Monday, 28 March 2016

A little tribute to Ellen - part 2

My Nan Ellen's birthday was 28th March so today I'm sharing something she made.
A daisy painting by my nan
I missed a tribute to my nan last year, we had just moved house and I just never got round to writing the post. I'm sure she would have understood.

Ellen loved to paint and over the years she produced quite a lot of work of all sorts of styles. She was never afraid to have a go at anything. This daisy painting is either oils or acrylics on a canvas board. 

A daisy painting by my nan
Our daughter had a daisy theme in her bedroom when she was little so this painting was in her room. Now we've moved it's not up on the wall yet (it's been a whole year, how much longer can I use the "we've just moved" excuse?) but I would like to find somewhere for it. I think the frame is dating it so I'm probably going to swap that, find a more modern way to hang it.
I'm pretty sure Ellen would have love the idea of blogging, if it were a thing when she was alive I'm almost certain she would have had a blog to share her boundless enthusiasm for everything and would have social media accounts of every kind!
You can read more Stories behind Sum of their Stories here.

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Saturday, 26 March 2016

Simple Embroidered Tote Bag

You don't need to know any fancy embroidery stitches to give a bag a new look.
Simple running stitch embroidery used to embellish a tote bag

This post contains affiliate links, I received free products from DMC to play with.
I've finally got round to finishing the bag I started to embroider at the CHSI Stitches Show back in February, hooray! The pre made bag was a gift from DMC filled with goodies from their range for those of us attending the Blogger's Breakfast. Whilst we enjoyed the breakfast and chatted we made a start on something using the lovely bits and pieces provided in our goody bags. I had just made this Running Stitch Embroidered Cushion Cover...
...and I'd been pinning some lovely Sashiko designs with the thought to have a go sometime. So with all this in mind I attacked my bag with some of the lovely DMC Coloris embroidery thread we had been given. 
What I have done here is not Sashiko. I've been doing more research and there is so much to the beautiful designs. The stitches don't cross, they are way more even, the patterns are geometric and neat. I can probably get away with calling this "Sashiko inspired", mainly because it was!

I did enjoy doing some hand stitching though. It is simple, very therapeutic and easy to do whilst watching tv. (Sewing machine and TV don't really go well together in my experience!)

There is no big step by step tutorial here, but it couldn't be much easier. Thread a sharp embroidery needle with all 6 strands of embroidery thread (mine is Coloris "Paris" 4515 from DMC), make a knot at one end and then start stitching straight lines.
I just kept adding until I thought it was enough, I used almost the whole skein of thread. 
I'm using it to hold my latest knitting project now, I find it easier to have each thing I working on in it's own bag and this is SO much nicer than a supermarket carrier bag!
Simple embroidery to embellish a tote bag
This bag is from the DMC Custom by Me range, at the moment I can only find a link to their French Site giving information, I'll update this when I can.
Of course this idea would work on any bag, pre-made or made by you, I just really like this navy fabric with the light brown handles and this thread.
You might also be interested in:
Applique and Embroidery Cushion Cover
Applique and Embroidery Cushion Cover
Making Toys from Kids Drawings
Making Toys from Kids Drawings
Cornishware Ruffle Tote
Cornishware Ruffle Tote
Tetris Tote Bag
Tetris Tote Bag
I'll be linking up at these great link parties

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Tuesday, 22 March 2016

NEC Craft Shows March 2016

I had a lovely day out last weekend at the NEC Birmingham visiting the Hobby Crafts, Sewing for Pleasure, Fashion & Embroidery and Cake International shows.

It's a bit of a bonus event really, you go to one and you go to them all. One just leads to another so there is A LOT to see. Unlike the last show I went to which was a trade show, these are for the public, lots of things to see, ideas to take away and stuff to buy!

The Cake International section was divided in two, stands with things to buy to enhance your own baking and decorating skills and then some of the most amazing cake creations both by professionals and in a huge competition. 
There were so many extraordinary cakes, here's just a tiny selection.
 This Great Star Wars Bake Off cake is fabulous.
The Great British Bake Off is a massively popular TV programme here in the UK, just seeing the Emperor piping lilac roses is fantastic!
In terms of products to buy, cake decorating isn't really my thing - it has to be simple as you can see from my Cake Decorating ideas here - so I wasn't really sure what I was looking at with the array of piping nozzles, clever stands and icings. This did catch my eye though:
It's a "any shape" flexible cake tin called Freebake. It had super strong magnets on the bottom which hold it very securely to the baking tray. What a clever idea! It's available from The Cake Decorating Co. in the UK but the product is from Silikomart which is Italian. Worth a quick online search to see of you can find a local stockist maybe.

In the Fashion & Embroidery Show area there was a lot of amazing and inspirational work, lots of groups exhibiting and more competition entries to admire. 
There was a lovely exhibition from the Quilters Guild of the British Isles called "Lost in a Quilters Garden"
Here are just some details from just a few.
An experiment in Wholecloth by Claire Scott, In my Garden by Mary McIntosh, and two from Up the Garden Path by Jill Gray

On the Grasby Embroiderers stand this beautiful piece of art caught my attention.
Isn't it lovely? It's called Window of Light and is by Debbie Drury, you can see more of Debbie's work here

There was also a display of the costumes from the 2015 adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd, the one that starred Carey Mulligan. Such beautiful details, it was lovely to see them in real life. They were designed by Janet Patterson who has a host of nominations and awards for her costume design.

