Thursday, 30 January 2014

Retail therapy, crochet stylie...

I don’t know about you, but I have HAD IT with January! Finish already, for cryin’ out loud!

Yesterday I faced yet another morning of:
Waking to darkness;
Grumpy child, reluctant to get out of bed;
All of us running late, rushing out the door to school;
Rain, rain, rain. Chilling me to the bone.

I reached my limit. Absolutely fed up. Something had to be done. I ignored the cluttered kitchen table, the pile of stuff on the stairs that needed to be carted up and sorted...instead I hopped into the car and drove through the dreary rain and giant flood-puddles to a nearby village with a beautiful yarn shop.

I know I’m nursing my crochet-strained arms and shoulders, but I really want to make this shawl. I fancied it when I first saw Annette's design at My Rose Valley, and fell fully head over heels in love when I saw it again, not once, but twice: in beautiful pastels on Sandra’s blog, Cherry Heart, and then again in happy colours at Coco Rose Diaries. I purchased the pattern, printed it out, and took it with me to the yarn shop.

I spent a lovely half hour playing with the selection of colours whilst nibbling a pain au raisin from the bakery next door. I had balls of yarn laid out in rows on the carpet as I searched for the perfect colour combination. Like a kid in a candy shop I was, sampling this sweet colour, swapping for that bolder shade...

In the end, I came home with this:

I’m sure those of you who have been around long enough to see some other WIPs will not be surprised by this. I thought I was being rather clever, not buying a complete range of pink yarns (I am a very pink person). But when I got home, I noticed that some of the yarns are variations of the colours I chose for the Blossoming Bag...

...and they’re not all that different from my hexie blanket choices...

And the taupe which will be the main colour of the shawl is pretty identical to my living room

Well, at least I am coordinated! (But I may ask for some advice with my next impromptu WIP, get out of this comfort zone...but it is such a *pretty* zone!)

So another WIP. The purple scarf is very nearly done, the hexie blanket has a new batch of purple blooms this week, and I spent Bunny’s harp lesson crocheting the first few rows of the scarf! This is beautiful yarn to work with, soft and smooth and indulgent.

I ended the day with a rehearsal with the chamber choir, a few hours of beautiful music and singing. Talk about turning around a bad day!

January, you can kiss my...hand and take your leave! I have moved on!
Chrissie x  

PS Share what you’re crocheting to battle the January blahs! Link up below...

Monday, 27 January 2014

Stitching Sunday on a Monday...and a Ta-dah!

Hello and apologies for not posting my usual Stitching Sundays post yesterday – I spent the weekend looking after Little Flower, who came down with a sudden sick bug early Saturday morning. Ugh. The world stops when a sick bug comes along - we weren’t sure if we were all carrying the virus, so we cancelled all plans and spent most of the time in the sofa nest.

Happily, she’s feeling much better today and eating normally, so I was able to put the finishing touches on my latest project:

Ta-dah! This must be one of my quickest WIPs ever, I was so anxious to get it finished! I’ve wanted to recover this bench for a while, and I had the Tilda charm pack in my stash (purchased with no project in mind, just my crazy need to own these beautiful fabric squares!). A match made in heaven.

Once a month on a Wednesday morning I toodle over to Jooles’ lovely home for a quilting morning, and last week I brought my charm pack along. We drank tea, nibbled on warm, wonderful homemade scones (complete with clotted cream and jam, she does spoil me so!), and arranged and rearranged the squares on her kitchen table. What better way to spend a Wednesday morning?  

This was the final arrangement, although I could have kept repositioning one square after another all day long. Do you ever find that with patchwork?

While Little Flower and Bunny were playing a board game Saturday afternoon, I sewed the squares together – which took me under an hour! I’m getting better at this sewing lark... This morning I tooled up and used my new staple gun to secure the fabric to the bench. Then I attached the pretty ice-blue trim with fabric glue. 

Time will tell if that’s enough to keep it all together! The bench is happily in its place beneath my growing wall of embroidery hoops

*sigh* pretty.
Now on to the embroidery part of Stitching Sunday on Monday:

I’ve started the green on the eggs and ham. I decided to fill stitch in a sort of curved direction for the ham - you can see the texture it produces on the left, as the shape of the ham curves.

I use guide stitches whenever I’m filling a space – those are the little stitches spaced farther apart on the left side of the ham. These will keep my fill stitches flowing in the intended direction without going astray and leaning too much in one direction (a common problem if you just use fill from one far side to another). I’ll take more photos as I’m filling to further illustrate this...

And the sewing machine cover is coming along, albeit more slowly than I intended – the distractions of Tilda patchwork and a poorly child!

I finished the ‘Stitch’ and sewed on the measuring tape ribbon; now I’m working on the running stitch and little buttons. I actually find doing a running stitch in a straight line quite challenging, I have to measure and add guide dots along the way!

