Thursday, 30 May 2013

Rainy Days

Hello Lovely Readers, welcome back again, please do come in, it is so nice to see you all.  Well today has been such a rainy day I have been thinking about whether or not we shall ever have a summer here.  It was raining when I went to work early this morning and raining when I came home - how dispiriting!  I sincerely hope you are all enjoying much better weather than I am here.

In order to cheer myself up I stopped off on the way home and bought some lovely stocks and freesias.  I got some beautiful lilac and white stocks and yellow freesias and it struck me how wonderful nature is when choosing colour combinations, we can learn so much from Mother Earth.  The smell is divine.  I find some of the flowers in the shops nowadays lack perfume of any sort - they are lacking a soul.  Well this is all very poetic isn't it, must be the weather!

I do wish you could smell them everyone as they are gorgeous.  My little 'vase' is part of the cottage ware range which I have had now for about 40 years would you believe!  This is actually a biscuit barrel and the lid is the roof but as biscuits don't last very long in our home I thought this might be a good way to display it.  These pieces were very fashionable many years ago and I had to save hard for them.  I have a teapot, sugar bowl, milk jug plus another biscuit jar in the shape of a gorgeous old cottage. I see a lot around now especially on Ebay so maybe they have come back into vogue. Possibly your grandparents have some in their homes. 

On my way home I also spotted one of my favourite magazines, Simply Crochet which came out today.  I have enjoyed this magazine since it was first published and have been hooked (like it?) on crochet.  I have to say that for many years when I was an avid knitter and would get quite cross if crochet patterns were included in my magazines as I felt that crochet certainly didn't fit in with knitting - to me knitting was a far more sophisticated craft!  Sorry to all the crochet addicts out there.  However since I have started to really understand crochet, all thanks to my lovely friend over at Mom of 5 Daughters and her super duper tutorials, I have become a passionate convert.  If you haven't had chance to have a look at her blog please pop over and see her, she is so talented and shares so much of her work with everyone.

I am sure it was last year at the Woolfest over in Cockermouth when I was  speaking to Niki Trench and saying how little I understood the fascination of crochet.  She told me that she had really got the bug for it and I should give it another try so I did buy her book Cute and Easy Crochet which I loved as it was so pretty.  Niki is mult-talented and I would love to go on some of her courses but unfortunately I live too far away.  Do check out her blog as she is now working on a book on Fairisle knitting and has a new crochet book called Cute and Easy Crochet with Flowers due out in September which I must have. However, I digress, in the new edition of Simply Crochet there is such a gorgeous pattern which I want to have a go at lovely readers.  Take a look for yourself - I was thinking about Christmas gifts, something a little more unusual which could be personalised with the person's name.  What do you think?  It would help me to practise a whole range of skills including sewing, machine work, embriodery and crochet - wow!

I would be interested to know what you all think about it - I think it is really cute.  I am going to take the pattern with me on Saturday when I go to my crochet class and see what everyone thinks, maybe have a go a whipping up a flower or two from the pattern, we shall see.

Talking about embroidery, remember when I told you that I had been tidying up the sewing room and finding lots of things, well I have something wonderful to show you all.  You may have gathered that I am an avid collector of anything old and unwanted, I like to think that I have rescued something which might have been thrown away and given it a nice home to go to.  Consequently my home is filled with all these little oddities which I love but am sure other people wonder why I keep them.  A good few years ago I was trawling through Ebay and found this little box - someone had been sorting out a relative's home and was just getting rid of things.  I love old chocolate boxes and this one contained bits and bobs from her (or his) sewing things.  I wasn't really into embroidery then, even though I have always loved it, but I was more interested in the chocolate box and got it for a small price.  I particularly liked it as it looked very art deco.

Now, much as I love chocolates I must admit I was overwhelmed when I received the box as there was so many little goodies inside.  I did wonder who had owned the box and (presuming it was a lady) what she did and where she came from.  The box was filled with many embroidery patterns some dating from the 1920s and 1930s.

