Sewing, seaside & something sweet

I’m really enjoying doing a little bit of sewing every day still. It doesn’t seem to be affecting my hand unless I do too much. I am as happy as a very, very happy thing to be able to be a little bit creative again.

Corinne Lapierre saw my progress posts on Instagram and says she’s had quite a number of clicks from my last post here to her website, including purchases, and has offered to send me something as a thank you! How nice and totally unexpected. Thank you for clicking through to check out her site, if you did. Does this officially make me an influencer I wonder?! What will she send? Exciting.

I understand Corinne does demos on Create and Craft TV on Freeview. Have you seen any?

I saw hand drawn felt tipped numbers in the window of someone’s house the other day. This gave me the idea for a new cross-stitch. I thought I could rest my right hand on top of a hoop to keep it steady on the edge of my desk, while I stitch with my left. This is going really well and doesn’t seem to aggravate matters. The last time I did any cross-stitch was last July in Regents park, London. It feels like aeons ago.

I know the five is a bit dodgy. I drew it freehand after looking at cross-stitch number patterns online. I wasn’t copying a specific design, but went with the flow. Do you think I ought to add a bit more thickness to the bottom? Apparently it looks a bit like a letter S, but with the four next to it should be identifiable.

You can see if you zoom in when I started smoothing out my thread before stitching, and periodically letting the needle dangle from the hoop to untwist the thread. The perfectionist in me is tempted to undo the messy rows but I’m resisting.

I found myself looking at sewing kits and threads in John Lewis and The Range while away in Aberdeen. If you were around The Range and heard a man muttering about “Pikey tat” and a woman shushing him, while looking embarrassed, then that was probably us. He’s not that impressed with spending time in Hobbycraft but The Range always provokes strong emotion for some reason. Idiot.

Look at those rabbits! How can anyone resist a rabbit in a carrot racing car?

I might have spent a few minutes arranging them, but no one seemed to notice or care. The rabbits enjoyed the attention.

Lucky weather on Friday meant it was unseasonably sunny and warm. A bus out of the city to Don Bridge seemed like a good plan. We walked along the esplanade and onto the beach to collect sea glass, then had a couple of scoops of Mackies Scottish ice cream before reaching Footdee, wandering around the harbour and back into the city centre. A good walk by the sea in bright sunshine, is a pretty perfect day for me. Plus it was capped off with a selection of curries at Shri Bheemas with old friends in the evening. That was the best lamb biriyani I’ve ever eaten. The paratha were really good too; lacy and light.

I read on an airport poster that Aberdeen has 15 miles of unbroken beaches. There’s a coastal trail to drive, see here, which would be fun to do sometime.

So far I’m on target with my aim to walk 1000 miles this year. I’ve walked well over 200 miles and this despite my dodgy knee giving me jip. Fingers crossed that I can carry on because it’s a really good way to motivate yourself to walk, even on non fair weather days when the temptation to curl up on the sofa is strong. I guess another way would be to get a dog which needs lots of walking. I’d probably inadvertently get one as lazy as me on rainy days!

Tell me a few things? How are you?

A little creativity

I’m currently having a word with myself about my perfectionist tendencies. Yes, next time I will draw the smaller circles with a template, not free-hand, but the beauty of hand sewing is that’s human. It’s not machine accurate; hammered out at 1000 stitches a minute (1,000?) The charm is that it’s ever so slightly wibbly and wobbly.

When at school, and into my late teens, I did a lot of patchwork, embroidery and tapestry. Sewing was my thing, much more than knitting at which my Mum was expert. One day a friend and I went to an exhibition in London. It was a display of the work of an Embroidery Guild and the sheer perfection of the pieces had a detrimental effect on me. I felt at the time that there was no way I could reach that standard, so I didn’t do any for years. It’s a shame. Now I look at what I had sewn at the time and think what a silly girl! If only someone had pointed out to me that such a high standard is achieved by many, many hours (years?) of practice. This total shutdown was probably partly down to those horrible see-sawing hormones and a lack of confidence. That was a weird thing; a lack in some areas, while feeling wildly confident, with a can-do attitude in others. It’s a very strange age. So, now I’m …ahem…older I’m just getting on with it and enjoying the process, even if I’m not entirely 100% happy with the outcome.

