more birthday surprises

The postie brought me some belated birthday surprises the other day . . . I don’t mind that they were late, it was just lovely to know that friends had thought of me.

All the way from Australia, from Debbie and her MOTH

from debbierose

The most gorgeous piece of fabric in rich chocolate browns, along with a purple ribbon . . . a coaster, and some tea.  Debbie actually used the fabric to wrap everything, and it looked much prettier before I undid and then tried to do up again lol.

And from Yvonne (in France), who doesn’t have a blog

from yvonne

A book to inspire me for my new crochet crafting, and a lovely selection of tiny flowers and butterflies that Yvonne made.

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I’ve put a 1€ coin in amongst them so you can see just how tiny and delicate some of them are.  A big thank you ladies.  It was quite exciting opening parcels and discovering all these goodies inside!

a very sorry swatch

I’ve been persevering with my crochet hook and, despite the following photo, am feeling rather pleased with myself.  Ready to cringe, all you crocheters lol?

sorry swatch

Yes, I know it’s a very sorry looking piece of work . . . .  Like many beginners (from what I’ve seen) I found it very difficult to work out what stitch I’m supposed to hook each time I begin a new row (as is evident from the sides) but . . . I was pleased because I have (more or less) understood the basic repeat stitch.  I used a thicker yarn for this practice piece so that it would grow faster and make it easier for me to see what I was doing. However the mottled effect of the yarn didn’t help.  T therefore nipped out afterwards and bought myself a cheap ball of a solid colour for future practice. 

However that then raised another problem.  The solid colour is a 50% acrylic 50% wool and requires a 7mm hook.  That largest I have is 6mm.

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Things started off very wonky on the sides again, until I thought to use a marker.  Can you see it? and can you see the difference?  Once I began using that, just to mark the first stitch on each row, my edges started to look more even.

Feeling very pleased with myself, I then went looking at a few more videos on youtube and found Bella Coco . . . who has several tutorials for left-handers. 

I jumped in both feet first to tackle a granny square

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Starting with my thicker cheap yarn . . . but giving up and moving to a 100% acrylic (part of a huge pack I bought to knit myself a cardie, that never got knitted).  I’m beginning to get the hang of things, although I’m still adding or subtracting stitches along the way unintentionally. 

Undeterred, I will be trying this granny square a few more times, using my stitch markers, in the hopes I’ll have something that looks more like a square.  And once I’ve mastered that, I’ll be tackling “magic circles”.   Born a natural optimist, I believe things can only get better.   I even treated myself to a new book Rire.

Zoomi 01

zoomi 02

Yep, can’t crochet properly yet, but I bought a new book.  That’s typical me.  Full of lovely amigurumi patterns, for different experience levels.  This is the first in the Zoomigurumi series.  Number 6 has just been published.  I plan on buying them all.

Oh, and a last photo . . . I also treated myself to a new lamp!  My old lamp didn’t really survive the last house move and being knocked over several times by cats.  It was holding together with extra strong sticky tape but I couldn’t move the flexible lamp bit properly to direct it in the right direction.  Now I have a brand new, bright shiney lamp

lamp

In purple (of course!) and it makes cross stitch sessions much easier on the eyes.

F2F2 – from Sweden and USA

More lovely blocks arrived for the F2F2 swap organised by Kate

My colour inspiration, as you know is this

Claire

Which means, some gorgeous bright blocks arrived for me to play with. 

From Sue, in the USA

from Sue x3

lots of very rich blues, greens and orange.

from Sue 01

from Sue 02

from Sue 03

And from Gun, in Sweden, some equally bright, and gorgeous floral fabrics

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from Gun 01

from Gun 02

from Gun 03

Thank you so much, Sue and Gun, your blocks are spot on!  I’m still keeping an eye open for the postie as there are four more sets on their way. 

tidying those scraps

I’m pleased to say that lots of rest over recent weeks (plus the cortisone injection) seems to be helping back pain.  I’m still not 100% comfortable, but am definitely feeling better.  I realise I still need to take things easy unless I want to suffer a set-back and, no matter how much I would love to sit and do some serious sewing . . . I am being sensible.  Any machine sewing happening in this house over the coming weeks/months will be done in very short sessions.  So I’ll be working on small projects and will wait a while longer before I do any more physically demanding quilting.

The other day, I was mooching around in my sewing room, wondering what new project I could begin when I noticed the mess that is my fabric scrap box.

scrap tidying 01 

I had left it, open, on my sofa and one of the cats obviously got in there for a play.  Suddenly aghast at my over-flowing scrap box, I decided to have a tidy up and sort through.

