Monday, May 27, 2013

Trying out cross stitch.

I've been really hankering after cross stitch for a while now so when I was perusing the magazines in the local supermarket I came across a free kit to make a cross stitched blue tit card.

I love craft, I love birds, what better way to get a cheap thrill than to get this magazine? I know I have a blanket and a bead loom waiting for my attentions but I just couldn't resist!

Even though this was my first ever cross stitch project I found it quite easy. I think I can remember the ladies in home economics saying that the back of a cross stitch should be as neat as the front which made me have a little experiment and then a think about how I was going to achieve that. It was fun, quick and I did it in one evening. Here is the finished project in the little frame it came with.
I did the lines a little thicker by accident, but I like them so they're staying (trust me to go off piste) and I think there was one are two squares that I counted wrong but it hasn't affected the over all picture. Thankfully. I loved this little guy and would love to do more cross stitch birds by this lady, they're really cute. Oh yeah, and here is a picture of the back. It's not as neat as I would have liked but it was my first try!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Beginning Beading on a Loom

I have been a bit intrigued by loom beading for a while now, I really thought that the effects you could achieve were really stunning but difficult. I even went so far one year as to ask for a loom for Christmas, unfortunately I was bought an enormous weaving loom which made me panic! So I took it upon myself to buy an Indian hand loom off of Amazon for not much money and it arrived with a supply of needles, thread and beads. I strung the thing up and left it sitting on the windowsill for about a week, just sitting there judging me and my lack of bead looming skills. To say I was intimidated by it was an understatement, the whole thing seemed to be so difficult to use that I might need the Rosetta Stone of crafting to approach it. Thankful the local library had just the thing, Dorothy Wood's 'Beaders Bible'. This book was my saviour in the looming department, it has tutorials in loom beading and off loom beading which are pretty simple to follow. So I set about starting my project and discovered that this was actually really easy. I started with twelve strings but very quickly started to run out of beads, so I restrung the loom with seven threads which I'm not sure but I think this is the warp. I decided I wanted a summery colour scheme to go with the season so used blue orange and white.
I thought starting small would be a good idea, just beading a 6x6 square or two, and then I realised that I hadn't left much length on the threads to be sewn in and there were going to be more bits of thread than beads in the finished product. But that didn't stop me as I had an idea forming, take the little squares and put them on lengths of silver chain, what could be more summery than that? Here is the finished product.
I'm really glad I tried loom beading, I have really enjoyed it and will be trying a slightly larger project next time. I definately would recommend it to anyone. It just goes to show that with the right information/teacher/tutorial it is possible to achieve things you thought impossible.

I didn't find any great tutorials out there on Youtube, a lot of them are long winded or are trying to sell you something. Here is an ok one with videos of off loom tutorials in the sidebar, worth a look and a save if you're getting into beading.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Crochet blanket WIP pt1

I am crocheting a blanket to give as a Christmas gift, which is a good time to choose because it's going to take ages. All together the whole blanket will be 15x15 squares, large enough to cover a UK double bed! I have toyed with the idea of making it smaller but it would only be by one or two squares. What I want is a luxurious throw that will cover a whole bed and drape elegantly to the floor, this fall will take the extra squares! With this being a gift I keep swinging wildly between being really happy to be making it for the person and being crippled with doubt that this archaic bed covering will be actually used. I think I have the crafters version of stage fright. Whatever I decide, it won't be because I'd like to abandon this WIP, it will be seen through to the end.

Here are the first twenty five squares sewn together. They are a simple granny square, I got a tutorial from here on YouTube, this is an amazing place to learn just about anything you want and there are so many people who want to show you their skills. There are many different ways to join squares together but I wanted the blanket to lie flat so opted for a double crochet join, which I found here on YouTube.

I learned to crochet when I was a wee girl but it didn't hold my interest, I only took it back up again about three years ago after finding a really cute crocheted baby dress pattern in a charity shop that I just had to make. I found it quite a challenge, learning all the crochet terms and following a pattern, but it was ultimately rewarding. I went on to crochet a small bag out of plarn I made from carrier bags but didn't do much for a while, then I had my newest daughter and decided to make her a version of the dress I made a few years before. From then on I haven't stopped for very long, learning how to do a baby blanket, out of one large granny square, for my nephews arrival and then a large throw for myself. I am planning on furthering my crochet by learning a bit of amigurimi, making plarn shopping bags and learning tatting.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Spring Update.