I’m just so happy to be a tiny bit creative again. I’ve been doing a little stitching then I put my ice-pack on my wrist. Even if really I should be doing physio exercises with my tin of baby carrots, a little bit of embroidery a day equals creative satisfaction, plus the surge of endorphins is pretty cool too.

I award myself bonus points if my sewing session is paired with good music as well.

The kit from Corrine Lapierre comes with 2 embroidery needles, a tape measure, an unpicker, wool felt, cotton thread and stitch guide. It’s good quality.

No sponsorship or payment of any kind has been given for this post. This is just me chatting to you, with no agenda other than to share something good which I’m enjoying.

Five things

IMG_0465

This is my bargain of last week, a 1,000 piece jigsaw from my favourite charity shop for £1.95. I have to admit that I would never have mentioned it here, but when I sent a ‘look at my bargain!’ message to a few friends and family I realised from their replies that puzzles are people’s guilty pleasure. Or maybe we are just a really uncool lot! Actually today I saw that Hobbycraft sell them, so maybe they’re popular again?

I’ve harped on about wanting to do a jigsaw after reading a Christmas novel, which I bought from a charity shop sale shelf for 25p last January. My friend got me onto Christmas fiction and so I keep my eyes open for a few books for December every year. Anyway, the main character in Twelve days of Christmas by Trisha Ashley cooks for house parties in the summer and house sits for a rest in the winter. This year things turn out rather differently and she ends up with a houseful of the client’s family. While stocking up with food and presents she sees the village shop has a jigsaw, which she leaves on a table in the dining room for everyone to do gradually as they pass by. It just caught my imagination for some reason. Suddenly I really wanted to do my first jigsaw since childhood. It’s a joke really as I found the outside so hard to do, the red background and yellow script are REALLY hard, and I lost my mojo. However it turns out I live with a puzzle genius who has now completed nine tenths of it. I deliberately chose one with a fly fishing theme, as I thought it might interest him into helping me. It worked, with bells on. I don’t give up on them all though – I await a delivery of some of my friend’s jigsaws (“Not hard ones please!”)
IMG_0469

I found this personalised tea towel the other day. I’d forgotten I embroidered this, I was asked to add a trout but that wasn’t the original plan so I’m not. It’s going into service. I might do a ‘moron’ one to complete a set….! It’s a family joke.

IMG_4887-0
I’m baby hexieing still, mostly just doing a group of seven at the weekend, so am sticking to the original one-a-day plan now, though might have a splurge and make lots more at points during the year. It depends how I feel. The thing is that the material doesn’t have a lot of drape because the hexagons are so small.
This is the boring part of the process….
IMG_4895

Yesterday there was a knock at the door with what I guess is the signature flourish of a local florist’s delivery driver. Isn’t this a beautiful bunch of flowers? Forsythia, tulips, freesia and something which look like hyacinths. The card says they are to brighten these drab February days. They certainly do and smell delightful too. Lucky me.
IMG_0453
I did an incredibly nerdy thing the other day – I made an inventory of my Clover Amour hooks, just so I know what I’ve got. My new 5.5 mm and other (I can’t remember!) sized one arrived in the post and I thought it seemed a good idea at the time. This is more embarrassing than the jigsaw puzzle probably. I hang my head in nerdiness.

What’s happening with you? Do you want to write a Five Things post and put the link below?

