Sunday, 17 October 2010

Tiny toes

My little bundle of joy / tornado of trouble arrived on 6th October, a healthy little boy.

I've been wrapped up in enjoying him ever since and at the moment can't imagine having any crafty time soon so will be taking a little break whilst we all get to know each other.

Thanks to all my readers and I'll be back soon


Sunday, 3 October 2010

Handmade Christmas Challenge

It feels like the schools have hardly started back after the summer break but the shops are already bursting with wrapping paper, cards and potential presents, and I've already eaten my first batch of mince pies (what can I say I really like them...) this can only mean one thing...

Christmas is nearly here

I can hardly believe it either but I have consulted my diary and its fact in 12 weeks time it will be Boxing Day. The wrapping paper will be in the re-cycling bin, we will be loosening our belts from eating too much and no doubt the BBC will have some old film playing or maybe a repeat of Only Fools and Horses thinking that this is a good use of our licence fee money...grrrrr

So with 12 weeks to go I've accepted the Handmade Christmas Challenge

I'm not promising to make all my presents this year... but I'll certainly be putting some thought into what bits I can make either as decorations for the house or as little treats.
Why don't you join me.....

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

One Fat Granny Square

Whilst I do love the simplicity of making Granny Squares....
Letting my fingers do the work whilst I mainly daydream
The huge range of interesting and innovative designs which are available
The colours
The possibility
And never really knowing what the final result will look like
I have to admit that seeing the pile of square growing results in a dramatic mix of emotions for me.

JOY - I love seeing things grow and am a collector at heart so seeing the pile of colourful squares grow is wonderful....the potential....stepping closer to the finishe product

DREAD - I've never been a Completer Finisher....has anyone else been forced to review their role within a team on work away days????
This means I see the ever growing pile as a chore....this colourful little squares will all need stitching together and whilst it is the merging of the squares which actually produces the end product I find it such a dull job that it fills me with dread.

I have found a solution to this character issue, it isnt exactly rocket-science, I have figured out that if I make big squares rather than little ones there is no more stitching seems to simple when its thought through. I love the creative part but hate the remove the stitching...yay.

So here is my first big fat Granny Square. I've made this as a cot / pram blanket for bump when he/she arrives.

I guess there is probably a practical maximum size that one of these single squares can get to...might see if a double bed size is possible, maybe not one to complete on the train!

Pom Pom Tastic

I have about a million ideas flying around my head of projects I'd like to try. This afternoon I thought I'd have a go at one and decided to make a Pom Pom, somthing that every 8 year old will no doubt be able to do in their sleep, but something I haven't done for too many years to mention.
Having searched the internet for a gentle reminder of the techniques I started to create....
Cut out 2 x donuts of cardboard with a little V towards the middle (helps when winding the yarn)
then start to wind the yarn....was shocked at how much yarn was needed and very pleased that I had chosen a cheap acrylic to have a go with. Maybe a smaller template would have been a good place to start, but hey I was thinking BIG when I started this project
still winding yarn.........................................
then snip snip snip around the edge of the yarn. Thought this looked liked it could be a cute character in the muppets...unfortunately I dont have any wobbly eyes to stick on :o(
tie MORE yarn around the middle of the ball inbetween the 2 card donuts, remove voila....pom pom tastic, soooo simple
I've got a couple of ideas I want to use pom poms for, but think will see if I can find a template or at least a ratio for the size of the middle circle vs outer circle in order to make take the right amount of yarn for the perfect pom pom...I know....I'm a geek!!! Will share what (if anything) I find.

Monday, 20 September 2010

When size really does matter....

Everything in my life seems to be baby related at the moment, I suppose that is fairly understandable seen as I'm 38 weeks pregnant and havent seen my feet for many months now. Unsurprisingly the imminent arrival of a little one has had fingers whizzing and needles clicking all over the country.... to varying degrees of success....

A cute little cardigan from a proud Great-Gran to be

Adorable booties from a beaming Gran to be

And an almost disaster created by Mum to be .... Me.... I found a pattern online for a cute crochet baby hat...I promise I followed the instructions to the letter....I bought the right size yarn, the right size hook and although I know I dont always get my tension exact I wasnt exactly expecting my creation to fit me....

