Monday, 30 June 2014

Blog Hop!

Hello all! today I'm here to do my blog hop post and thank you to my lovely friend Sandra for inviting me. You must know Sandra cherry heart and her gorgeous blog, full of the prettiest crochet and patchwork crafting. I really admire Sandra's work and her blog has been one of my favourites since I first discovered the whole world of blogging.

So the idea behind this blog hop is to answer 3 questions, and also to introduce you onto other blogs that I'm sure you'll enjoy. So first up is the questions:

What am I working on?

As usual I am working on a few things all at once. Sometimes having many things on the go can leave me feeling confused and overwhelmed but I doubt I will change and concentrate on only one thing at a time. I have just finished my knitted Roxy cardigan and feel very pleased that I have completed a knitted garment for myself. It has been a challenge but very enjoyable. I have learnt a lot about knitting and techniques for finishing off the garment. It didn't come out quite as expected but it is certainly a case of learning by your mistakes. Onwards and upwards with the knitting projects I go!

I also have my 'Happiness on a Rainy Day Quilt' on the machine right now. I am quite giddy with sewing pleasure as I make these pretty blocks up, they are so much fun to sew and I'm really enjoying this patchwork project.

Crochet wise I am on a cotton blanket called 'Jewels in the Snow' and is my version of this gorgeous creation. I intend to make this fairly large and really should set myself a target to do some of these little beauties each day.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I'm not sure about this. I don't really compare as it's my nature to think everyone is doing better / nicer things than me. So instead I just carry on doing what I like and if others like it too then that's great! I make for my own pleasure and I don't worry if I am being original or not as that's not what it's about for me.

Why do I create what I do?    

Because I have to and need to. I genuinely feel sad if I don't get any creative time. My creative outlet is crochet, sewing, some knitting and card-making and I find doing these things immensely therapeutic and soul-nourishing. My husband needs to do his music in the same way so we always respect the others need for time and share our parenting duties so we both can be free to do our own things sometimes. Being able to create and make is my life blood so is essential for my well being. There is no other way to explain it other than I enjoy it so much and would feel half of me if I wasn't able to pursue my hobby anymore.

How does your creating process work?   

Inspiration can come from anywhere but I often find the time between being asleep and waking up fully is when I get my best ideas. Sometimes I will make from a pattern just for the pleasure of sewing or hooking. Other times I will make a mess playing with lots of things, putting together my own ideas to see what works. I always get excited and start things with total focus, then there is usually the boredom stage where I have to kinda force my way on with the project and thats when doubts about how good the thing is creep in. But as I get to the end I usually enjoy the sense of satisfaction and often feel relief that I have finished something off properly. I can't deny I will see something someone else has done and like it but will want to take it and put my own spin on it maybe, to make it my own (do I now sound like a judge from the Xfactor or something?)

So there you are, now it's time for me to pass on the baton, and for you to hop on over to 2 more fantastic blogs. First is Maria at Dinky Dots Craft. I have followed Maria for some time and I love  her friendly way of writing and pretty crafting style. This is her waterlily blanket that I adore. She often leaves comments here and I like to comment back to her and although I have never met her, she comes across as a really lovely person.
Here is her introduction:

I've always loved making and creating, and I dabble in a variety of crafts.  My blog is a diary of all the pretty and creative things in my life.  I share the things I've made (or are working on), home improvements, and any other bits and bobs which take my fancy!  Blogging is a great way to share ideas and inspiration with others.  It always puts a big smile on my face to think that people are reading my posts and are interested in my crafty nonsense!

Secondly is Claire form Mrs Brown Makes. This is a 'new to me' blog and so I have spent some very enjoyable time going through Claire's posts. She has a lovely hexagon blanket on the go and her Martha's ripple blanket is a truly gorgeous ripple and one I might like to copy one day...
This is what Claire says about her blog:

Since learning to crochet just over 2yrs ago, my projects now seems to occupy most of the nooks and crannies in the small Victorian terrace I share with my husband, our three girls and the cat. My blog gives me a little extra space to organise all these things, pass on the things I’ve learnt and share the things I love to make. I’ve been known to do the odd craft fair and have a very soft spot for vintage fabric too. 