Several hours later – yep, it took that long because I ironed scraps, sorted by colour, and even did some scrap trimming as I went . . .

scrap tidying

Scrap fabrics are now in re-sealable freezer bags.  I haven’t got enough to merit one bag per colour so I’ve done a pink/red bag . . . a black/grey bag . . . a turquoise/teal bag etc.

When possible, with smaller pieces, I cut 5” squares or 2.5” squares, surprising myself with how fast those piled up

scrap tidying 04

And when scraps were even smaller . . .

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I cut 1.5” x 2” rectangles to add to my little “sample box”

scrap tidying 06

scrap tidying 05

And yes . . . some sewing did happen, because I felt I deserved a reward after all that sorting.  I stitched some of my “sample” bits together, having fun first with colour layout.

sample scraps

Dusky pinks . . . browns & beiges . . . and brighter pinks.  These blocks measure approx 6” x 6.5”.  I’ve already got a vague idea of what they will become. 

SAL update: Cirque des Triangles #1

cdest ready

For this SAL update, both Avis and I have begun a brand new project . . . an Ink Circles design by Tracey Horner:  Cirque des Triangles (hereafter to be called CdesT).  This will be the second “Cirque” we tackle together since we stitched Cirque des Cercles in 2014 and had lots of fun with that.  Nice thing about Ink Circles designs, is that you can really get creative with fabric and thread.

I’m stitching on a Forest Green 25 count Lugana evenweave, using 2 strands of Threadworx “Wild¨Poppies” (1072).  Threadworx skeins come in 25m lengths, which explains why there are only 4 skeins in the photo.  Should be more than enough.

Anyway, enough chat . . . here’s my progress for stage 1.

CdesT stage 01

We’ve started top left (after some careful measuring of fabric) and it’s plain sailing so far.

Don’t forget to pop over and see what other ladies in the SAL are working on.

Avis, is working on the same CdesT design, but in totally different colours.  Other ladies are all working on a wonderful variety of projects:  Gun, Carole, LucyAnn, Kate, Jess, Sue, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina, SusanP, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, WendyLinda and Catherine.

And please do come back to check out progress on 12th March.

baby steps with my hook

For several years now, I’ve been admiring the skills of those of you who can crochet.  Because I can’t.  I can (sort of) knit, without dropping too many stitches along the way, but never progressed to the “read a pattern” stage, so my knitting has been strictly limited to knitting scarves lol.  It’s therefore something I don’t do much of, because family members only need so many scarves.

However, a couple of years ago, I went totally mad and bought loads of knitting needles and yarn – still all sitting in my cupboard – and then last year I bought a set of crochet hooks and some books to learn how to crochet because I fell in love with designs here:  Moji-Moji Design.

Janine Holmes is so talented, and I love visiting her blog to drool over her latest creations.  If I want to learn to crochet, it’s because I want to make amigurumi !

Anyway . . . I’ve watched videos, and I’ve been following instructions in one of my books . . . because, while I can dream on about making loads of cute amigurumi, nothing is going to happen until I can actually master a few stitches and learn to read a pattern!

crochet 01

These are 2 of the books I invested in.  “I Can’t Believe I’m Crocheting” is the one I’m using at the moment. 

crochet 02

I’m a left-hander, so this book is handy, because it has step by step photos of “how to”.  I realise I could just put a mirror up to a right-handed version, but since the left-handed method is available in print, I’m using it.

crochet 03

Now the above, yes . . . it’s very yucky!  My first attempt at making a chain lol.  Tension problems all the way but I kept going . . .

I then tried with a different yarn

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The blue yarn is almost 100% cotton, whereas the burgandy yarn is 70% acrylic and a whole lot easier to work with.  I spent hours, painfully, hooking . . . giving myself lots of encouragement with a “this isn’t rocket science!”.  I can’t say that I’m actually hooked on crochet yet but I will say that I’m about ready to progress to step 2, which is learn the single crochet stitch lol. 

felt “monster” purse

I had a fun (and very short) sewing session with felt not long ago . . . after having found an interesting idea in a French patchwork magazine

magazine

green monster

All it required was: a 10cm zip and some felt.  I added buttons for the pupils, rather than cutting tiny circles in black felt.

green monster 02

Realised, afterwards, that I put the zip on the other way around from the photo – I put that down to me being left-handed lol.

My “monster” turned out somewhat bigger than the examples in the magazine (which are supposed to measure 10cm x 12cm) so he’s more of a small zippy pouch than a purse.  Not to worry – he was fun to make, and is actually the perfect size for what I wanted.

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Yup, I filled him with coins, but the edible ones . . . and he was then wrapped up and sent off with some other goodies to Avis who is a February birthday gal like me.