Friday, 23 January 2015

A little Friday freebie

Hello there!
Today I want to share a speedy little project with you. This worked up in a couple of evenings and used just one ball of this pretty cotton yarn...

This is what I had left afterwards from a 2oz ball of Lily Sugar 'n Cream Twists (the colorway is called Cottage Twists).
For quite a while I have been looking for new storage jars for my kitchen counter, I really liked the ones I had but over the years they have gotten chipped & the seals started to break letting moisture in and I just couldn't find replacement ones that I liked. One day hubbie and I were discussing their sorry state, "You know what jars have a great seal & are a great shape?" he said "Those glass jars the coffee comes in."
And my brain started to whirr....
I could make covers for the jars to pretty them up a bit, I could change up the colors for different times of the year, and it wouldn't matter if they got broken because we could just save another jar when we needed it! So we saved up two of the regular sized jars & one baby one to put some sugar in & I picked out some cotton yarn when we were in the States.
One night after our return I sat down with the yarn, a hook & a jar & a few hours later this is what I ended up with...
It didn't take long to work the bigger ones up either...

I'm really happy with how these turned out, I think they look right at home here don't you?!

I thought I would share the pattern for the larger jar with you in case you would like to make your own? I used Dowe Egbert jars but you could use any brand or jar, you just need to make sure your foundation chain fits snuggly round it.

Jar Covers
Worsted/ Aran weight yarn 
Jar (the circumference of mine is 12")
Tapestry needle for sewing in ends

American crochet terms used throughout

With a 5mm crochet hook ch 41 & join into a circle with a slip stitch. Slip onto your jar & check this fits snuggly around it, you want it to have to stretch a little bit so it stays up but not so tight as to be a pain to get on! 
ch 2 & hdc into first foundation chain, place marker, hdc into every stitch around.
Repeat this for 11 rounds (or until you reach the slope at the top of your jar).
Round 12 - ch2, *hdc2tog, hdc into next 8 stitches, repeat from * to end of round, slip stitch into top of ch2 & fasten off.
Sew in the two ends & you're done!

You could make them in stripes, or different solid colors for each one if you are making a set, the possibilities are endless! And of course you don't have to just keep tea & coffee in them, you can use them for any kind of storage you fancy! I would love to see what you come up with :-) I can always be reached here or on the StitchyDragon facebook page with photos or questions if anything isn't clear. I hope you have a lovely creative weekend :-)





Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Sights from Edmonton, AB

Hello there!
Today I want to share some more photos from our trip at the end of last year with you, yes, here comes another photo heavy post!
So in our last instalment we had made it all the way north to Edmonton, Alberta, and the next week would be spent staying with a very dear aunt & uncle of mine. It was Canadian Thanksgiving weekend when we arrived so we started off with two big family gatherings & huge Thanksgiving meals - we thought we would never need to eat again! My Aunt is a fellow quilter & crocheter so I made her a little needlebook as a "thank you for having us" pressie...


The buttons really are cute aren't they? They come from here (but be warned they have a huge selection & if you are half as crazy for buttons as I am then you are going to end up making some hard choices ;-))
Apart from eating way too much good food over this week we managed to fit in a little sight seeing. We made the obligatory trip to West Edmonton Mall (largest shopping mall in North America and 10th largest in the world). It has changed a bit since I was a teenager but the pirate ship is still there...
...and also the water park I remember my cousins being so excited at opening...
Other than lunch we didn't actually spend anything! Apart from all the added attractions (Galaxyland, Sealife caverns, Ice palace etc.) it really felt like any other mall with the usual selection of stores.

On another day we took a drive out of the city to the area where my uncle used to live when I was a child. Not surprisingly, I found the neighborhoods very changed from back then! One of the houses he & my cousins lived in was this one...
It's called the Oppertshauser house and back in 1987 it was moved from the lot where it had been since 1910 to the site of the Multicultural Heritage Center. It is one of the few remaining buildings from the time of the town's beginnings & was built by Henry Oppertshauser who was one of the pioneer businessmen of  the area. The MHC have done the ground floor up as part old fashioned general store, part museum part gift store and use the upper floor as offices. They were very welcoming, happy to let us explore the whole building, and chatted to my uncle & I about our memories of the place. Upstairs we found the same lino on what was my cousins' bedroom floor where we played for hours, and on the end of the bannisters the same white paint which we grabbed & swung round as we tore down stairs to go hunt out some chocolate milk from the kitchen...
 If found it surreal to see the rooms where I spent some very happy times set out like this I can only imagine how my uncle found it! This used to be the living room...
After our visit we had to stop at Jack's Diner for the best blueberry milkshakes in town! This is a very neat 50's style diner...
So from old familiar places to one I have long wanted to visit - the Muttart Conservatory.
This would often be a place the "grown ups" visited while we were at school so I was determined to see inside those iconic pyramids now I qualify as a "grown up"! There are four glass pyramids here, three housing plants from temperate, tropical, and arid regions and the fourth being the Feature Pyramid whose displays change throughout the year. We started off in the Tropical Pyramid... 






