Welcome to my 'other blog' the one that explores my crafty side. I have been a maker of 'things' since childhood. By nature I'm creative. I still love to write, and you can click on this link to visit my blog: Hanging On My Word, which is where I indulge in the thought and word side. Although a teacher by profession, I don't offer tutorials. This is my showcase of projects I like to share. So pull aside the curtains and let's begin (I'm a bit theatrical too!).

Friday, 18 April 2014

They Don’t Grow on Trees!

Here is my Easter Tree decorated with crocheted eggs. I first saw the pattern in Simply Crochet Magazine issue three last year, but had trouble sourcing the styrofoam eggs here in Lanzarote. This year there were plenty to be had quite cheaply; a couple of euros for 4-6. The only problem was which size to get. In the original pattern, by talented Jane Crowfoot, it called for one “approx 8cm (3in) from centre top to centre bottom (from www.purplelindacrafts.co.uk)”.  If you order from that supplier the eggs are listed as either 4.5 cm for £0.26 or 8cm for £0.44. What you need are eggs that are about the same size as a hen’s egg, sold here in packs listed as 4.5.cm.

The yarn listed was Rico DK cotton; again not available here. I experimented with the larger egg size and some DK yarn scraps. It just didn’t look right, so the next step was to find some brightly coloured cotton yarns.

Here in Lanzarote we have a number of huge supermarket style shops which sell everything you never knew you needed, mostly  ‘Made in China'. You know the kind of thing, you go in looking for something specific, like a dustpan, and come out with a trolleyload of items you just know are going to come in handy.

These places stocked rows and rows of crochet threads, which I worked out needed to be No5, so I treated myself to a range of bright colours and one or two random dyes (the effect of which can be seen in the baby-pink and blue bottom left, and the russet and cream (right) of the first picture.

Of course I only needed a little for each egg, but the rest have gone into my stash for future projects.

Next year I’ll start hooking earlier and then I can have a bowlful on the dining table or in my  bunny eggcups.

Here’s the wonderful display that caught my eye in the magazine. If you go to Jane’s website you can buy the larger kits with all materials (except hook) for just £8.95.

We first became interested in the custom of decorated Easter trees when we lived in Germany in the 1980s with two small children. Some of the items on my other tree date from that time, and others have been added over the years.

In Germany whole trees are decorated with hundreds of hollow eggs, but often a branch is brought indoors to add to the decorations in the home. Not just eggs, but chicks, rabbits, indeed anything related to Spring. Below is this year’s arrangement.

For other Easter crafts related posts of mine click on Chirpy Chicks, and Easter Eggstra, or go to my other website and read about Easter Expectations.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Reincarnation of Pink Bunny

This tale has a happy ending but there are some sad moments along the way. You need to know that when my daughter was small I made her a soft toy rabbit, which she grew to love and who even went with her when she left home. Whenever she moved house he went with her. He was made out of pink fur fabric because I’d been given a big heap of remnants and it made sense at the time to make hers in pink; when  her brother came along he had a blue one exactly the same. They were known simply as Pink Bunny and Blue Bunny and both were boys. Here they are enjoying a dolls’ tea party some thirty-three years ago.

I must have made a good job of putting them together because they were very robust and survived a lot of loving. Blue Bunny left home when my son did and now is the treasured companion of my six-year old grandson. You can read about the 'Makeover for Blue Bunny’ here, where you will see him rejuvenated. He is still going strong and still subject to some quite rough and tumble games.

But this post is about Pink Bunny and you may be wondering why he needed to be reincarnated if he was so well made. Well, here’s the sad bit - get the tissues ready.

Above is a photo of Pink Bunny in 2007 settling into his new bedroom. My daughter always made sure we knew what he was up to.  The following year my daughter suffered a devastating house fire in which she was lucky to escape with her life. Pink Bunny was sitting atop the wardrobe and when that went so did he. She lost an awful of of her possessions and the whole episode was very traumatic. I resolved to make a Pink Bunny Mark 2 as soon as I could track down the pattern.

A prolonged Internet search meant I was lucky enough to find the very book with the pattern in. I’d long ago given mine away but was able to have this very good second-hand copy shipped out to Lanzarote for a very small sum. I also sourced the pink fur fabric in the same way.

My daughter was delighted with Pink Bunny Mark Two, although he will never hold quite the same place in her heart as the original.                

