January so far

You can take the Brit out of Britain but you can’t take the Britain out of the Brit and so with that thought in mind I’m going to start todays post, true Brit style with a bit about the weather. What a mixed bag of weather we have had so far this January! We have had the odd sunny spell (fairly few and far between, I must say), we’ve had rain, we’ve had hail, we’ve had snow and just this last Thursday we  had the mother of all storms, with winds over 100km, schools closed and trees falling left right and centre, it was a bit scary if I’m honest. Most of all though January has been grey, grey, grey and sooo dark. When its so dark outside its  easy to start feeling glum but I can say thankfully that this year it has not hit me in the slightest. In fact the only thing blue around here are the shades of blue in some of the fabric and yarn I’ve been using. I’m not sure quite why, maybe its the fact that I went on the sun bed, burnt my bottom slightly and had a glow for a few days…as the glow worm song goes, its hard to be glum when the sun shines out your bum!!

Image result for glow worm clip artSeriously though, I’m very thankful to be feeling good, whatever the reason.

I’m actually rather pleased with myself at how much I have managed to fit in this January and we’ve still got over a week left. The craft room sort has continued, the bed has gone and whilst we are planning on getting a bed settee to replace it, I’m actually enjoying having the space to spread out a bit at the moment…

At the side of the picture you can see a blanket laid out, this is the baby blanket I have been working on for a friends baby and as it has now been gifted, I can show you. Its actually the first time I have ever bothered to block a blanket as the squares had bunched up a bit. I was a bit nervous about blocking as I hadn’t done it before but I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

I really love this blanket, especially the way you can see the crosses in the squares when the blanket is laid out. I’m very happy to say that the recipient was very happy with it too, which is after all why I make them.

I have been having a little experiment with appliqueing and stencilling bags with the idea of selling them at a craft fairs…

I’d love to know what you think of them.

In recent months as I think I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been  yearning to work with fabric and start using the sewing machine again. I have so many ideas for things Id like to make on the sewing machine but have decided to start with bunting and bags. The bunting is all cut out and ready to go…

and here is the fabric I have lined up for the bags…

I still haven’t actually got the sewing machine out yet, for some reason I’m procrastinating. Its maybe nerves as I haven’t had the machine out for 2 years and I’m a bit worried I wont remember what to do.  I am determined to get it out this week though and to have finished the bunting and a couple of bags by the end of January.

I’ve started running again after just not feeling like it for the last couple of months and am pretty happy with my progress. I even forced myself to go out on my own on a particularly cold and slushy Friday morning on my day off. I’m going to have a look for some 10km races to enter and once I see how they go, I may think about another half marathon.

I’ve even managed to find some time to do a bit of colouring (see top picture). Normally I don’t really see the point of those adult colouring books as you spend so long colouring the picture but don’t actually do anything with it. As part of one of my secret Santa presents at work I was bough a mindfulness colouring calendar, so I thought I’d have a go and as the picture will be displayed for a whole month I thought it was worth giving it a go. I have to say I really enjoyed it, Little Miss was doing her colouring alongside me and it was a really nice way to spend an hour or so.

I hope your January is going well  and that you too are escaping the post Christmas blues. I’d love to know what craft projects you have been getting up to.

Karen x

January projects

In a bid to assign more time to crafting and at the same time set realistic goals (with all the thousands of creative ideas going around in my head that I want to do RIGHT NOW, its definitely worth a try!), I’ve decided to start making a list at the beginning of each month of the projects I would like to do and then review the list at the end of each month to see how I got on.

Here’s what I’m planning to achieve in January:

  • Finish crocheted granny squares baby blanket (I’d best get a wriggle on baby is due on Saturday…eeek!)
  • Continue and hopefully finish crocheted bright stripes full size blanket.
  • Start a crochet poncho for Little Miss
  • Make my first machine sewn fabric bunting.
  • 3x stencil/ applique bags ready for craft stall.

I think this sounds achievable, right off to get started on the bunting, I’m very excited!

What crafty projects do you have on the go? I’d love to hear about them.

 

Karen x

 

Thank you 2017, welcome 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR

I know its a couple of days late but hey ho, its the thought that counts!

New year is a time where we like to look forward to the year ahead and what we hope it will bring, along with our goals to achieve. Whilst I do like to do this, I think its important first of all to look back at the last year and to give thanks for all the good times it brought.

