Monday, 19 January 2015

Passacaglia with Mr Penrose

Woah, where did the last couple of months go? In my defence, I have been having a wonderful time with family over from Canada for Christmas. That involved lots of culinary preparations etc and then we all had a little family holiday in Yorkshire and, and, well to be honest, my little blog just didn't take priority! But things are back to normal now. My sewing room has seen some activity at last, and among other things I've started a new project!
It is a hand sewn, English paper piecing project. Perfect for sewing whilst enjoying a quiet evening in front of the TV or for snatching a few moments to work on without having to set a block of time aside (or clear enough space in the currently very disorganised sewing room!)
It's a biggie though, and I've set myself the challenge of completing it this year...yes, by the end of 2015!
The project is the last and most complicated quilt in this wonderful book that I purchased before Christmas.

The Passacaglia quilt that I'm making is the one shown on the front cover. Isn't it wonderful? Passacaglia is apparently a musical term. (I had to look it up.....I've also got to learn to spell it without checking each time!) I can certainly see lots of music in this quilt. The eye waltzes around it following the circles. I just hope my version does justice to the name.
Here is a close up of the first rosette that I've completed so far.

The pieces are tiny, and as far as I can tell, they are not a standard size, so there are no pre-cut papers available to purchase in this country. (You can buy them from the US). I've traced the templates provided in the book, and then photocopied them. I'm also basting the templates rather than using fabric glue. That may change as time goes on!
Hopefully I'll have the second rosette to show soon.
I hope you have an exciting project for the New Year too!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Little Christmas Stockings

There is still more sewing knitting than sewing going on around here at the moment, and this week I've been making these. Lots of them! There is a local Christmas craft fair in aid of Leukaemia & Lymphona Research in a couple of week's time and although I already have a bag stuffed full of crafty goodies to donate, I'm trying to see how many of these little stockings I can make before the deadline (why am I always such a last minute Larry!)
Last year I made them into a wreath, which sat over the fireplace and received no end of lovely comments. 

This time round, I'm just making the stockings. I suspect the craft fair organiser might sell them ready filled with sweets. 
If you fancy having a go, then I have a free pattern for them HERE
They are a simple design, knit flat on 2 needles. Worked in double knit yarn they finish up at 14cm (5") tall

The decoration around the top is added afterwards using duplicate stitch. It's also known as swiss darning. Why, I don't know. It conjures up all sorts of images in my head of young goatherds wandering over the mountains with the most elaborately darned socks and jackets imaginable!!
There is a complete photo tutorial on how to work the stitches included in the pattern.
There are instructions for all the designs shown above, but I suspect once you get going you can dream up whole load more of your own.


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Halloween Pumpkin Knitting Pattern

There is no denying it, Autumn is most definitely here and we are very fast approaching Halloween, so I thought I'd re-share a post from last year about these cure little pumpkin ornaments that I created.

I love Halloween! Even though my own kids are grown up, I still get in a good store of treats, put out a lit pumpkin to encourage Trick or Treaters and always give the best goodies to those who have gone the extra mile when putting together their costume.
My kids and I used to have great fun making Halloween related art and crafts projects, and I look forward to when (maybe!) I can do the same with grandkids.
All these Halloween thoughts reminded me that this time last year I designed a little knitted pumpkin pattern and posted it on the blog. I then realised that no-one is going to find it way back in the archives, so I posted it as a free pattern on Ravelry and Craftsy.
This little pumpkin is just 3" diameter if knitted in double knit yarn (a bit bigger if knit in aran or worsted) and would be great addition to a costume. You could attach one to the brim of a witches hat, temporarily sew them to the back of some mittens or dress up a Trick or Treat bag with them
I think mine will be used as table decorations this year

They only take an evening to make and the free pattern is now also in the Knitting Patterns section on this blog or you can download it HERE
Happy Halloween everyone!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Itch To Stitch

You know that feeling you get sometimes.....You have loads of projects you could be getting on with. Should be getting on with! But you have an overwhelming desire to start something else, something new. Well for me, that something this weekend, was some embroidery.
I used to do loads of it. I have an enormous stash of threads! (not very tidily stored, I might add!)

I knew I needed to re-discover the joy of selecting the colours, of stranding the thread, and listening to the quiet whisper of my needle as it goes in and out, in and out, forming those tiny stitches.
 I was wondering what I could  embroider, when, as luck would have it, I came across some Instagram photos of a Stitch Along on  Lilipopo's blog.
She is such a talented lady. As well as the drawing the pattern of this adorable little girl and her lists, she has a detailed photo tutorial suggesting stitches for the embroidery and which colour threads to use.
Before I knew it, I was downloading the pattern and tracing it onto some quilting weight cotton. I used to use even weave linen, but I didn't quite have a big enough piece of the colour I wanted, so I used quilting weight cotton instead. I traced the pattern onto my fabric with a Frixion pen. It's easy to get a nice fine line with this pen. Some people say that you can sometimes still see the lines, when you iron over them to make them disappear, but I've never had a problem.

It was such a joy to sit quietly and just stitch, purely for the sake of it. I had no plan in mind for the finished piece, I was just enjoying the process.

I love the simplicity of the back stitched outlines, the texture in the hair, and the pompom on the hat.

I only have the legs, boots and lists left to do now. I shall be sad when I've finished.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Advent Bunting Tutorial

Aaah! I know what you're saying! "Is that really a Christmassy thing already?" Well, yes, it is!
Today I'm guest blogger over at Simply Solids.
The lovely Justine wanted me to use some Christmas fabrics, and I thought: "What needs to be made well in advance for Christmas?" Well, an advent calendar of need that right from the start of December, and that's only about 9 weeks away!
This is bunting that has pockets in it so you can add little treats, one for each day.

