Monday, 31 December 2007

Happy New Year!!

Warmest wishes for a Happy New Year extended to all crafty-minded friends!

I am looking forward to another year of new and exciting creative projects and hope that you, too, are also!
I very much appreciate the kind comments left for me and am thrilled to have many regular readers to my blog as well as random readers whom I hope will, also, return for visits in the not too distant future!

A very Happy New Year to everyone!

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Christmas Day!

Had a leisurely start to Christmas Day - we'd visited Martin and Pete for the exchange of gifts and seasons greetings on Christmas Eve until quite late on which made it a late night for us while waiting for lads to settle. Thankfully we'd not got a lot to bring down as their main gift was a PS.3! which, as you can see below, they are starting to guess after upwrapping a present containing "games"!!

Its not often you get it "right" but when you do, you are rewarded with a reaction and expression that makes it all worthwhile! This year the lads were delighted with their gifts which included, for Matt, the highlight of a box set of "Friends" dvd's off his Uncle Martin!

Bertie got all excited! he kept diving in amongst the discarded wrapping paper looking for "mice" and tearing about like a mad thing! Here he is sat under the tree waiting for something to happen .. (he didn't have to wait for too long!)

This continued after Uncle David visited bringing a pair of remote controlled helicoptors! (we nearly lost the light fittings a few times and I think the excitement was a bit too much for Lilly, at least!).

Inevitably the morning ended with the cat being SICK all over the place before retiring to her usual place on top of the shelf over radiator .. ..

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Christmas Reading Material!

Picked up a couple of books to enjoy over Christmas! Another one on crochet which I am resolved to learning "properly" and a book on hand beaded bags!

I subscribe to CME and Simply Knitting; they arrived on the same day that I decided to try two magazines I've not read before: Stitches and Lets Knit! (which is, apparently, *new*!).

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Ready for Christmas!

Last minute flinging of cash at tills yesterday! got to grab some mince pies on Monday! several gifts to be wrapped! and THEN I'm done! Yes, I'm "ready for Christmas"! AND, further more, I've broken up from work! yayy!!
Lads have broken up from school, one with the last remains of a heavy cold, and one just coming down with one - this happens EVERY year! about 5 yrs ago, we spend Christmas morning in the hospital with one very sick child badly dehydrated and my BROTHER at our house cooking OUR turkey dinner! thats got to be the worst we've had!
No. we've had worse!
My late MIL sadly died on Christmas Day 1992, and my late Father took ill on a Christmas night and died a little after in the January.
This year our other brother's Father, John, (my stepfather, removed due to divorce!) has been taken very poorly and is too, ill, in a hospital and we hope very much that he is recovered and able to come home for Christmas, at least.
Always an emotional time of year, all the more sew with health and family concerns - I wish everyone a healthy and happy crafty Christmas, especially so for those with their own similar concerns too.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Crazy Patch sketch book cover project (completed)

FINALLY I finished a mini project for my Creative Textiles course!
I was determined to complete a project rather than just "samples" on this occasion not least because "sewing" is, afterall, my main strength and it would have been a bit feeble had I not done something rather spectacular!
Sewing might well be a strong point, however creatively and artistically flinging together bits and pieces and come out with something spectacular is NOT something I do with ease!
Initially I flung lots of bits and pieces in different colours at a base of lightweight muslin and soon decided it just wasn't "working".
My colleague put together for me a "craft pack" of assorted types of fabrics and left over trims in a theme of black of white while another colleague who is a very talented and trained to Fine Art degree level encouraged me to just stop thinking "smart tailored sewing" and GO FOR IT! fling it under the foot and see where it takes you! she advised!
Inspired by the idea OF flinging it under the foot and being transformed into someone spectacularly creative I set about working on a rectangle of white muslin working from a corner outward!

I decided it was easier for me while learning the skill of crazily patching to stick with simple shapes and easy for ME was big straightish pieces! I soon got the hang of sewing then flipping then trimming and matching and my confidence grew especially after I realised how much easier it was when not worrying about "what colour shall I put HERE? (now I've gone & put THAT colour there!)" and after selecting a piece of corduroy with a little red and blue embroidered motif, I decided to add a little bit of red ribbon!
I could have got carried away with it all at this point, and started delving into my bag and coming out with lime greens and lilacs! but I decided to stay with a metallic silver ribbon trim which you can just see across the lower left corner of the photo above, together with a metallic silver ribbon flower and a shiny brad! and a tiny piece of red ribbon with white dots is the only "colour".

I tried to add ribbons and trims in the way that I thought best reflected the style and had, initially, planned to use this as a project for trying out some hand embroidery! However I decided to finish it all by machine! I top stitched bits of lace, ric rac, ribbon, braid and trim and couched some faux suede strips using a nice stitch which blended well the corduroy, velvet and faux fur.
Perhaps I got a bit carried away? with the super fluffy bit of feathery boa! I'm not sure how long that will last! but it looks nice and luxurious at this stage!
Finally, I got to put some beads on too! I used a white, a red and a metallic silver bead and sewed it using monfilament thread onto some black satin.

