Christmas gifts

Well, being off work and rather confined to the sofa has meant I’ve been reading a fair bit but I’ve also done more craft.

Having sorted my craft stuff I realised I had quite a bit of felt, and now I’ve finished the polar bear

I’ve realised I can use embroidery to decorate felt gifts. So I got started and made a baby deer

A heart

And a sloth

I also had an email from embrace who work in the middle East. Their suggestion was that after black Friday and cyber Monday there should be giving Tuesday and they have alternative gifts available. I figured that if I was making people little gifts for Christmas I could include an alternative gift with them and had a lot of fun choosing each one to match the person I’m giving it to. Several people got the one to provide materials for art therapy in Lebanon as they are fellow crafter and I thought they might like that. My favourite is the one for pregnant women in bethlehem, providing care for them in a local centre. They’ve called it ‘away in a manger’. I like the idea of giving Tuesday, and am excited to give people some alternate gifts.

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Crafting progress

This weekend was deliberately kept free so we could have some chill time at home. I spent Saturday morning finishing off and packing up stitching santa boxes, and then set to sorting out my craft storage area. Essentially this is just a pile of boxes but as I use things or acquire new projects/resources they invariably end up loose on top of the piles. After two separate landslides while trying to retrieve something I decided enough was enough and a big sort was required. A couple of bits will go into school rather than sit being unused here as they are more child oriented things but the rest got sorted into more sensible sized boxes. Now I have one box for wool (with maybe one or two bags for overflow!), a box of paper craft things, one for papercutting, one for jewellery and one for materials. It’s definitely more organised, and it’s always good to have a sort out to remember what’s there and think of ways to use it.

Then I decided I’d start on an embroidery project that I bought a while back from hawthorn handmade. I love their contemporary designs and am feeling inspired that as I get better at a variety of stitches I could perhaps draw some designs of my own to embroidery, maybe based on some henna designs.

Here’s how far I’ve got with the polar bear

Now the fun bit will start as I can use different colours and practice different stitches.

My other project this weekend was to up cycle a second hand wooden photo frame in order to paint it to put in an amusing card I wanted to hang in our toilet. I sanded off the varnish and then mixed up a dark green acrylic paint and painted it on. I’m really pleased to have finally got that done.

You can’t really see but the other frame is dark blue.

Having been feeling unwell today with a really painful ear, dizziness and nausea, I’ve only done a bit of the embroidery this evening. The rest of the day was spent cwtched up with my hot water bottle, watching cheesy Christmas films or sleeping.

Have you all had productive weekends?

No crochet here!

Hi there. It’s been a while since I last blogged but I have actually been doing craft (but no crochet). After the hard work of catching up with the spirits of life CAL I suddenly panicked about the fact that I had signed up for one advent craft swap organised by fionnuala and two Christmas swaps through sewchet’ s stitching santa. So I didn’t want to post photos of the things I’ve been making as I don’t want to spoil their surprises. I know the recipients don’t know I’m sending them things, but I figure it’s just safer not to put stuff on here until after they’ve received and opened their parcels.

But, I will tell you that in making things for them I’ve been drawing things, and also doing some embroidery (never thought I’d be saying that!) and quilting. I really enjoyed the embroidery and would like to do more, but I didn’t enjoy stitching things together, and am beginning to wonder if I should invest in a sewing machine so that I can finish things off neater and quicker and can spend sewing time making things look pretty? I did actually use a friend’s sewing machine to make a sheet decorated by the children in the reception classes into a cushion cover. And I found it surprisingly easy given that I was previously scared of sewing machines!

The pictures are of their drawings and some of them have sounded out and written words, or copied writing from the books they were using to decorate our reading cushion. I assume you can tell when an adult has written something for them instead, as the children are 4 and 5 years old and have only been learning to write for a short while! It was such a fun project, and really lovely to turn their art work into something they can use every day.

Sewing things together by hand (through 2 layers of wadding plus material plus bias binding left me wondering if my crafts were looking a bit amateur, but it’s funny how once things are finished off you see them as a whole and they look a lot better than when you are focusing on individual stitches. Having gone through a feeling of guilt that my gifts would be substandard, now that I’ve put them together with lots of craft things and other goodies I’m suddenly feeling more confident about them and am excited about sending them and at some point finding out their reactions to their gifts. I love giving and receiving gifts, but i always want the gifts I give to be wanted and loved and it’s a bit scary sending to people I don’t really know.

But, I think it’s all cool now! And…. I get the excitement of knowing that 3 crafty gifts will be winging their way towards me during the coming month… Yippee!!

Spirits of life part 3 completed

Hey everyone! Yep, you heard me right, I’ve finished part 3 of the CAL, and have actually made a start on part 4 before part 5 was released! I’m now under a week behind (which I can handle).

Catching up was facilitated by a stomach bug that meant I couldn’t go to work for two days and just sat on the sofa doing crochet and working my way through episodes of zoo on netflix!

The overlay work in part 3 was tricky but Ok as long as you could find the stitches you were meant to be going into. The slight problem is that my tension seemed to get looser so it doesn’t quite lay flat but hopefully blocking at the end will help that.

Here are a few pictures of my progress :

The finished mosaic part

And I’m feeling very proud of myself as I’m following the grid pattern for the C2c part, when I’ve only followed written instructions before, and never actually added a design to my C2c. So I’m learning new things even when doing a technique I already knew.

