Saturday 29 July 2017

...turquoise colour-pop baby blanket

The little blanket is finished. Just a very simple stocking stitch rectangle with a garter stitch border, it is nice and soft, and cheerful to look at. Turns out it could have been a medium sized blanket as I still have three balls left over, but I wanted to make it portable and pushchair/pram sized rather than a shawl or cot blanket. Found out last week that the baby is a girl, so I may have to make a few more bits and pieces before she arrives. 

This morning's walk was lovely. I got quite distracted by reflections of trees and sky in the puddles...

...then found this beautiful little feather, with irridescent blue bars along one side. Can't think what bird it could have come from, but it has made the crazy bird lady very happy.

Sunday 23 July 2017

...something different

I'm back at work tomorrow, and I can't say I'm looking forward to picking up where I left off. The older I get the harder it is to hit the ground running! Still, we've made the most of our week off and even got through most of the jobs on our household to-do list. 

Over the past two days I've also been getting crafty, designing and making a decorative clip-on accessory for turning a napkin into a bib! My friend's getting married next Saturday, and she's worried about spilling food on her dress during the wedding breakfast, so I said I would make something pretty and bridal to hold her napkin in place. This is what I came up with:

It's a white organza ribbon with pearl beads in shades of blue (to match the bridesmaids' dresses) threaded on to it, with clips at both ends. It goes around the neck and then clips to the corners of the napkin to hold it in place over the bosom area! I made the little beaded/embroidered felt corsage to match the flowers in her bouquet (sunflowers and thistles) and attached it to the clip on the right hand side as a finishing touch. 

It may not be everyone's notion of bridal chic, but my friend has a great sense of humour and it's a pretty but practical solution to a genuine problem! Plus the ribbon can be removed after the wedding and the corsage can then be worn as a clip-on brooch.

The best thing about this project was the creative thinking and problem solving involved in making it up as I went along. I had some fluffy purple novelty yarn that I knew would be ideal for the thistle head, and spotted the green knobbly bead when I was shopping for the pearls. I used a wire beading needle with a collapsible 'eye' to thread the yarn through the bead and then wrapped the 'stem' with green embroidery thread. I Googled 'thistle leaves' to get a rough idea of the shape and then cut them out freehand along with the sunflower (two overlapping circles with petal shapes snipped into the outer edge). Once I'd sewn the bead 'seeds' to the centre of the sunflower I soaked the leaves and petals in watered down Mod Podge to make them a little stiffer and more durable. This worked really well, and helped add a little 3D curl to the petals. I originally drew the veining on the leaf with a Sharpie, but decided it would look nicer picked out in backstitch. I used a darker yellow Sharpie to give depth to the petals, but in hindsight I think watercolour paint would have been better for adding shading/detail to both leaves and petals, especially if applied while they were still damp. 

Next time that's what I'll do. I enjoyed this little project so much that there will definitely be a next time. Maybe not for a bridal clip-on napkin accessory (it's kind of a niche OOAK item), but definitely for a pretty little beaded/embroidered felt brooch. Just imagine this in brooch form:

Delicious! But for now it's getting late, and I have to be up early, so here's a serendiptous rainbow-tinted photo from this morning's walk at the park, and then it's time for bed. 

Friday 21 July 2017

...time off

It's Friday afternoon and we're coming to the end of a lovely week of time off from work. We've checked out the charity shops and mostly managed to resist bringing more stuff home - apart from...

...a spotty scarf, a wooden block picture puzzle to go in my bag of tricks 
for work, and an ancient knitting encyclopaedia - illustrated with drawings, not photos - with the most delightfully twee front cover. I did try hard to resist the knitting encyclopaedia, as I know the chances of me actually referring to it are so remote...but that cover! It was only £2.99 after all...and just look at that cover!

We've had a walk at our favourite local park, formerly a golf course until a couple of years ago, when the Council decided they could no longer afford the upkeep. Now the cultivated flower garden in the middle of the course contrasts beautifully with the meadow grasses left to grow unchecked on the fairways.

We've had a trip to Ilkley Moor with friends on a cloudy, overcast day - perfect weather for hiking up hill and down dale.

