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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Cake Toppers News

Hi Everyone
I'm sharing the results of our latest Making Workshop (yesterday). We made Christmas Cake toppers from polymer clay. All the toppers were amazing - well done to everyone. I've a few images to share :



Lots of new ideas alongside my samples (top image). I love th Robins - I'll be making some of those to add to my collection. We also had lots of beautiful little gift packages made from the clay. Love the delicate ribbons - the tiny packages with their ribbon bows make me smile. Lots of skill on display. 
As our session progressed, everyone became totally absorbed in moulding the clay and an air of calmness decended upon us. Magic !


We just need our cakes to display the toppers ! No pressure girls.

Thanks for calling in today.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

More New Tools

Hi Everyone
I'm sharing another new tools set today (see yesterday for more). Technically my tools are not NEW......... but I have new 'HANDCRAFTED' handles which have been fitted to an existing set of small files. The files, originally, were a bit unpleasant to hold - just a thin metal extension of the file (no handle to speak of). The files 'sans' handles often made dirty marks on my hands, dust/shavings from filing ! Not a good experience.

The new handles have been made by lovely husband (second time I've mentioned this in two days) with the new lathe machine. The new handles make my files into completely different things - so lovely to use. Something to treasure.


My first job with the new tools was to file the holes in the centre of a set of doughnut beads for a new project. The holes needed to be enlarged slightly and centred in the bead before finishing and stringing. What a pleasure to take one of the files and make something with it !!

Also, another joy - the wood for the handles came from our garden. A little piece of Eucalyptus tree.

Thanks for calling in today.

Monday, 28 November 2016

New Tools

H Everyone
I'm sharing a great new tool today. It's a wooden Yarn Swift. The Yarn Swift  has been a joint effort between my big boy and my lovely husband. Excitingly, we have acquired a wood lathe and there are so many possibilities !!
All the materials from the wood to the cotton for the bag and the yarn for the string have been recycled from stuff in our stash. Somehow,  this recycling element is very satisfying.



 All elements of the yarn swift have also been handcrafted - from the wooden bits to the I- cord for the bag ! All the pieces dismantle and fit into a simple cotton draw string bag - I made the bag. The tool is lovely and a pleasure to use. All the moving bits slot together beautifully and once the yarn is attached, the swift spins with a very smooth action.
I've been needing a yarn swift for a while, it's key to making my yarn dying work as well as turning yarn skeins into balls of wool for knitting or crochet. The only thing missing is the winder part of the process. I've ordered this little machine and it should arrive today. Sadly, the winder is made of plastic and isn't especially aesthetically pleasing. I'll share an action scene when all the bits have arrived.
There is talk of making a wooden version ! Fingers crossed.

Thanks for calling in today.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Filey Mitts

Hi Everyone
After a very busy week, I've a little progress to share re my current knitting project. I've not had much time for knitting but have been working for a small time each evening on the project from last weekends knitting workshop. 
I've had a lovely time with the pattern. It's quite tricky to knit this one and watch TV (and not make mistakes !!!!) However, although I've pulled out a few rows, mainly I've done OK. The pattern isn't difficult but it uses lots of different patterned rows giving lovely textures. If there is a mistake, it's very obvious - so not mistakes allowed.
During my workshop last weekend, I knitted a sample so I'm fine with the techniques required for this pattern. This has given me a new sense of confidence. I think, prior to the workshop, I would probably have thought the pattern would be too tricky for me.


I've completed the main part of the left mitt and am ready for completing the seam. The next part requires an afterthought thumb (see the pink thread in the image) I'm thinking about making the other mitt before I make the thumb parts on both mitts.

Have a great weekend.
Thanks for calling in.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Welcome Rudolph

Hi Everyone
Rudolph has arrived. 
Finally, I have my family of Christmas Cake Toppers. Rudolph happened quite easily ! after the trauma of the penguin (read yesterday for details). 


Rudolph has a carrot and a great set of antlers (quite tricky to make) and here is an image of the toppers - all together, waiting for their cake !


