Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Unfinished Christmas Crafting...

This is the flip side of crafting for Christmas...too many projects taken on and having to decide who misses out...I'm ashamed to say that this year it was a gift for my Mum. This year we all agreed on no presents as every ones finances have been stretched for various reasons, so I felt very guilty when I DID receive the lovely presents I blogged about previously and had nothing to give in return.
I had wanted to do something fairly quick and simple that involved the kids, I browsed through my bookshelf and found the lovely bookmark idea from Amanda Blake Soule's lovely 'Handmade Home' which involves your little one doing a drawing of a favourite person and then embroidering over it with a simple back stitch. So I had some cotton scraps and I got my eldest (five) to draw a picture of Granny! I got her to do it on paper first as I worried about how it would turn out! I then traced it through onto the fabric by holding it up to the window and then spent some lovely hours relaxingly stitching away!! Mostly all watching Star Trek I'm slightly embarrassed to say! I'd forgotten how much I like embroidery, I used to do a lot of cross-stitch but embroidery is much nicer as you don't have to keep looking at a chart!

So I've now added her writing of 'Granny' to the top and now just need to sew it all up, I'm trying to get her to do other family members this week so I can do a whole set! It's lovely taking her artwork and making something personal and lasting, as her drawing style is constantly changing/developing. The other feel-good factor is how it hasn't cost any pennies, all made with scraps and stuff I already had and mostly with love. I'll post the finished photo when done!
Am thinking of ringing in the New Year with a visit to Ikea at Milton Keynes! Much better then having a hangover! I'll let you know....need to do some sofa research and of course just to LOOK at the textiles!!!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Post Christmas

After the rush to get things ready it always seems to flash past doesn't it the big day!!
With last minute crafting and doing a proper roast since we've had kids, it seems to have been a lot of effort for a short period!!

So I tried really hard this year to make the girls something which inevitably led to a last minute panic!! But I really enjoyed it and was very proud to see their faces when the saw....

the finished knitted mouses and the fleecy floor cushions. It made the 2am Christmas Eve morning finish all worthwhile!!

Mary Christmouse was from Knit Today, issue 39, Nov 2009, pattern by Val Pierce, which as a novice knitter I found very easy, there's a lot of sewing together though and I still haven't got the hang of charming faces! The info is also on my Ravelry page, (HoldMyHand).

The floor cushions were a late brain-wave, I had an old king size duvet which I was going to Freecycle but then as a couldn't afford bean-bags for the girls I wondered if I could cut it into squares as large floor cushions! So I measured out a generous size and doing some calculations made the 60cm squares which made 16 squares, eight per cushion.

I then sewed a square inner cover for them out of an old sheet and the used the three metres of very bright fleece that's been waiting for a project to make simple pillow-case type opening covers. I added some flaps of fleece and different ribbon to identify them at the top corners. The best thing is they cost nothing!! And more importantly the girls love them and have been lounging on the all Christmas!! I hope they'll end up in the room under the cabin bed where I hope to finish creating a reading/listening chill-out area for them!! The curtain to go around the opening of the bed is the next project, when I can find a large piece of appropriate fabric (I'm thinking of Ikea)!!

Me and the kids didn't really do a huge amount of Christmas crafting this year, I've really noticed the difference from last year when I was only working two days a week (what bliss!!), it's been a bit sad having to rush to fit everything in, we didn't even visit santa, although both the girls have seen him via school/nursery.

We did get to decorate pine cones for our card display

I found a pack of ribbon with small pegs at Clinton Cards for only £1.99 which although it wasn't as nice as the Cath kidston washing line version I fancied, the cheaper then £5 price tag won me over!!

I can also now reveal the present my Mum got for me from the Vintage & Handmade Fairback in November....

Meet Bea, from the lovely Vintage Magpie, isn't she lovely, a much loved addition to our family.

