Remember I told you I was joining in with a CAL (crochet along), where a new section is added each month for twelve months?
Or perhaps you have a life?
Nevertheless, I promised you puff stitch and here it is in the section for June which has been crocheted directly on top of the section for May which is the way of these things I believe.
This is the ‘Sunshine and Showers’ CAL from Jane Crow – first issued monthly in a magazine last year and now available for free on Jane’s blog.
I am still a beginner really so I thought this would teach me some new skills.
This month I learnt how to do flower stems, puff stitch, crochet into front of loop, crochet into back of loop to name just a few thrills and spills. Nobody can say I don’t know how to live.
See the turquoise row? Well that had me foxed because it comes out as a sort of separate strand on the wrong side of the work at first and I didn’t think that was right so I undid it all and tried it a different way which, of course, was wrong. Eventually I found a photograph of the back of the work on somebody’s Ravelry project and realised I had done it correctly the first time. So, it would have been useful to have been given a ‘rear view’ for this particular row in the otherwise very detailed tutorial. Still, I got there in the end and am almost finished the second, identical piece ready to add on the next bit when it is issued next month.
With all these different stitches, colour changes and my inexperience, I am worrying about the edges of the blanket becoming wavy – a problem some other people have mentioned on Ravelry. I know this yarn is acrylic but I’m sort of blocking it as I finish each section – i.e. spraying it with some water and pinning it to size – hoping it will limit the waviness somewhat.
It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago and I had put two crochet books on my list which my daughter obliged me with so look out for amigurumi monsters and faux taxidermy which might, or might not, be flying off my hook some time in the future – although it will probably not be the near future. I am finding the zebra’s head a little intimidating so I might start with the mouse’s head as, with all the cats around here, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a life model should I need one – although there probably wouldn’t be much life left in it by the time I got to it 😦 Still, they haven’t dragged a zebra through the cat flap yet so I’ll have to make do.
You might remember that I started a ‘fusion’ blanket a while ago which is a sort of fabric/crochet hybrid. Squares of fabric with wadding in between and each square surrounded by a border of crochet. I thought it would be a good portable project to do with my sewing buddy on Wednesday afternoons. I haven’t been doing any of it at home – apart from sewing the fabric ‘sandwiches’ together – saving it for Wednesdays. She however forged ahead without me which is why my work still looks more or less like this……
…..and hers looks like this
This is a proposed layout, just needs whip stitching together then an outer crochet border added. Still, it’s so pretty that it has encouraged me to get on with mine and stop moaning about the splitty cotton yarn I’m using and the 2.5mm crochet hook which both come as a shock after using a 4mm hook and DK yarn on the two other blankets I’m working on.
As a bit of a diversion from all things crochet I had a commission for one of my étui cartonnage boxes but not a hexagonal one this time. A previous client asked me for one of the small boxes I make which was quite a relief as I’ve lost my box making mojo at the moment – I’m sure you know the feeling 😉 . Anyway, her brief was brief but rabbits were mentioned.
So, here be rabbits
with some floral goings on inside
Off to the hairdressers in a minute to ‘have my roots done’ and when you see the photos of me in my next post you will understand why.
You might remember that I asked your advice several times about my Friendship Braid quilt – what colour to do the border when there were so many different colours in the centre, whether I could (or should) use a vintage sheet for the border and possibly the backing and whether or not to use a professional quilting service for the first time.
As usual, I canvassed opinion and then wilfully ignored most of it. I ended up going for a green and white gingham vintage sheet for the border whereas most of you suggested red and, having got your reassurance that I could probably use a sheet for the backing too, changed my mind and went for extra wide quilting cotton.
It was whilst searching for extra wide backing that I came across The Quilt Sandwich who have a wide range of backings in lots of different designs and at reasonable prices. I also found, coincidentally, that they have a longarm quilting machine and offer a quilting service.
It was meant to be.
Fiona operates from The Royal Bridlington Hotel in Yorkshire and was very helpful when I asked for her advice on the particular shade of green for the backing and also for which quilting design to go for on a top with an already busy design.
Once Fiona had received the quilt and could confirm that the shade of green matched those in the quilt I opted for a crosshatch patterned fabric and the quilting design I chose, again with Fiona’s guidance, is called ‘Twine’.
This is how it came back to me after quilting. I wanted to ‘reconnect’ with it again myself so, although Fiona offers a binding service, I just asked her to cut it for me ready for binding and did it myself.