I Found a couple of decorative stitches on my machine that I liked, and sewed two lines of them in black emb. thread against white before zig zagging a length of sheer white ribbon over the top to diffuse it, and then repeated the stitches on an opposite corner on white fabric this time in a white emb. thread with no ribbon atop, it looks really good!

Some of the fabrics I used included plains, sequinned, faux fur, crushed satins and faux velvets, spots and dots and a bit of check!

Then I had to decide what to DO with it! Its SEW gorgeous and yummy-scrummy it had to be something in "use" and I decided to cover my mini project sketch book with it! You can see this book is in use already detailing my main project of the term, the lace Kiri project! (DON'T ask! its not progressed much - I think I'm on 5 repeats of the motif across the row now!).

Having never done this before, I pondered what to do! I stuck a piece of braid down the left hand side to give a clean finish and stuck it to the cover using strong double sided tape, and tucked the outer edges over the front page again with double sided tape and stuck a piece of novelty chain stitched paper to hide it all!!

It actually looks okay! quite good infact! the photo just isn't quite convincing of this!

I enjoyed the project! in the end! and had a lot of fun with it! I'd love to do another, soon, and next time I'd like to add much more in the way of STITCHING!

Monday, 17 December 2007

Get Claire Walking (campaign)

Earlier this year we received the shocking news that dh's neice, Claire, had taken an extremely serious fall from her horse that led to terrible consequences, her friends in the horsey world are busy fundraising for Claire and have the beginnings of a website detailing this as well as a journal Claire is publishing too. The Fundraising and Sponsorship page list their aims.
Naturally we all hope for the very best outcome, that Claire can indeed walk again and if she doesn't it won't be from lack of effort and commitment both on her part and that of her very close and supportive circle of family and friends.

Crazy Patch in black and white!

Decided to have another go at "crazy patch" if only for my folder as part of the Creative Textiles course!
Thought I could also use it as a reason to try out some of the hand embroidery stitches I've been too nervous to try out too!
Not entirely sure what I'll do with it! but here it is at the crazy patch sewn stage!

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Crafty Books (embroidery)

I've raided the library catalogue service again! Borrowed a super selection of crafty books, mostly "embroidery".

I plan to learn a few hand stitches and am definitely going to look further at "Blackwork" too!

I've finished reading my Vogue ultimate sock book, finally! last night! and a super read it was too! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the history and tradition of socks around the world and I'm pleased I bought the book, although, to be honest, I think I'd use (and find easier to use) the PATTERNS for ACTUAL socks from my More Sensational Knitted Socks book out of preference. which REMINDS me, I must MUST finish jitterbug sock 2!

Side tracked, slightly, with crochet I've put aside my knitting but I do plan to pick up each of my projects and work further on them, I've been remiss lately!
Sewing, too, has slipped somewhat - I've been madly making up seasonal articles but now I think I'll return to the matter of lining my latest JACKET to which I've already got two different skirts just waiting for its completion!

Already I'm starting to think of New Years Resolutions! and top of the list MUST be to FINISH things off BEFORE starting anew!! (SEW, whats NEW?)

Do YOU make and keep New Years Resolutions? Please vote at my poll!

Crafty Cards

Had some more fun with crafty cards, here are a few that are different:

I used fabric a lot on three of them, together with funky foam, paper and card and some peel offs too! great FUN! and very addictive!

My mind has been all over the place and this was a nice little break from all the "thinking" and I thoroughly enjoyed making them and started getting all kinds of "ideas" pop into my head!!

At work there are several very talented and crafty ladies who make AMAZING cards - I couldn't hope to reach their standards but I'm learned a few tips from them certainly this is the first year DH has actually REQUESTED I make cards for him to write out for folk, these are the 2nd batch for his colleagues.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

A Christmas Hamper! yummy goodies!

yippee! it arrived! my Christmas Hamper gift of yummy goodies from work! a gift to us in celebration of the season and very nice it is too! (rather smaller than in previous years, but very appreciated nonetheless and it is, afterall, a GIFT!).

I think this hamper will be useful too afterwards? I've got one upstairs under our bed which houses all "good gift purchases" I've picked up in anticipation of an occasion such as birthday etc eg bargains! Another sits downstairs in our bay window and houses all our "old fashioned photos" pre digital/pc stored time! and another is in the loft, gathering DUST!! but this one, might be useful for SOMETHING "crafty"?

Here's a shot of all the goodies, some nice seasonal treats there and yummy chocs too! Finally, looking down on it ..