 

2017 was, on the whole a good year for our family. Of course there were some difficult times, especially the loss of a dear relative just before Christmas. However, lots of good times were also had and what better way to celebrate than with pictures:

 

January brought with it a fair bit of crocheting, mostly in the form of hats:

 

February marked the first of our holidays, with a trip to Holland and the start of the granny stripe/ mojo blanket :

 

March was all about the flowers and lots of crafting with little miss:

 

 

 

 

April marked the second break of the year, a few days away in Oberhausen and not forgetting my first half marathon of the year:

 

 

May was the month in which I was introduced to a lovely little ceramic studio and  the start of my addiction to ceramic painting. There was also a visit to England, including running the Liverpool half marathon:

 

In June I ran my third half marathon of the year, took part in a charity 5km run  and had a few nice family local days out:

 

 

July was the only month in which I didn’t post anything here but it was a busy month with 2 trips back to the UK for weddings and a visit by my lovely Mum and Dad and 2 of our nephews and nieces.

What a relaxing month August was with a 2 week holiday in the caravan at the Norfolk broads:

 

 

In September I ran  the Berlin marathon for the second time, raising over £500  and also finished making the squares for the eclectic mix granny squares blanket:

 

 

 

October finally marked the completion of the eclectic mix large granny squares blanket and some heart bunting :

 

November was all about organising my craft room and completing the granny stripe/ mojo blanket:

 

 

December was a busy month. Crafting wise it was all about making Christmas cards.  It was also the month our little girl turned 4, we went on Santa’s steam train, visited Christmas markets, had snow, had a visit from dear friends, had some more snow and  topped the year off with a fabulous Christmas with family back in England:

 

 

Looking ahead to 2018

I tend not to make too many ‘resolutions’ as I think we have a tendency to start the year off setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves and setting ourselves up for failure within the first couple of weeks of the new year. With this in mind I have just set myself a few goals which I hope to achieve this year:

  • Build up my blog readership (I’m not  certain that anyone has actually been reading my blog for the last year and a half. If you read it regularly, please do let me know, so I can stop singing “All by myself…” Bridget Jones’ style as I’m typing )
  • Assign more time to crafting (my Fridays off are going to be dedicated to crafting and building up new crafty skills)
  • To make items to sell at a craft stall (I’ve been meaning to do this for years and have just never got round to it but I’m determined that this will be the year!)
  • To start machine sewing again (the poor sewing machine hasn’t seen the light of day in the last 2 years!)
  • To build on my photography skills and find my way around my new Camera (a Christmas present from my lovely other half).

As well as the above, there may be a bit of running squeezed in with possibly a few half marathons (I’ve got to keep feeding my medal addiction!) but absolutely no full marathons this year!

Have you set yourself any goals you’d be happy to share? I’d love to hear them.

Here’s to a fantastic 2018 and most of all… happy crafting.

 

Karen x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Blissful weekend!

Being a self confessed homebody I love nothing more than pottering around the house, tidying, arranging and crafting whenever possible. With a demanding job I don’t get a vast amount of time pottering at home but  when I do get the chance I make the most of it. Like many people at this time of year, when it can be dark for much of the day, I tend to go into full on hibernation mode, staying in and getting cosy as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong I do like to go out and socialise but no matter how great a time I’ve had out, the best bit for me is always getting back home into the warmth, scented wax burners on, cosy lighting on, a warm drink on hand and a craft project at the ready.

This weekend has just been a blissful mixture of all the things I love best. On Saturday morning little Miss announced she wanted a pyjama day and as I was going out that evening anyway I was happy to oblige. Now sometimes, with a little one in the house, pj days can leave me desperate to get out of the house by lunch time after helping to complete umpty thousand jigsaws, watching cbeebies until my eyeballs want to bleed and being made to crawl around on the floor miaowing pretending to be a cat! Yesterday was, however, refreshingly different! Except for a brief foray into the outside world to do a spot of food shopping we spent the entire day inside. We had a lovely time doing a little bit of baking, watching a minimal amount of tv, doing a couple of puzzles, painting toenails, a little bit of crafting  and some colouring in. Bliss. In the afternoon she took herself off to play in her room, demanding I stayed in the craft room for a while (who was I to argue!). Then she decided she wanted to get in the bath to play with her toy boats and insisted that  put my feet in too so she could wash them! Later in the afternoon a good friend came round with her children and in the evening I went out to a very enjoyable early Christmas function with good friends and work colleagues.

