Tuesday, 30 August 2011

August OPAM round-up

No matter what I do I can only seem to make 5 or 6 items per month for the OPAM 2011.  Above is a collage of my makes for August.  Admittedly they are much bigger than some items made in past months and therefore took longer.
Top left is my crochet and flower loom cushion which I am sat next to as I type this and secrectly my fav due to the lack of crochet tution, a bit of a surprise really.  Then my patchwork cushions which are over on the sofa and are standing up well to two cats and a child.  Then there is my new blue felt diary cover for my work planner.  Due to the fact that it will expand to twice its size over the coming year I just stuck the panel onto the front of the dairy.  An actual cover would not stretch very well.
Finally I have the flower corsage from the Mollie Makes Magazine which I really enjoyed putting together with a few modifications.
I am pleased with this months efforts and tomorrow is my sewing group night, so another make for September is in the pipeline.
Many thanks to the 15 new followers who have joined over the past month or so.  Plus those who take the time to leave a comment.  It is nice to now that I am not rambling to myself and your views are helpful and encouraging.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Crochet and Flower Loom Cushion

I will confess to staying up last night until I had finished this cushion.
This is the first round item I have crocheted and regular readers will know that I am trying to teach myself.  I made this up as I went along and experts may well spot mistakes but on the whole yours truly is a bit chuffed with this!  I started by looking on YouTube and found some clips showing how to crochet in a circle.  I was going to make some dish cloths. I used 100% cotton wool and kept crocheting.  I was on holiday so I could not buy any more as I could not find a wool shop.  I decided to stop once the circle looked right on a chair.  began the back and then.....ran out.  So the back has to colour rounds added on the edge.  I like it.
I then waited until I got home to carry on. 
I did start to crochet some flowers but saw my flower loom and changed my mind.  There is a tutorial for using a flower loom if you have not tried it before.  Glover make a range or buy a child's flower loom kit (I did this to try it out and then my Mum gave me her looms)  They are ideal for making in front of the TV in the evening.  Thank goodness for CSI Miami/New York/Las Vegas!
You need plenty of loops and then careful stitching together so that it does not fall apart when it is taken off the loom.
I thought that it needed perhaps a bit more detail on the front so a few hand stitches in wool using french knots and chain stitch were added.  I decided to make each section look different.
I crochet a flower to go on the back.  I am going to make some more of these.  I used the instructions featured in issue three of Mollie Makes, so not my usual pattern,I did get a bit muddled.  I like the final shape, it just took a bit of doing.
My projects are usually fairly well planned but on this occasion the thought of needing a round cushion pad had not registered with me so I had to make one and I think that it could have been a bit bigger.  I needed to really stuff it out but I think that more width was needed.
Many cushions go flat with use (in our house anyway) so it will take a bit of time before this cushion will meet the same fate!
So, using two not entirely identical circles, a cushion pad that is not quite the right size,some way of putting it together was needed.  I stitched and stuffed the cushion pad but did not stitch up the opening.  I then pinned the two crochet circles together.  A bit of fiddling about was needed here.  Using wool and a 4mm crochet hook I decided to literally crochet the cover together using single crochet.  I used green wool for this.
Then before crocheting the gap up I put more stuffing in the pad to really try and make the cover fit better, then stitched up the pad and crochet the rest of the cover opening.
Swapping to pink wool and edging was needed.  So using pink and 4mm hook again I chained 4 and then popped the end into the 3rd/4th chain along to give the loop.

It looks better with just this bit of edging.
This is not perfect (I am not even sure it is entirely round) but I really am pleased with this.  I actually enjoyed the "what shall I do now" approach to this cushion, in fact that is what made it one of the most enjoyable things I have made for some time.
What next?
Well, I did buy a pattern from Sarah London to make a Granny Square tunic.  Definitely a dark winter evening project.  Also maybe another woollen item where some embroidery an be included.
I am off to find the ideal spot for my new creation.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Patchwork "Flower" cushions are finished........Amended title

