Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Winter Warmer Infinity Scarf

The weather has most definitely got chillier in the last few weeks.  Our Indian Summer has finally come to an end.  I found this lovely variegated yarn at the Stitch and Knit show at Alexandra Palace last month.
It's 100% wool, and was a great bargain - only £3.50 per 100g ball.  This scarf used two balls.

I didn't have a pattern, just knew I wanted an infinity scarf, in a pattern that would work up quickly.  I guessed I had cast on enough stitches.   Likewise, I hoped a 6mm hook would be suitable.  Luckily it's turned out fine.  Just right to wrap around twice, and deep enough to wear as a hood without leaving the back of my head freezing.
The yarn I used was a chunky weight.  If you would like to make one for yourself, it was super quick to do.  Finished it in 3 evenings, with no concentration necessary..... easy to do whilst watching the television.  

If anyone would like to crochet one themselves, it's very simple to do - great as a beginner project.

Winter Warmer Infinity Scarf

Requirements     200g of chunky type yarn. (wool will be warmest)     6mm crochet hook.

Cast on 200 stitches.  Join with slip stitch to beginning stitch to make a round.
Then simply work rows in treble* stitches.  Begin by working 4 chains (1st treble), miss a stitch, then work a treble into the next stitch.  Then work 1 chain, miss a stitch, treble into the next stitch.  

Continue until you reach the last two stitches in the round.  After working 1 chain, slip stitch into the first 4 chain treble you made, by putting hook through into the 3rd stitch, then slip stitching together.  Work 4 chains and continue until the scarf is the required width.

I used the whole 2 balls of yarn, and my finished scarf is 13.5 inches / 35cm deep.  It would have been fine narrower, but I wanted the extra depth to be able to wear it as a hood.  

*This is UK treble stitch - stitches vary from US to UK, all the same - but the same stitch has a different name.  If in doubt, check online.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Hillarys Blinds - Country Crafts Competition

A vision in Teal - front view
Towards the end of February I saw a competition advertised on Twitter by Hillarys Blinds.  I can't remember the exact wording, but it was along the lines of "would you like to receive some material and enter our competition?"

Of course I would!

After sending an e-mail, I was delighted to hear I'd been chosen to take part.  I was able to pick from 3 fabrics.  I opted for the peacock print as I adore teal.  About a week later I received a packet from Hillarys containing a metre of my chosen material.  I wish I could get the colours to come out properly.  I don't think any of the photos I've taken do the fabric justice.  The background is a light cream, with the branches and blossom in subtle shades of brown and pale yellows.  Sitting on the branches across the fabric are a selection of beautiful peacocks.  In shades of teal, they are quite wonderful.

A Vision in Teal - back view
My first thought was; "I can make a fabulous roman blind for the bathroom", and then realised it may not be the best idea for a competition run by a curtain and blind company.  So - thinking cap on!

I tried to imagine how I would like to see the fabric in situ.  In my head I have created a vision of a spacious room, south facing, with a large bay window.  There are roman blinds at each of the 5 windows around the bay, all in this sumptuous Hillarys  peacock fabric.  The rest of the room is a relaxing mix of natural oak furniture, with a sea-foam coloured carpet.  There are huge sink-into sofas in a buttery soft pale beige leather.  Around the room there are touches of teal and chartreuse to add a little zing.  Pride of place across the bay window is a gorgeous chaise-longue in a rich teal velvet.  Propped in the corner of the chaise is my "Vision in Teal" pillow.  It brings the window treatment further into the room, and helps to integrate and enhance it.  As a finishing touch; instead of flowers in the room, there is a tall floor-standing vase containing an arrangement of stunning peacock feathers and twisted hazel twigs.

Back in the real world, the pillow will fit into my bedroom colour scheme beautifully.  My curtains are teal silk, and the pillow will decorate my bed, together with previous makes of mine.  All the colours are similar, so they will sit together really well.

There were three different peacock designs on the fabric, and I was drawn to this one in particular.  It was just asking to made a fuss of.  The only problem was it was slap-bang in the centre of the metre of fabric.  Having worked out the square I needed, I cut out carefully to ensure I would have a peacock well placed on the back of the cushion too.  As a border for the peacock, I put together 5 complimenting fabrics from my stash.  All these colours can be found in the Hillarys fabric, and again, I was imagining these colours in my imaginary setting.  