Here Pink Bunny II poses with the original book from the 1970s Pamela Peake’s Creative Soft Toy Making, which is full of wonderful patterns for sot toys and rag dolls, although it is very much of the era.

And in the second picture with Susie Mark Two and that’s another story!

In my next blogpost there’s another exciting development; I bet you can hardly wait. Wendy and Wanda meet Minnie the Pink. Watch this space.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Welcome Wanda!

After making Wendy, who featured in my last post ‘Wendy’s Wardrobe’, I decided to make another knitted rabbit. As Wendy was my first attempt at the craft I thought following the pattern a second time would help me get into the swing of things. This rabbit was made from a grey double knitting yarn of my own, and so differed slightly from the original yarn, which came with the magazine.

Issue 58 of ‘Let’s Get Crafting- Knitting and Crochet’ magazine added clothes for the original bunny, designed by Amanda Berry, this time using an Arran-weight yarn. Wendy was therefore the lucky recipient of the skirt and jacket, so she donated her original dress to Wanda (once again named by my husband). A second pair of shoes to match her friend’s and a co-ordinating scarf complete the picture.

I must admit I enjoyed making these two and I’m sure I’ll be making more in the future. I won’t be making a whole warren of them though as some more experienced knitters have. If you take a look at the magazine’s Facebook page you’ll see how popular this design is, with some creative readers adding their own touches, such as lengthening the ears to make them more hare-like (ideal for this month’s Mad March Hare birthdays.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Wendy’s Wardrobe

Meet Wendy, my latest creation. She started life as Bramble Bunny, designed by Amanda Berry, in Issue 57 of 'Let’s Get Crafting - Knitting and Crochet’ magazine. As followers will recall, when it comes to yarn I’m a crochet gal; however, I was so taken with this little bunny that I decided to have a bash at knitting!

It was a great learning opportunity, but I’m sure the expert knitter in my family, my 93 year-old Mum, would be able to put me right on how to hold the needles and so on. Unfortunately she is in England and I am in Lanzarote, so I am teaching myself.

What I have discovered is that my comfy armchair, where I crochet in the evenings, restricts my movements when it comes to holding a pair of needles; I knew there was a reason why I favoured hook over needles. I will not be beaten and intend to learn more of this fascinating craft.

My husband has been following my progress and decided that this bunny needed a name and a personality if we were to get beyond page one of the learners’ manual. He is the namer of toys and pets in the family and he took one look at my effort and instantly decided that she was a ‘Wendy’.

I bought this magazine on a trip to UK back in December. It’s not yet available in digital format, which is a shame. My other craft magazines are and it’s a bonus as I can read them on the iPad. The magazine comes with a selection of yarns, knitting needles and a crochet hook and inside there are projects and patterns to use your yarn .

Once I had created Wendy and her first outfit of dress and shoes, I decided that she needed some more clothes. We are promised more patterns in Issue 58, out now in UK, but even I could manage a headband with crochet flower, and a scarf, to tide her over. I will have to ask one of my friends who is visiting to get me the magazine.

The picture on the right shows Wendy’s cute little ‘powder puff’ tail, made from a mixture of pink and white yarns in the pack.

I didn’t manage the ‘Fairisle’ pattern, shown in the magazine bunny, and opted for a crochet edge instead. There were no complaints from Wendy.

On the left she sports her Olivia Newton-John- style headband.

She was ready for some contrast in her accessories, so I delved into my stash to make this little pink scarf. With the colder weather (It gets pretty chilly in the evenings, even here), she’s really in need of some bloomers/knickers/pants and possibly a little jacket. Let’s hope Issue 58, when it finally arrives here, will supply me with the pattern.

Wendy will feature again I’m sure, so come back again and see what I’ve managed to add to her wardrobe.

And now the pattern is free to download on the Let’s Get Crafting website, though you may have to register.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Just in Case

Just before Christmas I became the proud owner of an iPad mini Retina. This was a revelation in so many ways, but mostly in its portability. My old iPad was great and I carried it all round Venice and Northern Spain last year, but it was on the heavy side with its Targus click-in case. I decided to make a protective pouch for the new arrival.

Inside the pouch, showing the free-embroidery on the fleece.

The fabric, with lovely jewel-coloured fans pattern was already a favourite and I had used it to make one of my pocket tissue covers. I didn’t use a pattern for this project, and probably broke all the rules in the book, but I was pretty pleased with the result.

