The beauty of crafts

Last summer I picked up an embroidered picture from a little bric-a-brac stall at a local craft fair. It hangs on the wall outside our bathroom and I look at it many times everyday. It’s a lovely garden scene with a path leading through beautiful floral borders and a bird table alongside, all set off in a lovely antique gold style frame.

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I often look at it and wonder who the lady was that created it? Where did she live? Did she have a family? She must have spent many hours working on it.

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I love the detail of the flowers and it really makes me smile to look at it. The dark blue flowers on the right are my favourite. I wonder what variety they are? I don’t really know a lot about gardening yet but I’m inspired to learn.

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And these delicate pink flowers, so detailed.

I wonder if she ever thought someone else would get so much enjoyment from it when she made it? Don’t you think it’s a wonderful testament to the fact that we all put so much time and love into our craft projects that they might get a second lease of life and be enjoyed in this way? The beauty and longevity of crafts. It really gives me a warm glow inside to think about this, don’t you agree?

Do you have any little gems in your collection that you’ve found or inherited? I’d love to hear about them. It would be lovely to know you’ve stopped by…

Sarah x

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2014 Catchup

Happy New Year lovely reader! I hope it’s been good to you so far.

I was creating a page to summarise all my completed projects that have associated blog posts with information about them, which you can see here and I realised I’d done so much last year that I hadn’t shown you.  Unfortunately I think it’s probably too late now to catch you up on everything but here’s a gallery of pictures that you might enjoy. If there is anything you would particularly like to hear more about, please leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to oblige! If you hover over the image it shows the caption which you can use to tell me what you think of them. I’m going to try to write more regularly this year as I do enjoy sharing my crafty projects with you.

I’d love to tell you more about many of these projects but I feel like I’d never catch up. Please do drop me a line though if you would like to know more – I’ll happily write to request and add more photos if I have them! There are still more projects not pictured here. Hopefully I’ll get around to showing you them all at some point! Seeing everything laid out like this makes me realise how much I actually got done last year!

I hope to have lots more crafty projects to tell you about soon. I’m already in the middle of a crochet blanket inspired by Lucy at Attic 24 blog and also have a new pair of socks on the go which are a pattern from an old issue of The Knitter. I have lots of plans for more projects for 2015 and I can’t wait to share my progress here with you!

Best wishes for your crafty 2015 too!

Sarah x

Blog anniversary catchup!

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So yesterday was the anniversary of my first blog post! Sadly I haven’t blogged in a while but I think I just might start again. I have been posting pics on my instagram @saref2901 incase you want to follow me over there too?

Anyway the photogrid shows some of the things I’ve been  up to in my blogging absence. I made my tea dress that I mentioned in my last post. We’ve had a good summer so I’ve been able to get plenty of wear out of it already! The little lilac dress came from the two balls of stylecraft lullaby I showed you last time. It was a lovely yarn to work with even though I don’t really like acrylic that much but I know it’s more practical for babies. My friend loved it, even though it was still too big even in a premmie size. My pastel blanket is still on the go. Think it’s going to take forever! I’ve been working hard on the garden, made some “home sweet home” bunting for the staircase, a basket for yarn, embroidered a cushion, knitted a goat for a girl at work and I’m in the middle of a stripy amigurumi giraffe! So I think you’re all up to date now… I’ll try not to leave it so long next time…

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I wish I could do more at once!

I think I need the arms of an octopus. I just sat down with a cuppa and actually thought to myself wouldn’t it be great if I could crochet a granny square while reading my sewing book. I’d
just get so much more done!

Here’s a bit of a roll call of wips and things in my head at the moment…

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1) long term project – Nicky Trench’s tweed skirt

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2) Heart pompom garland – as yet just a bowl of pompom hearts

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3) self striping socks using beautiful yarn from local company West Yorkshire Spinners that I bought on a trip to York with my wonderful and very patient boyfriend.

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4) Tea dress from the book from the first series of the Great British Sewing Bee. The fabric arrived today from Croft Mill. I do seem to have been waiting ages for it to arrive but it is beautiful and I can’t wait to get started. However first I have to wash the fabric and prepare the pattern – which I downloaded from the website and consists of 32 pages of A4 that need cutting and sticking together. I’ve never made a garment from scratch before and am a bit apprehensive but hope I can get it done before the end of summer and come out with something wearable!

