Cupcakes

Blessed Samhain or Happy Hallowe’en to you! Last night the tricksters were with us along with lots of laughter at the cupcake workshop I ran at Make & Do. A lovely group of ladies including two mums and young daughters all enjoyed playing with sugarpaste decorations and crazy Halloween piping! I hope that they all enjoyed eating them as much as they did making them. Lots of repeat bookings for the next workshop, which will be Christmas themed, with lots of glitter and sparkles! Here are the samples from last night. 

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Lampshades!

For once I turned the tables at Make & Do last night and did one of their workshops as a participant instead of a tutor! I’ve been wanting to find out the tricks of the trade of these lovely, ever so professional and stylish lampshades by Julie from Gilhoolie for a while, so off I went down to Make and Do and had a very convivial evening with one my favourite Michael Miller beachhuts fabric. This is going in one of the guest bedrooms in my new seaside home, got to have a bit of seaside kitch going, and I love the spotty red trim from the Make & Do haberdashery selection, sets it off a treat!

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Covered Craft Storage Boxes

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I have been asked about these this week. I am due to move house soon so don’t have the time to write up a full tutorial but here is a photo with some hints and tips. 

In my office, the varied uses of the photocopier box lid have been noted for some time. They are fairly strong, a good shape and size, like a deep sided tray. They are great for single layer storage, and if you are working on a project, you can see everything you need at a glance. 

The only problem – they aren’t too pretty to look at! So I came up with the idea of covering them with some remnants and bits of fabrics leftover from other jobs – its not a perfect sewing job as I used scraps, but you get the idea! This is full on recycling and I even made little Singleton buttons as handles for them, in matching fabrics. 

I basically made a sleeve for the tray by cutting an A4 base then attaching a long strip for the inner wall and to that a long strip for the outer wall. I then fitted the sleeve to the box and fixed it with some strong stitches in the inside corners in matching thread, to get it nice and snug. I then whip stitched a fabric base to the bottom of the outer wall piece to enclose the sleeve, and finished with a handmade singleton button! 

Here they are in use! 

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Creating Texture in Crochet with Post Stitches

I am playing with post stitches at the moment. They are a great way to create ribbing and textural effects in crochet, but they can be real yarn gobblers, so make sure you have plenty!

Here I am making some boot cuffs in forward and back post stitches which will be trimmed with some horn buttons to add a touch of the individual to boot tops. I am using a flecky DK left over from some knitted socks, on a 4.5mm hook, worked in the round. The trick is to get your chain (even number of chains) flat on the first round so you can join a tube with a slip stitch, then after the foundation row of trebles you are away, working alternate stitches. The beauty of this technique is that the front and back is identical so great for turn down cuffs, or use it as a ribbing on mittens, a collar on a poncho (which I will be doing soon on a huge granny poncho I am working on). Image

You will want perfect rows for this, not spirals, so finish each row with two chains to bridge to the next round, like this:

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And look how thick and chunky it is! These will be super cosy!

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I am also experimenting with this lovely German sock yarn I got last weekend at the Knitting & Stitching Show, its quite fine and recommends a 2 to 3mm hook but I don’t want it to be too thick as it will be a men’s scarf, so after several goes with the hook sizes I am using a 4mm hook to get a close pattern but one which is quite flexible to be worn around the neck. Here I am using a basket weave pattern which alternates the front and back post stitches in rows of three, and I really like it! I found this great tutorial from Mikey (watched a few men doing crochet recently) which you need to translate from American terms – his double is our treble.  I love his ‘cheat’ on this first row – who says its all about being a perfectionist, if there is a way round a mistake, or a quick short cut, I am all for it! He also has an interesting technique which is very different to what I was taught, and teach, but super efficient! Great row end management too, with a neat result!

Here’s the first four pattern repeats, again, it’s identical front and back so perfect for a scarf:

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Wibbly wobbly felted crochet

I just finished this little bowl with one of the balls of Adriafil Crea I posted earlier – this is a specific felting yarn so you’d expect it to work and it didn’t shrink quite as much as the 100% wool hand wash onlys I have tried before. I finished the top edge with some loopy chains to give it a wibbly look, I think I will do separate chains for the next one to get a shaggy look to it, which I will curl when damp. That’s the fun of felting your work, you never quite know how its going to come out the machine!

I dried this one around a pretty little Pip Studio bowl to get the exact shape I wanted, but I have used baked bean cans, biscuit tins and all sorts of shapes before – why not have a play!

You can make one of these using the pattern on the tutorial I posted a couple of weeks ago!

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Yarn Adventures

I went to the Knitting & Stitching Show today and completely failed in my mission not to buy any yarn…. I did however resist the beautiful luxury alpaca, buffalo and artisan dyed yarns which were stunning, and what I did get were real bargs, plus some embroidery threads and sixteen fat quarters!

This week I finished the yarn eater cushion cover which now has a new pattern I tried out on the back, plus more Dorset buttons! I love them and look how perfectly they match the pattern!

More final shows later!

More Cake! and crochet…

I have finished so many things this week (yeah!!!) I don’t know where to start in showing them. I think I will start with cake, since cake is ALWAYS a good idea. Here is a rich fruit cake which I have done for a 90th birthday party – the old gent used to be an upholsterer so I went with a quilting, deep buttoning and tacking theme on this on, with a smart masculine colour scheme.

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I liked the little bun feet on the armchair.

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Not tried the quilted effect before and its not that easy but I found a great tutorial on You Tube. You basically mark out your quilting spaces using a measure along the top edge of the cake, then use a diagonally cut piece of card along the bottom as a guide and a stitching wheel to emboss. The numbers are meant to look a bit fabric-y too so I used quite a thick royal icing for the run outs.

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Modelling little bits and pieces is fun but soooooo time consuming! I love metallic food paint, its so clever! So here are little silver scissors, a hammer and a heavy duty needle! 

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Knitting & Stitching Show

Today I am just finishing up my latest cushion cover, the one with the yarn eater front, and some sample snowflakes for a festive crochet workshop next month – photos later! Got lots to do so I can give myself the day off for the Knitting  & Stitching Show, an essential part of my continuous professional development (it sounds good) and networking which I am really excited about. Been meaning to go for years and always seem to have something getting in the year, so this year, whilst I am still living nearer to London, I am determined to make it happen. 

Thankfully the lovely Claire who I met on one of my embroidery workshops, has two free tickets so we are going up there together – can’t wait!  She is on instruction to stop me from buying even more yarn – lets see if she is successful or not…

New Yarn! Wooo hoooo!!!!

I just got my latest order of yarn, then I really must stop… she says… this is wonderful Araucania artisan yarn and it had 60% off so was a real bargain! This one is wool, camel and silk blend, totally artisan spun and dyed in Chile. When I taught crochet last week I ended up swapping patterns with one of my intermediate students, so these skeins are for the scarf pattern she sent, plus I will be making handwarmers to match, which are brilliant to crochet and so useful – will put up a photo and a pattern soon. I have also got a massive ball of Aran for a basketweave boys scarf for winter dog walks. 

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Papercuts

I have been discovering my inner Rob Ryan! This first piece I did as a gift for my husband’s birthday – it’s backed with a pretty pearlised blue giftwrap – a bit of a homage to Rob but I did modify the design! 

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The next two are samples for a workshop at Make & Do next month, when we will be making these completely original christmas cards and gift tags! The first one I designed went with the traditional scando-swiss heart-shaped look and the other I adapted from another original design. These are simple cuts which are quite easy to achieve. My next project will be a  detailed tree design and much more complex and time consuming. I think they look quite lovely in white box frames. 

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