Probably the last of the Christmas presents

I meant to post all of these posts at the beginning of the month, but I got carried away with writing about other things, so here we are, a day away from February and I’m still writing about Christmas! I’ll probably just about finish telling you about last Christmas before I start writing about the next one!

Anyway, today I want to show you some of the presents I made for my friend Maria’s family.

First up, I made her mum this apron and oven glove set;

After Maria made dinner wearing her little dress and high heels, not getting a mark on her, I thought that an apron would make a good present for her mum. We agreed at the time that either of us would have ended up covered in flour and gravy had we attempted cooking in such an outfit! She seemed to like her set anyway, putting it on straight away and wearing it for the evening! And I loved her Christmas crown!

Also, Maria’s mum loves her Nintendo DS, apparently spending time on it on most days before she goes to bed. So when I saw this pattern in one of my magazines I thought it would be perfect for her.

I thought this little Shaun the Sheep pattern was really cute! I lined the case with felt, and you can’t see here but it buttons up at the top to keep the DS from sliding out.

Maria’s sister has her birthday just after new year, so I had to think of Christmas and birthday presents at the same time. For her Christmas present I made her a pair of fingerless gloves of my own designing. I’m annoyed with myself for not having taken a picture, but I’m planning on making some more soon anyway so I’ll photograph them instead. I also made her a hat.

This pattern, from Ravelry, is based on the hat that ‘Hermione’ wore in ‘Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince’. I designed the gloves to have matching cables, and they were obviously made in the same wool, Sirdar Click DK which is a wool and acrylic blend. Hopefully enough wool to make them warm, but enough acrylic to make them easy to care for!

Finally, for Maria’s sister’s birthday I made her some jewelry. I’d not really done very much with beading and jewelry making before, but I was quite pleased with the outcome.

Just a simple bracelet and earrings set. Not the best picture as I suddenly realised as I was packaging it up that I’d not taken a photo, but you get the idea! I also made a necklace and bracelet set for Maria, but I’ve yet to get a picture of that. She definitely liked them though, as I’ve seen her wearing them many times since Christmas. Nothing like a spot of appreciation to give you a warm glow inside!

Christmas presents

After making myself miserable earlier, thinking about my stupid hands, I’ve decided to cheer myself up by ignoring them and starting to tell you about some of the Christmas presents I made last year.

First up, I’ll show you the presents I made for my friends in my Stitch and Bitch group;

I had real trouble deciding what to make these people. After all, by the very nature of the thing they are very crafty and able people themselves, so I had to take some time to convince myself that it wouldn’t be insulting to them if I were to make their presents.

Anyway, eventually I got the idea for their Christmas presents when I was at the Ally Pally show in October. When I bought one of the skeins of yarn, the stallholder gave me a simple cloth bag to keep the project in while I knitted the yarn up. I liked that idea, as I’d been keeping my works in progress (WIPs) in plastic or paper bags. So I decided to try to make a slightly more luxurious version of the simple cotton bag I’d been given in London. Dad came with me to the material shop (as we’d been shopping for yarn to make Mum’s present on the same day) and helped to pick out these two different chinese silk brocades.

These three bags were made for my friends Heidi, Machelle and Ellie, as were the stitch markers below. The bags are lined with cream cotton, and I hope will make a nice home for a shawl or a pair of socks in progress! The bags are all a little bigger than A4 size, as far as I remember!

Ā  Ā 

The pretty rose stitch marker was one from Heidi’s set. The little green dogs reminded me a little bit of Buca, Machelle’s cute little dog (although he’s not green!!) and I thought that Ellie would appreciate the cute cute yellow ducklings! In order to get a better picture, I only photographed one from each set – I did give them more than one each! These were my first attempt at stitch markers, and I was reasonably happy with them, although the ones I received from Ellie were far more sophisticated and better made. I’ll try to photograph them at some point. I’ve already used them more than once!

This bag was made for Jaxom. I thought that maybe the more masculine colours would suit him better, although I spoilt it all by putting the little bow on the front inadvertently at the end! I forgot to photograph his stitch markers (I think they were little peppers) so you’ll have to imagine them for yourselves!

Completed projects, 2009

Taking a leaf out of Mandi‘s book from the beginning of 2009, I thought I’d like to share with you details of most of the projects I completed in 2009. I was busier than I thought I was!

