Friday, 29 March 2013

A Quilt Finish

 
 
Yay! My first quilt finish of the year!! Actually this was 99% finished way back in October last year and various bodies have been snuggling under it all winter as it's been thrown across the back of the sofa, waiting to be finished.
I have the snowy weather to thank for that. What else is a gal to do when the weather outside is awful! So binding complete and photos done. It was a VERY cold photo shoot, and I think my neighbours thought I had gone totally mad. At one point I was trying to lay it on the snow covered ground, run to the door, boots off, sprint up the stairs, open a window and take a photo so as to get the whole quilt in the frame. By the time I got there the wind had blown it into a bundle. After three attempts I just hung it on the washing line.
It's a very simple design and used just one jelly roll with scrappy sashings and scrappy binding.
The jelly roll is Oh Deer by Moda, and the white is Kona Snow.
In my hurry to get back inside in the warm, I forgot to photograph the back - sorry!
It measures 50"x72" - an extra long throw for the sofa for my 6ft something youngest son!
 
 I'm writing up the pattern, so it should be available soon.
Linking up with Fresh Sewing Day at Lily's Quilts
 
Easter treats abound in our house this weekend. One involves a trip to the beach. Brrrrr!
But there are plenty of edible treats in this household too. No-one likes the traditional Simnel cake so we have a very, very unhealthy Easter Rice Kripspie cake instead (actually we have this for all celebration cakes - birthdays included)
It's very quick to make, so I thought I'd add the recipe to this post.
You need:
For the cake - 3 Mars bars (yep! you read right!!)
                       40 grams butter
                       3 tablespoons Golden Syrup
                       Approx 10 cups Rice Krispies
 
Melt the butter, Mars bars and Golden Syrup over a gentle heat in a saucepan. Blend together with a spoon. Remove the pan from the heat and add the Rice Krispies. Mix well. Spoon into a 22cm greased cake tin and press down well with the back of a spoon. Allow to cool and harden (refrigerate if you are in a hurry)
For the icing - 75 grams icing sugar
                        25 grams cocoa powder
                        40 grams butter
                        2 tablespoons water
                        50 grams caster sugar
 
Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl. Measure the butter, water and caster sugar into a saucepan. Put on a low heat to dissolve the sugar and melt the butter. Bring to the boil, remove from heat immediately and pour into the dry ingredients. Beat well with a wooden spoon to make a smooth icing.
Allow to cool and thicken a little, strring occasionally, then pour over the cake.
Add some chocolate mini eggs and enjoy! Happy Easter.
 
 
 
 

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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Wishful Wednesday


Pin ItBbbrrrrrr!!!!! It is literally freezing here in my part of the world in the West Midlands. We have more snow than we've had all winter, and all anyone wants to do is get warm and cosy. Wishful Wednesday is when I share with you the things I would like to make if I had all the time in the world, so I'm stating with this snug cowl. It is knit from Super bulky yarn, so it should put up a good fight against the harshest wind chill and be quick to knit at the same time. I really love the leaf design, It is a free pattern on Ravelry
Second up, is a cute little baby quilt.
I don't have any babies to make quilts for at the moment, but I hope I remember this pattern when I next need to make one. It is a free pattern on Craftsy and it has the sweetest name. It is called The Kissing Fish Baby Quilt. Yes! Now you can see all those little fish, face to face, giving each other a little kiss, can't you! (bet you thought they were just arrows before I told you!)
Third this week is a sewing pattern.
I can see myself making several of these this summer (if we ever get one!) It is such a flattering and practical shape. But the main reason I've chosen this is because when you buy this pattern you get a really useful link to a video tutorial on how to make it. My son's girlfriend is just starting dressmaking and the addition of a tutorial would help her learn and boost her confidence. This pattern is called the Esme Top and is one of four designed by Sew Liberated and available with video tutorial from Backstitch
Finally, I need some colour in this cold and wintry week so I've chosen these gorgeous crocheted flowers from the wonderful Lucy at Attic 24 They are her made using her Triple Layer Flower tutorial. Those colours cannot fail to gladden your heart and I feel warmer already, just looking at them!
Wishing everyone a Happy Easter, where ever you are..... Julie
 
 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Knitted Daffodils





I've been having fun.... playing.... designing a little pattern for daffodils. I started it over a week ago. Spring was, well, not exactly "in the air", but maybe round the corner, and so I felt in the mood to make these. Now we are back in the throws of winter and the real daffodils in my garden, which were just about to burst into bud are now buried beneath drifts of snow.
I have added these to the Etsy and Craftsy shops and hopefully I'll feel inspired to design some more flowers soon.
I've also been busy with my Stahbuster Challenge and have made a couple of hats.
 
