Tuesday 20 December 2011

20 :: doing a runner...

Not literally, I might add, although it sometimes feels very tempting.

Following on from this post, I have brightened up my kitchen table with a new runner.

It is far too close to the ends of the table at the moment but come the weekend, I will have two extra leaves in to extend it to seat the masses.

The blocks are the Starry Night Blocks over at Fresh Lemons and are my first attempt at paper piecing. Faith's tutorial is fab and I am loving my interpretation of the block.  I used some red and natural fabrics from my stash, some of my precious Spoonflower fabric and some natural linen/cotton mix that I was given by a generous friend.

It is looking a little crinkled up because it has been folded up for a couple of days now~~I'm sure it will flatten out!  I used Insul-Brite heat resistant batting plus a layer of regular batting as I want to be able to put all my hot dishes straight from the oven onto it without worrying about scorching the table.

Monday 19 December 2011

19 :: rekindled...

I have the knitting bug back!

It's been ages since I knitted anything and since I finished my wrist-warmers I have been planning and dreaming of yarn!

So, next up on the needles was this ribbed cowl, as recommended by Kristina.  Once again, I used Malabrigo worsted, this time in Pink frost, which is a beautiful, soft dusky pink.  All details on Ravelry.

In fact, I love this colour so much, I have something else on the go already using the other skein I bought...

Sunday 18 December 2011

18 :: Oh, Christmas Tree...

My tree is up, at last, having been in the garage since Wednesday.

It looks nice and twinkly in spite of my decorations being slightly sombre in colour.

It's not much fun putting it up on my own, to be honest, but No2 just shrugged when I suggested that he might like to come and help.  He doesn't seem to get Christmassy these days which makes finding the motivation to get it all ready for our guests a little difficult to come by sometimes.

I think I will call it a day with the decorations now. It is time to concentrate on the menu planning and ingredient buying.

Saturday 17 December 2011

17 :: Christmas pudding cupcakes...

I made Christmas pudding cupcakes for my craft ladies. They were delicious!

Easy peasy - you just add some mincemeat to a cupcake recipe then ice with brandy buttercream and sprinkle with red sugar crystals.

They were incredibly light, but still nice and moist.  I made them smaller than my regular cupcake size because I wanted to use the gold liners and so I have another dozen in the freezer for Christmas tea.

Recipe found here.

Friday 16 December 2011

16 :: Christmas sewing...

Pretend that I didn't miss a day of advent!  Not really sure where the time went yesterday...

Today I have been able to spend some much needed therapeutic time in my sewing room.

My table runner is ready to quilt so hopefully I'll have a reveal over the weekend.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

14 :: berries...

I am taking advantage of the profusion of berries on the bushes this year and bringing them indoors to add to my festive decorating.

The ones on the ivy are particularly impressive and add drama to a bunch of supermarket roses on the kitchen table.

I bought the tree today and was unable to resist a bunch of mistletoe too.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

13 :: M&M's...

I had fun today, shopping with my sister. Something we don't do nearly often enough.

There was some present-buying for No2 in Selfridges (my favourite of the big London stores) and then the day ended at M&M'sWorld in Leicester Square.

Tacky, I know, but sometimes these things need to be done because I need just green ones for my Christmas table. As you do.

Monday 12 December 2011

12 :: Not my favourite part of Christmas...

I write so infrequently with a pen now that I have found it to be quite a chore and so doing my Christmas cards is by far the worst part of the whole festive season for me.

It doesn't stop me wanting to buy gorgeous cards though. I bought this lovely box from Jen Rowland when I visited Cockpit Arts Open Studios a couple of weeks ago. They are for my special people! I have to be careful as there are only 10 in the box!

I also made some using some of my photographs and some brown paper cards from Paperchase. I cut the photos out to look like little polaroid shots and added a little bit of type.

I'm' all written out now and have spent the afternoon learning how to mail merge on my new desktop, so I'm feeling a tad headachy. I know ... I'll go do some more knitting.

Sunday 11 December 2011

11 :: a little bit more...

...decorating happening here.

I'm still embracing the little by little approach and finding it very relaxing to make it part of my daily goings on.

Time now for some knitting while the smell of roast chicken fills the house with its wintry goodness.

Saturday 10 December 2011

10 :: Revealed...

This is what I was up to on Thursday! Making some Christmas decorations from Scandinavian Stitches.