There are only 2 possible reasons for this extra large baby hat
1) some babies are born with an eye-watering head size
2) I did something wrong

In order not to freak myself out too much I'm going with option 2 and am hoping for a cold winter so I can get some use out of my accidental creation which I actually quite like. Maybe I should stick to getting relatives to make treats for the baby...I'll stick to grown up sizes...

Friday, 17 September 2010

Now I know my ABCs wont you sing-a-long with me

It's been a while since my last update. Life has been crazy, but I'm now 37.5 weeks pregnant and have finally finished work to concentrate on maternity leave and making sure R and I are prepared for the arrival of our first little one.

I finished work last week and have been using my time to finish baby related projects as any day now I could be whisked off to hospital only to return in a whirlwind of our new world.

I'll share my projects with you over the next couple of days but wanted to show you the long overdue finished baby sampler. Well I say finished, I obviously cant add the baby's name (we opted not to find out the sex at the scans) or the birth date, but it is as finished as it can be at this time.

This pattern is from the Historical Sampler Company, whilst I was a little dubious of some of the letters (Ewe for E and Washing for W????) I think the overall effect is really lovely, and hopefully wont be out of date in a year or 2.

I'm looking forward to having this framed and hanging in the nursery, and hope that it will adorn my home for many years to come, I've got images of this hanging on a wall filled with crafty pictures in my perfect cottage kitchen.....well we can all dream....fingers crossed for the next house

Friday, 20 August 2010

Finished Crochet Blanket

Well after too many months to count and a few design / use changes along the way I have finally finished the project I started on the "A Granny A Day" initiative. I've made a blanket for my baby's pram.

I've still got another 6 weeks baby cooking (assuming no early or late arrivals) so teddy has stepped in to model the blanket in the new pram.
He looks nice and snuggly...

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Metal Clay Info

Thank you for the kind words about my Metal Clay jewellery. I’m rather pleased with these myself but need a lot of practice to make these more professional.

The process really is very easy. Here is a step-by-step guide, although please remember I’ve only done one course on this so this really is the basics.

There are 2 brands of metal clay - Precious Metal Clay (PMC) and Art Clay Silver (ACS), I understand these are essentially the same, but I’m sure that aficionados will have a preference. Silver, Gold and Bronze is available.

The material is made from the precious metal, an organic binder (a secret recipe I understand) and water. It is these last 2 materials which are removed to leave you with a shiny piece of lovely silver, gold or bronze depending on the metal you are working with.

Stage 1 – shaping
When you open the packet the clay is really just that – clay. It is a grey squidgy material which can be moulded into any shape and size. I advise you have a design practiced in bluetac or another playdough type material as once you start to handle the metal clay it starts to dry out and you need to be quick.
Remember to put any pieces of clay you aren’t using into a air tight container to retain the moisture…this is a precious metal after all and you don’t want to waste a speck.

Stage 2 – drying
The first of the clay materials to be removed is water. Drying your shaped piece on a radiator over night or on a VERY low oven heat will achieve this. The piece will be firm at the end of this and look a little like fired pottery

Stage 3 – firing
The firing process burns off the second of the clay materials Рthe organic binder. You can fire in a kiln or use a blow torch (the sort you toast the top of cr̬me brulees with is fine).
The piece will go through a number of stages during firing, including bursting into flames which can be a little alarming….but ultimately it will glow a delicate orange and you must keep it at this point for 2.5minutes (critical if you are using a torch, not so critical if you using a kiln as will pop in there for an hour or so).

Due to the removal of the binder pieces shrink approximately 10% during this stage, obviously important to consider if you are making a ring!

Stage 4 – polishing
Once the piece has cooled you will be left with a solid piece of metal which will look white. Now the hard work starts…..get out your wire brush and start to scrub….it is quite amazing as the sparkly silver is revealed…you can then polish with various papers and creams to reach the level of shine you want.

