New Christmas Traditions – Satsuma Thrifty Christmas Campaign

Last year I decided to start a new tradition for Christmas. I was fed up of buying the same cheap little chocolate advent calendars year on year, and while my daughter liked them, I could never find anywhere to put them and they just didn’t seem to be very Christmassy. So I started to crochet some little stockings and made them into a perpeptual advent calendar.

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It looked lovely up in the hall last year as a Christmas garland as well as being my daughter’s favourite part of the run up to Christmas. I filled it with individual wrapped chocolates, so it didn’t cost a fortune to fill either.

This year I’m looking round for inexpensive little gifts to fill it with again. At seven (almost eight), my daughter is becoming a little more difficult to please with sweets and chocolates. I’ve bought a couple of selection boxes and will add those to the stockings. I think it’s always nice to see something peeking out of the top of the stocking. But I also want to add something other than sugar loaded treats. The stockings aren’t very big so I can’t go mad with gifts, but I think a couple of packs of her favourite (My Little Pony) Stickers and perhaps one of the mystery bags as a treat for Christmas Eve. She also loves to draw, so I’m going to get a pack of pens and split them up putting a different one in each stocking.

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It’s great to think that this will be a tradition that we can carry on and hopefully she will enjoy the individuality of her calendar. I know I certainly enjoyed making it and have great fun thinking of things to fill it with. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot either. I’m going to stick to a budget of £10 maximum to fill it. Who knows I might even find some of the stocking fillers I put away last year and forgot about!

Now I just need to hang it up high enough that the meddlesome cats don’t attack it!

Not long to go.
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See mine and other ideas for a savvy Christmas here

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More Crochet Snowmen

Last Christmas, I had a rush on little crochet snowmen. They are very cute, and they were so popular with the dance mums, that I had orders for five more for this Christmas.

So for the last few weeks I’ve been crocheting parts of little snowmen. It has really started to get me in the mood for Christmas. I hope we get a spell of cold weather though. It does seem a bit odd making snowmen when it’s still well above 10 degrees outside!

My first set of snowmen are a for a lovely family with two little girls.  Their favourite colours are pink and purple.  I haven’t come up with any good names for these two yet, but I’m sure the girls will!p1250303

This trio are for two brothers and their younger sister.  One brother’s a Manchester United fan, the other is a Manchester City fan (I don’t fancy being there for football arguments in the future) and their sister is a dancer.

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I love how each one ends up different although the pattern is the same throughout.  It just goes to show how different yarns make things very individual.

I think the most fun I had though was with my jar of buttons while waiting for Alice in her dance class.  Looking for just the right shade of each colour is very important.  I was counting on any of the other Mums loving the buttons too, so we had buttons everywhere and I had to promise to bring them again!

Happy Crafting
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Change of Pace

It’s been a while since I found myself in a coffee shop on my own for an hour, but that’s where I find myself today. Such luxury. But I feel I should be doing something, so after a root round I have managed to put pen to paper (so to speak). I’m pleased to say that for once, the sun is shining and I am slowly munching my way through a bag of fruit and nuts along with a lovely cup of tea.

The reason for my luxurious bit of ‘me’ time is that I am waiting for Alice, who is at an extra study class. This is the prize she won from the Rock Easter Egg Hunt. So we have a whole month of tuition to look forward to. And so far so good, she loves it! I think the combination of a different type of learning – she’s concentrating on creative writing and working on her writing speed – being somewhere new and meeting new people, is a real hit with her. Plus we seem to have the added benefit of a growth in her self-confidence too. So long may it continue.

I, on the other hand, now find myself with some time to spare. So today I have come ladened with crochet hook, yarn, pattern and phone, in the hope that I will achieve something from my ever growing ‘to do’ list. I am working on a number of crochet projects at the moment, the main one being orders for little snowmen. It does feel wrong crocheting snowmen just when it’s starting to get warm again outside, but they were popular amongst the dance Mums and I have orders for five more ready for next Christmas!

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So I’m trying to get ahead and make a few more so I’m ready for the Ramsbottom craft fair at the end of October. I’m trying not to think too far ahead but I know it’ll be here before I know it. I’m hoping to put together a collection in a rainbow of colours. So fingers crossed and I might actually have them ready in time. They will look quite cute alongside my little lavender chicks.

Time to finish my cuppa and collect Alice now, so

Happy crafting
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The snowmen have landed

I was amazed how popular my little crochet snowman was when I took it to the dance school waiting room recently.

