Always Learning

One thing that I am sure about is that the second we stop trying and learning new things is the second we stop growing.

As this is a crafting blog I thought it would be a good time to share with you some of the tutorials and online resources I use to keep me growing.

First we shall start with the mysterious and confusing (for me) Sewing.
My own Nana taught me the basics of sewing when I was a young lady, on her antique Singer Sewing machine.

I loved the lessons we had, but I only really learned how to thread the machine (complete with a shuttle bobbin) and sew a straight line.

So here is where I have turned to expand my knowledge base:
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A great class that is reasonably priced and has given me a bit more confidence in using my much newer sewing machine.

Next,  is the art of Needle Felting.

I have always wanted to be a sculptor, but stone and wood are not my preferred mediums. Then I discovered FeltAlive and I learned I could work with my preferred medium and make lovely soft sculptures.

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The Tutorials are now free to all and that is a great value.

Now I am going to introduce you the learning Library that is Craftsy.

I found it when I was unable to go out to my local yarn shop and attend classes to expand my own skill and it was helpful to learn at my own pace.

The classes I really enjoyed were:
Plug and Play Shawls By Amy Singer

Heirloom Lace Edgings With Franklin Habit

Fearless Knitting by Lucy Neatby

Knit to Flatter With Amy Herzog

So I hope I have armed you with  few places to go and expand your skills and keep learning and growing and exploring your crafty world.

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Crafting for Kitties

Recently I came across this book at The Works, and I couldn’t resist buying it. It looked so cute, with lots of little stash-busting projects. It’s called Knits for Kitties and features 25 patterns that you can use in whatever way you see fit. Obviously, it’s marketed towards cat toys, which is fabulous, but some of these patterns are so cute that I can see making them for my kids and their friends, for Woollen Woods crafting, yarn bombing, and other fun little craft projects.

I immediately tried out the spider. It was simple and straightforward and knit up in about an hour.

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The kitties were delighted.

 

Well, as delighted as they can be at their age with something that doesn’t involve heat or sleep.

 

Verdict: Would highly recommend! 🙂

Season of Rainbows

Hello!

Did you have a good season?

As we here in Belfast live in the Northern Hemisphere it was summer for us; but as part of the school break my youngest child went to Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania with their father.
This made me realise in a very tangible way that it wasn’t summer for everyone.

But while we were off for the season, children had exam results, holidays were taken, books were read, skills were learned, and I did a lot of work with my favourite subject: RAINBOWS.

Now my love of the rainbow is vast and deep and as we all remember, and is has so much more to it than just 7 perfectly blended colours.

Oh I could wax on episodically on the qualities of rainbows, but I will save you that. (I hope everyone noticed my Word of the Day entrance into my post, from my rainbow Word of the Day Calendar.)

Back on topic; I took some time this season to highlight my love of rainbows by wearing, working with, and noticing them where ever I went.

My own personal Instagram Feed got the bulk of my work, but because I adore you, our wonderful readers, I am going to give you the cherry picked highlights of my Rainbow season.
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First there is this fantastic Rainbow A-line Jacket made using the pattern Trapezjacke by Claudia Deutscher. A great wee pattern (more like a recipe,) that I flew through.

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Take a look at the buttons! (I had to get a little creative with them as some of my buttons only had one hole in them, so I added some accent apples.) Miss matched buttons for the WIN

The Pattern is wonderful and I think I may make another one with a smaller tail and heartier yarn.
The Paintbox DK is bright and cheerful but I’d like something that I can wear outside on cooler/ windier days.

img_1961Next, as wonderful props for my Chakradance classes I got these lovely rainbow figurines to represent each of the Chakras, and just be rainbow prettiness when not in use.

How about storage, the joys of rainbow storage can NOT be understated. How awesome is my new art case (a rainbow soft sided lunch box), that holds my water colours and ink pens perfectly? Or how about the delightful joy of my embroidery collection displayed to perfection on bobbins? Aren’t they breath taking?

