A crafty kind of day

After a hectic week at work and beginning to feel like I was wading uphill through treacle again, Friday was just what the doctor ordered. In between shopping and washing I managed a good couple of hours in my craft room. Whilst it still doubles as a spare room and I haven’t got as much space as I’d really like, I do so love it in there, being surrounded by all my crafty things. The only problem with going in there is that I always get waylaid. I go in with a firm idea of what I’m going to do and then end up doing something else. On Friday, I went in with the intention of finishing a heart garland that I’ve started, all I need to do is sew the hearts on to ribbon but after ten minutes of looking at them and just not finding the enthusiasm, I made these cards instead…
Then I cut out some material to make another appliqué bag, I’ll post photos once it’s all attached and finished.
In the afternoon I met up with a friend back at Be-mal, the ceramic studio I told you about here. I do so love it in there. I stood in there, looking at all the different pottery items and wanting to decorate each and every one of them. I knew that would happen though so I had already had a think and made the decision to decorate another pot for my craft room for more pens to go in. After a lot of deliberation of colour and technique (I’ve got far too many creative ideas going round in this little head of mine), I finally decided on a bubble painting technique in pink and red with hearts in relief. First I had to stick on some little paper hearts, bubble paint over in the 2 colours, letting them dry in between, peel off the hearts and paint the inside of the pot. As always the colours look a lot paler than the finished result will be as the glazing and firing really lifts the colours and makes them stand out.
I was going to show you the ‘in process’ pictures and the finished pictures all at once but I just can’t wait so here are today’s pictures. I will post a pic of the finished, glazed pot when I collect it on weds…oooh I literally can’t wait!!
 
All in all it was a pretty good crafty day, which always makes for a happy me. 🙂
Karen x

Dotty about crafting!

Last week a friend introduced me to a  local newish ceramic studio:
and oh my I’m hooked. The shop is a beautiful little place, very clean, fairly minimalist and not really how I would have expected a studio to look. It was very tranquil with relaxation music on in the background and tastefully decorated with just some examples of decorated items and of course the bottles of paint, adding a splash of colour.
After a lot of umming and aahing (I was like a kid in a sweet shop!) I decided on decorating a pot to hold some of my pens in the craft room. Then I had the difficult decision of how to decorate it it and what colours to use. There are ideas for techniques both on instruction cards and also on predecorated pots around the shop. It was such a tricky decision but I finally decided on a simple technique for my first time. I painted the inside in a coral colour, the outside in a light turquoise and then added raised spots.
 
I could have decorated so many things as I had tons of ideas whirring around in my head but I limited myself to the one pot for the first time.
I had to leave the pot there to be glazed and fired in the kiln. It was so hard to leave it as I wanted to take it straight home and admire my handiwork but leave it I must. I was able to pick it up a few days later and I’m so pleased with how it turned out. 
I am so much looking forward to going back again very soon as there are so many things I want to make…the possibilities are endless!
Karen x

The halfway mark

It has been a long time coming but I have recently, finally, reached the half way mark in my granny stripe blanket! Woohoo!

Normally I struggle to think of a name for my blankets but this time I’ve actually got 3 names that I need to choose from:
The big one:
As I treated myself to the wool for the blanket on my 40th birthday last year and had aimed to have it finished by this years birthday (that time frame has however, since gone out of the window as my birthday is next week!) Also, it is going to be a pretty big blanket when finished.
Mood blanket:
As this blanket is going to be quite big and the rows long, I’ve found that I’ve really had to be in ‘the mood’ to work on it. Also, for quite a bit of time in February and March I just didn’t feel like working on a big project and needed quick crafting fixes, so this blanket was often put to the side. At the moment, I really am in ‘the mood’ to work on it and the rows seem to be flying off the hook.
Another reason for calling it the mood blanket is that I had absolutely no plan for how the blanket was going to look and the order of the colours. I literally just picked each colour a row at a time depending on what colour I felt like using at the time. I even ended up putting colours together that I normally wouldn’t and I absolutely love the overall effect.
Mojo blanket:
Now I’m getting my ‘mojo’ back I’m really enjoying working on it and the better I feel the more the blanket seems to grow. I also think that seeing those lovely colourful stripes could brighten up anyone’s day.
To celebrate reaching the halfway point, here are a few sneaky peaks.
  
