Saturday, May 7, 2016
As everyone does each January, I made New Year's Resolutions. Not too many, but one of them was to improve my crochet skills.
I have dabbled in crochet a little over the past few years but never really felt fully committed. Stitching and knitting have always taken up my precious spare time - both of which I feel pretty confident about. I have mentioned before that I was taught to knit and sew by the women in my family when I was a child but crochet lessons have come in the form of a book and I can safely say that I am self taught.
A few weeks ago I became frustrated with a knitting pattern for a lacy scarf which I just couldn't seem to get right so I decided to swap my knitting needles for a crochet hook for a while and I thought I'd share the results so far.
To me it seems that the secret to crochet success can be found by holding the yarn in a way that is most comfortable for you and also getting the tension right - the two seem to be linked. In order to get these things right I began my new crochet adventures with a simple project - A Colourful Cafetiere Cosy....
The cosy was made using a simple double crochet stitch and scraps of wool. I love the bright colours mixed in with the neutral cream and this project also provided a great way to get back in to the swing of crochet.
Setting my sights a little higher I embarked on a crocheted cushion. This project is made using half treble stitches and again is a great practice project. I made this one up as I went along and the colours were chosen because they happened to be in my knitting box next to my arm chair. I hadn't intended to use these colours but they were close to hand and the cushion has turned out to be in a funky retro style which I love.
I even managed to crochet some button holes so that I could use these gorgeous, bright orange buttons on the back.
The front of the cushion is finished off with three cute flowers - these were from a lovely Nicky Trench pattern that I found online and they took just minutes to make - another great beginners project.
I am delighted with the results and the cushion brings a lovely splash of summer sunshine to my workroom.
I'll be sharing how to make this simple but effective project in my next blog post. In the meantime I'll be starting a Granny Square Blanket - this crochet business is addictive!
Sunday, April 24, 2016
My plan had been to write this blog post yesterday to tie in with St George's Day (dragons and all that), but the day was taken over by Birthday celebrations for my youngest son Theo. However, it still seems appropriate to share one of my latest designs the day after St George's Day as it's one of our school sewing projects projects for next half term - a cute little dragon.
I have always been fond of dragons ever since I read a wonderful book called Green Smoke by Rosemary Manning when I was about 7. It's the story of a girl called Susan who meets a friendly dragon that lives in a cave in Cornwall. He tells her wonderful stories of King Arthur and takes her on fantastic adventures. Cornwall is one of my favourite places in the world and I've visited many times but never been lucky enough to find a friendly dragon.
Dragons have also formed part of my children's childhood. The "How to Train Your Dragon" series of books have been firm favourites in our home and I've had lots of fun reading them with the boys over the past few years.
I am always fascinated by the fact that so many different cultures around the world feature dragons in their folklore - I wonder why that is....?
Anyway, this little dragon that I've designed as part of our "Make It Magical" theme for next half term is pretty much how I imagine the dragon from "Green Smoke" would look. As always, the design is kept simple enough for beginners to find it easy to make but I am looking forward to seeing how some of our more experienced stitchers personalise and embellish him to add their own unique touches. Looking forward to sharing the results with you at the end of the school year.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
In my previous post I featured bunting that I had made and now I am happy to share the truly brilliant results from some of sewing club members this half term. I hope they are all hanging in pride of place and everyone who came to our clubs should be very proud of their amazing work - Well done everyone and Happy Easter!
St Jude's Junior School
Bunting has been a theme here at Hope & Gloria HQ over the past few weeks. Easter Bunting to be precise.
I am a big fan of bunting - it's a very simple form of decoration but just seems to shout out celebration. We've not had a bunting project in our sewing clubs for a couple of years now but Easter seemed like the perfect timing to design a range of motifs that could be used on felt bunting and I had tonnes of fun playing around with the designs - here are just a few....
Designing the bunting for the children in our clubs gave me the perfect opportunity for two of my favourite things - applique and embroidery. The embroidery bug took hold yet again and I have made some Easter themed embroidery to decorate our home this Easter.
What else do you need to sum up Easter other than bunnies, hens and eggs? These are the main designs that feature in my bunting.
When embroidering I love to use air soluble pens to draw my design. You need to be quick as the ink fades within 24hours but they are a great way to ensure your lines are straight and your design will take shape as you wish it to. I began with a basic abstract bunny shape:
I stitched over this outline using backstitch and added a French knot for an eye:
Then had lots of fun adding grass and flowers using lazy daisy stitch, star stitch and French knots to build up the meadow around my Easter bunny.