Hope this helps a little. It really is quite quick to have a go at, but the materials aren’t exactly cheap…you are buying silver afterall.
Let me know if you have a go at this and please share the results you achieve.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Metal Clay Class

Well I've had a great weekend, hope you had a good one too.
The jewellery class on Saturday was a great success, I might actually be hooked. Here are new sparkly pieces which are all my own design....

I worked with Metal Clay which is dried and fired. Then once buffed and polished reveals a solid silver treat.

Firstly I modelled my pieces in polymer clay (like playdough) until I was happy with the design. Below is a polymer and a Metal Clay piece
Then after a little elbow grease (and a trip to the polishing barrel for some pieces which is a magical lazy option) I walked away from the class with some earrings, a ring and of course my leaf and stone set pendant...I am rather pleased with myself. Thoroughly recommend the day...
I still have an awful lot to learn but will be practicing at home as this really doesn't need any specialist equipment....I've got a table, radiator and a creme brulee torch...silver treats here I come

Friday, 6 August 2010

What to do...

It's that time of the year again.

It's time to decide whether to submit to the Discerning Eye competition. This is open to art in any media from any artist. The pieces are selected from those submitted by art critics and celebrities and are then shown at the Mall Galleries, London in November. All pieces have to be available for sale. It really is a great opportunity to have your work shown.

I submitted a couple of funky cross-stitch pictures last year. I wasnt selected :o(

But what to do this year? Pieces have to be submitted in early September so if I want to come up with something new there isnt too much time. Or I could submit the same pieces as last year as the selectors are totally different.

What to do....what to do....

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Another Month ... Another Craft Course

I do love to learn.

I get itchy feet at work if I'm not learning something new on a regular basis and I thrive on being thrown into situations where I know nothing, I'm just the same with my crafting.

You may have noticed that I'm gradually becoming a Jack of all trades and Master of none. Well that certainly isn't the plan, I do want to become a "Master Crafter" I'm just not too sure in what yet so until I decide am having fun giving everything a go.

This weekend I'm off to a Silver Metal Clay class at the London Jewellery School. I've been to a couple of classes there (see blog posts - Silver Jewellery and Button Jewellery). It's a really lovely environment to learn and I'm excited to try the Metal Clay material. Apparently its like putty which you fire and torch - then voila you end up with solid silver... intriguing.

Hoping I'll be ok in the class as I've been struggling with Carpal Tunner Syndrome in my wrists recently, a common symptom of my current 31 week pregnant state. I've been incredibly lucky in generally so mustn't grumble. Other than my pork-pie feet and sausage fingers we are both doing very well, but I am having difficulty holding an embroidery needle or crochet hook for any length of time ... projects are taking a little longer to complete than planned.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

G to S

I may not have been telling you about it, but I have been (slowly) continuing with my baby sampler.
As I'm now 30 weeks life has had to take a little bit of a slower pace. I've still got quite a few more weeks at work and am stubbornly refusing to give up my social life completely so the thing that has had to give is my craftiness.

With weddings and summer bbqs, weekends have also been a little insane, but I can see the light now and with August setting in I can see a few free weekends lined up and have my projects ready for the making.

In the mean time here is the latest on my sampler...still plenty of time to finish before bump makes an appearance.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Pick-Your-Own vs Grow-Your-Own

Working for your dinner is certainly back in fashion. Whether it be to own a pig on a farm which you eventually have for dinner, to pick-your-own organic veg from a public farm or to grow-your-own veg in your garden or allotment it is certainly all the rage.

R and I have been partaking in the Pick-Your-Own and Grow-Your-Own recently with various degrees of success. (Haven't attempted to piggy ownership, not sure how I feel about the idea really)


We tootled off to Garsons in Esher yesterday for some Pick-Your-Own action. I knew they had a large range of veg options but wasnt quite prepared for the rolling acres of cultivated land ripe for picking. We came away with some carrots and peas. Here is R with one of our harvest


Well I've never pretended to bee particularly green-fingered, in fact there is a joke in my house that anything which is brought in doors I kill whilst Mother Nature has a helping hand in keeping the garden alive which is why things survive a little longer

We have allsorts on the go...

