Thursday, 22 December 2011

Well that's it ..................

Christmas really has crept up on me this year, more so than ever before I think.  I had a list of things still to make but wasn't happy with the microfibre diary covers I've been working on the last couple of days.  Quick and easy isn't really my thing and I need to spend more time on them to achieve anything remotely pleasing so decided to spend today finishing something started over a year ago!

13 hours later .......... the Sunflower's wired silk petals and leaves can be arranged as one pleases.

The machines, fabric and threads are being put away early in the morning to concentrate on some baking.  The kids like the things we always have so we always have the same things at Christmas ............ it's easier than "where's this?"  "why haven't we got that?".  Stilton and onion quiche, a bacon quiche, puff pastry sausage rolls, chocolate log and the beginnings of the Mascarpone trifle are on the agenda for tomorrow!

Wishing everybody a lovely Christmas and a happy and healthy 2012

Thursday, 15 December 2011


I had a go at Gina's Almond Paste Mince Pies.  Having left the paste in the fridge overnight it was rather difficult to pipe.  A quick zap in the microwave made it really squidgy but much easier:

They are nice but my favourite mince pie is still the orange and cream cheese recipe I first used back in the 80s ...........

For anybody that would like to try:

1lb plain flour
8oz butter
4oz lard (I used Trex yesterday as it was what I had)
Zest and juice of 1 large orange
8oz cream cheese (I used the cheapy basics one this time)
2 oz caster sugar

Rub fat into flour, add zest and mix with some of the orange juice.  Roll out and cut into 24 linings and lids (I usually get about 32).  Add 1 tsp of mincemeat to each tart.  Mix caster sugar with cream cheese and dollop a teaspoon onto the mincemeat before adding the lid.  Glaze with milk and bake for probably about 20 minutes at 190 (I tend to check the oven rather than time them).  The baked pies freeze really well.

Looking for some oven mitts I found a tutorial for some novel looking round pot holders.   I think the addition of binding makes for a neater finish though ...............

Peering over my shoulder, my dad was very complimentary about the chicken ones I was stitching.  Now I'm not sure why he would be so interested in oven stuff so guess he liked the fabric!  Hmmmmm ............ a quilted wine bottle carrier would be just the thing!!!

I used this tutorial but constructed a bit differently, particularly the side seams where I only stitched the top fabric and wadding together leaving the lining to be slip stitched in place for a neater finish.  The chicken fabric is quite heavily printed so I found just the one layer of wadding (Insul-Bright to help keep the wine at the preferred temperature for a while) adequate.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Laundry Adventures

I had some vintage fabrics that needed freshening up but included in the pile was a large piece of magenta cotton which I just knew was going to bleed .........

The rich magenta coloured fabric is no more (bottom right) but I can still use it, even overdye if necessary ........

and I have two of the most wonderfully dyed "colour catchers"

Thankyou for all your lovely comments.  Everybody's name was duly written, cut out and neatly folded then my husband randomly picked Linda so a little package of goodies will soon be flying across the globe to Australia.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Patchwork Christmas Stockings

Being inspired by some pretty Christmas stockings I've seen on the web recently, I set to making a few .........

The reds and pinks look better in reality but to give some idea ........

I used this free tutorial for a template and did line them, they are a fun project.  Now if I could only find more hours in the day to move onto designing some with something a bit more ............ the ideas are there but I'm running out of time now!

There's still time (until the end of November) to comment on my 200th giveaway blog post to enter the draw for some embroidery goodies (a selection of threads/yarns etc.).  I'll also include comments on this post and my facebook page in the draw.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

200th Post Giveaway

Well I went with the flower and was pleased with it ........... until I uploaded some pics and now I'm not so sure ......... though it does seem to look better in reality ............ pinks are a funny colour to photograph!
The "Flowerpot" Bag

Now for the giveaway ................ a little goody bundle for embroidery/embellishing.  No pic yet, I need to have a bit of a sort out and get some bits together  I'll pick the winner from the comments on this post at the end of November .............. good luck and I hope the randomly chosen poster likes what I choose for them.  Comments on my facebook page  will be included in the draw too.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Designing a Bag ..........

A quick 10 second sketch for a "Flowerpot" Bag.  First thoughts were summery pinks and greens but out came the fabrics and I decided on something more in keeping with the season.  The cotton shirt that I grabbed before the latest sort out went off to the charity shop a couple of weeks ago would be perfect for lining the crazy quilted outer panels.

An Inner zipped pocket .......

The actual shirt pocket unpicked and stitched to the lining the other side is handy for those quick to grab items ...........

