Monday, 4 November 2013

A little peak....

Hello hello!
Today I thought I would take you for a little look around my new sewing room. It's just about two months since number two son left home for university leaving us with our first "spare room" in a great many years! Firstly I made a little something for the door...
Isn't he cute? A little Grim Ripper mini quilt (free pattern here) to guard my room :-) Would you like to come in now?

We moved our large table (51" square!) up from the kitchen to be my dedicated sewing table. It takes up a lot of space but gives me a huge area for cutting fabric/ organising projects/ working on which is fab! (Even better I don't have to clean bits of last nights' supper off it before I get fabric out on it now!) We also moved my sewing machine wall hanging up from the front room to the wall next to the mirror - I have lots of empty wall space to fill up in here! 
Over in this corner above the fold out bed I have a couple of shelves for craft books, folders filled with cross stitch charts, and a gathering of amis & the gorgeous mushroom house & felt heart hanging made by Lori from Hippywitch Crafts...
On the shelf under the window I have the lovely & ever-so-detailed Wee Witchy doodle drawn for me by the very talented Steph from DollyDollyDaydreams... 
On the wall behind the door I have filled the boys' old bookshelves with craft magazines, cross stitch kits, sewing notions, and boxes of yarn, floss, and fabric. At the moment I am using the clothes horse for fabrics that might make it into the quilt I am working on for my son (can you see the Halls of Khazad Dum block hanging over the top edge?). In the corner by the window I have a comfy chair & a bright light for hand sewing up here. Nearby my big project bag is sitting on the floor next to the little wooden drawers containing ribbons, beads, and other haberdashery items. It really is lovely to have everything in one place and not to have to go up to the cold loft to look for things! Another big plus is that I can leave what I'm working on out & just close the door behind me - I have claimed as extra crafting time the time I used to spend getting things out & tidying away at the end of the day :-) Also we have now found that big kitchen that came with the house we bought ten years ago!!  
I hope you enjoyed having a little peak at my new room - I feel very spoiled to have a whole room to use like this! Thank you for visiting here today, I hope to be back soon to share some other projects with you... until then have a lovely week!




Thursday, 31 October 2013

A Stitchy Halloween!

Hello there and HaPpy HaLLoWeEn!!!
Today I have some more stitching to share with you. Although I haven't been very good about blogging my progress, I have kept up with the Mystery Sampler Stitch A Long being run by Paulette of Plum Street Samplers. Each part (so far) has taken me around an hour to stitch and I am really enjoying visiting her blog on a Sunday to discover what new part is the next one to go into the design. Here it is after Week 2...
Week 3...
And Week 4...
Week 5 is out but I haven't stitched it yet... However I did manage to finish my Rodeo Cowboys Cushion!! Ta-dah!!
Also in this last week I finally decided on a frame for Ladybird Fairy! I was in two minds about frame versus wall hanging but in the end opted for this frame and mount from a local store... 
I also decided it was time to put away The Wave for a little while. I'm really not into this right now and thought it would be better to get it back out when I actually want to work on it rather than feeling I should. This is where I have gotten up to...
As per my Stitchy Plans for the year I have gotten out the Christmas stocking to work on, which goes towards my goal of finishing a UFO and also makes a start on my Christmas stitching for the year (I don't know why but I'm really not feeling that Christmassy urge yet, for which I am sure I will pay later!). I will post a photo of my progress on that when I have something to show.
After months of little cross stitching this year I seem to have hit a productive streak over the last month - this is a little scissor keep I stitched for a lovely friend's birthday (follow this to Steph's beautiful blog)...
... and these are two designs I stitched up & made into Halloween cards...

I think I have finally brought you up to date with all my cross stitching now! I have a lot of sewing & knitting to share with you too, plus I still haven't gotten around to showing you inside my new sewing room! Next time, I promise :-) Until then thank you for visiting me here today, and an especially big thank you to those who take the time to leave me comments, oh and....
HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! 













