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, 8 December 2015

Vintage Santa Mouse

This little Santa Mouse is looking good, considering his great age. The pattern dates back to at least 1983, which is the first sighting of him on our Christmas Tree. I have a feeling this one may have been made a few years later and that I gave away the original. That said, he’s still getting on a bit as I haven’t crocheted for years, until I took it up again quite recently.

Can you spot him?

I still have the pattern and I’m reproducing it here, alongside the Christmas stockings and bells, which were also part of the pattern. Crocheting was very much in vogue in the 1970s and the early 80s, but, as with knitting, it dropped out of favour for many years, until the recent resurgence of interest.

  I think the pattern came from a women’s magazine, judging by the story illustration on the back; I’ve searched on line but can’t find it anywhere else.

Every year Santa Mouse now joins the Christmas Teddies in the hall. There’s ‘Little Donkey’ and  ‘Bear in a Kit’ from last year’s blogpost.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Snowman Surprise

The surprise in the title is that ever finished him at all! This ‘Derek - a squishy snowman designed by Val Pierce’. He was in my digital copy of Let’s Knit Christmas Special 2013 (the same one that had my gingerbread men in ‘Run, Run, Run as Fast as You Can); I downloaded him in November 2014 and threw him into the back of the cupboard sometime later! All year he has stared accusingly at me from there. I got so frustrated with the garments that I’m afraid to say, I gave up.

Remember I’m a latecomer to this knitting lark.  I managed Derek OK, except that the pattern called for Sirdar Snuggly Chunky and I ordered Sirdar Snuggly (non-chunky), so perhaps he would have been a bit denser in the knit with the correct yarn. Never mind he turned out just as soft and cuddly as the original.

My problem is with intarsia (ie the method of forming the pattern on his jumper and hat. I’ve watched countless YouTube videos and read lots of books, articles etc, and I still can’t seem to grasp it. My mother was an expert at this in her day, and turned out the most beautiful picture jumpers and Fairisle sweaters. Perhaps I’ve come to it too late. According to Wikipedia it requires no additional skills other than the basic knit and purl! I also used whatever yarn I had in my stash for his jumper and the white was not as thick as the blue, though still Double Knit. I ended up ‘Swiss Darning’ over the snowflake pattern to make it stand out more.

Never mind, when I could stand his stares no longer I fished him out of the cupboard and got cracking on some clothes to make him decent. I’m sure he’s be just as cuddly in the nude but it wouldn’t be the same, and not true to what the designer had in mind either.

He’ll probably make someone very happy.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Remembrance for Animals in War

This post has been updated for Remembrance Day 2016

This is Red Poppy from the book 'Flowers to Knit and Crochet' by Susie Johns and Jan Ollis. I didn’t finish it in time for last year’s Remembrance Sunday and so this year (2015) as it’s rather large, it’s been gracing my handbag.

Here it is keeping company with my keyring/tag from the Donkey Sanctuary, as a tribute to the many animals who give their lives in times of conflict.

No honours wait him, medal, badge or star,
Though scarce could war a kindlier deed unfold;
He bears within his breast, more precious far
Beyond the gift of kings, a heart of gold.

These words are from ‘The Soldier’s Kiss’ by Henry Chappell, written to accompany a watercolour by Fortunino Matania. These, and stories of famous animals in war, can be viewed here on the ‘Animals in War Memorial’ page.

Animals in War, Memorial, Park Lane, London, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
In November 2012, a news story appeared about the remains of a carrier pigeon were found by a homeowner renovating his fireplace. This was no ordinary pigeon, as was revealed by the red cylinder still attached to its leg and containing a coded message. The bird was on war work and was destined for Bletchley Park, it was thought. When the story broke, I was one of the contributing poets of a website called Poetry 24, now closed, and this is my contribution, a rondeau, published at the time, and offered now as a tribute to all animals who gave their lives in conflicts across the world.

Coded Message

A coded message never read,
Attached to pigeon, long since dead,
Which rested in its weary flight,
Revealed at last, exposed to light, 
A folded scrap, a paper shred.

The secret words could not be said,
Their import far too great, instead
A cypher expert had to write,
The coded message.

Top secret words in code embed,
And seal them in a capsule red,
Then send them flying through the night.
With Bletchley Park within its sight,
Fate took a hand and left unread

  The coded message.
© Marilyn Brindley 2012

A message written on rice paper is put in a container and attached to a carrier pigeon by members of 61st Division Signals at Ballymena, Northern Ireland, 3rd July 1941.*
Linking to Sepia Saturday, where the theme is War and Peace.

*By Bainbridge (Lt), War Office official photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Wanda the Witch

This is the friendliest witch and her rather bemused looking cat or her ‘familiar’. She is Wanda, by Amanda Berry of Fluff and Fuzz, and the pattern is available to download from Ravelry. I altered her hairstyle slightly as the original was in bunches and I wanted something fluffy, so I used the same method as with Serena the Mermaid. I also added a nose and mouth as I enjoy embroidering features.

Her broomstick landed at my grandchildren's house in time for Hallowe’en and here they are enjoying her friendly company. She looks as though she’s had a wild time Trick or Treating.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Mouse and His Child

 No, not the very wonderful book by Russell Hoban, but knitted toys made from a pattern by Amanda Berry of Fluff and Fuzz.