Minor irritations & crochet update

Quite CROSS yesterday at having a card pushed through the letterbox advising "they" had attempted to deliver a parcel at "8.30"am and advising that now I've MISSED MY CHANCE for delivery I can just jolly well wait for hours before phoning in to apologise for not being there and they MIGHT just me come and collect it - in some rather far flung area I've never heard of and right in the middle of rush hour traffic, AND I bet they don't have parking spaced AND they want me to bring along full proof of identity .. bah
the ANNOYING part IS that at the time they SAY they "attempted" to deliver the parcel which is logged on their "track your parcel" as at "8.27" THAT was spookily the EXACT time that I was stood ON my open doorstep seeing out my lads to school and watching them for a few mins negotiate the busy road/cross and walk AWAY .. weird that .. that they managed to invisibly sneak PAST me, pop the card through the door and presumably the wind blew it onto the INSIDE of the house too?
I wouldn't mind, but my house is lit up like a CHRISTMAS TREE as everyone madly dashes from room to room to get ready for school.
MOST irritating.
well MOST irritating was the irritation afterwards of trying to CLAIM my parcel and attempt a redelivery! the phone number, irritatingly, records a bored sounding voice suggesting that I look most carefully at my CARD and input my NUMBER in .. now .. yawn .. (pause to input number IN) .. repeat of message .. (put number IN .. AGAIN) .. repeat of message .. lost the will to live and was about to suggest they eat the contents OF my Christmas hamper themselves when FINALLY it accepted my number (its probably cost me more than petrol money to get through to request a 2nd delivery) they've now advised that a second delivery will be "attempted". One can just tell. from the wording. that they EXPECT a failure. I have switched on every light in the house, am sat within yards of the window and am determined to cross my legs and resist the temptation to move to the kitchen for refreshments UNTIL they've arrived!

NOT SEW IRRITATING is my attempts to learn to crochet! Yesterday I bought another sized hook and am going at it like the clappers! SEW far all I've actually got is a pile of small swatches but is been FUN learning a new skill! I feel ready to attempt a project proper!
I must thank Sarah, too, as her ends of yarn have come in tremendously useful for the crochet as well as the knitting and its been nice to work with an handle some different yarns too!

Craftily Festive Card Making Session

Here are some rather jolly festive cards I spent a pleasant Sunday evening making up! DH informed me that he was intending taking cards IN to work the next morning and could I make up about 5 or 6 .. please .. ?
The second from bottom in the batch of pics below, I duplicated, having embroidered a built in design from my sewing machine's embroidery library, the rest were card panels cut from a section of themed fabric from Cotton Patch. I added wadding and used double sided tape, and though the two framed on card and adhered with foam stickers don't "look" terribly exciting, thats just my photography!
I enjoy the occasional card making session from time to time and might make a few more, the only limitation is actually the envelopes! I'm a little short on matching ones and though I've got a template to make my own, lets just say I can think of more interesting things to do than MAKE an envelope!

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Bits & Pieces (of interest)

Yay! I can do it!
Crochet that is!
ALL I needed to DO is change my yarn!
I'm now using a plain colour Rowan hand knit cotton and can SEE my chains and have managed to do swatches, successfully, on two different patterns and they LOOK like the book! yay!!
(more on crochet later).

Yay! the book is brilliant!
The Vogue ultimate sock knitting book is BRILLIANT!
It arrived on Friday and I picked it up from the shop yesterday and its BRILLIANT! Its SEW brill, in fact, I've not put it under the tree until Christmas! I've half read it already!!

Yay! Christmas shopping nears completion!
The kids' Christmas pressie list is complete!
Had a marvellous bargain yesterday when we managed to get a couple of leather backed chairs from Staples for their room to further enhance their enjoyment of tv/pc and NEW *PS.3* that we've treated them to for Christmas!
You get what you pay for! (we KNOW!) and last year what seemed like an ultra bargain of typists chairs for a tenner didn't prove to be quite such a bargain after one or two rather more hefty and not SEW light on their behinds, "friends" came and plonked THEIR behinds on the chairs in a manner would best suit, perhaps, a park bench in best WOOD!

Booo! bit of a rant here!
To the Tennis Club!
After volunteering his serives (for FREE) as Treasurer to our local club for the best part of if not more than, 20years (yes. TWENTY YEARS) dh finally decided to step down and "retire" (he has tried before but couldn't find a mug to replace him!) at last one of the "children" has grown up, attended school, college AND uni and is now about to embark on a career as an accountant and HE has suggested it might look good on his cv for future job prospects and volunteered to take the task on!
On Wednesday, dh duly presented the accounts at the AGM and formally announced his retirement ..
Now. what would you think? a round of applause at the least? a round of DRINKS! for sure! a "THANK YOU" for definite? maybe even some token of appreciation like a free years membership! (I suppose a free lifetime membership is pushing it a bit?)
NO! half the audience I suspect were asleep at this point (numbers DO have this effect on most people) and the other half were clearly not bothered/listening/appreciating what was being said.
NO. what he ACTUALLY got was a rather half hearted "ah. err. thanks for what you've done .. (what WAS it? exactly? you've done?) and umm YES! I HEREBY NOMINATE YOU FOR ANOTHER POSITION! ALL THOSE IN FAVOUR RAISE YOUR GLASS AND SAY CHEERS! .."
Well. I suppose if you DO willingly volunteer for such positions you must do so with an open mind, and though he's being brave about it and saying he'd MUCH prefer it this way, I still think its a little unfair, unkind and just a little bit RUDE!

Fittingly sew .. knittingly wise ..
FINALLY. fell (or was I pushed?) OFF the soap box and back to KNITTING!
Read a rather interesting article on swatching and measuring for a successful fit on a hand knit garment this morning and revisited some of the articles whereby the SAME sized garment was photographed on a variety of ladies all of whom were brave enough to reveal their vital measurments! (mind. if MINE were that side of the tape measure, I'd be shrieking mine out in public too!).

