Friday, 24 February 2017

Five on Friday - Spring Flowers

Welcome this week's Five on Friday hosted by Amy at Love Made my Home.
Yesterday I woke to a second bout of sinusitis (once was enough, thank you) and felt rather sorry for myself. Storm Doris was doing her worst and threatening to take the roof off the conservatory. Things were flying around the garden but fortunately no serious damage was done.  I decided to cheer myself up by looking at some Spring flower pictures taken earlier in the week and share them with you for Five on Friday.

1. Violas

I am not sure if Violas can really be described as Spring flowers as they have flowered throughout the winter. They are so brave and pretty, ignoring all the weather can throw at them I had to include them. They have been such a welcome sight flowering constantly by the front door since they were planted back in October.

2. Snowdrops

As soon as the snowdrops begin to appear I feel the days must be getting longer and Spring is on it's way. They were being jangled about in the wind yesterday but are still standing proud today.

3. Helebores

There are a number of pink and stripy helebores in the garden but the white ones are always the first to flower. The strong waxy flowers stand out beautifully even on the dullest day.

4. Primulas

These primulas were planted three years ago in my mother's garden and despite being nibbled by various creatures and generally neglected they have flowered every year. They create pin cushions of colour among the shrubs. I think they must have seeded themselves about too as they are appearing in all kinds of odd places.

5. Daffodils

Spring is not Spring without daffodils.
The Tete a Tete (my favorites) are just starting to flower in the garden. There are lots of buds so should be a riot of colour this weekend as the sun has returned today after the storm. There have been lots of bunches of daffs in the shops for the last few weeks and so easy to slip in with the shopping.

There are an extravagant two bunches here on the table in the conservatory. A kind friend give me a bunch on the same day I had been shopping. I love the rogue cream flower among the yellow ones! Probably because I always have had a sneaky admiration for a rebel.

Nature is amazing how the cycle continues year after year. Temperature and length of daylight making things happen deep under the dark, cold soil. Nature can be cruel too with storms like Doris bringing damage and devastation to peoples lives. The bright sky and sunshine today have brought calm after the storm and hopefully time for those who were affected to recover and make repairs. I hope all is calm where you are and a few flowers are brightening your day.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Baby Blanket - Ta Dah Moment

The baby blanket that has been in progress for the last few weeks is now finished.
Although it is perhaps not really done to say so ones self, I am pretty pleased with it.
There was no definite plan or pattern just a desire to create a blanket from different patterned squares. The five patterns I used were

Heart shaped bobbles

Double half shells

Crossed trebles

Corner to corner

Single half shells

I made four of each pattern to make a four by five square blanket. Big enough for a pram (sorry 'travel system' I was informed the other day!) or car seat without being too bulky. The yarn used is a mix of cotton and merino.

Blocking came next in an effort to get the squares to approximately the same size. My tension must be questionable as some squares of the same stitch had to be coaxed to match each other. They took several days to dry thoroughly, which led to some impatience, humming and tutting but finally they were ready for stitching together.

It took a number of changes of mind and moving squares around to decide on the final arrangement before stitching them all together.

It had been my intention to do a foundation row of double crochet (uk terms) and a border of bobble stitch but it just did not look right. After a little more experimentation I used four rows of double crochet and a final row of half treble shells.

The border finishes it off neatly and blends in well with the five different patterns.

The baby is due at the end of next month so there is still time for a few more makes before he/she arrives. We do not know what it will be as my niece and her husband have chosen not to find out, so it will be a lovely surprise for us all.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Five on Friday - A Pair of Pears

Joining with Amy at Love Made my Home for Five on Friday

This week a number of projects have started to to come together and one or two have actually been completed. The napkins I have shared before are now finished and ready to be used. As a Five on Friday topic they will have to be fudged as there are only four of them, but an extra photo makes five!

As mentioned previously I made place mats from left over fabric sometime last year. I toyed with the idea of making napkins to match and found some simple plain cotton napkins in the Christmas section of a store last October. They sat in a drawer along with several other WIP's until January this year. I wanted to keep them simple as they will be used daily, so decided to use a pear motif to reflect the fabric pattern on the place mats. To make them a little more interesting I changed the design slightly and used different embroidery stitches for each napkin. The leaves and stork stayed the same and were done in back stitch.

1. Chain stitch outlines and seed stitch decoration.

2. Stem stitch outlines with detached chain stitch 'pips'

3. Coral stitch outlines with french knot decoration

4. Twisted chain stitch with split stitch and detached chain core

5. Four pairs of pears


Knitting and crochet have been my main activities this winter so it has been a pleasant change to do some embroidery. As the days get longer and lighter the plan is to do more embroidery if I get myself organised and a few more WIP's finished.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Puppy Love JETS February 2017

It was very busy at JETS last Saturday with lots going on. There is a fine balance preparing activities that will last 2 hours with no one getting bored and having too much to do so projects are not completed. I over egged the custard on Saturday and we ran out of time BUT everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and went home happy - clutching bits of thread and embellishments to finish off at home.