If only the photo of the peacock would show in more detail!  I have spent hours embroidering it.  I have filled in the body with tiny seed stitches, using two shades of teal, with turquoise to highlight.  In real-life it looks so vibrant and alive.  On the eye, crown and tail area I have also added in a silver thread.  It helps to highlight the face, and add a gleam to the glorious tail.  As soon as I saw this tail I knew I had to root through my button box.  My button box is huge, and now I think I can safely say I have used up my supply of teal buttons.  In addition to the mix of teal buttons, I have also added quite a few small heart-shaped mother of pearl buttons too.  Being so pale, they catch the light beautifully, and work so well as the crown of the peacock.  

Hopefully you can get an idea of all the little stitches from this close-up.  It shimmers in the light, and I've rather fallen in love with it.  At the start, I had the idea of carrying on the embroidery on the branches, and adding french knots to the blossom.  I would have been unable to finish in time, as the peacock alone took hours longer than I first expected.

To finish off the outside panel, I wanted to add a line of floral prose.  After searching on-line, I couldn't find anything suitable by a classic author, so have done my best to think something up.  I've back-stitched the "hand-writing" in teal perle 12 thread.  The wording says:

and then I chanced
upon a delight -
serene, sublime,
a vision in teal

I completed the pillow in envelope style.  The back of the pillow features another peacock, with a piece of butter coloured cotton printed with a chartreuse flower.  I added a piece of teal vintage lace to the edge of the flap.  After sewing front to back, I then finished the edge by adding a binding.  Luckily, I had just enough left to cut out the 2" inch strips required from the small piece of teal fabric in my stash.   I've had most of these pieces for so long, I can't tell you where they are from.  The teal fabric did have a tag on, pricing it at $2, so that one came from my trip to New England four years ago.  A sale bargain, and I've used it at last!

It's taken a long, long time to complete, but I've really enjoyed making this pillow.  The finished effect is beautiful, and I'm so pleased with it.  Thank you Hillarys for sending me the fabric to take part.  It's been an absolute pleasure embellishing your fabric, and I'd like to think I've done it justice.

And miracle of miracles, I've managed to finish it in time!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Valentine Kisses

It's not long to February 14th now - so today I am sharing some vintage Valentine graphics.  As you know, as these are vintage artwork pieces, they may be freely used in whatever project takes your fancy.  If you feel inspired by any of these items, do pop over to the Graphics Fairy website.  Here you can find oodles more vintage loveliness.  Every day a new vintage piece is shared..... it really is a great blog to follow.

Here's a few more of my Valentine favourites.....

The three images above would be perfect printed onto stout card stock and threaded together to form a vintage banner.  How lovely to place in the window of a period property.  Or even better, printed onto fabric, and sewn onto a length of pretty lace.  Beautiful!

Such a gorgeous little picture.  The original may be a lot larger, so it's worth checking with Graphics Fairy if you like this image.  There are so many items on the site, do make use of the good search function to find what you are interested in.

A stunning mix of doves, roses and hearts combined to make a charming piece.

Doves and roses are obviously a vintage favourite!

A delightful image .... loving the colours used.  Simply charming.

I shall end today with a sweet little Valentine kitten.  I'm a sucker for anything cat related, so this one had to make the grade.  Just darling.

If you would like to make something for Valentine's Day, there's still time.  Stuck for inspiration, why not pop over and take a look at my Valentine Kisses board on Pinterest which is full of artistry and crafty makes.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Mermaid Musings

unknown source
I did say I had a hunch about another couple of trends that may be forthcoming.  I have a feeling that it's about time mermaids came to the fore.  Folklore and legend combine in a dream of an artist's subject.  I'm not thinking Aerial type creatures, I'm thinking sultry, glamorous beauty.

I've hand-picked a few favourites to showcase:-

unknown source
What a stunning photograph!  I wish I could find the source, but sadly I can't link back to find out.
Isn't it lovely?  It looks to me as though the model has been body-painted - with what looks very much like a real fish tail added on.  It's a fabulous piece of art by a very talented photographer.

unknown source

Another fabulous photograph.  How wonderful is this?  The colours in the mermaid tale are so beautiful.  Oh to dive into lusciously warm water and swim!  It looks divine.  Yet again, I am unable to find the source.  Such a shame, as I would love to see the photographers other work.

source - NYGN
Finally!  I've found one I can trace back.  A crafty little mermaid this one, found on the Not your Grandmother's Needlepoint blog.  It looks like a tapestry background, with the hair crafted from a type of ribbon that holds it's shape.  I think it's rather stylish, and I love the addition of the little starfish and sea-horse.

