Friday 30 May 2014

Liebster - Part 2

In my recent post Liebster - Part 1 I was excited to share that Birgitta of Handmade and Off-centered had nominated me for the Liebster Award. Here are the next parts of my Liebster response :)

My Answers to Birgitta's 11 Questions

1. What is your favorite thing to make?
Scarves. Because they are fairly quick!

2. What is your dream vacation?
The Maldives. We honeymooned there and I would love to go back :) This is a photo of a photo - I don't have an electronic copy of it, we used a camera with film back then!

3. If you could visit with someone from the blog world, what blogger would that be?
I think it would be you Birgitta! Your Little People are so sweet, and Iceland looks amazing. I stole one of your pictures. Hope that's ok :)

4. Who taught you how to knit/crochet/sew? 
I learned to knit and sew at school, and my Mum helped me a bit when I got stuck. I taught myself to crochet and the first thing I crocheted was a scarf for Little Miss. (see question 1 lol)

5. What is your all time favorite color? 
Red. Always red. A few of my red things ....

6. What about you makes you stand out or is a little different than most people you know? 
I'm Northern Irish. Living in England, most of my friends are English, so my accent stands out a bit.

7. What would be your ideal perfect day?
Sunny and warm but not too hot, time at the beach with hubby and the Little People, ice-cream and frappucinos, then feet up with a dvd and crochet on the sofa with hubby :) And someone cooking all the food!

8. What yarn is your favorite and why?
I'm not very adventurous with yarn. At the moment I'd have to say my favourite is the attic24 Stylecraft pack that I got for my birthday :) Yarn-tastic!

9. Do you attend a knitting/crochet/sewing group regularly? 
Yes, I hook with  The Barkham Hookers , run by Gaynor of Confessions of a Barkham Hooker one morning a week.

10. What are your top 5 favorite blogs? 
Before I started blogging properly, my favourites were Attic24, LittleTin Bird, Fiber Flux, LittleWoollie and BunnyMummy. I still visit all of these regularly, but I love loads more, too many to mention !

11. In what way has blogging made a difference in your life?
I find myself looking for the fun and happiness in my life so I can blog about it, its really helped me switch to a more positive outlook.

11 Blogs that I am Nominating

1. Tracey at  Yarn and Pencil
4. Martina at La Martiz Handmade 
6. Amy at Love Made My Home 
7. Miss at My Wool Valley 

Ah.There are only 7. But at least it rhymes with 11 ... I've done loads of blog-hopping to find some new blogs which haven't already received the award, but I keep going off on craft-related tangents... so the list is ending at 7 :)

And here are my Questions to the Blogs I am nominating...

Jill's 11 Questions
1. What is your favourite craft activity ?
2. What was the last project you finished ?
3. What would be your ideal crafted gift to receive ?
4. What is your favourite season ?
5. What is your favourite craft-related-non-blog website ?
6. Which craft activity have you never done but would like to try ?
7. What was the last magazine you bought ?
8. What was the last book you read ?
9. What did you want to be when you were little ?
10. What is your favourite thing about blogging ?
11. How did you choose the name of your blog ?

That's it! Hope you enjoyed the pictures, please go and have a browse through the blogs listed above, and share the bloggy love :)

Thursday 29 May 2014

Jacob's Simply Stripey Baby Blanket

In the last few months I've finished two baby blankets with a square theme - Harrison's giant granny square blanket, and Jasper's dot in a square blanket - and both used the same colour palette of pale blue, oatmeal and white. I had another blanket to make, this time for my cousin's new baby, Jacob, but I wanted to make something different.

Time to sit down with a cuppa, some magazines and the laptop for a flick, a ponder and a browse for inspiration....

Oh yes! I remembered that I'd seen a stripey blanket by Heather of Little Tin Bird, and felt inspired to make something similar (*** see note at the end of this post :) I quite fancied using the bright blue again that I'd used in Little Miss' Beautiful Bright Bag but it wasn't sitting right with the other colours I wanted.

