Wow, it’s been a long time since I last blogged! Have you all had a good Summer? Here it feels like the summer has gone on forever. The weather has been amazing and is in fact still amazing (25oC in the middle of September?!). The Summer Holidays have been going on for 8 weeks (Little man is going into reception and they do a staggered start) and I’d love to say that they have been filled with long lazy days, but I’m not sure that’s possible with two little people! We have had fun though and the weather has definitely helped by providing lots of opportunities for out door activities. I won’t bore you with everything we’ve done, as I’m sure you don’t really want to know; but I will share with you my new hobby.
Isn’t she beautiful? Hubby very kindly gave her to me as I’ve been spinning on a drop spindle for a while now, which is great but takes a long time. He is of course the best husband ever (he even has an official badge). If you’re interested, I bought it from here. It’s so clever, it folds away (perfect for keeping it safe of little people). I am totally addicted. If you haven’t tried spinning but love crochet or knitting, I’d recommend it. It’s very cheap to start (you can get drop spindles from as little as £6) and there is something very relaxing and satisfying about making your own yarn. I found it really helpful starting on a drop spindle as you get a good feel for the wool; how it moves together and, as it’s slower, it’s a lot easier to correct mistakes.
Here’s some fleece ready to spin. Isn’t it lovely? It came from here. Doesn’t it look like a big ball of candy floss? It’s so soft!
I would have taken pictures of me spinning it but spinning selfies don’t really work ;) Here is the wool you’ve just seen spun onto two bobbins, ready to ply it together and make the final skein of wool. And what am I going to make with this lovely piece of handspun yarn? Well I’m glad you asked:
Toft’s Alpaca has just released a book of all their lovely crochet softies and ‘Bunny Hop’ needs at least one new friend (probably the elephant, but I also really want to make at least one sheep and a monkey). ps. the cushions in the background are the first things I spun….I made little man and little miss floor cushions and I couldn’t help sneaking them in!
If you want to see more spinning loveliness, I have been happily pinning (told you I was addicted!)
Summer is well and truly here in the UK. Wimbledon is entering the second week; the world cup has entered the final stages and it’s almost time for the British Grand Prix. We had our school Fête this weekend and although it rained pretty much the whole time, there was something rather wonderful, watching people walking round under their umbrella’s, sipping a glass of Pimm’s and eating a punnet of strawberries and cream while their kids ran around having fun (you don’t get more ‘English’ than that!).
For me Summer doesn’t just mean the chance of long lazy days, sitting on a picnic blanket, soaking up the glorious weather (or just as likely, huddled under an umbrella waiting for the rain ‘to pass’); it means more sewing. I guess as someone who does a number of different crafts, it only makes sense that when the weather gets warmer I put down my hook and knitting needles and dust off my sewing machine. When it’s really hot the last thing I feel like, is being surrounded by balls of wool! This summer I’ve set myself the challenge of making some clothes. I haven’t made that many before as, to be honest, they scare me! I’ve plucked up the courage however and started with a few dresses for little miss.
I found this pattern (it’s super easy if you fancy trying it….hence why I chose it). As you can see, I decided to start with a couple of little dresses for little miss (mostly because they need very little alteration and tailoring, unlike clothes for me!).
Here’s the final dress. All I did was cut two dresses, one out of the main fabric, one out of the lining, then I sewed them together and added the finishing touches. It was really simple and actually quite fun, so I made a couple of more.
If you fancy having a go, I’d recommend a bold print like the butterflies or the strawberries as they look great on.
So, when my friend told me that she was thinking of running a ‘learn to felt’ workshop, I was very excited. I’ve always loved and admired the things that she makes and having the chance to learn a new craft was very tempting (you know how I love all things woolly). I signed up and a couple of weeks ago, spent a very nice Saturday afternoon, relaxing and learning how to create felt pictures.
These are some of the things Pippa makes…..aren’t they beautiful? You can see why I was so keen to learn!
When we walked into the room there was a large table full of the things she’d made as well as magazines and books full of things to inspire us. I love the person in the boat. As someone completely new to felting, the way the waves were created was fascinating. If you want to check out more of her lovely creations, pop over to her facebook page.
There were also two large tables in the room for us to sit at. We were each given a foam pad, a felting needle and were then told to choose some wool to felt (I mean, how on earth can you choose just one colour from a basket full that looks so beautiful?!). You’ll be proud of me, I did choose just one colour.
Pippa then explained all about the wool fibre and how we needed to start to create a felt base for our picture (we were going to create flower pictures). I have to admit, I was torn between wanting to felt the wool and wanting to spin it (It was so soft, and look it’s calling out to be spun!) however I persevered and did as I was instructed.
Pippa then showed us how to stab the wool correctly. Now if you haven’t tried felting like this, I highly recommend it. It’s amazingly therapeutic! The idea is that you stab through all the layers of wool to bind them together. Basically you are allowed (and encouraged) to stab it….a lot.
Then onto making our flower shape. Now I’d like to stop here and say that I was impressed how good the results were. I honestly haven’t tried anything like this before, yet my flower looks like a flower and my straight line is straighter than I can draw one! That is mostly down to how clear and easy to understand Pippa made it. I know she’s my friend but I believe that part of being a friend is offering honest feedback and I was trying to stay objective. So I can honestly say I was impressed with how professional she was and how easy she made it. I really felt like I was sitting relaxing and was completely unaware of learning, yet came away remembering everything and being able to make my own things at home afterwards, which is a real achievement (how many times have we been to workshops where you get home, try to make something else and realise that you have no idea what to do or where to start….or is that just me?).
You’d think by now that it would be time to go home as the workshop was only 2 1/2 hours however it wasn’t. It was time for a cup of tea and slice of very yummy chocolate cake in Karen’s Kitchen.
