This is the story of two rabbits…Miss Luna Lapin will probably be familiar to you. Her Cotton Tailed friend less so. It’s also a tale of friendship past and hopefully friendship for the future.READ MORE
We are so lucky to have many birds living in the woods at the bottom of our garden (including some very noisy woodpeckers, who are some of my favourites). At the moment they are happily feeding their beaky faces with the fruits of a very hot summer. But, for once, I’m ahead of the game and ready for winter with an adorable little bird feeder that I made at The Clay House at Cedar Farm a few weeks ago.
This was another new challenge for me, as whereas previous projects have been made from slabs of clay, this was made from balls pinched into shape.
It’s not terribly easy as the natural inclination of the clay is to do it’s own thing and completely ignore everything you’re asking it to do. And then it just laughs at you and collapses in on itself!
But a bit of perseverance (and the odd Anglo Saxon expletive under my breath) and I had two different sized bowls ready to join together to make my acorn shape.
The large hole above was cut out with a knife…the smaller one made with a piece of wooden dowling. The decoration to the “hat” of the acorn was also made with a knife. It started off very neatly and quite precise, and rapidly descended into boredom and random stabbing!
Which kinda worked in the end!
Coats of glazy stuff were applied. One matt, so the birds don’t slip on it, one shiny and pretty.
A bit of baking in the kiln, and voila!
Now all I need is for my resident handyman to hang it for me and we’re ready for the winter. Just not yet, thank you very much. I’m enjoying the sun too much.
Continuing our intermittent day dates, where Dave and I do something creative together, we recently did a basket weaving course with the lovely Joe of Creative with Nature, whom you may remember from my willow hare escapades.
This time we were making baskets, and they are a completely different process. Which made for a really interesting day for me, learning something new again.
We started off making the base.
This simple cross was opened out so you could weave between the sticks to form a circle.
I swear it’s not as easy as it looks. Apparently, traditionally apprentices would spend a year just learning how to make bases of different shapes, ensuring that each of the “spokes” are evenly spaced. I can understand why. Getting that even separation was impossible for me.
Once the base is completed you slip in some longer stems to form the frame of the basket.
And then you weave.
We did two different types of weave. They do have specific names, but I’ve completely forgotten what they are.
What I do remember is that the fancy weave that makes the top of the basket completely flummoxed me, and, as we were rapidly running out of time, Joe stepped in and helped me out with the finishing touches.
That beautiful finish is all down to Joe. The slightly wonky shape of the basket is all my own work! 😉
Dave’s a natural at basketry. His is so beautiful, with a perfect shape and lovely tight weaving. But, despite the flaws in mine, these are a gorgeous pair of baskets, and I’m inordinately proud of them.
As I did when I made the hare, we had a lovely day with Joe and came home feeling quite accomplished. I have my eye on her Stag Head course….maybe in the autumn!
For quite some time now, Summer’s Grandad has been telling her stories about a small mouse named Monroe and his wife, Marilyn, who live in their home and have fabulous adventures.
As a girl with a wide creative streak, she is entranced by these tales.
Whilst I was making Spencer the Pug for Dylan (who’s now called Robertson, for reasons that escape me), it seemed a fine opportunity to make Monroe and Marilyn for Summer.
Obviously, for a project such as this, there is only one designer you need…Julie of Little Cotton Rabbits. I’ve waxed lyrical about her delightful family of woodland creatures before, so this was a complete no-brainer.
Julie’s patterns are not a quick make. They are beautiful heirloom knits and as such need a little work. But neither are they a difficult knit.
You just need to pay attention to her scrupulously written pattern and all will work out. She holds your hand all the way, not just with the knitting but with the sewing up and stuffing too!
And at the end of it you get these magical little animals to delight someone special in your life.
I know I’ve been teasing you with my visit to Toft and the pug I made for Dylan for Easter. Both my kids are nosy, so I didn’t dare put anything up anywhere they might stumble across it before Easter Sunday. We’re safe now, so here goes the first of two posts about impossibly cute woolly animals.
Just after Christmas my friend, Julia, and I had a bit of a road trip to the Toft Studio in Warwickshire. We headed off on the Saturday afternoon, and after a lovely pub supper, a ridiculously early night, and a full English breakfast we didn’t have to cook ourselves, we had a crisp and sunny country drive to Toft.