I decided to heed the advice I ignored last time and introduced some red. It was supposed to be wider than this but I attached the double fold binding by machine, as I would have if I’d left some excess batting and backing – ie. with a 1/4 inch seam – and then realised I wouldn’t have had any filling in my binding. Of course, with a wide border like this I should have attached the binding at half an inch and then taken in the batting and backing as it had been trimmed. I’m so used to working with blocks lately that go right up to the edge that I’d forgotten.
So, I just folded the binding onto itself and then over to the back before handstitching it down which resulted in a skimpier binding than I’d intended but at least it wasn’t all floppy. It did compromise my previously
perfect acceptable mitred corners a bit but it doesn’t really show.
What do you think?
Here’s the back in all it’s professionally quilted glory.
It’s a strange size at 60 x 66 inches (172 x 187 cm) so a topper for a small double bed or a generous single bed size. The only single sized bed in the house is in the Bermuda Triangle otherwise known as Mlle. Tialys the Younger’s bedroom and, once it goes in there, I might never see it again.
So before it disappears from my life until at least the next re-decoration project I have flung it over a couple of surfaces so that I can at least look at the photos.
I thought long and hard about using a professional quilting service because I wondered whether it was ‘cheating’ on some sort of level. Realistically, my skills – such as they are – are definitely in piecing and although I will continue doing quilt as you go where the quilt design allows and perhaps the smaller (much smaller) quilting projects, Fiona has done such a good job and the price was so reasonable that I would certainly go back to her if and when I make another large quilt that doesn’t lend itself to QAYG. After all, I reasoned, if I had the space and the money for a longarm quilting machine and the patience to learn how to use one, or if I had a friend just down the road who had one, I would never ever quilt on a domestic machine again so what’s the difference? It’s also something I’ve wanted to try and I’m very pleased I did.
If you are in the U.K. – or in France with a commuting husband willing to drag quilt tops and then completed quilts back and forth with him – or you just want to see a really good range of extra wide backings, go and have a look at Fiona’s site here .
One of my daughters has a blog which, unless you are an avid gamer, you won’t be subscribed to. I am a follower but only to show support as I don’t understand what she’s talking about half the time not having played computer games since they phased out Space Invaders. I am therefore not qualified to make comments on her post but usually press the ‘Like’ button as it amuses me to see my little house avatar in amongst the ‘cool’ ones of the gamers.
Anyway, when she first started the blog she had a cat’s face in a slice of avocado as her avatar – a bit like the ‘breaded cat’ phenomenon but with avocado. Understandably, she wasn’t really sold on it as it didn’t reflect her blog content (even though it does reflect her sense of humour!). By chance, she met a girl on a train and they got talking about gaming matters and the girl could also draw. So she asked her if she would draw a new avatar – it was a long train journey – and it has now been adopted for
‘The Dragon’s Tea Party’ blog.
Both my daughters are addicted to tea – I blame myself although it could be worse. They aren’t dragons though – just to be clear.
She has a new job to start in July which will involve a move from London to Dorset and her first ‘proper’ flat which she will share with her boyfriend who is also into gaming (luckily) and I anticipate there will be a lot of a particular nerdy/geeky sort of décor around the place
So, as a little housewarming gift, I dropped my feed dogs, attached the darning needle and came up with this.
I was going to attempt the freehand embroidering of the name of the blog too but I was so pleased with the dragon I didn’t want to push my luck in case it all went pear shaped. I’ve used more fabric that I usually do so it’s a bit more freehand machine appliqué than freehand machine embroidery but I wanted to get the green colour just right.
As I used scraps of fabric I’ll add this to Kate and Gun’s ScrapHappy day which you can read about and see links to the other participants here
I’m in the dressmaking doldrums at the moment despite having several patterns I want to make and the fabric to make them with. So, just to get my hand back in I thought I’d run up a quick dress on the overlocker for my daughter. I used New Look 6125 which is a very simple dress pattern but decided to make it in a stretch knit fabric.
The front was cut out on the fold and, because I didn’t need to put in a zip, I thought I’d do the same with the back but there seemed to be quite a bit of shaping on the back piece – for those people who have a bottom, presumably – which didn’t lend itself to being cut like that so I cut it in two pieces.
It’s not often a good idea when I decide to go maverick.
Looking quite good.
I did lower the neckline as the original seemed unflatteringly high to me. I probably could have left the darts out though.
