All posts tagged “DIY

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Little Needle Felted Penguins

I’m always up for trying new things, me. When it comes to crafts, I’m forever filling my Pinterest board with ideas and interesting projects which I know I’ll sadly never complete, but a girl’s gotta dream, and that’s the whole point of Pinterest, right?

So when an email dropped into my inbox asking if I’d like to test out Hobbycraft’s range of Kirstie Allsopp craft kits, I jumped at the opportunity to flex my creative muscles. I was given a choice from the full range that they stock – everything from candle making, to pin cushion making to pyrography (!), but I opted for a craft which I’ve been longing to have a go at for ages, and never quite knew where to start – needle felting.

Kirstie Allsopp Needle Felting Kit
Kirstie Allsopp Needle Felting Kit
Kirstie Allsopp Needle Felting Kit
Kirstie Allsopp Needle Felting Kit

The kit is pretty brilliant. For the price (currently 25% off!) you get loads of bundles of fluffy coloured wool, felting needles, a felting tool and sponge mat. If I had one criticism, it would be that the instructions are a little sparse – it gives you basic instructions on how to make simple felt balls, but there’s little in the way of photos to show you what to do. Help was at hand though, in the form of YouTube, where there are a wealth of informative videos. I love you, internet. Even a simple Google search will throw up a handy video with what to do to get going.

All that needle felting is, it transpired, is fusing the fibres of the wool together by repeatedly stabbing it with your felting needle. After testing the water (and clumsily snapping my needle, those things are D-E-L-I-C-A-T-E) making a little ball like the pamphlet told me, I fancied making something a little more testing, and set about making one of my favourite cartoon penguins, Gunter from Adventure Time.

Needle Felted Penguin
Needle Felted Penguin
Needle Felted Penguin

Now, he may not be perfect, but for a first attempt at a new craft I don’t think I’ve done badly. The trick is to keep going and keep going (stab stab stab), because the finished product needs to be really firm and fused together. I think I just stopped short of getting it right with this guy, but I know for next time.

I’m a little bit addicted to needle felting now! I made the mistake of Googling ‘Adventure Time Needle Felt’ and now I think Peppermint Butler might have to be my next creation.
Watch this space!

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Turtle Mat Christmas Jumper Competition

Turtle Mat Christmas Jumper Competition
It was a bit windy on the harbour today. Me hat nearly blew off.
Turtle Mat Christmas Jumper Competition
Turtle Mat Christmas Jumper Competition
Turtle Mat Christmas Jumper Competition

To celebrate the launch of the very festive themed new range of products (hooray!), the lovely folks at Turtle Mat set us crafty bloggers a challenge of creating an eye-catching Christmas jumper with a blank canvas and a budget of £5.

After much head scratching, and some Pinterest trawling, I settled on the idea of a polar bear, and so bought as much white fleece as I could with my little budget, and fashioned this curvy-looking chap on the front of the jumper supplied to me by Turtle Mat. After drawing a vague shape, cutting it out and badly sewing it to the front of my jumper I then took up my trusty embroidery floss to give this guy a nose, eyes, and fill in his teeny tiny little ears a bit.

I’ve never actually owned a Christmas jumper before (I KNOW!), so I’m pretty pleased that my very first one is something that I’ve fashioned myself. Me and my new pal David (Tom decided to call him David for some reason) went for a very blustery walk up and down the harbour this afternoon, and I had to hang on to my hat!

Do you like my creation? What would you do with a blank canvas and a fiver?!

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DIY: Easy Handmade Christmas Gift Ideas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Seriously, everywhere I look there are Starbucks red cups, chunky knits, festive lights switch-ons, and a bitter foggy mist in the air. Christmas is only just over a month away (AAAAAAHHHH!) and if, like me, you haven’t started your Christmas shopping yet, then its time to raid those craft drawers, dig out those Sharpies, and get Christmas craftin’.

I’ve been compiling a list of easy-peasy festive DIYs that I know anyone would be happy to unwrap on Christmas morning. Not only do these save you pennies, it’s nice to give something handmade, plus you’re bound to have loads of fun making them.

1. Zip Pouch Tutorial
zip-pouch-diy
First up is this rather adorable looking ‘zipper pouch’ – super easy to make, with only a few supplies needed. Either fill with Christmas treats like chocolate coins, or make a mini travel kit with a face spray, lip balm, pocket mirror and hand gel. Find the instructions here.