It rather put me in mind of when I first started dressmaking course and we had to "measure" our partner and record each number in a box and it took all lesson due to the sensitivies of some of the ladies wanting ONLY the teacher to do certain ONES and they had to be recorded in a code that involved halving it, doubling it, taking a "10" off it and moving a decimal place in order to NOT look like one MIGHT have a hip measurement of some 47" which I DO occasionally have NOW but not back then, some 15years ago had anyone suggested I'd have had a hip like THAT I'd have chucked a box of sharp PINS at them!

I have spread! and greatly increased my measurements and while I feel mostly confident in altering my SEWING projects, this knitting is rather more interesting as the last time I truly knitted garments to wear I was 20yrs younger and more than half the SIZE I am now. ALL articles on knitting-2-fit are, therefore, of interest!

Saturday, 8 December 2007

CROCHET! learning to chrochet!

Okay, I can just about stick my hook INTO a ball of yarn and an hour later come out with a 3" lopsided rapidly decreasing not quite SQUARE of something that looks spookily SIMILAR to the pattern as photographed in the BOOK!

I must THANK all my cyber pals who have suggested websites that have photo or video tutorials and general information on CROCHET and invite others, too, to share with me any that THEY might think I might be needing!!

Most SPECIFICALLY, WHY oh WHY am I getting a "smaller" piece of test crocheting?
At first I realised it was the "turning chain" bit that I had been missing, but even SEW it still seems to be getting smaller and smaller as I progress - I've tried to watch how many chains I've got on the go - maybe I'm miscounting? missing chains? or is there some SECRET to keeping it nice and level - if YOU can crochet (better still if you've recently learned yourself and are now IN THE KNOW and feeling rather PLEASED with yourself!) PLEASE let know!!

Kiri & Knit update!

I'm getting on much better with Kiri now and feel more confident with the PATTERN
It doesn't look like anything exciting at the moment, but the promise is there ..

A close up shows the lacey effect that this pattern has on this rather fiddly mohair yarn!

Seasonal Sewing & our Christmas Tree

It doesn't photo terribly well, however this is the 2nd of the free Christmas projects using paper piecing technique and I'm really rather pleased with myself a/ for learning a new technique and b/ for USING recently purchased xmas themed FQ's and c/ for actually FINISHING it!!
I wish, however, that I'd used one of the red prints for the "red" above however as I say it doesn't PHOTO terribly well and does, infact, look rather striking in the cloth, sew to speak ..

I had to buy some green and gold star fabric in order to "back" the project I just mentioned before, and I had enough left over to just give sufficient cut in half and sewed to seam, for a backing for THIS lovely piece of fabric that was sent to me years ago by a cyber-sew-pal and I decided to quilt it and fling it under my fruit bowls in the dining room for a festive flourish!

On both of my quilty projects I've gone for simple stitch-in-the-ditch up and down using the walking foot facility and on this one, you can just see I've trimmed the backing fabric and brought it up and folded it to enclose the top print panel to "finish it off". The pins will indicate that this isn't quite finished, but it will be very soon!

Seasonally, SEW, I feel quite PLEASED with myself! the tree is UP! most of the presents are BOUGHT! and I've sewn some super themed projects!

This is our Christmas tree! Our cats are not terribly sure about it. We put it up last weekend while they were asleep. They've been suspicious of it, mostly, all week. Lilly quite likes it, though, and she does have a habit of trying to get INTO the tree, she can be found hiding all curled under it and we've spotted her running off with the smaller gold baubles which she's knocked off the tree and are highly suspicious of WHY it is that the TOP of the tree is apparently "broken" and suspect at least one of them has attempted to get INTO the tree. It wouldn't be Bertie; he's much too much of a big-girls-blouse I mean big muscular cat to be wanting to be a big fairy atop the tree .. ..

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Seasonal Celebrations!

Last night we met from work and had a lovely evening celebrating the season with our "Christmas meal" at a local Italian restaurant - there are only four of us however our ex-colleague came along too to catch up and share the occasion and it was a lovely surprise to have her join us not least because I miss her company at work SEW much!! being five of us we were seated at a nice big round table which gave us a great feeling of togetherness!

A thoroughly enjoyable evening with excellent company and super food we enjoyed our Christmas get together very much!

We find now that smaller gatherings are more successful than large "company" do's - in fact they don't seem to "do" them like "they used to" - my husband works similarly to me in terms of I am a "concession" and he works in a vaguely similar way not quite FOR a company but within it and thus we're both duly invited to company do's but the last couple of years he and his team have gone out for an "office based" smaller Christmas lunch to celebrate the occasion.

Our occasions of celebration are dwindling too! Up until now we've met up pre-Christmas for a family get together however interest has gradually waned and this year we've decided that instead we'll go out the four of us on Boxing Day for a small family celebration and are keeping our options open at this late stage between our regular haunt OR a newly refurbished local pub that might make a change but hasn't, yet, quite got its atmosphere going!

