Wednesday, 30 March 2011

ta da!

Well, the lovely doctor gave me some magic cream that made me feel a million times better almost straight away.  I felt so much better that Mr B and I were able to paint the front room over the weekend.  We heard on Thursday that the curtains were ready, so it seemed a shame not to get everything repainted and have them fitted this week!

Here's the before shot - I can't believe how much better the dodgy paintwork and faded curtains look in a photo, but believe me it was looking pretty sad after 10 years:

Now here's the ta da moment with the shiny new curtains and a splendid (if I do say so myself!) new paint-job:

Mr B has been very amused by my near-constant stroking of the new curtains.  Here's the view from my crochet spot on the sofa:

At the risk of becoming a curtain-bore, here's a close-up...

After all the excitement, I even managed to start hooking up a necklace for my Mum for Mother's Day on Sunday.  She's going on a cruise in May, so she asked for something in nautical colours.  I hope it's not too 4th of July rather than nautical...!

For any other happy hookers, I made the choker with a 4.5mm hook in alternating coloured rows of half-trebles (half double crochet for those of you in the States!) and then finished off with a row of double stitches (sc for the US) as I was worried it looked a little out of balance with the foundation row.  I then turned it ninety degrees and worked a row of trebles (doubles!) along the edge and finished of with 2dc, 2 htr, 1 tr, 2htr, 2dc to form a little scallop (2sc, 2hdc, 1dc, 2hdc, 2sc).  I've done the same on the other end and will actually use a big popper as a fastening - it's invisible from the outside and ends up looking pretty neat and tidy!

The flower is from an antique pattern that's really meant for size 10 fine crochet cotton.  I've tried that out before, but my Mum has a big personality and prefers chunkier jewellery, so this seemed like the right time to try it with a thicker yarn.  Tonight I'll be making 2 smaller flowers to hang below this one.  I shall put on a trusty naval-striped top tomorrow and take some photos.

I guess you might like to see the other pieces I've made.  The first followed the antique pattern to the letter in classic ecru size 10 cotton with a 1.5mm steel hook:

The other one was inspired by the lovely Desigual top I bought to wear to my Nan's 90th birthday celebrations in January this year.  Again, I made up the pattern for the choker and used the flower pattern to match up with the top:

The problem I find with the cotton is that it's so delicate that it easily warps out of shape, which is a shame.  I'm loving the DK version, though!  You live, you learn! :)

It's been a very productive few days and I seem to have lots more lined up before the weekend, including Mother's Day crafts with my Brownies tomorrow evening!  I hope you've managed some crafty time this week!

- Rachel x

Thursday, 24 March 2011

every cloud...

I'm still not well and have another doctor's appointment this afternoon, but I'm trying to look at the positives.

I've had more time for hooking this week, so my shawl is coming on apace:

I'm pleased with how it's going and think blocking it is going to make a real difference, turning the little "flowers" into crisp, pointy stars.

Outside, my little dwarf peach tree has made it through the winter and rewarded me with the best display of pretty pink blossom - they smell great, too!  We had 5 peaches off it last year and we're hoping for even more this year.  I would never have thought we could have harvested peaches in the South of England, but evidently our patio is warmer than it looks!

We've also finally decided on the paint colours for our living room revamp.  Whilst I've loved the decor we've had for the past 10 years, we've decided to have a change.  The curtains have faded badly, so the lovely Mr B has treated me to some new ones made up in Designers Guild fabric.  When I was up in London the other week with my Mum and brother we had a wander down the Kings Road in the sunshine.  The DG window stopped me right in my tracks.  This beautiful fabric was hanging right down their enormous front windows and it was love at first sight:

It's called Mariedal and is made up of printed dahlias in shades of grey, some of which have then been overpainted in cobalt blue, lilac and yellow.  As we wanted to keep our grey carpet and all the furnishings, this is just the update we need, along with a new paint-job in Dulux shades with the usual exotic names "Night Jewels" and "Holiday Blues".  We were hoping to paint this weekend, but we'll have to see what the doctor says this afternoon.  I shall post some before and after pics when it's all done...

If we can't paint this weekend, all is not lost, as I've dug out some felt and my cutting mat to make up some of the Tsunami Flowers from my Japanese book.  If the weather stays nice I may even get to do some crochet in the garden.  Now doesn't that sound civilized?! :)

I have my fingers crossed that you all feel better than I do right now!

- Rachel

Sunday, 20 March 2011

poorly sick

I realise I've been a little elusive for the past week or so.  Unfortunately I've been rather poorly, and it's still lingering.  I won't bore you with the gory details, but normal service will (hopefully) resume in the next couple of days!

- Rachel x

Monday, 14 March 2011

horrible irony

On Saturday, less than 24 hours after I'd first heard about the dreadful earthquake and tsunami in Japan, my latest craft book "Traditional Japanese Tsunami Fabric Flowers" arrived from the lovely Megumi over at Pomadour 24.  Fortunately, Megumi is safe and well, and seems more worried that purchases from her shop might be delayed by the disaster than anything else!

I've been intrigued by these flowers ever since I saw them made in sugar in the beautiful Delicate Sugarcraft from Japan - a wonderful birthday present a couple of years ago.

I'm a huge admirer of crafts from Japan - they always look so fresh and clean.  The attention to detail is amazing - check out the wonderful Fumi Fukumuro's Miniature Flowers in Sugar.

I do so hope that all of our crafty sisters in Japan, and their families, are safe and well in the wake of the terrible events last week.

Here's a little peek at the book.  It's all in Japanese, but there are very clear step-by-step pictorial instructions for the various petals:

I think I'll experiment first with some offcuts of felt from some recent craft projects made with my Brownie pack, but I think they'd also look beautiful in Amy Butler fabric... actually, what doesn't look beautiful in her fabric?!

Wherever you are, be safe.
- Rachel x

Thursday, 10 March 2011

phew - it's finished!

It’s finished!  My first complete crocheted garment!  Considering K and I only went on our Beginner’s Crochet Course last May, I’m inordinately happy with this.  Yes, it’s a wee bit short and the weather has decided to improve enough this week that I’d boil if I wore it right now, but it’s there and it’s finished! 

The pattern is by the super-talented Robyn Chachula and I first saw it when I was browsing on Ravelry.  It was from an old issue of the fab US magazine Crochet Today, and I was lucky enough to track down a copy through the powers of the interweb!  I have another pattern of hers for a waistcoat that's waiting to go (remember my 'sprout' coloured yarn?), but I'm going to hook up some of the yarn from my last post first.

 I’ve had a little bit of a mishap with one of my skeins of yarn from Unravel… in my eagerness to get going on a shawl pattern I’d bought from Amanda Perkins, I thought I’d try out a couple of motifs without first winding my skein into a ball.  Er, bad move!  For the past four evenings Mr B has been helping me to try and untangle it in front of the TV.  We got there last night just in time for Grey's Anatomy, but I can at least console myself that it was worth the effort for the cutest and softest little flowers that I made before “the great tangle” happened:

Now my untangling is done I can actually get on with hooking up the rest of the shawl… well, when we've wound the other skein, I can!

Eugh, time to get ready for work - I prefer to post at the weekend, but I have some rather exciting news I want to share with you later, so thought I'd get this out there now.
Have a great day!
R x