Blanket in Blues and Greys

Sirdar colour wheel crochet

Long wintery nights are just perfect for simple projects to keep fingers busy while watching a good film or TV box set. When I am settling down in front of the TV I seem to need something to do, so when I spotted this beautiful ball of wall in the delightful Boutique Woolery in Fareham I could not resist the way the colours faded into each other.

crochet with colour wheel Sirdar

I decided it needed the simplest of stitches so make the most of the colour variation, originally designed for a scarf pattern so I played with the width to find a way accommodate the flow of one shade to the next without a big leap of colour.

Blue baby blanket for Elliott

I thought I would make a baby blanket for a lovely 18month old boy – the teal and grey colour is very on trend at the moment so it compliments his mother’s sofa. Hopefully she will love it, I always think blankets of this size are handy for when baby drops off to sleep you can just snuggle it around them to keep them cosy.

Edging for blanket

Treble stitch was just right to give stretch the single crochet edge gave structure to the shape; it was delightful to see how the trebles created a ripple effect throughout the blanket. I like simplicity – when I am watching tv I find it hard to concentrate on the stitching – so it was nice just to let my fingers work away without having to count.

I did have to divide the wool into colours to be able to get the right stripes around the edge, but the main blanket was one continuous strand.

I used two balls of Sirdar Colourwheel wool for to create the blanket, they do have a beautiful rainbow coloured one that looks lovely. The wool was a pleasure to work with, no splitting – and it is soft to the touch.

Clour variation of wool

So here is the finished project all blocked up ready to go! I hope she likes it.

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Montessori Mobile

montessori mobile

At three months a baby is able to see things further away- so bright mobiles that move easily in any breeze are advocated for visual tracking and concentration.

Montessori mobiles are expensive, but you can make something that works just as well with a few feathers, light cotton and an embroidery hoop.

The great thing about this idea, is that you can re-use the embroidery hoop for a different mobile once this stage has ended.

Simply tie the feathers to a length of light cotton thread and then loop around an embroidery hoop. Attach hanging threads to the top to suspend from the ceiling.

It is a good idea to place the mobile near a breeze or open window so that the feathers turn slightly.

 

 

Baby blanket finished at last

baby girl

This is my beautiful grand-daughter Effie. I began making a baby blanket when my daughter told me she was expecting – as you can see she is nearly three months old, but I am glad to say the blanket is finally finished!

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I used baby bamboo cotton – I loved all the lovely mix of colours and it is practical it can be washed easily. I used several different stitch combinations – making up each row as I went along.

stitching close up

I liked the combination of triple stitches, shells and trebles. One thing I did discover is that my tension varies! One side grew a little more than the other and I ended up with a rather odd shaped rectangle.

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I added a single crochet border to add stability and it brought the tension under control.

baby blanket 2

She seems to like it!

 

Breathe Journal Review

Breathe journal review front

One of the frustrations about being creative, is that it is all to easy to wind up in a creative fog. I find that there is so much on the internet that sparks my creativity but I can quickly reach saturation point that has me struggling to sleep with too many ideas swirling around my head so much so that I find I can’t settle down to create anything.

I handle this in two ways, firstly by limiting my research; I find it is very easy to go off on tangents. Secondly with a mindful approach – focussing on one project at a time until completion. This has greatly reduced the number of u.f.o.s (unfinished objects) and has made the creative process so much more productive.

Breathe journal intro

As a lover not only of journals but a convert to mindfulness, I was thrilled to spot this little gem on the supermarket shelves among the magazines. Its a 52 week journal combining mindfulness and target setting. The artwork is beautiful and inspirational, with a brief guideline and introduction. There are no dates, which is another great thing, because you can begin anytime of the year.

breathe journal plan

I know I start things with good intentions – and have tried diaries before but always found them discouraging. There are busy days when good intentions slip; and blank pages seem like a reprimand. Which is why I have always preferred undated journals – there is no reproach just pick up where you left off. So I am delighted that while it may be a 52 week planner, it is divided up into 4 week targets that are not dated, so you can have gaps and still achieve what you want.

breathe journal reflections

The journal prompts are very encouraging and a good jumping off point, alongside some very pretty artwork. Prompts such as: things that raised a smile this week, a favourite quotation I discovered, a new word I want to use more.

