Sewing machine adventures and walking in the country

sewing machine

This is my cranky old sewing  machine (it’s not mine, it’s my Mum’s). It likes to be used a certain way and it has taken me over two decades for me to really understand it.  I reckon it’s been that long anyway. I’m sure this was the machine I was allowed to use when I was little.

toadstool bag in pieces

Here are the pieces of my toadstool bag. Hmm, I was going to try and add a magnetic clasp to this to make it proper snazzy.  It’s not something I’ve done before. Sadly, I’ve lost my recent purchase of said magnetic clasp. Shame.

purse sewing pattern

I didn’t get very far with the toadstool bag before I realised that birthday presents had to be made for the weekend. Two small purses are being made from a really good online tutorial at skiptomylou. I’ve used the pattern before, about a month ago and I really liked it. Deffo a go-to recipe for a nice present.

new crochet owls

I’ve also been working on a crochet pattern this week. I’m excited by it. Way more than I thought I’d be. These are the prototypes that I’ve been working on. I typed up the pattern and handed it out to my crochet friends for testing. It turns out that pattern writing is tricksy. And because it’s so tricksy, it is far from being ready to release into the wild. Soon.

red salston manor

I had a lovely time on Tuesday evening. I went for a walk along the river Otter. These are the chimney tops of Salston Manor, I can’t believe it is sitting empty! Absolutely bonkers.

There’s a group of  people who meet regularly to walk around nearby places. Nice places, obviously. And no dawdling allowed. This time, we managed to squeeze in a quick drink at the pub too!

sunset bridge over river otter

I took a ridiculous amount of photographs but never really stood still to take them. Therefore, I have a huge selection of blurry pictures and only a few that managed to refuse the blur .

cows at sunset

The first time I joined the Weekly Walk I didn’t take my camera. Then when I did, I didn’t make an effort to use it properly. Tsk.

cows in a field. sunset

I don’t really mind cows. They’re OK. Moo.

Deciding what to blog about

I bought new fabric!

I can’t decide what to blog about today. I fancy having some random pictures is the thing.  I bought some fabric a couple of weeks ago from a shop in Exmouth. Gorgeous fabric, expensive fabric, birthday money fabric. I have no clue what I will be making with it. Every now and then I stare at it, then I put it away in the fabric drawer.

vintage books

Last Thursday I went to Exeter for car mending and lunch. There is a bookcycle place down the bottom of the high street. The books are free but you give a donation (however much you feel the books are worth). Three per person, but I stole Husband’s allowance too. I found Ladybird books!!ladybird books

More Ladybird books to add to my collection! I love Ladybird books. I love jumbling for them, car booting for them and finding them in charity shops. They’re getting pricey these days though and hard to find.

basket of tricks

I’ve been rooting through my basket of tricks this week. It’s a massive mess in there but it’s full of all things awesome.

needle in the eye

I got the basket out to make some felt eyes for a project I’m working on. It’s mostly a crochet thing. A new pattern I’ve invented all by myself! A friend is going to help me design a PDF thingummy so that, I can maybe put them on here to download and ultimately (one day) sell stuff on Etsy. Or some such thing. Maybe. It’s alien to me at the moment but it’s important to learn new skills I suppose.

sunny garden

Here, more gardens pictures, ha! Next door is like a building site, I pretend it’s not there.

lupins and peony

The peonies are out but I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. They’re not that great. The clematis is on its last legs.

baby lupins

The best thing about the lupins is the leaves. A fantastic contrast to boring roundy leaves. There are loads of colourful spires on this one too.

lupins afternoon sun

Anyway, I think  I’m going to go and sit in the garden now (after I’ve done the washing up and hung out some laundry).

garden bench

And lastly, in this random collection of pictures, I would like to say Thank You to Joyful Solitude for nominating me for a blogging award. Wow! Such a fabulous thing to happen so soon. Must be doing something right! I googled it and haven’t found where the specific award comes from. My gut feeling tells me not to accept because I dont know what it is. Well, actually I’d love to accept but there are conditions of acceptance which, to me defeat the purpose of this space, which is that it is mine and I want to do my own thing.  To accept the award you’re supposed to tell seven things about yourself and nominate ten others for the award. I might be shooting myself in the foot, maybe I can defer for a while instead? I’m being a pooper at a party about such a nice thoughtful thing. Eh, I’m still thinking. Also, I’m still adjusting to blogging. It takes me ages to do any thing. For five years I said “I’m gonna start a blog tomorrow.”

hotwheels

Sorry, one more thing. My eldest (6) requested that I post this picture of his Hotwheels car. Here it is sat on a dusty shelf.

crafting projects await.

working on a continuous join as you go

These are things that I am supposed to be working on but really, they’re just sitting on the shelf waiting. I will finish them soon. Other things I’m more interested in have taken over.

woolly wormy ends

I’ve completed the worst bit of the latest blanket; sewing in the ends. I am useless at crocheting over them as I go and sometimes you can see them in the finished product anyway.

crochet circles ready and waiting

It’s enormously satisfying to see them in a nice pile once the nasty bit is over.