I have my favourite sections and parts I don’t like quite so much but I just love the way it looks when laid out and looked at from a little distance. Each bit you look at is so different, some parts are pastel, one section reminds me of Easter eggs or sherbert and then a few rows further on the bright colours almost smack you in the face.
To begin with I regretted using the red and the dark green and had considered frogging it back but I’m actually glad that I didn’t. Whilst there are bits of the blanket that I like better than others, all the colours have their place and contribute to the overall effect.

Hopefully it won’t be too long until I can show you the finished product and decide on the name! Eek exciting!

Karen x

I Did It!

I’ve wanted to do the Paderborner Osterlauf (A local Easter weekend half marathon) for the last few years but always ended up going back to England to visit family over the Easter weekend. At the start of the year I decided that this was going to be the year and booked my place in the race. For the last few weeks and up until the race I was very worried about it and didn’t even know if I could do it because of recent anxiety problems. However, I’m very pleased to say that I did it! It wasn’t my best time but I’m so glad I got through it and actually partially enjoyed the experience. I’ve even gone and booked my next half marathon in 4 weeks time, when I’m hoping to shave a few minutes off my time. Bring it on!!
Karen x

A blip and a few days away

Not an awful lot of crafting has been going on here in recent weeks due to a bit of an emotional struggle. To call it a ‘blip’ is playing it down somewhat and the last thing I want to do is to make light of an issue that so many people struggle with but are often too afraid to talk about. I also don’t want to go on about it too much as things are now hopefully on the up but to not mention it doesn’t feel right either. I’ll say a bit about it and move on to happier topics. 
In a post earlier this year… I mentioned that I was struggling with the winter weather and dark days. Well, it got a bit worse than that and I’ve been having a bout of depression and anxiety. In recent months I’ve felt like I’ve been wading through treacle, dragging myself through the days in waves of panic and dread, going through the motions, with every minute feeling like an hour and every hour like a day. I’ve been forcing myself to carry on as normal but feeling like I’ve been there in body only, not really enjoying anything, just getting by. I’m writing about it here as I think it’s important to talk about these things. Too many people suffer in silence, embarrassed to tell others as they feel they should just be able to ‘get on with things’ and ‘pull themselves together.’ It’s a topic lots of people are uncomfortable to talk about for fear of upsetting others too. I’ve also worried about upsetting loved ones thinking ‘how can I possibly be feeling like this with a beautiful daughter, a loving husband, good job, lovely home and supportive family?’ The truth is, it can just happen. There doesn’t have to be any particular reason or trigger. From time to time some of us just need a little extra support to get back on track. 
Many folks struggling with depression try to keep it hidden, appearing to others as fine or even just as unsociable. I myself am very good at hiding how I’m feeling appearing normal, laughing and joking when I’m panicking inside, like a swan paddling frantically under the water. 
Well, I finally sought help and discovered that in my case there are some easily treatable medical reasons that could have exacerbated things. I’m now starting to feel much better and thankfully am beginning to enjoy life and my family once more. Things are most definitely on the up. 
I just hope that this post can help even one person to talk to somebody if you’re  struggling or to even recognise it in somebody else and reach out to them. There’s no shame in depression. 
Anyway, sorry for the deep post, now for some happier news.
Last week we went away to Oberhausen for a couple of nights. Due to the way I’d been feeling of late I was a little bit nervous about being away from home but I needn’t have worried, we had a lovely time. 
The first day we got there we went straight to the ‘Kaisergarten’ and I had a little experiment with the camera on my phone to see if I could take some decent photos of the beautiful blossom on the trees and some of the other flowers and wildlife in the park. I’m actually quite chuffed with how the photos turned out.
 
 
 