The box is very much a 'working box' with lots of little pattern books, most of them given as free supplements in magazines.

What I found most amusing is the image on several of the booklets of the very glamorous woman on the front - I wonder if that was how embroiderers spent their days in those bygone years?  It would be lovely to hear what you all think lovely readers. 

And here she is again, all for 1d (one old penny might I add!).  Now this must have been a time when wormen really took their leisure seriously unlike the multi-tasking men and women we have today.  The owner of the box had also been doing her/his own sketching

Or maybe these were little gifts from the children?

Recognise this famous lady from the world of embroidery?

What wonderful colours - you could imagine this as a lovely cushion couldn't you?

This is a tiny little pattern for an American style bonnet which only takes a quarter of a yard - you can see that the sewers in those days were expected to use their own imagination for making up garments - no step by step instruction sheets here.  On the other side of this newspaper clip was a short extract about the Battle of Britain raids so obviously it is dated from the early 1940s. 

I just loved looking through this box last night and it is definitely not going back into the big cupboard again.  Since opening my eyes to the delights of crafts other than knitting I couldn't wait to pick out a project to start.  However I do need the expert help of Aneela Hoey so out came her wonderful book and I thought about what project I would try to do.

Out came the embroidery threads......

The one I have decided upon is......

Isn't she just so gorgeous, can't wait to start!  Wish me luck everyone.

One last thing before I leave you tonight lovely people.  At the bottom of the box I found this

A little feather.  Now it could be any number of things.......a feather from a pillow, a feather from a little hen.....John Lennon is reported to have said that if you ever see a little feather then know that it is my spirit come to visit you.  I like to think that this little feather represents the soul of the person who owned the box and I shall never throw it away.  I hope they know, whereever they are, that their collection is loved once again.

Well lovely readers that is all for now.  Hope I haven't rambled on too long, I think I tend to so apologies if I have.  I hope you have a wonderful evening/day where-ever you are in the world.  I hope you experience love, happiness and peace.  I will hopefully speak to you all soon, please leave a comment if you are able to as I do love to hear from you.  Lots of love as always, Dorothy  :-) xxxx

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

A Creative Fest of My Own!

Hi Everyone, how great to see you all again.  I do hope that life is treating you well and that you are enjoying happy days - wish I could meet you all and share a coffee or tea.  Well, after the very barren few days last week things changed dramatically this week.  We had big plans for family but due to illness and an impending operation for my lovely husband we found ourselves a little adrift with all the plans set.  The operation was planned for yesterday but just as we were leaving the house a call came through - operation cancelled today due to emergencies, come tomorrow (which was today).  So yesterday, having a free day I decided to do all the 'housewifey things' and cleaned the house and generally tidied up, even my sewing room got a tidy up.  I must say that I felt great last night with everything spic and span.  I can now hopefully find even more things in my sewing room.  It was amazing as I was sorting through everything, I found no end of bits and pieces I had forgotten all about - does this sound familiar lovely readers?

So today, up very early and ready to go to the hospital at the planned time.  I duly dropped my husband this morning on the ward, kissed him goodbye and made my way home.  Now, after all the hard work yesterday I thought I was owed a day of pleasure - what do you think everyone? 

I set to and had a little craft fest of my own - hope you are proud of me!  Yesterday I had found another kit from Hamble and Jemima - the previous one had been a bag and this was a makeup bag so out it all came from the cupboard.  The fabrics are just so lovely.

I also found a couple of really lovely tea towels which I had picked up in a sale ages ago, they seemed much too pretty for drying dishes so I had put them in my cupboard.  Lastly, I had some fabric over the bag I had made so decided I would make something with this too........are you impressed?

