Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Change is in the Air!

Hello everyone - I've been away from here for much longer than I expected to, but time seems to be speeding by so fast and there's been lots happening.

I don't think I've mentioned yet that I started a little part-time job about 6 weeks ago. Every week-day morning I help a local, partially-disabled, young mother to pack the parcels for her jewellery-making supplies business. It's quite unpredictable because it could take anything from an hour to 3 hours, so I'm never able to plan exactly what I want to do for the rest of the day, but it gets me out and about every day and motivates me.

Me at Laugharne Castle
OH and I had a last-minute mid-week break at Laugharne a few weeks ago (the last resting place of Dylan Thomas). It was a lovely few days of relaxation among a whirlwind of activity, to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary and OH's 60th birthday.


I've held craft stalls at a couple of local events at which I did quite well, and since then I've been asked to run stalls at 4 further events and give a talk at a local group (all before Christmas!). In other crafty news - I entered one of my quilts into the patchwork class at a local show and won first prize.


I also won second prizes for my lemon drizzle cake (above) and boiled fruit cake (below) in the novice classes, for people who hadn't entered cakes before.


I'm struggling to find time to make more things to stock my stalls, and the fact that I've had to empty all my materials out of my shed, ready for it to be moved out for the house-building, is not helping. It's already being dismantled and the garden is almost bare now, after 2 weekends of clearing out by son and friends, including: OH, son-in-law, son's girlfriend, son's girlfriend's father/mother/brother and son's friend. It's looking pretty bare, and it's going to get worse before it gets better.

I made a larger zipped bag for my last stall, which turned out well. It sold quite quickly and I plan to make more soon.

This little purse above was requested by a friend as a present for her niece, so this has also gone to a good home.


The big surprise, and another thing that has taken up quite a bit of time, was when daughter and SIL had the opportunity to move from a town 20 minutes away from us to this little country cottage 5 minutes away. It is on the country estate that my OH works for and needed lots of TLC. It looks very different now; especially inside. They moved in a couple of weeks ago.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Sunday, 24 August 2014

A Question, a Request and some Crafting!

Do you trust your Google STATS? I get suspicious when my stats suddenly shoot up for no apparent reason. My last post had hundreds more views than normal, mostly from the USA. It's happened once before, a couple of years ago, but that time the views were all from Russia!

I''ve recently published a Facebook page for my Thread Shed crafts and currently have 20 'likes'. If you could take a little look and 'like' it too (if you genuinely LIKE it, that is) I would be very grateful.

I know the dragon should be red but I needed a red square to finish it off. The green is a much nicer, deep shade than in the photo
A friend recently gave me a pile of red and green knitted squares that her husband knitted before he died, a couple of years ago. Not being a knitter herself, she didn't know what to do with them, but as he had originally knitted them for a charity project she wanted a charity to benefit in some way and thought of my stitching group's charitable work. I knitted up the remainder of the yarn so that I had enough to make a blanket, making a feature of one square by knitting a Welsh dragon, and crocheted them together. When I took it back to her she kept it, gave me the charity money herself, and was looking forward to showing it to her children.


This little purple bag (yes, it is a lovely purple, I must learn to use my camera properly) started as a phone cover but was working out much too big. It's made from some of the wool that was donated to our group, so will go on the stall at our next event.


I've been thinking ahead (well ahead, for me) and making some Christmas products. I made a few of these stocking, Christmas tree decorations last year and they sold well. So, after modifying the design to make them easier to construct, I  ran up a few more with the limited festive fabrics I have. They're not as big as them seem next to that cotton reel!


When I un-ran a charity shop jumper and started making granny squares I didn't have a definite end result in mind (as usual). Luckily, though, 4 of the squares fitted exactly around these bolster cushion pads (I have two pads). I looked up how to make granny circles to finish off the ends and here's the result.

We've had a busy weekend looking after daughter's and SIL's 2 dogs, while they are at their cousin's wedding in Germany. We also went to a wedding ourselves on Saturday, of two good friends. Is it just me, or are there a lot more weddings than usual taking place this year? Another friend at the wedding told me she had been invited to SIX weddings (and three christenings) this summer.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

New Beginnings!


