Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Very Berry Inspiration!

Some of the crafty and baking stuff I show here is inspired by fabulous bloggers that I follow or chance across from time to time, none more so than Ali from Very Berry Handmade who designs and makes gorgeous stylish things and sells lovely Liberty bundles on Folksy.

It was a coincidence recently that a crochet project and some baking I did both came from Ali.  I had book-marked the pattern for this triple layer crocheted flower quite a while ago but didn't get around to trying it out until the Christmas holiday. Then Ali blogged about this Chocolate Cardamom cake the other week and I couldn't resist giving it a try.  The flower came out quite large because I used some chunky yarn I had lying around. I made it into a brooch after finishing it off with ribbon and a button.

The cake is definitely only for special occasions as it contains two slabs of melted 70% chocolate, but despite being rich, it's not heavy or stodgy.  I made a full-sized cake by doubling all the ingredients (except the cardamom, which I was glad about because it had enough flavour with just the 2 pods).

Ali's cardamom pods looked huge compared to mine (I suppose being 4 years out of date might have had something to do with it)!   Above are the contents of 2 of my pods (one lot hard and crunchy, the other soft and much bigger).  All previous pods I'd used were filled with the small, hard seeds so I was reluctant to use the ones that resembled mice droppings (hence only using half the amount).

And while I'm on the subject of lovely inspirational blogs, here are a few more to browse:

Betz White (beautiful creations from felted woollen jumpers and her own organic cotton fabrics)
Wayside Sacraments (inspirational words and pictures from Leslie, who has become a good blog-friend)
The Scrappy Appleyard (Another blog-friend, John'aLee, who creates wonderful quilt patterns, and is so busy I wonder that she has time to blog let alone read and comment on mine!)
Posie Gets Cozy (If I could could take photos half as good as these, I'd be happy)
Patchwork Pottery (A blog full of wonderful, intricate patchwork designs with their own unique style)
Attic24 (Crochet fans should definitely visit Lucy's blog for a fix.

So, there you have it; I felt I should share some of the wonderful blogs I've discovered over the years (although I suspect they're not much of a secret to many of you) and not keep them to myself.  They've given me much food-for-thought and (as I said at the start) much inspiration in my own life and crafty journey.

Progress since last time:

Purple scarf finished
Charity shop jumper un-run
A few more tumbling blocks added

Bye for now
Teresa x

Friday, 25 January 2013

Snow Joke!

I thought I'd better get on with posting my snow photos before it's all melted (not that it will melt in the photos, but you know what I mean).  I know there are a couple of readers who rarely see snow and like to see the pics. It's stayed around for longer than usual due to the cold, but temperatures are forecast to rise soon so I don't think it'll last too much longer.

This is our road the morning after the first major snowfall.

I ventured to the village on foot to pick up a couple of groceries.  The main roads were slightly clearer than ours so deliveries had got through and the local shop's shelves were not empty like in some areas.
The castle was looking a little different, and children, happy that their schools were closed, were sledging on the hill (just out of sight).
We had 4-6 inches that first day and a couple more a few days later. We've heard a lot about the problems and issues caused by the snow (including some sad ones) but there have been some positives too;  Although many parents couldn't get to work and children to school they were able to spend some quality time together with nothing else on the agenda; People came out to help neighbours they may not have spoken to much and the sight of the snow seemed to give people a boost so that they passed the time of day with a smile when they would have normally mumbled a brief greeting (if that).  It also meant much less travel and, therefore, a huge drop in emissions and pollution.
On the crafty side, I've finished piecing the 4 table-mats.  The supplies for quilting and binding arrived yesterday so I can finish them soon.
In the meantime, I was inspired by this quilt in December's Country Living to start a new project.  I'm using the fabrics my auntie gave me and am making the blocks quite large so it's not too daunting a task.  I decided it would be quicker to hand-sew the seams back-to-back rather than paper-piece like the hexagons; and I thought the corners would come together better than if I tried to machine stitch. So, time will tell.......!
Progress since last time:

4 table-mats pieced
Tumbling blocks patchwork started 
Purple scarf nearly finished

Bye for now
Teresa x

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

A Crazy Mix!

Oh dear, I'm not finding time to blog as often as I'd like.  Being at home most of the day there always seems to be something else to get done first, and blogging comes bottom of the list.  Still, never mind, I'm here now so I'll get on and tell you what I've been up to.

I mentioned last time that my crafting over Christmas consisted of fiddling and experimenting - which means mostly handwork since the machine was put away for the holiday.

 I bought this yarn, made from the bark of banana trees, a while ago just to see what it was like.  I couldn't decide what to do with it so just got out some needles and knitted it up into a square to see what it looked like.  It was quite difficult to work with because it was so tightly twisted (I presume to keep it together) that it kept curling around itself, and the thickness varied so much in places that it was difficult to keep any kind of tension.  I couldn't think of anything to make with it in a square, so I undid it and......

...after seeing an idea (somewhere, I can't remember - I really should make a note) found a loose, open stitch pattern to knit it into a sort of cowl/scarf.  This I am really pleased with and have worn it quite a lot already.  I'm now considering getting some of this in different colours to make some more.

I know that many of you patchworkers will, like me, have piles of scraps left over from projects, that you can't throw away.  The problem is, what to do with them.  While I was doing some sewing before Christmas I got some scraps out and just sewed them together randomly with very little thought of colour or design or what I was going to do with them. (Do you see a theme emerging here?) Looking at them the other day I remembered that DD said she liked the crazy patchwork place mats that they used when visiting her fiance's parents.  As her birthday is coming up soon..................do you see where this is going?

With the poor light we've been having around here lately I was trying all sorts to get a decent photo.  I liked the stained-glass window effect of this one.

Another thing I had a brief (shambolic) go at was free-motion machine quilting.  I've been too afraid to try before in case it was completely beyond me but decided to plunge in and go for it (a bit like the tap dancing last night!).  Not a complete disaster by any means, but I didn't have too high expectations anyway. I am glad  I didn't use a contrasting thread though because that would have been a little too revealing.

Finally, was the return of cross-stitching.  I forget between x-stitch projects how time-consuming it is and plunge straight back into another project thinking it will go swimmingly. Sorting these threads into the separate colours took ages, before I could even start.  And without colour names or symbols on the chart I'm floundering a bit. Some of the colours are very similar and there is only the coloured chart to go by.  I tried getting some clues from the picture of the finished item on  the packaging, but it's different from the chart in places, so I can't rely on that too much.  Lastly, is the issue of how many strands of thread to use.  I took my cue from the packaging, where there are pictures of threads which seem to be of 3 strands each. But now that I'm partly done, I think maybe I should be using 2 strands.  Lets just hope I don't run out, although I've found in the past that generous amounts are usually supplied.

What's that?  You want to know more about the tap dancing?  Well, for our next show, we've been asked to  give it a try.  "Anything Goes" is well known for it's tap-dancing, so we've got to try and include at least a little.  We've got a teacher and about 16 of us had our first lesson last night.  How did it go?  Well, let's just say, we've got plenty of time so we can only hope we get the hang of it soon!!

Bye for now
Teresa x