Thursday, 28 February 2013

Mr Blue Sky

Hello there!
In my last post I mentioned the beautiful sunny weather we have been enjoying recently. After months of grey, gloomy, dark days like this....
...to wake up to this several mornings in a row has been such a blessing!
We had to drive into the city the other afternoon so I took the camera & snapped some shots from the car. I wanted to capture these oh so familiar views under these less than usual conditions...  


 Even the view over the back fence becomes less mundane in this light...
The clear skies have meant it has been cold. The temperature has hovered a few degrees above freezing and then dropped rapidly in the late afternoon. The cats have been keen to stay in & curl up in the warm house  at night! In the mornings we have been greeted by a sparkly world...



But there are signs of new life out there too, peeking out from under the old brown growth of last year - the promise of things to come...

...and some to enjoy right now...


To enjoy the rich purple of these irises & violas in the kitchen window box I don't even need to set foot outside! (That will be especially welcome when this glorious weather breaks & we go back to our more normal rain).
But for however long he visits for I will try to make the most of Mr Blue Sky :-)

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

A winner & a finished UFO!

Hello there from a very sunny north of Scotland!
Now it's not often I can say that ;-) We have been enjoying some beautiful days of bright blue skies & cold temperatures, the frosts in the mornings have been so gorgeous! I will share some photos of it with you soon but today I'm popping in to announce the winner of my very first giveaway!
I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who entered & also to all of you who have taken the time to comment on my posts over this first year of my blog. I really appreciate your support! I wrote all the names of those who entered on a piece of paper...
...folded them & put them into a bowl...
...shook them all around & about and asked hubbie to pick one out...
...and the winner is...
Congratulations Mary-Grace! Your stitchy goodies will be on their way to you soon :)

Today I can also show you a stitchy finish. Back in this post here I shared my stitchy plans for the year with you all & whilst I haven't quite managed to spend a whole two days a week working on The Snowman this month I have spent more hours on it than I otherwise would have. In fact I was pretty surprised at how quickly the top half of this came together & last week I put the last back stitch in! YAY! So here is my finished Snowman...
Sorry for the slightly odd angle of this shot, I was trying (unsuccessfully) to capture some of his sparkles! I will have to go look for a frame to put him in now... Next week I hope to start my last gingerbread man on my Christmas stitching day & restart Ladybird fairy on my UFO day. Thank you for dropping by to visit here today, I hope you have a lovely week whatever you are up to!!


Sunday, 24 February 2013

January birthdays

Hello and welcome!
Before we leave February I thought I should share with you some of the cards I made for all those January birthdays (yes I'm still playing catch up - can you tell?). I think I have whined  mentioned before that in our family we have way too many birthdays crammed into that month and this probably goes a long way to explaining why it's often around the middle of February before I feel I can exhale again for the first time since late November!  Yes, I willingly admit I added my three to the January baby boom, but 3 out of 19 is not a big proportion...
We start each year with my eldest son's birthday on New Year's Day. He is a HUGE Star Wars fan and I came across a whole bunch of these little charts online a few years back and have been looking for ways to use them for him. For this card I combined six different ones with the help of some graph paper & used some green & red card, red ribbon, & silver peeloffs from my stash (no prizes for guessing what age he turned this year!)...
A week later it is my youngest brother's turn. As I stitched cards for my two brothers with summer birthdays last year I really wanted to make the time to stitch cards for my youngest brother & my sister (who also has a January birthday). Because the mail can be a bit hit & miss in early January & this card had to travel 5,000 odd miles I got started on this back in November. I picked this particular chart from an old issue of World of Cross Stitch as he shares my love of wolves ...
The following week one of my sisters' boys has his birthday. I wanted something bright, cheerful, & simple for this little guy so used a bright turquoise card & some jungle themed embossed stickers from my stash. Silver peeloffs & a length of ribbon also from my stash finished it off, again no prizes for guessing either his age or his name ;-)
A few days later it is our first double birthday of the year, my daughter & younger son. I always find I have plenty of ideas for my daughters' cards, & as she is hoping to study music at university later this year and her main instrument is the viola these diecuts seemed made for her! I cut out a patterned pink & a plain metallic red heart shape to put behind the viola & added some gold peeloffs from my stash...
By contrast I was racking my brain for my younger son's card....When he was little it was easy as he LOVED monkeys, but since he has become too grown up to go giddy over anything monkey themed I have found it harder & harder. He does love his computer though so when I found this computer paper in my stash I decided to work from there. Some coordinating paper, navy card & ribbon, silver peeloffs, green sequins & green & orange gems from my stash & I had a card for him...
Towards the end of the month it's my sister's birthday. She also loves wolves and I found this chart online here which seemed pretty perfect for her. Due to my headaches playing up this took a lot longer to stitch than it should have & it only just reached her in time! 
The following day it is another of my nephew's birthdays - it does get more difficult to come up with something suitable as the boys get get older doesn't it?
A couple of days later we had another girl reaching one of those milestone birthdays. I used the Pazzle to cut the numbers from some girlie paper in my stash & finished the card off with coordinating paper, gold peeloffs, & gems...
My cousin's daughter just squeezed into the January birthday gang by arriving on the last day of the month fifteen years ago (oh boy how the years fly by!) A while back I purchased a themed pack of card making supplies from a local craft shop. It contained items from the Midnight Fairytale range by Papermania which you can see on their web page here. I really like this range, the colors are gorgeous, but the shimmery metallic effects on some of the materials & the reflective holographic peel offs that look so beautiful in person are a nightmare to photograph! I couldn't get decent photos of the first couple of cards I made using this pack, and this photo doesn't really show off the colors in the vellum window amongst other things... 

