Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Crafty goings on...

Hello there! Finally some seasonal weather has reached us up here in the north :) Today I'm taking a little break from the weeding to catch you up on some crafty goings on. Firstly there are some cards I can share with you now, a birthday card for one of my brothers...
Two graduation cards, one for my cousins' son who graduated high school the other week, the other for my cousin who has just graduated with honours from her teaching degree - way to go! 

 I picked materials for each card in the appropriate school colors, and used themed buttons for the football playing teenager & a cheerleader stamp colored in with Promarkers for my cousin. Lastly on the card front, a get well card for one of my uncles who had major surgery the other week... 
I was aiming for something bright, cheery, & easily visible (!) so decided to give the Pazzle another try. I used it to cut the message out of blue card & then glued strips of four coordinating papers to the reverse. I matted it on turquoise textured card & mounted it on a plain white card, adding four silver Candi's to the corners.
I have also been working on the Flower Garden Blanket for my daughter and can happily say I'm nearing completion on this one! Not that I'm not still enjoying it - I am! - but it's exciting to see all those brightly colored little squares growing & becoming a blanket :) I like to have one smaller project on the go at the same time as a big one, so having finished the baby clothes I decided to pick something different to make for the little one (he still hasn't put in an appearance by the way!). I saw a toy project on the Lion Brand website that really appealed to me but I would need to source some equivalent yarn in the UK as the final size mattered on this one. I don't know if it is a UK wide problem, but up here any acrylic Aran yarn I have managed to find has been very traditional (boring) colors - oatmeal, mushroom, cream, grey, maybe a forest green if you're lucky. It leaves my soul longing for the bright reds, yellows, blues, & greens I saw in the aisles of Walmart, Michaels, & Hobby Lobby lst summer! I'm not very keen on using yarn with a high wool content as we tend to sensitive skin in our family but I was tempted to try two large balls of Robin Aran in baby blue and chocolate brown which has a 25% wool content. Then I found a small selection of Sirdar Supersoft Aran in a local store & upon checking online found it is available in 23 yummy colors! Ebay helped me find an online supplier offering free post & packing and I was off!
 I also found a paler minty green in the large 400g size that I had to have :)
It didn't all arrive in one parcel, the magic was spread over a few days - ooohhh what colors did the postie bring today? But the end result is a gorgeous, colorful, pile of oh so soft & snuggly aran yarn that puts a big soppy grin on my face every time I see it :) 

I couldn't wait to start using it to make the toy for baby and I wasn't disappointed -  I think I might have found my favorite yarn, the Sirdar Supersoft is almost as soft and beautiful to work with as their Calico yarn but cheaper! YAY! I'm making no apologies for getting this excited about yarn - I know some of you are right there with me on this one ;)  Some of the colors I had ordered are for the next blanket project (yes, I'm on to thinking about that while I finish off my daughter's one). These are the colors I'm using for the baby toy...
It's working up really well, so hopefully I will be able to share some photos of the finished item with you next week... One last parcel arrived this morning (oh Ebay you tempt me too much!) so now I am officially on a Yarn Diet!!! And an Ebay break!! 
Well it's back to the weeding for me while this weather lasts - I hope you are enjoying sunny days wherever you are :) 


Monday, 21 May 2012

Garden goings-on...

Hello there! What a busy week it's been - definitely time to start catching you up on goings on here...
The UK has been having very un-springlike weather but, in amidst the general rain & gloom, we had a few hours of sunshine so I popped out into the garden to capture it...



 Despite the chill in the air May is creeping onwards & the first signs of the potatoes are appearing from below the black plastic... 
 I think they have been extra glad of the added warmth of the plastic this year! The onions have also gotten going so it was time to remove the fleece...
 Time also to move the leeks to the cold frame in preparation for planting them out in a few weeks...
I had hoped for a weekend of "Big Jobs in the Garden" but Saturday's weather lent itself to a greenhouse day instead. Firstly hubbie suggested a move around to give me a bit more space in there. Once we were done I couldn't work out why we have never tried it this way round before - I even have space for a folding chair to sit with a cuppa & write up my garden diary as I work!
 
I have kept a garden diary for years now, I use it to record whatever I have done out there & when I did it, & what the weather was like at the time. Then I can compare results from different varieties grown in different years, & it also helps me not panic when I think I'm way behind getting something done & I look back to previous years & see I have been that late before!
Saturday's next job was to check on the seeds I had already sown & sow some more. As usual there were mixed results, quite a few of the seedlings needed moved on to bigger pots by themselves...
  ...the borage... 
...the courgettes...
... and the cabbages all got extra space to wriggle their roots :)
 Some of the others are happy staying where they are for a bit longer... 
The peas in their guttering... 
...the beetroot in their cells... 
...and the two happily growing runner beans. I sowed more runners, cabbages, beetroot, peas, cauliflower, lettuce, spring onions & radishes which only leaves me carrots to sow directly in the bed outside. Hopefully I will get a chance to do that this week...
Sunday saw better weather so I took the opportunity to weed & bark the bed next to the garage. I have found it so much easier to keep on top of the weeding in the beds once the bark is down so bit by bit over the last few years I have been working my way round the garden. I have one remaining bed left to weed & bark now, but it's a biggie so certainly won't be a one day job!
I have some crafty makes to share with you too but I am going to leave that for another day - the sun has decided to come visit today so I am going out to make the most of it & tackle some more of that weeding! I hope the sun is shining where you are too :)


