Monday, 28 January 2013

Snowdrops & the beaded flower experiment...

I am beginning to realise just how much inspiration I take from the garden and our semi-rural location.  Butterflies have always had a special meaning to me but other visitors such as the dragonflies, birds & flowers also seem to feature largely in my daydream makings.  I love to wander, take photos and wait to feel my crafting muse begin to stir.

Yesterday, being a Sunday with the family happy all doing their own thing and not having much planned myself (other than sipping tea, playing with the pup & a bit of random making),  was just such a day for letting my mind wander until it found something that captured it. The recent snow & ice had dissolved so I ventured outside to see if there were any new shoots peeping up.  There wasn't alot going on but then it's probably still a bit too early for many larger spring flowers but I did find this little cluster of sweetness..
They weren't fully open and their pretty little heads reminded me of demure ladies midst conversation.  I thought it would be interesting to try and make a beaded version but I wanted it to be delicate too so went off in search of some seed beads & wire (I've never yet been much of a traditional beads & thread kind of beader).

After a little trial & error (and copious cups of tea!) I ended up with my own little beaded snowdrop..
bead and wire snow drop
I think I might make a few more more so that I have a cluster and then perhaps wire them all together to make a brooch 'spray'.

I've written up a quick tutorial for it here if you fancy having a go.  And after I made the snowdrop I tried using the same kind of technique for another flower which I think would look quite pretty attached to a hair clip - what do you think?

I could see myself making more of these in varying petal shapes & colours as spring rolls into summer...

Happy flower making :-)

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Distractions, Snow & Puppy Love

This last week or so has been very full on with tasks that really needed completing yesterday such as the tax return, new designs & write ups and, truth be known,  largely thanks to the arrival of  'Teddie'.....
'Teddie Blu Chase' (to give his full name) is our newest family member - he's a 'Cavachon' pup which is a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Bichon Frise.  For someone like me who has never owned a dog before it's a both a big learning curve and a big (ok.. more like HUGE) distraction. Blame my family for conspiring to convince me it would be a good idea.  Of course, he has got cuteness by the bucket load and is generally just kind of irresistable. I mean, just look at him...

Oh what a distraction he has been with those floppy ears, soft tickly tummy, paws that are still just a little bit too big and classic puppy dog eyes... I am sure you'll see why it's been impossible to do much other than the 'essentials'! I just love him.

Another thing that has been quite distracting is all that white stuff falling from the sky - always exciting and I think its UK law that you go out to play in it because we might not have it for long...  

snowy day

Of course the other thing that Teddie will no doubt bring is lots of excuses inspiration for making things... the family are already egging me on to crochet him a blanket but the first doggie making project is, in that random light-bulb-kind-of-moment, well, quite kind of...random.  It all started out with a few doodles of said doggie...
And then I began to wonder if I could use them to make something - possibly in felt? Bearing in mind this doodle was only about 2.5cm x 1.5cm it wasn't going to be easy....hmmm.. I could feel a crafting challenge coming on (or maybe I was just a bit insanely tired after a busy week of intensive puppy training!) Anyway, I set about pinning the outlines to felt and cutting them out with sharp embroidery scissors..
In hindsight it would be easier to draw the shape and cut around it!
Next, I used some black embroidery thread to make a couple of french knot eyes and a satin stitch nose...
Then I did some itsy-bitsy blanket stitches around the edge of the back piece...
and stitched the 'face' on with tiny running stitch in a thread that practically matched the felt colour (so less visible) and before I closed the gap in the layers I stuffed in the weeniest amount of toy stuffing. 
 It was looking kinda cute...
But,  then I decided to see if I could make it even cuter... you know, a bit fluffier... so began to lightly 'scratch' my needle across it to lift up the felt...
                                                              ...and it worked just fine! 

My next thought was what could I actually use this miniature feltie for....and for now it has been attached to a phone charm finding but I am thinking there would be many other ways to use it too.
felt puppy

Let's see what Teddie thinks...
cavachon puppy

I *think* he likes it... do you?


Friday, 11 January 2013

Vintage style crochet & keeping it simple...

After the last post (where I realised I didn't have a nice pencil case to take to college...) I sat down and thought about what I could make.   Initially I thought about making a traditional style fabric pencil case but, barring the excitement of going out to buy some new bit of fabric, it didn't seem particularly challenging and I could probably just as easily go and find one to buy.

