This weekend my taller-other-half and I go to the Algarve in Portugal for our week’s summer holiday. I can’t wait, so in preparation I decided to do some research into local cloths that I might be able to source for future stitching!
Chita de Alcobaça is a traditional 15th-18th century Portuguese fabric (originally from India) that uses a myriad of colour, stripes and floral/fruit/bird motifs to represent its Indo-European heritage. Each pattern has a name and there are many different patterns in varying colours and designs. I’ve tried to find out more information on WHY this fabric is so popular in Portugal but Google doesn’t seem to present me with many answers… can anyone help me out with this?
The other option is for me to focus solely on the infamous Galo de Barcelos (Portuguese rooster) design that’s also all over the place. Legend has it that the rooster (whilst dead) intervened in a court case and proved the innocence of a falsely accused man… In fact, I think I’d rather focus on this guy anyway, he look so much more fun than flowers and stripes!
I guess I’ll see what I can find whilst I’m over there…
First of all, a big THANK YOU to Nirvana of Nirvana’s Pocketful who has nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award this week! Nirvana is an 11-year old craft blogger and is, perhaps, one of the best crafters I’ve come across – heck, she can even make a bow and arrow out of a bunch of sticks…
The rules for the Versatile Blogger Award are:
1. Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
3. Nominate 15 other bloggers to receive the award after you.
So, in no particular order, here are 7 things you will never regret knowing about me:
In response to my wonderful award, I’m choosing to nominate the following 15 blogs for a Versatile Blogger Award of their own. If you’re on this list it’s because I love reading your posts – keep up the good work!
Around the same time every year, the people of Japan lie in wait for the first blossom of the season to bloom. It’s called hanami – or flower viewing – and is an incredibly significant event. Every year the Japanese meteorological association tracks the front of warm weather (known as the sakura zensen, or cherry blossom front) as it moves across the country and even gives daily updates alongside the evening weather forecast. The blooms only last for a week or two, so taking precious photographs of the sakura (cherry blossom) is a notable occasion: thousands of people are known to take to the streets in order to celebrate nature at its best.
For my own miniature sakura matsuri celebration I decided to do something a bit crafty. I live in the UK, where spring hasn’t quite sprung yet, and so the presence of actual, real-life blossom is somewhat lacking. This time last year I was in Paris: the streets of which looked even more picturesque when lined with trees filled with pretty, pink flowers. This year, however, I’m in the North of England and so felt cherry blossoms will have to suffice!
To make the felt Japanese cherry blossom:
Cut out 4 small petal shapes in felt.
Use a needle to thread a piece of cotton through the base of each petal, doing a couple of stitches on each. Don’t do the stitches too tight and be sure to leave a length of thread at each end.
Hold both ends of the cotton and carefully pull the thread tight so that the petals gather together.
Tie the ends of the cotton in a tight knot.
There you have it! You could make a few felt flowers and then string them together, applique them onto a cushion or make them into little brooches!
A while ago I wrote a postabout the 120 hexagons of fabric and paper I was cutting out and stitching together in order to make a patchwork knitting bag. Now, a few weeks (alright, a few months) later, the end has been reached and I have one, completed knitting bag! Applaud if you will.
Once all the hexagons had been sewn by hand and in the right order – allow about 10 weeks for this - the next job was to make the lining. As the external patchwork of the bag has more colours than a double rainbow, I decided to keep the inside simple and just use a plain, pink linen fabric. I also bought some round, plastic, wood-a-like handles from eBay that give the finished knitting bag a nice, homely touch and make it look more like the photo in the pattern!
Although I’ve been moaning about how difficult the hexagons are to sew together, it was actually the lining that proved to be the hardest part. The Cath Kidston knitting bag pattern is incredibly clear, with diagrams, right through all the patchwork-making stages. Once it’s time to cut, stitch and attach the lining, however, there are 2 bullet points, no pictures and the instructions may as well be in Russian. If you’re also stuck on this part, I recommend viewing this threadon the Sewing Forum which proved to be very useful.
And so, 12 weeks from the date of inception: my patchwork knitting bag is finished (and already full too…)!
