Sunday, 8 December 2013

A Year Of Happy 6/52

I have rarely ventured outside my front door this week but I still have things to be happy about...

Firstly, I DID venture out to the Post Office on Monday - and posted all my Christmas cards and parcels that were destined for people living further away.  It's the first time I've ever been organised enough to send them all off so early AND all at the same time.  It's also the only year when I haven't bought any stamps in advance so the total postage cost was a bit of a shock but I'm SO happy to have this done so early  :)

My cards are a lot simpler this year, but they are handmade and all identical - or as identical as a handmade Christmas cards can be!  I've had complaints before that I sometimes give cards that are very like ones I've given previously, so as I've never sent anyone a card like this before - problem is solved.  I've never done so many cards of one design but it was a great challenge and a great opportunity to apply some of the skills I learned on one of the printing workshops I attended earlier this year.  I took photos as I created these cards which I'll write about very soon.

My second Happy is another gift crossed off my Christmas present "To Do List".  Earlier this year I decided I wanted to make some pretty hair clips for my youngest niece, I even bought the clips a few months ago.  I know my niece likes sunflowers and ladybirds, luckily I had dies for both, so I made two clips...

I have a cat who hates having his photo taken - except when I'm taking photos of things other than my cat, so photobombing has become a hobby of his...

I really enjoyed making these for my niece, hopefully she will enjoy wearing them  :)

Spending so much time at home this week means I have managed to cross several items of my gift list but I've also finished an extra bear I started by accident last week.  I grabbed a bag of ready cut bear bits as I headed out to Craft Club, I thought I'd picked up the pieces for a bear I've been planning to make for our Craft Club exhibition thats happening early next year, instead I picked up bear bits for another bear with the same coloured fur but in a different combination.  Once I've created the head of a hear and sewn it's little face, it tends to look accusingly at me until it has a body and limbs!  I always make bears faster when I make them head first, so even though this was a "spare bear" I just had to finish him once he started giving me that look...

Could you have resisted that little face?  I was thinking of calling him Murray until one of my friends suggested I should name for a very special person who died this week, so this is Nelson - who is no longer spare.  He very quickly found a home with one of my friends and I'm looking forward to her coming to collect him in person in the New Year  :)

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A Year of Happy - 5/52

What has made me happy this week?  Not all my Happies are craft related - the first was the simple pleasure of freshly laundered bedding.  Don't you just love crawling into a clean bed?  Despite how much I suffer after the struggle of changing the sheets and how hard I find it to get out of the bath - it really is worth going for both on the same day even if it's all I manage - sheer luxury!  :)

I also had an unusual view from my window this week, especially as I live in a first floor flat (or second floor apartment to my US friends)...

Its a relief that the rotten wood has been replaced in the gable over my bay window, so now I know my loft is properly weather tight again.  I saw the old piece of wood they removed - it fell apart as they were taking it down, so I'm even more thankful that it stood up to that awful storm we had recently.

My next Happy comes from making the effort to cook a "proper" meal for myself from scratch (with a lot of cheating)!  My online shopping came earlier this week and I'd ordered some field mushrooms as they were on special offer.  I discovered a recipe a while ago for healthy low fat stuffed mushrooms, its very simple to make, 2 Quorn sausages mashed up (I find it easier to cut them into small pieces first as my hands aren't too clever), pop them in a pan with some onion (I cheat and use frozen chopped onions - no tears!) and I also add some frozen chopped mixed peppers which aren't in the recipe but I like them.  Plus you chop the mushroom stalks and add them to the pan too.  I'm not terribly good at following recipes - I just chuck everything in together to cook, but the end result is very tasty.  I had mine as a main meal, served on a bed of rice (again I used frozen cooked rice) and drizzled with a little BBQ sauce - yummy!  And as I got 4 mushrooms in the packet, I had this for dinner twice this week, when you look at the calorie count in the recipe, it makes you even happier!  Unfortunately I don't have a photo to go with this as it was so tasty and I was very hungry  :)

