Shopping spree

Today after work I treated  myself to a leisurely browse around a craft shop. 45 minutes later I came home with a bag  full of goodies! 

It’s all for a mix of crafts. So i bought a book that was in the magazine section which gives ideas of different crafts and instructions on how to do  them, which I thought  would be good for expanding my creative repertoire! 

I’m not sure about the tea blending, but we’ll see! 

I also bought some funky materials (something I never thought I’d do) and a patchwork ruler, with the aim of making a patchwork pillowcase… Maybe for me, or maybe as a present, I’m not sure yet. I’d  started off picking up a fat quarter of fabrics with birds on but when I saw these I couldn’t resist their brightness, so i put the bird ones back. I couldn’t find the perfect bluey green cotton for sewing them so I got this really cool variegated cotton which I hope will look cool even if my stitches show. 

I bought some fine line drawing pens to go with a small sketchbook I have, as I want to try drawing some birds  over the Easter holidays. 

Also a book of different patterned papers for another idea I’ve had for making pretty pictures,and some new sharp scissors. 

And finally some black cards with some oil pastels for an idea I’ve had for making cards (the fixative is to stop the pastels coming off when they’re touched, and the pens are for writing in the cards… I hope they work-I’ve yet to find a reliable metallic gel pen that writes smoothly). 

I thought that was my final comment but look! 

I just went to put my materials away and discovered that one of them has  little elephants on… It’s even more gorgeous than I already thought. 

So, my current focus is my crochet scarf, but after that it could be any of a number of projects! Have I got you excited about what might be coming up on my blog in the near future?! 😊

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Here we go again! 

Well, I’m not sure how many times i have restarted this project but hopefully this is the last time! The fabulous Joyce Barker (my husband’s aunt who i’m very pleased i get to share!) had a look at the original pattern and spent time figuring out what it should be. My attempt to remedy the pattern wasn’t far wrong, but the end of the rows were a bit hit and miss. So, now that Joyce had told me how it should be (and she’d tried it out and done a sample of it to make sure!) i decided to unravel one more time and start again! Unfortunately the wool had been crocheted and unravelled one too many times and snapped, so i just started with a new section of wool. 

And here it is! 

It’s actually very simple, and works up very quickly once you know what you’re doing, and I’m enjoying the fact that I’m confident in what I’m doing at the end of each row. You can see the difference below, between the actual pattern (top) and my previous attempt (bottom) with its wonky edges!! 

While praying for the future recipient of the scarf/shawl I’ve continued to pray for her perseverance, but also that she’ll have people alongside her who can help her figure out where things are not quite going to plan, and how to fix the issues. Here’s praying for her to have an ‘Aunt Joyce’  too.

Thank you Joyce for your interest in this project and for the time and effort you put into figuring out  the real pattern. And while we’re here, thank you too for showing me how to hold a crochet hook properly! It’s definitely sped up my crocheting by miles! 

And now a quick update of how far I’ve got with an evening of crochet:

The colours are actually a bit more muted than they appear in the photo, but i love how they gradually blend into each other subtly

Mothering Sunday card

With Mothering Sunday coming up on Sunday i decided to make my Mum a card. She really likes birds, and as I couldn’t find her a bird related present (i got her something else instead!) I decided to make her a bird related card!

I decided to go with a mothering kind of image and represent a bird feeding two chicks (me and my sister!) but I wasn’t  sure if I would go stylistic or realistic. Having just watched the final of ‘the big painting challenge’ and seen how much the painters were encouraged to ‘let go’ and not plan in meticulous detail I decided to start drawing in pen straight on the card and see what happened!  I had a mix of different thickness fineliners and two thicknesses of felt pen.

I started with the adult song thrush, filled in some detail (handily going over and disguising a couple of mistakes) and then drew the chicks.

I’m not sure it’s really recognisable as a song thrush, but In  some  ways I’m not worried. The idea I wanted to convey of an adult bird nourishing its babies is obvious in the picture, even if the exact species of bird is not!

Hopefully my mum will like it (both on here and in reality!)

I love You Mum and am very grateful for everything you did in bringing me up, as well as for your ongoing support. Thank you xxxxx

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Secret crochet project

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A while back I commented that I was working on a secret crochet project and I can now share what it was. I worked on my biggest project yet, which was a colourful single blanket. I didn’t want to share about it as I went along as it was going to be a present for a family who read my blog.

This was my first attempt at a prayer item. The family had been through a rough time over the last  year or so with health issues, and i wanted to make them something to remind them of God’s love even in the middle of horrendous situations.

I started to crochet this when I came across the idea of prayer shawls, and immediately went to my local wool shop, MIJU wools, to find something. The staff there are really helpful and they helped me to find a lovely chunky wool and think about how it would work up. I chose a variegated wool with different colours that i wanted to represent the fact that life is not continually dark, but it’s mixed up with dark and brighter patches. I took my wool  to a nearby cafe and crocheted a chain the width of the blanket. After that i added rows  and rows of trebles, and just kept going!

After this my crochet came everywhere with me :friends’houses, pubs, conferences, cafes and hotels! And all the time I was reminded to pray  for the family. What i loved about this process was that although I didn’t pray continuously, each time I crocheted i was reminded of the need to pray, and i found myself inspired by my surroundings :an open fire inspiring prayers of feeling  God’s warmth and cosiness, an episode of call the midwife inspiring prayers that there would be people to share their tears with them, the length of time it took to crochet reminding me to pray for perseverance for them. It felt amazing to be praying into their lives in this way, and for me, it helped me to connect with God without having me as the focus. And it was so good to be able to say to them “I’ve been praying  for you” and to know that had been more than a quick request to God.