This photo is taken from near the edge of our garden, which is on the opposite side of the road from our house. That's our house behind the bushes - the cream one with the roof lights. The house is about a foot lower than the road level, down a couple of steps; the garden is long and narrow and is a few feet above road level.


This view is from the top of the veg plot, with a couple of metres more of lawn and trees behind me. We've had a good supply of strawberries, lettuce and rhubarb so far this year and the rest is well on the way. Sadly, it now looks very likely that this is the last year we will be able to 'grow our own' here.


My shed will also have to move elsewhere - probably at the back of the house. However, the reason for all this upheaval (as per my big hints of a few posts ago) is a good one. Our son has, as of yesterday, obtained planning permission to build a house here! In an ideal world we would not have to make use of our garden this way, but with house prices in our area being so high, it is the only way he can afford to have his own place and stay in the village.


In crafty news, I seem to be starting too many longer term projects when I should be making quick, smaller items to build up some stock. Here's my latest bag creation, made from chopped up jeans and furnishing fabric scraps. I've also finished off a project for a friend and made a few more phone covers (photos next time).

I dug out some Christmas fabric to get ahead of myself for future stalls and have started on some lavender bag sets. I can hardly believe it, but I bought a Christmas present the other day (in July!). It's never been heard of before, but I saw the perfect thing and thought I might as well get it.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Money Raising Goes Awry!

 I've mentioned before that I had a little idea to raise some money. It involved getting rid of some clutter at the same time, and I set out with high hopes; but things didn't go according to plan. I gathered together a random selection of items that were languishing in drawers, or just lying around the house, and took them off to a local auction house.

Outside effects being auctioned in the sunshine
A couple of weeks later the items had been sorted and labelled and were ready for auction (amongst hundreds of other varied and strange items). OH came with me and I was quite looking forward to the day. We didn't have to be there to see our items auctioned but, not having attended an auction before, I was interested to see how it all worked. When we got there, we picked up a buyers' number - just in case.....


Most of the items we took went for only a few pounds, and 2 items (a clarinet and a watch) didn't reach the reserve I put on, so we brought them home again. This pair of Staffordshire spaniels, which came from my MIL's when she passed away about 6 years ago, made £22.  Not bad since one of them was 'crackled' all over. At least now my daughter doesn't have to explain any more, to friends she brings round, how we acquired them and that they are not our chosen style of decor!


 I took a chance entering this pen as a separate lot, but it had the name 'Esterbrook' on the nib so I listed it as such and crossed my fingers. I'd had it since I was in secondary school and remember using it and filling it from an ink bottle. I was surprised when someone on the internet got it for £16. Altogether, I made £59 (before fees and costs) which I was quite happy with. But..........I somehow managed to spend over £100.


You really can't blame me, though, when this little beauty was up for grabs. A couple of people were bidding for it in earnest but came to a stop at £65, so I pounced and got it for £70 plus costs etc!!!!!


 I also nabbed a useful box of fabric for £17.50, which was also quite popular in the room. When I got it home and had a proper rummage, I found this vintage, 2.5m, unused piece of Liberty in the bottom, which is probably worth more than what I paid for the whole box.


Crafting has also continued at The Thread Shed with a phone case, child's bag and a cushion sold to friends. The bag above is a new design I tried out, and it worked quite well. Instead of my usual 2 handled shopper type, I tried a single handled shoulder design.


I've also finished this randomly pieced, rustic-looking quilt. The centre panel is made up of squares, HSTs, half-square-rectangles and 4-square patches. I started by cutting the bigger squares, then kept cutting smaller and smaller shapes as it got less and less. It was still too small to be useful so I dug out some larger pieces and made 2 large random borders.


I machine-quilted the whole thing with 2" criss-cross lines. Then, because I didn't want to bind the edges, I added a piece of tea-dyed sheet to the back (by sewing front-to-front and turning) and did some hand quilting to hold it all together. I love the finished result!

Bye for now.
Teresa x

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Festival and Fun Day!