S had a great time whizzing along with new found confidence on her balance bike. She also loved seeing the animals in the ‘tiergarten’ but still can’t understand why animals run away from her when she growls at them in what I’m sure she thinks is an endearing manner! At least the horses stayed put for a stroke, although all they were really interested in was the food we had!
Mr O was happy to find a playground with an Archimedes screw so that he could have a bit of ‘manly’ fun, obviously under the pretence of trying to teach S a thing or 2 about science!
My favourite part of the park was the bridge modelled on a slinky and with a colourful walkway to brighten up a dreary day.
Maybe I’ll go back one day, take a note of the colours and use them as inspiration for a blanket.
Oberhausen is not somewhere I’d visit on the merit of its beauty as quite frankly apart from the lovely park, in the town centre it’s a rather ugly, grey, quite depressing kind of a place. However it does have some good tourist attractions. It is home to the largest shopping centre in Germany, near to which can be found theatres and concert venues , a sealife centre and Lego discovery world, the latter 2 being the main reasons we went.
As with any children’s tourist attractions during the school holidays, both were hideously busy but we did have fun and Scarlett really enjoyed herself. She loved seeing the Rays or ghost fishes as she calls them because of the way they seem to have a face on the white underside and move along as if stood up with arms outstretched in a ghostly fashion. I did have to laugh every time she backed away when they came too near as if they could somehow get her through the 2 inch thick glass.
 A giant turtle was also a big hit, she just couldn’t believe quite how big it was, announcing ‘Wow, Mummy, that’s a big one’ several times. If it hadn’t have been so busy I could have stayed there for some time just watching the fish swim around. There’s something very therapeutic about both water and fish.
Peepo!
After the Sealife centre, we took S to the ‘Build a Bear workshop’ in the CentrO shopping centre, as a reward for being nappy free in the day for a couple of weeks. It was so lovely to see her blowing on the heart before it went in and giving ‘Snuggly Bear’ his first ‘shower.’
Lego Discovery world was noisy but fun. It was maybe still a little bit old for S but she had fun nevertheless, even if she did spend most of the time riding around on a Bobby car (which we also have at home) and pretty much ignoring the Lego! Daddy had fun making a Lego car with (read for!) S and both were suitably chuffed when the second attempt made its way over both ‘hills’ on the testing circuit without stopping. I think Daddy was also the one who enjoyed the 4d cinema experience the most too (S was terrified of the Lego dragon, thinking it was coming out of the screen to get her and spent the last 5 minutes on my knee with her face buried in my neck!)
Unfortunately I did absolutely no crocheting, despite taking the granny stripe blanket with me to work on. With small child sharing the same room with us, the evenings consisted of sitting in the dark, waiting for small child to fall asleep, whilst watching a film on the iPad, with one earpiece of the headphone each and of course I did what I invariably do whilst watching a film in bed…fell asleep!
On the whole it was an enjoyable few days away, making memories with my nearest and dearest.
Karen X

Variations on a theme

As much as I do love crocheting, it can take some time to finish a project especially if I’m working on a blanket.  I’ve got 2 blankets on the go and another longish project in the pipeline but I just had the urge for a quick crafting fix. A bit of crafting where I could achieve a finished product in one evening. My go to craft for a quick fix is often cards. I find it really difficult to make cards for a particular person or occasion but sometimes I’ll just get an idea of a theme and make a few variations. This time it was flowers:

I’m really taken with these flowers, they’re just so fresh looking and perfect for Spring. These cards were the inspiration behind the flower bag in my last post Easy no-sew embellished bags. They were so simple but enjoyable to make and I’m so pleased with the outcome.  Making these cards has reminded me how much I enjoy card making, it really gives me a sense of achievement, I really must start setting aside time every now and then for an evening of card making.

What’s your go to for a quick crafty fix?

Karen x

 

Easy no-sew embellished bags

I am so so chuffed with these little beauties! I’ve had these canvas bags for a while with the intention of decorating them in some way but the right idea just hadn’t come along. I had thought of maybe drawing on them using fabric pens but I couldn’t think of a design. Anyhow, I was having a poke around in my craft room this weekend and rediscovered some bondaweb and some hearts I had cut out for a project a few years ago. The idea of using fabric to embellish the bags was born. I utilised some of the hearts I found and after making some flower cards (blog post to follow) I decided on upsizing the idea to use on  one of the bags.

These bags were so easy to make:

  1. Cut out the desired shapes from fabric.
  2. Cut out the shapes again, this time from Bondaweb.
  3. Iron the Bondaweb onto each of the fabric pieces.
  4. Assemble the pieces onto the bag and then iron into place (I steam iron through a tea towel).

Hey presto.

 

Lovely as both bags looked, I just couldn’t leave it there, my button box was calling me and the centre of the flower was just the place. What do you think?

Obviously the button was sewn on but could  just as easily have been glue gunned in place.

