Sunday, 16 November 2014

The good, the bad and the homebrewed

There's been success and failure in making things today.  Here's the summary:

1)  Quilted table mats: Bad.  Measuring and cutting took me ages and in the end I got it wrong anyway.  Then I sewed seams of varying widths, bunched up my fabric and generally made a dog's dinner of it.  I ended up snatching some usefulness from the jaws of defeat by using them to practice quilting on.  No pics as they're just too awful!

2)  Gluten free Christmas cake:  Good.  I used a free Dove's Farm recipe from Holland and Baratt.  There was a slight hiccup when I got asked for ID when trying to buy the brandy; Mr CB had to go back in and buy it for me *blush*.  It's looking good, a little flatter than a cake made with wheat flour but that's not unusual. Once it's cool I'll wrap it up and 'feed' it with brandy once a week until Christmas.


3) Covered diary:  Bad...so very bad.  I followed these instructions and made sure I got a spray glue that could be used on fabric but it soaked through the cotton and is a right mess.  Needless to say I won't be giving this as a gift after all and will just use it myself.  I might try making a sewn cover next weekend instead (once my confidence has recovered after this week's sewing fail).


4)  Homebrew:  I started a demi john of rose wine off and it all went smoothly but with homebrew only time will tell.  It came from a kit though and they're usually reliable.  It's sitting by the radiator next to the cat begs, looking like a new pet.

5)  Socks:  Good; socks are always good.  I've cast on a new pair which I'm making out of left over odds and ends from my sock yarn stash.  I've knit socks in this way before and they're fun to make because I never know what the finished socks will look like.

6)  Fish curry:  Good.  Not made by me, this was Mr CB's idea when he spotted some cheap cod in a supermarket bargain bin yesterday.  He cooked it in curry paste and yoghurt and mixed in lots of vegetables so we've got enough for lunch tomorrow.  Just as well as it was delicious.

On top of that lot me and Mr CB finally cleaned the yard up.  It's the first chance we've had to get out and clear away the old plants, sweep up the leaves and cover the bench.  I can't put too much garden waste in the bin otherwise the bin men kick off, so I'll have to wait until next week to throw away the rest of the plants and pull up the weeds.  Still, it's a vast improvement.  

All in all a busy Sunday.  Fun though, because I love to be making things and trying things out and if something goes badly all I've ever lost is time and some cheap materials.  Worth it for when things do go right and more fun than sitting around watching TV and doing some thumb twiddling.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Upcycled Patchwork: Progress

Last Winter I decided to have a go at patchwork, something I'd wanted to do for ages.  I decided to stick with the best of the tradition and only use upcycled fabric.  By December I'd made loads of hexagons and was joining them together (here) then calamity struck and my hand got too painful to do anything much so the whole project went on hold, bundled into shoe boxes under the bed.

This brings me to last weekend when I did some machine sewing and got bit by the sewing bug all over again.  I've been doing more Reiki day to day recently and also learning about crystal healing so I put it to the test by doing Reiki on my injured hand every morning and evening and using a magnesite crystal on my hand every night too.  I've been blown over by the result; my hand's gone from stiff and painful to nearly back to how it used to be, just a little soreness if I do a whole evening of hand sewing.  I'm delighted and my patchwork is back on track.  Here's how it's looking at the moment (but less blurred in real life):



I've used a sleeve from ten different second hand men's shirts so far and have three more to chop up.  There's so much fabric in a men's shirt!  As you can see I've got loads of each fabric left for future projects.  The hexagons between the 'flowers' are made of two old sheets which cost £3 altogether and I havn't spent more than £1.50 each on the shirts.  Several of then came from Mr Crafty Blueberry's side of the wardrobe when he lost a few stone and happily gave them to me to chop up.


It's good to be stitching again!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Quilted Coasters: First Attempt

If there was ever a day for a rainy day project it was yesterday:  heavy rain all day, cold and unappealing, no reason to leave the house.  I've been wanting to have a go at quilting for ages so, using this pattern as a guide, I made a set of 3 quilted coasters.

I cut out 3 5 ince x 5 inch squares of leftover Christmasy fabric, 3 of plain red and 3 of batting.



For each coaster I laid the fabric pieces with right sides together, laid them on top of the batting and sewed the sandwich together,


I then turned it right side out, sewed the open edge together and sewed all around the edge.



Then it was time for the fun bit:  Quilting!  I freehand quilted wavey lines back and forth, which gave a finished effect that looked more complex than it was (bonus!).


After securing the loose threads I had three wonky but festive coasters.  



