Friday, 31 August 2012

A couple of cards

Hello there! It's a very grey & miserable afternoon here, just perfect for curling up with a good book or some stitching :-)Before I succumb to one of those activities I thought I would quickly share some cards with you that I have made this month (not strictly speaking a "couple" but I liked the alliteration!).
This is a slightly blurry shot of a speedily made get well card for a friend who got out of hospital a little earlier than I had anticipated! It was great for her to be able to get back to her own place & also proved I can get a card done in just under an hour when push comes to shove!
By contrast this card took me pretty much the whole day. It is the first time I have stamped, heat embossed, & then colored an image with the Promarkers so naturally I did a practise one too. I also played around on some scrap paper with the color blending for his cheeks, I think I am slowly getting better at this! I think my nephew liked the end result anyways...
The last card I can share with you today was made for one of my young folks' best friends. They have been pals for so long that this girl is almost like a second daughter to us so it wasn't hard to come up with something appropriate for her...
I have been making some other cards but can't share them with you just yet as they haven't reached their recipients. If this weather continues I should have a good bit of progress with the stitching to share with you all next week too!
I hope you have a lovely weekend, thank you so much for dropping by today :-)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Stitchy goings on...

Hello hello!
I'm going to do something I have resisted so far & blog out of order but I'm so excited to share this with you the other things will have to wait! I finally finished beading the last little bit of the Crescent Moon Dragon, found something to hang it off of, & made it into a wall hanging! He is sitting opposite me right now looking very regal :) Would you like to see?

He isn't really as wonky as this last picture looks, it is the way the fabric hangs (which actually looks better in real life than in a photo!). The camera also doesn't quite capture how much he sparkles, especially at night time when the lights are on in the front room. Despite the fact that the black velour fabric I bought online to make the hanging was a total pig to work with it does go very nicely with him. I was wanting something that looked like it "belonged" with the design but didn't take your eye away from the stitching too much & I think this really ticks those boxes. I can honestly say it was totally worth it now & all he needs is a name...
While I was waiting for the fabric to arrive, then dry on the washing line, and in between hunting online & locally for a hanger for him I stitched two aida bands to go on the new hand towels for the bathroom. I have been meaning to do something like this for a long time but never seemed to get around to it!


I couldn't choose between these two alphabets so decided to do one of each because they probably won't ever both be out at the same time. It was nice to stitch something smaller for a change, the letters really seemed to appear very quickly! Probably as a result of all that hand sewing with the blazers the other week I couldn't face stitching the aida bands onto the towels by hand & got out my sewing machine. I have always sewn aida band by hand before but I don't know that I ever will again! It was so quick & easy & I actually like the overall finish better too! I might even personalise some towels for the young folks before they go off to university next year...
As I mentioned in a previous post I have been having thoughts about Christmas. Every year I seem to start earlier & still manage to run out of time, so in an effort to be a bit more sane come December (I can hear you laughing!) I decided to make a start on the first big pressie project - a stocking for Baby H. This is the one I settled on in the end...
I am hoping to do WIP (Work In Progress) posts on it as I go, partly to keep me going when I hit all that green (I'm not a big fan of huge blocks of one color)! So here is what I managed to get done the first day...
Not very much in the grand scheme of things but then it's not quite September yet... I'm really enjoying it so far and am planning on tackling it a page at a time (although page two (top right) has by far the smallest amount of stitching on it!). There are so many gorgeous stocking charts out there to choose from but this one is from Donna Kooler's Ultimate Stocking Collection. The design is by Linda Gillum & I'm stitching it on 14 count navy blue aida as specified in the book. I wasn't overly impressed with either of the scroll frames I used for the dragon so I'm back to my trusty 9" hoop.
Well  I can hear two little things meowing at the back door for me & I think it's about time for a cuppa too! I hope you are having a lovely week, thank you so much for stopping by to visit today :-) I will try & tear myself away from the stitching long enough to catch you up with the other crafty goings on around here over the next wee while (oh and there will be a monthly round up soon too - boy that came round again quickly!) so until next time...