Missing are a couple of presents waiting to be delivered to the recipients, and a couple of gifts which I forgot to photograph before wrapping – oops! I shall track down the people they now belong to and ask if I can photograph them. I find it makes a handy record for next Christmas, so I don’t double up on presents!

So here is my pictoral review of my crafting year;

brown and gold scarfCassia scarfshortbread roundsblanketpink hatCrochet squares 1Cheese sconesChocolate truffle cakeHeart sconespotholder heat paddishclothspotholdersChocolate truffle cake slice with raspberries

So, 42 (plus a few I’ve not posted pictures for yet -call it 50) projects completed in 2009. Can I beat this for 2010? There’s a challenge – an average of a project a week!

You will be hearing more about some of these projects through January as I do my run down of who had what for Christmas. I’ve missed being able to blog about what I’ve been up to, so you’ll be getting the brunt of the catch up next month, I’m afraid!

I’m sure I’ll say it tomorrow as well, but happy new year to all my readers, and may 2010 be happy, healthy and a nice balance of peaceful and exciting for you all!

Sowing and sewing!

Bank holiday weekend turned out to be very relaxing and generally lovely. Yesterday I had a trip to Llantwit Major with my friend Maria to visitĀ her grandparents – too rainy for any photos, I’m afraid, but I’ll definitely take some to share next time I go.

Today was another lovely day. Dad took Mum and I to the supermarket to do our grocery shopping, as I’ve lent my car to a friend forĀ a few days. Then, he took me back to their house and fed me lunch. This left me with plenty of spare time, and so I took the opportunity to make a cover for a notebook I recently bought. Soon, I’ll be going on holiday for a week, and I always like to have a notebook with me, to keep journal entries, record where I’ve been and generally use it as a memory nudger forĀ when I get home! However, I thought that this year I’d quite like to take a pretty book, which would be especially for holidays. I also wanted one with incorporated a pen or pencil as I have a really bad habit of losing them with alarming regularity, but notebooks like this are both hard to find and then costly when you do find them. And then came the idea for a book cover.

I had a couple of fat quarters lolling around at home generally being less than useful, so I press-ganged them into this project. I bought a cheap hard backed notebook from Tesco, and a new pen (only a cheap one, but I intend for it to live with this book and never leave its side!), made a pattern, and produced this cover;

holiday journal

The photo’s not great, as I just took a picture of it on my lap, but you get the general gist of it. The green part on the spine is the pen holder, and you can just see the pen poking out of the top of it if you look closely. Inside the front cover, I’ve put a small pocket;

inside journal

I thought that this could be a good idea to keep tickets from day trips etc, ready to put in my memory box when I get home. Perhaps I’llĀ publish another hand-written post,Ā from this journal, after my holiday. The last one attracted a great deal of interest, at any rate.

Anyway, I digress. Apart from my book (which I’m very pleased with – all girly and holiday-ey!) I’ve made another three and a half jars of dandelion jam. I boiled it for a lot longer this time, and I think it has set better than last time. However, next time I make any I’m considering mixing it with apple in order to help with the setting – there’s obviously very little pectin in the dandelions (wouldn’t really expect much, if you think it through!) and so it can use all the help it can get! I do use specific jam sugar, but I really think that either added pectin or apples will be the way forward for my next batch.

Also, my first lot of seedlings is coming up well on my kitchen window.

sweetcorn seedlings

My cucumbers and leeks are looking good, and as you can see, the sweetcorn are thriving in their current position – long may it last! I’ve got tomato and pepper seeds germinating at the moment, although they were only planted a few days ago so I’ve got a wait before they’re anywhere near this big! I think I saw a pair of seed leaves poking out of one of my pepper pots this morning though, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there’ll be more to see tomorrow!

And so that, together with a Thai vegetable curry which I made for dinner this evening, has been my day. Busy, but in quite a nice, relaxing sort of a way!

Works in progress

I seem to have quite a few works in progress at the moment, and I’m dying to do about twenty other things as well (I’m a Gemini, and have the typical Gemini characteristics of flitting likeĀ a butterfly from one project to the other!). In an effort to try to check myself, I decided to share all of my current WIPs with you, as well as my target of finishing them all by the end of the month.