I hope you have enjoyed, and continue to enjoy hopping from blog to blog,
'till next time...

PS Don't forget I'm back tomorrow to announce the winner of my giveaway!! 3 posts in 3 days - get me :o)

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Floral Peasant Blouse

Good morning all you lovelies, thank you so much for your words of encouragement and support about my Roxy cardigan. The general consensus is that the problem with my cardi is the sizing and the type of yarn I used. Thank you to Jo for sharing the tip of keeping a good fitting item of knitwear to compare size with and also for the tip about making a size smaller than you might usually wear. I will bear this in mind for future.
The bamboo yarn I used is prone to be loose a drapy so that added to the bagginess of the garment. It's a shame as it is a lovely yarn, the colour and texture are to my liking. It's good to learn about these things though.

However the chaps who run the Ying and Yang department have been at work for me as it seems that for every project that has not worked out quite as you would've liked, there is the balance of the project that has worked out even better than expected!

And I made this on a whim as well.

So yesterday, my mother-in-law had thoughtfully offered to mind my smallest children so I could crack on getting organised for the BIG PARTY today. I was rushing around cleaning the house (I could do this forever and still not get it finished - my biggest WIP) and I also took the opportunity to nip to the local fabric store to pick up some fabric I need to make a blouse for my daughter's prom - more of that to come. And then I spied this:

This gorgeous, soft, beautifully printed fabric! I knew exactly what I wanted to make from it and bought 90cm as the print is in panels and that is what one and a half panels measured. It's priced at £6.75 per meter so you can work out the maths if you want, I just know my new blouse cost very little :o)

I was so excited about this fabric I could not wait to make it up, and really wanted to wear it today for my little ones birthday. It is quick and easy to make, and I was fairly organised regarding party prep, so I though what the heck? and before I knew it I had cut out my front, back and 2 sleeves!
I have used this tutorial to make my peasant blouse pattern, only 2 pattern pieces. It's the same as the one mentioned in my last post, but for this one I shortened the sleeve slightly.

You may or may not know I worked as a pattern cutter in a former life so you may assume that I would find any pattern making easy. Well I can assure you this tutorial is very good and simple to follow so even I can do it :o)

Usually when I rush into projects things go horribly wrong but Ying and Yang were looking after me and everything was plain sailing. Even the tension on my overlocker was spot on first time. Me and my overlocker go back a long way and have a love/hate relationship. I don't think in all the time we have known each other I have ever had such perfect tension. Overlocker must love this fabric just as much as I do!!

My tip is to play around with the elastic at the neck. Too loose and and your blouse will look like a hospital gown. Make sure it's pulled up enough to give an 'attractive' neckline.

I can't tell you how happy I am with this blouse. The fabric is so soft and I love the bright colours of the prints. It's so summery and holidayish.

I am a very happy bunny that this has worked out. Even better than I envisaged. I'm off for my shower and then to get on with the party stuff. The sun is shining and so I hope it stays nice and we can play in the garden and eat outside. I think my blouse will be cool to wear, which will be perfect for today.

'till next time...

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Roxy Cardigan

I started this knitting project with so much optimism, enthusiasm and determination. I was sure I could make it if I put my mind to it, I just needed to try.

Knitting not being my best skill I was a little apprehensive but figured if I was ever going to improve I needed to practice and get on with it, and learn as I went. This pattern is Roxy by Lesley Arnold-Hopkins featured in Issue 58 of Let's Knit magazine, 

I like the shape and thought it would be a fairly easy garment to start off with (it has no sleeves for heavens sake!). I wanted it to go with my cherry skirt and found the green bamboo yarn online at an incredibly low price of £1.99 per 50g (Sirdar Flirt shade 231).