 

breathe journal 4 week

Each section begins with a four week plan which is further divided into weekly plans. It helps to break down habits or encourage creative time and you can focus on a different area each month.

breathe weekly plans

there are small sections for every day, with little boxes and banners to add inspiration or encouragement. It certainly will help to keep track of all the smaller goals. At the end of the four weeks there is a page for reflection.

This is a beautiful journal, well thought out and will certainly help me to create more mindfulness in my life.

 

 

How to get the vintage look with modern patterns – 1930s Glamorous Beach Pyjamas

beach pjamas1

The 1930s saw a glamorous trend in beachwear – wide legged trousers – usually in lightweight fabrics known as beach pyjamas. It has been re-invented – you might see it in the sailor outfit style of the 1940’s and it was seen again in the 1970’s.

It is often the outfit I love to when I watch any of the Agatha Christie’s Poirot series – all that lounging around in the sun looking chic with big wide brimmed sun hats.

Long before lycra – these wide leg trousers give glamour to any girl – just ensure that you accentuate the waist and if you are short (like me) avoid going too wide! You want to roughly be balanced as an hourglass – try not to take the line beyond the shoulders. If you want to go wider – use a light chiffon or these beautiful light polyester silks – it will flow nicely but won’t stick out!

Beach Pjamas Vintage photography

Tops don’t have to co-ordinate but it can look very stylish if you do.  If you don’t want to go that far, just add a small matching detail – like covered buttons, a small scarf or a little frill edging to bring the outfit together. The illustration below shows just how many variations of tops work well with this style.

beach pjamas three

I love the first detail in the illustration above with the turn ups, not quite so easy to make – but if you like the 1940’s style – well worth the extra effort.

All these designs have a central seam and very little gather at the waist, notice the garment is fairly fitting until about mid thigh, then it becomes fuller until the bottoms end up a lot wider. This is what makes this style work – it accentuates your natural curves – not hides them under voluminous material.

The  illustration also shows that the length you are aiming for – the feet just peep out. A good length is just above your shoe to avoid tripping up on them (especially important for dancing!)

Beach pjamas 1930

You know this is a 1930’s style from the hair styles – no victory rolls! The diagonal stripes are used very effectively in the centre – a nice challenge but you will need double the quantity of fabric to get the stripes right.

M7577_aThe McCall Pattern M7577 is just out this Spring, it is very similar to the beach pyjama style of the 1930s. What I love about this pattern is that it is flattering for nearly every body type – in a really fluid fabric it will ensure you look very Chic on your summer holiday and it will keep you cool as well.  It is very retro 1970’s with the full sleeves but as a basic for your 1930s style – it is a great start.

M7577

You don’t have to use the top section of the pattern, you can simply make the trouser element and then use delicate lingerie elastic at the waistband which will make it delightfully comfortable.

If you like your retro look to be completely authentic, then take out the gathering at the waist and insert a side placket to fit from the mid thigh to the waistline – not quite so comfortable but a neater finish if the waistband is going to be on show.

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I would also use a top from another pattern – the faux cross over is nice, if you added a sailor collar it would work, but the back lace detailing is a current trend not usual in Vintage style.

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If you love the 1970’s then the bell sleeves are perfect and look flattering as well. Given that I am shorter than the pattern average – I would shorten the sleeve length, so that it sits on my wrist.

M7577_01

This pattern would also make some great pyjamas – even in the shorter length. What attracted me to the pattern is the potential for the short length to create some pretty French Knickers – the line is very flattering.

Overall – this pattern is very versatile and makes a good addition to the sewing room.

 

 

 

 

 

Enchanted April – spring is here!

MAKES

OH! what bliss it is to wander in Spring sunshine without a coat! It has been a delightful early spring so far, March went out like a lamb and April has been all sunshine and smiles!  The Crab apple trees on our daily walk are beautiful leaving a carpet of pink among the grass! There seems to be an abundance of pink everywhere we look –  pink is the colour of self love.  It is hard not to be affected by the burst of positive energy all around – life feels great.

I have been rifling through my seasonal clothes and have been re-united with some of my lovely summer dresses – everything feels lighter and brighter. The seeds I planted are coming along well, and we have been enjoying longer walks in the evenings – which lifts my energy levels and makes me feel better.

Spring

I unearthed my supremely comfortable pink (of course!) walking  boots and we headed to the local woods to see if we could find any wild garlic -we spotted clumps of white among the bluebells but the carpet of white flowers were anemones! They look so pretty and fresh among the vibrant greens, but I am not sure they are edible.