Laying out crochet circles

I laid out the circles in an order that would do (there’s no point in overly fussing about this) and got started. I use the photo to make sure I keep on track. I also have a stack of each row high up on a book shelf, out of reach of the kids.

starting a continuous join as you go

I’ve only used this technique once before. Crocheting in a continuous join. I found a great tutorial at babylovebrand.net via Pinterest.  I couldn’t work it out on my own. I gave a half hearted attempt to design a method myself but meh, it was too much hard work. It’s fabulous that people share this kind of thing. It’s been a huge help.

hooking together crochet circles

I got about two rows in when I realised my mistake. I had made what I thought was all of the centre circles when I decided I wanted some green too. So, I quickly worked up about 10 green centres and went on my merry way with the rest of the rounds. When I came across the first of the green centred circles I thought it was  one off, but no. It turns out, all the green centred circles have only 15 spoke thingies, not 16. Bum. I’m going to have to make them again. Don’t want to.

sewing pattern for a bag

This is a sewing project I have waiting. It’s all cut out but I haven’t started it yet because I want to put a magnetic clasp doodah on it and I never have before. New things wait until I find the patience to give them my full attention. I know that it’ll be wonky. I know. I’m a slapdash sewer. Anyway, it looks like a lovely project and it’s another Pinterest find from thinkliz.com. I’m making the big version.

simplicity sewing pattern

This is a project that has been waiting a long time. I bought the pattern about two years ago. Last month I found some fabric and finally cut out the pattern pieces. Once again, It’s waiting, sitting on the shelf waiting to be made because I should probably try to adjust the pieces so it’ll fit me. I love sewing but I don’t remember the last time I made an actual dress. It was probably when I was a teenager. The fabric is from Fabricland,  I bought it when I went to Southampton.

You can follow me on Pinterest if you want to! And Facebook, which is over there on the right!

A cottage garden in spring.

my garden. spring rain.

It’s not really a cottage garden, it’s my garden made to (kind of) look like one. This is totally self indulgent but I want to record what the garden looks like at the moment because I think it’s pretty. Apart from round the side to the left, that’s a mess (mostly leftover stuff from the fancy pants new patio and kids stuff).

my cottage garden

It’s frequently changing and next week it probably won’t look the same at all. And then I’ll take more pictures and do another post…and I’ll become obsessed. I’m already a tiny bit obsessed.P1110436

 

We did the garden five years ago and it’s my job to keep the plants maintained. I kill quite a lot of plants but thankfully, most seem happy. The plants that die are most likely to have have poisoned by me because I was too liberal with fertiliser. Some of them definitely don’t enjoy overdosing on it. And other stuff just doesn’t like the soil, I guess. I don’t know what kind I have.P1110431

 

I am just getting into container planting at the moment. Pots look great in number but they do get thirsty. I’ve got a lupin in a pot and he seems to be enjoying it. Loads of flowers are going to pop up soon. The lupin in the bottom bed is already in flower, this guy is behind. If it’s got flowers, I suppose he is really a she. Whatever.

yellow rambling rose

This yellow rose is the first of what will be many on the rambler. Last year in a February storm, we chopped it back to a foot high because it was torn from its moorings. It spent the rest of last year recovering and growing. This year I reckon it’ll be fabulous. That’s If the green fly don’t attack it too much. And it does have a little bit of black spot and a touch of mildew too. I keep forgetting to spray it. Oops.P1110493

 

The alliums aren’t happy with me. They’re being drowned by a japanese anemone. I’ve pulled up some of the anemone to give them room but a few have given up and decided not to bother growing anymore. Fingers crossed I get at least five. Mind you, it’s not as if I planted any bulbs last autumn, they’re from the year before. More will have to go in this year.

Crikey, I never thought I’d geek out about gardening. I’ve started young. This is what old people do. harrumph.

flowers on my crochet doily

Still using my doily too!

In a few days I’ll put up some crochet pictures. I’m working on a blanket that’s not behaving itself.

