Sunday, 29 April 2012

WWW (aka Wind, Water & Wonderwool!)

Oooh it's been a fun few days! On Friday I caught a train and headed over to Cardiff to meet up with a friend. It takes a few hours to get there so I took some knitting for the train. Now, I'll be honest and admit that I've never done public knitting before - always felt too self conscious I guess - but this time I decided to Brave It. And it was very liberating! It was also a great ice-breaker with a fellow passenger and we had a long conversation about crochet, current projects and different patterns, much to the amusement of everyone else in the carriage I'm sure!!!

Saturday we headed off nice and early to get to Wonderwool. OOhhhh we were so excited I can tell you! Its only our second visit and we went prepared with lots of empty bags, you know just in case we saw anything we liked!!!

There were lots of stalls selling lovely yarn and lots of yarn based hobbies that you could try. There were also some very cute animals. How adorable are these?!

Alpaca's at the Toft stand
Gorgeous angora bunnies!











We also did a class on learning to spin with a drop spindle. Mr f&f found this highly amusing - "You do realise that for most 30-somethings, going to a spinning class would involve bikes at a gym don't you?!" - but we enoyed ourselves regardless!!! I even managed to spin some yarn although I think i'm going to have to practise a fair bit more. It did get me excited enough to buy a bat of fluff to spin for a small shawl. Can you see the sparkles in it? I think I'm a bit of a magpie!
My spinning efforts
For spinning (after some practise!)
I also got a few other things - a stamp, stitch markers (even a special one for crochet!), a small crochet hook for trying beading one day and a hooking kit which I'm quite excited about: I admired everything at this stall last year and decided this year to splash out and buy a kit - I'm hoping that it will look lovely on my wall when it's all done!




















And can you spy the D-rings at the bottom there? These will be part of a new bag design that I've been  mulling over for a while......should be fun!

And the Water element? Well, that's for all the rain we're having!!!!

I hope you all had a good weekend,

Sx

Today's sky • grey with rain, although we have had odd glimpses of blue sky for a change!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Ready, set, jelly roll race!!!!!!

Hey everyone! How you all doing today? If you have Littlies, you could be forgiven for thinking that I've gone a little bit mad and been watching a bit too much Ben & Holly. But no (it's Transformers all the way in our house at the moment!), it's all about making a patchwork quilt top in double quick time!!!!

A few weeks ago, the Crafty Bums forum - where I host my shop - started discussing jelly roll quilts: take 40 jelly roll strips, sew them all together and made a patchwork quilt top in about 45mins. In America they have races and I think I read that once the strips are joined together the top can be made in 35mins!!! It's quite phenomenal.

I tried to resist but once I'd paid a visit to YouTube, I just had to try it! So I went in search of the perfect fabric and found this - 60 jelly roll strips and 60 6" squares. Plenty to be getting on with and the colours just made my heart sing!
October Skies fabric

I looked around at a few jelly roll quilts whilst I waited for my fabric to arrive. The finished quilt top should end up being somewhere around the 50" x 60" size, which is about 2 strips of fabric wide. I wanted to have a bit more variation so I decided to sew all the strip together and then cut each strip in half, seperate them into different piles and then sew them all together again. 
My strips joined, halved and ready to join again!

One of the things that I struggled with in the beginning was getting all the strips to line up properly after mitring. However, someone in Crafty Bums posted a tip about making sure to match up the pinked edges and then decide which side of the top corner square to sew from and to go down to the corresponding square in the bottom right corner.  I figured that a picture might be better so here you go (and just so that you know, I chose to sew from the right of the corner square - and it worked perfectly!)

Sew along one of the lines to get a perfectly mitred corner
Using my thumb as a guideline to the corner


Last night was the race. Would you like to see how I got on?
My completed jelly roll quilt top





















What do you think? I'm fairly happy with it - I just love this fabric and the mix of paisleys, flowers, dots and stripes and muted colours. There's too much pooling at the top and bottom of the quilt though - too many of the same fabrics next to each other (especially at the bottom) and lots of browns at the top and purples at the bottom

Lots of pooling. Grrr!