The setting for the Studio is impossibly bucolic. Classic English countryside, red brick houses and a beautiful building that is home to the studio, shop, and a very warm welcome.
We did two workshops. One amigurumi and one on stripy blankets. Both were for complete beginners, and I came away confident that although I’d never crocheted anything before I could happily complete the white rat that I’d started. I didn’t….I poached the yarn for the wee mice I made for Summer! But I did also purchase the yarn and pattern for Spencer the Pug for my pug mad boy.
And I did complete him.
The hardest part of this project is remembering to count! I’m not a confident enough crocheter to try and do this and watch a film. But it’s amazing what you can accomplish with a little quiet concentration.
Dylan is so delighted with him. Spencer has joined Margaret, the knitted pug, as his favourite companions.
Although now, obviously, he’s not called Spencer. A new name has yet to be decided on. But with toy pugs already named Margaret and Phillip Reeve, who knows what we’ll end up with?!
I’m feeling decidedly accomplished and planning other projects as soon as I’ve worked through some more stash. I can, however, highly recommend Toft workshops. And the yarn is simply sublime! I want to knit All The Things in it now.
Whilst the husband, Dave, has always been a big fan of the hand-knitted sock, the rest of the family is starting to get in on the act. Most recently, the lovely Miss Summer.
As she’s growing like a weed at the moment, I decided to go with a tube sock. With no heel, not only are these a ridiculously simple knit, they also last longer as she grows.
These are knitted from the toe up, so although they’re simple, it was a new technique for me. Not a difficult one at all.
And as you can see from the pictures, these are well worn. Summer absolutely loves them and is clamouring for another pair.
To complete the flamingo love, I embroidered the back of a store bought denim jacket for her.
I didn’t have much choice. Whilst we were out shopping she said how much she loved the jacket, but that it would be so much better if only it had an embroidered flamingo on the back. And that would be something I could do for her, wouldn’t it?
You can’t argue with a 10 year old! She’s got the skills of a Hague lawyer, that one!
|Pattern:||Tube Socks For Kids by Jane Richmond|
|Yarn:||Jawoll (not sure which one)|
|Purchased at:||No clue!|
|Yarn cost:||Who knows? Who cares? ?|
This year has turned into a year of new creative adventures.
In January, my friend Julia and I went to Toft to learn to crochet.
Hubby, Dave, and I have been having dates to go and learn to make things in clay.
I’ve just got to say that I’ve never done anything like this before, but love willow sculpture and love stargazy hares. So when Ma gave me some cash for Christmas, with the instruction to buy myself something I truly wanted, this course was it! A day to myself, exploring a new creative outlet, with something (hopefully) lovely at the end of it.
I really appreciated the way this workshop was structured. Joe took us step by step through the process, working with each person individually to make sure they were clear about what was required.
Slowly, slowly…step by step, the hare came into shape.
Weaving with willow is an entirely immersive and tactile experience. It’s just you and the lengths of willow creating the shapes. You bend and weave, unpick, and weave again.
There’s lots of tea. And cake, of course.
And the magic happens without you even realising.
Until you step back at the end of the day, and TahDah!
A stargazy hare of your own.
If you ever get the chance to do a workshop with Joe, I’d highly recommend it. I’m already contemplating which one to do next. I have a thing for baskets, so maybe some bread baskets.
The hare is sat on my kitchen windowsill as I type. I’m inordinately proud of him, and astonished how much fun I’m having stepping outside my comfort zone creatively this year. It’s like a breath of fresh air.
Are you trying anything new this year?
After spending so much time last year building a beautiful sewing room, clearing down my stash and cataloguing the remaining fabric, this year is all about Getting Things Done!
I have a pile of beautiful fabric, a smaller collection of beautiful yarn, and a surprising number of more crafty projects, all waiting to be turned into finished items.
This year I’d like to get at least 50% of stuff in my stash turned into garments, gifts or beautiful things for the home.
To do that I need to be a bit more organised, or it’s all going to be far too overwhelming. And I do love a good plan!
The first thing I did was download the lovely, and free, Sewing Calendar from Sew DIY.
I’m sure you’ve already come across these planning pages, but if you haven’t, they’re just the prettiest, and simplest way, to get some order for your sewing plans for the coming year.
