Saturday, 31 August 2013

on my craft table ...

Hello there, we're home from our hols, well actually we were home nearly two weeks ago, but you know how it is during the school breaks, little else happens other than being a mum ... which I'm absolutely not complaining about by-the-way, that's how it should be and I love it (most of the time!)... but I have to say, it's been rather nice today, as I found a little time to have to myself!

So, what have I been up to? ... crochet of course! I've been busy hooking up some rather splendid little granny triangles for Lucy's Yarndale bunting request.

You know, I do love a yarnbomb, but I really thought I'd missed the opportunity to join in this one. In the lead up to the summer holidays, things got so crazy around here that I found myself with little time left for blogging and neglecting to catch up with my favourite daily reads. Consequently I missed out on loads of fun opportunities, I just kept on finding out about things a little too late. That's exactly what happened when I found out about the Yarndale bunting via Penny (goodness knows how I missed it on Attic24?!?), the DAY before we went camping for 3 weeks, during which the deadline would be passed - nooooo ...

Well, you can imagine how happy I was on Wednesday, when I was pottering around Facebook, and to my excitement I discovered that the deadline for bunting had been extended to the end of August - this time I had 4 whole days to hook up some triangles and send them off 1st class!

Aren't they little beauties!

It's funny, I imagine that for a lot of people a granny square is what crochet is all about, but I had never made one until recently, when a few friends wanted to me to teach them. Strange really that I had bypassed such a core skill! I have to say I'm converted, it's so rhythmic and easy to pick up, and these granny triangles were just as much fun. Quick and addictive to make, and I love the feeling of using up teeny bits of left over yarn that I hadn't the heart to throw away (I knew it was good to be a hoarder!) The only thing I was concerned about was the ends unravelling, so I employed Natasja's three direction change technique ... imagine the shame of being the only Yarndale yarnbomber who's triangles came undone!!

By-the-way, do you recognise the yarn? ...

It's leftovers from my ripple, it's so nice to see the yarn used in a different context, I was feeling a bit bored with it but seeing the bunting makes me realise how lovely it is again! (... and if you are wondering, the blanket is STILL not finished, but under the watchful eye of Rachel I am actually making some progress, she has set me a target of one-stripe-a-week, and it's surprising how quickly it adds up!)

Did you make and bunting for Yarndale? ... and will you be visiting?

Friday, 26 July 2013

fruit picking

It's been all systems go since the kiddos finished school last week, I haven't had a spare moment to even think about my little blog space, so I just wanted to pop in quickly to say hello and au revoir, as we leave for our holiday this weekend.

But before we go, I thought I'd share a bit of iPhoneography, from our trip earlier this week to a beautiful local fruit picking farm. The kiddos had a great time picking (read: eating) and running wild through the rows of fruit, and even though a thunderstorm sent us running for cover and cut our visit short, we came away with four enormous punnets, over-flowing with raspberries and strawberries.

Almost all of our fruit booty has gone now, mainly eaten but I have also been manically making jam instead of packing! I'll be back in a few weeks, all refreshed and raring to go, with plenty of photos to share and some more printables - jam labels of course!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

double digits

My boy turned TEN this week.

TEN! Double digits is a big thing, a really momentous event ... a whole decade of being ... and that makes a whole decade of being a mum too! ... No-one really tells you about how to be a parent, there is so much excitement and build up to the arrival of a new baby, but that time is so fleeting. Afterwards you are plunged in at the deep end, at the beginning of a long journey, in a job you have had no training for, it's quite scary when you think about it! But we've got there, learning a lot along the way ... all in all I think we've done a pretty good job, I couldn't be prouder, he's a great kid, full of vitality and zest for life. He's all rough and tumble on the outside, but has the biggest heart. I still get cuddles (when we're at home and no-one is looking!), but it isn't all plain sailing, we get out fair share of those pre-teen sulks and tantrums too!

Anyway, enough of all that philosophical stuff, it's making me all teary eyed! Back to pretty things, we made a suitable amount of fuss with presies at dawn (so early!), our traditional birthday breakfast, planned visits from old friends and surprise visits from grandparents. It might be the hottest summer for years, but we went all ironic with a snow scooter party (to tell the truth it was quite a relief to escape the heat for a while). This set the scene for a snowy themed breakfast table ... mixed up with a bit of neon yellow (Fred's fave colour ?!?).

