Monday 31 January 2011

Monthly Make - January

A few weeks ago I decided to participate in Felt Fairy's Monthly Make 2011. The idea is to make something every month. It doesn't matter what it is so it can be sewn, crocheted or whatever you like.  You then have to post your make to your blog and also to the Flickr group that has been created to showcase all the Monthly Makes.

You can see the original post here at Felt Fairy's Blog

For January I decided to make a baby blanket from some granny squares.  I completed the squares back in 2010 but never got round to sewing them together.  Since I was a little late deciding what to make and wanted something quick it seemed a good idea to complete a work in progress which is also in keeping with my promise to myself to complete all outstanding wip's by the end of February.

I haven't been very adventurous with my blanket edgings recently but adapted the usual shell pattern to make a slightly more pointy petal type edge.

 I aim to post my Monthly Make on the last day of each month every month. 

Lastly have a sneeky preview of what I'm planning for February and will be the only 'new' thing that I am allowing myself to make until my self imposed rule of - 'finish all wip's' is over.

Don't forget there are exactly 14 days left to enter my give-away HERE

Saturday 29 January 2011

Questions and Answers

I mentioned in my previous post that I would create a fresh post to answer some of the questions that you wanted answers for and so here it is.

First, however, I would like to ask all of you a couple questions as I could do with some good advice from fellow crafters.

I've been seriously addicted to making those little or not so little pin cushions you can see in the picture above.  I was considering putting them on etsy or having a page where I could sell them. In the beginning I would like all of the money (if I take the option to sell and if anyone is interested) to go to a school for disabled children that I know of.  What do you think?  Would anyone be interested in them?

Secondly I wonder what you think about the best way to reply to comments on my blog.  I've been lucky enough to have some lovely comments on my last few posts and I want to reply to everyone BUT do I reply here on my blog?  Do I reply here on my blog to each comment?  Do I go over to your blog and comment there because really when I see the lovely things on your blog I want to talk about what you have done and not my last post (most of the time). Do I send an email if you have one?  I love to comment on your posts when there is a new one and not only if you've left a comment for me.  So what do you think is the best thing to do as blogger has no reply function?

I'd really appreciate your comments on both of my questions.

Now for the Answers to your Questions

  1. Which yarn did I use for my cushions? I used acrylic for the ones in the pictures above. I have done others in cotton and pure wool and I will post some pictures of these in the near future.  I prefer wool and cotton yarn above acrylic if I can get it as the stitches come out more defined and the overall look is better.
  2. do you crochet the front to the back or sew them together, and how do you do the bits for the buttons, I can't figure it out? I crochet them together but leave an opening for the cushion insert.  sometimes I crochet the right sides together but have found that it looks nice if you crochet with the wrong sides together. For the buttons I do a row of something like 8 double crochet then 2 chain, miss out a stitch and then 8 double crochet, 2 chain miss a stitch and so on. (this is done on the side that is opposite where the buttons will be sewn and so the chain parts form the loops for the buttons to go through) If I get more requests I can do a tutorial
  3. I have a lot of crocheted fronts but I'm not at all good with a sewingmachine and have no idea of how to put a fabric back on a crocheted front which is exactly what I'd want to do. I read you have that very same 'problem' ;) I keep hoping someone will put an very step by step tutorial of that on their blog... no luck so far, just finished masterpieces without tutorials. Maybe I'd better just crochet backs for the fronts...I have thought a lot about this and I also want to be able to do some cushions with fabric backs.  It would be nice partly so you can have a different look and partly because sometimes you want to be much quicker in finishing your cushion and the main front of the cushion is the showcase and you don't need a crochet back. Sometimes of course only a crochet back would do. Sooo I have decided after asking this same question of other people myself many times even before I had a blog and not finding a tutorial anywhere that I WILL find out how to do it properly and then post a step-by-step tutorial. I have a pretty good idea now anyway after attending my sewing class and watching a few sewing videos on youtube ( I will conquer this sewing thing) so watch this space, it may take me a few weeks but I will get there.
  4. I'd definitely buy something from you at a craft fair. Do you have one in mind? See my questions above.  I would consider it if it seems like a good idea.  I have to crochet and really can't stop, I am running out of places to store all my bits and bobs and have so many more ideas I haven't even tried yet.  There is a craft fair local to me but they won't be back until Spring so we will see how it goes and if I get enough favourable answers then I'll let you know :)
  5. I've been asked if I will be doing any tutorials. Yes I have two that I want to do for you in February and will be preparing the first one in a week or so.

