Saturday, 12 April 2014

Latest Makes!

Here's my latest selection of makes :

After I did a talk and craft stall at my Ladies Group I was asked to make a phone cover. I've not made phone covers before because there are so many different sized phones and devises these days I didn't really know where to start. Making them to order is better because I can measure the particular devise and make it accordingly.  As you can see, I made three completely different covers to give my friend a wide choice. Which is your favourite? It would be good to know what is popular.

I had a picture in my head for this zipped case, but this is not quite 'it'. It's OK though and will go on my next stall.
This one, however, is much more as I envisaged. A while back I sent for a pile of samples from an online seller of organic cotton fabrics. This is a selection of the samples (just the checks and stripes) randomly patchworked together. Actually, I 'randomly' cut out  the patches and 'randomly' laid them out to sew but, when I finished the bag and turned it the right way out, the 2 squares in the middle of the edges, on both sides of the back and front, were the same! What are the chances of that!

Bye for now
Teresa x

P.S. Don't forget to let me know which phone case you prefer (or maybe you have another idea to add).

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Lessons Learned!

A pile of grannies!
My stitching group put a call out for unwanted crafting materials so we could make things to raise money for local causes. These granny squares above are the start of something I'm making with some of the donated yarn. I think I've made a final decision, and it's going to be a cushion.
Felt creations
These cute little cosies were made by son's girlfriend, Grace, at college, where they were also selling their crafts for charity. Being a beginner at sewing, these 2 were rejected from the stall so she put a couple of ££s in the pot and brought them home for me! I think they're very sweet, and not bad for a beginner; I've seen a lot worse for sale on craft stalls! Grace made me laugh when she told me how she and a fellow beginner kept pulling the thread completely off the needle when they were sewing, and how her friend didn't realise and kept on sewing - with no thread. I remember doing the same when I started sewing and it made me think about why I don't still do it. So, the next time I sewed I concentrated on what I was doing, and realised that I automatically held the thread between my 2 middle fingers as soon as it popped through the fabric. It made me realise how much detail I'd have to go into if I decided to teach workshops, especially if there are complete beginners present.
Some supplies I picked up at a flea market when OH and I went out for the day for my birthday.
The subject of how we learnt to knit came up at the stitching group the other week. Some said they learnt in school, with a rhyme about a rabbit and a hole that I'd never heard before. I remember sewing in school, but not knitting (my great aunt Kate taught me). As the conversation moved on to other skills learnt at school, it was clear there was quite a difference between us, with members coming from different corners of the country. One had been instructed in how to lay a fire and use a twin-tub, which surprised the rest of us!!

We held a wedding party last week for people who didn't/couldn't come to Florida for the wedding itself. The groom's mother did the food while I made the cakes. I made a big cake to display the cake topper from Disney World, and cup cakes for the guests. This is my solution to the dilemma of how to transport 70 cup cakes in a car for a 30min journey. The big cake and 3 'boxes' of cupcakes went in the boot (trunk) while the three of us in the car each held a tray with 2 boxes. Maybe I was being ultra careful, but I learnt my lesson when transporting only a quarter of this number to the Hen Party, without boxes.

Bye for now
Teresa x

P.S. My camera seems to make purple look blue. The blue in the granny squares and the felt cosies is actually a lovely deep purple.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

It's Hip to be Square!

After months of wet, miserable weather we are, at last, enjoying some lovely sunshine and the gardens are bursting into life.  This also means that son, K, is being deluged with calls and messages wanting gardens attended to. Daughter, J, is settling into married life (which is not much different from how it was before): and all is well (photos next time, hopefully).

Below is the finished project I hinted at last time. It's my Tag Square Bee quilt that was started at the end of 2010. The blocks are from quilters all over the world, except for the one at the top, centre, which I made. I also sent a block to each of those quilters to incorporate into their quilts.

It's the second, and biggest, quilt I've finished to date and will grace the bed in the spare room, after it's been washed (there's a lot of handling involved in hand quilting - and the odd spilt cup of tea - resulting in general grubbiness!)
I think the shadows on this photo are great.
It's backed with an old sheet, with the mini signature blocks (one from each quilter) stitched onto the back of their respective larger blocks. With this big project out of the way I can concentrate on one of my other major works-in-progress: which I usually do alongside smaller, quicker ones (for more 'instant' satisfaction).

