Hunkydory Crafts Surprise

Today I received a fantastic delivery. It’s a huge parcel from Hunkydory Crafts in Preston.

I’ve been watching Hunkydory TV on Facebook Live on a Friday morning after doing the household weekly shop – it’s an interesting companion to having breakfast.

Anyhow, this week’s broadcast was all about their new Diamond Club and special deals for members. I joined the club a few weeks ago when it was launched. It’s a good deal as you get a craft kit with membership and 10% off all future orders. They also do a monthly set of special offers just for the members and this show was demonstrating with some of the products in this offer. It’s great to watch someone using different products and being able to get some hints and tips on how to use them.

In addition to the light-hearted presentation, there are always a few giveaways on a Friday, and this week was no exception. Last Friday was National ‘Give something away’ Day apparently, so for their main giveaway the question was ‘What’s the best present you’ve ever received?’ The presenter then spins a wheel to see what the prize will be. I was thinking what a great prize ‘win the show’ would be, when it landed on just that! They only give a few minutes to get your answers in, so I had to be quick to think of something. All I could think of was the 9th birthday card I still have from my Grandad – he died when I was 12 – but I loved the card so much I’ve kept it with my most precious possessions, along with my Grandma’s wedding ring which is now my wedding ring. Whilst these are incredibly precious to me, I didn’t think they could compete with others citing their children / grandchildren even cars and holidays.

I was wrong! I was chosen as the winner of everything they showed in that hour! Over £300 worth of products I’ve never used before!!

There’s card, papercraft kits, glimmer mist sprays, loads of envelopes and card bags, even a scoreboard and A3 size mirri card. AWESOME!

Great timing for the Summer holidays, crafty-teen can’t wait to have a go with the glimmer mists.

Happy Summer crafting

K x

Cards and Gardens

Woah! It’s certainly warm this week, and I’m hiding inside to avoid the worst of the heat and the pollen? This is certainly the downside of living near several farms, as they are making the most of the weather to do their haymaking.

So I am trying to keep cool and carry on sneezing (not)and I’m too hot to do a lot of crafting, so it’s my chance for a catch up on the last couple of months – if I can remember that is.

It’s been a busy few weeks all around. We had the Jubilee in rubbish weather, but fun was had by all. We went to Manchester and visited the Manchester Flower Show. It wasn’t quite what I had expected but it was fun to go back into the city after almost two years.

I enjoyed seeing the little floral displays around the shops and some larger displays in St Ann’s Square and King Street.

I was lucky enough to get a small bouquet of farm grown organic flowers. They were beautiful and lasted over a week on the kitchen window ledge.

I was inspired to get back out in the garden, giving everywhere a good tidy up as well as planting some seeds. I thought I’d have a go at a little bit of grow-your-own and I’ve planted a few pots with peas, purple sprouting broccoli and radish, to go with my strawberries. Fingers crossed the slugs don’t demolish them all!

I have made a few cards on the cooler days. I started making special cards for a local business during lockdown and have continued to do so. This has been a really great opportunity to improve my skills and to use different styles.

I am particularly enjoying looking through all my stash – it is quite extensive now as I seem to be filling all my available storage space in the ‘office’. With my husband back in his place of work, our office has now reverted to being my crafting space again. It’s a lovely place to be and it makes a real difference now I know where everything is. What I have to be careful of now is not over-filling it. Ha ha!

Time for a cooling drink now.

Happy Summer crafting

K x

Shaped card crafting

It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote, I’m really starting to wonder where the time goes these days. The joys of middle age have been working their magic again – lethargy, brain fog and lack of focus!

Anyway, I’m here currently back in school covering the office for a few hours while the staff have some academy conversion training! Fingers crossed it’s quiet as it’s pouring down outside. I an hoping to catch up with some of the staff here as it’s been quite a while due to all the lockdowns and me leaving the lunchtime rota.

So what else have I been up to crafting wise? Well, Easter came and went quickly. It was great to be able to spend it with my family and after the holidays were cancelled due to craftykid testing positive for Covid (had to happen at some point I suppose). No symptoms and both me and my husband remained negative. In spite of the very boring school holidays we managed a celebratory trip to Hebden Bridge once she tested negative and I arranged a couple of egg hunts, one at home and one at my Mum’s for my nephews. I was really proud of the one I did at home as I wrote a poem of clues based on the nursery rhyme ‘Round and round the garden’.

