Wednesday 30 April 2014

Late to the party...

The Easter holiday has made me late to Daisy’s Sew-A-Long, but better late than never!

You may remember my good fortune with the chosen pattern from this post, so I bought my fabric – a happy springtime floral – and set out to make a good start the other evening. I didn’t assume that I’d finish the entire skirt, I haven’t sewn clothing since I was, like, 14, but I imagined a decent amount of progress.

So with the pattern instructions on my left, and Daisy’s Part One tutorial on my iPad to the right, I pinned on the pattern pieces my grandma had cut out years ago.

All was going well, but I noticed I had four little tissue facing pieces rather than just the two pictured in the instructions. I grabbed the phone and rang Grandma; she assured me that all was fine, there just happened to be two of each facing piece, probably from a duplicate pattern she had for my mother.
I told her I had pinned all the pieces and was going to cut the fabric into pieces. Then she asked me a question.

“Chrissie, is the floral pattern all over, or does it go in one direction?”

I stared at the fabric. “Erm...all over. No, wait. There’s a big pink flower that’s in one direction. Oh, drat!”

I was grateful that my grandma had saved me from a Great British Sewing Bee-type gaff, but then I felt the frustration of a project interrupted. Why couldn’t I have chosen a simple solid colour? Why must I make things more difficult for myself?

“Grandma, I don’t have enough fabric to pin the panel the other way. I’ll have to go buy some more tomorrow.” Cue pouting and grumbling.

Then my mom, who was on the other phone at Grandma’s, chimed in: “Go crochet something.”

So I sat in the corner and did what my mother told me.

The crochet corner
Next morning I had a crochet lesson to teach, but straight after I zipped to the haberdashery and bought more fabric. Now the pieces fit in the right direction.

This time I was confident to cut the fabric.

I now have my skirt pieces ready to start sewing, I have a good amount of leftover fabric to use for other projects (I bought extra because it was inexpensive and I feel more secure with some back-up fabric)...

...and I have a jolly colourway to use for a crochet blanket someday! This strip is from the selvedge, which offers wonderful little dots of yarn inspiration!

Next step: Get sewing! More on that soon...

Chrissie x

P.S. I’ve put a top tulip tip on my Facebook page – please check it out if you’re a tulip fan! (And a top FB tip from a friend: when you click ‘Like’ on a FB page, hover on the ‘Like’ button until a menu drops down. Then click on ‘Get notifications’ so you can actually receive all of the regular updates of that page!)

Saturday 26 April 2014

Spring surprises

One joy of returning home after our holiday was the very greenness of England! Norway was still at that slow turning point of winter, the temperatures were warmer, but plants and trees were at the very early stages of rebirth.

Then bam! We arrive home and trees are in leaf, grass has grown tall, and blossoms are everywhere! The entire atmosphere seemed to have a spring-green aura, resplendent in those early acid-green hues of new leaf.

On return from a journey I often wander round the house a bit, reacquainting myself with home. Then I venture out to the garden, to see what’s been happening in my absence. I took my camera this time...

The apple tree that I planted only a few years ago, which suffered very tricky early years due to an onslaught of rain, has not only survived but is thriving, covered in dozens and dozens of pink buds. Is there any better image of spring than pink blossom?

Well, yes, or at least an equal partner – the tulip, my favourite flower, and these deep blackish-purple and pale pink bulbs keep coming back year after year.

They popped up in front of the lemon balm and the trailing rosemary. I am always torn whether to pick them to display indoors or leave them to stand dignified in their place. They are still outside at the moment, but it’s due to rain tomorrow...

The bleeding heart are in full bloom in a shadier part of the garden:

I am fascinated by bleeding heart plants. Their shape and colours enchant me. And they have spread rather prolifically this year!

I love watching ferns unfurl, the process is beautiful and ever so slightly creepy to me – the fronds look rather furry, and the stretching fronds resemble alien-like limbs...

But ferns are my favourite plant; I have a whole section of the garden devoted to a number of varieties, and this Japanese painted fern is a gem! The spent snowdrop is crowding this little beauty a bit, add that to my garden chores list...

And I added more jobs to the list as I toodled around with my camera that first day home:

The bronze fennel is filling out. I adore its feathery, frothy stems, it adds such an interesting texture and colour to the herb border – but hey! Is that mint sneaking in my photo in the background, amidst the early sprigs of lavender? Tsk tsk tsk...he should know better, I even planted him in a pot in the ground, but mint is the Houdini of the plant world! It escapes any container and roams freely about...