Amendment:  I am a twit!  I have another cushion on the go but these are clearly patchwork NOT crochet cushions!  Sorry about that, I was writing two posts and got myself in a muddle.  The crochet cushion needs a bit more stuffing then I shall post it here. 
I did start these cushions before I went away on holiday.  On Wednesday I went to my sewing group to finish them.  I wanted to make something brighter and with blocks and stripes of colour.  The sofa is a green and the pink and white blends in with some other features in the living room.
I used cotton quilting fabric and a simple flap opening at the back.  The covers needed to fit the cushion pads that we already had rather than buying more, which I am trying to avoid.
The top one was made a couple of weeks after the other two so it seems to be a slightly snugger fit(?) not sure why but no one here noticed when I brought them home!
I am really pleased with the way that they have turned out.  I simply planned them as I went along.  I wanted them to be simple and not too fussy.  Blocks of colour with a little bit of patchwork.
These are quite large cushions at 18" square each.  Nice duck down ones which have lasted and lasted, well worth the money when I bought them 5+ years ago.
There were two smaller cushions on our sofa but I have decided to see how we go with just these three as the other two often ended up on the floor and not used on the sofa.  They could always go on the futon in the attic. 
I have two more projects cut out and ready to roll.  Only about a week to go so I had better get my skates on as work for net term is now filtering through already!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Harry Potter Finale

With Sophie on her Brownie Holiday, we have tried to make the most of being able to just pop off and do something.  So on Saturday we popped over to Truro to see the latest harry Potter film.
Unfortunately there were no seats left so we went out for a very nice Chinese meal.  We had not booked but we got in if we promised to be out by 9pm!  You had to be there, it was quite funny.
While we were at Truro we did buy tickets for Sunday to back we went again yesterday.
We did see part one last year with a group of friends but this time we went on our own.  We were not disappointed it was very good indeed.  When you think how young some of the cast members and support cast are plus the expectation that everyone has as well.  Hubby was not so sure about part one but you could see that it was setting everything up for the final installment.
The effects were very good and the stone knights were very realistic.
Part one did not have many of the other cast members in it so it was a surprise to see how some of the cast  had grown up and changed in that time.
I have not read the book fully yet and once I had seen the first installment I stopped reading it then see the second part before carrying on reading.
Many loose ends are tied up and some odd threads that have been running through all of the films are cleared up.
Not entirely sure about the bit at the very end, I think that the time span was not thought about properly but I will buy it when it comes out on DVD so that I will have the full set plus the books which Sophie can then enjoy.  She knows about Harry Potter and wants to see them but has heard that it has some scary bits and has self-censored it by saying that she will see it when she knows that it is not going to give her "horrid" dreams.  Not daft my daughter.  I also have the books too.  The whole series has been very cleverly written and they are fun to read at any age. I have read many David Eddings and Terry Prachett books, so adults who read these should give Harry Potter a try as well.
We are due to collect Sophie in about an hour from her Brownie Holiday and I have really missed her.  I am anticipating lots of chat of what she has been doing plus a very tired little girl.
Crafting has been slow this past week as I have been doing marking for next term but my next crochet project is getting there.  My sewing table in the attic is out of use due to vents and pipes being put in for an extraction fan of the new shower room, so I have been banished to the kitchen table which already has paperwork on it.  I am, however looking at the living room floor as my next work area for the time being!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Happy Post - ATC's July 2011

I had some happy post this morning which makes up for the bills etc that we found when we came from our holiday on Tuesday.
You may remember that I entered an ATC swap with lenna over at creative swaps and today the return ATC's arrived.  However, the first thing to catch my eye was the lovely stamps on the front of the envelope!
Plenty of blue here too which is the colour that I chose to use for my Colour My World ATC's.
Three lovely ATC's based on the theme of colour arrived.  Blue, green and pink.
This lovely card has been made by Sue E and is called "Tickled Pink" which is lovely.  In the UK we have a charity called Tickled Pink which raises money for Breast Cancer Research which I support so this is very appropriate.  There is so much on this card.  Very textiles based with braids, buttons and a stamped butterfly.  Lovely.
This card uses my favourite colour of Blue and was made by Barbara J from Wheaton IL.  It is called "Change of Seasons".  Very graphic design and I really like the textured paper which has been used.
Finally, a green ATC which is called "Seafoam Green" and uses lovely textured paper as the background and punched butterflies and leaves.  A yellow gem plus "Fly Free" written down the side.  I am flying free until 5th September when term begins again.
This card was made by Jo J from Indianapolis, IN.
Now, I have taken part in several different ATC swaps and nearly half have had the same surname of Johnson!  They are all different people, but still quite a coincidence I think.
I will now email these lovely ladies to thank them for their cards and put them in a file that I have for my ATC's.  Eventually I want to display them when I have collected a few more as I like to see work that has been sent to me and actually make items out of swaps that I receive.
Many thanks to lenna for organising yet another great Creative Swap.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

We are back!!!

