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Tag Archives: handmade

Put your heart into it

Hearts are an eternally popular symbol, but sometimes I’m a bit tired of seeing them used as just a fun design shape. It’s easy to forget what they mean: love, and living your life with warmth and kindness in your heart. With this in mind, I try to be careful how I use hearts and reserve them only for really special projects.

One such project was this heart embroidery filled with flowers, worked on crochet fabric, which I made as a decoration for our wedding:

Heart embroidery on crochet fabric

It was surprisingly simple to make by gradually building up the picture, starting with the stem stitch heart outline. Then I made the big two-tone straight stitch flowers, the chunky bullion knot blooms and the dainty satin stitch petals. I filled in the remaining areas with stems made of straight and feather stitches, and then tiny satin stitch buds. I used one of my favourite yarns, DMC Natura Just Cotton, which has some lovely, natural colours.

I wanted this heart to symbolise my love for my now-husband, which is like a warm garden full of beautiful flowers in all sorts of colours, sizes and textures, with new blooms developing all the time. I love looking at it!

It’ll have a new home once our house renovations are finished, but for now it’s hanging up with some other treasured items (including the lovely Welsh spoons gift we had, with the date of our wedding on):

Heart embroidery home

The other heart-themed project I made for our wedding was this chiffon wrap, trimmed with crocheted hearts:
(Sorry this photo is a bit rubbish – did you know that photographing white chiffon is really tricky?!)

Heart-trimmed chiffon wrap

I wanted to make a wrap to use as a cover-up in case it was cold, or if I felt a little self-conscious of showing off too much flesh! It was easy to make – I just bought 1m of chiffon (1.5m wide), folded it in half and hemmed around the edges, leaving a turning gap. I turned it through to the right side and topstitched around the edge, before sewing on the crocheted hearts by hand.

It was very simple to make, although I have to admit that I… um… totally ruined the first piece of chiffon that I bought by using a really old needle in my sewing machine. It pulled on the threads like mad – whoops! As soon as I got off my lazy rear and inserted a new needle, the second piece of chiffon ran like a dream through the machine. It was ok though, I cut up the ruined piece and used it for some other projects, which I’ll tell you about another time…

Anyway, so on our wedding day, it sat quite nicely around my arms and was handy for putting around me when it started drizzling! You can see me wearing it in this photo:

Me wearing heart-trimmed wrap

Here’s a close-up of the wrap, which featured cream hearts along each side and a blue heart at each corner:

Heart trim close-up

I used a lovely yarn to hook the hearts, Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton, which feels really soft and has a slight sheen that adds a luxurious look.

I wanted the hearts on the wrap to symbolise my love for handmade. With each stitch that I hooked, I thought about how much I love creating unique items by hand and I tried to put my heart into making each shape special – partly as a special gift to myself, but I also thought about the hearts being viewed by all our loved ones at our wedding and hoping they’d smile as they realised that of course I’d made it myself! When I finally wore the wrap on our big day, I definitely felt some of that love keeping me warm.

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Posted by on April 10, 2018 in Crochet, Embroidery, Sewing

 

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Um.. Hello?

Hello…? Is there anyone there? It’s been almost two years since my last blog post so maybe you’ve all moved on…

A lot has happened in two years. For me anyway. My Dad died… unexpectedly. And with dreadful timing. That has changed everything. Like an emotional bombshell. The person I was then has gone. It’s taken a long time to accept and rebuild the new me. There’s been sadness, anger, frustration, panic, self-doubt and despair. But throughout, I’ve clung onto tiny moments of joy that have kept me going.

One of the most important joys for me has been making things. I don’t think I’ve created my best designs in that time (!) but each make has given me a point on the horizon to aim for when I felt adrift in life.

So slowly but surely (and with the help of a wonderful therapist), I’ve made my way back to the shore of optimism. With both feet firmly back on dry land, I finally feel ready to get on with life again. And much to my own surprise, I want to blog again. Hopefully someone will be listening!

I have a lot of makes to share from the last two years, so I need to be patient and not post them all at once!

