Saturday, 28 May 2016

Packed & Raring To Go

I am so excited!! Tomorrow I am off on an adventure to Rome!! I've never been to any part of Italy before so am fully expecting the romantic, sun kissed, gelato fulled holiday experience. The Travel Hamsters are also barely containing their excitement, bless their felted cottons, and I thought I would treat them to some new holiday digs- their very own travel pouch!

I've used this idea before in a gift for my Aunt and thought it would be absolutely perfect for a simple, stylish little bag that all of the Hams could fit into. My little English paper pieced hexagons are only half inch hexies (so cute!!), everything in miniature (travel sized), and the bag is about 5cms wide by 10cms long.

The hexagon flower was made first and pressed, then the sides of the bag- at this point one long strip- were folded and machine stitched and the flower hand stitched on. I added some extra decoration by working a whip stitch around the centre hexagon shape.

I then folded and hand stitched a channel at either end of the long strip, before folding the strip in half, wrong sides together, and blanket stitching the edges to make the pouch. Two circles of ribbon were threaded through the channel to create a functional (and decorative) close.

I made two, one for me and one as a gift for my friend who also has a motley crew of Travel Companions, I hope they like it!

My gang are already snuggled inside their pouch, dreaming of pizza and pastries, and practising their Italian accents.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Blanket Domination

Yesterday I was doing some tidying up and emptied out a couple of bags of Granny Square featuring blankets that I had used as demonstrations in my classes. Without thinking I just took them out of the bags and bundled them on the floor behind me, folding the bags and putting them away without really looking at the blankets. When I came back to them, I was overwhelmed with a need to see ALL of my blankets bundled up together- what a fun, colourful heap it would make!!!

So I did, spreading out some cloths on the lawn, I ran around the house collecting all of the blankets I could find. It isn't all of them, I know there are at least two in the attic and some living around the world (Leicester and Italy to name two), but it was enough. There are 13 in these photos, I wonder how many balls of wool and hours of time they translate into?

Such a variety of different colours and shapes and patterns!! It reminds me of a market stall selling different fabrics, all jumbled together in a breathtaking display.

I can name them all too (from left to right): Sunset Ripple (Sister's Ripple), Mix & Match Squares, Log Cabin, Original Hexagon, Mother's Day Granny Square, Original Ripple, Traditional Granny Square, Brother's Ripple, Mini Granny Square, Geo Triangle, Block Hexagon, Criss Cross Granny & Sirdar Granny Square.

They are actually really heavy when you try to pick up several at once. I think the neighbours thought I was mad, dancing around the garden heaving crochet blankets everywhere, but I'm really pleased I did it. It's nice to be able to look back through a hobby journey and see all the much loved blankets. I still use my older ones and there are some living on my bed, on sibling's beds and in the sitting room ready for a chilly evening.

The cat quite likes blankets too, although he leaves his fur all in them so we aren't quite so pleased with his blanket love. Currently he's quite happy sitting in the sunshine- no blanket needed when there are hot paving slabs to be sleeping on!

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Spring/Summer Holiday

I've been feeling very run down lately, constantly tired and headachey, stuck in the endless cycle of travel, work, travel, sleep, travel, work.... But finally, finally(!) I am on holiday!!! A lovely long holiday that will include a jaunt to Rome as well as some me time. Today is my first day off and it felt so decadent turning off my alarm and knowing I could go back to sleep and just stay in bed as long as I needed. I did eventually manage to drag myself out of bed as the sun is shining and the birds singing- not a day to be missed. I had a wander around the garden inspecting all of the plants and flowers, and trying to name as many as I could. Dad and I have been planting lots of different Bee attracting flowers (we are on a Bee mission!) so I don't know the names of everything. The above montage has Aquilegia in the top right, and a Clematis in the bottom left but I'm not sure about the other two- Violas maybe in the top left?

I know these ones! The top left is a pretty little Strawberry flower- which is part of my section of garden. I have a big pot with a smaller pot inside it, making a tier with Strawberries all around and had to replace the plants in the top section this Spring as the previous ones were killed off by the frost. We also have Lily of the Valley which is self planted and pops up every year (top right and bottom left) and a lovely scented Rose which we bought many years ago from a proper rose garden centre.

Dad bought the lovely yellow Marigolds above (top left and bottom right)- always a risk as the Slugs go mad for them, but they have the most amazing texture where the petals all crinkle and smoosh together. The bright orange flower is a bit of a mutant. I don't know the name of this one, but it has almost two daisy-type flowers that have joined together. This is the second round of flowers for this plant and the first flower heads were exactly the same- I wonder if it is meant to do that? The bottom left flower, with the little spider photobombing, is a Clematis and has the largest flower heads I've ever seen, they are like dinner plates!

