Stonechat

Crochet has taken a back seat during this warmer weather… It’s too hot to have a blanket draped over my knees. Plus I’m disappointed as one of the yarns I’ve used previously has steered to break within the blanket and I don’t know how to fix it, so I’m not really motivated to add rows to a blanket that might fall apart 😞

But today brought another opportunity to draw with my niece via Skype as she added a stonechat illustration to her nature diary. We found a picture to copy and got drawing.

I found it a tricky shape to draw, but my niece’s advice that it might look more like a stonechat if I coloured it on did seem to help, even though I didn’t have the right colour for its russet breast!

A heron

This afternoon brought another invitation from my sister and my niecephews to draw. The subject this time was a heron, which I thought would be fine as I’ve drawn herons before. But then I discovered we were drawing a flying heron, which I thought would be hard.

We found this picture and got drawing.

Once again there are things I’m not happy with, like its eye, the over big lower wing and the fact that the wings don’t really look curved. But I like its neck and the shape of its head. And I really enjoyed looking at the detail of the feathers.

This time Mr E didn’t have to entertain himself as we managed to draw while he was having his afternoon nap, which was fab!

5 little ducks

For our baby sensory class this week we needed 5 ducks for an activity. I got to the morning and realised I hadn’t sorted anything out, so I grabbed a piece of yellow card and looked up ‘duckling line drawings‘ on line. I then started to copy different ones so that each of the ducklings had slightly different features, rather than have them all look the same.

I did them pretty quickly (maybe 10-15 minutes total), drawing in pencil then going over in black felt tip. One I’d cut them out though i still had a duckling sized piece of card left and decided to very quickly do another one and use one of the others as mama duck. I didn’t bother with pencil first, just went for it with the felt tip, and interestingly this one is my favourite of the ducks. I wonder if just going for it created a different quality to the picture, or if it was always going to be the cutest duckling? I was probably lucky though as I had to do bits of rubbing out on most of the other ducklings.

Mama duck
The cutest one!

Now I just need to cover them with sticky back plastic so Mr E can actually play with them, rather than just having to look at them in his blue blanket pond! But they worked well for the session when we sang 5 little ducks.

Cuckoo

This afternoon my niece (10 years old) rang to see if I wanted to join them (my sister, her and my younger nephew aged 8) over Skype for a session drawing a cuckoo together. Mr E was awake, fed and happy so I jumped at the chance.

They were drawing a cuckoo to illustrate their nature journals having heard lots whilst out on walks previously. We chose a photo on the Internet and got drawing.

It was interesting to hear my sister’s instructions to the children “look at what shape that makes… It’s like a rainbow” or “let’s follow that line down there” or “I can’t see those feathers on the photo!”, and these comments influenced how I viewed the picture and how I drew it.

It was also interesting how often one or other of us said “oh no I’ve ruined it now” when actually in the end we all had pictures that though they maybe didn’t look exactly like the photo, definitely all looked like cuckoos . It was fun to look at each other’s drawings and comment on what we liked about them or how we could tweak them to make them even better. And the thing I love most about this sort of thing is having the opportunity to really look at a bird and notice new things about its markings and shape.

I’m really pleased with my cuckoo, though i found the colours hard to replicate, not least because I only had a set of 8 crayons to choose from. Though the cuckoo’s feathers looked lilacy in the photo, when I added that sort of colour to my picture it doesn’t look quite right. Is that because I’ve not got the right colour and was trying to dry mix blue and pink, or is there another reason? Maybe it all just needs to be toned down with some more pencil over the top.

And Mr E? He survived me taking an hour out to draw. He had tummy time on his mat, alternating between playing with toys and listening to my sister and niece singing him songs, and when he got fed up I tried colouring with him sitting on my lap… That didn’t work as he kept trying to grab the pencil… But it was fun, and a really lovely way to spend the afternoon. And we even sang a song in French about a cuckoo!

A new blind

Way back when I was maybe 3 months pregnant my mum gave me a cool piece of fabric that looked perfect for the nursery window. But I kept putting off the idea of making a blind… Partly because I was tired, partly because I’d never done anything like that before and partly because I hadn’t bought the rods and things I’d need to make a roman blind. Now, with a nearly 5 month old, who will be moving into the nursery in the not too distant future, and a bank holiday weekend when my husband Mark could look after Mr E lots, seemed a good time to try to get it done.