And the sweet cicely is being smothered, she’ll have to be moved soon, too, after flowering. There’s a corner of the herb border that already has some sweet cicely, but there’s always room for more.

I had another lovely spring surprise when I came home:

A wonderful parcel from Gilly of gilly makes – we took part in Jo’s spring brooch swap a while back, but with both of our full schedules, we waited a bit for our gift exchange. This parcel was a perfect pick-me-up as I settled into the post-holiday routine – not only did she make me a gorgeously cute owl brooch, but she has spoiled me rotten with all sorts of haberdashery goodies! So thoughtfully packaged...buttons, ribbons, even a zip and pretty spotty fabric...thank you so very much, lovely Gilly!

There are small pockets of time when it is not raining this weekend, I’m going to get out and start catching up with my garden. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Chrissie x

Thursday 24 April 2014

Days like weeks

We had one of those rare breaks where it felt like we’d been away for three weeks rather than one.

The days were reminiscent of childhood, where time slows and stretches and lasts forever.

My Darling Husband is half Norwegian. He was born and raised in the UK, but his mother hails from Oslo. We have lots of family there, which makes for an easy holiday destination, with lots of relatives to visit and play with the children.

Visiting nearby parks along the fjord
We stayed for a few days on the outskirts of the city, at the family home, which overlooks a fjord. Idyllic.

(Of course, I look at the little islands dotted around and wonder if Tone Finnanger, of Tilda fame, lives somewhere nearby, creating ever more beautiful patterns...but I digress...)

My brother-in-law came skiing with us, and it was wonderful having an extra person there to help with the girls. They absolutely adore their uncle, and were more than happy to stay and play and ski with him, which gave hubby and I the occasional moment to ski together...

The mountains are so absolutely still, completely peaceful and quiet; I felt like I was on another planet, far away from all cares. It was glorious.

We stayed in an apartment at the base of the mountain, an ideal location just a short stroll to the ski lift. I prefer to stay in an apartment so that we can come and go as we please, and we have a kitchen so we can eat at our leisure and not rely on restaurants. Perfect accommodation when travelling with young children.

I had some time to myself, which I spent sitting in the sunshine at the lodge on the mountainside, drinking hot chocolate, eating scrumptious Norwegian pastry (what that country can do with ground almonds! Yum!!!) and just *being*.

I really don’t do that enough. Just be.

Back at the family home we had some fun exploring local shops – including Ikea, which is a 15-minute walk from the house. Given that it takes about an hour-and-a-half at least to get to one from our home in the UK, I wanted to pop in here to see what’s new. I fell in love with pink shelving units that are worth the trip back here in England, and I bought a few goodies to squeeze into the suitcase:

These little votive/vase cuties will serve all sorts of purposes, such as holding the pretty Ikea napkins here (I’ll use those to prettify the girls’ lunchboxes). The fairy wand on the wall behind is not from Ikea, it is mine.

We also popped into Panduro Hobby (I’ve only ever drooled over their catalogue and ordered online in the UK) and paid homage to the Tilda section:

Taken on my iPhone, in lousy shop lighting, but you get the idea. I had to refrain from buying everything until I use up the other Tilda fabric I already have at home...

I managed to sneak some craft projects into my luggage to work on in the evenings.

I wasn’t able to pack multiple balls of yarn, so that ruled out the Ricicles Shawl for the holiday. I’ve never made a crochet jumper or cardigan, but after seeing the multiple versions of the Rosa Cowl Sweater on Coco Rose Diaries, I decided that I *needed* one myself! So a few balls of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in a dusty mauve and a hook, and I’m just about halfway through it. More on that later...(and I’m happy to report that crochet hooks are once again permitted on airplanes).

I also packed some embroidery which has been neglected for aaaaages!

Sam had some progress, but nope, he’s not finished yet. I chose long-and-short fill stitches for the letters, which makes them rather tedious to do, especially at the end of a long day, but I like the effect so much that I’m sticking with it.

I've started ripping out the black border around the 'H', I'm not happy with it. 
I know that, at this rate, I might end up giving this to my first grandchild.

My third cross stitch project, the dragonfly, is coming along nicely. But darn that metallic thread! It is so tricky, splits, frays, and isn’t smooth to work with at all. I use much shorter lengths to avoid the floss fraying and tangling completely (a hard lesson learned, so I’m passing along the tip), but just like Sam, I love the look of it so much that I’m soldiering on.

