Repair, recycle, rejoice

It will probably come as no surprise to learn that I’m not a fashionista. I’d never buy something just because it was a designer label, or because X-celebrity wore it to that thing. Equally, I’ve no problem if you do, it’s just not for me. I get as much pleasure from getting a bargain buy for a couple of quid at a charity shop as from spending ten times that on one item. Which doesn’t mean I’ll turn down a bargain when ones presented to me. Like a cashmere jumper for £10 just because it had two little holes in it.

before….

and after. Very much a bargain for a small repair.

Now, the recycling! 

I finally got round to reusing some of the stuff my friend at work had given me. Mother’s Day was coming up and my mum loves that I can give life to something old, and I have one vivid childhood memory of my mother, dressing for Sunday church, putting on a bracelet, that she only wore on Sundays. I wanted to give her an everyday wearing one!

From this



I deconstructed the beads into respective sizes



Used a nifty jump ring design from Dorothy Wood’s  The Beaders Bible





And ended up with this





I really love how a bead can look so different, just by altering the setting. And I love the design so much that I’ve already made a couple more. I’ll save them for another post, because….it’s rejoice time. A year after losing my sweet Toby, the house is once more filled with binkying and leaping and happiness. Meet Daisy

And Millie

it’s a wonderful thing to get home from work and have a happy reaction! It’s lovely watching their individuality develop – though they do share a love of Lakeland catalogues, just like me!



Christmas catch up

Even though it feels like I did nothing, I did actually manage to squeeze in a tiny bit of crafting at Christmas. You might remember last Christmas (I vaguely do…) that I made an advent calendar of Christmas stockings for my work – this year, while I still wanted to do something, I needed it to be on a smaller scale.
My desk is messy enough without adding Christmas decorations to it, but I decided I wanted just a little something. We always seem to leave getting a real Christmas tree til the last minute and with the beloved being away through the week, I knew history would repeat itself, so I had an idea for a mini tree.

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It’s probably the first time I’ve done something without the aid of a pattern, just going from an idea in my head – and for a first attempt, I’m pretty pleased with it. It sat perfectly atop my Mac monitor for most of December and then I gave it to a colleague for her daughter.

Want to know the how to?
You’ll need card for templates, felt, beads for baubles, beads for spacers, a cork, a short length of wire and something for the decoration at the top of the tree.

Make three star templates , each one slightly smaller than the next. I went for 6-points, because I knew I wanted two ‘baubles’ per star and I’m a sucker for symmetry.
Cut three of each size from your felt.
This was the trickiest part – sewing on the ‘baubles’. I chose three sizes, in relation to the size of the star. The first attempt saw me using fine nylon fishing line – I use it in beading quite a bit – and glueing the bead to the line, after threading the line through the felt. It meant the bauble hung nicely, but was ultimately just too fiddly.

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So I switched to invisible thread, and just sewed them, leaving a little gap between felt and bauble.
Next, take a length of wire, I think I used a mid gauge – stiff enough to stand on its own once in the cork, which I cut to size as it was too deep. I used spare plastic beads that I didnt want to act as spacers in between the stars so they sat better and then topped it off with a button in place of a fairy!

I’m definitely going to try and make more of these next year – they’re cute and festive.

Oh and I eschewed normal cards this year too….just because.

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Felt + festive material from last year + micro tags + ribbon = a card that doubles as a tree hanging!

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If I start now, I may actually get some done in time!

would’ve, could’ve, am

I had three things to achieve this weekend (aside from the usual Unholy Trinity of housework, shopping, laundry, I mean). I had to:

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make mince pies. Yes, I AM that weirdo that likes them all year round and not just at Christmas.

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make a start to sewing my Christmas present from my little brother and sister-in-law-elect

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and I had to start and preferably finish, something from this, which I bought at a book fair at work. Not least because I also bought a varied crafts book, and I’ve vowed not to even take it out the bag until I’ve finished one item from the knitting one. Tough love time. Because I know that I am way too much of a “why finish one project when I could start a second” girl.

Confession time.

I haven’t made mince pies. I would’ve, but the supermarket had some at half price, so I bought those instead.
I haven’t started sewing the cutest hedgehog in the known universe. I could’ve, but only got as far as reading the instructions to cut the pattern out and I needed a hard surface to do that, but by then we’d lit a fire, and Toby was in the room and…..hmmm.
I haven’t start…NO WAIT, I AM!!!! I AM KNITTING SOMETHING FROM THIS BOOK!!! A pretty lacy scarf. which I only messed up the first row of the four-row pattern twice, before nailing it. Yarning over twice before a slip slip knit was not being my friend. But we had a little chat and we’re good.

I will update my progress tomorrow…but I’m worried I may get distracted by our unexpected supermarket purchase…

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Oh it’s a fun-packed life here!

Christmas not crackers

Another little thing I did before Christmas (after I drowned in stockings) was make some decorations for the Christmas tree. When we’d been shopping for a tree the year before last (last year didn’t count – we were decidedly un-Christmassy and only got a tree on the 22nd. Dont ask.) I’d seen some nice gingham-style decorations and this year, that was what I went shopping for. Of course, as these things always go, I couldn’t find any red gingham, only pink. Pink does not say Christmas to me (being red-headed, I really am not a pink person!) but thankfully I then found the material mentioned in my previous post et voila.

I wanted to keep it simple with just a few designs, so went for three. Did I ever explain that I have a thing about three? Maybe not. Three is good, trust me. It’s just good. So I went for a stocking (really, after the 24 I made for work you’d have thought I’d be done with them), a dove and a star. I roughly sketched the three designs straight onto the reverse of the fabric (I was feeling brave. The glass of wine I had at the time may have had something to do with that.

