Thursday 29 December 2022

Itsy Bitsy Christmas Bear Hug

 In September I wrote a post about a tiny felt bear that I made.

Having made one, I had no real desire to make another, however I did have an idea of how to amend the pattern to create some Christmas presents for people.


I started by creating some tiny yellow stars, then some shiny silver wings, before creating the bear.  Wings and faces were added first, then the bear was sewn up, remembering to add a ribben for hanging as I went, before stuffing and adding the stars.


Again, I made full use of train commute to the office.  There is something very satisfing to get off the train knowing you've made full use of the time.

A very simple gift, but something I hope will be added to the tree decorations of the future.

Saturday 24 December 2022

Christmas Cards 2022


Happy Christmas everyone!

Here is this years printed card design.  I wanted to see how detailed I could make it using lino and I'm pretty happy with how this turned out.


I found some pretty red card this year that looks pretty Christmasy, but I like the recycled brown card too.


And I've already got some ideas for next years design! 

Here's to the New Year and new adventures.

Monday 5 December 2022

Portland Cardigan


I loved the chunky look of this cardigan when I saw it and wanted to have a go.  I think this is the most chunky thing I've knitted yet and it was amazing how quickly it came together.

I was a little disappointed that it's knitted flat and sewn together, but it's not the end of the world, and I guess if you made it as one piece it would get pretty heavy very quickly.

I used 5 balls of Stylecraft Special XL super chunky in duck egg, and my biggest needles.  And rather than taking months it took weeks!


I love the fisherman rib stitch.  I was worried it would slow me down, but it's really easy and looks fantastic.  I love how chunky the whole thing is.

If I was doing it again I'd make sure I was even more loose when binding off the top of the sleeves, and I might be tempted to make the front panels a little wider, but otherwise I think its come out pretty well.  Not sure if I can wear it to the office though - it might be too chuncky to fit under my coat!

Sunday 20 November 2022

Upholstering A Stool


When 'im outdoors was looking for an upholster earlier in the year, we found one nearby and I couldn't help but notice she was also running courses, one of which caught my eye - a one day workshop on how to upholster a stool.

So this weekend I visited The Upholstery Yard to see what I could learn.


We started off with a basic Ikea wooden stool.  We would learn how to add padding (not foam) and then cover it - how hard could it be!  


First we attached hessian to the top of the stool.  With the hessian in place we used a massive scary mattrice needle to add loops to the hessian.  Into each loop we hooked coir until we couldn't see the wooden stool top or hessian and we had a big hairy mass.  


Once we'd worked all the lumps out we covered it with a wool and cotton wadding.  This had to be long enough to cover the coir all the way round without being so long it tucked under the wooden stool top.


At this point we stopped for lunch and Georgina showed us some of the things she'd made in the past and some of the projects her long term students are working on.  There was some very impressive work.

After lunch we started on the next part of the process.  Over the top of the wadding we placed a sheet of calico.  This was then wrapped round and tacked to the bottom of the wooden stool top.  We had to do this several times to get the tension we needed to keep everything in place.


With the calico stapled in place we then had to form the corners.  This was the hardest part of the whole workshop.  But it was worth the time to get it right.  And suddenly I had something that looked like a pillow!


On top of the calico we placed a sheet of wool felt, which is a natural fire retardent.  We stapled this in place too, then used glue on the corners so it didn't get too bulky.


Finally it was time for our fancy material.  I hadn't bought any with me, so chose some from Georgina's stash - a pretty green tweed.  We did much the same we'd done with the calico here but being more careful with our corners as they would actually be on show!


With everything in place and the excess material cut away we put a piece of black bottom material over everything to give a neat finish, before screwing the wooden stool top to the wooden legs.


Suddenly I had a finished stool.  It was very satisfing to sit on it!

I am so pleased with how it turned out.  I love the material and I'm really pleased with the finish.  Looking at it now its hard to believe I did that.  And I've got a pretty good idea what I want to do with it too.  More on that later.

It was a great workshop with two other ladies and I learnt a lot.  My only complaint was that I ended up with very cold feet as we were in an old barn with a concrete floor.  I need warmer shoes!  Anyway it was a great use of a Saturday.

