Wednesday, 30 April 2014

What? Another Ta Dah! Already?

Sometimes creativity just flows around a person. I think what happens is the more you do it and actually have a completed object (whatever that is; a mug, a bag or a painted gate) then the  more you crave that good finished feeling. The mental pen-tossing feeling of "Yes!!! Done that and!!!!"

And you browse blogs and think I can do that!! Sometimes you don't move fast on a thought, sometimes the thought and the action happen at the same time. And sometimes you get two weeks off work and find that the choice is mossin* or housework. With a sore knee, I chose mossin a lot this holiday.

Morrisons have a lot going for them. We (the Princess and me) went there one morning for some plants and actually pies for lunch and ended enchanted by these little kits. £3 each, only. Bargain!
The paint that came with them was.... OK, but not inspirational. Fortunately I have a large collection of acrylic so it came out and away we went.

I also had a small house that I bought myself for Christmas. Of course, December came and went with no opportunity to paint it, so I am glad that this sunny holiday brought me the chance.

The bird houses have been fun to do. You can see we went for the cute red roof/white wall look. And followed our usual "What do you mean less is more? Less is less!" philosophy.

But I could see a cute birdy family moving in soon.

*mossin is, I think, a St Helens word that sums up that useless but busy state that results in something being better, be it a patch of earth, that kit you kept for a rainy day or just mental wellbeing. I do a lot of mossin but often have nothing to show for it.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Ta Dah! Chunky bag done and dusted

My chunky bag is lovely, and very comfortable to use. I got the strap wide enough not to scrunch up and not so wide as to be irritating.
However, the problem with knitted or crocheted bags is that they stretch with use, and earlier this week as I rushed impatiently to use it, I noticed the length increasing as the width decreased Fatal! And so not what I wanted!
So there was nothing for it. I ordered my lining from ebay, this rather lovely sounding red cotton with green polka dots, and waited for it to come. By the way, did you know that you can spend your nectar points on ebay? Cracking! All the points I save from Sainsbury's where we do our main shop can now be spent on ebay (washi, material, yarn....)
And on Saturday I got up early and set to work.

 The lining goes beautifully with the bag, the green dots were almost a perfect match for the Aspen (jade green) Stylecraft chunky I used.
 I have lots of bits I carry in my bag. This is my tablet and my phone in its current case. Because I like to find them easily I need pockets in the bag.
 You can see I am a bit of a Jazz sewer. Close enough will do; I measured the bag by putting it on top and cutting the seam allowance on each side. And before you get sarky, no, the scissors are not magic and cutting by themselves, I just paused mid cut especially to show you. It's as close to an action shot as I get.
 The handle needed lining for strength and stability, so I cut it out just like this! It went to just below the straight edge of the bag and the main lining would be sewn in over it to seal in the raw edge.

 I watched the Fall of the Roman Empire as I worked. I'm sure Ridley Scott must have watched this when he was young; in so many ways the plot mirrors that of Gladiator, except I like Gladiator better.
 The pockets were made by sewing three sides of a folded piece of material. The folded edge was the top of the pocket, and the other three sides would be sewn onto the lining.
 A small gap allowed for the pockets to be turned outside out. Sometimes I am so lazy and just use the pocket now without ironing, but I was feeling diligent so I got the iron out and made it neat and tidy.
 Then I positioned them on the lining, approximating position and sewed them on. One is a full pocket for the Tablet, the other I split into two for my phone and keys.
 The handle lining was stitched by hand, and the bag lining seams machine sewn before I put it in place, folded over the top and stitched it again by hand. It's good enough , and works.
And here it is in action! You can just see my green purse peeping out, along with batteries for the ubiquitous camera. I downscaled the stuff I carry so that my camera can capture another beautiful summer season.... I hope!
It's just big enough/small enough for a daily bag. I'm considering making one in black, perhaps madly decorated with flowers etc. Don't know. But if I do then it will have to be made in the summer, since black is just horrible to work with in the winter.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

What happens when you get 16 tables of 8 women altogether...

You get the Ladies' Spring Dinner.
For the past two years our church has held a Ladies' Spring Dinner. A couple of people volunteer to host a table, and others come as guests. There is a lot of thinking, crafting, squirrelling and making that goes on and then one Saturday everybody gets busy. The tables are laid, decorated and prepared. And they are brilliant.

Can you spot; the Monopoly table. the Roses table, the Strictly table, the Grand National table, the Love Hearts table, Spring time in Manhattan, Springtime with Pooh, Jam and Jerusalem, the Sewing Bee, Roaring Twenties, Poker Face, Angels, Tiffany Blue, Music, A Scottish Fling or Blue Heaven?