Crafting wise I’ve been making lots of cards for us at home and some lovely local orders too. Over the last couple of years, I’ve really enjoyed making different shaped cards. I started making handbag cards several years ago, but I have tried to enhance them recently with more elaborate papers and gems as well as paper flowers.

So I thought I’d have a go at some more shaped cards. My Dad plays golf, so this golf bag card was an ideal format for him. I invested in a collection of plaid papers and they work brilliantly for these cards.

My next attempt ay a shaped card was at the request of a friend wanting a shoe for her niece’s 21st birthday. This was a little more tricky as I had to get the proportions of the shoe and the heel so it looked right as a shoe, but also sturdy enough to stand up. It took a few goes to get the basic shape and then it was a simple (?) case of picking the papers and decorations.

I plumped for a sophisticated elegant look using a collection from Papermania – Midnight Blush. It gives such a soft look , I just wish I could walk in a pair of heels that high!

Well, that’s about all for now. Time to work on some ideas for more shaped cards I think!

Happy crafting

K x

Spring sunshine

Today I have taken the plunge! I’ve coloured my hair. I fully appreciate this isn’t a major event for many, but I’ve only ever done it once before (in my twenties – a very long time ago now). It wasn’t as complicated as I thought it was going to be, but it wasn’t that easy with hair as short as mine is – fingers crossed I don’t end up with dye all over my face!!

So I’m taking this opportunity for the twenty-five minute relax (while the potion works its magic) to sit outside in the sunshine. The garden was looking very tidy after my afternoon’s weeding, pruning, planting and collecting fallen magnolia petals, but the wind has rendered the petal collecting pointless – I think there might be even more on the ground now. I might wait a couple of days before clearing up this lot.

A non-alcohol beer in the sunshine

I’m pleased to say there are plenty of lovely signs of Spring taking advantage of the April sunshine with me. I’ve been serenaded by a pair of blackbirds, squawked at by a starling and enthralled at the majesty of a pair of goldfinches and a pair of bullfinches. The first orange tip butterfly of this year (that I’ve seen) has flitted around, joining the countless ladybirds basking on my hebes and geraniums. Oh, I think this really does have to be my favourite season – I hope my sunflower seeds germinate and don’t get eaten by slugs!

My first flowers on my rescue clematis

A short pause to deal with my hair! I must mention I have very dark hair with a few (very obvious) greys, so I’m not sure I expected much from this colouring. However, if anything it looks even darker now- so much for the deep plum/red tones I was initially hoping for! No visible grey though (but I forgot to wipe my ears before leaving the potion to work – oops!) The real test will be if anyone notices when they get home from work and school!

This last couple of weeks I’ve been crafting away as usual, lots of little knitted chicks which I sold to buy some books for my local primary school (Springside where I’m a governor too). I was making some little knitted baskets to put larger Kinder surprise eggs in, but the reports of salmonella meant I didn’t actually finish them even though I had some eggs ready to put in them. The eggs I have weren’t in the affected batches but I though better safe than sorry. So I think I’ll be adding the surprises to my geocaching swag box and I’ve taken the hit on the eggs. I’m just pleased I didn’t spend a fortune on them.

Right, I’d better get on with making tea for the workers!

Happy crafting

K x

PS – 3 days in and no-one has commented on my hair yet!

The knitting needles are out

What happened to Spring? All the glorious sunshine and balmy 18oC has been swapped for snow and -1oC! I’ve had to put the heating back on (not for long) and I’ve retreated to blanket crochet again, just to stay warm!

Gloves work-in-progress

This cold snap has made me think back to the last couple of winters and my chance meeting with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages. She had recently bought a shop in Ramsbottom, not long before lockdown, and selling lovely ladies clothing. Over a chat about Easter chick knitting (more of that in a future post), she asked if I fancied making some hats and gloves to sell in her shop when Autumn came around. So we decided on a trial of a dozen or so items, just to see how they went. Lots of knitting (and the inevitable unpicking) ensued, choosing different yarns, colours and patterns. She wasn’t concerned about them all being the same, if anything she was happier for lots of different designs to add to the uniqueness of the products. A great opportunity to practice some long forgotten and new techniques and to improve my cabling and sizing.