I wanted to really make sure that I was able to use up the fabric which was left over so decided to make a small makeup bag from the lovely materials I had not used from the first kit.  Because I had used some of the fabric to make the straps for the bag I had to use the lining as the main piece of the makeup bag and then had to piece the inner part to make it fit.  I had an idea that I wanted to continue with my bead theme which I had started on the last post and found some heart shapes which I had cut.  I have had a Sizzex machine for a few years and love using it.  I will write up a post about this machine later.  It helps me to cut flower shapes really accurately and it is so easy to use.  My plan was to make a heart with some flowers in the centre, filled with some lovely beads.   

I thought that this looked quite cute and really enjoyed sewing the beads on to the heart.  I found that the make up bag came along quite nicely and I am sorry that I didn't take more photos but I was keen to get on with the work and finish as much as I could.  Next time I will make sure that there are more images for you to look at. 

I hope you can see on the heart - I used backstitch and was so pleased with the result that it has spurred me on to try more embroidery stitches.  I was looking at the many embroidery patterns out in the magazines last night and am excited at the prospect of having a go at a few. 

I hope you like the beads, I love working with beads as they just bring something quite plain to life.  I can knit with beads but really want to try and work with crochet and beads, so fingers crossed on this one.

I took my time with the makeup bag and tried hard not to rush things and it came out better than any I have made before.  I didn't put a zip in as I wasn't that confident and didn't want to spoil the look of it.  The pattern I was using did not include a zip but was folded over at the back with a button to hold it down.  It was quite pretty but I would have preferred a zip to make it more secure.  Next time it has to be a zip! 

Here is the finished makeup bag with the bag from the previous post - I do hope you like it.  I was pleased that I had used up the bits of fabric left over and this has given me confidence to do this again rather than rushing out and buying more fabric.

Well lovely readers, I was on a roll now so quickly got started on the kit I was going to follow.  The outer fabric was really lovely but I wanted to embelish it a little so decided to cut out more little flowers and use these on the branches of the trees which were on the fabric with some beads............I used the embroidery hoop to good effect as it really helped to secure the flowers and was a joy to do.  I did this during my 'break' with my feet up watching an old film on TV - what bliss!

This is not a good photograph and again, I am disappointed with the quality so am thinking seriously about a camera for my blog - any helpful suggestions would be so welcomed with regards to a suitable one.  The make up bag came together quite quickly but my main enjoyment was working with the little flowers and the beads.  I do get a lot of pleasure from putting on the little extras to the things I make - I would never be able to work on large scale products would I readers - it would take forever..........

Well lovely readers I was coasting along now and ready to start on the tea towels - I cut them out using the same pattern and again stitched in some little beads into the roses.  I was working through this quite quickly as time was moving on and I was waiting for the hospital to ring me about my husband.  But...........the telephone rang and it was him saying that the operation had been cancelled once again because of emergencies coming in. The poor soul had been sat in his dressing gown all day with nothing to eat or drink before being asked to leave the ward with the rest of the other patients!  I obviously had to down tools and get over to pick him up so the final project was completed later that evening and was rather a rush job.  However, I was pleased with the result - it is more of a bag for filling so I plan to put some of my scraps which I save for my Sizzex machine.  It is quite pretty and pleasing to look at so a successful day all in all except for my poor husband.

I have a million and one ideas rushing through my mind now - I need to think about my blog and the images I present as they are not as good as they could be so a new camera may be on my present list - any ideas about make/price etc would be most welcome from you.  I also need to tackle zips as they are becoming a hurdle for me as I shy away from them all the time but needs must now lovely readers if I am going to improve my sewing.

I really enjoyed the day and felt that I had made a couple of pretty things which were passable but I really want to have more confidence in my work.  I guess that will come with time.

I will leave you now but please call back any time as I do love to you see you.  Please leave a comment if you feel you wish to.  I would love to hear your stories/views/ideas.  Have a lovely week and speak very soon.  Lots of love. Dorothy :-)xxxxxx

Monday, 27 May 2013

Bank Holiday Special

Hello lovely readers, so nice of you to drop by today and lovely to see you as always.  Those of you in Great Britain will have been enjoying a Bank Holiday today - hopefully you will have had some warmth and sun.  Unfortunately for us here in the North West no such luck - it has been quite chilly and been raining since late morning.  So what to do today??? 