I hope that all my readers are enjoying similar celebrations with family and/or colleagues too! those that celebrate, that is. Seasons Greetings! everyone!

Purchases! books and beads!

I had a good find in a local charity shop! I picked up a William Morris book in perfect condition for .95p! (also a Little Britain, scripts and stuff for series 2 for .95p which I've flung at the lads who find this really funny and are always arguing over what WAS said!)

I treated myself too! Decided to buy myself the Vogue Knitting: Ultimate Sock Book which I ordered from Waterstones locally! they assure me I'll have it within a week! Yippee! At the same time I treated myself to Sarah Hazell's marvellous book too! and I'm resolved to at least having another go at learning to crochet! Apologies for the shameless plug, but you really MUST look and see if you can get hold of this and BUY IT! for yourself! for your friend for your mother just BUY IT!

You'll see, also, that I bought a small selection of Gutermann beads! After the wonderful samples shown by fellow students on Monday some of which incorporated beads, I decided to buy a tube or two! When I discovered that not only were they promotionally priced but that House of Fraser ALSO had an additional 50% seasonal reduction against them! well I just had to! I may well return later and buy some more! the whole lot cost me about a fiver!

Kiri! my textiles course project! & patchwork

Here is my progress to date on Kiri, my textiles course mini-project for Winter 2007! (stop laughing!) (its harder than one might know!). I do enjoy this knitting even if it does require some considerable concentration!
Others, around me, are talking excitedly about this new craze of the ninendo brain games and brilliant they are - well! my brain is certainly undergoing a punishing exercise regime worthy of any forthcoming event trying to match my decreases to yarn overs at the RIGHT place and trying to keep track of where I actually AM is doing wonders for my lack of geographical skills!
That aside, I am grateful to my cyber knitting pals who had suggested things like swatch and sample knitting and lifelines (and LARGE glasses of wine!)
Currently I am on chart 2 and about to commence a repeat of "three" - it won't be long before I switch to my circular needle and THAT ought to be a challenge too!

I finally finished my Christmas table runner! I've included it with textiles course progress as, although not strictly a "course project", it was undertaken after we started looking at the crazy patch style and I "found" that I actually enjoyed paper piecing!!
I must, again, thank my cyber sewing pals for all THEIR help in this respect and find it really heart warming that there are such lovely knowledgeable and talented ORDINARY folk that are just happy to share and help with crafty matters, I feel lucky to have a great bunch of friends and now through this course, a NEW bunch of great friends, craftily wise!
You'll see (just about!! - sorry! NOT a good idea to take a photo of a white based fabric against a white background, duh!) that I did indeed take up Debs' suggestion of a "piped" finish and while I didn't exactly do a thoroughly great job of handling the piping, particularly around the corners and at the "ends" its good enough for our table!
While closely examining, you'll see also that I let loose my sewing machine to whizz randomly around it with a green cotton Robison Anton thread in a manner which MIGHT be termed as "quilting" but in fact the trail of cotton resembles rather more a terrified wasp being chased by a fly-swatt-wielding party of folk having a picnic!

This is my latest project, not, as you can see, quite finished! again sorry for the shot against a white background (our deep freezer!) where the fabric IS in fact a very light colour too!
I'm not terribly convinced about this project colour wise I wish I'd used other combinations of my bargain FQ's however I plan to use the green print to border the outer sides and whether I'll pipe it or ask for a further suggestion on finishing remains to be seen!!

I've enjoyed the novelty of working with the patterns and am now a thoroughly convinced fan of this technique and will look in the future to doing another project similarly!

Monday, 3 December 2007

Creative Textiles Course : week 10

Well! last week of the term! we finish early for the Christmas break and return early January 2008 to a packed programme that includes WET FELTING (what ever that ACTUALLY is!) and applique amongst other creative activities!

This week was taken up by presenting our chosen topic or project that reflected a personal interest inspired from our course thus far. Being a more lowly "level I" the pressure was not on to achieve massively creative highs (which is lucky! for me, at least!) however our tutor was dead impressed overall with our general standard of not just the work/projects produced but our dedication to them and work on achieving said project - which is rather promising not least encouraging!

We had such a wide selection of presentations and each was so totally different! notably I enjoyed the craft with yarn and sticks the title of which I've temporarily forgotten but I think it originates from Mexico, possibly? this was SEW simple and yet sew effective, I really liked it for the fact that the lady working on it had used such different materials including a recycling theme of cut up plastic grocery bags as well as yarn and other "garden materials" to produce a variety of sized and themed ideas.

I wish I'd taken my camera!
I wish too I'd taken a LARGE EMTPY BAG!

I could have run off with another lady's MARVELLOUSLY inspiring "Blackwork" themed project however the bag would have to have been very large as she brought along last years "pieces" to share with us newbies her work prior on this lovely embroidery!

Interesting to have a snapshot of the history and tradition behind these craft and textile themes this has been one aspect I've particularly enjoyed about taking this very different course. (As well as learning a little of the techniques, of course!).

In the near future, I must simply MUST learn a bit more on hand stitching and embroidery in particular and feel a visit to the bookshop is in order!