I was also lucky enough to receive...

a lovely Lindt Matroyshka dolly, hyacinths planted by the girls and a tea set with a lovely Cath mug!
I'm still waiting for my knitting counter I was promised by the other half!!
I'm getting withdrawal symptoms from knitting now too, I'm itching to get started on a sleeveless cardie which is my next project, again details on Ravelry.
I'm also looking at the benefits of changing to a different provider for blogging as the lack of features on Blogger is slowing me down, especially the add image function which as a fairly important one, is infuriatingly rubbish! Any comments/info would be very welcome.
I hope all blog readers had a lovely crafty Christmas and here's to making 2010 New Year's crafting resolutions/to do lists!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Handm@de Fair, Oxford

Counting down until Sunday now, after the excitement of the Vintage & Handmade Fair in Chipping Sodbury it's time for our local feast.
Really enjoyed V & H this year, not as christmassy as I'd hoped (really wanted a vintage looking christmas tree angel), but looking at the pics from the blog, think the best things went early! I treated myself to a Babushka rabbit kit from Donna Flower, whose stall was fab, wish I had more budget for fabric!!

And then I ummed and ahhed over one of the gorgeous bunnies from The Vintage Magpie that I saw in the summer and loved, & thanks to my Mum who accompanied me, I will have one for Christmas!! Will try and sneak a photo of the one I've adopted!

I did fancy one of these gorgeous prints too..

..but sadly I restrained myself, (too much I think with hindsight!).
Very glad we battled through the high winds and flood water!!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Vintage & Handmade Fair

One & a half days to go!!
I'm really looking forward to this again, the summer one was so fab and I enjoyed it so much.
My Mum is coming with me again as she really loved it too, so it'll be a girls day trip and I'm planning on spending money too! Would really like a vintage christmas tree angel, so will be keeping my eyes peeled, will report back on any purchases!

I've got my mind on Christmas quite a lot at the moment, there are several things I'd like to make for the girls, the first thing I started last weekend, it's Mary Christmouse from a pattern in 'Knit Today', which is a basic knitted mouse, I'm doing this in white I had in my stash but it's nearly all gone, so fingers crossed it lasts for the legs & ears!!

I'm also struggling to find an alpaca DK yarn for a pattern for my self, I don't find it very easy browsing for yarn on the web, I really want to see it person and feel it! So I've been perusing in my LYS's - Witney Wool Shop & Port Meadow Designs in Oxford. I want something with a bit of colour variation, but what colour do I go for?! I definately need more experience at this!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The Big Knit

I'm a bit late on the uptake with Innocent's annual knitting challenge, but with one week left I decided it was better to contribute something than nothing so very slowly (!) I have produced three tiny hats that are now winging their way to London to hopefully be in time for Friday's deadline.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

One Year On...


A whole year? Surely not, ok so I'm not the best at regular posting but I've really enjoyed having my blog as a creative thing to think about, to plan and have a reason to do things/take photos/be creative, I highly recommend it to anyone, just do it!

Although being a personal thing I haven't really plugged it out there in cyberspace which is my yr 2 challenge!

I should be having a giveaway, but with no regular readers that may have to wait!!

It is also one year since the annual Witney Feast!!!

Hurrah, the fair came to town and once again I loved the lights, colours, noise and enjoying seeing it all through my kids eyes.

We also had a great time at Blenheim on Saturday watching the cross-country, so I'll try and get some pics up of that tomorrow.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Heading Back to School

Kissing Hands

Last year as my eldest was due to start school I stumbled upon a sweet idea that would remind her that we loved her and were thinking of her on her special day, I think I followed a link from Tip Junkie to 'back to school traditions' from Shauna-na-na for these kissing hands biscuits, which will once again be in her school lunch box tomorrow, to hopefully give her a smile at lunch!

I just used a basic biscuit recipe:

4 1/2 oz plain flour

2oz brown sugar

3oz butter

I halved the quantities as I didn't want to make loads! Rubbed it all in together to make a dough, (I needed a bit of extra flour as it was still quite soft) and rolled it out.

I then drew round the hands on paper and cut out to make a template, then used this to trace round on the dough and cut out, which is a bit fiddly and it pays not to drag the knife but to make small cuts as you run the risk of amputating a finger (a dough one that is!).

The girls then added a chocolate button (snaffling a few out of the packet when they thought I wasn't looking!), I put them onto baking parchment (I love this stuff, I can't cook without it, soo much better than greaseproof paper) and into the oven for about 8-10mins on 160c.