They are very addictive and perfect for making use of offcuts and scraps of fabric.  I also love the excuse to rifle through my button tin, so it's win-win project for me.

Friday 9 December 2011

9 :: Journalling...

Do you like to journal? For me, my blog is one way I like to record and remember snippets from my life. This digital age has made it all so easy to combine words and pictures. I can't remember the last time I actually printed photographs, let alone put them into an album.

I've never been one for keeping a traditional diary with thoughts and observations from my days, although I have, until recently, always had a small diary in my bag for jotting down the obvious stuff such as birthdays and dental appointments. Of course, these days all that is on my phone and with the launch of iCloud, it gets duplicated seamlessly onto my desktop calendar without me lifting a finger! I do have a calendar hanging in my kitchen but I tend not to write on it anymore and so I'm thinking that is a tradition that has reached the end of the line for me.

I think I have mentioned on here before that I wrote a monthly diary for Tom for eight years. It is something I have written about in my book within the chapter on Creating Memories. That is so important to me now - the actual hard copy of the diary and the job of remembering. I don't want to take it for granted anymore. So now, journalling is almost compulsive but will never to be a chore to me. I think there is a place for private thoughts and ones to share. These are some of the ways I'm going about it at the moment.

Last month I entered a give-away over at The Sometimes Crafter on the subject of journalling and to my delight, I won! It arrived at the beginning of the week and I wish I could receive mail addressed like this more often!

I chose the she journal as I loved the simplicity, the way it looked and that it had some prompts in it too. I am going to save it until the new year now, although it is sitting on my desk daring me to make a start in it.

In September I spotted this over at Christina's too and although it took me a few weeks to get going, I got stuck in. I have chosen not to publish my list online (or in the Flickr group), which I suppose isn't very sociable but I have enjoyed dreaming up my lists each week.  Of course, it was a great excuse to go and choose another little notebook.

At the beginning of 2011, I had a Simple Diary on the go. Again, it is full of prompts and questions to get you going and think outside of the box. Each day you had to choose one of three words/phrases to describe your day, a bit like a multiple choice. For example on 18th February, I could choose from getting there :: outspoken :: like spaghetti then you had to explain why. It's very tongue-in-cheek and fun to fill in. I loved that the actual date wasn't written in (you filled that bit in yourself) so it didn't matter if there were gaps. I hate to feel pressurised in doing something!

My latest squeeze in my need to record and remember is, of course, to be found on my phone. Momento was a staff pick in the app store a couple of months ago and I succumbed immediately. It's a great place to keep all your online stuff too as it streams all your feeds into the diary, such as Flickr, Facebook and my blog. I can add something profound when the thought strikes me (that was said tongue-in-cheek, btw!) and you can add photos, tags and locations. 

I do wonder sometimes, if, in years to come, anyone will be actually interested in all this information other than me. I'm hoping that my descendants will want to know a little about me and my day to day life. Because, as Katie over at Gadanke says, we should celebrate our story.

Thursday 8 December 2011

8 :: doodling...

A photo heavy post today as I don't want to give too much away.  My humungous reel of black thread is having an outing on the sewing machine.

As I doodle on scraps of fabric.

Outline appliqu├ęd letters.

Or make sketchy words on linen.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

7 :: A Ta-Dah Moment...

Fully deserving of the capitalisation, I think. May I present, in all it's finished glory, My Ripple Blanket.

Looking suitably atmospheric on my bed there! It's been most welcome the last two nights too as I've shivered myself to sleep due to both the sudden drop in temperature and the germs that are rampaging through the house at the moment.

Some thoughts, then. Lucy's pattern is the easiest ripple by far. Trust me, I tried others.  I'm SO VERY GLAD I hooked in the ends as I went along (accompanied by a very small securing knot) as I think I would have lost the will to live had I had to do them all at the end. It felt most decadent to just merrily snip them all off with my scissors.

I'm not sure if I'll ever attempt such a large blanket again. At least not for A Very Long Time.

There are some pretty impressive stats to go with it.

  • Each ripple consists of 14 treble crochets and there are 30 ripples per row. That makes 420 stitches per row.
  • I crocheted 164 rows, so that makes for 68,880 stitches. 
  • I used 65 balls of yarn. There are 116m in each ball. That adds up to 4.69miles of yarn. I'm allowed to switch between metric and imperial because my convertor app lets me ; )

On and off, it has taken me 18 months to complete and felt at times like a mammoth task. But then, I do have a very large bed! I haven't actually measured it but I'm guessing that it's over 6' wide and over 5' long. It's big.

