Thursday 23 December 2021

Welcome to my post. There is never a shortage of images to plop into an advent themed post. We like to indulge in our creative side at this time of year but no pressure, if it is not enjoyable, then we don't do it. 

 Decorating - the tree. For the first time in family life, I did not touch the tree. I put it up and the girls did it all by themselves.

Buying - one new carefully chosen tree decoration each year. 

Unwrapping - my nativity characters and placing them carefully in the stable by mate made for me about 20 years ago. I have crafty friends too!

Creating - a tree from bits of a tree! We don't have room for a tree in the porch but a big piece of a fir tree blew down in storm Arwen so Andy made a chicken wire cone shape on a pole set in cement and I chopped up said branch and shoved it into the holes. Ta Dah! narrow tree. The wreath has been made by my wonderful floral design mate Beth... I know more creative friends.

Scrapbusting - the last of my Christmas themed fabric scraps. I don't ever actually recall buying Christmas fabric but I think it was probably in some donated fabric bags I get from time to time. 
You sew all the scrap strips together in one piece then cut out triangles. 

Sewing - a new set of eight napkins. I fell in love with the nature inspired fabric, the colour palette and the fact that it was not overtly Christmassy so they would have all year round use. I have a set of four white ones I bought in Eygpt when I was travelling in my 20's so now I have twelve which coordinate.

Knocking - up four crackers. I really love crackers but when I look at them in the shops now I just can't see past that much waste packaging for such frippery. The trumpets were prised off last years crackers, waste packaging tubes are inside and I used some tissue I had saved from a present wrap them up. I used to have some snaps but I must have used them all so this year we have silent crackers.

Opening - the box of Christmas cards I made last January. After I have taken the cards down, in the cold days of January, I like to make all of my Christmas cards for the next year using my favourite ones with added stickers, sticky gems and sentiments. Sometimes I delve into my stamp sets and make some from my own ideas. 

Struggling - with some daylight. It has been so dark here of late, barely getting light until lunchtime then very quickly entering dusk light again by 2:30pm. I feel almost Scandinavian.

Baking - Cherry Bakwell Cake eaten warm with cream as a dessert and then cold the next day with tea. On low light days the only thing that gets me moving is baking. The girls and I spent a lovely afternoon decorating cakes to give as presents. They love doing it and the older they get the less stressful it is for me and the more rewarding it is for them. Heidi made the wreath cake, Megan made the parcel cake for her uncle and I did the candy cane cake using a mash up of whatever was left over.

Wasting - not a thing! Hence the final design. Not enough fondant or royal icing for the whole cake as well as not enough icing left in the icing bag for a base line. I ended up peeling all the fondant bits left over from the girls designs off the worktop, then started to roll them up. While rolling a sausage shape, inspiration struck like lightning when I curled the top over and considered that my work here was done. Instant Candy cane! 

Finishing - my fur backed sweatshirt fabric Juno Pyjamas. The word cosy simply isn't enough to describe them but I don't know a word more cosy than cosy; suggestions welcome. Seriously good knitting pyjamas I can tell you. I have a winter plan for this donated Stylecraft chunky yarn stash which I will show you soon.

Enjoying - time outside on brighter days. We did have a few bright frosts earlier on in the month when I loved taking the dog out for a long walk with my camera.

Spotting - the moon shining out on a frosty morning. A different view for you to enjoy today, this one is from the back garden towards The Stiperstones which is the grey, low hill line to the right behind the wooded one.  

Thank you for calling in throughout the year, your supportive comments and interest in what I do. I am off to look at your beautiful Christmas tree photos and read your crafty endeavors to fill me with seasonal cheer. Best Wishes to you all!

Love from Jo x

Monday 13 December 2021

It's All About the Scraps

It has been such a finishing kind of week. You get those sometimes, where knuckling down and getting things to the very end seems woeful in your mind but then it doesn't really take very long.

