Life got in the way

It’s a very long time since I posted anything on my blog here. When I came back from The Gambia in May, I had loads of plans for craft projects, and for keeping my blog updated. But life doesn’t always go to plan, does it? Without going into too much detail, things have been a bit complicated since my return. My mum had a nasty diagnosis, and we have spent a lot of time at the hospital for two rounds of surgery and follow-up treatment. My house that I rent out needed lots of renovating and decorating, which kept me very busy for several months. And on a much nicer note, we’ve had lots of friends and family visiting over the summer, which has been lovely. But all this has meant I haven’t had much time for crafting, and even less time for blogging about it!

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Happy New Year!

Firstly I want to wish all my readers a very Happy New Year. Whatever your wishes and dreams, I hope this year brings you everything you hope for and more.

New Year – new look. I thought it was about time I changed the look of the blog, and for the time being I have opted for this look. I will probably be tinkering with it over the next few days, to get things the way I want them, so don’t be surprised if things change again One change you may notice is that only the start of the post appears on the page – this is so people don’t have to spend hours scrolling down the page to find previous posts.

I have enjoyed looking at lots of other blogs and seeing how people have summed up their year, often with a retrospective of their ‘makes’ for the year. However, I have got a ‘Completed in 2013‘ page, so I didn’t want to repeat myself too much! But as 2013 was the year I learnt to tat, I have added a new page to chart my tatting journey from the first tatted ring to my first tatting design. You can find it on the links at the top of the page, or you can click here.

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Christmas biscornu

Having arrived back in The Gambia this week, I’m beginning to get my breath back and turn my attention to crafty things again. I’m still beavering away at the tatting, but of course, I’m beginning to think about Christmas as well! For a Brit, the idea of Christmas when the temperature is in the 30s is a bit strange, and although Christmas is celebrated here, it’s not a huge festival. And there is nothing like the commercial frenzy that you get in the UK, and I daresay in other countries too. Last year I came back to Gambia in early December, and it was a huge relief to get away from the craziness (although I did make, wrap and deliver presents before I left).

However, last year I decided to open my Etsy shop, and at the moment I am focusing on selling cross-stitch patterns, which can be downloaded. Naturally, trying to post physical items would be impossible from The Gambia. I designed some little Christmas biscornu last year, and I’ve just reactivated the listings ready for this year. I love the quirkiness of biscornu, which are surprisingly simple to make, and don’t take too long either. They are perfect for little gifts, but they could be made into tree ornaments very simply by adding a length of ribbon.

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Tatted bookmark

A proper tatted bookmark

Yay! I have finally managed to complete a larger tatting project. I found the pattern for this lovely bookmark here, and as soon as I saw it I wanted to try and make it. I thought it would look lovely in traditional white rather than using some of the variegated coloured thread I bought a while ago, so I dug around in my crafting hoard and found some crochet cotton I’ve had hidden away for years. I took a deep breath and got started……

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Tatted doily

Some proper tatting at last!

Even though I’ve been quite busy over the last few weeks, I have been determined to make progress with my tatting, and although I say it myself, I am really pleased.

This is my first attempt at a doily, using the variegated thread I treated myself to a while back (or ‘backalong’ as they say here in Devon). Now the eagle-eyed experts tatters among you had better not look too closely, because there are a few mistakes, (which are not too difficult to spot actually!), but I am still very pleased to have finally finished a larger piece of tatting. This is a free pattern, which you can find here.

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Tatting – my first attempt!

Now this may not look very much, but actually I’m very proud of it. For many years I have really admired tatting, and had a couple of attempts at learning to do it, but always failed miserably. However, I decided I would give it another go, and this time I managed to find a fantastic series of video tutorials called ‘The Absolute Beginner‘, which led me to the ‘Tatted Treasures‘ blog, run by Heather. Although I’m still finding it a challenge, and have made lots of false starts, but I am making slow progress.

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A crochet hook roll: my very first tutorial

Last week I spent a lot of time beavering away to make a crochet roll as a birthday present for my daughter who has just taken up crocheting. I was really pleased with the result:

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I took photos as I went along, and so I thought I would make a tutorial to share. Please feel free to take a look, and let me know what you think.

A craft fair and much more.

Yesterday I had planned to visit the Contemporary Craft Festival at Bovey Tracey in South Devon, and tell you all about it, but I have done so much more this weekend, that a few ‘non-stitching’ things need to be slipped in too!

It’s been a beautiful sunny weekend here in Devon, so my mother and I decided we would visit the Contemporary Craft Fair to get some inspiration, and of course, have an enjoyable afternoon out. We’ve never been before, and to be honest it wasn’t quite what I expected, as it was more of a showcase for professional crafts workers. There was some very interesting work there, such as ceramics and lots of jewellery, but sadly little fabric craft. Photographs were not encouraged either, which I suppose is understandable, but it means I haven’t got any to show you. 😦 However, we had a beautiful drive through the Devon countryside, and enjoyed our afternoon.

But because of the lovely weather, I’ve had a chance to spend some time on one of my other (many) hobbies – geocaching. If you haven’t heard of it before, geocaching is a worldwide game, where small boxes are hidden around the countryside (and in towns too). To find them you use a GPS device) in my case, my phone), and look up clues on the internet. You can then go out to find them, using the GPS. It’s a great way to get out and about, especially if you want to encourage children to get walking – my granddaughter loved it. People leave pocket money toys in the boxes for children to swap, and sometimes little key ring gadgets that you can collect and take on to another box. All this can be logged online. If you want to know more, take a look at www.geocaching.com. I had a lovely walk in the countryside this afternoon, so here are a few photos I took along the way – I have a feeling I may be using some of them for craft activities before too long.

 

Here’s a lovely view across to the northern edge of Dartmoor, one of the UK’s national parks.

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I think this might be an ancient standing stone. This field was covered with buttercups!

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The trees almost made a tunnel to walk through.

And there were so many wild flowers…

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Very unusual to see bluebells in June – we have had a very cold spring which has delayed them.

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And the last part of the lane before getting back to the car.

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When I came home I decided to make a start on my latest project – some patchwork using the material left over from the smocked dress I made. I haven’t done patchwork for years, and when I did, I was sewing by hand and strengthening the thread with beeswax, which was all very time consuming. This time I plan to use my sewing machine. I recently found a great tutorial for pinwheel patchwork on Oh Sew Tempting, and that got me very inspired. If you are interested in pinwheel patchwork, you can see the tutorial here.

Well, that was my weekend, which I really enjoyed. I hope you had a good weekend too!

Starting out!

I have started this blog so that I can share my various craft projects, and hopefully learn about the projects other people are working on, so I hope you will leave a comment or write something about your current project. I will start by putting up a few projects that I have already completed , but eventually I will add current projects too. Like many crafters, I always have several projects on the go at any one time, but I am especially fond of miniature needlecraft such as biscornu and stitched cards. However, from time to time, I tackle a larger project such as a birth or anniversary sampler, or larger cross-stitched picture. I also enjoy dress-making, card making (using my own photos), and silk painting. I would love to know what you like working on, and how you get on with all your various craft activities.