Saturday, 31 January 2015

Inspire Your Heart With Art

Hello everyone, how are you today?

Today is 'Inspire your heart with art' day and I have been contacted by Marietta Gregg to write a blog post about how I am inspired by art and how I celebrate creativity.

Marietta's Mother is artist Patience Brewster who makes some very beautiful Christmas ornaments and stunning works of art. She is on a personal mission to inspire others with her art and explore ways art has a positive effect on peoples lives.

This is subject close to my heart, so I would like to share with you how I feel my heart is inspired!

When I think of the word 'Art' I tend to conjure up memories of going to art galleries as a teenager. Although I always appreciated the technical talent that went into painting the pieces, I would often find it hard to feel connected to the image, they just didn't touch my heart!

The art that does inspire me is (obviously) more on a crafty level, and I prefer the word 'creativity' to describe that part of my life. We are all quite creative in my family. My husband is a singer / songwriter so his creative time is spent in his studio making up melodies and lyrics, and I often get a song written for me for my birthday or wedding anniversary. I love music in general, we sing a lot here at home (good job you can't hear me singing Disney songs - I don't share my husbands singing talent at all!) and I like to listen to music when I'm home alone. My absolute favourite music dude (apart from my hubby of course) is Justin Currie. I have mentioned him from time to time here on my blog and we do go to his gigs when we can. He is front man of Del Amitri, who were big in the 90's and he also does solo gigs, both here in the UK and over in the US. His lyric writing, in my opinion, is genius as he has a knack of saying things in his songs that resonate with pretty much every emotion I feel! Whatever I'm feeling, Justin puts it in words within his songs with art and finesse - he also has a very sexy singing voice, :o)

My eldest daughter is very artistic too, and enjoys painting. For her last birthday I got her lots of art supplies including an easel, this is her work she did for her GCSE, inspired by Elisabeth Vania

I always love seeing beautiful images on blogs and I try to take pretty images to have here in my own space. Photography is another way for me to be creative and I'm planning on taking a photography course this year to help my understanding of the process.

I love to take close up pictures of things around my home, as well as all the things I love to make. From my creative supplies, my stash, flowers to brighten my world and anything colourful that catches my eye, I enjoy focussing in to capture the sight that fills my heart with joy!

All this sort of stuff is my art I suppose. Days without any creative moments are dull and uninspiring.  My soul is fed by my crafty endeavours and I certainly would not be the person I am without it.

Having recognised this within myself I am now more ready to explore artwork of others, from the comfort of my own home I love to search Etsy as a place artist can sell their work, from greeting cards to jewellery and handmade goods. And I've just made a spontaneous resolution to visit a few art galleries this year, and maybe I can find the connection with the art that I would like.

How is your heart inspired by art?

'till next time...

Thursday, 29 January 2015

The #crochet jungle project

courtesy of Toft Alpaca

The #crochetjungle is an exciting collaborative textile installation being created to inspire imaginations, teach adults and children how to crochet and to raise money and awareness for both Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity and Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice. The #crochetjungle will be on display at The Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at the beginning of March before going on tour later in the year.
Everyone is invited to take part in Kerry Lord’s fundraising project, by helping to build the #crochetjungle at the TOFT Alpaca Studio prior to the show on Sundays throughout February. Sessions are FREE of charge  and all materials and basic tuition is provided for the whole family. Throughout The Knitting and Stitching Show we’ll keep building the #crochetjungle and encourage you all to take part.
Kerry Lord is the designer and author of the Edward's Menagerie crochet series. Founder of the TOFT knitwear brand, she was inspired to learn to crochet during her first pregnancy. Her #crochetjungle project intends to ignite the imagination of all who experience it and encourage all the children who have picked up their grandma’s hooks to ‘loom band’ to take their hobby further.
For more information please contact:
Caroline Corner at TOFT
01788 810626 @ToftAlpacaShop 

 courtesy of Toft Alpaca

I was contacted by Caroline asking if I could pass on information about Kerry's project, which I am more than happy to do so!

Rugby is a bit far for me but if you are in the area and fancy getting involved, Caroline's contact details are listed above.

It's all for a good cause and I wish the project all the best!!

'till next time...

Saturday, 24 January 2015

A Snow Dipped Giveaway!!!

