Thursday 28 December 2017

Junk Model Seagull

This is the first in a series of posts about things I've made people for Christmas this year.  The only problem with making things for friends and family is you can't really blog about them until after they have received them!

This excellent junk model seagull is one of Rob Ives designs.  I love his designs for their simplicity and for the fact they are so fun.  
It actually took me a couple of weeks to put together as I hurt my finger and then caught a cold.  However under normal circumstances I think I could have done it in an evening if the glue dried quickly. 

This one went to my Dad, even though he does live at the seaside and probably has too many seagulls!  I thought he would appreciate the engineering involved.

Saturday 23 December 2017

Christmas Gingerbread Biscuits

I read a nice magazine called The Simple Things.  Last month amongst all the other lovely things were some images (and a recipe) of biscuits with patterns stamped on them.  As soon as I saw them I wanted to have a go!

But that meant finding some stamps, which proved to be more difficult than I had imagined.  Eventually I found some beautiful ones on Etsy shop SwissvintageandMore - a shop based in Hungary.  Mirtill was very helpful and somehow managed to get them to me just in time for Christmas!

So this morning I spend my time making gingerbread biscuits with a lime butter icing.  The hardest part is stamping your dough hard enough that the pattern doesn't disappear with cooking.  The stamps themselves are things of beauty never mind the fact they make such pretty biscuits.  I'm looking forward to trying out a mixture of recipes to see which stamp best.  Merry Christmas!

Sunday 3 December 2017

Knitted Chicken Jumper

*** This post was written this time last year (2016), but didn't get posted for a number of reasons. Having just come across it again I see no reason not to post it now! ***

Six weeks before Christmas, already busy packing up the house for a move date that was getting later and later, a friend challenged me to create a chicken jumper.  I don't normally take on knitting projects from friends as they often don't understand the amount of work that goes into it, and I have many other projects on my own list.

However I do love chickens and was intrigued by this project.  I looked up some patterns, they looked quite straight forward and I had some suitable spare wool.  I was also fed up of packing for something which felt like it would never happen and I had a cold which meant I couldn't go for a run.  I spent the day knitting instead.

I am so happy with the finished result.  My pattern is Nanny Norths pattern designed for battery hens, who are often missing feathers and can freeze to death at this time of year.  It was a very easy pattern to follow and I love that the tabs for the button holes are knitted as part of the whole.

Sunday 26 November 2017

Frida's Flower Blanket Hung

Last year I spent ages crocheting Frida's Flower Blanket. I was really pleased with the end result, but as we were looking for a new house it got packed away safe and I didn't really think about it again until we moved into the new house and I found it as I was unpacking. 

But what to do with it now? As I was showing my Dad, he suggested it would look good mounted over the fireplace. We really liked that idea, but with much work to do on the house before that would be a safe option, it went back in the bag for later.

Finally this week 'im outdoors has had time to make me a frame to tie it to and put up some hooks for me. It looks great against the brickwork. It still needs some tweaking to get it to hang right, but it really works well in the space. Our house is really starting to feel like home.

Saturday 14 October 2017

Chicken Cushion

Last March I attended the Knitting and Stitching Show again.  Years ago I used to do cross stitch projects and so I was on the look out for a cross stitch cushion for the new house.  I didn't find one, but I did find this chicken tapestry from the Historical Sampler Company instead.  It is very similar to cross stitch, except you only do half of the cross.

I didn't start it as soon as I got home and I haven't been working on it exclusively, so its not taken a full 6 months to do, but it's felt like it at times! 

Once it was complete I got 'im outdoors to help me pin it to a sheet of MDF so I could steam it back into shape (my sweating hands and rolling it up to work on had made it more diamond than square).

Then using a fat quarter from our local sewing shop I made a really simple envelope-style back to the cushion.  It took me about 10 minutes, which felt a bit easy considering how long the front took to make.  But I am so chuffed with how its come out.  It looks stunning in our new armchair.  (Yes this is the one I found to go with the chest of drawers.  It was a lot closer than the drawers were and I didn't feel bad sending 'im outdoors to fetch it.  We both love it!)

Sunday 24 September 2017

A chest of drawers

My beautiful new chest of drawers
Months ago, when we were just moving into the new house, and I was just starting out on my adventures with Gumtree, a friend sent me the link to a blog post about a lady buying an antique mirror on craigslist.  This post really is worth the read if you have time.
At the time I laughed hard and then forgot about it.
But this week I had cause to remember that post and wonder if I am starting down a similar path.  Surely not?

