Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Two colour heart keyring

This keyring has two colours woven together. I tried the melting together technique to join them but it was unsuccessful in that the join fell apart and there was smoke again. Back to Dr Google and it turns out there is a way of putting them together without melting or sewing. This works ok for this kind of loop and open ended item but wouldn't hold up if it was being made into a bracelet. I like these colour together, and it is nice that both sides are different, but I'm itching to do one in the yellow and pink which would be 'bright' I think!

Red, White and a Little Blue

Odette is going to live overseas shortly. She is footloose and fancy free and off to enjoy her new life in the sun. I am delighted for her and wish her every happiness but by the same token I do feel a little blue that she will not be around. It was only when I came to title this blog that the colour thing became apt.

To send her on her way, I thought some nice necklaces and some of my newly acquired man knitting to wish her bon voyage for a safe and happy trip.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Beading Nuisances

Not easy trying to bead or do anything intricate with these two either sitting on your work or ready at a moments notice to nab anything that looks interesting....


Man Knitting Success

Finally managed to make a paracord bracelet. After all my hassle last time I decided to tackle a simple pattern but, when I actually got down to doing it, it turns out that it is actually just a shamballa macrame knot. So much faffing around for something  that was really pretty simple!

This was my first go when I totally over-estimated the size needed and it would have comfortably fitted Desperate Dan...

So, I loosened the original knotting out, resized the 'lazy cords' then re-knotted it. I found it easiest to draw the ends through the bracelet and then melt the ends and 'hide' them under the knotting. The pic below show both the front and back. Regarding the melting of the ends to neaten and seal, apparently it really does mean just gently melting the nylon cording and it is also helpful if you trim the internal threads first. My first attempt to seal the cut end resulted in a nasty sharp carbonised end which smoked. So the note to self is that black and smoke are probably best avoided.

Needle Felting

These are my first needle felting attempts. Initially, I was just going to recycle some of my wool and use the felt sheets instead of buying the felting wool called roving or tops. I tried the orange flower first and, although it worked, it is not the greatest. So I pottered off to buy some of the felting wool and that worked much better. It feels just like wool and although you are felting it, it doesn't develop that horrid wet boiled wool texture or mess.

This is a nice craft to try as it offers brilliant flexibility to make freehand designs. It is also easy to add a bit more wool if an area is looking sparse or to give it a wee 'haircut' if it gets too bushy. I really enjoyed this and found it good fun. The outcome is a bit rough but for a first attempt I think it is not bad.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

New Year Resolutions

I hate making New Year's Resolutions. All those unrealistic plans to strive for the perfect lifestyle and behaviours which would need a personality transplant and half a dozen extra hours in the day to achieve. Ultimately, most people end up feeling worse because they are failures in their own minds a week or two into the new year because their resolutions have gone awry. I reckon that is worse for you than not making any in the first place as the 1st of Jan is nothing but a date just like any of the other 364days. On this basis I don't normally make any.

This year, however, I am breaking with my personal tradition and going to make some life enhancing resolutions. These are undemanding and fun resolutions with no negative consequences if I dont achieve them so in my book they are good to go.

1. I am going to 'Go Beading' more often: For quite some time, and particularly over the past two years or so, I have barely touched my jewellery making. I have bought new sparklies and toys to encourage and motivate myself but done little more than move them around the house. This just makes me feel worse as I have lots of untouched materials.

I have made a couple of gifts for special friends to mark an occasion but nothing for myself, or just for fun. I was often just to exhausted to get the stuff out, didn't have the concentration or motivation or just felt too guilty to be beading when there were boxes to be emptied and other work to be done that was overwhelming me. The boxes are lessening ever so slightly and there is always something productive to be done but time to relax, to create and to achieve something I am proud of is also important and should have a place on the priority list.

2. I am going to learn some new craft skills: Time to channel my inner Kirstie Allsopp, I think. I treated myself to some needle felting tools and supplies a couple of days ago. I saw this craft on one of the Homemade programmes a while ago and thought it looked interesting.

I don't know why as I hate the feeling of felt and boiled wool! Also, my work scuffed 'housewife hands' have all the texture and allure of the rough side of velcro right now so catch on fabrics. However, there was something about dry needle felting that just appealed. So why not give it a go? I might even be able to do something with/recycle the beautiful purple wool jacket that I destroyed by washing on a cottons wash with biological power. So annoyed with myself, as I loved that jacket. However, I hadn't been concentrating as I was just trying to get through all the washing so I slung it in last thing at night on a timed wash then nearly cried when I saw what it had been reduced to the next morning.

I am even telling myself that the cost of the tools and felt can come from the spare coinage that I have come across as I've been unpacking boxes. I just need to get it into the little plastic change bags and stagger off to the bank.

Similarly, craftwise I am going to have another crack at paracord bracelets, try using the mini Kumihimo wheel that I bought on my last trip down south and use up the wools and papercraft stuff that I have gathered over the years. I may also get the tapestries that I completed 20yrs ago blocked and completed into cushions tho' this is a wish list item rather than a definite.

