The run up to Christmas this year for us has been pretty miserable to be honest. We have been invaded by a sickness bug and with lots of us living here have been playing relay, passing the germs from one to another, dropping down like dominoes. This has meant my last week of the school term when I was hoping to get my last Christmas bits organised has been lost as I've been looking after my poorly babies or layed out on the sofa myself. Most of the time I'm a musicians widow but being my husbands busiest time of the year I haven't seen him at all this past week and it's been hard coping on my own. Not feeling organised at all and not in the least bit Christmassy is rather depressing so we are just about to head off out to the town to see if we can find some festive spirit before it's too late!
Somehow I managed to make these two Christmas cushions so I'm glad about that! I took a quick photo to show you but didn't have the heart to shoo Cassie Cat off her favourite chair where you can find her mostly all of the time.
I am rather relieved I'm not hosting Christmas and we are off to my in-laws for lunch tomorrow -where the rest of his family will be. It will be lovely to see everyone together, the cousins can play and we can enjoy the hustle and bustle of a big, happy gathering.
I'm looking forward to the new year, hopefully we will be more healthy!
I wish each and every one of you a very merry christmas indeed and hope that whatever you are doing and wherever you are you are content, comfortable and with the ones you love. I have enjoyed so much being part of the blogging world and making the friendly connections this past year. I'm eager to carry on in 2014 making, posting, sewing, crocheting - I'm going to try to improve my knitting skills too, and I can't wait to see all the lovely things that all you creative bloggers show on your fantastic blogs!!
Hello all, I hope you are well. I am so out of sync with my makes and blogging about them, due to just busy, busy, busy family life. The days just fly past at the speed of light which I do find unnerving and some days I can barely catch my breath, but then suddenly a few hours of peace and quiet descend and I feel restored and balanced once more.
A while ago I made this little capelet for myself from the same pattern I used for the capelet in my giveaway. It's such a quick, easy pattern - an absolute joy to make up!
I do love wearing it as well, it feels so soft and really does keep me warm without feeling too cumbersome. The yarn I used is Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran in colour 202. It looks quite grey in the photos but is a bit more light duck egg blue in the flesh - as it were.
I'm really getting into the whole shawl wearing thing, there is something very special in wrapping yourself up in something handmade that keeps you warm - I guess I feel like I'm giving myself a cuddle. And we all need a cuddle now and then, right?
I did have to laugh at myself whilst trying to get a decent photo of me wearing my capelet. (My daughter helped me in the end one morning before school) I was trying to use the mirror in my bedroom, thinking I could achieve some artistic effect (ha, ha). It wasn't working at all and I was pondering the best plan when I noticed my Betsy Hare I had made for my little one sitting on the bed.
Don't you think we look the same with our granny shawls?
Sorry I'm a bit late doing this but the winner picked by Random.org for the star mandala crochet pattern designed by the fabulous Barbara from Made in K-Town is: number 8 - Holly J Quigley-Papke. Congratulations Holly, I've emailed the pattern over to you, hope you have fun making it :o)
There is a knitathon happening in my town this weekend in aid of Headway organised by the very sweet Bev at The Bedford Arms in Bromham Road. So from 8pm tomorrow (Saturday 30th November) you can knit away for a whole 24 hours all in aid of charity and I think you get fed and watered too!
The idea is to knit lots of 6" squares that will be then joined together into a blanket which will be auctioned off at 8pm Sunday evening, raising hopefully lots of money for the worthy charity. Luckily for me they will accept crochet squares too but unfortunately I'm not able to go for the whole 24 hours but will pop along on Sunday morning to lend my support. I'm hoping these granny-squares I've made will be okay for the blanket and I'll be able to donate some yarn too if they need it.
So if you are local and would like to join in you can get more info from Bev at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01234 214656. I'm quite excited, I've never been to any type of 'thon' before!
Oh I have had such a good day today, everything has been lovely and I'm feeling the blog world love. Thanks for all your encouraging comments on my free-form quilting, my binding is attached and I'm half way round sewing it in place, so not long now before I can show you all how it's turned out, yay!
As well as all that crazy quilting I've been doing a bit of crochet pattern testing. The lovely Barbara from Made in K-Town had recently asked for a volunteer to test out her star mandala pattern before she put it up for sale in her Etsy shop. I put my name in the hat and lucky me got the email from Barbara with the pattern attached ready for me to put to the test. I simply couldn't wait to get started!
I felt very important to have been given the job and set about reading the pattern briefly through first and then out came my cotton yarn and hook and I was off. I had my pencil at hand to make any notes regarding mistakes or typos - but there weren't really any at all and I produced a fab little mandala in no time.
and it wasn't long before I had another two and my set was complete. I'm loving this little trio of beauties, and the pattern is wonderful to work up. It's very easy to follow with good photos and extra explanations written in italics that really help you to completely understand where you're at - it's almost like Barbara is sitting beside you, gently talking you through her creation.