Monday, 14 May 2012

Booties & Bunnies

Hello there and welcome! This morning it's bright but cold - boy has it been wild out there this weekend! At least the rain has stopped for now, the grass is very squelchy underfoot & it's still pretty windy but I'm hoping it will be good drying weather for the laundry mountain I need to tackle today... 
With the weather not really being conducive to garden jobs this weekend I was able to carry on with some crochet without a guilty conscience :) First off I finished the baby booties to go with the hooded cardigan from last week...
 Aren't they cute? The pattern is from the Spring 2012 Crochet Today Baby & Kids Book which I found in WHSmiths a few weeks back when I was in the city. 
I'm hoping little one's feet don't grow too quickly as the pattern came in just the one size! By the time I was making the second one it was making sense to me so maybe I would try making a bigger size from it at some point? There are quite a few lovely patterns I fancy trying in that magazine but, as always with the American patterns, it can be challenging finding the equivalent yarn over here. We don't have the widest selection available locally so I tend to pick up a few balls here or a few balls there to try out some of the UK brands when we come across a yarn store on our travels. 
Recently I saw a cute pattern for a baby buddy blanket on the Lion Brand website. If you haven't visited that yet then I highly recommend it - thousands of free crochet & knitting patterns available to download ;) I didn't have the required type of yarn in my stash but figured I would try making it in Sirdar Calico because it has a lovely cuddly, soft texture. Sure it would come up a little smaller, but even half the stated size would be 12" long so I reckoned that would be just fine. After all these are blankets for cuddling & sleeping with not under, a cross between a teddy & a blanket along the lines of Linus' from Charlie Brown. So I printed the pattern out & armed with my 4mm hook & a pale blue ball of calico sat down to make a start. When I reached the half way point in the pattern I realised I might have a problem - it was no way going to make 12"! It was tiny! OK, so less than half the thickness of yarn does not equal half the finished size!! The plus side was it was a quick finish but it wasn't really what I had been hoping for... 
Whoops! So yesterday as the wind howled down the chimney I dug out some of the blue chunky yarn I used in the Ripply Goodness blanket. That is also a Sirdar yarn, their Bonus Chunky which is 100% acrylic & beautifully soft. I looked out my biggest hook - an N which I picked up last summer on our travels - it felt so heavy & huge in my hand!  
It didn't take long to get used to though, &, despite a lot of interruptions, the bigger bunny was finished just after supper last night...
Here he is with his tiny friend... 
I think they make quite a cute pair!
If nothing else it was a good exercise on thickness of yarn = eventual size and along with the gauge trials for the baby cardigan last week I'm learning a lot at the moment!  
I have another Lion Brand pattern lined up to make for baby, but this time I have managed to source some (hopefully) comparable yarn. I will let you know how that works out! In the meantime I'm off to finish another square for the Flower Garden blanket - this will make sixteen big squares, so just eight more to go! 
Thank you for dropping by & visiting me today, I hope this is the start of a wonderful week for you!



Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Wednesday snapshot


Hello there! Today we are having a day of sunshine & showers and apparently it's a Wednesday. I say apparently because between the Bank Holiday & my young folks now being on study leave I am completely out of all routine! "All at sixes & sevens" my Nan would've said. Study leave is unlike school holidays in a few major ways; for large chunks of time the house is deathly quiet to the point where you can forget there are other people still lurking in their rooms until they need refuelling and come in search of food, then other times it is quiet because one or both really are out - gone up to the school for an exam or to see a teacher, or study with friends. You never truly know when one, or both, might reappear or what kind of mood they might be in when they do! Oh the joys of teenagers!!! So yes, it is Wednesday already. All day.
Time to escape to the garden & make the most of a spell of sunshine...
The last of the daffodils are joined by the giant snowflakes beneath the apple tree...

These are a fairly recent addition to the garden, but I love the delicate little green markings on the tips of the petals & seeing their heads nodding in the breeze! 
 