Well those are the highlights of the January cards for this year, I am hoping to show you the February cards soon, and also have stitching, sewing, & crochet to share with you (I have been busy this month!). Don't forget there's still time to enter my giveaway here if you haven't entered already, it's open until midnight GMT Monday February 25th... I'll be back soon to let you know who won...  


Monday, 11 February 2013

Yarny fun and a giveaway!

Hello there and welcome!
Over the last few weeks there has been a definite increase in heart/pink/red/love themed crafts appearing around the internet which signals St.Valentine's Day is on the horizon once more. Now I must admit I am not really a fan of the commercial aspects of this "holiday" (and since when did it become a holiday? After all no one has the day off work for it do they?). Much as I like many of the constituent parts,chocolate, flowers, teddy bears etc, there is something that really grates with me about most of the valentines merchandise displays in stores (and that's before I see the jacked up prices!). But over the last few years I have discovered there is something that really appeals to me about the heart shape itself. Little gingham hearts, cross stitched padded hearts, crocheted hearts, wicker hearts, blackwork hearts, plaid and stripey hearts.... *ahhhh big contented sigh* I have found myself drawn to many examples of these in magazines & online. I have also been wanting to make a decorative wreath for quite a while so when I came across this project a few weeks ago I decided to take the plunge. I bought a 25cm styrofoam wreath & a ball of Patons Smoothie cotton yarn in this cheerful multi colorway...
One of the things which really appealed to me about this wreath was that you wrap the yarn around the styrofoam form - this took me a few hours instead of the couple of weeks crocheting a sleeve for it would have taken me!
It also took a lot less yarn, I weighed my 100g ball after I was done & still had 67g of it left! Oh what fun I am going to have with that....
You can find the full (free) instructions for making the little hearts in the four different sizes here, they worked up really quickly! As I didn't have a 12" styrofoam wreath (I could only find 35cm or 25cm so plumped for the smaller one) I used some scraps of DK yarn from my stash instead of the thicker worsted weight listed in the instructions. I also wasn't too sure of what 16 gauge wire might be but some rootling around in the garage produced some green plastic covered garden wire that seemed pretty good thickness wise once the green plastic was stripped off it with a pair of wire strippers. I used pins to arrange the hearts how I wanted, then sewed them together before getting hubbie to help me push the wire through the backs of them. I decided to leave off the printed message (after all I think this will stay up for a while not just St. Valentine's) so a length of ribbon from my stash to hang it up with and voila!
One colorful yarny heart wreath to brighten up a bare space on the kitchen wall :-) This project was super quick so if you fancy giving it a go there is probably still time before St.Valentine's on Thursday. I bought the yarn & styrofoam wreath on the Monday, spent a few hours wrapping the form that night, then a few hours Tuesday & Wednesday nights making the hearts in between playing with the grandbaby & watching TV. Thursday afternoon I put it together & hung it on the wall - job done! (Sorry the colors haven't come out that great, it has been so dull & grey here for weeks!)

Now on to the giveaway mentioned in the title. I have finally gotten organised with some goodies for a giveaway to mark my blogiversary earlier this month. In this little bundle you will find:
2 packets of Madeira thread, one pink, one purple
5 wooden butterfly buttons 24mm wingspan at widest point
5 hand painted wooden buttons 15mm diameter
5 hand painted wooden Hello Kitty buttons 15 mm diameter
30 bright colored plastic buttons 9mm 
Also:
1 piece of 14ct cream aida approx 19 3/4" x 8 1/2"
1 piece of 14ct peach aida approx 12" x 15"
1 piece of 14ct yellow aida approx 9" x 11 3/4"
2 free cover kits from WOCS magazine 

