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 the the finial positions of limbs and features.

So, what have I managed to finsh 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 thee 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

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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 now 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 the 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

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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

 

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Garden joy

Over the last few weeks, I have been spending lots more time in my garden.  We saved up a couple of years ago and last year had the garden re-landscaped to a design of mine.  It had been devastating over the last few years as the amount of rain increased and the time taken for the water to drain increased with it.  At some points I think we were flooded for several months at a time.  We even had a regular heron visitor, but the icing on the cake was when we had a pair of mallard ducks swimming around where the lawn had once been!

We took the decision to do something which had to include some drainage solution and I put together a few sketches of ideas we could work with.  It was certainly a big plan and one we couldn’t have done ourselves, but our landscaper was fantastic and he was able to do all the drainage works and (with a few modifications) put my sketches into place.

The garden has now been put into zones.  We have a patio (using stones from the original garden), a border, a wildlife area and a grassy arbour with seat (daughter’s zone).  And I love it.  It’s such a great space to be and somewhere I’m thrilled I have in the current times.

We reused as much as we possibly could from the garden -well what had managed to survive the constant waterlogging anyway and it’s been great since to see what is popping up around the place.  Some of the offcuts from the sleepers used to raise the zones were used to make a seat and a little raised bed which we planted with strawberries and they are doing fantastically this year – we planted the runners from the original plants and they are obviously happy.

Equally happy are the cats.  This is Lily enjoying the sleepers, we often find her hiding under the plants or rolling about on the lawn, which is also doing well now we have better drainage.

My wildlife pond looks good too.  I’m amazed how much life there is in it considering it’s only been there for a year.  We have found several frogs and newts too, as well as lots of little bug life – pond skaters, water boatmen and whirly-gig beetles are a regular sight.

I have taken the time to plant some seeds this year too.  We have a patio up by the house and the rest of the garden is down a few steps and as we face south it is a fabulous sun trap.  So I have decided to see what comes up from several old packets of seeds from the garage.  I love poppies and I was pleased to see this little beauty pop up in a trough of seeds for the bees – although not much else seems to be joining it at the moment.

Before we ended up in lockdown, I bought some seeds from Aldi which had several different vegetables and herbs in.  I only planted these broad beans about a week ago and they are already showing their faces.

I am so pleased with the way everything is growing so well this Spring.  And I hope I will see some more flowers soon as well as the blossom on the trees.  Fingers crossed we also get some rain to add to all the sunshine as I could do with a few days indoors catching up with all my indoor projects too!

Stay safe and happy crafting

x

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Easter Staycation

This week, I should have been in Edinburgh for our family holiday.  However, like everything, it was cancelled, so it was staycation time.  I wish I could say I was a brilliant parent and made the week into something very holiday-like at home, but I didn’t!  Instead I spent the week with the most card orders I’ve had in quite a while, making with what I have in the stash upstairs.

One of my friends mentioned that she needed some special cards for her colleagues at work.  The company she works for sends out cards for special birthdays, new babies and long service anniversaries.  She was struggling to get any in time, so as she lives near to me, she asked if I would be interested in making some for them.  Of course, I jumped at the chance and so I spent this week with most of my crafting stash on the kitchen table, making my way through the list of cards required.

These are some of the one’s I came up with.  Using up some Ribbonbox numbers I’ve had for ages and some large typography stamps from Papermania.  They are all A5 sized and I have tried to vary the orientation.

They asked me for some celebratory cards for long service anniversaries.  So while I was having a shower, one evening, I decided I should make some champagne bottle cards.  My initial idea was for the cards themselves to be bottle shaped, but I liked this idea with the stars and streamers.  I used some green foil card for the bottles and I coloured the stars and streamers using promarkers.

I think they look a little like champagne bottles and kraft card makes quite a good cork.

After finishing that first set of four cards, I was asked for another four to cover events in May.  So there’s a new baby card and I was able to use up some ribbon I bought years ago which I love.  And I still love making these cards with the ‘invisible’ acetate strip holding a dangly pram on.

Then it was a set of three special birthday cards, 40th, 50th and 60th.  I was asked for fairly generic cards, which I actually enjoyed making for a change.  It’s lovely to sort through papers I’ve had in boxes for a long time and then find other’s to go with them.  I  hope the recipients like them as much as I enjoyed making them.

