Monday, 30 November 2009

Chocolate orange- yum!

Firstly Simon has very kindly switched my browser to 'Chrome' so I now have no idea how to move my pictures around- but there are definite advantages- like spell checking on the comments I leave, which, as this keyboard is a bit knackered will be very useful!
Secondly LOOK AT MY TREASURE!!!! Mary is a complete genius! I sent Mary two fat quarters of fabric and some spangley bits and pieces as part of Contented's paper bag swap. I genuinely love this bright and loud fabric but as Mary is such a classy bird I thought it might give her palpitations. I need not have worried, Mary has taken my fabric turned it upside down, inside out, and into the most amazing array of lovely treats. The expectation ad excitement is my only excuse for the pictures taken on the ironing board in very poor light. I genuinely couldn't wait to get inside those gorgeous brown packages. It is always a good sign when a swap parcel contains sweets and chocolate, I want it noted as a rare moment of self control that I didn't open the rest of the parcel whilst chomping on love hearts! The parcel also smelt divine, both the froggy and the mini cushion are scented. The mini bunting is very beautifully crafted and the padded hanger is too, honestly Mary has managed to make this fabric look quite sophisticated! The brooch is particularly gorgeous, I know the brown velvet I sent resulted in a few headaches and swear words but using it in this way fr the brooch is inspired- and inspiring- I have now decided on my Christmas day outfit based on my yearning to accessorise with this beauty. There was also some very understated gifts, some subtle fragranced soap and a rather lovely bracelet in a mauvey grey. I am so very grateful for my lovely presents.
I have also managed to get my advent pockets complete ready for tomorrow so will show and tell that in my next post.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Feeling festive

I am a little behind in my blogging, busy making for the start of advent! This is what I got up to last weekend, and I promise another post very soon, showing you what the lovely Mary sent for my paper bag swap.
So last Sunday I invited some friends to play, Pomona and Tabiboo
came over and we set to 'work' making decorations for the handmade tree which I'll be putting in to the Sandwich festival of trees. It was so nice to have their company, and the company of their little princesses, as we stitched away at felt trees and some yo-yos, we even got some assistance and artistic direction from the younger members of our gathering. I will need to do a lot more stitching before the 9th which is the gala opening of the festival, but I have now found a provider of the actual tree. I work with a girl who's husband has started his own fencing company and I asked if he'd like some advertisng as in 'Tree kindly provided by...' but as we chatted we came up with the idea of him making a tree from fencing materials. I have no idea what he will bring to the church a week Wednesday but I am so pleased that the tree will fit with the whole ethos of handmade. I have mentioned the tree here before and a couple of friends have sprung forward with kind contributions; Ann from Embroiderers guild made this dear felt heart, so beautifully crafted and the ever supportive and lovely Daisie sent her signature ice skates to display. If anyone else wants to send anything you are more than welcome!
I was surprised but obviously thrilled that my lovely guests came bearing gifts, I had drooled over Nina's crochet hearts on her blog and now have a set for myself! I am thinking of stringing these into a pretty garland. Nina also gave me the dearest felt key ring, this will appear on the tree before it gets added to my keys as I think it is so pretty it deserves to be admired by all. Pomona also treated me to a very lovely bag holding two jars of her homemade jam. I am a total jam monster and my lunch is very often jam on toast so I am very grateful for something special to spread over the festive period. It was so nice to see Pomona again and to meet Nina in person, I know I have said before but the blogging thing for me is about more than cyber relationships, although these are lovely, and letters, swaps and meeting up have all meant the blog seems more real. Thanks for making the effort to come over lovely ladies and for lending me your skills for the day, it is really very much appreciated. xx

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Chim chim cherooo!

I have loved the paper bag swap organised by Contented. I have loved using Marys treasure to make something just for her. I have loved doing something new, and being able to spend as much time as I liked on hand embroidery without a single thought about whether it was 'viable'. Mary had made a bundle of some pretty buttons and the fabric looked the right tear drop shape for a jingle owl. I made lots of little treasures; a yo-yo keyring, and crochet brooch with covered button- (next years summer brooch?). I made a home from the brooch with a little draw string bag from a Kumiko Sudo book. I know I have raved about this author before but I never fail to find a pattern I want to try each time I have a flick through her books, and they always seem to turn out really nicely. Mum lent me the book 'The impatient patchworker' and I decided to be brave and attempt the zipped bag. I haven't set a zip for years, and have never even used my current machine zipper foot. I have to say it wasn't the easiest and I lost a needle but I was really glad I did it. I think there will be more of these little bags being made before Christmas. Mary had sent me some vintage embroidered table cloth and I wanted to make something really pretty from this so I added some more hand embroidery and some appliqued hexagons. The applique was new for me too and I decided to use iron on interfacing to make these. I had aimed to use every last scrap of the materials which Mary had sent but it all went quite along way so I returned some to her along with my makeys, a candlestick from the charity shop which seemed to match well, and some chocolate. Mary seemed pleased with her goodies, which is a huge relief as this is not my usual style, and now I am really excited to see what she made of the bag I sent her!
I have also asked Will to choose a number between one and nine for he 200th post draw and he said 9 so Karen will be getting the book- thanks to all of you who entered. Another review and giveaway will be coming soon!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Dorset, how I miss you!