2. Jumper Mittens
sweater mittens
Utilise those old raggedy pullovers and turn them into jazzy mittens! Only takes a few minutes – you can knock up a pair for your whole family (even your cat?). Instructions can be found here.

3. Pom Pom Tassel Bookmarks
diy pom pom bookmarks
How cute are these?! If you can make a mean pom pom you can whip a couple of these up in no time. Get the tutorial here (ps – it’s in Finnish, but the pictures are more than enough to show you what to do).

4. Homemade Soap
diy soap
I want to know how much the fancy soap shops make at Christmastime. Save yourself a packet by making your own – invest in a good quality base and add whatever you like. Here’s a nice recipe for grapefruit and poppy seed.

5. Notebook Tote Bag
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So cute and clever! All it takes to turn a boring old tote bag into a portable notebook book bag are a couple of rolls of thread and a sewing machine. Get the instructions here.

6. Pocket hand warmers
hand-warmer
It’s getting a bit nippy outside, so warm your mitts with these easy-peasy DIY hand warmers, using only material scraps and rice. Pop them in your jumper mittens for maximum toastiness! Instructions here.

7. Sharpie + Mug = ultimate DIY
Sharpie mug
Of course, if you’re looking for the ultimate in easy DIYs, then all you need is a plain mug and a sharpie. These bad boys have been all over Pinterest for a while now; make it festive by adding a personal message and tying up in some nice cellophane with some hot chocolate and a bag of mini marshmallows. Get the instructions here, with some useful tips here.

So there you go! Super easy tutorials for a DIY Christmas. Have you got any favourite winter projects? Let me know!

Image credits:
1. See Kate Sew
2. A Beautiful Mess
3. Projektila
4. A Beautiful Mess
5. Say Yes
6. Rae Ann Kelly
7. A Beautiful Mess

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Steampunk Crafting with Sugru

Last weekend, myself and the boy travelled back to my home town of Cheltenham to attend a very special wedding. Special, not just for the lovely bride and groom involved, but this wedding had a very specific theme, and that theme was steampunk. Steampunk is a blend of all things Victorian and industrial with a little sprinkling of sci-fi. Think Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Martin Scorcese’s ‘Hugo’, and everyone’s favourite box office flop ‘Van Helsing’, and you’re just about there.

I’d got my dress sorted a few weeks before (£20 eBay bargain) but needed something to make my outfit more authentic, leaning more towards steampunk and less towards ‘generic Victorian schoolmistress’. There were five of us in total going as a group, so we popped round my friend Jude’s house and pooled our creative ideas into creating some steampunk-inspired accessories.

steampunk jewellery, made with Sugru | Lily Doughball, UK Lifestyle Blog

A few weeks prior to this, I received an email from a company called Sugru, asking if I would like to try some of what they make for some up and coming crafty projects I may have up my sleeve. I was intrigued, and hot-footed it over to their website to find out what they’re all about. Turns out, they make this magical putty self-setting rubber stuff, with about a billion-and-one different uses.

steampunk jewellery, made with Sugru | Lily Doughball, UK Lifestyle Blog

steampunk jewellery, made with Sugru | Lily Doughball, UK Lifestyle Blog

steampunk jewellery, made with Sugru | Lily Doughball, UK Lifestyle Blog

steampunk jewellery, made with Sugru | Lily Doughball, UK Lifestyle Blog

Naturally, I was pretty excited when it popped through my door. They sent me two multi packs, with little individually wrapped parcels of Sugru in various colours, just waiting for whatever creative uses I may have for it. My initial idea was to mould it into some cookie stamps, but on further inspection, Sugru isn’t food safe just yet, so decided to give that project a miss (another time, maybe!).

I was rather stumped as to how I could create something wonderful using this magic ingredient. Sure, I could mould some onto my pan handles and make them heat-resistant, but that wouldn’t really make for a great blog post. So when Jude suggested steampunk crafting evening, I knew this would be the perfect excuse to see how this bad boy works in a crafty situation.

steampunk jewellery, made with Sugru | Lily Doughball, UK Lifestyle Blog steampunk jewellery, made with Sugru | Lily Doughball, UK Lifestyle Blog steampunk jewellery, made with Sugru | Lily Doughball, UK Lifestyle Blog

Cogs play an integral role in steampunk attire. It’s one of those things which is synonymous with the whole ‘steampunk’ culture, as well as brown leather, goggles, and elaborate-looking weapons. We had a table full of watch cogs (so tinyyy), brooch backings, and a whole pile of Sugru. It was time to get our craft on.