These have certainly kept me busy for the week and stopped me thinking about all the adventures we should have been having in Edinburgh.  It’s true about crafting being therapeutic and a stress reliever – or I think so anyway.

I finished the week with a rush order for a couple of cards for soon-to-be four-year-old twins in Australia.  My brief was animals, the sea or books!  Both had to be similar but slightly different.  I started with a couple of cards I already had made, which have a balloon and a basket full of animals.  I thought having different coloured wording and an extra bow and tag would be different enough, alas different animals was preferred.  So I headed back to a set of decoupage farm animals I bought at the first craft show I attended many years ago.  I think the images in these are so bright and cheerful, therefore I decided to use the frog and rooster.

The photos of these were rushed too and I didn’t have time to get them into my resident photographer (my husband) for his professional attention.  So apologies for the poor quality of these pictures.  However, I think it shows how vibrant the images are.  I added a blue number four on each one before hand delivering on my daily walk.

My final make of the week was a birthday card for a friend’s daughter.  My daughter and I had already made our cards for her, but her Mum wanted something special as it’s to be a birthday in unreal circumstances.

I ordered a crafting set from Create and Craft a couple of weeks ago which included lots of images for mums and daughters (it’s part of a set from Kanban), and I picked one sheet in particular as I know she’s a real dancer.  We settled on this image of the baby ballet shoes and the grown up shoes.

I think the star background paper sets off this image to perfection and I hope she likes it too.

Well I’d better check on my daughter’s school work planning for next week’s return to school. #Backtoschool

Stay safe and happy crafting

x

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Hearts Everywhere

This year the heart has never seemed more appropriate to send to someone.  I think we all need to show a bit more love.  I’ve had a few wedding cards to make for and it always restores my faith in humanity when I’m asked to make a special card.

I’ve made a couple fairy recently for a lovely lady who wanted the colours to tie in with the colours on the wedding invitation she had received.  This first one was a classic cream and navy scheme.  I still love this style with the dangler heart on acetate.

The second one was a much more colourful affair.  I was a bit unsure at first, but I rather like the overall effect of the nesting hearts and borders.

I also had a wedding of my own to go to, as my cousin was tying the knot, with my daughter as her little bridesmaid.  Her scheme was very pastel colours, so I went for a pale pink with floral foiling and added pearls.

Last month was so sad with all the terrible events in Manchester and London.  I was at a complete loss after the Manchester Arena  bombing, I knew several people at the concert and we lost two young lives in the town.  I wanted to do something to help so I joined a group #aheart4mcr making hearts to distribute around Manchester city centre.  It was a wonderful way to show support and care for those that had lost loved ones or sustained terrible injuries.

I sent off 27 knitted and crochet hearts in total and they joined over 26,000 others from all over the world, displayed and then taken home by people coming into the city centre.  I was struck just after the first heart drop to find this lovely heart on my lawn.

Sometimes it pays not to mow the lawn every week!

I thought I’d end today with one of the cards I sent in my order to Hearts for Homes in Ramsbottom, a red button heart for an engagement.  I was asked to make a few new engagement cards and the heart just seemed to fit the bill.  I haven’t done a button based card for quite a while and I really enjoyed emptying my ever-growing button stash onto the table to find the right size and colours.

I’m afraid I’m not very organised with my buttons and ribbons.  I wish I was, but I don’t have very much space really, or maybe it’s not having the inclination to sort them out!  I’ve taken over the box room so I’m squashed in with everything else that hasn’t found a home elsewhere in the house.  I really do need to get cracking on sorting it out though, but I always get so distracted whenever I start.

Oh, well, back to finding some more love and make some more hearts.

Happy crafting
x

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Boxing Day Floods

Having spent Christmas in the South West with my inlaws, I missed being part of the floods at home. It was rather upsetting watching it from a distance, trying to keep up with exactly which parts of Bury were flooded or were going to flood. I spent most of Boxing Day glued to facebook and the bbc news. Several friends and family members lost power for a time, and I was dreading what we would return home too.

We arrived home last night and couldn’t see very much in the dark, I was expecting the worst though! So I’ve just been out to feed the birds, and this is my back garden!

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More like a lake, and this is almost 48 hours after the rain subsided! It much have been awful on Boxing Day itself. Fortunately, the house is several feet above the garden level, but I’m really glad I hadn’t followed through with my wish to have a shed / studio space at the bottom of the garden, I don’t think there would have been much left to salvage! I think I shall persevere with my little craft space in the spare room for the time being.

