Recent Crafts.

I thought I had more crafty things to blog about but when I checked back through my photos there weren’t quite as many as I’d thought. This will be a fairly quick round up, though there’ll be a couple of posts in the next couple of weeks – I’ve recently completely a big knitting project that deserves its own post and I’ve got a set of cross stitches that are waiting to be mounted before I can blog about them.

Starting with cross stitch I have a pair of projects to share. This card:

I made this as a thank you for Sarah, the lovely librarian who agreed to let me interview her for my dissertation. She has a pet budgie so I thought she would like this design. I particularly loved sewing the cage – I really need to do a blackwork style project sooner rather than later.

The second cross stitch project I recently completed was this little hanging:

I spotted this on a cross stitch tumblr I follow, emailed the link to Liz because I knew she’d appreciate it to – her response was a request for her own version! I made a slight alteration to a couple of the colours used but other than that the design is as the original. Once I’d finished it I took a while to decide how to present it best – I’m really happy with how the little felt frame turned out though cutting it reminded me how much work I still need to do on my straight line cutting.

Felt is very much the thing for the rest of this post. First up is this little owl:

I made this for my sister-in-law Keeley after she spotted it on my Pinterest board and commented on how cute it was. The design is by the very brilliant Lupin and it made for a very enjoyable afternoon’s sewing. I didn’t have a suitable colour ribbon for the hanging loop so I choose a trio of suitable embroidery silks and used my best friendship bracelet knotting skills instead.

Finally is Totoro:

This was made for my friend Al’s birthday – he’s a big Studio Ghibli fan. I found a few patterns but none of them were quite what I wanted so I took inspiration from the lot and ended up with this. My pattern drawing skills are still very basic so I was really pleased with how it ended up and the recipient seemed to like it too.


Completed Cross Stitches.

I’m really behind on blogging about the crafty things I’ve finished. Rather than doing one massive post I’m going to split it into a few and spread them out over the next few weeks. Today I thought I’d blog about a few presents that I’ve made over the last few months. (Apologies in advance for the less than perfect photos, I really need to start taking better pictures of my crafts.)

First up was this sampler, made for Gemma’s birthday.
Gemma is my oldest friend, I think we’ve both reached the stage where we don’t think about just how many years we’ve known each other. I wanted to make her something that reflected some of the things she loved, and wanted to find a balance between something traditional and more modern.

Next up was this Edwardian Lady, sewn for my Granny’s birthday.
I had seen that World of Cross Stitching magazine had a Gorjuss pattern in their new issue, I’ve been working on a Gorjuss piece for myself on and off for a couple of years (I only pick it up when I haven’t got something else on the go) and thought I’d buy the magazine so I had a new design. One of the free gifts was the chart for this and as soon as I saw it I knew it would make a perfect present.

Most recently, I tried something new and designed a piece specifically to be mounted in a hoop.
I knew I wanted to mark the publication of Liz de Jager’s book Banished. I decided to choose a quote to stitch, I drew up a shortlist of five or six and in the end chose this one. It was great fun to stitch, and now I’ve learnt this mounting technique I’ll be using it many more times.


Christmas craft.

One of the things I love about the build up to Christmas is spending time making cards for friends and family. I’ve cross stitched cards for a varying number of people for about 12 years now (it tends to depend on how organised I am and how busy I am). Previously I’ve always bought kits but in September I started buying a cross stitch magazine and so for many of the cards this year I used designs from one of their libraries. I’m not very good at remembering to photograph cards before I seal them in their envelopes, but these are the ones I did remember to capture (Christmas 2014 will see me both photographing all of the cards before I can’t get them back, and making sure the photos are all totally sharp):

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This last Christmas was made all the better by spending a few weeks making a Santa sack for my friends’ lovely baby Charlie. Charlie’s mum Sarah’s family all have present sacks and she wanted to carry on the tradition so I gladly volunteered to make it. She gave me a few general ideas but then pretty much free reign over the finished design. It was a thoroughly enjoyable project to undertake, it really helped me to get into the festive mood. My favourite part to make was the tree, I had so much fun doing all the hand sewing and embellishing.


It was well received by its recipients and that’s the best part of crafting for others. And again my photography of my finished work is far from up to scratch, the colours in this are particularly poor – definitely something to improve over 2014!


More Finished Objects.

I have a couple more finished cross stitch projects to blog about.

