Wednesday, 26 February 2014

A Mini Minion, Tiny Teddy and Beautiful Bows! (and Sewing Bee)

Crocheted Mini Minion
Last weekend, just for fun I had a go at this pattern from Vivianne at Philae Artes to make a very mini Minion. He's only 5.5cm (2.25") tall.

What a bloomin' fiddle! I used regular DK wool and a small old UK size 12 (2.5mm) crochet hook. He was pretty quick to make but sooooo fiddly I really don't think I will be making another.
The other major problem with him is that I made him at night, in artificial light and what I thought was black wool for his teeny hands, feet and little glasses strap thingy is in fact navy blue! The blue of his dungarees is a bit off too, should be more royal blue really. It is testament to how fiddly this was that I haven't done a remake with the right colours.
I wandered slightly from the original instruction for his eye too. Mine is just a circle of white felt, with the dot and grey outline done with a sharpie. I then over sewed it on with regular grey sewing thread rather than glueing.
I had the key ring just hanging around, whatever was on it before must have fallen off (never throw anything away!) I just sewed it on as securely as I could.
Crocheted Mini Minion

He is pretty cute though, despite his rather obvious faults, so if you want to make one this pattern does work. Vivianne has lots more cute teeny tiny patterns on her blog too.

While I'm sharing teeny tiny things, a few months ago I made this tiny little teddy, again just because I wanted to try really. He's is knitted, I'm afraid I can't remember what wool or needles I used. I followed this pattern from Julie at Little Cotton Rabbits. She has lots of amazing patterns, some to buy and some for free. It's another beautiful site well worth checking out.
Tiny knitted Teddy
He just sits on the side looking cute, I should give him away really, but I just haven't been able to yet!
Tiny knitted Teddy
I love the fact that the camera did face recognition on him when I took this picture!

Also last weekend I was making a few cards too and tried out this amazing teeny little bow making method.

I then got ridiculously excited. Try it and you will too. This method makes little bows that lie flat and straight - Amazing! Mine are not quite perfect as you can see but so much better than anything I was making before.
how to make tiny bows with a fork

I am also very excited as The Great British Sewing Bee is back - whoop whoop! I love this programme so much. (I don't know if my non UK people get to see this, it's BBC so maybe you can get it on BBC America if you are in the US? If you don't maybe you need to start a petition or something!)
Somehow the programme makers make me feel almost instantly engaged with the contestants, and I love to see someone who did really badly in one round come through in the next and do really well.
I found this interview with one of the contestants, Lynda, on Crafts from the Cwtch Blog (she's the mum of Sarah, whose blog it is). Definitely worth a read if you are a fan at all.

Finally, I am also pleased to see a few signs of Spring. No offence winter, but you can go now, I've had enough.
Snowdrops by Carla Nyanyo

You might also be interested in:
Recycled Pen Tub Tutorial
Recycled Pen Tub Tutorial
Embroidered Gloves
Embroidered Gloves
Heart Elbow Patch Cardigan Makeover
Heart Elbow Patch Cardigan Makeover
Crochet Owl Brooch
Crochet Owl Brooch
I'll be linking up to all these great link parties, why not pop by!

read more

Friday, 21 February 2014

3 Pink Bracelets

Making a bracelet from nylon cord
Ever since my nice bright pink bracelet broke and I made it into a necklace, I have been short a bright pink bracelet. So I've been experimenting and tried out a few DIY bracelet ideas.

I found this lovely bright pink cord in B&Q (the hardware shop)
I love this cord, it's really strong and the colour is amazing. The ends unravel like mad though so I popped a dab of nail varnish on the cut ends to help seal them whilst I was working with it. It helped a bit, you'll see in the photos below.
Update June 2014: I used this cord again for my Chain & Thread Bracelet and melted the end of the cord (just carefully in the gas flame of the cooker hob) It worked SO much better than nail varnish

I also had these old bangles to play around with. They are the kind that make your wrist go green so they already had a coat of nail varnish on the inside to help stop that.