Little Flower’s resting and watching a show, but now we’re going to bake some cookies. She's requesting chocolate chip...she's obviously feeling better! Wishing you all a happy week, and a big welcome to my newest followers from the Grow Your Blog party!

Chrissie x

P.S. Do link up if you have something stitchy to share!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Grow Your Blog 2014

I’m partying this weekend... at the Grow Your Blog party, hosted by the generous and lovely Vicki from 2 Bags Full. Welcome to all the new visitors!

This post is designed to introduce me to everyone joining in the party, so without further ado...I’m Chrissie, lover of crochet, embroidery, sewing and baking. I’m happiest when I’m creating something that offers comfort and love to family and friends, whether it’s a crochet scarf or a batch of cookies.

I live between the North and South Downs in southern England, with my Darling Husband and two daughters, Bunny, age 10, and Little Flower, age 4.

I tend to overlap projects – as I’m working on one...

A sewing machine cover in the making
an interesting new project will catch my eye, and I’ll just see if I can get that one started, too! So many works in progress...

Today's distraction, destined to cover a hallway bench

Hence my slogan: Life is one big WIP!

Friends make life more fun, offering support and inspiration, so I set up two craft-a-long projects to join blog friends together. The first is the Bloomin’Crochet-a-Long,

which I created with my bloggy friend Marianne to keep me going with a large Hexagon Flower Blanket.

I also host Stitching Sundays

where we share projects, tutorials, tips and ideas involving needle and thread.

Thank you for visiting – feel free to browse the archive button on the side or click an interesting label in the “Looking for Something?” section!

A big hug and thank you to Vicki for organising the party – now I'm off to visit some new blogs!

Happy weekend!

Chrissie x

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Crochet Happy

I started this week with a Crochet Clinic on Monday evening. I came up with this title during my last Crochet Workshop series – the lovely ladies of the group wanted to meet up again following the workshop, so I suggested a monthly crochet evening, where they can bring their projects and I’ll be on hand to offer advice, assistance and cake. Not just a craft group, but a place where these beginners can learn more, share experiences and advance their technique.

I managed a few more rows on my purple scarf that evening, but I’m afraid I suffered a crochet-related injury. Yes, I explained to Darling Husband, there is such a thing (he, who is veteran of marathons, cycle races, mountain marathons, even an Ironman, cannot believe that the quiet craft can result in a terrible strained shoulder!).

I’ll be fine in a few days; I was being careless. I followed up the crocheting Monday evening by walking home with a huge pile of books in a bag on my shoulder. As soon as I set the bag down, a sharp pain shot along my shoulder and into my back. What a donut!

Luckily, I know a massage therapist and a physiotherapist (craft groups bring people together from all sorts of backgrounds!), so I’m getting advice and treatments and will be back to normal soon. In the meantime, here’s some bits of crochet happy:

Remember Little Red?
A fabric and wool shop in a nearby town has approached me to teach crochet workshops for them! It’s a wonderful shop, in a beautiful setting (anyone know Petworth? So lovely...) and we’re planning dates to teach daytime classes. The owner wants to put some of my crochet makes in her big window display, she especially loves Little I need to get the Wolf finished!

I won’t bore you with yet more photos of stacks of hexies, but I am loving this floral blanket project again! For my new followers, you can see the beginnings of this project here and here. You are welcome to join me and make one too!

I try to resist the Cath Kidston catalogue, telling myself that the ubiquitous brand lacks its early, truly English-made allure, but then I am faced with pages like this

*gulp* that pink spotty bag...

And this

the weighing scales...

Oh but this, I can do this much better!

Granny square blanket – I’ve seen so many prettier examples of this blanket here in Blogland - we are just so on trend!

I leave you with a gratuitous photo of chocolate cake.

I have dubbed this the “Life-Saving Cake”, because I was having a one of “those days” with the kiddos, they were bickering and whining and being generally horrid...I was about to run screaming from the house forever, but instead I rummaged through the cupboards for ingredients and made us all stand together and bake. By the end we were giggling and licking batter off spatulas and generally all in love with each other again. The power of cake.

Share what’s on your hook below, and don’t forget to stretch those arms and shoulders!

Chrissie x

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

A Sunday stroll, or a magical adventure...

It starts as a simple family stroll along a country lane...

Around the corner...

Entranced with the beautiful view of the Downs, the magic begins...

Walking down a hill, thick hedges on either side, we start chattering away with the birds, even though they stay well camouflaged amongst the branches.

Greetings, little ponies, wearing your thick winter coats! They nod politely then go back to their nibbling...

We take the adventure off road, along a narrow dirt path. Mud! Puddles! The joyous stuff of childhood!

How we stomp and squish and splash and giggle...

Good afternoon, ladies. Little Flower speaks fluent Sheep, distinguishing the emotional meaning between “baaaaa” and “maa”.

And now into the woods...

Do we take the high road? Heavens no, we waltz straight into the river, wading and make-believing, picnicking on the other side, spying Peter Rabbit himself hopping up the hill.