Nice pattern matching at the sides
I know it will be fairly obvious to everybody else (at least those who have a modicum of knowledge about dressmaking) but how could that happen when I have the sides matching? Why do I still keep making rookie mistakes in my dressmaking endeavours? Perhaps I don’t take it seriously enough.
As for my daughter – I told her she’ll just have to walk backwards.
I think I have said on this blog before that life is too short to stuff a mushroom but, evidently, it’s not too short to paint rose petals with egg white and dust them with sugar.
Why, I hear you ask, were you engaging in the sort of shenanigans usually only bothered with by celebrity chefs and contestants in baking competitions? Because I was making a dessert for a Ruby Wedding celebration is my answer and I thought it appropriate to have red rose petals sprinkled artfully over and around said dessert. Well – they were definitely red to start with but after a brush with the egg white they turned a pinker shade of red. No matter – they were pretty anyway and I move even closer to my Domestic Goddess status .
Some friends of ours were celebrating 40 years of marriage – and look! they’re still laughing.
A mixture of French and Brits were present to help them celebrate and, of course, being a Ruby Wedding Anniversary, there had to be a Ruby Murray on offer. Firstly because you can’t get a decent curry here for love nor money unless you make your own , secondly because we are Brits and we have to have curry occasionally in order to survive and what better excuse than when the name is in both titles? For those not in the know a ‘Ruby Murray’ is cockney rhyming slang for a curry.
The occasion demanded another foray into my new passion for freehand machine embroidery.
Colin is a massive Chelsea Football fan and so I had to portray him wearing something with the crest on it and Jan has got a gorgeous mass of curly hair. They are dog lovers and have a particular soft spot for golden retrievers which they generally find in re-homing centres and so they had to be in the picture too. I must perfect my dog breed representation but you get the drift. I was gratified to see that, despite not having seen my gift at that point, Colin had dressed to match it.
I had a bit of a scare because when I showed my French sewing buddy the embroidery last week she told me that a Ruby Wedding is not 40 years of marriage and, even though I would practically have signed away my house on the certainty that I was right, I did have to Google it when I got home and discovered that the French call it a Ruby Wedding at 35 years – trust them to be different 🙂
So, I didn’t have to undo any stitching and the French friends and neighbours present at the ‘do’ all happily went along with our quaint foreign ways anyway – even sampling the curry!
Anyway, back to the rose petals which I used to adorn a fruit tart – my contribution to the dessert table. If I tell you it was an adaptation of a Nigella Lawson recipe it won’t surprise you to know that it probably didn’t do anybody’s cholesterol levels any favours. Originally a black and white tart – using blackberries and whitecurrants – this was, once again, from her ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’ book which is now my go to bible for puddings/cakes and other wickedness having rediscovered it on my bookshelves recently.
I thought the raspberries would look like little rubies – well big ones actually – if you had one that size in a ring or a couple in a pair of earrings you wouldn’t complain would you? **
The digestive biscuit base was ‘enhanced’ by a spoonful of cocoa powder and the mascarpone filling was ‘further enhanced’ by some melted white chocolate, the remainder of which was grated on top (well, most of the remainder, some might have found its way elsewhere 😉 ) Anyway, I think it was good but, by the time I got up to the dessert table, it had all gone.
The dessert table – before
I should have nabbed a slice instead of taking photos 😦 Luckily, I have made it once before, without the cocoa and the white chocolate and I know that version was good and, as it so happens I have a photo of it too, albeit taken on my phone in artificial light.
I only paint rose petals on special occasions 😉
** I was reminded here of one of my favourite one-liners from Only Fools and Horses where Del buys Grandad some strawberries and he complains they’re not very big to which Del replies ‘What do you mean they’re not very big? You wouldn’t want one of those up yer nose for a wart would yer?’
What do you mean they ain't very big? You wouldn't like one of those up yer nose for a wart would ye
While my Mum was visiting I abandoned sewing and my workroom for the much more sociable and garden friendly crochet.
I was prepared. Having made a fairly simple blanket as a beginner project I thought I’d tackle something a little more complicated and was tempted by the Sunshine and Showers blanket by Janie Crow which is running as a CAL (crochet along) on her blog here.
You make two identical sections per month for twelve months and then join some sections together and you should end up with the above which looks hideously complicated to me. Look! there are flowers and little hearts and bobbles and things – but I’m hoping to learn as I go along. There are two versions – one in a merino mix yarn and the one I’m doing which is in Stylecraft Special DK which comes in some splendiferous colours. I decided to go with the same colours used in the CAL because there will be less room for confusion and I like them anyway.