Our table (my friend Nicola and me) was called Jam and Jerusalem. We both belong to the Women's Institute so it seemed like a good idea, as well as making table gifts an easy call. Jam, right?
The flowers were from two gardens, also WI members, and we mismatched plates, cups, saucers, knives and forks to our hearts content. And, being a Church event, we even got to finish the evening with a rendition of Jerusalem!

The wine flowed, the conversation was good, the after dinner speaker was an inspirational lady called Ruby Porter who told us all about the Sreepur village for destitute women and children. The stories were often sad, often harrowing tales of a society where girls aren't honoured and welfare doesn't exist.
And by the end of the evening I had had a fabulous time. Of course, I couldn't drive home, but then, that's what husbands are for, isn't it?

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Ta Dah! Granny Cushion finished

It was a really quick make; one day for the front, an evening for the back and a bit of a morning to join and bind. Aside from the fact that it didn't even need a pattern (duh. It's a granny square) and the most complicated bit was the border (a row of single crochet, and then the two colour border I used on my ripple blanket. It's bright, it's colourful and it's comfortable.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

My summer project took less time than I thought...

WARNING; This post is MASSIVE and full of photos of crochet. 

Still reading?

Last week I read this post about a chunky bag on Attic 24.  My, but Lucy can really crochet. I mean, really. I wonder if she has a family of elves hidden in her understairs cupboard who sit, patiently, hooking away to complete her projects. Although, not elves. Elves are too... ethereal to crochet. It takes a more down to earth species to crochet. Like dwarves (no, too heavy handed) or gnomes (euch! too green fingered) or..., yes, I have it... hobbits. Crochet is an ideal hobbit craft. It's quick, easy, portable (so you can do it at the pub) and makes lovely stuff in the round. Perhaps Frodo really crocheted his tobacco pouch, or Sam hooked his garden flowers with pleasure as he sat back outside Bag End. You can find ideas for hobbit crochet here, but my favourite has to be either the crochet Smaug or the idea that Geek Central has amigurumi figures with separate clothes made from felt.

No, wait. It's the feet from Happily Grim. They are my ult fave hobbit crochet. Absolutely.

But I digress. I'm not writing about hobbit crochet, oh no, I'm sharing some good news... I finished the crochet on another project. Yeay! Another thing done! And this one wasn't on my to do list either! Inspired by Attic 24's chunky bag, I bought a pack of chunky wool from Wool Warehouse and sat down to look at the instructions for the bag.

Then I thought, "I don't like the base. It's too... curvy. Too baggy. I could lose everything in there and never find it again. I want something.... different."

So I did an oblong base. I chained 19 stitches, did a foundation line of single crochet and then did 5 rounds of crochet, a treble in each space with 2 chains at each corner and initially 2 stitches across the ends. This gave me a nice rectangular base to build on.

I crocheted straight rounds up for the sides, slip stitching at each end and joining on a new colour every row. Chunky really is a fast wool to work with, I'd forgotten that from my forays into children's clothes in my past. It took 26 rows until I thought the bag was big enough. And then I looked at the instructions (you know, the ones I haven't followed so far) and thought "I don't like the handles. You have to sew on those handles. I don't want to sew on the handles. And won't they stretch anyway?"

So I thought again, and decided that I like one shoulder strap, hobo style and that if I did that, I could line the whole bag very reasonably and put pockets inside. I like pockets. It's extra places to lose stuff.

So I planned out my strap; I put markers on the bag with 25 stitches set out on either side. I figured I could decrease at either end to give a nice slope to the strap and I worked 7 rows decreasing either side until I had 11 stitches left. That's about 3 inches or 7cm wide, comfortable enough to sit on a shoulder all day if necessary.

Then I did individual rows of 11 stitches to make the shoulder strap. 31 individual rows to be exact and I like being exact. See the photo? That's only 10 yarn ends on either side. 10. Imagine how messy 31 could be?

 I had to sew them in as I went along, otherwise the whole strap was just beginning to radiate that Johnny Cash (but colourful) 1979 'fringes are way cooler than anything else ever invented' vibe. I could hear Ring of Fire vibrating through my brain. And I like Ring of Fire, but it's not a good look on a strap. So I sewed in the ends.

The next day I edged the handle with a line of single crochet, all the way around on two sides. At this point the idea of Mobius crochet struck me. That's for another day as well.

And I wondered if I was finished. Well, it looks bag like. The ends are neat, the bottom well sealed, the texture good enough to use as a bag. But I don't like open bags. I like a flap or a fastener, or something security related. And the bag is plain. I know Lucy has flowers on hers, and I'm thinking about that, I am, but I wanted something to make a statement.