Monday, 28 October 2013

Feeling like Fall

Hello there!
Nature's colors are so spectacular at this time of year, rich reds and oranges, earthy coppers and browns, and greens in every imaginable shade. I just can't get enough of them! When we are blessed with a blue sky day and that gorgeous amber sunlight which marks autumn apart shines through everything I don't think there can be many more beautiful sights.This year I decided I wanted to try & capture some of this to enjoy indoors on those other grey, wet, & miserable days we get here in the north. I started off by making an autumnal wreath. I pulled the Easter decorations off the twiggy wreath base so I could reuse it, covered it with conkers, cinnamon sticks & ribbons, & some large brightly colored artificial flowers I found in a local shop...
Next I gathered some empty glass jars & tissue paper to try out an idea I saw on Pintrest. Using PVA glue I covered the jars with either orange or white tissue paper & left them to dry. The next day Hubbie resized some free Halloween faces I found here & printed them out for me, I cut them out & stuck them on the jars like so...
 I dropped a tealight inside each one & they make pretty effective lanterns when it's dark!
I picked out three seasonal cross stitch patterns to stitch up and finish as little pillows. The first one I found here, I added three little leaf charms to it once it was made up...
 The other two are designs from the Just Cross Stitch Halloween magazine for this year. To this one I added some black & purple beads around the edges...
 ... and to this one a little silver witches hat charm. Can you see the little pumpkin dangling from the hat? How cute! :-)
You might have noticed the Halloween amis have made an appearance too ;-) Hubbie & I have been collecting conkers, acorns, & beech nuts with their cases on our walks with the dog so now the top of the piano looks like this...


Along with the gorgeous little Halloween felties Lori sent me last year and the Halloween cushion I made last year it is really feeling like Fall in our house!
Thank you for visiting with me today, I hope to be back with another stitchy post in a few days...


Saturday, 5 October 2013

Mystery Sampler Stitchalong

Hello hello!
Just a quick post today to share my start on the Sunday Mystery Sampler stitchalong being run by Paulette at Plum Street Samplers. After rooting through my fabric stash I couldn't really find a suitable piece to stitch this on, everything was either too dark or too bright when I compared it to the listed threads. There was a nice sized piece of white belfast linen though, which got me thinking...maybe it was time to try dyeing some fabric with coffee or tea? I have been thinking about dyeing my own fabric for a while & I'm sure a few years ago there were tutorials aplenty to be found online for doing this, but when I went looking for them I came up pretty empty... It seems many of the folks who have cracked this technique are now selling their dyed fabric so aren't willing to share their methods... I turned to a lovely stitchy friend who makes all kinds of amazing things (follow this  to see some of the wonderful things Steph makes) for some advice, and amongst other things she reminded me to just go for it & have fun! So I did!
I boiled the kettle, dumped some instant coffee in the kitchen sink &, once the coffee had dissolved, added a scrap of damp evenweave. I used a teaspoon to move it around in the brew &, once it was dark enough, removed it & submerged it in some cold water & vinegar before rinsing it in cold water. I squeezed out as much excess water as I could & then used an old iron on a fluffy towel to dry it. I didn't measure the coffee or the water or the vinegar, but I did have fun! I decided to go for it with the white linen & did almost exactly the same thing to it except for adding one step. Before I fixed the color with the cold water & vinegar I threw in some used tea bags to the diluted coffee brew. Then after a few minutes I pulled the plug & smooshed the tea bags over the linen in a few places. It created a nice subtly mottled effect - I am definitely going to play with fabric dyes some more! I will keep you posted ;-)
So (of course) my lovely newly dyed fabric didn't photograph all that well, but here's a shot of it with the colors that will be used in the sampler. The white piece of paper is a pretty good match for the color the linen started off so you can see how much darker I made it.
I plan on photographing this each week as I add the new section so hopefully I will manage to get one at some point which captures the coloring in the fabric more accurately! This is week one's section of the sampler... 
I am not the world's fastest stitcher & this took me just over the hour to complete so if you fancy joining us in this stitchalong & haven't started yet it's not too late! It won't take you long to catch up (even if you decide you need to be awkward like me & dye your own fabric first ;-) )
Well I promised you this would be a quick post so that's it, I am off to put a few more stitches into the Rodeo Cowboys cushion - I hope you have a lovely weekend whatever you are up to! :-)

Friday, 4 October 2013

It's October!!!