Ribbed beanies

With my first collection complete they went on sale in October 2021 just to coincide with a warm late Autumn! But in the run up to Christmas, the weather did turn colder and they started to sell well. So-much-so that I was asked to make as many more items, particularly hats, as I could. What a confidence boost for me. I’ve had a few knock-backs with job applications and interviews over this last year – it seems being a peri-menopausal fifty-year-old returner to work is not who people want to employ these days, in spite of plenty of work experience and qualifications!

Bobble hats

Anyway, suffice it to say I think the hat/glove trial was a success and I have been knitting away frantically in the evenings to make more for Autumn/Winter 2022. I have been working on my cabling and making some headbands as well, with my now teenage daughter’s help in colour choices!

Finished gloves and wrist-warmers

The knitting was something I enjoyed doing even if it was a bit of a production line, but I had completely forgotten about having to make labels for all the items. So there was a frantic couple of days wondering what I could do, investigating sew in versus stick/iron on labels and having them all printed. But I settled on making my own and adding in all the care instructions for the yarn from each yarn band. I’m quite pleased with the end result, I think they add to the handmade feel of the items too. What do you think?

Time to warm up again with a brew now. Have a lovely week.

Happy crafting.

K x

Post COVID normality?

Well, this has been a very long time in the writing! It’s been almost two years since I last put pen to paper, while the whole world was in the throes of the first set of lockdowns I think.

It’s been a hard couple of years for everyone in may different ways, and today marks the two-year anniversary of the official start of our first UK lockdown. Similarly to then, I am sat in the garden enjoying some very warm early Spring sunshine. This time though I am being serenaded not by the local birds, but the screeching tones of the local primary school after-school-club children! Why do children feel the need to squeal and scream everything?!

Anyway, it’s been a tough couple of years. I have found it hard to function normally with all my routines thrown into chaos and lots of changes to our lives and freedoms. Like many I have loved the peace and quiet without all the traffic noise; being able to hear the birdsong was absolute bliss for me and a great opportunity to start to identify birds from their song. The chance to spend more time outside was a real tonic particularly as I had had my space invaded by a home-worker and a home-schooler. It’s amazing how stressful it is having your family all under the same roof! And the house felt so small. So the garden has become even more of a refuge than ever before.

Black-cap visitor to the bird feeder

I’ve been thinking about what to write for a while and I had planned to start at New Year! I blinked and now it’s Spring, but better-late-than-never. So what have I been up to crafting wise? I’ve kept up with my facebook page reasonably well and card orders have been pretty steady, so I’ve managed to retain my crafty focus more-or-less. It’s been good to do some crafting for us at home too(lots of face masks and family cards) as this is something I don’t generally do that much of. I had a good read through my last posts in 2020 and what I haven’t done much of is finishing off the enormous pile of unfinished projects. I had every intention of completing them, but I think I just lost my way with the enormity of it. However, I am pleased to say that the pile is somewhat smaller than it was.

Before I go, I thought I’d end with a success. I have spent the last two years crocheting the granny square blanket, started in lockdown and the subject of my last post (http://www.handmadebykatherine.co.uk/2020/06/my-lockdown-blanket/). This was a labour of love and something I thought about submitting to Grayson Perry’s Art Club, but I couldn’t think of a theme that it fitted in. It’s a project I’m pleased I’ve completed but I miss it keeping me warm on the settee watching the TV. It looks great on the bed though and as you can see, the cats rather like it too. This is George’s favourite spot!

Finished blanket adorning the bed

It’s good to be back and I Shall try to keep up with some ramblings more frequently. Do message or comment, I’d love to know how everyone is out there.

Happy crafting

K x

My lockdown blanket

With all of the sorting out of my crafting stash and completing my works-in-progress, I am finding plenty of yarn ends.  So a few weeks ago I decided to make a lockdown rainbow blanket using up all the these left over bits.  I’ve gone for the simple treble crochet granny square pattern and I am trying to stick to the standard rainbow – Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet – with an addition of Grey and White at the end.