Books are my friend. Books are sometimes my best friends. I looked in my collection, I sought out sage advice and I found my coaster print out that I took away with me last year to make on holiday. An ideal hexagonal flower shaped thing.
 I like it. It's like a rose in the summer sun. Ah. I sewed it on so it overhung the gap, roughly half and half but with a slight bias towards the front of the bag.
The Attic 24 pack comes with a choice of buttons, 8 in total. These were the 5 I thought I liked best. I got 2 packs, so I could decide which ones I liked best. And the winner was.....

OK, so it was an easy choice. The edging and the buttons had to match. Either that, or I needed some nice wooden ones but that involves shopping or postal service and I am NOT A PATIENT WOMAN. The corner turns on the hexagonal coaster thingy work well as buttonholes, too, so that was another easy result.

My bag is good, my bag is useable. I want to line it and I have a material coming from ebay which I think will be really beautful, but that won't arrive until the weekend. I hope I can find time on Sunday to do it. It won't stop me using the bag now. *swoon* I like it too much.

And I was wondering about putting in a gratuitous shot of my Filofax in my bag to see if this post makes it to Philofaxy.... but I figured that was mean and I'm trying so hard to be kind.

OK not that hard. It does match, though? See the red and the green? I love it. And I'm happy to use it.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Ta Dah! Ripple Blanket finished (at last)

OK, if I'd worked on this none stop and it took me this long I would find a different hobby from crochet. But life, work and Christmas have hampered my progress somewhat so I don't feel too bad about a blanket that has taken me from November until now.

 Simple ripple, the instructions are here, I followed them imprecisely, which is to say I did what I felt like anyway.

The border is dinky, from Attic 24 as well, but my 'puter is saying no to finding the page. I will try and put the link on later. It's pretty but uncomplicated and enjoyable to do. Of course it is typical me to finish the blanket just as Spring and warm summer days make their presence around the corner felt... but I have Plans to use them. You'll see.

Monday, 21 April 2014

I started another thing...

It's been holiday time around here the last two weeks, so I have actually had time to do things. A lot of things. It's as if not working but being in a job I wanted to get things done. Strange feeling. I usually just lie down and let it pass, but this Easter I decided to go with the flow and just (ahem, Nike quote here) just do it!!!
And I never even wrote a to do list. In fact my to do list for the holiday was just a lot of errands that I didn't need desperately to do but might have done if I got the time. Instead I did some bigger projects, the kind that sit on your brain and make you think, " I want to do that, and will do that .... if I ever get the time...."
I have a Ta Dah! post to do which I will post tomorrow, but today here is the start of the next project; a granny square cushion cover.

It's using up all the little balls left over from my ripple blanket Attic 24 (how much do I like her colour combinations!) and, really, needs very little explanation. You do a granny square the size of your cushion pad, do a backing, sew/crochet together, edge and seal either using buttons, ties or a zip. It can't be hard if I can do it!
I wanted to post a picture of it all finished, but the light is too poor. You'll have to wait, and I'll have to try again later or perhaps tomorrow. I'm hoping this energy lasts when I'm back at work, that my afternoons from 2pm when I'm not ITing for Mr AJ's firm can be used to prettify and male comfortable my home. Fingers crossed!

I've got a Golden Ticket...

And I'm bringing a friend, too! Two whole days of hooky yarny goodness! Yippee!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

May I wish all my readers a Happy Easter

Whether this is your most sacred festival or not, Easter is always a chance to contemplate new beginnings; death and rebirth, and the joy of being. May this Easter bring you peace, joy, love and a heart of gratitude for all the great gifts of the world.

Michaelangelo's Pieta; in miniature, of course!

Friday, 18 April 2014

They should give these out on the NHS

No tutee turning up at 10am.
No child out anywhere until midday at the earliest.
No place I need to be.
I can lie in.

My essential kit; my Kindle app on my tablet, Audible on my phone and a decent magazine.
Not in shot (but even more essential) some lavender handcream, a chai tea and a lock on the bedroom door.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Easter means.... chicks, bunnies, lambs and....

A complete excess of soft and fluffy. I gave the Easter boxes to my Mini Me and told her to decorate the fireplace.
The Fireplace. I still love having a mantle that can be decorated.
It's funny, I love my Christmas decorations to be up for the full month (I'd love to put them up in October, personally) but Easter is a much shorter period of celebration. Perhaps it's because of Lent; lots of my friends are abstaining, resisting, preparing. It seems to run in the face of Lent to get the house decked out in fluffy sweetness.
The' tree' appeared last year and has stayed. I like marking the seasons
 in a small way with the decorations on the tree.

