Thursday, 31 December 2015

things I like this November and December...

Columns (L-R):
1  •  2  •  3  •  4  •  5  •  6  •  7  •  8  •  9  •  10  •  11  •  12  •  13  •  14  •  15  •  16  •  17  •  18  •  19

A final set of Pinterest favourites to round off the year.
A busy mixture!

Monday, 23 November 2015

colourful crochet

I've made a bunch more crochet squares for my stitch library. Every time I think I've run out of different colours of wool I manage to dig out a couple more balls from my yarn basket.

A couple of these were made from the wool I received in my recent Fibreshare package. It was lovely to make use of them so quickly! 

Of these ones I think the embossed circles is the most interesting (and surprisingly easy to crochet too!) although the colour I used for the crossbill stitch also make that one a firm favourite.

I actually spread all my squares out on the floor on Saturday and I think I do have enough for a medium sized blanket. I'm tempted to go large and try out some more stitches though. 

We'll see!

Saturday, 21 November 2015

shopping list sketches

I've decided it's time to revive my shopping list hunt.

I found this list Ben made in our recycling box this morning and realised how long it has been since I've done any drawing. I thought this might make a nice weekly drawing challenge to try and keep up over the coming months.

To get me started I drew the very minuscule butternut squash that has been winding it's way across our patio. We planted it a bit late so unfortunately it's never going to reach it's full potential. I love the way squashes grow though.

Tangles of tendrils.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

a new pal

This is Mary, our new housemate.

Isn't she sweet? We adopted her from the RSPCA two weeks ago and she seems to be settling in well.

I decided to make her a little welcome present in the form of a knitted worm...

A french knitted worm.

It's funny how quickly I forget how to do french knitting and have to look it up on youtube each time for a refresher. It was so quick to make once I got going though.

And Mary seems to like it...

We woke the other morning to find that she had carried it up to bed in the night.
Sweet little one.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

shibori sample needle cases

I have a lot of Shibori samples in my fabric pile since the recent workshop I attended at Sussex Prairie Garden and I've been really keen to start using them.

I wanted to start with small scale projects, as sewing isn't always my forte, so I decided to make some sewing needle cases. A handy make for me as I'm always using track of my yarn darning needles.

I decided to go for patchwork approach and picked out some of my Shibori samples as well as some other favourite fabric pieces (you may recognise them from the cushion cover I made recently).

When it came to the sewing I mixed together some different fabrics and layouts for each case. I didn't really have a plan in mind, and instead just sort of made it up as I went along. You may be able to tell!

To hold the needles/pins I sewed some felt into the insides of the cases, and I also found some gold elastic in my sewing box which I used for the button fastenings.

They turned out well I think. It's a good thing that I wasn't going for a consistent look and feel because they all ended up slightly different sizes. I think that's ok though, especially as I was going for a Japanese Boro sort of approach.

Here they all are...

Not too shabby (I hope).

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

adventures in dyeing yarn

Last month I signed up to the latest FibreShare yarn swap. As part of my swap package I decided to try my hand at dyeing some yarn. 

It's something I've been wanting to try for a while and I thought it would be nice to include something handmade and unique for my swap partner, along with the other fibre goodies.

I've shared a little about the process I followed below if you are interested. 

I thought I'd start on a small scale so I picked picked two 50g balls of eco cotton yarn, one in a pale blue and one in a pale lilac. My aim was to try some ombre effects with the dye and I didn't want a pure white base colour to begin with.

I separated out each 50g ball into two (very approximate) 25g skeins and tied each skein in various places so that it wouldn't get too tangled whilst dyeing.

Next was the fun part! I chose a sunny October saturday and set up a couple of buckets of dye in the garden. The dye colours I chose were emerald green and burlesque red, although as you can see they ended up more like blue and purple.

I dip-dyed segments of the yarn for different lengths of time to try and achieve some different colour effects and I dyed a couple of the skeins in both dye baths to create some colour gradients.

Once I was happy with them I rinsed the dye out in cold water and then hand-washed the cotton with some detergent, just to wash out any colour that wasn't fixed. Then I hung them on the line to catch the end of the day's sunshine (which unfortunately didn't last very long so I had to bring them in and dry them inside overnight).

Once they were dry I wound them up into small hanks, which did involve getting in a bit of a tangle, but they ended up nice and neat in the end.

Here are the finished results... 

I'm really happy with how they all turned out, and love the fact that they're all different. I sent a couple of them out to my FibreShare partner and kept a couple for myself. 

I can't wait to see how they look when they're knitted. Shame they're all quite small, but it'll make a good reference point for future attempts. It would be so nice to knit a cardigan out of my own hand-dyed yarn.

Next I want to try dyeing with natural materials. 
We've already started collecting up our onion skins!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

things I like this September and October...

Columns (L-R):  1  •  2  •  3  •  4  •  5  •  6  •  7  •  8  •  9  •  10  •  11  •  12  •  13  •  14  •  15  •  16

Some more Pinterest picks.
Blues and pinks, and hand-dyed gems.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

sunday morning making

I was a little under the weather yesterday so I failed to do much at all - eating cheese on toast under a blanket was my achievement of the day. 

I really hate to waste the weekend hours so to make up for it I got up nice and early this morning (very much helped by Ben's pre-dawn work alarm) and decided to get to work making a cushion. 

I picked out one of my Shibori samples as a starting point and then matched it with some other fabric pieces I had at home - I really love how they all look together. Nice patterns and colours.