It’s been very therapeutic to do whilst watching my favourite TV shows – particularly The Repair Shop, Sewing Bee and Gardener’s World.  I’m hoping to make it large enough to use as a throw over my bed, so it’s going to take a while.

The problem with trying to stick to the rainbow format is making sure I have an equal number of balls of each colour.  I keep having to stop and go on a hunt for either red or range at the moment!  So I’m going through my WIP bag to finish off a project each time I run out of a colour.  Hopefully this will mean I can kill two birds with one stone, finishing off a WIP as well as using up the leftovers on my blanket.  It does appear that I don’t have much in the red category amongst my projects at present.  I suppose I’d better make a start on some Christmas projects!!

It’s been a lovely project to get out each evening while I’m catching up with myself.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the re-run of ‘Pride and Prejudice‘ (Is there really a better way to spend a mid-week evening than watching Colin Firth look smoulderingly at Jennifer Ehle, while crocheting a blanket to warm your legs up?!) Maybe a bar of chocolate and a glass of wine would be welcome additions, but not when I need to concentrate enough to keep the pattern going – I have a tendency to misplace stitches and have to unravel if there’s too much wine involved!!

There’s certainly plenty of work left in the this blanket, so I’m going to have to find another series to work along too – there seem to be fewer and fewer escapist programmes to watch these days.  Although I have got into Tess of the d’Urbevilles over on BBC4.

Any suggestions gratefully received.

Happy crafting

x

Work-in-Progress Progress!

It’s three months (ish) since we went into lockdown and I have tried to get through the large bag of partly made projects I had hanging around back in March. Twenty items really is too many to have left so long, but I really am all about the knitting / crochet and not the stuffing and sewing.

Having finished the three lockdown lions a few weeks back, I have been steadily working through the other bags and boxes of pieces and my menagerie is growing once again.  Most of the creatures are from kits I’ve had from either Let’s Knit or LGC Knitting and Crochet magazines, and are great for making something a little out of my comfort zone or for little gifts for friends and family.  I have enjoyed making most of them.  I do find that sometimes the instructions can be a little vague – sew legs to body, for instance – so I do make a point of studying as many pictures of the finished articles as possible before committing to the final positions of limbs and features.

So, what have I managed to finish over the last few weeks then?

From LGC Knitting and Crochet magazine, I have made,

Amy the Donkey (design by Hannah Cooper)

Easter Bunny (design by Nicola Valiji)

Safari bear (design by Sarah Louise Read)

and a knitted chick (design by Sachiyo Ishii)

From the Let’s Knit kits, I chose

Sparkle-dash the unicorn (design by Steffi Hochfellner)

And I finally finished an Aldi, So crafty kit of a hippo.

I hope you like them as much as I do.

There is still a way to go, but the pile is steadily reducing which means there is more space in the living room – I actually found my sewing machine this week, which had been buried under two bags of yarn.  So there’s something else to do, hmmm, what to make next……..

Happy crafting

x

Lockdown Life

These last few weeks I have been struggling with the whole lockdown.  Tempers have been running short across the household and don’t get me started on homeschooling an eleven-year-old!

I have been trying to separate home and crafting where possible, but this is equally challenging due to having completely lost my dedicated crafting space.  My husband is working from home and needed a quiet office space, so my craft room is now the office.

We have done a complete redecorate of the space and it has made a real difference.  The whole room feels so much larger and calmer (I have to admit it was rather chaotic).

It was quite a fun project to do, involving removing old nursery furniture (it’s amazing how quickly it was removed from the drive), as well as stripping textured wallpaper and all the associated sanding, filling and painting.  Whilst new plug sockets and painting were being completed by my husband, I’ve had the joy of sorting through all of my crafting materials and associated accumulations!

It’s all been plonked in the front room for what feels like weeks, while I work my way through it all.  I didn’t quite realise how much stuff I have.  It’s been quite interesting to see what’s been hidden in  old cupboards and I might find the opportunity to use some things again in the coming weeks / months.  I’m sure some things will come back into fashion – paper crimper anyone?