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So popular in fact that I was asked to make some more for Christmas decorations and keepsakes. These are my last Christmas orders for this year so I hit the hooks with some lovely soft white baby yarn and a raid on my stash for the accent colours. I was asked for pink and blue, as one was for a girl and the other for a boy! These have taken a little while to finish as I wanted them to be perfect, so the faces have had several changes. I’ve found that the best eyes have been made with black beads, sewn in tightly. I love the little crochet carrot nose too, and the earmuffs (or headphones depending on how cool you are) are very cute additions. The pattern was in an old issue of LGC Knitting and Crochet magazine and can hopefully still be found in their free patterns.

I’ve named these two Sid and Sally and they fancied having their photos taken before they got ready to go out in the cold. It was difficult choosing which buttons they would wear.

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After they had decided on their outdoor attire, they were ready to go to their new homes. I hope they have a lovely Christmas and get to see some snow!

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Happy crafting
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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
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Ramsbottom Pre-Christmas Craft Fair Review

After all the panic this last week over making sure I had enough stock for my stall, and that my stall would look ok, I can’t believe the fair’s all over! It was a fairly early start as I had to get Alice ready for her dancing class fancy dress, before loading up the car with all my items. Fortunately the venue was only 10 minutes away. We arrived, and Alice decided she wanted to stay and help me set up. I discovered that I actually had too many items for my stall space! So there was plenty left in the boxes under the table. Anyway, here we are all ready to go.

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I was in a lovely little room with six other crafters, all of us with different items and a great variety of crafts on offer. I was surprised by the variety available across the whole fair, as I’m used to finding several cardmakers and knitters, so it was refreshing to see upcyclers, candle makers, there was a lady making keepsake boxes and pictures, and we had a lovely lady who was making up creams and lotions as well as giving shoulder and hand massages.

I took plenty of crochet to do, but never got anywhere near it. The fair was pretty busy, although many of the other stallholders said that the previous two days had been busier. We all put it down to being Halloween and children having classes and parties to go to. I wish I’d realised at the time of booking the stall that it was half term, but when you’re sunning yourself by a pool, it didn’t even cross my mind!! Never mind.

I found that this was a very different and positive craft fair experience when compared to others I’ve attended. It was so nice to be able to speak to the other crafters, everyone was so very friendly and we all got on well. So much so that I think we’ll be meeting up again soon. It was a great chance to swap ideas, network and I got some other suggestions on other fairs to do in the local area. I might do Bury Light Night next year.

Back to this fair and I found that I had a lot f interest in my knitted and crochet items, but the unseasonably warm weather combined with it still being October, meant that people seemed reluctant to purchase Christmas decorations or winter gifts. However, my cards did do well. I was particularly struck by how popular the owls were.

Pair of Christmas Owls

Pair of Christmas Owls

I came home with only 1 owl birthday card and a pack of owl Christmas cards left! So I shall be making more of those. I was also surprised at how well the gift tags were received, in particular the packs with poinsettias. It’s so nice to get some feedback on my items, and to see that other people like them was a great confidence boost.

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Right at the end of the day my daughter came back to help pack up, and she sold my last little knitted duckling! I’ve never seen anyone look so chuffed with themselves as Alice did at that moment – so much so she had to buy a sparkly blue knitted hedgehog from another stall!!

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All in all it was a great fair. I sold a few items but I’ve learnt a lot. Next time I think I will concentrate on my cards, and display them more individually rater than just having them in boxes. The ones that were out on the table for people to see where the ones that grabbed the attention. I could have done with a slightly larger table really, but that was the luck of the draw I think as some of the others did have larger spaces. I think I will also look into some more display items to bring height to the back of the stall. So there’s lots to think about, but now it’s time to get on with a couple of orders I took while there.

Happy crafting
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A new crochet project

While reading a recent issue of craftseller magazine, I was drawn to have a look at another craft blog, by the lovely lady at moji-moji designs. As I am still addicted to crochet and learning new stitches and skills with it, I have found this blog really interesting. I have to say my daughter also loves all the creations on there.

So I decided to have a go at one of the free patterns published on the site. As I have been making owls for my cards recently, they are somehow taken over my crafting! These little coin purses looked ideal for my daughter and her friends for taking a little pocket money out on their adventures, or for keeping little treasures close.