I obviously didn't mix the strips up enough, so I think I'm going to have to undo a couple of the entire strips and reposition them otherwise it's going to annoy me too much! I'm not going to muck around with it a lot though, just try and seperate some of the matching strips. I'll keep you updated!

Things I've learnt from doing this;

✿ That first row takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r!!! It feels a bit like a marathon - you start off all keen but try and pace yourself, you start to wane a little bit in the middle section (especially when you realise there's a lot of matching going on with your fabric strips - grrrr!) and then speed up towards the end when you realise you're nearly at the finish line!

✿ I didn't mix my fabrics up enough - I tried to sort them into piles where the fabrics wouldn't overlap which obviously failed! Some people have said that they threw all the fabrics up in the air and picked them at random, which I think I might try next time!

✿ The jelly rolls leave lots of fluff over everything - vacuuming and clothes washing is necessary after a race!

✿ I'm not a speedy quilter - I was nowhere near the 'less than an hour' target! I think I worry too much about getting my seams nice and straight

✿ Somehow I've managed to end up with wonky sides which I guess is based on how I cut it at the end - that will be easy to rectify once I've added on a border but a little bit annoying

✿ I don't normally do random so this quilt technique is quite good for coming up with a random pattern, although I'm obviously too much of a perfectionist as well based on the fact that I want to fiddle with it!!!! I do love this method though and am planning on making a few more things like this - my family might be able to expect lots of quilts over the next few Christmas's and birthdays!!!!

Now I just need to decide on what to back it with and I'll be able to finish it up.

I'll hopefully post some more pictures of my quilt next week when I've played around with it and let you know how I got on with my times (there's another race Saturday and a league table is being drawn up! Do pop along and join the group if you want to join in the fun ☺)

See you next time, 

Sx

Todays sky ● cloudy with rain. Again!

Monday, 23 April 2012

The last few days have been mostly about....

.....going to a St George's day festival and watching some jousting - truly enjoyed by the Littlies - with stormy skies abound (thankfully we made it home before the rain poured!!!!)


....looking out the window at the gloomy weather and wondering when the sun might come out to play again


....getting very excited about some fabric that arrived this morning. Isn't it yummy?!



....wishing there were more hours in the day so that I can work on some of the ideas that I keep scribbling down or go floating through my mind! And on the other hand hoping it doesn't take too long for this week to fly by as on Saturday I'm going to Wonderwool. Eek!!! Just five more sleeps!

Hope you've all had a fun few days and found some cheer in amongst all the gloomy weather

Sx

Todays sky ● grey (again) with rain (again). Sigh!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Back to school!

Yesterday was the last day of the Easter Holidays for us, as there was a training day at school. In the morning we took a trip down the park for the little people to burn off some energy. Little Girl raced off on her bike but it took me a bit longer as the boys have taken to walking which can be quite s-l-o-w (or leisurely, as I try to think of it!). Still, we get there eventually!















Whilst at the park, I was marvelling at the sky, and in particular the clouds. I'm finding that since starting the sky blanket I'm taking a lot more interest in the skies these days and especially all the different types of cloud formations. I feel like I need to learn a bit more about them all! I have found a website (the Cloud Appreciation Society) which has some stunning photo's on it.

I had to show you this picture of the path we take on the way home - it always feels like a real snapshot of the season: at the moment, it's full of green. I'm always amazed at how there can be so many hues and shades of one colour, and the dabbled light on the path just makes it perfect for me.




















First day back at school today means a return to some sense of normality, if that even exists?! On Thursday Little Boy will start nursery - I'm both excited and a little bit sad: I think he's going to really enjoy going and the new challenges it presents, and the idea of only having one Littlie at home feels like another Landmark Moment, but I'm also going to really miss him as he's a proper little character. At the moment, he keeps insisting on being called Optimus Prime, this has been partly fuelled by the recent purchase of the original series 1 of Transformers from the '80s. It looks so retro now but he does love it!

I've managed to fit in some crafting over the last few days, working on specially commissioned cushions for a wedding anniversary and a birthday. I always feel very honoured to be asked to make something for such a special occassion and a little nervous as to whether or not it will meet expectations. Hopefully, these will as I may well be handing them over in person at Wonderwool in a couple of weeks (more on this soon, I am soooooo excited!).
Commissioned cushions - can you guess what they are yet?!
