Finally you get a photo of something I've made (sorry for the quality, most of today's photos were taken with my mobile phone camera)!  I've been working on my Christmas list again this week, ticking another name off the list makes me very happy!  :)  Only one thing has frustrated me this week and that is the fact that my living room carpet is like the Bermuda Triangle of crafting.  It seems like anything I drop on it instantly disappears!  I can understand that dropping about a dozen 4mm green crackled glass beads are going to be hard to spot on a green carpet (that was a couple of months ago and I never did find a single one) but last night it was a beaded hoop for a wine glass tag - so a silver plated metal hoop with silver plated crimp beads and 6mm red crackle beads, you would have thought that something would show up wouldn't you?  But no - I searched everywhere both last night and this morning when it was sunny, and nothing - sigh.  I have admitted defeat and beaded up another hoop so I can finish putting together my gift... another tick on my Christmas list!  :)

A stocking for a friend's beautiful Scottie, it has a doggie treat and a little gift for my friend tucked in the toe - that's two ticked off the list  :)

I found the perfect frame for this picture I made a few weeks ago for my cousin, so that's another tick  :)  I even managed to resist popping the bubble wrap that arrived wrapped around my first Christmas present the other day, it was just the right size to protect this  :)  :)

Here is another set of wine glass savers I made as another present.  They are less colourful than the other ones I've made, I used faceted black onyx beads for these. Another tick off the list  :)

All in all, it's been a pretty good week... even made it to Craft Club too  :)  :)  :)

Monday, 25 November 2013

A Year of Happy - 4/52

Well I haven't ventured out much this week, the weather has been mostly cold, wet and miserable but its been quite a good week for ticking a few people off my Christmas present list which I'm very happy about.

When I decided I would like to hand craft all my presents this year, I didn't take into consideration just how much time and energy it would take, so as time is passing, I have cheated and bought a few presents but I'm happy that I've also made use of some of the crafting materials I have on hand and this week I've enjoyed the challenge of turning some of them into gifts.  So all my happies for this week are crafting related...

My first happy is that I finished my Secret Santa gift this week!  Obviously I can't give you any details about this one right now as it might spoil the surprise if my SS recipient sees it, but there was a great sense of achievement when it was done.  You might also notice I had another little play with my question mark illustration on Photoshop during the week too - I wanted to make it look a bit more interesting.

My second happy is a pair of cushions I've made for my eldest niece and nephew who recently bought a house between them as a way onto the housing ladder.  They have a mid-grey sofa with green piping so I've made these out of a piece of fabric I bought earlier this year.  The fabric design sometimes makes me think of a coastal scene and at other times it makes me think of Venice - either way, I knew I wanted to decorate the cushions with "bunting".  I bought half a yard/metre if this fabric, which was enough for two cushion fronts but not the backs, luckily the strip I cut off the top of the fabric, was wide enough to decorate the back...

I used a simple pillowcase construction and attached the strip to the edge of the top flap, the rest of the back was cut from a large piece of cream cotton I bought I few years ago and never used.  The "bunting" is made from the cream fabric too, I wanted to keep it plain so it didn't distract from the lovely green fabric.  I was also incredibly lucky with how the back strip worked out - just enough to be able to place the buildings at the top and some boats at the bottom.

I did the stitching with a mid-grey cotton which will hopefully match with the sofa.  I'd never done machine applique before - it was a little scary but I'm pleased with how it turned out.  One last photo...

My last Happy is a bag I've made for a friend of mine - she loves environmentally friendly shopping bags.  She's also a quilter so the bag needed to be really well made...

I used some more of the cream fabric and added a border of a pretty birdie fabric which I used as inspiration for the machine applique I used on the front.  This shape wasn't as easy to sew around and it wasn't as easy to see what I was doing as the colours were so similar.  The handles are reinforced with webbing and sewn in about 5 times on each end, while the side seams are double sewn so all the raw edges are hidden (I have no idea what that type of seam is called).  The bag itself is made from a single piece of fabric which will hopefully make the bag stronger and give my friend a reasonable amount of use out of it.

Hopefully I haven't spoiled any surprises here as I'm reasonably confident that my niece, nephew and friend don't read my blog.  If any of them come across this before Christmas Day, then please accept my apologies, but I was just so happy with what I've made this week that I really wanted to share  :)

Monday, 18 November 2013

A Year of Happy - 3/52

It's that time of the week when I think of three things that have made me happy in the last week...