The Mermaid By Sybile by ~LadySybile
This is one of my favourite mermaid images.  I love the dreamy quality of this artwork, and the muted colours.  I can't find a web-page to link to, but I do have a name, should anyone wish to explore further.


I will end with this beautiful picture.  Three alluring mermaids perching on a rock.  I love the colouring, and the sky is wonderful.  I've found the source - it's a Pirates of the Caribbean website, but it doesn't show who the artist is.

So I've now got lots of mermaid images as inspiration.  If you'd like to see some more, pop over to my Mermaid Musings board on Pinterest.

As far as "makes" go, I'm thinking either a wall-hanging for the bathroom, or perhaps a smaller embroidery.  We'll see!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Hares and Graces

by Jo Hill textiles
My goodness!  I can't believe how long it is since I wrote a blog post.  Where did the year go?
Hopefully, I am back!  I've had months of trying to sort out my arthritis, and get pain management in place that works.  Plus my sewing room has had a big sort out.  So.... I haven't made anything for a long, long time.  I have however, been Pinning tremendously - and have tons of ideas brewing.

What will 2014 bring I wonder?  What will the next craze be?  Owls are so passé..... I'm thinking the next big thing will be hares.  Probably due to the John Lewis advert, but I'm noticing a marked increase in the number of Hare items Pinned.  So, as a way of getting back into the blogosphere - let's have a little look at some of my favourites.

I love this first picture by Jo Hill.  I think it is charming.  Do pop along and look at her website, as there are a whole host of wonderful makes - all for sale.  There is also an Etsy shop here .  I can't resist - I must share another hare from the same artist......

by Jo Hill

Aren't they darling?  Have you looked at her other makes?  So charming..... an absolute delight.  I'm particularly fond of the dog on the sofa, and the bird in the branch artwork.  And it's not just pictures! There are all sorts of makes in her Etsy shop.

What's next?  
by Fireapple
I'm loving the dear little face on this happy soul.  So cute.  This one is long sold from the Fireapple shop on Etsy.  Do click on the link under the picture to pop over and check out the other sweet makes.

Our next hare is a little bit mad - and I love it!

Fiddlewink the Bunny Monster
  Totally crazy, a little bit wonky - and it was featured in a magazine..... Prim?  I've never heard of it, so I wouldn't have come across this little gem without Pinterest.  I hope I've traced the link back to the correct Etsy page.  I can see that this one has also been sold.  No wonder - it's so quirky! 

A change of style with the next offering.....

by Liz Cooksey - textile artist
By textile artist Liz Cooksey, this piece is just one of many displayed on her website.  So original, and so effective.  A mixture of embroidery, textiles, weaving, wirework and crochet.  I'm so very impressed by this artwork.  There's a wonderful subject range amongst her work, so do pop over and see what you think of her other offerings.

Now - this is something you don't see everyday...... but wouldn't it be nice?

source - unknown
We see a lot of knitting graffiti, but I haven't come across a tapestry version before!  I'm loving this.  I think it really adds something to what would otherwise be a dull, uninspiring park bench.  I wonder what it was embroidered with?  A nice tough nylon string would last and last.  

Time for one more?

the makings of Mrs Bertimus
This is so pretty.  Light and delicate, the machine embroidery stands out beautifully against the scrappy frame of lacework.  I hope I am attributing this to the correct source - as I think this is a thoroughly talented make!  It's utterly divine, and I would love to have it framed on my wall.

I do feel there's a hare themed make somewhere on the horizon.  Or at the very least - an Easter bunny!  In the commercial world, I'm wondering how long it will be before hares start appearing on everything from bags, to t-shirts, bedding etc?

There are two more trends that I think will be appearing soon too.  I have no idea if it will happen, I just have a hunch.  So..... look out for another blog post soon - and see what you think of my other predictions.