The colours I received in my taster pack were red, yellow, blue, black and white. Don’t let this limit you though, as you can blend Sugru into whatever colour your heart desires, and there’s even a handy little guide on the pack to help you out. I took 60% yellow, 30% red, and 10% black, and began smushing until I had reached a very steampunk brown colour. One thing to note – Sugru is quite tacky, so I would remove any jewellery you may have on before starting. The best way to clean your hands after using it is to wipe it off with kitchen roll. I haven’t tried washing my hands after, but don’t forget to wash them before you begin!

steampunk jewellery, made with Sugru | Lily Doughball, UK Lifestyle Blog steampunk jewellery, made with Sugru | Lily Doughball, UK Lifestyle Blog

As soon as I started, I found it pretty difficult to stop. Soon, I had made two brooches, a couple of hair clips, and even a pair of little cog earrings! It was so easy to make them – all I did was squish a blob of Sugru onto my backing (earring, clip, pin, whatever) and begin spiking some cogs into it. The texture is quite soft to begin with, but it starts firming up the longer you leave it, unless you give it a bit of a smush to loosen it up a little. These took 24 hours to ‘cure’ and harden, so I left them in a safe place until they were ready to wear.

steampunk jewellery, made with Sugru | Lily Doughball, UK Lifestyle Blog steampunk jewellery, made with Sugru | Lily Doughball, UK Lifestyle Blog

As you can see, the back isn’t the prettiest thing to look at, but demonstrates how you simply press it into the Sugru, and secure it a bit by coaxing some of the putty over the sides. When it had hardened, everything stayed in place brilliantly, there were no broken bits all day (except when I dropped one of my earrings and accidentally trod on it 🙁 wahhh).

The possibilies with Sugru really are limitless. Not only can you use it for crafting cosplay accessories, but it has 101 uses around the home – fixing cables, protecting your phone from bumps, even mending broken bits on your car! A pack like mine costs £12.99, and I still have a whole bunch left, just waiting for my next project.

What would you craft out of Sugru?

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DIY Flower Fairy Lights

fairy lights

A craft, yay! It seems like an absolute age since I have done anything creative, so when I was contacted by a lovely lady on behalf of Country Baskets, asking if I would like to write a tutorial, how could I say no?

I had a few ideas, and had exhausted my Craft Pinterest board trying to think of a quick and easy project. I had seen this pin a while back, and thought it a genius use of cute cupcake cases – imagine the possibilites! I also liked the idea because shortly before the new year I had been eyeing some gorgeous paper flower lights up in a shop in Bristol, then winced slightly at the price (about 40 of the Queens). I began some research into other ways in which people had interpreted this simple idea, and set about creating my own. This honestly is the most straightforward and quick DIY to jazz up those old Christmas lights.

country baskets tissue paper

I have been in a bit of a peach-and-orange mood of late, and have found myself drawn to these particular colours (such as my mental but completely awesome orange Lime Crime lippy) and so chose two rolls of tissue paper to complete my craft – Orange* and Peach*. I have to admit I was pretty stunned at firstly how many colour options are on the website, but also how quickly they arrived; I was a bit confused when I had a note saying I had a parcel the day after I ordered it! 

The price was also incredibly reasonable – a massive roll of 48 sheets is only a mere £2.37 – and these two rolls strung a 100 string of fairy lights and I still have loads left over. As well as a vast selection of coloured papers they have quite literally hundreds of other bits and bobs at wholesale prices – if you’re a crafty bod you don’t really need an excuse to stock up your craft cupboard!

diy flower lights you will need

To complete this craft you will need:

  • Tissue paper (either one colour, or a multitude of colours)
  • Old fairy lights (mine were from Asda, about £9)
  • A glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Tape (I used washi tape, but you don’t have to)

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Step one is to cut a few layers of your tissue paper into squares, approx 4×4 inches. If you’re anything like me, you don’t have to be mega precise with this, I just did it by eye and I think it adds a nice rustic charm to the final piece. However, if you want to get a ruler out and be precise, then that is also fine. This size determines the size of your flower, so if you want to have a play around then feel free – ginormous ones might look quite awesome!