I mentioned yesterday, coming up with a story for my little characters. I've decided on the names of each character and and I've also decided on a scenario for the final cake display. 
The snowman with the red hat will be called Kevin. The snowman with the blue hat is Frank, the penguin is Jeremy and obviously Santa is 'Santa' and the reindeer is Rudolph. All the guys will be placed around a little pond in a forest (on top of the cake). I think I need to make some extra props, I have  a carrot and a few candy canes but I'm thinking presents and possibly a little fishing rod and maybe a fish or two ? My story is about preparing for Christmas, so each character will have a role of  making something relevant for a Christmas feast with Santa.

My next task in this project is to get the cake made. I will mock up a cake top (as if it's iced) on card and place the chartacters - this will give me an idea of the extra props I'm going to need. More on this next week.

Thanks for calling in today.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Cake Toppers Galore

Hi Everyone
I've another cake topper to share today, this time it's a Penguin. I had hoped to complete a Rudolph figure too but it didn't happen ! For some reason, the Penguin took ages to get together. I'm not sure why it proved so difficult  ?  I couldn't seem to get the basic shape and proportions right. I was trying to create something which resembled a true penguin shape. The correct penguin shape didn't quite work with the scarf and the hat - in the end, I settled for a bit of a neck area which isn't quite right, for a penguin ! However, I think my final character works well as a cake topper.

On reflection, perhaps, the penguin could have slightly smaller lips ? but it does give him a slightly comic appearance - which is exactly what I need from my cake topper character. The penguin will also get a couple of candy canes to complete his role on the top of my cake (almost ready to be made).
I'm planning to complete the topper collection later today. The last figure will be Rudolph. 
Tomorrow, I'm hoping to do a final photo call for the toppers. I need a little story for the cake display, I'll spend some time thinking about that while I go about my work today. I'm sure there will be additional props required for the final cake performance.
Final plans will be revealed tomorrow.

Thanks for calling in today.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Christmas Cake Toppers

Hi Everyone
Today, I'm sharing a little project which will feature in our next Making Workshop (29/11/16) - Christmas Cake Toppers. The Toppers are made from polymer clay and are all Christmas themed. I have a couple of Snowmen and a Santa figure samples at the moment, I will be working on a Penguin and a Reindeer later today.

The left hand Snowman is last years topper but I've given him a new set of arms. The original arms didn't make it through the festive period last year. This time, I've given the very thin pieces of clay a wire support, I'm hoping this will allow the arms to stay in place. The new Snowman also has a wired set of arms.


The Santa figure will get something to hold, I'm thinking about a flag of some sort or maybe a present ? 

Thanks for calling in today.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Knitting Workshop

Hi Everyone
I'm sharing a fabulous experience from the weekend. I attended a knitting workshop at my local knitting group studio. The idea behind the workshop was to produce a practice swatch for a pair of Filey Mits (by Alison Moreton), part of her Yorkshire Shore book. Alison led the masterclass herself, which dealt with 3 needle cast off,Afterthought technique, short row decreases and making tiny buttonholes. The idea was to practice these techniques in preparation to knit the Filey Mits. 
Our swatch used plain garter stitch but the actual Mits pattern is a highly textured knit with lots of pattern going on. I learned lots at the workshop and was hugely inspired to start my Filey Mits when I got home.
Here is a look at my swatch (below) that I made at the workshop. I added a few buttons to finish off my little practice Mit, it's too small for me to wear but I will keep it for reference.
I've made progress with the first Mit (left hand) and have knitted about 8cms of pattern - will share later in the week.


I usually struggle with knitting detailed surface pattern for any length of time but am determined to get this one right. I love the lovely colour of the yarn - Dovestone DK in Chevin. It's going Ok so far.

Thanks for calling in today.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Christmas Angels again !

Hi Everyone
As promised yesterday, I'm sharing more Christmas Angels. I decided to develop a range of sizes with a focus on how the Angels will be used ie a tree hanger or an earring component etc.
I also made a little display 'tree' - the Angels look so much better when they are hanging - I also wanted to develop a way of demonstrating (to my MAKING group) the different Angels designs. The little display tree is made from paper and reminds me, a little, of a carousel at the fair. 