Today has been just as relaxing. Rich took little miss out for breakfast so that I could lie in (which of course, being sods law, I couldn’t) but I managed over an hour of uninterrupted relaxing (slobbing) on the settee with a hot drink, fairy lights on, indulging in a bit of blog reading catch up time. Utter bliss! The rest of the day was spent chilling out in much the same way as yesterday along  with a visit to a friends house this afternoon, where little miss and her friend played beautifully whilst us grown ups got to put the world to rights. This evening Little Miss even decided she needed to go to bed early (absolutely unheard of!) as she was so tired and so here I am catching up on my blog. What a wonderful relaxing weekend.

The only thing needed now to complete the weekend is a little bit of crafty time, so that’s exactly what I’m heading off to do . I hope your weekends were just as enjoyable. Have a great week.

Karen x

 

 

 

Karen  x

Granny stripe/ mojo blanket

What a long journey this blanket has had from when I embarked on the first chain way back in January to finally reaching completion 2 weeks ago. It has been a very spluttering, stop and start kind of journey, it has been worked on solidly for evenings at a time and it has also been abandoned in favour of other projects for weeks at a time. The yarn for this blanket was actually a 4oth present to myself a year and a half ago but I refused to let myself start it until I had finished 2 blankets I had on the go for Christmas presents last Christmas: ‘Hazy Days’ blanket and  Eclectic Mix large granny blanket

I eagerly started it in January but progress on it really slowed down as I began to find it too hard to concentrate on the long rows  due to  struggling with the winter blues which I wrote about here: A blip and a few days away 

I mentioned in a previous post The halfway mark that I was debating what to call the blanket  but have finally decided on ‘the mojo blanket’. It just had to be for 2 reasons. The first being that  its progress was so dependent on how I was feeling at the time and lots of memories of this years struggles are tied up this blanket, the other reason being that just the sight of this blanket now completed, really does lift my spirits. It is such a happy looking blanket, with its vibrant colours and I just love seeing it perched on the back of my settee.

Here it is in its entirety:

I have to warn you that there are quite a few photos  of this blanket. I always like to get an overall shot and maybe a shot of a couple of sections but I just felt that it needed lots of photos to do it justice. There are so may colours in it, it can give you a completely different feel dependning on which section you look at and how close or far away you are. Some sections are super vibrant whereas others are more pastel and sedate. Here take a look for yourself and see what you think:

and here it is with my granny squares blanket (Drum roll please…) :

This sight makes me very happy. Two very different blankets but both bright and happy and that is how they make me feel 🙂

The nitty gritty:

The yarn I used was stylecraft special dk. Now it was my first time using this yarn and I had heard it recommended on so many blogs that I just had to try it out for myself. I wasn’t disappointed, it is a lovely yarn to work with and it really does make for a rather snuggly blanket. It also has the advantage is that there are so many colours to choose from on the colour palette seems to get added to on a regular basis.

Here are the colours I used, although I didn’t keep a track of the order I used them in. I could work it out though if anyone really wanted to know.

Aster, Matador, Lemon, Apricot, Sherbert, Teal, Mocha, Turquoise, Saffron, Pomegranate, Shrimp, Clematis, Wisteria, Bright pink, gold, sage, pistachio: a total of 17 colours, I did order extra for the border though.

As is usually my way with making blankets, I had no plan, other than to use a granny stripe pattern. I selected the colours first over the internet from wool warehouse, using a gut feeling approach, I basically just picked 17 colours I liked and hoped for the best that they would look good together.

 

As I started the blanket I literally used the colour that I felt like using at the time, holding it next to the last row to double check it looked ok.

A lot of things about my work life are planned to the nth degree so I think to plan a blanket fully before making would take the fun out of it for me. Letting a blanket evolve as I make it is much more fun.

The border was ummed and aaahed over for quite some time before I finally got around to doing it. I actually put the blanket away for a good 2 months after finishing the main body of it before starting the border. I just wasn’t quite sure what border to do or what colours to use. In the end I just ordered another ball of a few of the colours I had used and just started, again by just seeing which colour looked right as I went along. when I started the border, I had it in mind that it was only going to be a couple of rows (partly because I thought that would look just fine and partly because I find going around and around the blanket to make the border a tad tedious if I’m honest) but after stepping back and looking at it and seeking the opinion of my husband, we decided it needed to be a bit thicker and so another 3 rows were added.

