Saturday, 29 December 2012

Hello friends, I hope you've all had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013.  

The decorations are still up for now.
 We've spent lots of time with family and friends - eating, drinking and making merry.

The mince pies have been devoured.

The stollen is half gone and going down well despite the sloppy homemade marzipan inside.

The handmade present has been given and much appreciated (a laptop bag). I shortened the zip overhang and recovered the end before gift wrapping it (in case you're thinking it's a bit long).

I used a zip insertion method I haven't used before.  It turned out quite well but I will make a few modifications if I do it again.  

Progress since last time:

I had to clean off the kitchen table for the season and everything was put away in the shed, so recent progress has been limited to some fiddling and experimenting.  Hopefully, there'll be something to show for it next time. 

I've just been emailed my Ladies Group financial records after being persuaded to become the Treasurer/Joint Leader so I'm signing off now to try and get my head around it all.

(Thank you so much for the help and advice regarding my Blogger and photo issues,  I'll keep it all in mind.  The other day I accidentally found out how to reduce the size of photos while still on my camera so that will help)

Bye for now 
Teresa x

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A Couple of Connected Hitches!

No, I'm not refering to a new type of knot!  Blogger told me recently I had reached my 1Gb photo limit in Picassa and that I would have to pay to increase it.  It put me in a bit of a quandry for a while; did I continue without photos, pay for more space or give up this blog (none of which appealled to me)!  There was one other option - delete some older, unused photos and hope the free limit is increased again soon, or I will have to seriously consider paying for more space.  So that is what I've done for now!

A few days later, I was taking pics of the map boxes when I dropped my camera.  The lens was out at the time and it bent and broke, so although the power still turned on, I was unable to use it anymore!

So, there I was, back with the same dilemma but for a different reason.  It did, however, solve a problem for OH.  The problem of what to get me for Christmas!!  A couple of days later he came home with an updated version of my broken camera and normal service was resumed. Well........ he couldn't wait until the big day when my need was so urgent.

Now, I'm able to show you the random items I've finished recently that you haven't seen yet. Top pic is a selection of felt and fabric brooches.  Next are the map boxes mentioned last time.  They are actually sets of 3 tucked inside each other, with the largest being about 4" square.  The odd yellow one is made from handmade paper a friend brought from abroad and didn't want any more.

This is the little bag made from a pair of child's jeans with a belt handle.  The purple crocheted/knitted bag had two previous incarnations as scarves but never really worked like that, so this is it's final re-form.

Finally, here's a big pile of potential given to me by my auntie (next-door-but-one) who used to make soft furnishings, and has lots more where this came from.  I had a great time going through it all and sorting it into piles. It took much longer that it should have as my mind whirred with what I could make.

Progress since last time:

More map boxes cut and glued
Purple bag finished
Christmas present started.

There'll be only one handmade gift made this Christmas (unless someone buys something I've already  made) and I'm not going to reveal it until after it's been received (I won't make that mistake again!)

Bye for now
Teresa x

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Real Test - or was it!?

Here is my second foray into the world of craft fairs.  This time a much bigger event.  I thought it would be more of a true test of my crafts, but fewer potential customers than expected meant low sales in general (in my case, none at all, unless you count the £2 purse bought by my mum, out of pity!) Mum also bought another purse from me at home the day before  to donate to a raffle.  So, taking all this into account and the table fee, I made a grand total of minus £4.50!!!  There were lots of raffle prizes at the fair so, having bought a ticket, I hoped to take one home as a sort of consolation prize.  But it was not to be.  I did take home a prize but it was not mine.  You might have guessed - it was won by my mum!

On the bright side, I had lots of nice comments about my items and I wasn't the only one not selling.

Having no Christmas themed items on my stall, I took the opportunity, when making a tree decoration for my quilting group next week, to remedy this.  I made this little quilted stocking then, while on a roll, went on to make a few more for the stall.  All I have to do now is find another craft fair and book myself a table.

My latest creative urge came in the form of a paper project.  More on that next time. 

Progress since last time:

More brooches.
Nests of map boxes.
Christmas Tree Stockings.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Are you getting bored yet....!?

Getting bored with posts about stitching I mean.   I think DD probably is because she told me that, although she enjoys my posts, she's not so keen on the crafty stuff.  If there's anything I've mentioned before that you'd like to hear more about  I'll try to oblige.  Until then, here are my latest crafty offerings: -

 Four tote bags made with a variety of strong furnishing weight fabics.  They are all lined and have a simple pocket for small essentials.
 This was the first, experimental version.  The flowered fabric is from my mother and looked like it was from a chair cover.  The blue-check is a strange fabric that felt like it had a rubber coating but I can't remember where I got it from.  It certainly made the handles strong (I broke a needle in the process!)

