Friday, 28 September 2012

Crochet blanket - finished!

This one was hard to give away! Luckily the recipients were really delighted with it, otherwise I may well have changed my mind and snatched it back from them!

I started it at the end of March and finished it in July. I love the bright, cheerful colours. Had time permitted, I would have put more of a border on it, but as it was, the 'deadline' (i.e. us meeting our friends' baby for the first time) was looming, and so I decided to leave it like this. I think it was enough!

All credit must go to Little Tin Bird whose pattern I used and whose colours I copied! I just liked hers so much. The yarn is Stylecraft Special dk.

I felt a bit bereft without any crochet on the go, so I have another project on the hook now, which I'll show you next time. This time it's something for me!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

What's on my sewing table?

It's time to stop procrastinating! To stop being fearful, to stop thinking about making things but never actually getting round to starting, and to stop buying any more fabric and patterns! A new leaf. Kerry wrote a very interesting post that got me thinking. I'm certainly not a perfectionist, but I have become, somehow, as one of her commenters described it 'A defeatist perfectionist. People who won't even try because they know their first attempts won't be perfect'. That hit a nerve! It's not at all who I am, but somehow over the summer I lost my nerve a bit. Time to start again. And have some fun! This is supposed to be for pleasure after all...

To ease myself in, I've begun with a little girl's dress. I bought the oliver + s Music Box Jumper pattern and fabric some time ago, both from The Village Haberdashery. It's going well so far. No darts or alterations to worry about, I'm just following the (really clear) instructions and it actually looks like a dress!

I hope to finish it this weekend. Unfortunately finishing involves making six buttonholes down the back. In spite of my vow to stop being fearful, I have to say I am nervous about these! They're the final step so I have visions of ruining an otherwise 'perfect' dress at the last hurdle. I know it's just a question of practising though, so that's what I'll do.

I've also started some English paper piecing. I wanted something portable and hand sewn, that I would be able to do in front of the TV. My sister-in-law gave me these fabrics for my birthday:

I've combined them with some others I had already, and am making hexagons - destined to be a cushion cover.

I'm pleased with how they're looking and am finding it quite therapeutic and satisfying.

I'll be back tomorrow to show you the finished crochet blanket!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Wholemeal Honey Cake and Wall Hanging

The simple pleasures a cup of tea and a slice of cake can bring. This is a particularly good cake - by which I mean the recipe, I'm not just patting myself on the back for my baking skills here! I first read about this on the lovely Flossie Teacakes blog. When Florence first posted about it she described it as 'a cake that left a grown man nearly weeping with happiness as he ate it' - praise indeed! You can see her post here and the recipe here. She mentioned it again last week and this prompted me to think that I must make it NOW. I'm happy to report that it was just as delicious as Florence said it would be, and very easy too. I shall be making it again!

In sewing news, I thought I should show you another work in progress - hoping again that by showing it on the blog I shall be shamed into picking it up once more! This is from this book - a really lovely book that I was given last year.

I like this 'look' very much and quite quickly (and somewhat ambitiously) decided to make this as a wall hanging.

The pictures below show far I've got - I've cut out all the leaves and drawn my tree on the front of my fabric, and then stitched them all in place.

So far, so good. The next stage though is to free motion quilt the whole thing, which I'm ever so slightly terrified about, hence the project has stalled. I clearly just need to practise, practise and practise some more, and then bite the bullet and go for it, but, having spent quite a long time on the appliqué, I'm rather worried I might just ruin it! Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained - and it's good to challenge yourself, right?! I'll let you know how I get on!

Monday, 30 April 2012

Springtime wreath

I'm on a roll! Two finished projects in one weekend! The PJs were finished on Saturday morning and on Sunday morning I finished this:

It's an Attic24 design. I'm actually slightly embarrassed at just how long it's taken me to finish this! Lucy put up her lovely tutorial in March 2010 and I started it in August that year, so... ahem, almost two years later, here it is! Once I actually put my mind to it, it really didn't take very long - this is where I was when I picked it up again on Sunday:

... so all I had to do was sew on those last three flowers and buttons and then join the back and front together around the cardboard ring. It probably took less than an hour! Oh, procrastination, what a terrible thing you are! Anyway, I'm really pleased with how bright and cheerful it looks on my kitchen door and am delighted that I finished it at last!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Pyjama Party

Ready to stay up all night eating sweets and giggling? It's time for the pyjama party! My first sewalong, and it's been so much fun. Thank you so much to Karen for doing such a brilliant job in hosting it. I'm pleased with how mine turned out, although they are quite big! Next time I'll definitely go down a size. Still, you live and learn, and they are really cosy and comfy!