One completed doily

spring garden in the morning

I took this photo yesterday morning around 6.30. It looked lovely in the garden. It was a bit cold but that didn’t stop two children barging past bare foot, in their pyjamas.

doily edge

I finished my doily. I got around to blocking it so that it looks neat and tidy. If I make this pattern again, I’ll add an extra round of single crochet in the main colour before embarking on the final two rounds of contrast colour. I think it would look neater this way.

cotton crochet doily

Now I just need to work out what to do with it. Where should I put it? Not got a clue! I’ve put it in various places but can’t work out what looks good. Maybe I’m not a doily person after all. It just looks daft. I’d better make another one, just to be sure.

blocking crochet doily

This was the blocking process; pinning it out on a piece of cardboard covered in a tea towel. I also put clingfilm round it to hold the tea towel in place. It got a light spraying of warm water and I left it until it was dry. The cardboard wasn’t that thick so I did manage to poke my legs with pins quite a few times.

pot plants for the patio

The garden looks good at the moment. I keep going out to take photographs but not quite achieving what I want.  Mind you, I don’t think I will, not without learning how to use the camera properly. I need to locate the instruction manual and become less of a “point n click” person.

speedwell in the oregano

There is speedwell growing in my herb bed, it decided to move in last year. It’s a good looking weed though so I don’t mind it being there. It’ll soon be overcome by the alarming amount of self seeded borage that’s started to show.

7am spring garden

I’m working on two crochet projects at the moment and a couple of sewing projects. It’s half term week though, so I’m not able to do as much as normal.

I’m making a crochet doily

new yarn to play with

I bought new yarn with some birthday money.  Usually I use double knit or thicker so this is a new thing as it’s much finer. I got it up the road at the garden centre! It’s DMC Natura cotton. There were a lot of colours to choose from but I narrowed it down to my favourites. I bought the book from Amazon a year or so ago and it has some beautiful patterns.

next project, doilies!

I started my first project from the book yesterday; a rectangle doily. If you’re into crochet then surely, you’ve got to make at least one doily? I’m now very much on track with old ladying the front room anyway.

first few rows of crochet doily

It was fiddly to begin with because I’m not used to using the fine yarn but it got easier. I don’t know how well I’d do if I used proper lace making thread. I thought I’d ease into it gradually, rather than go straight to crippling my hands with a teeny tiny hook and teeny tiny thread.

starting to edge crochet doily

It is also only a little doily, so it has been nice and quick to work up.

edging doily square

The book has been translated from Japanese and I thought that it showed in the awkwardness of the writing.  Some basic crochet language is left out and replaced with more literal prose.  I definitely needed the pictorial diagram to go with the step by step instructions.

crocheting final round

I’m nearly done. Just the final round to go and then it’ll need blocking to stretch it out and neaten it up. Thinking of a round doily next… However, I still have to crochet these together:

crochet circles ready and waiting

Will I get round to it this week? I managed to sew in the ends last week and that’s the worst bit.

 

Playing with picture frames

two rainbows!

On what was a bit of a weird weather day, I decided to try something I’ve been thinking about for ages. Over the past couple of years I’ve been risking jumble fingers by collecting loads of old picture frames from jumble sales and junk shops.

a bunch of old frames

I have now got too many lurking in drawers and other nooks and crannies so it was about time I did something with them. Mostly, the pictures inside the frames are not that good and it won’t be too hard to chuck them away. Sorry Kylie.

faffing about with frames

I bought mount board and a cutting tool thingy from Amazon ages ago but have only just got round to playing with them properly.  I’m not very good. Not sure I’m keen. I quickly gave up on the bevelled edge as my lines were wonky and I was in danger of slicing off a finger. I will try again but I’ll take a break first. Will give it a go in a couple of weeks. I’ve got a lot of frames to get through.

framing pictures

I had a bit of trouble deciding on which picture to choose. I don’t know why, because ultimately, I will be able to frame an awful lot of pictures. Any way, I went for one I’d drawn myself as that is what I fancied. I do have lots of old books to cut up too though. I love old illustrations, especially from children’s books. I’ve got a good collection of them, some of which are waiting to be chopped up!

make shift sticking of picture frame

I’m not sure I even did it correctly, but I’ve played around with it and hopefully stuck it in the frame securely. I used the old picture as the backing and wodged it in tightly. I have avoided buying any pins/nails and hook type things, relying on what is already stuck in the frame.

waiting for more detail

This is the picture I chose. It looks crappy unfinished, with no colour, but I got my colouring pencils out and I’m actually very pleased with it.  Most of the time I’m not really sure what I’m doing, but I know that it’s fun and I’m enjoying playing pencils! Such a dweeb.

next step, practise a neat bevelled edge.