Another super project was some stumpwork! this was stunning in that it was a first attempt and an awful lot of work and detail went into the finished piece (a sweetie bag!) if it were mine I'd be wanting to hang it on the wall or something! I can't imagine how it was "done" and don't think I want to even know! I do know I couldn't possibly do anything like this!!

Slightly daunting is the ideas and creativity behind some of the projects which was reflected in three different "knitted" pieces where it was good to see how the finished pieces were arrived at from work on areas that provided initial inspiration! It would be too "easy" to look at a piece like the lovely cabled baby cot blanket and just "see" a knitted cot blanket. Or to look at the beginnings of a block patterned scarf and "see" a scarf made up of blocks of patterned stitches and this is definitely MY personal area of short coming! I still can't quite see HOW one arrives at a marvellous piece of own inspired and interpreted work from an "idea" that is developed. Hopefully if we can continue the class, all will be revealed! Either that or I shall have to get good at hiding the PATTERNS/BOOKS from whence MY work came from! lol!!

We shared ideas through another newbie (like me) presenting her own sketch book on progress to date and I could identify with the panicky feeling of just not knowing WHERE TO START and WHAT TO DO there is just SEW MUCH!! its like brain-overload!

I think I need to be more focused and decide what I'd like to develop and to that end I've started thinking and decided I definitely want to explore hand stitch/embroidery work and include beading in that too.

I hope I've not missed any other works, I feel certain I have! we were a small "select" group on our last day with others having commitments elsewhere but it was just aswell! the 2 hours just ISN'T long enough!

My own presentation on the awful I mean LOVELY, Kiri went well, I didn't have a lot to show as progress has been slow due mostly to my late start in the project together with the fact that its clearly a more advanced project than I am actual knitter of!! But it was enough to give a flavour of and to share some of the interesting facts around shetland lace knitting traditionally.

Thanks to cyber-knit-pal-Sarah for her lovely yarn ends! I used three or four for my samples on this project and they are now knitted up and taped into my sketch book and duly shown as evidence of my swatching for this project which I absolutely WILL work further on to complete if only to ta-daa! in class one day!!

Big thanks and hugs to tutor, Sarah Hazel, for being such a marvellously encouraging and approachable tutor and absolutely everyone must buy her book too!! ;-)

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

A crazy blog I'm thrilled to be reading!

I must thank my good cyber-sewing-pal Jan Knight for referring me to HER good friend's crazy blog! I absolutely LOVE it and would encourage everyone to go take a look too!
Interestingly I've been looking at her sections under lessons on crazy patch, and saw a tip for recycling old cd's for faux shisha! what a good idea!!
Particularly inspiring, however, are the very clear and close up photo's of the embellishments and stitchwork!
A really lovely and informative blog! AND it just gets better, too! a WEBSITE! Thanks, Annie for a lot of interesting material to read!!
As if it couldn't get any better, and suddenly it does! another link from the crazy lessons, reveals a super resource of embroidery stitches by Sharon B which is SEW helpful and one that I have bookmarked for further reading and sampling from!

The marvellous part about the web and crafting is all the little hidden snippets of information out there! just waiting to be discovered, shared and passed on to others for their enjoyment! just as you think you couldn't possibly find anything more - there you have it! another blog! or website! PLEASE if you have or are reading a blog that I should really know about DO leave your details in the comment box, or email me, perhaps?

Creative Textiles Course : week 10

We're nearing, apparently, the end of term!
NEXT week we're to produce our first project and talk about it! for 5 minutes!
I've been wrestling with "Kiri" now for sew long it looks like the cats have fought over it!
Indeed I have had to rescue it from Lilly once or twice ..
I'm hoping that I will be able to talk about it as a WIP and ongoing project - either that OR I shal have to hand my notice in and LEAVE!! wahhhh

Seriously, I am STRUGGLING with this pattern! I decided to work on samples of the stitches in a more forgiving yarn to get the hang of it, however apparently I am unable to complete a row of pattern without going WRONG somewhere! its MOST annoying, particularly as the originator blithers on about how EASY this is and how she knitted it up in 24hrs!

For week 10 we continued the theme of patchwork and saw one or two SUPER examples of hand stitched work by fellow students, notably a tapestry cushion embroidered in super shapes of tan with grey whereby Cheryl had used a photograph of a textile piece as inspiration to produce a MARVELLOUS piece made practical by turning into a cushion!
Some LOVELY covered journals too! and a glimpse at some rather nifty looking "embroidered" covered buttons which deserve a mention for their yumminess!!

I had my folder "marked" and I think it came up to scratch and ticked most boxes which is a relief!

The rest of the year sounds interesting and includes a dose of felt-making and some applique!
We break for Christmas and have AGES off - I hope to have completed Kiri in that time!

Interesting Yarns to play with

I must thank Sarah for sending me a batch of assorted interesting spun and dyed yarns to play with! It was very kind of her to sort these and log each one for me and I shall use them to knit up "samples" or "swatches" to further my interest in yarns and knitting as part of my creative textiles course which I'm absolutely LOVING, this year!

(apologies TO Sarah for the next post in which the parcel is fully inspected by the cats - please be assured they are only allowed a small inspection before being removed and no harm came to any of the yarns either by claw or tooth beyond a little bit!)

