Hello there! I do hope that the Christmas holidays, however you celebrate, or if you don’t, have been peaceful for you.
We’ve had the most wonderful time. Christmas Eve was spent at The Lowry theatre watching the marvellous production of Doctor Dolittle.
Christmas Day we went out for Christmas lunch to a local restaurant with the in-laws, and it was stress free and just delightful. The children even waited until late afternoon to open their gifts.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!
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.
You all know my friend Liz…she of the mad knit seaming skills who always rescues me from that onerous task. Well she’s be working on another project that is altogether more fun. So much so that I begged her to let me share the finished product with you because….well, you’ll see.
You’ll love it!
Meet the designer dachshund.
Isn’t he just wonderful?
The base is this plain calico dog from Hobbycraft, although you could, if you were so inclined, make your own base. The decoration is, of course, simply a fabulous collection of clothing labels hand stitched to the base.
I cannot tell you how much I covet this wee dog. It such a simple but genius idea and the result is just adorable.
I suppose a more sewing inspired version could be made using fabric selvedges. Hmmm…perhaps I should start collecting them!
What do you think?
….and the living is busy!
So much going on here. The kids are on holiday from school now for 7 weeks. Already we have a playdate with friends and sleepovers at grandparents planned. A week at playscheme will be a good break for all of us, as will spending the last week with friends in Bedford. It’s hard to believe but when they go back in September Button will be in juniors.
Needless to say everyone is tired. Boy threw the mother of all tantrums this morning and after 3 hours (I kid ye not) of yelling and stamping and tears and throwing toys around the place he’s finally asleep. Button is enjoying the respite as much as I. Things will settle soon after a few days of chillin’.
Husband and I are shattered as, despite not completing the reno on this house, we’re thinking the best option might actually be to move!
I know….it was totally outta the blue for us too. But our current home is teeny tiny with a garden the size of a postage stamp. After a recent visit to our friends in Bedford and their half acre garden, Button would stand at our bedroom window wistfully wishing that we could knock the fence down between us and our neighbours. Add in that we have need of a home office and a dedicated sewing room and only one small room that could eventually be argued over and we decided it’s time. Trying to sew, eat and run a business from the kitchen table is getting old! We’ve spent the last few weeks looking at everything on the market that remotely fitted the bill. We think we may have found the ideal candidate. There’s another interested buyer so we may lose out…time will tell. I’ll let you know as things develop.
So, as you’d expect, there’s not much creativity happening here.
A little knitting…..
This is Brooklyn Tweed’s Longfellow by Michele Wang which I’m knitting in Drops Alpaca in Navy (colour 5575) for Hubby.
There’s also a quilt to be layered ready for hand quilting:
And a new bag kit that I received as a birthday gift from my in-laws:
Mine will be red leather.
That should keep me occupied over the holidays. I’m hoping to get a little time at the machine too. I’ve two lots of fabric for shirts for Boy and the yellow blouse is going to be remade for Button.
I’m planning a version of her Liberty blouse, this time with a pleated front as per her request.
I think it will suit her more than me!
I also have a couple of makes that need photographing. Perhaps we’ll have a day of nice weather soon and we can get out and about with the camera.
Priority for the next 7 weeks, though, is picnics and playing in the park. Reading and drawing. Visits to the zoo and museums. Playdates and pyjama days. Pretty much taking the days as they come. Hopefully without too many meltdowns! Either theirs or mine!
So posting will sporadic…I’m sure you’ll understand. In the meantime I’m off to do some colouring with a small girl. I’ll see you soon.
Way back in the summer I promised the local library that I’d do a “talk” at their December coffee morning on some, at that point undecided but definitely sewing related, subject.
It was months and months until December at that point and so, obviously, I forgot all about it until a few weeks ago when they reminded me.
Cut to this evening. Although I’d planned that I’d talk the ladies through making some very simple felt Christmas decorations, and I’d collected together all the materials I’d need, I’d not actually done anything with them.
So I’ve been drawing simple shapes, cutting some of them out and packing a small box to take with me tomorrow.
This stocking, however, is for another project altogether.
One of The Husband’s colleagues is, Jude, a craft blogger who is knitting up a storm, making little stockings, which she is planning to fill with chocolate and sell for charity. All monies raised will be sent to The NIHR / WT Children’s Clinical Research Facility and the AT Society.
When she asked me if I’d be willing to help out a little, of course I said yes. And promptly volunteered Ma as well!
Ma immediately set the needles clacking and whipped up a bagful of these little lovelies in no time flat:
With such good causes at stake I really need not to let the side down.