The first is that I've made progress on my Secret Santa.  The first part of my gift is reasonably straight forward and is now completed.  The second part will take me into a more unknown territory of crafting but I've been out today and bought the supplies I'm going to need and I always love a good crafting challenge.  Obviously I can't show you a photo of what I've done so far in case my Secret Santa recipient should see this, so the only way I can illustrate this "happy" is like this...

My second "happy" was spending time with friends on Wednesday.  I'm finding that I'm struggling so much with my health lately that I spend a lot of time on my own at home. This month Craft Club, which runs fortnightly, fell on the same day as Fibro Group, which runs monthly.  I rather stupidly decided I could manage to attend both.  Fibro Group was fine, I really enjoyed it and went home determined to have a proper rest for a few hours before heading out again for Craft Club. Unfortunately, relaxing is something I'm not very good at, no matter how tired I am!  We'd decided to only spend an hour at Craft Club which I also really enjoyed, despite feeling pretty rough by the end and feeling even worse for the rest of the night I did make progress on my current crafting project thanks to some assistance from my friend Clare from "Summerhouse by the Sea", I think I'd have really struggled with what I was doing without an extra pair of hands!

My third "happy" was the relief of remembering I had a spare bear stashed away that was just perfect as a gift for a friend's daughter's birthday present.  Hard to believe that "E" is now 16!!!  Where does the time go?  E is often one of the first people to like teddy photos I post on Facebook so I'd asked my friend what colours her daughter liked.  I was a little worried about being able to complete a bear in time until I remembered my spare bear, named Pixie Belle.  Unfortunately I didn't make it to the party as I wasn't well again, so Pixie Belle is still here for the moment waiting for a meet up with my friend, hopefully one day this week.  I shall have to try and make a couple more spare bears at some point.

Pixie Belle is a little larger than my regular bears - she's around 4 inches tall.  I had to make her bigger to fit the hat I bought at a Hugglets bear fair a few years ago.  I added the charm to the end of the hat as I think reaching 16 is special and worth remembering.  I was told that E's favourite colour is purple, so E and Pixie look like they're meant for each other!  :)

Wishing you all a very happy week.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A Year of Happy - 2/52

Already a late with my second week of 3 happy things - will have to try and keep up a bit better or it might take me more than a year to get through it!

Number 1:

My first happy thing for this week has to be finishing Clarabelle, my 101st bear - this is a biggie for this week as I've been struggling to make her since July!  I don't know whether the push to get to my 100th bear overworked my hands or just left me feeling completely burned out, but I suspect it was a combination of the two things that has left me struggling with "crafter's block" for a while now - finishing little Clarabelle has felt like a real achievement and she's already on her way to a friend who I think has waiting long enough for her new little beary friend!  I'd originally planned for this to be a housewarming gift but as she moved back in August, its more like an early Christmas present now!  LOL

Number 2:

My second good thing is taking a little longer to appreciate... its a certificate from my university - an acknowledgement for the work I've already put in on my degree - its a good thing, I know it is, but making the decision not to go back and finish this year was a hard one to make, but it was also the right one because I know I wasn't healthy enough to go back.  Receiving the certificate felt very final even though I still have the option to go back and finish whenever I'm ready.  However I know that once I've had a little bit of time to get used to the idea, I will be happy about my certificate, it represents four years of hard work that were also happy years of meeting new friends, learning new skills and being pushed out of my comfort zone to achieve more than I ever thought I could.

Number 3:

My third happy thing is much smaller - I went swimming the other day... when I say swimming, I actually mean I went to a pool, not my local one as the water's too cold for my joints, but another one nearby thats much warmer.  I was never much good at swimming as a kid but have since completely lost confidence and usually keep a death grip on the railing at the edge of the pool, but this time I managed to let go for short periods of time as long as my feet were touching the bottom of the pool, so I felt pretty good about my trip even though I suffered a lot of pain afterwards for going.  But even better than that was being able to wash my hair under the showers there, feels so much nicer than when I have to wash it at home laying down in the bath - such a little thing - soft, clean, properly rinsed hair but it's the highlight of my week!

Thought I'd finish with a photo of Bo Bear in her swimming costume, she was my first bear of 2013.

Monday, 4 November 2013

My First Year of Happy Post - 1/52

The way I understand it, you find three things about your week that made you happy and as someone who's been struggling quite a lot with my health over the last year, it does seem like a good idea to look for some positives.  My friend Clare from "The Summerhouse by the Sea" has been doing her year of happy for some time now and it's nice to see the things that make her happy over the course of a week - it seems to me that it doesn't always have to be big things, often it will be small simple things that will bring a out smile.

