Tuesday 26 January 2016

Embroidery Grime Guard

Hello dear readers! Yes you are reading the right blog, yes I am writing my 4th post in as many days, what's going on?!! I have no idea!!!

Anyway, in between crochet stuff I like to cross-stitch, and I'm working on several cross-stitch projects at once (no surprises there eh ?!), but my largest one is a year long calendar stitch-a-long. I'm on a Facebook page of other people doing the same one and noticed loads of them have these cool covers to cover the edges of their work, where you hold it, to stop it getting all grubby - they are called grime guards. So of course I had no choice but to make one for myself.

I had this fabric in my stash which seemed perfect for the task ....

To hold my cross-stitch when it's a large piece of material, I use q-snaps instead of a hoop. Makes your hand cramp up less than a large hoop, although slightly more fiddly to move around your work. But I do like it for the larger pieces.

I measured around my frame : it was 32", so my grime guard would need to be that long, and I wanted it to come about 2" over the front and another 2" over the back. So without seam allowances I needed a long strip of fabric 32"x4".
My fabric piece wasn't long enough so I needed to make it out of two strips each about 16" long. Each strip had a 0.5" seam allowance on either short end, and a 1" seam allowance along either long edge, meaning my strips were 17" x 6".

I placed the strips wrong sides together and sewed along each short end with a 0.5" seam allowance, then pressed the seams open.

So now I had a continuous loop of material, which I tried over the circumference of my frame for size.

It needs to be a bit loose, if it's too neat a fit it's too hard to get on and off.

I then turned one long edge in by 0.5", and in again by another 0.5", pinned it in place, and sewed all the way round, leaving a gap of around an inch - this will be used to get the elastic in.

I repeated the hemming in the same way along the other long edge. Now I had a nice neatly hemmed loop ready to thread in the elastic. Ok maybe not the neatest hem ever but it's all going to be scrunched in with elastic anyway so it's not a problem.

I used a little safety pin to feed the elastic through, pulled it in quite a way, then secured the end with a knot. I did this on both sides. I checked it for fit and adjusted it a bit to make it tighter, and then sewed the hems closed where the elastic had gone in.

Hurray, my cross-stitch will be grimy no more :)


Sunday 24 January 2016

Happy Homemaker Monday

I've been a SAHM (stay at home Mum) for a good number of years, but as a former "career girl" I still struggle with the fact that I'm "just" a housewife. Now, I must point out that I don't go round judging other Mums who stay at home, or thinking they deserve less credit or respect than women who work, it's just a role that I personally find tricky to settle into. I think it stems from the fact that I HATE HOUSEWORK. But doesn't everyone ??? It's Just. So. Repetitive. Plus the fact that at every meal time there is at least one person refusing to eat (never me, but not always a child either if you know what I'm saying ....), and I may not be the best chef but I don't think I'm that terrible.

The lovely Carrie from Northwoods Scrapbook does a "Happy Homemaker Monday" post every Monday (obviously) so I thought perhaps if I join in and embrace the homemaker-ism I will finally start to face facts that a Homemaker (capital H) is what I actually am! (and yes I do know I'm very lucky that we can afford for me to not have to go out to work). So off we go then .....

Surprisingly mild, it's been a very mild winter, daffodils all over the place already!

Normally I have porridge but I've got a horrible cold at the moment and was in need of naughty comfort food so I had chocolate mini weetabix, which is the hubby's favourite, they are dangerous if you ask me, so full of sugar, and you can't possibly stop at one bowl....

I really must tidy the garden up, it looks even worse than usual in winter because:
a) I never got round to power washing the patio last summer and
b) the grass has grown more than usual due to the mildness so its a bit unkempt.
Neither of which excuses the completely dead plants at my front door - this is how it's meant to look .....

.... minus the pumpkin, of course. I'm not showing you a photo of what it's like now as you will run away and never visit me again.

Feeling really rubbish with a stupid head cold that I really don't have time to be having :(

One word - laundry!!