A magic log, certainly the staging area for fairy celebrations. Bunny pauses here for a long while, asking for a bit of time to notice her surroundings. Quiet time communing with nature.

A mushrooms staircase for the fairies.

“Mrs Tittlemouse! Are you home?” calls Little Flower, certain that this is her front porch:

Likewise, Mrs Tiggywinkle’s home is discovered sitting above the stream, convenient for her laundry business. “Mrs Tiggywinkle! Mummy, can you see her front door, under the root up there?”

Then we venture into territory so magical that I cannot capture it on camera (or perhaps I just tuck it away so we can all play more!).

Time to head home. Good day to you, gentlemen.

I hope many of you were able to get out and enjoy the weekend, whether it was a short walk or a magical adventure!

Chrissie x

Sunday, 19 January 2014

A broader view of stitching

Happy Sunday and a very warm welcome to my newest followers! I am so glad to be blogging again after the holiday break, and each and every comment has made me smile. Thank you!

One of my goals for 2014 is to do more sewing. I am a beginner, but I need to devote a lot more time to my machine if I want to improve (plus I have *so many* projects I want to try!).

To that end, I’m going to broaden my Stitching Sundays focus to include machine sewing as well as my beloved embroidery. All of it involves a needle and thread, so it’s fair game.

Lady Elna
A project I started ages ago, then stowed away at the bottom of a fabric pile, was a sewing machine cover. What better way to get more into the art of sewing than to create a lovely cover for Lady Elna?

Machine sewing and hand embroidery – a perfect combination. I found this wonderful pattern here, and I had a layer cake of Aneela Hoey’s Sew Stitchy fabric that I bought to entice me to sew (I have purchased *a lot* of fabric with the intention to lure me to the machine...). The two just seemed destined to be together!

I cut and ordered sixty small squares, then sewed them together to form a panel (I'm trying to be forgiving with the uneven squares, I'm still learning). The linen and patchwork panels use a “quilt as you go” technique, ironed to fusible interfacing and sewn together (ha ha! Get me, “talkin’ the talk” like a proper seamstress! I hope you’re enjoying this, Grandma!). Next will be some more embellishment, some fusible fleece, lining fabric, piping...a lot of sewing experience to be gained from one project!

Now an update on my Green Eggs & Ham embroidery, part of the &Stitches Finish-Along:

I’m making progress on the letters this week, ignoring the dodgy “H” and concentrating on the “Green”.

Featuring my handy-dandy needle magnet
It is slow going, as I fill each letter with long-and-short stitch embroidery, but it is extremely calming and enjoyable. I’ll probably bounce down to the ham next, I’m itchin’ to get some green floss in there now...

I’d love to see what you’re up to with needle and thread, link up embroidery or sewing projects below!
Chrissie x

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Bloomin' CAL: Hey baby!

A new year, a new baby blanket to give to a friend!

I blocked the blanket last night, and I’m glad I did – the mum, whose daughter is in Little Flower’s pre-school class, is having the baby today! The little girl’s grandma brought her to pre-school today, which made all of us parents smile and introduce ourselves and start guessing gender, size and names...

Blocking the little blanket
This will be her third child, and she has lots of friends and family in the area. I know she probably has oodles of baby blankets and paraphernalia, so I decided to create a *useful* item. This is a small blanket, intended for car seats and prams, a lap blanket for a buggy – any place you don’t want to have to fold and tuck a big blanket. Then, when baby is older, it will be a manageable size for a snuggly blankie.

I love the crochet stitch; being January, I wanted a compact fabric, warmer than more traditional lacy baby blankets. This is Sirdar Snuggly yarn, so soft to touch but very easy to care for.

To add a wee bit of colour, I worked pale green into the border (I had a bit left over from this baby blanket I made last summer). After edging with one round of dc in white, I added a round of dc (US: sc) in green.

I wanted an actual stripe of green, not a row of little stitches, so I went round the back loops only of the green, with a htr (US: hdc) in white.

A pretty edge is a must for a baby blanket, but big ruffles wouldn't suit this small piece. So I went for a little picot-type border with dc, ch1, dc in every other stitch. Easy peasy!

Now that this blanket is finished, it’s time to face the music with the hexies I have neglected for so long...

Poor little dears, look at them. All rumpled, yarn ends dangling, a little gang of crochet urchins. Time to clean up these sweet blooms and get back on track with this project!

I have a very long list of crochet WIPs that I must tend to, but I don’t want to keep these hexies in the back of the cupboard any longer. So I will do what women do best: multitask. A few hexie flowers, a few rows on that purple scarf. A few hexie flowers, the wolf that has been waiting so long to join Little Red Riding Hood. A few hexie flowers, the crochet doily lace that I bought fine thread for in November. I could go on, and on, and on. Life is one big WIP!

What are you hooking this week? As usual, link up below!
Happy crafting!

Chrissie x