Friday, 19 September 2014

Unbelievably Organised

Unbelievably organised - yep! That's me.  Back in June I had my Christmas planning day, I thought through everything I wanted to do, make or organise for Christmas this year.  Then I drew up a schedule of when everything needed to be done, so that the work was spread over a number of months.

One of my tasks for September was to make my Christmas cards.  And here's some of the cards I've made.

I had a very sticky, but fun, session yesterday, glue, paper and ribbons everywhere - but I'm very pleased with the results.

The white strip of paper that features on the middle of each card is actually textured wallpaper, a  free sample from the local Do-It-Yourself shop.  I think it adds a nice snowy touch.

So that's another one ticked off the Christmas planning list.  There'll be no "I wish I had more time" when we get to December.  I'm on top of it all.  How come I'm so organised at the moment? - it worries me that I'm missing something big!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Nice and Snug

I can't believe how quickly I'm getting through my work-in-progress at the moment.  The crafting gods must be smiling down on me (or it could just be I'm ignoring the housework).

Ive finished my long fingerless mittens, and they are just lovely.

Nice and long, to keep me snug in the colder weather, but with plenty of freedom of movement around the fingers.

The pattern was great to knit, the different gansey patterns made it interesting.

The pattern is called Gansey Wristers and it's by Kalliopi Aronis - and it's free, yippee!

You can see details of my project, here, on Ravelry.  And now it's on with the next work-in-progress.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

I'm Going to Knit a Skirt

Over the years, I've knitted most things but I have never knitted a skirt.  I bought the pattern for this skirt back in March but knitted skirts aren't really required in the summer months so I put off starting to knit it.

original pattern photo

original pattern photo

The pattern is by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas, you can see details of it on Ravelry, here.

It is a well written pattern and the great thing is that it can be adapted to make it more fancy.  A number of people on Ravelry have added cable panels to their versions.

For my first attempt I'm just following the original pattern for a plain version.

I've bought some Cascade 220 yarn in cranberry (anything with 'berry' in it's name is always going to appeal to me).

Reading other people's project notes on Ravelry, this is a quick knit so I'm looking forward to racing through the pattern.

So I'm going to cast on now, put my feet up, find something good to watch on Netflix and knit away. I hope you are also enjoying some crafty time.  

Monday, 15 September 2014

International Dot Day

Today, 15th September, is International Dot Day.  It is based on the children's picture book by Peter H. Reynolds called The Dot, in which a teacher encourages a child to use their creativity to build their confidence.  You can read all about International Dot Day, here.

I think this is a wonderful idea.  Clearly it is mostly aimed at teachers but the idea behind it is inspiring for everyone.

I love the idea that creativity is used to encourage and develop self-esteem.  There is a spirit of creativity in us all, it just needs to be nurtured.

My daughters are all grown up now and I love the way they have developed their own individual styles of creativity.  But being creative is a life long journey.  Even as adults we can still be brave and challenge ourselves to extend our creativity.

I have a journal that the girls gave me for my birthday.  I've been saving it up as I wanted to use it for something special.

Today, I'm going to start using this journal.  Belatedly I've come across the Documented Life Project.  Each week there is a new idea to be incorporated in your journal.

I'm going to use the ideas from this challenge to fill my journal with drawings and collages.  I don't feel confident in my drawing skills but every drawing starts with a dot, and if you don't try it you'll never know how good you could be.

So go on, it's International Dot Day, unleash the spirit of creativity in yourself and others.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

An Inspiring Sunrise

This is a wonderful time of the year.  The changing of the seasons always seems most magical when Summer turns into Autumn.

On my early morning walk the other day, there was a beautiful sunrise.  The sun was a gorgeous orangey-yellow fading into a yellow and pink misty sky.  I didn't have my camera with me - typical!  But this photo gives a flavour of what I mean.

As anyone who knits or crochets knows, when you see something beautiful like this, the first thoughts are how can I knit / crochet that - or maybe it's just me who thinks like that.  Anyway, I was so inspired by that beautiful sunrise, I wanted to capture it somehow.

So I gathered together a selection of pinks and yellows.

Grabbed a crochet hook and started making little squares.

I have a design in mind for a cushion cover - it will take 162 little squares!  So that will keep me busy for a while.

What has inspired you lately?  Do you love Autumn as well?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Free Machine Embroidery

A while ago I mentioned that I had borrowed this book from the library, Free & Easy Stitch Style by Poppy Treffry.

