Wednesday, 29 September 2010

tea for two

Knitted Mug Hugs by Val Pierce is another title in the 20 to make series so again is available at £4.99. As the title suggests there are twenty patterns here to make mug hugs, (think a mini tea cosy type affair to keep your drink warm) all are knitted with various embellishments and are shown in different colour ways to give more ideas. I must admit to being a little sceptical about the practical application of a mug hug, although I remember the early days of having children when a ‘hot drink’ was always enjoyed cold some time after I intended to drink it! I think what is nice about this book is that it would introduce a range of knitting techniques to a new knitter; cable, fair isle, i-cords, appliqué and gives an opportunity to make something cute with very little yarn needed, in super quick time. Maybe an older child would enjoy making them as gifts for Christmas? I also like the fact that one could make good use of all the cute novelty buttons that accumulate. There is no reason why these patterns couldn’t be knitted shorter as cool cuffs or wider and with more buttons as cafetiere cosies. I had a go at knitting a Fair Isle heart mug hug and found that the chart and number of stitches in the pattern didn’t match. This wasn’t a problem once I’d realised but it might really throw a new knitter. My tension was shot as I was using wools of a slightly different weight and was watching Diagnosis Murder but the hug did come out at a size to fit most mugs in the cupboard. I can’t see all my mugs wearing hugs anytime soon, but I can see this book does have a lot to offer and again at a really good price.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Lets get together, come on come on, let's get together

I am a bit excited about next October, I like the look of next October, next October is something to look forward to which is always nice isn't it? I like very much having something to look forward to- don't you? Would you like to be a bit excited about next October? Do you think maybe you could pack up some bits and bobs and converge on the Midlands for a super-fun meet up type affair? Cool! Pop over to Trashys blog; and let her know, because she's planning this shin-dig and it would be good for her to know now who else is excited about then...if you see what I mean. Ace. xxx

(the picture was taken last October in Dorset, nice huh- October's kind of cool every year it seems!)

Friday, 24 September 2010

Ebony and Ivory

So you have seen the fabulous goodies which I was sent for Trashy's 'As you Like it' swap and now I shall show you what I sent. I was so fortunate to be sending to Lilly Pilly who had chosen three sets of very inspiring themes; black and white, birds of a feather and Sweet and Sour.

(I know I didn't deserve Jo as a partner after the horrid combo of words I gave to my poor partner!) Anyway having not long completed a bird swap I focused on the black and white element. Jo is a fabulous stitcher so I tried to make things using other techniques. I visited a bead shop and made this oh so simple necklace and then on to the wool shop for some yarn to make a scarf.
Now I really like to support local businesses so I did buy local but was a bit out off when I asked if they kept 'Flirt' and was told that they did keep a few budget yarns and that they were just down 'by the door'. I don't really call Flirt a budget yarn it is over £3 for 50g and is made from natural fibres. Anyway I did make a purchase but then went online to my good pals at Stash and made a much bigger and altogether more satisfying purchase from them! So the scarf has a base of Flirt in black, I crocheted a lovely Louisa Harding flecked grey into that and then added a soft mohair edging- (yarn pinched from Mum's stash!) I made a matching brooch and embellished it with lots of little treasures.
I found some black and white fabric with matching bird panels at another local store so managed to nod to the bird theme and finally visited Paperchase and my friend who is a Phoenix trader for the fourth little parcel. I did put some sour Haribo in as well so covered all three themes.
This was another really enjoyable swap to make, I really liked the themes and working in monochrome.
I am trying to wean myself off the swaps but have now finished a parcel for my Mum and have one other lovely lass to make a parcel for...... I just don't think I can resist them!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Sweet dreams are made of these

Sweet Memories by Brenda Karon Shade is an Australian published title distributed in this country by Search. It is indeed a very sweet book with three very special projects. There are instructions and patterns for making a quilt, cushion and rag doll and at £18.99 this might not seem the best value, but these are no ordinary projects. If you have see the Australian embroidery magazine ‘Inspirations’ you may have some idea of what I mean. The quilt incorporates more techniques than you might usually use in a decade of projects. There is smocking, shadow work, pin tucking, appliqué, piecing, quilting, gathering and the finest embroidery. The instructions for everything are crystal clear and illustrated with copious detailed photos and diagrams. The cushion is similar in it’s design but on a smaller scale so may be a sensible start before the whole quilt is undertaken. The rag doll is a more classic project and has the most beautiful dress.

These three projects are a total labour of love and I can’t see how they would fail to become heir looms. I wonder how long such delicate and subtle items would last in the bedroom of your average little girl, they look too special to be laid out to the ravages of chocolate biscuits, sparkly nail varnish and felt tips. Perhaps Australian girls are a bit ‘sweeter’ than those I know and love.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Deep purple

Celtic Jewellery by Amanda Walker, is the latest in the brilliantly priced (£4.99) Twenty-to-make series. It has a huge range of techniques and ideas there are lots of interesting knotted pieces, bag dangles and some really different paper ear rings. I had a go at knotting a bracelet and really liked the design. I wouldn’t say it felt a massively Celtic book, I think if you used more oriental beads for example you could completely change the feel of a design. As I say though there are massive of techniques here, and none of the designs list huge quantities of expensive beads. This would be a perfect book for anyone wanting to dip their toe into jewellery making, wanting to extend their skills or wanting a gift for a younger crafter. At £4.99 this book is the same price as some beading magazines and you get a lot more ideas, no adverts, and a really neat little tome to come back to time and again if you are stuck for ideas- perfect!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Romeo loved Juliet, Juliet she felt the same

