A Christmas Dilemma

Yesterday I went to a Christmas craft fair and had my first vin chaud (literally ‘hot wine’) of the year so now I’m starting to feel a bit festive and realised I haven’t posted for a while so here’s a quick catch up.

It’s difficult, when you make things yourself, to buy things at a craft fair.  It’s easy to think ‘well, I could make that’ and some people actually say it and, having done a couple of craft fairs myself, I can tell you that it’s one of the most annoying things to hear.  I want to say, ‘yes, but will you?’  ‘Do you have the equipment you need to make it and, if not, are you going to go out and buy it just to make one thing?’ ( whilst smiling politely and saying worse things under my breath).

Anyway, I managed to buy a couple of things that I won’t make myself even though I could.

Firstly, this lovely wreath made out of loads and loads of pieces of Christmassy fabric.

I don’t have much festive fabric in my stash and, if I did, I wouldn’t be cutting it up into hundreds of pieces.  Sometimes, there are people with more patience than you and, since I know the lady who makes these, I was glad to support her.

One hobby I started but didn’t finish is needle felting but I really would like to give it another go one day.  So, I couldn’t resist this little mouse, complete with appropriate French attire who will go on my tree as I always like to buy at least one new tree decoration each year.

I usually harvest some mistletoe from a small tree at the top of our garden but, this year, it doesn’t seem to have appeared so this seemed a good excuse for another felty festive purchase.

Last time I tried needle felting, I couldn’t even make a round bead properly so I’ll be on the lookout for a workshop or something next year and maybe, next Christmas, I’ll be able to say ‘I could make that’ – though not out loud of course.

Anyway, back to what I have made myself.  Having dislodged the cats from my Nature’s Walk crochet squares which were laid out on the dining room table for ease of joining, they are now all joined and the first two rows that set up the edge for the fancy border have been done.  I think I’ll do the rest on my lap when the cats are outside.

They have now found another work in progress to impede so I still have another two sides of my F2F quilt to bind.  Look at that face – would you have the courage to move her off?

At least that’s forced me to try to finish the new shirt I’m making for Mr. Tialys’s Christmas present.  Despite having made this same pattern recently, I’m having trouble with the sleeves.  Last time, I set them in and finished the inside seam on the overlocker/serger.  This time I wanted to do a felled seam as it looks more professional.  The sleeve cap is quite large on this shirt, compared to the armscye, so it’s quite difficult to set it in without puckers anyway, let alone trying to fell the seams too, so it’s causing me some problems and I keep finding other things to do to put off tackling it.

(edit:  nothing wrong with the pattern sizing at all – it was me, matching the wrong notches!!)

Speaking of Christmas gifts, I commented on Kate’s post today about gift giving- although I sort of went off topic – and would be interested to know your thoughts on something.  I love giving hand made gifts to friends and family it gives me a lot of pleasure (and hopefully them) and also gives me a good excuse to make more things.  None of my family live nearby and most don’t appreciate hand made items anyway – with the exception of my daughters who are already drowning in blankets and quilts – so it’s generally friends who end up with the results of my efforts.  However, some (non-crafting) friends I usually go for a pre-Christmas lunch with have a ‘no gifts’ policy and have asked me not to surprise them with anything this year.  I only ever give them hand made things – not shop bought – and I’ve explained before that I don’t expect, or even want, anything in return. I try to give them useful things too – crocheted cloths or cleansing pads, fabric baskets, make up bags, last year it was knitted cowls, as I know not everybody wants blankets or cushions or even quilts.  This year I was going to give them little fabric baskets filled with foodie things – home made lemon curd, chutney, quince spread and bombay nuts.  But now I’m not 😞  I sort of understand that they might feel they have to reciprocate but, in previous years, I’ve been very insistent that they don’t.  Now I feel sort of offended.

What do you think?  I’d be interested to hear if  you think I’m being over sensitive.

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A Cautionary Crochet Tale

All our dogs, past and present,  have had different predilections for things they liked to chew.  Susie liked hard plastic toys – preferably complete with batteries.  Taz liked rolled up pairs of socks which, miraculously, would pass through him and emerge in the same form at the other end.  Stan used to like soft furnishings to name just three.  One of Stan’s earliest conquests was a cat shaped doorstop which made me realise how much stuffing actually goes into one of these things

I say he ‘used to like’ but bad habits sometimes just lie dormant .