Snapshot II

20140626-174337-63817421.jpg

20140626-174338-63818045.jpg
Wondering if embroidery in hoops displayed on the wall is much cooler than on tea towels? I somehow doubt cool and embroidery are two words that have ever gone together. I don’t really care. I especially enjoy embroidering something which has a practical purpose. I need more tea towels – I’ve got more ideas. The glasses were from one of my Sublime Stitches transfers books, the writing is mine, scruffy and all.

20140626-174742-64062130.jpg
Harvesting strawberries! So yummy and surprisingly the birds haven’t gone for them. The other day a squirrel was spotted in a friend’s garden picking their strawbs, holding them gently in both his paws and nibbling away!

20140626-174924-64164308.jpg

20140626-174923-64163723.jpg
Loving the scent wafting up from my pot as I come in and out of the front door, waiting for the apple blossom geranium I chose as a tiny plug plant months ago, to reveal its flowers.

20140626-184419-67459853.jpg

20140626-184421-67461057.jpg

Opening a free copy of Garden Illustrated to my best page first! I’ve said:”Really sheds are so expensive but just think; when you move you just roll this onto the back of a truck and take it with you!” to raised eye brows.

20140626-175759-64679835.jpg

20140626-175759-64679283.jpg
Carrying my blanket yarn in a completely coordinating bag. This was a coincidence but made me smile when I realised. The motifs are now joined in one long strip of about 180cm, this is the length of the blanket. I’m halfway along the second row now. Zippidy do dah.
Reading The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville, only to p.5 so far but it’s going to be a cracker. I read the first of the trilogy The Secret River in Australia one visit.
Not missing resting my injured leg. I’ve washed laundry, hung it out, hand washed my car, washed up, baked 2 loaves of bread, cooked dinner, cleaned walls, hoovered, cleaned the filters, folded laundry and tidied it away, watered all the plants, emptied the bins, cleaned bins, re-potted plants, rearranged outside pots, ironed (the tea towel above ha ha strenuous!) driven – once so far, yesterday, but it was fine with an old lady tubi-grip, food shopped, collected a library book, am walking downstairs nearly normally again. It’s good to be busier again.

How about you, what are you up?

On the bright side

20140614-163815-59895781.jpg20140614-163815-59895237.jpg

20140614-163816-59896327.jpg
I really fancied doing some more embroidery but thought I’d only do a little Thursday evening so as not to aggravate my elbow. I really enjoyed semi watching, mostly listening, to an episode of Lewis (the psychology student/psychics/elephant tranquilliser one) using stem stitch to sew the letters of my personalised tea towel which is to be a gift.

The arm was indeed a bit iffy Friday but hey ho, it was still a great day. A great week in fact, and generally all is going swimmingly. That is until 11:14 pm when the most ginormous spider hurried across the lounge from under a sofa to behind the TV. There was some wine or beer fuelled discussion along the lines of: “But he’s happy, let him be.” “He’s not leaving cobwebs all over my house.” “Don’t kill him.” “Don’t be ridiculous, you know I never kill them…” All this while I’m tipping a nightlight out of a holder and grabbing a postcard (flower fairies – such a pretty card that I carry it downstairs to recycle then end up propping it on the mantelpiece.) This spider is big and aggressive, he’s sassy and won’t be caught in a tea light holder and trapped by a flower fairy postcard. But we both know who’s going to win…

…in the end after a skirmish behind the TV stand it’s actually neither of us. He gets half trapped under the holder after I execute a niffy half turn when he tries to fox me, and head back to sofa-land, and I feel a muscle at the back of my knee go POP!

OMG THE PAIN.

Actually the spider was ok, no broken legs and I’m sure he enjoyed his flight out of the window to the garden.

Today instead of a super day out nerding with one of my favourite friends I’ve been sat on the bed with an ice pack and haven’t gone downstairs once; as I had to semi crawl upstairs last night and can’t bear the awfulness of needing the littlest room and the slow hurry. It’s best to rest it as much as possible too.