I think I have falsely shown you this as a finish in the past but really I knew after 'finishing' it that the large grey border swallowed up the patchwork centre and needed more work. I started to machine stitch it but it just made a huge pucker at the end of each row. This is when I might have shoved it in a bin bag for a day when I felt more motivated/less sweary.

I got it out again earlier this year and began hand quilting it. I really made some progress and then, as any hand quilter will know, I got a touch of RSI in my hands. Away it went, for a second time, back in the black bin bag.

Things started to get a bit more crucial of late because this quilt is for my friend's son on his 18th birthday which is a week away! Out is came for the third time however, to my surprise, it took me one more evening of stitching to finish it. The back features some of his old shirts which he doesn't know his mum gave me for the quilt. It will either feel like a big surprise or that I have been stalking him by stealing shirts off the washing line! All wrapped up and ready to go now.

Finishing something arduous always makes me believe I can do anything. On Saturday afternoon the girls had a friend to play so I had couple of hours thinking about how to join these scrappy strips together which the girls and I made in January 2021 school lockdown. 

I hope some of the followers here can spot some of their gifted fabrics. These are the long strips which I collect from sewing;anything rectangular gets sorted into the 'strips' box. At the end of the afternoon I had sewn the ready-made long strips together and assessed that I need about four more to make a single quilt. A long way off yet but a very satisfying afternoon of enjoying the quilting process rather than the eventual outcome.

Another scrappy Ski hat (Free pattern) flew off the needles this week. One more for the present box. Making the pom pom even used up the last of some balls completely without a scrap of waste.

Finally, for myself, I have completed a crocheted sock yarn shawl. The pattern is on my sidebar if you have scraps of sock yarn or 4 ply to use up but it would work for any yarn. It has been a year long project (from last Christmas I think) to use up all of the sock yarn ball ends. Between larger projects, I would add a row here and there to use the yarn up to the very end. Recently, I have added some of the 4ply wool from Heidi's fair isle jumper and leftovers of leftovers from the socks. It is finished with some bought pom pom trim. Well why not?

Honestly, I think I love creating with the leftovers more than the initial product choice! Are you making for Christmas?

Jo xxxx

Friday 3 December 2021

Knitting Heaven

 Knitting socks has been my evening activity of choice for the last two weeks. I am using up some of the 4ply 50% wool 50% acrylic which was used for my last fair isle knit. They won't be the most hard-wearing of socks but I am not sure if the recipient will actually wear them in boots or just use them for drinking wine in on the sofa.

The pattern is from The Knitter issue 170 or you can find it here. It has a twisted pattern which is made without using a cable needle but by doing a knit2tog stitch. Very easy to do after you have done it a few times. It is called 'Repose'.

I have had to estimate the foot length because it is bigger than my size. In reality they are not exactly the same, rather perfectly imperfect and made by me for my friend.

Strike one on the Christmas present list. The sock wrap says 'not too brag, but I made these' Which sums me up completely and will make my mate smile.

You know you have hit the dizzy heights of knitting heaven when your twelve year old asks for, "another hat like the old one that that you made which is too small for me" Bingo!

It is truly one of the most satisfying things to make in terms of speed, versatility, boys or girls, scrapbusting potential and final lovely outcome. It is a free hat pattern on ravelry called the Scrappy Ski Hat. It does have one disadvantage, and that is the amount of ends to sew in!

She chose the colours from my aran scrap bag to go with her camo coat. She wasn't so keen on the peach but it was the only aran I had that was not wool for her forehead however, once it was knit up she thought it was a good harmony of colours. I offered a peachy or grey fur bobble salvaged from old hats and she went straight for the grey one.

On a final knitting note, I popped over to Ravelry to get the links for you folks and I had a message from the designer Outi Kater!!!! She sent me a message to say how much she liked the Jory fair Isle sweater I made for Heidi and could she use the photo for her feature page. Well what a knitting triumph. 

On to some quilting this week for a birthday deadline.

Are you making for Christmas?