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Sunday, 3 November 2013

Illusion Knitting

I have been wanting to try this for a while as I was intrigued as to how it worked and now I've tried it to be honest I still have no idea how or why it works but it looks really cool!!

The idea of illusion knitting is that when you look at it straight on you just see the stripes but when you look at it from an angle a picture or words emerge from the knitting.

I made a cushion for my brother for his birthday. His favourite musical is Les Miserables and after a quick search on Ravelry I found an illusion pattern that was perfect for it.

It didn't take too long to knit up once I had got into the swing of following the pattern.

This is what the front of the cushion looks like from straight on:

But when you look at it from below a recognisable image appears...

Pretty clever no?!

I decided to embroider some lyrics from the musical on the back of the cushion from the song Red and Black as it fitted in with the colour scheme of the cushion.

When it was made into a cushion it was harder to picture the illusion but it was still there!

 I definitely want to try more illusion knitting maybe on a scarf or something!

Monday, 27 May 2013

Stock Making

My Auntie offered to do a little craft stall for me at her local cricket club this bank holiday. I've known about this for about 6 months but I obviously left it all until the last minute to actually make stock for it!

Here are some bits I whipped up in the week before I handed it over to my Auntie!

I managed 3 pairs of rabbit bootees one pink, one neutral and one blue. I'm going to have to make some adult sized ones as I want a pair!!

After being unable to find my stencil brush, which of course showed up as soon as I purchased another one, I made some more bags the london skyline one is my favourite. I was planning on trying out some other cities but leaving everything to the last minute meant I couldn't this time.

And some more scrabble bags to replace some letters I had already sold. No doubt people will want ones I haven't done though!

I was planning a bicycle one with embroidered flowers in the basket but it needed some tweaking before it was ready so has been added to my massive work in progress pile!
I had some other stock including make up bags, cushions, tea cosies and cards as well. I also managed to sew together 3 more hello kitty cushions.
I haven't heard how the stall went yet- which could mean not very well as its been raining down in Somerset all day! But living in the east I've managed to get a sunburnt face!!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Crafting for a new arrival

My friend has recently had a baby boy. As soon as I found out what she was having I had to start thinking of what to make as a gift for the new arrival. I had made her first baby a little matinee coat and a pair of bootees so I decided to go along the same lines for this baby.

How cute are these bunny bootees?! They were from a free pattern in the Daily Mail a month or so ago. And as soon as I saw them I knew they were the perfect ones to make. They were pretty quick to knit up and only had a back seam to sew up. But I did have to look up some of the terminology used as they were new to me- luckily the internet came to the rescue!

This is the jumper I chose to knit for him. I don't like to make the newborn sizes of clothes as they aren't small enough for long enough to get much wear out of them. So I made this is 6-9 months so it will be ready for him over autumn and winter. It is a Debbie Bliss pattern and was really easy to follow and quick to knit- which is good as I tend to get bored with doing rows and rows of the same stitches!

I couldn't leave his big sister out with not gifts. So I made her a little badge so everyone knows that she is proud of her baby brother!

I also made her a doll/teddy carrier for carrying around her toys. I saw a picture on pinterest and was hoping it would take me to a tutorial but it was just a review of a pattern for one in a book so I had to wing how to construct one but I am pretty impressed with the results. It had to have a dinosaur pocket on the front because is obsessed with dinosaurs and pockets!!

I do love making things for babies and children. Just need to convince some more friends they want to have a baby so I can craft some more tiny things!!

Friday, 5 April 2013


I know Easter was nearly a whole week ago now but I still have the remnants in my kitchen waiting to be consumed!

I couldn't afford chocolate eggs for everyone so I knitted little chicks from a Jean Greenhowe pattern I spotted on Ravelry which can be found here and brought some creme eggs to sit inside them. I didn't have and googly eyes so just had to stitch some on but I think they still look pretty cute. And they decorated the table nicely.

I also decided to try my hand at some proper easter baking. I picked up Paul Hollywoods 'How to Bake' a month or so ago and decided to make Hot Cross buns and Simnel cake using his recipes in the book. And then luckily both were made on the Great British Bake off easter special so I got some extra tips on how to knead the dough etc! I haven't made bread since school (except in a bread maker) so was really pleased with how these turned out- they look like actual Hot Cross buns that you would buy in a shop and tasted better I'd say!!

And my simnel cake (although never really tasted one before) also tasted very yummy! But I love marzipan so it wouldn't take much to please me! I even made the marzipan myself- I thought it would be so tricky and thats why people just buy it but it really wasn't and took less time to make than it would to drive to the shops and buy a block.

A very nice easter all round made even better by the fact that I had Easter Monday off work!! I am going to make it a tradition to make hot cross buns every year now I think and I enjoyed making them a lot so will try out different breads between now and then.