We've had a couple of quiet days, mooching around the house, doing laundry, catching up on odd jobs and cleaning. I hemmed two pairs of page-boy trousers and put darts into a bridesmaid's dress for my friend's wedding. Renewed contents insurance. Applied for a new passport. Worked through the stack of paperwork and unopened letters that tends to accumulate when we're working. Whilst hunting for a stapler I came across a stray bag of wool that had escaped the stash-slashing cull, tucked away on the bottom shelf of a cupboard. 

Golf balls belong to the dog - also stashed as they're
hidden from prying human eyes when the cupboard
door is shut!

I think I must have inherited it from someone as I can't imagine myself ever buying it - it's 100% wool in a really uninspiring beige/grey colour, and quite scratchy in texture. It's still in the cupboard as I type, but its days are numbered because the deciding factor in the keep/discard debate is that it is hand-wash only and therefore kryptonite to me...except that the hoarder in my head has just whispered - "So you could felt it into some kind of beige/grey/wooly thing - like a bag or some slippers..."

This is the same inner hoarder that said, "Use the 20 yr-old turquoise/green cotton yarn with little blobs of bright colours for a baby blanket - don't get rid of it just yet!" Sometimes the hoarder is right - the blanket is now coming along nicely. I've gone for stocking stitch with a simple garter stitch border around the edge. I really like it, - it's bright and jolly, and I think it will just get softer and more comfy with age. So there might be a stay of execution for the beige/grey/scratchy wool too, if the right felting project can be found.

Today we went to Nostell Priory for another walk.

Another really lovely place to be, filling my head with light and space and natural beauty that I can bring to mind when I'm back at work and feeling stressed.

I always feel a bit sad when a period of time off is drawing to a close. But there are still two more days to go, and there are a few more things to do before we re-enter the world of work. Top of my list is a bridal accessory I promised to make for my friend, details of which will hopefully follow in due course...

Wednesday 19 July 2017


A few weeks ago, riding high on the success of my stash slashing endeavours and my new-found resolve to become 'someone who sees things through', I decided to embark on a 'proper' knitter's project, using a beautiful pattern and some equally beautiful yarn. In my head I imagined that this would be the start of a new phase in my life as a knitter. From now on I would no longer need to buy knitwear because all my jumpers and cardigans would be handmade from gorgeous natural fibres - wool, silk, linen - and I would look and feel wonderful in them.

So it seemed perfectly reasonable to use this lovely yarn:

Laceweight Malabrigo 100% merino wool -
"When you experience Malabrigo Lace Baby Merino,
you connect with a special place of the world"

To make this lovely cardigan:

Hannah Fettig - Featherweight

Right from the start the project was dreamy. I loved the seamless top-down construction and the ease with which it could be adjusted according to individual preference - a little longer in the body, a little wider in the collar? No problem, just go for it! Soothing, rhythmic stocking stitch gliding effortlessly from the needles, row after row after row. Even picking up stitches for the collar was simple - 2 stitches for every 3 rows - no maths needed! The finished cardigan really did feel light as a feather and so soft against my skin, and the best thing was - it fit me perfectly! 

I wore it the day after it was finished, and even planned to get my husband to take a photo of me wearing it, I was so pleased with it. 

"Maybe I should wash it and block it a little before taking pictures. A really careful hand-wash in barely lukewarm water with a splash of wool wash, a couple of gentle squeezes before and after rinsing, and then dry it flat on a towel - it will look even better!"

Or not. 

The reality is that the instruction "hand-wash only" has always spelled disaster for me throughout my whole entire life, and all the positive thinking and new beginnings in the world will never change this fact. I don't know what I do wrong, but whenever I attempt to hand-wash anything, however careful I am, the outcome is always the same - a ruined garment! I don't know what possessed me to think that this time would be any different.

So now I have a slightly felted, somewhat shrunken, much less wearable cardigan that will probably become completely unwearable after just one more wash, and all the joy has gone out of it (sad face emoticon). 

However, positive-thinking new-beginning Me (happy face emoticon) has decided that all is not lost and that this whole experience can be reframed as a lesson learned - I just need to use machine-washable yarns in future! The reality is that it's another completed project under my belt, regardless of its longevity.

Better yet, I still have two and a bit left-over skeins of the most gorgeous indigo baby merino lace-weight yarn that (in my hands) instinctively shrinks at the first hint of moisture, so I can play to my strengths and make myself one of these fabulous felted scarves. 

Les Miserables - Cynthia Parker