It appeared in issue 67 of  'Let’s Get Crafting: Knitting and Crochet’ (LGKC)  magazine which was passed on to me so I didn’t have the ‘Jazz’ yarn kit which came with it originally. I matched the colours from scraps left over from previous LGCKC projects.

Amanda herself says that Baby Mouse was her favourite creature to make of all her projects in that issue.  First of all I applaud he for using the word ‘creature’ and not ‘critter’ - which seems to be the way all animals are now described in craft magazines on both sides of the Pond, often preceded by ‘cute’. I have no problem with the word ‘cute’ and I use it myself quite happily, but combined with ‘critter’ it makes me want to scream out loud....and sometimes I do!

 Amanda includes a mother mouse, and I suppose if you were inclined you could go on and knit any number of baby mice wearing different coloured outfits. I may do so one day, but for now I am happy to settle with father and child, a unique bond that will be celebrated next month on Father’s Day. I didn’t give the Baby Mouse buttoned braces and I hope that by using both pink and blue the gender will remain indeterminate. In Russell Hoban’s book the child is male. Find them also on my Ravelry Page.

“What are we Papa?” the toy mouse asked his father. “I don’t know," the father answered . “We must wait and see.

'So begins the story of a tin father and son who dance under a Christmas tree until they break the ancient clockwork rules and are themselves broken. Thrown away, then rescued from a dustbin and repaired by a tramp, they set out on a dangerous quest for a family and a place of their own - the magnificent dolls house, the plush elephant and the tin seal they had once known in the toy shop.  

(Blurb from the Faber Childrens Classic edition)

Friday, 3 April 2015

Ready for the Hunt

It’s the Easter Egg Hunt that we’re all ready for here! The two Bunny Bags above are for my grandchildren. The original design by Emma Herian was in ’Making’ magazine, published by the Crafts Institute. I changed the single cross-stitch eye for something a bit different. I made them with that same pink and blue gingham that I had used for their dress and shirt in ‘From the Heart’ and Adding an Extension’. I hope they recognise it!

Matching pink and blue buttons and embroidered mouths complete the look. Luckily I had some of the correct buttons in my stash. ‘Love hearts’ my grandson calls them.

I also added matching gingham bows with a gingham button in the centre to put my individual stamp on the design.  A pom-pom tail on the reverse adds to the appeal.

The pictures show a third bunny for some lucky person! Also note the ‘Sewn with Love’ tags stitched into the seam. These were puchased online from Crafty Ribbons.com.

This shows the how the mechanics of the bag work. The opening is ample for tiny hands to pop in their mini-Easter Eggs as they go on the trail to discover all the hiding places.

Note, don’t ever ‘hide’ the eggs on top of a cool radiator and forget where you’ve hidden them; the chocolatey dribble down the front of the heater next day, when then timer kicks in, is a bit of a giveaway!

When  the hunt is over, the ears can be tied together to a) stop the eggs spilling onto the floor, and b) stop those same tiny fingers from scoffing the lot and being sick.

If you fancy having a go at making your own bunny bags - probably for next year now, given the time frame - the Crafts Institute blog has the template to download for free.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Twinkly Tomato

I know, I know, but I couldn’t resist. This was a request from someone who saw the (free) pattern  on Ravelry by Amanda Berry of Fluff and Fuzz, and said "I want one!”. In my stash were two reds; one more suited to a poppy and one just the right colour but with lurex thread running through it - hence the twinkly bit.

Once again, I tried to emulate Amanda’s, but instead of looking comical and cute, my tomato looks somewhat menacing, like an extra from 'The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes’ - I’m sure that’s a film.

He looks a bit more placid on the ketchup bottle (copying Amanda again).
Find him with all my other crafty projects on my Ravelry page.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Vikings are Coming

Here’s my latest knitted character from the pattern, ‘Erik the Viking' by Amanda Berry of Fluff and Fuzz.

I enjoyed Amanda’s pattern as usual and when I read that she usually uses ‘long tail cast-on’ it all made sense as to why her edges always look so much neater than mine. I have now mastered it!
Amanda suggests using a button for the base (to stop Erik wobbling over), instead I used a small plastic lid from the recycling.

I struggled to get my Viking Shield looking nice and round, so when it was finished I stitched it to the thin, soft plastic from the inside of a face cream jar (washed and dried of course!) - result!

I used yarns from my stash to match as nearly as possible to Amanda’s original choices and he turned out OK I think, although mine never look as neat and professional as Amanda’s.

My daughter is a big fan of the TV series ‘Vikings’ so this is for her. Not quite Ragnar, but it’s the thought that counts.

You can see details of the pattern from links on my Ravelry page, and it’s available as a download on Fluff and Fuzz.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Bolero Bounty

Well it’s taken me a while to post this even though I finished it ages ago! It’s the third time I’ve crocheted this particular pattern and you can read about the trials and tribulations the first time I tried to follow it in Ravelled Bolero  The second time, when I made it for my daughter-in-law I never got round to posting it, so here it is.

The purple one was made from Debbie Bliss Ecobaby yarn, as required from the pattern, and as per my original peachy one. The white one was in a sparkly yarn, Peter Pan - Moondust by Wendy, and matched my granddaughter’s in ‘A Little Bit of Sparkle’. Two satisfied customers.

All these projects, with details of patterns, yarns, hooks etc can be found on my Ravelry pages.