3. I am going to create and enjoy a kitchen garden: My garden is a jungle with grass worthy of a visit from a tv company doing a nature programme.This spring is an opportunity to do something productive with the outdoor space that I have and I've always wanted to be able to 'pop out' to the garden to gather some herbs or veg for dinner. I sat up till the wee hours on  the night of the 1st/2nd Jan while everyone else slept and started drawing up plans for what I could do and scouring the internet for suppliers and advice.

I have a very long, south facing garden which has a lot of areas of shade. To be fair the grass seems to be a decent quality one and doesn't grow too high unlike the patches that have been seeded at a later point by the last owner. The grass is very mossy, is host to a veritable army of slugs and snails and has been totally waterlogged in the six months I've been here due to the constant rain. In fact the only thing that has changed as we have moved from summer, to autumn to winter has been the temperature of the rain! With this in mind I can imagine gardening in the ground will be a hard slog of digging to prep the ground and any harvest will be at the mercy of the marauding slugs and snails. A neighbour has raised beds, but again, this looks like a lot of work. I don't want to dig the lawn up, realise my kitchen garden is too much work then have to re-grass it and have it look like a very bad patchwork effort. I also know that I am very time poor and that this is not going to change anytime soon. So a demanding, labour intensive garden which sucks my energy instead of replacing it doesn't fit with my 'Good Life' vision.

I browsed around and potato planters and bags seemed to be a good, if potentially costly, alternative to digging for victory! Similarly, using lots of pots and planters saves the digging and potential for a plant to run riot and can be easily changed. Plants too can be costly unless you grow from seeds which might also be a faff. So I made some decisions:
  • it must be a low maintenance, low cost and manageable kitchen garden close to the house
  • it must raise my spirits, enthuse and encourage me
  • the produce should be something I will enjoy eating and be a bit unusual as there is no point in spending 3mths growing something that I can pick up easily from Sainsburys
  • the projected harvest should be tailored to what can be eaten or shared without waste
I sat and read and thought about what would work. Planters on the patio are clearly, for me, the way to go as this is nearest to the house and gets the best sun. I also though the potato planter bags looked very like my significant pile of IKEA blue bags and on googling it seems these will work if you put drainage holes in the bottom- winner, free planters with handles! This will augment my plant pots that I already have so I should only need the soil and plants/seeds which will keep costs reasonable.

I'm still drawing up my list of what I want to grow but potatoes are definitely on the list as apparently home grown taste wonderful. Romescue and some coloured caulis sound fun, as do pink blueberries, white strawberries, chillies, tomatillos, cucamelon, herbs, lavenders and butterhead, rocket and lambs lettuce.

I'm going to start small, stage the planting and give it a whirl.

Friday, 4 January 2013

SECC Hobbycraft and Crafts for Christmas

Better late than never that I record my trip to the SECC Hobbycraft Event in October! This year Ava could not make it so we didn't manage to put our plans into action. However, another friend fancied going, so a fun day out was planned for the Saturday, and fun it was.

This year I thought there were fewer stalls and it all seemed much less crowded than the previous year. However, it was more pleasant being able to browse the aisles without being mobbed and mugged by avid crafters on a mission. I was planning to be more frugal than last year partly through the demands of the housemove but also because the packing shockingly revealed just exactly how much stuff I have still to use. However, I did plan to purchase a ribbon shredder and one of the Spellbound pattern kits. I justified this on the basis that I dont have these tools or patterns so that made it ok.....

As we toured the stalls we came upon the paper ribbon one, watched the demo then returned to join in the make and take session. Odette was slightly less than enthusiastic as she made it clear she was not planning to 'do' hands on crafting. Unfortunately, she was with me so that was swiftly knocked on the head, as I made sure she got the necessary bits to enable her to join in making a ribbon rose. It came back to bite me tho' as she got better marks for hers than my wee sad unravelly effort!

We had a brilliant time wandering round, browsing and just having tme to chat. We also managed to meet some ex-colleagues who were demonstrating hot-fix crystals and had a great catchup. This time we were well prepared and had brought packed lunch bits to share which we ate in the chilly but bearable sun outside. I still haven't forgotten the taste of the dreadful food from the cafe last October and was keen neither to taste it again or to subject Odette to it.

The Crafts for Christmas hall was pretty good too and I once again managed to upset my companion with cheese again. Last year I got Ava to taste the garlic one which I found really tasty but she reacted like she had been poisoned. Odette was quite up for tasting the cheese but the cube of chilli cheese was unfortunately a step too far for her. However, when I went to the loo she went back and purchased a cheese selection and gave me a wee truckle of the chilli version which is very pungent but addictive.

Would I go back again? Yes, definitely. It is a great day out particularly if you fancy trying something new or seeing examples of different crafts. Hopefully next year we'll be able to manage things to enable all of us to be free to go and we can go mob-handed.

The other memory from the day was Odette's courtesy car. She offered to take her car as she had driven to my house and her car was already de-iced. The last time her car was in the garage she was given a flying shoebox, or Smart car. This time she had a very luxurious top of the range car which had seatbelts that gave you a 'hug' when you buckled up. The first time was a bit surprising as she hadn't warned me but it seems this is one of the safety devices which tensions up the belt at the start of the journey. This, I definitely want in my next car....!