The first project was a pair of coasters, made for my lovely friends Liz and Mark. I’m a big fan of working with plastic canvas and love designing coasters for my fellow caffeine fans. After a discussion about the Black Library I was having a look at the website and was struck by the basic similarities between its logo and the anti-possession tattoo used by the hunters in Supernatural. This was enough for my brain to kick into gear, and so I designed and stitched a Black Library themed coaster for Mark and a Supernatural themed coaster for Liz.


I enjoy all the projects I sew, but the geeky nature of these made them a particular pleasure to work on.

Soon after finishing them I made a card for my cousin’s wedding. I knew their colour scheme involved teal and so worked out a simple design.


Whilst I had made many cards before I’d always used window aperture cards to present my sewing, but decided this time to use a single fold card and mount the sewing with a frayed edge. I’d seen this done by other stitchers and having liked the finished look thought I’d give it a go, I was very pleased with how it turned out.


Finished Objects.

I’m close to finishing a pair of cross stitch projects, and I realised I still haven’t blogged about the last two I finished.

First up was a birthday present for my friend Emma. We’re both huge geeks so I wanted to make her something properly geeky. After much thinking I went with this:


The characters round the outside represent eight different fandoms (Nolan’s Batman, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, The Avengers, Doctor Who, X-Men, Sherlock, and Merlin) and the quote in the middle is from Leverage. I used a pattern from XStitchMyHeart as the basis for the characters, and drafted the overall pattern myself. It was so much fun seeing the characters take shape, a truly enjoyable project.

Second was a birthday present for Edwina, Emma’s mum. I wanted to make her something lovely, but something with a purpose too so I decided to make a pin cushion (she’s a very skilled seamstress). I hunted around for a pattern and this was the end result:


The pattern is a free Coats pattern, I used slightly different colours to their suggested ones, but kept the overall idea. I used felt as the backing, securing it with blanket stitch. I enjoyed making this lots, I think I will be making more pin cushions in the future – I need one myself, and I can think of a couple of other people who’d probably like one.

Craft · Days Out

Three craft shows and a cheese stall.

Today I visited The NEC, Birmingham to attend the Hobbycrafts, Sewing for Pleasure and Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch shows. The three exhibitions were hosted by the Internation Craft + Hobby Fair, one ticket (£8.50 in advance, £10 on the door) gave us admission to all three. As a crafter I lean towards fibre based crafts, primarily knitting and cross stitch with developing interests in embroidery and stuffed toy making. The exhibitions were going to cover a broad spectrum of crafts so I was looking forward to seeing some new ideas for the crafts I already do and possibly getting persuaded to try something completely new. Oh how disappointed I was!

The shows were laid out across two adjoining halls that formed a large L shape. One hall contained the Hobbycrafts exhibition which covered card making, jewellery making, woodwork, scrapbooking and gardening. The other hall contained both Sewing for Pleasure which covered cross stitching, embroidery, knitting, and dressmaking, and Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch which consisted of exhibitions of textile arts. We spent the morning browsing Hobbycrafts and the afternoon with all of the fibre based stands.

The overall layout and organisation of the three shows could have been better. From what we saw around 20% of the attendees today had a disability that affected their mobility – there were lots of people using wheelchairs, mobility scooters, walking sticks or crutches. The rows of stands were spaced around 10 feet apart, if the next hall along which stood empty had been used to spread the shows out it would have been far easier for everyone to get to see what they wanted. I also felt sorry for some of the less popular crafts such as woodworking and gardening, they were stuck in a back corner and I’m sure lots of people would have missed seeing them which was a shame as some of the work on display was brilliant.

I felt, walking around, that everything on sale was very familiar, and rather boring. There was very little that I hadn’t seen before and there were no innovative or new takes on any of the crafts represented. I came away with no new ideas and a general feeling of frustration. On a daily basis I am inspired by brilliant finished objects being posted on blogs and forums and marvel at the skill and imagination that is being used to make them. The Tumblr account I use to capture crafty things that I have loved contains ideas aplenty, so I feel really let down that a day spent walking around three craft shows left me entirely uninspired. Even the displays of work by current textile students failed to spark any ideas for things I could try myself.

My favourite part of the day was stumbling across a random cheese stall. Bexton Cheese produce ‘speciality cheese’ with added ingredients, we sampled all seven that they had on offer and ended up buying the cranberry, garlic & parsley, and sundried tomato varieties. I’m not entirely sure where they fitted into the Hobbycrafts set up, but they were a very welcome find!