20 May 2010

Open House

Every May and December, Brighton and Hove hosts the “Artists Open Houses” festival. Homes, gardens and studios across the city (and beyond) open their doors to the public over the weekend to show a huge range of arts and crafts produced by local people. This May, a staggering 243 venues opened their doors to passers by.

To be honest, I find it a mind boggling exercise to choose where to visit. Houses often show a number of artists work including paintings, prints, needlework, sculpture, crochet and knitting, jewellery and much, much more. The quality does of course vary and not everything will be to everyone’s taste. But this is part of the appeal and is a welcome change to mass produced, mainstream crap stuff that you often see for sale elsewhere. It’s a bit like having walk in Etsy stores with the added bonus of getting to look around other peoples homes!

So last Sunday I went to the shop and gallery of the Sussex Guild at Southover Grange in Lewes, having been seduced by the prints of Annie Soudain. I ended up buying three cards of her prints - but I would have loved to have taken home a full size original (one day!).
Annie was actually manning (womanning?) the shop so I managed to have a chat with her - a lovely and talented lady.

Southover Grange is a beautiful 17th century building with wonderful gardens. Across the lawn is a gateway into a floral garden through which runs the river Ouse.

It reminds me of The Secret Garden. I hadn't even known this place existed before and will definitely visit again (when the weather is nice).

I did take a couple of flower pictures, but they didn't come out too well, so I'll leave you with one of my favourite flowers:
Have a lovely weekend everyone!

03 May 2010

Ooh La La!

Where did April go? I have evidence that there was sunshine - some rare sunlight is creeping through the nets in the above picture. The last few days have been overcast with torrential rain (I would expect nothing else on a Bank Holiday). There's nothing quite as Springy as a pot of narcissi don't you think? I'm not a big fan of yellow, but this April it was a welcome visitor to my home.

  These cheery fellows (chrysanthemums?) lasted a good three weeks (oooh - I spy some crochet!)

Even with my blurry photos I love 'em!

But, perhaps even more exciting - pssssst, you will NEVER believe it, but today I found a project I liked the look of and did it! Yes, finished it! In ONE sitting no less.

Well, unless you're going to point out that in actual fact there is the matching pillow case to do....but you wouldn't be that mean to me now, would you?  The instructions are on Cassie's blog  and she has made them super easy to follow. Even better, she lists chocolate in the supplies - clever lady!

Cassie starts by showing how to make your own pillow case, fit for the purpose. I think I made life difficult for myself by using an existing case. I know, I know, this should have made it easier BUT - there was some stretch to the fabric in my pillow case and I didn't have the nice guide line that the hems would have given me (told you she was clever!). Still, I'm quite pleased with how it turned out, although the initial blanket stitching with a loooooong length of yarn was a pig. Really.

So pleased, that as you can see I took photos for you without first ironing it. I have to admit, I don't really do ironing....life's too short. But I would have. Honestly. Just for you.

There's also an "On The Edge"  flickr group where you can see lots of more colourful versions. I'm looking around now, wondering what else would like a crochet edging..... 

28 March 2010

Back to the Hook

This weekend,I felt the urge to get back to hook and needle. I really want to finish my Lucy inspired Summer Garden Granny Square blanket that I began back in October last year. However, my attention span is not well-suited to big projects, so I will work on it little by little while I concentrate on some smaller stuff.

I really like this shawl patten from this book:
A bigger project than I had in mind, but the motifs are very simple to crochet. I made one up in some white cotton double knit yarn with a 4mm hook:

Then in a four ply with a 3mm hook (the size in the pattern):

Here they are side by side -  quite a difference in size

I'm thinking it will make a nice table cloth (or runner!). I'll probably stick with white or cream (although I do like that pink shade a LOT) but can't decide which size to make (the larger has a diameter of  4.5", the smaller is 3" across - excluding corner loops). The bigger one would be much quicker to make, but the smaller one gives a more delicate effect.

If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you'll know how indecisive I am. Which version do you think would look best?     

24 March 2010

Printing Practice

I couldn't wait to get going with the linocuts, so I delved straight in. I found it was much more difficult than I expected!

The fish was my first effort; I chose a design with simple lines and little detail to get the feel for cutting the lino. Far from perfect but strangely satisfying results. The colour is uneven and my cutting skills  need a LOT more practice.