I was inspired by the woodland bluebells I saw in Dorset a few weeks ago and I used one of the photographs I took to sketch the scene. Not exactly a replica…hmm.

my first framed picture!

I’ve got to work on the angled edge of the mount board, I think it’ll make a difference in the presentation. But, I might just be being fussy.  The only thing now, is to work out where to hang the picture! And all the others (whenever it is I get round to doing those too).

 

Granny shawl number two!

I have finally finished and blocked my second shawl. I like it a lot. So far neither of my shawls have made it out the front door, I am not quite brave enough to go out wearing one yet. Maybe up to school and back? I’m not sure. The farthest I have ventured is into the back garden, floating about around the flowers pretending that I am not in a terrace of houses and that the neighbours aren’t there wondering what I’m up to.

vintage looking granny shawl

It looked a bit iffy before I blocked it because I went rogue with the pattern. It’s the second time I’ve used Made by Leen‘s April Flower Shawl pattern and I will probably be tempted to make it again.  But not any time soon because I have a very long list of other things to make besides shawls.

new crochet granny shawl

Once again I went for a different edging. That way, you know no one else has the same. I used  Edie Eckman’s Crochet Borders book again (pattern no. 22) but changed the pointy bit. In retrospect I’m not sure I should have tinkered with it so much, but I did and once I’d done it, I wasn’t going to unravel it all!

Another granny shawl

These colours are much more me than the first crochet shawl although I do love them both. It’s the same stuff; Stylecraft Life DK. It has wool in it so it is nice and warm. I have loads left over which will go towards making a flowery blanket, that is somewhere on my to do list but nowhere near the top.

spring garden flowers

This is the garden that I’ve been floating about in. Actually, we have all been in the garden this weekend and no one did much floating about. The grown ups did digging, planting and building whilst the children played and partially destroyed the grown up’s hard work.

not as sunny as yesterday

That clematis is only a few years old and looks pretty awesome already.

clematis

Look at the awesome!

 

 

Spring in the woods.

Okay, this isn’t going to be about craft but I want to post these pictures because I’ve been to a lovely place and I took some photographs. We went to Dorset this weekend and went for a walk in the woods.

path through the woods

I’m feeling a bit peeved over the quality of the pictures I’m taking so this is me trying to practise. However, taking pictures of crochet or sewing on a dull day is a bit different to clicking away when surrounded by the beauty of the woods. Plus, these might still seem crappy to others…

bluebells and garlic

We usually come here once a year to look at the bluebells and wild garlic and to have a family barbeque not too far away.

dorset spring

I love this spring. I am always tempted to drink from it. It probably gets deer and badger wee in it though, so it’s not a good idea.

peacock butterfly

This peacock butterfly didn’t move much, maybe it was dead?

spring at dorset

Fairies have got to living somewhere around here, surely. I saw a massive deer but it spotted me before I saw it and bolted. spring stream

The above picture is where I spotted the deer.

upon the faery hill

Those trees upon the hill is where we were. It could be a fairy hill?

wild garlic in spring

We are planning a camping holiday here in the summer. The children have never been camping before. It will be an interesting experience I’m sure!

Shawl making

I have seen loads of shawls about in the last year, some really nice ones. It’s the ultimate Granny accessory. Naturally, I wanted one, so I made one! And now I’m making another.

Here is my first one. I found a lovely free pattern, the April Flower shawl on Made by Leen.

shawl finished

I changed the border as I fancied something a bit pointier, I used Edie Eckman’s  book Crochet Borders  to choose which I wanted. I also swapped to a different colour in the middle of the broad stripe but for the most part I have stuck to the pattern and I think it’s great! It was very to quick to make and now I am nearing the end of my next shawl using the same pattern.

shawlstripe

 

I love the colours. They’re much better than the first one I did, where I grabbed colours without thinking. I’ve tinkered with the stripe on this one, just to make it different from the first one I made. I have no idea which border I’ll choose next but I have a couple of ideas. I might also stick to the original pattern for this one, it’ll make it softer.

noedit

I have used Stylecraft Life DK for both of these. I got it in the sale in my local shop. I bought more than I know what to do with, but that’s OK!

I’ve got loads of projects in my head but I should probably finish off the blanket which I started before the shawls. There are 100 crochet circles in a bag, hiding in the cupboard under the stairs. They are waiting to have their ends sewn in. Boo.