Now I've just got to hope that it survives in one piece until lunchtime! Back to the last minute name labelling now!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

The Quilt Show

What a fab day, there was so much to see, there were nearly 1,000 quilts on display, each different with lots of fabulous techniques and fabrics, my eyes were struggling to take it all in I had to leave the halls and have a cup of tea on two occasions so I could sit down and process what I'd seen! It truly was a visual feast for the eyes (and heart). I can't write how excited and inspired I am, I want to be able to create textile art, to use colour, technique and imagination to make a traditional quilt but then also to have an original wall hanging, with handstitching, machine stitching, layers of fabric and thread to create texture, the list is endless!
The only sticking point is that I came away not sure where to start! Not having these skills do I need a book, a pattern to start with or just try free-styling it?! I wish I had booked (that there has been space!) one of the classes to get me in there, give me a place to start, do I try piecing something traditional or see if I can do machine stitching on my machine?
What about fabric! One of the things I need to try/learn is putting colours/fabrics together and cheaply!!
I was naughty a little I did buy a few items, I'll take some piccies tomorrow but treated myself to two fat quarters of Amy Butler, which I intended to display on the the wall first before using! I also got some purple felt and brooch backs for the knitted corsage in progress...and some buttons!!! The stall's there were fabulous, a real wide range and was great to see fabric's in the flesh rather than over a computer screen. The Eternal Maker had some fabulous prints, I had to be very stern with myself! I will of course be filing away the web-sites of new shops for future use!!
So glad I went and I would definitely go again, I'd even buy a ticket next time! The one thing that I did notice is that the majority of people were well ladies and also a lot older than me! Is there an age-restriction on quilting that I'm not aware of?! Although looking at the time/detail you can put into creating, I'm guessing that it works better if you've packed the kids off and you're retired?!!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Festival of Quilts

I'm off tomorrow to the NEC, as I have won tickets to see the quilt show, which I'm very excited about! I shall have to be careful not to take any money with me though!

After seeing the local quilt group (The Buttercross Quilters) display their large collection of quilts in Bampton a couple of weeks ago, I have wondered about starting a project of my own,but haven't really known where to start,so will be looking with interest tomorrow for inspiration and know-how!

Full report to follow...

Thursday, 30 July 2009

SecondHand Goodness

Have enjoyed a day of secondhand rummaging today, to appease my stash-gathering/retail therapy mood!
Had a trip out to Orinoco where I got some fabulous red upholstery material which I hope to cover two tins that I also got, the idea was in the latest issue of Sew Hip and I thought I could store knitting needles in one and pencils in the other..

Got some thin foam for future paint stamping, with some tester tubes of blue fabric paint. Some acetate sheets for stencilling and finally a tin of 'moon shadow' emulsion for one wall of the lounge. Although after slapping a bit on to test, it's a bit bluer than I wanted so may have to mix with some white so it's a bit more muted, but not bad for 50p!

Then it was into Town for a trawl through the charity shops, I was buggyless today (youngest at nursery!) so it meant I could do a big trip and go to the ones with stairs and narrow aisles!

Sobell House was jammed packed with great stuff today, had to rein myself in!

First off, three hoops which I wanted to display nice fabric in and hang on the walls, ala Soulemama,hope to get either some Amy Butler or new Ikea fabric for those.

Then found this half used Softie Kit in the Kids section, has the pattern pieces and instructions for making some fabulous softies, including Treelings from Forest Prints and a fabulous ice cream sandwich from Heidi Kenny at My Paper Crane who's softie donuts I love and I may try my hand at, as for our new craft group at work we are supposed to be doing a 'tea-time' themed item.
Some more wool, all for only £1.50 so I couldn't resist...I'm working on a knitted flower corsage at the moment, so needed some scraps to test on!