 

Speaking of my water colours and ink pens, I have finally decided what to do with the plethora, (oh two words in one post! I owe myself a sticker!) of “adult” colouring books.
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I don’t like pencil crayons or crayons, but I am falling in love with water soluble inks and water colours, so I thought I would try these out in my colouring books.

Everything blends much more easily and I am learning the mediums in a care free environment, instead of the pressure of making something perfect. I mean really, a child can do this, so it’s ok if I mess up a little.

Now with all this colourful joy, you would think I tapped out of my season of rainbow, but not yet.
I’ve only mentioned 1 knitting project!

As part of my holiday I was going to spend two weeks by a lake in the family cottage, (in summer sunshine.) I knew I was going to be surrounded by children and such so I wanted a simple project that I could stop and start at anytime, but was using up some of my large collection of rainbow variegated yarns.

Enter in the Mini Mania Scarf by Sarah Core, and one skein of Fine Fish’s Gay Mountain, (a now discontinued colour way).

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You can see why I had to use it, BONUS Rainbow Shoe

It took me a while to get the rhythm of the linen stitch, but it works so wonderfully with this type of yarn I am surprised I didn’t discover it before. Look at this Stitch!
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I think that is just about everything from this past season. I hope this post wasn’t too long for you.
But as a reward for getting this far have a bonus:

My kids and Fiance got me the awesomest Unicorn Onsie and Prisim Narwhal, as a thank you for funding all their summertime adventures, and being taxi on two separate continents.

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Create-a-fun

This past Saturday morning, I left my house to join fellow Belfast Knitters, Weavers, (Fibre-)Artists of all sorts, really, at the Ulster Museum for a great day of showing off  our Arts & Crafts.

Since there’s a couple of shared members, and because we could, Belfast Stitch’n’Bitch paired up with the Ulster Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers for the event, in order to display the process from the fibre to the spun singles, to the plied yarn, to crocheted/woven/knit items of any and all shapes and forms.

Add other crafty and/or cultural ventures such as the Big Sock NI, as well as a little additional entertainment like dancing, comedy and music, and you have yourself a fabulous day.

And yes, if anything similar is going on in Belfast, the chances that at least some of us can be found there are high… ;P

The Taco and Spinning Party

I had a birthday not too long ago, and because as any good crafter knows, a celebration isn’t a celebration without a healthy dose of crafting involved, I hosted one of my infamous Knitting Parties.

Tacos was the elected food theme for the day, so I fired up my slow cooker and made the very simple and very lovely Stupid Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken , diced some taco veg, heated some taco shells; made my Dill Salsa, and because I can’t have a Knitting Party without my Greek Dip, (though I make my own seasoning as the prepackaged one in this recipe doesn’t exist in the UK.) I made some of that as well.

My youngest son choose the cheeses for the, again required, cheese board, and then prepped the tea pot for guests to arrive.

People arrived with yarn, and projects a plenty, but what had happened organically was everyone who had a spinning wheel brought theirs as well! (People also brought awesome cakes and pavlovas as well! BONUS!)

So we set up in the biggest open space we had (in front of the food) and had a mini spinning party.

The more experienced Spinners held us baby Spinner’s by the hand as we learned to treadle, to draft, and relax our grips.

We got to try different wheels to see which style suited each of us better, (and I am now lusting after a double treadle conversion kit for my wheel), and witnessed how fantastic one of our members is for learning to spin on her warped antique double drive.

The event went down quite well as everyone at lots of food, drank much tea, and had a good gossip.

The day was a great success and I have even plyed our singles into a rather fetching bit of yarn.

Cute Little Crochet

For Christmas, my mother-in-law got me a new craft book, a book of cute little crocheted animals. I immediately fell in love, and so did the kids. It’s called Cute Crocheted Animals, by Emma Varnam.