Zipped purse made for stall at talk. Organic cotton samples and recycled orange zip.
Last week, I gave a talk about my crafting, to the Ladies Group I run locally. I was a little worried - mainly that wouldn't be able to make it interesting enough - but considering I talk to them every month to open our meetings I had no reason to be nervous. So I wasn't really. But I had no idea I could talk for so long without stopping, because I'd never tried before (and I'm known for not talking much). The ladies seemed to enjoy it, asked lots of questions and gave lots of compliments. I sold a few items and had commissions for a couple more, but more importantly, made people aware of what I do. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it and wouldn't be averse to doing it again to another group.

Handbag made from left over upholstery fabric from my mother plus other scraps
The cherry on the cake came the next day when I checked my emails and found I'd made my first sale from my Folksy shop (2 sales actually, to the same person). I was buzzing for the rest of that day and felt like I'd finally 'arrived'. Hopefully, other people will feel confident to order now that someone has broken the ice. I had lots more 'views' of my items too, which I'm putting down to the fact that Mothering Sunday is fast approaching. I should really re-stock my shop now - I didn't have much in it to start with - but that's one of the less enjoyable parts of this 'business'.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Disney Did Us Proud!

We had an amazing time at Disney World!!! The wedding day itself was the best day of all, including perfect weather. I have to say it is not a holiday destination OH and I would have chosen for ourselves, but we enjoyed it very much and are very glad we experienced it. I was afraid the wedding would be too impersonal or, alternatively, "over-the-top", but everyone was so lovely and ensured the day went smoothly. The wedding was also streamed live via the internet so friends and family back home were able to be part of it.

Disney princess cup cakes that I made for J's hen party
Some of the credit has to go to J too, for the hours and hours of planning and preparation she put in. Her and A's previous experience was also a great help to us 'First Timers' at Disney, so that we were able to make the most of the time we had and do as much as possible.

We haven't had the official photos back yet but have seen one on the photographer's website and it's amazing. Someone said to me, "I bet you would go back tomorrow if you could!" I wouldn't go that far, but I would be happy to go again in the future with grandchildren, to watch them experience it.

Back to reality now, and here are a couple of recent 'finishes'.  I've knitted this baby blanket for a friend who's baby is due in May using some of my stash of recycled yarn. Underneath it is another project that is on the brink of being finished after a looooong time.

This little bag was knitted from some yarn donated to our stitching group to make things for raising money. It's lined in fabric I cut up from a charity shop shirt. It's not clear from the photo, but the yarn has a silvery thread running through it. When I took it along to the group one of them wanted to buy it for herself, but they decided to raffle it at our upcoming Craft Cafe event because they thought it was too nice for the stall! They are nice ladies!!!!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Handwork and 2014 Challenge (January)!

I put my sewing machine away for Christmas so we could eat at the kitchen table, and it hasn't been back out since. Therefore, any crafting I've been doing over the last couple of weeks has been hand sewn.

These two round purses are from a pattern in Craftseller magazine. The original purpose of the design was to be used as an ear-phone case but these could have any number of  uses from coin purse to travel jewellery case (any other ideas welcome). And they count towards my Challenge to make use of my books and magazines.

I made the felt by hot-washing woollen jumpers. You get quite varied results doing this, meaning that the pink felt above is much thicker than the grey below. I'm glad I made the pink one first because it was quite a struggle to attach to the zip. Incidentally, the zips come from the pockets of some jogging trousers of my son's.

The grey purse had it's own challenges. I'm finding I need my glasses more and more when I'm doing close work, and sewing dark colours like this is the worst. I lost my 'best' pair of glasses recently (bought from the local post office for a few pounds) so bought a new pair. I couldn't find the same magnification I used before so got the next stage up - and boy did I need them. When I.....ahem......found the old pair, I compared them and was astounded at the difference.

Finally,  I got around to cutting up the pile of t-shirts I'd sorted from my clothes, into yarn. Added to what I already have, there should be enough to make something now.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Bad News and Good News!

Bad News:  My auntie (who's house is attached to ours) was burgled last week, while we were sitting next door. It was late afternoon and she was out for less than an hour! Not much was taken but the house was a mess.

Good News: I joined a newly-formed stitching group just before Christmas, and we made it into the local paper this week as a result of our collaboration with the Church to help raise funds towards their 'Raise the Roof' Campaign. I'm sitting down, far left.