 
 
I'm still on target with my 52 items in the 52 weeks of 2013 for Greenfields Africa . I'm sure I will get behind at some point, but I'm nearly a 1/4 of the way there now, so I'm pretty pleased with myself.
On Thursday I went to The Sewing For Pleasure show at the NEC Birmingham. I'm so pleased I chose Thursday - before all the snow came down! It was a lovely day out. So much colourful fabric and scrummy yarn, all under one roof!
I was fairly restrained in my purchases though.
 
 
I bought a dress pattern and some dotty fabric (I hope we get some warm enough weather for me to wear it!) I didn't intend to buy a dress pattern, but they were "Buy 2, Get 1 Free" and as I'd gone with my son's girlfriend, who wants me to teach her to dressmake, we split the pattern deal between us.
I bought both charm squares aand a jelly roll in Sweetwater's Noteworthy line. Although we had made a pact that we "just looked" first time round the hall, and did our buying on the second lap, I'm so glad I broke the rule and bought these first time round. A lot of stallholders were on their second show in two weeks and stock of the really popular pre-cuts was thin on the ground. These would almost certainly have been out of stock by the afternoon. I also bought some of the Clover Soft Touch crochet hooks. Again stock was low and I couldn't get all the sizes I wanted, but these will do me for now. They really are very gentle on your hands. I hat having to go back to a standard hook now.
Overall, it was a good show. I came back with my head spinning with ideas. I was tired, but happy, and now it can snow as much as it wants to. I'm more than happy staying cosy inside, having a battle with my conscience - do I finish the Bee in my Bonnet Row Along quilt that I started late last summer?
 
 Or maybe the charity quilt I've so nearly finished?
Or do I break open that jelly roll and do some more playing!! Decisions.... decision... life is hard!..
 
 
 
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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Wishful Wednesday

Welcome to my second Wishful Wednesday post. This is where I show you what I would make if we lived in a world with a million and one hours in the week. There is a mixture of sewing, knitting and crochet and this week three of the items have free tutorials or patterns, so if you like them too, you may want to have a go!
First up is this gorgeous crochet blanket. I have promised myself that I will actually make this, as it would be a wonderful stash buster. I'm not sure I have enough bright colours in my stash, but hey, we all know how to fix that, don't we!!
It is called the Groovy-Ghan (what a brilliant name!) and the free pattern can be found on Marinke's blog "A Creative Being" here
She's used Stylecraft Special DK which is an economy yarn and is widely available. You can buy it online at Deramores
I really do hope my crochet skills are up to this as it is just so bright and colourful, I know it would fill me with happiness just wielding my crochet hook through all those scrummy balls of yarn.
 
 
Easter is only a couple of weeks away and these little chicks would be great for hiding chocolate eggs. Again the pattern is free and is on Ravelry
I have seen these knitted up and on sale for charity around Easter time for the last few years in my corner newsagents. I've always resisted the temptation to buy them, thinking that I could so easily make them myself. The fact that I'm posting them here is testament to the fact that I've never yet found the time!! Maybe this will be the year.
 
 
My next Wishful Wednesday project is a beautiful quilt . This design is called a string quilt because the pieces that you use to make the block are long and thin like a piece of string. Again, a great way to use up all the scraps. The quilt is paper pieced, meaning that you sew the pieces right onto a paper pattern and then tear the paper away at the end. I've only done paper piecing a couple of times on small projects and I'm not sure how I feel about it - it's the tearing the paper away at the end that I don't enjoy very much, but I know a lot of people really like this method, so I should make the effort to give it another go.
The tutorial for making this is over on  Film in the Fridge blog. She is one of the first bloggers I followed and never fails to inspire.
If I ever get round to making one of these I shall include plenty of white or neutral strips like this

 
so that the colours don't overewhelm each other and the prints are shown off to greatest effect. I think I shall also have to make the strips in each quarter segment of the blocks the same width, as they are in this second string quilt. (again from Film in the Fridge and  tutorial is  here  I'm too much of a control freak to go with "wonky", random width strings.
My final project for this wonderful "million and one hours week" would be from a book "Doodle Stitching Embroidery and Beyond" by Aimee Ray. I have often thought of buying her previous books which have modern embroidery designs in them, but this one includes different types of embroidery, such as crewel work.
 