20140614-164824-60504649.jpg

This app is great! Although after quietly downloading it and trying it out with a few good dings, then testing the ring-a-ding-ding function with a good shake Someone marched into the bedroom with a grin and said, “You can get rid of that app for a start.” “But it was my nerdy friend who suggested I get it, to help you know when I need something!”

20140614-164825-60505293.jpg

The bright side is I’ve listened to a little more of The Goldfinch audio book, watched the first ever few episodes of The IT Crowd, the inflating boobies episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys (thank you free catch up TV and ipad magic) and downloaded some interesting looking free Kindle novels. There have also been a few homegrown strawberries, YUM, some cheer up surprises: mini Reeces, ice cold 7Up and as requested; a yummy Greek salad with pitta for lunch. The service is pretty good, the bedside chat could be improved but it’s tricky to provide uplifting banter when an important rugby match is on in the other room.

So, it’s after 5pm and I’m feeling a bit restless. Can you tell me something interesting, a story, a fact about yourself, a snippet from your weekend, whatever? A good link? Please. Chances are I’ll still be up here tomorrow so anything will be gratefully received.

Because it made me smile the other day when I noticed how tidy the Rhubarb Ripple looks amongst the other unruly blankets in The Little Room…

20140614-170526-61526020.jpg

Easter weekend

 

20140418-161251.jpg
Beautiful apple blossom on the tree
20140418-161257.jpg

20140418-161305.jpg
Strawberry flowers gradually opening
20140418-161314.jpg
Little Easter giftbags filled with chocolate goodies
20140418-162540.jpg
Embroidered birdy tea towels. They would look sweet in a country kitchen hanging from the rail of an Aga but will also do the job of drying crockery (sweet old fashioned word alert!) and covering food nicely. I look at them and remember how much I’ve enjoyed doing a bit of embroidery again (split stitch and feather stitch) but do wonder how they’d rate on a very naff to super cool scale. Tea towels are very handy at least, as opposed to putting decorative things in embroidery hoops and hanging them on the wall, which is not really my style at all. My gin loving bears are currently covering a bowl containing Herman the German friendship sourdough cake batter. I need to bake the cake tomorrow after I come home from my (weird) day out.

Do you know this traditional rhyme? I always sing it at Easter. Loudly in the car this morning to Someone’s joy (not.)

“Hot cross buns,

Hot cross buns,

One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns

If you have no daughters give them to your sons,

One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns.”

Have a super Easter whatever you plan to do.

 

 

An Etsy craft party

Tonight I’ve been to my first Etsy craft party. I think I heard about it through Twitter several weeks ago. That was a funny thing; there were others who also couldn’t remember how or where they signed up to go.

Mollie Makes have been publicizing Etsy craft parties, it’s a big thing apparently and they’ve happened all over the world today. Have you been to one? Ever heard of an Etsy craft party?

It was a very relaxed evening with various tables set up for craft activities: bunting to make for the venue who work with Crisis, friendship bracelets, card and stationary making and china decorating. There were drinks, nibbles and cakes – always a good thing.

20130620-221911.jpg
I don’t think anyone’s going to spot my chain stitching on the 2, but it was relaxing to do. Of course I should have used a contrasting colour.  I must have been tired, or too busy chatting to think (or too much Buck’s Fizz?!)

20130620-224748.jpg

My table’s bunting (photo’s a bit fuzzy, sorry.) They look pretty with ready-made crochet flowers and sequins etc sewn on.

20130620-221955.jpg

20130620-222048.jpg

While I was embroidering, my friend was busy decorating a bowl. I love it.

20130620-222111.jpg

20130620-222123.jpg
She then moved on to card making and created this for her sister and family who are emigrating to Australia next month. My photo was taken before it was finished, she added some text too. Love those thumb print people!

20130620-222145.jpg
Yes well, no comments required about this piece. The purple line down the middle was an end of evening ‘what was I thinking?’ mistake that didn’t completely come off even with some rubbing with a baby wipe. I’ve donated it to my arty friend to clean and decorate.