Good News: It's not much longer now until J's wedding. It seemed such a long time in the future when we started making arrangements. It's been amazing how much work J has put into the organisation, and I have helped where I can......

..... but as J and A are the experts on the venue it's mostly fallen on them.  I don't know if any of my previous mentions gave away the wedding location but the close-up of the invitation should make it clearer. J made the invitations herself, completely from scratch (I know because I asked if she bought the base card - It was that good!).

Bad News: The back boiler 'went' on our wood burner recently and we had to get a new one.
Good News: It could have 'gone' while we were away on holiday the week before and ruined the carpet and floor as well, but we were at home and able to catch the water as it emptied out (Bad News: It was 7.15 am!)

Bye for now
Teresa x

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Another New Hat and a Challenge!

Hi all!
OH and I got back from a week in Austria on Saturday: a skiing holiday, on which (as usual) I did not ski. I was joined in my week-long apres-ski by J who was not skiing due to the fact she is expecting her first baby. During the week we celebrated, amongst our group of 6, a 50th birthday and an engagement. We knew about the birthday and went prepared, but the engagement was a complete surprise.

In previous years I've made myself a new hat to take away, so decided to do the same again.  This time it was knitted in a cable design. It was supposed to be knitted on a circular needle, but I didn't have one the right size so I adapted the pattern to knit it on a pair of needles. It's also supposed to be more like a beret but, due to my tendency to knit too tightly, it's more like a beanie (The pattern is called Saffron but I don't remember where I got it from I'm afraid. I have a pdf if anyone is interested.)

On the last day of the holiday, J and I bought tickets to join the rest of the group at the top of the ski lift for lunch. I was really pleased we did, because the other time I went up it was too foggy to see the amazing view.

Another day we watched the men ski, from the bar half-way up the mountain. We managed to pick them out with the help of M's rabbit ears.

Back to normal now, and to the 'challenge' I decided to set myself for this year - or however long I decide to continue. I felt that I hadn't got my money's worth out of the crafty books and magazines I've bought over the years. When I thought about it in more detail, though, I realised I've taken inspiration from my books for a few of my projects, but the only item I've made from scratch and word-for-word is the knitting needle roll (above), the pattern for which I followed from The Crafters' Companion

Because it's my challenge I'm not going to put any pressure on myself, such as a time limit or amount of projects. The only rule is that there are no rules. As you know by now, I don't plan much when I start a project. It just sort of evolves. But this challenge means I'll occasionally have to plan a little. And it doesn't mean following patterns exactly - I might just use them for inspiration. As I said before - My Challenge. My rules!!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Friday, 27 December 2013

Thank You!

 Hello again! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to a crafty New Year.  I've been a bit under the weather the last few days (a nasty cold, that sapped my energy). I just managed to get through our Carol Services before it hit me, but had to miss Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve for the first time in many years.

I got a few items made during December including a batch of 3 bags. Due to her love of dogs, I decided to give this one to my auntie for Christmas.

My son's girlfriend likes penguins (yes, it is supposed to be a penguin!) and also commented on how much she liked my 'Practically Perfect Cushion', so I made this one for her in a similar style.

 This is the envelope style back, which I like just as much as the front.

No 2 of the 3 bags has a velvet ribbon and button embellishment and a giant press-stud fastener. The buttons match the fabrics better in 'reality' than they seem to here.

Bag No 3 has a jeans pocket on the outside and a button fastener. The last 2 bags will be in my Folksy Shop shortly.

Before I go, I'd like to thank you all for your support over 2013 (and previously). Without you I'd have no blog and, therefore, little outlet for my creative endeavours.

See you all in 2014.
Bye for now
Teresa x

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Taking the Plunge!

I've taken the plunge and listed some of my crafts for sale on Folksy!! Although I set up the 'shop' ages ago it's taken me a while to get around to actually listing any products. There are only a few items there (it seems to take me ages to list one item - perhaps I'm putting too much information, but I get a bit carried away) so I'm not going to publicise much until I get it a bit more established. I'll only be selling to the UK, at first, too, because I haven't yet looked into postage issues for further afield.

