Friday, 16 January 2015

I'm giving it 24 hours

Here's the thing: yesterday my voice started making its way down towards the bass clef. I fad some phone calls to make, and it was mildly alarming when each 'hello' was deeper and huskier than the last! I coughed a bit, and needed a hanky and soon realised I had a cold.

It's unfortunate because my weekends involve lots of work and preparation for Mondays. It's going to be happening for the next 11 weeks too, so I have already said goodbye to my weekend evenings  for the next while. I need to function over the weekend, so that I can function on Mondays. I'm giving this pesky cold 24 hours to vacate my premises. I will be throwing everything at it: gallons of tea and other hot drinks; drugs; soothing baths  and anything else I can think of.

Some restorative and mindless knitting might also be on the agenda...

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Jolly Holly (FO)

December was a super crazy work month, so I had barely time to breathe let alone craft or blog. But, because I work part-time and have one day a week at home with children, there was at least a few minutes here and there to make some little things with them. 

Inspired by something I saw somewhere (the exact source escapes me now) we made a couple of Jolly Holly brooches to give as teacher gifts.

I used a cookie cutter for the basic shape, then cut it out in two colours of felt, one slightly larger than the other. We sewed along the midline with some embroidery thread, and then added a red button or bell for the berry. 

My 7 yr old managed the sewing himself, but my 5 yr old found it a bit hard, so I had to help. 

I sewed on the bell/button and attached a safety pin to the back, but a more confident child sewer might be able to do that herself. 

We pinned the finished brooches on cards so that they doubled as Christmas cards. Simple and sweet!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Stash Busting New Year Styley (FO)

The New Year arrived at our house along with the spring cleaning and sorting bug. Over the weekend there was a flurry of cleaning, sorting, recycling and general tidying up. 

Several cupboards and bed bases were sorted and organised, and two or three bags of stuff left the house never to return. My daughter's bed base is the home to part (ahem) of my fabric stash. Because I have been making a few things here and there, I thought I might be able to fit another chunk of the stash in there too, and I did my best to make that happen. 

I failed. 

I have quite a lot of nearly worn-out clothes which I have put aside for upcycling into something else. This included a pair of pyjamas of mine in a nice red/grey check with a sparkly. As everyone else in the family was happily occupied, I took the opportunity to upcycle these pjs into something useful.

First I cut the trousers and top into useable pieces of fabric that were roughly square or rectangular. I left hem finishes where appropriate.

Then after a quick iron, I set about making a set of fabric gift bags to add the pile we use for Christmas and birthdays. I have been making these bags for a couple of years now, inspired by Soule Mama. They make wrapping gifts pretty quick - no hunting for paper or tape or scissors - and make tidying up a breeze too: fold up and put back in the box. Easy! 

Wherever possible I used existing hem/edge finishes for the opening of the bags, and I worked with existing seams too, to minimise my sewing effort. I have learned not to make the bags too small, so aimed for something that is at least big enough to fit a novel. I ended up with 7 bags of various sizes.

It didn't make much of a difference to the fabric stash under my daughters bed, but it's a start. One thing dealt with. And, as we didn't have enough fabric bags for all of our Christmas wrapping, it'll be a good addition to that stash...

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

New Year, New Socks (FO)

In the midst of all the festive travelling and visiting and eating I managed to finish off a laggardly pair of socks that have been hanging about in my knitting bag for aaaages.

Nothing fancy - just plain vanilla socks, knitted top down. I had the yarn for Christmas last year, I think. I seem to have lost the ball band, so can't remember what brand it is - Regia maybe?

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The best present. Ever. (FO)

Last year I made my husband some shoe bags for Christmas, which he declared were The Best Present Ever. High praise, no? Flattery like that gets you everywhere...

He likes them for all sorts of reasons:

:: he has expensive taste in shoes, which he keeps for years decades
:: they don't take up any room in the house
:: they help him keep his shoes shiny and dust free

I like them too, for different reasons:

:: they are really easy to make
:: I made them from the stash
:: they are quick and cheap and have a high appreciation factor

After the raging success if last year's bags, an order was placed for more. Last year I upcycled some unused pillowcases (unused because they were the wrong size/shape for our pillows). This year I homed in on a linen skirt that had been hanging about in the upcycling pile for aaaaages.

It looked promising: a natural fibre in a neutral colour, and after a quick eyeball for size, I calculated that I could cut it up to make two new shoe bags in next to no time.

The first step was to cut the top of the skirt off. Choppity chop.

Then I ripped the central seams of the skirt. Riiiiip.

This left me with two rectangular pieces of cloth, each joined at the side seam and with the original hem. I spent a bit of time looking at the hem deciding what to do with it. I wanted my bags to have drawstrings, so needed a casing to run the strings through.The hem finish seemed to be perfect for this purpose,  so I just needed to sew the side and bottom of the bags together.

For durability and neatness and just because I like it, I used French seams. And, I bagged the bottom of the bags too, to give them a bit of shape.

Finally, I ran some tape through the hem casings to make drawstrings. All in all, a really quick little project. I reckon it was under half an hour, including all the rummaging and ironing. Result.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Stir-up Saturday

Yesterday afternoon the jelly bean and I spent a happy half an hour mixing this year's Christmas cake.  She's a good helper, and is particularly enthusiastic about licking the bowl afterwards (well, who isn't?)

We used our normal recipe from Nigella Lawson's 'how to be a domestic goddess'. With a few tweaks here and there. I tend to omit the mixed peel and put in more cherries instead, and I use whatever alcohol is available in the drinks cupboard - this year the brandy ran out when I was soaking the fruit, so I brushed the top of the cake with whisky. I don't think anyone will notice.

Today I transferred the wrapped cake from its tin to an airtight container. The jelly bean was rather disappointed . She thought we would be icing it today. I sense a compensatory session of cake baking coming on, just to take our minds off the cake that is cooked, but not ready to eat!

Friday, 7 November 2014

'Tis the season

Winter is almost here. My pockets are stuffed with hats and gloves, and the nights are getting longer and longer. Maybe it was the clocks going back that did it, that caused a switch in my brain to turn on. 

C R A F T! 

it says

M A K E!

Knit, sew, cut, stick, bake, glue - just DO something. Christmas is a-comin, dontcha know?

My fingers are itching to make and do. My head is full of ideas and plans, There are lists and notes, books, magazines, blogs and websites and flashes of inspiration here and there. In the last week I have bought card stock, circular hole punches and a new guillotine. I am lusting after fabric and yarn - but trying to restrain myself to shopping in the stash. That is the challenge: Use. The. Stash. 

I am planning:

  • A zippered bag for shoe cleaning kit for DH (probably the Purl Bee one)
  • A waistcoat for the bean (BBC vest by Schwin designs)
  • A dress for the jelly bean (Figgy's Sunki dress)
  • Zippered pouches/project bags for the jelly bean
  • Some raglan tees for the bean (Recess raglan tee by See Kate Sew)
  • Some self-made bias tape for my MIL
  • A knitted cowl for the bean
  • To finish the Phoebe cardigan for the jelly bean

Then there is a Christmas cake to make, plus peppermint bark, fudge and a whole pile of Christmas cards to make (and write). And, of course I could add a few more projects like: make decorations, finish that quilt top I have barely started and tidy up some of the other WIPS lurking in corners. But doing that would be ALL kinds of crazy, and I am definitely not crazy: I am completely in control (yeah). 

Since the crafting fever began last week 18 Christmas cards have been made, Christmas cake ingredients have been bought and the patterns for Sunki dress and BBC vest printed out. And, yesterday I bought two presents!