Tomatoes are coming along well, my main concern is that they are all going to ripen soon and we are going to have to eat tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner for weeks on end

Rocket is growing nicely

My potatoes were a comical disappointment.
After planting then watering and feeding for a couple of months I decided that yesterday was the day to dig them up and enjoy a lovely potato salad. I was maybe a little ambitious with the size of bowl I got out collect my harvest, but I was expecting at least 5 decent size potatoes, after all I planted 5 so was expecting the harvest to be at least what I had put in the ground. Here is everything I found.....
No idea what I did wrong, but it is suffice to say I wont be giving up the day-job to become a potato farmer!
Given the apparent success (!) of the grown-your-own R has decided that we need a proper little veg patch, so yesterday afternoon he set about clearing a corner of the garden. We, unfortunately disturbed this little will be pleased to know he has now been re-homed at the other side of the garden and has been heard rustling this morning so hoping he is liking his new environment.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

I've been making new friends

I'm clearly at that life-stage where we are programmed to re-produce as it seems my friends and colleagues are all having babies. I'm now 27 weeks pregnant and loving it, am certainly getting bigger everyday and people are visibly shocked when they see me after a week or so break.

I had the wonderful honour of meeting the newest arrival to my urban family at the weekend. A dear friend's beautiful bouncing baby boy who is now a whopping 3.5 weeks old. He is absolutely adorable and is already incharge of the household, its amazing how they manage that.

I made a couple of treats for this little cutie so he can be the talk of playgroup and make all his friends jealous of his designer one of a kind toys

The tag blanket
You may remember I made 2 of these a little while ago. Well one of them was planned for this little fellow. It really was amazing to see how fascinated he was with it. I knew that babies see contrast rather than colours so made this out of bold black and white fabric. He intently stared at it which really makes me question why the shops are filled with brightly coloured toys rather than simple contracting toys which attract the attention of the littlest ones???

The play mat

This was a slightly bigger project. Essentially a quilt made from medium weight cotton to be slightly more durable than the average bed-spread.

I made this with black and white on one side and brightly colours animals on the other so hopefully will stimulate a little longer than the early baby stages.

Well he certainly seems to be enjoying it.
Looking forward to more play time with my new friend soon


Tuesday, 22 June 2010

It really is the little things

If I were to tell you I was a little bit proud of myself I would be lying....I'm literally bursting

I've just completed my first nursery project.

I've read that babies are stimulated by bold colours and also like to suck on satin tags. I spotted a picture of a tag blanket in a magazine and decided to make one, here is the result.

I actually ended up making 2 as a dear friend has just a beautiful bouncing baby boy and thought he might like one too. Love it Love it Love it

Saturday, 19 June 2010

All Buttoned Up

I returned home late last night resembling a Pearly Queen

I hadn't suddenly decided to move to East London and learn Cockney rhyming slang. No. I'd been to a Button Jewellery taster class at the London Jewellery School and had made enough goodies to practically rattle as I walked home.

There is certainly something exciting about being faced with a box brimming with buttons. I don't know if its the feeling as they drip through your fingers, the mirage of colours and shapes or just the chance of uncovering a gem which makes rummaging such fun but the 4 of us in the class were mesmerised before the class had even started.

Our 2.5 hours whizzed by in a flurry of button threading action. I really couldn't believe just how easy it is to make these sweet-shop treats. Am now off to eBay to source some is what I made....I will be seen modelling them around London and Surrey for a long time to come

2 cute bracelets

some retro button earrings

and here is me modelling my new necklace

Friday, 18 June 2010

Trip to Ikea completed....

....without a tea candle, packet of napkins or set of glasses gracing my basket and I got no where near the usual £100 spend, I am one chuffed little crafter right now.

I did decimate the fabric department.

There were just so many lovely fabrics.

As previously mentioned we don't know if I'm carrying a she-bump or a he-bump so strictly unisex colours and patterns. Here's a little sample of what I picked up

Let the sewing begin.....