I would really love to hear what you think about any of the above, favourable or not favourable, I will appreciate every comment

Update: Thank you all so much for your comments.  They were all very helpful and I'm so lucky to have you out there. Rachael Xx

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Some finished WIP's

Finally some more crochet to show you!

I have so many cushion wip's it's crazy.  I am very addicted to making cushions as they are quick to make and look lovely when finished so it's very satisfying.  The problem is that I hate sewing or rather I'm scared of sewing so once a cushion is done is takes a while before the buttons are sewn on. 

I used vintage mother of pearl buttons.

This year I have made a promise to myself that since I have so many I must get them all finished by the end of February or else!  When they are all done I'll have to attend a craft fair or something as they won't all fit into my house and I've made many for presents already and I still have loads of partially completed ones left in my basket.

Excuse me for the messy sofa bed.  I asked my son to tidy it up for me but he's a teenager and a boy so.........

I do have to get to grips with this camera still though and I think I'll take a digital photography course once I've got the hang of the sewing basics as I'm making so many mistakes even on  full auto mode.

See what I mean about the mistakes...shadows everywhere...

Which ones do you like best?

I'm hoping to have a go at making some cushions with fabric backs next time.  It takes so long to crochet a back for them and I fancy something different anyway.  Perhaps I will have the courage after a few sewing classes.

As you can see I have gone a little overboard with the pin cushion production too - but they look cute don't they?  Another set of contenders for a craft fair perhaps?

Ooops!  I forgot to take pictures of the back of these two - oh well next time!

You can definitely expect a cushion frenzy over here during the next few weeks as I get to work fulfilling my promise to myself. Oh and the granny stripe in the background is my second stripe blanket but cot size this time so quite a bit smaller than the last one.

Gosh...if I finish all these cushions...I'll have to think of something to do next.....

Don't forget if you haven't entered my give away, there is still time as I won't be announcing the winner until February 14th. 

UPDATE:  Thank you everyone for all your wonderful comments and questions.  I have decided to compose a new post to answer all the questions you have asked me and this will be posted over the weekend so see you then Xx

Monday 24 January 2011

Google Translater

I have found many many wonderful blogs out there since I started reading them just about a year or so ago.  Often I come across something I love and the pictures are wonderful but I can't read what the blogger is talking about as I don't speak their language.

A few months back I found a lovely dutch blog and was just about to try and guess what was written from some words that I may recognise when everything suddenly became clear before my eyes and I could read and understand every word - Google Translator of course.  

It was brilliant as I didn't have to copy and paste the page into the translator myself as the lovely blogger had installed a widget that automatically changes the language into the readers own selected language.  I knew I had to try this for myself and it was surprisingly easy so I thought I would share this with you as it is very handy since online we are a global community that speak many different languages. (I know many of you have this already but just in case)

Here is the link

on the right hand side of the page if you scroll down a little there is even a little blogger sign that helps you add the widget directly to your blog if you use blogger - simple!

Please feel free to copy this post , mention it on your blog or provide a link if you would like your blog readers to consider using Google Translate as well. In fact I would be very happy if you did.

Friday 21 January 2011

My Big Give Away!

I'm so excited about reaching 50 followers (well more than fifty now actually) I have decided to have a GIVEAWAY to show how much I appreciate everyone that reads and comments on my blog.

There will be 1 winner and 1 runner up.