In fact, every step of the process, from coming up with a design (thinking about what will work in terms of negative space and cut lines), carving the lino out (I cut myself TWICE and still can't get a clean empty space on the lino), applying the ink (how much, how little?) and finally pressing the image to the paper (has it pressed evenly?)  all require practice, patience and attention. Oh, and more practice.

I really wanted to try a design in black - so along came the tree:
Again, I wasn't dissapointed, despite the mistakes and imperfections. I can't explain it, but there's something about the process that separates me from the final piece, unlike painting or drawing an image directly onto paper. The mistakes (and lack of experience) seem less personal somehow, I don't take them to heart. 

So, after getting two holes in the lino, two cuts in my finger and making a whole lot of mess, I have a pile of rushed practice prints
I have discovered that there is a fascination in this for me. Although I loved linocuts before, I can now truly appreciate the skill that goes into creating them.

NEXT time, I will do it at a table and not the floor and NEXT time I will take my time! I definitely want to continue to learn about this craft and to practice, practice, practice.

23 March 2010

Brand Spanking New

Oh- oh! I've been shopping.
What's in the bag?


Not this time

Embroidery goodies?

No, you will never guess.
I have found myself a completely new (to me) way to spend money crafty interest.

Want to look?

I'm going to have a go at lino cut printing!

I always love lino prints when I see them. There's something so satisfying in their simplicity on the paper. Just do a search on Etsy or Folksy and you'll see what I mean. I was inspired mostly by some prints I saw yesterday by Sarah Young and by seeing fellow blogger Mayaluna show how to make a stamp (clever girl also prints on fabric).

So, I'll go and have a play with my new toys and hope to show you the results soon!

07 March 2010

Paper Play

Hello all! Ever since I was very small I could often be found playing with paper. I'd usually sit snip snip snipping it to make snowflakes or paper people chains or some other intricate creation. Sometimes I would make things like newspaper palm trees or paper houses. There would usually be a trail of little snippets of paper where I had been. Well, not a lot changes. Nowadays it's making cards and an itch to create a collage.

So when I read Lucy's post back in November about Decopatch I filed the information away in the back of my head. Then in February I was at a craft fair in Brighton and came across the Decopatch stand ...so of course I HAD to get some bits and pieces. It wasn't until I was doing my blog catch ups last week that I found that Kinbles had also been inspired by our Lucy, shopped at the same stall as me and been busy busy Decopatching. You can see her results here, aren't they lovely?

So, here are my efforts so far. Please excuse the fuzzy photos!

This is Dippy the dinosaur, my first attempt. I used three different papers to cover the blank form. Tear, stick, tear, stick....so satisfying. Easy and quick.

Next on my hitlist was a mirror with an ugly broken plastic frame.

A hot glue gun, some torn paper and glue and it looks so much better (its even nicer in real life, trust me!)  I also covered the fronts of the drawers in an Ikea wooden storage box. My parents bought me this years ago for me to decorate. It houses a lot of my jewellery making bits and pieces.

I'm not too keen on the bottom two drawers and may re-cover them at some point. My favourite is the top left drawer. I'm planning on giving the box a coat of paint to finish it off. I also have an old and rather tatty coffee table that I'm thinking is going to get the treatment. If  I do it, I'll post a pic, I've already done a couple of patches on it to see how it looks (not that it could look worse than it did!).

Well, the weekend is almost over and I still have some birthday presents to start making for the end of the week so I will run along now.

02 March 2010

Spring Has Sprung! (and about time too!)

After torrential rain and mad gustiness over the weekend, the last two days have been lov-er-ly. The winter coat has been replaced with a lightweight, I am able to walk to and from work in daylight (hurray!), the crocuses are pushing up to say hello, the birds are singing, I have some sunny yellow tulips by the window and all is right with the world.

I like many things about winter but in January and early February I get the blahs. I just want to sleep and my energy, creativity and mood take a dive. Which is why there has been such a long gap since my last post. I have had no words and nothing to report on. Even getting myself in front of the computer was a struggle and my reading of  other blogs (and my e-mails) dwindled from daily to rarely.

But I'm back now and need to get busy as there are some birthdays coming up! I still intend to include a little homemade something in the gifts so will be letting you all know how it's going. Can you believe that this:
is all the crochet I've done since I last wrote here? Maybe I was dreaming of spring, knowing that my spark would come back with the flowers.