And then also, when the sun shone in brief interludes today, I finally managed to cajole my eldest into modelling the Oliver + S 'Lazy Days Skirt' I finally finished last weekend, it's a bright pink print from Ikea. This is the first time she's really worn it, so I may have to make another one in fabric that she chooses next. I just know it'll be something sparkly and spangly! Still it was really easy once I got going and I can definitely see me making more. Thanks to Manda at Treefall for giving my the push to get on as her version is lovely.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Art in Action 2009

Had my first visit (finally) to Art in Action at Waterperry House on Saturday and really enjoyed seeing so much creativity. Lot's of different mediums/disciplines, all very talented people, I enjoyed seeing the wide variety on display. We were lucky with the weather, but glad I'd worn wellies! Will be making a mental note that mud, straw and buggy wheels do not go together though, unless you have an expensive off-road version!
Took lots of photos, ignored the 'please do not take photos' signs as I thought that was a little unfair, I've posted them onto Flickr for perusing, you should be able to click on the above image to see...
My favourite stand of the day was in the market section from Louise Gardiner who does embroidery/illustration, I was blown away haven't seen her work before and it resonated with them completely, would love to be able to do stuff like that, sadly all I could afford was a badge but never mind!!
Had lovely gardens too which were perfect for the kids to run around in and for picnicking - had some v. fab chocolate pancakes!!
I found the textiles tent a bit sparse, bit too arty - definite definition between textiles craft and textiles art me thinks! - lots of batik and not much going on unlike the others which was a bit disappointing. I think I like the market place and the 'Best of the Best' tent the most.
So, recommended, hope to go next year and would like to sign up to some classes next time!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Witney Carnival

Time for the annual Carnival!!
Cue plenty of excitement, ice-creams and book stalls! (my personal favourite, even though it means lots of grief from Mr G!)
Oh and the fabulous Mr Alexander:

He has the most lovely set and is very British and entertaining! We were very lucky with the weather and there was a lovely sense of community and people having a good time. Some bits of the main arena entertainment are unbelievably naff, but it all seems very old school and eccentrically British!

Hurrah for bric-a-brac too...

Now I just NEED more buttons! (any excuse!)

On Sunday, I then popped to Woodstock to The Oxfordshire Museum, to finally catch (on the last day) the Annabelinda exhibition. Soo glad I did, it was wonderful, basically Oxford's couture house since the Seventies had a retrospective with lots of original designer outfits all displayed, it showed fashion through the decades too, but the dresses, the handiwork, the Liberty fabrics, it was all so beautiful and sumptous. It was a real effort to not reach out and touch all the fabrics as they were all so stunning! The skill and craft put lovingly into all the creations was very evident and I loved the 70's pinafores, so much so I wondered if you could get away with wearing/making one now?! Even my girls liked it and were heard gushing over the lovely dresses and colours! Although after 10 minutes they were desperate to escape to the garden (which is lovely, as is the cafe, highly recommended!).

Monday, 6 July 2009

Inspiration board

Quiet day of cutting today, with my newly three year old being trusted with the big girl scissors!
I finally managed to put together my inspiration/mood board that I've wanted by my dining table for while.

I got the pin board from my Mum's garage during the car boot sort out and painted it with a lilac tester pot which was also uncovered!

I then cut all the images I'd saved in my 'To Print' folder. Basically I'd been saving images from sites I've visited to serve as inspiration.
And now it looks great, couldn't stop looking at all through dinner!
The bottom 'artwork' board is also pretty funky!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Knitty Nora and podcasts

Knitty Nora has been alleviating my boredom at work! It's a podcast I found on iTunes, there's not many of them but I really like the approach and humour. It is proving hard to concentrate on podcasts AND get work done, but hey!
My other favourite podcast is Yarncraft, again available free from iTunes, it's American but the presenters are down to earth and it has a blog that links to all the items they talk about. It's from the Lion Brand Yarn and if you register on the site you can get access to free patterns.
I've also signed up to Ravelry (HoldMyHand) but I'm still trying to work it out!
I'm hoping to find some help for DPN, as I STILL can't get the tension right, even after numerous tries and different approaches!!

Monday, 15 June 2009

niggly knitting


I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I desperately want to knit a pattern I have found for a knitted doughnut!

