Monday, 20 December 2010

Last minute panic

Its the time of year when I always ask myself why on earth I don't just buy all my presents and cards like everyone else instead of putting myself through the last minute panic of getting everything finished before the 25th. Of course I would much rather make a gift for someone than rush around the shops grabbing things that "will do" for family and friends. But it is hard when handmade is not appreciated by everyone and something I've spent time and thought on is tossed aside with hardly a glance. However when someone really is pleased with their gift it makes all the indifference of others fade away. I'm sure all you other crafters out there feel the same so rant over! And it is partly my own fault for not being organised enough and leaving everything to the last minute every year instead of taking my own advice and starting in September - like I always mean to!
I've managed to finish and post my cards this weekend at least - and I made some items for my charity shop last week too. I really enjoyed making these Christmassy bookmarks and packaging them up attractively is almost my favourite part of the creative process now that I've collected together all this lovely stash with the help of my lovely proxy Papertrey shopper in Hawaii. All the stamps I've used on these projects are from Papertrey or Waltzingmouse Stamps. Now back to my knitting needles!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

A 1950s Christmas

As I what I've been up to recently is mostly Christmas 'top secret' stuff and can't be shown here, I thought I would do a scrapbook page to at least have something new for you to see. This time of year always makes me think of the past and the happy times we had as children. Here we are circa 1956 posing for our Dad with some of our new toys - Dad made the school desk for us and we played with it for years after. I just love these doodled Christmas lights from Jenni Dipzinski at 2Peas in a Bucket. They remind me so much of the lights we had on our Christmas tree at that time and are perfect for this page. Do you remember how exciting it was when the tree arrived and at last Christmas really was nearly here? Of course in those days we didn't start Christmas in September as it seems we do now, and the tree and decorations didn't go up until a couple of days before Christmas Day. Here we are again a year later with our tree and me in the nurse uniform Father Christmas kindly brought me!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Wrap up Warm!

Here's another birthday card I made last week for one of our knitting group. Very apt for the weather we are enduring at the moment. This image (from a copyright-free book I have) would also make a sweet Christmas card I think - especially if it is accompanying a handknitted gift. You can copy the image at the bottom of this post.
We've been suffering below zero temperatures for over a week now and there is no end in sight according to the weather report I've just heard on the radio. Although the snow is beautiful when the sun shines we are now all rather fed up with trying to get about and keep warm. Sitting still crafting is very uncomfortable unless I wear about 5 layers and wrap a blanket round my legs. But this is nothing compared to the suffering of my garden birds. I'm feeding them every day of course but imagining how they manage to survive the long night - if they do - is not something I like thinking about. I was rather pleased to find our local pet shop had sold out of bird seed and peanuts last weekend - its nice to think so many people still want to help our birds in these difficult economic times. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this Collared Dove's partner hasn't succumbed to the cold as I didn't see it in the garden today!
Here's the image I used on my card - click on it then right click to save to your computer.

Edit: Just thought you might like to know the Collared Dove's mate is safe and sound and has been visiting over the past few days - which have been much less cold thank goodness!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Friendly Snowman

Just a quick post for any of my fellow Papertrey Ink maniacs out there that have the Friendship Jar Holiday Fillers stampset. I may be stating the obvious here, but has anyone else noticed the small snowman stamp is the same size/shape as the large snowman wearing the top hat? I was able to create two different snowmen by masking the large one and stamping the small one on top. Here are the two versions for comparison. I made up my two jars and added them to some pre-printed card bases I bought last year at a craft event. They'd make a nice set of, say, 6 cards all made up a bit differently for variety.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Two Soups! (of the Snowman variety)

Did you ever see that cringe-making sketch from the Victoria Wood show where Julie Walters appears as a rather ancient waitress? Its one of my favourites and of course you can see it on Youtube (there's a link on the picture here).

I've made my two Snowman Soups for the up-coming late night Christmas shopping evening at the charity shop using some "ingredients" from a local supermarket (instant hot chocolate sachet, mini marshmallows and peppermint candy cane), the Papertrey Favor It Box 2 die and some digital stamps from Whimsie Doodles. I'll be interested to see if they sell as Snowman Soup is still not a well-known idea here in the UK. However I think they make a nice little treat for co-workers, teachers or a child (or adult) whose been very well behaved!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Some time to myself today

I've been a bad blogger over the past couple of weeks but I have been keeping my hands busy with lots of Christmas projects. There will be stuff to see soon for those who are interested, including my second idea for those little Christmas cottages (see below). But to prove I have created something recently, I'm showing off a couple of projects here.

I finished this Cedar Leaf Shawlette for my sister's birthday at the end of October. I'm really pleased with how it turned out and will be making one for myself after Christmas. Its a gorgeous pattern I purchased and downloaded from Alana at Never Not Knitting. I love the way she presents her pattern PDFs - they are a pleasure to knit from. I've plans to knit her Shawl Collared Cowl for my nieces for Christmas.

