Thursday, January 28, 2016

doo doo-doo doo doo doo-doo-doo-doo

I just heard this song on Lauren Laverne.  Can't quite believe I'd never come across it before...  Anyway, I'm off for a day's meandering round the charity shops, so I'll leave you to enjoy the music :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

revenge is...sweet?

 Last night Dulcie had a "boys' night in" with my dad, so it was date night for Graham and I.  (No, that's not us pictured!)  We went out for dinner and used the final tickets from our last-year's GFT cinecard to see The Revenant.  Oh, my, it was so good! As you've probably heard, not exactly relaxing viewing, but I would highly recommend it.

The GFT has a seat-dedication scheme as one of its fundraising methods and it's always fun to read them.  I'd never noticed before the one that the lady above was sitting in.
It gave me a good giggle.
Phwoargh :)

Friday, January 22, 2016

jellyfish makers r us

 Today I accidentally colour co-ordinated Dulcie to match our living room, so we're having to stay at home this morning.  I joke, of course - the real reason is the rain and me feeling rubbish - but the colour co-ordination is an added bonus.

Dulcie had been asking about sewing recently and I promised we would do some sewing together today.  Really, I think she just wants to get her mitts on my sewing machine again, but I decided to start her off with some hand sewing and make these jellyfish.
 Originally I made these jellyfish with a class of six-year-olds while I was doing my teacher training and the design was inspired by an original design by Jessica from Aorta.  I had a few of the tentacle inserts left over (been in my ribbon box for nearly nine years - sheesh!) so decided to use them with Dulcie.  She stitched the orange one all by herself.  Pretty impressive, no?  I did the pink one.  We'll add some googly eyes later because, when you're four, googly eyes are always a positive addition.
And here's the girl herself, too proud of her creations to sit still for a photo :)

A few top tips for sewing with little peeps...

1) Use a doubled-over length of thread, knotted at one end, so the needle can't fall off and you won't be constantly re-threading.

2) Instead of using regular pins to attach the fabric pieces, use safety pins so there are less sharp end for little fingers to be stabbed by.

3) For real beginners, you can hold the fabric for them and let them use two hands (and all their concentration) for the actual sewing.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


 I'm not best pleased with my peacock.  I could keep fiddling with it, but I don't think it would make much difference.  The plan was flawed from the outset.  What I like about peacocks is their propensity to be made into a geometric pattern.  And what is free-hand felt not?  Yes, geometric.  Also, if you felt everything so much that it becomes uniformly flat, why not just draw a two-dimensional picture with felt pens or a computer or whatever?  What is felt adding to the object other than time invested/wasted?  I tried to rectify the unfelty texture by adding wild tufts to the ends of his tail feathers...but I couldn't resist stabbing them back into some sort of order.  I'm just not a free felter.
So, what have I learned?

1.  Choose subject matter with reference and deference to the materials.
2.  Keep texture and variation in mind from the design stage.
3.  Don't think repeated stabbing will make everything better.
4. It's easier than you'd think to mix your own colours from two or more shades.
5.  I'm probably never going to be an artist.
6.  Time to move on to something three-dimensional - a cactus or two!

Now what do I do with this peacock?  I might sew some beads and sequins on and turn it into a Christmas decoration.  This will hide hours' worth of felting, but I think a peacock needs bling.  Gah, what was I thinking?!  Also, what the flip am I doing with my life?  Cock :(

EDIT: Two hours later...
He did need some sequins and beads!
Much happier with him now.  He can live on our Christmas tree next year :)

Monday, January 18, 2016

handmade gifts of xmas 2015

 I'm very late to share (some of) the gifts I made this Christmas.  I'm having major problems getting pictures off my phone and have had to email these one at a time via Whatsapp, so apologies if they're not great pictures.  And, yes, I do bore my friends frequently with my crafty progress reports!  Ha!
 My sister and I used to make peg dolls quite often, but I hadn't done it for years.  I made these for Dulcie's best friend.  Some of them I deemed not good enough to include, but then Dulcie declared them her favourites, so in they went, into this old wooden tea box I had lying around that just happened to be exactly the right size.  Every time we've met Dulcie's pal since, she's had at least one peg dolly about her person, so I think they went down well!  I'm definitely going to try to make some more peg dollies in 2016, some for Dulcie and some more special/artsy/detailed.  Hopefully etc.

