Sunday, 28 December 2014

Stitched card and a coastal walk

Well I hope you have all recovered from the Christmas festivities and are now looking forward to 2015.  We had a lovely time with our family and are now beginning to make a dent in the leftovers!

A short post from me today.  A friend's daughter had her 30th birthday just before Christmas so I decided to make her a card.

I cut out numbers in a pretty fabric and stuck them onto bondaweb, stitched around the edge a few times in black then backed them with felt to give them a bit more strength.

We don't usually buy presents as such but as it was her 30th I thought it would be nice to give her a small gift so I made a pretty little flower brooch to match.

I stuck a simple version of the flower on the card with some leaves and pinned the brooch on the top so when the brooch was removed the card still looked good.

Below you can see the finished card.

I'll leave you now with a few pictures of a 6 mile walk we did today along part of the South Devon coast path.

Erme estuary

Looking along the coast towards Bigbury with Burgh Island in the background

Happy New Year everyone!
See you soon

PS - Since I wrote this post my daughter Clare has also written about our walk on her blog with a few different pictures.  If you would like to have a look just pop over and say 'hello'

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Finished Mandala

Now to a ta dah moment, well actually the second one for this project! You may remember a while ago I made a mandala inspired by Yarndale.  I finished the mandala but had to wait for my OH to cut a thin wooden hoop for me so I could attach it and hang it up.

You can see the hoop he cut for me and the finished mandala before I attached it in the picture below. It measures about 18" across.

I added two rounds of treble crochet to the outside edge of the mandala, one in the front loop and one in the back loop of the stitches.  I then placed the hoop between these two and closed the rounds with a round of double crochet.

Ta dah! Here it is in it's full glory!

Don't you just love the colours?  I can't get enough of them.

If you would like to have a go at this yourself you will find the pattern over at Zooty Owl's Blog.
I thought I may have a go at making a smaller one using a tiny hook and crochet thread, anyone got any ideas on what I could use for a hoop?
Have fun!
See you over at Handmade Monday

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Crochet Spoke Square

I have been playing about with crochet squares this week.  I'll explain why another time but for now I decided I would like to design a few myself so thought I would start with the basics.

I want to work on 4" squares.  Using a dk cotton I started by crocheting a circle of 12 trebles increasing on each round until I got to 4 rounds (48sts).

Now came the tricky bit! Squaring the circle! I divided my 48 stitches into 4 and set about making some corners.  You can see in the picture below how I placed the markers at equal intervals around the circle before I started the squaring.

It's not been blocked yet but after a combination of dc, htr and tr here is my basic square to work from.

It feels a little as though I'm reinventing the wheel here as you can look at numerous sites and easily find a pattern to create this basic square.  Having said that, working it out for yourself gives you a deeper understanding of the construction behind such a simple square and I can now go ahead and deconstruct/reconstruct bits to create my own designs.  In theory that is! We'll see what happens in practice as time goes on!!

Ok, basic square made.  Whilst at Sharpham last weekend I made a quick sketch of some of the plaster work on the ceiling (I had these squares in mind you see!).

When I got home I set about creating!!!! Now the observant amongst you will notice there are 8 'spokes' to this design.  Well let's just say it took me quite a while to work out that it is impossible to make 8 'spokes' in a circle of 48sts!  (If anyone knows of a way, please share it with us!).  I settled on 12 'spokes' eventually and here is the result.

Not the best photo I'm afraid as I am using up yarn from my stash.  It actually looks a lot better in real life but I think you can see the effect and if I used contrasting colours it would be more striking.  I'll show you the scrummy colours I have chosen for my project in another post when I have finished designing my squares.

All that's needed now is to work out how to add the bobbly bits to the design, but I think this could be a simple square design on it's own.  It's not for the feint hearted mind you, it took a bit of working out how to work the two colours in without colour drag and how to carry them along seamlessly behind the work.  Oh did I forget to take a photo of the back!!!! Whatever was I thinking!

I'm off over to Handmade Monday now to see what you have all been up to this week and I'm also linking up with Hookin on Hump Day but I thought I would leave you with this picture of the pretty pink sky from our lounge window late this afternoon.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Sharpham Retreat

As part of my convalescence and recovery from Breast Cancer I have just spent a wonderful weekend on a retreat at Sharpham Estate near Totnes in Devon, organised by the charity Cancer Lifeline South West.

