Sunday, 1 May 2016

Hardanger #1, first update

I'm still sewing along with the 3-weekly SAL (ladies, I think we need a name for this SAL!), but having finished the Viennese Waltz, I'm picking up an old WIP.  Back in 2013/2014 I was stitching along with Mabel Figworthy's Fancies Song of the Weather SAL. This was a SAL which I was doing as 2 pieces, each 2 x 3 blocks.  I completed January to June, then started on the next one, intending to go back and sash the first when I'd finished.  That never happened as I only got as far as September.  This is July - September.

I finished that in September 2014, you can see my last blog post here.  For the SAL I'm going to finish October to December, then I'm going to sash between the blocks with a Hardanger design from one of my books.  I'll pick up January-June as my next SAL project.

Wish me luck!

I'm sewing along as part of a SAL, you can go and see what the other participants have been up to here:

AvisClaireGunCarole, LucyAnnKateCathyJessSueConstanze

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Speed Craft #4 - needle felting

My previous post was about the Speed Craft event me and wonderful mum attended at Debbie Bryan.  If you want to know what it's all about, scroll down and read that post.

Our forth session of the day was needle felting.  I have done this before but it's always good to see how other people do things, particularly when you're self-taught.

We used biscuit cutters as the base.  There was no bunny but I wouldn't have chosen it anyway.  As soon as I saw this t-rex I was sold!

No in-progress shots as I was too busy stab, stab, stabbing!  I did Mr Dinosaur in turquoise on white.  I wanted him to be holding a carrot, but there were no orange tops so I made a flower / lollipop instead.  That is actually his hand holding the flower, but now it looks to me like it's his bottom jaw and he's eating it!

I was running out of time (remember we only had 45 minutes), so I quickly sewed a brooch back on.

Due to the time constraints, I glued a second layer of white felt at the back and then cut round it.  The turquoise in the middle of the sandwich is where the felt comes through when you're stabbing it.

Yes, I am 38.  Yes, I am wearing a dinosaur brooch.  I wore it to work and everyone was very careful not to mention it!

Monday, 25 April 2016

Speed Craft #2 - Brass work

April was the first Speed Craft of the year at Debbie Bryan.  Me and wonderful mum went last year in October and loved it so much there was no way we were going to miss this one!

There were 5 craft tables and 5 groups of 8 ladies (I would have loved to have seen some men there, but alas, there were none!).  We started at one table, had 45 minutes to craft, then a tea break before moving to the next table.  We continued round the room like this, stopping for lunch and for tea breaks.

We were welcomed with Bucks Fizz (I had Elderflower Cordial as I'm allergic to oranges and can't drink alcohol!).  We started with ceramics brooches/buttons with Katie Almond, moved on to metal working with Emma Hender.  Then there was a break for lunch before we did some concrete work with Bethany Walker, more coffee then a needle felting session with Debbie.  The last table was origami notebooks with Katie McKeag who works at the shop.  I can't find any web links for Katie.  We finished up with Cosmopolitans (more Elderflower for me!) and more cake!  I forgot to mention cake was served several times during the day....

I'm starting with our second table as at the time of writing I hadn't received back our ceramics or concrete pieces.

Emma is a silversmith.  She'd bought a load of brass rings which she'd oxidised - that gives it the black surface.  This meant we could scratch and scrape into it to create patterns or pictures.  Great idea Emma as a silversmithing taster can't be an easy thing to plan!

I was enjoying it so much I didn't take any photos of the equipment we used - I really am a bad blogger!  I mainly used a scribe - a sharp pointy tool - to score and scrape at the metal to create geometric lines.  The W was unintentional!

I used a file to scratch the ends and the top and bottom to reveal the brass.

I have also inscribed a song lyric inside the ring, but that's staying private!

Of course, I enjoyed this, I do love metalwork / silversmithing, and I can safely say I'll be doing more of it - every Wednesday in fact!