I found the idea for this car roll-up on Pinterest and whipped it up for afore-mentioned friend's lovely wee brother.  I got the cars for £1 in the charity shop and used materials I already had, except for the grey for the road, which I had to buy a small piece of.  Lovely gifts on tiny budgets bring me much joy and satisfaction and not (only) because I'm a skinflint.
 It turned out super cute and I'm told the new owner loves tidying the cars away even more than playing with them.  Aw!
 Also for Dulcie's best friend, we put together a mix CD of ten of Dulcie's favourite stories and made a wee cover for it.  Dulcie helped me pick the stories out and we made a copy for her too, which is great because it means we have one CD where she doesn't keep wanting to skip tracks etc, all her favourites in one place.  It was only after making the track list that I realised how many of Dulcie's stories feature strong/clever/brave women or girls, which I was very pleased about.  Hopefully she's blanking out marriage, kissing and handsome princes riding to the rescue and focussing on sisters doing it for themselves.
 I now have so many nieces and nephews that it can be hard to make handmade gifts for all of them and it seems unfair to make for some and buy for others.  For my four elder nieces/nephew in France, I bought a few wee bits and pieces then made them each a personalised Christmas decoration with their name on it plus a tin of these Buggles, again an idea I spotted on Pinterest.  They are made from those glass pebble things with paper glued on the back and googly eyes stuck on the front.  Kind of random, but really cute and I made a wee rhyme to stick inside each tin in the hope of making them seem like a cool craze instead of a crazy auntie's random makings:

Buggle hide, Buggle seek
Every Buggle is unique
Buggle go, Buggle stop
Will you keep...or will you swap?

 I'm told they were well received by the French contingency, but the set I made for Dulcie left her distinctly underwhelmed and she pulled they eyes off within ten seconds.  Jeez!

My new nephew, Ross, is too little for Buggles and hadn't had a handmade gift when he was born in November, so I spent a bit more time on his present and crocheted this sweet soldier rattle, AGAIN via Pinterest.  It was super simple and turned out really sweet, though I wasn't too impressed with the face I stitched on.  I find it so hard to embroider over crochet.  There was much hilarity as I was making this as my Whatsapp craft updates left my friends believing I really was making a willy warmer for Graham.  I swear I thought they knew I was joking...  I didn't realise my friends held my husband in such LARGE regard.  Ha!

There were a few more handmade gifts too, but I failed to get so much as a Whatsapp snap of them - lots of decorations made from clay or melted pony beads, as well as a few of these nifty cup-and-saucer bird feeders.  God bless Pinterest and all who sail in her, that's all I can say!  I did also make some things from my own imagination, but they mostly involved gluing magnets on various objects - vintage buttons and the like - so I'm not sure how much imagination you could really say went into it...

If you want to see more of what I've been pinning (be warned, I've pinned some truly AWFUL needle felting stuff lately) you can find me here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

she really is four now

 I've got lots of significant events from 2015 that I failed to blog about and I'm aiming to rectify that soon.  Here are a few snaps from Dulcie's 4th birthday, over two months ago.  I figured I could post them today because this should have been her 4th birthday, if she hadn't arrived so early.  Most of the photos from her birthday are blurred (it's hard to photograph a just-turned-four-years-old hurricane) but I liked this one because I think Dulcie looks like a number 4 in it.  We spent most of the day at home, opening and playing with presents, but also squeezed in a wee trip to the soft-play Jungle.
 In the evening, my dad joined us for cake and we headed out for pizza and ice cream, Dulcie's favourite things.  I made this Fab lolly cake at Dulcie's request.  It was a lot easier than last year's Billy Goats Gruff cake, which she claimed she wanted again this year since she couldn't remember how it tasted...  I stood firm in my refusal and I think the Fab turned out pretty well.  Dulcie didn't mind that I'd accidentally welded it to the cooling rack with chocolate icing, or that I served it from the living room floor.  Ha!

Monday, January 11, 2016

work in progress

Not LOVING this guy yet, but I think I know what I need to do to make me love him.  Unfortunately it involves a colour of wool I don't have, but I was going to have to break my no-buying vow to make my cactus anyway.

In other news...

Boo hiss :(

Sunday, January 10, 2016

plans are afoot!

