Monday, 28 February 2011

Deadline Stress

Our dining table has been inaccessible for days:

There was a reason for this, and it involved GCSE coursework. (Note biscuits on windowsill in pic below, required to maintain strength in face of imminent deadline!)

The required item - an art skirt - is now complete. Dd is doing GCSE Art Textiles, so garment construction is not being tested - it's the use of different embellishment techniques which is being examined. Candidates are also supposed to draw on different artistic genres. 

We're definitely in the final stages of the GCSE period and the pressure is ramping up. This week, dd also has a maths module, a French test, and an IT project submission deadline. Final exams end in early June. Wish us luck...

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Crochet creation

In my last post I mentioned I had finally learned to crochet. More than a year after I first tried, I've actually completed a simple project, YouTube videos having succeeded where all written instructions and diagrams had failed!  Here's the evidence:

This little amigurumi toy is a representation of the mushroom character found in Nintendo's Mario games. I made it using a free pattern at Wolfdreamer, a 4.5mm hook and scraps of red and white cashmerino dk yarn left over from ds's Where's Wally hat.

Before I started, I could only produce a simple crochet chain, as used in provisional cast-on and to make chain edgings and ties. Ravelry enquiries had identified videos as a good way to progress from this point, so I studied the following aspects of crochet on YouTube (note: American terms used below, as that's what was specified in the Mario pattern; I've also included links to the video demos I used when learning).
I found the Mario Mushroom was a great introductory pattern, as pretty small and quick to do. It also feeds my recent obsession with the fly agaric. As documented here and here.

Trebles and half-trebles up next (or whatever the equivalent US crochet terms are!)

Thursday, 24 February 2011


Ds and I had a lovely surprise this week. We were staying at my parents' house near York over half-term, and made a trip to the National Railway Museum while we were there. They had a very special visitor. Can you guess who it was? Here's a clue:

No, not Thomas - ds is far too big for that!

It was the Hogwarts Express steam train as seen in the Harry Potter movies!

I may have mentioned previously that me, ds (and dd, only she wasn't with us this day) are all massive Harry Potter fans. It was very exciting for us to see it. If you were prepared to queue for over an hour, you could even have a ride on it. But ds was perfectly happy just to admire it, and have his photo taken:

We had a wonderful time at the NRM, and I highly recommend it as a day out.

Also, whilst I was away, I learned to crochet. So all in all, it was a very successful visit.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Catch up

Oops. No blog posts for over a week, and I haven't got any crafting to report since my last post, as I've had to rip out most of what I'd done recently (lace knitting errors!)

Dd's school was closed yesterday due to staff training, so we went to buy new shoes, and out for lunch. Here she is about to tuck into chicken ramen at Wagamamas:

Later on, dh and I took ds to Nottingham Light Night. There were lots of light-based art installations:

... and also street entertainers. This robot squirted unsuspecting passers-by with water. The "builders" on stilts (left in pic below) were fun too.

I understand there is a "lite" version on this evening, so it's not too late to catch some of this, if you're in the area.

Thursday, 10 February 2011


The imminence of St Valentine's day seems to have affected my recent knitting. Although I didn't think of it when I cast on for these socks - I had red apples in mind - the red colour is very seasonal!

I made these from the June apple socks pattern in issue 12 of Yarn Forward magazine, and easyknits biffle in a colourway called Ruby Slipper. (To any non-knitter who may be wondering why I'd spend time knitting socks when I can buy a pack of three from Asda for less than a fiver, if you'd ever enjoyed the superb comfort of a pair of hand-knit socks on your feet, I wouldn't have to explain!)

I also knitted a couple of valentine hearts for the girls in the family using left over sock yarn. These have lavender inside, so are suitable for scenting wardrobes or drawers. I used a very clever pattern by Vikki Harding (note: Ravelry log-in required to access link), in which hardly any seaming is required - only a few stitches, and a little grafting at each top.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Little houses

I spent a very pleasant afternoon sewing today. Here's my work in progress:

I used the Little House coasters pattern from Sew Hip issue 25, and this time there is not a single pattern error to report. Templates were the correct size, instructions were clear and easy to follow, and I'm pleased with the finished items. Although inevitably, I did introduce some errors of my own, such as getting the apple fabric upside down in the spoon-loop! Oops.

I will definitely make more of these. They are much, much more fun than the shop-bought coasters I have at present (although those ones are eco-friendly. They are made of recycled coffee cups).

Here's a view of my lovely new coasters in service, protecting our dining table:

The coasters are Zakka-inspired, and I did have some genuine Japanese ribbon to use in them, that my step-daughter brought me back from her holiday there last year.

The designer also sells these as hand-made items on etsy (really, I ought to start asking for commission, I promote so many designers with direct links on here!!) as well as lovely Japanese fabrics. I've got to stop going on etsy, actually, because my favourites list is starting to get a little out of hand. I have no spare money this month, either, as I've spent it on all on a burglar alarm.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Fruit and fungi

How I love Finished Objects:

#1: Apple baby hat, Jan 2011. Rowan handknit cotton dk and a free pattern by Spud and Chloe

#2: Woodland mittens, Jan 2011. JC Rennie supersoft 4ply lambswool and a knit hack of my own devising.