A more varied colour-scheme than my other blankets was in order, with several blues, a red, and beige. That combo looked okay, but something was missing, it needed a bit of a lift. The light green gave just the gentle zing I was looking for.

That was it decided then. It would be a simply stripey blanket, with 6 colours, and some kind of border to be decided at the end.
When I make anything worked in rows I always start with a foundation double crochet, instead of simple chains, as its a bit more stretchy and forgiving. I found this foundation double crochet tutorial, it was so hard at first I thought I would never get it, but I persevered and now I absolutely love it. It's definitely worth trying out.

I made my starting row as long as I felt it needed to be. A few rows in, out of curiosity, I counted the stitches - there were 99. Gah! I really wish it had been exactly 100! Somehow that would have pleased me more :)
Anyway. I crocheted my stripes all in half-trebles (UK htr that is), and each stripe was 2 rows, turning the work at the end of each row. This way every stripe had the same texture - one right side then one wrong side (or vice-versa on the other side).

This blanket was really relaxing to work on. Hardly any thought required at all, just half-trebling back and forth, forth and back, a great put-your-feet-up-and-watch-telly project.

As usual (for me anyway) I wanted the stripes to be random. Arrrgghhh.... because as usual - deciding the random order (does that even make sense?) proved tricky. I wanted a fairly even distribution, and my only "rule" was that I didn't want red next to green. I think I managed to achieve that. Look at all that random stripeyness ....

I finished up at about 45 stripes, or 90 rows. Poor thing was in need of some tidying up ....

So I gave him a haircut ...

... and Little Miss gathered up the ends for me. I save them for stuffing things ...

There, much tidier now....

Next thing to do was deal with all the ends and then decide on the border. Hmmm. A row of beige double crochet (UK dc) in every stitch all the way around, working one dc into the side of each of the stitches at the row-ends as well, and 3 dcs into each corner.

Then another border row of pale blue, again 1 dc in every stitch, and 3 dc in each corner.
Finally I did 2 rows of half-treble (UK htr) all around of kingfishery-smokey-blue, working 1 htr into every dc of the pale blue border row, and 4 htr into the corners.

I dithered about adding some kind of picot or scallop edging as well, but in the ended decided to stop here. It was the simplicity of the stripes that I liked, so it seemed fitting to have a simple border too.

And here is the blanket in all its simply stripey glory :)

Doesn't Ted look cosy ....

Check out those delicious stripes ....

And here's the finished simply stripey blanket all folded and ready to be wrapped and posted off.

*** Note: Now, I have to say at this point, when something inspires me I try reeeealllyy hard not to go and look at it again, so that I can make my own version and not just a duplicate. Having said that, Jacob's blanket looks pretty much like I totally made an exact copy of Heather's stripey blanket, even uses very similar colours, but I swear I didn't do it on purpose! The image of her blanket must have stuck in my head a bit sort of subconsciously. I hope this can be perceived as flattery though, as Heather's blanket is really lovely :)

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Liebster - Part 1

Blogging is a strange thing, don't you think ? Strange in a good way though. Sharing everyday moments and memories with the world at large, yet making what feel like good friends very quickly, and from all corners of the globe. When I was at school we were encouraged to have pen-pals, I loved receiving a fat little envelope, often bedecked with exciting "foreign" stickers and stamps, from exotic places like Belgium and Holland (I lived in Northern Ireland back then remember, even London seemed far off and exotic). I devoured the letters, from girls around the same age as me, with similar interests, but living far far away. I spent ages choosing writing paper or cards and replying with details of my everyday life.

To me, blogging is a bit like having a pen-pal, I love logging on each day on to see if I have any comments, I can't wait to reply, and I spend ages mulling over which pictures to include. And I'm struck by how far-reaching my readers are, but all with fairly similar interests to me. And of course its all practically instant! And with photos! Hurrah!