Wrapped Cord Bangle 1:
First I took the wider bangle and the cord, tied it in a tight knot then started knotting it round, pushing the cord up to itself as I went along.
Cord wrapped bangle DIY
tutorial bangle refashion with neon cord
tutorial how to refashion a bangle with thread
wrapped cord bangle
When I got back to the beginning I just tied the cord as tightly as possible on the inside then glued the ends on the inside with a little dab of Superglue.

Crochet I-Cord Bracelet:
Crochet I-cord bracelet
Oh my giddy aunt, I am so excited about this one. I found a tutorial on how to crochet an I-cord!!!! You can see it here at Planet June
For my first attempt I used a 5mm hook and it came out a bit uneven and lumpy. Take 2 was with a old UK size 12 (2.5mm) hook and was much better. 
The cords are in reverse in the photo above with cord 2 (size 12 hook) at the top and the lumpier first attempt at the bottom.

I just crocheted the cord until it was long enough to fit really snugly round my wrist.
Then pulled the cord through all three loops on the hook to finish off: (I took these photos in the evening, hence the terrible quality - sorry)
Made a loop as big as my chosen button: 
 Threaded the cord onto a large sewing needle and made a knot
then "lost" the end by weaving it into the I-cord: 
I Superglued the knot and the ends just to be sure they don't unravel.
The other end already has a handy thread which I used to sew the button on, again using a dab of glue over the knot and cord ends.
Crochet I-cord bracelet

Knotted Parachute Cord Bracelet:
Knotted Parachute Cord Bracelet
I followed some instructions on YouTube for how to make this. These instructions were great, really clear and straightforward. I thought I had pinned them so I could find them again easily - apparently not! I have found alternative instructions from here which is the same method but be warned, this Guy takes ages to get to the point (I went and made a cup of tea, came back and he still hadn't started the actual weaving/knots bit!)

Still, stick with it, he does tell you everything you need to know (eventually) However you don't need a jig or fancy equipment, I stuck a pencil between my knees and looped it end of the bracelet over that!
I followed the instruction until the bracelet was long enough for my wrist. If you are using a button like this, make it a bit on the short side, I found my loop and button added another cm or so. This is really adjustable though, so when I found my bracelet was a fraction too long, I could just move the end knot up a bit to shorten (once you've got a finished bracelet in front of you that sentence will make way more sense)
I sewed a big button on the end and glued the end of the cord with Superglue rather than setting fire to them like the guy on YouTube. 
Once the glue was dry I trimmed the ends off.
Knotted Parachute Cord Bracelet
I like them all, but I think the I-cord is the one I will definitely be trying out again, with some different wools and threads.
how to make a bracelet with nylon cord

I do like to stack bracelets up a bit and I like the bright pink with other bright colours:

I also like it with black:

I really like it with natural colours:
You might also be interested in:

Embroidered Gloves
Embroidered Gloves
Earrings Organised Update
Earrings organised Update
Tetris Tote Bag
Tetris Tote Bag
Crocheted owl Brooch
Crocheted Owl Brooch
I'll be linking up at these great link parties, I also linked these bold colour projects to the Bold Project Bold Link Party

read more

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Cake Making for absolute beginners Part 1

How to make sponge cakes for complete beginners
Making cakes is easy. Honestly!
Since I posted my cake decorating ideas I've been promising to produce a simple, step by step guide to making cakes.

My Mum taught me how to bake, she would let me sit up on the counter and "help" when I was really tiny. She liked instructions and doing things properly so from her I learnt the "right way" to do things. I have to confess to being a bit more happy-go-lucky about things so use a few short cuts. 

I know a lot of people use packet cake mix. My Nan, Pearl, would quite literally spin in her grave if I ever used cake mix (also if I bought ready prepared bagged salad, but that's another story!) To be fair, I've never used them but from what I understand you have to add 3 ingredients to the mix. You only need 4 ingredients to make basic cake anyway and this way you know exactly what's in it.