Hello there my lovely friends. I'm giddy with excitement to show you my Snow Dipped scarf and mitts set.

The reason I've held off for a bit is that I had submitted the patterns in PDF format to so it's available through their site, and now it's been published I thought I would share with you here!

This started life as an idea in my head early one morning that I couldn't stop thinking about, I just had to pop to my local yarn store to get some yarn to fit in with the image in my mind. However, the designing process grows and changes as I bought the cream and the grey yarn, a lovely extra fine merino dk by Patons (shades 190 and 102) and then added the gold from my stash at home, and this is  King Cole merino blend dk in shade 855.

How I loved to make this, really I did. The yarn is so lovely to work with and I had so much fun making up the patterns and seeing my idea come into reality. Adding the pom-poms was a cute finishing touch :o)

I just cannot get a decent selfie! My son kindly stepped in to help!

I wear this set all the time, it goes really well with my coat and is lovely and soft, a real favourite I have to admit!

So, because I wanted to send the patterns in to loveknitting I decided to make up another set to test my pattern, take photos along the way and see how it worked in Stylecraft yarn. The silver, gold and cream colours in this yarn are a brilliant cheaper alternative, I'm struggling to tell the different yarn in my photos!

While I was working on these I decided that there had to be a hat to match, so I set about making one!

I don't think hats suit me too well, so I enrolled my eldest daughter to model for me

Believe it or not, she's just had her hair cut! And she is naturally blond!
I know I'm biased but it's definitely a bonus having beautiful daughters to model my designs!

So, if you are interested you can buy the scarf pattern here, the mitts here, and the hat here.

And just to say I made the whole set out of 3 x100g balls of the silver, 2 x 100g balls of cream and 1 x100g ball gold in the Stylecraft special dk yarn. And as this yarn retails at less than 2 quid for 100g you can make the whole set for less than £12!
Loveknitting do sell this yarn as well, find it here.

But finally, I did promise you a giveaway so if you would like to win the Snowdipped scarf, hat and mitts set made in Stylecraft special dk that I used to work on during pattern writing please leave a comment below on this post saying whether you like snow or not, and why.

I'm looking forward to all your comments, but just one each please! and my favourite comment will win the set in the above photo, I will announce the winner on Sunday 1st February.

Have a great weekend my friends!

'till next time...

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Little Snowflake Throw

My daughter says I'm a few weeks late with my snowflake throw, and to be fair it is rather Christmassy, but I think I can get away with it as we are still in Winter and lots of the UK is covered in snow. Not here though. We had a small flurry of big soft flakes at about half 2 today, but blink and you missed it. However you may be reading this surrounded by the white stuff and then this little blanket would be completely appropriate.

It was when I was over at Pammy Sue's just after Christmas admiring her poncho that I spied this snowflake motif on her side bar, and clicked on to find the pattern. Thanks Pammy Sue for sharing!

Such a fun motif, really easy and very effective - I love it!!

The yarn is Stylecraft special dk in Lipstick and the snowflakes are made with Aldi craft glitter dk in white. This yarn has sparkles in it which are just perfect, I've tried very hard to get a photo showing the sparkling!

Aldi only have this yarn in from time to time so I had to work with what I had, which was about 2 and half 50g balls. It took 2 and a half 100g balls for the red. I managed to make 20 squares so this is only a small little thing but perfect for putting on the back of the sofa for a festive touch.

I'm quite pleased with how the border worked out. I had just enough of the white yarn to go around once in trebles and then I made a red frill to finish it off. Not very taxing (which is just as well as I was finishing it when I was still a bit poorly), very pretty though :o)

Let me show you how I did it:

So once I had made all 20 motifs I joined them together with a crochet slip stitch, holding the squares wrong side together and working out of the back loops only. I then, in the red yarn, went around the entire edge of the blanket with 1dc in each stitch. (that's 1sc for you US peeps). I made 3 stitches in each corner. Changing to the white I made 1tr, 1ch skip a stitch (1dc, 1ch, skip stitch - US) and worked 1tr, 1ch, 1tr in the corner dc. (So 1dc, 1ch, 1dc in the corner sc). See photo above.

Then changing back to red I work the same stitch pattern as the white, and used the skipped stitches to work out of. I folded the white stitches back and out of the way whilst I worked the red row.