New Goodies and New Projects

At te weekend we chanced upon (do you like that? we just happened to come across) a haby/yarn shop (alright I knew it was there! I've been before sew its not exactly NEW but its been a while!) just up a bit from a green grocers we thought we'd try in the hopes of finding some yummy fruit and veg that actually TASTE of SOMETHING fruity .. I bought an embroidery frame as I've apparently lost mine and I do have a mind to doing some hand stitch work some time soon! AND some lovely hand painted cotton thread too!
It was all looking delicious in little baskets and poor hubby who had been dragged along was rather resigned to the fact that we'd apparently "found" this shop!
He's not, you see, used to the way that we SHOP in these sort of shops! He kept HISSING at me to stop GAWPING! either BUY it or move AWAY he kept saying! looming over my shoulder as I stood and pondered on the hand stitch frames "you're NOT getting ONE!? .. are you? (gulp)"
You can LOOK in these sort of shops.
And when the assistants come over to chat they really DO mean to chat! are ALLOWED to browse and ponder and chat and FURTHER its ACCEPTABLE to pull up ones jeans and reveal hand knitted SOCKS to the assistants and a customer ..
by NOW hubby was hugging the door handle and looking anxious
"what do you want to show them your SOCKS for!? " he hissed ..
They don't get it, do they? men! or indeed, non-hobbyists!
(the fruit was quite nice. btw. if a little expensive. for what it was. )

PIPING? you're going to add PIPING? .. like I said ALL projects MUST first be inspected for approval.
I've added my piping and backed it however I need to stitch the layers decoratively and will wait until I've done that before putting up final photo's of this lovely runner! Meanwhile the cats are giving it their FULLEST attention

We're not sure about this latest one.
I fear its a little uninteresting and I'm disappointed at how plain it looks compared to the project photo which looks classic and Christmasy.
The cats fear its just a bit too unfinished to lie about on ..
At least I am sewing up the FQ's and thus I've saved us on money otherwise converted to stash which MUST mean, surely, a trip to a proper quilt shop is in order for further fabrics ..

I've sneaked these photo's in here, and am hoping that Sarah isn't looking! (gulp)!
I've said it before, ALL projects and newest acquisitions MUST first be fully inspected before approved! Here is Lilly giving it her FULLEST attention ..
and here is Bertie muscling in to ensure the inspection is given proper attention to detail BEFORE approval

Friday, 23 November 2007

How to finish the table runner ..

It doesn't look too bad! infact I'm quite pleased with it, especially after putting two borders of red and green plain.

I'm not quite sure how to "finish" it off, I'll have to have a think and consult my quilt-y pals for ideas! Our table will look quite festive this year!

Horrid Moments

I had a pair of horrid experiences yesterday!

The FIRST, I'm sat in my sewing room concentrating hard on my runner (almost finished, will post pics and blog at length on how marvellous it all IS later on) and SUDDENLY my rising-15yrs great lanky STRIP of a son "appears" at the doorway to BOOM in his newly broken voice at me that his brand new pc-game is now successfully installed!

I jump a MILE out of my seat and clutch at my table to steady self and wait for my heart to come back down from the ceiling seeing pretty little stars in front of my eyes and hear a whooshing in my ears fully for minutes before I recover enough to turn to acknowledge my son .. to find HIM hanging onto the door handle legs awry in that gangly way that long-legged colts have when they finish galloping and aren't quite sure how to stop ..
"ohhhh" ... he said .. "oohhhh. dear .."
"whats the MATTER!?" .. I said
"ohhh! .." (sinks further. clutches handle harder.) "ohhhh! you made ME JUMP! I need to lie down! I feel faint .." he said. looking very pale ..

I'm not joking, we both took several minutes to recover and when it happened again when he BOOMED at me as I came out of the bathroom, with him appearing seemingly from nowhere .. I decided we needed a warning system! I've tied a long length of narrow ribbon onto a bell and hung it around his neck with an instruction he is to tinkle the bell BEFORE he approaches in future by way of warning rather like a cats collar warns birds!

The SECOND followed on later last night when ..
I'm sat in the evening working on my latest sewing project (the xmas runner) and Andrew was in his room playing his brand new pc game and IN he comes! and I ask (you have to picture ME looking at MY handiwork while HE is stood in the doorway ..)
"what do you THINK then?"
(HE clearly hasn't seen me looking pointedly at my handiwork)
"oh MUM! .. its its its .." (overexciteable stuttering and spluttering) "its GREAT! really! really REALLY GREAT! I love it!!!"


HE looks slightly startled AT the flung handiwork! and looks rather as though I've just flung him something slightly suspect and nasty!
apparently HE meant the GAME.
"well! .." I said "WELL! WHAT ABOUT THE RUNNER ANYWAY!? (grrrrr/menacing look through gritted teeth) DO YOU LIKE IT!?"

backing out of the door unfolding his legs one by one because he's still apparently getting used to them being a foot longer in length .. "errr. not REALLLY .."


