Thursday, 30 April 2015

April Round-Up

So that's another month all but over- where does the time go?
I thought this month I would give a little round up of things from the last few posts. 
The month's second post was all about my brooch collection and I mentioned at the end that I should make a display board for them all- well job done! There's even room for a quite a few more which is always good.
I also shared my last minute, have-a-go, dyeing session with a couple of balls of yarn. This is what it looks like knitting up in plain stockinette stitch, it's going to be a Springtime cowl....
My banana bread turned out to be edible and quickly disappeared at work...
Another little project I made this month, not previously mentioned, was for a gorgeous little cutie-pie who turns one on May Day. In this picture he's only 4 months old but he's showing off a baby-grow I customised for him just perfectly.
I decided upon a ball-shaped bird, made using The WI Collection yarn from Hobbycraft in a gorgeous, deep turquoise. I crocheted a ball, about 10cm in diameter, using all double crochet (British terminology, US single crochet). The yarn label suggests a 9mm hook but as I wanted it nice and tight to hold the stuffing I used a 5mm hook and could have gone even smaller with no problems.
I made 2 little wings and a tail, again using dc and 5mm hook, then sewed them on using the ends. As it's for a small child I really went to town on attaching them securely! 
For each leg- I knitted a 3 stitch i-cord (one of my favourite things to knit, it's just so satisfying) using a a pinky coloured, organic cotton yarn I had left over from another project. When it was the length I wanted, I removed the knitting needle and finished it off with a crochet hook turning each of the stitches into a picot stitch to make a little foot. I repeated the process to make the second leg and then again sewed them on very securely.
For the face I used orange embroidery cotton and a 2mm hook to make a tiny cone shape for the beak, I just made an 8 stitch ring and then crocheted dc decreases in a spiral. I embroidered on two eyes with black embroidery cotton using satin stitch.
I'm pleased with the result, I think he looks like a friendly little fellow but I especially hope the birthday boy likes him.
That's it for April! The start of May is looking good- I'm off to Outlaw Craft Fair in Bristol with my Mum on Saturday. We have a workshop booked and it will be great to spend the day together.
Until next time craft in earnest! Craftin' Ernest x

Sunday, 26 April 2015

A Spot of Dyeing

This is a quick post while my banana bread (for work tomorrow) is in the oven- check me out, a domestic goddess!? I don't think so- it's one of only two things I ever bake and only when the bananas are so black there's nothing else to do with them, I can't bare the waste of throwing them out!

This weekend with weather being so lovely of late I decided it was time to dye a dress I had been meaning to do since last Summer. As it's mainly viscose with a little Lycra, I used my go-to-dye, Dylon Hand Dye, in my favourite colour- burlesque red (which is actually more of a purple).
The instructions state that one pack dyes 250g to full shade or larger amounts to lighter shade; the dress weighed 350g so I decided to use two packets for a nice intense colour.
Once the dress was in and the dye was doing it's stuff I felt like I was not getting my money's worth so looked around for something else to put it... 
A couple of 50g balls of Sidar Sunseeker Cotton Chainette, a 100% cotton DK yarn, caught my eye.
As it was all a but last minute, I decided to be a little experimental and didn't bother to unwind the balls as I have done previously when dyeing yarn. Instead I soaked both balls as they were in warm water as per the packet's instructions,
I then skewered (love that word) both on a long knitting needle and suspended them over the dye so only half was submerged. I had to poke the bottom of them a few times and gave them a few good squeezes to try to get the dye to go right to the centre.
Once done, after about 2 hours, I removed them from the dye and rinsed them out really well with cold water.
After squeezing them out I popped them into a pair of tights and put them in the washing machine with a dark load (along with the dress) and then hung them both out to dry.
This was the end result....
Once I unwound it to make sure it was dry through, which they weren't quite, I discovered the dye had penetrated quite well even in ball form (there's no scale in the photo, so it's hard to tell, but the ball below is about 85% unwound).
And this is both balls completely unwound.

I would recommend unwinding yarn beforehand if you decide to do a spot of dyeing and want a predictable result but in a push I think this way works. I'm looking forward to seeing how it knits up.
Until next time, craft in earnest! Craftin' Ernest x 

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Day Tripping to The Historic City of Wells

Yesterday my husband and I headed to the historic city of Wells in Somerset, which as the crow flies is almost exactly 30 miles (48km) south of us. In reality it's actually about an hour and a quarter away, 21 miles (34km) south of Bristol and certainly worth the drive.
Steve bought tickets for The Bishop's Palace on Amazon Local and we were keen to see Wells' Cathedral too, so while the sun was shining we headed to Somerset's ancient city. Also as one of our favourite films, Hot Fuzz, did a lot of its filming in Wells we thought it would be great to see the place in real life. (My dad actually informed me after we were back home that we went when I was little but I honestly can't remember that.)
The Bishop's Palace was stunning & the cloisters of the cathedral were very tranquil.

Unfortunately we didn't get to go properly into the cathedral as a special service for a retiring Dean was taking place but what we did see was very impressive.
Saturday is market day so we had a good look around that, there was a large selection of items on offer. It included a farmer's market so we bought lots of lovely, local produce to enjoy over the weekend, my favourite being very tasty pies (chicken, mushroom and asparagus in filo pastry for me). The Town Hall was hosting an antique fair where I bought some delightful teaspoons just because I couldn't resist.