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This is kind of where the wheels came off the wagon a little. I wanted to sew them with some cross stitch thread that I have, it’s a pearlised (ie metallic) one, I have a couple of colours, but I just don’t like working with them. I find they snag on the canvas, they’re no good for using on cards as they’re too stiff to tie in a bow, so I thought I could at least sew the fabric, with a silvery-white thread that would sparkle under the tree lights. I plan, practicality laughs in my face. I tried it with all 6 strands (not least because it’s a nightmare to separate), it was too thick for the thin cotton. I tried 3 (because three is good – see above) but they separated out too much in the stitch. I tried 1, but it was too thin and didn’t sparkle. Thoroughly hacked off, running out of time and feeling decidedly unfestive with no goodwill to anything, I whacked a running stitch in plain cotton white thread through them all, turned them right-side out again, stuffed them with cushion stuffing that Toby had helpfully prepared for me (by pulling it out of his cushion), and sewed up the last corner, with a short length of cream ribbon for a hanging tag.

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They’re fine. Sweet, even. But in a fit of organisation and pre-planning ( I’m trying , honest) I think when I take the tree down on Sunday, that I’ll take some time to overstitch with a couple of strands of the sparkly thread, all ready for next year. If it only has to be decorative rather than actually working as a seam then I think the 3 strands may work. Maybe…
Now if I could only get that organised with cards and presents for next year, I’ll be laughing!

What was in your stocking?

Catch Up Post 1!

One of the things that has been keeping me too busy to post, has been a Christmas project for work. Usually, our department has a Secret Santa type thing. I’m never keen on it; I find these things can be a bit hit or miss, with some people taking the time to buy something appropriate for their recipient and some just grabbing something at the last minute. Plus there’s the whole commercial “just buying because you have to” side of things that I hate at any time of the year, but even more so at Christmas. Our department has had a pretty hard year one way and another and dealt with a lot of changes, so I decided it was time to make a change myself.
I remember as a kid (trying) to wait patiently for the days it was my turn to open the door on the advent calendar I shared with my siblings – and that was just for the picture behind the door, before the days of chocolates in calendars! I wanted to recreate that sense of anticipation and just have some fun, so decided some kind of giant advent calendar was the way to go.
I’m really liking the whole Nordic red and white Christmas themes that seem to be in this year, so I picked up a couple of metres of two different types, with no real idea what I wanted to do, except maybe keep some for our own tree, to make little decorations, like stars and doves and…..stockings! It was a lightbulb moment. One quick paper template later, and then more nights than I care to remember of urging myself to “just get a couple done” and I had this.

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I decided to make the back with felt (honestly? I can’t remember why, it just seemed like a good idea at the time, not so much later – especially at nine pounds a metre! Thankfully I found some stiffer craft felt at a third of that.) I was glad I did though, as it helped give them more shape when they were hanging, the cotton wouldn’t have held the shape so well on it’s own. My baby Singer whipped them together in considerably less time than it took me to cut all 48 pieces thankfully. I’d found some sparkly self adhesive tape which trimmed them off at the top surprisingly nicely, then added a gift tag with a number on it.

Of course, in my haste to get them all hung up before everyone came in I didnt grab a picture until a few days down the line (and had to do it on my phone, so they quality is not great) by which time several stockings had been “opened” and people wanted not only the treat inside (which ranged from light-up yoyos, coloured slinkies and handwarmers to mini christmas trees and dancing snowmen) but they also wanted to keep the stocking too, which was unexpected but lovely.

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It really did add a sparkle to the office and helped make a Christmassy feel and made people smile and at the end of the day, what’s better than making people happy?

Upcycling for bunnies

Short on content, but heavy on images!

I can’t imagine it’s escaped your notice, but for those who don’t know, I have a bunny.

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This is Toby. He is number 5, and for the moment, the last one. The only boy, he is also in some ways, the sweetest, and the smartest. Hence the “if you’re not going to let me out, I’ll do it myself” photo. He can differentiate the rustle of a Hobnob packet from any other, and also recognises the pop of the Kilner jar they live in. I kid you not.

Toby likes heat. A sunbeam, the fire, a radiator, he’s not fussy, as long as its warm. He will move his pen around the dining room to catch the best rays. Summer mornings have seen me fall into his pen first thing in the morning at the foot of the stairs, as it was 12 feet away when I went to bed.
Toby also likes a comfy cushion.

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Well, he is quite old in bunny years. And by and large, he’s pretty good on the chewing front, given that we had one that ate a plasterboard wall. (Thanks, Bluebell.) but after about 3 months, his cushion was looking a bit sorry for itself.

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Thankfully, this coincided with my OH deciding it was time for a new dressing gown. I snaffled the old one, chopped a rectangle from the front, including the pocket (well, it would give him somewhere to hide his Hobnobs).
My trusty little friend

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A new cushion, and there’s enough left to get at least three maybe four more. Hurrah for up cycling!
And I think Toby would agree.

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Short, but hopefully momentous

There’s been too much work again, but in the tiny spaces there have been bookmarks and flowers and things I can’t mention til they get to their new owners. But right now, I’ve just cut the first piece of what I’m truly hoping is going to be stocking my soon to be set up e shops and ultimately, a year from now, allowing us to begin the life we’ve been aiming for all this time.

Terrifying and exhilarating in equal measure. And this is only the beginning.

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