I can’t believe I forgot about this!

I’ve been waiting to post about my latest embroidery because it was a gift for a fellow blogger and I didn’t want her to see it here first and ruin the surprise. But, she received it on Friday and I’ve forgotten to post the picture of it here!

Hannah of the artisan duck posted her goals for the year, commenting that she was going to have a resolution to ‘be brave and make it happen’. Her idea struck me as soon as I read it, and when she commented about taking ownership of it by writing it in purple I immediately wanted to make her an embroidered version.

Obviously I chose purple for the writing but mixed in a strand of gold to add some sparkle. I’m just annoyed at myself that I didn’t end the thread on the first row of words and start again on the second, as the thread shows up quite a bit behind the material. I slid a second piece of material behind it to try to disguise it a bit, but you can still see that… Though I hope it won’t be too obvious if it gets hung on a wall and head no light behind it. I definitely need to learn from this mistake and not do it again!

I debated for ages about how to decorate it and eventually decided on a bee and a flower. As I was sewing I found myself thinking about bees and how hard they have to work to make honey. But I realised that they also have a team of other bees to help them in their work. It also occurred to me that a bee’s work (collecting nectar from different flowers) has a positive side effect of pollinating plants, that the bee is presumably quite unaware of.

I wrote these thoughts in the card as I hope they will encourage hannah in her bid to be brave and make it happen this year, recognising that she is not on her own, that there’s a whole lot of people she can turn to for help if needed, and that she may find that she has an unexpected and maybe unnoticed positive effect on others in her journey.


Some successes…. And one not so much!

Hey there everyone. I’ve been catching up with a bit of crochet. The butterfly shawl is finally finished : I’m really pleased with it but I’ve realised I probably won’t wear it… Partly because it’s too green to match any of my outfits, and partly because I can’t see myself wearing a triangular shawl. Maybe I’ll have a go at making one in a rectangle and in different colours. I’ve also joined in Eleonora’s crochet along, with a stash busting blanket that requires 4 rows a week. Perfect! I’ve done my first four rows already, and am enjoying choosing colours and wools to use. Plus I decided I’d use this as an opportunity to have a go at learning a foundation treble crochet instead of crocheting a whole chain and then doing the first row. It looks a bit shorter than the next rows but I’m essentially happy with it! Finally I fancied joining in with rosina’s granny along. She also mentioned in one of her posts a heart blanket using squares from different people to make it up, that they will raffle to raise money for charities helping children who have great problems. I started working on one of the patterns but got myself very confused and ended up with too many puff stitches so it was growing too quickly. I was also reminded that I find puff stitches very frustrating as my hook often gets stuck or catches another bit of wool. So… It’s frogged, but it was fun having a go at it. Maybe I’ll try one of the other heart designs as there are several to choose from.

Crafty Christmas goodies

I’ve been meaning to post this since the weekend when we had our Christmas get together with my parents, my sister, brother in law and 4 niecephews. This was English Christmas after we’d had Latin American Christmas and Indian Christmas!

We gave lots of presents that we bought in india and that were appreciated. I also gave Mark this cable tidy that I made.

I couldn’t find a pattern that did what I wanted it to, so just made this up as I went along. My seam ripper

came in super handy as I realised I’d sewn ribbons in the wrong place, sewn wonky lines and who knows what else?! I learnt loads from my mistakes though, and I’m now even tempted to have a go at making another one in order to write up a tutorial for it. I’ve written instructions down but think that making it again would give me step by step photos, as well as checking that the instructions work. We’ll see though… There’s always something else to make!

I was also given some gorgeous crafty goodies. First up this cute felted sloth

Then a gorgeous embroidery my sister had made, inspired by my favourite children’s book series ‘the incorrigible children of Ashton place’ by Mary Rose Wood.

Three children who’d been brought up by wolves are taken on by a young governess. They all end up learning together and cassaeopia, the girl, embroiders this for her governess’ birthday. The embroidery is a sign of her new life and new skills and the word, with ‘awoo’ at the end hearkens back to the time when they spoke in howls, but now add it on the end of other words (hence the possible naming of my sewing machine sisawooo, instead of sissy!)

I was so touched by this gift it made me well up with tears. It was also lovely that number 2 nephew (aged 9) had been given the same two presents too, as he and I have both enjoyed the series of books… He introduced me to the first one and then I’ve been buying the others in the series and lending them to him once I’ve read them!

The same nephew made me a really cute pyrography owl

And my niece made me and mark hand stitched notebooks.

Both of them were really excited to give us our presents and to see if we liked them. I LOVE them!