Then I went round again with 1dc (1sc) in-between each of the trebles (dc's) so not working out of the stitches on this round, actually in-between and round both the red and white tops of the stitches. I made 2 stitches either side of the red corner treble as you can see above.

And then the frill is simply 3tr (3dc) in each and every stitch, working in the back loop. Takes a while but very worth it.

So very happy with this little thing, I loved working on it, my favourite part was doing the first round of red on each motif and seeing it turn from a flower sort of shape into a snowflake and then into a square!

Guys, just to say thanks for all your kind get well wishes on my last post, you really made me feel loads better and I really appreciate your kind words. Shame on me for not responding to you sooner, very rude of me and I hope you will forgive my dreadful manners!

I think I will keep my little snowflake throw on the back of the sofa for a day or two and then put it away in the Christmas cupboard until it's time to put the decorations up next December. I will have forgotten about it by then so it will be a lovely surprise when I find it again :o)

'till next time...

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

General ups and downs of the everyday

My Hyacinth is looking a bit leggy so I moved her to window for better light, guessing that was what was needed but what do I know? I liken the way her stems have grown out in all directions to the thoughts in my head and have to laugh at myself because I suppose I will always be scatty and there's no changing now!

I've not been well these past couple of days, and I'm still feeling a bit weak as the sickness bug has made me loose my appetite. I just hope it means I have lost a bit of weight. I'm grateful that my husband has taken our little one out, she is a lovely little poppet but the natural demands of a 2 year old are beyond me just now. I guess the fact that he's around to take over childcare is the payoff for when he's working at weekends and bank holidays when it always seems to me that the rest of the world are with their families. Including Christmas day. Sore point, let's not speak of again.

Anyway, I'm not really here to moan so I apologise for the above paragraph, instead I want to show you the cute bunny pincushion I couldn't resist buying from Etsy. The shop is called ByreandCeller, which I thought was quite clever actually and the item was listed as Vintage Ardalt Lenwile Verithin porcelain rabbit pincushion - means nothing to me - just fell in love with him! He has already made a deer little friend on my shelves and seems happy to be here :o)

I hope you all are healthy and happy, should be back on my feet in a day or two...

'till next time...

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Poncho Love

Hi guys! I'm back today to show you my second poncho made from the Japanese 'Poncho and Cape' book (from this Etsy seller). It's the same pattern I used for my Rustic Poncho, and the one that ByHaafner made so beautifully and posted about here, that I was so very inspired by.

I used a double knit yarn (Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino, in colour 340066) this time and so I kept to the 12 pattern repeats as the pattern states. Last time, as the yarn used was thicker I reduced to 10 repeats.

This poncho started off life as my photo tutorial so I could show you how to make the rib neck (see here). The yarn had been stashed for quite some time and I was glad to find the perfect project to use it for, although I was a bit dubious that I would have enough yardage to complete the whole thing.

I was surprised and pleased at just how far I got with the amount I had (5 balls) and rather than buy more from a different dyelot and risk a shade variation, I decided to use a contrast colour for the edging and am really please with the look, I love it! 
Sorry, no yarn details for the burgundy colour. I know it's wool, and I know it's not cashmerino, but can't remember the brand I'm afraid!

and just to celebrate the contrast edging, I added an extra round with picots as a feature, I think it looks so cute :o)

I always think this poncho looks really small on the hanger, but it does fit lovely and is really warm and easy to wear, short enough not to keep getting in the way. It's fits snuggly around my shoulders, giving me a feeling of having a crochet hug, like it loves me just as much as I love it! When I take it off I honestly feel a slight chill, hence why it's like having a hug whilst wearing it :o)

On the subject of crochet love, I just want to share with you the wonderful gifts I received from my friend Sandra at Cherry Heart. Amongst the other things she sent me there were some gorgeous wrist-warmers made in some to die-for yarn, with a cute matching mug-warmer.

Thank you Sandra for the sweet gifts! And welcome to all my new followers who have come over here from Sandra's link!!

My new wrist-warmers actually go really well with my poncho too, an added bonus!

And this is the little hexie-tub I made as her present, and filled with crafty bits. 

Thanks Sandra for all your help and advice, and all the inspiration!!

'till next time...