After yesterday's post you will know that I am trying to work through all the unfinished projects and ones which I haven't got around to even starting.  Last year sometime I did buy a couple of kits from a really nice company called Hamble and Jemima who sell a lot of interesting kits including one which I had a go at today. It is called the Teacups Handbag kit but if you have a look at the site you will see that mine doesn't look much like it is supposed to!  The fabric is good quality and everything comes with the kit ready to get you going.  So this morning, after deliberating about the weather, we decided to stay in and I thought - aha!  time to get moving with my sewing.

The kit was very easy to follow but  I fell down a big hole almost immediately as I cut out the fabric from the pattern.

You can see that the fabric is so pretty and I was at odds on which one to have as the main part of the bag.  However the teacups won over and I set about cutting the pieces out, making sure that both front and back were the correct way up.  

However,  I had forgotten to cut out the long straps in one piece which were needed for the bag..............but undeterred I carried on.  I really wanted to have another go at the embroidery hoop and had the notion in my mind that I would add a few beads here and there on the fabric to lighten it up a little.  I chose the two cups and saucers on the front and the back of each piece of fabric.  

I did forget one really important piece of advice given to me by the lovely Vicky from the apron course in Birmingham.  I can hear her words now - remember to look at your fabric and work out the pattern so that you have an even balance on each side.  If I had thought of this advice I would have cut it out more carefully around the pattern.  It is a learning curve for me and in the past I would have put the whole lot away and cursed myself all day.  I am not going to do that any more and will try and live/learn from my mistakes.

I had picked out some pretty beads, some from Bibelot in Leek and I hunted out some others I have used for knitting. I didn't really have a plan in my head for this but just wanted to experiment and see what developed.

On reflection I know that next time I will think about it more carefully and plan it in my new journal as this will guide me much more about what I am doing. I loved sewing with the hoop, it was so relaxing and enjoyable.  I put all my beads into an egg cup and away I went, happily watching an old black and white film on the television - for all your lovely readers not in Great Britain, watching old films is a standard Bank Holiday activity when it is raining! 

I wasn't sure if the beads were in fact large enough to do the pattern justice - what do you think?

I thought the beads looked quite pretty and didn't really take that much time, considering that I sewed on the front and back of the bag.  On reflection, looking at the finished bag, it might have been better to have sewn the beads on every image on the fabric.  However, on this one, I had just decided to go with a few, thinking it might look over the top if I added beads to every single image on the fabric.  I would be very interested in your views lovely readers.

Below is the back part of the bag to which I also added beads.  I didn't really want a carbon copy of the front so just decided to be a little different.  Sorry the picture quality is not that good - my computer has been playing up today so I am not too happy with the images.

I found stitching together the bag was mostly ok but decided, rather than make the straps, that I would use some of my own handles which I thought might look a little more professional.  I must admit that I struggled ;utting in the bag handles so that they sat well.  I did a little hand stitching here as I was afraid that I might break the sewing machine needle as the fabric was quite bulky in places.  I find that hand stitching gives me a little more sense of control as I am not that good on the machine.

When sewn up the bag looks quite nice but I can already see what Vicky meant when she talked about making sure that the pattern was balanced before cutting out.  I realise now that I should have put the pattern in the centre of the fabric to give it more balance - one to remember for the future lovely readers.

It did all come together in the end and I do hope that you like it.  It is a sweet little bag and hopefully someone will take a liking to it.  I always find it quite tricky giving things away, I have mentioned it before in my other posts.  People I am sure would find it difficult to say that they didn't like something homemade - I am thinking back to all those 'Christmas sweaters' knitted by grannies over the years and those poor souls who had to wear them all Christmas Day!  It would be nice to hear what you think.

Well would you like to see it all finished?  Here goes - this is the front

And below is the back of the bag.....

