Saturday, 30 June 2012

A concert & a castle

Hello again! Today I thought I'd tell you a little bit more about our recent travels south. The main event which prompted this trip was a concert in Sunderland. I had planned on stitching three of these t- shirts for hubbie, daughter, & myself to wear to the stadium but in the end I only had time to stitch this one for my daughter... 
Any guesses who we went to see? ;-) It was an amazing experience, something I have dreamed of doing since I was a teenager :-)
We also spent a (mostly) dry day exploring Alnwick castle and gardens which has been used in many film & television productions, possibly most famously as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the first two Harry Potter films.

 My daughter was in seventh heaven, she declared her inner nerd was completely freaking out!!!

Overall the castle was very interesting with a lot of history to learn about (it has been in the same family for over 700 years and is still their home in the winter).
I want one of these signs!!! I think maybe I need to cross stitch just the last part for our house to hang near Kryst? ;)
Despite the overcast day & the rain never being far away the gardens were just beautiful...



There were a lot of different water features... 

...a poison garden complete with witches hut at the entrance -
As the guide pointed out health and safety wouldn't allow visitors to enter the hut because of the fire, yet we were allowed on a guided tour up close & personal with some of the deadliest plants on the planet! Go figure!! Rather appropriately one of the plants they are growing is Mandragora ;) Daughter's inner nerd was freaking out some more but thankfully she felt no inclination to pull it up & see what was lurking beneath the soil!
There was also a huge treehouse which houses a restaurant amongst it's rooms and walkways.

It was really spectacular inside but I didn't take pictures as the restaurant was packed & I didn't think the diners would appreciate having photographs of them stuffing their faces posted online!
Next to the obligatory gift shop is a plant center where they sell many of the plants you can see in the gardens here, so I brought a little part of Alnwick home with us ;) We all had a great day here so even if you have no interest in the Harry Potter side to this place I think it is well worth a visit.
Well it is currently dry outside so I think it's time I went & did some jobs in our garden, thank you for dropping by today - have a great weekend whatever you are doing!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

A sortie south to England & crafty goodies!

Hello and welcome! Today has been another miserable wet grey day so I have been busy playing with lamps, a plastic crate, & my camera in an effort to better capture the colors in my craftwork.
Not exactly what I had planned when I woke up this morning but I wanted to be able to share some of my new crafty goodies with you & one thing led to another...
Last week hubbie, daughter, & I headed south for a short break in Northumberland. We stayed with an old school friend of mine who I haven't seen in years so it was lovely to finally catch up. I also got to spend a morning with my wonderful crafty friend Lori :) Oh how I wish we didn't live 290 miles apart - it's a bit too far to pop in for a coffee & a natter every week! 
My family indulged me with stops at three craft shops, firstly the quaintly named Dainty Supplies where my bargains included stamps, papers, lots of ribbons... 

Doesn't this one go perfectly with these cute little buttons from my stash?

little eyes for amis...
& some teeny tiny jingly bells...

Next came Kemps wool shop where I could have happily stayed all day gazing dreamily at the huge variety of beautiful yarn ;-) In the end I settled on some Patons Fab DK...

Rowan Yarn Cotton Jeans which was in the clearance bin at 99p a ball :-)
And some Baby Care Prints by Woolcraft from the same range as the yarn I used for the baby cardigan last month.
I thought I was very restrained - but if this were just around the corner from me.... lets just say there would be way more than two towers of plastic crates holding my yarn stash!!! We also stopped at Hobbycraft in Edinburgh on the way home where I bought a couple of stamps, two reduced price books (which Hubbie took away to give me for my birthday next month) & some more storage for my stash...

I will tell you some more about the rest of our trip next time - I'm off to play with some of my new goodies ;)

The return of the stitchy bug!

Hello! I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while but there has been so much going on here I really don't know where June has disappeared to :0 I thought tonight I really should start catching up on some online things instead of giving in to the call of my stitching ;) For yes, at last my stitchy bug is back!!! Although I have still had various cross stitch projects on the go, the accompanying irresistible pull of needle & thread has been missing since early in the year. This has never happened to me before & it has been a very weird feeling :/
The chart that brought my stitchy bug home was a little penguin I couldn't resist buying from the website of talented designer Rhona Norrie. For years many of us have enjoyed her designs in the various cross stitch magazines but now you can access her charts directly HERE. This is the first time I have bought a pattern in pdf form & I can highly recommend it! No need to stalk the postman, the chart arrived promptly in my inbox & it was straightforward to print out a nice clear copy to work from - oh yes, I will definitely be doing this again! I stitched this little guy for my brother's birthday card in a couple of nights, changing the colors of his uniform as my brother is an Indianapolis Colts fan - well I guess someone has to be! ;) 
 He is from a set of cute sporty penguins, please do go check out Rhona's website (she has some great finishing ideas on there too). She also writes a highly enjoyable blog packed full of inspiring ideas and humor which you can find HERE.
From my stash I picked the lime green paper because the pattern reminded me of laces on a football or pair of trainers. I backed it with a dark brown paper to match the football & cut one side of a navy blue strip with edging scissors to glue at the top of the card. I backed the stitching with white card & used sticky fixers to mount it to give a raised effect. For the greeting I used a gold peel off on a pale blue paper layered with red card & mounted with a couple more sticky fixers. A red candi in each corner finished it off.
The following week I stitched this design for my eldest son & his partner who have just moved into their new home.
It was very quick to stitch, which was just as well considering all the to-ing & fro-ing with boxes & furniture, babysitting, & birthday & Father's Day activity that was going on that weekend!
I also have three papercraft birthday cards I can share with you now. The first one was for my niece's birthday. She's a "girly girl" so I picked a Tatty Teddy stamp, colored it in with Promarkers, & layered it on some pearlescent pink card. I picked some patterned papers from my stash & finished it off with silver peel offs & dark pink candis in the corners.
The next card was for my youngest nephew - turning 3 years old already! I picked a cute puppy stamp & used the Promarkers again, layering it on blue & green papers from my stash.
The last card was for my hubbie who celebrated his birthday in the middle of the month. Once again I went with a Tatty teddy theme, using papers & cardboard diecut shapes that were free with a card making magazine recently. I picked some coordinating ribbons & buttons from my stash to finish it off. 
I'm sorry the colors aren't great in these photos, it has been so grey & dull this month & I haven't gotten around to making the lightbox I want to help combat this. I have been busy making some more cards for upcoming birthdays which I will share with you once they have reached their destinations. I also have some other goodies to show you but I think that will need to wait for another post... 
Right, time to get going, thank you for dropping by to visit with me today - I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Two Taa-dahs!

Hello there and welcome!
Today (as you might have guessed from the title) I can share two finished projects with you, firstly the blanket I have been making for my daughter. 
It began back in April Here with finding the pattern & choosing the yarn and progressed quite rapidly as I found the little flower circles highly addictive! I basically fell in love with the whole process of circles to squares, joining four small squares into a bigger square, & then edging them with four rows of grannying. Whether watching TV of an evening, enjoying some sunshine in the garden, or sitting in the car outside my daughters' piano lesson, the squares & accompanying box of yarn came too. In what seemed like no time at all I had 96 little squares which became 24 large squares & it was time to arrange them & join them together. In the space of a day & a half the big pile of squares magically became one big blanket! All it needed was a border. From the sixteen colors I had used in the blanket my daughter & I picked out eight to add a rainbow all the way round. Progress slowed as with each of the eight colors it took me longer & longer to get around all four sides, but eventually it was time for the last row - eeeek! the excitement!!! While I liked the edging Lucy had used for her blanket Here I decided to go for a different one I had seen Here on Bunny Mummy's blog. Oh what wonderful options & inspirations I find here in Blogland! 
So would you like to see the finished blanket? 
Here we go then... Taa-dah!!
 Although my daughter liked Lucy's blanket we made a few changes to her design, mainly to do with color. We started with a palette of sixteen colors rather than Lucy's fourteen, and, although we were looking for a bright, random effect overall, I thought we should have a few elements of pattern in order to unify the whole blanket. I picked four colors, royal blue, aqua, lilac, & turquoise, to turn every circle into a little square. Our blanket would be smaller than Lucy's one (single bed rather than double bed sized) so I needed four big squares in each of the six rows. As my daughter loves purple we decided that each square needed to have purple somewhere in the four rows of grannying that edge every big square. On one square in every row I put purple on the final row, on the other three squares I picked either raspberry, turquoise, or dark red for the final row.   
Here it is in it's new home on my daughter's bed...
 We decided to rename it slightly as the Rainbow Flower Circle Blanket. Look at all those bright colors sitting happily side by side! I absolutely love it and so does it's new owner :)
Right. On to the second Taa-dah for today.
I have probably mentioned a few times that I like to have a smaller project on the go at the same time as a big one both for my cross stitching & my crochet. The smaller crochet project I have been working on was a toy for Baby H that I first mentioned Here. I think it is a distinct possibility this little boy will end up with quite a few crocheted toys! The first one I chose to make for him is the Pond Friends Stacking Toy...
It's from a free pattern available on the Lion Brand website Here and uses the supersoft aran yarn I was so excited about a couple of weeks ago. It was really lovely to work with :)  
 This makes up as a base with a Froggy post, and three rings - a Bee...
...and Dragonfly... 
This was a really fun project to work on and hopefully Baby H will have some fun with it too over the months to come :)
I now have two new projects on the go to keep me out of mischief which I hope to share with you soon. I wish you all a lovely weekend, we are hoping the weather will improve enough for a family BBQ on Sunday - wishful thinking?????!!!