When your baking, some things matter and will make the difference between a delicious spongy cake and a rock hard biscuit. Some things don't seem to matter at all - so I don't do them. Here the recipe is in bold and in red is me, standing next to you giving a helping hand - just like my Mum did for me.

So here we go: (you can view a "no frills" version for printing here)
Part 1 - Basic Sponge Cake Mixture
(Also called Victoria Sponge I believe)
We are going to start with fairy cakes (or cup cakes if you like)

The basic recipe is 4 4 4 2 so it's easy to remember
(my scales are imperial so that's how I work, but I've looked up some conversions for you all)

Makes 12 small cakes (use little paper cases, not big muffin ones, you get more cakes and people can always have a second one)

4oz butter or baking margarine (115g or 1/2 cup)
4oz caster sugar (115g or 1/2 cup) 
4oz self raising flour (115g or 1 cup)
2 eggs

You also need: A mixing bowl, a mixer or hand mixer or wooden spoon, a large metal spoon, paper cases and a patty tin - some people call them cup cake tins/muffins tins)

1) Take the butter/margarine and the eggs out of the fridge, try to do this 15 minutes or so before you start so the fat can soften up a bit and the eggs are not too cold.

2) Wash your hands, put on an apron, remove any baking trays and roasting dishes from the oven, put the oven on to 180 c/350 f/gas 4

3) Prepare your tin now so put your paper cases in the little sections. This is because once the flour gets wet you want it in the oven as quickly as possible.

3) Cream the butter/margarine and sugar. This means to beat it together till it goes all fluffy and light looking. I use my hand whisk for this (If you have a fancy mixer use that, if you have neither - use a wooden spoon) If you chop the butter/marg into smaller lumps it's easier to get started. 

You can stop when it looks like this:

4) Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well. How you do this depends on how confident you are cracking eggs. If you are unsure then crack them one at a time into a cup then tip them into the mix. That way if a bit of shell gets in you can fish it out easily. The proper way is to crack all the eggs into a jug and whisk it lightly with a fork, then pour them a little at a time into the mix whilst you continue to beat with the whisk. I just crack them straight into the mix one at a time them whisk away till it's all mixed.

5) Fold in the flour. Technically you are supposed to sieve the flour, I don't bother, it's fine to just tip it straight in. What you must do is stir it in GENTLY with a metal spoon.
My mum showed me a round the outside then cut through the middle action that I always do.
Stop when you can't see the flour any more.

6) Spoon into the papercases. Use a teaspoon and your finger. See how much mixture is in each one below. That's what you are aiming for. You should get 12 from this mix, be as quick as you can but if you spill on the tray wipe it straight away. Once that's burnt on it will be really hard to clean.

Does the bowl look empty to you?
Get yourself one of these flexible scrappers, believe it or not there was enough mix there for another whole cake. (my son calls this the instrument of torture because it leaves less for licking the bowl afterwards!)

7) Bake for 15 - 20 minutes. Bung them in the oven, try not to peek. They are ready when they smell delicious. Actually a better way to test is to open the oven door, lean in an gently press your finger in the middle of one. If it springs back up they are done. If it leaves a dent give them another 5 minutes. Be careful as you do this!

8) Place on a rack to cool. Don't ice them until the are completely cool or your icing will melt.
How to make sponge cakes for complete beginners

Eat them as they are, or decorate however you like. Next in the series One day I promise I will rustle up some icing recipes and decorating ideas. Then some ways to adapt this recipe to make all sorts of cakes... 
You might also be interest in:
My Nan's Shortbread Biscuits
My Nan's Shortbread Biscuits
Easy Peasy Banana Muffins
Easy Peasy Banana Muffins
Easy Cake Decorating Ideas
Easy Cake Decorating Ideas
School Reunion Cake Toppers
School Reunion Cake Toppers
I'll be linking up at all these great link parties

read more