So after much putting off (after reading and re-reading 'Ultimate Knitting Bible' : I love this book, I keep it handy for reference) I have started but I can't hold the needles so it's easy to knit with and I'm lost about what round I'm on and the tension is baggy at the ends!

But, it has also reminded me about why I like knitting, it's addictive and the rhythm is like a mantra, once in the groove I'm calm and at peace (usually!) so I will persevere.

This weekend I have cleaned and fired up the heirloom Singer:

It's a Futura model from the late 1970's which has an electronic 'brain' according to the manual!

Hi-tech indeed!

It does have a dazzling array of stitches and feet, which makes it better than my current newer budget model which is a Viscount.

The stitches look a little crude and the straight stitch has a bit of a uneven line, but it works so I will give it a test run, probably on the Oliver + S Lazy Days Skirt I keep meaning to start!
Getting started has always been my problem!

I am also currently trying to make my blog look better, but I am struggling to get Blogger to work how I want and I still haven't got a good photo for my header, so I'm trying to do homework on what I can achieve.

Hope to be doing a car boot this weekend, I'm desperate to clear away some clutter but I think the biggest challenge will be not bringing anything new home!!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Sew Mag

I found this new mag in my local Sainsbury's before holiday last week, it's a new magazine, this is issue one and at first glance I thought it was jumping on the 'Sew Hip' bandwagon, but after reading I was pleasantly surprised.
It comes with a proper tissue paper pattern (with every issue it promises) and covers a wide range of sewing makes from dressmaking to homewares to a kid's project. It is also a lot more professionally put together than Sew Hip, the photos are a lot glossier, the research and information is accurate there are not so many typos! I am a subscriber to Sew Hip and I loved the first 3 issues but the content and feel of the magazine has been slowly dwindling, the content is thinner on things I want to make, the design and layout is too sparse and it feels lacking in direction, which coincided with the loss of the first editor maybe?!
So I have read 'Sew' from cover to cover and I'm hungry for more, the cover price of £5.99 is a sticking point though, slightly over my usual budget so I shall wait and see what issue 2 offers from the shelf before parting with hard earned pennies!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Back Home...

Back from the Forest, back to real life and plenty of washing!
Had a lovely mid-week break at Center Parcs, second time round it's still as relaxing and homely as I remembered. There's something about living in all those trees that resonates with me and feels so right, I overheard other people commenting on this is how we should live, within nature, sympathetically living side by side. Forget foreign holidays (no aeroplanes for me thank you!) this is my kind of treat. Trees, sunshine, bike-riding, swimming, rollerskating (yes, me!), badminton, kayaking and eating pancakes, this is surely the life!
I did take my knitting in the vain hope I might feel chilled out enough to re-start my second knitted monkey (in blue this time) but no, after a full days activity I couldn't muster up the will.
The coming home (to bills and reminders!) is the horrible bit though, so until work on Tuesday I'll keep looking at the holiday snaps and smiling!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Shaak MonkTi

Introducing Shaak MonkTi!!
Look at this fabulous sock monkey commissioned for me as a present by my other half for my Birthday, It's by the wonderful Sian of Siansburys (
She's my fav Star Wars character (bit of a SW geek!) and she looks absolutely fabulous, I've been dying for a sock monkey for ages so can't wait for Monday when she arrives!
Off on hols to Center Parcs on Monday too so she'll be coming with us!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Wowwee what a Fair!

So glad I made the effort to go all the way to Chipping Sodbury today, the Vintage & Handmade Fair was fantastic, so many great stalls, it was eye candy heaven! So much to look at, browse, rummage I could have stayed all day, if I had more money to spare I would have indulged in lots more lovelies. All the stalls were beautifully set out, there are some pics via the Vintage blog, it seemed to be very well run and set out. Having tea and cake was really welcome too, it kept the kidlets amused, well sort of one was being very grumpy!

So after looking around, going away for a think and coming back, what did I treat myself to....?

This very lovely button bracelet, very fun and colourful, from a fabulously set out stall by Ludabelle ( I think. Apologies if this is incorrect, I didn't pick up a card to check.