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5) Knitted dress for my friend’s baby, luckily still in utero!

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6) Crochet jam jar cover to make a tea light holder. I’ve already made 2 of these which I’ll show you another day!

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7) Pastel granny blanket. In this picture you can see my notebook which I’ve been using to record what I’ve been using and planning my next squares so I can remember what I’m doing. As you can imagine from this ridiculous list of projects, I will work on something frantically for a while and then not touch it for weeks.

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8) Who knows what number 8 will be? My copy of the book from series 2 of GBSB arrived yesterday and I’d love to try nearly all of the patterns! Must complete tea dress first though!

Crikey. I’ve given myself a headache just thinking about all this! When will I learn to do one thing at once?

Happy crafting everyone! I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you are working on too. ‘Till next time…

Little ditsy floral pin cushion

I’ve just logged into WordPress for the first time in ages and found that I’d never actually posted my last post! Here it is…

Once again it’s been far too long since my last post. I’ve been so busy making things and trying to keep on top of the other things in life that I just haven’t had time to share my makes with you even though I want to do!

My latest creation is a little pin cushion I’ve made from the ditsy floral fabric pack I told you about a while ago.

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The photo doesn’t really do it justice as it is so much more vibrant on real life! I’m feeling very inspired by The Great British Sewing Bee on BBC2 at the moment – one day I hope my sewing will be as good as the contestants on the show. For now, I’m glad that judges May and Patrick will never see my pincushion because if you get really close up you’d see that the stitching doesn’t meet up in the middle of the segments, the curved edges are not very smooth and it’s more tightly stuffed at one side than the other! Instead that’s just between you and me and I’m still rather pleased with it. My first ever piece of patchwork sewing!

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Ripply ramblings

Hello lovely readers. I hope you are well. In my last post I mentioned how it was coming up to my birthday and that I was going to be really busy but would try to make sure I kept up with my blog posts. Well clearly I failed and three weeks have passed. I did have a great birthday though! I’ve just realised that I think it has got to a point where I was putting off writing a post because I felt like I ought to be catching you up with everything that I’ve been doing in the meantime and that felt like a big task. Then I realised that the whole point of writing this blog was to write for fun and to share the things I enjoy making and so to stress about it is ridiculous and I should just sit down and write!

So here we are. It somehow got to nearly the end of February! The seemingly endless rain has seemingly started to run out of steam and I’m almost driving to and from work in day light again, all of which add up to a pretty cheery mood really. Work has been pretty stressful the last couple of weeks so I’ve been so grateful to have a house full of colourful flowers to come home to after my birthday and Valentines day and they have helped to keep me smiling! Would you like to see? The lighting in these photos is awful so please forgive me – blame spontaneity!

I also have a ton of crafty projects on the go at the moment and that always gives me something exciting to come home to.

This lovely pile of chunky baby yarn…

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… is slowly turning into a baby blanket…

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… inspired by Lucy at Attic 24 and her lovely crochet ripple blankets. I wish I had the budget for all that lovely Cashmerino yarn she uses!

And here’s me playing around with the colours for the blanket on top of my foxy footstool, a pile of crochet squares and the front of a cushion cover they became…

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…and a pile of fat quarters I loved the look of but haven’t decided what to make them into yet! I got my sewing machine back from the servicing man last week and am determined to make more use of it although I keep procrastinating about a couple of projects I have in mind. I’m not that confident a sewer yet so I just need an evening when I’m in the mood to have a go and I’m going to sew up a storm – I’ll let you know how it all goes! And how exciting is it that the Great British Sewing Bee is back! Perfect timing to help get me motivated… Are you watching it?

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!

Re-covered footstool

Well it’s been a very busy week this week and there’s been little time for crafting. I’ve done some work on my crochet skirt (from Love Crochet Autumn 2013, pictures to follow) and last weekend I finished my patchwork blanket that is now my header picture! Now that was a long project – its taken a whole year to do and may not even be completely finished now – I’m still thinking of putting a border on it at some point!

So after two long ongoing projects, today I felt inspired to do a project that I could start and finish on a day. An afternoon in fact!