Hope you all had a lovely easter and did anyone craft or bake things?

Sunday, 10 March 2013

A week in Somerset

I was lucky enough to have a weeks holiday left from work so I went with my mum to visit my auntie in Somerset. She lives near Wells and can see the Glastonbury Tor from her house. It is so lovely and peaceful to spend a week.

One of our day trips was to Bath as I hadn't been there since I was little. We had a lovely sunny day and stopped off in the Jane Austen tea rooms for a hot chocolate!

The best view in Bath has got to be of Pulteney Bridge especially on such a lovely day!

We took a strole up to The Circle and the Royal Crescent. Imagine getting to live in one of these houses?

I loved the reflection in the water. Whilst at my auntie's in the evening I got a lot of cross stitching done on my Royal Wedding sampler which I'll be able to show you soon. I may even get it finished before their two year anniversary!!

Signs of spring were all around! This picture brightens up the return of winter which seems to have appeared over the last few days.

This was a view Alexandra Park of bath. It looked like toy town from up there especially when the train left the station and started travelling around the edge of the city.

But its back to work now unfortunately!!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Mum's finished birthday present

This should have been Mum's Christmas present but it was no where near finished then so I made sure it was finished in time for her birthday on the 13th February.

I've decided I'm much more productive if I have a couple of projects on the go at the same time but just work on one in the mornings in bed and one in the evenings on the sofa! This was my morning project. As I do a later shift at work every day I don't have to get up and ready until 9am so I wake up at 7am so I can get in a few hours stitching done in the mornings.

My mum plays bowls in the summer and is the ladies captain of the local bowls club so when I found this chart in an old CrossStitcher from a charity shop I thought it would be perfect. It is from issue 32 (July 1995) and is a bowler from the 1900s. I can't imagine it was very easy to bowl in this skirt!!

I didn't use the exact colours in the chart as it would have been too expensive to have to buy them all so just used ones I already had in my box that were close to the picture. I think she will go into the study so I mounted her into a black frame to match the other pictures in there.

I haven't mounted with a border before but I'm pretty impressed with the result. Thought I would even sign it!! I won't be giving her the picture until Sunday, this is possibly the most I have ever been prepared with a handmade present- but there is still time to misplace it before the day!!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Millionaire Shortbread Cheesecake

This recipe has taken a few attempts to perfect but I think I've finally cracked it! I brought a version of this from Sainsburys once and although it tasted very yummy I thought I could do better and I think I have!

The base uses an adapted Mary Berry recipe for shortbread but I only make half the quantity. It uses a lot of butter but this is not exactly a slimming dessert as you will see!

Base ingredients:
  • 4oz plain flour
  • 2oz caster sugar
  • 4oz butter
  • 2oz cornflour
Combine all the ingredients and press into a tin. I used a deep 20cm round cake tin. Bake in the oven for about 30-40 mins at a lower heat than usual 160/gas 2 or until slightly golden. When I combined all the ingredients it was very short and wouldn't come together for me to roll out so I simply pressed it into the tin with my hands. I was a bit worried about it being too crumbly but it tasted amazing the most moutwatering shortbread I've ever eaten (I had to make extra to taste test obviously!) and didn't crumble too much when cooked. I probably wouldn't have it purely for shortbread but as a base it was perfect.

Caramel layer ingredients:
  • 397g (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 125g (4oz) butter (diced)
  • 75g (3oz) soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • mascarpone cheese
Place all ingredients (except cheese) in a saucepan over a low heat and bring to the boil, keep boiling and stir continuously for 10-12 mins. Leave to cool slightly and stir in the cheese. It depends how deep you want this layer to be as to how much cheese you use. I normally go for a big pot! Then spoon over shortbread layer and place in the fridge to set.

Chocolate topping ingredients:
  • 80ml double cream
  • 200g dark chocolate
Stir cream and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Pour over caramel layer and return to fridge until you need it!

I want a slice (or two) of this just thinking about it!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Chicken and Peach Bake

When I first heard I was having this at my Godmothers house at Christmas I was a bit dubious! But it was amazing and I have had to make it again since!!

It is really simple to make and can be adapted to suit the amount of people you need to feed. It can be made the day before and just popped in the oven half an hour before you want it- sounds like the perfect dish right?!

Chicken (cooked and shredded)
Cheese (grated)
White sauce
Tinned peaches

When my Godmother cooked this for 10 of us she cooked 2 whole chickens, whereas I cooked it for 2 of us and cooked 1 chicken breast so the amount of chicken you need depends on how many people you want to feed and how generous you are feeling!

To assemble the bake you put a layer of chicken then a layer of cheese, and repeat a few times until your dish is full. You then pour the white sauce over the whole thing and layer the top with peaches (I used peach slices as thats what I had but my Godmother had halved whole peaches on hers). Pop in the oven for about half an hour until nice and hot and bubbling. The cheese melts as it cooks and the peaches go slighlty caramalised- it is just soooo yummy to eat!

