Thursday, 28 November 2013

Crochet-A-Long: A Little Christmas Tree Pattern

Happy Thanksgiving and welcome to this week’s CAL post! I am so thankful for the blogger community, always so inspirational and supportive...and this week I’ve created a little Christmas tree pattern to share with you:

This year I’m attaching crocheted ornaments to my Christmas gifts. I have yarn for snowflakes, holly leaves, mistletoe...but I couldn’t find a small tree pattern that I liked. So I came up with this very quick, and very easy, pattern.

The tree on the right was my first attempt, but it is a bit too teeny...
I love the simplicity of adorning the trees with just one tiny jingle bell or a few snowflake buttons, but they could be decorated in so many ways...why don’t you make one and share your ideas?

I used scraps of DK yarn and a 3.75mm hook for a close weave, but vary this with what you have in your stash. The triangle is a simple “double crochet two together” at the start of each row. It whips up in minutes!

With the green yarn (or use white, red, any colour, really):

Ch 16
Dc in second chain from hook, 1 dc in each st across (15 sts)
Ch 1, turn, dc2tog, 1 dc in each st across (14 sts)
Ch 1, turn, dc2tog, 1 dc in each st across (13 sts)

Continue in this way until you have only two stitches left, dc2tog, fasten off.

You now will have a sweet little triangle. 

This one was made with scraps of cotton washcloth yarn
For the trunk, with the brown yarn:

Ch 9
Dc in second chain from hook, 1 dc in each st across (8 sts)
Ch 1, turn, dc in each st across (8 sts)

Continue for three or four rows, until the trunk is the size you like. Fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing.

Now simply centre the trunk with the triangle base, and using the long tail of brown yarn, sew the trunk to the back of the first dc row of the triangle, making sure the yarn doesn’t show through at the front. Weave in all the ends when finished.

And that is it! I envisage a garland of trees, trees fastened onto teachers’ gifts, napkin rings, personalized by children...

What’s on your hook this week? Please link up below!
Chrissie x

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in America, a day devoted to gratitude. A most wonderful holiday, Thanksgiving – no matter your ethnic origin, your religious beliefs, your marital status, your education – you can celebrate Thanksgiving.

Everyone, everywhere, is thankful for something. From the breath of life itself to material things and everything in between, Thanksgiving is a day of acknowledgment and appreciation.

Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg...the scent of home and happy memories!

Tomorrow ask someone what they are thankful for. I asked Little Flower today, and she said she was thankful for the pavement we were walking on...then she proceeded to turn around and walk backwards.

“Walk backwards with me, mama,” she said. So I did. Two crazy gals strolling backwards down the road, all the way home. Lots of giggles.

I am very, very thankful for that moment.

What are you thankful for?

Pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese frosting, recipe from here

Happy Thanksgiving!

Chrissie x

Monday, 25 November 2013

Dried hydrangeas...

The hydrangeas mentioned in my last post were tied with string and hung upside down in my utility room.

How did they turn out? Well, here is the entry hall mirror before, notice the old hydrangeas on the little shelf...

It's an old pub mirror I found in my travels, btw...
...and here are the newly dried hydrangeas:

I also had some old hydrangeas in a jug on the kitchen corner shelf...

...which have been replaced:

But wait, what’s that wee bit of colour in the corner? They’re the Rainbow Party pom poms, of course!

Would you take them down? No, me neither. At least not til Christmas!

Thank you all for your comments and tips on my last post, I am very grateful indeed!

Chrissie x

Saturday, 23 November 2013

A peek at my heart...

Just a quick look at the negative space project I’ve been working on... can find out more at the &Stitches site, where I am a new contributor! Please pop by and let me know what you think of the result of this embroidery experiment...

In other news, I have clipped these beauties from my garden

I find hydrangea colours absolutely enchanting, from the acid greens of early summer blossom, to the entire range of pinks, blues and purples of the full blooms, and now the dusky roses and soft greens of autumn. So magical.

Any tips for drying these? I have had mixed luck in the past – I’ve hung them upside down, I’ve left them standing in a half-centimetre of water in a vase, I’ve laid them gently on their sides...all with varying results. Sometimes I have perfectly preserved flowers, other times they just shrivel and fall to pieces. There seems to be no rhyme or reason...

The sun is shining on this crisp Saturday morning, I wish you all a lovely weekend!