So off I went. I made my tension square and it was spot on first time - great. I cast on. It was slow going but that was ok. Each time I encountered a stage I hadn't done before (sewing shoulder seams, picking up stitches around armholes and neck edge) I would consult the ever generous youtube for help and I also used the mini videos that Deramores have on their site. They haven't asked me to promote them at all, I just found them really useful. It was good to watch how the lady held her yarn / needles and I like the music too :o)

Picking up the stitches all around the front and neck edge was certainly the most difficult part and I did pull the first attempt out as I had not distributed the stitches evenly enough. Second time around though I thought I got it about right and I also found a good youtube vid for the buttonholes and was satisfied with the result. 

I adore these buttons, very vintage!

But I'm not happy. No I'm afraid not. I'm happy I've finished this cardigan, and for the most I really like it. The colour is gorgeous and just what I wanted. The fabric feels soft and and nice to wear. The fit is perfect at the top but somewhere along the line I have stretched (not intentionally of course) the rib hem and it's left it being a rather shapeless garment instead of the cute cardi I thought it would be.

It is too box like. Shapeless really.

Here I've pulled it in at the back to try to make it look more like it should.

It doesn't look right with my cherry skirt at all and I have been feeling quite depressed about it. Yesterday however I made this pretty peasant blouse that has been on my bucket list for a while and my Roxy cardi goes surprisingly well with it. Here I am wearing it with my jeans and thinking it wasn't as much of a disaster as I had initially thought.

Although my little one pointed at me wearing my ensemble and said "like Grandpa". There are two things I thought about this comment. Firstly, that is very astute for a very nearly 2 year old and secondly, how bloody insulting!!!

I actually went out like this in public. Yes I did. I don't think anyone took much notice and I certainly didn't see people pointing at me and sniggering behind cupped hands, but I didn't feel fabulous or cool or stylish. I felt I was wearing my gardening clothes.

I'm not sure what the problem is or where I have gone wrong. The bust comes out at the correct measurement according to the size chart. I used smaller needles to knit the rib and a bigger size needle for the main body. I must've stretched the rib when I was blocking it and there seems no going back now. Any advice on washing it and maybe putting it in the tumble dryer to shrink it a bit?

I am determined not to be put off knitting though and have some ideas for more knitty makes, but I can't hide my disappointment at this failure cardigan and wish I could be typing the words "I really love how this has turned out". But, just as my beloved Justin would sing - there is no such thing as a waste of time and I have definitely learnt a lot from making this.

Ah well, never mind.

On another note can I say hello to all my new visitors that have come my way thanks to my Deramores win and more recently to Sandra's link to me on her blog hop post (thank you S). I am due to do my post on Monday but have yet to find anyone to pass the baton onto. If you fancy volunteering, leave a comment with your blog address and I will link to your site.
I've also had loads of entries for my giveaway as well, good luck to everyone who has left a comment or sent me an email, I'm drawing the winning name out of the hat on Tuesday 1st July

'till next time...


Sunday, 22 June 2014

How does your garden grow?

It's just occurred to me that it's a week before my youngest daughters second birthday, so I am compiling a 'list of things to do' to prepare for her party. Just a small garden get together for family. The Peppa Pig bouncy castle (WITH SLIDE) has been ordered and the invites I made using pages from a Peppa Pig comic to make the envelopes were sent out a few weeks ago. Why I didn't take photos of them to show you here I don't know. They turned out really well but it didn't occur to me until after I had popped them into the letter box :o)

I will bake during this week and freeze if necessary. I like to get as much done in advance as possible, I have hosted many children's parties over the years and have learnt the hard way not to leave everything to the last minute! I want to search the Mary Berry tip of making sandwiches the day before and storing them (I think) wrapped in a damp, clean tea-towel and cling-film in the fridge. Like I said I need to see if I can find this on the net somewhere, I saw her demonstrating the time-saving idea on her show a month or so ago. If any of you saw it too let me know what I need to do please?

For now though I need to get the garden tidied up (with my son and his friend playing football out there and decapitating some of my flowers I have a job turning the site of destruction around, GRRR)
However, I have just planted a new clematis 'Mayleen' this morning which I intend to grow up my crochet trellis, made by my lovely talented niece.