For now, I’ll leave you with this treasured picture I have, which was (lightly) coloured in by me and my Dad when he was in the hospital. It’s so full of joy…

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Loving handmade

Apologies for the lack of posts in February – making, doing and organising for the wedding has entirely taken over my life and blogging has somewhat fallen by the wayside… fear not though, I’ll be making up for it in May by telling you about everything I’ve been making for the wedding, including a sewn bridal bag, a personalised guest book, paper table confetti, a sewn bridal wrap decorated with crocheted hearts, a decorated card box and more.

Alongwith wedding crafting, I’ve also been working on (paid!) commissions for Simply Crochet and The Sewing Directory. I’m not quite sure how I’ve squeezed it all in really…anyway, my latest make for The Sewing Directory has been this canvas messenger bag:

Sewn canvas messenger bag

Sewn canvas messenger bag

I really love messenger bags – I feel secure with it worn across the body, I like the way it sits on the hip, and it’s easy to get stuff in and out. They’re the perfect bag for me!

I’ve wanted to try my hand at making one for ages, and then my current messenger bag (the one in this post, here) started fraying so I knew it was time. I pitched it to The Sewing Directory and they said yes, so I got to work and I’m really pleased with the outcome.

It wasn’t easy and took me about a week to make it, while working out the pattern at the same time, and then another week to write out the pattern in detail from my scribbled notes and draw step-by-step diagrams that someone else could follow. But it’s a pattern I’m really proud of. The bag itself has also been getting a lot of attention – people can’t believe it when I say I made it (I always love that).

If you’re interested in making your own messenger bag, pop over to The Sewing Directory for the free instructions. What I don’t mention in the instructions, though, is the extra pocket that I added to make the bag perfect for me! When I travel on the bus, I always worry about losing my bus ticket and try to keep it in the same place every time – but that place is usually inside a pocket that’s inside my zipped-up purse that’s inside my zipped-up bag. It’s a Russian doll effect that makes it tricky to get the ticket out in a hurry if I’m late and the bus is arriving just as I am (yes, that happens more times than I’d like to admit). So I gave my bag a hidden outside pocket along the side – you can see it in this photo if you look for the extra stitching near the orange flower:

Hidden outer pocket

Hidden outer pocket

It was fun trying to line up the pattern on the two pieces of fabric to get that ‘hidden’ effect and I think I did a pretty decent job. I love having a special hidden bus ticket pocket – it’s perfect for me. I also added another little pocket inside for my house key (which I can never find when I need it!). It’s these sorts of little life-improving details that makes me love handmade!

And so onto another made-to-measure treat that I crocheted for Simply Crochet – these men’s colourwork mittens:

Crochet colourwork mittens

Crochet colourwork mittens

These fine mittens are modelled above by my other half (soon to be husband!) who happily got to keep them afterwards. He really did deserve them as well because I made them to fit his hands while we were on holiday in November – he tried them on so many times for me that I think he worked almost as hard as I did to help bring them to life!

I used a simple spike stitch wave pattern to create a manly argyle look (if you squint, you can see it much better!). He loves these mittens (I just checked with him and he does) because they’re soft and warm, they have a subtle pattern and obviously the fit is perfect. He’s worn them much more than the previous rainbow-coloured mitts that I knitted for him about 10 years ago, so I think that’s a success.

If you’re interested in the pattern, you can get the pattern on Ravelry here or on Etsy here. Or it’s in issue 41 of Simply Crochet magazine, which also features the pattern for my rainbow scarf:

Rainbow scarf

Rainbow scarf

I made this one a while back and blogged about it here. It’s one of my favourite ever scarves and I wear it all the time, so it’ll be great to see what creative effects other crocheters can achieve with the pattern.