Chrissie x

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Blooming flowers, blooming ideas

Greetings to you all and a happy welcome to my newest followers. We are well into the Bloomin’ CAL with Ladybird Diaries, and I think for most of us the attention has shifted from hexies and blankets to Christmas projects...

I managed a few more rows of this oh-so-manly scarf from the latest issue of Simply Crochet. The yarn is King Cole Riot Chunky, and my dears, is it lovely! Soft, silky, and very warm, it is sure to keep Darling Husband toasty during the coldest of workday commutes.

It is worked in a granite stitch, which I’d never done before but it does sound macho, doesn’t it? I typically don’t crochet for men because, well, crochet usually just works up more lacy and delicate than knitting, but I spotted this and just had to make it. I like the yarn and stitch so much, though, that I am snooping around the other variegated shades of Riot Chunky for some more feminine shades...

Off the hook this week is a sweet collar for Little Flower:

This tiny pattern (and I mean tiny – the flowers are worked in embroidery floss and a size 2.5 mm hook!) is also from Simply Crochet, it’s a great issue this month, chock full of little gifts and lovely projects!

As I was making this collar, Little Flower helped choose the colours for the flowers, she happily stood while I measured the size to of course now she refuses to put it on, not even for a quick photo. Hmph.

Now, I’m not one to start thinking about Christmas until my birthday has passed on 1 December. My presents and my cake come before the advent calendar! But then we go mad and decorate and create and bake like we were proper Santa’s elves. So although I am not decorating, I’m starting to sort out the gifts, and that means thinking about how to wrap and present them...

And I have a few yarny ideas I’m going to test during the next few days. More to come in next week’s CAL update!

What’s on your hook this week? Please link up below!

Chrissie x

P.S. Thank you all for your well wishes for Little Flower’s recovery, she’s almost back to full health, a few more days of snuggling and back to pre-school next week!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

WIPs for every occasion...

...even if that occasion is coping with a poorly four-year-old home from pre-school!

I forgot how often young children come down with little viruses – Bunny is 10 and rarely home from school. She built up her immune system during her time at pre-school and early years of primary school.

But Little Flower, ah, she has a fresh, new immune system that isn’t as prepared for battle yet. So when a virus floats around the village, she’s bound to catch it, in varying degrees. Last night she succumbed to the croupy cough making the rounds, and we were both up most of the night. She’s fine in every other way, just can’t stop coughing, and we’re both exhausted now.

So it’s an imposed Nothing Day. No housework, no errands...I’ve requested a takeaway or ready meal for Darling Husband and me tonight, I know by 6 p.m. I’ll be a zombie! (Thank goodness for batch-cooked, veggie-loaded tomato sauce in the freezer, I can manage boiling pasta for the kids...)

However, I can only take so much Peppa Pig or Disney Channel as we snuggle on the sofa. My choices are limited to “easy” and “exceptionally mindless” WIPs and activities.

The brain cannot handle this today

It can handle this

I can’t face colour changes and fiddly rounds of this

But I can do a repetitive back and forth hooking of this

A crochet item for a man that I actually like! From the latest issue of Simply Crochet...

Fingers cannot stitch this today

You didn't think I'd just cross stitch another flower, did you? Just look at those golds and peacock shades!

But the repetitive stab stitch of this negative space project, yes

(There’s more news about that red heart, coming very, very soon...)

And, of course, lots and lots and lots of cuddles!

Do you have WIPs for every occasion? Tell me more...

Happy crafting!
Chrissie x

Saturday, 16 November 2013

I get by with a little help...

Where would we be without friends?

Without a friend, I wouldn’t have made these placemats. I thought these were so cute, and I wanted to make them for my family as one of my very first sewing projects.

But can you spot the difference between the photo and my mats?

My centre panel of linen didn’t match the photo, and my mat fronts weren’t the same size as the backs. I followed the instructions so carefully, I measured, measured again, cut, sewed, measured again...then I rang my sewing guru Jooles in a panic, about to throw out the lot and call it quits.

Well, my friend came to my rescue and helped me realize that the pattern was to blame, not my new sewing skills. There was an error in the measurements of the centre panel (it’s supposed to be 12-½” square, not a 12-½” x 10” rectangle, for any of you with this book!), and she encouraged me to find a solution to this problem, rather than giving up! So we played with fabric scraps, and I decided a side panel would do nicely, picking up a featured fabric in the patches.

(I actually like mine better...!)

Without a friend, I wouldn’t have tried my hand at quince jelly this year.