So this week, the last before Easter seems the right time to nod in the direction of the season. My fireplace is ready and my daughter has done her worst; it's a riot of chicks, fluffs and everything cute. Overkill?

Is there a house in the country that doesn't have any of these fluffy chicks somewhere?
I love the painted wooden eggs; one of my Easter favourites.
Probably; but this is the only place in the house that has lost all sense of taste, so I'm happy to roll with it, Easter eggs, Tree and all.

Happy Easter to you all!

Gratitude 10/365

Back again after 3 months. I am really bad at anything requiring consistency. Never can manage too many days on the run but today I need to record my gratitude. Really I need to get my gratitude out there.

My Dad, who makes things and takes me to B&Q and is always there. I am so grateful for him.

An hour sat chatting with Number 2. He's 14 and mothers are not often spoken to as knowledgeable colleagues of Minecraft and Steam but tonight I was.

Yarn packs by Attic 24. Dang but that girl is lucky to be so famous for crochet. I'm glad it's possible.

Pasta meals. Quick, easy and tasty. Thank God.

Sarah Ban Breathnach. I'm reading Peace and Plenty, a sort of financial tome. Will I have more money at the end? I doubt it, but I'll be happy.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Mummy and Daughter time; a luxury? Nah, a necessity

Last Monday I took my Mini Me off for breakfast. We had to get up early (for a holiday) at 8am to take DP to school. Poor lad, he's in his GCSE year so he had 4 days in school for revision and extra cramming during his Easter holidays. Thank God this week has been easier on the lad, with a chance for more lie ins.
A fruit smoothie for elevenses?
So we took the opportunity of spending quality time together, Mummy and Daughter. This was a chance to go to Dunelm Mill (we have a new one near us now; we both love a good smooch in a homewares store) and to indulge in their excellent breakfast special; pot of tea and a bacon bap for 2.95.
It's always expensive to take a whole family out; breakfast for all of us would very easily mount up to £15 or £18. This way even with our coffee and cake for elevenses it came to about £10 for a morning's worth of quality family interaction.

Does anyone else love those caramelised biscuits? I adore them!
 This way we got to talk about life, school, our cares and worries in a very easy way. Talking as you smooch and sip tea is often easier than setting out to have a heart to heart. It's good. I feel like I touched base and made sure The Princess was still happy with life.
And, yes, we did buy some stuff, but that post belongs to another day.

No more pictures, please Mum! Just drink your coffee!!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Gardening this weekend was a real blast!

Have I told you that I love my parents? Like, really love them? It never fails to surprise me how much I owe to them, not just life and a happy childhood, but just always having what I need and letting me have it when I need it.
Can you see which flags have been cleaned? You betcha!
 And in my mid 40's they are still turning up trumps. Like my garden clean up and my patio woes. Dad just trolls up with a power washer and a warning (don't let it run on one spot for too long. That's powerful enough to wipe off the top of the slabs. And don't point it at anybody. OK so sometimes he forgets I'm a mature sensible adult.)
This is the back patio. We cleaned as much as we could on Sunday
 and finished off the far corner on Monday after we got a long enough hose.
Mid process. The sun was generous enough to make a pretty patio shine beautifully.
 And I waited until Sunday and Monday when I had a couple of free hours and took my Mini me into the garden to work, really work and Get.It.Clean.
It's the determination on the face I like. She is very determined.

You can see at least 5 years dirt being cleared here.
 It took us the whole of the second half of the Liverpool-Manchester City game (too exciting to sit through)
There is always a moment of madness. The lance did look like a
dangerous weapon!
and the whole of the Hull-Sheffield United semi final (too little involvement to be bothered) on Sunday and all my free time yesterday (that's starting at 2pm after Oscar stopped giving evidence. I have been gripped by the trial) but we are done.
And the finished result; Our outdoor dining room
 The patio area in my back garden is clean. And it looks lovely. I am so happy with it.
This is our garden equivalent of a spare room; all the junk, toys,
chairs etc that we don't keep elsewhere are stored here.
 And we are planning our next gardening work; there is ground elder rather than fairies at the bottom of our garden so we are in for a lot of spraying, weeding and burning. That means we will need some where nice to sit; somewhere to chill with a cool cider (apple juice for the Mini Me) and cuddle under a crochet blanket in the evening.

Evening on Sunday; a pause half way through the process.
We're saving up for a little settee and a small table. Best value we've seen so far; B&Q Silba set at £99