It’s been a while…

I haven’t been able to blog lately. It’s not that I’ve not had anything to talk about, quite the opposite. I have just been so ridiculously busy that I’m losing three or four days at a time! Between making wedding decorations, planning a toddler’s birthday, making toddler presents, looking after said toddler, and various other secret things, well, I’ve been a little bit busy. I have been wanting to share this project though.

A few weeks ago (could be weeks, could be longer, I don’t remember) I decided to start crocheting a cardigan for Bobbin for her birthday. She had out grown all of last years light cardigans, and all the ones that fit her were too thick. I had some pink 4 ply left over from a cardigan I started last year but couldn’t finish. The pattern stated that I needed 3x 50g balls, but I decided I didn’t. I based this confident assumption on the fact that 100g balls of acrylic are often a little longer than other yarn types. I felt 1 ball of 100g would be fine and I got started. It was a lovely pattern, one that was featured in Simply Crochet magazine. Any way, I was but a couple of inches from finishing the second arm when I ran out of wool. Turns out that the stated amount was correct. Damn it. “Why don’t you finish it in a different colour?” my OH asked. “No” I said.

The next day we traipsed back to where I thought I’d bought the wool a year earlier. She didn’t stock it anymore. “Rather than choosing a similar shade, you should just go for it with a contrasting shade and make it look deliberate” she said, just as OH came round the corner. Not only had he been right, but someone who knew what they were talking about had confirmed it! I swallowed my pride and went and did just that. I think it turned out pretty good. I got to use a Peppa Pig ribbon that had been sitting around since Christmas, and even snuck in one of the crochet flowers from a few posts back. What do you reckon?

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…and they’re off! The first harvest of 2013

After a few weeks of on-and-off rain made getting anything done on the allotment difficult I finally got over there this weekend.  The biggest job was, of course, weeding.  The little blighters pop up with alarming speed and I’m sure they make every gardener wonder the same thing:  “Why can’t the crops grow that well?

The ground was damp which didn’t help but I absolutely had to kick these weeds into touch – using my long-reach Draper, a cheap onion hoe and bare hands (whenever I switched to hand-pulling I seemed to happen across a patch of young nettles). Continue reading

Sub-irrigated planters (doesn’t that sound impressive?)

My tomatoes are coming along quite nicely, having been hoofed outside and into their planters a few weeks ago.  I’m growing last year’s Gartenperle along with Incas F1.  Last summer we caught our daughter (then 1) stood, arms by her side, chomping on a Gartenperle tomato whilst it was still on the plant.  That’s recommendation enough for me to grow them again!

An easy-peasy design for a self-watering planter

The bit I thought was worth sharing, however, wasn’t my daughter’s lack of cutlery or tomato-eating etiquette, but what I grow my tommies in.

The idea is explained succinctly in the diagram on the left and here.

It’s simple enough – two buckets, one inside the other.  You water not onto the soil, but into the gap left between the top and bottom bucket, through  a pipe.

(Don’t forget an overflow hole to let you know when it’s full!)

Set into the bottom of the ‘top’ bucket is a smaller plant pot (I use 3″ round pots which have had it and would otherwise be in the bin).  Punch a few extra holes in it for good measure.  Then you fill the top bucket, including the pot in the base, with compost and plant into that as normal.

The small pot acts as a wick, as it is below the level of the water in the reservoir, drawing moisture up through the compost into the main bucket.  The plant’s roots are encouraged to go deep as the water is coming from below, rather than above, which steadies the plant well in the planter and, more importantly, in hot weather evaporation is kept to an absolute minimum.

Since I like to save money where I can in the garden, and because I’m not too bothered about the looks (within reason), I like to use the black florists’ buckets which can often be sourced free or very cheaply.  I paid 99p at Morrisons for each bundle of 8, in various sizes.   A few bundles gave me enough to make up enough planters to keep me in tomatoes all summer (weather permitting!).  If you go down the florists’ bucket route, there smaller size is best for the bottom bucket, with a larger bucket sat inside it; this creates an approximately 2″ gap for the reservoir.  I use clear aquarium pipe to fill the reservoir, but anything will do really, as long as you can get water into the end of it from a hose or bucket.

...and here they are in all their glory.

…and here they are in all their glory.

Not all upcycles are keepers

After my mammoth post about all of my WIPs I decided to take action and finish one of them. YAY! I’m very pleased with myself and I really like the end product. It is a pair of crochet sleeves that I’ve added to a vest top that I don’t really wear. Voila, one wearable summer top.

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 Riding high on this success, I scoured the house to find another neglected item of clothing that I could improve. I came across this cardigan, which is the most comfortable cardigan in the world, but is pretty ugly.

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It was black once upon a time, and the ‘unusual’ dropped-stitch effect prompted my mother to ask if I knew my cardigan was unraveling. With neither the funds nor the inclination to replace it I decided to do something with it. This meant I got to rummage through my ribbons and laces! My favourite hobby!

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Aren’t they so pretty? Well I had about an hour before I had to leave the house, so I sat down at my sewing machine and went to work. I really wanted to weave the ribbons through the dropped stitches, but that looked pretty rubbish, so I ended up just covering them up with the ribbons, and well……

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Can’t say it’s turned out great. It’s alright for inside the house as it makes me feel like a bit of a mad sewing lady, which I am. Not sure it’s going to make an outing though. Looks a bit like I just fell into my ribbon stash. It doesn’t help that the weight and stitch of the cardigan pulls the ribbons and makes them all wavy.

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You can’t win ’em all. I’ll just chalk this one up to experience I suppose. If you don’t try you will never learn. Hopefully the next will be much, much better.