Sunday 13 November 2022

Another Small Wooden Box

 After the success of the last wooden box I asked if 'im outdoors could make me another one.  This time as a gift for my mum.  I know she likes a wooden box, she has a small collection and I thought she'd like one in this style.


Once again we had a chat about size, style and finish then I left him to it.  And again he presented me with a finished box which just needed to be lined.


This time I used a bright purple felt (again from my stash) - her favourite colour!

This time instead of filling the lid with foam, I lined it like the box, which I think looks great.  I'm very pleased with the box, I just hope she is too. (she did like it and was already planning what to store in it)


Monday 7 November 2022

NNAS Silver Navigator Award with Pied A Terre Adventures


Last year I did my NNAS Bronze Navigator Award to help me become more confident running the trails near home.  I really enjoyed the two days and have spent the last year putting into practice some of what I've learnt as I've starting running the Slow Ways and other trails round the village.

The aim was to run the Shipwrights Way, and although I didn't manage it this year, its still on the list for next year. 

So while I've been using the trails and enjoying a new freedom, I knew there was still more to learn and so I signed up for the NNAS Silver Navigator Award

Being November I knew the weather might not be that kind, but I hadn't expected the driving rain and stong winds we ended up walking the South Downs in. We did have a moment of sunshine, but our waterproofs really earned their keep this weekend.


We were a group of 5, all of which had either done the bronze award or were confident navigators, but all wanting to learn more.  It could have been a miserable weekend, but everyone was out to learn and have some fun, so even in the pouring rain we had a good time.

On the Saturday we were at Devil's Dyke to really understand contours - the orange lines you see all over the OS maps which show how lumpy the land is.  It's all very well 'understanding' them, but you need to understand what that means for the route you've picked out.  For instance at Devil's Dyke, I wouldn't suggest trying to go straight up the side of the valley!


We then started to work with our compass.  The rain and wind made this interesting as the compass slid around on the map as you tried to line things up and made my fingers so cold I could hardly turn the dial, but by the end of the day I could take a bearing and then follow it across open country.

As the mist came down and the sky darkened, I was quite glad to get in my car, turn the heater up and go home to hot food.  

Waking up on Sunday to the sound of more heavy rain, made getting up and out harder than it should have been.  But most of my kit had dried out and as 'im outdoors said, 'it'll be done by the time you get there'.  (it wasn't.)

I wasn't sure I was going to get to Stanmer Park, the location for day two.  There were some very big puddles on the drive over and the rain was still coming down.

Sunday was all about putting into practice what we learnt on Saturday.

Our first task wasn't as easy as I'd hoped due to the many footpaths on the ground that weren't shown on the map.  But each leg after that was better and better and the sun even came out for one of them.


There was something magical about setting up a bearing on my map, then setting out across a field with no view of my destination, but to find it every time. 

And Rich, our instructor, when not showing us how to navigate was full of advice and interesting facts to fill our heads leaving no room to think about everyday things, which was also lovely.

By the end of two very wet days my gear had been tested to the max, so I was pretty pleased to find that most of it did fine (even the cheap Peter Storm waterproof trousers bought 20 years ago!).  I now know that if I want things to stay dry in my bag I could do with some dry sacks, and if it's going to be cold and wet I really need to invest in some better gloves - I got through 2 pairs over the weekend and both were soaking wet by the end of each day.

I know a lot of people would think this sounds like a rubbish way to spend a weekend - out in the cold and wet, but I really did have a fab time.  Expect for my hands, I was warm(ish) and dry, and I learnt a bunch of new skills which I can really see feeding into my trail running, giving me even more freedom and confidence.  

I'm really looking forward to going out and trying it again on my own, but I might let the rain stop first.

Sunday 23 October 2022

Pink Memories Jumper in Pink

 Last year I knitted myself the Pink Memories Jumper, in silver.

It's a great jumper, but once I got over the fact that it actually fitted I realised that it could be a little smaller and still fit (and maybe not keep catching on cupboard handles when I walk past).


