Monday, 7 January 2019

Like a child in a sweet shop

The trouble with liking to do creative things is that they keep multiplying. My butterfly brain is flitting again.

On Saturday Alex and I went to a yarn dyeing course (finally found one near us!) near Durham.  Woolaballoo (I tried to put a link in here but it won't work - sorry) was hosting a simple yarn course using an 80%wool/20%nylon mix yarn with food colouring and vinegar.

The yarn was pre-soaked in a vinegar solution (bit pongy) and we went straight to 'painting'
I already had a pretty good idea of how I wanted my finished article to look seeing as I had been drooling over indie-dyed yarn for the past few months.  Alex waded straight in with confidence and after a couple of tentative dabs I got my rhythm, not with a paintbrush but with a fork!
When we were satisfied we rolled the yarn into a clingfilm covered sausage and heated it in the microwave to set the colours.
When it was sufficiently cooled (it 'felts' when the temperature changes too quickly), we doused it in a bowl of washing up liquid and rinsed it.  A quick twirl in a salad spinner, dedicated to this task, and the yarn was ready to hang to dry
We took our damp and slightly smelly concoctions home and they finished drying overnight.
Having used yarn in skeins for quite a while I was familiar with the gentle technique you need to wind it into a ball. Alex, less familiar with the delights of yarn winding,  had a few more problems -
Aarrghhhh... it's a learning curve!  Will says she has made more sense of it now though! Just hope little Zula doesn't get hold of it in this state.
I picked a lovely cowl to make, although I'm just a little nervous that the wool is sock yarn and may be a bit scratchy,  but we'll see.
It is really pretty with cables and lace and I'm currently on Round 16.  The pattern is just beginning to emerge although the sprinkly nature of the yarn makes it a bit more difficult to pick out than a plain colour.

Sunday was a lovely day - the boys stayed until about 11 and then the day was mine! My little white hen laid a double yolker which I had for breakfast as a special treat, as Ben wanted a brown egg rather than a white one for his breakfast
We played with engines and building blocks and decorated biscuits as well as taking selfies -Ben's new teeth are emerging
His speech is tho thweet!  He will be moving to his new school soon - I think they are going to transport him here until half term and then move after the break.  They will be staying with me for a week to ten days to allow a complete re-paint and new flooring to be fitted in their new house.   I think it was a bit manky to judge from their comments. Max will stay at his nursery until September when he moves to school. They don't want too much disruption for him.   Alex says I can go and stay with them if it gets a bit noisy (I really don't like noise)

So - Ben is with me this morning as there is  a teacher training day at his school.  I'll take him to work at lunch time and relieve Steph so she can pick Max up later.  Life is like a jigsaw at the moment.

I did a quick tension sample for the Sweet Pea CAL at the weekend although I'm not going to start this straight away.  I'll be using the hook suggested as it came out the right measurement. Having finished Ben's Corner to Corner I am in need of a simple 'mindless' project and the striped blanket fits the bill perfectly. 
I'm going to get everything out and put it into some kind of order as I have to fit in time to work and time to work on samples and patterns for the class somewhere!
I've chosen some nice bright colours for next week's patchwork class and the pattern is written. I'll cut it out tonight after work and then sew it on Wednesday morning before work.   The trick is to have things prepared so as not to waste those precious moments. Let's see if I can follow my own advice. 
Alex's friend is coming in a couple of weeks and we are going to make some lotion bars as Sally is very environmentally conscious. Lotion bars cut down on plastic bottles which has got to be a good thing. 

Another excuse for me, of course,  to create.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Closing a stitched and hooked 2018

No recap on what I've done during the year - promise!  I'm not a great one for new year and new beginnings but it is good to finish the year on a finished project.



Full of mistakes, but I learnt a lot from my first corner to corner project. It's supposed to be square but it's not. I should have had no yarn left but I have. There are gaps where there shouldn't be and crochet where there should be gaps, but's it's warm and bright and I love it!  Made from Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable in Colourway Flowerfield.  The reason it has lots of mistakes is because it is almost impossible to frog back.  The fluffy nature of the yarn locks the stitches together.

Not content with one fluffy yarn I have started a hat pattern with another fluffy yarn although I can confirm that this yarn will frog back (twice). Trying to start a hat on a circular needle with a magic loop is not to be recommended.  Eventually the hat started out on double pointed needles and was transferred to a circular needle (still too long/short) because I don't have 4.5mm DPNs or a 4.5mm with a 40cm wire.

I don't knit enough to warrant a set of interchangeable circular needles so I'm making do with what I've got although I have to say I will buy a shorter length (or a longer length to accommodate the magic loop) if I'm going to knit another hat like this. I really don't like the fiddling about with a magic loop though.

Crochet doesn't have the same equipment problems! One hook, some yarn and a pair of scissors is all you need.
Three rounds of simple crochet has produced a 4¼" square and there is enough to do at least one more and probably two from each little 15g ball. This will be my 15 minute daily project. I'll probably spend a lot more than 15 minutes a day but I'll spend at least 15 minutes per day on this. However this is a 'process' not a 'product' project.  This was brought home to me last week when a friend asked why I didn't just stick a piece of fabric on a button I had painted.
She is relatively new to crafting and still sees it as an end product. When Steph was stitching her grandma's quilt last week she said she could just feel the stress melt away. You just live in the moment, whether it's on your own in a little bubble of peace or sharing that moment with like minded people. There is something very spiritual about this kind of sharing.

When I first started serial stitching (with cross stitching pictures) I ran out of walls quickly.  It gets a bit boring having the same craft all over the house! Much of the stuff I make now is given away.  This is another element of making things - giving someone something that has taken time to make - letting them know they are special enough for the giver to invest time, money, care and thought in them.

Having said that I'll probably keep the hat I'm knitting as it has to be hand washed and I don't think it's fair to burden someone with that when they weren't expecting it.
When I downloaded the pattern (Dustland Hat by Stephen West) this yarn, (Debbie Bliss Andes, Baby Alpaca and Mulberry Silk) was the only one in my stash with the same yardage count (classed as Worsted Weight).  It's too soft and dark to show the pattern to it's best advantage but, when the mood take you.....
I love the pattern so much that I'll almost certainly make one for Will who spends most of the day outside, but I'll make it in a much more practical yarn for him. I might make one for John as he likes to go out walking with Ben. Actually Alex and Will walk a lot too - perhaps Alex might like this purple one although I expect she would like to knit one for herself.  I have to say my sudden return to knitting has been fuelled binge watching knitting podcasts over the Christmas break.

Incidentally we are going to a yarn dyeing workshop on Saturday at a local wool shop. So excited. I bought some yarn to dye when I was at Yarndale this year and am just plucking up the courage to start that so I was delighted to find this two hour course to whet the appetite.  Alex loves doing things like this too. We are planning to make some hand lotion bars soon.  Gosh I'm so lucky my daughter in laws like crafting and don't think I'm some made old bat with more fabric than sense. (or do they????)

When Will was looking for something in the cupboard under the stairs (the black hole in my house) he came across some fabric squares I had cut to make a 'boy' quilt.  So that's where they went! So I have pieces already cut and ready to be my first quilt of 2019. It will be alternating dark and light grey squares with padded 'buttons' and I think, shock, horror, I might machine quilt it.
I believe there are half a dozen or so with the circles already appliqu├ęd.

So the hat is Number 1, the quilt Number 2 and the crochet squares Number 3 of the planned projects. At Number 4, the pink shawl is high up on the list for early 2019, as are some more project bags to hold all these things.  I'm rather in love with project bags, although the first on the list will definitely be a multi-zippered affair for which a pattern has been lurking near the top of the pile for longer than it should have, considering I bought the zippers and chose the fabric some months ago.
The pattern is from Sew Demented, inspired by the one which lovely Karen made  -  she says it is not as complicated as it looks. (She's an extremely neat worker and has a really good eye for detail).  I really just need to get on and do it - Number 5 on the list although the order will change and mingle as the mood takes.

So, on this last day of 2018 I send my very best wishes to you all for a wonderful and fulfilling 2019 and leave you with my favourite picture of the festive season. A little boy, proud to be grown up enough to lose both front teeth but practical enough to wonder how he is going to bite into his food. Happy Chrithmeth Ben!









Thursday, 27 December 2018

And then it was over

I sit here on 27th December - waiting for my friend to come over for some crafting and chatter. She talks, I listen - there is no other way  - she doesn't come up for breath very often.  Tomorrow I'll be back to work and life goes on as normal.

It seems ages and yet no time since I posted. Our Christmas lunch included Will (Alex had gone to her mother's as her brother was visiting) John, Steph, Ben and Max.  John and I shared the cooking tasks which worked very well.
Ben made the dish with sprouts, bacon and chestnuts which they brought with them as well as a rib of beef, some amazing gravy made with oxtail, bread sauce and glazed carrots. I supplied the turkey and trimmings as well as the potatoes.  John made an amazing chocolate souffle for pudding.

Alex is back now and welcoming a little kitten to their home - Zula from our neighbouring farm.
She was absolutely petrified when Will brought her home and she hid behind the washing machine until they managed to tempt her out with some turkey. She'll settle in well. She is so affectionate and purrs all the time.  Will gave her a good groom with the rabbit's brush and she certainly won't want for cuddles.

I got some wonderful thoughtful presents including a book from Will
and an autographed photo from my favourite F1 driver
and some yarn from John. 15g balls of Scheepjes Stonewashed Aran Yarn to make a blanket
This one, from Cherry Heart, although hers is done in Fingering/4ply and mine will have much larger squares.  I haven't made anything in Aran so I'm looking forward to the speed!  I'll make the coloured squares first then I'll know how much cream yarn to get.  I think I'll get three from each mini-ball.
I'm not going to start it until I have finished Ben's Corner to Corner which is well on it's way and could be done by next weekend if I get down to it.

I finished the Linden Bee Shawl (also by Cherry Heart)

It is so soft and warm, made from Mulberry Silk from Watercolours and Lace.  Next on the agenda is a pink shawl, also from Cherry Heart (just stop making such lovely patterns Sandra - I can't keep up)
This is going to be made from Merino and Silk yarn I got from Dye Ninja.  It's Double Knit rather than 4-ply and involves some stitches new to me as I try to expand my knowledge of crochet.

The Attic 24 Sweet Pea Blanket is still calling to me but I think I will save this for a late Spring project.

Today however, Janet and I are going to make a dog or a bear, I think, from fabric I bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate in November 2017
First I need to clean the hens and get them fresh water and scraps from the fridge - so many scraps! Maybe I better get dressed before I start that - it's nearly 10am and I'm still in my nightie. 

OMG Janet has just texted to say she's on her way - I'd better wash up too or she'll think I'm a proper slattern. 


Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Scandi cushions in the making

Thursday 13th:  About two years ago I got a little packet of those 2½" squares that you tend to pick up at Quilt Shows. (I know you're out there - I'm not the only one). I think it may have been three for £10. Well I found the scandi-fabric squares in a little box the other day and decided to make some cushion covers.  One packet barely makes a 12" square when sewn together and I needed four cushion covers. so I made four strips of nine squares and sewed them together with some cream fabric that I had about my person. As you do.
The front was spray basted to some wadding - it doesn't glue up the  needle and is great for small projects. 
A bit of random machine quilting gives a more plumptious front. (Not normally so keen on machine quilting but there's a place for it in certain situations.)
My Frixion pen (one of the best things ever for marking quilt designs) and a quarter inch line gives that little finishing touch to define the strips.
and then disappears under the heat of the iron. So much better than pencil marks which have to be washed out.
Next I made a zippered back and sewed the front to the back.  For extra definition I decided to make a binding, although if I'd had any piping cord I probably would have done that instead.

So - ta dah!!  Cushions for Christmas. I love cushions at Christmas but some are not for sitting on, naturally......  
I have cream sofas (not so good when your farmer son sits on them), so I bought about five metres of cream fabric from Ikea and have made various things to protect the sofas from Max's blackcurrant juice, my sloppy eating habits in front of the telly after a hard day at work, Will's farmy clothes and other spills and stains that would otherwise ruin things. That is why I had two metres of cream fabric in my stash for the cushions, it's not a normal thing. I'll need to go again soon as I'm down to the last metre.  I've been really good at the back end of this year, trying to use up some of the fabric I've built up over the years.  It's great to be able to dig out that right colour but, oh my, it's an embarrassment of riches and would probably go once or twice around the world if I laid it end to end.

So one down and three to go - although everything is cut out and prepared so they shouldn't take too long.

Tuesday 18th: I've had no time to actually sit down, check and publish this post so I'm doing it now before I leave for work.  I've been called in a couple of times to do extra hours for various reasons so this post is incomplete but I thought you might just want to catch up so I'm going to press the button before I leave for work.  Yesterday I got quite a bit done in the morning but got called in just after lunch. I'm working on the last stocking orders to be hand delivered on Friday - OMG just tracing the shape with my trusty template.
I've traced the shapes on to fusible web and will cut them out tonight..... Don't panic Captain Mainwairing!




Saturday, 8 December 2018

It's all about the content

Posting every day would not be a problem. Words are no problem, but content is. When there is little time to produce (also little energy when there is time) then there are no pictures, no inspiring 'makes to show. Days go by which turn into weeks - this is just no good.  This weekend has to count, as it's the one where:

  •  I write cards and 
  • get the tree and 
  • finish off presents 
  • check what is left to buy
  • make a menu
  • tidy away my stuff so I can fit people in the house
  • etc
I wish I could make my house look like this:
or this
or this
when the truth is I don't have a big house where you can make bold statements. If my staircase had this on, no-one would be able to walk down.  Hey ho, I'll have a rummage round the loft to see what I can do. But first I really must make friends with the vacuum cleaner. Can't put up decorations on top of spider webs and dust can I? (or can I?)