(Apologies for the lighting in the photos in this post but I just couldn’t wait for tomorrow and better lighting, my impatient brain decided that they needed photographing NOW!)

Little Miss has decided she wants a bag too and the ideas are already whirring. I’d better get cracking on it soon, she’s even more impatient than me!

Karen x x

Painting in a bag!

Last week Little Miss was off kindergarten poorly for a day. She was too poorly to go to kindergarten but still needed occupying (as did I after 2 mind numbing hours of CBeebies!) and was desperate to paint.  I had seen this activity posted on Facebook last week and had to try it out. It was fairly quick,  so much fun (for both of us), so little mess and produced some lovely art work away from the usual muddy coloured painting when all the colours get mixed together! here’s how we did it…

Step 1: squirt blobs of paint onto a canvas

step 2: pop the canvas into a clear sandwich bag or cover with clingfilm

step 3: ‘paint’ with your fingers  until the colours spread around the canvas

step 4: when you’re done ‘painting,’ peel off the plastic

 

step 5: take a blank piece of paper and press the plastic onto the paper to make a print with the excess paint

And hey presto, two colourful pieces of art work…

Karen x

Decorating Eggs

I love the Easter tradition here in Germany of hanging little plastic eggs in the home and on trees outside, it  provides a much needed injection of colour after a dreary winter. For several years I have taken part in the tradition at home and have also decorated these little eggs at school with the children. It pleases me no end that Little Miss is now of the age where, not only does she want to help me hang the eggs up but she takes great pleasure in painting them too.

We had so much fun painting eggs on Saturday that she requested we do it all over again on Sunday.

To start with we were drying the eggs on cut up toilet roll tubes but then I discovered that they stick as they dry and leave a little line around the eggs as you peel them off, so my lovely hubby came up with this fab idea…

What crafty things have you been up to recently?

Karen x

The Power of Pottering

Sometimes you just can’t beat a good potter and that’s pretty much what this last weekend was all about here. Usually on a Saturday morning I get up and go for an early run (because, lets face it, with a 3 year old in the house, lie ins are few and far between anyway). However, that morning quite frankly, I just couldn’t find the motivation. By the time I had been downstairs and made a cup of tea, Little Miss was sat in our bed playing games (educational, honest!) on my ipad and hubby was dozing. So, I thought sod it, I’m going to potter. I tidied up my wardrobe, bagged up some clothes for the clothes bank and thrift shop, did a few housey bits I’ve been meaning to do for ages, like topping up the soil in the house plants, and tidying round and I have to say, it felt great. Sometimes there’s  nothing better than doing little jobs around the house (when you’re in the mood for it!). I love having a clear out! Every time I take a bag of ‘stuff’  out of the house, I feel a bit like  a weight has been lifted, like the house can breathe a bit more. I really do think clearing out your stuff helps to clear out your mind too!

After a bit of further pottering around the house we went for a walk into town and a potter around the shops. It was a lovely spring morning, coolish but dry and a little bit sunny and on the way we noticed  spring flowers  peeking their heads out, bringing some much needed colour amongst the still bare trees. The sight of those spring flowers, crocuses, snowdrops, really does make my heart happy. We may have had rain since and be forecast even more as the week goes on but those little blooms are definite proof that spring is on its way, yippee!

At the shops we got a few bits for little Miss (I’ve never seen someone so excited at the prospect of new socks, pants and pyjamas – but they did have Elsa from Frozen on!) Then we took a wander around one of my favourite shops that sells lots of tat (you cant go wrong with a bit of tat sometimes) but also some lovely crafty things. I actually only went in for some crafty bits for little miss, eggs to decorate and canvases to paint but I also found these lovely little packs of spring coloured and glittery cotton, perfect for crocheting small spring flowers and this polystyrene ring and so my next project was decided… a flowery spring wreath, which I’ll hopefully have finished before Easter.

 

The rest of the weekend went on in the same relaxed way, decorating and hanging the eggs (I know we’re a little early but I needed some injection of spring colour right now!). I just love that little miss seems to developing my fondness for all things crafy too, although I do have to step back a bit and remind myself not to take over sometimes! We had so much fun painting and hanging the eggs that I think they deserve their own post (to follow soon)

 

On Sunday we went for a lovely long walk and I managed to fit in a few rows of crocheting on my granny stripe blanket. All in all a much needed, lovely relaxed family weekend.

Karen x