This giveaway is open to all of my lovely followers wherever you live in the world as a thank you for all the interest & lovely comments you have left me over my first year of blogging! If you would like to be in with a chance to win this bundle of goodies please leave me a comment on this post along with an email address (if I don't already have it) where I can contact you if you are the winner. This will be open for two weeks, then on February 25th I will put all the names in a bowl & get my daughter to pick one out. Good luck!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Blanket obsession

Hello there and welcome, especially to my new followers! Thank you for all the lovely comments on my last post, I really appreciate folks taking the time to leave them :-)
So far this year I have blogged mostly about cross stitching so I think a crochet post is well overdue, time to share some bright & cheerful crochet with you & hopefully bring a little color to your day :)
I may not have gotten as much stitching done as I had hoped this winter but my crochet hooks have been busy. Soon after first learning to crochet I discovered that on those days where my headaches are at that level where I can't stitch or read or watch TV but aren't so bad as to send me to bed I can often crochet. Especially a simple, repetitive pattern, a "do it with my eyes half closed" mindless kind of pattern, you know like a blanket? So over the last year I have always had a blanket of some sort on my hooks to go to on those days, and now I'm thinking I might be a bit addicted. Before I come to the end of one I have started thinking about the next one, and I have a big folder of patterns & pictures for possible future blankets gathered off the internet that continues to grow alarmingly. (I find the internet is a terrible enabler when it comes to stash growth & seriously how many blankets does one family need anyway?!!!)
Looking back through here the last time I shared a blanket project with you all was back here in October (wow! way back then?!) At that point I had just finished the third quarter of my Big Mixed Squares Blanket & was happily hooking up the squares for the last quarter. I had joined all the squares for each quarter as I went along so around the second week of November I had three big squares & had finally finished all the squares that would make up quarter number four. I pushed all the furniture back in the front room & laid everything out on the floor to play with  sort out the order of the squares in the last quarter. Would you like to see?
It took me a couple of weeks to join that last quarter, then join the four big squares into one whole Big Blanket, and work a border all round the edge. I looked at a bunch of different options for the border but in the end decided to keep it simple, working three rows of "grannying" in the raspberry, orange, and bright blue. Into the washing machine it went & then over the banisters upstairs to dry. The first day it was ready to go to it's new home on our bed was an unexpectedly sunny morning towards the end of November. Ready?
Taa-dah!!!!

It finished up at a whopping 78" square which means lots & lots of snuggly, soft granny square goodness to cuddle under (or on top of if you are a cat!). We have been enjoying it all winter :-)
Of course by the time I got to this stage I already had the yarn ready to go on the next blanket (!), a ripple requested by my younger son. He helped pick the colors he wanted in it & I hoped to have it ready for his birthday in January. I used 13 colors as follows:
Sirdar Supersoft Aran in 824 Poppy Red, 827 Marina (now discontinued), 870 Denim, 894 Kiwi, 898 (dark green), and 901 (raspberry)
Robin Aran in 1004 (Apple) and 1020 (Sky Blue)
Jarol Baby Rambler Aran in 4315 (Turquoise) and 4310 (Saxe Blue) 
Hobbyknit Aran in 236 (Purple) and 218 (Beige) 
Sirdar Hayfield Bonus Aran in 847 (Eau de Nil)
I used another of Lucy's fab patterns from Attic24, her Interlocking Color Ripple, which I know lots of folks around Blogland and Ravelry have been making their own versions of over the last year. Having seen it in lots of different color combinations & with & without a border I decided to go for a totally random use of the 13 colors & no border. Just like my first ripple blanket I LOVED working on this! I think this is my over all favorite kind of blanket to make so far, maybe partly because there's no joining and not so many ends to weave in as with granny square blankets? The actual ripples are also wonderfully therapeutic to work somehow - it really is ripply bliss * big contented sigh* :-) It seemed to grow pretty rapidly and soon became quite warm & snuggly to work under - the cats seemed to agree! If I put it down for a minute I would come back to find this...

... which is pretty hard to evict! As the winter nights got chillier Pippa & Felix abandoned the "stealth attack" and just waited for me to settle down to start work before jumping on my lap & making themselves at home!

Stopping to rub someone's tummy every so often does slow progress somewhat, as does trying gently to free enough blanket to turn at the end of each row so that sleeping cat doesn't awake & sink their claws in! Christmas came & went & so did my son's birthday but finally on January 30th I made the last ripple & sewed the last end in :-) Considering I started out thinking I was making a much smaller blanket this time round for a single bed this ended up a bit of a whopper! To start a ripple you make your foundation chain of x number of multiple of chains & on the first row this number becomes the number of "hills" & "valleys" your ripple will have so for this blanket I chained 17x 14 chains (plus 3 to turn) which worked out at 238 chains in that foundation row. This gave me 17 "hills" and "valleys" across the blanket, but until I had worked up a couple of rows I didn't really know how many inches across 17 "hills" and "valleys" would work out as. In hindsight I think this is where making a swatch comes in??? Well gauge wasn't crucial to this, my son was more than happy to have an extra wide blanket, it just meant I gave myself more work than was strictly speaking necessary, but if you want a ripple to come out a certain width my advice would be to SWATCH! ;-) As far as the length went my son wanted it to cover his toes & go right up to his chin & as he is around 6'4" tall that meant quite a bit of rippling! So we ended up with a pretty big blanket measuring 67" x 72", would you like to see? OK then here it is laid out on the floor...