I was really pleased with the way he turned out and love the way the colours work together. I then moved on to embroider a colourful Easter Egg and a jolly Easter Hen.
So once I had my three embroidered designs it was time to make patterned flags to alternate with the embroidered ones. I opted for polka dots in spring green and Easter yellow and this was the finished result:
Here it is all complete and hanging across our fireplace - Happy Easter Everyone!
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
I spent some time yesterday evening knitting this rather pretty daffodil in honour of St David's Day today. This morning some of my time has been spent adding the image to my social media and wishing everyone a Happy St David's Day, and then it occurred to me that I know nothing at all about the Saint, and why we associate these colourful blooms with Wales and it's patron saint.
A quick trawl of the internet revealed that David was born in Wales in 500AD on top of a cliff during a storm. He led a simple and devout Christian life in a monastery. He rose to become a bishop making a pilgrimage to Rome. One miracle associated with David is said to have taken place when he was preaching to a large crowd at Llandewi Brefi. When the crowd couldn't hear him the earth rose in to a mound to lift him above the crowd enabling his voice to reach everyone. He died in 589.
There doesn't seem to be a definitive reason as to why the daffodil is associated with Wales and St David's Day. It may be because this fabulous flower is always in bloom at this time of the year welcoming the Spring or it may be because the Welsh words for leek and daffodil are similar. Leeks are the more traditional symbol of Wales but the Daffodil rose in popularity in the 18th century and has been adopted as a national symbol ever since.
In flower folklore it is associated with energy, rebirth and is considered to be uplifting. I couldn't agree more to me it's a cheerful reminder that Spring is just around the corner. They also make a fun knitting project - Happy St David's Day everyone!
Sunday, February 7, 2016
It's that time of year when our thoughts turn to romance. Yes, Valentine's Day is just one week away.
Padded heart decorations are just one of the projects that we have been making in our sewing club this half term and they have been very popular. My heart has been particularly warmed by two boys in one of our clubs who decided to make heart decorations for their Mums' for Mother's Day - how sweet is that?
This weekend I have been playing around with ideas for heart decorations to have at home and to give as gifts. Here's a tutorial for one of them - a cute, quick to make, lovely gift; perfect to show that you care this Valentine's Day or Mother's day.
You will need:
- 2 x felt heart shapes approx 15cm x15cm
- 3 small flower shapes
- 2 felt leaves
- 15cm ribbon
- 3 buttons
- cotton thread
- toy filling
Decorate the front of one of the felt hearts.
For my heart I chose to place the three flowers on one side and use cotton thread to embroider the word "love" using backstitch (If you are unsure of how to sew using backstitch click here to see my stitch guide).
Pin the two felt heart shapes together and sew around the edges using running stitch. Fold the ribbon in half and pin place at the top. Sew through all layers of felt and the ribbon to sew it in to place.
Leave a gap approx 5cm along one edge and add the toy filling until your heart decoration is nice and plump but not overfilled. Sew up the gap.
Your fabulous padded heart is now ready to hang - Happy Sewing!
Monday, February 1, 2016
Yesterday was one of those days when you really didn't want to be out of doors - a grey, drizzly one giving me the perfect excuse not to leave the house but stay indoors and begin/finish a number of projects that have been on the back burner since Christmas.
I am going through a scented candle phase - their lovely warm glow and soothing scents can be found all around our house at the moment. Candle-making is not a craft I have ever indulged in until this weekend but I have had an idea for scented candles which I shall share at a later date. This weekend was all about practising.
So having bought my supplies online last week, yesterday I had a go at making my first ever container candles.
They were so easy to make. I went for a traditional "English Rose" fragrance and I still have lots to learn in terms of getting the fragrance right - mine turned out to have more of a subtle scent than I'd have liked, but I loved finishing them off with burlap and vintage ribbon - perfect as small gifts for loved ones.
I shall definitely be re-visiting candle making in the next few weeks and look forward to sharing the results.
My second completed project was this handsome fellow.
I started making this fox after Christmas - he has been lying around in pieces for a couple of weeks now so I was really pleased to see him finally take shape yesterday. He is made from a "Fluff and Fuzz" Pattern. I love these quirky designs from Amanda Berry and they are so easy to follow. I would highly recommend them.
Over the past year I have completely fallen in love with knitting all over again. Sewing will always be my first love but knitting is a fantastic evening activity especially during the Winter whilst watching TV. It's in my blood. My Mum is an amazing knitter. Here's a bed-runner that she has recently made using samplers of different knitting stitches and techniques. I adore it and think I may have to have a go at making one myself with a little help from Mum!