Once I’d completed the main part of the blanket I decided to edge it with double crochet in a darker chunky wool, again reinforcing the idea of joy coming out of darker things.

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And then i tied it up, and i was able to give it to them this week.

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The family really liked it, and i loved seeing  that it fulfilled my aim of being big enough (just!) to wrap up one adult and one child together. Now my final prayer is that they will be aware of  God’s love, warmth and care for them whenever they see or use their blanket.

Patchwork

Today I got to try something new. I don’t do sewing and i don’t do ironing but today i did lots of both as I hand sewed the patchwork part of a quilted cushion cover!

A lovely lady from my church ran a quilting workshop today to teach some of us how to quilt. Sue had given me and Mark a patchwork quilt that she had made for our wedding and every morning I admire the amount of work that went into it.

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Having started the blog I thought this was a good opportunity to try something new, even though I assumed it would be something of a disaster and that I wouldn’t really enjoy it!

Positive attitude in hand (though looking forward to seeing people!) i headed off to church and chose from a lovely selection of different coloured materials that sue had provided.

Funnily enough I actually enjoyed ironing my choice of materials. Normally I add more creases than I remove but ironing a flat, single-layer item seemed to work better!IMAG0677

Then I started cutting my squares.

Three  squares each of my 3 colours. Each square was 4 and a half inches ,and then I played around with the order of squares until I found a pattern I liked .

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Then the sewing  started, but it was strangely relaxing. Folding  my squares onto each other with right sides touching each other i drew a quarter inch line as a sewing guide. I then back stitched along it and did the same for different pairs until I had 3 rows of squares.IMAG0681

I pressed the seams so they would lie flat behind the darkest square and then sue showed me how to lock the seams together and attach the rows to each other. It was nostalgic as I got to use the coloured pins I’d had in my wedding bouquet to hold the seams together.

I was really proud of my square and was keen to move on with adding the border (so keen I forgot to take photos!). So I cut strips that were 2 and a half inches wide and started sewing  these on, short edges first and longer edges after. Other people were stopping for lunch but I was impatient to finish. Unfortunately that shows in how much more visible my stitching is on the edge pieces. My sewing kit is not very extensive so i was  using my only pure cotton thread, which is white, and which shows up rather dramatically when you  look closer.IMAG0686

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I am really proud of this though, and that I sewed it by hand. I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed it, and my sense of achievement is huge. I was so excited I was bouncing around the church hall as I completed different  parts. And far from thinking this would be the one and only time I’d do this sort of thing I’m already thinking of what else I could make with patchwork!

Thank you sue for being a patient and great teacher and for sharing my excitement. I’m looking forward to adding wadding and backing to quilt it.

P. S. Here’s a photo of the underneath as promised in the comments

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Less frustration! 

After some more effort this afternoon and evening i’ve come up with a pattern that is at least a bit like it’s meant to be! The edges are still a case of making them up as i go along to try to stop them being too bendy, but i don’t think that matters too much in a scarf!

I played around with trying to draw the pattern out, but i got confused and had to change it… Hence the scribbling out! 

I’m proud of myself for keeping going with this and not giving up. 

Frustration! 

This is a photo of my next crochet project… Or at least what i want the next project to look like! But unfortunately it turns out the pattern is written incorrectly! The first time i followed the pattern i discovered that each row increased dramatically in length resulting in a very frilly effect… Not what i was after! So i unravelled it back to the end of the first proper row and changed the pattern to what i thought it should  be! 

Second time around i realised that in doubling the length of the chain to make the scarf wider i hadn’t taken into account the mathematical aspect of the pattern. Needing a chain that was a multiple of 7 with 5 added wasn’t going to work by doubling 33 to 66. Unravelling number 2, this time back to the chain! 

This time i started with my chain of 61 and thought things would work better but several rows in i ended up with this 

It looks pretty but it’s not what I’m aiming for. I might have carried on with it if the edges were going straight, but they were definitely not! 

So now, once again, my crochet looks like this 

I’m not sure if i need to go back to the chain yet. I’m also not sure whether to just use some scrappy wool and start with a chain of 33 to work out what to do, or try working it out on paper with a crochet pattern. I certainly don’t want to unravel this wool again… Each time it’s getting fluffier. 

Anyway, the interesting thing about this is that I’m crocheting it as a prayer scarf. I came across the idea in debbie macomber’s book ‘back on blossom street’, part of a series of fictional books set around a wool shop in America. The idea is that you crochet a shawl and pray for the person you’re making it for as you do it. I decided to crochet the scarf for someone whose life is not currently following the plan she had for it , and she’s trying to work out what to do next. I realised in the work I’ve done on this how  frustrating and disheartening it is when things don’t work out how you think or hope they will, especially when you’ve done things the way they were ‘supposed’  to be done. The sense of frustration is huge, and I’m only dealing with it over a short period of time. But it takes time to change plans and see if they’ll turn out better. The experience has fed into my prayers for her, as she works out whether to keep going with things as they are, or ‘unravel’  and start again. I’m praying for her perseverance, as well as an ability to deal with the frustration she must feel. 

And then, in writing my blog post i tried to put a photo on, and it did the highly annoying thing of wiping my whole post so i had to start all over again. But i persevered and here’s the post! I’ll keep you updated on how the scarf progresses. I really want to figure out the correct pattern so i can contact the people who published it and let them know how to fix it…and so that the scarf looks like i want it to!