It turned out really well - I love it! 

I haven't really done much patchwork sewing before so this was a good test of my skills. I think one of my vague goals is to practise making things on the sewing machine more and improve my skills (and patience levels). Having these Shibori samples to work with is really encouraging me, so hopefully there'll be more to come.

Shibori overload!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

harvest time

I don't think I've done an update on our little garden since way back in June. Our vegetable plot was coming along nicely and we were looking forward to sampling everything once it was ready.

We had mixed results with our produce in the end. The cabbage went the same way as the cucumber (devoured by snails) and although our courgette season started well with some lovely big juicy ones, the snails and slugs soon tracked them down too and we didn't see many more reach full size before being munched away.

Here are some pictures of some of the things we did get to eat...

Our first shiny courgette // One of many handfuls of beans which we enjoyed through August & September // Our tomato crop has not been quite so bountiful // Another lovely bright courgette

I exaggerate a bit with regards to our tomato crop. It has been a bit better than one green tomato, but we have had nowhere near as many as expected, especially as we had about 10 tomato plants (or more) on our patio. They just didn't seem to get going properly this year, and looked a little feeble. I hope we have better results next year.

Below is a photo of my flowering Cima di Rapa, grown from the seeds I received in the secret seed swap. Doesn't it look pretty?

Unfortunately over the last couple of weeks the caterpillars have got to it (disaster!) and now all it's leaves have been stripped away and I have very little hope for it's recovery. I think caterpillars may have overtaken snails as my no.1 gardening enemy. No Cima di Rapa for us this year anyway.

The good garden news is that the season isn't quite over yet, and we have a couple of squashes going strong on the patio. Let's hope they manage to grow big enough to eat before the weather turns wintery.

Aside from harvesting this years mini crops our thoughts have been turning to next year and we have already planted out some bulbs for the early spring months.  We layered them up (bulb lasagne!) to make the most of the space we had and I'm excited about seeing them pop their heads out of the soil when the time is right. 

Daffodil // Tulip // Iris // Snowdrop

I've also been gathering seeds from the garden, ready to plant out next year (or for future seed swaps?)

We had loads of Nigella flowers this year so I collected a bunch of seed heads up once they had stopped flowering and dried out a bit. I also collected some dried sweet pea pods, nasturtium seeds and the last of the runner beans.

All ready for next spring. It's nice how much gardening is about forward planning.

Monday, 5 October 2015

fruit & veg

It has definitely felt like we're in the midst of autumn today. Drizzly and dark.

Here are some super colourful summer photos of fresh fruit and vegetables to brighten up the day. A (healthy) feast for the eyes!

Saturday, 3 October 2015

his and hers hats

Ben and I had a couple of festivals planned towards the end of the summer, and I know how cold it can be at night so I decided to make us a couple of cosy hats to keep our heads warm.

I only thought of this shortly before we were due to go to Green Man but luckily they take almost no time at all. I think I made each one in under a week, and enjoyed some garden knitting in the sunshine in the process.

It seemed a bit silly to be making woolly bobble hats at the beginning of August, but I think it was a good decision as it did get quite chilly at End of the Road.

They turned out really nicely. Very comfortable and stretchy. I will probably make some more for the winter months - I have a track record of losing hats so it'll be good to have some spares.

I don't normally post photos of myself on here, but here we are at End of the Road, wrapped up warm...

Luckily Ben wasn't too embarrassed that I'd made us matching hats. 

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

happy birthday derek

It was our good friend Derek's birthday on Sunday so Ben & I made him a mixtape as part of his present. 

It's a fun one! We added lots of songs by bands we all saw recently at End of the Road as well as a few that remind us of good times at ATP

I hope he enjoys it. You can listen to it here if you like. I'm sure Derek won't mind...

Saturday, 26 September 2015

a weekend Shibori workshop

At the weekend I went back to the Sussex Prairie Garden for a two day workshop in Japanese Shibori, Sashiko and Boro. My mum came along, and Lucy and her sister Colette were there too, which made it extra nice - it's fun making things with others.

I've been wanting to try out Shibori indigo dyeing in particular for a while now and it was the perfect opportunity to experiment and explore the possibilities, of which there are many. On the first day of the workshop we were encouraged to make lots of samples, experimenting with different methods of resist using a variety of tools.

I made sure to document my samples pre-dyeing so I could refer to them afterwards. I love how they look in these photos too - lots of interesting shapes.

The actual dyeing process is really quick and immediate (only 3 minutes in the dye bath!), and it's so satisfying when you unwrap your fabric after dipping them in the indigo and see the finished result. 

In all, it was a really lovely weekend - we were lucky to have some delightful late summer sunshine, which was handy as there were many trips outside to the dye baths in the barn while we played with creating our samples. 

And in our lunch break we got to explore the garden, which is always a pleasure.

I got a bit carried away with the Shibori and didn't get around to trying much Sashiko stitching or Boro (Japanese make do and mend) over the weekend. The embroidery takes a lot longer than the dyeing and involves less equipment so I thought this would be something nice to practise at home after the workshop.

I came home with so many samples, as well as some finished scarves and pillowcases, which I dyed on the Sunday re-using some favourite techniques from my sample pile.

I have a few small-scale projects in mind for these sample pieces, which I'll share as and when I make them. And I expect I'll probably try some more Shibori at home at some point soon too. 

It's addictive!