Saturday, 22 September 2012

Inspirational Road Trip

I recently went on a road trip with my friend to Cardiff, Wales, to see Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.

While we were there we took the opportunity to do a bit of sight seeing as we had never been to Cardiff before.

We went down to Cardiff Bay for a look round and I found so many wonderful little shops and attractions that have just filled me with ideas!

The first place we visited was The Wales Millennium Centre where the tourist centre was selling a lot of local gifts, such as slate tiles and coaster, welsh honey, and other novelty items.  I bought a lovely butterfly bottle top from here as a gift for my parents.
The centre also houses the Portmeirion Gift Shop.  These sold a variety of gifts and items that I loved.  They have an on line store here.  I was really inspired by a few items of their stationary, particularly a writing folder made from oil cloth with a map pattern.  Unfortunately I cannot find it on their website now, but yesterday went on a fabric shopping trip and saw some oil cloth with a map pattern so am contemplating whether to buy the fabric to make myself something similar.  Decisions decisions......

The next place we went was Craft in the Bay, the Makers Guild in Wales.  This was full of all manners of items from glass to ceramics, textiles to jewellery.  I loved it here, and would highly  recommend anyone into crafts visit here.  I saw various things I would like to have a go at making myself, such as intricately decorating hanging hearts to fabric jewellery and fabric/stitched wall hangings.

The picture shows items made by a textile artist called Susan Smith, links are also available for many more crafters part of the makers guild on the website.

We also visited the Norwegian Church Art Centre where they had an exhibition on by Andrew Coslett "Made in Penarth".  They were also showing some very interesting jewellery using colouring pencil but sharpened to about 1 cm long.  They were very cute!

The last attraction we visited was Lightship 2000.  Originally built as a light ship, it was bought by Cardiff Bay and restored to be a floating Christian Centre.  You can walk around all the areas of the boat, including the engine room, old sleeping quarters and light tower.  There is also a cafe on board, and a chapel that is still in use for services.

There were also a few independent craft boutiques within Mermaid Quay of the bay, including Zia and Fabulous Welshcakes to name a few with websites.  For the rest I highly recommend you visit!

Until next time, happy Crafting <3


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Bit of Crochet Design

Worked on a bit of crochet the last few days, after wanting some crocheted boot slippers for myself, but coming across various designs on the Internet for crocheted baby boots.  Having two young daughters I loved these!

The pattern I decided to have a go at was from a website called Topsy Turvy which gave me an awesome pattern for crocheted wrap around boots. I played around with the pattern and made a few different pair of booties.  The pattern is for a pair of boots to fit a size 4, around 9-12 months.

This is a very similar design to the pattern off of the Topsy Turvy website, though I did reduce the row after the sole to make the sole more defined.

With these boots I used thinner Calico thread, and had to adjust the design so that it fits a new born.  The website does give a link to size one boots but I made these at the spare of the moment so couldn't get to a computer to see the how to, so just improvised.

And lastly I had a go at a more 'fluffy' effect with a loop stitch after I looked up the loop stitch YouTube.

None of the boots have buttons attached yet as I still need to make a trip to the market, but I plan on going in the next few days, and making a few more, so I can post fully completed pictures pretty soon.

Also the last few days I was looking through various crochet pictures on Instagram and was inspired to make a blankets of flowers - individual crocheted flowers all sewn together.

Without thinking I began to make 5 point flowers.  After making about 16 flowers it dawned on me that the pentagon design is not the best to put together as a repeated pattern.  If I was going to make it into a blanket, it would look more like a lacy throw.  Here is a picture of the flowers I currently have put together in how they would be sewn together.

 So now I'm not too sure what to do with them? Continue to make the blanket/throw with this colours plus another 3 different colours, or to save these flowers for another project and start again making 6 point flowers?  Decisions, decisions.......Any advice anyone?

Well as usual, I still have hundreds of different projects flying round my head, and also I think now is the time to really start thinking about Christmas (only 13 and a half weeks!)

So until my next post, happy crafting <3

Monday, 17 September 2012

Patchwork, quilting and a new addiction

So, as promised, here is my post on my new found love of patchwork and quilting.

So, it all started when I received a free patchwork magazine with one of my craft mags, and I saw an advert for quilting classes in Sheffield, where I live.