Finally, after consulting my sewing machine manual, I've plucked up the courage to give it a try.

The book gives very good explanations and step-by-step guidance.  So I gathered up some bits and pieces of upholstery fabric and started with sewing around some shapes I had pencilled onto the fabric.

The square started off very wonky but as I got used to having to move the frame around under the needle it became easier.

The book says it is essential to use an embroidery frame, but I found it rather a nuisance.  It got in the way and I seem to get it caught up on the machine a number of times.  So defying the book, I scrapped the frame and moved onto the next step - appliquéing.

This was a lot easier to do without the frame and I felt as though I was getting to grips with the technique.

Obviously the work looks much better when I've pressed it.

I liked the bold black outline, but the book suggests experimenting with different colours for top and bottom bobbins.  So I cut out some more hearts and experimented away.

The first heart I did is sewn with light brown in the top bobbin and dark brown in the bottom bobbin.

I could have altered the tension so that more of the bottom thread showed through but I have a very tentative relationship with the tension on my sewing machine so I thought it best to leave it alone.

The second heart has red on the top and cream on the bottom.

Again the bottom colour doesn't show, but I like the way the red looks.

The third heart has cream top and bottom.

This shows up nicely.  At this point I'm starting to feel more comfortable with the sewing but maintaining an even length stitch is very difficult.

The last heart has blue thread.

Now what shall I do with all these hearts?  Seems a shame to waste them.

So I made a little hanging for Eve.

I think it has quite a rustic feel to it.  Not bad.

I had one last go at free embroidery - this time, jumping in with both feet, I thought I'd embroider my name.

After several faulty starts, I realised that I'd been doing it all wrong previously.  I'd been trying to feed the fabric through the machine as though I was sewing a seam.  The fabric actually slides quite easily from side to side and up and down if you let it - rather than trying to turn the fabric all the time!

So how's this for a novice...

...quite good I reckon.  Obviously it helps if you read the book properly rather than just looking at the pictures!

I definitely need more practice but it was fun and I would recommend the book if you haven't tried this before.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Half-Birthday Celebrations

I love birthdays and because they only come round once a year, I like to celebrate half-birthdays as well.  Why not?

Yesterday was my half-birthday, so I made myself some yummy scones.

But that leads to the difficult decision of which flavour jam do I want.

The apricot is irresistible - it's made in Sheffield, Grace bought it for me in her local market.  It's so fruity - I'll be ordering some more from her.  I also have a weakness for plum jam.

Perfect.  Now what other little treats can I give myself?

How about trying some machine embroidery?  Why not?  I'll let you know how I get on.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Tour of Britain

No, I'm not starting a new venture in offering holidays, this is about the cycle race!

This weekend we have had a wonderful time with Grace, culminating in watching the Tour of Britain cycle race on Sunday.   The tour was starting off in Liverpool this year and stage 1 was a eight lap circuit of the centre of Liverpool.  The sun was shining and, down by the waterfront, the crowds were building.

Here we are waiting for the race to start.

We had a good speck, not too crowded,  just in front of the Albert Dock, which looked lovely in the September sunshine.

The eight lap circuit meant that there were plenty of opportunities to try and get some decent photos.

These are just after the start, after they left the Liver Building...

Here I am waiting in between the circuits...

And these are as they neared the end of the circuit...

They whizzed past at such an amazing speed.  I managed to get a few pics of Bradley Wiggins  - but I took over 200 photos so it took a while to sort through them all.

We really enjoyed the day out - even better than the Tour de France.

In the evening we watched the race on the television - we caught glimpses of ourselves (very blurred) as the cameraman went by.  Liverpool looked wonderful on the television. It made me feel very proud of our city.  It is such a great place to live.  If you've never been to Liverpool, you should definitley give it a visit.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Flapjacks for Grace

I've made some flapjacks.

It's just a standard sultana flapjack recipe, nothing exciting - but very yummy.  I've made them for Grace because - Hurray!! - she's home on a flying visit this weekend.

We can watch the Formula 1 racing on the television together - just like old times.

Grace has brought this magazine with her, so I'm looking forward to having a browse.

Later, we're off to watch the first stage of the Tour of Britain cycling race.

They're doing ten laps of Liverpool city centre, so we're hopeful of getting a few decent photos.

Enjoy your weekend - whatever you're doing.