 I rescued this little guy from the kittens...
 We have a "nasty" caterpillar that looks a bit like him, but having checked online this one is a good guy - he will grow into a Tiger Moth if he survives and in his current form he eats weeds!
Pippa wasn't very pleased with me taking her "toy" away... Well you win some you lose some pussy cat!
 The peony has lots of these fat buds waiting for a little bit more warmth to burst open.
The bluebells are beginning to flower at the front door. They look a bit squashed still from the late snow we had in April but hopefully they will recover ok.
The last garden photo for today is of the Montana clematis which is also very close to flowering. Despite the recent hail showers (!) it is just covered in these pinky white buds which look so close to bursting open...
 As well as spending time outside this last week I have been busy making things too; some cards and a stitchy project for an upcoming birthday that I can't share with you just yet, and another project for the expected baby that I can!
Recently I spotted some yarn & thought it would be perfect for making something for him but wasn't too sure what. My daughter-in-law reckons he is well stocked for blankets so we decided I would try tackling a little cardigan. The first pattern I tried was not a success, I pulled it all out on the fifth row thinking that even if I could manage to work out what it meant it was never going to be an easy, relaxing project to work on!
I went back online & found a great pattern on Ravelry Here. You have to sign up to the Bernat site to download it but it's free & straightforward to do & I'm looking forward to exploring the other free patterns they have on there. I used one and a bit balls of the main color, the white with the two tone blue flecks, & a little bit of the brighter blue contrast color...
It was a bit of a futter sorting the gauge out - I've never crocheted anything where the gauge mattered before - but after that it was pretty much plain sailing. I will happily make this again in other colors or sizes if my daughter-in-law likes it.
 
I also got to use five of my new buttons :) 
Here's one last photo of the whole cardigan (thank you for indulging me but I'm really quite chuffed with it, especially as I've only been crocheting for 13 months!) ;) 
Now I'm busy working on some booties to go with it... watch this space! 
Thank you for dropping by today, I hope you are enjoying some sunny spells wherever you are... have a great week!





Friday, 4 May 2012

Monthly Makes - April

Hello there! This week is rapidly disappearing so before we get any further into May I need to share last month's collage with you all.
It starts off with Easter cards - Easter seems a long time ago now, or is it just me? Then there's a little bit of hooky goodness for the newly finished kitchen, the squares for the blanket I started (now abandoned, more on that to follow!), and some stitching for the expected baby. Two other blankets have been on my hook this month, the finished one for the baby & the ongoing single bed sized one for my daughter - maybe that will be finished by the end of this month? I didn't think this month had been that productive - no new amis after all - but it wasn't hard to find sixteen photos in the folder in the end :)
I hope you all have a lovely bank holiday weekend - thank you for dropping by today! Here's to a creative month ahead :)

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Winnie the Pooh and the rainbow of yarn

Hello Hello! Welcome! 
The first day of a new month - May already? - between the garden, family, crafting, & the house I have been busy, busy, busy over the last week! Today I'd like to share a couple of projects with you, firstly another finished item for my soon-to-appear grandchild. The nursery theme of Winnie the Pooh lent itself perfectly to this cot quilt that I found on ebay. It's a DMC ready made item so came complete with four blank aida pockets for me to stitch. Four pockets? Well that must be one for Tigger...
One for Piglet... 
One for Eeyore...
 
And of course one for Pooh!
 
Being fairly small (the fabric was 18count) they don't show up very well in whole quilt photos but here are a few to give you an idea...
 

 We delivered it to my son & daughter-in-law on Friday night to add to the growing pile of baby things taking over their flat :)
So onto the second project. This is still a Work In Progress but it is growing very rapidly - mainly because I am Love Love Loving it! The week after Easter I was catching up on some of my blogreading & came across a beautiful blanket HERE at Little Tin Bird. It is an Attic 24 pattern which Heather had handily linked to HERE and while I was admiring this my daughter came in to see what I was up to.
"Ooooooohhhhh! I love all those beautiful colors! Could you make me one please mum?"
Well enthusiasm like that is hard to resist so we stopped everything & got the boxes of yarn out across the floor to come up with our own rainbow of yarn. A trip to the city later that day gave us the opportunity to complete our box...
 At this point I must add that I'm still playing with all the settings for white balance on the camera & I'm finding the bright colors of this particular project a real challenge! I will crack it eventually I promise... until then please bear with me. None of the colors are actually neon but they are bright - well I suppose the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree & my daughter has well & truly inherited my love of bright colors! 
I read Lucy's entries on making her Big Blanket & especially loved the design idea behind it, essentially brightly colored flower circles growing in squares like a potager garden. Of course the overall look of mine will be different as we picked different colors & I have chosen to use them slightly differently within the pattern but I have kept the overall idea in mind. I started off on April 13 with some little flower circles.
These grew quite rapidly...
  Next I made them into little squares...
 ...and then four little squares join up to make a bigger square...
At this point they need blocking...
 Once dry they are ready for their borders. Four rows of "grannying". I don't know if that is the technical term for it but that's what Lucy calls it so it's good enough for me! 





These big squares come out about 10" so I am working up 24 of them to make a 6 x 4 rectangle. When a final border is added that should cover my daughter's single bed nicely. I now have eight of them completed, four blocking, & a pile waiting to be blocked - they are totally addictive! If you want to make your own version then you can find Lucy's awesome instructions on her blog starting HERE with the flower circles & little squares. I am totally loving making this blanket! It is hard to put down & there is no doubt my daughter will get this one way quicker than the Winnie The Pooh quilt I started for her last year! That is definitely a UFO (UnFinished Object) which I really must dig out again & finish for her, maybe in time for her 18th next January? 
I hope this new month brings happy times to you, meanwhile the sun has decided to come out here so it's back to the garden I go!