Room for improvement

So I have been very very slack on my blogging activities – and any activities – recently and wanted to fill you in on some happy news that we are having a baby come and live with us! A boy baby! November is his estimated arrival time – just in time for Rose’s third birthday, but I’ve heard that boys are more likely to be late? I’ll let you know when he arrives – although do hope to be back before then. Although I really just keep forgetting what I’m meant to be doing most of the time despite my good intentions. And I fall asleep a lot too.

IMG_3687tester pot toddler artIMG_3678

In other news I am on summer holidays now, and we are doing some home improvements which is another distraction. I am preparing for a winter of hibernation (sort of – minus the sleep element). Every toddler free moment recently has been spent removing about three layers of fifty year old textured and painted wallpaper from our hallway, but we are making good progress now and we had fun with tester pots trying to decide on which shade of not-quite-white we wanted to use. Rose enjoyed this, although if she had her way we would be using ‘ra ra red’ (not tested).

It’s nice to be able to sit down in the evenings again. I might even pick up some knitting. And I have a month of Eastenders to catch up with too…

 

A play with macramé

On pinterest I seem to have a rather large collection of pictures of plants, and have seen lots of these lovely string plant hangers.

Most of my house plants sit together on a little table in the corner of our sitting room, but I’ve long been thinking it might be good to suspend a couple of them to add a bit of dimension to that area.

I wasn’t really sure where to start with the macramé – it looked quite complicated, but actually was really super easy, and after watching some youtube videos, I was feeling rearing to go! (I hope this description of what I did has the same effect on you and doesn’t put you off!) I warn you, I did go off in my own direction a bit….

I used some twine I had and some white knitting cotton I added in to make it a bit more robust. And found some wooden beads left over from my crochet beads which I thought would look nice with this natural colour scheme.

To start with measure out 4 lengths 4 metres long. Lay the lengths together, fold them in half and tie a loop in the top (so you are left with 8 lengths each 2 metres long)

I hooked my loop over a door handle and seperated the pieces. It was a bit confusing at first because I was using two different threads together, but had to remember that I was working with 8 (double) lengths and not 16. If you don’t use double thread though and use cording or something similar you won’t have this confusion to worry about.

DSC04914making a macramé plant hanger

Start by knotting two lengths together all the way around (4 knots) 20cm from the top knot. (There are a lot of different macramé knots to try, but I kept it very simple using a basic overhand knot throughout)

Next measure 10cm down and you want to seperate your two strands and tie one of these to one of the strands from the neighbouring pair. The strand that is left from that pair you want to tie to one strand from the next pair round. Repeat this all the way round. (make sure you always pair up with the neighbour – I did get in a bit of a muddle at one point and had to unknot!)

DSC04925DSC04927

At this point I added a bead to each knot by threading them onto one of the twine threads and knotting below the bead to secure it.

easter cactus in my macrame plant hanger

The next knots are another 20cm down (always seperating and knotting with the neighbour) with some more beads attached, then the next 10cm with beads, then another set 10cm with beads and finally some more knots another 10cm without beads. Lastly I tied all the strands together in one big knot 10cm from here to make a tassel. (I trimmed the ends and tied some more beads on for fun)

DSC04939

I definitely want to make another one of these and will change my pattern a bit as realised that the top sets of knots hang tightly together so perhaps were not really needed, although do add a bit of interest, but could have been replaced with a plait or more beading or something like this. It was a bit of trial and error with the spacing of the knots and I think this will be fun to experiment with a little bit.

DSC04945

Maybe have a go and report back for me!?

Woven wonder

During my big tidy up, I found a few little things that sparked joy that I put up on our wall and they are starting to look really nice. In our sitting room corner my crochet wall hanging hangs alone still, but I was not feeling very inspired to do any crochet and I decided this was the time to have a go at some weaving! I have seen so many of these amazing hangings, and love them so much but it felt like a bit of a leap to have a go myself.

When I was little I used to make little cardboard looms to make little weavings – so decided to go down this tried and tested route again! I found a really nice stiff piece of cardboard and cut out a rectangle. Then I added some notches to each end. My box very handily had a dot design on it so I didn’t have to do any measuring but usually you would need to put mark along the edge so that your top notches and bottom notches match up.

weaving handmade card loomweaving handmade cardboard loom
Then I wrapped my wool around into the notches to give me all of my warp threads. Lovely!

woolapple weaving woolapple weaving

Next I started my weaving. My first plan was to keep it simple and do coloured stripes, but after doing a few rows of plain weaving I decided that I really wanted to try some of the techniques I have seen on the amazing weavings I have seen, making patterns with colours, and some textured parts. I really like the tassels! I found a wonderful online resource called the weaving loom which I recommend if you are a beginner like me – it has lots of interesting things to learn there. I had a little play around and settled into a bit of colour work. I think next time I will try some loops though.

weaving a wallhanging weaving work in progressweaving colourblocking work in progress

It was quite hard to take some work in progress pictures because it looked very messy until then end when I sewed in my ends. But then it looked really really great!

woven wallhangingwoven and crochet wallhangingsI really enjoyed this little project, something new for me.