I've used three pretty colours of Jade, Pink and Cream (Patons 100% cotton)
I also drew out a 14 spiked star on paper (with a bit of clingfilm on top) to use as a blocking pattern.
So if you fancy making this gorgeous star mandala for yourself here is the shop link, it's such fun!
But hey! The generous Barbara has given me permission to give her pattern away in a give away - yes I know I've only just had one but 'tis the season of giving (well soon anyway) so why not?
So leave a comment on this post and I will use the random selector to pick the winner on Sunday 1st December 2013 at about 8pm.
I'm going to donate my mandala trio to Janets pop up crafty shop at Fancy Bedford in aid of the DEC Typhoon appeal that takes place on Saturday 30th November - pop over to her blog for more info if you would like to either donate an item or go along on Saturday to see what's on offer and treat yourself!
GAHHH!!! free form quilting, I love the effect but find it sooo hard to do. I have been manically quilting away to get my current patchwork project near completion and so I can switch my sewing machine back to normal setting and crack on with some Christmas gifts I want to make ( not to mention my friends roman blind I need to get done)
I've got the darning foot on, the feed-dog lowered and the stitch length set to zero. I have practised this type of quilting, using many helpful You Tube videos and blog tutorials on the subject trying to perfect my technique.
It's all in the handling. As you meander around the quilt you must make sure your speed (controlled by the foot pedal) and the rate you pull the work through the machine (backwards or forwards or sideways - you can go in any direction with no feed-dog teeth) match. Otherwise the length of the stitches vary, and oh boy do my stitch lengths vary!!!
I find I hold my breath as I sew, my shoulders tense and my head moves in a very weird way, following the pattern of the quilting lines I'm making as if that somehow controls the pattern - it so doesn't of course!
I have come to the end of the quilting stage now and am ready now to bind the edges. Standing back (and maybe squinting a bit) the effect looks good I think. A closer look reveals all those different length stitches and areas where my quilting is denser than in other areas. Certainly not perfect, but by the end I had got slightly better at it than when I started.
Definitely a technique where practice makes perfect. Well, in my my case I could do with a hell of a lot more practice to get in the vague area of perfection. To even be able to knock on perfections door.
I'm not put off mind and am going to nip in and buy some fabric for my binding after me and baby have been to soft play this morning. Hopefully I will be able to finish off my not-so-perfect quilt next week :o)
number 4!!! and the fourth comment was from Stephanie Haworth! Well done Stephanie, please email me on email@example.com with your postal address and I will get your capelet and multi-motif doily in the post to you this week.
Hi all you lovelies, it's a beautiful sunny but cold Autumn day here. I popped out to do some errands this morning and it was a joy to see the sunshine lighting up the autumnal coloured leaves still on the trees, the sun is very low in the sky and I do find that makes seeing while driving difficult - which is rather scary. Nevertheless I'm glad the sun is shining today and I hope it lasts.
As promised in my last post here is my give-away, yay!!
I won't let my self doubting thoughts that you guys won't like the gifts I've made for the prize get in the way at all, I really do hope you do like them and will leave me a comment which is how you can enter.
The first item is this Fireside Capelet (pattern designed by Francine Toukou) It is such a quick and easy thing to make and I love it - I'm already making the third one! It's made with a Louisa Harding yarn, called Grace Hand Dyed and is 50% Merino wool and 50% silk so it is handwash only! It is beautifully soft and lightweight and fits snugly on your shoulders.
I've used my favourite turquoise rose button to centre the crochet flower, which can be worn either centrally or to the side. I hope you like the bright colours of turquoise, coral, silver and gold, maybe you have a sweater that would go well with this??
This next gift is made from the Mollie Makes book I won recently in a give-away (see my last post here) which is what inspired me to do this give-away in the first place.
The multi-motif doily (I have trouble saying that) in mousy grey with pops of colour,
So something for the home that might be pretty on your coffee table perhaps??
So if you fancy being in with a chance of winning these two lovelies (they make up one prize) please leave a comment here on this post.
I will use random.org to pick the winner next Sunday 17th November at 4pm my time (UK) and I will of course send to anywhere in the world.
The last couple of weeks my attention has been very much taken up with family life and getting through bouts of flu and nasty colds. Myself and my husband have both been knocked for six by the dreaded lergy and then also my poor little girl has had what seems at least 2 back to back colds and then suffered awfully as her teeth have cut through. Bless her she really has had it bad and I feel all I've done for ages is administer the Nurofen to help her through. Whoever came up with the idea to provide the measured plastic syringe with this medicine instead of the two-ended spoon as I remember with Calpol when my older children were babies is a bliming genius and should be given an OBE or something! It makes giving the dosage far easier and a lot less messy!