My first is that I'm grateful to have survived the storm last Sunday night/Monday morning pretty much unscathed.  I was told by one of my neighbours that the storm reached it's peak here around 4am, but I actually slept through that bit, which is better than I managed in the storm of 1987, when it sounded as though the roof was being ripped off - that was scary!  The first thing I noticed in the morning was that my bath had a load of little black bits in it which must have somehow been blown through the extractor fan, I was a bit worried when I went outside and saw a big piece of what was either someone's greenhouse or conservatory roof wedged under the front of my car but amazingly my car didn't have a scratch - we were very lucky, though my heart goes out to the families of those who lost their lives in the storm.

I'd prepared for the storm just in case we lost power, I cheated with the radio - I put batteries in it to save having to wind the handle and checked the batteries in the torch too in case we lost power - I didn't need either but some of the outlying villages around here lost power for several days.  The picture below is of my bedside table with some of my storm preparations - the wooden duck/goose in the background was carved by me when I was expecting my son, my OH used to come to the wood carving classes too but suddenly decided I shouldn't go anymore so I never got the chance to finish, but as its reasonably bird shaped, I've kept it in the hope of being able to finish it off one day.  Perhaps I'll take some close up photos one day so you can see how rough my poor birdie has been looking for the past 20+ years!

My second happy thing was finding my camera's card reader which meant I could download all the photos I've taken recently, including the one below of Dottie the Dalmatian picking out a pumpkin which I took nearly two weeks ago.  We didn't bring that particular pumpkin home because it looked as though it already had a face and I wasn't sure I could bring myself to attack it with a knife when it was looking at me like that!

My final happy thing was spending some time with my seven year old niece today while my sister was at work and the school was having a teacher training day.  We spent a lovely few hours colouring in some Hello Kitty pictures I found on the internet and giving my niece her first sewing lesson, we used the Marianne Design owl die set, but didn't use all the pieces to make it simpler - K did a lot of the sewing and stuffing and I think she did brilliantly, I'm just annoyed with myself for forgetting to pack some glue to stick the googly eyes on with.  I'm now completely exhausted and in agony so its unlikely I'll get much sleep tonight even though I'm so tired, but I don't really care - I had such a great time!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Printing Workshop 1 - Image Transfer

A few weeks ago, I attended a one day workshop at Broadstairs Adult Education Centre - "Screen Printing and Image Transfer".

I'd started glancing through the available courses because partly I was feeling a little lost after realising I needed to take another year out before going back to University, but I've also been suffering from a major case of creative block lately, so I was looking for some inspiration too.  One of the modules I've already studied as part of my photography degree was called "Photography in Context" it was a brilliant module which really encouraged the students to think outside the box and made me realise you could do an awful lot of different and creative things with photography - and we didn't even do anything like this either!

We started off working on the image transfer part of the workshop as this would take longer to dry, it's also the part of the workshop I took the most photos of...

1.  We first stapled the calico fabric to a drawing board, then cut out the photocopy the tutor gave us, right up to the edge of the picture  (everyone had the same image)

2.  Drawing corner guide marks on the fabric with the image face down as it will be stuck to the fabric that way.

3.  Painting an undercoat of watered down white matt emulsion onto the fabric - I chose to make mine a little rough and ready so the fabric would show through here and there.

4.  Speeding up the drying process a little!

5.  Tracing out some of the features of the photocopy - not forgetting to add corner guide marks so everything will line up later on.

6.  Positioned using the guide marks, then transferring the traced lines onto the fabric.

7.  Hopefully you can see the traced lines in this photo  (sorry about the picture quality but these were taken using a mobile phone).

8.  Underpainting the image in colours that should give the finished artwork a Warhol-esque style.

9.  Placing the photocopy onto foil to stop it sticking to the wrong things while painting on the image transfer medium.

10.  I didn't take a photo of the process of painting on the medium and placing the photocopy face down on the fabric, using the corner marks as a guide because I needed both hands for the job.  But here you can see the tutor's hand showing me how to cover the image and gently remove any air bubbles that may have formed as the whole image needs to be in contact with the fabric or the transfer won't work properly.