As you know I'm running the London Marathon in April (OMG) to raise funds for the National Autistic Society, and am fundraising like crazy. I've been blown away by the generosity of people and when I asked for donations for a raffle (do other countries have raffles where you win prizes ?) I received lots of gifts from normal mums like me, nothing fancy, no TVs or anything, just lots of nice ladies' gifts. So today's job was to collect a few more donations from some very kind people. Here's a small selection of what I've been given to date ....

.... This is probably around a quarter of what I have, a very kind friend gave me all her old jewellery stock from when she was a Virgin Vie Jewellery rep, and another lady gave me 4 bottles of champagne! I can't thank them all enough :)

I've just bought 2 second-hand crochet books, I love crochet books - even if I don't make anything from them I love flicking through them for inspiration. 

I'm gearing up for a Five on Friday post of slow cooker meals, so that's the inspiration for this week's dinners :)
Monday - Quorn paprika - here it is cooking ....

Yum! It's just Quorn pieces, onion, sweet corn, peas, carrots, peppers, veg stock, tin of tomatoes and a load of paprika. We have it with noodles and I stir in yoghurt at the end.

Tuesday - sausage caserole - been a bit lazy and bought a sachet for the sauce, but if it gets them all to eat it .... Served with new potatoes and carrots

Wednesday - 3 bean chilli - actually it's one type of bean (cannellini) and chickpeas but that doesn't make for a snappy title lol. Served with rice, I use Uncle Bens express sachets of rice. Maybe not as good or cheap as just cooking rice but better than reaching for the takeaway menu.

Thursday - prawn curry - a Jamie Oliver recipe but I add the prawns in at the end, don't fancy the thought of prawns festering in the slow cooker all day :-/ Again served with rice.

Friday - enchiladas - recently I found a great slow cooker recipe for this, it's fast becoming a family favourite. Served with guacamole and wholewheat tortillas.

I love my slow cooker, I am far more inclined to prep dinner at 10 in the morning when there are no whingers around, than after school when everyone is tired and grumpy. If anyone has any healthy veggie slow cooker meals (fish allowed) - send them my way please! And come back on Friday to see if I made all the week's meals in the slow cooker as planned!

Couple of things. I'm working on a bed blanket for a customer order, it's green and yellow squares in a checkered pattern with farm animal type things appliqu├ęd on every other square. I'm pretty sure I've shown you the squares before ..... can't wait to finish the green ones, they've gone on forever ...

The squares are pretty dull, but I'm looking forward to doing the animals, they will be fun!
I'm also working out some little designs for some dinky little teabag tags .... more on that another day!

Well technically the sausage caserole is a new recipe as I haven't used a sachet before, and I've just realised I didn't check if it was veggie, remind me tomorrow someone ....

Keep a pad and paper in the car .... I had to put a five pound note through someone's letterbox today and I forgot to bring an envelope with me, I had to go and buy a card, just for the envelope, as I didn't have time to go home, and I didn't want to put the fiver through the door on its own in case the dog ate it or something!! I'm sure I could have fashioned an envelope if I'd had some paper ..... maybe I should include an origami book too ??? But look how jolly a card I bought - sending it off to my Dad tomorrow (in another envelope of course lol)

Linking in with Sandra from Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Happy Homemaker Monday :)

Til next time,

Sunlit Sunday : 2016, Week 2

I've been doing a lot of catching up on everyone's blogs this weekend, apologies to those I haven't visited yet, I'll get there I promise :) Anyway whilst visiting Amy at Love Made My Home I noticed her Sunlit Sunday post last week, linking up with (Karen of My Little Home and Garden). Karen is hosting a link up thingy - no idea what the proper term is, sorry! - the idea being you look for the sunny moments, literal or figurative, in the week. After a rough couple of weeks (Dad ill, more on that another time), I reckon I could do with a reminder to sit up and notice the good moments in life. So this is my first Sunlit Sunday. I missed week 1 so this is week 2. But hey, who's counting.

In anticipation of writing a Sunlit Sunday post I dragged the family out for a walk, and where better than Basildon Park (Basildon Park which is where Amy works :) And no I am not stalking her!!!