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When you’ve got a few bundles of tissue cut into squares, take one pile and fold in half to make a rectangle, then half again to make a square, then join the straight edges so you have a triangle, such as the one above. If you find the tissue is a bit difficult to fold into this shape you most probably have been a bit too keen and have got too many sheets in your bundle, thin it out a bit and you should be peachy (ha!).

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Next, we take our scissors and snip snip the top away in a curvy shape to make the petals. Again, feel free to experiment at this point – I accidentally made a bit of a pointy petal edge and it turned out pretty well, it looked like a lotus flower or something of the sort.

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When you have made a curve, snip the point of the triangle off but not too much! This makes the hole which your light will poke through – it’s always better to keep it small as you can always make it bigger at a later stage, but if it’s too big to begin with then we are back to square one!

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Open ‘er up and you will have a lovely bunch of little billowy tissue flowers! Smashing.

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The next phase is the time consuming one. But fear not, you will have a lovely beautiful hand made thing at the end of it, so it’s best to persevere, I promise. Thread your lights through the little hole, making the hole a little bigger if you have to. My lights are fairly slender, but if you have the green Christmas tree variety they might need a little more persuasion.

At this point, if you have chosen to use two colours like me, or doubled up your tissue paper, you might want to add a teeny dab of glue between sheets just so they have something to cling onto each other with. Try not to get any glue near the lightbulb, stick it in the middle if you have to.

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Flip the flower over so you can see the underneath and give the tissue a little pinch and a twist – it helps to keep things together, makes it easier to tape, and also makes a nice flower-y shape when you open it out.

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Tape it up using a slender piece of whatever tape you desire – I didn’t happen to have any clear tape in the house, but I think the grey works really nicely with the orange! (Please excuse my chipped mani.)

Repeat for all lights – this is where a shorter string of lights will work in your favour, if you are impatient like me! I split my craft over a couple of evenings, and actually found it pretty therapeutic when I had worked out a system of cutting, shaping, snipping, poking, twisting, taping…

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fairy lights

Et voila! You have a lovely inexpensive and beautiful hand made addition to your living room (or wherever takes your fancy). I love the fireplace in our new house, and have used my new fairy lights as an excuse to show it off!

Don’t forget – it’s Mother’s Day at the end of this month, and what better way to say ‘thanks for all the dinner money and lifts to the pub and looking after me when I’m pretending to be poorly from school’ than a nice homemade present? These lights don’t cost the Earth, and I’m sure any mam would appreciate them.

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Five Crafty Things

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1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

So, we are 9 days into the new year and my Twitter feed is already full of people saddened by the fact that they have broken their resolutions early! One of my new year’s resolutions was to do more craft, so for the past week I’ve been trawling Pinterest for some crafty DIY ideas to kickstart me back into the swing of things.
I love pinning things on Pinterest, particularly craft projects, but usually just pin and think nothing of it, as if the very act of pinning it is enough; if I look at it and wish hard enough it will make itself, right? I am fed up of being lazy, though, and most of these have been knocking about on my Craft & DIY board for over a year now.

First up is these cat shoes – how simple does this look?! When I was at school I had a pair of canvas shoes which I embroidered, I got so many surprised looks when I said I made them myself. All these cat shoes require is a few store cupboard essentials and voila, a lovely pair of customised shoes, bound to attract compliments. Too cute.
Another simple customisation is this little plant pot with a painted face; I’d love to have some more plants in the house, but have a bit of a death-touch when it comes to anything green. I reckon even a dead plant would look cheery with a painted face. You could probably do this on the cheap with an Ikea pot and a Sharpie (but remember to bake it to ‘seal’ the design!).

Another resolution is to work on more embroidery. I adore freehand embroidery, as I’ve been gushing about on here before, and found this genius embroidery on Etsy, quoting lyrics from my favourite 80s song ever. I love the blocky lettering and shading; I could do a whole series of lyrics! My mind is unravelling so fast!
My knitting and wool-work have been neglected recently, and I reckon this cute little pom-pom town is enough incentive to get anyone working with woolly things again. I didn’t even know these shapes were even possible to be sculpted out of wool, if you can make a whole town, who knows what else you can make?!