Thursday, 4 July 2013

printables: elderflower cordial labels

These days I get excited about the strangest things ... last week the elderflower tree at the end of our garden came into bloom, why is this exciting, because it means elderflower cordial time is here - yay!

Elderflower is my absolute favourite soft drink, and last year I made some for the very first time. It was deelish and I can't wait to make it again. Anyway looking back at the pics reminded that I made some pretty labels to stick on the bottles last year and I thought it might be nice to share them, just in case you have the urge to make some cordial for yourself (you really should it's easy peasy and yummy!).

While I was working out how to share them, I slightly revisited the design and ended up with 5 versions - I couldn't decide which my favourite was, and anyhow everyone like different looks, so instead of sharing just one, I decided to share all 5, that way you can choose for yourself! To download the pdf, just click on the link for the number of your favourite label.

To download the pdf, just click on the link below for the number of your favourite label:
label 1, label 2, label 3, label 4, label 5

P.S I don't know if you've noticed, but I added a few buttons to my sidebar - I'm such a techno dunce, so it took me days to work out how to do it, but finally I think it works! Anyway, it would be lovely to see you elsewhere, so please feel free to visit me and see what else I'm getting up to

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

ta-dah: pretty crochet pot holder

So it took me a while to complete, but boy did I enjoy making it ... drum roll please ... here, at last, I present to you my mandala ...

I do love it so!

Now I'm not normally a massive fan of a heart motif, but something drew me to this pattern when I first saw it and I bought it on impulse. Consequently I decided to steer clear of pinks and reds and use a totally un-heart related colour palette - oh, and I happen to love grey, mustard and teal (did you guess yet!).

After I whizzed through the first few rounds, I was all happy with myself, thinking 'hey, look at me, look at my speedy crochet! I'm gonna finish this in no time!' ... I hadn't really taken into account that when working in the round each row gets longer and longer - doh! Not only that, but each row gets more and more tricky as you have to weave the crochet in and out of stitches from previous rounds. Actually my main stumbling block was that dark grey, it was a different yarn to the rest, I used it purely because of the colour, but it is a nightmare to use as it splits so easily, and unfortunately I ended up having to use it on the worst row of the whole pattern - my mandala literally came to a standstill and I kept having to re-do stitches. That row must have taken me a week to complete!

Anyway, I'm so proud to have finished this mini-project, it is definitely the most advanced bit of crochet I have attempted, and the most complicated pattern. It was a great way to learn tons of new stitches and techniques and I ended up with a really gorgeous pot holder. Although I must say it is HUGE, twice the size that I was expecting, and I'm not quite sure how I'm going to use it yet! Maybe it will end up on the wall, I have wanted to make and frame a doilly for so long, perhaps a framed mandala would do instead ...

If you fancy learning overlay crochet I absolutely recommend using this or another of the patterns by CAROcreated. It was soooo well written, with pictures to help you every step of the way, and a detailed stitch dictionary to boot, in fact it is impossible to go wrong!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

decorating: we're working on our family room

One day I would like to show you around our home, but right now the whole place is suffering from a bad case of magnolia. We are, however, slowly but surely putting a little personality into our not-so-new house, and it occurred to me that it might be fun to share a bit of my thought processes.

The current target of our foray into DIY is our big family room. It's a lovely space, but combines kitchen, diner, snug and (eventually) a workspace for me (yay!), so it's not a straight forward space and it's a big decorating project.

As yet we have painted (a lot) and added wall fixtures and shelving. The light milky coffee coloured kitchen clashed with the primrose walls, and everything looked very nicotine. Changing the units is out of our price range (and crazy since they're actually quite nice), so instead we have put a lot of white paint everywhere except for one big wall, which got covered in a favourite colour of mine, dark teal (from the crown vintage range) - I LOVE it!

I still haven't quite finished the mammoth shelf painting task that I have mentioned before ... but it's nearly complete, and consequently my mind has been drifting to more interesting things, like trawling the internet looking for ideas and lovely things!

After pinning like a woman possessed, my kitchen-diner pinterest board is over-flowing. Here's a selection of my favourite things ...

Most of the area is lit with halogen spotlights, the snug needs a pendant and some ambient lighting. The one thing I really, really must have/need/want is an anglepoise lamp for my work space!
Find vintage anglepoise here, hand turned table lamps here and here, pendant here.