I have completed one of the sections for the month of May – the wave pattern is intentional and not due to wine consumption –
Now I have to make a second, identical one and wait for June’s section to be released when, apparently, I will learn ‘puff’ stitches – I can hardly wait and, although I know that sounds sarcastic, there is a an element of truth in it. Simple pleasures……..
I had forgotten how much I hate doing long foundation chains 😦
A glutton for punishment, however, and wanting something easier to do in between waiting for the sections to be released, I bought the yarn to make Lucy at Attic 24’s Hydrangea Blanket for which the pattern is on her blog here
At first glance I wondered why these colours were anything to do with hydrangeas but Lucy explains that she watched how the blooms changed colour over time and has some great photos on her blog (one of which below) showing how right she is.
Wool Warehouse stocks the kits for Attic 24 patterns so I went ahead and sent for them here and began the repetitive, yet addictive, stitch which forms a really nice dense texture.
I like to look at the balls of yarn in their basket. Such a range of colours is hard to resist and, although I avoid 100% acrylic in knitting projects that I am going to wear, in my house a blanket needs to be put in a washing machine. Also, after struggling with a cotton yarn that splits as soon as you look at it in my fusion quilt (squares of fabric with a crochet border) this is an absolute pleasure to crochet with. I’m hooked! Sorry, not sorry.
This is where I am with it so far but progress might slow down a little now Mum has gone back to the U.K. and I am drawn back to the sewing room.
Just in case I wasn’t already knee deep in crochet, I made a hat. For an egg. Well, why wouldn’t you?
Actually, it’s not really for an egg, although it could be, it’s for a bottle. I can’t remember where I saw it mentioned first but Innocent Drinks are, once again, asking for little knitted (or crochet) hats to put on the top of their smoothie bottles in the supermarket and, for each hat-wearing bottle sold, they donate 25pence to Age UK. Since 2003 , 6 million hats have been knitted which has helped raise over £1.9m and increase awareness of the great work done by charities like Age UK.
On a selfish note, it helps me improve my crochet ‘in the round’.
You can read about it here if you fancy putting your needles (or hook) to good use – the deadline this year is 31st July.
The fabric haul from my Walthamstow Market visit has arrived with Mr. T. from the U.K. He has got a ‘pulled’ shoulder muscle from the weight. I blame it on the black flecked jersey on the bottom there which is heavy and there is 3m of it.
I’ve given him some Ibuprofen, treated the affected shoulder with a cursory massage and told him to buy a cabin bag with wheels.
Close ups and potential uses for the precious cargo to follow .
You may remember that I am making a wallhanging for behind the bed and am using a pattern from Kaffe Fassett’s book Passionate Patchwork which features hatboxes each in their own little cubby hole complete with ‘shelf lining’ and ‘wallpaper’.
I am making twelve 12.5 inch blocks for a 4 x 3 layout wallhanging and using Liberty of London tana lawn for the boxes and bands and scraps of what I hope are complimentary fabrics for the backgrounds.
Kate over at Tall Tales from Chiconia is making a full size quilt for herself from the same pattern and we pledged to make three a month. Kate has more to do than me (you can see her progress here) and these are (possibly) my final three.
This is probably my favourite one this month.
The ever popular Strawberry Thief design.
This gorgeous pink tangle of blooms was one of the fabrics I bought in a 50% off online sale that Liberty were having on their tana lawns – the band was from my box of Liberty scraps as all the bands have been.
Now I have all twelve or, as I hinted above, have I?
This is not necessarily the final layout and not a particularly sharp photo as I had all the blocks clinging to a flannel sheet hanging from some shelves and they kept falling off so I had to take it quickly but my dilemma is – do I keep the dark pink box with the strong gold/yellow background in this mix or not? I did wonder when I first made it. I really like it but I’m wondering if it’s too strongly coloured to blend properly with the others – although the purple one is strong too.
I am going to quilt them all separately using the quilt as you go method. The quilting will be simple as I can’t do complicated and then I’ll join them with sashing – another colour decision to make – and then tadaah! it will adorn our bedroom wall (if Mr. T. is in agreement – he’s always resisted ‘fabric art’ on the walls before 😉 )
So, do I ditch the one third from the left on the first row or do I keep it? What do you think?