Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The key to it all

One of my aims this year is to finally do something with some of the supplies I've bought (no prizes for guessing where!) after having some 'bright idea' about making stuff to sell for charity or something and have ended up just storing for years on end.
Lavender pot
The stash!
Well, amongst this stash are some plastic key rings (and there are some fridge magnets here too).  I can't recall now what I was hoping to raise money for - probably something to do with my church - but they have remained untouched more or less since I got them!
Well, now the time has come to change all that and I've been looking for small enough motifs to stitch on them and wondered what on earth I could depict on them. Thankfully this month's Cross Stitcher has come to the rescue with a booklet of small designs for self-cover buttons, but I'm sure they'll look just as good on a key-ring.
Cardiff Blues keyring
However, it was obvious really. What are key rings for?  For keys of course, so why on earth I didn't think of making them into labels for keys, I've no idea.  So, with a bit of luck, I'll soon have some handy little tabs with cute and practical clues to what the keys are for ... front door, back door, shed, garage, car, cellar, bike, suitcase ... and goodness knows what else I'll think of!
DH also suggested that I make something for his dad, and I'd been wondering what I could make since I made things for most of the family for Christmas.  He's a big rugby fan, so DH sugggested something to do with his favourite team, the Cardiff Blues.  I must admit, I'm quite proud of how it has turned out considering the size and anything curved on a grid of squares is a bit of a nightmare.  I just hope I won't get into trouble for any breach of copyright!!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Valentine or Dwynwen?

I hadn't planned to be making cards this month, but as I was pottering the other day I came across some little motifs that I fancied trying out.  Then, following a conversation with DH I decided that instead of buying him a card for the Welsh equivalent of Valentine's day, St Dwynwen's day on 25th January, I'd make him one.

Somehow we've got into the habit of me giving him a card on Dwynwen's day and him giving me a card on Valentine's day.  And when I was teaching Welsh culture etc at the London Welsh School, the kids and I made some cards for Dwynwen's day after learning her story.  They thought it was great that I was making a card for DH!!  So, now that I'm a craft blogger I'm going to try and make him a card every year now.

 While I was stitching away, we received some lovely news about Spanish friends who came to visit us in the autumn.  Their little boy was born at the beginning of the month, so to congratulate them, I've decided to make them a card too (but obviously not a Dwynwen/Valentine one!!).

In fact, I've been enjoying making such quick 'makes', I may start to make more so that we have a stock ready for use.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Has blogging changed my life?

A year ago, in an attempt to get crafting more regularly, I started this blog.  The momentum has been gentle, but over the past 12 months I have certainly been thinking more creatively and, hopefully, more artistically too.  I have accomplished a fair bit, maybe not as much as I'd originally hoped, but I still have to earn a living, attend to our mad cats and keep housework under check after all! 

I'm quite pleased with they way blogging has helped me complete some of my longtime WIPs/UFOs, although I would still like to finish a few more (see here for progress).  It has also given me the chance to think of projects to do in the future (a blogger has to have subjects for future posts in the pipeline!).  There are still a few draft posts that I started months ago, but they will remain as reminders for me of the projects I hope to undertake this year until I get a chance to share them with you.

The last few weeks feel as if the momentum is picking up and I'm posting more regularly, and that can be seen in the increase in page views I've had.  I've been amazed over the last year how widespread my audience has been - believe it or not, it appears that I have had readers on all continents now (bar Antarctica!).  Who would have thought it - people from all over the world interested in what little ol' me is up to in my spare time!

I hope that the next 12 months will be even more productive, that I'll complete more projects and that it will also bring me a few more followers (note the hint there!) and who knows how it will change the way I think, create and live!  For all its ups and downs, blogging was one of the pluses for 2012 and will continue to be for 2013 too.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Getting some balls

I've been telling you all about the stash of craft supplies I have and that I think it is about time that some of it got used up.  Well, here is some of it!
Straw, template and cutter for making straw stars - German style
I tend to buy a lot of my 'stuff' on Ebay - there was a distinct lack of craft and haberdashery shops near me at the time.  And I admit that I've bought some bits when I've had a 'bright idea' about something and then it hasn't come to fruition (e.g. the key rings that I was going to make to sell for charity, but never found charts small enough that I liked).  Other items I've bought one or two of at somewhere like John Lewis when I've had an idea, like the polystyrene balls, and then liked the idea so much that I've bought lots (again on Ebay).  And once again, haven't actually used them all.

