Travelling light as a feather

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I am currently on the train for a week with my parents and appear to have packed more crafts than clothes. Fear not, I have everything with me for some exciting blog posts while I am away, but until then here is a sneak preview of something I am working on (all done on this train). I have a design dilemma: is mummy bird holding a brown twig or a pink worm?

Work in progress: Birthday Butterflies

As much as I loved the amazing weather yesterday (feeling hot sitting on the “beach” at 9am was lovely) I am rather pleased the sky is looking a bit overcast today as it means I can actually get on and do something!

My plans for today include, in no particular order:

  • paying in a check from school to reimburse me for a shopping trip months ago.
  • going to the market to get some nice fresh fruit and veg. The market is actually on the way to the supermarket, but is only open during school hours.
  • browsing the sales. I have stood at the bus stop a few times this week after hours (or in yesterday’s case, before hours) and looked through a shoe shop window. I hate shoes, but they looked like there were some good sandals on sale (although they will probably be in the wrong size for me)
  • baking some Olympic themed snacks for a gathering tonight. Then crocheting some more squares for my blanket while watching the opening ceremony.
  • Making this… I’ve spend breakfast with my sketch book and french curves, to adapt a trusty pattern and am ready to chop up this stunning fabric I bought last time the weather was nice (that was the Easter holidays) and forgot about while the weather was cold and gloomy.
  • reliving my childhood on youtube. An online discussion about Neighbours (potential spoilers) has led me down a long path of link-clicking, featuring some classic videos of Byker Grove and PJ and Duncan. Psyche!

That is quite a lot for a day, better get started. Do you have any exciting plans for today or the weekend?

Crafting in Unusual Locations

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The Olympic torch came to Camden today. I sing in a Camden choir so we were invited to join a mass choir to sing as the torch started its journey. I got up at 4am and it was over by 7am so what to do with the rest of the day? Go and sit in the beach at the Roundhouse with some crochet, of course! What is the weirdest place you have ever crafted?

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cake + sewing = amazing!

I was sent a link to this amazing cake and had to share it with you all…

It was made by Meg Davis who works for North Devon NHS for a competition (that she won of course).

I remember party cakes made to look like treasure chests (filled of course with treasure of candy necklaces, chocolate coins and sweetie rings) but this is even more exciting. What would your ultimate fantasy party cake look like?

Summertime (and the sewing is easy) Skirt [or How to make… your own maxi skirt]

Summer is officially here in the UK and today is supposedly the hottest day of the year (so far). With all the rain we have had lately I had almost given up on my summer sewing, but today felt like whipping up a quick and easy make (I am too white and British to be out sunbathing in this weather).

I bought this fabric from Classic Textiles with the intention of making a little summer dress, but I thought I would probably get more use from separates. Then I saw some floaty pyjama-style trousers in this months Burda Style magazine, but tracing a pattern and cutting it out and doing a toile seemed like too much work. So I took my tried-and-tested skirt waistband, added 2 big rectangles and voila.*

Plenty of fabric to sit cross-legged in the park!

Here is how I made the pattern:

It is pretty much the waistband of your favourite skirt, combined with two huge gathered rectangles (I tapered the corners so I wouldn’t have quite so much fabric around my hips). Simple. Gather the skirt panels and attach to the waist bands, insert a zip in the back seam, and sew up the side seams. I made a facing for the waistband, sewed them right-sides together at the waist, turned them right-sides out and top-stitched them.

* Okay, the waistband was too loose with the weight of the skirt, so I made a faux-button closure to pinch the excess out, and added a band around the hem to make it quicker to sew.

Country Creatures (part 2) – Cows In The Field

While crossing the courtyard/car-park to get back to my room after breakfast I spotted this view in the neighbouring field:

So of course I went to grab my camera and spent the next fifteen minutes waving a long piece of grass to try and get the nearest cow to pose correctly. I was not sure whether these cows were tame enough to pat, and got a bit worried when the cow decided my camera looked more appetising than the grass! As before, I haven’t done anything to these photos (apart from risk being attacked by animals!)

And finally, here is a little (slightly edited to look old-fashioned) shot of the wedding itself, in a picturesque little 14th century beamed church.

Country Creatures (part 1) – A Cat Called Mabel

I spent a wonderful weekend in the sunny countryside, taking lots of photos of the wedding and the local wildlife, before popping to a family gathering and befriending a lovely little kitty. I got a little bit carried away trying to get the perfect photo, so apologies for the picture heavy posts but they are so cute (and unedited!)

And finally my favourite picture… Self-portrait with purring cat.Coming up tomorrow – pictures of the cow I met at breakfast by the country B&B

Holidays = crafting time!

Today is the first day of the summer holidays and the longest possible time until more work 😀 (I am in the countryside for a wedding this weekend, so hopefully this should appear by magic!)

The holidays means I should finally get to spend some quality time with my sewing machine, so here are a few sneak peaks of some un-blogged, planned and in-progress projects. Can you tell what they are?

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Any ideas?
1. Is my Miette cardigan. I am currently on the first sleeve, and hopefully train journeys this weekend (including a bargain first class ticket last night) will help me make more progress.
2. Some cushions on sale in IKEA. I am inspired by some crochet cushions I have seen in the blogosphere.
3. Still working on my Crafty Resolution…
4. Jeanius jeans, pair #2, in progress for a month or so, as I forgot how to insert the fly and Firefox has stopped letting me watch videos (I have updated flash etc but had to download Chrome instead)
5. A fabulously easy knitting bag I rustled up from scraps a couple of weeks ago. Might have a tutorial/pattern tips coming soon.
6. Experimenting with shrink plastic… This would be turned into a necklace if I were allowed to purchase craft resources and get a chain!

Beautiful buttons

At the weekend I decided I needed an easy, relaxing and quick project to de-stress after a hectic week (parents evening meant there was only 20 minutes difference between my signing in and out times on one day!) and what better de-stress than playing with my button tin 🙂

I “popped” to IKEA to buy a deep box frame, and set to work sewing meticulously sorted buttons to make some art for my living room.

I arranged my favourite buttons in rainbow order, carefully choosing buttons so that the colours would gradually change and trying to include a variety of shapes and styles.

I sewed all the buttons onto a piece of cotton, in the shape of a spiral, starting with red and finishing with black, to end up with…

A swirly spiral button rainbow!

If you have a button collection (who doesn’t?!) what do you do with them? Do you use the buttons or save them for never? Are they on display or in a dusty old box? Do any of your buttons have special memories or sentimental value?

The bright pink gem button was part of a random lucky bag of buttons I got as a souvenir from Mood, New York, and the penguin was a gift that I’ve never managed to find a use for.

Twit-twoo, a gift for who…?

I have been working on a little gift for someone, and just as I was wrapping it up I remembered to take photos of it, so here is a sneak peek (since I don’t think the recipient even knows I have a blog)

It is an embroidered door sign for a teacher friend who is getting married (with her new name) since her school mascot is an owl. I used the Owlbert pattern from Sublime Stitching, adding my own details as I went along.

Most of it is done in running stitch, back stitch and chain stitch, but I did get a book out of the library to learn remind me of some other stitches, such as feather stitch and leaf stitch.

I finally got the hang of French knots after reading the fool-proof instructions on the website, and I had plenty of practice by the time I finished the whole piece.

I’ve definitely got the embroidery bug now – its just like colouring in with thread! I’m looking around to see what else I can add embroidery to…