Hello hello!
I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while, I wasn't well for a week or so & then Hubbie & I took a trip to London (which I will tell you all about once I get the photos off the camera) and all of a sudden it's October!! Although it has arrived rather quickly this year I LOVE October! The colors, the golden light when the sun does put in an appearance, that crispness in the morning air - love LoVe love! Plus the days like today when it is far too wet & miserable to even contemplate going out & you need no excuse to find a comfy corner & get some stitching out! :-)
Despite everything the past month I have managed to get quite a bit more done on my Rodeo Cowboys...
As you can see I'm on to the last one now; I'm still really enjoying stitching this & hope to have a finished cushion to show you soon!
I do have two small finishes I can share with you today, firstly a little something I couldn't resist stitching for the start of September...
I'm sure many folks can relate to this one! (Although to be honest it isn't really the case in our house as you would be hard put to tell who is the biggest American football fan between me & my hubbie!) The eagle eyed amongst you may be able to tell which team we support from the colors I switched in for the lettering at the bottom ;-) The hardest bit about this stitch was getting the aida straight in the wee flexi frame at the start! I have never used one of these before, so maybe there's a knack to it? I'm happy with the end result but it was a lot of faffing about...
For today's second small finish may I present Mr Owl!
I have a big weakness for owls &, as he is stitched on black fabric, he worked up in only a couple of evenings. I made him up into a wee pillow with the last decent sized piece of this gorgeous orange leaf print fabric I found on ebay last year. I would love to be able to track this down & buy more but sadly there were no details accompanying it which makes it pretty unlikely... The other thing which made him a pretty quick stitch is that he is not very big, here he is with my embroidery scissors & fob to give you some idea of the scale...
 Although I would like to get some more autumnal stitching completed before making a proper start on the Christmas stitching for this year there is one project I do plan on starting this week. Paulette at Plum Street Samplers is holding a mystery sampler stitch along! You may remember she designed the Coffin Buzz Pillow I stitched for my daughter earlier this year? Well this stitch a long is entitled Mary's Sampler and it's theme is the birth of Christ. Running from the nine weeks from Sept 29 Paulette will post one section of the sampler each week on her blog so that by the Sunday before Thanksgiving you will have a completed Christmas sampler! Part one is available for free download now, you can find full details of the stitch along here - it would be lovely if you joined the fun too! Well I'm off to do battle with the printer & pull threads & fabric to make a start right now :-) Thank you for visiting me here today, I hope your week brings lots of good things your way!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Stitchy hooky happenings...

Hello there!
Well I finally worked out how to link my facebook page & my pintrest boards up with my blog! (After how many months???!!) Please do come & visit me using the buttons to the right hand side of the page. I think it's also time for a new banner photo at the top...hmmm..... it's good to do a little cyberspace housekeeping from time to time isn't it?
Although much of my head recently has been buzzing with The Big Quilting Project I have been taking little breaks & spending some days doing other things. I have tried to ensure I take out my big cross stitch UFO The Wave at least once a week. Some days I find it easier to get into the groove with this one than other days, do you find this sometimes too? I am making progress with it, but it is going to be a long time before I have even one finished page out of the four (& even longer if it sits untouched for days on end...). Well this is how far I have gotten with it now...
There's a whole lot more of the sunset filled in now & I am thinking it's about time to add some more of the horses down below. On the days when I can hit that groove I am enjoying this, but it is definitely easier to work on without the distraction of the TV/ other humans around!
Now while I should really be concentrating on this project (and I did try to be good!) I ended up starting something new! A trip to Aberdeen resulted in me finding the perfect fabric for a cross stitch cushion project that has been on my mind for a couple of years...
 It was one of those charts where it was love at first sight, you know? It appeared in an issue of Crossstitcher magazine in 2010 & the threads & fabric for it  have been sitting waiting for some time now so when I spied this fat quarter I couldn't resist any longer - I just had to start it! Here it is... 
I slightly changed the reds in the cowboys' shirt to better match the red in the fabric as I'm not sure at this stage if I shall use that fabric just to make the back of the finished cushion or to frame the stitching on the front as well. I have really been enjoying stitching this, I've never used 25 count fabric before but I'm liking the slightly chunkier look of it worked over two with three strands of floss :-)
I have also been busy knitting (both sleeves of my sweater are now finished!) and crocheting, particularly in the evenings. It has been a while since I've had a blanket on my hooks so a few weeks back I thought it was about time to remedy that. As it has been so beautifully warm this summer I wanted to make a blanket square by square rather than bake under an ever growing row by row blanket - the only problem was which one of the many lovely blocks out there to pick! In the end I decided on the squared version of the African Flower which you can find here - this is such a pretty block! I have also been admiring a lot of the rainbow colored and stained glass effect projects on Pintrest &, while I'm not a big fan of working with black yarn, I found two balls in my basket bought some of this dark purple at a local shop back in the January sales. I thought that it would provide a suitably dark substitute for black in this project...
Once again some of these colors aren't accurately captured by my camera - the lilacs & jades on the bottom row are not so "washed out" looking in the flesh but I have always had problems with jade greens for some reason! (any suggestions gratefully received!) This isn't going to be a HUGE blanket, I'm thinking more of a lap blanket size, probably somewhere around 63 squares (that would be 7 x 9 rows) plus a border. I currently have 11 squares finished so have quite a ways to go! Again that is no problem, as with the last blanket I am in no hurry with this one, there is no deadline hanging over my head & it's all about the journey...
Thank you for stopping by today, I hope you enjoyed your visit! Wishing you have a lovely weekend however you are spending it :-)