Then wandered into the Arid Pyramid... 


(Yes, trust me to find some buttons!) and then into the Temperate Pyramid which contained lots of plants which grow in my own garden...


Round one corner we came across Gaia, reclining under the shrubs... 
 Finally we reached the fourth pyramid, happily discovering the current display was of orchids!!
From the more familiar types to very different looking ones....
...some that looked like insects...
...and some very tiny ones!
Some were growing in a more natural kind of way whereas some were definitely "on display"...

Including this spectacular peacock made of orchids & house leeks!
We really enjoyed our afternoon wandering around the pyramids, I hope you enjoyed this little look at some of the sights they contain! Wishing you a lovely week :-)


Sunday, 11 January 2015

Socks & a snowman

Hello there!
Back in January 2014 when we planned our trip I thought having six weeks from when we returned till Christmas would be plenty of time but when it actually came to it it felt very rushed indeed! Between offspring returning for weekend visits from uni & the arrival of our new grandson (Baby C arrived the day we flew back!) everything felt very higgledy piggledy and all of a sudden it was down to mere days instead of weeks till Christmas! I didn't get much in the way of Christmas crafting done at all this time, making only a handful of cards & sending store bought to everyone else. I tried to keep things simple, here are a couple I stitched...


... and here is one I crocheted...

I made a few of these little snowflakes, crocheted with 4 ply yarn & blocked with spray starch. I then attached a  little red ribbon & hung them in some aperture cards from my stash. I used metallic paper (in this case blue) as an insert so I could still write inside the card. The snowflakes were easily detachable so if folks wanted to it could be removed  & used as a decoration in the future.
My pre- Christmas crafting was all about small, easy to complete projects but I must admit I got in a bit of a stew with the next one! It was my first venture into knitting socks so I picked a simple looking project from a library book (Baby Booties and Socks: 50 knits for tiny toes) and all was fine until I hit the heel... Google to the rescue! The toes also sent me heading back online for further help, I don't know if it was me or the pattern but I definitely felt the need for extra intsructions! However, once the first one was completed the second one wizzed along & by the time I sewed in the last end I was back to smiling when I looked down at them...

They are pretty cute aren't they?! Knitted for our new grandson, Baby C, I tied some pretty ribbon round them before wrapping them in Christmas paper...

The last project that I made as a present this year was for my daughter & I couldn't wait to see her face when she opened it! I spotted the kit in Walmart in the last few days of our trip & hubbie agreed we had to find a way to fit it in our already bulging luggage for her. I just hoped it would be as simple to put together as the instructions suggested... One afternoon I decided to give it a go & spread it out on my sewing room floor...
It is a No Sew Fleece Blanket (sporting a certain snowman from the film Frozen) and kits for these depicting everything from tractors to wildlife to Hello Kitty seemed to be everywhere in stores in the US. Along with the instructions there were two pieces of fleece fabric. I taped the backing fabric down to my floor right side down & then placed the front fabric on top of it (right side up) and smoothed it out...
Next, through both layers of fabric, I cut the corner squares out along the pre printed white lines...
Then I trimmed the outer border to 5"...
Using my fabric scissors I cut along the remaining white lines (which were marked 1" apart)...
Then I tied the top & bottom layers of this fringe together....
....first at the corners (so I could move it off the floor and go sit in a comfy seat to tie the rest) and then all the way around. A few hours later I had this...
One No-Sew Fleece Blanket! Yes, it really was as simple as that! (And it has been a big hit with my daughter who is somewhat Olaf obsessed ;-)) So if you have seen these kits in the stores and were wondering whether to give one a go (or if you have been pondering what to do with that cute fleece you bought a couple of yards of cos you just couldn't resist it! ;-)) I hope this encourages you to give a no-sew blanket a go!
Thank you for visiting here today, I hope to be back soon with another travel related post. Until then I wish you warm & happy days!









Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Beyond the Wall

Hello there!
Today I want to share the next stage of our trip with you - be warned this is a very photo heavy post!
After a wonderful week in Montana hubbie & I headed north to visit family in Canada.