An absolute gem of a wool shop was located down a little street (Mill Street). It's very unassuming frontage completely hides the huge array of wares inside, it was massive yet you would never have known from outside. I didn't even know it's a name until I looked it up once home, Mandy Wools. It has a very large range of yarns, together with all sorts of crafty goodies such as buttons and clasps and vilene etc.
There was also Millie Moon, a fabric and haberdashery shop, there was no way I was leaving without a purchase or two from inside there!
Look how beautifully wrapped my items were, using a piece of pattern paper and Millie Moon labelled stickers.....
I almost didn't want to unwrap them but, of course, I did.
Around the corner from there was a wonderful little bead shop, Bella Beads Boutique, again I wasn't leaving empty handed.
On top of that I managed to pick up an old Quality Street tin containing, yep you guessed it, BUTTONS for £6.50 from a charity shop. They're just crying out to be sorted and that makes for one very happy Ernest!
And that doesn't even cover everything, I also bought 4 crafty books in an Oxfam bookshop and a few other bits and bobs to use in projects in the near future.
What a great day- as a place to visit I would highly recommend it!
Until next time, craft in earnest. Craftin' Ernest x

Monday, 13 April 2015

Brooches Stash

My husband and I decided to make the most of the sunshine the UK is experiencing at the moment and went out for dinner in our favourite cafe/bar/restaurant. Just as we were sitting down I realised the brooch I had being wearing was missing! Uh oh, this led to a panic and I ran off to retrace my steps. Thankfully I found it on the ground next to the car, I think it must have caught on my seat belt but I recovered it, phewee! It was this sparkly delight...

A few years ago I lost a real beauty on the way to a concert and even to this day when I walk the same route I look for it. My only consolation is imagining the delight on the lucky finder's face when they discovered it.
I've got a thing about brooches, I think they really are a nice finishing touch to an outfit, especially a blazer or summer cardigan. A lot of people I know see them as old fashioned and don't tend to wear them but that's definitely not me, anyway old fashioned is a plus in my eyes. 
As such I have a lot of brooches and some are really special to me so I thought I'd share a few of my favourites with you, they are either very sentimental to me or I just love the design but a lot of the time it's actually both.

As all my family know how much I like them I was very lucky to get my Grandma's collection when she passed away and these are very dear to my heart. 
This one I simply adore even though it's a little damaged but to me that just shows it has a history. I love the design and colour but most of all I love that my dad said he remembers his mum wearing it when he was young.

This next one was a present from one of my truly best friends, she gave it to me for making the place settings for her wedding. She knows me so well as I couldn't have picked better myself, it was such a delightful surprise.

This one I've mentioned before, my husband bought it for me because I love bumblebees. Again, this one has "history" as I dropped it the day after receiving it (so like me) but thankfully it was a clean break and could be glued, otherwise I would have been heading straight back to the shop.

This is a fun one that was originally a child's hairclip but thanks to a pair of pliers, some glue and a brooch finding, it has a new purpose.
Tortoises are another favourite of mine (none more so than my actual tortoise Evie) and as such I have numerous ones, many of which were gifts.

This one a good friend of mine bought for me as a souvenir when we visited San Francisco Zoo, sadly we're no longer in touch but it brings back very fond memories of a wonderful Summer.

On the subject of animals, birds make numerous appearances in my brooch selection, especially owls. Oh and insects too for that matter.
OK, this was supposed to be a quick post but I could go on and on so I'm going to stop here. It has occurred to me though that they could be displayed a little better so I can enjoy them even when I'm not wearing them rather than sticking them in a box. That's my next project sorted...
Until next time craft in earnest, Craftin' Ernest x

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Storage Solution- Upcycled Box

Something my husband and I disagree upon quite regularly is how much stuff in the house is too much stuff? 
He strongly believes we passed the acceptable mark a long time ago and I've told him this is one of the downfalls of living with a "crafter"- to me there is no such thing as too much! 
OK I wouldn't like to end up on one of those reality TV shows where the council is sent in because you haven't thrown anything away for 20 years and can't move for old newspapers and dirty dishes with new lifeforms growing on them. 
But too much wool- not possible, overload of fabric- I don't think so, button boxes bursting at the seams- my idea of Heaven!
You just know the day you get rid of something is the day you find that's exactly what you need, that's a real frustration I do my best to avoid.

I will concede that this does make storage a bit of an issue and as such I do have a lot boxes, baskets, tins, pots, etc. 
I enjoy filling them with bits and bobs, forgetting where everything is and then rooting through them all making lots of discoveries, getting distracted and going off on a complete tangent.

I have boxes of all shapes and sizes, many of which people have kindly donated to me.
If I get a chance to decorate them before I fill them to the brim (this is rarely the case) so much the better.
My sister recently gave a box she had received as a gift from a friend at Christmas full of lovely Body Shop goodies.

It was a nice sturdy box just right for a make over, so using some gorgeously ornate, eco-friendly wrapping paper from Wild & Wolf Ltd along with some Sugru, mouldable silicone glue, I transformed it into a vintage-style suitcase.

I cut one of the edges of the lid into a flap before covering the outside with the wrapping paper. I moulded the Sugru over the corners and used it to make attachments for the handle.
Once the Sugru parts had cured I painted them with gold coloured enamel paint. I made the handle using leather (also painted gold) and I attached it with wire rectangles made from hair pins. I added some decorative trim and flat metal beads as fake closures and the job was done.

Of course, now I have to find it a permanent home without upsetting the hubby....
I'd love to know what you think of the finished case and whether you believe there is such a thing as too much crafting stuff (although I'm going to stick with no)?

Until next time craft in earnest, Craftin' Ernest x