Woolapple nice and tidy weekend

This weekend was quite a quiet one for us, Rose hasn’t been well this week and is still coughing a lot. She has mainly just wanted to sit on my lap at every opportunity but I am pleased for the cuddles.

It was nice yesterday though when she had a brighter few hours and I was able to make the under worktop curtains for the kitchen I have had on my to do list for about six months.

IMG_2678 IMG_2680

I bought the fabric earlier in the week, after deciding on yellow gingham then getting to the shop and finding this was out of stock, I settled on some yellow with white spots (Rose thought this one was nice) and some lovely green flowery fabric which I couldn’t resist because it was the same colour as the kitchen wall – although wasn’t convinced completely that this was a good thing…

IMG_2683 IMG_2695

It was nice to do some sewing, and use some tools. And my green with green walls looks grand!

woolapple and CDs

Also we are still going with our tidying up and Rich sifted through his million CDs. He put his discarded pile into music magpie to sell and is due a whopping £86! We were hoping to make enough for a take away so this was a lovely surprise – especially as you can’t even tell he’s got rid of anything. I got rid of a few of my CDs too so I am hoping for a cut…(although apparently mine were only worth 25p)

I’ve also been busy turning my hand to a spot of weaving and a dazzling bit of crochet so see you soon. x

Crochet baskets

crochet baskets using tiger fabric yarnwoolapple crochet baskets

Last week I was mostly crocheting baskets, and a very nice pastime that was.

I found some ‘fabric yarn’ in tiger a couple of weeks back, and bought a ball on impulse, not really knowing what to do with it. I tried knitting it but it was a bit chunky for that, so decided to try a rag rug type technique and crochet around it, rather than with it.

I found lots of good pictures to inspire me, but couldn’t really find out how to do it myself, so am putting lots of pictures here in case you find yourself in that position. It was actually really easy once I got started!

So here is how to crochet a basket for you:

You will need a ball of fabric yarn (or you could perhaps use a really chunky wool to crochet around) and some normal yarn – I used some DK but 4 ply might be good to try too.

To begin with you need to forget your fabric yarn, and make a foundation ring using your DK/4ply. Put 6 single crochet stitches (american terminology, double crochet in English terminology) into the magic ring so that you have something that looks like this:

6sc into a magic ring6sc into magic ring

The next step is to introduce your fabric yarn. Here are some pictures to help me explain (sorry, yes, I’m left handed! And sorry about my finger blister – a pancake making mishap)

To crochet around your yarn you want to put your hook through the first stitch in your previous round, yarn over and pull through and at this point lay your fabric yarn between the loop on your hook and your yarn (picture 1) then when you yarn over to finish your stitch (picture 2 ) you will encompass the fabric yarn (picture 3)

crochet basket with fabric yarncrochet basket with fabric yarn 2starting my crochet basket with fabric yarnfirst round of crochet basket with fabric yarnhow to crochet around fabric yarnhow to crochet around fabric yarnhow to crochet around fabric yarnhow to crochet around fabric yarn

For your next stitch, insert your hook into the next stitch and when you yarn over, your yarn will also come over your fabric yarn and encompass it. Continue crocheting around the fabric yarn as per pattern:

little crochet basket S m a l l  b a s k e t

round 1:  Make 2 SCs into every stitch

round 2: *make 1 SC into next stitch, make 2 SCs into next stitch, repeat from * to the end of the round.

round 3:  *make 1 SC into the next 2 stitches, make 2 SCs into next stitch, repeat from * to the end of the round.

round 4: *make 1 SC into the next 3 stitches, make 2 SCs into next stitch, repeat from * to the end of the round.

round 5: *make 1 SC into the next 4 stitches, make 2 SCs into next stitch, repeat from * to the end of the round.

round 6: *make 1 SC into the next 5 stitches, make 2 SCs into next stitch, repeat from * to the end of the round.

rounds 7 – 14 : continue without any further increasing but making 1 SC into every stitch. You can make your basket shallower or deeper this way. Finish off by breaking yarn and pulling through, then weaving in your loose ends (I used my crochet hook for this)

medium crochet basket

M e d i u m  b a s k e t : 