A very big tick off my to-do list.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

6 :: Petersham goodies...

Last week (or was it the one before that even? They are flying by, so who knows?) I was taken out for a belated celebratory lunch by a friend.  My choice of venue, so to Petersham Nurseries it was.

My friend had never been there and I managed to find our way there by car without my trusty navigator directing me! As I suspected, it was wonderfully Christmassy and all very tempting.  The orange decorations in my blog header were top of my wanties list. I decided though, to buy the ingredients to brighten up the pots outside the front door. The barrows at the entrance to the nursery are very inspirational and so I picked three of the best.

I'm hoping they will last right through until I change the pots for my spring tulips. I love the silvery foliage on the left and the berries are fabulously plump.

I also bought a little potted Christmas tree which is planted up and on my back door step with lights twinkling through it. My first bit of festive  decorating done! I'm with Nina on the little by little approach.

Monday 5 December 2011

5 :: playing with fabric...

A progress post today. I didn't make a mad decision to make a whole load of Christmas presents this year as I knew from experience that it just stresses me out.  There are just a couple of things instead. This is what is on the wall at the moment awaiting completion:

The front of a potholder, bottom left and one block of another potholder, top left. Inspired by this pin.

The blocks on the right are for a festive table runner for my Christmas table. Now I have my final numbers (20!) I know how long I've got to make it. It all depended on whether I needed one or two additional leaves in my table, you see.

Today I have woken up full of No2's cold (yeah, I'll blame him!) and a 6 chapter attachment from my copy-editor (eeeek!) to go through. Who knew that a document with 'track changes' looked so scary? What to do? Carry on sewing or hunker down and cringe at my punctuation?

Sunday 4 December 2011

4 :: Looking forward...

It's decision time here. The talk of late has been one of leaving school next summer and continuing No2's education at a college as school has never been his favourite place.

Suddenly, last week, that all changed.  He came home with the prospectus and informed me that he had chosen his subjects and would be staying on a his current school.

It felt like he grew up before my very eyes.  That evening we went to the 6th Form Forum and I have to confess to being mightily impressed.  So tomorrow we will be filling out the online application and then sitting back to see if he can get his grades. (Predictions are all very encouraging).

Saturday 3 December 2011

3 :: Toast

Having admired Nancy's wrist warmers from both her blog and in real life I thought it was about time I had a pair of my very own.  They are a satisfyingly quick knit.

I had a ball of Malabrigo worsted yarn in 'Hollyhock' in my stash so it was just a question of choosing a colour to go with it.  The grey shade is Polar Morn and has a wonderful pinky tinge to it in places so I think it complements the Hollyhock perfectly.

This yarn is so beautifully soft and the stitch definition is a dream (to me). Pattern here.

Friday 2 December 2011

2 :: grrrr ...

Forgive me for not introducing my Blogging Advent Calendar properly yesterday. Better late than never is always a good attitude in my book. A friend of mine introduced me to a new photography app on my phone in the week and I'm loving this pinhole camera photo so I thought I would use it as a bit of a theme to my posts for this month along with one (or two or three) photos that I have taken using my macro lens. 

I am going to refrain from using bad language here on my blog, but believe me there has been some used this morning in connection with my Ripple blanket. I am on The Last Row and look! I don't have enough yarn. Grrrr! 

I'm feeling so frustrated and am now faced with a dilemma. Do I use a scrap left over from another colour to finish this last little bit and use the change in colour as a reminder that this is the bottom of the blanket? (The chances are that this tiny little portion will never really be seen as it will be tucked in to the bottom of the bed). Or do I track down another ball of wool?

I'm swaying towards using a scrap of the nearest colour so that it is not so noticeable and employing the wabi-sabi aesthetic to the project, embracing the hand-made and all that.

What would you do?

Thursday 1 December 2011

1 :: paperwhites ...

In spite of carefully diarising when to plant my paperwhite bulbs so that they would flower at Christmas, this crazy weather made them flower four weeks early! In fact, they only took two weeks from planting to flowering.

Their scent fills the downstairs of the house and seems to be at its strongest in the afternoon when it is just starting to get dark.

Today, I took delivery of another batch which I think I will plant just a few days before Christmas Day so that I can something lovely to look forward to in the New Year.