All you have to do is be a follower of my blog and leave a comment for me on this post.  You can say whatever you like :)

The winner will receive the following as seen in the picture below:

An absolutely gorgeous Pip Studio plate so you can eat your biccies or cookies in style, 1 of my plump pin cushions (colours of your choice, just let me know!), a Cath Kidston keyring and the February issue of Homes and Gardens all together in a cute bag. 

The runner up will receive 1 of my plump pin cushions in the colours of their choice.

 I will select the winners on Valentines day February the 14th - Good luck!

Please feel free to mention or use my pictures above on your blog if you would like to let anyone else know about my give away.

Sunday 16 January 2011

Handmade Pressies

This last Christmas I got a bit fed up with all the same old, same old in the shops and thought people would appreciate something that I'd made myself and that no-one else would have.  It was also a lot easier than trawling around the crowded shops in the snow.

I meant to show you my handmade Christmas pressies much earlier but somehow I ran out of time and didn't even manage to take any pictures of any of the things I made before I had to wrap them up and give them out. I had to ask my brother to pictures of the little bag I made for his girlfriend.  I was quite pleased with it.  He took the pictures with his camera phone so they are not amazing but I'm grateful that he found the time to do it for me.

 I put little turquoise beads on the handle

The colours of the bag are chocolate brown, pale cream and duck egg blue.  100% cotton.

He didn't manage to take a picture of what the bag looks like closed but it has a drawstring and it the top is all frilly when it pulled together.

The bottom of the bag

I really enjoyed making this bag and can see myself making a little family of them quite soon.

Yay me, I now have more than 50 followers - Thank you everyone Xx  This means that my next post will be a giveaway.  I have some nice goodies for you and I hope you will take part.  I should have the post ready in just a day or two so make sure you look in on me soon :)

Friday 14 January 2011


Thank You to the lovely Sewing Daisies for awarding the

to me!

In keeping with the rules of the award here are 7 things about me:

  1. I travelled extensively round the world as a child by sea on a Merchant Navy Ship.
  2. I love Burmese Cats.
  3. I am terrified of spiders and have nightmares about them.
  4. I have a serious addiction to tea and was called 'tea belly' even as a toddler!
  5. I hate shopping for shoes.
  6. I have a first class degree in IT but can't fix my computer :(
  7. My mum is my best friend and I have always felt lucky that she's my mum Xx

In turn I would like to nominate the following wonderful blogs as they are fun to read and full of inspiration. I am only nominating 5 even though I can think of loads more partly because many that I would have chosen have already received this award and partly because I think 15 nominations is quite a lot!

Thank you to you all for your lovely blogs and inspiration.

On another note, I now have 49 followers!  Can you believe it!  I'm very honoured and to show how happy I am I have decided to have a big blog give away If and when I reach my 50th follower so keep an eye out for that post, hopefully coming soon.

Monday 10 January 2011

A Granny Stripe For a Granny

Ready for a story?

You might need a cup of tea and a biscuit first as I have quite a long story to tell. I'm going to have a cuppa myself.  I prefer white tea these days and have become quite addicted to this Qi Organic White Tea with orange, cloves, cinnamon and ginger. It's really warming during these rather nippy winter months.


Now that you've made your tea (or coffee, maybe juice or even a glass of wine) I can start.  It's a happy and sad tale at the same time but more happy than sad I think and there's even some crochet in there too!

I've known my mum was adopted since I was a little girl.  As I got older she I wanted to know about why she was adopted, what happened to her real parents and if she wanted to find them.  She told me that she had been adopted as a baby and that her adoptive mother had told her that her real mother did not want her.  She was told that her father was a Staff Sergeant in the American Army and that her mother had been separated from her husband when she'd met this handsome American soldier and found she was expecting my mum.

My Grandmother
My mum was born the year the second world war ended and adopted when she was a few weeks old. Her adoptive mum wasn't a very nice person ( I won't go into details) and as all her own children were much older than my mum, she didn't have a very nice childhood.  She often wondered what it would be like if her real mum or dad came and rescued her.  Funnily enough her real mum didn't live too far away from her as her adoptive mother's daughter was friends with her real mum and that was how the adoption came about.  She never had the courage to talk to her real mother as her adoptive mother was very controlling and never would have allowed it also in those days her own mother may not have been allowed to contact her so no contact was ever made.  

