Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wild Olive Stitch Swap Reveal

Now that I'm no longer just lurking around other people's blogs, I decided that I'd jump in to my first swap too. Wild Olive's Stitch Swap, with an easy timeline and nice compact project seemed like the perfect place to start.

Finished Stitch Swap

My partner listed her preferred color palette as blue, green and turquoise which I love too so was happy to work with. The subject was trickier as she said some of her favorite motifs were cute things, cats, stars and cupcakes. I started with cat sketches (at various points there were also balloons and toadstools with faces) but couldn't settle on a design. Luckily, she'd also included a link to her pinterest board and that helped me come up with this.

Finished WO Stitch Swap

I already had a picture in my mind of a little girl standing on a windy beach. The texture of her hair and face shape came from an inspiration photo on my partner's pintrest board, helping me to bring my mind-picture into focus on paper. Something was missing in my initial drawing so I added the little bunny in the hopes that it would add a dash of the cuteness that she likes.

WO Stitch Swap Detail

I finished it with a plain felt backing as I started to get rather close to our deadline and this had to make it's way off to Argentina! I'm excited that my first foray into Swaps paired me up with an international partner and I hope she likes it.

Back of Stitch Swap

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lovely Fridays

1. Rocking Votives

Pigeon Toe Ceramics
I can't get enough of the clean lines of this range of ceramics. The pop of color added to the interior is the perfect icing on top of the entirely delicious cake.

2. Ruby Sundae by Bonnie and Camille

Oh Ruby Sundae, why are you not in my fabric stash in all your glorious different colors? Someday soon, I promise...

3. Wooly Easter Eggs

woolly easter eggs 2
by The Beauty is in the Detail

Easter is on my mind at the moment and I'd love to tackle one of the cute knitted egg patterns out there (check out this one) but we've established that is well-beyond my current abilities. However, these adorable wrapped eggs might be within reach of my glue gun and I.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Thrifty Finds and Rainbows

There's a little coffee shop and thrift store just around the corner from my house. Although it's small, I've picked up quite a few useful bits and bobs simply because it's proximity makes it easy to swing by regularly.


Last week I struck lucky with a box of sewing supplies and for just two dollars I came away with a pile of zippers in many colors, a vintage metal and cork embroidery hoop and some old wooden bobbins. I have no idea what I might do with the latter but I find them so appealing, I'm sure they'll come in useful at some point.

Thrift Store Finds

I've been carefully rationing my stack of felt for a few months but with my small stock dwindling and in need of a specific color for a project on a deadline it was time to splurge on another order.

Felt Rainbow

I treated myself to a mini rainbow from Benzie Bazaar. Their color selection is wonderful and the quality of the felt is excellent.  I wish I could remember to whom the credit is due but I'm grateful to the blogging world for opening my eyes to the alternatives to the craft felt in the chain stores.

Felt Rainbow

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mother's Day Gardening Tote

I have a terrible head for dates so I often find British Mother's Day creeping up on me completely unawares. This year, for a change, I actually managed to get the date in my calendar far enough in advance to come up with a handmade present for my mam.

Gardener's Tote

My mam has some pretty impressive gardening skills and grows all her own organic vegetables so I knew, with spring in the air, I wanted to create something with a gardening theme. Inspiration was sadly lacking until I spotted this fantastic new paper pieced pattern for a watering can by Amy at Made During Quiet Time. I started it that same afternoon and decided that I'd incorporate it into a practical tote bag.

Gardener's Tote

I used the watering can block as an oversized pocket on the front and the bag itself is a slightly tweaked  version of my favorite tote tutorial. I picked up the fantastic veggie print fabric from Sew Fresh Fabrics a couple of months ago without a particular use in mind, but knowing that it would eventually shape itself into something for my mam.

Happy (British) Mother's Day mam!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lovely Fridays

1. Etched Cuff


Is style the first thing that springs to your mind when you think about the CTA? Me neither. Luckily, there are designers like Lisa York to show us the error of our ways.

2. Hot Chocolate on a Stick


I failed so dismally when I tried this recipe a couple of months ago. I'm torn between giving it another whirl before it gets too warm for hot wintery drinks and the memories of my frustration at the waste of all that high-quality chocolate.

3. Birthday Parade Dress

I adore this fun, girly print (On Parade from Sarah Jane's "Children at Play" collection) and the simple, classic shape of the dress.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A neutral baby: where to start

There are few more thrilling pieces of news a friend can share with me than that they're expecting a baby. Prior to my crafting days (B.C.!) I just shared in the excitement of a new addition to the family and the joy of someone I cared about becoming a mother or father.

These days there is the additional thrill of being able to plan a handmade gift to welcome a new baby to the world. And of course, what a perfect excuse to shop for some delicious modern baby fabrics.