Hot off the press, I just sketched up my next needle felting project.  Peacock!  Having been stuck in the office all weekend (subtitling mainly wrestling and old football matches - urgh!) I can hardly wait to get jabbing with this tomorrow.  After this, I'm going to attempt something three-dimensional and make myself a couple of felted cacti to go in a pair of lovely old egg cups I have.  I even splashed out on a couple of plant flair speech bubbles for them from my colleague, Claire of The Bellwether.  One cactus is going to say, "Hiya," and the other will reply, "Bonjour!"  I haven't yet decided whether to make them look like real cacti or whether to give Hiya a tartan tammy/googly eyes, and  Bonjour a moustache/beret.  Nothing like racial stereotypes to brighten up your pretend succulents, you know.

Needle felting is really getting my creative juices flowing!  Could you tell?!  Just a shame it's not helping me be tidy or useful in any other way...  Well, Dulcie is four now, I'm sure she can practically fend for herself.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

I am needle felter, hear me roar!

Immediately after writing my uninspired-by-new-year post yesterday, I only went and made my first attempt at needle felting, something that has been on my resolutional to-do list ever since Craftathon 2011.  (See also the damp squib that was Craftathon 2015.) I think this was the first year since 2011 that I didn't claim I was going to try new crafts and...boom!  Maybe the trick is less promising, more doing.

Now, let me tell you, I am already hooked (barbed?!) on needle felting - so satisfying and so much fun!  I'm very pleasantly surprised by the results too.  This lion badge is super cute, I think.  I'm going to give him to Dulcie.  She probably won't appreciate it.  

[Last night I told Dulcie I was just going to make her a CD quickly before we played My Little Pony meets Frozen and Dracula and she said, "All right, as long as you're not making it from wool.  Every time you make something from wool it takes a-a-a-a-a-ages!"  Ha!  Well, it did take me two years to crochet her stripey dress and her Christmas mermaid blanket is currently more of a navel warmer, so she may have a point.]
 I think needle felting holds many possibilities for me, I'm just not quite sure what they are yet.  My finances are in no state to be buying craft materials at the moment, so I'm having to work with the wool I already have, which is a BRIGHT mixture.  Still, limits can be good, I think.  I took the use-what-you-have approach for the majority of the handmade gifts I gave this Christmas and they all worked out pretty well.  I'm hoping to share some photos of them soon, but apparently every photo I took on my phone is incompatible with everything but my phone.  Fingers crossed I can sort that out in the not-too-distant future...

So, yes, I sense a new crafty obsession (or interest, at least) in needle felting, evidenced by my not being able to sleep for thinking about it last night.  Watch this space!  Oh, what a good crafty start to the year :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy new year!  All in all, I'm feeling very positive about 2015 (best year of my life so far?) and mildly... ambivalent about the prospect of 2016.  That's a better stance than my usual doom-and-gloom outlook of recent years.   I'm prepared to admit 2016 could go either way, but I can't shake off that early-January fugginess and discontent.  I'm not even feeling the vibe of everybody's positive changes (or intentions) like I usually do, something that always spurs me on.  I went low-key with my own resolutions this year (1 - set the table properly for dinner each night, 2 - really try to start eating fish) and am failing in both so far.  Well, I did MAKE healthy salmon burgers last night, I just couldn't bring myself to eat them, or to eat anything else once my nostrils and mind were filled with fishiness.  (I'm assured by the fish-eaters in my household that they were nice, so here's the recipe, should you want to try them.  They were very easy to make.)  Maybe I should have set my goals for the year a little higher so that a partial failure would be closer to a partial success, if you see what I mean.  Failing at such half-hearted resolutions really amounts to nothing.  Well, I guess it's never too late to set new goals for yourself and I do have all the usual ones in mind - eat well, be active, create, sort out my house...  But mojo?  I have none.  I'm sure it will start to return as I wean myself off the booze and crisps that have been my diet for the last month.  I think a lot of my demotivated state of mind is to do with the fact I spent 11 months of last year losing weight (with considerable difficulty) and just 1 month putting nearly all of it back on (with incredible ease).  Meh!  Meh, I say!  (Only because the words "bah" and "humbug" are no longer seasonally appropriate.)

If you're reading this and have set yourself some challenges for the year ahead, do let me know.  I need someone to inspire me to make more of an effort.  Motivate me, people!