Not quite sure about the planned 3D fabric flower(s), I'll do one and decide before finishing it off.  I'm really pleased with the upcycling of the shirt, not only due to the price of cotton these days but it adds a personal touch!  When I think of the pretty cotton dresses my daughter used to wear (many years ago!), I could nearly cry that I didn't think of keeping them for the fabric lol!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Bits & Pieces

A couple of bedroom cushions.  The buttons too large to use the automatic buttonholer on the Juki, I used the "two step" program ......... it was a disaster, stopping and changing to a bar tack whenever it felt like it!  I've not had cause to use that machine for buttonholes before so I need to have a really good play before I attempt them again!

Another colourwash I Spy Quilt in the making - I've got so far as piecing the top:

A few pieces of fabric which I hope will combine to make a pretty bag (my current project):


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Puppet Parade

At last, my version of the panda and zebra puppets by Itty Bitty Toys

I saw how Mary at Ravlery had used the pattern for a pig and soon realised how easy it was to knit a whole array of puppets to portray all manner of characters ..............

Before each one is finished there are already ideas for many more ..............

Oh yes, there's more too but I won't bore anybody with numerous photos of similar stuff all of which will eventually find their way into a Christmas shoebox .......... and can't promise when I'll be posting anything different as, even though I'm no great knitter, these things are somewhat addictive!!!!!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

A Bit of Catch Up

I did a couple more pages for Gina's Sketchbook Challenge before putting the art stuff away for a bit.  I kind of started losing my way but have a better idea of where to go next when I get them out again.  This was an enlarging experiment - large scale isn't really my thing but I've had to do it in the past so I did just the one for now ............


Out and about, I did actually have the camera in my bag to capture (in a fashion) these mixed media wall hangings at Sheerness Library :

My paternal ancestors came from the Midlands.   Grandad was killed in WW2 whilst my dad was a baby and his parents parted company when he was a babe himself so I started off knowing very little about them when I got into family history back in the mid 80s.  Finally, as an anniversary treat, we planned a short trip to the Black Country Living Museum and the Back to Backs in Birmingham.  Sadly we didn't get to the Back to Backs as they were closed for longer than stated on the NT website and we didn't find this out until phoning to book AFTER we had booked our accomodation.  Never mind, we had a brilliant time and for me it felt like going home despite never having been there and my grandad moving down south with his mother as a baby c1910.  I have Romany ancestry but I do not like camping, I have conjuring ancestors but magic bores me, lots came from London but the City scares me a bit, I go the Midlands and, well, what can I say except I loved every minute of it and it felt like going home as soon as we saw "Fort Dunlop"!!!!

We took numerous pics so just a couple of textiley bits ..............

Back to now, knitting is good for me at the moment.  I need to concentrate enough to stop me thinking about other stuff and I can do it on the sofa in the same room as my husband for the evening.  Being no great knitter, I'm ok with small items and have knitted up the panda and zebra puppets mentioned in the last post and also used the basic patterns for Dennis the Menace, Piglet, Pooh, pig, rabbit (and a yet to be decided) puppets too ......... will post pics when I (eventually) get them all stitched together and finished!  Am miles behind with catching up on fellow blogs so hope to find some time for light reading before too long too!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Glove Puppet Knitting Patterns and Tutorials

Knitted items are very welcome in the shoeboxes sent abroad with Operation Christmas Child each November but they must be unstuffed.  Hand puppets are ideal so long as any bits of filling are left out where applicable and they can make lovely "friends" for often traumatised and lonley children.  I've listed some of my favourites from the free puppet knitting patterns online.

Susan B Anderson's panda and zebra puppets from Itty Bitty Toys

Mary at Ravelry has combined the panda and zebra patterns to make a pig puppet

Turtle from Mavis at Sheep and Shepherd with the pattern at Ravelry
Knitting in the round and quite complex but beautiful!

Clown, elephant and teddy at the OCC website

Janet from Musings of the Puppet Lady has been knitting 100 puppets a year for the Christmas Shoebox scheme for several years now and has shared patterns for her variation on the OCC clown and Mickey Mouse.  Do have a look around her blog at ideas for other variations ie. snowman, duck, Father Christmas, Penguin etc..  Photos on Flicker too.

Twins at Melodiesplus

Girl at Creni (pdf)
Girl, fairy, prince and rabbit at Knitting and Crochet
See also this post for more links to free patterns for puppets to knit, sew or crochet.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

More Christmas Shoeboxes

The last of our shoeboxes for OCC this year all packed and ready to go:

Boy 2-4

 Girl 2-4

Girl 5-9


 Girl 10-14