But, I’m getting quite tangled up at times with 3 balls of wool all attached at the same time!

And finally, I got my yarn bowl through in the post today and it’s even more gorgeous in real life than I’d thought it would be. I’m Looking forward to using it soon. It’s from dancing hare pottery on etsy if you’re interested!

Progress… But not as much as I’d have liked

Sorry the picture’s not great, but here’s where I’ve got to this evening.

I’m really pleased with how it looks, and how I’ve remedied things when I’ve not quite followed the pattern correctly, but I’m super frustrated that I haven’t finished this mosaic section yet. I planned to spend lots of yesterday doing it but I was too tired to be able to concentrate. So now I still have to finish this section before I can start on the section that was released on Wednesday. I think I’m slowly going to get further and further behind, which is really bothering me.

This evening, in maybe 3 and a half hours I’ve managed to do 16 rows. I’ve got another 14 rows of this mosaic pattern to go, but i think there are more rows after that to finish the section. At least that should be quicker to do but I think it’s still another 20 rows maybe.

Anyway, I can’t change anything about how far I’ve got. Hopefully I’ll feel awake and alert enough tomorrow evening to finish off the mosaic part. I’ll keep you posted

Quick update

Well, I’ve crocheted far later than is wise on a ‘school night’ but I thought I’d give a quick update on how things are going with the mosaic work.

Here’s where I got to last night.

Then today while catching up with my friend over coffee I got all the ends sewn in which felt great and neatened the whole thing up a lot.

Then this evening I’ve had poldark on in the background and carried on with the mosaic work. It’s a lot easier to check where I am on the written pattern now the crochet has developed a bit further so I can see the pattern in it.

I’m really enjoying doing this, and surprising myself that I can follow the chart without needing written instructions. This means that in the future I could develop my own design if I wanted to and just copy from a grid on squared paper.

Tomorrow night is another crochet night, but i could probably get more done if I don’t try to watch tv at the same time! Maybe I’ll try background music instead!

Spirits of life CAL part 1

Phew… I’ve finally finished part one of this gorgeous design. The pattern was released on Wednesday 18th October and i had my wool ready, but i was too scared to start!

Finally on Monday I decided I had to try. Having been put off by the instructions to test my gauge (something I’d never done before) otherwise the piece wouldn’t fit together and to weigh all the wool so you’d know at the end of each part whether you’d be on track to have enough wool to finish, i rather froze. Words going through my head were along the lines of “your guage is going to be wrong, and you won’t have the right hook. Your piece will look awful because it will never fit together. Why are you even trying this, you know following patterns goes wrong for you. You’ve picked a project that is way too hard for you”. But common sense kicked in and i figured I’d paid the money for the wool so I might as well try. On a relaxed day on holiday in Cornwall (look at the pretty view from our cabin… That’s the sea in case you can’t tell… And there are tin mines on the coastline)

I sat in bed with a coffee (decadent!) and set to with a guage sample. Part of me didn’t want to do this because the idea of crocheting something that would take time but not form part of the piece was a bit soul destroying. I completed my first sample and realised it was way too tall. But thankfully tatsiana had linked to a helpful video of how to alter the height of your stitches. I lost count of how many times I crocheted and frogged, but it actually felt surprisingly good as i knew I was learning something. But… It took all morning!

Before I stopped for lunch I weighed all the wool, and got the chain and first row started.

Over the next couple of days I did bits more but was worried how long I was taking. “If I get behind now…when I have time on holiday to crochet, what will it be like once I’m back in work? I’ll never keep up”…. Horrid negative voice in my head.

Anyway, we’re back home now and today I finally finished part 1 and I’m actually pleased with it! I picked the wrong wool for one section, but i was not going to frog back to redo it, and just swapped colours in another section to try to keep the balance of wools right. I’m not sure how that’s going to go as I’ve gone over weight on 3 of the wools but am fine on all the others. I’ll wait till further into the pattern before I start worrying about whether I need to buy more wool or not.

Here’s how far I’ve got before I start on part two which will be my first ever foray into mosaic crochet.

Looking at the pattern I think I get it, but I’m really hoping that’s not a case of pride comes before a fall! I’ve got two evenings by myself tomorrow and Tuesday so here’s hoping for a huge amount of headway before part 3 comes out on Wednesday. Tomorrow when I meet a friend at a local cafe for coffee and crochet I shall focus on getting those pesky ends woven in as I don’t think I’ll be able to talk and concentrate on mosaic crochet at the same time.

And finally, some reflections on what I’ve learnt so far:

My crochet style is naturally quite loose but that’s ok… It’s not wrong, and i now know how to remedy it if needed

Working tighter stitches isn’t feeling as unnatural as I thought it would

I CAN follow patterns (so far anyway)

I’m quite good at spotting where I’ve gone wrong, and deciding whether it needs to be frogged or if I can remedy it a different way

I probably shouldn’t put off doing things just because they scare me… It just puts more pressure on when I finally start. Plus, whether things go ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ I’m bound to learn stuff, and that’s a good thing!

And stuff I’m enjoying so far:

I love the colour combinations, even though they’re not necessarily colours I would have put together myself.

I’m enjoying the different textures of wool

I’m feeling proud of what I’ve accomplished so far

I’m excited about learning new techniques, and tatsiana has provided written instructions, helpful hints, photos and videos so there are loads of ways to help me figure out what I really supposed to be doing when I’m not entirely sure.

Watch this space for part two and a mosaic adventure!