Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Another Christmas Make

I almost forgot to post details of this final thing I made for Christmas. This little cross stitch lavender sachet was a kit I bought when we visited Ely cathedral (I think! Although it could have been from another cathedral ..... I forget!). The design just appealed to me and I couldn't think of a better reason to buy it!

I started it when we were on holiday back in July as a little project to do in odd moments. It was so small it fitted just right in my handbag.
In the run-up to Christmas, it suddenly occurred to me that it would make a nice additional present for my Mum. Mum has made some lovely things for me over the years and I really treasure them. I thought it was about time I made something for her. I personalised the back using the same free back-stitch lettering that I used on the heart sachets.
What you can't tell is how wonderfully pungent is the lavender that came with the kit. It smells fantastic and she loved it!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

A Sad Anniversary Date Today

Although Christmas has been lovely so far, spending yesterday with John's side of the family, it was sad in that it was the first Christmas spent without John's Mum, Rose, as today marks the first anniversary of her passing away.

I'm afraid that Boxing Day is going to have very sad memories for many years to come. She is very much missed by everyone. Continue to rest in peace Rose.


Festive Season Thank You Presents

Christmas has been quite 'lazy' for me this year as yesterday was spent at our Niece's house and today we will be at my brother and sister-in-law's house. In fact yesterday, when going to get some milk out, I couldn't help but remark to John that we must be the only house at Christmas that had a pretty empty fridge!

As a last minute thing, I decided to make some thank you scented pouches for our Christmas hostesses. These were actually freebies with the Cross Stitcher magazine a few months ago and I just liked them and had been stitching the white and red cross stitch hearts over a few weeks whilst sitting in bed of an evening!

The cross stitch front is stitched on gingham material, which is actually harder to cross stitch on than I thought it would be. The back, which you can't see, is red felt. I sewed them up on Christmas Eve by sewing machine. I decided to make them scented following a post I'd read on The Unbroken Thread. I took a stick of cinnamon, a couple of tablespoons of cloves and a nutmeg and whizzed them round in my food processor. However, this is clearly not the thing to do with the nutmeg! From time to time it got stuck on one of the food processor blades, so in the end, I just grated it. I then made two small pouches from some very thin material I had in my workbox and put the chopped up and slightly powdery mix in them. These then went into the hearts with ordinary polyester stuffing around them.

I have to say, the room smelt wonderful whilst doing this!

The little 'labels' were my own idea. They are just oblongs of aida with back stitch lettering. I then used iron on interfacing on the back to both stiffen them and cover the reverse of my stitching. A simple line of running stitches with embroidery floss then attaches the labels to the ribbon.

Claire loved her one yesterday and Rowena gets her one later today.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

James Loves the Firefox Pouch :)

Result! James loves the pouch! In truth, although I was very pleased with how it came out ....... can I confess to being ever so slightly 'worried' that he may be ...... well ...... underwhelmed by it? After all, it is 'only' a little pouch! The materials weren't all that expensive to buy ...... just my time investment!
However ...... no need AT ALL for any such thoughts. He was totally wowed by it! When someone just out of being a teenager uses 'awesome' as a description ...... well, guess that's a serious result :)

Even as I type, he has posted photos of it here, there and everywhere. I guess all I can say in turn is that his response is totally awesome! I am so glad I made it for him :)
I realise I didn't get round to blogging about the final bit of making the pouch up. However, firstly, I definitely owe the Radical Cross Stitch site another big Thank You for posting the free cross stitch pattern of the Firefox logo. I posted about stitching the design in an earlier post.

Making it up was much easier than I thought it would be. I hunted round loads of sites on the Internet looking for a pouch-like pattern but nothing really 'hit the spot' until I saw a Kindle cover tutorial at The Sometimes Crafter. I have based my pouch on her approach.

When I set about making the pouch, the idea was to make it somewhat bigger than the hard drive. We 'borrowed' it from James when he was out and I took the measurements. I used felt for the outside and used thin fusible polyester batting to pad it out for the protection of the hard drive. Now ...... I hadn't used my sewing machine for a VERY long time. In an earlier post, I mentioned how back in September I had to have the poor beastie repaired/serviced. So, did I feel brave enough to start with the pouch itself? Might it be better to have a trial run on something else? Oh .... blow it! Just go for it! Thankfully, my nervousness was unfounded ...... I decided using a sewing machine must be like riding a bike ...... not something you forget :)
Then another snag...... the felt I had wasn't really big enough to make it bigger than the drive in the way I initially intended. So, a quick review of the measurements ...... a bit of light maths ...... a bit of wetting a finger to test which way the wind was blowing ..... even a tiny prayer? You will notice that there is a 'design feature' of a seam where the flap folds over. Well ..... 'design' my eye! That was actually because I had to join two bits of felt together :)
The lining material was a nice bit of modern material I bought from Gone To Earth which was also where I bought the fusible polyester lining. Incidentally, the only place in the UK I found who sells fusible, not too thick batting.
The self-covered button came from Blooming Felt, covered with the same material as the lining material ...... and also with a little bit of the batting to pad the button out a bit. Doing the button was an experience! I had wanted to produce a self-covered button for some time as they look so cute! This project was an idea opportunity! These buttons were much cheaper than any I'd seen anywhere else and as I was also buying some felt from them, it seemed like a good idea to buy the buttons at the same time.
However, the little tool required to actually cover the buttons didn't come with any instructions. Still ...... how hard could it be? So, I carefully cut out the little circle of the lining material ...... ironed on the little bit of batting ........ got the tool ........
Could I work out how to use it? Could I hell!!
Consulted with my engineer husband ........ he couldn't work it out either! Sent Blooming Felt an email, but then went away and had a lie down in a darkened room and thought ........ this can't be this difficult, surely? Let's approach this logically ......... managed to work it out but discovered that what I was lacking was some serious muscle power to 'click' the backing in place ....... the husband came in handy here!
So ...... stitched on the badge. All done! But ....... remember, I had to reduce the size. Would the hard drive fit? A small white lie to James as to why I needed to 'borrow' the drive and, miracles of miracles, it is a lovely snug fit!!! Phew!
PS You may wonder how on earth I have had the time to write all this on Christmas day? Well ...... no cooking for me today :) Going to our niece in a little while. I have made her a little surprise present as a 'Thank You' for 'doing' Christmas. If I get the same response from her it will be a seriously awesome day for me :)