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My first order was for Stanley, the adorable black and white cat, for my oldest son (age 7). The pattern was easy to follow, straightforward to work up and quick! The lack of quirky, detailed features of other crochet patterns was made up for by the lovely squish-ability of the finished animal: perfect for hugging, snuggling, travelling, and other wee adventures. My son couldn’t wait for Stanley to be finished.

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One thing that I believe makes this book stand out are the myriad ‘extra’ patterns offered; there are loads of accessories and outfits to choose from and mix and match. It was just as fun to help my son pick out Stanley’s outfit as it is to play with him now he’s finished, and he could have a whole wardrobe soon enough! The book has several animals to choose from: a bunny, a mouse, a fox, a cat, and a bear. Each animal is made in pairs: a boy version and a girl version, so the book is excellent to have on standby for a relatively quick gift. (Stanley’s girl-friend is called Katy, a grey cat with a pretty blue dress.)

The photographs are cute and simple, with close ups of the clothes, and a how-to at the back in case you’re new to crochet and can’t remember how to work all the stitches. Each animal has their own bio too, to provide a little backstory and get the imagination rolling. It’s a good size too – I didn’t even need my reading glasses to read the text, and the book still fits nicely in my craft bag. The paper is good quality with thick pages, so it’s tactilely pleasing to thumb through as well.

All in all, I’m delighted with this book. I’ll be making the ballerina mouse next for my daughter, and I may just make myself a fox!

Caught Red Handed.

Don’t worry, I have not murdered anybody. (Yet. But that’s a story for another time…)

What I am referring to is not the untimely demise of somebody who got on my nerves (that’s what Nair in Shampoo is for…), but rather the fact that I went, together with our dear Helen, to Whitehead this past Saturday, to attend a Yarn Dye Workshop. Of course, the gloves our lovely Terri provided were useless (I blame my hands, though, not the gloves.) and I ended up with the heel of my hand turned bright blue.

Naturally, my reaction to this was to forego the gloves entirely and just dip my hands into the dye directly when I went on to the next colour. With results everybody seemed to find quite entertaining.

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I suppose they had a reason…

The resulting yarn? Behold:

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These two are laceweight. There is a third skein in sock weight, but I did not yet take a picture of it.

 

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This mini was used to test the intensity of the colours. And then I threw some green at it. Because reasons.

And because Terri is a lovely person, she does not only offer a local pick-up option when you order yarn from her, she also brings it for you if you end up seeing her at a workshop.

Which means sometimes, you get to go home with 7 (and 1/5) skeins of yarn, but only have to pay for 3. (Well, you would have paid for the others earlier, but who’s paying attention?)

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First time for everything

I’ll keep this short and sweet, simply because I do not wish to distract from the point of the post. Which is, obviously, shameless self-advertising.

I have mentioned before that I designed a pattern for fingerless mitts last year, to be used as a sample item for Terri’s stall at the show in Dublin. I have finally put the pattern up on Ravelry, and yes, it is free. I’m not that presumptuous.

The pattern is called Twisted Heart.

There will still be a few adjustments to the description and more pictures added, but the pattern itself is correct.

Give it a try if you want, and don’t hesitate to let me know what you think.

Building A Boyfriend

This last weekend the Top Floor Art gallery was all abuzz as we hosted our Build A Boyfriend workshop. The day was filled with chatter, laughter, and squeals of glee as we brought our creations to life from our imaginations. Heather created a half dragon, half man from Dungeons and Dragons lore; Anja modeled hers off of actor Richard Speight, Jr. as Gabriel in the show Supernatural. Emma worked on the dashing David Tennant as Dr Who.

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We began with cutouts of our boyfriends and stitched them together. We all had a giggle as we stuffed them, sewed them together and began to embroider their features. The fun part comes when deciding on hair style, eye colour, facial expressions, and other details!

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The concentration was fierce in the gallery.

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The day finished on a high as the boyfriends were completed and we could all stand back and admire our handiwork!

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img_6363.jpgI couldn’t resist making an homage to Stephen McClean, artist and co-owner of Top Floor Art!

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