11.  And now we have to wait patiently until everything is completely dry... Oh look!  It was nearly time for lunch  :)

12.  I chose to remove my piece from the board to speed up the drying process but if have the time to wait, its actually a lot easier to leave it in place for the next stage.

13.  You need to gently wet the paper and VERY gently, using the heel of you hand in light circular movements, rub the surface paper away.  This does take some time, but its better to take it slow and steady as you don't want to do any damage to the picture underneath, which is quite fragile.  I have to say I did cause a little bit of damage to mine as I was impatient (you can see the missing bottom right-hand corner) - but it was very exciting to see the image emerge!  I didn't actually finish this stage at the workshop; after it had dried, you could see more paper fibres so I had a second go at it at home.

14.  After you have removed as much of the paper fibres as you can, you need to seal the finished piece with some matt acrylic varnish - I didn't have any, so I used some PVA glue mixed with water at about a 1:1 ratio and it worked very well.  I also used the PVA mixture to stick my fabric to a piece of mount board which gave more stability to the areas where I'd rubbed too hard, it also means my piece is now ready for a frame, which I hope to get very soon.

So there you have it!  One image transfer with under-painted colour.  I really enjoyed making this and it's given me lots of ideas for doing things with my own photos.  So as soon as I can put together all the equipment I need - watch this space!

It took me the best part of a fortnight to recover from taking part in this workshop, but I got so much out of it, that it was worth it.  I'll post some details about the screen printing part of the workshop another day.

Friday, 25 October 2013

The Three Legged Dog

Having trouble trying to sleep tonight, so I was standing at my bedroom window for a while looking at the stars.  Its a reasonably clear night and I recognised some of the constellations even though I can't remember their names and it made me think of another night when my son was about 8 years old, it must have been winter-time as we were walking home after Beavers and it was dark.  On the way, we stopped to say hello to a lovely old gentleman who lived nearby, who was out walking his dog - we chatted to him for a while and "M" was asking him questions about the stars as he knew a lot more about them than we did; and then finally "M" asked him a question that I'm guessing had been troubling him for quite some time "Why does your dog only have three legs?"

"Well" said our companion, "it's actually a very sad story.  There was once a time, a few years ago, I had no food in the cupboards and no money to be able to go out and buy some.  It got to the stage where I was so hungry that I really had to eat something..." by this point in the tale my son, who'd been listening with great interest, had a look of complete horror on his face - while I was stood there biting my tongue to try and stop myself from laughing and spoiling the effect!

I'm pleased to say that the gentleman did go on and explain to my son that it had actually been an accident, when his dog had been a puppy, it had tried to follow his daughter's dog over a brick wall and his leg had been so badly broken that it couldn't be saved.

I don't know what made me think of that story tonight.  The gentleman died some years ago, his three-legged dog went to live with his daughter and my son and I missed our little chats with the gentleman and tickles with his dog - a very friendly, scruffy looking, medium sized mongrel.  We used to see him often when we were out walking, they were a much loved part of our community.  Back then, we had a great little local shop/Post Office just around the corner that sold newspapers, sweets and groceries - our friends were such regulars and so popular that the shop owners used to keep a tin behind the counter with dog treats in especially our three-legged friend.  I'm feeling very guilty at the moment because I can't remember the names of either the gentleman or his dog even though I can picture them in my mind.  But hopefully they're happy that they still live on in our memories as I know my son still remembers them too.

Sorry that this post isn't a craft related one - unless you count the fact that I took these photos out of the same window I was stargazing through tonight.  They were taken a couple of years ago on the night of a "super moon" which was so bright it cast shadows distinct enough to see clearly.  Believe it or not but the photo below was taken of my bedroom wall opposite the window I took the top photo through on the same night!  You can see the silhouette of my cat who was sitting on the window ledge, the pile of books I rested my camera on, and you can almost see the colours of the stained glass panel, I made years ago, that hangs in my window.

I'm sorry too, that it's been so long since I last wrote a blog post.  I've been struggling with my health, have been finding it hard to do any crafting and also coming to terms with not going back to finish my university studies this year.  I didn't want to walk away from my course and in fact I still have the option of going back if I want to, once I feel well enough.  I think maybe I've been letting it all get me down lately so even on the days when my hands haven't been as painful, I haven't been able to persuade myself to pick up my needle and thread, or other crafting tools and get on with something creative unless its been at craft club, or more recently, a couple of printing workshops I've attended - but I'll blog about those another day (with the emphasis on day!).

