Thursday, 24 September 2009

The Monkeys are taking over ...

It's amazing. You start off with one or two ...
Then before you know it ...
They start breeding ...

Rather cute though, aren't they?

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Now that's what I call Teamwork

Caitlin and I have entered a competition, where you had to draw pictures with other members of your family, on the theme of "Our Creative Family". We had SUCH fun designing it and adding various elements to the picture, plus we also spent several (peaceful) hours together just shootin' the breeze ... It was sent off this morning so wish us luck! (to view the whole picture, go here)

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Meet Cuthbert and Cynthia!

They are very good friends and do like to have a cuddle, but I suspect they just know they look good together! These are part of a commission of five, so they will have more brothers and sisters soon.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Crochet for snuggling

I'm a bit ambivalent about crochet. I love the effect, the fact that you can do 3D stuff so easily, only having one live stitch at a time (no dropping stitches), and it's so easy to pick up and put down - but I simply can't crochet without looking at what I'm doing! And being an inveterate multitasker that's very frustrating - unlike knitting, I can't crochet and read at the same time!However, I put all my frustrations aside to make this big snuggly blanket from my leftover scraps. It's very easy to do and I can almost do it without looking (I just sneak occasional glances out of the corner of my eye as I'm watching TV) and (best of all in my opinion!) it keeps my lap warm on cool evenings!

I'm about two-thirds of the way through the main blanket, after which I shall add a border to it. It's a nice cheerful project for the wet and dismal weather we are having.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Branching out

I would be the first to admit that there are few things I haven't tried in the field of crafting - however, there are two things I have never got into: jewellery, and card making.

Well that is changing! I can't imagine ever getting the "bug" with regard to these two crafty activities but I'm having a go! Here's my first attempt at a bracelet(apologies for the off-centre photos, not sure what's going on there, they look fine in preview!):

Two rows of buttons, round ones underneath, and mercerised embroidery thread to hold it together. Which looked nice when I first did it but is now looking a little raggy and is quite hard to do up!

Full of enthusiasm, I decided to have another go:

This time I used jewellery wire and a clasp. Spot the beginners errors! I don't particularly like the clasp but it's all I could find. And I have now learnt that the colour of the wire does matter - erk at putting silver and copper together! However I love the colours and I am pleased with the little seed beads which add a nice touch . (and once it's on no-one except me notices the colour clashes!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Sunshiney loveliness

Today started off so well. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, so after making leek and potato soup for lunch we headed off for a walk on the beach, where we had great fun splashing around and skimming stones in the surf. Then the clouds started heading our way so we made our way home, and the rain started. It is now pouring down with no sign of any let-up! Ah well, at least we got out (and back) before the weather changed.

Anyway, to remind us of the nice weather earlier on, here are a couple of pics of some things I made earlier in the week (and photographed when the sun was out!):
A beach bag in lovely sunny colours (this is going in the post as a gift next week);

... and a pair of VERY bright and cheerful socks - they will definitely help to see me through the dark winter months to come!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

As promised, the recycled rug tutorial!

Here's a run-down of how to make your own recycled rug! First of all, collect together all your old cast-offs. I used this one as a sample as it had a glaring stain in the middle; however, when I took the photo the stain miraculously disappeared!! Just so you don't think I'm mad I've added an arrow to show where the stain is. (Actually that in itself is probably a bit mad. Ah well.)
1. Ok so the first thing to do is to remove the seams. Lay the fabric out flat in a single layer; don't worry about squaring up the edges.

2. Using a guide, cut the material into strips. I made my guide from another t-shirt and wrote on it so I wouldn't lose it! My guide is 2 inches (5cm) wide, and being made of material it clings to the fabric nicely meaning I don't need to pin it on.
3. Voila - lots of strips of fabric! Carry on with the rest of your t-shirts until you have a nice satisfying pile to run your fingers through. I started off with a carrier bag full and though I cut them all up I still have quite a few left; however I got a good mix of colours that way.
4. For your starting strips, cut a triangular shape out of each piece. Make sure each strip is a different length (I will explain why in a moment).
5. Put a stitch through the end to hold them together.
6. Using a weight to hold the ends down, begin to plait your strips. You might find it easier to get a willing slave to hold it for you. However I had no slaves when I took this photo so I nicked my daughter's paperweight. Make sure you plait your strips quite tightly together, but not so tightly that they start to buckle.
7. When you have plaited to the end of your first strip, pick up the next strip and plait it in. Wrap the new strip round the end of the old one, with about an inch overlap (a little more if you are nervous). This is where having different length strips comes in; that way, you don't have lots of joins in the same place!
8. Continue adding in new strips as you run out, until you get bored/have none left/want to start sewing it together. You can add more strips later if you like, or you can make one long plait then do all the sewing in one go.
9. To begin the sewing, attach the thread to the back of the plait then, with the front uppermost, coil the end around itself with the ends tucked underneath.
10. Flip the coil over and secure it with some small stitches.
11. Continue to coil the plait around itself and sew together on the back. At this point it is easiest to continue with the rug back uppermost. It's vital to keep the rug flat whilst working so that it will lie flat when finished (if you make it on your knee then it will be full of lumps and bumps!), so it's best to do the sewing up on a table.
12. Here's a close-up of the back of another piece so you can see the stitching. This is going to be a plaited bowl, so rather than working on a table, I'm coiling this one round a mixing bowl to make the shape.
13. Here's the right side of the bowl (I'm experimenting with mixing similar shades here!
14. And there you have it. When you are satisfied that your rug is the right size for you, then add a backing fabric to cover up the stitching (can't show you a photo of that bit because I haven't done it yet!). Use a good quality hessian for the backing and it should help your rug last well.
15. And finally ... admire your handiwork!!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Just call me the recycling queen (or how to reuse all those old t-shirts)