And for any other knitters out there, I'm sharing this sweet image I used for the card at the top of this post. I made it for the birthday of one of the girls in our Knit & Natter group last week. Its another copyright-free image from one of my Dover books. Very suitable for any knitter you might need a card for. I've also used that lovely Hero Arts wreath stamp that everyone seems to have in their stash at the moment, and the knitted stitch background stamp from Claire's (Waltzingmouse Stamps) Faux Fun set - perfect for presenting all my knitting and crochet projects!
Had a few hours to myself this afternoon, so I demanded the car from my son and nipped down the valley to our local seaside town for a couple of things I can't purchase here. Its been a lovely bright day and the high wind we've had over the past few days has disappeared, so I decided to walk on the beach and watch the sunset. I love the beach like this, empty of all but a few dog walkers and the sea birds searching for their suppers.
I'd have stayed longer but it was almost dark and getting cold. I think there will be a frost tonight.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Christmas Tag House

My new Papertrey stamps have arrived from my good blogfriend Yuki in Hawaii - yippee! The first thing I've made is this set of gift tags with the 2010 Holiday Tags set. I love making tags like these and have the two previous Papertrey Christmas tag sets too - you will see some of them in the photograph.

Now, I'm writing this post as I'm a bit undecided on a current project. I've made the tags as a possible filler for these little perspex houses I bought recently on ebay from this great seller. They are really nice quality and were a real bargain at 24 for £4.99 (plus £5.99 p+p). But I am having a bit of trouble deciding what to put in them - they were advertised as containers for potpourri. When I put my tags in the house they just arrange themselves into a pile and don't look very attractive, so another idea is to add in a little hanging tree decoration - this rose-scented house sachet (adapted from here) is my first experiment. But I'm not entirely happy with this either.

My aim is to have the houses finished to sell in my charity shop when we have our local late night Christmas shopping evenings at the beginning of December. Sooooooooo, what I'm really hoping for is some reaction from my faithful blog readers. I know its a bit of a cheek on my part as I've been really lax in commenting myself lately. My only excuse is a new job which is really exhausting me at the moment - I keep falling asleep in the chair in the evenings. What a waste of crafting and blogging time! So please do accept my most sincere apologies if I haven't visited you to comment recently - you can rest assured I've been feeling really bad about it and hope I can buck myself up soon :o(

Friday, 29 October 2010

A Long Walk on a Cold Night!

Along with a couple of thousand other walkers we joined in the Jubilee Tower 200 celebrations here last Sunday night. Music and drumming, laser lights into the sky, a lantern lit procession and fabulous fireworks were enjoyed by all, and the hot drinks and food much appreciated after a long cold walk in the dark. In my photo you can see the tower lit up and the lighted lanterns of the many walkers, young and old, on their way down the mountain.

Moel Famau has been the background to our family lives since we moved here in 1958 and the tower, (or "the fort" as we've always called it) is situated on its highest point. Built to celebrate King George III’s Golden Jubilee, the foundation stone was laid exactly 200 years ago on 25th October 1810 and it was reported that on that occasion too up to 5000 people trekked to the top of Moel Famau to watch. The tower was completed some time after 1815 but a storm in 1862 destroyed the high Egyptian-style tower. It was never rebuilt but the base has remained and those that reach it today are rewarded by fabulous views to the coast, Snowdonia, Liverpool and beyond, and even Blackpool tower can be seen on a clear day.

These three old postcards from my collection show the same scene unchanged over the past 100 years - and probably unchanged since that stormy night in 1862.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

This is how you make one.....

One or two people have asked if there is a pattern for my scented sachets and I thought I should write the instructions here - but really they just couldn't be easier!
I start with a knitted or crochet pocket - the knitted ones are 40 stitches and 24 rows garter stitch. Cast off but don't tie off the last stitch and use a crochet hook to elongate it into a chain about 7" long. Slip stitch the end of the chain into that last stitch to form the fastening cord. Join the back seam and close the bottom using the same yarn and a tapestry needle. The crochet pockets are 37 chain for the foundation row, work a treble (double crochet in the US) into the third chain from hook and then one treble (double) crochet into each chain, joining into a round when you get to the end, being careful not to twist the ring - ask me how I know this! Work about 6 rounds double crochet and in the same way work a chain from the last stitch for the fastening cord. Use up all your odd balls of yarn - double knitting (I think its called worsted in the US) works best for me and size 4mm knitting needles or crochet hook.

