Friday, 25 November 2011

Operation Christmas Crafts: The First Wave

My Christmas crafting has begun in earnest. I've already started sewing up the lovely festive alphabet wall panel that my nana gave me, although I've had to abandon any plans to pad it, as I simply can't get the knack of sewing wadding :(

I have, however, cut the fabric for a table runner for my dining table. The sewing up will be interesting, as I decided to try my own method rather than following a pattern, and despite my fondness for maths, I found working out the measurements for the edging a bit fraught. Experienced pattern drafters out there may think I'm daft, but trying to remember to include seam allowances seemed to be more than I could manage. Anyway, photos may follow depending on my level of success. I'm also sewing over 50 bunting flags (and that's just the kids stuff!) for both the boys' nursery classroom and their bedroom. I'm making strands of about 15 flags each, and here is my first one.

I know that's only 8 - some of the flags are behind the door. I made them with the gingerbread man fabric on one side, and the green and gold stripe on the other, and then just alternated them. I sewed them onto green satin bias binding tape (22mm) that I got on eBay really cheaply and I think it looks suitably festive. The flags are slightly bigger than my Halloween bunting as I had plenty of fabric. You can follow my bunting tutorial here if you'd like to have a go at making your own.

In other festive news, I've decided to make Christmas cookies and snickerdoodles for the nursery teachers, as I was pretty much going to buy them a box of fancy biscuits anyway, and as I already had all the ingredients, it works out cheaper to bake them myself. Only time will tell how much I will regret this as I'm not the keenest of bakers. I tried a batch of snickerdoodles last night, as I've never made them before. Here is the result.

They seemed okay, although I'm not sure about the taste. They taste vaguely familiar, but I can't quite put my finger on it. However, I discovered that I used baking powder instead of bicarbonate of soda and that they are not, despite my protests, the same thing. So I'll be trying them again tonight to see if using the right ingredients gives better results.

Fingers crossed!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Lopsided Christmas Trees and Green Lantern Stitches

At last! Some finished projects!! I started these knitted Christmas trees absolutely ages ago. But I had some problems with the yarn which put me off finishing. I had used some scraps I had in my knitting bag, but they knitted up in slightly different sizes. That's what I get for never checking the gauge of my work. As a result, the sewing up part, always my least favourite bit of a knitting project, was a bit fraught, and my enthusiasm evaporated quickly. But, a quick burst of motivation (mostly caused by my desire to sort out my stash and get my bedroom tidy) meant that they are now finished and ready to share.

The evening winter sun did nothing for my already questionable photography skills. Anywho, these were originally inspired by this project for potted knitted trees, but the dowel, pots and florist foam would have made this less a fun, thrifty seasonal project and more of an epic, costly undertaking. As you can see, my trees are neither as perky nor as well constructed as the ones in the pattern, but I put that down to rubbish wool and an extreme aversion to sewing knitting up. As the boyfriend wonder says, they are charmingly rustic. I'm going to thread some ribbon through the tops and hang them somewhere in my house come Christmas. I am also going to buy some suitable yarn and give them another go, this time with a little more attention to detail. Maybe Santa will bring me patience this Christmas and I'll become a slightly less slap-dash knitter.

Now for some more cross-stitching - my latest crazed obsession. I think I'm taking to it so well because, unlike knitting, it is something I'm actually good at (perhaps because a cat could do it if it had thumbs.) The second of my three superhero projects was the Green Lanterns of Earth - a collection of some of the biggest asshats in the DC universe. I am not a fan. But the boyfriend wonder and the kidlets are, and since it is intended for their superhero bedroom, who was I to argue. Here they are, in all their glory, still in the hoop. I have yet to find a frame for them.

And that's it for now. I am crossing everything that I'll have a slew of Christmas sewing projects finished very soon (or at least started, which is almost the same thing.) Plus, the seed of yet another obsession is forming in my brain as we speak, so there might be that too. Ooohh...cryptic!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Stash Attack!!

Recently I've been trying to hunt down some Christmas fabric that isn't ridiculously expensive. While some of the designer fabrics are really cool and a bit different, they're a bit too expensive to buy in any great amount. So i decided to just buy basic printed cotton in Christmassy themes. But, imagine my surprise when a trip to my local fabric store revealed hideously twee Christmas cottons which were the same price as designer ranges. Ultimately I was just looking for something understated to make some bunting and maybe a table-runner or two, and I didn't want to spend a fortune. Luckily, a recent visit to my parents' house in Belfast resulted in a trip to the single most amazing fabric store I've ever been in - Paragon Fabrics on Donegall Pass. Seriously. if you live in Northern Ireland and you love sewing, get yourself down there. Fabrics are reasonably priced and they have absolutely everything under the sun and the staff were really lovely and helpful. I could easily have spent a ton of money in there. I came away with this little bundle....

I will be busily turning it into all sorts of festive decorations over the next few weeks, and will attempt to keep the blog updated with my progress.

I also found myself the recipient of an unexpected stash windfall. My nana, who originally taught me to knit, gave me two bags full of yarn and assorted knitty type stuff. Unfortunately she finds she can't manage knitting much these days, and had no use for it all anymore. Here are a few photos of some of the stuff I was lucky enough to bring home with me (thank goodness we had the car!)

 I've never knitted with this type of fluffy yarn before, and I've heard that it's notoriously slippery, but my nana uses it to make all sorts of stuffed toys (that's a teddy bear's tummy in the front) as well as scarves, and I'm thinking I can make some cute little hedgehog cuddlies with some of it.

She also gave me this lovely blue and cream yarn - a full project's worth, I reckon - along with a book full of knitting projects for babies and toddlers. There's a lovely zip up cardigan in it that I'm thinking of knitting for Olly, but he's growing that fast, I had better get a move on! There was a knitting magazine from 1992 in there too and loads of patterns, so I have lots to be getting on with.

There was also some fabric panels, interfacing and fleece wadding - too much to show. This is my favourite though. A fabric panel with the A-Z of Christmas on it. I just have to sew on the borders and the backing and I can use it as a wall hanging. After I iron it, of course.

So that's my newest stash - with Christmas fast approaching, an endless bout of colds and flu in the house and various writing commitments, I'm pretty busy. So much so that I won't even mind if we get snowed in this winter, as I have plenty to do :)

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Sera's Blog Giveaway

The lovely Sera McDaid, a fellow writer on Daily Waffle and I successful Slimming World follower, is having a fantastic giveaway on her blog here. The prize is simply tons of food bits and recipes and such to get you started on similar slimming success. If you're wanting to make a change, why not pop over and enter :)