I recently joined a new stitching group that meets in the bar of a local hotel. It was set up via Facebook a couple of weeks ago and is proving quite popular. Needing something to take along, I grabbed a copy of Craftseller with a pattern for crocheted hearts in it, and started on these (above). I was also able to help someone who was having trouble with her crochet. Others were helped out with various problems and some admitted that they'd have given up at the first hurdle if they'd been at home alone. So the group has already proved it's usefulness, with the added bonus of meeting new people with similar interests.

My son's van could do with a good clean! Someone decided to add this 'artwork' while it was parked outside the gym. He was hoping they'd finish it the next time he parked there but, instead, something else was added that I'm not going to show you!

This little chap, and a friend, were making so much noise outside the living room window I knew they were angling to have a photo taken. Trouble is, they were also darting about so much that I couldn't get them both together.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Friday, 22 November 2013

A Knock-On Effect!

 After de-cluttering and sorting out the bookshelves on the landing last week, we were left with some extra space; and, in this house, I find that any extra space is usually filled quite quickly, usually when I'm not looking. The only solution was to fill it myself first, and if it solved another clutter situation at the same time then 'all well and good'.

This was the clutter situation in question; kitchen shelves and tops filled with cookery books. It might seem logical to have them in the kitchen, but there are many more than this on the shelves upstairs, so they may as well all be together, and tidy.
It didn't take long to gather them all up and rearrange the shelves. I should do this more often - it feels good!

Talking about books, I think my crafting books probably out number the cookery books (not including my son's cookery books or the pile under the stairs that came from MIL's when she passed away - but let's not think about all those!). Above is the shelf of craft books in my shed.

This shelf is the craft part of the shelves on the landing, and below are a few strays that came from the shed and made their way onto the coffee table in the sitting room.

And let's not forget the magazines.

Although I've made a few projects from these, I don't think I've really made the best of them, or got my money's worth.  I'm going to make it my mission, in 2014, to remedy that. So look out for progress on this, starting in the New Year.

 Now, here's what I have been up to the last couple of weeks. Only one of these  projects was made completely from a pattern and none of them were from my books - for the rest I used my usual method of 'winging it'.

 This bag started out as a simple, hexagon drawstring bag: purchased from a charity shop. Before starting any reconstruction, I removed the lining, and replaced 5 or 6 of the hexagons because the fabrics were a bit 'nasty'. For the revamp I added some bits of chopped up, charity shop corduroy trousers and a new lining, then shaped the bag with pleats at the top and boxed bottom corners.

An unplanned, and useful, side-effect of the construction means that the bag is totally reversible!

 This little bag and purse set is made from a pair of baby's cords. The useful, in-built decoration meant less work for me! The handle is made from half a belt.

Although this crocheted blanket is not from a book or magazine, it is inspired by a scarf in one of the books.

Motivated by the rapidly dropping temperatures, these fingerless mittens knitted up quickly. I haven't tackled knitting in-the-round for a while, but was pleased that this time I was able to work out how to knit them from the right side, rather than inside-out .

That's it for today then. I started off with the intention of making two posts with these photos, but they seem to have merged into one long one!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Decorate and Discover!

OH painted the stairwell and landing the other week. And I only mentioned it once before!  It meant removing the books and shelves from the wall, so that was my job.

I haven't got any 'before' pictures because, to be honest, there isn't much difference.  It's the same colour, just a bit brighter and whiter, and there are fewer books on the shelves, after a good sort out. A small pile has gone in the bin, another pile is ready for the charity shop and a couple of books made their way back to the shelf, after DD had a sort through!

This sort of job always takes longer than you think, especially when you come across books you forgot you had. I kept the Enid Blyton story book I was given when I left the Brownies in March 1974; a paperback copy of The Borrowers dated 1964, that looks as though it has never been read; and a hardback copy of The Selfish Giant dated 1967, that cost "13s. 6d. NET".

Inside the cross-stitch book, above, I discovered these two unfinished projects and a pair of scissors. The little cat is a design from the book, but I couldn't find the pansies in it anywhere. I am probably responsible for the pansies, and one of the children probably sewed the cat, but none of us can remember them!

I tried a different variation of zipped purse last week: padded and quilted ones. The first one is pieced together and the second is one piece. They are solid and substantial, and I'm quite pleased with how they turned out.

Next time, I'll have pictures of another finished crocheted baby/lap blanket and, hopefully, a hexie bag that is currently on the kitchen sewing table.

Bye for now
Teresa x