Our first day was rather leisurely, we had "only" 210 miles to cover from my cousins' place to Lethbridge, Alberta where we had tickets to see this talented man in concert that night...
(For those not into the country scene this is Mr Brad Paisley, singer, songwriter, & a-maz-ing guitar player. If you haven't heard his music go check out youtube where you will be spoilt for choice.) This was the second time we have been lucky enough to see him in concert & he didn't disappoint!! After the concert we had another 100 miles or so to drive to our motel for the night, coming across the town of Vulcan en route. No, those crazy Canucks did not name a town after a planet in Star Trek (the actual town dates from 1915), but they aren't above cashing in on the connection...
Now you don't often see one of these parked at the side of the highway so we stopped for some photos! Although it was after midnight by this point I'm sure it's not the weirdest tourist behavior this town has seen ;-) There is a Trek themed tourist station & a museum here too but obviously they were closed at this time of night/morning so it looks like we will be making a return visit one day! At least there were no traffic delays, we had the roads pretty much to ourselves as we resumed our northwards trek to Strathmore.
The next morning we got going as early as we could for what would be one of the biggest days of driving on our entire trip. Our end destination was only 340km away according to sat nav (which is 211 miles for those of us who don't speak km!!) but where would the fun be in going the direct route? No, instead of simply heading towards Calgary & then turning right on the 2 up to Edmonton we had chosen to take "the scenic route"! I have been this way several times before but this was hubbies' first trip "north of the wall" to Canada so we decided to make the most of it. We headed due west on the Trans-Canada Highway, at this point those Rocky Mountains look pretty distant...
... but they drew closer... 
... and closer... 
...until we were right in the midst of them. The road was really busy and we entered Banff National Park in a much longer stream of traffic than when we had crossed the international border the day before! 
Now we were right in the heart of the Rockies... 
It is actually pretty hard to capture the scale & grandeur of this scenery with a little camera! At intervals along the highway you pass under these bridges... 
Rather different looking aren't they? They are wildlife bridges (hence the trees & grass growing on them) which were installed when this section of the worlds' longest national road was upgraded to a four lane highway in the 1990's. Banff is the country's premier national park with over 3.5 million visitors each year but on top of that over 4.5 million drive through on this road without stopping so you can see the potential for serious amounts of roadkill. There are also wildlife underpasses along the road, all to minimise man's impact on the populations of bear, moose, elk, coyote, wolverine, lynx, deer etc. who call this place home.
We stopped briefly in the tourist town of Banff... 
This is the impressive looking Banff Springs Hotel which opened in 1888 and is a national historic site along with being a luxury hotel. 
Just after Banff we turned northwest onto the Icefields Parkway, heading up the spine of the Rockies... 
The temperature was dropping & it snowed intermittently as we reached Bow Lake, about 60 miles out of Banff... 
As the weather systems moved, we glimpsed the peaks... 
... but there was also stunning scenery to see at lower levels... 
Some three hours after leaving Banff we arrived at the Columbia Icefields. It was cold with a blustery wind blowing snow & obscuring good views of the glacier... 
Instead of joining the tourist parties heading out to the foot of the glacier we jumped back in the warm car & carried on up the road. An hour further up the road we turned off the Parkway to where the Upper Athabasca River goes from this... 
...to this... 

... before flowing on through this limestone gorge... 
These are the Athabasca Falls, not famous so much for the height of the falls as the immense force of the water tumbling from the wide river above into the narrow gorge below. The last time I was here it was partially frozen and you could here the water rushing below the ice, on this occasion it was much louder! By now we were a mere 20 miles from the town of Jasper, some 290 miles from where we had set off in the morning & definitely on the hunt for some supper! Surrounded by mountain ranges and lakes I have always had a soft spot for Jasper & was very happy we reached here in daylight so hubbie could see some of the sights... 

....from the old transportation...
... to the more modern...
This is one of the observation domes on The Canadian (the legendary train you see on the Canadian $10 bill) which has a prolonged stop at Jasper on it's way from Toronto to Vancouver. And of course no visit to Jasper would be complete without a photo of Jasper the Bear
After some food we headed out of town on the last leg of our days' drive. The light was beginning to fade so it wasn't too much of a surprise to see this fellow crossing the road... 
It is Canada after all! ;-) Actually quite a few of his brethren were a bit further down the road, and at least this time most of the tourists were staying in their vehicles & keeping their distance...
We didn't stop, we had about 230 miles to cover headed east on the Yellowhead Highway to my aunt & uncles' house in Edmonton. By our arrival we had driven around 550 miles (885km) in the day, 339 miles more than by taking the direct route but it was definitely worth it! I hope you enjoyed coming along for the drive, have a lovely week!