Sunday 28 February 2010

Accidental Blanket

Hello. Today I'm having a Ta-daa post, but first I must say 'WOW!' Have you been and looked at our 20 Minuters Flickr page ? There are lots of fantastic craft items awaiting your perusal; and to think it's only the end of February! All those little snatched 20 minutes are really making a difference to lots of you.
If you're on my list ( and there are over 50 of us now) check your photo folders and see what needs uploading. I think I might have to check mine at the end of every month as all these project photos soon stack up and you forget how much you have actually done.

Now when I say 'finished' I mean all the good, hooky, colourful, exciting bit is finished. There is just the small matter of stitching in all those loose ends. (pouty lip, glum face.)

I do try and work over my ends as I go, but I found out with my last granny square blanket that if your tension is a little loose, they work their way out again. Which is extremely annoying! So unfortunately there is nothing for it but to sew them in - very tightly!
This blanket started life quite accidentally (hence its name) when I taught a friend to crochet. Well, once you get some yarn and a hook out, that's it, you can't stop! So while my friend was getting to grips with granny squares I started playing around with joining-squares-as-you-go (inspired by Lucy). This, I have to say is most satisfying as your work looks finishes before you've really done much! Does that make sense?
Anyhow most of the centre join-as-you-go-squares were made last August in the car on the 4hour journey to my brothers house. I'm a great devotee of car crochet as I'm the worst passenger in the world and find hooking prevents me peering out of the window and panicking that the wheels of those huge lorries in the next lane are going to squish us.
Then I went around and around creating some scrummy stripes in varying patterns. Some in double crochet, some in trebles, some in single stitches and some in groups.
Now going around and around is mighty fine but it does take longer and longer the bigger your blanket gets, so that's when I decided to hop back to my join-as-you-go squares, creating a single border of them. Then I did a few more rounds to mirror the stripes before the squares.

The blanket then spent a long time folded up on the back of a rocking chair awaiting some inspiration. What did it need next? More stripes? More squares? Hmmm...
I finally decided that the reason I couldn't decide what to do next was because it didn't need anything else apart from a very simple neat little picot edge.

I'm really pleased with my accidental blanket. It's made from all the left over wool from my granny blanket (I obviously bought twice as much yarn as I really needed) and it's crocheted on a smaller hook making it denser and not as loose. But now my crochet project is finished I feel a little bereft. I doesn't feel right not having a little basket of woolly goodness stashed at the side of the sofa!
Soooo.....I've started something new. Something a bit pointy and dangley and all my own design!
Till next time, don't forget to go and upload some photos.
Love Fi x

Sunday 21 February 2010

Birthday Cake and Lavender Bags.

Hello all you lovely people. I've been cupcaking again!
I've been doing it on the move this time. I took my supplies with me on a visit to my Mum and Dads so I could make the most of the half term week. Luckily my Parents don't mind me snipping, stuffing and stitching when I visit. I even crochet in the car on the journey there and back. (Wonderful Man does all the driving.) My 'accidental blanket' is nearly finished.
Well you can't waste all those precious 20 minutes, can you!
Can you spot the real cake? Hmmm it was a yummy Black Forest Gateau made by Grandma for #2 childs 15th birthday. What better way to celebrate.

Not only have I been stitching cakes, I've been making lavender bags too.

How can making something as small as a lavender bag,

cause sooooo much mess

and disruption?
Who knows! Just one of life's little mysteries!

My finished design.
I wanted to use my signature vintage embroidery on them,
but added a modern twist with some machine embroidery.

I'm hoping they have a country look to them without being too twee.
What do you think?
And just because I thought it might make you smile...
I took a photo of this Peter Rabbit bus in Kendal last week for you. Every available inch was covered in lovely Beatrix Potter drawings. I wonder if the driver likes it?

Fi x

Sunday 14 February 2010

A walk up Stagsfell.

