Monday, 30 November 2009

Christmas Craft Countdown!

The Christmas stencils are out!

The Christmas fabric piles are inviting!

I have a little ill -home-from-school-craft apprentice to amuse. I feel a Christmas Craft Frenzy coming on! Got to go and trace and cut and stick and sew...............!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

No Such Thing as Too Much of a Good Thing.

I finished my PurlSoho gloves yesterday. Baby Button is under the weather so an enforced day at home meant bonus knitting time. I had reached the beginning of the wrist, was looking longingly at the gorgeous dusky pink wool, wishing it was time to swap colours. I just enjoy knitting more with the colours I love the most, don't you? Anyway, Michael Palin was being interviewed about the book of his diaries and Alan Titchmarsh asked him what he had learnt about his younger self and what advice he would give himself. He said " I would tell myself that there is no such thing as too much of a good thing. I'd say do more of what you love".
I decided that this was a message that should be heeded, and changed to the dusky pink even though it wasn't 'time to'. I love my wonky gloves, it kind of reinforces the fact they are handmade and totally mine I think. Am now deciding whether to try and embroider a flower on just sew on these silk ones pinched off of my gorgeous hydrangea.
Clearly my children already subscribe to this way of thinking. This is my superduper birthday cake they spent the afternoon constructing! I love it!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Sunshine in a Rainy Week

Yesterday was quite horridly like this..............

So we decided we needed to be doing this..................

Today it is quite deliciously sunny, so off for a walk into town. You see I need a walk and a think. When you have a small person (or two, or three) around, proper thinking can be in quite short supply. I find walking is the best time for cogitating.
You see I have a lovely problem. This pile of fabric, the beginnings of a Big Idea, and a parcel of lovely grey background fabric winging it's way from Hancocks of Paducah after a moment of quilting serendipity when reading this yesterday. Ummm I love having a Big Idea on the boil on a sunny day!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Mid Knit Crisis

Does anyone else suffer this affliction? I seem to find that about a third of the way into any knitting project I suddenly get the heebie jeebies that I'm knitting on too big/small needles or I haven't cast on enough stitches and it will never fit, or the wools too thick/thin. Then I have this sudden 'I can solve this, I know what I should do, I know best' rush and suddenly I'm ripping out rows.....! No stop! STOP! TRUST THE PATTERN!

You see I'm a complete improv quilter. Even if I start with a bit of a pattern, I just change it around as I go. Quilting is kind, it lets you do that.

I haven't quite got my head around the fact that knitting needs more discipline (at least when learning I think!).

Anyway, after you would not believe how many false starts and reknits, I have one lovely glove from my Alchemy Temple wool that I have been loving. I had promised myself I would knit my next gloves in tandem so that I finished both gloves at the same time and did not suffer this glove-longing period where I want to wear them, but I only have one! Unfortunately the other glove succumbed to Mid Knit Crisis, got pulled apart. Then I was struck by a 'Making Moment' when looking at the little oddments left over from my stripy baby blanket.

In a moment of frustration and weakness with my own glove knitting I found I had used the dpns to start another glove for a small person. Oops. Aren't they going to be lovely? They are a kind of homage to the crochet ones of Lucy's at Attic 24, I wonder if she has made small person pair too?

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Love Handmade Friday

Yesterday I had a very handmade day. In the morning I visited the More Than a Mama Christmas Fayre in Berkhamsted. It's a great shopping event run by mums who make and sell items for babies and kids. Everything was lovely, from hand painted Keepsake boxes, to cushions and xmas decorations. It was a really fun buzzy morning, the place was packed out (with a few buggy traffic jams going on!). They have an evening shopping event at Berkhamsted Town Hall on Wed 9th Dec from 7.30pm - 9.30pm - we have been promised twinkly lights and mulled wine so if you live near Berkhamsted I would recommend it.

I indulged in a Lovely LOVE cushion which was destined for the armchair in my kitchen, but when I just went in search of it to photograph it, it seems it has relocated itself to The Big Little Ladies bed, fancy that.

Then in the afternoon whilst doing a speed buggy dash through John Lewis I was stopped in my tracks by a mini craft event going on! I met Pippa North who makes the most exquisite felted creations, I indulged in this gorgeous flower for my new Navy and Fuchsia Pink coat, doesn't it look fantastic. She was telling me all about her mother and daughter teaching days that she runs - what fun, I'd love to do one.

After all that excitement, I did also get a bit of knitting done and my buggy gloves are now a happy pair, meaning I can start knitting my lovely pink and purple wool for gloves to go with Navy Coat and new flower!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Autumn Leaves Quilt Blowing in the Wind

I finished the top of my Autumn Leaves quilt, which is just as well as there are not many leaves left on the trees about here with this wind blowing. Thus it was very hard to get a shot of all of it in one go, too gusty! Don't have any backing for it yet, but don't want to loose the momentum.

It started life as a very promising pile of autumn loveliness back at the start of October.