A while back I promised some pictures of my visit 'home' to Dorset and lots of other nice things have happened meanwhile which have stalled me. No more waiting because here are some pics from one of my nicest afternoons back 'ome. We went to see Uncle Ben, he lives in a gorgeous rural setting, and he and my cousin Roo, are two very cool, clever and funny guys. The Messrs help look after a nearby big 'ouse and we wandered up with them to feed the geese. We came across a tree with these amazing fruits. Leave a comment if you've know what they are, and please I'd love to hear from anyone who's actually eaten one!
Next we found that a grape vine up the back of the house was fruiting some seeded but very yummy red grapes and we each grabbed a bunch and wandered the grounds spitting pips everywhere. I have never eaten fresh grapes and having then still damp with rain was perfect!
Thankfully Roo remembered that the electric fence on the goose pen was still on before the children did and here Uncle Be puts my mind at rest by proving that it was indeed 'off'!
Dad helped t keep the kids happy without any further danger or damage (!) by helping them find massive pointy branches to jab at each others faces. Honestly if two adults tried that someone would be blinded in seconds, two children can stab each other for hours and the worst that happens is that a stick breaks.
I always love to see the Messrs and was reassured to see that the wood shed was full and that the bows of holly were bright and shiny and ready for feeding the birds through the winter ahead. I also scrounged some cooking apples as these guys have enough stored to keep all of Dorset supplied with apple cake for a year or two

I have also update my Folksy shop and have decided that I will list in series so I have a whole front page crammed with fairisle brooches.
Don't forget to leave a comment on my 200th post to be in with a chance of getting the book, I shall draw a name on Sunday.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Swirly and Simon are Geniuses

Crazy Patchwork by Jeannette Knake was a surprising book for me. I am a traditional knitter and hand embroiderer and will admit to being put off by the cover images and my heart sank when just a few pages in I saw that the technique required spray adhesive. Usually this would be a total no-no for me but I felt that I should swallow my purist pride and have a go. I needed to buy the water soluble stabiliser and I was really pleasantly surprised to find that it had a soft texture rather than a slippery feel and felt quite robust. I also needed to buy spray adhesive and this is where I felt I went wrong. The book called for a water soluble spray adhesive and in retrospect I think they meant the kind you might use for holding a quilt sandwich in place, I just bought a standard artists spray ad I think either I used too much or it wasn’t water soluble as my sample is still sticky!

My three year old loved helping me lay down pieces of fabric scraps, net, organza and wool. I made my sample very fine but I think you could have made quite a thick layer with more spray. We machined it and rinsed it to make our piece in about half an hour, I will use mine as a base for hand embroidery rather than clothing. I remain to be convinced about how practical a garment constructed from this made fabric would be, but I am a reluctant convert to the joys of glue in textiles. I think this book would be a really good technical guide for anyone wanting to try a new method of constructing fabric from scraps. I also think that apart from the ventilation concerns with spray adhesive it would be a good basis for a workshop with children, and at £6.99 felt like good value, especially as the additional equipment you might need if you already stitch is not expensive.

Listen with you eyes

I received a parcel today and have had a lovely morning wondering at the contents. Trashys rainbow swap had already given me a heap of fun making things and now I have received my parcel from Wonderwoman (not!). All the parcels were so beautifully wrapped with lots of proper ribbon to go in my stash! Firstly I opened a paper bag full of supplies, buttons, pretty ribbon and some cute felt flowers which I have been sorely tempted to treat myself to in the past. I feel some cute hair clips coming on! Next I opened a parcel shaped like a bike saddle and found some bright and beautiful bunting, it was the word 'welcome' appliqued along it and will brighten up my place considerably. Next I opened these soft and fluffy hand warmers, I haven't broken out my gloves yet so these are going straight in my coat pocket ready for a cosy school run. I couldn't believe there was more but the next parcel contained a dear little appliqued and quilted hanging, I have just put this up in the dining room and it really does look so sweet.
Finally I found that Maria had made me a tea cosy. I currently use a knitted number for daily use and this rather special cosy shall be given a hook to hang upon until a special occasion arises and she can be bought into use for best.
All in all I can't quite believe the loveliness of my presents. Maria s so talented and these gorgeous rainbow delights are already brightening my home. A big thanks to Trashy for organising this brilliant swap. My special and heartfelt thanks to Maria. I was so delighted to know she was going to make my rainbow parcel and I am even more delighted now that it has arrived. Maria you are so very generous and kind and very very talented.
Don't forget the 200th post giveaway. I am still trying to get the review onto the blog and feel a step closer thanks to the expert advice of Swirly.