The pattern (Simplicity 9871) was very easy to follow, even for a beginner, and Karen's instructions and tips were all excellent so, other than the sizing, I didn't have any problems. I put a little ribbon tag at the back as Karen suggested which I really liked, and I was also very happy with my crotch!!

I'm currently reading Farundell, by L.R. Fredericks. I'm about 75 pages in, and so far, so good. It's set in a country house, post First World War, and involves ghosts. I particularly like the Cluedo-esque floorplans at the front, which fit very nicely with my new mug, bought last weekend. Love it!

I'm already planning another pyjama make. This time in a lightweight cotton, ready for summer (I'm assuming that summer will arrive at some point!). This time I hope to get the sizing right, and will also try out French seams for the first time. I also plan to make a matching Sorbetto top. After THAT, I hope to make something that I can actually, you know, wear outside the house! In the photo below you can see the pink stripes which will be the pyjamas, and the flowery fabric which will be my second Sorbetto, after I've practiced on the pyjama version.

So, that's it. It's been fun! Off now to check out all the other PJs and to jump around on the bed a bit more!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Tuscany Trip Report - walk day two and Siena

Hello! The weekend's here! Very happy about that! I thought I should finish writing about our Easter holiday. We'd just spent the night in Colle di Val d'Elsa, and the next day we had 16km to walk to get to Siena. We actually started with a short taxi ride to the medieval walled town of Monteriggioni.

It's amazingly well preserved - the walls are completely intact, with very impressive views of the surrounding countryside.

The walking from there was quite easy and very scenic. It was very peaceful, hardly anyone else about.

We arrived on the outskirts of Siena by mid afternoon, after quite a steep climb up, and were rewarded with a view of the city.

Our hotel was on this side of the city, so we headed straight there, before going into the city centre for the evening. It's very atmospheric, you really feel that it hasn't changed much for the last 500 years.  

We had the whole of the next day to explore Siena as well, so we went inside the Palazzo Pubblico, the 'town hall' on the main square, to admire the incredible frescoes. We decided against the 400 steps of the tower, but found very good views inside the Museo dell'opera del duomo instead - the snow-capped mountains in the distance were very impressive.

All in all, a really lovely city, and a great final destination for our walk in Tuscany.

Tomorrow I'm starting on my pyjamas for the Pyjama Party. My fabric is all washed and ready to go - I just hope it's as easy as the pattern claims to be!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Making lampshades

Back in February I went to a great afternoon workshop to learn how to make drum lampshades. It was organised by Sophie of Arts and Laughs and the teacher was Julie from Gilhoolie. Do go and look at her website - she makes really lovely lampshades, often from fabric that she has screen printed herself, and also does lovely illustrations and embroidery. Her post about the class is here. It was the first class she had taught, but she did an excellent job, and I came away very inspired to make more. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was, and it also seemed to be one of the few crafts that I've tried where you could actually save yourself some money by making your own, rather than heading straight to the shops! Plus of course, you can choose your own fabric to get the perfect look. This is the lampshade that I made on the course.

As soon as I got home I ordered a kit online to make another lampshade - this time a slightly bigger pendant lampshade, for our spare room. I had the fabric already, so was good to go - and then I made the terrible mistake of not making it immediately and so forgetting everything I had learnt! Gah! Luckily Julie had given us a brilliant handout, but I was still silly enough to make a couple of mistakes, so my second attempt sadly still needs a bit of work. I think it's OK if you don't look too closely though! I made this on Sunday evening, and finished it last night - it really doesn't take long. (Excuse the photos, it was a bit dark!)

I started taking photos to show you how it's done, but then realised I needed to concentrate on what I was doing, rather than future blog posts! I definitely plan to make another though, so will try to take some step by step photos of that one. There's another class being organised through Arts and Laughs for May 12th if you'd like to give it a go yourself, I highly recommend it!