Friday, December 31, 2010

One whole year of work

This photo was taken before all of these were wrapped and sent out to their new homes. Hopefully they have all been received by now so I won't be spoiling any surprises for my friends and family who visit here.

Setting it all out like this really brought home to me just how much I've achieved craftwise this year. I'm really proud of all these projects and hopeful that I've managed to make items that will appeal to their intended recipients.

Below is a mosaic of some of my particular favourites and I've also looked out all the links for the freely available projects that I made.

Simple booties with little flowers by Me!
Green bag lady bags
Manta ray by Brigitte Read
Bumble bee by kristieskids
Sheep by kristieskids (scroll down)
Kokeshi dolls by Suncatcher eyes
Crocheted owls by Brigitte Read
Tiny whale by Planet June
Mouse by kristieskids (scroll down)
Toddler handbag by Me!
Toad by Brigitte Read
Branching leaves scarf by Olenka
Mini Totoro by Natalie Aldhouse (Ravelry download)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas!

Thanks to everyone who has visited me here this year, I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and get lots of crafty presents from Santa. Happy Christmas - ho ho ho!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday magazine reviews

"Sew Hip" issue 23
December 2010

This Christmasy issue of Sew Hip has quite a few projects that I like from some pretty dresses to a handful of lovely quick and fun Christmas projects. My favourite was the mini Christmas tree bunting which was simply little triangles of fabric quickly sewn together on a machine and joined together with line of stitches. After showing my issue to a friend she had a go at making some for my Christmas present so hopefully I'll be able to show you how that turned out soon.

I've also had a go at making something from this issue, the very pretty felt baubles that you can see on the cover. I added some sparkily sequins to my baubles so that they would reflect the lights on the tree and I'm very happy with how they have turned out. My only problem in making them was trying to cut the pattern sheet out of the magazine which was very tricky.

As well as some pretty patterns this magazine also had some good articles including one about a blogger who is trying to learn a new craft every week for a year. What a fantastic idea - if a little exhausting! Christine's blog is a very inspirational place to visit so why not have a look for yourself?

"Sew Hip" issue 24
January 2011

Strangely the contents of this issue didn't come as much of a surprise to me... remember that I won their Etsy competition last month? Well they reused a copy of their magazine layout as the address label for the parcel and I got a quick preview of what this issue would contain that way!

Not as much in this issue that I was keen on, I did love the little simple dress on the cover and the patchwork panda was very cute too. I also enjoyed reading the article about the work of Heidi Kenney who does such beautiful softies and has such a distinctive style to her work.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Card making

Since becoming a full time mum I've had the chance to join a few new crafty groups and meet some of the fantastic crafters who live in my local area.

Recently I started a card making course and though I'm not that keen on papercrafts I've really been enjoying myself each week learning a number of different card making techniques as well as getting some time to have a quiet cup of tea with some other like minded mums.

Due to the run up to Christmas a lot of the card designs we have been doing are Christmas themed (which means I've made plenty of cards to send out to family) happily though the course will be continuing into the new year so I'll be able to show you a number of other cards and perhaps even do a few posts here with brief notes on how to make them yourselves if you are interested.

Pictured above are cards that use embossing stamps and powder, Iris folding, decoupage as well as the very popular just sticking stuff down method.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Loving felt

What do you do when you suddenly realise you are missing an extra little something to go with a friend's present? Well I have a play with my scraps of felt and so far it has never let me down.

For this little elephant I had an idea of what I wanted to make and then for added inspiration I did a quick google image search for 'felt elephant' and I fell in love with this beautiful little elephant by Art Flow.

This elephant is the result of that inspiration and few hours quietly crafting - yup, I just love felt!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The light at the end of the tunnel

I've been buried under a large pile of UFOs over the last month which is why I've been posting less frequently. However with the time I've not been blogging here I have been getting most of my Christmas crafting finished, and just in time too!

These stripey mens hats are all finished and ready to be wrapped as presents for some of my lovely male friends. The pattern is similar to the ' Boy Beanie' pattern from the "Happy Hooker" however I had to adjust it somewhat to take into account that I was using DK yarn instead of the suggested worsted weight yarn. They turned out nicely though and hopefully they are stretchy enough to fit all the different heads they are destined for.

This mysterious pile of pretty leaf fabric has all been sewn up now into gifts - the sewing machine and I almost came to blows over making these, but after all the tears things came good and I'm quite happy with how they turned out. I'll post more details about them after Christmas as I don't want to ruin any surprises for a particular sister who follows this blog quite closely...