...and here it is in it's new home...







Can you guess what I started the next morning? Yes, that's right, another blanket! (I told you it was an obsession!) I will pop back soon and give you a sneak peak, right now I'm off to get a cuppa & pick up my yarn & hook.... Have a great day! 

Friday, 1 February 2013

Stitchy plans 2013....

Hello there!
Today is my first blogiversary! A little while back I had started thinking about how quickly February 1st was rolling round again & what I might do to celebrate my first whole year in Blogland.  A reflective post about how this experience has changed aspects of my crafting & social life? A giveaway with lots of crafty goodies? Well in the end it has arrived while I have been trying to impose some order & calm on life & I am totally unprepared! So you are spared the reflective post & if I can get organised over the next week or so I will get back to you on the giveaway...
Instead I thought I could try & gather my thoughts & share with you some stitchy plans that I have for the year ahead. I didn't want to set exact targets as I want to have the flexibility to start new projects as inspiration strikes & also because my stitchy time in a week can vary wildly, but there are a couple of goals I would like to work towards.
Number One: I would like to make even a small dent in the HUGE pile of Christmassy charts on my "to stitch" list and I can finally admit I am never going to make much progress on it by waiting till the "Christmassy" mood strikes me (usually after Halloween). By those last 10 or 11 weeks of the year my list of things to make feels longer than the other 40 weeks put together so fitting in extra Christmas stitching is a bit like trying to squish a cat into a string bag - it's just never going to work! So the new plan is to try & spend one day a week working on Christmas themed stitching. I reckon even if I can't keep this up all year I will still have achieved more than leaving it all till November ;-) The first project I am working on also counts towards Goal Number Two...  
Number Two: I would like to complete the UFO's (UnFinished Objects) lurking in my room. I have four projects that for various reasons have ended up banished to The Drawer. So I am going to try & spend one day a week working on a UFO.  First up is The Snowman kit I mentioned in my last post. Here is what it will look like...
Here is my progress as of December 31 2012...
...and here is my progress as of January 27 2013...

As it took me a few weeks to formulate these plans I haven't done two days a week of stitching on this in January (one day for Christmas stitching & one for UFO stitching) but there is definite progress & I am hopeful to stick to the plan for February...  
Next up is my dear Ladybird Fairy. I feel a bit bad labeling her as a UFO as she only made the trip upstairs because I really had to put her down in order to finish certain projects in time for December 25th! I am really looking forward to getting her back out as I really don't have that much cross stitch to complete on her...
Once the flowers across the bottom are done it will be metallics, backstitching, & all the beadwork. This should be an easy, enjoyable finish :-)
The third UFO is going to be my BIG CHALLENGE of the year I think. I have admired this kit for YEARS & when I saw it going for a song on ebay I couldn't resist any longer. That was in the summer of 2011 & pretty much as soon as I opened it I realised it was a bit more involved than I had thought. For a start there is a lot of color blending but it also instructs you to use different numbers of threads in your needle in order to create depth. So one symbol on the chart might mean you have one strand of floss in your needle, the symbol next to it might require three strands in two different colors etc. Then of course some are full stitches & some are half stitches - at least I haven't found any fractionals yet! Oh did I mention you can also work on this for hours and then be hard pushed to see much difference? :/ I started this as an "easy" project to take on my travels that summer - my WIP at that time was the Crescent Moon Dragon (black fabric, metallics, lots of beads) so in comparison I thought this would be simpler & expected to come home with it half done. Hmmm....  OK so this is what it will look like eventually...
...and this is where I am....
I think you can just about see one, maybe two horses starting to emerge if you look really closely???
Lastly I have the Christmas Stocking that I started last August to finish.
Originally I had planned to make this for Baby H's first Christmas but at some point I realised this wasn't going to happen & it ended up being abandoned. I would like to finish it though, this was as far as I got before it made the trip upstairs to The Drawer of Procrastination...
Again this project will count as Christmas stitching as well as UFO stitching so (if I am still on track by that stage) it will get two days of attention a week :-)
Of course that leaves the other five days in the week for other projects so I'm looking forward to the next year of blogging & sharing lots of crafty goodness with you all :-)
Thank you for visiting my little blog today, I wish you a lovely, happy weekend!