Patchwork squares for afghan

Well, all except this one! This is the current mound of squares that I have accrued towards my winter afghan project, and I’ve no intention of trying to finish it by the end of April, but it still counts as a WIP so it deserved a photo! I have a vision of myself piecing this all together when the evenings get chilly again in the autumn, so that the ever increasing blanket keeps my knees warm asĀ I work!

dishcloth for swap

This is a small project that I hope to finish this evening. I’m making a dishcloth (or maybe two – I’ll see how fast it comes together) to include with my Down–To–Earth swap parcel which is due to be posted before the end of the month. Along with the dishcloth, will be this;

kitchen towel

It’s not a great picture, but it’s a section of the kitchen towel which will be part of my swap. I’ve got to edge it with coloured cotton to finish it, so not too much work left, once I decide what stitch I want to use.

Wool for Owls

While it’s not quite a work in progress yet, not having been started, I have it in my head to start this over the Easter weekend, so it will definitely count by next week! I bought it on Ebay recently, and plan to use it to make an Owls sweater, as shown hereĀ (you need to scroll down the page to see the Owls design).

slipper socksNext, is this pair of slipper socks that I have been crocheting to be kept at my mother in law’s house. No-one wears shoes in her house, but her conservatory (where we spend a lot of time) has laminate floor so my feet are usually freezing cold. They’re nearly finished, apart from making the leg parts a little longer, but I’d like to embellish them a little.

bath mat in progress

Does anyone remember me asking you to guess the strange item in the picture a few weeks ago? Well, this was what it was leading to. It was a ball of recycled yarn, made from cutting t-shirts into long strips. I was sorting through my t-shirts and discovered that I’ve got about eight charity t-shirts (mainly from the half-dozen ‘Races For Life’ that I’ve done), all of which were a little the worse for wear and taking up space in my drawers that could definitely be put to better use! So I decided to make myself a mat for my bathroom floor. I like to have a good solid chunky mat underfoot when I get out of the bath, and this will definitely suit! As far as I’ve gone so far took up two whole t-shirts, and I’ve got three more wanting a good home. I’m hoping that will be enough, otherwise I’m attacking GG’s drawers too!

Last but not least, is this;holiday bag in progress

It is the beginnings of a bag to take on holiday with me when we go abroad later in the year. The solid rectangle is the base (or nearly is the base – I need to enlarge it a little more), the pink ex-shirt will be the lining, and the granny squares are the start of the couple of dozen that I’ll need for the body of the bag. When I saw this yarn in my mother in law’s stash I loved it’s bright colours on sight and so when she passed her stash onto my mother, and my mother had no use for it, I had it! It’s really soft as well, so lovely to work with. I look forward to seeing what I manage to make from it!

So, that is it. My list of WIPs. All of which (plus two pot-holders for my swap) I want to have finished by the end of the month. I have confidence in me! I’ve got so much else that I want to do, I’m sure that if I concentrate on these I’ll have no problem finishing them. Expect many photos of completed articles in due course!

Fabric giveaway

If you are into your fabrics and crafting generally, have a look at Wondermommy’s blog where she’s doing a generous giveaway of a couple of yards of Anna Maria Horner’s Good Folks fabric. All you have to do to enter is to go and leave a comment, and for additional credit post on your blog, tweet or facebook about it (yes, there is an ulterior motive to this post!). I’d say good luck, but I want to win, so I won’t!

Completed project 8 – Plabric!

Plabric – my latest foray into the world of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’! As plarn is to yarn, so is plabric to fabric!

I saw a tutorial on youtube ages and ages ago about how to convert used plastic bags into a stronger material to be used to make other items. Recently, having been spending a fair bit of time with Jo and her muddy pigs in her muddy field, I decided that we have a strong need for a welly boot caddy to keep in the back of our caar. Our boot (or trunk, for my American friends!) is bearing a strong resemblance to a dustbin at the moment, with a motley collection of wellies, garden tools, muddy waterproofs and various other items (I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day, assessing the state of my brain from the state of my car, but that’s a whole other issue entirely). It is getting a bit beyond a joke when I can’t even fit in the empty shopping bags, let alone any which have actually got purchases in them. And I do long to be a tidy and organised person. I just don’t seem to be able to organise myself to get started on the organising!

Anyway, the whole car situation has been playing on my mind somewhat, aided by the fact that whenever I’ve been in the same building as GG recently, he keeps telling me that we have to empty the boot and find a new home for all the mud (really, I’m just saving topsoil to give back to Jo for her vegetable garden!). So, this morning I had my first free time with no interruptions for quite some time, and so I settled myself down in front of my sewing machine with my ready prepared plabric (or platerial? Can’t decide which I prefer) and ran up a quick welly bag.