She makes these with garden twine in various colours and patterns and sells them through her Etsy shop. I picked this one up from her when we visited a few weeks ago but I'm thinking I could do with a couple more to continue along the fence.

Mayleen needs to do a bit of growing before she reaches her trellis to cling to, but it won't take long now she's in the earth. She'll soon be entwining herself around the crochet and hopefully I will have flowers - if not this year but next!

I'm hoping you will fancy having crochet trellis in your garden too and hop on over to Seren's Etsy shop to order some for your garden and help her business grow. She also has some crochet planters, hanging baskets, coasters and butterfly design trellis.

'till next time...

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Winning and Giving

So hello my lovelies, how are you?

Did you guess what was in the box?

If you said it was my husband, all ready to jump out semi-clad as an early birthday surprise for me you'd be right! 
Wait! no, not really :o)
Of course you all guessed right - my prize from Deramores!!!!


This is what I won for winning the Deramores 'best undiscovered crochet blog 2014' award, and what an amazing prize!
I am very sorry to tease you and I apologise for taking a while to share with you my loot but there is a good reason for the delay which I will explain later and once you know what it is I'm sure you will let me off!

So what exactly was in the big box? Do you wanna see?

LOADS of yarn!!! Loads of it! A few other goodies too, let me show you...

Some gorgeous scarlet Sirdar cotton yarn. Various colours of chunky Vanna's Choice - have wanted to try this out. Some stunning Maxi Wool by Erika Knight with a corresponding crochet jumper pattern and a Deramores baby colour pack.

Seven balls of Deramores Vintage Chunky - love the colours of this yarn, another I have wanted to try out for ages. And some Natura Cotton in beautiful candy colours to die for. Six balls of Rico Design creative cotton in turquoise, and wow look - some Rowan soft knit cotton in shade 581 which is a lovely teal colour - right up my street!!!

A whole load of Stylecraft special dk - a Lucy colour pack. Can't wait to make a ripple blanket maybe from this?

As well as all this yarn they sent patterns and books too...

...and a fantastic set of gold crochet hooks!

The Arne and Carlos book 'Knit and Crochet Garden' is beautiful. The photography is stunning in itself - even before you consider the wonderful projects in the book! I am happy just to sit and flick through, an absolute delight to my eyes.

And one more thing - a superb red bag! I didn't even know Deramores sold bags to be honest, but this is a fabulous Namaste bag and I love it!

So aren't I lucky? You should have seen me when this box arrived - I was so excited just like my 7year old self at Christmas time. Now don't you worry, I certainly will put this lot to good use, and of course will show you what I make with it.

But do you think I am going to be greedy and keep it all for myself?

No way!

I'm going to do a give-away, yay!

So for you lovely, lovely lot I wanted to give away some of the yarn but I also wanted to include a hand-made gift as well, hence the delay. I have been busy (around work and all the other boring things that get in the way of fun) making a cushion using the new square motif I have created for my cushion collection that is ready to show you soon.

This one is using acrylic yarn and is in bright, fun colours with white to join.

I've made this with a fabric back in a cute rosy print with red polka-dot buttons to finish it off!

So along with the cushion cover (not the pad though) I will give-away this selection of Deramores Baby dk yarn in colours denim blue, sky blue, deramores pink, apple green, blossom pink, primrose yellow and snow white. This is the yarn and colours I used to make my daughters magic hexagon blanket that was part of my competition entry, so I thought it would tie in nice and neatly.

So if you would like to win the cushion cover and yarn pack please leave a comment. I will use the 'pull a name out of the hat' method to pick the winner and if you do have trouble leaving a comment with Disque then I will accept email entries to as long as the words 'betsymakes June 2014 give-away' are in the subject field of the email.

So just to confirm the give-away is the seven balls of yarn and the cushion cover (I scoffed the yummy chocolate biscuit made by my lovely daughter #1. I will send to anywhere in the world and I will do the draw in 2 weeks time on Tuesday 1st July 2014

Good luck everyone!!