These have been cut out and pasted into my sewing notebook…a cheap, spiral bound artists sketchbook. The thicker paper means you reduce the risk of bleed through if using coloured pens, and you can sketch, make notes and add swatches to your hearts content, without the restrictions of someone else’s ideas of what you need to note.
Next I made a list of outstanding knitting/crochet/craft plans.
It’s longer than I’d expected.
I’ve already added the current UFO, plus the dance wear that’s needed by the 18th March to the planner.
I’ve had a tapestry cushion on the frame for forever now. I’ve had the kit for at least a year….possibly even 2? That’s not good. Last year I only completed two squares.
Sheep are herd animals.
These lovely ladies don’t even stand next to each other. I’m sure they’re lonely. I need to crack on.
So every month this year I shall complete 1 square of the sheep tapestry, so that by the end of the year this one will be ready to turn into a cushion for my snuggler! Already this month I’m half way through the third sheepy square!
So…it’s a start.
It would be way too ambitious to think I’ll get the whole of the stash cleared this year, but it would be really nice to halve it.
This month is time pressured as I’d like knitted mice and a crocheted pug for Easter gifts. I also need to sew a new dance shirt for the wee boy and a dance outfit for me, as I’ve been roped into a dance competition!!!
Wish me luck!?
Over Christmas I simply couldn’t have knitted or sewn to save my life.
The whole family was down with a flu bug, and whilst we all rallied for The Day long enough to open gifts, cook the delicious meal cooked by The Hubby, and sip a therapeutic glass of prosecco or 2 (or 3!), the rest of the holidays was spent doing some very serious lounging about and recuperating.
Thankfully, I’d recently purchased a delightful embroidery kit from Jenny Blair on Etsy.
I can’t even remember where I first stumbled across Jenny, but when I saw this design I was entranced. The two squirrels that live at the bottom of our garden (whom we’ve named Fred and Ginger, of course!), are an endless source of glee, and this just seemed the perfect project for our home.
Jenny was a joy to purchase from. The design is screen printed onto fabric, all ready to sew, but the colours she had on her site didn’t go with our decor. A quick convo and she’d found the perfect fabric and we were good to go.
Shipping was so prompt and I had embroidery thread and a hoop in my stash.
So I was all ready to go when the lurgy hit, and a little quiet stitching was all I could muster.
This design in done in four simple, basic embroidery stitches and is easy to make up, even if you’re a beginner.
Once completed I just re-stretched the fabric in the hoop, secured with magic tape, and taped a circle of felt to the back, ready to hang.
It’s so sweet and I’m really pleased with the result.
I can’t believe it’s been a year since we moved house. Time flies!
When we told our kids we had finally found our new home, their excitement at moving so close to grandparents and their beloved park was tempered by real stress at leaving their home.
For children without any challenges, moving house is a big deal. For adopted children with attachment (amongst other) issues, moving house is A Very Big Deal, that creates a great deal of fear that they cannot vocalise or even understand. But it’s real, and it’s really quite debilitating.
For our boy, this was expressed as absolute desolation at leaving his bedroom behind. I wish it was an exaggeration but it wasn’t. He spent the last week making little videos on his iPad so he’d have his old room with him at the new house.
To try and calm his anxiety I promised him that not only would his new bedroom be bigger than the tiny box room he had in the old house, but that I would make it extra super special for him. It didn’t work completely to allay his fears, but he was certainly excited as decorating started to happen.
He has a passion for all things London since his daddy worked there a few years ago…made even more exciting for him when we had a trip there to visit Daddy. But he especially loves the London Underground, so there was only one way we could go…..
London Underground Map wallpaper on one wall.
London themed fabric for his Roman blind. It’s Capital by Prestigious Textiles.
London Underground bedlinen (thank you Nana!).
And, for hiding under and playing iPads or reading. For cuddling up in on cold mornings, or if you’re not feeling well. And for making rather splendid dens…….
……a London Underground quilt!
I can’t claim the work on this one. This is all Made By Ma! A huge pile of teeny squares lovingly cut and then put back together in the shape of the London Underground Map.
It’s totally awesome! Iconic! And very clever!
Funnily enough, our little man doesn’t miss our old house at all any more. And loves his new London bedroom.
Pattern cost: £3.95
Fabric: Plain quilting cotton
Purchased at: Black Sheep Wools
Total quilt cost: Approx £100