   

Thursday, 5 September 2013

A custom quilt for a unique young man

Hello there!
A big welcome to everyone, especially to my new followers, I hope you will enjoy the time you spend in my little corner of Blogland :-) Today I have another quilting project to share with you. This is my current Big Work In Progress which some of you will have had a sneak peak at on facebook (I know, naughty me, I should have been more restrained & waited until I'd posted here... )
The initial idea was to make a quilt for my younger son to take to uni with him, something that "was" him in the same way as the Winnie the Pooh quilt is a perfect fit for my daughter. Now I do realise they have central heating in Edinburgh, maybe it's a kind of reverse nesting instinct ? but this summer I have had a strong urge to make sure he was equipped with at least one handmade blanket & a quilt for going away! I started looking online for bold, bright designs & one thing led to another (as internet searches so often do) & I ended up here. I had never even heard of paper piecing until a few clicks before arriving on this page but once I saw this site I knew it was something I was going to have to learn! Basically paper piecing is a quilting technique which enables you to make much more intricate and accurate designs with fabric than you would otherwise be able to. It opens up a w i d e variety of possiblilities - try putting "paper piecing" into Google images & marvel at what comes up! I showed the Fandom in stitches website to my son, a big smile spread across his face, & he set to work picking the blocks he wanted for his quilt. Meanwhile I started planning how this would all go together...  
I decided on 8" blocks surrounded by 2" sashing strips (basically a border round each block like a frame). By arranging them in 5 rows by 7 rows I will need 35 blocks in total for this quilt. I started looking out fabric...
Eventually the time came when I knew I would have to stop procrastinating take a deep breath & try making one of the blocks to see if I could wrap my head around this paper piecing thing, so I printed a couple of the simpler looking patterns out & got out my damaged/ marked practise fabrics. In the end I found it really is one of those things that is easier to actually do than to explain! Two big things I learnt pretty quickly - you want to use a really short stitch length in order to make removing the paper easier (around 15-20 stitches per inch), & pins are helpful for joining sections of a design together but not for holding the small pieces of fabric in place as you build up each section - Pritt stick is your best buddy for that! After completing two practise blocks I felt ready to cut into some of the actual fabric I wanted to use for this quilt -would you like to see? OK then....
Taadah!! One Gandalf from Lord of The Rings! (The green is a brighter jade than this photo shows, I have fiddled with the camera but am still having issues with accurately capturing some of the colors...) 
So after a successful Gandalf I decided to try my hand at some of the Harry Potter blocks on my request list... 
The Hogwart's Crest (again, that green hasn't come out right)... 
One cauldron for Potions Class... 
One Sorting Hat (more camera issues with the background fabric, grrr) 
One Hogwart's Castle...
...and one Fawkes the phoenix. 
Next it was time to try a couple of video game themed blocks. These are from a game called Legend of Zelda that my son played a lot at one time. Despite being a much simpler block this one gave me more problems than any of the others up to this point, & despite unpicking & re sewing the central join (which is a nightmare when using such a tiny stitch length!) it still doesn't meet up right on the front (the back looks perfect of course!). I think this is to do with the way the pattern printed out when I had enlarged the scale from the original 5" block to an 8" block? (Although all the Harry Potter ones were similarly enlarged with the help of a handy table for adjusting the scale of the patterns here).  Anyways this is apparently called a Triforce symbol...
This is also from Legend of Zelda (although I it could equally well be a pirates treasure chest)... 
Back to the films again for the only Star Wars square my son chose...
This is the droid we were looking for (sorry, couldn't resist)...
By now I felt a lot more confident & ready to tackle the biggest block on my list - The Halls of Khazad Dum from Lord of The Rings...
This is a real whopper of a block, it's 8" high like the rest of them but 26 3/4" long! It will take the space of three blocks in one of the rows in our quilt. By this point my son & I decided that I need a longer deadline so I am now aiming to have this quilt finished for him for Christmas (I am trusting he won't freeze in his student accomodation before then ;-) ). There are a lot of helpful resources for learning all about paper piecing, but in addition to the help page on Fandom in Stitches I think this is a good place to start if you fancy giving this a go yourself? And I would heartily recommend being brave & trying it! If you do then please get in touch - I would love to see/ hear how you get on :-) I hope to be back with some cross stitching & crochet news soon - in the meantime I hope you have the opportunity to spend some creative hours in these last days of summer :-)



Saturday, 17 August 2013

Happy Scrappy!