Hello Ladies,
I have to tell you that after reading the end of my last post, my husband confronted me on the landing, just outside our bedroom door and almost demanded to know when I'd been Fell walking without him!
As he now knows and you can see from the photos, this walk took place with hubby in the sunshine, back in May last year. I just never got around to posting about it.
So after all the snow and grim weather we have had recently, I thought we could all do with a little unseasonal sunshine and fresh air.
Let's get started shall we?
The photo above will give you some idea of where we are going to walk. This is St. Margaret's church in Hawes. If you click on the photo to make it bigger (sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't) and then look to the right of the church on the hillside, there is a dark diagonal line sloping upward to the shadows on the hillside. This diagonal line is the lane we will walk up, and then climb to the Fell top above it. (The third bump of hill from the left on the horizon.)

We have just left the tiny village of Sedbusk, in Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. There it is, (I'm looking backwards) all those little stone cottages.
Click here to see where we are on Google maps, just type in Sedbusk and click on Satallite. In both of the above photos, we are looking back down the veeeeeeery long Shutt Lane, back at Sedbusk and the little town of Hawes in the distance.
Onward and upwards!
We've left the lane now and climbed diagonally half way up the hillside to this little group of trees, where I have been promised a little rest by my mountain goat of a husband.
(can you hear me gasping for breath?)

This little group of spindly trees has a tumble down stone wall around it, once enclosing the trees and I presume protecting the young saplings from grazing sheep.

If there is one thing we are not short of here in the Dales, it's dry stone walls!

Well we've reached the summit, sorry I mean hill top! It just feels like I've climbed a mountain! Mental note to self, "must get fitter".
We are looking East, right down the Dale/valley.

I've turned right with my camera to try and give you a panoramic view of whats in front of me.

We can see right across from the one side of the Dale to the other.

And now to our right, looking West you can just make out the loooong lane to Sedbusk and Hawes in the distance. If you carried on travelling West in a straight line you would come to Sedbergh and then if you carry on that straight line you come to Kendal in the Lake District.

I'll keep turning right so that you can see what I see.

I'm now looking behind me (if that makes sense) at the moorland Fell top. At the other side of this moorland, which stretches for about 6 miles, is Swaledale (the next valley). There are only 3 or 4 roads (I use the term road very loosely) that cross this huge mass of land from one valley to the other. Closest to this spot is the Buttertubs Pass, the next two are above the village of Askrigg and are suitable called 'Cross Top' and 'Long Band', these roads are literally single tracks that you would only choose to travel in Summertime.

Heading back now. I think the whole walk took just over an hour.

It amazed me when we first came here, how many wild flowers there were at the road sides.
There is so little pollution here that wild snowdrops, garlic and foxgloves all thrive in the verges. Not to mention dozens of other flowers that I'm ashamed to say I don't know the names of.

See! There he is! He did come with me.

Back in pretty Sedbusk.

I'm not really flagging behind! No, I'm hanging back on purpose to take photos. cough! cough!

Well I hope you enjoyed our little walk?
I think it must be time for a cuppa now, don't you?
Fi x

Tuesday 9 February 2010

No! I haven't vanished from the face of the earth.
I am here, I've just been a little busy of late. I really wanted to be with you, honest!
The photo above was taken from the car on our way to town. As you can see the majority of our snow has finally gone. There is just snow left high up on the tops of the Fells now, which will be there for a while yet.
I'm so glad to hear you've been managing to keep up with your 20 minutes a day. There are more than 50 of us now all doing a little something every day so
that's an awful lot of creativity going on.
Please try and check the list every now and again so that you can encourage any newcomers. There are crafters joining all the time. I try and drop in on you all at least once a week, but as you can appreciate it obviously takes a great deal of time, but I do hate to miss anything.
Don't forget to upload your photos to our flickr group page.

Now to update you on my crafting time. Remember this piece of patchwork? I discovered it in Granny Pilley's box from the charity shop.
It was a bit of a funny shape, reminding me of a map of the British Isles.

The only thing to do was unpick the hexagons from the pointy top end and restitch them lower down to make a more useful rectangle.

What do you think? I've added an edging strip to help make it more sturdy before I...

flip it over and start removing all the template papers.

There are quite a lot of them.

Stitched rather too securely to be honest.

they're not easily removed.

but I can't complain, after all they've stood the test of time.
Over 30 years!
Next I'd like to say thank you to a lovely lady who sent me a little surprise in the post.