Right, I’m off back to sewing crocheted flowers onto a crocheted ribbon to decorate the front of my bridal car…

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Crochet, Sewing

 

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Festive gifts 

Now that the festivities of the big day are over, I think it’s safe to share some of the gifts I made for Christmas…

First off, my mum asked for a bobble hat, so I showed her various yarns and drew different designs, but eventually this is what I crocheted for her:

Crochet hat for mum

Crochet hat for mum

I used an aran-weight alpaca yarn, working in treble stitches in the round. I started off in blue and then worked the increases in red, creating an interlocking spiked effect. There was a lot of colour changing and counting involved, but it was worth it because mum really likes the finished hat. I think it has a subtle crown-like element to it. It’s certainly unusual anyway.

The weather is unseasonably mild at the moment so my mum won’t need to wear it for a while, but she says it’s lovely and cosy. She wanted the big bobble pompom on the top, which used a lot of yarn and took a while to make. And it really does ‘bobble’ about on your head when you wear it, which is fun!

Next up, I also used my crochet hooks to make this adorable owl for my aunty:

Crochet owl

Crochet owl

Owls are my aunty’s favourite and it just so happened that Simply Crochet features an owl pattern in issue 40 (on sale soon) – as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make it for her. The pattern actually comes from a book, Sweet Crochet by Sandrine Deveze, and it was really easy to make. I used a cream linen yarn with variegated lengths of sparkly gold, which gives the owl a lovely texture. And of course, I had to make a little gif of him in his natural woodland habitat!

I also made a few foodie treats, as is customary at Christmas. The most effort fun was making jars of pancake mix for two of my cousins. My cousin Adam is coeliac so I had the idea of making him a gluten-free pancake mix, to which he could just add milk (dairy or dairy-free). I like to keep a good stock of empty jars for such occasions, although of course, I had to do a bit of dressing up to make the jar look festive:

Pancake mix

Pancake mix

So I glued a circle of red fabric over the lid, then added a circle of glittery gold netting over the top and worked some gathering stitches to keep the two fabric layers in place. Then I added another piece of festive ribbon to the body of the jar (my mum had just given me this ribbon so that was perfect timing!). The only thing missing was a label, so I designed that on the computer, printed out the front and back, glued the two sides together and attached it to the jar with a small piece of ribbon. Here’s a close-up view of the label:

Gluten-free pancake mix label

Gluten-free pancake mix label

This jar turned out so good that I decided to make a second jar (not gluten free) for another cousin – I figured, who doesn’t like pancakes? They’re such a treat, which is what Christmas is all about.

Pancake label

If you’re interested in the recipe for the pancake mix, please head to my foodie blog, littlegreenplate.wordpress.com where you’ll also find some of the other foodie treats I made for a happy vegan Christmas! Hope you had a good one 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2015 in Baking, Crochet, Other Crafts, Sewing

 

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Welsh Dragon

Today is my lovely sister-in-law Catherine’s birthday. She’s been part of our family for 15 years now and I couldn’t have wished for a nicer sister-in-law. Plus, she’s a brilliant mum to my gorgeous nieces – and a key reason why they’re so gorgeous and not little minxes!

I’ve crafted a few things for her over the years (a hat, a belt, some other bits and bobs), but she’s never specifically asked me to make anything for her… until this year.

I’m not sure whether it’s because she’s turned 40 today or whether the recent Rugby world cup stirred up her Welsh pride, but she asked me to make her a Welsh dragon. Actually, she saw a crochet pattern of a Welsh dragon and asked me if I could make ‘anything like that’. “Of course I can,” I replied boldly – that was before I looked closely at the pattern and realised it was a whopping 30cm in size!

Surely she wouldn’t want a dragon that big, I thought, even if it is a Welsh dragon! So I set about making a much smaller, cuter amigurumi-style dragon instead – one that’s a little more cheerful and child-friendly, rather than being too life-like and scary. And here he is, happy to say hello…

Little dragon

Little dragon

The pattern I used is a classic in crochet circles – it’s Stephanie Lau’s adorable little dragon pattern (see www.allaboutami.com/post/16498866712/dragonpattern). Although I have made a few adjustments and additions along the way…

Obviously, I used red yarn instead of green for added Welsh-ness, but this had the unintended effect of making him look somewhat like a devil rather than a dragon! So I added extra ‘cute’ by making his horns out of a sparkly black yarn and giving him a smiley face.