Friday, 24 December 2010

Wishing Everyone a Merry Christmas

I'd like to wish everyone a Happy and Peaceful Christmas. This time last year, I hadn't discovered the world of Craft and Needlework blogs and so I'd like to express my thanks to the wealth of talent and inspiration so freely shared by so many people around the world.

I thought I'd share with you a few items I made many years ago that form a set part of the Christmas tradition in my family. The cross stitch stocking in the photo above I made for James when he was about 3 years old from a kit from Readicut. It is 16 inches from top to bottom and 10 inches across at the 'foot' part of the stocking. It is stitched on 11 count Aida and the backing is a cream coloured cotton material. It took me ages to complete, primarily because the black and white chart that I had to follow was the most difficult one I have ever done! It had obscure Greek letters as the chart symbols and the pattern was very faint in some areas. I'm sure it was a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy!

In the following photos are the tent stitch Christmas tree ornaments that I did so long ago, I can't remember exactly when they were made. Again, it was a kit from Readicut and they are stitched on 10 count plastic canvas. They vary in size from 2.5 to 3 inches. However, they were fun to do and they are lovely and colourful on our tree. One added advantage is that they can't be broken! This is useful when you have two cats who think it is great fun to 'hook' things off the Christmas tree :)

A VERY Cold Training Walk on 27th November 2010

Other people stop blogging over the holiday period, but I find the holidays give me time to post! This is a very over-due post on our last training walk on Saturday 27th November. I can't forget the date as this would have been my mother in law, Rose's, 87th Birthday. John was walking wearing his Mum's silver ingot in memory of her and he commented on how very cold the silver ingot was against his skin. We started very early at about 7.50am and it was very, very cold. I have no idea what the temperature was, but it was cold!! I even wore a woolly hat, borrowed from my son ....... and I don't usually 'do' hats!

We decided to do a long circular walk, going south towards Theobalds Grove and then crossing over the A10 on the recently opened footbridge you can see here. We must have looked odd up on the footbridge to anyone driving underneath.

The bridge is stark white and a very modern design. I guess you either love it or hate it but it certainly eye-catching!

This was definately a walk for taking frosty pictures! But on a day like this, I always find myself wondering just how the little birds manage to survive. I guess, in truth, they don't! I was only reading the other day that in the hard winter of 1963/4, the population of wrens in Great Britain plummeted so may I take this opportunity to encourage anyone reading this to put food out for the birds.
Having crossed the footbridge, we made our way across to the New River and followed that northwards. At the point where this comes near to Broxbourne Town Hall, we saw a Green Woodpecker. It was more interested in looking for food than worrying about us, so we got quite a good view of him as he hunted for food on the grass.

Looking at these frosty pictures and thinking back to how cold we were, it makes me thankful for having a nice warm house. In weather like we've been having just recently, I can't help but think about those souls who are living rough.

We carried on walking north along the New River until we got to Rye House. At this point, we joined the Lea and walked south to home.
In total, we walked around 14 miles in a time of 5 hours.
Since then, the weather has been so bad, we haven't been able to go out ..... so roll on better weather.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Do Blog Entries Really Need Photos?

I always feel like I'm 'cheating' if a blog entry doesn't have a photo, especially looking at the fantastic photos that appear so regularly on the miriad blogs I follow.

However, are photos really always necessary?

I have just stumbled on a blog called My Own Circle of Confusion and it really breaks what I had almost come to see as an unwritten rule that you must have photos. I have only just started to look round her blog but, as yet, I haven't found any photos in her entries. However, to be honest, she doesn't need them! I just love her original style of writing, especially her musings on goings on in her family.

That's not to say she doesn't have any photos .... she does! But they are in separate blog entries entirely. If you have a spare moment (or ten), it's a blog worth visiting.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Time, Time ..... Need More Time!

I do so admire people who seem to keep down a job, make loads of things .... and still find time to take photos and add blog entries almost every day! I take my hat off to them ..... or perhaps not in the current snowy weather :)

I actually have lots of things to report on, but processing the photos and actually creating the blog entries seems to elude me! As it is, I'm quickly typing this in a 'lull' period at work, hence the lack of photos!

What's there to report on? Well, there's a very cold training walk from a couple of weeks ago; about 14 miles and I dread to think what the temperature was. On the 'making' front, I've finished making the external hard drive pouch for James .... and I'm very pleased with how it's turned out. I've completed the little cross-stitch sachet I started as a fill-in project back in July. I've personalised it by adding a cross-stitch message for my Mum as it's going to be a little extra present for her. I've made an extra Christmas decoration based on an example from Betz White, using the felt I bought from Blooming Felt recently.

Not forgetting getting all the Christmas presents! Oh ...... and John decided as a last minute thing to turn one of his photos into a Christmas card.

So, very busy all round :)
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