Friday, 28 October 2016

Five on Friday - A Crafty Five

As the evenings draw in, time for crafting increases. The garden pots no longer need watering and as the light fades in the afternoon the knitting needles and crochet hook come out. For some odd reason I have no problem with sewing during the daytime, in fact these days I need daylight to stitch. However, sitting and knitting or crocheting during daylight hours at home seems totally decadent. and downright wrong. Crazy, as knitting on the train or waiting for appointments is fine but if I sit down on the sofa at home to knit, I immediately feel guilty. One of the bonuses of darker evenings means more knitting and crochet time.  
So for Five on Friday with the lovely Amy at Love Made my Home this week here are five crafty projects, some completed and others in progress.

1. Birthday Gift

These bags and notebook were completed for a friend's Birthday. J and I have known each other since school days and have shared knitting and crafting projects through the years. She travels regularly from her home in Cheshire to London and had asked if I could make her a bag for the smaller projects she takes with her on these journeys. I found this great fabric with knitting sheep (we share a love of sheep too!) and thought it would be perfect for the project.

Even the sheep's face was the  perfect size for the covered button on the larger bag.
I am happy to say J was delighted with her gift.

2. Gothic Lace Cowl

This lovely baby alpaca has been sitting in the stash for a while. It was found in the "end of line" basket of a department store and I could not resist the gorgeous, squishy softness of it, not to mention the bright, cheery colour. There were only two skeins left and surprisingly they found there way home with me - does that happen to you or does yarn just leap into my basket? 

There was not really enough yardage for a shawl but I found a cowl pattern Gothic Lace by Tin Can Knits. Rather than being joined or knitted in the round like many cowls it fastens with a row of buttons so can be worn as a collar too. I like adaptable patterns and the lace is a simple 12 row pattern. The alpaca is knitting up beautifully and sooooo lovely and soft to work with. When finished it will go in the Christmas present box - another one ticked off the list.

3. Taggy Blanket

The Taggy blanket started a few weeks ago, mentioned here, is finished and ready for the new arrival next year. The pattern from Kate at Just Pootling is so cute and was a pleasure to make. The rabbit's ears are perfect for chewing. 

4. Shirley Notebooks

The notebook stock has been going down slowly so some time was spent earlier in the week creating a few more Shirley notebooks. A black sheep has joined the flock along with some new red covers. 

5. Christmas Crochet

On Wednesday I met up with a friend for tea and some hooky time. As my current crochet at the moment is small Christmas gifts for our craft group, I could not take them with me. The free magazine gift above has been sitting in the work room for a while so was ideal for our get together. 

The cute stocking pattern turned out well and a string of them would make a lovely garland. I must get back to pressie making though and if there is enough time, a garland may be created. If not this little one can hang on the tree. 
Perhaps if I get over my fad about crocheting/knitting in the daytime it might help! 



Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Autumn Wreath

It has taken a little while but the Autumn Wreath from last month's Pocket and Pin box is complete. I began this earlier in the month and mentioned it previously in this post.

The box included a fat quarter, a woodland themed felt pack, ribbons, a selection of buttons and thread.

It inspired me to create an autumn wreath for the door and intended including much of the contents of the box.

I began with a foam ring that had been around for a while and wrapped some strips of hessian around it. The hessian had been around longer than the ring and had been cut up from a potato bag and kept 'just in case'. Funny how these things can come in handy.

The ribbon came next and creating some creatures and bits and pieces for the wreath. 


Baby hedgehog

Pumpkins and mice. 
The first mouse was almost as big as the hedgehog, so a smaller one was created.

Three types of leaves were cut out from the remaining pieces of felt.



and Sycamore.

The Sycamore leaves have a wrapped wire 'vein' so they could be bent and shaped.

The leaves were pinned in place first

and then the bits and pieces added.

There were quite a few changes, rearrangements and cutting out of extra leaves until I was happy with it.
The final arrangement.


The lovely fat quarter and cute buttons from the box did not make it onto the wreath but may be used to create a woodland themed journal.

The door is looking very smart with its new autumnal decoration and I am pretty pleased with the way it has turned out.

Now I really should get back to some Christmas present making.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Five on Friday - Autumn has arrived

Summer is my favourite season, so I always feel a little sad with the approach of Autumn and try to hang on to Summer for as long as possible. This week has marked the turning point when I can no longer deny the seasons are changing. The days are becoming shorter, getting up in the dark and having to turn the lights on earlier in the evening. It will not be long before the clocks go back and the winter months will be upon us. However, we have had plenty of sunshine, showers too admittedly, but compensated with wonderful rainbows. I have not been lucky enough to capture them with the camera, (I always seem to be driving or loaded down with shopping when they appear) but they gladden the heart and bring a smile. 

So for my Five on Friday with Amy at Love Made My Home this week, I am going to think positively and share some of the beauty of Autumn. 