And then I bought something else which is not something I would have liked previously but I now love these sort of flowery/corsages and have ummed and ahhed over making one. But this one was a fabulous colour, aparently it's Liberty fabric and the quality is lovely, the colours all work well together and the stitching is beautiful, well worth the £7 from Brocobelle (

I then had to drag myself away as aparently it was Picnic Time!! So we stopped off at Westonbirt on the way home which is lovely, very sunny and tranquil. So a long, tiring day but a good fun filled day, now hopefully a lie-in tomorrow morning! Fingers crossed.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Vintage & Handmade Fair

Looking forward to going to this fair tomorrow, the weather should be good and they'll be cake! Will be good to see new crafters and hopefully spend some pennies, money that is!!
Visit the site for the details:
I hope to report back tomorrow.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Knit It Monkey

I have been very bad at blogging, after being at work on a computer all day, I have realised how much I don't like to spend too long on it in the evening! But I do want to still have a place I can call mine, which is supposed to be an outlet and inspiration/motivation to craft. so I will try harder.

'Sock' monkey as he is now called, was finished quite quickly, I really enjoyed knitting him, so much so that I straight away started another one, but in blue! Sadly my knitting has stalled, my hands get so dry that I find wool snags on my skin, which is really annoying when trying to knit! It's a fine balance on moisturising enough to get my hands soft and making them too greasy to hold the needles!

I am hoping to start a small project soon, there is a newly started craft group at my work and we have set our self a topic this month with the thought of all making something/anything related to it! This months theme is 'Tea time' and I was hoping to knit a doughnut as seen in the Donna Wilson 'Odd-Bod Bunch' book!! But it involves double pointed needles and I've already found casting on a problem, so we may have to persevere a bit longer!

I did also do a little iPod cosy, I just knitted to the width of my iPod Nano and then knitted long enough to make a little pouch, which I sewed up the sides and tried to do a little moss stitch for the top flap! It's not perfect but it keeps it from getting scratched in my bag, so I'm happy.
My other thought this month has been to organise! Had a trip out to Ikea, would really love some storage space to organise all my crafting supplies into one area in the house, but would need a table and various shelves, boxes etc which are a bit of a luxury at the moment. What I wouldn't give to have my own space with inspiring pictures and a comfy chair! I shall carry on planning in my head, have a real hankering for a car boot rummage soon too, but it may not be a good idea! Should be de-junking not accumulating according to 'him indoors'!
Other project ready to go is an 'Oliver + S' pattern - lazt days skirt for my eldest, I bought some pink & white fabric from Ikea, which I'm keen to see if it'll make a hard-wearing skirt?! Watch this space! I also have my Gran's old 70's singer machine to test out, to see if it's better than my current budget model, fingers crossed!

Saturday, 10 January 2009


A new year, a new costume....

This time it was a 'dress as your favourite book character' day at school, so can you guess what the brief was?

If you answered Angelina Ballerina, you'd be correct!

In the last six months I've had to rustle up 3 dressing up costumes, which I've thoroughly enjoyed and have been glad that I got the sewing machine out again.

We had a robot for a Halloween party, an angel for the nativity and now this, hopefully my ideas will get a bit better as I've tended to go for simple items. I quite like the challenge of making a homemade costume as so many others just re-use any shop bought costumes they already have, there was an Indiana Jones at the book character day, which is surely stretching it a bit!

Anyway, so I got the leotard from eBay (£4), pink headband from Claire's Accessories and then some felt and ribbon, so less than £10 and then just used stuff we already had like the net tutu.

I just cut out a tail shape from some white felt, stitched, turned right way out and stuffed and hand sewed up the gap.
Cut out white and pink felt circles, glued together, but it didn't hold strongly enough (made it nice and rigid though) so I hand sewed the edges.
I rolled up some fischia ribbon to make a flower and stitch that onto the net tutu.
I also attached the tail with a popper as I was worried it would get in the way at school but I think I would have been safe just stitching it in place.
The feedback was very good, although she was a bit disappointed to find there was another 'Angelina' in her class!
Job well done I think and today I was pleased to spot a Sale in our local sewing shop today, fingers crossed as I'd really like some money off fabric so I can justify making the dress mentioned previously!