After the main papering and painting had been finished, we had a new carpet fitted – what a luxury – it’s over twelve years since we’ve had new flooring anywhere and this feels lovely underfoot.  I was then set free with a geometric paint pattern above the picture rail. I did some practice with tester pots first, just to check it would work!

It took longer than I thought it would and it was very nerve-wracking hoping the paint hadn’t run under any of the masking tape.  Plus the colour choice was different!  It all looked pretty rubbish with the orange masking tape.

The unveiling when quite well, I think.  There are a few little smudges but overall is looks OK to me (It certainly helps that it’s high up).

Since all the painting has been done, we had to wait for Ikea to open for the storage to finish everything off.  We took inspiration for the room from an Ikea Kallax image on their site, so plumped for the Kallax storage solution.  My daughter had fun deciding on the box / door / shelf / drawer arrangement.  It looks great and there is a lot more space to move around in there now.  I still haven’t managed to store everything in there and I’m not sure there is actually quite enough storage for all my bits and pieces – I certainly have more books and magazines than I thought!

Unfortunately, as lovely as the finished room is, there is little chance of me being able to make use of it as my husband is working from home for the foreseeable future.  So I will have to continue to content myself with card-making at the kitchen table and knitting / crochet in front of the television in the evenings (for now).

Happy crafting

x

Life Drawing

Following last week’s post about the arts and craft TV programmes I’ve been addicted to over the last few weeks, I convinced the family to take part in ‘Life Drawing Live‘ on BBC4.  It was the second one in, what appears to be, an elongated series and I hadn’t seen the first one, but I didn’t think that would matter too much.  I have only really done life drawing once before at school, I think it was for A-level in Sixth Form, but it was a very long time ago and I could be wrong there.

Anyhow, it was a two hour programme where we had the tv on as well as a laptop, as we could see the model on the laptop and hence, take part in the drawing challenges.

I can’t believe how quickly the two hours went.  There was a series of tasks, starting with short timescales and gradually getting longer, while the model changed pose for each task based on a well known painting from the past.

I am by no means a particularly good sketcher and people have never been my strong point, but it was good to have a try, although being very self-critical, there are many many issues with the form, perspective and sizing!

So here are my first few sketches.

These were different poses and the task was the sketch them in a very short time, from left to right – 30 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute.  So not very much time to get anything on the page really!  I can just about tell they are people I think.

The next one was a reclining pose supposed to be on a chaise longue.  I think we had  about five minutes to do this one, and I was doing alright until my daughter knocked her drink all over the lounge carpet in the middle of this one, so this is the result of about two minutes sketching.

We were encouraged to switch from charcoal (I’d been using a 2B pencil) to a red crayon for this next pose.  Again I’m happy with the shape of the head and the right arm  but I was really struggling with the proportions.  Fun to use something other than a pencil though.

The next pose was a lady with a cello.  Back to pencil here and I think this was about 8 minutes or so.  I quite enjoyed this pose although she looks like a strange sort of bodybuilder and she really wasn’t!

The Narcissus pose is possibly my favourite of all the drawings I did and arguably my most successful.  I was hoping to get to add his reflection into the water but didn’t quite get around to it in the ten minutes.  However, I think the proportions here are much more realistic than on any other.  

The final pose was one depicting Liberty. The lady had had a mastectomy and was very courageous in both her pose and what she had been through.  She wasn’t as bony around her shoulders as she looks  but I have a little more perspective with the stance then I have in other sketches. I didn’t really do her justice, but it was a reasonable effort in the nineteen minutes we had.

It was a great way to spend the evening, even if my results weren’t all that impressive.  I think I can see some elements of improvement over the course of the class and it was interesting to pick up some tips from the artists on the screen as well as seeing attempts by other people at home.

I was very aware of how long it has been since I picked up some pencils to do some drawing and I was feeling very rusty.  But the drawing pencils I have felt lovely to use again and I feel I really should do some more.  So I’m hoping this irregular series does have another episode in the not too distant future.

Maybe I will get around to having a go at drawing one of my cats one day.

Stay safe and happy crafting

x