I make the mistakes so you don’t have to

Last minute necklace

So, I think the necklace looked ok in the end. There were a couple of problems. There always are with me. You will notice that the necklace is tied with double slip knots. What I actually bought was a coil and hook clasp from Hobbycraft. Well, firstly the hook is really stiff, there is no give in it to open it. I’ve written to the manufacturer to complain as it is pretty useless. Before I realised that though, I tried attaching it to the lace, which basically involves doubling over the lace and shoving it into the coil, squeezing the bottom of the coil, preferably with pliers. Not teeth. If you use teeth you are liable to chip one of them. They really should warn you of that on the packing. I didn’t mention it in my complaint though.

The pendant is turquoise and the seed beads are gold and blue

Still the double slip knot is pretty nifty. Tutorial for it here. It’s actually much more simple than I thought. Saves buying a clasp and means the wearer can adjust the length according to preference. I wrapped it in brown paper and embellished with a ribbon. I’d like to make out that I use brown paper because it’s chic, minimalist and eco friendly. We’ve already established that I don’t do chic. In actual fact I am both too tight and disorganised to buy proper wrapping paper. When it’s one of Celia’s friend’s birthdays, or even grandma’s, I get her to draw on the paper. Then I seem chic, minimalist, eco friendly and like a mum who fosters her children’s creativity. Win win I think.

The birthday friend didn’t open it while I was there, but I am seeing her again on Thursday. I shall take whether she wears it or not a measure of whether she likes it. No pressure.

Simple but pretty packaging

Oh, and that little teaser I gave the other day? That was another little disaster. It was actually blackboard vinyl, in a sticker form. But it isn’t going to work in my planned project, I actually need something slightly different. So if anyone has any innovative ideas as to what I can do with an A3 blackboard sticker I’d receive them gratefully. When I do get around to the proposed project I will tell you what you need and where you can get it. I make the mistakes, kids, so you don’t have to!




A critical appraisal of my major works to date

So the good thing about the start of this blog is that I can show case things that I have made up till now which makes me look really productive, but in fact have taken me years to complete!

I was taught to crochet by a lovely woman called Kristina who runs the knitting group that I go to. She doesn’t have a blog as she is too busy actually making and selling things to fanny around writing about them, but I can assure you that if she had one you’d love it! Anyway, I started going to her knitting group, in her lovely farm house, Betty in tow, who was about 18 months then, having attempted to knit a scarf for my dad. Well, this scarf was meant to be a long, fashionable type thing, but somehow ended up being twice as wide at the bottom then at the top. Of course I couldn’t deliberately increase a knitted stitch if I tried! So Kristina taught me to crochet and I fell in love. I’m a real believer in just getting stuck in to something. If I try and learn something by first practising individual parts I’ll get board pretty quickly. So the first thing I made was a corsage which I gave to a friend. I’m not sure she was that impressed as I’ve never seen her wear it!

So the second thing was this crib tie:

Teddy crib tie
The second thing I ever crocheted!

This was for my friend’s new baby. I’m rather proud of it. Both projects came from First Crochet by Lesley Stanfield, a great book which offers projects which incorporate each new stitch you learn. Obviously I was too impatient to start at the beginning of the book!

I have a sewing machine that I inherited from my mum. When I say inherited that sounds all lovely and traditional doesn’t it? A well worn machine, the fibres of a generation homemade children’s clothing still embedded in the cogs? Nope, she was bought it a couple of years ago along with a few metres of Liberty fabric to start a new hobby. I’m not sure she ever used it. I am my mother’s daughter. However I acquired the machine and using the power of internet tutorials I figured out how to make it go. And instead of spending valuable time practising my craft by making drawstring bags, I cut my sewing teeth making this tepee for Betty’s 2nd birthday:

Betty's teepee
It's a teepee not a wigwam!

And it is definitely a tepee, not a wigwam, I checked! The fabric was upholstery fabric on sale for £5 a metre. The pattern was from Cool Spaces for Kids, a lovely book with ideas for den type things for children. The pattern isn’t perfect; one of the panels comes out upside down, though it is fairly obvious if you pay attention as you are cutting it out. The elastic loops for the canes are too big, and I can’t figure out how to stop the canvass sliding down the canes. However, it was the first thing I made with a sewing machine and as long as you don’t look too closely as the seams I think it is pretty impressive, if you don’t mind me blowing my own peace pipe.

The next thing I hauled my sewing machine out for was a baby sling. Loath to fork out upwards of £50 for one I did my usual “I could make one of those” – and I actually did. Here it is:

Mei Tai

It’s a Mei Tai style sling. There are loads of tutorials online and I basically picked the bits I wanted from different ones. Jan Andrea has links to a great selection. The basic frame is two layers of black canvas, with a panel of fabric from a pretty fat quater sewn on top, just for decoration. The shoulder straps are padded for about the first 30cm with some cheap fleece. The layers of canvas and fleece together were a challenge for my machine. There were blood, sweat and tears over this creation. But it was well worth it. I started putting Iris in it from about 4 months. She loves it, it’s comfy for both of us, and I am just getting the hang of a back carry with it.

Final exhibit in my showcase owes its craftsmanship mainly to my husband. We got the idea from this website http://blachindle.wordpress.com/2009/02/02/play-kitchen/, pulling apart an old butcher’s block from Argos and adding some Ikea accessories. We started our version around October 2009 with the aim of giving it to Betty for Christmas. 10 months later it was languishing two thirds finished under a sheet, rather unconvincingly hidden from our two year old. Last summer I announced to DH that I was not having our second baby until the damn thing was finished, which is why at 8 and a half months pregnant I was in the garden sanding and painting our labour of love. Don’t you just want bake little wooden cupcakes in it?

Play kitchen

The mini utensils and pans are also from Ikea. This is the neatest it’s ever looked. It is now mostly filled with Peppa Pig toys and finger puppets made from Cebeebies magazine…

Play Kitchen