Living in Bristol, approximately 70% of my home furniture is from Ikea. I love Ikea, when I was at uni I lived down the road and would regularly go to just walk around, I found it a very soothing experience. A few months ago I discovered Ikea Hackers, and was amazed at what you can achieve with bland furniture and a little imagination. These clever little pinboards on the bottom right are made from heatproof mats and some scraps of fabric – both of which I have knocking around on the boat.

So, I think that’s enough to keep me occupied for a few months! Have you got any craft projects lined up for the new year?

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The Creative Initiative #5

The theme for this week’s creative initiative was dreams, and it was not easy to come up with ideas!

I suppose the two main paths you could split ‘dreams’ into is firstly, quite literal dreams which you have when you switch off at night, or perhaps taking a more philosophical approach, and analysing what it is you want to do with yourself in the long term.

As I explained with last week’s creative initiative, I’m not so good at expressing myself, especially when it comes to feelings, including hopes and aspirations. That’s not to say I don’t have any, I have plenty – I’d like to own our own narrowboat, and have spent years dreaming up ideas in my head, I’d like to travel around Eastern Europe and have drawn up a route which I intend to do some day, and it would be quite nice to be a multi millionaire. But these are dreams, after all.

I think what I have learnt so far throughout the Creative Initiative is that I’m not much of a dreamer; I look forward to things, certainly, but I am a much more live-in-the-moment kind of person. Hence why I took the other route, and focused on the word dreams in the sense of the often strange, sometimes terrifying but usually quite insightful occurrences which happen when we are asleep.

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Sleeping is my favourite thing to do. Hands down. When I was a teenager I could easily sleep for 13 hours or more if left unattended. These days I’ll be lucky if I get 6!

I’m quite a sleepy person, and will happily sleep wherever I can find somewhere comfortable. I am not ashamed of sleeping on the bus, for example. This happy little guy represents my inner sleepiness.

I’m really loving freehand embroidery at the moment. I really don’t have the patience for cross stitch, and I love how quickly things take shape – I sketched this out and stitched it up in about half an hour. Rather than using embroidery floss I used regular sewing thread, and I quite like how delicate it makes his little cloud features look.

If you would like to join in, then the rules are very simple:

• create something in based on this week’s prompt

• post about your artistic endeavour on your blog and link it up to this post

• comment on other bloggers’ posts – the prompts leave a lot of room to use your imagination and we should all support and encourage each other as we explore!

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November Favourites

I can’t believe it’s December already! I’m certainly not complaining; I’ve already been doing my Christmas shopping from the comfort of my sofa (won’t catch me in a crowded shopping centre!) and feeling very festive.

Here are some of my favourites from the month on November (which seemed to fly by) through the medium of Instagram:

hire car

I hired an awesome brand new shiny car to go to my friend’s wedding. I was terrified all the way there that I would crash it!

business cards

I ordered some fancy little business cards.

frightened rabbit

I saw the ever-brilliant Frightened Rabbit at the Anson Rooms in Bristol.

teacup

I fell in love with this little WI teacup.

babushka-dog

I dressed the family dog as a babushka.

poop

I did some childish embroidery for the Creative Initiative.

lush lip goodies

I went to the #southwestbloggersmeet!

christmas craft

I did a Christmas craft at our very first Lovehoney Stitch and Bitch.

bagel

I ate many giant bagels at Bagel Boy in Bristol.

December is shaping up to be busier than November – bring it on, and roll on Christmas!

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Stitchin’ and a-Bitchin’

Last night was Lovehoney’s very first Stitch and Bitch!

I arranged the session after mentioning it to a few people at work and getting a pretty enthusiastic response. I’ve always wanted to join a Stitch and Bitch group, so starting one up at work is just all kinds of awesome. Last night a group of about 6 or 7 of us gathered our crafty bits and sat down for a couple of hours of crafting and nattering.

Heart decoration for Christmas tree handmade DIY

Stitch and bitch group at Lovehoney

Box of craft supplies

We didn’t have an agenda as such; myself and another S&B-er had set up a Pinterest board to gather together ideas for the first meeting, and I found myself gravitating towards the cute little DIY decorations for the Christmas tree. I wanted to cater to all abilities too, and with a project like that it’s completely up to you how complex or how simple you make it.

I ended up making my little heart from a kit I had picked up from Wilko. It came with a few pre cut bits of felt, some embroidery floss, stuffing and ribbon, plus easy to follow instructions. I ended up stitching this little guy in about an hour or so, and am pretty pleased with the results! I can’t wait to get stuck in and make more festive felt creations – I’m thinking foxes and mini Christmas trees.