I also added extra wings on his back, just to make him a bit more like a dragon, although they are quite delicate – they’re cut out of felt, with long stitches of yarn to form the veins.

Dragon wings

Dragon wings

They were so delicate at first that I decided to stiffen them with spray starch, which has helped, but I am worried about whether they will survive any rough handling by my nieces… oh well, once you’ve made something and given it away, you have to let go!

Mind you, I haven’t actually let him go yet – those fragile wings meant that I decided not to send him in the post, but to deliver him to Catherine in person tomorrow. Maybe I’ll have to warn her (and my nieces) that he’s not a toy for children – no, he’s umm a hot, dangerous (!) dragon that only grown-ups can handle… it might work for 5 minutes!

Anyway, happy birthday Catherine, we love you lots 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2015 in Crochet

 

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150 Thrifty Knits

It’s been a while since I’ve knitted anything – crochet seems to have been demanding all my creative time! So it was fun recently to work on a knitting bookazine, 150 Thrifty Knits, which is on sale now:

150 Thrifty Knits bookazine

150 Thrifty Knits bookazine

My involvement was to compile the patterns inside from previous issues of Simply Knitting magazine. The most fun challenge of working on this was trying to get 150 patterns into 132 pages – not easy!

But I’m pleased to say I managed to squeeze in all sorts of patterns for every occasion, including sweet little makes for babies and kids, gift ideas for all the family, treats for yourself or a very special friend, fashion and accessories, and homewares.

At just £7.99, I think this is a real bargain. You can find out more at www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk or purchase a digital copy from within the free Simply Knitting app (see here for more).

I’m surprised how this bookazine has reignited my enthusiasm for knitting – now, where is my needle stash…

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2014 in Knitting

 

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Simple sewn mats

You might remember that we redecorated our bedroom in July, and I got busy crafting little extras to make it truly ours. Maybe you even remember this photo of our windowsill:

Bedroom temporary plant mat

Bedroom temporary plant mat

Yes, that was a spare oven mitt being used as a plant mat, to protect the wooden windowsill that I’d very carefully painted. Well, I’m happy to tell you that the oven mitt is back in its kitchen drawer, where it should be, because we’ve made a whole windowsill full of pretty, sewn mats:

Six simply sewn windowsill mats

Six simply sewn windowsill mats

The best thing about this sewing project is that all six mats were made by both me and Jonny (the other/better half). We had chosen the fabric together, I’d cut all the pieces and threaded the sewing machine – I was all ready to get started by myself when (as a joke) I asked him whether he might be interested in learning to sew by doing the first (easiest) sewing stage on the mats. To my surprise, he said: “Yeah, I’ll give it a go.” I was surprised and delighted in equal measure!

I think his willingness was, in part, due to a television programme that we’d watched the night before. The BBC do a show called The Great British Sewing Bee, which I really enjoy. Well, they did a series of three charity specials recently, for Children in Need, with celebrities – some of whom were men (some of whom were pretty good). We watched it together and I think seeing other men sewing had made it acceptable for him to do the same.

So I pinned two pieces right sides together and showed him the basics of using the machine, backstitching, sewing in a straight line, turning a corner and leaving a turning gap. And he was really good. He’s not too fond of any task that is “tedious and repetitive”, so his attention span only stretched to doing three mats before he had to have a break. But he came back and sewed the other three. He also helped me turn them all through to the right side and then I just added the wadding and did the topstitching to finish them off. Here’s one a little closer:

Side 1: beige flower fabric

Side 1: beige flower fabric

We made them so that they have a different fabric on each side and each one has a different feel. Sometimes I’m in the mood for the beige side with its delicate little white and blue flowers. Other times, I crave the visual stimulation of the blue side with its geometric patterns:

Side 2: Blue fabric

Side 2: Blue fabric

So far, we’ve got the best of both by having some of the mats on one side and some on the other side. It’s really lovely to have a few different handmade items decorating our new bedroom, but what’s makes these mats even more special is knowing that we made them together. They’re the product of a crafty romance 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2014 in Sewing

 

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