My Godmother served it with rice but I made a variation with macaroni. I cooked enough macaroni for 2 people and mixed it in with the chicken before layering the dish up and it was really yummy.

Let me know if you make it or if you have already made one similar and did a different variation! Writing this had made me want to make it again!!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The results of the £20 Christmas Challenge

I have finally worked out how to get pictures from my new phone onto the computer (in a very long winded way!) so I can share with you my Christmas makes. I do have a confession to make though that I didn't manage to make them all as I had a few custom orders to complete which had to take priority but what I did make was under my £20 budget.

The custom orders I completed were wheat bags which were made to a very specific size and weight to replace a much loved (but pretty grim) one! They were scented with lemon and smelt pretty amazing!!

From a craft fair I did at the beginning of December someone also got in contact with me to make them some scrabble bags as a Christmas present. I didn't take pictures of the ones I made but they were based on the one I made my friend as a brithday present.

Now onto the Christmas presents!

I stitched my Nan a little picture of some daffodils as I thought this would look cheerful on the windowsil. The threads I already had so I just spent £1.50 on a mini mirrored frame to put it in.

I made my dad a wheat bag from the leftover wheat and fabric so that cost me nothing. I also stitched a Gilmore Girls quote for a friend which I forgot to take a picture of (it all ended very rushed near Christmas!!) which used threads I already had so again just had to buy a frame for about £3.

I have a friend who looooooooves pizza and so I thought I would make her a cushion in the shape of a pizza because that is what everyone needs right?!

This is a picture from before I had finished stitching it up. I am a bit disappointed with the result as I feel I had to rush it to get it finished in time so the toppings could have been more exciting but it looks ok! The materials for this came to about £5 with another £4 on the cushion pad.

I also made an edible gift for my crafternoon friend madeformollyrose! It was using cookie cutters I had from Lakeland and I only had to spend 79p on the flour!

I also made a mini knitted snowman with a pattern from mochimochiland which I thought was so cute for her daughter as a little Christmas present.

I've decided to make it a bit of a mini tradition to give her a little Christmas decoration each year so that she'll have a collection of them when she is grown up and moves out to decorate her house with. This is the one I made her last year (it's been a bit of a snowman theme!)

That is all I managed to make though- oops! I had to have a late night run to a supermarket for the rest of the family presents. But from what I made I spent £14.50ish so within my budget of £20. I am starting my Christmas presents a lot earlier this time!! The one for my mum has turned into her birthday present so you'll get to see that really soon as her birthday is in February- I had better get a move on!

Did any of you have a frugal and thrifty Christmas? What handmade gifts did you give?

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

New Year Stitchilations

Happy New Year everyone!

I'm trying to fill you in on my Chrsitmas gift making but can't work out how to get the pictures from my new phone onto the blog so you'll have to bear with me!

I want to make some crafty new years resolutions on here in the hope that I will then stick to them! Do you make resolutions? I quite enjoy thinking about what I want to achieve in the next year or what I want to change for the better.

1. Learn to crochet!! This was a resolution last year and I did manage to crochet one dodgy looking granny square and one actual square looking one. But it all felt very backwards and wrong so I'm going to try it left handed and see if that makes a difference otherwise I'll just have to persevere until it feels natural. I am very envious of the granny a day challenge and want to be able to take part next year!

2. Make entries for the local show. I want to continue my success of last years show. Which can be found here. I want to win the cup again basically its so shiny and I don't want to have to find something to replace its space on the shelf!! I've got a cross stitch half finished I can enter but need to get my thinking cap on for the other categories.

3. Open an Etsy shop. This is also something I wanted to do last year but ran out of time- I thought last year went ridiculously quick! I know what I want to stock it with I just need to get a wriggle on and make it all so I can list it.

4. Comment more on the blogs I read. I read a lot of blogs from people I follow on twitter and on here but rarely leave a comment. I'm not really sure why, I just think to myself what a nice post or great idea and never let the blogger know, but that will change this year!

5. Tweet more. I've been on twitter for a while now and although I read the feed most days a barely tweet myself. Mainly because I think no one is interested about what I'm doing!! But when I'm reading my feed that is what I like reading about other people, I'm nosey I want to know what people are up to and what crafts they are working on so I will try and share a bit more of my boring life with the world of twitter!!

I think 5 resolutions is enough to be getting on with for this year! I can't wait for payday tomorrow so I can buy a new diary for my filofax and start planning in when I'm going to start the resolutions. (reading this last bit back I think I need to get out more!!)

Let me know if you have any resolutions or if any of yours are the same?

Hopefully I'll have my Christmas post complete with pictures ready for you soon!