Make a pocket about 4" square from some pretty fabric. Depending on the size of my fabric scrap I either cut two squares or a strip with the fold at the top of the sachet. Leave the base of the square open for stuffing. I use toy stuffing and a handful of lavender/spices/rose petals. Enclosing the filling in the stuffing keeps the sachets nice and soft with no sharp poky bits coming through. Close the bottom seam - I find hand sewing the easiest and neatest method but machine stitching would be faster I suppose. Finish off by sewing a matching button to the front of the pocket and hooking the chain loop over the button from the back. See - EASY!

I've also had a request for the little girl peeling apples image I used on my autumn bookmark. She's an image from one of my Dover copyright-free books so I think its in order for me to reproduce her here for sharing. Click on the image to open then right click to save to your computer. Enjoy!

PS: Just read my blog friend Yuki's lovely comment! If you can't knit or crochet what about cutting up an old knitted jumper for the pocket and using ribbon or twine for the fastening. Might try it myself to see how it comes out.

Sunday, 17 October 2010


I like making bookmarks with the Papertrey die and lately I've tried using my Copics and old-fashioned copyright-free images as well as stamps to decorate them. Here are two Autumn style versions and as the latest A Passion for Papertrey challenge is Autumn - hooray! The pumpkins are from Take Three Autumn and the sentiment on the back is from All Booked up.

I find a single layer of cardstock isn't really sturdy enough so I always use two bookmarks back to back - and this gives the opportunity to sandwich something between the two layers, which I then stitch together on my machine.

Sorry for showing off my first Butternut Squash from the garden - we might have it for supper.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Thrift Share Monday

Ok I'm a bit late but I've only just found Apron Thrift Girl's excellent blog and I've been wanting to show off the little Welsh Lady Toby Jug I found in my charity shop a couple of weeks ago. Yes, I know she's a bit strange - toby jugs usually are - but I really like her, especially as she has (or had) "A Present from Bala" printed on her red cloak and Bala is where my Grandmother's family hail from. Unfortunately the printing is almost worn away and is only just decipherable. She looked really pretty holding the last of my sweetpeas.

Friday, 8 October 2010

October beauty

There's still plenty to photograph in the garden in October - berries, late flowers and ripening fruit and veg - so I'm still out snapping when the sun shines - and it has shone recently even though the last couple of days have been dull and misty.

My lovely Clematis "Bill Mackenzie" has been absolutely covered in those pale yellow bells since early June. And you certainly get value for money with this plant as the seedheads are perfectly beautiful; in the beginning they look like a silky tassle and later turn into a feathery star.

My Mum hates the two huge Pampas Grass plants behind the house. I have to admit they are untidy and dangerous plants for most of the year - their leaves are like bread knives, making them very difficult to cut back. My Dad used to burn them when the leaves were turning brown but I'd be scared to try this as I'm sure I'd set the house on fire! But when they start to flower in September you can forgive them anything. I love those tall translucent plumes - especially when the sun is low and they light up like lanterns.

Another fascination for me is the crop of tiny toadstools in front grass platt at this time of year. Definitely homes for fairies!

In the veg patch I've a beautiful Globe Artichoke plant but I'm afraid I never eat them - there are only one or two Globes each year and I tend to leave them on the plant and use them as decorations for the house once they've dried out - they look really pretty at Christmas sprayed with gold. But there is still much to harvest - I can't keep up with the Runner Beans, especially as no one else in the family wants them and its down to my son and I to eat as many as we can while they are small and stringless. I've harvested the Potatoes, Carrots and Apples and put them away for the winter - I tried the short and round varieties of carrot this year and they've been more successful - but still some have been attacked by the dreaded carrot root fly - horrible thing! In the next few weeks I'll be hoping to enjoy my first Butternut Squashes too - something I've not tried growing before.

Well that's the garden diary up to date! I've had a hard time keeping up with my blogging friends this week as I've been so busy with a new job and an order for some crafty items, so I must apologise profusely for my lack of commenting - hopefully I'll get back into my blog hop routine next week.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Very excited!

I really enjoy making these little lavender sachets for my local charity shop - its been a nice way to turn some of the yarn and fabric remnants I've accumulated over the years into funds for a good cause. And as the festive season is on the horizon, last week I thought I'd make some Christmas Spice versions, with crushed cloves and cinnamon sticks replacing the lavender.

Being quite pleased with them myself, you can imagine how excited I was to receive an email from a lady who had bought one and asking if I could make some for her small shop. Don't you love it when someone likes what you've made. I almost feel like I've won a prize or had a promotion! But I'll be busy, busy, busy over the next few weeks as I've also landed myself a little part-time job, and what with my voluntary commitments too, it will almost seem like I'm back in full time employment!

My little note books have also sold quite well recently so I made a few more with an Autumn theme using my lovely Papertrey Friendship Jar stamps. And what do you think to these Halloween gift tags - I thought they would be ideal to turn inexpensive sweets into Halloween 'trick or treat' ammunition easily and cheaply. We don't go overboard on Halloween here in the UK but its nice to give any small members of the family a little something on the night.


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