When we came back Pippa said we could ‘go crazy’ and make a picture of whatever we liked. We were given free range of all her books and magazines to get inspiration and paper and pens in case we wanted to sketch our designs. There is a reason I prefer making things with my hands…..this was my ‘sketch':
Anyway this is what I ended up with and was actually very close to the picture I had in my head.
I decided to make a woolly sheep as I felt it was fitting. You can’t see it here as my phone camera isn’t great but I managed to use different colours of green to create a textured grassy background. Pippa is running another workshop next week on learning the basics of 3D needle felting. I’ve already signed up and really looking forward to it! If you want more information about her courses, click here :)
I have decided to help a little with The Craft Clubs yarn bombing attempt. Do pop over and have a look. I can’t wait to see what they end up with.
Anyway, I decided that I wanted to make something a part from flowers and butterflies (if you want my daisy pattern its here), so I came up with this simple bird pattern.
I used a 3.5mm hook and DK yarn. You will also need a wool needle to sew the eye at the end.
The pattern is written using UK terminology
ss- slip stitch
Tr – Treble
ch - chain
st – stitch/stitches
Fancy giving them a go?
Round 3: chain 3 (counts as 1 tr). Work 1 tr into same space then 1tr into next st *2tr into next st, 1 tr into next st*. Repeat from *to* until the end. Join with ss to 3rd ch from the beginning of the round.
‘Round’ 5: ch 3 (counts as 1tr). Work 1tr into same st. *1 tr in next 3 st, 2tr in next st* repeat *to* 1 more time. 1tr into next 3 st Turn.
‘Round’ 6: ch 4 *miss one st, tr into next st, tr back into the st you’ve just missed, ch 1* repeat from *to* until last 2 st from round 5. Miss one st, tr into last stitch then tr into missed st. Fasten off.
In contrasting colour work first two rounds.
Fold bird in half, sew the contrasting colour circle on then sew up bird from the bottom of the tail to the beak end (leaving the top of the tail to the bottom of the tail open).
We recently celebrated Little Miss’ first birthday. It was a lovely time even though she was too little to remember it. Still, I wanted to mark the occasion so I made her this birthday cake. I first saw it on one of these ‘awesome cakes I want to make’ type facebook links and I loved it. However when I came to make this, the link no longer worked so I can’t direct you to the original post. I know that the original post was just a picture not a walk through, so I already knew I had to make it up as I went along (It’s worth noting here that there are probably much better ways of doing this as I actually made it up as I went along, I have never ‘learnt’ how to make or decorate cakes). Would you like to see how I did it?
In two of the halves, cut a rough oval shape. Make sure you have cake around the sides so that the cake remains stable once finished. These will be the middle layers of the cake. We’ll fill this hole later with M&Ms :)
Now roll out your blue icing. I didn’t buy blue icing (although I know you can get it). I bought some white icing from tesco and some blue food colouring and worked it in until I got the shade I wanted. If you want to do it like this, my top tip is to use a cocktail stick to apply the food colouring as you don’t need very much of it.
Smooth down with a cake smoother (it’s worth getting one of these if you want to get a smooth finish). Cut off the excess carefully. It doesn’t matter if the corners at the front are a bit messy as these will be covered up with small marshmallows later.
Now to make you rainbow. Choose the colours you want and mix them if necessary. Then roll out a sausage in each colour, starting with the top colour (in my case, the red). You can see that close up, it isn’t that neat. Next time, I’ll work on getting it neater but by this stage I was starting to run out of time!
Finally, using a little butter icing to start, pile up white mini marshmallows and add candle and edible glitter if desired. When you eventually cut into the cake, make sure you cut a big slice to get the full effect of the hidden M&M’s!
I’ve heard this called ‘Banana Loaf’, ‘Banana Bread’ and ‘Banana Cake’. Whatever you call it, there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s very yummy. It’s very easy to make which makes it perfect for doing with children and freezes well, meaning you can make it well in advance.
6oz Sugar (can be any kind. I use the Demerara sugar as I like the flavour)
8oz Self Raising Flour
2 large or 3 medium Banana’s (it’s best to use very ripe, almost brown banana’s)
Pre-heat your oven to 180oC
Mash the banana’s in a bowl with a sturdy fork and then put to one side.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar.
Put it in a loaf tin. If you aren’t using a silicone loaf tin like I am here, you will need to line your tin. I like my silicone tin as, as long as you are careful, you can ease it out without needing to line it. It’s worth noting that my tin won’t give you the perfect loaf shape as the sides move slightly.
For Christmas, I was given this lovely little recipe tin:
It was such a thoughtful present as I’d run out of room in my last recipe book and spilled over into another. Now I can keep everything together in one place. There was only one problem with this tin:
These were the inserts. Now they aren’t that bad but all the titles, apart from this one, were not the kind of thing I wanted. They had things like ‘soups’ and ‘starters’ which is fine but I don’t organise my recipes like that. Basically it was the perfect excuse to revamp them and label them how I wanted to label them.
Here’s a close up
She had a lovely day. While she was asleep I blew up some balloons so that when we came down in the morning she could play with them before little man came down and took them away (he doesn’t like the idea that they could burst).
I’m a little late with the latest Granny Square so here it is. It wasn’t until I finished it that I realised I had already made this square but I liked it so I’m glad I worked it again .
Here are the squares I’ve been making over the last 3 weeks:
Week 8: When I was looking at my blanket, I realised that I needed a few more ‘solid’ looking squares so here’s one in blue to celebrate the beautiful spring sky that can be seen now the rain has mostly stopped.
And on that note, this is what I’ve been working on over the last few days: