Saturday, 29 September 2012

Autumn arrives

Hello and welcome! 
September is rapidly passing & this last week has had a distinctly autumnal feel to it. I think the days of leaving the back door open all day, working in the garden in t-shirt & shorts, & enjoying our meals outside are behind us once again. The cats, who think the back door deal is for their benefit, are NOT impressed! Just to annoy them further, we have had a LOT of this:
So much so that the two little terracotta birds in the bird bath were totally submerged yesterday :(
I nipped out between showers to take a few photos, but the rain really didn't hold off for very long at all, I am hoping to manage a longer trip into the garden with the camera in the next wee while. There is a fullness about the garden at the end of summer that I would love to capture in these last few weeks before many of the plants begin to hibernate for the coming winter. The colors in the garden are changing too, from the kitchen window I can see the apples turning red & starting to swell. They would look stunning against a blue sky but we haven't seen one of those all week!
There is a definite chill in the air now and it brings two things that signal autumn for me; the smell of coal fires from various houses in our street, and the changing leaf colors of many trees & shrubs. The blueberry bush might only have a last few berries ripening on it now but wow, what colors the leaves have gone in just this last week!
We have also had strong winds howling down the chimney this week so while it was dry I wanted to check on the hanging baskets I planted up the other weekend...

Yes, both still there (!) and bringing some much needed color against these grey skies & sodden grey paving. Winter pansies are usually a pretty safe bet for a spot of color to see us through the coming months, I'm not too sure how the bellis on the top will cope but I'm a sucker for a daisy so thought they were worth a try ;)
The other weekend I also replanted the tubs at the side of the house with the remaining pansies, some violas, a few little chrysanthemums, & assorted spring bulbs tucked underneath.
Felix doesn't like walking on the gravel, preferring instead to balance along the edges of the tubs whilst occasionally giving you a look in the hopes that you will pick him up - spoilt or what?!
 I think he approves of the new flowers as none of them reach over the edges of the tubs yet & get in his way!
With the drop in temperature I decided the next project to tackle from the Far Too Long list should be my daughter's quilt. The actual quilt top was made before the wolves pillowcase project was begun, there were many reasons excuses for it heading to the unfinished pile, but at the end of the day it was sitting folded up in a Tesco bag in my room, not on my daughter's bed... This week it seemed pretty appealing to sit under the layers & stitch! It isn't going to be a speedy finish but I am getting there (I think!). I will post more details when it is finally finished but here's a sneak peak...
I'm hoping to be back in a few days to share my ladybird fairy progress & a couple of other stitchy projects, in the meantime it's back to the quilt! Thank you for dropping by today, I hope you have a lovely (dry & warm!) weekend!  

Friday, 21 September 2012

The "To Do" List

Hello there! Do you have a long craft "to do" list? It has been quite a while since I made a new ami, there are a whole pile of them on my "to do" list but they seem to keep getting bumped down the list by another project! Does that sound familiar? I saw someone somewhere describe it as "Craft ADD" - you start a project & then something else catches your eye that you just have to make & then there's something else that needs to be added to the list because it is just so appealing & on it goes... I really do try not to have too many things on the go at once but they have a habit of creeping up on me and my "to do " list gets longer with every passing week! 
Well last week I really needed to put everything on hold for a little bit & get a new ami done as I had had a request from a good friend for two seals & I only had one in the ami box. I didn't have enough yarn left to make a second identical seal so we had a chat about possible colors for the new seal & a dark charcoal grey was chosen. The pattern is by Lion Brand, I'm not sure if it's on their website but it appears in the booklet "Vanna's Choice Easy Crochet Critters". These little patterns are just great! I have done most of the ones in the booklet, some of them several times over! So here may I present Sally Seal's brother Sammy...
Here are Sammy & Sally together just before jumping into a box to fly down to Fife!
Now in my last post I promised you a stitchy update. After about five days my progress on the Christmas stocking looked like this...
Not a bad start, but then I got side tracked... After all it is only September & there is plenty of time 'til Christmas & there are some charts I have been dying get stuck into... I figured I could sneak one in before the Christmas stitching really has to begin in earnest! This is the one I chose...
She is the Ladybird Fairy by Joan Elliott. I have so many charts by this designer on my "must stitch" list but always hovering near the top are the fairies. There are the four seasonal fairies, the set of six flower fairies, and the soon-to-be set of six garden fairies of which the Ladybird Fairy is the first. I have been admiring her since I bought the magazine she appeared in in February & every two months when the next in the series comes out I eagerly drive into the city to buy a copy of the magazine. I'm not too sure where I will find wall space for sixteen fairies, but I that will be a bridge I will happily find a way to cross when I get there! Oh I forgot there are also four fairies in Joan's book "Fairy Enchantment" that I need to stitch, one of them is riding a dragon so makes a perfect partner for the Crescent Moon Dragon! OK so twenty fairies then... heaven help me if she starts a new set of fairies next year! 
A few years ago I stitched "Fairy Mother & Child" by the same designer as a birth sampler for one of my nieces...
I absolutely loved stitching this & looking back I think this is what started my Joan Elliott addiction ;-) Yes, I will readily admit it is an addiction as in addition to countless charts from magazines I have six of her books! So I decided I should take at least one off the pile this year (depending on how everything else comes along I might manage to squeeze in either the Winter or Autumn fairies too?) I am love, LOVE, LOVING stitching the Ladybird fairy and she is coming along nicely. Here's the Week One progress picture...
In fact I think it's about time to make a cuppa & get her back out to finish that wing! Thank you for stopping by today, I hope your weekend is filled with lovely things :-) 

Monday, 17 September 2012

Finally finished!

Hello there! After another really busy weekend spent working in the garden I'm taking today at a gentler pace & spending a few hours on the computer. 
Firstly I can finally show you a couple of cards that I made earlier this month. I have been waiting until after the recipients' special days in order to share them with you. Here is the Tatty Teddy card I made for my good friend Cathy's birthday...
 She is a fan of both Tatty & dragonflies so this one almost made itself! I also made an anniversary card combining cross stitch & fabric, a new (to me) idea I came across in a stitchy magazine. I think it works quite well - what do you think?
I have also been trying to finish up some projects that have been kicking around for FAR TOO LONG...
Top on that list this week was a pillowcase. I think it was around February last year that I decided to make two patchwork pillowcases to match the duvet cover I had made the previous summer. (I did mention that this project had been hanging around for a while didn't I? ;-) ) I found some instructions online for a design I really liked, began the first one, & quickly ran into a few problems - the biggest one being that my fabric had a feature panel that I envisioned sitting a certain way on the pillow but the dimensions in the pattern were really off. There were a few other issues I had with the pattern so that in the end when I struggled my way to a completed pillowcase I really could not face doing a second one straight away! I had made some scribbled notes as to how I had amended the pattern & fully intended getting on to the second one  in a week or so....before the end of the summer... well definitely before Christmas... umm... can anyone spell "procrastination"? ;-) !
Well I decided Monday was The Day to drag it all out again & finish this one. (I resisted the pun "and put this one to bed" - aren't you glad? ;-) ) I quickly discovered that I should really take better notes if I alter a pattern, and that the two plain fabrics I had used in this have really shrunk over the last year+ so that I couldn't get any useful information by measuring the completed pillowcase. I also wasted a chunk of time trying to figure out what was wrong with my sewing machine (next time I will check for a blunt needle sooner), but on Tuesday afternoon I could finally tick this one off the list. 
So would you like to see the newly finished pillowcase? OK here you are... 
Here is a look at the reverse side of both pillowcases...
... and here are the two pillows & duvet cover finally altogether on the bed :)
Thank you for stopping by today, I hope you have a lovely week! I hope to be back in a few days to share some stitching progress with you...

Friday, 14 September 2012

Crochet catch up

Hello there! Another week has raced & I did promise I would try & catch you up on the crochet goings on around here before we got any further into September! In last weeks' Monthly Makes post there was a photo of this little trinket pot...
It was made at the very beginning of August for my sister in law's birthday. The pattern is not my own; I remember coming across it not long after I started crocheting & first became aware of free patterns on the internet, but before I realised just how many were out there & started using a system to help me keep track of where I find them! If you recognise it please let me know where it's from as I don't like to post on a project without crediting the designer :0
I had never tried making anything like this from crochet before so picked the Rico cotton yarn I first learnt to crochet with in the hopes of giving it a bit more rigidity. As I have a dwindling supply of that yarn now I changed the pattern slightly by introducing stripes. The other factor which influenced my design choices with this was the timescale I had to complete it in. Plans changed & I ended up crocheting it on the Thursday night, blocking it on the Friday, & delivering it all wrapped up on the Saturday morning! Luckily it was quick & simple to crochet but before blocking it on Friday morning it was not really rigid enough, the lid in particular was a bit of a footer to get on (great Scottish word there - it was fiddly in other words!). I didn't have time to wait & see if the blocking alone would rectify this so I decided to make a lining for the base & sides of the pot & the underside of the lid while it dried on the blocking board. I used some fabric from my stash, cartridge paper, & fabric glue for this. Once the pot was dry I discovered it had really stiffened up a lot & it would have been just fine without the lining (!) but I think it adds a little "pretty" to the pot...
Sorry for the blurriness of the photo, but I was in a real hurry by then! Here is a shot of it with it's lid on just about to jump in some tissue paper about 10 minutes before we were heading out the door to my sister-in-law's!
The other main crochet project that I have been working on over this last month is the Big Mixed Squares Blanket. Earlier in the summer a local store reduced these foam mats so I bought some to use as a big blocking board. The extra space in the loft after The Big Clearout is coming in very handy!
I have two quarters of the blanket blocked & joined now :-) Here is the completed second quarter pinned on the mats...
I am still really enjoying the gradual progress on this project, no time limit or deadline to hit, just a bit here & there when I feel like it. But as the pile of squares for the third quarter grows I must admit that I am starting to hear a little squeak of anticipation deep inside - this is coming to live on our bed in the not-so-distant future! Eeek! Apart from being soft, snuggly, & warm it will add So Much Color to a room that I spend a fair amount of time in as it contains my craft space :-)  Maybe I will get the next quarter finished this month?

Friday, 7 September 2012

Monthly Makes - August

Hello there! Just a quick post today to bring you my monthly collage before we head into the second week of September ;-) There are a couple of things in it that I haven't had a chance to share with you yet, but I will get on to that next week... so here is August's collage -
Less projects overall this month, but on the whole bigger ones like the Crescent Moon Dragon & another quarter of the Big Blanket completed! Those two pesky blazers also seemed to dominate the month! Three cards, two cross stitched towels, & one little crochet trinket pot complete the round up - it's a bit reminiscent of a certain Christmas carol isn't it?!