Jars of buttons

Gingerbread man decoration in the making

What was so nice about the evening is everyone’s enthusiasm; everyone pitched in and brought something along, and really got stuck into their projects. It was amazing to see what people came up with. We even had a little gingerbread man in progress! Initially I was going to suggest monthly meetings, but everyone enjoyed themselves so much they now want to do it weekly and I am more than happy to do so – any excuse for cute Christmas crafting.

Watch this space for Stitch and Bitch updates!

Are you part of any craft clubs?

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The Creative Initiative #2

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Hey, I know it’s childish, but the theme for this week’s Creative Initiative is ‘what did you do today?’ and this sums up how I feel perfectly. I’m off work sick, and so haven’t actually done anything today, except lie down and feel ill.

While being sofa-ridden I thought I would try my hand at something which I haven’t done since school, so I picked up my hoop for some embroidery. I have to admit I think this could be somewhat of a new obsession; I’m ridiculously impatient, and so enjoyed how quickly this whole thing came together. It only took an episode of Bargain Hunt to complete.

A while back I noticed this awesome piece of embroidery on Etsy, which I think was the subliminal inspiration for this. I’m also a fan of things which mix the innocent and cute with something a bit naughty, much like when you see old ladies swearing or smoking. This could be the first in a series of embroidered swears, who knows.

The Creative Initiative is a fabulous new invention I discovered whilst reading Lyzi’s blog Being Little. The theme changes week by week and you can use any medium for expression you like. The rules are very simple:

• create something in based on this week’s prompt

• post about your artistic endeavour on your blog and link it up to this post

• comment on other bloggers’ posts – the prompts leave a lot of room to use your imagination and we should all support and encourage each other as we explore!

The theme for next week is ‘get outdoors!’
It’s not too late to join in, and if you do create something be sure to post the links in the comments section so I can have a look!

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How I learned to stop worrying and love crochet

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So… Remember how I said I hated crochet? I changed my mind.

I didn’t do it all by myself. My friends Liz and Emily (aka Velizeraptor and Gremilyn) came over to the boat yesterday for a cuppa, a bit of cake, but far more importantly – Liz was on a mission to teach us how to crochet. She is a bit of a crochet wizard, so I was looking forward to finally being able to do it.

At knitting club I had really tried to learn it but had decided that I fundamentally did not enjoy crochet; I didn’t understand it and I wasn’t going to try. I thought there might be something incompatible about my hand and the needles which somehow made it not work, which I found out wasn’t a million miles off, which I will get to in a minute.

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Firstly, I got quite excited as Liz had put together a little crochet package for both of us, including our very own rainbow coloured crochet hooks! She had planned on us both crocheting a little mug cosy, but we didn’t quite get that far. It was a bit of a shaky start for me, my hands really are incompatible with crochet – I’m left handed, and prefer to hold the needle from underneath (as opposed to from above, aka ‘pen’ vs ‘knife’).

However, after at least a couple of hours and some very patient teaching, I FINALLY got it, and managed to rattle off a couple of test patches, one of which I’m sure is passable for a mug cosy. The yarn we used was lovely, it’s a cotton yarn made by Adriafil, and it comes in awesome bright colours.

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My mind is beginning to unravel (pun completely intended) and I’ve been excitedly searching Ravelry and Pinterest for patterns and things which I’m able to do at this stage.

One day I will also be a crochet wizard.
If you have any ideas please do let me know!

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I made a big hat.

So I FINALLY got round to knitting a big version of the tiny hat I made a few weeks ago… and here it is!

chunky knitted hat

(I really dislike having my photo taken, as you can probably tell.)

I used exactly the same pattern found in 30 Minute Knits as I did for the tiny version, except this time I used 12mm needles and Rowan ‘Big’ Wool. It is the softest thing ever. I nearly went for a cheaper alternative but I’m so glad I didn’t, it makes a huge difference to the feel of it.

homemade hat

I usually have a problem with my cast on being too loose, resulting in a weird baggy looking first row of stitches. To counter this I researched different cast on methods and found this really useful page of tutorials.
I went for a cable cast on, as it was noted as the method which results in the tightest stitches, plus it gives a really nice twisty effect to the edge.