But what do you do if mom and dad have decided not to find out if it's a girl or a boy? That was my dilemma when a good friend of mine recently announced she was having another baby. Luckily inspiration hit pretty quickly in the form of this little guy who'd been on my to-do list for a while:

This adorable little pattern is by Artisania and I couldn't resist him when I spotted it. With this cutie as a starting point a woodlands theme soon came to mind. Of course a theme is all very well but that still leaves a whole world of fabric to choose a neutral palette from - a big challenge for a novice quilter!

I've picked out a couple of perfect prints so far and the color scheme is coming together. But what would you choose?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lovely Fridays

1. Tangerine Tango Quilt Challenge

"Shattered" by SheCanQuilt

There's so much delicious orange-inspired quilting over at the Tangerine Tango Quilt Challenge. The winners will be announced on Monday, but let's face it, the real winners are lazy lurkers like me who get to enjoy all the eye candy without putting in any effort whatsoever.

2. Pleated Sailor Dress

Lizz Basinger Designs

With spring on it's way, aren't you just dying for a cute little sailor dress?

3. A patchwork Yurt


I don't think it's possible for me to love this more, I can't even imagine the amount of work that went into it. Linzi Upton is clearly a genius. Maybe I could make a mini version for the pooch? A bit like the teepee our friends Miss M and Mr B have!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Fabric Happies

I know the fabric fans among you understand the feeling of the Fabric Happies: those beautiful bundles of color and pattern, works of art in their own right, yet ripe with possibilities for projects. There are so many different sources for fabric addicts looking to score - you can even have your fix delivered direct to the door. For the ultimate high, I recommend a trip to The Needle Shop.

Fellow addicts, I apologize, I am about to make you writhe in envy. This house of delights is not only in my city but I can walk there in less than 30 minutes. If I hop on a bus it's 15 minutes door to door.

It's ok, if you need to take a moment, go ahead.

This weekend there was a 20% off sale so I took along one of my treasured Christmas gift vouchers from my "american family" (every Brit abroad should get themselves faux-adopted) and crossed some goodies off my wishlist.

Sunday fabric shopping

On the bottom is a home decorator fabric called "Annie" which is destined, believe it or not, to become a rather stylish dog bed for my big Billy beast. There's a whole yard of Robert Kaufman's Metro living in dusty blue for a pillow I have in mind, as well as a bit of general stashing.

There were not one, not two, but THREE funky sugar skull patterns in stock so I struggled to pick a finalist. I almost couldn't resist the sparkles in the Alexander Henry Folklorico but the print was just a little too large for the projects I had in mind. One of my foster dogs went to a fabulous home with a talented tattoo artist who's particularly fond of these bold Mexican motifs. Flower the dancing chihuahua was with me for about five months so I was thrilled to send her off to the perfect forever home and have been meaning to put together a little gift for them. I can't decide whether to make a little fleece-lined jacket to fend off the Chicago snow or a leash, collar and stuffed bone set. What do you think?

I also treated myself to something extra special:

Kokka goodies

Usually I just drool in vain over all the adorable japanese prints that hover way out of reach of my price point. This time, with my gift voucher in hand and 20% off I treated myself to a quarter yard of the cars and a whole half yard of those fun cameras. I don't even have a project in mind! No doubt I'll stretch them out and find a way to fussy cut them into about 30 different projects over the next year.

Thank you Needle Shop!

fabric store

Monday, March 5, 2012

CRAFTernoon Tea

Is there anything better than having a partner in crime for your crafty endeavors? I spent Sunday afternoon with one of mine, my friend A, having Crafternoon tea. Which of course, is exactly what it sounds like - afternoon tea with crafty company.

Aussie cakes

A always lays on something tasty and this week we got to sample Aussie cakes, delicious oaty-buttery bites slathered with raspberry peach champagne jam. Mmmm, are you jealous? Ask nicely and maybe she'll post the recipe in the comments. I'm afraid I was too busy wrestling with knitting needles to beg for it.

Mallory cowl in progress

Theoretically, this curly sea-monster is destined to be a Mallory Cowl but being an utterly remedial knitter I'm not sure I even bought the correct yarn, and there's already a mysterious hole in the middle. It's my first attempt with circular knitting needles and only my second knitted project. I'm much better with a crochet hook but I received an absolutely adorable kit for a yarn bunny for Christmas so I'm determined to perfect improve my knitting skills before I pull out the lovely blush pink cashmere-merino wool and teeny tiny needles.

On the other hand my cowl is TEAL! How can anyone resist such a delicious yarn color? So I'll call the "holes" a special lace effect and I'll wear it anyway to keep me cosy until spring arrives in the Windy City.
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