As we work though the house renovating and decorating I am then trying to find things that fit with the house.  This includes new lamp shades, a belfast sink and this week a chest of drawers.
In the new house we have a little more room than in the flat, and within this extra living room space, I want to make a little area with a nice arm chair and chest of drawers were I could read a book out of 'im outdoors way when he's playing Xbox.
The chest of drawers would be useful for storing all my running lights and the dog paraphernalia while also being a good place for placing a cup of tea.

Next to a dining room chair to show just how small it is
 So I've been keeping an eye on Gumtree to see if anything comes up.  You would not believe how many chests of drawers get posted everyday!  Some are pretty nice, others not so much.  But it was after thinking that a 2 hour drive to get a used chest of drawers was not a big deal that I suddenly remembered that blog post.
Arriving and finding that the chest was a bit smaller than I had thought, but still beautiful and perfect, I kinda felt bad for making 'im outdoors drive 2 hours in his truck with me and the dog, to pick up a chest of drawers that would have fitted in my mini, but at the same time I can't help but feel very chuffed at my find and how perfect it is.
Now I just have to find an arm chair to match it...

Monday 28 August 2017


During the summer I like to sleep in a pair of light cotton shorts and a vest top.  Recently I tore one pair of shorts and I am finding it hard to find a replacement.  No worries I thought, I'll just make myself a new pair.
Using a mixture of the skills I got from the trouser making classes in January and the copy your clothes course from 2015, I created a pattern based on my favorite sleeping shorts.

Love this material
I cut it out and started putting it all together, so far so good.  But then I added the waist band and this is when it all went wrong.  They went from fitting, to being much too small. I know what went wrong.  I kinda mixed two designs together without giving the other waist band enough material.  So now I have to decide if I should unpick this one and try and save it, or if I should modify the pattern a bit and try again?

Monday 7 August 2017

A little taster of a big project

It's been a busy couple of months.  And while all that's been going on I've been working away on a big old project when I have the odd half an hour or so.  This is just a little taster because its not going to be finished any time soon!
On the other hand I am really enjoying my dusk walks with Milo.  We've seen deer, cows and bats among other things, and nothing beats seeing the last rays of sun stream through the trees at the end of the day.
So I'll keep plugging away and maybe it'll be done by Christmas!

Saturday 22 July 2017

Puzzle ball

July is normally a rubbish month for crafting.  It's hot and sticky (except it's cold and wet today) which means your hands stick to the wool.  And the Tour de France is on so we spend out evenings watching the highlights.  And now we have the Milo dog too, any evening that might be left over is take up with a walk.  Not that I am complaining, just explaining why not much craft happens in July.
So I am pretty happy with the small project I have just managed to complete.

As soon as I saw the puzzle ball design on the Purl Soho site I knew I wanted to make one.  I just loved how they had used different colours inside.  So then I started looking round to see how to make one.  Little Red Farm had a very good tutorial which I followed, although I hand sewed mine, rather than machine sewing, which is part of why it took me so long, but did mean I could do it during the adverts.

Once I understood what I had to do, each section didn't really take that long, the worst part was working out the order they should go in so that each section had all three colours.  There was also that worrying moment when you think you don't have enough bits 'cos the last gap looks too big, but it was fine.

I love how its come out.  I wasn't sure about the colours when I started but they work so well together.  Its very pleasing.  All I have to do now is keep it away from Milo who thinks its for him, it is a ball after all.

Saturday 8 July 2017

Tiny flowers

Ages ago I bought some lenses to use with my phone.

As with all these things they got put to one side and a bit forgotten, until now.  I've taken to walking round the lake at lunch times at work, and as the season has progressed and I've seen all the beautiful wild flowers growing round it I decided to take the lenses with me on a walk and see what I could capture.

I was so impressed with the images I also look the lens with me when we visited Uppark recently. 

It's the macro lens which has been really impressing me.  It can be a little tricky - the lightest breeze makes the flowers move like they are in a gale! And in the sunshine my phone screen doesn't always show a very good image.  I also find using the touch screen button tricky!  
But I still somehow manage to take the odd good photo (there are many more blurry ones). 

Its amazing what you can see when you stop and look!