The course was at Patchwork Garden, and I had been thinking of taking a class in something, so I thought "why not"

So I went in and the owner, Tricia, was very helpful, and a really good teacher.  She showed me a small cushion front people make as their first project, and told me to pick 4 colours, two main, one light and one dark.  I chose two different owl patterned fabrics, a blue and a cream.

Tricia showed me some of the basic patchwork techniques for blocks, small blocks, larger block and triangles.  I went for 2 full day sessions to complete this mini quilt, the first day spent doing the patchwork, and the second day I spent layer and quilting it.

This is the final piece and I am so happy with it for my first attempt, it is going on my wall.

Whilst I was making my first mini quilt I was given a few magazines to have a read through to try and decide if and what I wanted to do next.  I learnt a lot from these magazines, so much so I decided to take on a mammoth task (according to Tricia at the shop) but I had confidence in myself.  I will eventually be an eight point star quilt.  I have designed the pattern myself from looking at different patterns through the magazines.

I am working with 5 different colours for the start, and I tried to graduate the colours out from black to purple to blue and finally white.  The start is made up of 8 diamond shape, and each diamond is assembled by cutting numerous strips of my fabric, stitching them together staggered, so they can then be cut into strips at a 45 degree angle.

I have so far made 3 diamonds, and got the majority of my strips cut to finish the other 5.  This is what I have done so far, so I hope to keep you updated with my progress.

As usual comments, questions, anything is welcome, and do please follow me here on my blog, or any of my other media sites at the side, if anything I do interests you as I would love to hear from you!

So until next time, happy crafting <3

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Sewing, patchwork, crochet and more

I went to Patchwork Garden again this Friday just gone, and had an awesome time as usual.  Am now working on a diamond star shaped quilt, big enough for a double bed.  Haven't had much time to take pictures of what I have done so far on this though, so will leave talking about it too much for now.  I will take some pictures so hopefully we can look at it in my next post.

However, I have got some pictures to show you today.  The first being my completed crochet blanket.  My daughter loves this, shes started to sleep with it at night. I talked about making it though a lot in my last post, so u won't go into it again, just wanted to share the completed pictures.

Next to show you are my crocheted hanging heart decorations. The first one I have shown before, a single purple heart hung with ribbon and stuffed with ordinary toy stuffing I had from my owl doorstops.

The second idea I had evolved to make was a triple heart hanging, decreasing in size and again hung, and joined with ribbon. The principle was the same as the first heart, but the wool I used was a lot thinner, and think it shows particularly with the larger heart. But none the less I like it and it is now hanging in my kitchen.

I hope you've enjoyed this short but sweet installment.  If you have any questions please don't hesitate to get in touch or leave any comments you like.  My next post I will look at the patchwork and quilting I have been doing, but for now, happy crafting.
Sam <3 xx

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Taken a break but not forgotten

Well, its been nearly 2 months since my last post, I have just been so busy.  My computer has been failing me, but to be honest with everything I have been doing getting just 20 minutes to update has been difficult.

But I'm back, and have I got some things to tell you about.

First to the crochet blanket I was working on.  This is now complete, and I am so pleased with it.  It ended up being a lot bigger than I initially intended but I am so happy with the result I am now working on a baby blanket.
Towards the end of making it I had to take the time to sit down and really think about the colours and arrangement I was going to use, because, firstly, my wool was limited and I didn't want to run out of one colour as I wouldn't be able to get hold of exactly the same wool, and secondly, because I wanted it to look kind of 'random' which is something I find really difficult.  A lot of my work and projects centre around symmetry, I like very symmetrical, repeating patterns, but I don't think it would have worked on this blanket, especially with the number of different colour squares I had to work with.
That's not to say there isn't a pattern within the blanket! I was unable to steer myself totally toward randomness, there is a pattern in there! But like I said I am please with the effect I have achieved.

a crocheted blanket handmade with granny squares

Next, I have also been learning patchwork and quilting.  I have attended a course at Patchwork Garden, Sheffield where a lovely lady call Tricia has been teaching me the basics.
Here is the patchwork I have done before it was layered and quilted.  I didn't spend long choosing the fabrics as I just wanted to get on and learn, and as I was putting it together I really wasn't sure they went together.  However, now the patchwork has grown on me and I am so happy with the results.