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Simply Quackers

I finished my little ducky today, and am pleased to say it does actually resemble a duck....
there is a beak
there is a yellow body
there are wings
and even a little tail

I don't have a pond in the garden so the the duckie can be seen here hiding in the peonies

Think I've still got a lot of practice before I can attempt the beautiful crochet toys from my earlier post..... Can anyone recommend a good amigurumi book which starts with the basics???

Monday, 14 June 2010

New on my bookshelf

I've just treated myself to this lovely sewing book - Simple Sewing for Baby by Lotta Jansdotter

I wanted to make a couple of bits for the nursery rather than buying everything and think this book has a good selection of bits'n'bobs and most importantly patterns which don't look too complex. In fact the front cover even claims -
24 Easy Projects for Newborns to Toddlers
I'll be testing to see if this is really true...
I've made a list of the fabric needed to make the bits I 'need' and I'm planning a trip to Ikea's fabric department in the next couple of days to stock up. I'll have to see if I manage to get out of the store without the obligatory tea candles, napkins and glasses which seem to be essential purchases on any trip to Ikea as well as spending over £100, does everyone suffer from this difficulty when passing through the Markethall or is it just me... wish me luck!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

E is for...

another rather strange "is for" picture, but the sheep does look quite cuddly and I'm loving the little heart.
The overall picture is really starting to come together though...loving it...

Saturday, 12 June 2010

My week month ahead

Unless you have been visiting Mars or live on an all female commune (in which case please send me details so I can enquire for vacancies) you will know that the Football World Cup kicked off yesterday evening and is determined to plague our TV screens until 11th July.

I'm not really a sports fan myself, R however, has been counting down for MONTHS (he has even kindly installed a World Cup App on my iPhone so I am never more than a few clicks from the latest score! thanks) ...our holidays and evenings out have had to be arranged around this series of 22 men running around a ball....

I have drawn the line at decorations. R is a grown man and more than capable of showing his support without the need for flags or kits gracing our car and home - I can only imagine what I will be subjected to in 4 years time if bump is a boy.... help

However, in a moment of sheer madness this morning (I blame pregnancy-brain) I agreed to plan our evening meals this week so that we eat food from the countries playing...Oh what have I done????

Monday 14th June
Italy v Paraguay
Easy - Pasta and Garlic Bread
Tuesday 15th June
Brazil v Korea DPR
Slightly more tricky - don't really know the national cuisine of either of these countries, might try to pass off stir fry
Wednesday 16th June
South Africa v Uruguay
Hmm another tricky one - am thinking maybe I pick up some Biltong and grill lots of meat. I've never been to South Africa but have been to Namibia next door so think this might work.
Thursday 17th June
France v Mexico
Fajitas and Nachos (yummy)
Friday 18th June
England v Algeria
Not really sure for England, we don't really have any traditional food (well not anything I can knock up when I get home from the office at 7pm) if its cold weather maybe I'll be organised and start a slow cook cassarole before I head to work, if not maybe a sandwich????
And tonight - well tonight is the England v USA match, I honestly don't think that R will event register what food I put in front of him as his eyes will be 100% trained on the TV. I'd already planned a Moroccan Tagine, well the World Cup is being held in Africa so surely this counts???
Anyone else doing crazy World Cup cooking???? I haven't looked at the matches next week so no idea what delights might be in store for me

Friday, 11 June 2010

Crochet on the Beach

R and I are just back from our Babymoon.....our last holiday just the 2 of us before I'm no longer able to fly and bump arrives. We had a peaceful week being looked after in Cyprus, the weather was hot, accomodation lovely and the food tasty and plentiful so all in all a great week away.
I of course took some tools with me. Didn't fancy my chances of explaining to airport security as to why I had an embroidery kit with me so left my cross-stitch at home and took my crochet hook determined to get back into hookey-ness.

My focus was of course on bump so started to make a little duck...

I have to stuff this and add on the beak, wings and tail hoping it starts to look a little more like the picture in the instruction book soon or I may have to pass this off as an alien creature rather than a duck to my little one....I'll show you the finished article when stuffed and stitched

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

D is for.....