Fast forward to October 2010 and I started having this feeling that I really needed to find out about my grandmother.  I really felt sad that my mother never really knew her own story and I knew it was because of her distressing upbringing that she would never have the courage to find out as the fear of rejection would have just been too much for her.

I knew my grandmother was half Norwegian and her maiden name is not a common one.  I also knew the area where she used to live so I decided, with my mother's permission to search for her.  I could have only hoped that she would still be alive and I prayed for something good to happen. It didn't take long.

It took me a while to find the words but I wrote a letter to the address that I had found and couldn't believe it when I got a phone call the very next morning after posting the letter.  The lady on the other end of the phone had a lovely accent that I've always missed hearing as I don't live in the area that I was born anymore.  She blurted out " she is your grandmother"  I was shaking and couldn't think of anything to say except - Wow!  

My Grandmother

It turns out my grandmother had been forced to give my mother up and had been pining for her ever since.  The lady who had called me on the phone turned out to be my grandmother's adopted daughter whom she had cared for since she was a baby but about 20 years after my mum was born. We had many long chats and the sad news was that my grandmother was now suffering from dementia and was now quite unwell although she was able to remember some details about my mum's father which she never ever thought she would find out and she knew who my mum was and seemed to be happy that her long lost daughter had found her.  Her adopted daughter told us how my grandmother often used to burst into tears saying how she still missed my mother even though it was such a long time ago.  

I now know that I not only have Norwegian and American heritage on my mother's side but Czech from my maternal grandfather too! 

My mum and I decided that there was no time to lose and we made plans to visit her mother as soon as we could in October this year.  We both live in different parts of the UK so we met up when we got there.  Luckily my mum has childhood friends still there so it was a nice trip down memory lane for her too.

My mum and I both used to play here when we were children
We were only able to make two visits to see her mum, my grandmother and on the second visit she was sleeping when we arrived.  We were about to leave after chatting a while with her daughter as we didn't want to disturb her but she suddenly woke up and wanted to know who was in the room ( her eyesight wasn't that great).  Now she hadn't really been 'with us' on the first visit as with dementia she had good days and bad days but that day she knew it was her lost daughter in front of her and I only wish I could describe the look of utter joy that came across her face.  She had the widest smile ever and she just put her hands round my mum's face to look at her and  said "Your my baby!" She then gave her a huge hug. That's no mean feat for a very frail 88 year old lady!  

Of course we all cried and it was a lovely moment that I will never forget. I'd often watched long lost relatives re-united on some tv programmes and wished I could have done the same for my mum.  Well I'd done my best and while it could never make up for many lost years at least my mum knew she'd always been wanted and could now lay many ghosts to rest.  

Before we traveled to visit my grandmother, I knew I wanted to take something for and I thought - what better for a grandmother than a granny stripe!  I had to work fast as I had to travel in just over a week when I started it but I was very motivated!  I finished it just before our second visit and left it with her daughter to give to her later on that day.  It turned out that she absolutely loved it and took it with her wherever she was.  Of course that made me feel very happy.  

Unfortunately just a couple of weeks after we had seen her she had gone downhill and had to be admitted to a home but she took her granny stripe with her and the staff at the home reported she kept it with her always.

Sadly she died on Friday.  

I was so lucky to get to meet her and even though she wasn't well she was bright, happy, cheeky and very funny.  Her daughter told me she had been like that her whole life and had been a wonderful mother to her.  I'm glad that the only things I'd been able to give her meant so much to her.  Being able to know that her daughter had thought about her all these years and always wanted to know her and her crochet blanket to give her a little bit comfort and to know that we were thinking of her. 

Grandma this post is for you.  xxx

My Grandmother at her wedding with her mum and dad

My Grandmother (in the back) with her mother (front)

My Grandmother (My mother is the spitting image of her and my daughter too!)