 
I would so love working the embroidery around the little felt applique pieces on this Babuska doll.
If you fancy dabbling in a little embroidery too, there is a giveaway raffle you can enter to win one of these books at Wild Olive's blog
Phew! Now I've just made an imaginary throw, quilt, half a dozen Easter chicks and a babuska doll, I think it's time to grab a coffee, put my feet up and start thinking about next week's projects!
Happy crafting everyone :)
 
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Monday, 18 March 2013

Follow with Bloglovin

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


Pin ItJust like a gazillion other people today I've set up my blog so you can follow on Bloglovin

Google reader will no longer be available from July so if you use Google Reader at the moment, you may want to swap sometime soon. It seems to be pretty easy to use and there's an Iphone app too!

This post is short and sweet, but if you haven't guessed already I will give you a little clue as to what I'm working on

 
- but the knitted variety of course!!! 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Wishful Wednesday

Welcome to my first Wishful Wednesday!
What is this all about I hear you asking?
Well, describing the start of a normal day for me might be the best way of explaining it.
I wake up at ridiculous-o'-clock, I reach for my iPhone and I read my emails, check my pattern sales on Etsy and Craftsy and stalk a few folks in blogland. I see what they are making, and I love it!
I go and make a cup of tea, take it back to bed, pick up the phone again and I probably go next to Pinterest to see what new crafty things have been pinned. I'm bombarded by a thousand and one good ideas - all of which spark an idea (or two or five!!) in my head. By the time I get into the shower my head is buzzing with so many things I want to knit, sew, quilt, crochet, design that I'm mentally exhausted by breakfast!! (Ha! who would have thought surfing the net could be so tiring!)
 
I couldn't possibly make all the  things going round in my head. Sometimes I want to make it just as I see it, sometimes it sparks an idea for something else, sometimes I see a fabric and I know just what I would make with it. So Wishful Wednesday is going to be a weekly post about the things I would like to make each week if I lived in an, oh! so blissful, magical land where time was infinite.
Hopefully, if you follow each Wednesday you will get to know what I love and maybe it will spark some ideas for your own crafting. There will be a good mix of all the "stitchy" crafts, so there should be something for everyone.
If you too are a Pinterest fanatic, then  this is me
 
Right then, first up, I would love to be able to make the little crochet hat and cardie above. I would make the short sleeve version. I'm not sure what weight yarn it uses, so I can't actually pick one out, but I would probably use a lighter grey than the one shown, with a deeper pink flower, in organic cotton if I could. This one really is wishful thinking because my crochet skills are still pretty basic, to say the least, but I live in hope that with practise I'll improve. The pattern can be bought from Yarn Blossom Boutique on Etsy
Secondly, I would make a quilt like this:
I couldn't find the original source to give credit to its maker, but it's on my Pinterest page, if you can do a better job of tracking it than me. It is just simple half square triangles, but it's the colours that make it so wonderful- they're fresh and not too feminine, so it would fit with a wide range of decor. Sometimes less is more.
For my knitting project this week I would love to make these gloves
 
Aren't they cute! These are sold on Etsy as a finished item from this seller. Foxes can be found everywhere at the moment (and I don't mean the real ones!) They are on fabric, scrapbook paper, knitted hats - so why not gloves, too. I think it would be quite easy to adapt a plain mitten knitting pattern to make a pair similar to these. I'll let you know if I do it!!
Finally, I think I've room for one more project in my imaginary world this week, and it would be this gorgeous children's dress
I don't have any young  children or grandchildren to make it for, and it's probably a little over the top for a charity make, but I just fell in love with those bird pockets, and so, surely, must any little girl!
The pattern is available here. It's a PDF for you to download and print at home and comes in a size range from 12 months to 9/10 years. I've made items from quite a few "print at home" PDFs clothing patterns and I think they're wonderful. They are a great excuse to hoard a large and varied stash of fabric so that when you find THE must-have pattern for you, you can buy it, print it and start making it all in the same evening!
I love the blues this dress is made in, but I can see this in a whole range of soft prints from high quality Liberty lawns to cheap and cheerful poly cottons. Maybe it will end up as one of my charity makes after all!!
I hope you enjoyed my first Wishful Wednesday. Come back next week if you did! ..........Julie
 
 
 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Granny Square Blanket

I have so, so enjoyed making this Granny Square blanket as part of my 2013 Stash Buster project for Greenfields Africa It is made entirely of organic cotton, so not only is it going to a good cause, it's good for the environment too.! I often talk about the rhythm of the stitch being just like yoga, and this was so true in this case.
I keep really tiny pieces of cotton yarn - and I mean really tiny!
I'm not totally crackers - being cotton, they are good for little bits of bold embroidery on children's clothes, pencil cases etc where you don't want anything too fine, just some eye catching stitches.
But as this is stash busting time, they were the start of the grannies.
Next came the slighlty bigger oddments, the sort of size that most people hold on to.