So, they are my next target.  I've no idea where I got the string idea from, but it is simple and effective.  Once again, they've adorned my Christmas tree and my parent's tree for years.  I do remember that I first made them when I was sharing a house in Walthamstow.  Anyway, as you can see I've added a bit of bling to the idea by using sequin string too.

I'm not sure how, but our cats got hold of one of the polystyrene balls and have been using it as a toy in our kitchen for over a year now.  As they seem to like them (they tend to make a bee-line for them on the Christmas tree) I think I'll treat them and make them their own string covered toy using jute string (again, another Ebay acquisition).  I even got adventurous and used two colours!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Raise the curtain

The day has finally come and we have a curtain in the living room. 
That's right, just the one! 
For the time being at least.

It has, to say the least, been a very steep learning curve making my first ever pinch/triple pleat curtains.  Never one to make things easy for myself, I had to make gigantic curtains out of silk to ensure that I had enough of a challenge!  There's nothing like putting a bit of pressure on yourself for making a huge project even bigger.

So, while I summon up the courage to start the matching pair, I'm going to sit back (with a nice glass of something?) and admire my work (trying not to notice the less-than-perfect bits too much).

Friday, 11 January 2013

New commissions

Having got some Christmas stitching out of my system, it is now time to settle down to some serious stitching (and that doesn't include completing my curtain marathon!).

Over the Christmas holiday I got two new commissions - Yippee! 

The first is for a picture for my DN's bedroom - he's only 10 months old, so it is in the cute and cuddly vein.  His sister was given one by a friend when she was born, but as often happens with second/third ... children, he hasn't had one, so my SIL asked if I'd make him one.  He is such a sweetheart, I could hardly refuse, could I?

So, we've chosen a good old London Routemaster bus (for a good young London lad) full of cute little animals.  He's mad about vehicles already and has a similar print in his room and was given a lovely wooden London black cab for Christmas, so this should be perfect.  I must admit that I'm cheating a little but using a kit I found online here, but despite being fairly creative, drawing isn't exactly my strong point!

And my BIL (different side of the family!) has also asked me to stitch a poem for a friend to commemorate an award she received last summer.  The poem was written especially for the occasion and her name means 'snowdrop' in Welsh, and after a bit of hunting, I've found a nice Art Nouveau snowdrop border to go with it.  With a bit of luck mine will be flowering in the back garden as I stitch!  All I need now is to find a nice Art Nouveau font for the poem and I'll be ready to go.

I'll try to add some 'progress' photos (and of the snowdrops in the garden) here as I go along for you to keep an eye on things.

But for now, it's curtains for me if I don't get on with ours!!!
Week 1 progress
Week 2 progress - it is beginning to look like the back end of a bus!

Weeks 3 & 4 - almost half way there

Friday, 4 January 2013

Light relief

A couple of weeks ago I spent most of an afternoon and early evening crawling on the living room floor between layers of the curtain I'm sewing for the living room.  The cats were quite perplexed and thought it best to steer clear!

So, as a bit of light relief from that and the Christmas madness, I've been making some Christmas decorations.

I rather like the magazine, Cross Stitcher, and although there are lots of designs I'm sure I'll never make, there are quite a few that I find quite tempting.  November's issue had a free gift - the materials to make a garland of stars/snowflakes.  In the pack were three red and white patterened card stars and three perforated card stars ready to embroider, red and white embroidery silks, red and white cord for stringing it all together and a needle.  According to the instructions, each star should take two hours to make, but I think I managed each one in a little over an hour.

Initially I intended to decorate our dresser with greenery, but as I didn't think I'd have the time to make a traditional garland, these seemed to be the perfect substitute.  However, I found some fairy lights for the dresser, so I've found somewhere else to hang these now.  They're very pretty and I really like the perforated card stars - although I tend to roll fabric around my fingers as I stitch so I had to be careful not to bend the card too much!  Unfortunately it doesn't seem possible to buy more of the perforated stars, but I've found instructions how to make your own. What do you think?

I'm so pleased with them I think I may try more of their Christmas designs.  I've gone back through old issues and found the free gifts and spent my quiet time over the Christmas break making them.  My DH is a bit confused why I'm making Christmas decorations when we'll be taking the tree down soon, but I'm enjoying myself. 
There are also some pretty Scandinavian inspired decorations in the December issue that may well fit some of the Framecraft accessories I've had from years (yes, more Ebay purchases!).

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Christmas gifts

Well, for my first post of 2013, I can finally reveal what I made as presents for my family.

Pretty in a pinny! MIL's feminine confection.
His 'n' Hers
Big sis and BIL modelling the blue versions - the red ones were for my other BIL and SIL