Trying to get giant bubbles through hula hoops
My stall
The Saturday Singers 
Abertillery Orpheus Choir
I was pleased for the organisers of this year's Raglan Festival that the weather was so good. It was important for the relaunch of the Raglan Fun Day to be a success and give them something to build on for the future. Attendance numbers were high and great fun was had for the whole afternoon, starting with the Big Lunch at 1pm, and with bands on the outdoor stage keeping everyone entertained.

On the Sunday, after a community service on the same school playing field and a quick lunch at home, I went to the Beaufort Hotel terrace and spent the afternoon with crowds of others listening to various local entertainers and chatting to friends.

I was chuffed to notice that, as well as having one of my homemade bags with me, one of the Saturdays Singers had her music in one, and the daughter of a friend had hers over her shoulder too. We were joined by my friend's brother whose daughter also had one of my bags. It appears that my bags have a 'look' because my friend said she could recognise them now. Another lady said she'd have to get one because 'everybody's got one'! It was a good afternoon all round!!

Sunday evening's performance in the church of Abertillery Orpheus Male Choir was very popular. It was good to see a few younger members in the choir; probably as a result of the popularity of groups like Only Men Aloud, and choir singing in general being more fashionable. Roll on next year!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Patterns and Plans!

My craft stall at the local village Fun Day, last weekend was not hugely successful in the selling stakes. However, it was a useful day in other ways: such as networking and upping my local profile.


After being given another box of lovely fabric and goodies by my aunt, I was able to run up a quick string of bunting to decorate my stall (will show a stall pic next time).


Also, for the stall, I finished this clutch bag from Michelle patterns. I added a thin strap after taking this picture, because it was awkward to carry without one. This is the first time I've used a pattern when making my bags and, crikey, there were a lot of different bits and pieces! All the stiffening and padding added to the structure of the bag but don't really fit with my upcycling ethos. If I make this style again, I'll try some modifications and alternative materials.


In an effort to appeal to the children who would be at the Fun Day, I made 5 mini shopper bags at the last minute; which was a good decision because I sold 2 of them and had an order for another in a different colour.

I was also given a bag of useful buttons by a local resident and a tip for another craft fair that should be more up my street. 

We live and learn!

It's about time I added some money to the household pot, though, so I've a plan in mind, and I've also been asked to proofread a couple of books that are in the process of being written, so things are looking up!

Bye for now
Teresa x


Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Progress?!

 There are 2 mighty oak trees on our lane. Wonderful specimens that I have known all my life, and that have stood here probably hundreds of years while change has gone on all around them. They were originally surrounded with fields with the lane running alongside. Then along came the by-pass (just visible to the right of the second pic) which was later widened into a duel-carriageway (in the early 1980s).


Also in the 1980s came the construction of a large estate (to the right of the above oak). This oak is the furthest from my house - you can just see the next one behind it.

As children my brothers and sisters and I loved kicking through the piles of oak leaves that built up against this wall in the autumn.

 This is the other side of the oak in the first pic. I noticed a lot of ivy growing up its trunk this year that I don't remember seeing before. I hope it isn't a sign of anything sinister!


This is the next oak tree towards our house. It's a bit smaller than the first one and is beginning to show signs of age. It's had quite a lot of ivy growing on it for years and tends to be a bit slower in responding to the seasons.

Where the smaller trees stand in this pic (above) is where a 3rd mighty oak once stood. We were very sad to see it go, almost 20 years ago, when it was (conveniently) condemned and chopped down to make way for this entrance road for 4 new houses. Our house is out of sight, on the left of this pic, just underneath the huge, new house to the left of the telegraph pole.


Here you can see our garden, as of a few weeks ago (opposite the huge, new house), where OH is rotovating ready for planting. It's now planted up and the crops are well on their way. There are promising signs for a good crop of apples and plums, too.

This may, or may not, be the last year we will be able to plant our garden. We are awaiting a decision from the county council and, if things go to plan, things will change drastically, including the moving of The Shed!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Reading!?

WARNING: The text in this post has absolutely nothing to do with the pictures!!