I decided to use some of my king cole dollymix dk yarns for these as the colours are so bright and vibrant. The basic purse shape was fairly straightforward to make, although I did have several attempts at the row that makes the flap bend over the purse! The eye patches and beak were a bit fiddly as they are quite small. But I think the hardest part for me is sewing them all together. It was quite tricky to keep the point of the flap inside the beak while sewing it. I then struggled with finding buttons the right size for the eyes. Typical! I have thousands of buttons in my craft stash and hardly any tiny black ones! So I compromised and found some purple and orange ones instead.

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I couldn’t find anything suitable for the blue owl, so had to raid Mum’s button jar! (Any excuse for a visit with her and the cats) Fortunately I also had a sewing box still at Mums which has plenty of press-studs in, so I was able to finish of the purses when I got home. So here are the finished articles, complete with chain handles.

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I’m quite pleased with how they turned out. My daughter loves her little blue one and her friends have loved theirs too.

I think I will try them in a thicker yarn and larger hook size next time.

I can’t wait to have a go at some of the other patterns off this blog too. My daughter has already asked for some of the little owls and a nest. Well that should keep me busy for a while!!

Happy crafting
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Finished Cushion

This is a project I’ve been sitting on (literally) for ages. I was using up some pure wool I have had for ages and covering a cushion that my dearly loved cats pulled to pieces.

So here’s the cushion I’ve been sitting on for months

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It didn’t need much to finish it off, sewing something into the flower centres and then sewing up the edge. I plumped for adding coloured buttons to the flowers and raided my button stash for different styles and colours to co-ordinate with the living room.

So here it is finally finished. I think it looks lovely on the settee.

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The only problem now is that I need to make some more to cover the other cushions!!!!

Happy crafting
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Working on my PHD

Yes you did read that correctly, I am working on my PHD – Projects Half Done that is!

I was looking in my living room at the steadily growing pile of patterns, yarn and project bits and thought enough is enough, I need to finish some of these before I start anything new.

So first up is my little crochet unicorn. I had already completed the head, body and horn, so it’s time to make the legs and mane.

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This is a pattern from LGC Knitting and Crochet magazine that I started several months ago. My daughter is mad about horses, ponies and unicorns, so it seemed like a great gift for her. With her real love of Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony, the colours were almost perfect too. We had an afternoon watching ‘The Cat Returns’ and I made all the legs, but the mane took ages! Who would have thought that cutting 80 20cm lengths of yarn and then tassling them into a 21ch length would take almost 2 hours!!! Maybe it’s just me being really slow….

Anyway I now have all the pieces ready to stuff and sew together.

Next up is a crochet snowman I started last year.

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Again it’s a pattern from Knitting and Crochet magazine and it uses up some of my larger left over yarn balls. I’ve made the head and body using baby yarn, so it was time to make the nose, scarf and earmuffs. This called for a watch of ‘Frozen’, something we haven’t actually sat down to watch for a few months. This was a bit fiddly as it meant using a 2.5mm hook, which is very delicate. Fingers crossed I have enough yarn to finish the headband, or I might be making it in a co-ordinating colour! Watch this space..

My next projects to finish are to start off my Christmas collection. I know I didn’t start in June, but I need to get cracking on some of the little stockings as they are always in demand for stocking fillers, teacher gifts, table presents and tree decorations. I have 6 rainbow stockings ready to sew up now, and I have finished my first two winter coloured ones, complete with fluffy tops!

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Finally I have the knitted and crochet blanket I started for Bury Show that I didn’t get chance to finish in time. I love the sampler feel of this and all the bright colours. I now need to finish off the connecting of the squares and decide how to edge it. Any suggestions are gratefully received.

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This will really clear up my living room and give me a chance to make something new for Christmas. I am newly enthused for these projects now and can’t wait to see them finished.

Happy crafting
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Therapeutic crochet

As I’ve been trying to get back into some crafting on a more regular basis, I thought I’d have a root round my craft stash and make something for the house. When my cats were ill, they completely wrecked a cotton crochet cushion cover I’d had for a number of years, so over the last few weeks I decided it was time to throw the old one away and make a new one. I found a lovely stash of pure wool yarn and went for it with a crochet hook. I started with a basic treble crochet granny square, as it kept my fingers busy and I could do it without having to think to much! It certainly stopped me biting my nails. It’s a bit of a trial and error job this as it’s my first crochet cushion cover.

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I made two matching granny squares and sewed up three sides. Having put the cushion pad inside, it looked a bit plain, so I thought I’d add some flowers to one side.

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I’ve put them in two clusters of three flowers. It certainly changes the look of our settee.  Now I’m just deciding whether I should add some buttons to the centres of the flowers or not.

What do you think? Buttons or plain?

Happy crafting
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