'till next time...

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Hey Mr Postman!

Well hello there! Hope you are all well.

Thank you Carole for leaving a comment and letting me know what my cute flowers are called: mesembryanthemums!!

They really do open up in the sunshine and then close up again when it gets shady or dark. It's quite funny to watch them, it's almost like they're playing peek-a-boo! (although in slow time )

Our postie was very busy yesterday, and arrived in the morning with some treasures from overseas:
Here is my eldest with her new Gerard Way T-shirt that was ordered from the states (please Mum, please, please, please... I will give you the money if you do it on your Paypal account. Pleaseeeee?)

Who is Gerard Way you may ask? I had to. Something to do with the band My Chemical Romance. I hope I've remembered that right... or is it Panic at the Disco? 

Anyway.... the other treasure that arrived yesterday was from Australia. From the lovely and kind Joy of Joyjinks blog.

Isn't this the cutest mandala? I absolutely love the colours Joy has used to make this for me. So pretty, and so kind of her to take the trouble. 
Here is the handmade card that came with my gift:

Some gorgeous Japanese cotton stitched to a card. Such a simply but beautifully effective idea.
Joy sent me this after I had made her a gift for her birthday. Well Joy, it's my birthday this Saturday so your timing is spot on!

And on the subject of gifts from far and wide I want to share with you some lovely bits that were sent to me by Stephanie who had won the giveaway I held a while back. It's probably a bit remiss of me not to have shared them with you at the time, but better late than never!

A sweet make-up bag, some cute crochet flowers, buttons and hair slides and the funniest monkey tape measure!

I do have to keep him away from my little one as she loves him and will play with him for ages, pulling the tape out and pressing the button to reel it back in. But I worry she might break him so he's hidden when her back is turned.

Thank you Stephanie for your lovely gifts!

But back to yesterday. Another mysterious box arrived mid afternoon.....

Have you any idea what it might contain? I bet you can guess!

I will reveal all soon...

'till next time...


Sunday, 8 June 2014

Sunday Stills

Having a post title of 'Sunday Stills' is great for having the opportunity to show a free range of pictures to cover what I've been up to this week.
I had lots of emails from Bloglovin' telling me I have new followers - welcome to you all, and also those of you who are new here via other methods.
And hello to all my friends who've been around for longer, I'm so happy you've stopped by :0)

Not much crochet has occurred this week unfortunately (but I have achieved in other areas so that's okay) My cushion collection hasn't moved on at all but I have been working on the pattern for the square of the above cushion front. It's just my own collection of stitches but I do think it works quite well and this one is certainly my favourite front out of the bunch.
So I will be able to share the pattern and chart soon with you all.

It is a gloriously sunny day here today and I'm loving the blooms in my hanging basket, vibrant in the sunlight! Could anyone tell me the name of the pink flowers in the first picture? I bought them from Aldi and didn't save the label.

I also couldn't resist the peonies for sale when I went shopping. I have noticed quite a few of these plants in the front gardens I nose into along my travels, but could not bring to mind the name - it was on the tip of my tongue. When I spied these pretty pink ones and read the sticker I mentally exclaimed 'Ah, of course!' - being on my own I felt it best to keep my satisfaction at getting the answer to myself :o)
BTW, the doily is made from a pattern in the Mollie Makes crochet book and is a Emma Lamb design. I used crochet cotton to make mine.

I don't usually take pictures of food I've made as generally the food I make is not particularly attractive, but my lunch today was an exception. My salad of mozzarella cheese, juicy tomatoes, basil from the garden and Balsamic vinegar glaze was delicious, it tasted as good as it looked!

I'm also jotting down a few ideas for my Q & A session with lovely Lucy, part of the prize from the Deramores blogging award that I was VERY fortunate to win this week. So many things I'd like to ask, being the nosy parker I am.

Sweetheart, are you ready for your afternoon nap yet?....

                                                         'till next time...