Christmas has almost arrived…

Christmas has almost arrived! The tree is up, the fairy lights are casting a twinkly glow over the lounge and my collection of red and white decorations are arranged on the tree…

…gingham bows…nordic style wooden decorations…ah just lovely!

…a new addition to the tree this year was this gorgeous metal christmas tree…

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Getting creative with fabric – special cushions for a special couple!

Take a look at this recent project in the pictures below that I have been working on with a few of my friends. I’ve been desperate to spill the beans but had to wait as it was a secret gift!

For a number of months a top secret dinner party had been planned for our friend Beth for the week before her wedding. A few friends and I wanted to create a special gift for Beth to take home after the party.  A personal and handmade gift was the plan and after some discussion and a few weeks of procrastination and project changes, we decided on a set of two cushions with the bride and groom’s name appliqued onto their own cushion.

In addition to their name on their own cushion we wanted to add some images that would mean something to them both. We decided to create a few embroidered pieces including a white snowflake, map of New Zealand, Cornish pasties and dog paw prints to form the four corners of the cushion. All four symbolise parts of their life so far that mean something close to their hearts. I embroidered the outline of a map of New Zealand and chose French knots for the simple design. I was delighted to do this part of the cushion as the country is close to my heart to as I travelled there at the start of the year.

 
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My first knitting project…and some scones!

With the knitting basics grasped during August, I felt confident to start enough to a knitting project and thought it would be best to get a pattern and wool that I could take with me on my holiday to Cornwall in early September. I popped into a little shop in Bath called Wool, it really is a gorgeous wool emporium, as it’s described on their website. It was my first time in a wool shop and I realised when I got in there that it may not be as easy as buying any wool and needles! I knew that I wanted to make a big chunky scarf for winter so I took the plunge and asked for help. I was slightly nervous as I didn’t know the ‘lingo’ but I felt immediately at put at ease as Laura, the owner of Wool, helped me through the decision making process. Laura was so kind and welcoming, and with her enthusiasm and knowledge of knitting I was able to give a brief description of what I wanted to achieve and she immediately recommended a pattern I could try. Laura showed me a pattern called ‘Vanilla’ on the Rowan website that I could download for free. We selected the wool based on the pattern, Rowan Big Wool, it was lovely and chunky and selected it in one of my favourite colours! Laura delivered the best service I have received in a shop for a very long time and her enthusiasm made me really excited about getting started. So together with two balls of Big Wool, in gorgeous teal, and a new pair of 10mm bamboo knitting needles, I hopped on the train home the very proud owner of ‘proper’ wool, knitting needles the size of drumsticks, the pattern printed out, all in a beautiful white paper bag. I was all set to start my first project!

A few days later I was off to Cornwall for a holiday with my boyfriend and our friends. I could hardly contain myself on the drive there as I was desperate to start my scarf! Knowing that the weather was going to be rainy that week I was prepared and willing the rain to start! I didn’t have to wait long, on day one of the holiday it started off a lovely sunny morning and after about an hour of relaxing in the garden the weather turned! I settled down on the comfy sofa, with a big cup of tea and cast on the required number of stitches. I’m not going to lie, I made quite a few mistakes throughout the first few hours but persevered with it. I struggled to grasp the right tension, wasn’t sure how to follow a pattern and had to work out why I suddenly had more stitches that I should do. I made a mistake of not moving the wool to the front when I was moving between knit stitch and purl stitch! Luckily the pattern was a simple with two rows repeating over and over and due to the size of the wool, it multiplied so quickly.

I almost completed the scarf while in Cornwall but had a sad feeling that it was almost over, my first project was almost completed so much quicker than I thought it would be. I stopped and ‘saved’ myself some rows to do when I got home…with some time to spare on holiday while it was raining I got on with my yearly tradition of making scones whilst on holiday in Cornwall…

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Crafty beginnings…

I have my Mum to thank for kick starting my interest in crafts. We spent lots of time when I was younger trying out a mixture of small projects, including making felt finger puppets, French knitting, calligraphy, pressing flowers, quilling, tapestry, creating Fimo models, and making Fingermouse puppets! I did think about trying others too, but never did…lace making springs to mind! My interest in making things went through cycles, however when I as a teenager I chose to study textiles at school rather than cooking or woodwork, so I got stuck in to creating projects regularly for a few years. I loved the textile lessons and the hours spent trying lots of techniques and creating projects using fabric and thread. I have fond memories of the final projects I made, a cushion and an embroidery panel. I earned the title of ‘the French knot queen’ by a friend at school, as one of my final projects involved an over ambitious desire to fill a large space of the embroidery panel with French knots…it took weeks to finish! I hold a real affection towards French knots and I’m sure that they will feature as a key stitch in future embroidery projects. When I finished school I did still have an interest in crafts which has stayed with me, but it was something that I have never acted on. Over the years I have collected magazines, lots of patterned paper and card, beads and ribbon samples but never dedicated time to making things with my supplies!

In August, with my desire to get started with something crafty, I mulled over the possibilities and I decided to start my craft journey with knitting. My mum taught me to knit when I was very young. Having completely forgotten the basic knit stitch, added to the fact that I had never cast on before, I had to work out what to do to get started. I turned to the internet to see what I could uncover to get me started…and wow there is a world of tutorial videos out there! After watching the videos and reading information about how to cast on, doing the knit and purl stitches, couldn’t wait to get started. I knitted a square (with added holes!) reasonably quickly and I had a good feeling about it, I definitely knew I’d made the right choice for the first skills to learn (again). I was so into it I signed up for a 6 week knitting course this Autumn and learnt so much more…I’ll tell you about that soon.

If you are looking to start knitting I recommend YouTube for great videos as a starting point…hopefully I will be able to find some good books that I can tell you about over the next few months as I continue to learn. So that’s where it all began…