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!).

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.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Family Ties

Never waste a thing, that's how I was brought up in the post-war years. My parents had learned to 'make do and mend' and I would often watch my Mum unravel an outgrown jumper to re-use the wool. Both my Mum and my Gran had remnants of material which I remember playing with as a child, dressing my own dolls and making collage pictures. Perhaps that's where my love of fabric was born.

As a young woman I would make nearly all my own clothes, and when my daughter was born in 1977 I delighted in making her outfits too, both crocheted and sewn. The thrifty ways passed on by my parents meant that if I saw a some fabric at a bargain price I would buy more that I needed, so that when the garment I had in mind was finished, there was always some left over for future projects. This is how my Dad, pictured above, became the lucky recipient of a handmade tie, which he honoured me by wearing when he came to visit his newborn granddaughter. I never found out whether he actually liked it or not but it was a gesture typical of my Dad.

The fabric had originally been bought to make a maternity dress, which would also served to hide my post-partum bump; that's what you did in those days, no showing it off as the Duchess of Cambridge did this year. Note also, it has a front tie-fastening for easy access at teatime.

The habit was so ingrained that as a young mum I would often buy enough fabric to make an outfit for me and one for my daughter, creating a family tie of a different sort. My husband and father were thus spared any further embarrassments of having to wear a tie which matched my dress.

Followers of this blog will know that I still have the habit. My owl cushions and toys contain scraps to match my grandchildrens' garments, as well as my own Laura Ashley bridesmaid dress from thirty-five years ago. In fact it all ties together nicely.

Sepia Saturday inspires us each week to us search our photo albums to match a prompt. This week's image was men in rather jolly neckties. Why not join us to see how others have answered the call?

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

A Little Bit of Sparkle

Here's my granddaughter jumping for joy when she received her new cardigan in the post. It was from Simply Crochet Magazine Issue One, under the title 'Little Cherub' and described as having a 'vintage vibe'. The pattern, by Sirdar, called for their 'Snuggly' 4 ply yarn, but Black Sheep Wools had an offer on of Wendy's Peter Pan Moondust so I bought enough for the cardigan and some for my stash (I knew I'd find a use for it). When we last visited UK in April, my granddaughter was interested in my crocheting and I told her I'd be making her a cardigan with little sparkles in it next. She was very patient, although she asked a few times when it would be ready. I took the opportunity to get her measurements and hope she wouldn't have too much of a growth spurt in the interim! 

By the looks of the pictures I got the sleeve length just right, and I can always add a row or two next time I'm over if needed. It would be more tricky to add to the length, as I have with other things I've made for her, as this garment was crocheted from the hem upwards, and some creative thinking would be needed.

It was a fairly easy make, but for some reason the bodice decreases wouldn't come out with the right number of stitches at the shoulder. Checking on Ravelry, it seemed I wasn't the only one, so a few minor adjustments were made. 

If I make this pattern again I'd add a little button as the ribbon isn't enough to hold the garment closed when you do a lot of dancing and jumping apparently!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Ravelled Bolero

bolero |bəˈlɛːrəʊ|
noun ( pl. boleros )a Spanish dance in simple triple time.• a piece of music for or in the timeof a bolero.(also bolero jacket )a woman's short open jacket.ORIGIN late 18th cent.: from Spanish.Sorry, I couldn't resist the puns. I actually like the music, Boléro by Marice Ravel which will always remind me of Torvill and Dean's victory at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, but I have to admit that this bolero of mine became ravelled and unravelled several times, until I finally had the solution - the pattern was wrong! I'll spare you all the ins and outs; what follows is the simplified version.
I saw the pattern on the front cover of a new magazine 'Simply Crochet' (Issue 3) and it looked to be well within my crocheting skills, so I sent for the yarn from Black Sheep Wools* who happened to have an offer on in the peach colour, so that's what I ordered. All went well until Row 9, when, no matter what I did I couldn't get it to work. I drew diagrams and sketches and even gave my husband a crash course in crochet - not the actual hooking, just the chart. Being mathematically minded, he agreed that it was not right and that I wasn't losing my marbles. A thread was started on the Simply Crochet Facebook page, which revealed that others were having the same problem. Similar pleas for help were issued on the Simply Crochet website. We even contacted the designer. I promised you a short version so I'll cut to the chase. In the end a revised pattern was issued (with chart) and at least three people to my knowledge, have completed the garment and shown it on the Facebook page. I've added it to the Ravelry database and shown my finished garment in the Simply Crochet 'finished projects' forum on there, and hopefully many more people will enjoy making it. Once the glitch was sorted out, it really was a joy to make, and now I'm making a second one for someone else. The magazine seems to have got over its teething problems and continues to provide a really good read each month with patterns, ideas, stories and other inspiration. 

The Lacy Bolero is designed by Ruth Maddock and I used the recommended yarn, Debbie Bliss Eco Baby Fairtrade (100% cotton, 50g/125m). I made it in the small size which used five balls. and only cost me £9.95 to make. Hook size was 3.5mm (U.K.). The button was one I had already. I've got the yarn for another one in a pretty plum/aubergine colour (14021) in my stash. Just right for the Autumn here - as long as I can get my other projects finished - it may be Autumn 2014!*Excellent customer service from this company, who shipped my parcel in days. 