Follow pattern for small basket until you have completed round 6.

round 7: *make 1 SC into the next 6 stitches, make 2 SCs into next stitch, repeat from * to the end of the round.

round 8: *make 1 SC into the next 7 stitches, make 2 SCs into next stitch, repeat from * to the end of the round.

rounds 9-19: continue without any further increasing but making 1 SC into every stitch. You can make your basket shallower or deeper this way. Finish off by breaking yarn and pulling through, then weaving in your loose ends (I used my crochet hook for this)

large crochet basket L a r g e  b a s k e t : 

Follow pattern for medium basket until you have completed round 8.

round 9: *make 1 SC into the next 8 stitches, make 2 SCs into next stitch, repeat from * to the end of the round.

round 10: *make 1 SC into the next 9 stitches, make 2 SCs into next stitch, repeat from * to the end of the round.

round 11: *make 1 SC into the next 10 stitches, make 2 SCs into next stitch, repeat from * to the end of the round.

round 12: *make 1 SC into the next 11 stitches, make 2 SCs into next stitch, repeat from * to the end of the round.

rounds 13-26: continue without any further increasing but making 1 SC into every stitch. You can make your basket shallower or deeper this way. Finish off by breaking yarn and pulling through, then weaving in your loose ends (I used my crochet hook for this)

(My large basket came out a bit wonky because I was a bit inconsistent with how tightly I pulled my fabric yarn. Must try harder! But sweet none the less!)

DSC04742DSC04743

And now I am really happy with my storage of bits and bops! More wool everywhere!

 

Air dried hearts

This weekend was a valentines weekend, and I marked the occasion making a little heart garland for our bedroom.

I have recently become aware of something called air dry clay. It seems like there are a lot of lovely things to make with it, like Tia’s super cute bowls, and Hannah’s little love hearts

In my quest to brighten up some of our bare walls, I decided a little bit of pottery would be grand, and decided a little garland might be just the ticket.

r e c i p e :

To make some air dry clay you will need:

1 cup bicarbonate of soda
1/2 a cup of cornflour
3/4 cup of warm water

m e t h o d :

Stir together the bicarbonate of soda, cornflour and water in a saucepan over a medium heat until it thickens into a dough (be careful to keep it moving so that you don’t get a layer stuck to your saucepan – although rest assured it soaks off in water no problem – voice of experience!) leave to cool before turning out and kneading until smooth.

homemade air dried clayair dried clay hearts

I coloured my clay using food colouring. I used liquid colouring so put some extra cornflour down on the worktop to help soak up the extra moisture and stop me getting into a sticky mess, added a couple of swigs of colour and kneaded again until the clay was an even colour. I had pink, yellow, blue and green colours to use, BUT something very strange happened. I am not sure why, but it might be a chemical reaction to the bicarbonate of soda… the blue was beautiful, but the yellow turned red (and dried a bit pink), the green turned brown (I didn’t use it after all. Too brown.) and the pink turned purple (but then dried beige) So weird! So I made up another small batch to keep white to add to my colour scheme.

The next step was to roll out and cut out my heart shapes. I used a freezer bag to roll out onto so that the shapes peeled off easily. I found it easiest to cut out all of my shapes, then peel away the excess from around them first before peeling them off and placing them onto grease-proof-paper on a cooling rack to dry. I put the clay I wasn’t using in bags as realised the surface dries quite quickly and this helped preserve it.

Once I had cut out all of my hearts I put holes through them using a knitting needle (I used a double pointed needle so I could thread it all the way through rather than pushing it in then pulling it back – this gave much neater holes) if you don’t have a knitting needle though something like a skewer would work, or even a pen might do it. I think my holes are slightly low as the hearts are not quite balanced when they hang (they want to flick out a bit) so it might be worth putting the holes slightly higher to help that.

air dried clay heart garland

My hearts took about 24 hours to dry well, turning half way, although I think probably another 24 hours to feel they were truely dried out. Once they were dry I used some thin ribbon to thread through and tied loops in the end to hang them. I was initially really disappointed with the colours, really it was just not at all what I had pictured in my mind, but now I have my finished garland and it is hanging in our room, I am really really pleased with it! Accidental colour magic. The colours are really sweet and compliment the colours in our room really nicely.

air dried clay heart bunting

I have recently read the Konmari book, and am feeling very inspired by her message to only surround yourself with items that ‘spark joy’ in you. We’ve started her tidying up method at home and I am getting into the habit of asking myself ‘does this spark joy in me’ – I asked myself when I looked at my little hearts and my answer was yes.

