Monday 30 September 2013

Bloomin’ Giveaway winner...and another consolation treat!

How exciting to see so many interested in the Bloomin’ Crochet-A-Long and giveaway! Thank you everyone for your comments, and a warm welcome to my newest followers!

I am happy to announce that the winner of Cute & Easy Crochet with Flowers is:

This book looks great, I imagine those jam lids would really jazz up some jam pots, and I am making a ton of Jam at the mo. Thank you. Xx

Congratulations! I’ll get your details straight away and you’ll be hooking up some blossoms for the CAL by the end of the week!

Last time I had a giveaway, I offered a consolation prize in the form of my autumn crumble recipe. Today I am sharing another recipe – am I starting a trend here? If you didn’t win the giveaway, rest assured you’ll have a tasty treat to soothe the soul? – this is for a delicious, shockingly easy homemade bread.

I happened upon this absolutely scrumptious loaf from Amjaylou’s blog, and she made it after seeing it here. This recipe sounds too good to be true – flour, salt, yeast and water, but no kneading! Saturday night the girlies measured the ingredients into the bowl, and we stirred it into a gloppy dough. Covered with cling film and left it overnight. The recipe recommends about 15 hours, and this is what we had Sunday morning

We plopped it onto the floured countertop, formed it into a bowl and let it set another half hour.

Then we popped it in a hot casserole dish, and about 45 minutes later we had this!

What would Paul Hollywood make of this?

I can’t believe how good this tasted for being so simple to make. A very chewy crust, soft centre that wasn’t doughy or underdone (“That’s a good bake,” I hear the Silverback saying...). There is half a slice left today, and it has my name on it.

Thank you all so much for your caring comments the past few days on our family colds...we’re still quite run down with this virus, but we’re at least happy in each other’s company, and Bunny is doing some stitching with me! More on that I need to get my Hexagon Throw started for the CAL. What will you be crocheting?
Chrissie x

Sunday 29 September 2013

Stitching Sunday: Finishing touches

I have so enjoyed Stitching Sundays, not only because they give me a special time to do my own embroidery, but also because I absolutely love reading about your projects as well. I have discovered some great gadgets and learned some helpful tips, and I hope you all have, too!

I have a big embroidery project in mind as soon as I’m finished with my smaller WIPs, so I don’t think I’ll be giving up Stitching Sundays anytime soon...

That being said, I know a number of you are nearing the end, or have already finished, some stitching projects, and I want to discuss finishing touches and different ways to display your work.

I’m still suffering from a nasty head cold, so I decided against any more work on Green Eggs and Ham this weekend. Today’s tip: Don’t work on any detailed embroidery if you’re not feeling well! I started to outline the red letters, but ugh, I just couldn’t get the stitches even, the thread was wonky, so I stopped. I’ll rip out that little bit and start again when I’m well.

However, nothing is wrong with a little fun doodle stitching! My ‘Hive Sweet Hive’ design is just fine to work on, because by nature it isn’t supposed to look too stylized.

I finished the words then added a few bees, teeny tiny ones, with one strand of charcoal floss, grouping three or four short straight stitches together horizontally, then using one strand of pale yellow to make two vertical stitches along the bodies. Grey floss for tiny lazy daisy stitched wings. See how tiny they are next to this pin!

I added some grass with long straight stitches, then put the work aside. Now I’m considering the finishing this enough? Do I want a few blossoms in there? Which ones and how large? Hmmm. I’ll go back to it later and see, I might like a daisy or two on the side, but I don’t want to go overboard. What do you think?

I have to start thinking about what to do with this little hive when it’s done. I’ve been reading about others considering what to do with their let’s bounce around some ideas! You’ve seen my heart key fobs and my patchwork cushion, both of which are pretty and easy ways to showcase embroidery. Here are two more:

This is a treasured sachet made by my friend Jooles. She explains how she cross stitches on fabrics on her blog, and framing the stitching with pretty fabric and filling it with lavender makes it a lovely gift. The velvet ribbon and the little initial tag are two touches that put Jooles in a different league...

And just look at this teeny embroidery hoop! I found this at Dandelyne on Etsy, and I’m mad for it! It comes as a little kit with instructions for inserting your own miniature embroidery in the hoop, then you can either string it onto a necklace or glue on the brooch attachment. I cannot wait to stitch a wee something for this! I have a feeling I’ll be ordering more – wouldn’t they make just the sweetest gifts for special friends? Monograms, ribbon embroidery...what is it about miniatures that is so enchanting?