Today the natural light was good, so I got a few pictures of my WIP. First of all is my hand loom. I've only got as far as stringing it. I've used seven strands of cotton for a six bead strip. I'm unsure as to what I should make, I have toyed with the idea of a seaside inspired bracelet or a square of beads to hang off a chain. To know fully I'll just have to let the beads take me there. Wherever the journey takes me I'll be using a book I got out of the library called The Beaders Bible. It's a really good book for beginners as it has step by step guides as to how to string your loom, it even has a section on how to make a loom out of two pieces of doweling and two rubber bands! Now that would be cool.
I first got a hankering for loom beading when I saw some vintage work from the 1920's. I thought it was beautiful and skillful and I wanted to try it out. I also wanted a hand loom to do a wire weaving tutorial I had seen in a craft book called Design and Make Jewellery Using Textile Techniques. I absolutely love this book and I definitely need it on my bedside table for inspired reading before bed.

My second project is a granny square crocheted blanket I'm making as a gift. I love granny squares as they are pretty easy to do. I have tried doing straight lines in crochet by my work starts to slant. I have successfully crocheted a toddler dress but that pattern didn't have that many end of rows so for now I'm keeping it simple. I'm using up all my yarn bits and bobs but trying not to make doubles of the colours. This has been difficult because I had originally intended for the blanket to fit a double bed, this would require making approx 225 unique squares. I'm not sure making 225 unique squares would be possible unless I remortgaged the house and sent the kids to live with relatives. Thankfully there shouldn't be too many repeats on the colours as I was gifted a lot of odd ends of wool from my Grandmother in law and I can get pretty cheap yarn from a haberdashers in Newcastle Grainger Market. They usual have 100g balls of acrylic wool in impossible colours for about £1.50 and that does me fine for a project like this. For more muted colour  Wilkinson do a range of 100g acrylic baby wools for £1.79. These are often a lot better quality than the wools from the Grainger market. Here is a little pic of some of my squares.

I've used four double crochet in the corners to save on wool and I'm going to join the together with a running double crochet and hopefully they'll lie flat and neat. More pictures as I put the whole lot together.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Another thread.

I may not be able to craft with any gusto at the minute but that doesn't mean I can't look at other crafts! I have been trawling embroidery inspiration, started by looking at pictures of rice mandalas created by Buddhist monks. I didn't realise I had a big think about mandalas until posting this here but they really seem to fire my brain.
I found this wonderful site for cross stitch mandala patterns, and have gone so far as choosing my favourite for my birthday. On my Internet embroidery meandering I found a lady who converts pictures into cross stitch. Here is her Avengers Assemble offering. I am pretty much in awe of her skills and will be making full use of them as I acquire cross stitch prowess. She takes requests and will help you convert any image, so if there was a favourite photo you wanted to cross stitch but didn't know where to start then she's your lady.

Ahhh, The (Chicken) Pox!

The best laid plans! Baby steps have been made into the first spring project of loom beading and blanket crocheting, I have got as far as stringing the hand loom and crocheting twenty granny squares, but my Pinky Pie has come down with chicken pox. Having two small people at home is proving a problem in the crafting department. I have some time tomorrow evening, Pinky Pie allowing, to take some photos of the empty loom and the beginnings of my blanket.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Spring fever

Spring is here and it makes me think of sandals and bare legs. So I have been having a look at my craft archive and found this beautiful skirt tutorial. I am a bit daunted by the stripes but I think it will be beautiful both dressed up and down. H&M have the perfect jacket to go with this. Must buy it now.
To go with it I will need a reusable shopping bag for putting my springtime finds in, something plain that will go with all my sunny stripes and floral patterns. So I have chosen the free bag tutorial from Burda. It'll be perfect for carrying my materials home from the haberdashers.
If you try these out please let me know how they went! I am curious...

The return of the Mumming Lady

I have been busy! After the arrival of Tiny Spark I have been Mumming on an Olympic level. What with Pinky Sparkle Cheeks going off to school, and me hitting the baby groups, I don't seem to have had time for much else. I know, but I haven't stopped craft hoarding. I have been gathering supplies for my next adventure in making. I have realised that I love creating, but I'm a bit of a craft octopus. I haven't been able to settle on one craft that keeps me busy, I prefer to have a go at most things until I learn them. Some of the crafts I've learned I've gone back to (knitting, sewing) and some have been left by the wayside (hand beaded felt), but all of them have been enjoyed. Right now I have quite a few new things I want to get into, but some or all require equipment. Things I want to do are loom beading, wire working with a jig, PMC and peg loom weaving. I also want to make a granny square blanket and some wall art, some upcycled clothes for my girls and some tie dyed stuff.
I have purchased a little Indian hand loom and have a large amount of wool, so I shall be trying out the granny square blanket (takes a bit longer than a month so will be doing it alongside another craft) and a beaded bracelet. Wish me luck!
p.s. I have included a bee mandala for you to colour in. x