Finally, before I go everyone I have found a few interesting blogs, some or all you might already follow.  The first one is  Karen started her blog in 2010 and is interested in sewing, knitting and some crochet.  She has just started on The Guardian Fashion Bloggers' Network which I intend to follow.  Another blog which Karen suggests which I have been reading myself is, a really interesting site so have a look if you don't visit them already.

Well lovely readers I do hope you have all had a wonderful day, it was so so nice to see you all again.  I hope you will call back soon and have a chat - do leave some comments if you can.  Have lots of fun, Dorothy :-) xxxx

Sunday, 26 May 2013

So Much To Do and Sew Little Time!

Hello Lovely Readers, welcome back.  Do come in as it is so nice to see you all again.  Well what a week!  When I set off on my journey into the wonderful world of blogging I had such high hopes of what a wonder woman I would be and how connected I would be to my blog.  This week everything seems to go to the wall timewise and I was left exhausted with very little time or energy to write up my posts.  I am sure that this is part and parcel of learning about how to integrate something new and important into your daily life. My day job is all encompassing and is particularly busy at the moment and, together with the daily hassles we all have to live with such as housework, appointments and food shopping (you notice I say 'food' lovely readers, not fabric or yarn shopping which is never a hassle) time seems to run out very quickly indeed.  I am very interested in how all you lovely bloggers out there cope with everything and still write such wonderful posts. 

However, I do have to say that I have not been completely idle as I decided last week that, instead of ploughing on with all the new and exciting projects I have in mind I must, must try and make a start on all the unfinished projects lying around in my sewing room.  There are many of these I am ashamed to say lovely readers and so I pulled out some last week and finished them.  I have to say that the majority of them only needed little tweeks in order to finish them and goodness knows why I didn't do this at the time when I was making them.  It is my new resolution now - and it is public - that I will try to finish things as I go along and not just stick them in a box somewhere.  One of the boxes I unpacked contained these bags which all needed some degree of finishing.

The furthest way to the camera, at the back, is a felted bag and the other two are knitted. All three only had handles left to put on which I did this week and so am proud to say that these have now been finished.  I was really interested in felting for a long time and did try the wet felting but have little time/patience sometimes so found the whole process quite stressful.  However I did love the idea of knitting up the bags and felting them in the washing machine and have make a number of these over the years.  I think the part of this for me is the excitement of not really knowing how they will turn out until they are completely felted.  The one in the photograph is a little dinky one and I thought the handles were quite fab, hopefully this will make a nice gift for someone later this year. 

The other two bags were Debbie Abraham knits which I started a good while ago.  I am a massive fan of Debbie as she introduced me to knitting with beads many years ago and I have made quite a few of her cushions which are just fabulous.  I just love these two little bags as they are so 'Debbie' and again, all I needed to do was put some handles on them.  I like to line all of my bags as I think they sit so much better but again, this all takes time.  Although I love knitted bags I must admit that the felted ones do seem to have so much more structure to them and sit better.  I would be interested to hear your views on this lovely readers.

My final little bag which I finished with a swish flower on the front is my favourite.  It has been hanging up in my sewing room waiting for something to bring it to life.  I visited John Lewis a while ago and had fallen in love with this flower and decided that this might be the thing to make it special.  I do hope you like it - I might keep this for myself........

One more thing to show you lovely readers - this is a little swimsuit which I bought and I had a go at attaching some fabric and nettings to it to make it into a fancy dress for my granddaughters.  I had visited Abakhan at the start of the year and had fallen in love with this fabric and netting which were both on sale so, as usual, I had bought it home and started to make it up and then (half finished) had put it into one of my many 'to do' boxes and forgotten all about it so out it had to come this week to be completed.  All I had to do was to attach some ribbons and tidy it up generally - many apologies for the photograph as I was trying to take a picture quickly and had hung it on the central heating switch! 