Next week I’ll hopefully be well enough to show you how to frame your work in an embroidery hoop, which is very trendy at the moment. You’ve seen the ones I made for my girls, but you can also paint a hoop, wrap it with ribbon, have a hanging bow...makes a pretty addition to any wall.

What are you stitching today? Check out the links below!

Chrissie x

PS One final shout out about the Bloomin’ Crochet-A-Long Giveaway! Deadline is tomorrow, so click here to enter your comment for a chance to win!

Saturday 28 September 2013

Recipe for a Nothing Day

Take one family struck down with a virus...

Add a pot of homemade chicken soup simmering on the stove

The smell of chicken soup is most comforting...

Treats and tissues

The words "Krispy Kreme" and "share" have no business being on the same box...

Some light reading material

Vitamin-boosting fruits

Some more treats

It wasn't me!

A few library books

Pyjamas and pillows in lots of cuddly, fuzzy fabrics

Optional ingredients: DVDs, TV, games (electronic and board)

...and lots and lots of cuddles.

I have been hit by the first virus of the new school year (which probably explains why I was feeling so fragile earlier this week). Unfortunately for me, I seem to have it the worst in the family, and Darling Husband is out of town this weekend. Bunny came back from her awesome school trip sniffling as well, and Little Flower woke up at 5 a.m. with a stuffy nose and cough. A Nothing Day was ordered.

When I was growing up, we had Nothing Days after busy weeks, stressful times, when hit with colds, or just for nothing at all! The idea is total rest and relaxation, with no worries about accomplishing anything. Except personal restoration.

So we threw on some clothes (yoga outfit for me and leggings and tops for the girls – pretty much one small step up from pyjamas) and popped into town for the Nothing Day ingredients listed above. Less than an hour later, we came home and shut the door, with no intention of opening it again until Monday morning’s school run.

Remember the nest? Well, it’s being put to use big time this weekend, surrounded by all the ingredients for Nothing Day. Darling Husband is away, so he’s missing out on all the fun – yes, one can have fun even when poorly – of snuggling all weekend!

The nest in healthier, neater times

I wish you all a happy, healthy Saturday. I'll be doing a bit of stitching today for tomorrow's Stitching Sunday post. And I can’t wait to hear about Yarndale, all you lucky folk going there this weekend!

And have you entered my giveaway yet? Time’s a-ticking!
Chrissie x

Thursday 26 September 2013

It's a Bloomin' Giveaway and Crochet-A-Long!

What better way to settle down to the autumn season than with a new crochet project? Ladybird Diaries and I are joining up to host a blossom-themed crochet-a-long (CAL). Grab the button and join the fun!

We both are loving Nicki Trench’s new book, Cute & Easy Crochet with Flowers. The Hexagon Throw, in particular, is calling out to us, and we figured if we worked on it as a CAL, we’d be more likely to complete our blankets!

But this CAL is open to anyone wanting to crochet anything! If you have the book, choose a project from it and get hooking. If you don’t have the book but would like to try a simple, speedy, flowery make,’s a special treat for you!

We have been given permission by the publisher, Cico Books, to share this pattern with you for the CAL. If you have trouble reading this on your computer/iPad, please email me and I will send you a copy.

Reprinted courtesy of Cico Books and Nicki Trench - thank you so much!
The Jam Pot Covers should be a very popular CAL project – I’ve been drooling over all the blog posts about autumn preserving for a few weeks! Now you can top your homemade goodies with a pretty little crochet cover! (I have a feeling they would also make very sweet coasters...)

But it gets even better – Cico Books sent me a copy of Cute & Easy Crochet with Flowers to give away to one lucky reader! I reviewed the book here...

This could be yours...
To enter the giveaway:
It’s simple, just leave a comment on this post, making sure I have contact details for you (This is important! I’ll contact you for your postal address.).
The deadline for entry is 12 p.m. GMT (midday/noon in London) on Monday, 30 September 2013. The competition is now closed. I will choose the winner via a random number selector after midday. I will post the prize anywhere in the world!

Now go find a crochet project, grab the CAL button and let’s have some fun!

Happy crafting!