The Sewing for Pleasure and Hobby Crafts areas were less defined, I wasn't sure when one ended and the next started.
Do you remember Yarnia? The knitted and crocheted Narnia scenes that I saw at the CHSI stitches trade show. That was on display again, I'm so pleased lots of people are getting the chance to see it, it really is spectacular. I just snuck a few new photos.

I had no idea this product existed!
Called Jester it's a wool with pom poms already attached so they come out randomly as you knit or crochet!

There were the biggest knitting needles I've ever seen with huge balls of multi strand wool to knit with.
Sadly I forgot to note who was selling these, sorry.

I spent the longest time on the Crafty Ribbons Stall just trying to pick 6 printed ribbons (there was an offer) from their enormous selection. I love these:
But in the end I chose these.
I was also "forced" to purchase some fine, non static glitters and a glue with a fine nozzle from Glitter Magic, their choice of colours was amazing.

There were a lot of beautiful fabric stalls with fabrics of all sorts. Aren't these cute.
They are from a Leicester based company called Montreux fabrics but unfortunately their website is still under construction. They also had bargain bins full of off cuts and I bought some lovely red drapey jersey and am planning another simple maxi dress for the summer.
All in all a great mix of amazing inspiration by some super talented people and lots of fun things to purchase to have a go yourself. There were workshops too and fashion shows which we didn't even have time for. Comfy shoes were definitely required, there was a lot to see. Details of all ICHF events, and there are loads through the year, can be found on their website.

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Friday, 18 March 2016

12 alternative ideas for novelty yarn

12 non knit or crochet ideas for novelty or fancy yarns.
12 alternative ideas for using novelty yarns
It happens SO often, I see a beautiful textured yarn that just seems so pretty and interesting I find I've bought it before I've really thought about what I am going to make. 
There are so many different types, eyelash, bouclĂ©, slub, nub, chenille, ribbon, ladder, loop, snarl ....
Some fancy or novelty yarns are a dream to knit or crochet with but some really not so much!
For me trying to crochet with anything too fancy is a bit of a problem, a lot of fluff and I just can't see the stitches.

So if you, like me, have forked out on these balls of gorgeous looking yarn that just sit there and make you feel bad for spending that money I've found a few rather lovely alternative ideas.

Gift wrap, ribbon alternative

I bought this lovely textured yarn quite a few years ago. I found it in a discount bin and imagined crocheting a long, thin, floaty, elegant scarf to wear on mild spring days.
I crocheted about a foot and realised that I was making something that looked like an old rag... 

However it is really pretty as a much cheaper ribbon alternative for gift wrapping.

It's easy to use left over fancy yarns and wools (or anything that turned out to be a "purchasing error") as an alternative to ribbon.
I think a pom pom is fun on a present. If you make them on your hand (I first found this method here) they are SO quick, just use a long strand for tying them in the middle and use that for wrapping the gift.
If you visit Sum of their Stories often you might recognise this fluffy fur yarn, it's left over from my chunky rib hat making adventure.

Eyelash yarn is not something I have ever really made anything successful out of. That's not to say you can't, I'm sure very skilful people make extraordinary things from it. In fact the wolves and rabbits at Yarnia were all eyelash yarn, but for me it is just too much going on.

Looks pretty with plain gift wrap though (maybe I should have ironed this paper first!)

Here are some more ideas from other sites with all sorts of ways to use fancy yarns that don't involve knitting or crochet.

Kristin from My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia used cardboard and a fluffy yarn to make this beautiful heart shaped wreath. So simple, so effective, and you could cut any shape card to make a wreath for any time of the year.

This gorgeous knotted wall hanging from The Gathered Home used a mix of  yarns. Apparently not a quick project but there is a great step by step tutorial to lead you through the process.

Or if you are looking for something super quick, how about a knotted scarf like this one from Something Turquoise

Here's another wall hanging idea, this one is from A Designer at Home.
It's inspired by a Moroccan Wedding Blanket and looks really easy to put together.

How about this for an activity for the kids? Yarn wrapped sticks from Mum in the Mad House.

Or maybe you know some kids who would like to make yarn wrapped fish.
Fantastic Fun and Learning show you how, and you are not limited to fish, any simple shape would work.

This garland is from enJOY it by Elise Blaha Cripe, she made it for a baby shower but it would be a beautiful decoration for all sorts of occasions. I'm thinking what a lovely photo backdrop it would make too.

This is an old lampshade give a complete makeover using what looks like the kind of twine you can make with fabric scraps (like I used for a bracelet once here) It is such a transformation from how it looked before, check out the tutorial by Ashley at Blog a la Cart.
I think this would work with any kind of yarn but I guess anything chunky would be much quicker.

Now I know I promised no knit or crochet but... this necklace type cowl is finger knitting - that doesn't really count does it? 
It's from Fiber Flux and there is even a fab video tutorial to help you make it.

Love love love this pom pom cushion from A Stroll Thru Life
So classy and designer looking but a simple DIY.

And finally how about this sweet little nest, made with wire and eyelash yarn, so pretty.
You can find out how to make it over at The Magic Onions
12 alternative ideas for novelty yarns
So, use up your stash including those "I need to really concentrate" yarns. What you do with the space you make is up to you of course, but if it results in another trip to a wool shop I can't be held responsible!
You might also be interested in:
Diamond STitch Crochet Baby Blanket
Diamond Stitch Crochet Baby Blanket
Earphone Wire Tidy
Earphone Wire Tidy
Harry Potter Scarf Pattern
Harry Potter Scarf Pattern
Crochet Owl Brooch
Crochet Owl Brooch
I'll be linking up to all these great link parties, why not go and have a look.

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