The activities were a soft toy puppy stitched on the sewing machine and finished by hand and a scrap fabric heart brooch.

Learning to stitch round curves

Cutting out ears and a tail

Stuffing your puppy

The heart brooch was made with pieces of fabric scraps, lace and sparkly threads bonda webbed to a piece of felt and covered with a piece of voile. A heart shape was drawn onto the "new" fabric and embroidered.

This was to be cut out and placed on another piece of felt for the backing with a pin attached. Stitched together and the excess backing cut off your brooch is ready to wear. 

Only we did not manage to get that far!

Everyone created their scrappy fabric and started the embroidery but the puppy-making took longer than I had expected. So everyone went home with a puppy and a part made brooch with bits and pieces to finish them off. Well, it is half term here this week so hopefully it will have been a good activity to complete on a grey day like today. 

The puppies were much loved and all seemed to have their own character.

Some of the puppies have button eyes, while others have beads or french knots. It is lovely to see the children developing their skills and make their own creative choices. 

It just remains for me to develop my skills in balancing the right amount of work to keep everyone busy and interested and not overwhelmed!

My grateful thanks goes to our band of volunteers who happily oversaw the machine sewing, stuffing, cutting out, ironing bonda web, embroidery and button stitching. Hopefully next month will be a little less hectic with a combined machine and hand stitched project.   


Friday, 3 February 2017

Five on Friday - WIP's and a Ta Dah moment

How did it get to be Friday again so quickly????
But it is lovely to be joining with Amy at Love Made My Home for the Five on Friday roundup.

There seem to be rather a large number of bags around my house that have WIP's in them and I am trying to reduce that number before starting, or dare I say, purchasing more yarn/fabric/pretty embellishments for new projects. There are lots of ideas buzzing around in my head - that's the problem/temptation with Instagram and Pintrest, with all the lovely, creative projects going on in the crafty community. Well so far, so good, the only purchases I have made recently have been sewing thread in colours I had run out of and they were half price so that doesn't count does it?

1. Pear Napkins

I made some table mats last year using left over fabric from another project and the plan had been to embroider a set of napkins to match. The napkins were purchased, threads sorted and that's as far as I got. Earlier this week I met with stitching friends from the Embroiderers' Guild and decided it was time to finally get started.

It is ages since I have done any hand sewing as knitting and crochet have been my preferred crafts during the winter evenings. I had forgotten how much I enjoy hand stitching and the rhythm of the needle is very soothing.

2. Preparation for JETS

Not so soothing is preparing materials for the JETS (Junior stitch group)! The volunteer helpers met last Saturday and we have planned the monthly activities up to the Summer holiday. As mentioned in a previous post the group now has a sewing machine so often two activities are going on, a hand stitched project and a machine stitched one. In February we will be making embroidered heart brooches and a soft toy puppy. As the purpose of the puppy project is to learn to machine stitch round shapes it was decided the pieces should be cut out for the students. I prefer them to cut their own patterns out but this can be tricky for the younger members of the group. A set of puppies are all cut and ready in a range of coloured fabrics so the bonus is not having to transport a whole box of fabric to the session. It limits decision time on what fabric to choose too!

3. Baby Blanket

Work has begun on the crib/car seat blanket for my niece's baby, due soon. Ooh, it is getting exciting now. The yarn is a mix of cotton and merino and is soooo soft and lovely to work with.

So far there are four heart squares and three and a bit cross treble squares. I was originally planning to make the blanket 3 x 4 squares in these two patterns with a deep border on it. I am now leaning towards 4 x 5 squares in five different patterns - four squares in each pattern. I have enough yarn to do the larger size but will probably have to get more yarn to complete a border. 
Who knows? I'll let you know the final decision later.

4. Long Socks

These socks were started at Christmas but had not been out of their bag since New Year.

I was delighted to discover the heel had been turned on the first one when I pulled it out of the bag to photograph this morning! A good incentive to knit to the toe and finish it. Another good incentive was finding all my hand knitted socks in the wash this morning so I had to put on a shop bought pair.

5. Ta Dah Moment!

Completed shawl
The Close to You shawl that was taken on holiday and very little done is finished - hurrah!

I really enjoyed making this and love the colour blend of the hand dyed wool from Abstract Cat Yarn on Folksy. The pattern by Justyna Lorkowska is simple and straight forward but really effective.

The picot edge complements the pattern beautifully.

Blocking was completed on Tuesday and I have been wearing it ever since. There is something very satisfying about wearing something you have made - especially if you are happy with it. (A few disaster have been recycle or found themselves in the bin!)

Well, now I have shared my WIP's I am going to have to get on with them so there can be a few more Ta Dah moments. There is a deadline attached to the blanket so that will take precedence but the socks may have to take a back seat - it will depend on how chilly my feet are........