Chrissie x

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Spontaneous TLC

I’ve been feeling a bit delicate the past few days...perhaps it’s the Harvest Moon and the Autumn Equinox affecting me...perhaps it’s the fact that Bunny has gone on a school trip this morning until Friday (she is going to have a blast, but I miss her so much already!)...perhaps it’s Little Flower’s trials and tribulations being 3...and Darling Husband is away this weekend, too...

In any case, I’m a wee fragile at the moment, not sad or upset really, just full of emotions. So yesterday I found solace in some spontaneous TLC.

Thank you Sue for the link to the pattern!
I planned on doing a lot of errands and getting the house in order (Little Flower is in pre-school all day on a Tuesday), but instead I met a friend at our village community centre for an hour-and-a-half of crochet and chatter. A while back she had mentioned a village knitting group, so we met up to give it a go. We had some fun conversation and I met some lovely women who are all excellent knitters. They probably thought I was a bit of a folly, showing up with my crochet acorns! But hey, it made them smile, and I now have at least half a dozen knitting experts who will help me when I decide to take up the knitting needles again!

I returned home for a bite of lunch and some general chores, but soon I was stolen away once again by another friend who took me out for cake. I did have a library book to return, and I needed bread and milk, so we went into town with the intention of at least accomplishing a few things...but we thoroughly enjoyed some lovely cake first!

At this point I was feeling rather self-indulgent, taking all this time just for me. I set about making some sweet potato ginger soup and prepping some supper salad ingredients...but then Darling Husband rang to say he’d be home late.

I was about to put everything away until the next day, but then I wondered why? I was feeling much calmer after taking some time for myself – and I still managed to tick some items off my To-Do List – so instead of having some boring leftovers for dinner, I finished the soup and salad and sat down to this

And I savoured every bite! Sweet potato ginger soup and braised lentils with avocado, goat’s cheese, carmelised onions, roasted tomatoes and basil oil. Both recipes from my favourite cookbook ever

And those of you who remember this post know that I have a lot of cookbooks!

It’s funny, what I consider to be self-indulgent these days. Before children, when I was on my own working full-time, the thought of an afternoon snack break and a supper of soup and salad would be considered a natural, daily activity. The morning visit to the knit-and-natter group would be the only indulgence, as I do group activities in the evenings. How times have changed.

But now I’m going to indulge you – I will be announcing a new giveaway and a free pattern in my next post...I am so grateful you are here, and I appreciate each and every comment. Watch for a treat soon!

Chrissie x

Sunday 22 September 2013

Stitching Sunday: More about fillings and threads

I’m pausing my beehive project so I can answer some questions I’ve had since last Sunday...

Many of you were interested in the long and short stitching last week, so I’ll illustrate this technique a bit more. I’m going to use the Green Eggs & Ham piece I’ve been working on, as I’m using long and short stitch for the letters.

I decided to do an experiment and try one leg of the ‘H’ with two strands of floss, and the other leg with one strand. The results are interesting.

I could only work on this in the evening (tiny, detailed stitching with young children buzzing around was next to impossible this week!), so I used my daylight embroidery lamp and made the best of it. The fabric is white, but in the photos it looks beige. Never mind, as long as I can illustrate the stitches I’m not too fussed.

As I explained a bit in my last Stitching Sundays post, generally the technique starts with staggered stitches in the first row. I chose to work from the top down, but you could work up from the bottom if you prefer. Start in the centre of the area to be stitched and work out toward the sides – this is because sometimes a row tends to start leaning in one direction, and if you’re working one side to another, you can end up with a leaning row of stitches. Start with a straight line in the middle, and either side will stay straight. Does this make sense?

Anyway, for the next row and subsequent rows, it is key to bring the needle through the threads of the previous row. If you come up between threads, you’re more likely to encounter gaps or holes in your finished work. Splitting threads can be challenging at first, so have a bit of patience and very quickly it becomes second nature!

I’ve used two strands of thread here, and it gives the letters a rougher texture. But for the other side I used just one strand – see if you notice the smoother appearance in the first rows:

Much of a muchness, really, it all depends on the look you are after.

A black outline stitch will sort out those rough edges!

For my purposes, I think I’ll go with the one-strand floss. The letters are rather small, and I prefer the smoother finish of one strand. 

However, I used two strands of yellow to fill in Sam-I-Am, because I wanted a much bolder, almost furry texture to match his outline.