I have been cracking on with my triangle blanket, which now has finished edges on the two sides. I feel like this blanket is taking me ages but it probably isn't in comparison to some of my others if I looked back to when I started. It is more like a patchwork blanket really as it is made up of so many tiny little pieces. Each triangle has to be made separately, joining it to other triangles and darning in the ends as you go, so there is a lot of stopping and starting. Then, once you have built up a collection of solid hexagons and multicoloured ones they all have to be joined on, with the initial joining around the centre solid square, then the 'arms' or 'spokes' around that joined separately and all of those ends darned in. If you follow me. I suppose it is better than leaving all of those ends until the end, can you imagine??!

It has just occurred to me that you could make this blanket look completely different with a more planned out colour plan. If you look at the block colour shapes you can see how it would be easily translated into a 3D looking cuboid shape. If you had three colours per shape, you could really emphasise this and make lots of block shapes together- especially if your three colours were different shades of the same colour. Hmm, an interesting thought!

I am really enjoying it though. It is a great on-the-go project as you can take all of these little pieces with you and then settle down in the evenings and crochet them all together- very handy. I've got a little way to go in the length I reckon and then I've got to start thinking of something spectacular for the border. I've been pondering on how to make triangles in it- might have to have a play.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Summer Wreath Making

A couple of weeks ago I spent a while crocheting a wreath sleeve for the base of my summer wreath. It is made very simply of stripes of half treble stitches, made to the length where I could roll my polystyrene ring up in it. and then stitched together at the back. I used two completely different yarns for this, the lighter green is a DMC Natura Just Cotton in Bamboo, and the darker green is Sirdar Supersoft Aran in Jolly Green- both of them completely different weights and textures, which I rather like. It's amazing how the yarn sleeve sorts itself around the wreath base, it is slightly bunched up around the central ring but not so much that you'd notice it.

Sunday was a really lovely day, the morning spent pootling around in the garden, gazing in rapture at the Aliums, playing with Ziggy on the patio, and starting to put my wreath together.

I laid out all of the components first to get an idea of the placement, and then very carefully started to push the wire through the polystyrene base to secure the leaves, twisting and flattening the wire at the back so that it couldn't pull back through.

In the late morning we decided to go out comme une famille to do a spot of shopping, and ended up having a picnic lunch at Chailey Common Nature Reserve with the Exmoor Ponies that are allowed to freely roam on the Common.

It was lovely to watch them graze and play. One pony was methodically stripping Oak leaves from one of the trees, working his way around the lower branches and pulling all of the leaves from the branch in one fell swoop. Must have been delicious!

I took a lunchtime project with me and after eating my strawberries and cream popcorn (delish!) and chicken wrap, I cut out some more leaves for my wreath (you can never have too many leaves).

Since then I've spent most of the last week therapeutically putting the rest of my leaves and flowers onto my wreath, pushing through the wire stems and stitching the large flowers to the crochet sleeve. I've lost count of how many leaves I've made and put on but I'm so chuffed with the overall effect.

It really is a very summery wreath- lots of lush green and deep berry shades with fresh splashes of white. I'm particularly pleased with my Poppies, I think they look quite realistic.

I may yet add some more bits to this wreath, as I've been thinking that it looks quite flat in colour with all that light absorbing felt. Maybe some shiny things like beaded sprays or even a slightly blingy bee would lift it slightly? What do you think? To bee or not to bee? (That is the question.)

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Felt Garden

I have been inspired to do a summer project! It is all down to the front cover of Issue 65 of Mollie Makes. The project in the magazine was for a felted floral wreath, in beautiful tones of pink and muted greens. I don't have a lot of pinks in my felt collection, so have gone with my own colour theme but the patterns are really lovely.

Some flowers I have amended slightly, taking centres from other flowers to recycle in a different flower, and I have stitched mine together rather than glue as instructed, but generally they are the same.

I thought these poppies would be really sweet with some embroidered centres, so I stitched little lines all around the centre bud, and put some french knots in for good measure.

For this flower, I made the centre out of a fork pom pom (tutorial for these here) and then stitched it down to the felt petals.

As I am not using a hot glue gun for my leaves or my wired flowers, I have had to adapt how I do this slightly, making little twists in the wire for the flower to sit on, threading it through the centre and then doing another twist of wire on the top to hold it in place.

For my individual leaves I made a twist at the top of the wire and then stitched in a pinch from the back, trapping the wire underneath and making sure I stitch through the twist of wire so the leaf won't move around.

The lengths of leaves were made in a similar way, except I twisted lots of loops in the wire before stitching any leaves on.
I'm going to keep building up my little felted garden, and also try making a crochet sleeve to go around a polystyrene wreath so that I can just poke the wire through into the polystyrene. I'll let you know how it goes!