and finally the larger balls.
And then of course the large balls become small balls, and the small balls become tiny balls and so the blissful rhythm carries on, and we have have one calm, collected, wonderfully relaxed Julie!
I had great fun experimenting with colours - putting together shades that I wouldn't normally risk putting together, without asking a few people's opinion - red and pink, for instance.....
I played around with the finished squares, seeing which combinations made me happiest (no stressing,... just play!)
The off white that I had for the outer two rows of each granny, wasn't all of the same shade, which is probably a good job as far as Greenfields is concerned, or I would have wanted to keep this blanket for myself.
I struggled to find enough of the same weight cotton for the border, but I'm happy enough with it.
It's one useful, eco friendly blanket that I wouldn't have made if it wasn't for this challenge, and I really want to make another one before the year is up.
 
Onto other things - it was Mother's Day here in the UK, yesterday and we had a lovely family walk in the Lickey Hills
It was cold and snowing slightly, but it was really good to spend some time out of doors.
 
Finally, I want to tell you about a new feature I'm starting here on my blog, this week. I'm calling it Wishful Wednesday and basically it's a round up of what I wish I had time to make in the week, if I had all the time in the world! There will be a bit of knitting, sewing, quilting... anything that I really would like to make. There will be lots of pictures, info on where to get the patterns and what my fabric or colour choices would be. Hopefully a lot of inspiration to get everyone's creativity jump started.
 

 



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Saturday, 9 March 2013

Blog Photo Inspiration

OK, If like me you live in the UK, it's cold, it's grey, let's face it, it's miserable!!
We feel like just curling up on the sofa, but we feel guilty, right?
Well what I'm suggesting is not couch potato style laziness - it's research!
We all love our blogs, and we like posting the best photos we can of the things we've been pouring our heart and soul into making. We take the photos ( often in rushed conditions, if you are anything like me) we post them and then we feel a tad dissappointed with them.
Why did we use the carpet as a background?
Why didn't we brave the elements, put on our coats and shoes and take an outdoor photo.
Couldn't we have been a bit more creative about where we draped that quilt to photograph it.
What am I hearing?
You don't have an expensive camera and tripod?
You don't a designer style home or the Lake District countryside on your doorstep?
Well neither, as it happens, does David Butler - and we all know how stunning Amy Butler's fabrics look in the photos, like the one above. OK, he does have some really good looking models, and I'm not suggesting we kidnap people and children off the streets, but if you head over to Craftsy and sign up for the QuiltCon Lectures 2013 you can hear David tell you just how to take some really great photos with just a basic camera or iPhone, a sheet of whiteboard and a little imagination.
The lectures are free, there are 7 in total and the speakers include Amy Butler, Angela Walters, Jacquie Gering and Mary Fons and they total about 7 hours of lovely cozy sofa based inspiration on this cold and grey weekend. Quilters will enjoy all the lectures, but all bloggers, or even people who just want to take good photos of their creations,will get something from  David Butler's approach to photography. It's not a fast paced, high tech lecture. He's a very laid back guy, and at times it's downright slow, but at the end of 40 minutes or so you get up off the sofa (assuming you're watching on a laptop, iPad or the equivalent) inspired to raise the standard of your blog photos, and that surely must be a good thing for all of us.
So, how do you take your photos? Is it a quick snap in best lit window of the house you can find?
Have you a favourite outdoor location?
Do you have an all-singing, all-dancing camera or just a basic point-and-shoot?
 
I do have the white board that he suggests, although I am off now to Staples to buy some much bigger pieces!
I certainly don't have a tripod and I do often take quick snaps in a rush that I'm not proud of, but just want to get the post up into Blogland.
I am trying to use my iPhone more, but find it hard to hold such a small item still, and end up having to sharpen the photos before I post them.
The trick I use most of all is to keep a roll of paper to hand - either wrapping paper with a white back, or wallpaper. I support one end of the paper of a table (yes, with Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals!)and let the other just roll down to the floor. I then place the item on the roll and that way I get a nice white background without any floor and wall lines in it.
 
 
And if you happen to get a cat in the photo? David reckons that a sure fire way to get more views!!
 
I can't guarantee my photos will be any better in the furure, but I will be trying! Have a nice, cozy weekend.... Julie
 
 
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