Crafting is something that does generally make me feel better about myself and those workshops have thankfully given me some much needed inspiration.  I've been catching up on a few of the blogs I usually follow recently too and I really like the idea that some of them follow - 52 weeks of happy - this means that they do one blog a week where they write about 3 things that have made them happy over the past 7 days and I think its something I'd like to try too.  I had planned to start my 52 weeks with the start of 2014 but I don't suppose you really need to wait, its something you can do at anytime, so I'm thinking that I might just start looking for my 3 happy things from now.

But for moment, I think the most sensible thing I could do would be to go back to bed and try to get some sleep, so I wish you all a good night, a great weekend and fingers crossed that the hurricane thats been forecast for Sunday night/Monday morning, blows itself out before it reaches land!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

100th Bear & A Giveaway!

This is Bai - her name means 100 in Chinese (according to Google translate) and she is my 100th bear! I decided before I started sewing that I would make her as a giveaway and I'm going to stick to that even though I've fallen in love with her myself! I attend a craft club at my local library once a fortnight, the next meeting is this coming Wednesday, 10th July, which is the date on which I'll get someone to draw the winning name out of a hat or something as that seems to be the fairest way to find Bai's new home.

One hundred bears sounds like a lot doesn't it? But I made my first bear back in March 1999, so its taken 14 years to reach this point!  For some reason after I'd made my 99th bear, I didn't pick up my needle and thread for days, I felt as though there was a lot of pressure to do something special for my 100th bear, but then thought that if I carried on stressing over it, I'd never get my 100th bear made at all!  So in the end, I selected a bag of bear bits I'd already cut out some weeks ago and just got on with things.  I have taken my time on Bai - firstly because my hands have been playing up lately, but also because I didn't want to rush such an important bear - I wanted to enjoy the process.

Bai, like the majority of my teddies is around 8cm (just over 3 inches) tall, she is made from Sassy Long Pile white and frosted lilac fabric with ultrasuede paws and black glass beads for her eyes.  She is NOT a toy, she is suitable for bear lovers/collectors over the age of 14.

I'm going to post Bai's photo here, on Facebook, and on my Flickr account so that hopefully most of my friends can have a chance at winning her if they want to. If you'd like to be included in the draw, please leave a comment below. I'm sorry I haven't allowed a lot of time for this but I don't want to get too attached and Bai is very impatient to find out where she's going to live.

Good Luck Everyone!

UPDATE - 10th July 2013 - Our Fibro group met at the local Wetherspoons this morning and a very nice lady who worked there drew the winning name out of the hat - I even found an actual hat  thought it looked better than a plastic supermarket bag! Anyway the person who won little Bai Bear was.... (drum roll) Clare from "Summerhouse by the Sea" who entered the draw via this blog page... there was an amazing 48 people entered in the draw! As Clare was sitting right next to me when she name was drawn, Bai has already gone to live her new home. xxx

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Inspired by Moby and Alice

Once a fortnight I attend a craft club at my local library and every so often we tackle a book related craft project.  Our first project was based on Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" and our second and most recent has been Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland".  Its entirely up to us as to how we interpret the theme, we just use the story or characters as our inspiration.  The club has only been running for a few months so far, but its lovely to get together with other crafters, enjoy the company of like-minded people, learn from each other and it's great to see how everyone else interprets the themes.

I meant to blog about my Moby Dick themed project a few months ago, but looking back through the posts I've published, I've realised Moby got away from me somehow, so here he is now...

I still need to get some dowels so the wall hanging can actually be hung up, but I was quite pleased with the finished piece even though I've never tried anything like this before - at least not in felt!  It made me realise my abilities to work a sewing machine need a lot more work, but it was fun to do.  Some of my inspiration for this piece came not just from the book, but from a piece of stained glass that hangs in my bedroom window.  Years ago before problems with my hands made it impossible to continue with the hobby, I used to love making things with stained glass and while most of the pieces I made were given away as presents, one of the pieces I will never part with is the glass panel in my bedroom.  Although I can't see the sea from my window, it faces the sea which is about half a mile away and is roughly east facing so it catches the sunrise.  Its not very often these days that I'm awake as the sun rises but I do love to watch dawn breaking when I'm able.  I used black thread for all the stitching apart from attaching the beads and anchor at the bottom, it was a deliberate choice because I wanted to make the borders between the felt pieces stand out like the seams on a piece of stained glass - I just wish I'd managed to get them a bit neater!