We arrived back from our holiday fairly late on Tuesday and ever since I have been washing, food shopping etc. 
We have also been suddenly dropped in choosing showers etc for the bathroom as just before we went away we started the process of re-doing our bathroom.  It has been over 18 months since the Kitchen saga and we now feel ready for another project.  I will need to take some before pictures.
I have also finished my Professor Layton game.  I am now just completing any puzzles that I missed as I was searching around the village the first time.  I have even completed my current read just before I came home, a completed book in a few weeks, unheard of!  So I have started the next one which I will post.  I like Rebecca Shaw books, easy to read with believable characters.
I have been a good girl and completed some work for the day job today as Sophie was more interested in re-discovering her toys after 2 weeks away and wanted to spend some time on her own.  I now have a to-do list which is making my knees wobble.
I will confess to spending the evening doing nothing and literally painting my nails!
Hubby is off on more boat surveys this week so Sophie and I will be preparing yet another suitcase as she is off on her very first Brownie Camp holiday Friday afternoon!
It is not under canvas but in a hall/hut venue.  I shall get a better idea on Friday.  She will be away for three nights and she says that she is looking forward to it.  It will be the longest that she has been away but also without any family with her.  I am going to try an explain this to the group leader without sounding like an over protective and paranoid Mother.  Everyone is saying it will be great to have some days to ourselves but actually I hate spending time away from Sophie (she is only a child once after all) but she needs to try things such as this camp so my lips are sealed when talking to her about it.
She wants to take blankey Bear with her but is concerned that she may be laughed at.  You mean to say that a bunch of under 11's girls are not going to have a few bears in their suitcases!  Blankey will be the first item packed after Sophie give this idea more thought.
I think what really bothers me is that they are not allowed to take mobiles so saying good night is not an option, that will be the first time in 8 years of not being able to do that.  Even when Hubby or I are away we ring up to say that to Sophie.
While she is away we intend to sort out things for the plumber and builder to come in plus more work for the day job and I would really like to complete my new cushion covers.
Well I woke up at 5.30am not being able to sleep, in fact I woke up worrying that the water butts keep over flowing and excess water could have a long term effect on the house foundations (I know, mad but there you are) so I shall spend some time today emptying it around the garden.  Next week I shall probably be in the middle of a drought!
Does anyone else wake up in the night like this?
Off to make another cup of tea and put the bread maker on.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Professor Layton and the Curious Village - nearly there.....

Images from Google images
Years ago I bought a Nintendo DS for games such as scrabble, wordsearches and really enjoyed using it.  A year or so back I gave it to Sophie as I found the DSXL with the bigger screen much better for my old eyes.  I had seen the Professor Layton series before but was not sure.  Then at Easter I visited my Mum who had a copy, plus a few others, so I took the opportunity to give it a go!
Well I am hooked!!!
I have been working on the rather difficult puzzles for months and I can put it down and pick it up as and when I get the time.  You can save what you have done as you go along.
The graphics are very good and after a bit or getting used to how it all works it is easy to navigate.  Sophie and I have worked on some of the puzzles together and on a few occasions she has worked it out when I had given up.
I brought it with me on holiday and I have made so much progress that I am close to the end.  I am now trying to solve some puzzles that even the whole house are having problems solving.  I have needed a pen and paper for working some of them out which is good as a few times I have forgotten to save and had to re-do some of the puzzles.
The games may cost a bit and you can get them cheaper on Ebay and Amazon, I have had hours and months of fun out of these and Sophie will be borrowing them next.  They are good for exercising the brain, frustrating but hard to put down.
I am determined to have this solved before I go back to work. 
Has anyone tried any of the other Professor Layton games, which one should I try next?  I did exam marking again this year so I could treat myself to another game.  It should see me through the cold dark evenings leading up to Christmas!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

May - "Can't Resist it" - Sketchbook Challenge 2011

During the summer break I have been trying to catch up with my Sketchbook Challenge pages. 
The theme for May was "Can't Resist it", so I decided to work on how ink and paint can be resisted on the page.
I came across Aquacolour crayons when I was studying for my City and Guilds course and I have loved them ever since.  They last for ages and you can buy them in smaller tins than this.
For this page I used some PVA so created shapes and then let it dry over night.  Using the Aquacolour I coloured lightly over the pages and then spread it around using water.  Once this had also dried I highlighted sections with a black Sharpie marker.
A few words down the side to complete it.
I think that this page will need some more work on it but as it stands at the moment I used the Aquacolour and water to spread and mix the colour and to create quite a wet surface.
Then using salt I sprinkled onto the surface and watched what the colour would do.
I have done this before on fabric and it works really well, but maybe there was too much water or not enough salt but any resisting of the colour is not easy to see.  I think that I shall go over this with more wax crayon and perhaps some watercolours to add to this page.