One such blogger-pen-pal-friend is Birgitta of Handmade and Off-centered. Last week Birgitta very kindly nominated me for the Liebster Award :) I'm soooooo excited and touched, and I'm feeling the bloggy love :) 
The Liebster Award is an online award by bloggers for bloggers and helps generate attention for new and up-and-coming blogs. There appear to be various iterations and versions of this, but here's how it currently works. As a nominee here's what I do:
  1. Post 11 random facts about myself
  2. Answer 11 questions the person nominating me has asked
  3. Nominate 11 blogs with less than 200 followers, add their links to this post, and let them know that they have been nominated
  4. Create 11 questions for my nominees to answer
Got it ? Jolly good, let's get started ...

11 Random Facts about Me

1. I love the look of freshly mowed lawn but I hate the smell of it. It makes me feel sick, bleurgh. I think its because it reminds me of the hay-fever I used to have (but thankfully grew out of).

2. My favourite flowers are tulips. I love the bold richness of their colours, I love the shape of the leaves, they're just instant-cheer-in-a-vase.

3. Next to crochet, my favourite form of therapy is colouring in. In fact I'm spending some birthday amazon vouchers on colouring-in books for grown ups :)

4. I love the smell of fresh basil, makes me think of bread, tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil, mmmmmm  ....

5. I've always wanted to go to Wimbledon but keep forgetting to enter my name in the ballot for tickets.

6. I have a terrible magazine addiction. I deliberately don't add up the cost of them because I really wouldn't be able to justify it, but I do love them so ......

7. I don't eat meat. I do eat fish though, so I can't claim to be a vegetarian. My friend says I am a vegaquarian :)

8. I'm a professional dieter. Always "on a diet", but I just like food too much. Its ridiculous. Need to give myself a SeriouS talking-to, and either do it or not. No more of this half-baked (see what I did there) effort.

9. When I was little I adored Enid Blyton books, especially The Famous Five.  Now Little Miss is reading The Famous Five stories, and I'm so happy about that :D Little Tomboy also is very taken with the idea of The Famous Five because of course George is possibly the most famous tomboy ever.

10. I don't really drink (as in alcohol). I used to enjoy a (very large) glass (or three) of wine on the weekend (and some school nights too - tut). Nowadays I Just. Can't. Do. It. I hate the slightly fuzzy head and tiredness and grumpiness the next day, so I've decided its not worth the bother. And I don't miss it one bit.

11. I am a real homebody and my perfect night out is actually to stay in with hubby, and my crochet, some cake and a cuppa :)

So there you have some Jill-randomness :) I've really enjoyed compiling this, I'm not used to sitting thinking about MySelf, but I have to say its been quite enjoyable :) For the next sections of Liebster-ness you'll have to come back and read Part 2, as this post is getting a bit out of hand .....

Monday 19 May 2014

Candle Craft

Its been another roasting hot day here today, so what better time to go on a candle-making workshop - we must have been mad to book this in May, next time please remind me to do this in November :) One of my friends, Dijana, arranged the workshop. Dijana has a craft business, Dijdesign, and like me, is always looking out for new crafts to try. The session was at Dijana's house, and was run by Sarah of  CandleByEvents. There were only 4 of us so it was a small and cosy affair, with lots of chatting and laughter. We each made a pillar candle, floating candles, a container candle and a beeswax candle, choosing colours, shapes, and fragrances. We melted, poured, fragranced and waited for the candles to set....

The last time I made candles was when I was in the Girl Guides a looooong time ago. Well actually I made one candle. Singular. I'm sure the basic principles were the same back then, but my teenage efforts resulted in a sludgy browny candle that wouldn't light, whereas today .... well .... judge for yourselves ....

Pretty good for a second attempt I'd say :) I have to say, making these was a really relaxing way to spend a few hours; lighting them and having a cuppa and some cake was a very relaxing way to round off my day too :)