 The next three bags I made as a batch so they took no longer altogether than the first one.

 This one is my favourite of the bunch. The blue is from some old denim jeans.

 I had a revelation when topstitching the top edge of the bags (this orange polka-dot is the lining of the cream bag).  I'm sure this will come as no surprise to most stitchers but I realised that I could get a straighter stitch-line if I moved the needle position rather than the fabric, under the foot.  Here, I've lined up the seam with the line on the foot and moved the needle to the right, where I want the stitch-line to go.  It made it much easier to follow a straight line.

This scarf is similar to the one bought from my craft stall and which two people were interested in.  I've made this for the other person as a Christmas present. Spot the un-deliberate mistake that I won't be redoing!

Progress since last time:

1 brooch finished and another started.
1 recycled child's jeans bag finished.
Crocheted/knitted bag started.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Pink and Scary!

 I want to start today by thanking all of you who commented on my last post and especially those who gave me hints and tips for my stall.  They were really useful tips that hadn't occurred to me.

In the meantime, I've finished the couple of items that didn't get done in time to put on the stall.  The pink baby quilt is quilted and bound.

 It's made with all recycled materials with the backing (below) coming from a pair of curtains I got from a car boot sale.
 The knitted lampshade came out better than I thought.  It's knitted in 6 pieces with hearts on 3 panels and garter stitch around the edges.  I suppose it would be possible to knit it all in one piece but that's beyond me I'm afraid.

(This pic looks a bit distorted, may be something to do with the trouble I had loading them this week.)
Last Friday we popped out to the the local village pub to grab a bite to eat after attending a funeral and ended up being unwitting guests at a 60th birthday party, meaning we didn't have to buy dinner after all. 'RE-SULT!' As one of our friends would say. On Saturday night, the same pub had a Halloween party.  I knew our  friends were going but no-one had seriously mentioned dressing up.

I really should have known better!!  And  considering how disgusting they ALL look, surprisingly the one most often mentioned as being scary was the clown?!

Progress since last time:

Baby quilt finished
Lampshade finished
Experimental tote bag finished with 3 more almost done.
Christmas present scarf half knitted
3 charity shop wool jumpers felted
1 charity shop cardigan un-run
1 scarf un-run

Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 29 October 2012

A Small Learning Curve!

Well, my first foray into the world of craft fairs is over.  I enjoyed the day spent talking all things crafty and business with my fellow stall-holders.  We had a steady trickle of visitors in the morning but it was very quiet after lunch.  Although the day was bright and sunny, temperatures had dropped dramatically and the wind was very cold so there weren't many passers-by to draw in.

When I made my first sale, I wanted to jump up and down with glee but, being with experienced crafters, I kept my cool and tried to act like I was used to it  :-)

 This is my stall, which I was quite happy with, but I learned a few lessons from the others.  First, I need at least 3 times more stock. Second, I need to get platforms and/or hanging equipment to display my goods to better effect. Thirdly, I need to get some printed information such as business cards.  If you think I have enough stock take a look below!!

 This is Elsie Rag Bag's stall and what a stall should look like.  She's only been doing craft fairs for a year but has had a soft furnishing business for much longer. And, as she said to me, she only has to top up between fairs, but I still need to build my core stock.

This is Holly Pop Cakes' tempting stall with her halloween themed cakes.  Holly's business is different from us in that it's more about taking orders and promotion than selling on the day. 

Also at the fair was my friend Bev, signing and selling copies of her book.  She's been doing really well and sold a few copies here as well as at her local book launch event last Wednesday (where I got my signed copy).  You might remember me blogging about how I did the first proof-read of it for her.  I'm also going to a business workshop soon that she's hosting, to get help with that side of selling my crafts.

When I was a girl I remember being enchanted by a story in a book where a girl set up a toy hospital where she fixed broken dolls, teddies and the like.  I can almost see the illustrations now; simple black outlines of the girl in a room with little beds where toys lay with bandages on an arm or a patch on an eye.  I wanted to be that girl.  I was reminded of this when DS's girlfriend brought me her favourite childhood soft toy that her father had found in his attic.  It was a bit worse for wear with it's head almost hanging off.  She asked me to fix it for her, and here it is, post-surgery.  As good as new! It's funny how things work out!

