for so long it's almost weird that now it's done! I love this pattern so much, I will use it again.

Here's the link to my Ravelry page for yarn details if you're interested. When I put photos of this on Instagram there were lots of comments that the colours were calming - hence the name, and of course why it lives in my bedroom. So I can calm myself down away from the maniacs that rule my life!!

I love 'em all really :0)

have a great day!!

'till next time...

EDIT: After a request for info on how I finished this cushion off I'm just adding on a few instructions. As I said the front square and the joining method is from Mille Makes here. I have written out the pattern with a few photos for the back square which I have named 'Pretty Flower Granny Square' and you can find it here. The back squares were joined using the same method as the front.
Once all the squares were joined I made one row all around in dc in each stitch (1dc, 1ch, 1dc in corners) I then did a second round using 1tr in each stitch (3tr in corners) This is the same front and back. 
To join the pieces together I held them wrong sides facing and starting 10 stitches before a corner. I made 1dc in each stitch going through both layers of the front and the back, (I didn't do any extra stitches in the corners on this round) continuing around and finishing 10 stitches past the fourth corner. This meant I had 3 sides completely joined and one side with an opening. Then using a darning needle and matching thread I made the button loops on the front cushion opening edge, big enough for the buttons I was using and spaced evenly. I hope these photos of a sample illustrate how I did it as I'm having trouble trying to put it into words!

A test piece and obviously using the pink yarn is just so you can see easily how I made the loops. I went over twice so the loop is actually made up of 2 strands.
 Hopefully you can see I made the loop over 3 stitches,  but it would depend on how big your buttons are to how many stitches you need. The buttons I used are 1.4cm.

I then go back over this edge with 1dc in each stitch and 3 dc in each loop. I then continued along the edge of the back piece in the same way but without the button loops. Weave in ends securely, including the ones from the button loops. Stitch on buttons to the edge of the back piece, matching the position of the loops on the front.
So I realise this isn't the best of tutorials as I have written this out well after finishing off the cushion! If I'm honest I wasn't expecting anyone to want more details!! I hope it's enough to understand if you are trying to make a cushion.

Good luck!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Still Cross Stitching

I'm back a bit quick after only posting yesterday but I meant to include my cross stitch update and forgot - I know, if I had a brain I would be dangerous!

Anyway, not much stitching has occurred over the last bit due to my babe being unwell but I hope to catch up this coming week...

Here's my progress...

I've added some super cute butterflies...

and the swag at the bottom with a row of kisses.

So this is where I'm up to. I have learnt that once finished you are supposed to wash your sampler - that seems a very scary prospect to me!! However it should help get rid of all those horrid creases.

Still loads to do on this and my deadline is approaching fast...

Have a happy Sunday,

'till next time...

PS: I ordered the kit from HERE

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Never too late...

WELL, I was going to do a hearts and flowers post for Valentines day but it didn't happen because I had a poorly baby to care for and my hands were full!! My little might has been unwell since Tuesday and it's been a hard week, she was needy and clingy and just wanted to be cuddled. Well I'm more than happy to do the cuddling part but I was worried for her as she really was so out of sorts :o(  I even had to take a day off work to care for her, something that I hate to do because I take my responsibility for my job seriously and I felt quite stressed to let them down (on valentines day too when I was down to do weddings at a couple of our out-stations!)

Anyway I'm happy to report that littlely is on the mend and I did work today while Nanny looked after my baby. By the way did you catch the ITV documentary Birth, Deaths and Marriages? (It may be still available on itvplayer), it's a fly-on-the-wall about the Westminster register office in London and all the goings on. You may or may not know but that is what I do for a living (although not in Westminster) so it really was like watching a day in the office for me!

But you know I can't live without a crochet fix these days so here are my hearts and flowers to all you lovelies so show you how much I care, aaawwwwww shucks...

my very cheap potted tulips courtesy of Aldi

my Lucy Heart Wreath - pattern is featured in Simply Crochet issue 15. Wonky flowers and blurred photo - all indications of a hard week!

A naughty purchase for above wreath - loads left for mandalas and potholders I think :0)

Some very yummy chocolates I made for my husband for Valentines. Luckily a very easy recipe courtesy of Chrissie, thank you for publishing this my love, they really are very delicious!

Pretty Hyacinths also from Aldi.

So my friends, I hope it's not too late to say thanks for your visits, your comments and your fab tutorials, recipes and crafty inspiration that you share!

much love, 'till next time...

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Cross Stitch Update

Here is how much I've done on my cross stitch sampler:

I'm loving the heart flowers - they look like lollipops, don't you think?

and they little birdies are cute too :o)

There is still quite a few elements to stitch before the border, I'll keep at it!