I HATE it that I get sew upset when no one apparently SEES what I sees in my handiwork! why does no one "get" how DELICIOUS it is that all the tiny bits of fabric are sewn into such wonderful patterns with straight lines that match and cross and intersect to produce a WONDERFUL design!?

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Christmas table runner project started

I'm doing the Table Runner Christmas 2006 free pattern using my bargain FQ's and the fabri-baste mentioned before, and finding it FUN! and more importantly easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!

I hope the combination of Christmas prints are not too much, I'd have liked a slightly more subtle effect but since the fabric will otherwise sit in my box of quilty fabrics gathering dust its a case of use what I've GOT!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Crazy Lavender finished

Here is the finished crazy patch sample cut into a heart shape, embellished and then made into a hanging lavender bag for my wardrobe!
I made a small pouch "inner" of muslin filled with dried lavender and then top stitched around the edge to encase all layers, its currently hanging off a door handle as I shall take it to College next week.
For the back I layered some of the organza print under some white lace before flipping the whole thing over and top stitching the seam with some white ric-rac to continue the colours and all in all its rather nice and jolly! and smells LOVELY!!

I discovered, I think! too, the reason why Bertie has been scratching at my sewing room door in a determined manner to get IN each morning around 4.45am! While digging about at the back of my horn cabinet the stashed bags of waddings, I found in the middle a bag of CATNIP! still, luckily, with its clip intact but I'm wondering a/ how it got there and b/ if thats what Bertie's been after! Its been "missing" for some months now and I wondered where he'd put it as his usual place for hiding it was behind the cushions by the tv (took me DAYS to discover this originally!) anyway I shall make him up some nice new catnip filled calico bags to play with and hopefully he'll stop pestering to get into my sewing room now!!

Knitting Update!

2nd jitterbug sock is well underway - pleased with this.
Kiri sample and shawl has not progressed beyond "chart 1" and I need to seriously resume some enthusiasm for this project!
Sideways wrap cardigan has been left to one side mostly because I have a sneaky fear its too SHORT! MUST MUST MUST continue and hope to resolve it!
Bolero has been left to one side after first lot of shaping due to complicated pattern instructions which I think I may have to sit down for a quiet hour to work out and rewrite into an understandable format!

Tempted, very tempted to buy some Kaffe Fassett Regia sock yarn particularly as they now stock in local store!

Troublesome Cats!

ONE of the lovely scrummy cats has today discovered how to turn the tv ON from standby!

From upstairs in my sewing room I suddenly heard "voices"! panicked slightly and wondered whether to go down to investigate, or stay upstairs and continue sewing! Eventually I heard "applause" and realised it was the tv!
I knew I'd switched it off after the lads left for school but thought maybe I was mistaken and came down to turn it off .. 10mins later .. MORE voices!
Came downstairs, tv is ON!
Fear I really am losing it I switch it OFF again and pinch myself to make sure I remember I did turn it off
Got to the top of the stairs .. MORE VOICES ..
This time I came down to find Bertie looking a bit excitable! and LILLY (see below) looking SUSPICIOUSLY PLEASED WITH HERSELF!
ONE of them has accidentally discovered how to turn the tv ON presumably by lying on the remote control ..
Decided they were much to excitable for my liking after they showed their displeasure with me for turning tv off AT the tv by scuttling about and pretending to seek mice in my KNITTING BAGS and flung them outside for fresh air and exercise.
I'm paying for it now, of course, as I knew I would by Bertie treading wet and muddy feet all over my things and Lilly is sulking and lying in a patch of wet mud and its only a matter of time before she's wet and muddied enough for this to be transferred onto my duvet .. bah ..

(I thought my life would be SEW much more peaceful once the kids had grown up and left for school leaving me the whole day for peaceful and quiet life, the cats are as bad as toddlers!)

Second attempt at crazily patching

I thought I'd have a second go at crazy patch not least because I need to make something for my folder! I'm still not terribly confident but I am a bit more relaxed, this time!
Decided to play it safe and stick to a theme and colour - that of red & gold and heart & Christmas and got quite enthusiastic after an inspirational moment of combining a printed organza with a gold net which actually WORKED!

I'm not really sewing in the dark! although it felt a bit like it on one or two of the patches!
I used a rectangle of left over fabri-baste and drew a series of shapes on the reverse as guidance but pretty soon I'd run off, missed completely and generally abandoned all hope OF sticking to the guide!
It worked out quite well, as you can see ..

After I'd finished I decided to cut it out into a vague heart shape with an idea I could perhaps line it and fill it with lavender and fling in at my wardrobe! (might add a little colour to the otherwise black/navy/grey I thought .. you can see that I've really not got much clue as to how to mix colours)

Here is it! cut out and I've added a few bits and pieces to it! As I mostly prefer to machine sew I decided to stick with a few decorative stitches and top stitched a bit of ric-rac and some lace before finally throwing all caution to the wind and going completely MAD with ribbon, sequins, a bit and some ribbon flowers and then for good measure I stuck one of my card making brads in which afterwards I wish I'd not, but by then I'd go a huge HOLE and now its got to STAY!

Here is a picture of it before the final embellishments and I think you'll agree it actually looks better for all the stuff flung at it in the end?