Progress since last time:

Finished another cushion for the craft fair at the last minute (the blue and white one above)
Sold 5 items at the fair
Started knitting another scarf because 2 people at the fair wanted the same one.
Pink cot-sized quilt started but didn't get finished in time.
Knitted lamp-shade - on  hold until other items done.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 22 October 2012

A Productive Week!

 A productive week!! This is the first time I've been able to say that for quite some time.  After adding buttons to my 4 pincushions from last week I turned my attention to zipped bags, and more precisely to the actual zips.  Unwanted, second-hand or recycled zips are more difficult to come by than fabrics so, with limited choice, the idea has to start with the zip, adding matching/complimentary fabrics comes next.

 Bag No 1's starting point was a black zip.  I used this fabric to make myself a little purse a few weeks ago but have remembered in the meantime that it came to me in a lovely parcel of scraps from Ali of Very Berry Handmade after she won a book I gave away.  It's lined in a very small orange polka-dot which you can just see on the tab poking out to the left.

No 2 and 3 as you can see are pencil-case style. I've only made one in this style before, when I hand sewed the lining in, but I've done some research since and have now got the hang of making these all-in-one. Starting points for these: the blue and cream zips.  The blue flower fabric is from a furnishing sample book, the apple fabric is one I bought before I 'saw the light' (it's nice though isn't it - snigger).

No 4 starting point is a jade-y green zip.  The outer fabric is from an unwanted skirt and, as it's not furnishing weight like the rest, I interfaced it first.

The lining and tab are from a cut-up charity shop blouse.  By the way - there's no standard size to any of these bags.  It all depends on length of zip or size of fabric scraps (or both!).

Finally: No 5 is my favourite. A pink zip to start (not usually at the top of my colour choice list), off-cut of furnishing fabric (can't remember where from) and.....
.... a pretty, pink, flowery lining from a scrap bought from eBay.  I have enough of both fabrics left to make another of these, just need to find another matching zip and I can make one for myself!!

All of these bags were made using the same basic method, using hints and tips from various books and tutorials on the web.  I would, however, like to single out 'Annie get your glue gun' for this tutorial where she demonstrates a new-to-me way of attaching the fabrics to the zip that is straightforward, quick and neat.

Just to finish off, here's my porch window view in Autumn.  This plant is starting to obliterate everything - but I don't mind, it's the plant I was photographing for it's vibrant Autumn colour.  The photo doesn't do it justice.

Progress since last time:

Five zipped bags - finished/completed/finalised/done (get the message?)
Knitted lampshade - almost done (whether all will be revealed depends on the final result!)
Baby quilt - started (the answer to any question you may now be thinking is 'no, No, and definitely NO!), it's to sell
Linen/cotton, blue/white cushion - started.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Trial is Over!

Two local ladies held a handmade crafters fair in the local scout hall recently.  When the notice came through the door to publicise it I was pleased that crafters from my village were getting together to organise something like this.  At the same time, I was a bit envious not to be part of it.

I went along on the day to support them and bought a couple of bits.  The Christmas themed chocs above are from Holly Pop Cakes who, as the name suggests, specialises in Pop Cakes but also makes characterful dolls under the name Lula Dolls.

These lovely earrings are from Elsie Rag Bag who mainly concentrates on making household furnishings and accessories with jewellery as a side-line.

I had a nice chat with the ladies and tentatively asked if they would mind me having a stall if they held another event. They agreed straightaway and told me their next event would be towards the end of October.  I didn't expect it to be so soon and began to panic a little that I wouldn't be able to get enough items together.  I'll see how I get on but at least the opportunity is there, if I get my act together.

At home I gathered together all that I've made so far and made a note of other things I could make, if I have time.  To start with, I made a few small, quick items (the pin cushions above).  They still need to have centre buttons added before they're finished.  I hope to get a few zipped pouches made next if I can find enough suitable zips in my stash.

My music theatre group's run of Trial by Jury is now over with our fourth and last performance being last night.  All the audiences seemed to enjoy it as much as we enjoyed performing it.  It was challenging putting it on in my church because the 'stage' area so was small and we were a bit crowded together.  Son K took a few photos for me but as I was near the back, I don't feature in them much.  However, one group member's husband recorded the final performance (I haven't got around to watching the recording of Me and My Girl that we put on in April yet - I always seem to have something better to do for some reason!!). In the photo above you can just see the top of my head over the shoulder of the barrister with a book under his arm. :-)

Progress since last time:

Pin cushions above - now finished with buttons added.
Trying my hand at a knitted lampshade after my auntie gave me a few frames. 
Have picked out fabrics and zips for pouches.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Making the Most.....!