I'm also hoping to get the chance to put the sleeves and collar to my Tova over the coming weekend, it's looking (and fitting!) alright so far!
My Tova so far - sleeves & collar needed!
















And I'm finally all caught up on the sky blanket, just a few ends to weave in. It's been quite funny the past few days, it will be dark and cloudy in the morning, then bright sunshine and then back to rain again. If I was doing it truthfully the lines would probably be split equally between storms, overcast and blue sky. Instead I've just gone for varigated blue, which is my interpretation of blue skies with clouds! April showers definitely seem to be out in force this month!!!
Stormy skies at lunchtime today

Bright - albeit cloudy - skies 2hrs later!

A rather gloomy few rows of crochet!




































Hope you're all having a lovely day,

S x

Todays sky ● blue with lots of clouds, we've even had hail today!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Out and about

Today we needed to get out of the house: the grey, miserable days and poorly Littlies has resulted in cabin fever for all of us. A day trip was definitely needed.

So a trip to the local garden centre was decided upon. It's only a five minute drive away, has lots of different things to look at and a little cafe with a play area. Its a good place to go! We didn't get to spend any time looking at seeds dreaming about which vegetable seeds could be planted (and if I'm honest, there's a lot in the garage that I need to sort through). Instead we were there to look at the animals, namely the fish and chickens. And my oh my, we were in for a treat for they also had baby chicks and mini pigs there. I think I was more potty about them than the kids!!!!!

The chicks were absolutely adorable! There were some really young fluffy ones which really did look like little puff balls! And some that were a little older as you could see the feathers starting to come through. The Littlies loved them - we had to look at them twice! - although I did have to keep reminding Little Boy not to put his fingers through the wire, I saw some chicks eyeing up his fingers on a couple of occasions.


I think the little grey chick was my absolute favourite, I could have easily taken him home. One day I'd love to have chickens, but I'll need to keep dreaming for a little while I think!

The mini-pigs were outside and were absolutely delightful. And sooooooo cute! There were only two of them but they had the 'awww' factor! And there's a competition to name them. We haven't entered yet but I might have to go back at the weekend just to, you know, have a little look and come up with some more names!!!

This evening I've been working on my sky blanket, it has to be said that it's looking a little bit miserable after the past week's weather. I'm hoping we'll be back to the sky blue's soon!


Hope you've all had a great day, 

S x

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Selfish Sewing

How are you all doing? Have you eaten all the chocolate yet?! We had family to stay over Easter and it was lovely to catch up. It was also a birthday weekend which meant.....lemon cake!!!!















I also took the opportunity to do a bit of sewing. For me. Completely Selfish Sewing. It almost felt decadent, especially as I have orders to do, but I figured it's a holiday weekend so having a break from 'work' to do some sewing for me would be okay.

I've been thinking about sewing clothes for a little while now, and regularly read blogs by Flossie Teacakes and Tilly and the Buttons, marvelling over the fantastic clothes that they make. Wondering, can I really do that? Would it really look that good?

This weekend I decided to Have A Go.  A couple of patterns that have been popping up regularly in the blogosphere at the moment and have caught my eye are the Sorbetto and the Wiksten Tova. I decided to start with the Sorbetto and to add a sleeve using a pattern that I'd found. I was also very inspired by the placket that had been added to this sorbetto.

It was relatively easy to make - not quite the 45min make that some people say they can make it in, but it is one of my first forays into dress making and I'm guessing that given time and practice 45mins would be possible! I used some material I got a little while back (I think it's a lawn fabric) that i just love the pattern of.




















I did make a few adjustments to the pattern: I lowered the armholes slightly as when I first tried it on it felt just a bit too snug; the bust darts were lowered (to the next size up) as I felt this was a slightly better fit and finally I turned the pleat into an inverted pleat, with a placket over the top.