For some fun stitching in between these two projects, I’ve just whipped up an initial for Little Flower’s best friend... go on a ballet bag. Remember this one I made for my youngest? Well, I’m making another for her buddy and fellow ballerina. 

I based the design on an alphabet in Aimee Ray’s Doodle Stitching: Embroidery and Beyond, but I added a few of my own flourishes and used variegated thread for fun. I’ll post more about this when I get the bag stitched up!

The best part of the holiday: every one of us wants to repeat it exactly next year. We are already planning and looking at buying some proper ski wear for Easter 2015!

That’s it from me for now, thank you so much for reading, your comments mean so much to me, and I’m glad to be back!

Chrissie x

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Back to life, back to reality...

Just popping in quickly to say a belated hello and Happy Easter to all in Blogland! We arrived home late last night from a week skiing in Norway.

A much, much-needed little break, lots of sunshine and warm April temperatures atop snow still ripe for skiing.

Above you can see Little Flower on the left, and Bunny further down the hill on the right, having their first skiing lessons. By the third day both were whizzing down the baby slope...

...and Bunny even joined me on the bigger slopes! It was so warm that winter jackets were shed at the top of the mountain.

But now I must attend to the unpacking, the sorting, the food shopping, and these unquestionably less exciting mountains:

I am winding my way through the Post-Holiday Mountain Range. I definitely prefer the mountains in Norway!

Back soon to tell you more, and to catch up on all your blogs!

Chrissie x

Sunday 13 April 2014

The lucky winner is...

...Heather from my little red suitcase! Congratulations Heather, I’m so glad you won – please email me your address and you will have your new blue WIP bag!

Thank you everyone who entered my little blogiversary giveaway – I had the most entries ever! I wish I could send each and every one of you a WIP bag, but for now I might have to put together a tutorial or kit so you can make this at home...hmmm, things to consider...

It’s all go in our house today as we get ready for family visits this the second week of Easter holidays. Darling Husband has the week off work, and I’m looking forward to time all together as well as some much-needed time by myself. I love my family dearly, but every now and again I really do need some solitude to recharge my batteries. It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, so when it does, I savour every moment, even if I’m just by myself riding a train! I’m sure many of you can relate...

A quick peek at some pretty yarn before I go, a Ricicles Shawl update:

Pretty pretty pretty! I've been enjoying a little hooky time on the garden bench. Um, the eagle-eyed of you may have noticed another pink basket?

I am so enchanted with my other upcycled pink basket that when I happened upon this long-forgotten little beauty, the spray can came back out on a sunny morning! It is the perfect size for a few balls of yarn. Or perhaps a few chocolate eggs. Or both.

Enjoy these next few days, I’ll have some stitching news to share soon...
Happy crafting!

Chrissie x

Thursday 10 April 2014

Mand-A-Long inspiration

Today I’m inspired by the pink and green loveliness found outside my back door...

...I’m inspired by lazy holiday mornings, allowing me to quietly enjoy the garden in the shiny-bright morning sunshine...

...I’m inspired by you! All of you lovelies who have linked up, emailed, shared your mandalas and their myriad uses, including these gems:

* Jane at Flowerhouse made the prettiest mandala to use as a bowl cover. I envisage a set to take along on a picnic!

* The Snail Garden created a mandala using Anchor 8 Cotton Perle in bright pastels and a 1.75mm hook, which she is making into a piece of jewellery. Genius!

* Helena’s Creative Maven hooked up three different patterns, but used the same colour palette for each, resulting in a coordinated trio she mounted on the wall.

* Shari at A Stitched Pattern simply used a mandala to get her mojo back! Woo hoo!

Now adjust your reading spectacles, because you have to peer closely at the next few photos – I've added a circle to highlight the area - the birds have discovered the nesting materials the girls draped over the border shrubs and tucked into an empty feeder:

Yarn ends and some spare toy stuffing from the April Fool’s prank made this little blue tit very happy indeed! He sat on the branch for a few minutes tugging away to get just the right amount; I grabbed my camera and hoped that I might get some half-decent images through the glass kitchen door.

One last thing – have you entered my giveaway yet? If not, pop over here and leave a comment, I’ll be choosing random winner on Saturday!

Thank you everyone for joining in our crazy Mand-A-Long. Link up your latest makes and ideas below!

Chrissie x