She kindly handed over another batch of the beautifully floral-scented little fruits last week...

So now I have more delectable jelly to give away as Christmas gifts. About a year ago this friend also gifted me a pretty pink orchid, for helping out during a hectic week. It has since flowered twice more, with greater numbers of blossom each time.

I just had to share this beauty with you – I’ve lost count with the blossoms, both sides of the stem are laden with incredible orchid flowers! A true gift that keeps on giving...

Without a friend, I wouldn’t have finished this pretty cross-stitch posy:

And thus a new craft interest is born! This cherished friend also has taught me to knit (and promises to re-teach me once Little Flower is at primary school!).

Without a friend, I wouldn’t have ever contemplated making a quilt.

But you all know how that one turned out!

And without my blog friends, I wouldn’t be anywhere near as creative, inspired or productive as I am today! Your comments, emails and your own blog posts have offered me such pleasure and have enriched my life – even if it’s simply sharing our craft ideas for making a house a home. These little things have big meaning, offering a constant source of comfort and symbols of love for our families.

This week I passed the 100 posts mark, since starting in April this year. I wanted to share my appreciation for my friends, with my friends. You all know who you are, the ones in my daily life and the ones in my “blog life”. I appreciate you very, very much!

 Chrissie x

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Bloomin’ CAL: The Hexie Factory

Following on the heels of my statement that I prefer to crochet one hexagon at a time, giving me the satisfaction of a pretty little blossom hexie each time I pick up the hook, I am retracting that proclamation. I figured this would happen; the honeymoon period with my Hexagon Throw is starting to wear off. Oh dear!

It’s not that I don’t love this blanket. I am besotted by the gentle pastel colours, the curving petals of each hexie, the tiny thrill every time I finish another flower and place it next to the group.

But like so many other aspects of life, more urgent matters have distracted me to the point that I am seriously neglecting my blanket. And I am ABSOLUTELY DETERMINED NOT TO LET THIS ONE SLIP TO THE BLACK HOLE THAT IS THE BACK OF MY CRAFT CUPBOARD FOR ALL ETERNITY!

So, based on the comments and advice from my “How do you hook?” post a few weeks back, I have started a Hexie Factory, where I will run an assembly line to boost my progress on this throw...

Already I have about 20 centers completed, and I haven’t even worked on them a complete hour! A few minutes here and there and I have a nice handful of hexie middles.

I know the next level will take longer, but I like trying out this method. It is providing some instant satisfaction so I don’t feel so overwhelmed by the scope of this project.

Yesterday afternoon I took along my crochet bag to Bunny’s harp lesson, and I whipped up at least 10 little centres while I sat outside the music room, listening to her play.

Now that was one lovely crochet session!

A few months ago, Bunny asked – completely out of the blue – if she could take harp lessons. “Yes, dear,” I replied, like most would, assuming this was a fleeting thought in her head. Then during the summer holidays she asked again, and then again, and I realized that she really was interested.

Because we’re a musical family, I vowed to myself that if my children wanted to try out an instrument I would do my best to make it happen. I know it’s not always practical or feasible, but I would try.

And indeed this was one of those moments of great serendipity, because the music school where I have studied singing on and off for 10 years just so happens to be run by a professional harpist. A harpist! So I rang her up and arranged a little trial lesson to see if Bunny would enjoy the harp.

She came out of the lesson grinning like it was Christmas morning. Yes indeed, I’ll make this work, whatever it takes!

So now there is a beautiful child’s harp, rented from the school, sitting pride of place in her bedroom. She practices while I’m making dinner, and it sounds like fairies are visiting our house. It is a beautiful sound, even if she’s just plucking various strings learning techniques. (And I know we are *very* lucky in that respect, not many instruments sound like fairy music when children are learning!)

And it does make quite a dreamy accompaniment to crochet...

What’s on your hook this week? Link up below!

Chrissie x
PS I was overwhelmed by the lovely comments about my first quilt, thank you all so much, it really boosts me to get this next one going! 

Monday, 11 November 2013

A Big Ta-Dah!

I have finally, FINALLY done it! My very first quilt is finished!


My Happy Spring Quilt, with a disappearing nine-patch design and diagonal quilting through the center of each square.

It’s only taken about 16 months from when I first bought the Moda Dogwood Trail Charm Pack...sheesh!