The pockets are fastened with a ribbon loop and little button, so there'll be no peeking before the day.

You can choose to make just one length, or split it in two as I have done. It makes it a lot easier to hang on a chimney breast, door or a child's wall.

To make the bunting you will need:

7 fat quarters of Christmas fabric
Bias binding tape
Narrow ribbon for the button loops
25 small buttons
A small piece of solid white for the numbers
Bondaweb or other fusible to secure the numbers in place.

The full instructions along with templates for the pennants and numbers and plenty of stage by stage photos can be downloaded here

Monday, 15 September 2014

A Little Scrap Busting

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We are having the most gorgeous September imaginable far! So a lot of my time has been spent enjoying the sunshine, taking in the subtle changes to autumn colours and making a mental note to treasure these days. These will be the memories to get me through the dark, dreary days of winter. And of course, I've been harvesting. Every day I think I've picked the bulk of the tomatoes and by the next morning there are plenty more saying "I'm ripe. Pick me!" They are mainly being roasted along with onions, garlic and basil and then pureed down into a sort of passata, before being frozen in varying sized portions. They will be used on pizza bases, in pasta sauces and salsas in the coming months. The cucumbers have finished, but courgettes are still going strong and peppers and squashes are just about ready, so sewing and knitting has been mainly an evening activity, but I do have a few small finishes to share.
First up, some scrap busting for a good cause - 2 zippered pouches for a Leukaemia Research coffee morning later in the year.
The navy one is my favourite, and it used up the tiniest of jelly roll scraps.

The back is different to the front. It was made with the quilt as you go method. I even joined some really small pieces of wadding together with iron on tape to get a piece big enough for this pouch, so it really is a true scrapbuster!
I've also been using up some really "What on earth was I thinking!" fabric. I've been buying organic fabrics since they first hit the quilting market a fair few years ago. But designs were limited then and my thirst for organic fabric was great, so I didn't always make good choices.
Actually apart from being rather bright, (you probably need to pop on your sunglasses before viewing the next two photos!) I'm quite pleasantly surprised at how good these fabrics look once they're sewn up.

This one is made entirely from that impulse organic buy all those years ago, and there's enough of the bright pink solid to make an entire wardrobe full of dresses! This will fit a 4 -5 yr old and is the pattern is New Look 6796. It is destined for Greenfields Africa. I'm quite sure the little girl's Mum won't care how bright it is!

This is another fabric that looks a lot better sewn up than it did folded neatly buried in my stash.
It's not organic. I bought it in a January sale several years ago and it was ridiculously cheap, so I feel good now its made into something useful. The pattern is New Look 6718. I made the large baby size and added a fair bit to the length so I think it should a fit a 2 yr old or  thereabouts and again is destined for Greenfields Africa.
All in all, it's been a good week :-)

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

A Truly Handcrafted Wedding

You may be forgiven for believing that I had dropped off the planet, but in truth, I have just been having a wonderful time with my family. 
Now though, my son's wedding is over, the family over from Canada have returned home and it is time to reflect and smile at all the wonderful things we achieved and enjoyed together.
This was always going to be a handcrafted wedding, but I think they truly surpassed all expectations.
My main jobs were to make the bunting, the table runners and part of the wedding cake.

You can see the table runners here. They were fringed hessian with lace sewn along the middle. Quick and easy (and messy!) to make. 
I hope you've also spotted the bunting - that was really fun to make, and it will be kept to bring out at family events in the future.
Mike & Laura made the table numbers and the favours (potted succulents for the girls, homemade chilli sauce for the boys).

They also painted directional signs to the venue and with the remaining wood made wonderful hand painted quotes like this one to dot around the reception area

It was a barn wedding and this wonderful room is where the ceremony was held.

It was the perfect size for the number of guests (and yes, that's me at the front!)

It was the small touches that made this day so special.......the photo gallery to include our loved ones who had passed way too soon.

And the handmade cones of real petals for confetti.

Laura is a silversmith who graduated from the prestigious Birmingham University Jewellery School and she made personalised cufflinks for all the groomsmen.

and a necklace and earrings for all the bridesmaids and both Mums. This is mine. The stone is citrine to match the lemon in my outfit.

But the most talked about item was definitely the cake.

Two of the layers were an un-iced traditional fruit cake made by Laura's Mum which was always a regular cake in Laura's household. The other two were Rice Krispie cake, made by me, which was always what my boys had as their birthday cake. The making of this caused a little angst. My previous  Rice Krispie cakes were never the same twice! Sometimes they crumbled on your plate, sometimes you needed a pick axe to get into them! This time it not only had to be edible, but the lowest tier had to support three other cakes! Were still weren't sure it was going to work until the day came to put to together. Thankfully it held up and was a big hit. Laura crocheted the hearts and added the explanation notes as to why they had this cake. Do you see the cake topper?

Laura made this too! They are wooden pegs that she has painted and dressed. Mike has a suit made from felt, with the correct colour tie. Laura's dress is scraps that I had left over from making the table runners, and who is that at the front? Why, it's their little Jack Russell, Bruce! complete with his favourite red ball. No wonder this was such a talking point at the reception!

So the event that we planned and busily crafted for the best part of the last 8 months is now over. It was a wonderful day, a day to treasure and smile about. Whilst they were on honeymoon I've had my family from Canada here and we've busied ourselves with day trips and long walks, enjoying the English summer........more memories to treasure.

Now it's time to think forward again, and with a little excitement, too.  I'll have time to get back to my knitting and quilt making, and plans for new projects are starting to take shape. Just as it's almost time for a new term for school children, I feel like it's new term for me too. Although I dislike the longer hours of darkness that autumn brings, it does mean more time for quiet crafts, and hopefully for blogging, too!


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