Primroses in the woods

These little beauties were flourishing at the side of the path – I remember when I was a child the woods would be covered in a carpet of blue, yellow and white – so it is nice to see there are still abundant wild flowers.

Old tree trunk in the woods

This tree trunk looks like some sort of Velociraptor (see the jaws on the right?) goodness knows how long its been there, but it is beautiful.

Live Simply

My quote this week reflects my decision this year to seek out the small pleasures. I know that Simple Abundance is having a huge impact and I feel as if I am waking up from a deep slumber. Once I began to mindfully, taste, touch, smell and hear it connects me with nature,  – everything you need is right here, right now, and there are gifts everywhere.

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I am a real fan of older films – this is from a film called Enchanted April made not that long ago in 1992, it is perfect Sunday afternoon viewing. Its available on Amazon for under a fiver.

A careworn middle class woman, Lottie Wilkins sees an advertisement to rent a small castle in Italy for April – England seems to be endlessly raining and her life seems so small and drab, She spends her life seeing to the whims of her husband.  When Lottie notices another lady, Rose Arbuthnot – looking just as downcast and in need of a holiday, they agree to rent it together. Two other ladies join them, a socialite Lady Caroline and a dowdy, widow Mrs Fisher. Italy works its magic and we see the women flourish among the terraced gardens and turrets of the small castle.

The book, by Elizabeth Arnim was written in 1921 – and is semi-biographical created when she was physically, and emotionally exhausted, having recently become a single mother. To recover  she travelled to Italy to get away from dreary England – and one day she observed the beautiful gardens below her study, and so she transformed the magic into a story of hope and liberation.

What the book highlights, is just how burdened women can be – and not just from responsibility but their own continual desire to ensure the happiness of those around them, family, friends neighbours. Nearly 100 years later women are still juggling with these same issues of commitments and family stress.

Women run on expectations, the way a car is fuelled by gas. And it doesn’t matter whose: unspoken assignments from parents, bosses clients, children and lovers all crowd our calendars’ borders in ink only we can see.

While the film is delightful, I am finding the book has more depth, you read from each character’s perspective – you get inside their heads whereas the film can only hint at hidden motives. I found the character Lady Caroline more interesting, she is stunningly beautiful – but it is a burden that perhaps I had not appreciated until reading her tale.

hair do

My beloved son, Will is the Director of a Salon in Hampshire every 6 weeks my friend Jo and I  jaunt off for the day to have our hair done together. We usually spend a couple of hours browsing the shops and head to the Salon just after closing hours. We have the whole salon to ourselves.  Afterwards, we head out for a bite or two, sometimes we go jive dancing -depending on how exhausted he is after working all day!

Afternoon tea

Mothers Day was a protracted affair, my daughter and son in law came over for Afternoon tea, and then my son came over for a meal the following weekend, so it has been a great family time all round. I adored Mr D’s swirly sausage rolls and had more than one … or two!

Staffie in the woods

Staffordshire Bull terrier, Barney with ball

Of course, we can’t let a week go by without a Barney picture.. the ball is still intact surprisingly, although it did start out as a cuddly pig, but the pig fabric ended up decorating the lounge floor!

Happy Sunday. x

Sunday sevens is the delightful invention of Nat.. read her blog here. 

How to Display a Hand Embroidery Sampler

embroidery-sampler-preparation

 

The joy of going through my things is that I discover many of the tiny sample pieces I did for various projects. This hand embroidery sampler was for a class I was running bringing with it memories of many happy hours making it. It seemed such a pity to leave it forgotten in a box, so I decided to mount it on a canvass and turn it into a piece of artwork.

 

I added a 2 inch fabric border around the outside just to frame the sampler, and then I added some contrasting plain fabric to the bottom and top, as my little canvass was a bit too long for my piece. I also had a number of felt flowers and hand made buttons in the box so I added them to the top for a little more interest.

felt-flower

I padded the back with a little wadding and quilted a couple of small areas, before mounting it to the small canvass with a hot glue gun. It’s not easy, I found I had to hold the fabric quite firmly – I should have left more material so I could have secured it round the back instead of round the sides.

spring

The colours are much more garish in these photographs, the whole project is done in muted pastel shades which seem to have changed a little when photographed!

I love the spring colours – it adds to my little Spring Display. I found the bird ornament in a charity shop and could not resist it.

I am delighted that I can admire all that hard work – and that it is now a piece of artwork and not crumpled forgotten in a basket.