Not entirely sure what I do if bump is a boy. We have opted not to find out the sex in the second scan as wanted a little surprise when bump arrives. This really was the most unisex sampler pattern I could find, oh well in the world of metro-sexual men I'm sure my child wont be scared for life because Mummy embroidered "Dolly" for D on the baby sampler

Sunday, 6 June 2010

C is for....

Cluck, Cluck, Cluck

or maybe this should be Cake considering the volume I've been eating recently...

Friday, 4 June 2010

The cutest crochet toys

On a recent trip to Amsterdam with the girlies for a dear friend's hen-party I spied this fabulous crocheted toys by Anne-Claire Petit

Arent they just adorable...Think the elephant is my favourite, or the sausage dog. I absolutely loved them and managed to get out of the store without purchasing one (partly because I'd left my wallet in the apartment by accident, doh!)

Think I'd like to have a go making one, it will be a good reason to force me to pick up a crochet hook again.

I haven't had any hook-ey time for a few months now, I honestly haven't been able to face the yarn running through my fingers, its kind of like a reverse craving I guess. Not sure why I couldn't do it, the thought of the yarn just didn't appeal, I've been the same with hot drinks. I was a girl who would have a couple of coffees a day and I've just not fancied one for a while. Well I'm back on hot drinks now (strictly de-caf) so its time to pick up the hook again.

Fingers crossed I can create something which looks as good as these professional toys

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

B is for...

Splish....Splash....Splosh....B is for Boot

2 down 24 to go

Monday, 31 May 2010

A is for....

Thank you for all the kind words.....I've obviously know about the little one for a while know so have been buzzing away getting bits'n'bobs done so I'm pleased to be able to share some of this with you now.

I got a little excited about bump at the Stitch and Craft show in April and bought various kits and patterns which I will share over time as I make them up.

I started with the item which I thought required the most craft-hours...and boy was I right so far. Its a cross-stitch sampler, a classic design from the Historical Sampler Company

Here's the first letter....

It's an interesting choice of picture for A, think I would have gone with a traditional "Apple" but hey looks like my little one will be learning a wide vocab from an early age...

I think I've mentioned before that my Grandma was a big cross-stitcher and I've still got the sampler she made me for my birth so I wanted to do something for my little one. I'm still learning about about the craziness I can expect when bump arrives so am attempting to do all the work now so that only the name, date and framing are left to do.

Friday, 28 May 2010

A little bit of news

As you’ve probably noticed I’ve taken a step back from blogging in the last couple of weeks I’ve simply not been able to focus my mind away from the huge voice shouting at the back of my head……and I haven’t been ready to share with you until now….

I’m absolutely thrilled to tell you that I’m pregnant….am now 21 weeks and have quite a bump, ooh its so exciting.

My mind has been racing with bloomers, cot quilts, softie toys, nappy bags, crocheted blankets, and lots more things I simply can’t wait to start making but I’ve been holding off until I was a little further along…..I’ve got books, material and all sorts ready to go and have sooo much blogging material stacked up that expect an influx of posts now I'm public online.

I’ve honestly been bursting to tell you and wanting to blog about it for ages but also been cautious to keep quiet until it was the right time, and having just had my second scan, which we both passed with flying colours, now is the right time.

So our new arrival is due at the beginning of October I’m looking forward to a summer of making goodies and remodelling the spare room into some sort of nursery.

So happy to have shared this with you…. Have a great weekend....I'm off to Amsterdam for a good friend's Hen Party (alcohol-free champagne for me)


Wednesday, 19 May 2010

A Fabric Sandwich

I have finally got back to the Quilt Room in Dorking to get the backing fabric for the quilt I started at New Year.

I clearly looked a little clueless in the store as the lovely assistant spent about an hour explaining the backing fabric I'd need, how to attach it and the array of quilting options (machine and hand) which were available to me.

I left the store with all sorts of quilting pencils, markers, threads and fabrics and am pleased to tell you my quilt is now sandwiched together, pinned to within an inch of its life and partically stitched....might even have it finished in time for winter at this rate