Never one to be sat doing nothing, probably for fear of wasting my life away or perhaps just as a nervous disposition, I always like to be looking for little projects to be getting on with. This includes knitting woolly hearts in those quiet moments at work and sticking lace to tea light holders just to pass 5 minutes on a lonely Saturday afternoon.
Anyway, one sunny evening this week I found myself in this exact predicament and so made this little string of felt hearts to hang on the living room door handle. I’d seen a similar project on Pinterest and, since I have recently bought myself a new pair of pinking shears from eBay, thought that this would be the perfect little project on which to test them out. And boy are they sharp.
I cut out 10 hearts in 5 different colours of felt, put two of them back-to-back and stitched around the edges with matching embroidery thread. I left a gap on one side of each heart so I could stuff it with wadding and make it a bit more 3D. I also left a string of embroidery thread at the point of each heart so that I could string them all together later on.
When stringing the felt hearts together I chose to thread a few heart-shaped beads out of my craft box onto the embroidery thread and at the end of the bottom heart to give it a bit more weight.
What do you think? This is a very easy craft to do and is great for using up scraps of felt. I’m considering making several more to hang on all the other door handles around the house! Perhaps I should try a different shape next time?
This week I’ve been teaching myself some new knitting stitches as, unless I just want to knit scarves and snakes forever, I need to know how to read knitting patterns and do the relevant stitches in the relevant places. I decided to start easy, so chose a simple pattern for a little woollen heart from my Let’s Knit magazine. The pattern was asking me to sl1, kfb and psso which, to me, is complete gobbledegook. Learning the language of knitting would, therefore, be paramount.
To learn the stitches, I headed over to YouTube and simply typed in the stitch names. The result was the Deramores YouTube channel- a channel absolutely full of ‘how tos’ which will now, no doubt, become an invaluable resource to me. I memorised the techniques, followed the pattern letter by letter and here’s the finished result.
Talking of not wanting to knit snakes forever… when visiting my parents house this weekend (with the ulterior motive of ‘borrowing’ some wool) I came across this long, stripy scarf/snake (snarf?) that I began when I was about 8 years old. Using odd scraps of my mum’s wool I used to knit a stripe every time I felt like learning to knit. I never finished it, but having come across it 16 years later I decided to cast off what I’d completed, sew it up, fill it with toy stuffing and give Cedric the snake some perssssonality! (Sorry). What do you think?!
I ordered some new knitting books from Amazon this weekend too, so hopefully they’ll be posted out soon and I can get started on a multitude of woolly cats. Amazon are very slow with their delivery these days – if I can get to work in the snow, so should they!
This post isn’t about sewing (sorry) but about the Easter egg making kit I have recently inherited. Over the past few weeks, my family-in-law have been tidying out my grandma-in-law’s house and have come across a treasure trove of retro memorabilia. They all know what I’m like and so, very kindly, have been saving me all sorts of vintage bits and pieces to make use of. This make-your-own Easter egg kit happens to be one of them!
Inside the little stamped and addressed cardboard box I found some plastic egg moulds, an instruction booklet and some pieces of patterned foil. The instructions pretty much read ‘paint the inside of the moulds with chocolate, leave to set and wrap in the foil provided’. EASY. Easter is going to be a breeze this year…
So, I melted my Sainsbury’s milk chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water, dipped in my pastry brush and set to work painting the inside of the little egg moulds. Stage one; paint the moulds: complete. I did a few layers of chocolate, leaving it to cool in the fridge in between each one, and then popped the finished egg halves out. Stage two; let the chocolate set: complete.
I joined the two halves of the eggs together using a bit more melted chocolate, left them in the fridge for as long as I could wait for and then set towards wrapping them in the foil. So far so good. However, wrapping very delicate, spherical chocolate eggs in foil is much harder than it looks: for a start, how do the professionals get the foil so smooth? A few attempts later and I’m none the wiser. A bit of clever Easter staging (see photo above) seems to have solved the problem. I knew there was a reason why I’d been hoarding those fluffy Easter chicks for all these years!