The pattern is pretty straight forward so I got myself some pink wool - Stylecraft Special DK again, and got knitting, just dropping down to the small sizing.


But then it seemed to just take ages to knit as life constantly got in the way, but I finally finished it this week.  

It's still a great jumper but this time its a bit more fitted and looks really pretty in the pink.


Another happy knitted thing to add to my collection.

Sunday 9 October 2022

Slow Way - Horpet

 Today I went out for another Slow Way run.  I'm not sure how many more of these I'll be able to do before it's too muddy.

I had wanted to do this last week, but although mild it was raining hard all morning which makes map reading much harder.  But today was a chilly sunny morning, just perfect for a long run.


'im outdoors dropped me off in Horndean, then there was nothing for it but to run home.  Most of this run was in the South Downs National Park so there was a lot of rolling chalk hills with loose flints scattered around waiting to turn your ankle.

Although this is one of the shortist Slow Ways in this area, I'd been putting it off.  I knew it would be hilly and it goes through Queen Elizabeth Country Park which I always find a little hard to navigate and it doesn't actually go all the way home.  But today I bit the bullet and I'm so glad I did.


This was a lovely run.  Ok so the sunshine might have helped, but it was good.  There were a few bits that weren't so great - like running through nettles and some of the down hill sections were a little scary for running, but this was totally outweigh by running over the tops of hills with amazing views and larks singing and larking around at head hight.

The best bit was stopping to watch a kingfisher fish in the village pond at Buriton. 

The hilly bits weren't really that bad - I've run worse back home, and QECP was all on clearly marked trails so I didn't get lost once!


This is an exposed route in places so I wouldn't want to do it in heavy rain or if it was very hot, but on a sunny October morning it was lovely.

However, it didn't get it me home, only to the nearest town.  I could have asked for a lift home or caught the train, but instead I carried on running making it into a 3 hour run!  I was pretty tired by the end, but it was great to find I could do it.

Also I think I've finally started to get my head round the navigating with a map thing.  I don't need to memorise the whole route, just the next bit and what my catchment is (what thing means I've gone too far).  I really think this is why I didn't get lost or go wrong today.


Not sure when my next one will be, but there definitely will be more.

Wednesday 28 September 2022

Making Even More Glass Beads

 A couple of weeks ago I was back at West Dean College to make more glass beads with Sarah.

Hollow beads

I was pretty nervous, I wasn't sure what to expect.  This was a 3 day improvers course looking at dot placement and decoration of beads amongst other things.  I was sort of expecting everyone to have a home studio and be attending to improve their skills. 

Beads with silver wire encased

I was also going to use the course to decide if this is really something I want to do and if I should set up my own studio.  No pressure then.

Spotty beads

I arrived on Monday evening for dinner and the health and safety briefing.  All the other ladies had made beads before like me, and like me they just wanted to learn more and have a play.  No-one else had a studio and so we were all in the same boat trying to remember how to make glass rods into pretty beads.

Beads with silver wire unencased

It was very satisfing to find that I did still remember what to do and even though my first couple of beads weren't the most amazing, they were bead shaped and reasonably even.  Hooray!  I'd remembered how to make beads.  Now I could start to work on how to make them better.


This time it felt a bit like learning to drive a car.  Having to wind your glass and melt it, then keep it warm while melting glass to decorate with, then hold everything in the right place to get the heat of the flame without buring anything.  So often I found I'd pulled my work above the flame when it should be under the flame.  And then trying to do tiny dots and my hands were shaking!  But as I practiced I got better and I learnt that there really isn't any need to rush.  Just think about what I want to do, then take my time.

My dots got better and better.  The best bit of being on a 3 day course is you get to see most of your work the day after you make it, so you can try again or improve on it if you want.  I only had to leave 6 beads behind in the kiln annealing when I went home on Thursday.

Beads with silver foil

My favourite of the whole lot is my dragon scale bead.  All it is is layers of dots, but it just looks so much more complicated.  I've found myself thinking about other patterns I could try and what other colours might look like.

Dragon Scales bead

So the course was another fab experience and now all I have to do is convice 'im outdoors that we can fit a studio into a garden that has just been landscaped...

Flora beads