The tiny Angels on the (bottom left) image (red/bronze coloured) will be earrings. I'm pondering the actual earring component to use on this one ? I'm almost convinced I'd like a small hoop style fitting. I'm not sure about the metal to use. I like the idea of using sterling silver when I can but I'm not sure how it will look with the bronze metal of the Angel. I will experiment.
The much larger Angel came about because I had some large wings (only 4) in my bead collection and wanted to use them. The final height of the Angel is 8cm and will certainly be a tree hanger ornament. I think, I've made enough Angels to adorn a little Christmas Tree (one of my original reasons for the development of the Angels) and will move onto the development of the tree. I'm considering giving it a gold spray coating ? 

Thanks for calling in today. Have a great weekend.
I'm excited about going to a Knitting Workshop on Sat. - will share my experience next week.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

More Beaded Angels

Hi Everyone
Last week, I introduced a couple of my beaded Christmas Angels for 2016. I've been working on a few extra designs and they are ready to share today. I make a new collection of Angels each year and look for new shaped components to make slight changes in the final Angel.
The Angels are very easy to make, most of the designs, simply thread beads (in a particular order) onto a single head pin with a loop. However, Angel E does have an additional striped component as legs which is made with seed beads on an extra head pin attached under the bell skirt.
My new bead shape for this year is the 'bell' bead. I have various sizes of the bell shape beads - the medium size is a good bead for most of the Angels and offer lots of variations. I also have a small, shiney bell (Angel D) which is perfect for an earring component or chain charm. 


All the Angels are available in kit form with an instruction sheet and packaged in a pretty organza bag. In previous years, I've used these Angels as an embellishment for a  gift tag as well as an ornament for a tree or table decoration and of course, jewellery charms. I'm sure there are lots more applications. My task today is to develop a design for a larger bell bead Angel. I'll share my results tomorrow.

Thanks for calling in today.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Making a Bell Poncho

Hi Everyone
Just a quick look at one of my recent knitted poncho projects. I seem to be obsessed with the poncho as a garment ! 


I knitted the two sides (back and front) a few weeks ago and I'm hoping to sew it up today at my local knitting group meet. It should be ready to wear by the end of the day - if I don't talk too much !!
My next poncho is already in the planning stage. I will use hand spun (by me) yarn. I'm planning to dye some of it - in a mustard yellow, I think ? The next poncho will be very plain - a simple oblong shape which will drape (I hope). The idea is to use as a cosy layer for cold days.

Thanks for calling in today.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Trees and Angels

Hi Everyone
The Fabric Christmas Tree Project will be completed today. We have a Making Workshop later and the final stages of our trees will be tackled. I'm keen to embellish one of my trees with beads and embroidery. I've made a few tree samples and one of the larger  trees is ready for a bit more bling (will share he results tomorrow). One of the smaller trees (below)  is just fine as it is. I've added some message tape and the surface design is quite busy. I've embroidered a little tree in gold but it doesn't need anymore. The trees will be planted today in newspaper with a herb topping with a twig as a trunk ! I've used Rosemary which smells wonderful.


In addition to the trees, I've developed a few new beaded Angels for either earrings, pendents or tree ornaments. The Angels have been a feature of Christmas Makes for a while and each year, I use a slightly different selection of beads. This year, I'm using little glass bells in some of the designs. I have a wide range of components for a workshop (in a few weeks) which will allow Makers to develop their own designs. Here is a quick peak at the initial batch :


Thanks for calling in today.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Spinning Yarn

Hi Everyone
Today, I'd like to share a great experience from the weekend. I spent a good part of Saturday in a Drop Spinning Workshop organised by Fine Fettle Fibres (my regular knitting group). We talked about 'all things' spinning and practiced spinning with a small sample of various types of fibres.


Having spread out my samples, I couldn't decide which was my favourite. Each fibre and stample yarn has its own special characteristic. I loved trying the different fibres and will continue to experiment for the future.
My next move is to complete spinning each sample and knit up the yarn into a small piece. I found that my very large and heavy drop spindle will probably not cope with some of the short fibres in my selection. I will need to acquire another lighter spindle - want a bonus !!
I'll share my knitted samples in a day or so.