I didn’t bother to block the blanket as it wasn’t tremendously wiggly and I don’t think handmade blankets should be poker straight anyway. Plus the fact that it was being put into immediate use.

I really am very with how it turned out. Right, time to go and start my next one …

Karen x

 

 

 

Double deskage!

I am ridiculously excited to be able to say that I now have double deskage. So excited in fact, I even made up a new word!

Look at all that lovely crafty space. Eeeeeeeeeeek!

For a while I have been wanting to give the craft/ spare room a bit of a reshuffle and make it more craft room than spare room. For the last few weeks I have been undertaking phase 1, sorting everything into clear boxes. The old boxes were perfectly serviceable but didn’t match and I do l like to be able to see at a glance what is in each box. Plus, I  love any excuse for buying storage boxes, I do get a bit silly over them.

Phase 2 was to sort out the furniture to make space for another desk. So far I have managed to empty out a set of drawers and am now working on clearing out one of the 2 wardrobes to make even more space. I was originally going to buy a drop leaf desk that I could put up when needed but just as I had started to look around for one, a work colleague was giving away a large corner desk for free so I snapped it up!

Phase 3 will be to get rid of the double bed in favour of a sofa bed (the room is used as a guest room for 4 weeks out of the year at most so a pull out bed that can double as relaxing crafty space will definitely suffice). Hopefully this will happen in the new year.

For now though I shall wallow in the glory of double deskdom! I now have space to be able to leave the sewing machine out and still have the other desk for other crafty pursuits and the occasional bit of work if I must! I am so so excited about getting the sewing machine out again, it hasn’t seen the light of day in almost 2 years (because I’m just too lazy to keep getting it out and putting it away again after use) and has been calling me recently. I have so many ideas for sewing projects but am forcing myself to hold off for a bit longer to finish other wips. It really wont be long though, so watch this space…

Karen x

3D heart bunting

I actually made these hearts a couple of years ago, inspired by an episode of Kirsty Allsops handmade Christmas programmes. I got a bit carried away with making lots of hearts but never actually got around to doing anything with them until now. In the half term holiday I had a look through my wips and decided that I was going to try to steadily work my way through them, so many of them being so near completion. So, I set about sewing loops onto the hearts and then sliding them onto a length of ribbon and sewing them in to place to stop them slipping. It literally took me about an hour, I’ve no idea really why I didn’t get around to it before 🙄 But as with all wips that stay wips for a while, other crafty makes just seem to come to the forefront.

Anyway, here is the finished bunting 😀

Here is how I made the hearts:

1. Draw around a heart shape twice on the reverse of the material and cut out.

2. Draw around the same heart on bondaweb and cut out.

3. Iron the bondaweb onto the reverse of one of the hearts and remove the backing.

4 Pin the hearts with reverse sides touching ( if you want to sew any buttons or embellishments on do it before pinning)

5. Using embroidery thread sew a running stitch around the heart, leaving a small hole for the stuffing. Don’t tie the thread off and leave enough for a couple more stitches.

6. Stuff the heart and finish the running stitch. Not on the back of the heart or if possible hide the knot inside the heart.

7. Iron around the edges of the heart to seal the bondaweb to the second heart.

Im really pleased with how the bunting turned out and although it hasn’t been hung up yet is almost certainly going to be an addition to my craft room. I’ve still got lots of 3D hearts left and even more cut out ready to make so there may be more bunting to come soon.

 

Karen X

Drum roll please…

After making my sister the Eclectic Mix large granny blanket for Christmas last year, I vowed to make myself one to keep. After starting it towards the beginning of the year, working on it alongside my granny stripe blanket and half heartedly picking it up and putting it down many times this year I am ecstatic to say that I have finally finished it. In the end it actually pipped the granny stripes blanket to the post for being finished first. The granny stripes blanket was actually finished except for a border as far back as August but after umming and ahhing over what to do for the border I turned my attention to my squares blanket in the meantime.

It has been a fair while since my Let the joining commence… post back in September but hey ho, its here now. Without any further ado, drum roll please, here it comes…

I love love love it! I love that it is so bright and colourful and yet fresh at the same time with all the white. Much as I loved the original eclectic mix large granny square blanket, I wanted to do this one slightly different, one reason being that I don’t like making 2 things the same, the second being I wanted chunkier white spaces between the colours and 3rd, I just couldn’t face the thought of making lots of 10 round granny squares again! Lazy I know!