I’d ordered a roman blind kit from arcadia, as I’d looked online at buying all the bits separately and it just seemed too complicated and too expensive. The kit was pretty expensive too and I did wonder if I should just scrap the idea and buy a blind, but Mark encouraged me to go for it. So, on Saturday, straight after the first feed of the day I headed downstairs and dusted off Sissy, ready for a day of sewing. 3 hours later I had finally managed to iron the fabric, make a mini test one to check i’d understood the first set of instructions correctly, and cut the blackout lining to size. It is always pretty scary cutting the fabric, and i’d never cut anything this big so I struggled to know where to put it and how to cut it. I had to keep putting down my sewing table to create enough floor space to lay it all out. And even then I cut it whole it was folded in half as I thought that was safer than trying to move a half cut piece of fabric and still get a straight line.

After lunch (mine, not Mr E’s!) I was ready to start sewing. Poor Sissy needed some adjusting to get the tension right but we got there in the end.

I got the sides sewn together and pressed out and was pleased to discover it was the right size. I kept going, adding velcro to the top, and at this stage I noticed black coming through the stitch holes. Although the blackout material is silver on one side and white on the other I later discovered there’s black inside that was getting pushed or pulled through by the needle which was a shame but I couldn’t stop it happening. My sewing wasn’t particularly straight either but I figured it would have to do.

Then it was time to add the rod tapes. I did better at sewing in a straight line but I made a big mistake when I’d sewn two of the tapes on and moved onto the third. They only need sewing along the top, which was their right hand edge. But then I turned the blind round for the third tape so less of it was scrumpled up between the needle and the rest of Sissy. Annoyingly I was then in the habit of sewing down the right hand edge, and I’d done nearly the whole of it before I realised my mistake. I sewed the correct edge and then set to unpicking my mistake, which has left little pinprick holes in the blackout fabric, and took significantly longer than sewing it in the first place!

There was a huge sense of relief to discover that the rods actually went in!

The final job of the day was cutting the bottom of the blind to size (scary) and folding the bottom up to create a pocket for the bottom strip. But then I decided to wait until Mark had put up the fittings to check the length and adjust before sewing. That was a job for sunday!

I was super frustrated to discover that the blind was rather too short… And having cut the fabric I didn’t have much to play with, but I did what I could, sewed it up and then added the rods and hand sewed the ends up so they can’t fall out.

Finally it was ready to hang, and mark finished sorting the chain mechanism this morning. It’s all done, it’s marginally too short in the middle… Presumably because I didn’t quite fold the edge straight while ironing… The two ends touch the windowsill but the middle goes up a millimetre or two. And it’s frustrating that that’s what I’ve focused on rather than the fact that I made a blind from scratch that looks cool and matches the yellow theme of the room with the painted wall and the watford football kit! And that I got it finished on the weekend we had designated four the job. I knew it would never black out all of the light because the mechanism means it hangs away from the wall, and I’m not sure even a bought blind would have managed that. So I’m working on feeling proud of my achievement, but I’m not entirely there yet.

I’m pleased with how neatly it folds up, but disappointed there are headless chickens as the main feature
It’s darker in the room, but still quite a bit of light sneaking in
You can see the pinprick from the unpicking just below the third rod line!

Rainbow giveaway

Yesterday once of the girls from church turned 10. I decided it was a nice opportunity to make a crochet rainbow that I had seen on a yarny Robin’s blog post. She linked to the original pattern which can be found at the stitch foundry. Yarny Robin had made some modifications to the pattern and I chose to follow her idea to chain 5 and miss a stitch on the final row as I didn’t want the edge to be as ruffled as in the original pattern.

I really enjoyed making it as it only took an evening to complete, so it was quick and easy. Plus I love colourful projects, so it was fun working with the Rainbow colours. It was also cool that by adding tassels I got rid of the need for sewing in ends as I just tied them into the tassels (a definite bonus!).

The finished rainbow
Hanging in a window

The birthday girl seemed to like it, so that was good. I might make myself one at some point, but knowing that my 250th blog post was coming up I thought this might make a nice giveaway item for one of my lovely readers. Annoyingly I made a mistake on this rainbow and accidentally did the blues in the wrong order, but I hope that won’t put people off wanting to receive it!