Plus my niece had asked her mum if she could use a gift tag from one of her presents. It’s a dried satsuma/orange skin heart… What a cute idea

Then my mum and dad got me a couple of crafting books, which I look forward to dipping into

And my final present, a 6 month subscription to crafty creatives. I’m looking forward to getting the first box this month some time and finding out what craft I get to try first!

All in all its been a very crafty Christmas what with my sewing machine, these gifts, some threads for my sewing machine from aunt Joyce, and my stitching santa parcels. I’m a very happy girl! 😀

Cards and crochet

Just a quick update, partly because I’m not entirely sure if this will post as I’ve been writing comments on people’s blogs and they’re not publishing, and partly because I’m tired and need sleep!

This morning I made some cards, using the card and paper supplies that Jan sent in my stitching santa parcel, and the animal pictures I cut out from the wrapping paper from hazelnut thread’s stitching santa parcel. I then used nearly all of them to write thank you notes to people.

Then this evening I carried on doing some more crochet on my butterflies shawl, adding to some I did last night too. It’s growing, and the purple colour fade has finally started, which excited me more than I expected!!

Ooh, plus, look at this gorgeous needle case I bought from uniquely your designs. It came with a matching pin cushion but I’m tempted to use it as a decoration instead!

Blogiversary giveaway

Hey there everyone! Happy new year to you all and happy blogiversary to me 🥂.

It’s funny to think I’ve been blogging for a whole year. At the start I wrote this :

“Well, here goes….my first ever blog, at the suggestion of my husband! My name is Julia, and I turned 40 last year, and decided it would be a good time to try new things. I’ve always enjoyed arts and crafts, and this year I have decided that I would like to explore different ways of being creative. At the end of last year I did some wet felting, and I’ve done bits of crochet for a while. Then I’ve just bought a couple of needle felting kits, and paper cutting things. I’ve also bought a book called ‘draw everyday, draw every way‘ by Jennifer Orkin Lewis, and think it would be good to have a way of sharing what I have done each time I do something on a creative project. So here is my record of this attempt at being more creative over the course of a year (but which hopefully may continue longer). I know already that it would be a crazy target to try to do something every day, so I’m not going to attempt that, despite the title of the book! I just want to take opportunities where I can to develop new skills, and relax, and hopefully develop my creativity along the way. I’m hoping that having a blog will motivate me to keep going, and be a nice record of the things I do, even if no-one ends up reading it!”

Well, it turns out that people DO read it! Looking go at my stats since I started, I’ve written 106 posts that have gained 716 likes. I’m not counting comments as they include mine, which feels like cheating! I’ve got 91 word press followers and 10 email followers, and I feel like I’m surrounded by a lovely crafting community of people I’ve connected with in different ways through this blog. I love reading other people’s blogs and being inspired by what they’re making and I love giving and receiving encouragement through the comments parts of our blogs.

At the start I was only committing to a year, though i hoped it would continue longer, and I’m so excited to say that I will not be stopping blogging! I don’t want to lose this community and would love to deepen the relationships that have already begun through it.

Blogging has definitely given me motivation to keep crafting, and I’ve tried so many more crafts than I thought I would. Highlights include the blacksmith and stone carving workshops I signed up for, but the biggest surprise has been sewing! I went along to Sue’s patchwork/quilting session at church just to try out something new. I fully expected to be rubbish at it and not really enjoy it as sewing was not my thing but I figured it would be interesting to blog about! Hmm, turns out I was wrong. This single workshop has opened a door into the worlds of quilting and embroidery, and has resulted in my lovely husband’s Christmas present to me of a sewing machine. This is so out of character that my sister asked ‘what is happening to you?’.

I still love crochet, but find the projects I choose are longer ones, and i really love the speed of making things with my sewing machine (she needs a name!) and the creativity of designing my own embroideries/appliques.

This year I hope to try out yet more new crafts; I’m super excited about the prospect of the crochet sanctuary in February (meeting fellow bloggers, and hopefully improving my crochet skills even more through the workshops we’ll do… Not to mention swimming in pool, staying in a luxurious house, and eating yummy food!); I’m wondering about actually writing a tutorial (based on a present I sewed that I didn’t have a pattern for); and possibly actually crocheting something from my own design now I know that you can use graph paper to create your page patterns; plus I really ought to make the needle felting animals I bought before I started this blog!

We’ll see how this year goes! Given that my blog title was relevant to a year I’m wondering whether to change it? Is it confusing when someone changes their title? Should I keep it the same, change it minutely to ‘julias creative years’, slightly more to ‘julias creative life’ or dramatically to ‘jolly dragonfly’?

Anyway, if you’ve made it this far then I guess you might be interested in my giveaway!