I’ve had the materials for this project for a while now but haven’t gotten around to actually doing it. My mum gave me a footstool she no longer uses that used to belong to her uncle Jack, my great uncle Jack, so it’s pretty old. I remember mum re-covering it once when I was a child. It was now in a pretty poor state – stained, tatty, and the foam had pretty much perished. If you’ve read my blog before you may remember me mentioning some fabric I bought with foxes on (Scion’s Mr Fox). My family name is Fox as you may have guessed from the name of my blog! So I’m always drawn to foxy things, and there’s so much of it around at the moment – it’s great! I had a couple of things in mind for the fabric – the footstool and a cushion. It is a bit awkward as the print on the fabric is so big but I’m pretty pleased with how my footstool had turned out…
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I’ve never done anything like this before and had to admit I pretty much made it up as I went along and not at all perfect but I’m still really happy with it! No step by step pictures this time I’m afraid as I was so determined to get it done quite quickly. It’s a simple process I suppose although it was a little tricky in parts and my staple gun broke half way through so it was a good job I had plenty of upholstery tacks!

Getting all the old covering and foam off it was a bit tricky as it was very old. I’d bought a big piece of foam which I cut to size with a hack saw – definitely not the best tool to use but all I had to hand. Then I covered this with some wadding and stapled it in place. Then I had to cut out my fabric with the design in the centre which was a bit scary as I didn’t want to get it wrong – I only have a metre of fabric. Then I machine stitched around the edge to prevent fraying. I put the fabric over the stool, wrong side facing, and pinned the corners. I straight-stiched these to make the shape of the cushion and cut off the excess fabric from the corners, oversewing the edges again.

Then I just had to tack it in place and add my edging. Thinking I was nearly finished I was a bit gutted to realise that because my pom pom edging was so narrow it didn’t cover up all the staples and tacks and the edge of the fabric as I’d wanted. Luckily I found some black grossgrain ribbon in my stash and attached that first then tacked on the pom pom edging on top. As I said before it really isn’t perfect but it’s just for me and in really proud of it so it doesn’t matter! I’d love to hear what you think of it though, and if it’s inspired you to have a go, or even any tips for me in case I ever end up doing something similar again!

Next week is due to be a busy one as it’s my birthday on Wednesday but hopefully I’ll get chance to do some crafting, or maybe even some baking…

Thanks for reading!

Sewing a zip in a knitted project

It’s been aaaaages since my last blog – sorry about that! Things have been very busy lately and I’m struggling to get everything done (but what’s new).

The other day I had an urge to just get something finished. One of my projects that I’ve had ongoing for ages – and there are many of these at the moment! I’ve been knitting a cushion cover for my living room. I wanted quite a chunky but professional-looking finish but was pretty short of cash when I first started this project when we’d just moved house and got back from holiday! I found some aran yarn in Poundstretcher – somewhere I’d never normally think to look for knitting supplies but I just walked past it and it was the perfect colour. It also seems pretty good quality for an acrylic and is really soft and warm, but best of all it was only £2.49 for a 200g ball!

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I bought two. One day I’ll get around to making a matching cushion cover!

The pattern for the cushion was from The Knitting Book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Knitting-Book-Frederica-Patmore/dp/1405368039 and is called the Strawberry cushion. It was easy to follow and the cable stitch was straightforward. The fact that it is on a garter stitch (knit) background made it fairly quick to do once you get going. The two sides are worked in the same way and there is a special “cable” cast on that creates a pretty edge where you sew the zip in. I’d had to look this up for another project previously. It is easy to do and creates a lovely edge.

So here was my kit for sewing the cover together…

2013-09-25 20.34.43  16 inch long zip, pins, matching sewing thread, contrasting embroidery thread and spare yarn for sewing up the rest of the cover.

I began with some trepidation as I’d never added a zip to a knitted item before. I followed the instructions in the book and it turned out to be pretty straightforward, if somewhat lengthy. I’ll summarise the process here for you… First I pinned the zip to one side of the knitting, working with the right side facing and pinning the zip to the decorative cast-on edge. I started with the ends of the zip then spaced my pins evenly along the zip. I used lots of pins and the instructions advised to pin at right angles to the zip rather than along the same way. Using the contrasting embroidery thread I then tacked the zip in place on this first side. Then I used the matching sewing thread to back-stitch all the way along the edge and then turned the work over and ran a zigzag stitch along the edge of the zip to secure it to the knitting. I did everything by hand as I didn’t dare try to do it on the sewing machine. I made sure the decorative cast-on edge was quite close to the teeth of the zip. I then repeated this with the other side – which was a little bit tricky to do by hand as it was quite a big piece by this time and you’re stitching across the middle of it rather than an edge.

