28 July 2014

fallen in love

The start of this love affair began with a trip into town and a visit to Patisserie Mimi in High Street, Belfast. I stopped there for breakfast, before a shopping trip. What a great spot - I sat in a window seat and was able to people watch, while munching a delicious almond croissant. 


I noticed some rows of pretty coloured macarons and had to buy some to take home. After much deliberation I decided on pistachio, salted caramel and raspberry with yuzu juice. They came beautifully wrapped.


These little pastries did not disappoint.........they are absolutely delicious with a heavenly flavour and texture and so pretty too, mmmmmmmmmmh!


I have indeed fallen in love with them...........so much so that they have been the inspiration for my latest knitting pattern. Hoping to post the pattern soon on a future blog post, when I get time to write it up.


I love macarons!
Till next time, Ali.

1 July 2014

charity makes

 
Just wanted to spread the word about a very worthwhile project, which I came to know about by reading Ali's Random Wooliness blog. The charity is Knitted Knockers UK, who are committed to providing prostheses to all women who request one. The breasts are knitted from 100% cotton yarn and they are often preferred to the heavier silicone ones, which sometimes cause heat rash. For more information and patterns, visit their website, click here. You will find crochet patterns and knitting patterns (both for flat knitting and dpns).
 
 
I have also been busy sewing and knitting things for a craft stall for a charity coffee morning. The hairband is one of the things I made. Teddy is modelling it for a reason, as one of the charities was Spud Bears Ministry. Part of the charities work is to send out pre-loved bears to Africa and every child who is in a hospital or orphanage run by the charity, is given a bear to keep. 
 
 
All out of projects now to keep me occupied, Ill have to think of a new one.
Still plenty of housework mind you!
Till next time, Ali.

16 June 2014

shawl update

Well I eventually finished the shawl. I used German short rows and Grandmothers Favourite Bind off, again. The same techniques I used for my previous Wingspan project. It was such a lovely day today I took the opportunity to take some photos in the back garden.


I do wish I had someone who could model my knits, but unfortunately you will have to make do with me.

The garden was bathed in sunlight and the geraniums were just lit up in the sun.....beautiful.

 
I spent most of the day in a shady spot doing some hand sewing, my favourite - Suffolk puffs.
 

Supposed to be a nice week, so I'll be spending it outside and forgetting about the massive ironing pile and all those other chores.
Till next time, Ali.

1 June 2014

summer shawl

I usually shy away from largish projects as I get bored very easily, if things are taking too long. However I took a notion to knit a shawl, one which I could wear in the garden on summer evenings rather than pulling on a jumper. I found an easy knit, no hassle pattern By Amanda Richardson - Amanda's Jade Flower Wrap, for more details click here.
With a pattern found, I needed to find a nice yarn and last time I was in the Textile Studio at Ballyhack, I fell in love with skeins of Manos Serena. A lovely soft wool in delicate shades of blue, pink, lilac and lemon.
Here's my work in progress shots...


It has been a really nice relaxing pattern and one that is easily memorized. Yesterday I was able to do a bit of al fresco knitting....

 
It was nice to sit and admire the garden, weeds and all. The Lupins are putting on a great show at the moment....  

 
Unfortunately no outdoor knitting today, due to rain. Hopefully I will get the weather I'm expecting to wear my shawl this summer.
 
Till next time, Ali.
 

25 May 2014

order out of chaos

 
 
I'm a great fan of Professor Brian Cox .......well who isn't really! and I watch all his TV programmes. In the Wonders of the Universe, he talks about a phenomenon called entropy, a law of physics that tells us any system tends towards disorder. That's certainly true about my large stash of craft materials. But I have I have disproved this law. Here is my messy tangled collection of embroidery floss in their old biscuit tin........

 
 
 
However I untangled them and wound them onto separate cards......

 
and put them in their new box, all colour co-ordinated. Just waiting for a new sewing project. Problem is how long will they stay in this orderly neat fashion, as I am such a messy worker.
 

Till next time, Ali.