So then I thought about crocheting something in lots of bright colours and started to rummage through my yarn stash until..... I came across a small ball of natural colour 100% cotton DK tucked right at the bottom of the basket.  It looked so unassuming and kind of plain & simple but in a good way if you know what I mean?  

I got out my hooks and started to play, just seeing how it looked worked up in different stitches with different size hooks.  I really liked the 'fabric' effect of just doing row upon row of ordinary double crochet and, choosing a 4.0mm hook,  began to work up a small circle shape for the base of my design (which I now had in my head to be something sort of vintage and a bit 'different' in shape & style).  

 From that point on it just sort of grew and, when it was long enough to fit my pencils, I gave it a simple chain loop edge...

And finished off with a length of thread and a couple of beads with which to make a drawstring top...  

I do like the simplicity of it and even ummmm-ed and ahhhhh-ed about whether to add a small wooden bead to the thread ends.

crochet pencil case

I'm going to use it for my pens but it could be used to store crochet hooks or knitting needles (if made longer) or perhaps made as gift bags... there's lots of uses really.   And I guess you could also add a cardboard or felt circle base inside at the bottom to strengthen it if you wanted.  

I've written out the instructions here in case you fancy having a go:

'Vintage Style Pencil Sack'

Begin with a magic circle, 2ch into the circle then 5dc.

Row 1: 2dc in each dc all way around, ss to join

Row 2: 2ch, 2dc in next dc, 1dc, 2dc alternately all way around, ss to join

Row 3: 2ch, 2dc in next dc, *1 dc in each of next 2dc, 2dc in next dc*.   Rep from * to * all way around, ss to join.

Rows 4....  continue to increase until circle measures the intended diameter for the bottom of your sack (i.e. mine measures around 6-7cm)

Next, make a dc in each dc all the way around but only working in the back loops of each stitch, then ss to join.  

Begin another row of ordinary dc on that and so on until the sack measures 18-20cm (at least long enough to hold your pencils, hooks or such).

To finish off the top edge, * ch5, skip a st then ss to next dc* then rep from * to * all way around.

Sew a length of thread all the way around the sack, in long gathering stitches a couple of cm under the top edge, add a bead to each end and knot to secure.


Will you make one.... and if so, what do you think you will use it for?

Enjoy :-)

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Hibernation, new year plans & excuses to craft...

Happy New Year -  I hope you had a joyous Christmas & relaxing break!

I feel like I've been in some sort of hibernation mode since Christmas and have done nothing much of anything... including crafting which is highly unusual.  In actual fact I felt slightly under the weather with almost 2 weeks of annoying cough & laryngitis so in addition to not being able to talk as much as usual I guess it just sort of generally quietened me down.  My husband was also ill on the 'big day' so that dampened the spirits a little too.

Anyway, here we are in 2013 and I am beginning to feel the cogs start turning in my head again and ever so slowly the ideas are beginning to tickle my creative fancy and give me reasons to craft - although in all honesty it's not like I really need any excuses to craft however,  I did also get this rather lovely pair of new embroidery scissors as a present and they really need a little testing out..

Like many of you,   at the beginning of a new year I start to think about what the year might hold, where I am going and what I could achieve and so on and normally there's a crafting theme in there somewhere.  Last year I set a self imposed challenge to improve my embroidery skills - largely influenced by receiving the gift of my Grandmother's silver thimble from my Mum as a Christmas present (and yes, I did have a tear or too at the sentiment!). I really love having it and to me it is one of the most beautiful crafting accessories I own...

vintage thimble

Here's a few of my practice pieces, worked on through 2012..

handmade needle case
A good place to start.. a home for my needles!

swallow embroidery

blackwork embroidery sample
I must try more 'Blackwork' embroidery....
Haven't quite finished the sampler I started... maybe I'll put that on the list too!

This year I am setting myself the continuing challenge of improving my tatting skills so you can expect another update on that soon ;-)  

In addition I am about to start a short college course in graphic design to 'fill in the gaps' of a skill that I have a fair bit of experience in but have not been formally trained in.  I am looking forward to it and you might even see some results of it on the blog.

Anyway, I have just started putting together my 'stuff' (oh the joy of buying new stationery... it's almost as good as crafting stuff!)  and I think I have everything ready although I can't find a pencil sharpener to put in my pencil case.   And I've just realised I don't actually have a pencil case - well there's one good reason to craft then..

Happy New Year Making!