This is another technique that I have used before, but not for ages!  Colour wash the page and leave to dry (I normally fit in the washing and ironing during these stages) and then using some of Sophie's wax crayons I melt them and carefully flick them on to the page.  I position myself in the kitchen by the sink, light a tea candle sat on a plate and carefully melt the crayon.  before it has time to drip or solidify again I carefully flick the melted wax on to the page.  You can layer up different colours. 
You must be carefully not to flick too much as you will get it everywhere, watch your fingers, this is not something for children to try and watch your surfaces.  I have also tried this on fabric too but it is obviously not washable but for backgrounds to stitching or sketchbook stuff it is a lot of fun.
I do have another resist sample but it is at home and I am not going home until Tuesday so I shall have to add this later.
I have also been adding to earlier themes as I like to go back to them.  Here are some interesting pictures from google for the "Opposites" theme back in February.
I hope to be up to date by the time I go back to work as I find that I need a decent length of time to come up with sketchbook pages and take an idea far enough to be pleased with it.  Snatching a few minutes here and there is not really helping with my progress, but such is life.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

National Trust - Nymans

Earlier in the week we visited some local National Trust sites  Firstly we visited Nymans in Haywards Heath.  Armed with our cameras, I was hoping to take pictures to use on my cards and inspiration for The Sketchbook Challenge themes, some of which I am behind on.  So this post is quite picture heavy but should give you an idea of how lovely this garden is.
The rose garden smelt gorgeous as soon as you walked into it even though some of the roses had finished blooming.
So many different colours and such lovely scents.
Each one looking perfect.
Once these pictures have been printed onto photo paper they will look good on the front of cards that I take into work.  In the National Trust handbook there is a glorious picture of the walled garden and I have to say that we were not disappointed in real life either. Here is my version below.
As you walked around the corner it was a brilliant spectacle of colour.  It took ages to get this picture without anyone standing in the way due to the popularity of this area of the garden.
The rose garden had direct competition from the dahlias, which I love but struggle to grow in my garden.
All standing proudly showing off their petals.
All delicate shades of colour.
There are so many petals to each flower head.
This is the view when you walk past the fountain in the first picture.
This a corner section as yo walk away from the walled garden.  The rest of the garden is also lovely but this section in particular got my camera snapping away.
There is so much to look at including the house, summer houses, woods, picnic areas, shop, restaurant family activities etc.  Go to their website and see more.  It rained a bit while we were there and it did not make a difference at all.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Creative Giveaway

I first took part in a Creative Swap in about 2008. 
It was to design and make a bag for a bag swap.  I still have the bag which was sent to me as part of the swap and in fact all of the swap items are still with me and I make a point of "making" them into something to show them off.  I have tried to find the pictures but when I started my blog I was perhaps not very organised with my tag words so now they are "buried" within my blog.  Never mind.
I did find this one though and the link here where there is a full post on this.
This was another recent entry in 2011 and I did make some extra versions for my card box at work.
So, getting back to the aim of this post.  Lenna, who hosts Creative Swap blog is having a 1000 post giveaway and if you would like to join in, it only takes a minute to click, then pop over.  If you are interested in making ATC's, scrap booking, art jounaling, texture work and much more then this is worth looking at.
1000 posts.....crikey!  That is a lot of typing and in my case a lot of potential typing errors too!
Click on the badge in the margin at the top of my blog.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Felt and Stitch Flower Panel

I started this post several days ago it is now Tuesday.  I have had problems with blogger not letting me put pictures on at angles which will enable you to see what I have made. 
But, I have finally won!!
At work we are issued with a general diary/planner for all of our lessons etc.  When we first go them 6 years ago I did create covers to personalise etc, but for the past couple of years I have created my dairy bag and laptop covers instead.  So seeing as I was due to go away a nice little sewing project which would not take up too much room in my suitcase was needed.
Regular readers and visitors to my Etsy shop (Which is being re-organised) will perhaps recognise this idea.  I designed my first felt flower book cover way back in 2005, wow where has the time gone.  I have changed it for this version as no two of my designs are ever exactly the same, that is afterall part of it being handmade. 
All felt pieces are hand cut using shapes that I have created.  I like to layer the sections up in colours that add to the design.
Each section is hand stitched down using DMC embroidery threads.  The centres of the flowers are metal brads.
I do prefer straight running stitch as it does not detract away from the design itself.  I wanted to add more to this design by including some hand embroidery in green for stems.  Buttons to add as buds plus some more blue brads to add further texture.
Finally, a little controlled glitz in the form of iridescent sequins here and there.  I finally used only about 5 or 6 of them.
I also included some chain stitch on the outer blue leaves of the largest flower.
I will attach it to my planner when I get home and it has spurred me on to making more designs to add to Etsy in time for December I just wish I had packed more felt....never mind!

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