And I still have some of the clay left bagged up in the fridge – I am not sure how long it will last so I might have to think of another project quick!

A little crochet wall hanging

One of my new year’s resolutions was to do a few more crafts to help brighten up our home.  I moved around a lot in my twenties and I developed a bit of a phobia of owning unnecessary things. And for me purely decorative items were definitely in the category of unnecessary. But now we are settled in our home and able to hammer nails into the wall, I am feeling much more like I want to cosy up  our home a little and there is good reason to have decorative and unnecessary bits and bops.

Recently I have seen some wonderful ideas using textiles to brighten up walls. Not just tapestry and embroidery, but also weavings and applique banners, and crochet hangings.

flower power granny square wall hanging by woolappleflower power granny square wall hanging by woolappleflower power granny square wall hanging by woolapple

This week I had a little go myself at a crochet wall hanging. I found a lovely free pattern online for this square motif – the flower power granny square. I thought this was a pretty design and a good one to introduce different colour combinations to. I’d like to use this pattern again changing the number of colours used to see how it effects the way the pattern is picked out.

To turn my square into a hanging for the wall, I just added some pom poms to give it a bit of weight to hang (and I like pom poms. Although I have not spaced them very well so might need to revisit those!) and a little chain stitch handle to the top. I’ve got it taped up at the moment until I have made it a partner.

Lovely stuff!

Wicker and wool

Last week I was mainly making pom poms – I love them so much, and their bright woolly fluffiness. I saw Lucy’s lovely baskets and after that couldn’t look at our wicker washing basket in the same way again.

diy pom pom basket 2diy pom pom basket 1

Poor plain basket (poor dirty mirror) (poor mum lots of laundry!)

I loved the look of Lucy’s Pom poms, a sort of salt and pepper effect, so made my Pom poms with a coloured wool and a cream wool together to achieve that grand look. I used four different colours, a hot pink, sky blue, pistachio green and golden yellow.

I counted the upright sticks on the basket to work out my spacing and how many pom poms to make. I had 39 sticks so that divided nicely by 3 so decided to space them at every third stick – (I like logical). This meant 13 pom poms, which didn’t divide so well between my colour scheme so I currently have a bit of a gap in my pom poms. Rich helpfully pointed out that this side could just face the wall so that’s my current solution!

diy pom pom basket 3 diy pom pom basket 4

(Much better! Clean mirror too. And laundry done. A happy day!)

My pom poms are a bit more spaced out than Lucy’s which wasn’t intentional, and I need to go back to trim them a little more evenly I think, but really I am very pleased with my little pom pom basket now. That wasn’t such a hard job but look at the transformation my little fluffy puffs made. It has really brightened up this corner of our bedroom too. Although I am not sure how long Rose will resist trying to pull them off… so far she doesn’t seem to have noticed (dare I say it?)

Lucy also made tassel baskets, you really should have a look.

Cement to be

DSC03999 (2) DSC04128 (2)

DSC04194 DSC04167

December was quite a busy month for me as I decided this Christmas I wanted to make some gifts for my nearest and dearest.

I saw this amazing tutorial for concrete planters on Laura and Tia’s wonderful Little Button Diaries blog and knew I really really wanted to try it.

It’s something completely different to anything I’ve ever attempted before – I didn’t even know it was possible to make something from concrete without any special equipment or tools – all that’s required is a few empty pots and some cement which I discovered is readily available in B&Q and just needs water adding to it. Hurruh! I had also never used spray paint before, and was very nervous about the warning on the can ‘if you feel ill contact a poisons expert’. That mostly made me nervous because I have no idea where to find a poisons expert, and if I was feeling ill that would be a difficult task. It is definitely recommended to do the painting outside, but as I live in a flat I don’t really have a suitable outdoor space. I did open my kitchen window up as wide as it would go though, which in December, living so close to the sea, was quite exhilarating! (you can’t see the wind in these pictures!)

IMG_1544 IMG_1543

I went through a bit of a process of trial and error, but found this really satisfying once I found my feet with it. I had two cement type products to try – one was a ready mix concrete which consisted of cement and sand, but I found this a bit crumbly so bought some cement without the sand and found this was too dense – BUT mixing them together and all was goo-oo-ood. Laura used cement and sand and changed her ratios to find the best blend so this is really what I did and I would say a good way to go. I would say it is not really a good last minute present make (unless you have been through this little process) but it’s definitely an original and lovely gift.

Hop over to Little Button Diaries for the full tutorial!