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Problem Solved

You may remember from my previous post that when I presented his twin sister with a knitted hat, adorned with crochet flowers, my grandson put in a request for a Super Mario hat. I could only find American crochet patterns, so we were stumped for a while. Fortunately my clever Mum came to the rescue again. My son sent her a picture of Mario and she made this hat up out of her own head, with no pattern. Needless to say he was delighted. The second picture is a still from the video my son took of him opening the parcel and ringing his Great-Grandma to say thank you. Outfit complete: Super Mario Hat, Angry Birds tee-shirt and Sonic the Hedgehog slippers. The iPad Kid! Fortunately he likes reading and playing with construction toys too. The project served two purposes; keeping my 92 year old Mum occupied with a knitting challenge, and making a little boy very happy.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

A Combined Effort

My 92 year old Mum loves to knit and recently enjoyed a beret pattern so much so that she couldn't stop making them. She's done three so far. I offered to make a crochet flower to stitch on the side. My grandaughter and her cousin were the lucky recipients of the first two and a friend's grandaughter has just got hers in the post. Mind you, her little brother has also take a shine to it! My grandson wanted to know where his hat was when his twin sister was given hers, so I asked him what sort of hat he'd like making; his answer was 'Super Mario'! So...if anyone knows of a good (English) crochet pattern for a boy's Super Mario hat please let me know. There seems to be a shortage of crochet patterns for boys' garments generally. The pattern for the pink flower came from 'Simply Crochet' magazine, issue two. I added a simple circle and a button.

My grandaughter models her hat.
Trying it French fashion.

Must make sure it looks OK

Flower + centre + button

Breaking in her cousin's hat for her!
Another satisfied customer

Little brother 'borrows' it

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Blowing in the Wind

A visit a few months ago to an exhibition by a local Lanzarote artist, inspired me to have a go at making a mobile similar to hers. Dora Prehn had used a mixture of natural materials and sparkling beads to make these attractive mobiles hanging at Los Aljibes restaurant.

It took me a while to gather the materials I needed. I decided to use whatever treasures I could find on my walks, so my mobile differed somewhat from Dora's.

These are leaf skeletons of prickly pear plants, which are quite fleshy when growing, but when they die the flesh falls away leaving rather beautiful and intricately lacy structures which are strong enough to support the items in the mobile. Here they are in their natural state on Montaña de Guardelama.

I also used cuttle fish bones and shells found on different beaches here, and the seed heads of agave plants, similar to this one growing in my garden.

It's very breezy on this island and sometimes the winds can be so strong that they blow the mobiles away or cause them to tangle. For this reason I chose to hang my mobile in a more sheltered spot over our outside dining table, where it's protected by glass on one side.

Here it is photographed against a white wall so that the different elements can be more easily viewed.

And here it is hanging above the dining area. You can't just view static pictures of something to which movement is intrinsic, so I've added a short movie clip too so that you can appreciate how soothing it is to watch It doesn't work on iPads or, ironically, 'mobile'apps). Click on any photo to enlarge and view in Lightbox. I'm also linking gto Lakota's Ta-dah! Tuesday, where you can see lots of other creative ideas by crafty people.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Twit Twoo Times Two

Remember the patchwork cushion from a couple of weeks ago in 'It's a Hoot'?  The pattern was featured in Sew Magazine issue 43 - the January 2013 issue, and can be downloaded from their website. I decided to scale up the pattern and make my twin grandchildren an owl toy each. Here is the result.

Those who have followed this blog for a while may notice that I used fabrics the twins will recognise from their own garments. The blue and white and pink and white checks were used for their dress and shirt in 'From The Heart' and the wings were made from the animal print I used for their play suits in Double Trouble.

Here are Twit and Twoo with the original cushions so that you can compare the size.

There's an optical illusion at play here in that the blue owl looks wider and fatter, but they are both made in exactly the same way. I hope the twins like them; I'm saving them for when we see them in a few weeks time, but this week they should be enjoying the little chicks I made for Easter.

And here's my grandaughter's reaction when we finally got to hand over the owls.

And my grandson's.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Lucky Me!

'Lucky' four-leaved clovers

They can be made into greeting cards

I got carried away!

Well, it was St.Patrick's day on Sunday, and although I haven't got a drop of Irish blood in me (as far as I know) I was quite taken with the little crocheted shamrocks which could also be turned into a four-leaved clover by virtue of an extra round. There is a plethora of free downloads of patterns for these on the web, and its easy enough to find them using google. They are very easy to make and the problem is knowing when to stop. They can be made into greeting cards for St Patrick's day or Good Luck cards, or even attached to a small safety pin to make a little good luck brooch for a friend (or yourself). 

Bit of a quick one this week but next week I'll be sharing a follow-up to my patchwork owl cushion from a couple of weeks ago.

Linking to Lakota's Ta-Dah! Tuesday, on Faith, Hope and Charity Shopping, where you can meet other crafty bloggers showcasing their achievements.