I met an amazing group of ladies and came away with many memories to treasure for a long time to come.  Sharpham is such a beautiful place I felt I would like to share some of the photos I took.

I had a room to myself despite it having twin beds, a cot and a rocking horse!! And here you can see the view from my window (not a good photo as it was taken through glass).
Views of the river.  
Sharpham is situated on a small peninsula with the river on each side.

Now you may wonder why I'm sharing this photo, just a muddy bit of river and an expanse of water you may think, but look a little closer and yes there seems to be a stranded shark or fish!  As we are on the River Dart which runs into the sea at Dartmouth, not far away, a perfectly feasible assumption!
But ....... and we were all deceived ....
when I got home and put it on the computer ...... what a surprise!
You guessed it ....... it was just a log!

For those of you who are familar with Handmade Monday I am rather late this week as I was so tired when I got home yesterday I just couldn't manage a post in time but thought I may just manage to squeeze in on the end as I was keen to share this beautiful place with you all.  I did make a start (small start) on designing some crochet squares but more on that next week.

Have a good week folks!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Fungi Foray!

I made a booboo today!  I've just tutored an Introduction to Crochet workshop for 8 lovely ladies and carelessly I forgot to take the camera!! Doh!  I wanted to show you how much they managed to achieve in just the one day.  Unfortunately you will just have to take my word for it.  They were all amazing and I am looking forward to catching up with some of them again on the Follow on Crochet workshop in the spring.

I have nothing new to show you this week as I am still working on the two projects I have on the go from previous weeks and don't want to bore you with ever so slightly different photos, so instead I thought I would share some wonderful pictures of fungi we took on a recent walk around the lanes within walking distance of where we live.

And these are the ones that started it all off!

I love all the pretty shapes you can see when you look at them closely. We couldn't resist them and came across one after another.  Hope you enjoyed them too.  I'm off over to Handmade Monday now, see you there :)

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Itty Bitty Week

Thank you for all your interesting comments on my previous post.  I am so pleased it inspired some of you to have a go at Dorset Buttons they can have many ingenious uses. The ladies on the workshop I did last week were also very taken with the idea.  It was only a short workshop at Spin A Yarn my wonderful local woolshop but was such a success that we have decided to make the next one in the Spring Term a whole day!

I had a lovely time at my daughter's last week and thoroughly enjoyed spending my prize money.  I now have a few outfits to wear and we also managed to squeeze in a couple of bits for her too.

On the craft front, it has been a rather itty bitty week.  I am still working on my mandala which although complete, needs attaching to a hoop - very kindly cut out by my OH I may add.  So another 2 or 3 rounds needed to attach this to the hoop.

I have also started another crochet project called Sophie's Garden which I found on a wonderful site called Look At What I Made.  It's packed full of wonderful crochet patterns to fuel the imagination.
You can see what I've achieved so far, but the picture is a little odd as I was crocheting in the car on our way to stay with friends!

I am using Axminster carpet yarn which is at least 80% wool and intend to make a loose cover for a foot stool.  I want to be able to wash it and expect it will felt slightly which will be interesting.  I'll let you know how it goes.

My OH is on an acrylic painting course this weekend, so I thought I would share his creation with you.  It's a little different for him as he often works in water colour but I rather like the effect he has created. They were painting in some woods nearby and he was trying to capture the light shining through the trees.  See what you think.

Today he is painting 'water' so I am looking forward to seeing what he arrives home with later. Watch this space!

I'm off for a quick walk now whilst the sun is out, but will be linking up with Handmade Monday when I get back.  See you there!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Halloween Dorset Button Earrings

I'll start with a big thank you to all of you for your comments last week. We were away for a few days so I didn't have enough time to leave you each a personal reply.  I tried to visit as many of you as I could to see what you had been up to, but there are only so many hours in the day.  If I missed you out please accept my apology.

I'm afraid I may struggle to leave comments this week also, as I will be visiting my youngest daughter. About this time last year she very kindly entered me in a competition and I won! Unfortunately being ill for most of this year I have been unable to claim the prize until now.  A drum roll please!!! A Personal Shopper and £250 to spend in Debenhams.  Whoopee!!

Shopping isn't really my thing so to have a Personal Shopper to tell me what looks good and be given the money to spend, topped with the added bonus of spending some time with my daughter, whom I don't get to see nearly enough these days, is so exciting, I am really looking forward to it.  So I hope you will forgive the administrative disruptions again this week!