They're all different slightly different sizes and are a definition of the word 'bodged' but I'm happy with them.  I enjoyed having a go at quilting and want to make a set as a gift next.  I'll be more careful with cutting the fabric and should be able to make them neater next time.  I'd rather have a go and make a mess than never try something new though.  It's important to put our inner critic aside and have a go, regardless of how imperfect the results may be.  There are so many people who won't try anything new, however small, because they're scared they won't get it perfect.  Worse, there are plenty of critics who are happy to mock people for making something bodged and wonky who won't have a go themselves!  Lets show them; go make something, bodge it if you have to and have a great time in the process.


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Homemade Christmas Gifts

I've been trying to come up with some creative gifts this year and here are the first two of my home made gifts for Christmas 2014.

The stocking is the first of three I'm working on for the little people in my life.  Knitting a big Christmas stocking rather than the usual humans sized ones made me feel like I'd shrunk.  It was fun to make, a good project for on the move and I enjoyed adding the pompoms.  I've just bought a set of pom pom makers (a copy of the Clover ones) and I can see myself adding pom poms to everything in sight.  Poor Mr Crafty Blueberry, he may be living in Pom Pom Hell within weeks.  Anyway, the stocking was dead straightforward:  I cast on 76 stitchess with double knitting yarn on 4mm needles, knit until the leg was long enough, turned the heel as usual then knit the foot until it was in proportion to the leg.


The next gift is a sweet hamper.  I liked the look of the retro sweetie hampers around the internet so decided to make one of my own.  I bought the sweets from Aldi, who do great versions of all the branded sweets which are at least as good as, if not better than the real thing.  I transferred the sweets into little cellophane bags I had from last Christmas and tied them with ribbon.  For the box I saved and washed one of the plastic tubs that mushrooms are sold in and wrapped it in paper.  I topped it off with some lolly pops.


I'm working on two more Christmas stockings at the moment and there are some other things I want to try making over the next couple of weeks, so I'll be posting my progress here.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Leeds Dock

Today me, Mr Crafty Blueberry and a fine fellow of a friend from the olden days in Stoke had a tourist day in Leeds.

We took a free water taxi...


...to a food and craft market in the newly re-branded Leeds Dock...


...where the chaps played with some sculpture...




...and we had a good look around the riverside.


The water taxi was fun, especially as we just found out about it as we wandered past the stop on our way to town.  The food market wasn't really my think - lots of expensive street food really - but it was good to see so many people at the former Clarence Dock; hopefully it's getting anew lease of life.  I can see it being a great place to be in Summer so I'll definitely go back.

After Leeds Dock we walked into town, had a drink in the comfortable Palace pub then had chips and a good look around Kirkgate Market.  We had a wander around town and visited favourites like Global Tribe Crystals, a friendly, welcoming shop in the centre of town that sells crystals, oracle cards, jewellery, candles and lots of other nice things (I work around the corner and have occassionally popped in on particulary bad days just because it has such a wonderful atmosphere - I actually come out feeling refreshed).  It was good being a tourist in my own time and I think it's a great thing to do from time to time, I find I discover something new every time by exploring with a an open mind.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Eating All The Things Part 2

We're now three weeks in to eating our way through our stockpiled and forgotten groceries.  We have done some shopping but it's been for essential fresh food, mainly vegetables, milk and eggs.  Have there been failures?  Oh yes:  going out to work, forgetting to turn the slowcooker on and coming home to an uncooked chicken casserole that had been sitting out all day and had to be disposed of was one such failure.  Rice pudding made with coconut milk and chopped apple was another.  We've also thrown out some things that were hanging round in the freezer for too long to be sure about and that we didn't want to take risks with.

A big victory has been saving money on work lunches.  Neither me nor Mr CB buy many work lunches but lunches made at home can get boring (soup, AGAIN) or expensive when we try to jazz them up with something different.  Cue leftovers:  I've been cooking a little bit extra of things like rice and pasta dishes and we've had the extra next day for lunch, which costs next to nothing.  I know, I know, leftovers for lunch aren't exactly revolutionary, but it's got me into good habits and made lunches more varied.  

At this point we're running out of meal ideas, although I've found two bags of Quorn pieces in the freezer and a packet of fajita chicken mix in the cupboard, so they'll be making each other's acquaintance.  Mr Crafty Blueberry will be making cottage pie some time this week and we'll be marinating some chicken legs from the freezer in curry paste and roasting them at the weekend.  Tomorrow's a cheat day though as Mr CB found 20p stir fry veg in a reduced bin so we'll be buying some spicy tofu to fry it with.  Got to have Tofu Thursday, it's one of this household's finest traditions!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Autumn

Every year I forget how beautiful Autumn is.  I get distracted by the relief of Spring bursting out green after the grey months, Summer piling on the golden beauty and by worrying about Winter.  Here's a reminder for me, just some photos of my local park wearing it's stunning Autumn outfit.