Give it a go with your next filling project and let me know how it works for you!

Next up: tangled and knotted thread. I’ve had some queries about avoiding tangles while stitching.

More than once I’ve been stitching along quite happily only to discover my threads have formed a messy jumble on the back of my work. Frustrating. And some stitchers find it difficult to even get started with more than one strand of floss, because the threads become twisted.

I have three habits that have helped me steer clear of knots and tangles. First, separate the threads:

No matter how many strands you are using, you should pull each strand, one at a time, from the main skein of floss.

Allow the floss to bunch up below the thread you're pulling - it will easily fall back into place once the thread is freed.

Then lay the strands evenly together

Second tip: condition your thread. I have used Thread Heaven for a few months, and I like the smoothness it gives to the strands of floss.

This is a tiny pot of a wax-like substance. You pull the threads through it, then pull the floss through your fingers to remove any excess conditioner and create a static charge between the threads. The conditioner reduces the friction between the fabric and the floss – threads flow easily through fabric and lay nicely.

This isn’t a necessity, but if you are having trouble with frequent tangles, I would recommend giving it a try. I think I bought my Thread Heaven from for £3.50, but feel free to Google away...

Finally, the most obvious tip is to check your work every few stitches. I usually peek at the back of my work for the first few stitches, as that’s when I often neglect to pull the floss through completely and end up with tangles. If you get in the habit, then you’ll catch any little problems before they become big problems!

That’s enough from me today, thank you for visiting, and a warm welcome to my latest followers. Please do visit the links below each week, these lovely embroiderers are working on such beautiful projects!

Chrissie x

Friday 20 September 2013

Book review: Cute & Easy Crochet with Flowers

Here’s one you’ll want to put on your wish list, my dears...

Nicki Trench has done it again, a beautiful, easy-to-follow, fun craft book. This time it’s all about blossoms.

I simply must have this blanket!
This lovely book is full of sweet crochet projects, grouped according to level of difficulty. The photographs are pretty, colourful and tempting, so I have a long list of flowery makes on my To-Do list!

Chapter 1 includes an easy Kindle Cover pattern, a gorgeous Tote Bag that I know I’ll make, hats and gloves – and the beautiful Hexagon Flower Throw pictured above is in this ‘Starting Out’ section, so even beginners can have a big project to work on.

The next chapter features some more complicated flowers in garlands and delicate accessories. There is a beautiful tablecloth that I would actually throw over my shoulders and wear as a shawl, it’s that pretty...gosh that makes me sound a bit mad, doesn’t it?

The placemats I’m making are from this section. I’m nearly finished, I just have to sew on a few more flowers (each one took about five minutes to crochet).

The final chapter features a vintage-style brooch, the outrageously stunning bag that I will have to make, someday (ignoring the fact that it takes 207 flowers which are sewn together at the end...perhaps when Little Flower is in big school!),

as well as delicate scarves and doily-like coasters.

I found the instructions for the placemat very easy to follow, and reading through other patterns, they all feature similar clarity. Some of the projects include some simple sewing, such as a lining for a bag, but the instructions are clearly explained.  

The Know-How section showcases all the stitches used in the book, with good, clear illustrations and descriptions, including adding beads and using popcorn stitches.

All in all, another terrific crochet book from Nicki Trench, which I recommend to those of you who like girlie floral things!

And speaking of all things girlie and floral, would you be interested in a crochet-a-long of the blossoming nature? Marianne of Ladybird Diaries and I are organising a CAL to start in October...details coming next week! Time to get out the hooks and get ahead on gift-giving season...

Happy crafting!

Chrissie x

Wednesday 18 September 2013


We all need a little recognition sometimes

Bunny leaves little notes around the house for me

to know that our efforts are appreciated

Little Flower told her pre-school teacher, "I love all my mum's meals!"

that the little things we do mean a lot

all it takes is a little gesture

to know that our hard work every day, our brainstorming, our crafty efforts are all worthwhile

that these are the little things that make a home

a sweet home.

Today I give recognition to Jooles for her beautiful buntings, including the one in my kitchen pictured above,

to Heather for her lovely vintage hearts that make me smile,

and vanilla squirrel for the dear little owl that brings Bunny sweet dreams at night.

Who deserves your recognition today?

Chrissie x