Who knew you could use Sharpies on china? The ink will come off with washing, but I’m told you can bake it in a low temp oven for 30 mins to set the pen, then I guess you just don’t use it for anything other than for decorative purposes. I liked the idea of having a lovely bowl for my ends when I’m darning, perhaps I’ll hint a bit when we next meet.

The space was light and airy, it’s obviously used by ongoing art groups as there were many works in progress.

20130620-222157.jpg

20130620-222207.jpg
It was a relaxed time with no pressure to craft in a certain way. The resources were ready, we paid our £5 (raising money for Crisis) grabbed a drink and chose where to start. I’d definitely attend another Etsy craft party and hope that the tentative suggestion about meeting again as a group happens in the future. I’m always up for social crafting and love meeting new people, especially when it’s going to be in a pub next time.

Doggy paddle

189

I’ve just embroidered this bag for my cousin’s birthday.  She loves scotty dogs.  I wasn’t too sure about the Hello design initially. It’s silly but I wondered if it looked like the dog had puffed the hello out of his bottom, like one of those sky-writing aeroplanes. The thing is I probably shouldn’t have said because now you’re either wincing at the bad taste, or thinking ‘OMG it does actually!”

I used some Sublime Stitching embroidery transfers from one of my books for inspiration, though actually traced them onto the bag with a fabric pen because it was one I wanted to test. Here you see the finished bag soaking in a basin to remove traces of the pen.  I was going to call this post ‘Doggy style’ but Someone thought it might be inappropriate. Surely I can’t be held accountable for the state of others’ minds, can I? 

Tunisian Crochet

It’s a beautifully sunny and warm Spring morning. I’ve been sorting out a stack of mostly new crafty inspiration.
IMG_2225

So many books, so much to try!IMG_2226The Knitting Answer book is brand new, the other two are library books. I want to learn to knit different types of cables after my first try the other week. But then I also want to learn how to do lace knitting. Apart from a couple of wool scarves I designed a few years ago, one purple for me and a green for my sis-in-law, I haven’t done any lace patterns. In the Knitted Homestyle book there are three lacy sachets designs for lavender bags, I thought they might be a good start.purple scarf

I also want to work my way through the knitted effects section, maybe making a selection of blocks to make into a throw. A collection of knitted leaves appeal too, for some reason. I’ve no idea what I’d do with them.

IMG_2228

The new Mollie Makes arrived yesterday. Cute bunnies but I’d prefer to find a pattern rather than cutting up old jumpers. There must be knitted bunny patterns by the million online.

I always save MM till I have the perfect time to read it, preferably cover to cover without stopping or speaking. Someone else loves the oasis of silence craft magazines create.

The Cath Kidson Stitch book was for my birthday and the Sublime transfer books were Christmas presents. I must find things to embroider on, more linen t-towels perhaps. Maybe I should be going to the Sewing for Pleasure show the weekend after next? But it’s the Spring Knitting & Stitch show on Saturday and then I’m going to the Wool House with Natasja next week. AND I’ve just heard of a new yarn shop which must be checked out.

It’s sooo funny to remember that when I learnt how to crochet a few years ago, because of a childhood ambition, I accidentally discovered the world of crochet blogs when googling crochet techniques. I found Attic 24 along with a host of other craft blogs but still felt pretty solitary during my crafty adventures. Then over the last year or so there’s been an explosion of magazines, new craft shops both on the high street and online, craft shows, knit, crochet & natter groups (did you see what I did there?!) I’m hearing many ‘I think I’m going to become more crafty’ resolutions from friends too. Hurray! I hope this trend for all-things-craft lasts a long, long time and doesn’t fade away again.

IMG_2230I didn’t get on very far with my plan to embroider this cushion,as you see, before going to a workshop at the Make Lounge in Islington, London with my cat mad friend last September. Crochet and other yarny projects have taken over. I must use the Sublime books for inspiration and sew.