I used wadding between two layers of fabric; the fan-patterns and some fleecy stuff on the inside. Then I free-quilted using machine-embroidery thread to make a piece of quilted fabric of approximately the right size. I added a flap (non-quilted) and neatened the raw edges with a strip of the same fabric. All the finishing touches were down with my best hand-sewing and then a couple of press-studs and a shiny button and loop completed the look.

The result is a much more portable iPad, which adds little weight to my handbag. this means that I can whip it out and flash this blogpost with ease!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

One Down, Seven to Go.

I was between garments and my crochet finger was itching when I saw this pattern. My Mum passed it on to me, cut out of her 'Yours' magazine, but if you fancy making one, you can find it on line here.

The pattern calls him 'Squiddly Dudley', and as I can't think of anything better to call him, that's what he must remain. I didn't use the recommended yarn as I wanted to use up some sparkly green stuff from my stash. The only problem with that was that the stuffing shows through a little. Never mind, it adds to his charm The patterns says it's for crocheters with some experience, and I wouldn't attempt it as a first project, but it was fairly straightforward, and once I'd made one leg, the other seven were easy to replicate.

On the other side of the PDF download is 'Camilla the Pretty Pony'. I think I'll save that for when I have another gap in the projects I've got lined up.

Friday, 13 September 2013

A Stitch In Time

I'm amazed that this photo is one of only two of me with needlework in my hand, and the only one where I'm actually sewing. Considering that I get fidgety if I'm not creating something with a needle or hook, and that I usually have something crafty tucked into my handbag,  I would have thought there'd have been more evidence. There is a grainy, silent cine clip of me in 1979, sitting at my sewing machine making a soft toy, but I can't put that on here.

I'm obviously absorbed in the project, much like the woman in the prompt picture for this week's Sepia Saturday. Looking afresh at this photo from fifteen years ago, there are several facts to be drawn from it - apart from the obvious ones; that my hair is just beginning to get the first hint of grey, and that I could still do close work without the aid of reading glasses. I note also that we still had our beloved purple blanket, which always went on picnics and holidays with us.

This is before we owned a digital camera, but I can tell you the exact date and location, not because I wrote it on the back, but because it was in my holiday scrapbook. It was 1998, the year we had our second ever holiday in Ireland, having fallen in love with it the year before. According to my scrapbook we had found a quiet place for a picnic - Seal Harbour, overlooking Bantry Bay, Glengarriff, County Cork. We chatted with a local man walking his dog, went blackberrying, and one of us (it wasn't me) went for a dip in a surprisingly warm sea. Other photographic evidence on those pages, showed that the telescope was employed for seal-spotting, that we were content to explore rock pools and to admire the stunningly beautiful landscape.

The second picture was taken in May1992 on a visit to my sister-in-law's. Again, I was making the most of the opportunity to sit in the sunshine and take advantage of the good light to work on the sampler I was making for my parents' Golden Wedding Anniversary a few weeks later.

Our niece is holding up the 'work in progress' whilst I am studying the chart. I did manage to complete the sampler and have it framed in time. The picture I have is not very clear and doesn't show the true colours, and I will replace it when I next visit UK and take a better photograph or scan. Nonetheless I was very pleased with it.

I think I get my habit of using every opportunity to hone my craft from my mother.  Although she too was a good needlewoman, she prefers knitting. Like me, she is at a loose end with no knitting 'on the go' as she puts it. At nearly 93 she still always has a project to discuss with me in our daily phone calls. Scrolling down to previous posts here will show you some evidence of our collaboration.


Looking through the albums I found several where Mum was knitting whilst friends were round for a chat or a drink, like the one above. My favourites however, are the ones of Mum beach-knitting. This one from 1956, shows Mum knitting away whilst keeping one eye out for my brother and me.

Years later, when my parents shared a family holiday with us in Northumberland, I was crocheting myself a sweater, made up of a sort of patchwork of pieces.
The whole thing required stitching together and then finishing off with knitted cuffs, waistband and neckband. This is where Mum came in. In this 1989 photograph  she is turning to Dad, who is sketching the scenery, whilst I tackle another piece of the sweater.

In April this year, Mum came to visit us in Lanzarote and we were at it again; Mum is beach-knitting and I'm beach-crocheting. The dear old purple blanket has gone and now we are both silver-haired.

We still get engrossed in our needlework though, of whatever variety. To check on other absorbing posts, thread your way through to Sepia Saturday and see what others have made of this picture prompt.