1. Blue skies and golden leaves

The garden is filled with golden leaves and many autumnal shades from limey greens through to russet reds. 
There is quite a lot of clearing up to do too but I am turning a blind eye to that for now.

2. Sparkling rain drops

This is the first year I have grown Verbena Bonariensis successfully, probably because we had a damp Spring and they managed to get established. I have been amazed at how long they have flowered and although a little tatty now they still manage to sparkle after a shower of rain.

The roses are still providing flowers and the raindrops in the early morning light enhance their beauty. The leaves and flowers look like they have just come out of the shower and are ready for the new day. 
They certainly look brighter than me first thing in the morning.

3. Vibrant Sedums 

The sedums are particularly vibrant at the moment with the deep red of the flower heads contrasting with the bright lime green of the leaves. 
Like the Verbena the flowers have lasted a long time this year. 
  At the last JETS meeting I noticed some deep red, almost black leaved sedum in the garden of our Parish Council offices. Something to look out for at the next visit to the garden centre. 

4. Fading Hydrangeas

The Hydrangeas are all changing colour and fading gracefully. They had a difficult time with a very dry August as I mentioned in a previous post. They are fascinating in the way the colour either leaches out and fades or becomes more intense as they age depending on the variety. A blue and a white hydrangea would be great additions to the garden if I could squeeze them in. Perhaps they could be grown in  pots as I believed blue ones need certain soil conditions to keep their colour.

5. Looking ahead

The pots were emptied of the tired annuals earlier in the week and are looking a little sad. I had been putting it off for a while and kept telling myself the begonias still had some flowers and it would be cruel to rip them out. After a couple of cold nights they looked very bedraggled and the flowers dropped off (which then got walked into the house). There is nothing like trying to scrape red begonia petals off the carpet to concentrate the mind. They had to go.

They look very forlorn at them moment but bare, sad pots equal a trip to the garden centre don't they? 
While out shopping yesterday some Spring bulbs found their way into the basket.....

..... and at the weekend I plan to visit the garden centre for some winter flowering pansies or violas.
(Maybe a red stemmed sedum too if I can find one!) 
The pots will have some colour again and the bulbs will be safely nestled in for the Winter ready to burst into new life next Spring.   

Whatever you are doing this weekend I hope the sun shines and it is an enjoyable one.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Day Out

Hello, it is Friday again and here we are joining with Five on Friday with Amy at Love Made My Home. How is it that Friday's come round so quickly?

This week I had a day out to London to meet up with a friend and visit the Georgia O'Keeffe Exhibition at Tate Modern. We do not get together as much as we used to so it is a real treat to have a good old natter, catch up on news and visit a Gallery at the same time. We had both wanted to see the exhibition so it was a good excuse to meet up at Euston Station and have a day out.

Georgia O'Keeffe was not an artist I knew well. Like many others I was familiar with her flower paintings and the innuendo that was attached to them. She always opposed the sexualised readings of her work throughout her life. One wonders, if that was not created by others, particularly as she was a female artist in a man's world at the beginning of the 20th Century. 

Georgia O'Keeffe's was born in 1887 in Wisconsin and declared a desire to be an artist from an early age. She died in 1986 at the age of 98 after a career spanning seven decades. She suffered from macular degeneration and lost central vision in the 1970's and made her final drawing in 1984. 
I found the exhibition fascinating because it represented different periods throughout her long career. 

Here are just five of the artworks that appealed to me, although the list could have been much longer.

Special No. 9 1915
Charcoal on paper
From the Lake No.1 1924
Oil paint on canvas

Oriental Poppies 1927
Oil paint on canvas

Grey Hill Forms 1936
Oil paint on canvas

It Was Blue and Green 1960
Oil paint on canvas

Normal I prefer figurative art rather than abstract, as I generally feel more comfortable knowing what I am looking at. At this exhibition it was the abstracted work that caught me most. The movement of the line and the amazing blending of the colours just made me want to twirl and dance along with them. 
Very uplifting and not what I had expected at all.

Despite failing health in the 1970's, Georgia O'Keeffe collaborated with potter-sculptor Juan Hamilton who became her assistant and close friend. He taught her to work with clay at this time when she must have been in her nineties.
How wonderful, after a lifetime as an accomplished and celebrated artist, having the passion to learn new techniques.

A great day shared with a good friend.
Thanks L, until next time.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Willen Crafty Tea Time and Sock Update

Thank you for all the good wishes for our Crafty Tea Time Event in aid of Willen Hospice yesterday. It was a wonderful day full friends, family, tea, coffee, cake and memories of our lovely friend Doti. There was lots of laughter and a great celebration of her many talents. 
The total raised at the end of the day was an amazing £1620.50. 
A great tribute to a very special lady.

This mixed media picture came home with me because, I believe it encapsulates Doti's quirky style and sense of fun. I will always think of her every time I look at it and remember the fun and joy of the time we spent together. 