This blanket was over the back of a chair and not draped across the shoulders of one of my antique mannequins where I displayed it for this photo,  which is probably a good thing.

The culprit looked suitably abashed and made a vain attempt to hide although couldn’t resist peeking out to see if we had spotted him.

And just in case you were wondering what had happened to all those ‘Nature’s Walk’ crochet along squares I’m supposed to be joining.

My progress has been somewhat impeded.

Pets.  Who’d have ’em?

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Scraphappy Day November – Sort Of

Ages ago I bought a ball of horrible cheap acrylic yarn from a street market because it was bright orange and I wanted to make a beanie hat from it.

‘Wanted’ might not be the right word but, around these parts, you need to be on the look out for hunters.  They are forever shooting each other by accident and I don’t want them to shoot me when I’m out walking my dogs so an orange hat is what’s needed.

I kept putting it off as a bright orange beanie hat is definitely nowhere on my list of desirable fashion accessories but the other day I pulled that yukky yarn out and crocheted a quick and not very attractive hat which will not serve to make me look very chic but will,  hopefully, keep me from getting my head blown off.

I blocked it in an effort to improve upon it

*shudder*

I was going leave it looking like a hideous orange flower pot but Scraphappy Day was fast approaching and I hadn’t had time to do anything for it this month and I do like to join in if I can.

So, I had some of the yukky yarn left and in a leap of faith which some of you might think was a leap too far I considered I could call it scrap.

I decided to make a pompom.

So, I still hate it and hope I don’t see anybody when I’m up in the woods with the dogs but at least – as tenuous as it might be – I got something in for Scraphappy Day and, more importantly, shouldn’t get mistaken for a wild boar .


Should I?

 

Scraphappy Day is organised by Kate & Gun for anybody who wants to make new things from scraps of any kind – doesn’t have to be fabric or yarn.  Here’s a list of participants – both regular and occasional – if you want to have a look at the sort of things you can do with scraps.

Contact Kate (first name on the list) if you want to join in.

Kate Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn(me), Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline and Sue L.

 

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It’s Blanket Time

Around this time last month, I attempted to show you some autumn colour but it hadn’t really started turning yet here.  We’ve now had a bit of rain and it seems we have gone straight from Summer to Winter at least up on those peaks.


Time for lots of blankets so just as well I’ve finished all 48 squares for the ‘Natures Walk’ crochet along – albeit a week late

I’ve laid them all out and now it’s time to join them together  😱

The colours look a bit ‘muddy’ here because I made the mistake of laying them out in a room without much natural light  – see above photo for more accurate colours.

The rogue off-white square is there because I found the last square design given to us a complete nightmare to do and couldn’t face another one so I’ve put in my test swatch as a substitute.  I call it my ‘signature’ as it will differentiate it from all the other blankets made in this colourway and it’s also a good excuse.

Although I’ve fallen behind by a week (will soon be two) at least I’ve managed to actually get all the squares done which was the important thing as far as I was concerned.  I’m not going to rush to join them together just to keep up so it might be some time before you see the finish.

Plus there’s quite a fancy border to go round the edge which looks as if it might occupy more than a few evenings when I suppose I will be forced back into my addiction – watching Greys Anatomy on Netflix – I’m up to series 3, only 14 to go.  It’s not got any better – the lead actress is still as lachrymose as ever and her erstwhile beau is a match for her in tear production.  In fact, last night, I wondered whether watching this series is possibly bringing out the worst in me.  When our leaky heroine was dragged from the water half drowned by her wet- in both senses of the word – boyfriend and taken to hospital where they tried their utmost to revive her for over an hour and a half – I’ve never hoped so much to see a flatline.

But, what can I tell you? I’m ho😉ked

 

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Tight Lipped Tuesday

After the success of ‘the Constellation shirt’ you knew it wouldn’t be long before I got another one on the cutting table didn’t you.

Having discovered the last Liberty fabric design was actually called ‘Kevin’ and not ‘Constellation’, I was relieved to find that this one, which has long been lurking in my stash,  is called ‘Pepper’ – aah, that’s better.

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The Return Of The Quilt

My superking sized quilt has arrived back in France having been on a journey to Yorkshire via Bournemouth for its appointment with a longarm quilting machine.