Hello there!
The weeks are rolling by &, although the skies are mainly blue out there today, it feels like summer is starting to give way to autumn. The days are definitely shorter & there is a chill in the evening air that wasn't there just a few short weeks ago. We have had an amazing summer here in the Highlands this year! After a long dismal winter & spring we were blessed with weeks of sunshine & heat - several times it reached the amazing heights of 30C (86F) outside my back door! The unusual weather has done strange things to my garden, some plants have thrived as never before whereas some have hated it, the weeds seem to have been in that first category of course ;-)
Today I am going to try & catch you up on some of the sewing projects that have been under my machine in recent months. Firstly a project that gave me chance to try out a new (to me) technique & provided my knitting needles with a permanent home :-) A while back I came across this excellent tutorial for making a postage stamp quilt but after the Big Fabric Stash Sort Out of February & March I realised I didn't have nearly as much cotton quilting weight fabric as I had thought I had! Definitely not enough for a whole big quilt, but probably enough for a knitting needle roll. I followed the tutorial pretty much to the letter, cutting strips of fabric measuring 2" by 7", sewing four strips together, then cross cutting it into 2" strips...

Then I spent an inordinately long time arranging these strips into blocks like this....
Making something "random" is harder than giving in to a pattern! Something in our brains just seems to want to impose some kind of order, but in the end I had fourteen totally different random blocks and, along with one embroidered square, I joined them into one big rectangle 3 blocks by 5... 
I sewed some batting/wadding offcuts together until I had a large enough rectangle & pinned it under the blocks. I quilted it by hand over the course of several evenings using a Big Stitch style & cream embroidery floss (each stitch is just under 1/4" in length which makes four down each  side of the 2" squares). I quilted around each block of sixteen wee squares & then around each four patch at the center of the block...
OK, top done, time to sort out the innards....
I cut a big rectangle the same size as the quilted top from some heavier weight cotton fabric (the kind you use for thick curtains or upholstery). I laid out all my knitting needles & measured how wide I wanted to make each channel all the way across. I cut a smaller rectangle from some beige linen, hemmed one long edge & sewed a pretty ribbon just down from the top, and then pinned it to the big rectangle. Using pins & masking tape I marked out the channels for my knitting needles...
Are you wondering about the hair grip? It's my new best friend for jobs like this - it keeps all the excess fabric out of the way while I run the bit I'm working on under the sewing machine ;-)
Now, unlike the crochet hook roll, I wanted two rows of channels to house needles & the like so I cut a smaller rectangle of a cream & brown print fabric to make a second, shorter pouch for all my shorter needles and smaller knitting notions. I hemmed it & edged it with ribbon in the same way as with the beige rectangle. Before sewing any channels I measured everything I wanted to include & worked out where the lines would match up on the print fabric and the beige fabric. I started by sewing the lines on the beige rectangle that only occurred on that rectangle & then laid the smaller rectangle in place on top. Then I sewed the lines that were common to both rectangles...
I found sewing along the edge of the masking tape made it a lot easier to keep the line straight than trying to sew it by eye as I had when making the crochet hook roll! One other thing I had learnt from the crochet hook roll was that I wanted a flap to go over the top of the needles - so they don't all fall straight out on the floor when your offspring pick the closed roll up & turn it upside down! ;-) I used the same beige linen fabric for the flap as for the bigger pouch & edged it with bias binding before sewing it in place...
So now the innards were ready, it was just a matter of attaching them to the outer quilted layer. This bit was basically the same process as finishing off a quilt. I laid the innards face down on my mat & laid the quilted top on top of it facing me. I pinned the layers together with my curvy safety pins & sewed some bias binding around the edge of the quilted top in the same way as you would for a quilt...
...then I turned the binding over & sewed it by hand to the other side. I picked four wooden hand painted buttons from my stash & some pretty gingham ribbon to make ties for closing the roll and voila! one finished knitting needle roll!...




I was really happy with the way this turned out, not least because the only thing I bought especially for this was the bias binding! Everything else was put together with a little bit of this & a little bit of that.  All the little squares of fabric are leftovers from past projects, probably a third of them from my childhood. A few weeks after I finished this my mom & I sat picking out the fabrics "oh I had a sundress made out of that" "do you remember the blouse I wore made from that?" and "I still use the apron made with that!" There are squares from dressmaking projects from my school days, some from my wedding dress & projects when Hubbie & I were making our first home together, & a few from more recent projects like my cross stitch  project bag.
Well that's the first of my catchup posts, I think I had better save the other projects for another post as this has already gotten pretty long! Thank you for stopping by today, I hope you have a lovely weekend whatever you are up to :-)