We collected a selection of different shaped leaves, scanned them, drew around the fuzzy edges to make a hand applique friendly shape, traced them onto freezer paper and then hand appliqued the shapes into a wreath shape. This image from my pin board was the original inspiration.

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. Now I want to back it in something warm and cosy and will hand quilt it in perle cotton, with a wool wadding for maximum chunky cosiness. I love having seasonal things to bring out each year to mark the seasons turn. I think this will live on the leather chair in front of the fire when it's all finished.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Yarnish Temptations

I must resist, I must resist.

After a long overdue tidy up and audit of my workroom this weekend it became very apparent that I am not a 'completer/finisher'. When I used to do a scary job where everyone else was very ambitious and high powered except me (I spent my time dreaming of pottering about at home in a pinny), we used to get subjected to these horrible personality audits where they would tell you 'what kind of person' you were and how you could 'flex your style'. Ooh it gives me the shivers just remembering. Anyway, they always said I was not a completer/finisher. Which if you are an optimist just means I am a very good starter/beginner!

Anyway. I now have a tidy workroom and a large pile of unfinished things that need to be finished before I start anything new. Yes I am feeling very strict with myself.

But ooh, just look at my lovely new wool, just waiting to be knitted.

I'm planning to knit this pattern for 'proper' fingerless gloves from Purl Soho. They have kind of finger bits and are knitted in the round. But before I can start I have to finish my made up gloves which I fondly call the Ultimate Buggy Gloves, or rather the Ultimate Buggy Glove as there was only one for some time as I had to track down another ball of the lovely Mission Falls wool. Anyway, it's been quite strangely mild so I haven't really missed the other glove (no, I haven't just been wearing one), but a cold snap is no doubt on it's way so a second glove must be finished first.

As part of my new completer/finisher boot camp I am also doing the Tall Grass Prairie New Year Challenge to list and finish as many UFO's as possible before the new year. I am one down, lots still to go! Seems my style is not quite flexing enough!!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The Lure of the New

This week there has been a lot of temptation about.

You might remember a few weeks past I won the QuiltHome blog link of the week and was given $ to spend on fabric. I love ordering material from the US as the anticipation of waiting for the fat parcels to arrive is more than worth the shipping costs ( which are usually really reasonable anyway given you don't have to spend money on petrol or parking, or any of the other things that a trip out to a fabric shop finds you 'accidentally' spending money on. In fact I think it saves me money, humm I like that line of reasoning!).

Anyway, this week the postman bought me this exciting pile of possibilities which is now looking enticingly at me from the corner of my workroom and generally being very distracting.

But I am being very disciplined with myself this week and have forbidden myself from starting anew until this is finished

Which I think it a step forward for my usually scatter gun approach to projects on the go. I am also battling extreme wool temptation.......... I'll tell you about that tomorrow, to run to MakeMorning Knitting Group

Friday, 13 November 2009

In Appreciation of Buttons as a Gateway to Happy Feelings

It's very grey here, and very rainy, and everyone has a perfect conditions for the power of buttons to work their magic! Today I decided was the kind of day for the most trivial type of making, which is all so often the most satisfying kind don't you think?

You see I have been on a mission to make my MakeRoom a bit more 'Studio'ish! I have looked at many many lovely, colour coordinated, organised, beautifully storaged studios on different blogs, and frankly, mine is not a thing of beauty. I am lucky enough to have a bit of a 'room of ones own', but where as in life I am quite tidy, in craft I am a bit of a scruff. By the way isn't the original cover of Virginia Woolf's essay quite beautiful? It could be a lovely New England blue and white quilt couldn't it?

I digress, anyway as part of my MakeRoom MakeOver I bought some cheap and cheerful pin boards in Ikea and painted the frames a lovely Barn Red. Then I have assembled all the scraps of things I tear out and print off for inspiration, that previously have just formed a little dusty heap of curling edges. But when it got to the pinning on bit, I felt a lack of something. I googled 'fun drawing pins' but it seems they don't exist? After a dejected trawl through Rymans and the like I found to my joy thatI was not alone in my dissatisfaction of the humble drawing pin!

Now I know there are probably much better things I could be doing with my time, but in a time~related to~enjoyment type equationy way I think this is just about a perfect way to spend 20mins on a very rainy, coldy, Friday!

It's as simple as get some pins, glue on some colourful buttons ( not your fingers, it's a bit fiddly), feel happy...........Life can be very simple when you let it!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Home Comforts

Today has been full of delicious homey moments. The postman bought my Country Living fix, lots of gorgeous pictures of roaring log fires and Christmassy loveliness. On days like today where cold rain falls from dark skies, Home is such a lovely concept. Warmth, comfort, safety, lovely cooking smells, quilts = Home, to me. Home Making - it's a job that doesn't get enough credit. So with a big mug of tea, whilst my biscuits baked I have been enjoying some uninterrupted recipe browsing. I bought this lovely book at our local National Trust stately home gift shop at the weekend. It is full of really lovely traditional hearty fare, just the thing for cold dark dank November days!
I have also indulged in a little Xmas Craft Planning! My little pile of christmassy fabric is starting to call to me...........!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Fleeting Moments

Every now and then life freeze frames and seems to remind you to look around, remember this moment, stop racing ahead.