Ok, enough of the chatter and stop linking to everything PLeeaAsE….

Last night I dug out the 5mm Tunisian crochet hook I bought last month along with Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet and some left-over wool from the jewel baby blanket I’m currently finishing (Stylecraft Special DK.) I’ve been busy with other things but -LAST ONE I PROMISE- Matt’s last blog post prompted me to get on and try crochet Tunisian styley.

My cousin and I often send photos of what we’re up to, here was mine last night at the beginning of my first Tunisian Crochet lesson. (In case you’re wondering hers were of various cats peering into the lap top webcam and pics of her really long Tunisian Crochet hooks. Apparently she had lessons at school and crocheted a stripy neck-tie! I didn’t know.)20130314-115012.jpg

So, here are the four little stitch swatches I made last night. IMG_2238Tunisian Simple Stitch

Easy! Easy and fun. I like making all the stitches so it looks like a knitting needle full, then reversing down to one stitch again. Ingenious. If you can crochet you can do it Tunisian style.  Kim Guzman puts instructions for lefties into each pattern. Kudos to Kim Guzman I say! The book is a goodie. I contacted her to say so and straightaway had a nice reply.

It felt more natural to hold the hook on top, then when I came to this paragraph: ‘When working in Tunisian Crochet, you will always use an overhand hold. Imagine yourself holding a bicycle handlebar” I felt a real flush of pleasure; it’s fab when you just guess a technique and it’s right. Sorry. Getting all giddy again, more photos less chat ahead.

IMG_2243Tunisian Knit Stitch

Easy and it makes such a thick fabric. It would be excellent scarf material apart from the curliness. There is a scarf pattern in the book where you fold it in half lengthwise and sew the seam end of rows, that might be the solution.IMG_2235Tunisian Purl Stitch

I did go to YouTube for extra tips with this one, searching for ‘Tunisian Crochet left handed purl stitch’. There’s a video on there by a woman with a really nice American accent but the filthiest fingernails! Yuck! She was too fast for me to gather how to do her technique of putting the yarn in front of the hook, but I developed my own thing. Not my favourite stitch because of the yarn in front thing.

IMG_2231Tunisian Reverse Stitch

This is basically the Tunisian Simple Stitch but going into the vertical bar from behind. It’s fiddly but I was tired; it was nearly 11pm and I need to try again. It’s probably very easy.

The next lessons are to increase, decrease and change colours. It’s like starting with crochet all over again. Learning those  skills are going to have to wait because I’ve got very achey shoulders this morning. Ooops, but when I’m enthusiastic I tend to go at a million miles an hour.

Overall holding the hook overhand doesn’t feel as comfortable and speedy-easy as crochet but like everything you get faster the more you practice. I’m not sure TC will replace crochet for me, though I like the smooth knit-like look, but it’s nice to have a new skill.

Tempted to try Tunisian Crochet too?

Embroidery

The embroidery workshop last month was fun. It was a good refresher as I haven’t done any for years. We concentrated on these stitches mainly: running, back, blanket, French knots, satin and chain. There was one stitch I’ve never come across before; split stitch which is what I used for the orange thread. I really like its plaited appearance.

Here’s the t-towel I embroidered during the session.

20121026-142026.jpg

For some on the workshop it was all completely new, others were at a similar level to me. I’m hoping they will run a follow-on workshop in the New Year, my friend and I are very keen to go.

Bit of practice

20120910-092807.jpg

Pre-workshop embroidery practice! I saw this Ikea cushion for £7.00, the cover is made of linen and cotton. It’s perfect for trying out stitches. So far I’ve embroidered some back stitches and chains.

It’s very very soothing apart from someone getting irate with tv related questions “What did she see?” “Did he recognise the baddies?” or “Can we rewind so I can watch that bit again? I was going round a corner.”