Bye for now :)

Monday, 25 March 2013

Hey ho skip to my Lou

Spring may not have sprung in quite the way we would expect - but I do seem to have shrugged myself out of my sewing hibernation.  Goodness me - since coming back from holiday I have been in a stupor.  Haven't been able to apply myself at all.  However, my neighbour telling me her foster-child has a birthday soon has got my creative cap on.  With a blue and red bedroom to match in with, I've rummaged through my fabric stash and run up this little pillow.

With the exception of the 14" Ikea pillow inside, the outer is up-cycled.  The red fabrics were cut from pretty dresses I have found at car boot sales for next to nothing (I set my buying limit at £2 - but will only spend this if the dress contains a lot of fabric - more usually 50p or £1), and the denim and check background were once my husband's shirts.

You can find such great detailing on girl's dresses.  I loved the beautiful embroidered hem to this dress.  It's been perfect to make the back envelope opening of the pillow.  The dress was lined - and I cut out a piece slightly shorter to back the pillow and give it more sutstance.  Best of all - it came ready hemmed!   Another little baby dress was cut into for the letter L.  That had a pocket on it with pretty ribbon and broderie anglaise - which embellishes the letter with no effort whatsoever on my part.

This was so quick to make up - and entirely sewn together by machine.  I began by cutting out the red check front as a 14" square.  Realising I'm out of Bondaweb, I grabbed my shearing scissors instead.  There wasn't really any planning involved - apart from knowing I wanted to include the name Lou.  I simply drew the letters straight onto the fabric and cut just inside the lines.  The hearts are random sizes as I folded the little scraps I had left over in half to cut them out.  I couldn't resist adding another piece of the gorgeous embroidered hem to the front.

To hold everything in place I sprayed each piece lightly with temporary adhesive spray.  I love that stuff with a passion - it really is magic, and worth every penny.

I won't pretend that the sewing is neat and precise - it's far from it.  In fact I went a little mad with the machine.  What was going to be a simple whizz around to secure the pieces, turned into a random stitch-fest.  I didn't want to fasten off thread for each shape, so I zig-zagged, and scribbled my way around the pillow using a variety of stitches.  I mean - when else do you ever use any of these stitches?  When I first started going a bit manic with the machine, I thought I'd ruined it - but - I like how it's turned out.  I'm particularly fond of the hearts - where I put the machine into reverse and whizzed to and fro for a zig-zag effect.  I also really like the normal zig zag stitch going randomly over the top.  I'll definitely be doing this again.....  not only is it super quick.....  it's fun too!

The two little gem stones were applied using my "JML gem styler".  Another bargain car boot find - it has been great to add a bit of bling to makes - but sadly I am now nearly out of "stones", and haven't been able to source any. (It was those or a button, as they were needed to disguise a bit of the fabric I'd rucced up by mistake).

Once the front was finished, I layered it up with the envelope back in place and stitched around the very edge to secure.  Then I completed the pillow by adding a binding.  I cut 2" inch strips from a shirt back.  Normally for a pillow I fiddle about with a narrow 1 3/4" binding - but though this denim was soft, it was thicker than I'd normally work with, and so I stuck with the 2" for ease.  I really enjoy adding binding to work, and it is very simple to add a mitred corner.  For my tutorial please click here.  Rather than hand-sew the back in place, I held it down and whizzed around again with the machine.  Okay - so up close it can be seen - but..... it took moments, and anyway - after looking at the work on some of the extortionate pillows on sale in John Lewis - I'm not going to let it bother me!

Sew there we have it .....  a no-fuss, no pins, no tacking, machine zapped pillow complete in around 2 hours.  A unique personalized gift - and for next to nothing too.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Love doodling

Today, I've put my sewing aside.  I've finished the top of my bed runner, and have to decide what to back it with.  Instead, I bravely grabbed my sketch book, and attempted to draw something.  I say bravely - as I can't remember the last time I actually did any proper drawing, and I get really cross with myself.  I always know exactly what I want to do, but getting my hand to co-ordinate with my brain is usually a big fail.  My finished doodle-like valentine girl is very simple and naive, but I rather like her.  Currently debating if it would work as an embroidery?  Or dare I try painting onto a canvas?  The result would be tragic, and probably death to the carpet, walls and anything else within splatter distance.