DIY craft hat

I’m not going to share the pattern for fear of being sued for breach of copyright (plus the book is only £6, and it’s awesome, so why not buy it?) plus there are a few little changes I would make if I were to knit another, which are as follows.

1. I began by casting on 38 stitches – whilst knitting it, this looked like not enough, and I was concerned it wasn’t going to fit on my head, but the wool has a bit of give and the end result fits fine. It would probably decrease this a little next time so it can ‘grip’ to my head a bit more.
2. The main body of the hat is 16 rows of a ribbed knit (alternating rows of K2, P2) with a hole pattern knitted throughout, which I did a tutorial for here. I’m thinking about making another for Tom; if I do I’d probably leave these holes out and go for a plain ribbed knit.
3. On the decrease there are 5 rows between the hole pattern and the end of the hat, which results in a little pixie point at the top. I’d probably do fewer of these, it’s a bit too pointy for my liking.

Also, as big as the pom pom is already, I would make it bigger. Ein UBER POM POM.

young lady

All in all, it probably took me a little under 2 hours to make, which is pretty good going for a whole finished hat.
I’m looking to make more of my own clothes this winter, this is (hopefully) just the starting point.

I’m pretty darn pleased with it, but haven’t had a chance to show it off yet.
Just need to wait for some cold weather now! Roll on winter.

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Holy slipped stitches, Batman.

Knitting update!

Last night it dawned on me that I only have one week of knitting club left. I signed up for a five week course and somehow it’s already been four!

Therefore I decided to throw myself into something which I had never tried before – holes.

Deliberate holes, not accidental ones.

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These can be useful for all sorts of things, buttonholes mainly, but we tried a pattern for a more decorative holey effect.

I used the ‘yarn over, slip one, knit one, pass slipped over’ method (not the catchiest title in the world) which looks something like this:
Row 1 – k3, *yo, sl 1 knitwise, k1, psso, k2*, rep from * to * to last st, k1.
Row 2 – purl
Row 3 – knit
Row 4 – purl

This is based on a row of 20 stitches with a few rows of stocking stitch worked in already.

Now if, like me, that looks completely alien to you, don’t panic. It took me about 10 minutes to figure out what it all meant, and once I was into the swing of things I picked it up pretty quickly.

Translated, it means this:

k3 – knit three stitches as normal
yo – pass the yarn over so it is in ‘purl’ position ie in front of the knitting, rather than trailing behind.
sl 1 knitwise – go to knit a stitch but instead of passing the yarn over simply transfer, ‘slip’, it onto the other needle.
k1 – knit one stitch as normal.
psso – pass slipped stitch over. The stitch you slipped off needs to be slipped over the one you just knitted, it will be easy to spot because it will be slightly diagonal. Put the needle in from top to bottom and slip over the stitch to the left.
k2 – knit two as normal

This should be repeated four times if you have twenty stitches.

Bored of stocking stitch? Stick some holes in and jazz it up a bit. This can be used for anything from the most basic scarves to little coin purses or even worked into a hat to make a decorative lacy effect. Have fun and experiment.

More knitting updates soon!

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Crafty Magazine

Have you read Crafty yet? Why not?!

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I discovered it after flicking through the vast sea of magazines in Asda whilst waiting for Tom. I suppose the reason why I picked it up in the first place is because of the cute cover it has every month, featuring items which you can make from the tutorials inside. These tutorials are plentiful and well written, with the most beautiful photography.

Another reason for picking it up and paying the £5 price tag (I never buy magazines, so this is expensive for me) is that it came with a free gift – a little purse clasp. Every month I have received another free item; there are always several tutorials on ways in which to use your free gift inside, in the most clever ways.

This magazine isn’t just for craft tutorials, there are features on members of the crafting community, quirky events happening around the country (The Tweed Run, anyone?) and a directory of useful links for buying materials or finding inspiration from featured blogs. This led me to discover, amongst other things, the awesome Seamless blog, where seamstress Elena Cresci either thrifts or sews her own clothes, resisting the lures of high street fashion chains. It’s well worth a read if you haven’t already.

I only bought one issue and decided to buy a subscription. I decided that it was full of the things which I find the most appealing about the crafting community – bright colours, quirky handmade items, beautiful photos, and easy and clever DIYs which make ordinary items just a bit more special.
It was only £25 for 6 issues, and I got another free gift – a camera!

You can buy Crafty from most large supermarkets, or check out their blog here.

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