But we got off quite lightly compared to many in the local area. There is a road bridge out of action because of the pub collapsing in Summerseat, and a couple of footbridges are having to be demolished. And we’re set for more rain to come. I hope 2016 brings a drier Summer!

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Advent Calendar

A few months back I started out with a mission to make an advent calendar for my daughter. I love the look of the little crochet stockings that I’ve been making for tree decorations, so thought they would make a great garland to fill with little treats. It would certainly make a change from a cheap bought calendar and could be re-used for years to come.

Making 24 little stockings proved more difficult that I had imagined. I originally planned for all the stockings to be a deep red with white tops, however, I fairly quickly ran out of the red! So the plan changed to include some dark green stockings with white tops. Here are a few of the first ones I made.

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I had to make sure I kept enough of the red and green to be able to add numbers on to the stockings, so I adapted my plan again to include some white stockings, with red / green tops.

Well after a few weeks thinking there was no way I would get it finished in time for Christmas, I am pleased to say I have finally finished it and we all love it.

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We’ve filled it with celebrations this year, and Alice is thrilled. It’s up in the hall, our first Christmas decoration and it looks lovely. The colours have worked well together and the stockings should fit in small gifts too, so there’s room for different gifts next year!

Well, it’s back to the Christmas makes for me,

Happy crafting
x

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Summer Holidays

Well the school holidays are well under way now and of course, following the trend of the year so far, we have all been ill! I’ve had to have a week off doing anything with a bout of conjunctivitis, which having never had it before, I never want again. It has meant being unable to craft, read or use the computer as I couldn’t see very well. I spent an entire week wearing my sunglasses, which is not great when you’re inside the house.

Anyway, inspite of the set backs, I have managed to get my daughter crafting to a certain degree. I have been collecting up boxes, tubes and pots as usual, which will all be donated to the local nursery school when they start back in September. I love this as it’s so imaginative and is the ultimate recycling of re-useable rubbish. It certainly trims our bin and gives the school loads of things to use too. I really don’t know why more people don’t do it as it’s such an easy way to recycle and for the children to be creative. In the meantime, they make great model building materials at home.

My 6 year old is really enjoying making at the moment so we’re making the most of this. Here’s one of her larger makes, a city for some of her animals and figures.

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This was later populated with lego people and adorned with lego flowers, trees and bridges.

We’re also taking part in the annual Summer reading challenge at the local library. This year the theme is record breakers. As she managed over 30 books last summer, I think it will be a tough ask to beat that record this year, but she’s game for a try. The aim is to read 6 books before the end of the holidays and there are stickers to collect. We can’t wait to see what the first ones are. The fun books being chosen this year seem to be ‘Rainbow Magic’ fairies and ‘My little pony’. (A bit of a change from all the pirates and dinosaurs from the last couple of years).

As I am now on the mend from minor illness and my surgery we are hoping to get out-and-about a bit and maybe do some different types of crafts. We did get a lovely surprise in the post last week, as I must have entered a giveaway in LGC Knitting and Crochet magazine. I received a set of mini flower looms, so I can see these being found all over the place. Here are our first attempts, so I just need to find (or make) something to put them on.

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I can see them being added to some of my current under-construction projects, but we shall have to wait and see. They may be added to one of my previous makes that are currently residing in my daughter’s bedroom!

Well I see it must be time to get back to make some lunch before having a look at what we can do this afternoon – I can see paper, card and pens coming out of the making box!!

Happy crafting
x

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Learning to Knit?

‘But you can already knit’ I hear you cry.

Yes I know I can already knit, but I’m always open to learning more. I found a lovely lady with a stall at Bury Show last weekend and she has set up her own little business teaching people to knit. I was drawn in by the lovely balls of yarn on her table and picked up a leaflet and business card for a bit more information.

We had a lovely chat about knitting and it turns out that she doesn’t think her classes would be of any benefit to me. She teaches mainly adults, however, she is considering teaching children to knit, probably from the age seven. So I might well be taking her up on that option for my daughter in the next year or so. (That is if she wants to learn) It was great to chat with someone else so passionate about her craft.

So if you want to learn to knit or are ready to take on cables and/or knitting in the round and are in the Bury area, why not check out learn to knit bury

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Happy crafting
x

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