The giveaway rainbow that you could win

Unfortunately my giveaway is only open to UK readers as I’m not feeling confident about going to a post office in the current climate. But, if you live in the UK and would like a chance to win this rainbow then leave me a comment on this post and I’ll enter your name in a hat and make the draw on Thursday 28th May.

I can’t quite believe that I’ve written 250 blog posts. That feels like quite an achievement given that I was originally just going to blog for a year about all the things I made. But what started out as a year long idea has become a motivation to me to keep crafting. I’ve loved connecting with people through my blog and have been amazed at how many people have chosen to follow me. I really missed blogging when I was pregnant and too tired to craft, and I’m thrilled to be back now. Thank you for reading my posts and here’s to many more of them.

Blanket update

Since the last time I wrote about my stash buster blanket my stash has increased! My mum had loads of her own stash that she wasn’t using, and she kindly put some of my favourite colours into a parcel and sent them to me.

And I started using them straight away, choosing the minty green for the next row.

I’m especially pleased to have a navy again, as I’d used the last of mine up on the blanket. I love the contrast of it against the pink.

Plus I’m quite proud of myself as I’m keeping on top of the ends, having a weaving in session after about 10 rows so it never feels like too much. It helps that I love my cute little scissors too!

And finally, look out for something special in my next post. It will be my 250th post since I started blogging, and as always I shall be marking the milestone with a giveaway

Super cute whale

A while back I saw that la magie du fil had made a gorgeous whale following a free pattern from chouette kits. It was irresistible so I asked my sister to print me off the pattern and it arrived this week. Yesterday I set to work cutting the pieces and sewing together the fins.

As it all had to be done during Mr E’s nap times I knew I wouldn’t be able to use Sissy (my sewing machine) as she would probably be too noisy and wake him up. So I got out Serenity (my vintage singer) and did a test sew last night. I was very glad I’d left her threaded up so I didn’t have to work that out, but I did look up a video of how to wind the bobbin so that I could have the right thread on it.

Today when Mr E fell asleep in his moses basket I sat alongside him and Serenity got to work! She does clonk a bit as her needle goes down, but Mr E didn’t notice and slept through until our doorbell rang with a delivery! Having been enjoying watching the repair shop on BBC iplayer I think that once things settle down a bit I should really get her serviced and cleaned up a bit so that she runs more smoothly.

I had to wait till the next nap to be able to sew the eyes on, stuff the whale and sew it up. But once the nap was over whale was ready to be cuddled and ‘kissed’ on the nose!

I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out though the hand sewing is a bit obvious due to the variegated thread I used, but I like it and it will stay as a design feature! Plus, although I thought I’d got them lined up, the eyes are dramatically not level with each other!

This was a fun and quick I project that I really enjoyed doing.

100 rows

I’ve just finished the 100th row on the stash buster blanket. Last time I had a bit more of the purple to do around the pink bobbles and then I started on the yellow ripples.

I’d never done this stitch before and while I was doing it I felt an appreciation for the people who discovered or made up different stitches and stitch patterns in the first place. I can’t imagine how anyone would fiddle with a hook and some yarn to come up with something new. I also have an appreciation for eleonora putting together all these patterns into such a gorgeous blanket. She chose these stitches to represent the ripples on a beach, and I liked that idea so I went for yellow as well.

In adding the lilac rows of ripple stitch I had to enlist the help of Derwen, my trusty nostepinne! I had to use my feet to hold the skein straight so it didn’t twist and tangle as I wound this gorgeous silky yarn into a ball.

I felt quite proud of myself doing the ripple stitches confidently and was surprised that I wasn’t having to think too hard about where to put the stitches. But then I counted how many stitches I had and realised I was 2 short! I added a couple of extra in the next row of double crochets but then realised that made no difference to the next row of ripples as they are dependent on hooking round the back of the treble crochets from the previous row. I couldn’t face all that frogging so I kept going to the last row of ripples and then added the extra 2 stitches in the final row of double crochet before the waves started.

I thought I’d got the hang of the waves by now but as I approached the end of that row I discovered I’d gone wrong somewhere. That’s not a pattern that can be fudged so I had to find the mistake and frog back half a row. In doing so I discovered that I could actually see the difference between the double crochets and half trebles, which I wasn’t able to do before. So I’m learning new things as I go along.

Finding time to crochet is a bit hit and miss but I’m glad I’ve picked this project up again and that it’s growing in a satisfying way.