Sunday 2 July 2017

Stary necklace

Anyone who knows me, knows I love stars.
I've got more star jewellery than you can shake a stick at but that didn't stop me from desiring another necklace. And this is were the bees wax comes in.
I'd found some tiny star beads and wanted to hang them on something equally delicate. I'd looked into chains but it was impossible to work out if they chain would go through the bead holes without seeing them in person, and they all seemed to have massive findings for doing them up which kinda defeats the objective in my eyes.

So I started thinking about other ways to hang them. What about a cord with a sliding knot?  The first cord I tried was way too thick for the beads so I found some of my own embroidery thread and coated it in bees wax (this helps it to handle better, wear better and lets the knots slide).  I then ironed the thread between some grease proof paper to even the wax out a bit.  With my cotton ready I threaded my beads then tied my sliding knots.
For something so simple it's come out really well.  I like to wear it quite high, nearly a choker, but could easily have it lower if I wanted - part of the beauty of a sliding knot.

Sunday 25 June 2017


Me and 'im outdoors have been talking about getting a dog forever.  But in the flat it wouldn't have worked - a whole set of steps and a garden gate to go through before being free to roam.
Now we have a house with a nice big garden and a woodland behind, it suddenly became a possibility.  And with the utility room finished we started talking about it seriously. 

Although we would have liked a puppy we decided that there were so many dogs that need rehoming we should start by looking there.  So one Sunday afternoon at the beginning of June we made the trip out to the Dog Trust centre at Shoreham, being our nearest centre even though it's still over an hours drive away.

There were many dogs who we liked, but most of them wouldn't be able to deal with going to work with 'im outdoors, which was the only way we can have a dog.  No one wants to be left by themselves for 8 hours every day.
After registering our interest and having a good chat with the ladies at the centre we left wondering how long it would take to find someone to live with us.

3 days later and I received a phone call from the Trust.  Were we still interested in a dog.  Yes, I say.  Then they had a 3 year old black Lab called Milo who might interest us.
So the next weekend, on nearly the hottest day of the year so far, we drove down to meet him.  Apparently he is a stray from Wales so Milo isn't his real name, which is why he ignored us when we called him by it.  Otherwise he is a real sweetie.  Very quiet, loves a ball, polite with other dogs but pulls on the lead a bit.  I can't believe anyone would have let him go, but the Trust ladies told us that while it could just be someone had got fed up of him, it was more likely that they had lost their job and couldn't look after him any more or something equally sad.

After visiting him again, having a house visit to make sure the garden was safe and secure and attending an adoption talk - all about dog behaviour and how to help him settle in to his new home, we were able to bring him home.

My car will never be the same!  But mostly he will travel in the truck so that will be better.
Then we had a quiet weekend to bond, mostly with a set of tennis balls and a squeaky chicken. He's a little under weight at the moment so he's on 3 meals a day until he puts on 3kg and I hope to build him up to running with me.
So while we know our lives will never be the same again we very much hope that Milo has now found his forever home.

Tuesday 13 June 2017

Bees Wax

So a couple of weeks ago I decided I needed some bees wax.  Apparently its very good for making cotton easier to work with when sewing and book binding; more about that project in another post.
I didn’t really want to get it on Amazon, so decided to visit our local market town and see if the sewing shop there had any.
I couldn’t see any so asked the lady in the shop.  She didn’t think they had any and as I was turning away to try another plan, a customer in the shop asked ‘Did you want some bees wax?’

I said yes I did and she explained that she was a local bee keeper and she has just cut off some excess wax from one of her frames which I could have if I wanted. 
Not really knowing what to expect I agreed and we (me and 'im outdoors) drove out to one of the small villages in the area to find a house on top of a hill with a beech hedge (the actually instructions we were given).

We actually got there before she did and had to explain to her poor husband why we were knocking on the door!
However after a chat and a cup of tea we left with a beautiful piece of comb and the promise of more later if I want it.
Once home I had to work out what to do with it.  I couldn’t just use it as it was as it would just crumble and it needed cleaning.

After a bit of research I tried boiling it.  To do this you need to place the comb in something so all the imperfections are captured and you end up with clean wax.  An old pair of tights were perfect.  

Although the piece of comb was quite big, once you melt it down and form it into a ball there isn't really that much there which I think makes it even more amazing.
Anyway there should be enough for my project, more about that later.