Friday, 22 April 2016

baby blanket

A lovely colleague should be having her baby boy around now.... push Carol, push!  I had to make her a present and settled on a baby blanket.  I'd bought some balls of Whisper White yarn a while ago, but never got round to using it so this seemed the ticket.  It's a lovely soft Merino yarn and is in a shade of bluish-white so seemed perfect, especially as I began it before I found out the sex of the baby!

I used a pattern from Cute and Easy Crochet by Nicki Trench.  It's a very simple ripple pattern and I enjoyed it.

These photos were taken whilst it was being blocked.  I finished it on Monday night and was blocking it around 10.30, way past my bed time!  Having to give it to her on the Friday, I knew I didn't have any other chance to get daylight pictures so I took these on the Tuesday when I had a day off (craft class - coming up!).

I started it back in November, plenty of time!  Then I didn't work on it again until February.  Unfortunately, although I remembered how much I like to crochet, and although I liked the pattern and the yarn, it hurt my hands and I could only do a couple of rows at a time so it took forever!

I'm not sure it is big enough so I'm hoping she has a little baby!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Letterpress #2

Once more, before I start the post, I have to tell you my latest bad news.  Not regarding the buns this time.  Driving home from Quilt Guild, I heard a knocking sound and a light came on my dashboard.  I pulled over to investigate and found this.

Yep, a ruddy great bolt embedded in my tyre!

Anyway, back to the craft.  In March me and wonderful mum went to a Letterpress workshop at Malt Cross in Nottingham.  It's a pub which also hosts art and craft workshops.  This workshop was with Cleeve Press.  Unfortunately, my depression reared its ugly head and I was in a bit of a state that day.  Lino cutting was on offer to make our own motifs and I did quite a lot of that, just sitting quietly so I didn't get the most of out this workshop.

Here are two of the stamps I cut from lino.  I really do love lino cutting.  I just wish I had some artistic talent!

I cut some more stamps which I didn't get a chance to use in this workshop, though I can use them with ordinary inks or fabric inks.  These are things I love.  Besides bunnies that's my sewing machine, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and coffee!

Oh, and Mr CA of course...

It's our wedding anniversary on Sunday (as I write this), which means last Sunday (as you read this).  I meant to get this framed as a present!  I completely forgot.  There were a variety of fonts to use on traditional wooden blocks.  I failed to get a photo of the blocks or the letter presses (there were three), but you can see some in the post where we did a taster session - go here.

The bunny rabbit and some quilt-block like motifs got a run out, but I couldn't get it right, I wasn't pleased with this at all.

I'm afraid that's all I have to show for this workshop.  I failed.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Bluebird parking 2

Following on from the bad news in my last post, I've also been having trouble with Colin and Kate.  Kate is the new rabbit we adopted after we lost Ellis.  I can't get a photo of her as she hides in dark corners.  She's half-wild and is terrified of me.  They were living together for a few weeks when they started to fight.  Fur everywhere.  I've separated them and the plan was to bond them back together.  Poor Colin has been temporarily exiled to the old hutch:

(that's only part of the hutch and when Tiff and Harry lived in it, it had a run permanently attached.  Colin is only going to be in there for a week or so, so it's not so bad.  I would never lodge a rabbit in a hutch with a run for long periods)

We put them in the bath (small space, neutral territory) for a few hours to try to bond them.

After that, whilst giving Colin a quick health check before returning him to his hutch, I found strange patches on his back.  There are bold patches with what look like black scabs.  There are red raw spots around this and strange black tube with hair growing out of them sticking an inch or so out of his skin.  I have no idea if this is injuries from his tussle with Kate or something worse...  Colin is living apart and I'm keeping them separate until his vets appointment so I can find out what's going on.  Wish him luck.

On to the quilting.  I just went back to find the last post on this quilt and it was July of last year!  You can see it here.  I've since made some more of the medium star blocks.

I've arranged and rearranged them on the floor.