On a completely different note and with a huge sigh of relief, the sad sock has become a happy pair.


My toes (and legs) will be kept warm this winter.

The Kingfisher yarn is on the needles and the first cuff is complete. 
I just hope they do not take quite as long to complete!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Five on Friday - 4 Projects + 1 Mishap

Life has been busy recently, nothing exciting, just appointments and all the little things that need doing that take up energy. I did not get round to joining in last week's Five on Friday but did enjoy reading and catching up with everyone else. Sorry for not commenting on many, but it was a pleasure to read them. So it is good to be joining in this week with Amy at Love Made My Home and Five on Friday.

This week I have been working on several projects and trying to get some WIP's completed.

1. Sad Sock

This poor sad sock was started many months ago and may look familiar as I have chuntered about it before in previous posts. For some reason it was not enjoyable to knit and became victim of a severe case of second sock syndrome. It has stayed lonely in the bottom of the knitting bag since April without it's mate. I knitted a couple of pairs of socks for the Yarndale Sockline and enjoyed making them but could not get any enthusiasm to start this second sock. 

Until now.

I bought some lovely West Yorkshire Spinners sock wool in Kingfisher a few weeks back, which I am really looking forward to using. BUT I made a deal with myself that they could not go on the needles until the sad sock had it's mate.

It is almost there! The heel has been turned as you can see. 
Last night I got to the toe shaping, so hopefully tonight the socks will finally be a pair.
Big sigh of relief and I can get the Kingfisher wool on my needles this weekend.

2. Autumn Project Box

Recently I started to subscribe to Pocket and Pin's Habdash Box. I have had individual Habdash Boxes before as gifts and love the selection of treasures that come in them. There is no pattern or suggestion how to use the contents, that is left to your inspiration and imagination. 
(I have no connection with Pocket & Pin, I just love the concept).

October's box has a Woodland/Autumn theme and I thought it would make a great Autumn Wreath. It may have to be for next autumn as I have only just started.

I am making it up as I go along but there is a pumpkin and acorn so far and I have ideas for mice, hedgehog, more acorns and lots of leaves.

3. Taggy Blanket

We have had lovely news that there will be a new addition to the family in 2017 as my niece is expecting a baby. I love making baby clothes and was desperate to start on little jackets straight away but felt it was a bit early just yet. Instead I found a delightful pattern for a rabbit taggy blanket designed by Kate at Just Pootling. Despite the socks that need finishing and the autumn wreath, I had to make a start, just to see how the pattern worked. That is my excuse and I am sticking to it.

It is the first time I have crocheted with a small hook and 4 ply cotton and although enjoyable enough I am finding the yarn splits and separates a lot. I am using the DMC Natura above because it had a soft silky feel but not sure I would choose it again. Is it usual for cotton to separate or are there other brands that are easier to handle? I would appreciate any advice.

4. Doti's Cards

As I mentioned in my last post, we are holding a Tea Time and Craft event in memory of our crafting friend Doti. The proceeds will be going to Willen Hospice who cared for her so well. A mutual friend and I have been getting together to use  Doti's Lino cuts to make some cards to sell at the event. Last week we printed lots of her designs onto strong paper and on Wednesday we met to mount them and make them into cards. 

We were happy with our efforts as there are 43 cards in the box ready and wrapped for the sale, which is taking place today. I will report back later about how we get on.

5. Mishap

As Doti's event is Tea Time as well as craft I have been making some cakes. 
Well, trying to...... 

I am not a fancy baker and would never come up to W.I. or Great British Bake Off standards, but although never particularly exciting, my cakes are generally tasty.

Yesterday I decided to make a chocolate sponge cake and an apple cake with the last of the apples from my miniature tree. All was going well with the chocolate sponges in the oven and the apple cake prepared. I washed up and tidied round (I do not have a dishwasher) and left the water in the bowl ready for the sponge pans when they came out of the oven. The timer rang it's little tune and the chocolate sponges came out looking fine. I left them to cool a little before turning them out onto the wire rack. The first one came out fine but the second one was a little stuck around the edge. So I reached across to the draining board for a knife to run round to loosen it.  Before I could pick the knife up, the sponge detached itself and slid with a plop into the washing up water.  Sponge cakes are supposed to be light and airy, which this one was, but they also act like sponges when immersed in water. There it was floating in the soapy water sucking up water like an aqua vac. 
There were a few rude words floating around too.

Here it is, rescued and dripping water. It is not the sort of thing you can wring out so I had to leave it on the side to drip.

The apple cake went in the oven despite me being nervous about what else might happen. Fortunately, there were no more incidents and the second chocolate cake survived. 

Goodness knows what the refuse collectors thought this morning when they opened my compost bin and found the drowned cake sitting on top of the kitchen and garden waste.

Have a good weekend everyone. 
I am looking forward to casting on my Kingfisher socks and making a few more acorns.