My little people are growing so fast. Back at the start of the autumn my boy Badger and the Big Little Miss requested a 'Snuggly TV Quilt' each. I finished Badgers first (partly because he has the greatest TV need being a boy?!).
Little Misses was designed and pieced, but had kind of dropped to the bottom of the queue. She had specifically requested butterflies, and it HAD to be pink, and it had to 'match with her fairy stuff'. After a little creative tussle we had settled on Charlie and Lola style butterflies (her design) and 1930's fabrics, pretty but not totally pink (my design).

On Friday I had a freeze frame moment as she decided what to wear to visit her cousins the next day. She announced that she had decided that pink was no longer her 'total favourite' but that she preferred 'kind of bluey green'. Now for anyone who has been through the pink phase you do long for it to be over. But now on the pronouncement I saw that Little Person phase slowly drifting away like fairy dust! She's getting grown up ( 6 years!) and if I don't finish the Butterfly Fairy Quilt soon it will be too late! I've spent the weekend quilting furiously, hope to get to binding maybe tomorrow. Oops, racing ahead again!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Made & Found

The Little Lady was most happy today on two accounts.

Mummy had finished making her Ultimate Pinky Bike Gloves, they were deemed most warm and cosy, and most importantly 'Pinkish'.

Secondly a little mouse in a box arrived through the post. Last week on our trip to The River a beloved small mouse was given to Baby Button as a distraction during the fraught purchasing of school shoes. Sadly Mousey was ditched overboard at some stage by Baby Button, unnoticed. There was much sadness.

Thanks to the lovely Anne at Made & Found a new mousey arrived today looking for a home. He was made most welcome. He went off to school this morning clutched tightly inside the new gloves. I hope he makes it home!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Warm Hands and Warm Hearts

After I've finished a 'big' project like my stripy blanket (Ok it's not that big but I still need to increase my Kph (knits per hour)), I decided a day of bits and pieces was in order.

Yesterday was a particularly Novemberish type of day here, unrelentingly grey with cold driving rain, boo. It was also Bikeability after school which meant a very cold, and dark, and late school run in the rain. Double boo. There were long faces and cold hands, and problems gripping the brakes on the bikes with slippy gloves on, on the slippery leafy pavements. 'Of course!' I immediately thought! It's a new use for the Ultimate Buggy Glove!

So last night I started knitting Little Lady sized buggy gloves, now renamed the Ultimate Buggy and Bike Gloves, of course! Super quick to knit so Warm Hands well on the way.

There was also some more birdy fun (OK, enough with the birds!) as the girls wanted birds for their rooms, here is Baby Buttons Warm Hearty bird garland. Little Ladies are awaiting stuffing when their new owner gets home from school! The hearts are made from 'Blankits', little squares of recycled and re purposed wool blankets, dyed and felted. I bought a stack this year at the NEC Quilt Festival and they have been awaiting the perfect project. I'm thinking a Sue Spargo inspired pin cushion could be coming on?

And lastly, my final Warm Heart is a quilt that I made last summer when I was pregnant. I took the little gingerbread people pattern from Quilts!Quilts!!Quilts!!! by McClun and Knowles. They were lovely to hand piece and I loved them, but I was never happy with the centre of mine. In the real pattern they use 9 patch squares, but the contrast was too strong on mine and I felt it looked too busy so I didn't use it in favour of something simpler. Because I wanted it to be OK for a baby boy or a girl ( not knowing which flavour we were getting) I went with the blue to try and cancel out the fact it had all ended up a bit pink. But I was never happy with it, the blue is all a bit too cold and empty. So last night it got a warm hearts makeover with some scraps from the original quilt that we turned out of the bottom of the scraps bin. I know it's not much of a change, but I feel much happier with it now!

Anyway I have cold hands typing at the keyboard and a little Ultimate Bike Glove is waiting to be knitted so better get on.......!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Rainbows in the Rain, Robins & Roses

Today was a very dramatic kind of weather day, black glowering skies and torrents of rain, then 10 mins later the bluest of blue skies and blinding sunshine, and wonderful rainbows.

It's the kind of weather to look at through the window whilst knitting I decided.

I have been working on a rainbow stripy blanket for a few weeks now, it was this...........

But now after a concerted rainy knitting effort, it is at last this.................

And of course I now feel the need to have a knitted blanket to match each of my baby quilts(!) so here it is with it's partner, my all time favourite quilt I have ever made, it was the first time I busted out of following patterns and just did my own colourful thing.
I also finished my last little robins and decided they would look lovely hanging next to my red curtains, so here they are where they will now live on my landing windowsill looking out into the trees in my garden.

Lastly Roses, still blooming in the rain in November, and even having the decency to match the burnished autumn colours so nicely. I walk past this rose each morning on the way to school and it makes me happy.

Got to go, it's MakeClub night, much Makey fun to be had.............