Thanks for calling in.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Fabric Trees

Hi Everyone
I'm sharing an update on the Fabric Tree Project.
 Earlier this week, I worked on a little tree embroidery - version B below. I wanted to keep the fabric relatively minimal but have added a little gold bling (which shines at night). The message tape - Merry Christmas makes a statement on one side and I'm happy with the outcome.


Tree A will get some little bead embellishment when I've stitched and stuffed the tree.
Ive machine stitched tree B and am hand stitching tree A -  the tree shapes make machine stitching a little tricky and although I've given the pattern a 1 cm seam I found the shape difficult to navigate.
When stuffed the trees 'come to life'. I love the padded effect and am ready to plant my first tree. I have some twigs (for the tree stump) and a lovely old terracotta pot to plant into. The 'soil' will be newspaper and I will scatter the surface of the pot with some leaves or little twigs.


I will make a few more trees (after my A and B samples) and alter the size of each one. More photos from the project next week.

Thanks for calling in today and have a great weekend.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

More Spinning News

Hi Everyone
I've a little news update re my recent drop spinning project. The first attempt at a plyed yarn has been knitted up into a simple ribbed sample. It's actually quite attractive. I love the colour mix and it knits up well. I'm not sure (exactly) how much yarn I produced with my first batch but it's not much when knitted up !!! I need to make some more.


I thought the first batch was a bit messy and rather uneven but my skill level has improved hugely and I now understand how to produce a more consistent yarn. I find the process very satisfying and quite relaxing. 
I've started making more yarn to continue with my knitted sample.

 I'm not sure what I'm knitting ? I think it would make a great chunky sweater but I'm not sure ? What is certain, my new yarn is SO much better. I've managed to produce a stronger and consistent yarn. I think the final, plyed yarn will be much improved. I'm hoping the new yarn will blend appropriately with the knitted sample.

Thanks for calling in today.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Growing Fabric Trees

Hi Everyone
Here is a peak at my how I'm growing  Christmas fabric trees. Last week, we (our local Making Group) started making our own little fabric Christmas trees. We printed a piece of plain fabric with our own handmade stamps and our own handmade ink pads - read back for more details. Now, it's time to grow and plant the fabric trees.
My first task was to shape and cut the fabric. I created a paper pattern, transferred it to my fabric and cut out the tree shapes. These trees are quite quirky but unmistakingly Christmas Trees. I will grow two sample trees with different styles of surface pattern. One of my fabric samples is very rich with shiney golds and reds, the other is more Nordic and simple in design - using simple red and green trees as well as using the blank background of the simple cotton fabric as a feature of the design.


I'm creating additional embellishments on the fabric with free style machining stitches. Small, simple trees will be dotted about the fabric. I'm also thinking about little gems to add sparkle. The fabric trees will be stuffed with polyester wadding and given a tree branch - for a trunk. The finished tree will be planted into a 'weathered' terracotta plant pots. I'll share the finished samples in a few days.

Thanks for calling in.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Spinning Yarn

Hi Everyone
Great news - I've managed (in a fashion) to produce some knitting yarn. Some weeks ago, I acquired a Drop Spindle and set about trying to spin. Initially, I had mixed results. Most of the time my spindle fell on the floor. However, I've read a little and watched a few You Tube videos and I'm almost there.

The basic spinning process is there but the quality of my final yarn could be improved. I know what to do, so it's about practice. My images above show some of the yarn I produced. I wanted to ply the yarn so have made my first attempt.


Here is my plyed yarn - I've used 2 strands, an undyed wool bat (the natural white) and some hand dyed (indigo) wool as well as a small amount of orange felting material. 
I'm hoping to add a little more of the coloured stuff to the final spun yarn and will then knit up a sample - not sure what to knit with the new yarn ?  but I want to see how it knits up. 