A patchwork mini quilt handmade with an owl theme

I have also been making my first ever bag! its a Cath Kidston pattern from her book Sew!  Although I have learnt things regarding assembling a bag, the biggest lessons I am learning on this project is all about my sewing machine, and tensions and just the importance of understanding your equipment.
Here is the bag half put together, just need to add the handle with some buttons and button holes

A bag machine sewn from a Cath Kidston pattern

As you can see, none of the photos in this post are actually finished projects.  I want to be able to take some good pictures of what I've done, with good light. But typical north England weather has been putting a stop to that! Once I get them though they will be straight up :-)

As always thanks for reading

Sam <3

Friday, 6 July 2012

Time, Motivation and moving forward

So, I have been giving a great deal of thought recently to where I am now and where I want to be and what I want to achieve.  I know, eventually, I would like my crafts to be more than just a hobby. I know to achieve this, not only do I still have a lot to learn, I have also got to find my niche. I feel I am so eager to have a go at so many different crafts I'm finding it difficult to consistently work on something, or even a variety of things, that I could successfully sell on. Would even like to look into being able to run classes or craft clubs, being able to share my interest with like minded people.
So, the question now has to be, how do I get to where I want to be, what goals do I need to set myself in order to achieve my dream?
I'm a part-time working mother of 2 under 3 year old daughters. At the moment the best times for me to be able to sit down and get a good couple of hours work in is after bed time.  This is when I spend most of my time for my bigger, more time consuming projects.

I have also rediscovered my love of crochet.  I have made a few home decor hanging hearts as well as being in the process of making my first blanket.
For the heart which is pictured I also made the beaded charm to hang off it, and then gave it as a thank you gift to someone.

To make the blanket, so it doesn't seem as daunting, I have told myself I will make at least a square a day. This, I feel, is going really well. I so far have about 11 squares with a further 14 to make plus the putting together.
Crochet is something I really enjoy, plus something I find relatively easy to squeeze in around my girls, especially in the day, say at nap time or down time, I find it isn't something that requires at least a couple of hours concentration, like, say, one of my sewing projects.
So my goals: I am currently learning to drive so that I am able to travel and attend craft shows. In the meantime, I intend to keep working on various items I think I could sell, building up a stock for when I can get out. I would also like to start building some sort of online presence. I have this blog and a facebook page, as well as using Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to share my pictures and thoughts. I feel its this cyberworld marketing I need to learn the most with, or get as much advice about as possible.
So, that's about it for this installment. As always I will keep you all updated as to my progress. I thank you all for reading and following me. If you don't currently follow me, please consider adding me to your friend list, and for everyone, please have a look round my facebook page, or just follow me on Pinterest, Twitter or Instagram. All comments always welcome, good or bad, and I hope to be hearing from you all soon.
For now, happy crafting
Sam <3

Monday, 28 May 2012

'Sugar Skulls' keyrings

I was watching a program on the travel channel a few weeks ago on Mexico and there was a section on the central and sourthern Mexico festival of dia de los muertos. It showed people decorating skulls and having gatherings or even parties round loved ones graves. It explained about how and why this festival was celebrated, and I just loved the idea.

Of course I'd seen these skull designs as tattoos, as they seem to be popular at the moment, and I am a fan of tattoos, but I decided I wanted to know more about the background of these skulls and what they represent.

I did some searching on the internet and came across a variety of sites, all explaining dia de los muertos. It's a central and southern Mexico festival, translated, means the day of the dead. Indigenous people believe that at midnight on 31 October the ghost of child past return to there families for 24 hours when the gates of heaven are opened. Festivities go on until 02 November when adult ghosts come to join the festivities before take the children back.  The families decorate for their arrival with beautiful altars, using candles, flowers and brightly decorated skulls. Plenty of drink and food suck as fruit, peanuts, tortillas and bread are also used in the decorating for weary spirits.  Toys and candies are also offered for the spirits of children, then on 02 November cigarettes and shot of mezcal are offered for the adult spirits.  On 02 November in the afternoon the festivities are taken to the cemetery where tombs are cleaned, people play cards, listen to music and reminisce about loved ones.

I just loved the idea of this, celebrating people who have passed, so I have made these embroidered sugar skull keyrings.

On analysis I think the green one I've made is a bit too busy. The orange one I think has a good balance but the black one us my favorite.

 I'd love to know other peoples views, not only on the keyrings I've made, but on the festival itself.
I am going to be selling these keyrings for £2 plus p&p, on a first come first serve so if your interested in one please message me.
If its not something that interests you, but you know someone who might like them please pass on and share the link.
So until the next time, happy crafting peoples xxx

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