Lastly I did a bit of salt dough baking and came up with these little hearts and stars for tree decorations. Sadly the paint that I used seems to be chipping quite quickly so I'm going to have to do some repair work and add a few layers of varnish before I can send any of these out... it almost seems like too much work for something that was supposed to be a quick and relaxing project.

Now I had best get back to some final crochet projects and hopefully I'll be back soon without any of the Christmas panic hanging over me...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday book review

"Country crochet & Knitted lace" by Jan Eaton
ISBN: 1-85368-227-6

UK crochet terms

This book is where my love for crochet first started... back when I was 17 I found this book in my local library and I fell in love. I could already crochet as I had taught myself a few years before from some old issues of 'Golden hands magazine' but I hadn't really gotten past making up test squares of the different stitch patterns. Then I saw the photos in this book of some stunning crochet lace pieces and I wanted to make it all. Sadly the Library wanted the book back and even though I tried a few bookshops no one could get hold of this title any more (even though at that time it had only been published two years before) and that was the last I saw of it.

That is until I recently found an entry for it on Amazon, without a cover image and available only through marketplace sellers. So I ordered myself a copy in 'good condition' and I'm delighted with how good the condition is. The book is as beautifully presented as I remember it to be, in fact with all the different crochet books I've read through since I can now see just how good a book it is. The photography is beautiful, there are some very lovely photos throughout the introduction of a number of the projects featured next to some other old and new pieces of lace that the author has inherited from her own grandmother.

This book is really two separate titles in one (see the bottom of this review for links to the original two books) - as I don't really do much knitting I'll just be focusing on reviewing the first half of the book which is all about crochet lace. 

The introduction is lovely and includes a detailed section about the history of crochet especially focusing on how crochet has been used to imitate a number of different lace making techniques. There is a good section on selecting the right materials and hooks for your project (with some handy conversion charts for UK/US hook sizes, yarn types and stitch terms) as well as a short but nicely illustrated section for how to work the various stitches. Then the book goes into detailed instructions on a number of crochet techniques from how to do filet crochet to following a written and a charted pattern. There is also an illustrated finishing techniques section that is very useful and some detail on how to care for your finished crochet project.

The projects are almost all worked using crochet thread of varying thicknesses so none of them are what I would term 'beginner' projects as I find working with thread to be very tricky and not very forgiving of mistakes. That said the projects have all been given a difficulty rating by using a cute ball of wool with crochet hooks stuck through it to show how much work each would take, 1 hook = quick to 4 hooks =  a very, very long time indeed. The larger 4 hook projects are both for table cloths one a beautiful looking butterfly edged table cloth and two a very large and wide edging for a 'crystal and silver' table cloth. Both of these would take me about 3 years to finish so I thought it better that I focus on the 1 hook projects.
Some of you may remember the Christmas tree stars I made for friends and family last year - well these stars are one of the first things that I started making and the pattern for them came from this book. These stars are very simple to make up - if you can do a granny square then you can make these. After working the central granny hexagon you then work each of the triangular points directly on to the sides, you then sew in a good number of loose ends and starch the finished star to make it stiff for hanging.

These stars went down a treat last Christmas (though I did at the time promise never to crochet with thread again after getting blisters on my fingers trying to sew in all the loose ends on these) as I hope will the next project that I have to show - little lavender bags.

These lavender bags are made using a filet crochet motif worked in thread which is then backed with some felt and made into a little lavender bag. They are simple and very effective, especially if you use a dark coloured felt to highlight the detail in the pattern. Though I had some trouble working the hexagon windmill design it turned out that the pattern was fine, it was me that was reading it wrong.

So after over a decade since last seeing this book my enthusiasm for it hasn't declined, in fact in some ways I appreciate it more as I've read through a lot of crochet books over the years and know how rare it is to come across a book as well written as this one. I love all the patterns, though I may never have the time to make most of them, and the detailed introduction as well as the pattern library that you find at the back make it worth having for just those alone.

After a bit of digging I've discovered that this book is in fact a combination of two earlier titles published by New Holland Publishers Ltd. You may have more success in getting hold of these as separate titles "A creative guide to knitted lace" & "A creative guide to crochet".

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Beautiful banner

I have been one very lucky girl this year, not only did I receive all that fabric goodness from the Sew Hip competition recently I've also just had this beautiful banner arrive in the post.

Wendy from the corvidarium was giving away one of her banners on her blog a couple of weeks ago and I was lucky enough to win. It looks so lovely hanging above my mantel piece - almost as if it was made to go there... Thank you so much Wendy from all of us at Tea Towers, we will treasure it!