The lavender smells wonderful.
But I must ask is that Elaine or Claire?
Till next time when I'll take you for a walk up one of our Fells in the sunshine. Fantastic views, I promise.
Fi x

PS. Thank you to Wipso at A Stitch in Time for a Kreativ Blogger award. I do have it somewhere, but Blogger doesn't seem to want to add it to this post. Any one else noticed how temperamental it can be, or is just me!

Monday 1 February 2010

Raw edge, freemotion machine applique tutorial

Hello, While I'm mulling over sofa coverings I've created the tutorial on free motion machine applique that some of you asked for. This is the way I made the Milkchurn Cottage picture.

This is my old wheat bag cover. Rather yukky. I'm going to make a new one from this vintage embroidered tray cloth...

and scraps of cotton fabrics left over from other projects.
I never throw anything away.
I'm going to applique the words 'feeling better' onto the linen. I've arranged the fabric letters where I want them on the linen. If you want to you can stick them down first using bondaweb or spray fabric glue, I didn't bother. (the fabric pinned on the right hand side of the picture is just holding the other letters in place.)

When you put your fabric in the embroidery hoop, put it in upside down or the opposite way to hand embroidery. This will ensure the fabric lays flat on the sewing machine. Pull the fabric as tight as you can using your sewing machine screwdriver to tighten the screw. The fabric should be as tight as a drum.

Thread.- Use what ever thread you want, you can buy special bobbin (to use on the bottom) thread for machine embroidery, usually in black or white, you get about twice as much on the reel as normal thread so it is more economical. You'll be surprised how much thread you'll use.

Next alter your machine. Drop the feed dog teeth in the base plate. My machine has a little wheel under the free arm.

Here you can see the teeth dropped and I have attached an enclosed darning foot. You can have a go with an ordinary foot but you will have difficulty seeing where you are going. You can also remove the foot altogether just leaving the needle, but I wouldn't recommend this as you may easily include your fingers in your applique. (not good)

This is another darning/embroidery foot, this one is open toed. The reason I have two is because sometimes when embroidering over something hairy or wispy (ie wool tops, used in felting) the toe of this foot can catch in the wispy bits.

Next I loosen the upper thread tension a little.
Normal on mine is #4, I have reduced the tension down to #2.

The top dial is the presser foot pressure. I find as long as your fabric can be moved around freely when the your presser foot is lowered you don't need to alter this.

Next I turn my stitch length down to 0 as I will be controlling my stitch length by how far I move my fabric and how fast or slow I make the machine go.
It won't matter if you forget to alter this.

Now to start.

Slip your embroidery hoop under the machines foot, which should be raised as in normal sewing. Note which way up the embroidery hoop is in the photo. Your fabric should be flat against the base plate of your machine.


Position your needle where you want to start and lower your presser foot.
Now without moving the fabric start sewing, get your needle going up and down quite quickly.
Now you can use both hands to move your embroidery hoop around.

(If you've never done this before, have a practice on some scrap fabric without any applique on it. Better still, practice on something stiff like pelmet vilene, you won't need the hoop. Practice making circles by moving your hoop around and around. (by now your tongue should be out and you should be circling your upper torso in time to your embroidery hoop! lol)


You can see in the photo I often use my stitch ripper to hold down tiny bits of fabric, saving my fat fingers!

As you can see here it doesn't have to neat and tidy, in fact it looks better if it's not.
Stitch around each shape a couple of times to make sure everything is stitched down.
A little tip here- smaller stitches help prevent too much fraying.
(Move your hoop slowly and stitch quickly = short stitches.)
(Move your hoop quickly and stitch slowly = longer stitches.)
Each time I finished a letter I just lift my presser foot and move over to the next letter without cutting the thread. Don't forget to lower your presser foot again. This saves time, thread and fiddling about trying to get the hoop out and back under again.

When you've finished, you can trim all of these cross over threads. Don't forget the ones on the back of your work too as they can pull and pucker your work.

Ta-Daa !

Go on have a go. It really is easier than it looks. Have a play around.
The back.

The front.
Just need to pop it in the wash to remove the pencil guide lines.
I tried to make it as simple as possible, any questions, feel free to email me.
Go on embroider a heart on to something for your valentine.