Et voila!

plabric bag

Une sac pour les wellies apres une promenade dans un place avec beaucoup de mud!

I’m not really sure why I branched into Frenglish then; I apologise. I am obviously getting to know you too well. I do have a tendency to branch out linguistically into lyrical versions of all sorts of languages when I am with close friends, so it really shows how comfortable I have grown to be on my blog!

Anyway, back on topic. I would take a picture of the new bag ‘in situ’, so to speak, but in my (normal, I’m afraid) haste to finish the job in my own particular half *rsed way, I merely cleared a space in the boot of my car big enough to place my new bag and plop the wellies inside it. In my defence…no, there’s really no defence. OK, I promise to go outside with a big bin bag tomorrow, before I take my mother shopping, and clear out all of the obvious rubbish at least. And the garden tools. And maybe the jumper, three jackets and two towels (probably best you don’t ask). But the umbrella stays, as does the jigsaw puzzle and the empty water bottle. Never know when they might come in useful.

I’m tempted to take the bag into Sainsburys, explain that I am indeed reusing several of their bags for my latest invention, and ask for my nectar points as my reward. Do you think I’d be successful? Surely I’d get points at least for advertising?!

Is one crafty evening really too much to ask?

I have been looking forward to this evening all day, and not because GG has taken himself off to the cinema to see ‘Watchmen’! I had planned a good few hours with my new (old) (well, not really mine, actually!) sewing machine to do some patchwork for an appeal I saw a while back online. I’ve never done any patchwork before, so it took a little longer than I was expecting, especially cutting out the pieces. I’ve completed one square, and I’ve got three more not far off finished, but I am absolutely shattered and so I’ve stopped. My eyes are so tired they’re dry and hurting, so I figured it probably wasn’t the best idea to be using a sewing machine or an iron whilst I was in danger of imminently falling asleep at the ironing board!

I’m chuffing annoyed though, because I’d subconsciously set myself the target of finishing the four squares as well as preparing for my next project before I went to bed, and at ten o’clock I’m desperate to get to bed. And the reason is the onset of yet another cold. I’m really annoyed that I’m picking up everything that’s going round at the moment, and I’m looking forward to my next round of blood tests to try to find out why my immune system is refusing to play nicely.

However, in better news, GG and Handsome’s passports arrived today, which mean that we now all have valid passports and can all go on our holiday in the summer! I’m definitely holding on to the kids’ passports after they’ve expired though; the photos will be priceless when they’ve grown up and are at an age to be easily embarrassed by childhood snaps! The challenge with the photos was getting a seven year old and four year old to stay still, in exactly the right place for their heads to be in the right position for the passport office, with closed mouths and wide open eyes. Handsome leaned right forward and so looks like he has a freakishly large head for his age, while Cheeky, in his efforts to have his face arranged correctly, looks either terrified or as if he is putting on the most false, innocent expression that he can manage. I was so thankful that the photographs were acceptable and I didn’t have to go through the horror of the photobooth all overĀ again!

Also, I have today reached page 711 of ‘War and Peace’, putting me at 74% of my way through! Fabulous! That puts me well on target to finish it by the end of the month. At least I’ll be hitting one target this month!

Jenny (or should that be Jennie?) bag

I was visiting Wondermommy the other day when I saw this lovely bag that she has recently made – isn’t it gorgeous? I love it so much that I decided to make it, so followed the link to Lola’s blog and found the tutorial and the link to download the pattern. My only decision now is what material to use to make it!

Another reference by Wondermommy, and I found this Amy Schimler material, which I love in both the summer designs from her ‘On A Whim’ range. There are Ebay stockists of her fabrics in this country to save me trying to import some, but maybe I should be a bit more economical and head to Hobbycraft where they have a sale on fat quarters at the moment. I just wish that I had a use for a white duchesse satin bag, as I’ve still got material left from when my mother made my wedding dress (I must post a photo of that one day) as well as some of the embroidered muslin she used for the jacket. I think I also have some of the lilac brocade from Husband’s waistcoat, but probably not as much of that. Oh well, I’ll have a use for it one day! Maybe I’ll make one of those ‘heirloom’ quilts, using all sorts of materials which bring back memories for me.