18 May 2014

another scarf

Some people love shoes, but I love scarves, whether it be woolly winter ones or cotton/linen summer ones. My latest addition is one I knit up from a pattern by Sharon Squire - Good Neighbour's Scarf, for more details of the pattern click here. I used a beautiful Louisa Harding yarn, Noema.


The pattern required adding beads. My beads had a very tiny hole so I couldn't use a crochet hook to pull the yarn through the bead. Instead, I used a piece of jewellery wire.

First, I folded the wire in half and then slotted the wire through the stitch.
(The stitch in the photo was the last in the row).

 
I then threaded the two ends of the wire through the hole in the bead.....


and then pushed the bead over the stitch.


After removing the wire, the stitch with the bead attached was returned to the left hand needle ready for knitting......

 

When I was blocking the scarf, I blocked it in away to add a scalloped edge to one side of the scarf.

 
 I noticed when I was blocking I had left out a repeat of the pattern, but I suppose that's what makes a project unique and the mistake is only noticeable on close examination....I think I can live with this particular mistake.


And the finished summer scarf is now all already to be worn......

  
Till next time, Ali.

10 May 2014

finished objects

After the lengthy wingspan project, I needed to do some quick knits. I started with some dish cloths using a diagonal pattern - Grandmothers Favourite by Traditional Design click here. I found some nice coloured (Lion Brand) kitchen cotton, on sale at Deramores. There were fourteen shades to choose from.
 
 
I have probably a years supply of dish cloths knitted up now.

A wee while ago I visited the Textile Studio, Ballyhackamore and stocked up with Drops Eskimo, as it was on sale. First off the needles came a pair of felted slippers. The pattern was a Drops pattern, for more details click here.The pattern for the flower I made up as I went along. The yarn felted beautifully.


The next project was a set of nesting bowls and I used Alice Thelma's pattern click here. I didn't make mine as deep as the ones in the pattern. I now have somewhere to keep all my bits and pieces together, for future sewing projects.

  
All three patterns are free and available online.
At the moment I'm kitting up a summer scarf, but the photos of that will be on a future blog post.
 
Just one more thing I was lucky enough to win a giveaway. So thanks to Jacqui who writes the blog, Living with Ethel. I won a beautiful needlework book, dating back to the '40s. Also included was embroidery floss and a beautiful card. Thanks again, Jacqui.
 
  
Till next time, Ali.
 

5 May 2014

wingspan

and finally I have finished my Wingspan project, it took a while but I got there in the end. I used Lousia Harding's Amitola for this project which knit up beautifully. The pattern was "Wingspan" by Maylin Tri'Coterie Designs and for more details click here.

 
and the reverse view.....
 
 
a close up of the brooch, found in a charity shop, holding the scarf closed....


This was a great pattern, simple enough, but not boring to knit up. I always like to learn a new technique with each project and for this project the pattern suggested German short rows. This is a very tight, non holey short row technique. For a tutorial by Mimi Kezer click here.
I also wanted a very loose stretchy cast off and used "Grandmother's favourite bind off."
To do this loose cast off ...

1. p2tog 

2. wrap yarn clockwise around needle (opposite direction to the way purl stitch is normally worked)

3. return stitch which is now on the right hand needle to the left hand needle
and repeat

This is a very simple effective loose cast off. For a video tutorial by Knit Purl Hunter click here
Now I just need to find somewhere to go to wear my new scarf.
Till next time, Ali.
 

1 May 2014

wedding anniversary

 
I don't tend to write personal stuff on my blog, but I'm making an exception, as today is my silver wedding anniversary.
As a personal celebration I headed down town to the City Hall for a revisit. Such a grey miserable day......
 
 
but inside the dome was as splendid as ever............
 

here's me looking a bit embarrassed taking a sneaky selfie.....


and the stained class window on the landing half way up the stairs with Belfast coat of arms. I wonder how many brides have stood on these stairs, over the years, posing for the obligatory photo!