Firstly THANK YOU, thank you for all your gentle words and reassurances. I have been much comforted in the knowledge that all mothers seem to stand on a bed of shifting sand. I want to feel like a powerful force, a mother, a divine feminine goddess. So I have decided that the only way to acheive this higher level of exsistence is to hang out with other Mamas and eat cake, drink beer and chat for a while. Then it will be home for some sewing, some playing and some painting of nails. How does that sound? I am going to nurture myself for a while. Also the wedding venue we had booked (if you can call a registry office for half an hour a venue) is being closed next summer so I need to do some research into possible plan B's.
Anyway as well as all the lovely messages and the pleasure of perusing buffet menus I have also had the great heart warming pleasure of receiving a parcel from Run Mama Run. This swap about was organised by Trashy, who, for some unknown reason, I always manage to say something dumb infront of. I do have dippy tendencies but I grasped totally the wrong end of the stick with this swap and somehow managed to give Clara the task of making me a parcel based on; flip flops
, fruit, shrews and Venice. Really, don't ask!
I can't believe that Clara managed it! She really covered every angle, there was an art print a Venetian mask, flip flop frame and key ring, a flip flop patchwork pattern, fruity scented stickers and some simply gorgeous squares of batik fabric of 'Venetian' pattern. It was so cheering to get such fun treasure and I have already used some of the fabric for another project I'm working on. A big thank to Clara and Trashy. I will show next time what I sent to my partner, who gave me some much more sensible words, thank goodness, but I'm sure karma will get me back at some point! Meanwhile I shall continue with project goddess and knit whilst watching Brambly Hedge with the kids!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

All in all it's just another brick in the wall

Hi, and welcome to my picture-less post, the computer to which the decent camera downloads is having a new fan fitted, and frankly I think I could do with going in the shop too. This having Anna starting school lark has really thrown me a curve ball and I don't know why.....well actually I know exactly why but that makes it even worse. For the last seven years I have been a Mum, I have worked two days a week throughout but essentially I have been caring for my children, holding their little hands through those early days and now I feel redundant. I didn't exactly have a career before but I guess I was always thinking in the back of my mind that the most important job of having children was yet to come, and now, what's next? It could be a really exciting time, the course, a little more freedom, but for now it just all seems a little empty. I have no idea how to define myself, the fact that I make things has always been so important to me but now even that seems hollow, though it is keeping my sane at the moment (I think). The silliest bit is that Anna is only at school for two and a half hours a day at the moment so the best/worst is very much still to come. I don't want to fill my three days with coffee and chats, shopping and housework. I can do a bit of those things but it isn't enough and I'm not sure I really value what the City and Guilds might do for me, I'm not sure I value myself enough. The other thing that scares me is that the course is distance learning, so it won't get me any contact, any reason to slap a grin on my face and look cheery, which I reckon is the first step to feeling that way. I'm not sure I have ever written quite such a heart on my sleeve type post before but I am hiding at the moment and I really don't want to shut the door completely, I like to think that the world is counting to ten and will come to find me in just a minute.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

We don't need no education

Well clearly they do- Will in particular could do with a term at finishing school as his table manners leave a little to be desired!
Anyway school will have two of the clan to deal with from today and they are most in danger from being killed by kindness where Anna is concerned. She is very excited and I think Will will really enjoy having her at school with him. I'm not sure how I feel about it all yet, I am certainly looking forward to having five minutes to myself, but when I have to wave my tiny tot off and see her all grown up in the huge classroom.......well I'm not making any promises.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Simply red

I just thought I'd pop in to let you know I'm still here, Anna is starting school in the morning so will be about more once I've got my head around that. I also wanted to share an image of this fabulous necklace I bought from Folksy. I will be going back to Green River Studio for more gifts, this came so quickly and beautifully wrapped, thank you Corrina, my sister-in-law is very pleased with it.

Friday, 3 September 2010

What's in you head, in your head, zombie, zombie, zombie?

Zombie Felties by Nicola Tedman and Sarah Skeate can be bought here at £8.99. I’m telling you this straight away because I know when you have seen our Zombies you will want to buy the book and make some of your own. I received this book whilst my brother and my sister-in-law were staying with us which was handy because it meant we could spend two very enjoyable evenings ‘doing makeys’. Nila has made softies before and Tom has had a little go but Tom counted himself a novice. Zombie softies has 16 designs from which to choose, Tom and I made a two skull zombie, but Nila had a go at the three skull design (difficulty levels start at one skull and go right up to four). The patterns are ready to trace or copy at full size which was nice. Some pieces are teeny tiny so used up some of my silly-small scraps of felt. There are very good instructions for all the techniques and stitches you need at the front of the book and there are brilliant diagrams with very specific directions for each zombie, right down to how many strands of embroidery cotton to use. You do need a good selection of beads, buttons, threads, felt, and other miscellaneous haberdashery, we ended up with nearly all my boxes of treasure out on the table, but it was nice to be creative and use up some precious bits. The zombies are tiny and bits of the process were very fiddly but they are totally ace, so that makes up for any earlier extreme concentration in their construction!

Tom, the novice, enjoyed making his zombie and with a little help and advice he was very capable. I think the book would be a fun project for a sewer wanting to work with some funky young types, even if they had never sewn before but if you were giving it as a gift into a non- sewing household it is worth putting in some supplies as if you were buying everything you needed from the instructions it would soon add up.

I really liked this book and I really like my zombie, the book is going from here to Tom and Nila’s so more horrific(ally cute) undead can be unleashed upon the world.

I must also just mention that these zombies are not suitable for small children, due to little bits.