Apologies for the bad photo, but this was just a quick snap of the glass panel taken on a very dull day!  You've probably already noticed a few of them, but there are four fishes swimming around in the sea.  Most of the panel is made from transparent water glass which is made with gentle ripples which gives a sense of movement; the seagull is made from opaque glass to make it stand out from its background.

My first thought for our current theme was to make a white rabbit, but I haven't yet got around to sitting down with pencil and paper to make a pattern for my bunny, I'm not giving up on the idea but I wanted to be able to produce something for our last meeting so I made a bracelet.  I've had the card charms for some years and the bunny charms for a couple of months, though I did have to buy the rose charms and the dark grey/black glass pearls in order to put together the bracelet I had in mind.  Several times I wasn't sure it would work out but after a couple of false starts I finally figured it out.

I have very chunky wrists so sadly the bracelet doesn't fit me, but one of my daintier friends has tried it on and I was pleased with how it looked on her.  I could have made it bigger but it would have ruined the pattern, it was made for the exhibition we will eventually have at some point, so it doesn't really matter that it doesn't quite fit my wrist, it wasn't really intended for me anyway!  One of these days I'll have to make a start on that bunny and maybe then I'll be able get the song "We're Painting The Roses Red" from the Disney film, that was the main inspiration for the bracelet, out of my head!  :)

Friday, 14 June 2013

Sue Bear

This is "Sue Bear", she was made in memory of a dear friend who died unexpectedly earlier this year.  I miss my friend dreadfully, the long conversations about anything and everything, the hard work she put into keeping our local Fibromyalgia, ME & CFS support group going, the gluten-free chocolate cupcakes she always arranged for the December meetings, her navigation skills when we went out in my car, but most of all, I miss her laugh - it was one of those infectious laughs that you just couldn't resist joining in and having a good giggle yourself!  She was truly an amazing person with such wide-ranging interests.

Sue had always encouraged me with my bears, she came up with ideas when I was stuck on how to do something and as she knew that one day I'm planning my own teddy bear's picnic story, she used to pick up little bears and other animals to play bit parts in the photographs I'll eventually take to illustrate it.

I always intended to make Sue one of my bears and I thought there would be plenty of time...  I've always had a "Teddy-to-do List" and Sue was on it - I just didn't reach her name in time.  Sue was always a keen crafter herself and some of her craft supplies and tools were left to me, in fact Sue Bear's necklace is made entirely from Sue's supplies and contains 44 beads - one for each year of Sue's life.  I chose to make this bear from green and brown fabrics because Sue had a great love for nature - and oak trees - so the colours seemed to be the right choice.

It's funny... each bear takes on it's own little personality as its made and many of my bears have quite serious expressions, but this little bear looks (to me at least) as though she has a little smile on her face.  I'm not completely sure where Sue Bear will eventually end up, I just felt that she needed to be made, but I'm sure she'll eventually end up exactly where she is supposed to be.

Hopefully I won't leave it so long before I post another blog, I've just been feeling very out of sorts lately.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

A Little Awareness

This is a post I meant to write yesterday but I've not been the most organised person recently and have been going through a bit of a rough patch recently.  I feel that even though its a little late, this was a post well worth writing. Yesterday was Ovarian Cancer Awareness Day - this is an issue close to my heart as my Grandmother (who I lived with as a child) died of ovarian cancer and my sister has had her own battle with this terrible disease, I'm happy to say she has been cancer-free for about a year now.

I think raising awareness about ovarian cancer is really important as it's one of those cancers where the early signs can often be missed unless women are aware of the symptoms.  If you want to learn more, you can find plenty of information here.  Ovacome is a UK based charity that raise awareness of and provide support to those affected by ovarian cancer and my sister found them to be invaluable during her illness and has continued to support their work since and I have tried to help her in my own way.

Last year I made a bear which she auctioned at her 50th birthday party and I have since made a couple of other little bears which will soon be helping the cause...