I may have a problem….part two

In my previous post I decided to share some of my abandoned craft projects with the intention of motivating me into finishing them. That wasn’t the end of the story. I have an awful lot of unfinished crochet projects too. I haven’t been crocheting as long as I have anything else, but I am well and truly addicted. Not only do I crochet items to sell in my folksy shop, but I have recently run a workshop. It might not be a surprise that some things have just languished at the bottom of my sewing box. This being said, NONE of my crochet WIPs have been on the hook very long, certainly not as long as the projects in my last post. Well here we go…

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I started this blanket as an example for my workshop a few weeks ago. I since decided that it might be better as a cushion. Now I’m thinking a mini scented cushion…..

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This is the start of two monsters that I am making for my folksy shop. This multi-coloured yarn was so much fun to work with, so much more fun that the black I need to complete them. So much more fun, in fact, that I just haven’t bothered.

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Some pretty sleeves a la Simply Crochet magazine. Not too far from completion, but they have been on the hook for a little while, and of course, they have to eventually make it on to a top.

It would seem that finishing a project is not really my strong point. The making is the fun part. It’s the sewing and weaving and odds and ends that I don’t find quite so fun.

Case in point:

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Finished these broomstick lace mug holders weeks ago. They’ve been blocked and everything. All they need is a button and the ends sewing in. They’ve been sat in the ‘ideas basket’ ever since.

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These flowers have been sat waiting for something, ANYTHING to happen to them for quite some time. I ran out of juice after making them and couldn’t decide what to do with them. Now they lie forgotten and may never be used. Sad really.

So, that’s it. There are more. Some that haven’t really been started, and some more that are for my shop that I don’t really want to share til I’m done and they look pretty. Now I’ve bared my crafting soul. Surely I’m not the only one like this. Surely…..

 

Pretty pretty dresses

Last year my daughter got a beautiful dress for her first birthday. I told my OH that if anyone asked,  then this dress was the one I wanted her to have as a present. No one asked. However, the Gods smiled on us and she got it anyway. She looked beautiful and wore it all the time. Here she is wearing it. Isn’t she the cutest?

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This dress is size 9-12 months. Now you may think it is rather churlish to buy a one year old this size, but she is a real midget. She was a healthy size when she was born, she just comes from short stock. This is why, one month from her second birthday. I decided to upcycle this lovely dress and get it fitting her again.

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Won’t lie to you. This was the hardest part, but once it was done there was no turning back. The dress has a long button band down the back, so I cut the line just below that. The collar is so pretty, I think I may do something with that too, but that’s for another time.

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I then pinned the skirt section to a plain t shirt that is a little big for her. I positioned it and then pressed it for the next step.

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I turned the skirt inside out and slotted it back on to the top the other way, so when folded down it would be the right side with a hem. I pressed it again and stitched it around.

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Fold the skirt over, press again et voila! Nearly there. it could have been left like this, but I want to add a little extra.

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I cut the excess t-shirt away and made a rolled hem encompassing the raw edges of the skirt. This makes it a bit neater inside and also a bit tougher. It might now have a chance against my rough and tumble toddler.

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I finished the whole thing with a ribbon to hide the seam line and a little flat bow as an accent. I was going to add a pocket, but meh! Not bad for 6.30 in the morning! What do you think?

I may have a problem….part one

I am always crafting. I don’t mean that in a jokey way. I am ALWAYS crafting. I keep a WIP in my bedside table in case I wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep. This morning at was sat at my sewing machine at 6.30 because everyone else was asleep and I had an opportunity to get something finished. I can’t help it, it’s like an addiction. However, because I make SO MANY things, inevitably more than a few things get left behind. Now I’m sure every crafter has a couple of long term projects in the back of cupboards, but I seem to compulsively start projects and never finish them. This week I finished three projects that I had been meaning to do, the bag from my previous post, my next project post, and a lovely hat, cos I don’t have a hat. This got me thinking about all the things I need to finish, so to shame myself into doing something about it, I shall list them here. Just to add insult to injury, there are so many that I have to split them over two posts. Oh boy….

Starting with the abandoned knitting projects:

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I started this cardigan 4 years ago. I took it to the Isle of Wight and forgot one of the colours. It’s been in the back of the cupboard ever since. If you can see all of the ends that need weaving in, you can probably guess it will be there a little longer. It’s only missing the two front pieces and button band.

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I was bought this sock yarn as a present for my birthday. Two years later I started these socks as an easy project whilst I was pregnant with my daughter. She is two in a month.

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I found the pattern for this thrifty shawl in one of my long forgotten knitting books. It hasn’t been on the needles that long, perhaps a year, but I wouldn’t really say I’m ‘using up’ any of that wool. More just storing it.

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I fear this beautiful snood may never be finished. I saw the pattern in the back of a knitting magazine and instantly bought it. I went to choose some wool and just assumed all sock yarn could replace lace weight yarn. Turns out that’s not the case, especially with Noro Silk Garden it would seem. You live you learn. I’m unsure what to do with this one. I don’t want to unravel it as it represents some hard work, but I’m a bit too scared to carry on. It’s been on the needles for three years.

Now my sewing projects are a different matter. I tend to hit the sewing machine when I can and get loads done in one sitting. This usually means, however, that there is a large pile of ‘ideas’ sitting by it waiting to be made into something less resembling a heap. This is the current state of the ‘ideas basket’

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You’d think that would keep me busy. Probably not. I’m sure I’ll start something else next week. I’d like to think that sharing these would motivate me in some way. Of course this isn’t all of it. There is still all of my unfinished crocheting….