So I will leave you all to some more yellow floweriness and hope that they give you the lift that they give to me!
Now I'm off to catch up with my favourite bloggers... take care


18 January 2010

Lazy Sunday Crafternoon

I hope you all had a good weekend! First off, I'd like to congratulate the wonderful Kate on her 100th blog post and the lovely Lucy on the safe arrival of Bump24 (now Teeny Man!). If you like colourful hooky goodness, please visit their delicious blogs: Kate (The Garden Bell) hooks up scrumptious blankets like no-one's business and also dyes her own yarn while Lucy at Attic 24 has inspired many a hooker (behave!) with her fab and colourful projects and easy peasy to follow tutorials.

Yesterday I had a lovely crafternoon with my friend Sarah. She visited to borrow my sewing machine and to have a crochet lesson. She brought over some yummy weight watchers chocolate brownie squares to share (good girl!) and I plied her with coffee and herbal tea while she worked on an applique cushion.

After experimenting on some scrap fabric with different stitches - Sarah decided to stick with a straight stitch.

The pictures are a bit fuzzy because I felt a bit silly taking photos of her while she was sewing "Ohh, hang on, stop there, let me get a pic of you sewing....no, no we'll have to switch the machine off so the light isn't on it" etc. I think it must be very annoying to try to sew something (especially fiddly sewing) with someone doing that, but she didn't seem to mind at all. This is the result:

Again, the pic doesn't do it justice. It's a cushion cover with the name "Maya" appliqued on in a gorgeous gingham crepey cotton. This material was also made into a curtain for the kitchen. Much chatting and drinking and eating of chocolatey things went on and time quite ran away with us, so no crochet this time round. It was fun though, definitely something to do again!

12 January 2010

The end is in sight

So, just over a week ago I make a resolution. A PUBLIC resolution no less, to update my little blog more regularly .... and then I disappear. What can I say?

You will see though that something has been happening.

Hmmmm, exhibit A: itty ends of yarn on the arm of the sofa. Does anyone ever DO anything with these? Looking further along I see this

A little stack of granny squares in two colour combinations
Yes, it's yet ANOTHER hooky project. Actually, I started this before Christmas and am hoping to finish by the end of the weekend. There are sixteen squares (eight in each combination of blue and white). I've just started joining them together. I decided to do my blocking when the squares are joined (this will work right?)

I'm planning on a four by four central square and then I'll keep adding borders until I'm happy with the size. It's going to be a little blanket for a little person (a new baby boy) to give as a gift. I've used Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino which is lovely and soft and nice to work with.

About half way through hooking the squares I began to have doubts about the whole thing - are granny squares alright for babies? Will their little fingers get stuck? Oh well, I'm hoping it will be ok.

Sorry for the terrible photos by the way - the light is AWFUL (these are actually the best pics I got out of I-don't-know-how-many-attempts). I'm also tired and I've decided I need to upgrade my camera to a digital SLR. It's all so confusing though - any advice is much appreciated (I need something that I can more or less point and click!)   


02 January 2010


Happy New Year! (a day late I know, but that's me:) )

Has any one made any new year resolutions? I never have, stubbornly refusing to do so every year. THIS year however, I think is time for a few.  I'm not talking the lose some weight, exercise more, sort out finances sort of thing here - I make those resolutions weekly!

No, my goals for this year are craft related. Partly due to the fact that I didnt make ANY Christmas cards for 2009 OR handmade presents* and partly due to the fact that I have not finished a single project on the blog so far, I came up with these:

In 2010, I will try my best to:
  1. Finish some projects - aim for minimum of one a month and having a big project on the go (aren't I brave setting a figure like that?! Note the "aim for" get out clause)
  2. Make a home made gift and card for each female birthday that I would buy a gift for
  3. Start wearing / showing my creations
  4. Make Christmas cards in advance 
  5. Take more photographs for 6
  6. Update blog regularly 
  7. Take a class / learn something new    

So, now you have them down in black and white - I'll review them at the end of the year. The above picture has no relevance -I just don't like to post without pics! (Hmmmm - although it is another WIP)

I'm hoping the blog will keep me motivated  - so please feel free to leave comments, they're always most welcome (I get ridiculously excited to see them to tell you the truth)!

Bye for now

* Actually, I did manage to crochet a last minute hat for mum, something I'd promised months before!