It measures something like 98 x 88 inches and, although I could have done it myself using the quilt as you go method as I have done with my previous sampler quilts, I really fancied an edge to edge design for this one and there was no way I was wrestling that bulk under my domestic machine.

The light isn’t very good at the moment – bad weather has descended – and the backing fabric is a richer cream than you can see here with a sort of feather pattern but you can see the quilting quite well.  The design is called ‘hearts on a string’ and I chose it because it’s nice and ‘flowy’ and I felt it wouldn’t overpower the sampler blocks or make the quilt too stiff.

 There are so many patterns to choose from and it was difficult to visualise but I’m really pleased with my choice.

Here it is, on the right side of the quilt, across one of the blocks.


That’s all I’m showing you at the moment because I need to decide on binding and then attach it so I’ll save the big reveal until after I’ve done that.

I’m unsure about the colour of binding to use as the back of the quilt is a deep cream colour, which also features in a lot of the blocks, but there is quite a lot of charcoal and other greys on the front, especially in the border.  I thought about dusky pink but, as the pink is mostly a highlight colour amongst the neutrals and greys, I think it might stand out a bit too much.  Ideally, I want to use stash fabric so I’ll have to have a rummage and see what I can come up with.

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The Liberty Constellation Shirt

Warning:  This post contains very slightly derogatory remarks about the name ‘Kevin’.

 

Remember I told you I was making a shirt for Mr. Tialys – using the Liesl & Co. All Day Shirt pattern and some beautiful Liberty of London tana lawn fabric?

Well, it’s done and I’m as chuffed as a chuffed thing  with it.

It was such a pleasure to make this.  The pattern instructions are clear and thorough so the collar went together easily and I only had a slight wobble with the cuffs – even though they were made in the same way as the collar. It also helped that the tana lawn is so lovely to handle and sew.

I took it step by step.  I’ve now tackled faux felled seams again, plus collar stiffener pockets, a two piece sleeve placket and already want to make this pattern again plus, possibly, the ladies’ version.

Here’s Mr. Tialys doing rather a good job of headless modelling.

He’s 6’4″ and quite broad so I made the XL size and didn’t make any adjustments.  The only thing I’d change next time is to do felled seams around the armholes instead of finishing them on the overlocker as I did this time because the inside of the side seams look very professional and I wish I’d done the same with the armhole seams.  Also, there’s a tiny bit of fullness at shoulder level that I could work on next time.  Other than that, he’s very happy with it and took it off to the U.K. to wear to work this week.

I’d been calling this Liberty fabric design ‘Constellation’ but decided to search for the correct name.

It turned out to be Kevin!

 Apologies to anybody (including my cousin) who is called Kevin but it’s one of those names that have fallen out of favour (in Europe at least) and is usually given to characters on T.V. who are definitely not the hero in the plot if you get my drift.  More than that, however, it just seems a very prosaic name for a beautiful design.

This is what Liberty had to say about it on their website.

    Kevin Liberty London fabric was based on the celestial ceiling art in the hallway at Mount Stuart in Scotland. The constellations in the print were hand drawn in white and grey chalks on black paper to create a conversational starry night.

Yes, that’s all very well but were those constellations drawn by somebody called Kevin? I need more information.   In any case, it will always be known to me as ‘the constellation fabric’.

Just a close up of my collar complete with stiffeners – remember I showed you the ones I made using a cut up Liberty store card? – and my sleeve placket and cuff.

Mr. T. is so pleased with it he has asked for another one .

I’m not telling him the fabric design is called Kevin – he need never know.

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Waiting for Hermes

The F2F3 quilt is on its penultimate stretch.

You may remember that I had decided to send this big girl off to a longarm quilter as I’ve made it to fit our ginormous bed and couldn’t face such a mammoth quilting task.  This will actually fit our bed with borders hanging down either side instead of being more of a bed topper and I will never (as much as I ever say never) make such a big quilt again – I wouldn’t be able to afford it for a start. This will be our ‘forever quilt’.  In future there will be throws and baby quilts only – probably.

Firstly, I had to rid the back of loose threads.

This took quite a while although 27 of the 30 12 inch blocks were made by the community of very competent quilters who contributed to this quilt by way of Kate’s Footsquare Freestyle block swap so nearly all of the loose threads were due to fraying rather than untidy ends.