Monday, 9 November 2009

200 post giveaway

My 200th post! As is traditional it is time for a giveaway. Please leave a comment if you would like to win my review copy of 'Crazy Patchwork' by Jeannetee Knake. I will close the entries on Nov the 22nd.

This space here is where I keep trying to paste the lovely informative review that I have written, but it won't bloomin let me! Please if you can explain why I can't copy and paste my word document into blogger I would be really grateful.

Friday, 6 November 2009

One bought, one won- too lovely!

I made an October pay day Folksy purchase and sought out a bit of undiscovered talent. I found Lou Peajeux- what a treasure, stationary badges and mirrors all made from really quirky illustrations- the pheasants card I chose is absolutely perfect for an Uncle of mine, and I know will appeal to his sense of humour- I would rather send a witty card than a 'humorous' card any day. I can definitely seeing me buying more here as I have a whole family to whom I think these lovely makes would appeal!

I am also really pleased to have won Lupins giveaway on her blog Bugs and Fishes. I really like Laura's work and although there are other makers also using felt and beads there is something particularly nice about her designs and again the quirky nature of things such as her moustaches and masks. I do seem drawn to the oriental and have liked this cherry blossom design since I first saw it. I asked Laura to post my prize to my parents house as I wanted this brooch to go to my Mum, she is much more elegant than me and has a real weakness for a nice jacket so I knew that she would both appreciate the design and model it with more panache than I. A big thanks to Laura for making Mum and me two happy chicks.
Both these lovely pictures have been 'borrowed' from Folksy- thanks ladies. x

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The black venetian

I have a new mysterious and glamorous pal- she pretends not to be but in my book anyone who chooses black for their favourite colour in a swap has a certain panache! Yes Michela has now received the parcel I sent as part of Lululiz rainbow swap. Lululiz designed a really good questionnaire to give us lots of extra information about our partners so that is why there is also a fair amount of orange and yellow in the parcel, there was also a spending limit set which made the whole thing a very pleasurable swap. I made quite a bit for the swap- some more painted notelets and a button ring, but also a bag from a tea towel I had picked up at a Lifeboat stall. I would love to make more vintage tea towel bags and need to trawl some charity shops, and some Aunties kitchen drawers! I also made my first Jingle Owl- these are so cute that I have ordered lot more little bells from E-bay to make some for the Christmas tree. Part of my budget was spent on a little vintage posy ceramic, some chocolate and some mascara but I also commissioned Dad to turn a special pot. Michela lives in Venice and Dad was keen to make an architectural pot and he finished the wood in black and yellow. It was great to make a really family swap parcel, and when I read Michelas' thank you email out to my parents over the phone I got the feeling my Mum even wept a little!

A big thanks to Lululiz and Michela for giving me so much pleasure in putting this parcel together.I had so much fun that I have decided to put together swap style boxes for my parents and brother and sister in law for Christmas. Next post I will ave my October Folksy purchase to share and also I'll show you what I won last week on a blog giveaway.

Monday, 2 November 2009

End of the rainbow (swap)

My rainbow swap has landed! Trashy had the brilliant idea of the rainbow swap and I was asked to send to Little Cotton Rabbits. I had great fun making rainbow pennie pockets, which I am told are now gracing a certain young ladies shelves, I am hoping I will have time to make a festive set for our mantle piece. I forgot to photograph a rolled felt bracelet and earrings, they were hiding in the box for this photo. I also broke out my paintbrushes and watercolours to do some colour washed note cards. I stamped and embossed these and paired them with some rainbow envelopes. I loved this swap because it gave me chance to indulge my love for the colourful and because it got me doing new things, and rediscovering the pleasure of paint. A big thanks to Trashy for hosting and for Little Cotton Rabbit for her kind words about my makes

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Ruby ruby ruby ruby

Firstly, I have absolutely no idea why these pictures are of such terrible quality- I have not grainfied them- I can only assume that my mother, who hates having her picture taken has used her wise woman power to soft focus herself. Anyway terrible quality pictures do not lessen how happy looking at these pics makes me. My Mum and Dad will celebrate their Ruby anniversary next weekend and are re-visiting their honeymoon destination of London. I overheard a conversation in a fabric shop a good few years ago about someone making a golden wedding quilt and felt that a quilt would be a good present for my lovely parents who are not in any way materialistic but appreciate a bit of handmade. I chose a medieval style print and took colours from it- at the time this went really well with the decor in Mum and Dads bedroom, but as it was a good few years ago they have since redecorated and it now doesn't really match any room in the house, but they don't seem to mind!
I had a lovely time in Dorset and have lots more, much better pictures to share but for now here is photographic proof that a) it is possible to be married for forty years and still be friends b) my Dad does have the most excellent beard and c)that occasionally I do actually finish something!