'till next time...

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Cross Stitch Marathon

I have embarked on a cross stitch sampler which is intended as a gift. For a special occasion. This means I have a deadline....

While waiting for the kit to arrive I decided to practise my stitching skills on a quick little chart I found free on the net.

Oh how I love this cute bunny!! She is sooo sweet. I don't know if you can see a slight grey circle around the design? This is where I got excited as soon as I'd finished stitching and tried to force it into a flexi - ring thing. The aida is too thick so it wouldn't go but annoyingly left a dirty mark instead. Grrr.

I picked up this shabby-chic frame in the sale today for £4 and I think it just about hides the mark (as well as being perfect for display), so disaster averted :0)

But you know my bunny wasn't quick to do. Oh no, in the end she took me ages and when my sampler kit arrived and it dawned on me how much work there is involved my heart sank and I got a sickie feeling in my stomach. Will it be finished in time? We will have to see. This is where I'm up to so far:

I'm really loving the design, and I'm quite hooked on doing it - I certainly loose myself in the 'flow' while stitching (and I loose track of time). I think there will be a few late nights to get it done in time though...

Otherwise, I have managed to finish a few WIP's, keeping to one of my new year resolutions :0)

With this I was just experimenting with yarn and pattern, not a particular project as such, just playing. I like the gingham design (I have done this before see here) and I had some cheap yarn that I thought would work well with the colour combination - Drops Cotton Light, and Sirdar Snuggly Baby Cotton DK for the palest blue. It had to be finished though and without wanting a big blanket commitment I decided a tea-towel type thing would be good.

At least I can say that's another WIP finished! 
How are you getting on with new year resolutions? Did you make any at all?
My cupboard sorting has ground to a halt because of the cross stitch, but hey I don't mind really  - I'll get there in the end, both with the tidy cupboards and a completed sampler (I hope)

'till next time...

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Giant Granny Square for our Sofa

When I was at work yesterday, up at a local hotel to register the wedding I got chatting to the photographer (well you know what? I waved over to him because I thought he was someone else. As he walked over to me and kinda came into focus I realised he wasn't who I thought he was. Rather embarrassingly I admitted this to him and luckily he wasn't offended. I need to go for an eye-test)  He  proudly showed off his new camera to us and explained how it worked and all the advantages it offered. I was very interested in what he was saying, although not quite understanding the technical terminology. Nevertheless, I remembered the make of camera he was using and looked it up on the net when I got home. I am dreaming of a new camera for myself but with the price of a decent one it will have to wait, doesn't mean I can't do research though!

The reason photography is at the fore of my mind this morning is because I have been taking a few pics of my giant granny square blanket that was finished this week. I had already taken some photos in the week but I wasn't happy with them, so I took some more this morning. To be quite honest I'm not that happy with them either but they will have to do! Now don't blame your tools for the bad photos I hear you say, but it does seem you can get better results with better equipment. I spend ages making my stuff which I love so much and it is great to be able to document them here on this blog. For others to be interested and inspired by my crafting antics is pure cherry on the cake stuff!!

Family pictures are important to take and keep too. Seeing the children everyday means you don't really notice them changing and growing - but then you look back at the photographs of them you can see how different they were say six months ago. I am the sort that gets family pictures developed as well as storing on the computer hard drive. This means we sometimes go through the photograph basket and we all laugh so much at the older pictures (or groan at pictures of ourselves - me)

Anyhoo, here is my blanket:

It starts with unabashed yarn love. Rico Design essentials soft merino aran in colours 012, 015, 026, 050, 010, 042. I chose the greens to blend with the colours of my living room and added the pinks and purple for a shot of pretty colour. The steel blue crept in just because I liked it there.

Back to basics here. No fancy pattern, just simple granny square, easy mindless crochet. Perfect to do after a busy day at work. The tonic that is enjoying making those treble crochet stitches with the gorgeous yarn - a pure pleasure!

I didn't have the usual boredom stage on this project, it was so enjoyable to make. When it was time for the border I just made it up as I went, enjoying the flow and feeling very happy with outcome.

Super quick to make with the aran weight yarn and very wooly and thick and snuggly!!

I made this to live on our sofa and to be used to keep warm with. In the cold mornings I fold it diagonally and wrap it around me like a shawl, oh I love that :o) 

I'm champing at the bit to get started on my Nordic Shawl. I have picked up on 'Nordic Shawl Mania' through the blogs I read and the Instagrammers I follow and I don't want to be left behind! However there are other things that need doing first so I will have to resist for a bit longer.

Going back to the subject of photos / pictures. I personally love to scroll through lots of crochet pictures and so naturally I want to have good ones here. Any tips and advice would be welcome.

'till next time...