Truth be told, I could probably have completed this in a few weekends. But I was extra cautious with my first project; I would work on it only when I had a chunk of time to myself when I could spread out the project, measure carefully, gather the courage to rotary cut the fabrics, learn new techniques...and I can count on one hand the number of occasions when I actually have those few spare hours for sewing!

You know how it is, in the evenings sometimes it’s just nice to pick up a familiar hobby, something that doesn’t require intense concentration, that is more meditative at the end of a long day. Crochet and embroidery offer those relaxing elements for me. Sewing is still too new. But I really, really enjoyed making this quilt! Here’s the back:

It is by no means perfect, but the kiddies and even Darling Husband have been snuggling under it since I finished it! I have learned a lot from this project – mainly just to chill out a bit, it’s only fabric and thread! I had some wonderful guidance along the way from quilting friends, even if they were just patting my shoulder and telling me to get on with it already...

To those of you who are accomplished quilters, did you feel this way in the beginning? I know my confidence will grow as I do more, and believe me, I want to do more...

As soon as I finished the final stitch of my first quilt, I dug out the panda fabric I used for Bunny’s lampshade, and I bought a few coordinating fabrics. A simple patchwork quilt, with big squares and stitch-in-the-ditch, is what she wants.

And I’m making a bold statement here and now: This will NOT take me nearly a year-and-a-half to complete! I am experienced quilter now...

Chrissie x

Saturday, 9 November 2013

The Rainbow Party...

Many thanks to all of your well wishes for Little Flower as she turned 4! Her birthday weekend was full of fun, and thankfully, everything went smoothly and she is happy as can be.

The festivities began on Thursday, her actual birthday, when we brought rainbow cookies to pre-school.

These were very well received and not terribly fussy, if you enjoy baking.

Sugar cookie dough, divided equally into six parts, dyed with gel food colouring, rolled out into rectangles, stacked, cut, baked, eaten! 

I made a few big rainbow arcs for her birthday cupcakes, which the four of us enjoyed that evening.

You'll remember these from my last post, but I wanted to show a closer image from above - I piped on the buttercream frosting in big cloud-like dollops, then dusted them with icing sugar for an even cloudier, powdery effect.

And the hidden secret was coloured sprinkles in the batter, for more rainbows inside!

On Friday I started to prep for Saturday's birthday party. Let me tell you, this was definitely one of funnest parties we've ever had. Nothing is cheerier than rainbows! The weather was miserable and grey, but I was pottering away inside with the brightest, sunniest decorations and baking ever! 

The rainbow theme is so versatile, it can suit any age, many occasions, and the sky is the limit with the creative elements...

We had a total of five party goers, including the birthday girl. I find a bunch of helium balloons has such a big impact on a room, the atmosphere is suddenly more festive, even if there aren't many more decorations. And each child can take one home at the end of the party. The console table behind the sofa was turned into a snack buffet, with swathes of rainbow organza fastened on and covered with a rainbow feather boa (which now resides in the dressing-up box, though I am so tempted to wear it on the school run...). 

The snack buffet included the rainbow cookies, some rainbow-coloured cracker snacks, and a rainbow fruit platter.

Loads of colourful fruits, and marshmallow clouds!

I bought the rainbow decoration and made a "Pin the Cloud on the Rainbow" game (I'm stitching something to fill that gap on the wall, btw...).

They had a mini-disco in the sitting room, then it was time for lunch.

This is the kitchen table before it was laden with lunch, juice and children! I had 10 pom poms total, the other four were hung in the sitting room windows (and one went home with each child). I am really, really reluctant to take these down! 

I'm sure you saw this coming...rainbow vegetable platter, complete with purple-sprouting broccoli and mozzarella-ball clouds!

Then it was time for cake...

Thank you for the personalized cake bunting, Jooles! 

I am rubbish at slicing cake, but you get the idea...

We ended with a treasure hunt around the house, with cloud clues eventually leading the little ones to the girls' bathroom: 

Bunny listened to the clue from upstairs and turned on the shower on cue to make the "rain".

And at the end of the rainbow:

A pot of gold! (Well, gold chocolate coins, rainbow chocolate coins, goodie bags full of rainbow-themed sweets and treats, all nestled on "cloud" toy stuffing!)

I had as much fun at this party as the kids! If you've made it this far, thank you for reading, and I hope this brightened some of the grey skies around the UK this weekend!

Chrissie x

PS Please feel free to link up your Stitching Sundays projects - I'll be posting about mine after I clear up all this party stuff...