- I've been meaning to make myself an Elizabeth Shannon Apron, designed by Ellen Mason/'Odacier', for absolutely ages. I love her sewing and knitting patterns, which can be purchased here and here, because they're so comfy, practical and well-designed. I actually bought the pdf pattern for this apron a couple of years ago and it's been hovering near the top of my 'To Do' list ever since. I even got as far as printing it off and taping the paper pattern pieces together, but never progressed any further. Mainly because, before Jackanory Corner was created, dress-making used to take such a lot of effort! Any project requiring a layout/cutting area larger than the top of my (large) ironing board meant that the folding wallpaper-pasting table had to be dragged out of the cupboard under the stairs, set up in the middle of the living room floor, and then put away again immediately afterwards. First class, Grade A, dyed-in-the-wool procrastinators like myself do not fare well with such obstacles being put in their way - no matter how badly they might want an Elizabeth Shannon Apron in their life.
Jackanory Corner has been a game-changer. Now I just lift the light-weight desk top my daughter left behind onto my ironing board and, hey presto, I have an instant cutting table. So a couple of weeks ago I finally made my first Elizabeth Shannon, out of a charity-shop duvet cover I bought for £2.99. Bearing in mind that I only used half of one side of the cover, the fabric for this project cost me just 75p. What a bargain! What a useful garment, too, with big, easy-to-get-at pockets and a loose, easy-to-wear fit. There was only one thing for it...
...to make another one as quickly as possible! As luck would have it, there was a barely-used tablecloth (100% cotton, with a rough linen-like texture) waiting for me in the charity shop next to the library when I called by on the off-chance. Just enough fabric to make a rustic plaid Elizabeth Shannon with pattern-matched pockets, for the bargain price of £2.99. Now I can live in Elizabeth Shannons all Summer long.
- Just over a week ago I got a text message from my nephew, who is getting married at the beginning of July. "Hey. I know I am probably very unorganised in asking you, but would it be possible to have some little painted patterned stones for my wedding? Any colour or pattern would be great and I'd need 72. If my maths is correct it would be about 3 a day up until the day you come down. I completely get it if it's too late now so no pressure at all :) x" After shaking my head in disbelief (there's no "probably" about his being "very unorganised"), laughing, scolding him, laughing some more, and thanking him for doing the maths for me (he's a primary school teacher, so it's good to know he's numerate), I accepted the challenge.
I'm now 48 pebbles in to the project (well ahead of schedule) and actually really loving it. Basically, I get to paint and doodle for an hour or two a day, without having to worry about what I'm going to do with the finished product. I also get to justify my hoarding tendencies - keeping that big tub of pebbles in the garage (left over from a previous wedding pebble project) was totally worth it! You just never know when you're going to need 72 smallish, roundish pebbles at very short notice!
- The other projects occupying my time recently have been baby related. My first grandchild (a boy) is due in July, and the whole family is getting very excited to meet him. It hasn't been an easy journey to get to this point (where we allow ourselves to get excited) because my poor son and daughter-in-law sadly experienced three miscarriages before finally accessing the specialist treatment that enabled this pregnancy to continue beyond the first trimester. So it's only been in the past few weeks (the start of the third trimester) that preparations have truly got underway.
First came a group project, where my D-i-L, her sister and her Mum, plus me, my daughter, and my other D-i-L all got together to create a "Macrame Rainbow" wall hanging. The idea came about when my D-i-L saw and liked this wall hanging on Etsy, and my son said, "I bet my Mum could make you one of those". My first thoughts were, "1. That's not Macrame - that's just wool-wrapped rope... 2. I could definitely do that... and 3. It's not really a rainbow if it's just grey, green, and cream, but who am I to question someone else's choice of colour scheme?!" My next thought was, "Wouldn't it be nice to make the act of creating this rainbow a kind of bonding activity, bringing together all the women from both sides of the family?" So the "crafternoon" plan was born, and a few weeks later we all got together to wrap rope, drink tea, eat cake and discuss baby boy names (the bump has been nicknamed "Sid", my D-i-L likes "Hugo", my son favours "Ted", and I plan to call him "Sweet-pea" no matter what).
It turns out that wrapping wool round rope is trickier than you'd think - at least for a 'mixed ability' group of crafters - so there was quite a variation in the evenness of the wrapped lengths, and the end result is a little wonky in places...but it was created with so much hope and love (even the Daddy-to-be got 'roped in' on the day), and if you ask me, it's these imperfections that make it so special.
My next project was a little lace blanket to take as a gift to the baby shower, last weekend. I wanted it to be really light and airy, just big enough to cover the baby in his pram, or a car seat during the warm Summer months. I used this 'Lace Sampler Baby Blanket' pattern by Amy Gunderson, in a soft, machine-washable acrylic 4-ply. It was nowhere near the gauge specified, so I added a couple of lace pattern repeats in the first two sections to make a 27" square. Hopefully it will be one of those things that gets well-loved and well-used while he's tiny, and then turned into a blanket for his dolls and teddies when he gets a bit older!