I then decided to add a few self-covered buttons to the placket for a finishing touch. I'd never made these before but was really pleased with how they came out. I bought a self-cover button kit and used fabric with the orange pattern on for each of my buttons

Fabric, wadding, button
Gathering the fabric with running stitch



Getting ready to add the button plate
My finished buttons!
I'm really pleased with how they came out, although looking at the pictures I'm not sure that they really show up that much amongst the pattern.

I had lots of fun making this - I think I might even enter it to the Spring Top Sewalong - and can see more Sorbetto's in my future.

I hope you all had a good weekend, 

S x

Todays sky ● blue with clouds and even a touch of rain. Boo!

Monday, 9 April 2012

A bit of knitting

Did you all have a good Easter weekend?

We had fun catching up with relatives (more on that tomorrow). I just wanted to pop in and say 'Hi!' And also to do a little show and tell on a shawl I finished a little while ago and finally got around to blocking this week.

I got the wool a while back and talked about it  here when I was just about to do the massive increase row which would mean going up to about 400 stitches. I'm sure that for a lot of you knitters, that's not too scary but it's not something I've done too often it has to be said. The rows did take a long time, but I am really pleased with how it came out. I even managed to block it successfully which really helped with the drape of the fabric, so this felt like a project of many firsts for me!
















So, details;

Pattern::: Mara shawl
Needles::: 4mm
Yarn::: Trekking XXL
Modifications::: I knitted the body of the shawl in stocking stitch instead of garter stitch as I was only using the one ball and wanted it to be as big as possible!

I've gifted it to my friend who was really pleased with it, which was a bonus. And am now wondering if I should make myself one someday?!

Catch up with you all soon,

S x

Todays sky ● grey with rain. Meh!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Bumbling through

So far we've been able to bumble our way through the first two days of the Easter hols which has been great! Quite relaxing so far which is always a good thing.

Yesterday, whilst washing up (such a glamourous life I lead!) I suddenly noticed that our plum tree is in blossom.















Although it may not seem it, this is actually very exciting as in the (nearly) six years we've been here it's only ever fruited the once and it was a battle to get there before all the bees and wasps so I've got high hopes that this year just maybe we might have some fresh plums.

I also set to making some date flapjacks for a picnic that we were going on today















The Littlies wanted to help me out which was all well and good until I realised that what they actually wanted to do was nab all my dates! 

I've also been doing a bit of sewing in the evenings which has been great. I had a special request to make a baby journal with some personalised writing which was a lot of fun




















I've also been having a lot of fun experimenting with key fobs, which I'm going to be adding to my shop. 














Mr f&f really doesn't think that much of them - he doesn't think that having a bunch of keys hanging from his wrist is a good look! - but with three Littlies and a massive changing bag I find it brilliant as I can hang it on my wrist whilst putting little ones in their car seat and it also gives me something to grab from the bottom of my bag. Brilliant!

Hope you've all been bumbling along nicely too, 

S x

Todays sky ● grey - rain today: boo!


Sunday, 1 April 2012

March in crochet

March has been a good month on the whole......I've been feeling myself getting more and more optimistic with each passing day. And I'm sure that this is due in no small part to the glorious weather that we've had for much of the month, particularly the last week or so.

March started off with a nice blue line (down at the bottom there) but sadly ended with clouds.


And can you see just at the top there? I ran out of yarn on the very last repeat of my ripple for the last day in March. It's almost like a bad April Fool's joke! More yarn shopping required!

There have been some amazing blue skies this month though, and some very foggy starts too!
 


And we can't forget the springing of flowers and blossoms to brighten the day
 


So all in all, a very good month really. Would you want to see the sky blanket in all it's glory so far?! Okay then, here goes......
 



It has to be said that it's getting quite very long now.....just over 90cm and we're only 3months in (91 days to be exact!)! So I reckon it's going to be about 2m long by the time I'm halfway through and ready to start the next side. Should be a good fit for a single bed I reckon!

I hope you've all had a lovely April Fools day? We had a lovely walk by a local lake, making the most of the weather



Thanks for popping in and I wanted to let you know that things might be a bit sporadic over the next couple of weeks what with the Littlies off school but I'll try and keep you posted.

Catch-up soon,

Sx

Todays sky ● brilliant blue





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