Photographs are something I need to really think more carefully about as I am very aware that the many blogs I read all have wonderfully arranged pictures of everything.  These images really bring the blog to life and make really great 'eye candy' as our American friends would say.  The  finished fancy dress will make a cute 'dressing up outfit' for some lovely little girls I know when they come to stay with me.

Well everyone, I hope that you can see that I have tried hard this week to be productive and I have realised that I have to get myself more organised with my blog so that I have enough time to do it justice.  I did take some time out yesterday to visit a lovely town in North Wales called Llanwrst.  We visit there often as it is a friendly little place and has two attractions for me personally.  

One is a  gorgeous shop called Ar Y Gweill which has so many things to offer - yarn, fabric, haberdashery and patterns just to name a few things.  The lovely lady and her partner who run the shop are just setting up their website so I will put this on once it has been launched.  I am trying to encourage her to offer some workshops and start her blog so watch this space.  She has very kindly invited me to a crochet day in the town next week and I am really looking forward to this as I will be hopefully able to extend my crochet skills beyond granny squares!  Oh, I did forget, I have just nearly completed the crochet cushion which I was working on and should finish putting on the buttons today so will post some pictures of this - I can then cross of another of my 'to do' list -only.................many more to do. 

Nearly forgot to say that my other attraction in Llanwrst is Graham's Cafe - Graham and his lovely wife cook great food on the spot - my favourite I have to say is egg and chips with milky coffee - wonderful!

I always have to buy something from Ar Y Gweill as there is always something new to see so yesterday I  boutght some lovely fabric and other fancies which you can see below.  I have lots of ideas about what to make but any ideas or suggestions would be most welcome everyone.  In my mind I am already thinking about Christmas as time will move on quickly once our 'summer' is over (I use the term summer lightly!).  I particularly like the blue fabric because, if you can see it on the photograph, there are some little lines traced over the roses which could have some little beads or sequins attached - I have lots of ideas floating around my head folks after the course last week!  I must say that there are thousands of these ideas stuffed in my head but the trouble is getting them out of there and into reality!!

Well lovely readers just a couple more things to go.  Whilst near the North Wales coast we took time out to visit our special beach in Llanfairfechan which is a gorgeous spot overlooking Puffin Island on Anglesey.  It is such a fabulous beach and always seems to be empty.  There is a big cafe right on the front which overlooks the beach and I always feel as if I am abroad when I am there looking out of the window at the wonderful colours of the sea and sky.  The colours on any beach are so vibrant and always make me want to try and recreate this in my craft work. I am always drawn to these colours when I am knitting and beach huts and ocean scenes are always a particular favourite of mine.  What are yours??


Two new books arrived yesterday which I found recently.  One you may have noticed in Mollie Makes and called Feathered Friends.  It has a good range of projects in it for all types of crafting so is bound to appeal to everyone. I have already picked out something in it I would love to make called Home Tweet Home.  Not sure why but I am really into bird boxes this year.......

The other book is by a lady called Nekoyama who comes from Tokyo and has a life long love of cats.  Amineko follows the journey of the crochet cat and his friends and gives step by step instructions using photographs which I find so much easier to follow than written ones.  There are lots of different cats to crochet and they all look so fab so I really want to have a go at one.  Hopefully I can make a start on one this week and then take it with me on my crocheting day in Llanwrst net week - I will keep you all posted on this.


Well lovely readers, I have really missed speaking with you all this week and promise to do better with my posts - I am learning as I am going along.  I noticed on Tilly's blog this week that she has been invited to an event in Sheffield later in the summer at the Folksy Summer School (10 -11th August) during which she will talk about her blog.  I would really love to go and hear her speak, might pick up some extra tips dear readers but equally would welcome feedback from all you out there who are already so talented in writing your blogs. 

I will leave you all now and hope that you are all enjoying a little sun, a little rest and some time for all your wonderful crafts.  I will speak to you all very soon but please leave some messages if you wish as I do love to hear from all you, please don't be shy.  You are always welcome here.