Friday, 24 August 2012

Our summer garden

Hello there! Today I thought I would share some pictures from around my garden over the last few weeks. The weather this season has really not been on the side of those of us trying to grow veg, I feel rather sorry for folks who are just starting out in this venture - it isn't usually this dismal - honest! Some things have been a total washout & a lot of other things have been consumed by the hoards of snails who have descended in never before seen multitudes :( Everything seems to be late too, it really has been a higgledy piggledy year out there! So it was the end of July before I rootled around in the first tub of new potatoes...
This year I'm growing International Kidney (better known as Jersey Royals except you can only call them that when they are grown in Jersey!). Size wise some of them are whoppers! Taste wise they are getting the "Yum!" vote from the family so I might well grow these again next year :)
My poor lilies have probably been the worst hit by the snails out of everything, I could literally pick handfuls off of each plant :/ Most of them never got a chance to flower as the snails munched them first :( These are pretty much the only ones we got to enjoy this summer, but wow they really lit up that part of the garden when they did!

The Pineapple sage is somehow surviving the snails so far & smells divine - I wish I could add smell to this for you!
This corner, down by the greenhouse, has been one of my favorite areas over the last few weeks. The climbing rose we planted a few years ago & thought we had lost the following winter has been blooming it's little cotton socks off! It has had it's best year by far despite being covered in greenfly at times...
Not only are all the plants working well together down there, the perfume of this rose is glorious! Only wish I could remember the name of it ;-) It's a climber & I chose it to cover this side of the little shed because I would much rather look at plants than painted shed! When they first open the blooms look like this...
As they age they get paler & more blousey, there is a really soft & old fashioned look to them. I am loving them so much and have even brought a few flowers inside to enjoy :-)
The borage seeds that I sowed back in March have also grown well, I planted them out in one of the beds in June & they started flowering in the last week of July. I love the furriness of the buds & the blue of the open flowers almost as much as the bees do!
This scabious is one of a group that I grew from seed quite a few years ago now. Once it starts flowering it will carry on right up until the first frosts as long as I keep deadheading it. The bees & hoverflies enjoy it too :)
They contrast beautifully with the bronze carex grass & the red orange of the taller Heleniums...
This is another rose which has been blooming for ages now. It has been covered in so many clusters of blooms you could smell it from quite a distance! This one is called "Iceberg" and was planted at the same time as the peachy colored one. It is a climber too, I picked this one to cover the side of the garage & it is doing it's best :)
Despite the lack of sunlight I have finally started getting courgettes :) I had gotten so used to going to check & there being nothing on either plant that I left them alone & so the first one grew more to marrow proportions! That is a normal palm sized onion & a 440g tin of beans next to it...
I only needed half of it to make this family favorite supper...
While some things have gotten big other things are closer to the other end of the scale...
Pretty small cucumber huh?!  I don't think it's going to be a bumper crop! With the way the weather has been I really wasn't sure I would get anything off the three cucumber plants that grew from the seeds I sowed in March. I have had mixed success with cucumbers up here over the years, I only persevere because I love eating them so! Just like tomatoes, nothing really beats the taste of them warm & freshly picked from the greenhouse - YUM! :-)
The jasmine bloomed profusely for a short while round the faeries & the dragon, I think they enjoyed it even if I never caught this one looking up from her page ;-)
Well I am going out to go check those courgette plants again, I hope you manage to enjoy some outdoor time this weekend - although given that for some of the UK it is a bank holiday that will probably bring on the rain!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Back to school sewing...