When you have four children you quickly generate a lot of clothing. Some of it I pass on to other people or the charity shop but, since most of it comes to us secondhand in the first place, by the time my lot have finished with them, most of the stuff is only fit for the bin.

Now if there is one thing I can't stand, it's putting things in the bin. It feels a little immoral throwing out clothing, even if it is stained beyond all recognition and full of holes! So, I came up with a way of reusing all those t-shirts and pyjamas in a braided rug:

The girls have this rug in their bedroom now, and as well as adding a splash of colour they say it is very comfortable to sit on. I have put in lots of their favourite tops that they wore to death, woollen tights that had holes in, a couple of old breastfeeding tops of mine, and some old school t-shirts (those are the yellow bits in the close-up!), and the little one's outgrown pyjamas.

A real nostalgia trip and, best of all, very few bits for the bin!

I'm wondering about putting together a tutorial for making your own - do let me know if you are interested!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Just for a change ...

... I painted a picture :)My eldest daughter loves Charlie and Lola (don't we all?) so I painted this in acrylics and outlined it in pen. (Unfortunately I rushed it a bit to get it finished before the littlest one woke up and smudged it ... gah)

Caitlin is most thrilled with it though.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Cupcakes for a Fun Day

No crafty stuff today (lots of WIPs!), but today eldest daughter and I made some smartie cookies and smiley buns, ready for tomorrow's Fun Day on our estate. Despite the superb weather we have had this summer, it looks like the rain has fairly well set in, so I think it will be a wet day. Fingers crossed for sunshine!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Summer happiness!

When I was in one of the local gift shops last week, on impulse I asked the guy who owned it if he ever took things from local craftspeople. Anyway, one quick conversation later and he is very keen to see some of the bags that I make - yippee! So I decided I ought to make up a new batch. Here's the first - you lot get a sneak preview!

I went for a nice summery look, a departure from my previous "blue jeans" ones. I have improved on my design a little and now incorporate a magnet fastening and an inside pocket (it's not as wonky as it looks, honest!)

I need to do another couple of bags to take in I think, but am sticking with the recycled jeans thing for now as it's become a bit of a signature style. I'm pleased with the way this turned out.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

A little bit of kitsch

I love bright colours, but generally tend to steer away from anything too kitsch (WHAT??? I hear you say?) - no really, I do! However I couldn't resist making this heart-shaped cushion.

To soften the effect, I used a red and a bright pink knitted together, so that it gave a mottled effect. I quite like the way it has come out. Perfect for a rather dark corner in the hall.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Dyeing success!

I've always fancied having a go at dyeing but never got around to it - but finally decided to take the plunge and have a go with some food colouring:
I used red, yellow, green and blue, painting it onto the yarn which I had previously soaked in vinegar, then I "cooked" it in the microwave.
I was really pleased with the final result!
However when I came to knit it up I found that where the colouring had "pooled" at the bottom of the bowl I had created a kind of dark brown, which appeared as blobs in the final result when knitted up:
Ah well! Beginner's error I guess. It was great fun and I will definitely try again, though I might pick just one colour next time!!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Mr Tickle in stitches

I love designing and creating intarsia but it's been a while since I did any now! However Calum had been asking for a Mr Tickle jumper for ages and I had an idea in my head, so I finally came up with this!

Getting the arms to line up was a bit of a fiddle, and as you can see by the time I had frogged and reknitted this one three times I gave up:

However this one was a little more succesful!
Calum is thrilled with it, I had to sneak it away when he was sleeping to wash it!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Hello and Welcome!!!

After struggling along with my old blog at miaoucrafts for some time, I have finally decided to make the switch over to blogger in the hope that I can revive my enthusiasm for blogging and hopefully create a little more interest! I know that some people have had problems viewing my old blog, unfortunately these issues were related to the server and beyond my control. So thanks for visiting, I will add some pictures and update you on what I've been up to (provided this technnophobe can work out how to do it!) - watch this space :o)