Anyway, on to the nitty gritty of this week's post.  A few weeks back I promised a tutorial on how to make Dorset Buttons.  I did a workshop on these last week and one lady said how they reminded her of a spider's web.  So the cogs started turning and I thought as Halloween is coming up they would make perfect earrings.  Here is how you do it - minus instructions to make a spider though, as I ran out of time and I'm sure all you crafty folk out there have little spider buttons lurking around somewhere or could rustle one up somehow!!!!

Firstly, you will need a thin, lightweight ring. I used a gardening ring with the join taped over with masking tape as it was all I had! This one is just over an 1" wide but you can make any size you wish and plastic curtain rings are just fine too.  About 3 or 4m of thread, measured from fingers to shoulders of an outstretched arm!! Nothing too precise!  And a small piece of card to use as a bobbin.

Having wrapped your thread around your bit of card to create a bobbin, trap the tail end below the stitches as you work a sort of buttonhole stitch over the ring, leaving the little knots on the outer edge. This process is called 'casting'.  Continue this all around the ring.

As you are making earrings you will need to add a ring to attach them to the earring hook.  Just before you reach the end of the ring, unravel what is left on your bobbin and feed a closed jump ring onto the thread.

Trap the jump ring on the inner edge of the next stitch and continue around until you have covered the complete ring.

The next process is called 'slicking' and it just means turning the knotty edge into the centre as in the next picture.

The jump ring will now be on the outside edge.  Now the slightly tricky bit.

Change of ring I'm afraid as I forgot to photograph this bit on the orange one!  Take your thread from your bobbin and thread it through a needle. Wrap the thread across the ring in 5 minute intervals like a clock face.  You will end up with 12 spokes.

Secure these spokes with a couple of cross stitches which will then pull them all together into the centre.

The next stage is called 'rounding' which, in this case, involves taking the thread under two spokes and down over one.  Make sure your thread starts at the back, come up on the left hand side of a spoke, go down on the right hand side of the same spoke, pass under this spoke and the one to the left of it, bring your thread up to the front and down again on the right hand side of this spoke.  Continue all the way around keeping everything firm.  For a complete Dorset Button you would continue like this all the way to the outside edge, but to make it look like a spider's web just complete the amount of rounds to make it look right.

Ta dah! Finish off by tucking in your ends neatly on the back, make a second one, then just add it to your choice of earring post.  Oooh and don't forget to add that little spider button, you found in your stash!!

And there you have it, Halloween Dorset Button earrings.  See you over on Handmade Monday, have a good week.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Painting with Stitches

Wow!  What a day!

This workshop was a while ago now but I would like to share it with you as the technique used for creating stitched pictures is a wonderful way for those of us who cannot draw to create our own unique pieces.

First let me introduce you to Sue Dove author of Painting with Stitches.  A very talented lady with a passion for painting and embroidery, Sue creates colourful, quirky textile pictures by creating a collage in paper and oil pastels first, before turning this into a hand stitched embroidery.

Sue came up from her studio in St Ives to do a one day 'Collage and Stitch' workshop. To provide the inspiration for the final piece we began the day by tearing up magazines (very therapeutic!) to create a collage. To keep things simple, the theme was flowers.

This is how mine looked in it's first stage of construction.

The next stage was using oil pastels to fill in the background.

Having completed our 'drawing' it was now time to create the fabric version.  We began rummaging through loads of scrap fabric that Sue had brought along, chosing pieces to replicate our 'drawing'. We started by laying out the background fabrics and then adding the detail.  Once this was done we could then begin tacking the pieces in place before beginning the embroidery.

Time was running out fast and unfortunately I only managed a little embroidery on the day. Below you can see the comparison between my original 'drawing' and the stitched piece.

Sue's work is mainly embroidered by hand and I know she always has a piece in her bag to work on when she has a spare minute.  I found it quite hard on the fingers, to sew through all the layers of fabric so I'm afraid I cheated and did most of mine by machine.

You can see though, I got there in the end!  To keep all the large background pieces in place I added stitching creating the illusion of a jigsaw puzzle and to finish it all off I added a crocheted border.

I had no idea how this was going to turn out when I started although I was rather pleased with the result. It's not my usual kind of work but the process used was interesting and I would definitely use this technique again as it is a wonderfully free way of creating a picture.

We will be spending the weekend with friends when this post goes out so I shall look forward to seeing what everyone has got up to this week on Handmade Monday when I get home.