My list of classic book reading was seriously short until about 15 years ago. So short, there was nothing on it apart from books I had to read at school. Then, I was given a book voucher for my birthday and decided that my list needed adding to, so I bought The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.....and loved it!  

A scrappy cushion for the stall


A new world opened to me and I've gradually added more to the list since (Lorna Doone, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Far from the Madding Crowd, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, The Moonstone etc). I've just finished a copy of Jane Eyre, bought from a church fundraiser last year, that was published the year I was born. 

2 more phone cases made on request (but not suitable as phone bigger than I was told)

I felt obliged to try a couple of Jane Austin's but, as I might have mentioned before, I just didn't get what all the fuss is about. To me, they lack substance and plot compared with the others. Each to his own! I still have copies of The Mill on the Floss, Little Women and the complete works of Charles Dickens waiting to be read - so it'll be a while before I need to go looking for more!

These phone cases are big enough, and the right one was chosen.

Something else I find difficult to understand is when people read the same book over and over again, sometimes once a year. I once re-read a book that I had remembered really enjoying, but it was nowhere near the same second time around. It even spoilt my good memories of reading it the first time! I'd be very wary of doing it again.

Bag crocheted out of home made t-shirt yarn. 

 I also believe that the amount of enjoyment a reader gets is relative to their situation at the time. What I mean is - you may read a book that has a profound effect on you because it unconsciously resonates with your circumstances or mood at the time. But if you read it a couple of years earlier or later, in different circumstances, it might have little effect on you and you would enjoy it a lot less. That's what I think anyway!

Don't you wish I'd stuck to posting about crafting now!? Ha ha
Bye for now
Teresa x

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Wedding Photos!!!!!


At last I've managed to get hold of some wedding photos in a form I can post on here. I hope you like them.


This is me and the bridesmaids, taken by son K, crossing the bridge to the Pavilion where the wedding took place. 

 The  Happy Couple under a confetti shower.

 The bride and groom on their way to the reception (or, they will be after they've sat down)

 At a special photo shoot in Magic Kingdom.

The whole group, except for the bridesmaids.

Monday, 28 April 2014

More Makes!

When I started this blog I had hardly any crafting to show. Now, I have little else and it's in danger of getting a little 'samey'. I need to start carrying my camera around again!  However, it does mean that I've been busy making - which is a good thing.


Like the granny cushion from my last post, these 2 drawstring bags are made from donated materials and are destined for the stitching group stall at the school fete.


This one, though, is made from my own recycled materials and has been added to my shop, along with a couple of other items.


This is another item for the stitching group. This time it's for one of the group members who commissioned me to make it for her. She's been looking for a silver/grey bag for ages and asked me to make her one after seeing a similar one I made. This one has a zip fastening and a removable flower brooch.

The local Mother's Union is also having a craft stall at the school fete and one of their members asked me to make a few small things that she would buy from me to add to their stall.

I'm having stalls of my own at a couple of up-coming events in the next few months too so I need to get crafting for myself now. I will, however, try to add more variety to my posts.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

2014 Use My Books Challenge!


The consensus seems to be that this phone cover is the favourite. It was also the one that my friend, J, bought for herself (along with one of the other cases, to give to a friend of hers). Can you see the difference in it from the last post, though? J wasn't keen on the loop fastening (not because of the look of it, but the fiddly-ness) so I replaced it with a flap that has a press-stud fastening.


And this cushion is what the pile of grannies from the last post ended up as. It will now be added to my stitching group's stock for the school fete in May.


The design was inspired by a combinations of patterns in this book, which I bought last year with birthday money.


I've bent the rules in my 2014 Challenge to include cookery books, because, like my craft books, I don't get enough use out of these either. I tend to stick to the same familiar cook books (or not use them at all) when there is plenty of inspiration in the rest. 


The chocolate brownies are from this book, and yes, they were cooked in the slow cooker! My son and his girlfriend bought this book for my birthday, last year. I didn't follow the recipe exactly because I only had a quarter of the required cocoa, and no chocolate chips (I added ground almonds to make up the cocoa). They turned out fine though. I think they'd have been too chocolatey with all the cocoa, if that's possible!

Bye for now
Teresa x