Thanks for calling in today.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Another Knit to Report

Hi Everyone
I've another great little knit success to report. It's a new Beanie Hat. This hat is a pattern I've used several times from Rowan Big Knits. If you read back to last week, you will see a couple of projects using big wool - 100% Peruviam Wool. I've finished the knit part of both projects - a poncho and a chunky cardigan. I need to block both pieces later today. After knitting the items, I had a reasonable amount of yarn leftover and decided straight away to make a beanie hat. 


The beanies is a very simple and quick knit. It will work great with both my poncho and cardigan. The pattern is a Kim Hargreaves pattern. Very satisfying to knit and a great fit.


I've still got a bit of yarn left and am wondering about a little zip bag ? or maybe something else ? I need to do a bit more research.

Thanks for calling in today.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Another Knit Project

Hi Everyone
I'm well into yet another new knit project. However, it's not knitting as you know it ! The project is a chunky cardigan made using 25mm needles. The needles are huge. It's quite a challenge to use them.


The cardigan is a kit from Wool and The Gang - a lovely soft 100% Peruvian wool in a tweedy mix of black white and brown. The cardigan is quite a large item (320m of yarn) and I only started it yesterday afternoon but am almost finished the knitting part. It's knitted in two parts which are sewn together with a seam down the back. I like the shape and it's given me lots of ideas about potential new projects.
Although, the knit process is very quick - knitting with such large needles is quite a physical thing. It's not a leisurely, relaxing process. I find I'm quite tired after an hour or so. However, I'm quite excited about finishing (probably today).

Have a great weekend.
Thanks for calling in today.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Fabric Designs

Hi Everyone
I'd like to share some of the experimental fabric designs we produced on Tuesday at the latest Making Workshop (read back on Tuesday for details). Everyone worked hard and produced lovely designs. We made our own stamps, ink pads and used these to produce the fabric. The stamps worked great and everyone mixed their own colours from acrylic paint and a special home made fabric potion. We added the custom colours to sponge scouring pads and used in the usual way ie as an ink pad.
The final printed fabric will turn into little Christmas trees to be planted into beautiful old plant pots next time. Here is a quick look at some of the designs we produced :



All the designs have moved on a little and next time we will have more opportunities to embellish the formed fabric trees.
I also experimented with a contemporary design using my Gelli plate (see below). I'll make up my trees with added free form embroidery - picking out Christmas images in the design. Not sure how this will turn out but hopefully it will look good.


The Makers embraced this project with lots of enthusiasm and the results are fabulous. I can't wait  to see the final trees.

Thanks for calling in today.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

New Knit Project

Hi Everyone
I'm looking forward to going to my regular Knit Group today and I've got a new project. I started this project while returning from a little break last Saturday. Ive not tried knitting while traveling as a passenger in a car before. I thought it would make me feel sick, I can't manage reading ! However, it worked OK, anything very complicated wouldn't work for me but my project uses large needles and big wool. I made good progress and the time passed very quickly, brilliant.
My project is yet another poncho, here it is :


This poncho is a kit from Wool and The Gang. I've made their kits before and they always work beautifully. This poncho is made in two identical pieces which are then sewn together. I've made the front/back and have started the second side.
A few days should be all I need to finish. It's a very satisfying knit and I look forward to wearing my poncho - will post an image when I'm finished.

Thanks for calling in today.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Making Workshop

Hi Everyone
Today we have a new Making Workshop. The MAKE is a fabric Christmas Tree. 


These lovely trees will be made over two workshops. Today - we will print the fabric with hand crafted stamps (+ a message stamp) and acrylic ink stamps mixed by us (more on this later in the next few days). The fabric will need to dry and I'm thinking about embellishing the basic fabric with some free style embroidery, next workshop we will cut/sew the fabric into the tree shapes. I've provided a template to make the trees in my invite (above) but Makers can design their own tree shapes.

I've also played a little with my Gelli plate and have produced some fabric designs along with the simple stamp prints. We can discuss our options in the workshop. I will share more in this over the next few days.

I will add a few manufactured stamps to our tools and use Christmas gold, silver and bronze paints to add a bit of bling.
We have a couple of hours of playing later today. I'll get some images to share.

Thanks for calling in today.