Wall art
To make a gallery wall, we're collecting prints and posters that are relevant to our personal histories. Find similar vintage adverts here and here, and for vintage travel prints visit here or here. I also love these minimalist interpretations of fairy tales, Goldilocks would be perfect for a kitchen-diner ...

I have a penchant for chairs - when a friend recently showed me her husband's poster of a century of danish chairs, she rolled her eyes and said 'what a geek' and I nearly wept with envy! I often pore over the lovely chairs herehere and here, and for the ubiquitous, but still wonderful, Eames Eiffel try here. I am completely in love with the new G-plan vintage collection, but that would require a lot of saving up, and anyway there is little point in buying a lovely sofa with a toddler as mucky as Elsie hanging around!

Soft furnishings
I knew you were wondering about crochet - it had to surface somewhere!!! When I get around to it, I'm thinking granny square cushion and/or even blanket, and maybe some pot holders. Apart from the necessary crochet decoration, I have a growing collection of barkcloth oddments, some which are crying out to be made into cushions, for a fantastic selection of retro fabrics visit here. I also love some of the prints from modern textile designers, for great selections look here and you can't go wrong with marimekko. I've had my eye's on this cushion for a while, and more beautiful round cushions can be found here. Oh and that rug, doesn't it look rather crochet-esq!

Bits and pieces
I always think the bits and pieces are the finishing touches that really add personality to a room. I adore vintage crockery and smoky glassware, mine have always been hidden away in cupboards, but now I have a special new wall cabinet to show them off (it's really high so little fingers can't get in!), if you're looking for similar items try here or here. I'm a big fan of Orla Kiely designs, the problem is they are little too over-popular nowadays, but I'm sure I will find a place for a few little touches here and there (infact my clever husband got me that very butter dish for my birthday after seeing it on my pinterest board!). I'm also on the hunt for lovely storage containers and boxes to house craft supplies on my lovely new shelves, I fancy wire baskets for my yarn stash (funnily enough I saw that Erica has just done something similar!) and a vintage tin always looks lovely as well as being perfect for pins, buttons and cotton reels. And finally, it looks like plants are back in vogue, I'm not sure my fingers are very green, but I love this little paint dipped planter (I feel a mini-project coming on ...!).

Are you in the middle of decorating your house at the moment? I would love to hear about your inspirations and favourite places to buy for interiors ...

Thursday, 13 June 2013

weekend fun ... at cockpit arts

Somehow I managed to escape the hubbub of home last weekend - me and my partner in crime had another crafty mummy-daughter day out. I'm so happy that one of my kiddos is into the same sort of things as me, we have such a lovely time together, but I have also discovered it to be a great way to convince my husband that I absolutely must go out for the day ... it's for our daughter's benefit!

This time we went into London to visit one of my favourite places, Cockpit Arts. Hidden in the middle of London, the buildings are a hive of extraordinarily talented designer-makers, and twice a year they open their doors to the public for an open studios weekend. It's a must-see for any craft lover. Think of it as a high end craft fair, with the added bonus of being able to snoop around the designers' studio spaces (great if you're intrinsically nosey like me).

There is so much to see, from textiles and furniture to jewellery and glassware, you can easily while away the whole day. The designers are friendly and enthusiastic to tell you about their work, there are workshops (Nellie had a go at modelling a person with porcelain clay), and you can even grab yourself a bargain with some designers selling off seconds, or offering special open studio prices.

Would you like to have a look at some of the gorgeous things that caught my eye? Rather stupidly, I completely forgot to take my camera with me, so I present to you a bit of iPhoneography today instead of my normal photos ...
I always come away feeling super inspired, my head buzzing with ideas, keen to try out new crafts ... and just maybe a little something might have accidentally found its way into my bag ... ok, so I treated myself to some sweet little vases from Shan Annabelle Valla, my girls got a beautiful print each from the fabulous Abigail Brown, and Nellie begged me for a notebook from Camilla Meijer, to which I could hardly say no, as her work is stunning (she was also delightful and gave Nellie a printed bag to take her goodies home in).

Anyway, it's not too late to see these wonderful artisans at work ... if you can make some space in your diary, the Deptford studios are open this weekend. Even if you can't make it, all is not lost, the Cockpit doors open again in November, perfect timing to pick up some unique gifts for Christmas ...

Have you been to any inspiring arty crafty places recently?