I've posted about Basildon Park before, we love it there, it's a National Trust property and is open all year round. There wasn't any actual proper sunny sun but it was very mild, and there was lots of running around to be had. Seeing as it's been so mild generally this winter there were lots of flowers in bloom, (maybe some are in bloom normally at this time of year, I am not a great gardener!), but still they looked lovely. And then of course we had lunch in the cafe including scones and tea :)

Rather than waffle on I'll just show you some (ok a lot of) photos - enjoy :)

I hope you enjoyed my first Sunlit Sunday :) Thankyou Amy for the inspiration and to Karen for organizing it! You can check out who else is joining in at Karen's Sunlit Sunday

Til next time, have fun looking for your sunny moments :)

Saturday 23 January 2016

Crochet mobile phone cover

Am I the only person who regularly feels the need to confess to the many many WIP's in my life ? I really am a serial non-finisher, it's just ridiculous, but I just want to make everything all the time and that is not condusive to completing things. One of these days I'll do another post of my current WIPs but I'll keep it mercifully short today. Let's just say I have about 5 scarves, a hat, a few bags, and at least 5 blankets, plus half a dozen cross-stitch kits, all in various baskets and bags stashed around the house. God forbid that they are ever all seen in one big pile together ...... Oh the shame ......

Anyway, the perfect antidote to an excess of WIPs is a nice short and easy little project. As I'm doing another craft fayre soon I thought I'd do some mobile phone covers from some lovely cotton yarn that I have in some scrummy colours. I got this Drops <3 You Cotton from a lady who had some leftovers from another project, and I honestly can't remember if I paid for it or if she donated it (my craft fayre makes are for my fundraising for the National Autistic Society for my London Marathon attempt). I'll be honest, this yarn is a bit of a pain to work with, super splitty, and of course cotton has much less "give" than my preferred acrylic, but it gives a gorgeously crisp stitch definition.

It's a really easy make and I've added the pattern below.
Basically you start with a chain just slightly longer than the width of your phone ....

Then you work in dc (US sc) along the chain, continuing round the end to work along the other side of the starting chains, and then keep going, essentially in a spiral, changing colour as required, until your mobile phone case is as long as your phone.

Embellish with flowers etc as desired ....

Sew on a button and chain a button loop ....

And ta-da! A mobile phone cover :)

Of course you can adapt this pattern to make a cover for anything - phone, tablet, notebook, even a small laptop. 

Have fun!!!!

Til next time,

Mobile phone cover pattern

DK cotton yarn
4.5mm crochet hook
beads and buttons if wished :)

Pattern in UK terms (UK dc is US sc, UK tr is US dc)
ch     - chain
sl-st  - slip-stitch
dc    - double crochet
tr      - treble

1. Chain as many chains as it takes to be just wider than your phone.
     Mine was ch13.

2. dc in second ch from hook. Dc in every stitch to end of row

3. When you reach the end of the row continue to dc in the other side of the chain you just did a dc in.

4. Keep going doing a dc in every stitch, effectively working up the sides in a slow spiral.

5. A few rows from the top, finish off when you are at one of the sides, and join on a new colour yarn.
    I do this as follows:
     insert my hook into next stitch
     yarn over and pull old colour through, leaving two loops of old colour on hook
     then loop NEW colour over hook and pull this loop of NEW colour through both loops on hook
     you may need to pull the two loose ends (one old, one new) gently taut to tidy things up

6. Now you have one loop of new colour on hook continue to dc in every stitch, still working in that slow spiral round so that the sides continue to grow.

7. When your cover is the desired length, stop dc'ing about few stitches before you reach one of the sides (doesn't matter which) then sl-st into the next 2 stitches.

8. Fasten off

9. Sew button onto front of mobile phone cover.

10. Join onto a stitch in the top of the cover's back, in the middle, and make enough chains to form a loop that will fasten round the button. Mine was about 10 chains.

If you wish to add a flower, the pattern is as follows:

1. Make a magic ring (or ch5 and sl-st to the start of the chains to form a loop).
2. *ch3, 2 tr into centre of ring/loop, ch3, sl-st into centre of loop/ring*, repeat from * to * 4 times making 5 petals in total.
3. Fasten off.
4. Attach decorative bead to centre of flower.