2013-09-25 22.40.58  My finished zip closure!

After I’d added the zip, working on the wrong side, I pinned the remaining three sides of the cushion, ensuring that the zip was open so that when I’d finished stitching the cover together I could turn it back the right way out! And here she is, the finished cushion…

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I’m really pleased with it and am looking forward to doing another one later in the winter when I’ve caught up with some other projects. Do you thing I should do another identical one or in a slightly different pattern? I think I’d like to stick with the cable but do a slightly different version – it would be great to hear your thoughts!

Here’s an update on my patchwork blanket made of knitted and crocheted squares that I showed you earlier in the summer – I still need to make a few more squares but I’ve started to sew them together!

2013-09-19 18.02.39  No grand plan – just trying to spread the different colours out throughout the blanket. I’ll keep you updated in future posts. I’m also working on a rag rug made from old t-shirts which I plan to feature in a blog post soon hopefully…

2013-09-18 22.34.54 What do you think of it so far?

Finally before I go, I thought I’d mention that I hope to finally feature some baking on the blog pretty soon! After moving into our house the landlord didn’t provide a cooker so we had to save up for a little while and make do with an electric hob thing for a few months. We finally have a cooker though and I’ve organised a “bake-off” at work which we do every so often in homage to the Great British Bake Off. I can’t believe we’re more than half way through the series already, I don’t want it to be over!

Until next time… x

 

A taste of things to come

It’s been great to see that people enjoyed my first post. I thought my next one should be a little taster of some of the other projects I like to do, as I’m generally into doing anything creative!

The first is this present that I made for my parents’ wedding anniversary. 

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I put the design together from various motifs in Jo Verso’s cross stitch books.  Despite having these books for years (probably over a decade, eek), I’d never actually done that before but I really enjoyed the process. I adapted the colours to match the clothes my parents’ had worn on their big day, and their hair colour etc.  I already had loads of colours left over from other cross stitch projects I’ve done over the years, so it was just a case of selecting the right ones.  The whole process for this one was really enjoyable – as was the reaction from Mum and Dad when they saw it!

The next few pictures show how much much my crochet skills have improved this year. I taught myself to crochet from books last winter and am loving it. Though I’ve always enjoyed knitting I’d been itching to learn to crochet for ages and finally bit the bullet. My favourite things about crocheting are that the projects seem to grow more quickly than knitting does and it’s also so versatile. Here is my tablet cover that I knocked up on the morning of my birthday to protect my brand new present!

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It is basically just a long piece of double crochet that I joined up at the sides with single crochet. Then I started this project from Crochet Today magazine.  It was designed to be a basket for a bicycle but as I don’t have one of those I thought it’d make a great craft bag, so I made some longer handles to put on it. It was made from oddments of yarn that I had in my stash so all I had to buy was the plastic canvas to line it and the cotton to sew that to the crochet pieces. I must admit this took some time and I would tend to make a section and then leave it for a while. I probably started this last winter and have only recently finished it but I’m so pleased with the result! I also had to learn the difference between British and American crochet terminology as I discovered that the stitches are the same but have different names! I kind of love the 70’s vibe of the colours and it is definitely my most adventurous crochet project to date.

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The last crochet project that I wanted to share was inspired by a post I saw on Pinterest. The original pin was for a framed piece of wall art made from 9 granny squares.  However, as I had tons of little balls of different coloured yarn I found I just couldn’t stop – and in the end decided they needed to be made into something practical. So they became a cover for my ugly black printer!

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I had to look online for tutorials for the half granny squares along the bottom row (the printer is deeper at one side than the other) and in the end pretty much just worked it out for myself as I found it easier that way.

Finally, I’ve been trying my hand at a little sewing. I’ve “borrowed” my mum’s sewing machine which it almost 30 years old but she’s never really used it much and still works really well. Although it terrified me at first I’m getting used to it now. I was determined to make my own travel laundry bag for our holiday to America earlier this summer so I bought some lovely Clarke and Clarke fabric and some matching ribbon.  I started adapting some instructions from Knit and Stitch Collection (Bergere de France) but was freestyling it by the end (as usual)!

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It’s the first thing I’ve ever made in this way and am really proud of it.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post and if you have please feel free to spread the word! Now I’d better go and get on with some more projects or I’ll have nothing to write about next week… Smile