I've added solids to the mix to try to find an arrangement I like.  It became clear I needed more stars.

I tried out a few more layouts.

Not liking any of these much.

So I made the stars to help see how it would look.

So I cut out the pieces.

I chain pieced and I chain trimmed.

I chain pressed.

And I chain pieced some more.  I started with 9 stars, I finished with 7...

Because I am just such an idiot!!

See how much of an idiot I am??

These new small stars, the old stars and the solid fabrics came with me to the East Midlands Quilt Guild April meeting for some help from my quilt buddies.  I'm pretty much out of fabric, though I do have some FQs and a half metre piece - all grey prints though.  There was much disagreeing with my choice of yellow, much bossiness from certain (lovely) friends but I still haven't completely decided.  I sewed up the top left corner, but then I was stumped so packed it away.  Apparently I didn't bother taking a photo of that.  You'll have to wait for the next gripping installment in, oh, around 10 months time probably!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016


Today I have sad news.

My lovely little Tiff was diagnosed with cancer of the stomach.  It's very rare in rabbits so the vet was unable to give me a prognosis.  There is nothing they can do, she's 8 and surgery would likely kill her and probably wouldn't cure her anyway.  She's on pain meds and I'm watching her carefully for signs that she's suffering when I will have to say goodbye.

For the time being, she seems in good spirits and is still running around, cuddling with Harry, cuddling with me and scoffing her food like someone is going to take it away!

(she's only cowering in the corner as she thinks i'm going to take her out and give her her medicine!)

Today's post is about a workshop that me and lovely mum took back in February!  I'm really behind with my posts... for those that don't know, I don't get a chance to post during the week and what I'm showing you is very rarely what I've just that minute finished.  I have to do photography (if you could call it that!) and post writing at weekends, but I don't get a chance every weekend so I tend to write about 3 weeks' worth of posts in one go and schedule them.

This enamelling class was the day after a Bead Shop workshop where I'd started to feel ill.  By the Sunday, the day of the workshop, I felt pretty bad.  The following day we were supposed to go to the Stitches trade show and couldn't go as I'd come down with a chest infection.  Because of this, I don't think I was as creative as I would usually be and I've completely forgotten the name of the tutor!

The workshop was held where I have my weekly Silversmith class, in a building that belongs to one of the local collages and The Textile Workshop.  We were learning to torch fire enamels.

We started with some copper blanks to which we added glue (to hold it in place temporarily) and the enamel which is glass powder.  

They are then placed on a wire mesh rack and fired with a torch until the enamel melts.  Above you can see the fronts of my pieces.  The one on the left is actually the back as I preferred it to the front.  You have to enamel and fire the back first, then you do the front.  Whilst firing the front, the back changes as it's melting again and you can't be certain what will happen.  In the case of this white/pink one, I love what happened!  It was green on the front as you can see below.

The green one on the left chipped.  I quite like the backs of the other two as well!

I've included two photos of the drop pendents, one on a black background and one on white as I just couldn't get a decent photo.  They shine in the light as they're so glossy.  I love the dimpled effect from the one on the left.  For the life of me I can't remember what I did to it!  The one on the right is cloisonne.

I used thin silver wire to make the circles and then added the enamel.  I really love how this turned out.

Here are the backs.  I can see that the one on the left I did a gradiated effect, I think the one on the right was just blue.

When the tutor found out I was a silversmithing student, she let me loose on the tools.  I cut a disc, domed it and drilled a hole before adding a layer of white and then a layer of blue enamel.  Pretty.

Those of you with a good memory may remember we did enamelling before.  That was at the Manor House Hotel in Devon and, though similar, was kiln fired enamelling.  You can read about it here.

I enjoyed the workshop, I think if I'd been well, I would have loved it and come up with many more ideas.  Enamelling is something I'd like to do at home.  One day I'll have a set up with a kiln and a torch so I can dabble in both!