Of course I feel I must include a snap of the "happy couple" all those years ago. Who were those two people, barely recognizable now.....


Back on with something crafty soon, Ali.

21 April 2014

crazy randomness part 2

I wrote on a previous post about a collaboration with Ali from Random Wooliness. We decided to work on a joint project, pick a theme then work independently on a piece and reveal our results at Easter. The theme was "Spring", and we looked to the poem - "It's Spring" by John Foster for inspiration.......
 
It's Spring

It's spring
And the garden is changing its clothes,
Putting away
Its dark winter suits,
Its dull scarves
And drab brown overcoats. 

Now, it wraps itself in green shoots,
Slips on blouses
Sleeved with pink and white blossom,
Pulls on skirts of daffodil and primrose,
Snowdrop socks and purple crocus shoes,
Then dances in the sunlight.

John Foster 

Just to give us a bit of a challenge we decided to include something recycled (or from a charity shop) and also use a new technique in our final piece.
Well I've finished mine, here it is dancing in the sunlight...............

 

I decided to develop a previous idea where I had sewed yarn using water soluble fabric to make a bowl (to see previous post click here).
Instead of using yarn, I used the loopy threads which are produced when an overlocker does not sew onto fabric. This was my new technique. I was given the overlocker a while ago, but me and it are still getting acquainted....it takes me about an hour to thread it!.
I used the colours mentioned in the poem - green, pink, white, yellow and purple.
As well as the thread string from the overlocker, I added snippets of coloured silk, organza and chiffon, all recycled from previous projects, including embroidery and nuno felting.
This joint project was great fun, I cant wait to see what the other Ali has come up with.


 
Hope you are all having a nice Easter. Till next time, Ali.

13 April 2014

blossom easter tree

Thought I would share my blossom tree idea, which could be decorated and used for an Easter decoration.


It only requires minimal sewing, or if you prefer no sewing at all, as you can use a glue gun instead. The blossoms are simply fabric pompoms and I got to use my new gadget by Knitpro for the first time. 

 
If you are unsure about making pompoms have a look on youtube for a tutorial.
A pompom making gadget can be used or alternatively circles of card. For a tutorial using cardboard circles click here


WHAT YOU NEED


fine pink fabric for blossoms (I used polyester chiffon, but an light fabric will do   even dress lining)
green fabric for leaves (I used organza)
bondaweb
baking parchment
pompom making gadget or card
green embroidery floss
sewing thread and needle or glue gun
scissors
twigs
vase
easter decorations (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Blossoms
My plastic circle was 3.5cms/1.5ins at the widest point.
Cut strips of the pink fabric, approximately 2cms/0.75ins wide. This is easier if you fold the fabric in a concertina way before cutting.

  
Wrap the fabric as you would for an ordinary yarn pompom, twisting the strips, making them thinner as you wind round the circle. 
 

 
Cut the fabric strips by inserting the scissors between the plastic or card circles, to form the pompom


The pompom is tied twice. Insert the green embroidery floss between the two circles. Tie the pompom round the middle, pulling very tight before knotting. The ends of the floss form the stamens of the blossom. Cut a longer piece and tie again. Knot at the opposite side this time and these longer ends will be used later to tie the blossom to the twig.


Remove the card or plastic rings and trim pompom cutting off any stray ends of fabric. Push into shape.
Separate the threads of the floss for the stamens and fluff threads up a bit.
Tie blossoms to twig with the longer floss ends.

Leaves
Bondaweb two pieces of organza together, not forgetting to sandwich the fabric between two pieces of baking parchment before ironing.


Fold fabric in half and cut out in a leaf shape. make sure the base of the leaf is approximately 3cms/1.25ins wide or wide enough to wrap round twig.


To attach leaf to twig, wrap the base of the leaf around the twig and sew a few stitches through the two leaf layers to hold in place. Alternatively use a glue gun to hold the base of the leaf in place.


Place twigs in a vase.
Display as a floral arrangement or add a few Easter decorations to make into an Easter tree.


 
Have a great week, Ali.