I love giveaways, and sending presents, so I have 3 prizes. Each consists of a little fabric button pouch, combined with a fabric tray in similar fabrics. (teabag initially photographed to give scale, but will also be included in your prize!)

Prize one :

Prize two:

Prize three:

To enter, just leave a comment on this post. You can make any comment you like but please feel free to:

  • Suggest a name for my sewing machine (she’s a girl!)
  • Give your opinion on my potential blog name change
  • Say which prize you like best (not promising you’ll get it but I’ll bear it in mind when allocating prizes to the winners)

I’ll do the draw in 2 weeks (Thursday 18th January) at 5pm UK time,in the seriously non technical way of putting all the commenters’ names into a hat (once each, no matter how many times you comment) and pulling out three. The winners will then need to send me their address so I can post their goodies to them.

I think that’s all! Thank you all for making me feel like this is a worthwhile venture and for all your inspiration and encouragement. Long may it last!

Love Julia 😊

Stitching santa – yarn edition

I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed now by having opened both my stitching santa parcels. I loved putting the parcels together to send to my recipients, but I’ve had so much joy out of opening both of the parcels put together especially for me.

Second cup of coffee at the ready I opened my second parcel of the day which was from Jan of the snail of happiness. Inside the box were two individually wrapped parcels.

Opening the first i discovered a gorgeous hand made work basket, with a card.

This told me that as well as yarny gifts Jan had also included some card making things. Opening that package revealed gorgeous papers with petals and textures in them that I can’t wait to use, as well as cards, envelopes and tiny gift tags.

I moved onto the work basket which was filled with loads of goodies, lots contained in beautiful purple bags. So here goes, in order of opening…

First a bag of teeny tiny sparkly Christmas poms poms

Then some different coloured stitch markers

Some absolutely beautiful lace trim, which I assume might be vintage having seen the things Jan sells in her etsy shop.

Some beautiful shiny vintage buttons

Which I immediately started playing with as I wondered if I might use them in an embroidery to make a bird that I could then stitch a beak and legs onto with surrounding details. I think it looks a bit like a song thrush.

A 4.5mm crochet hook with a super comfy handle… Perfect as i’d love to gradually replace my hook collection with comfy handled ones… They’re so much nicer to use.

A couple more stitch markers (how cute is that gingerbread man?!) and a badge about making stuff. By this point I was feeling very grateful as a while ago I managed to lose my little tin that contained all my stitch markers… I think it may have fallen out on a train journey. I’m not sure I’ve written about that, but i was putting off buying any more incase my stitching santa might include some in my parcel. Perfect!

And then came the wool. Jan included 100% british wools, some that were commercially produced, and some that were produced by her friends. I love how she has included a tag on each to say where they have come from. It feels a bit like when I get out the recipe book my mum put together for me when I went off to uni and she has written in there who each of the recipes came from initially. Somehow when I make those recipes I feel linked back to those people and it’s a really lovely way to remember them. I’m excited that this first wool was from local sheep (local to Jan). This means Welsh sheep, and i feel quite strongly about my Welsh roots (my dad’s mum was Welsh). Having studied in Cardiff I didn’t want to leave Wales, and lived and worked in Llanelli, and then bridgend,neath and port talbot,before I finally moved here to gloucester. My mum’s dad used to jokingly suggest he’d disinherit me as I strongly supported the Welsh in rugby, even when (especially when!!) they were playing the English! I now need to think of something I can make for myself so I can keep the Welsh wool here!

More natural coloured wool

Including some from cornish sheep, which is also special as i love Cornwall and we spent our honeymoon there nearly 3 years ago

Interestingly i would never normally go for things in these colours, but seeing all these balls of wool together in natural undyed colours has got me really excited. I may also have spent a little while just sniffing them and taking in the Sheepy smell 😳. I can’t wait to make something special with them – please feel free to make suggestions, otherwise I fear I will not think of anything special enough and will end up waiting too long for inspiration!

Three more balls of wool, including the blue dyed one from more Welsh sheep. (the colour of the orangey one looks more red here but it’s more subtle in reality)

And then finally this intriguing little package!

Each little package had either a totally perfect flamingo or this large safety pin. I may have let out an actual squeal of joy when I saw the first flamingo!

I’m wondering if my new collection of stitch markers will be safer if I pin them onto a work bag?

A closer view of the now empty work basket

My two parcels have totally made my day. They have extended Christmas from when I started putting together the parcels to send up to now when I’ve opened them. Thank you so much Sheila of sewchet for organising the swap. I’ll definitely sign up if you do it again next Christmas (and I might cry if you don’t!).

And finally, hoping this doesn’t make my post too long,photos of what I sent to my yarny recipient