The process:

I made 42 6 round granny squares from stash yarn, most were random bits left over from previous blankets and some stylecraft special dk left from the granny stripes blanket but I honestly couldn’t tell you now which colours were which now.

After making the squares, I bordered them each with 2 rows of white (using a treble stitch on each of the stitches rather than grouped in 3’s as for the granny squares themselves).

Then ‘borrowed’ the join as you go method from Lucy of Attic 24  to join them and add another row of white.

I really do love it and despite being only finished a couple of days ago, it has already been put to good use for snuggles in front of the tv.

Whilst I do love making blankets for other people it is so lovely to be able to keep this one for ourselves. The only other one I made and kept was a large single granny made in browns and reds to match our living room. I used to think that everything needed to match but have since embraced colour much more and am more than happy to have a bright, eclectic blanket to snuggle up under on cold winter days.

Since finishing this blanket I got a taste for finishing things and that combined with having a little more crafty time in the half term holidays, means that I have now actually finished my granny stripe blanket too. Yippee.

Right, I’m off for more blanket snuggles, watch this space for my granny stripe blanket unveiling in a few days.

Karen x

More techy problems and lots to think about

On Monday, 3 weeks since my previous post I decided I was going to catch up with my blogging. Imagine my horror when all I saw was error 404, my blog had gone! I’m not massively good with complicated techy things such as websites and didn’t really have a clue what to do. I spent 2 days procrastinating, considering whether it was a sign I shouldn’t be blogging any more. Then on Wednesday I bit the bullet and rang Bluehost and left it in the hands of a techy whizz. They confirmed it wasn’t anything I’d done and promised to sort it out. Lo and behold, less than 24 hours later all was fixed and so here I am. I’ve now decided to take it as a sign (I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason) that I am strong enough to sort out issues when they arise and that there’s nothing that cant be tackled if you seek the help of the right people.

Anyhoo, onto the post I intended to write on Monday…

When I was a little girl, I remember my Grandma saying ‘penny for your thoughts’ whenever any of us were daydreaming. Well, let me tell you, if I was given a penny for each of my thoughts I’d be a rich woman in a short space of time! I think about many different things and sometimes my thoughts just tumble around and around in my head like clothes in a tumble dryer. Crafting ideas and wanting to fit in so many things are the reasons behind a lot of my thoughts but to be honest, I probably spend more time mulling over things than I actually spend doing them. New ideas for crafting are always popping into my head and have lately come even more to the forefront. As a teacher, working 4 days a week and a young daughter, life is pretty hectic and I’m often too tired to spend the evenings doing the crafty things I had planned, resulting in me getting a wee bit (read a lot) grumpy about it! Whilst I do love teaching the younger children, the spark has gone out of it for me a little in recent years with the constant assessing and target setting that happens in education these days. Now, as it happens, my job is due to finish in about a year and a half when our school will close due to the military drawdown in Germany and myself and as a family we  would really like to stay living here in Germany. I could look at transferring into the German education system but the more I think about it the more I feel a pull towards my crafts and it just feels like a sign that I’m ready for a change.

About a year  ago I saw Dennis Quaid being interviewed on This Morning and he was talking about the advice he gave to his kids as they were growing up.I wrote it straight down and stuck it in my diary:

 

Recently it popped to the forefront of my head and I thought ‘yes, this is what I need to do!’

I have so many ideas about what possible direction this could take and when I spoke to my sister about having too many ideas and not being able to decide which ones to pursue, she suggested writing them all down, no matter how silly they may seem. So, last weekend I decided to start a folder/ scrapbook where I can pour out all my thoughts, in the hope that 1) it will free my brain up a little and 2) that within the next 18 months it will help me to build up a clear idea of the way forward. At the moment the folder is a just a plain dull grey but it will undoubtedly be jazzed up soon with the help of a little washi tape 🙂

Whilst losing my job is a scary prospect it feels like the perfect time for something new and I’m actually quite excited about where it could lead so watch this space…

Karen x

ps I’ll be back tomorrow with a less wordy post and  pictures of some finally finished wips! eek, exciting! For now, here’s a little sneak preview…