Hello there! Today I'm going to share with you one of the sewing tasks I have spent many hours on recently - attaching the braiding to my two young people's blazers. In our part of Scotland school went back last Wednesday & when I heard the school had introduced braiding for prefect's blazers I envisioned piping cord - easy to attach, just slip stitch around all the required edges and job done. I was so wrong. Apparently schools use ribbon these days (possibly because since sewing was dropped from the curriculum none of them have ever heard of piping cord?) and they give no guidelines as to how to attach it, maybe they expect pupils to "magic" it on to their blazers seeing as none of them have been taught to sew at school? Can you tell this is a sore point for me? It's all right, I won't mention it again I promise ;-)
The end result was that on Monday morning I sat down with my daughter's blazer, the correct ribbon from the approved store in the city, and very little clue as to how to actually achieve the look of the braided blazers I had viewed at the school earlier in the morning. I fiddled with the ribbon, pinned bits, unpinned bits, got some other ribbon from my stash to play with when it became apparent I was mangling the darned stuff, and overall got very frustrated! The big problem was the corners on the lapels. Unlike bias binding this ribbon has absolutely no give in it to ease it round the sharp angles on the blazers' lapel. If I could find a way around the outside corners, the inside one was completely beating me so I took a look online. I couldn't be the first parent to be stumped by this so surely there was something on Youtube or a website or blog SOMEWHERE?????? 
Nope :( All I discovered was that some schools have very elaborate braiding requirements, our school did not braid the blazers in the same way as The Warblers from TV program Glee, and some people charge an absolute fortune to braid a blazer! I am not kidding - if you are ever asked to do this as a favor for a friend bear in mind some people charge £60 to do this!!!! Late Monday night I admitted defeat & went to bed with only the cuffs done & dreamt about the blooming thing!!! Arrrggghhh!!!
Tuesday dawned &, as I had sewn the cuffs, I was committed to finishing my daughter's blazer for the next day, but I warned my son there was no way his blazer would also be done in time for the first day of school (the joy of having twins!). He wasn't bothered as apparently "lots of people" wouldn't have theirs done either (and their parents only had one to do! what was their excuse? ;-) )
After another hour or so of fiddling with it I finally came up with a method that looked promising & started stitching. While the result wasn't 100% perfect, in the opinion of my young people it was better than the ones we had looked at up at the school & I was just thankful to get it finished! If you ever face this task yourself the number one piece of advice I can give you is this - do not underestimate how long it will take you!! Whilst I am not a trained seamstress I think I am fairly handy with a needle & thread. I timed how long it took me to stitch the last cuff on the second blazer (by which stage I had definitely speeded up a bit) and it took me the best part of an hour. I spent the majority of this past weekend stitching the braiding onto my son's blazer so this morning both of them went into school with their blazers done :)
In sixteen years of getting kids back to school this is by far the worst job I have been tasked with (yes even beating the year we spent three days trudging round the shops to find school trousers for a daughter who was sadly too old for pinafores but too tall & skinny for the standard school trouser offerings!). I am not claiming in any way to be an expert, but I decided to take step by step photos while I sewed the second blazer so I could write up a tutorial. I hope it might help anyone else struggling with this task even a little bit. You can find it under the tutorial tab at the top of the page, if I haven't made anything clear please do not hesitate to contact me & I will do my best to help you.
Right, now the blazers are done I'm off to relax with some stitching of an entirely different kind! Have a lovely day!!!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Monthly Makes - July

Hello there and welcome! Especially to my new followers, thank you for joining me here I hope you will enjoy your visits :-) I'm sorry for the long gap between posts, hopefully now school has returned normal service will resume!
I'm not really too sure where this summer has gone to. Yesterday we enjoyed what I would call a Proper Summers' Day, I sat in the back garden with my morning cuppa basking in the warmth of the sun & feeling rather sorry for our dog & cats in their black furry coats. The back door stayed open all day, we ate supper outside & there was enough of a breeze to dry three loads of laundry over the course of the day too! It didn't quite seem real that the young people had started what I grew up calling "the autumn term" already. Today it is wet & grey with a definite autumnal feel & it is much easier to believe that we really are this far through the year. The view across the road this morning looks like this...
The hills have vanished beneath the misty rain clouds & the back door is very firmly shut! So as I sip my morning cuppa in jeans that are toasty from the dryer (bad decision not to wear my waterproof trousers when I took the dog out earlier!) my jacket is making puddles on the kitchen floor & the cats are licking themselves dry - how exactly does that work anyway? 
Today it seems reasonable to start rounding up the jobs I must finish before I start looking at Christmas projects. Yes, I did use the C word - I'm sorry, I know some of you will be cursing me now! But as I have family overseas & the last surface posting date for Christmas is usually mid October I have always started thinking about the contents of their parcels when the schools go back in August. I am not a proponent of the appearance of advent calendars in the stores at this time of year, I would rather not see Christmas things in the shops until the end of November at the earliest and when the children were young the C word (and the singing of Christmas carols) was banned in this house until after Halloween! Don't worry, I will have plenty of non- Christmassy crafts to share with you all in the coming months what with birthdays & lots of things planned for Baby H :-) Before we get into all that here is my (very late) monthly roundup collage for July...
Birthday cards, sewing, cross stitch, & a spot of crochet - July was a pretty busy month! Next week I'm hoping to share with you some of the things I have been working on so far this month, so please pop back & visit me then! Thank you for stopping by today, I hope you all have a lovely weekend :-)