Once I got the back looking neat and tidy, I folded it up ready for mailing to Yorkshire for its ‘longarm experience’.

I chose this fabric for the backing

It also came in grey and I was torn between the two but I thought the cream would give a more gentle effect for the bedroom.

I chose a wool batting, which I’ve never used before so I’ll be interested to see how that feels and I chose a simple quilting design as I didn’t want to overpower all the beautiful blocks and also wanted a nice drape.

I’ve just been told that the courier company in the U.K. (the Hermes of the title) is in possession of my quilt so I’m hoping it will arrive here in France by early next week, if not before.  I am more excited about it than a grown woman has a right to be when it’s not even Christmas.

I’ve asked that the quilt be trimmed ready for binding as I quite like attaching binding and it will serve to ‘re-connect’ me with the quilt, especially as I always hand sew the binding down to the back.  This ‘re-connection’ airy fairyness of mine might prove to be less attractive than it sounds as it’s a bloomin’ big quilt and I might wish to be ‘disconnected’ sooner than I fondly anticipate at the moment.

I think my quilt might be the first ‘finish’ to appear in the 2018/2019 gallery which is only right and proper because my name was drawn first to receive blocks from the other participants when the swap started in Summer 2018.

Then I’ll be able to get on with this next project. If you remember,  I bought two panels with all the circular designs on them and asked you for your ideas about a different border and cornerstones a couple of months ago as I’m not overly keen on the border fabric in the pattern.

I have all the appropriate fabrics already to make a lovely border.

I’ve cut out the circles within squares and attached sashing between them.

Now, however, I’m in more of a dilemma because I really like it as it is and don’t know whether to continue planning a border or just to quilt and bind this for a wall hanging.

What do you think?

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Yuki’s Ears

Wouldn’t it be nice to be a cat

 and not care when nature has played a mean little trick on you like giving you hairy ears

even though you’re a girl.

It would be of no concern at all.

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Playing Catch Up

Phew! Week 3 of the Nature’s Walk crochet along is over and I just finished the last of the eight squares last night whilst watching the hospital drama ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ on Netflix.  Why I watch that show I don’t know.  I’m extremely late to the party and am only on series 2 and there are, apparently, 15 series to go.  I sort of like putting it on while I’m crocheting because it’s not something you have to concentrate on over much although, if I’m honest, last night’s ‘man who had an explosive device inside him‘ episode caused me to have to look up from the hook and yarn a few times.  My main complaint is the central ‘love story’ which is completely stupid.  I want to scream every time their eyes meet wistfully across a crowded operating theatre or yearning is expressed over their surgical masks above some poor patient’s opened body.  Is it really possible that, in a large hospital, every time the elevator door opens the object of your desire will be inside or waiting to get in so that even more barely held in tears can be shown welling up in the eyes of one or both of our wet couple?  If you have watched this prolonged story of hospital folk – please tell me this mooning about doesn’t go on for the whole of the seventeen series or tell me it does and save me before I get deeper in .

Anyway, I digress.

WARNING:  Following photos are an attempt at being arty farty but, you know, a square of crochet is a square of crochet so I’m trying to liven things up a bit for you.

On our Nature’s Walk in week two we had a design called ‘Berries’ to do.

I’m glad it was in this colour as I’d have a job thinking of those holes as berries otherwise.  See I have kindly given you a visual clue.  Something exciting must have been happening in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ while I had this one on the hook as the sides are a bit skewiff but nobody will know once it’s sewn in with all the others.

The bonus square in week two was called ‘Wheat’ .  I can’t tell you how many moans and groans and hate mail there were about this pattern but, although it took almost twice as long as the others so far, I found it fun to do and love the result.

Lord knows what that lookie likie plant is – I plucked it out of one of the planters on our balcony and it will be the result of seeds dropping off the bird table so it could be anything but you get the idea.

Week 3 bought us a gorgeous little square called ‘buds’ which reminds me of little baby bottom cheeks.  Some others said cleavages and yet others said something rather more ‘masculine’.  You never know who you might meet in a Facebook support group.

The bonus square was called ‘Sunshine’

So, they’re stacking up nicely and, if I don’t manage to keep up, at least I have another 15 series of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ to see me through.

 

 

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