Since I now have all week for housework etc.OH suggested that we make the most of the lovely sunny day last Saturday to take a walk.  He also had an ulterior motive in that he wanted to see how much my weak left leg could cope with, in case my friend (ex work colleague) invites me to one of her arranged walks as promised.  We parked near the canal marina, crossed a bridge and set off down the path........

.......through the trees.....
....under many bridges......
......past verdant views......
......and spooky water's-edge gardens....(click to enlarge and spothe weird horrors!!).
Lasagne and chips (one veggie, one meat)
 Just under 2 hours later we reached our planned pit-stop and braved the occasional cold wind, when the clouds obscured the sun, to eat our lunch al fresco. I was grateful during the way back to the car (via roads and a shorter distance) that we pessimistic brits had carried an umbrella, despite the fact it didn't rain, because I was able to use it to help me balance as my leg began to weaken.  We came to the conclusion that, when it comes to my friend's walk,  I should be able to manage the first half, but will have to leave them to it after lunch :-(

Made with all recycled fabric and scraps.
I've been getting on with a little stitching too and knocked up this cushion from an idea I had. It's supposed to look a little bit like a tetris type game where the different shaped pieces are either falling or breaking off.  I think it would have worked better with smaller hexes but that would have been tons more work!

One consequence of my being at home may turn out to be the putting-on of a little weight for OH and I, if we're not careful!!  After the success of the scrumptious crumble last week (which included raspberries bought from one harvest supper), this week was the turn of bread and butter pudding, after I acquired the leftover harvest loaf, from a harvest lunch that I didn't even attend  ;-)  It's not WHAT you know...........

Progress since last time:

Hexie cushion - finished
Bee Quilt - Round 4 complete (no pic yet)

Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 24 September 2012

Round 3!

 It's been difficult fitting in blog posting since finishing work.  I need to establish some kind of routine, which will not be easy when so many random, unexpected things seem to take up time every day. Nevertheless, a routine will help keep things going even if it does get disrupted now and then. Something that has confused me since being at home is that there don't seem to be so many hours in the day now.  I don't know where they went! 

I've got a lot done, like cleaning, washing, baking and even doing my own ironing, but not as much of the extra, enjoyable things.  I'm hoping more time will come for that once I've organised that elusive routine.

I seem to have a knack for making things difficult for myself when it comes to stitching, but I won't ever entertain the idea of buying stacks of new fabrics and cutting them up for my patchwork. With production of new fabric being so detrimental to the environment it seems only sensible to me to use what's already 'out there'.  Hence the time spent turning the pile of scraps above into a border for my ongoing Bee Quilt.

 I'm pleased with how it's looking so far.  This is Round 3 with Round 1 being the receipt of all the blocks from around the world during 2010/11 and Round 2 putting them together with sashings.  There should be 3 rounds left to do with Round 4 being another plain border, Round 5, the quilting and finally Round 6, the binding.  

 I've been pestering OH for a few weeks to look out for any fruit going to waste on the estate where he works.  Normally, there are lots of damsons, plums and apples around but this year the harvest has been very poor indeed, and not just in the wild;  garden produce has been seriously unproductive and farmers have been badly affected by the wet weather.  Anyway, I took advantage of the gorgeous day last Saturday and went foraging in the hedges while OH occupied himself renovating his tractor in a barn at work.  Blackberries were my main focus and I wan't disappointed, managing to fill a good sized tub.  Sloes were also in abundance but I left them alone because I don't know what to do with them.

 This was the view behind me as I picked.  The barn to the left of the house is where OH was....

 .....and this is what he was focussing on!  One of his vintage tractors.  He's been sand-blasting off the old paint ready for respraying.  It's turning out to be more time-comsuming than he thought - and I should know all about that!!

I used some of the blackberries in the above crumble along with a few raspberries I bought from a Harvest Supper produce sale and some plums.  I must say it was probably the best crumble I've tasted. The cakes are banana and walnut from over-ripe bananas, but unfortunately not so successful - edible but a bit sunken.

Progress since last time:

Another round on the Bee Quilt
Lots of hexagons (smaller than my usual ones) for a new project.

Bye for now
Teresa x