Raphael, on the left, got his name from an article I read in the days while he was being sewn - it was about a vet called Raphael who helped to save the life of a street dog; for some reason I looked up the meaning of the name and discovered it meant 'healer' and I thought it was such a great name for a vet.  Its quite a big name for such a little bear, but it just seemed like the right name to choose - sometimes the names just happen like that.  The little fluffy girl on the right is called Faith, which seemed like a natural choice of name after making Hope for my sister, I think she comes across better in person than she does in a photograph and I hope that someone will fall in love with her when my sister takes her up to London for the Ovacome members day, where hopefully she - and Raphael - will find a new home.  One of these little teds already has someone waiting to adopt them, I'm just not sure yet which little bear she'll choose.

Above are a few other items I've made ready to take with me - some little felt broaches and a beaded keyring - made one evening when I was struggling to relax enough to sleep.  Our local library now runs a craft club once a fortnight and at our last meeting I handed out some little felt bird broach supplies in the hope that I would have a little help to make some items to raise money for the charity and I'm looking forward to seeing what my fellow crafters come up with as I gave everyone the opportunity to interpret the broach in any way they wanted.  My friend Clare has already completed hers and blogged about it on her wonderfully crafty "Summerhouse By The Sea" which you can see here.

Wishing everyone health and happiness!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Felt Book Mark

I love reading, though over the past few years I've mostly been reading books related to my photography studies which has left very little energy or enthusiasm for fiction.  But one thing my studies have taught me is that you can never have too many bookmarks, particularly when working on essays and assignments.

Recently I've noticed some lovely bookmarks on Pinterest and decided I would have a go at creating my own version - its also a great way of using up some of the random ribbons and tapes in my sewing box and the felt scraps I'm starting to accumulate.  I used about 18 inches of tape for this one - which sounds like a lot for a bookmark but it means both felt decorated ends extend below the bottom of a paperback or hardback novel so if you keep one end tucked inside the back of your book, its handy for when you need to drag yourself away.  Its a great length for marking pages in bigger text books too.  I also used a couple of buttons for the flowers and a couple of seed beads for the eyes on the bird.  I die cut these shapes but it would be easy enough to hand cut small shapes too.

They are also quite quick and easy to make, so I think I'll be making more of these.

I chose to vary the colours on each side for extra interest.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Necessity Breeds Invention!

I was always very impressed as a child that my Grandmother seemed to have a saying for every circumstance and the one in the title is what popped into my head when I was making this bag (it seemed appropriate to photograph it on the beach given my choice of fabric).

Since I've had to start using crutches instead of a walking stick when I go out I've discovered a problem - it's very difficult to juggle a crutch and a carrier bag!  I tried digging out an old rucksack as the hospital suggested but I found it hard to get on and off as my left arm doesn't work too well either.  So the answer seemed to be to find a bag that would fit across the body, that wasn't so wide that it would get in the way, but that was also big enough to carry my usual bits - purse, phone etc., and any odd bits of shopping you might pick up when out and about - such as the local paper, a craft magazine, a library book or a pint of milk.  I thought that such an item would be easy to find... sadly not, so I decided I would have to make my own.  I spent some time looking for a suitable pattern but in the end I had to create that too - using pages from my local newspaper.

My original idea had been to use the beach hut fabric on the outside, make a plainer flap with something appliqued on it and line the bag with the seagull fabric, but I couldn't bear to hide the seagull fabric away, so in the end I used a plain calico for the lining.  The bag is also padded so it will protect my DSLR nicely too.

I also added a loop and lobster clip on the inside so I could attach my purse lanyard for security - plus it gave me an excuse for using some of this lovely ribbon I picked up in my local craft shop!

The handles were triple stitched for strength as I want my bag to last as long as possible.  All that was needed then to finish it off was a button.  I mentioned yesterday about the button... up to this point, all my decisions had been relatively easy so I never would have dreamed that choosing a button would be so hard!  In the end there was me, my friend and the shop assistant involved in its selection and we must have looked at dozens upon dozens of buttons before a final choice was made.

I'm still not totally convinced, but I think thats probably only because I'd previously found the "perfect button" in my button tin - only it was the wrong size for the loop I'd made and I couldn't find anything else that resembled it, this button really does work very well with the blues in the beach hut fabric so I'm sure I'll grow to love it too in time.