Of course looking after my family is my priority and I always try be there to give cuddles as when needed but having to cope with working and juggling around childcare through half term and just the general soul-destroying guilt of leaving baby when she's feeling rotten because I have to go to work has left me feeling drained. Not to mention getting seriously behind on the housework front, even though my house is certainly never pristine, if I can't keep up with all the jobs things very quickly start to fall apart and life just seems so insurmountable. Throw in teenage traumas and all in all it's been fairly stressful around here!
Right, moan over.
Now things are getting back to normal I can take a minute to appreciate the good things that have been going on. I received an email from the lovely Lorrae who is one of my regular workshop attendees. She has been getting on great with her crochet and asked if I had any patterns for mittens, I pointed her in the direction of Ravelry as there is such a wealth of patterns and inspiration there. I also linked her to Sandra's pattern at Cherry Heart and this is what she decided to make.
Fab aren't they?? Lorrae has made a great job of them and I'm really glad she has found enjoyment in crochet. You know me - always willing to spread the crochet love :o)
Although I haven't been anywhere near my sewing machine to complete the quilt I'm working on (and was hoping to finish by now) I have managed to crochet here and there myself, it is an easy pick - up, put down craft that can fit in and around other stuff. I had found a lonely tea-cup that had lost it's saucer and so I made a little pincushion to sit in it to make it complete again.
This is another of Sandra's patterns that you can find here. Thank you Sandra for being so generous with your tutorials, - I think I owe you a coffee and slice of cake :o)
And then of course, through the dark days of aches and pains, sneezing and snotty tissues came another ray of sunshine. I had won a giveaway hosted by the brilliant Beata of Rosehip. I couldn't believe my luck that I had won, the prize being the new Mollie Makes crochet book that I had been considering buying. The book was sent to me directly from the publisher and it came at just the right time, talk about cheering me up!!
This is such a lovely, colourful book and it really has been a tonic to sit and look through the happy pictures. Beata has her crochet trimmed pillow cases featured in the book which I have long admired as she uses fabulous prints and wonderful colour combinations.
I also love this chevron blanket designed by Ilaria Chiaratti - pretty, pretty colours!!!
The Book People rep had left some samples at work the other day and this book was one of them. They had it priced at £6 but I've just gone on to their website so I could share the link and I notice it's £4.99 there - a must buy!
So thank you Beata for hosting the give-away and to Collins and Brown for the free book. This is the second time I've won a give-away and so now I think it's about time I did one here. I'm going to make it my next post and as it has taken me forever to write this one due to a veeeeerrrry slow computer, my atrocious typing and my inability to form coherent sentences.
So I'm off now to see how random.com works. I will be back soon with my very first betsymakes giveaway, I hope you will pop back then!!
Hi all, hope each and everyone of you are feeling good today. Weather is a bit miserable here but hey-ho - we can still find things to smile about.
Like maybe how I declared not so long ago that variegated / self-striping / colour changing yarn didn't appeal to me in the least. Only to then become quite intrigued by it and mooched the online yarn shops, checking out what's available. There was one that caught my attention, not sure exactly why this one in particular, but for some reason the colours and the promise of the 'fair isle effect' made me fancy having a go at making something - just to see how it would turn out. I know, I just completely contradicted myself!!
I actually didn't order any at the time. It was August and quite sunny and warm and not so much the weather for chunky knitting yarn. BUT THEN I had to make a mad dash over to Barretts in St Neots (the nearest actual store to me that sells Stylecraft Special DK) as I needed some more to finish off the blanket I was making for my daughters birthday. And low and behold there was this exact yarn I had been coveting online in the sale bin!!! I couldn't help thinking it was destiny so I bought 6 balls (any excuse, lol)
I felt that it would work up best knitted rather than crochet, although I am tempted to have a little experiment to see how it would look with crochet stitches, and settled on a scarf for the winter. As I never like the 'wrong side' of stocking stitch I chose to do a wide rib of knit 3, purl 3. Simple as that. My knitting skills don't take me much further than that anyway but I also think it would be pretty pointless doing anything fancy with this type of yarn, it speaks for itself right?
So back and forth I knitted, simple and satisfying and I marvelled how the stripes formed all by themselves - magic! I did wonder if the stitch count was crucial to get the best effect, and if so I don't think I was spot on but still liked the slightly random stripy look I got.
After I'd used up 5 of the balls I bought I decided to stop as the scarf was long enough for me, intending to make some wrist warmers with the remaining ball hopefully. I have to say it's worked out really well and is a lovely scarf to wear, since the weather has turned grim I've had it on a few times.
I'm glad I opened my mind and had a go at something different for me, I've now got a fab scarf and really enjoyed making it too. I think it's great to be able to experiment with all sorts of different yarns and fabric to see what comes out, it's half the fun :o)