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    Monday
    Jan052015

    New Year, new resolutions?

    Happy New Year dear readers!  I hope you had a lovely festive season, celebrating however makes you happy.

    We had just the 5 of us on christmas day & it was absolutely lovely. No stress, no squabbling, time to enjoy our gifts, play new family games & just spend time together. Although our favourite game, Cards against Humanity, is hilarious but not wildly family friendly. Slightly eye opening, the concepts 13 year old boys are familiar with these days! Despite discovering that my children know what anal beads are, the game was played pretty much every day with assorted friends and family. A little censoring the cards before playing meant it was kind of suitable for all the ages we encountered. It also meant that a 12 year old girl was allowed to drop the f-bomb without parental censure. That put a major smile on her face!!

    I've never really made New Year resolutions. September feels like more of a resolution time to me, but I don't really make them then either! But this seems like a good time to think about what I want to do more of - or less of - in 2015. We have the ongoing battle to keep Matt in his special school so I'm not going to put any more pressure on myself with deadlines and goals. But this year I would like to do more of these:

     

    • Wearing clothes I've made myself. I did more garment sewing last year than I have done for a long time. I haven't blogged about them particularily as I am dreadful at taking photos when I wear stuff. But I really enjoyed wearing the things that I have made - whether knit, sewn or crocheted. Some of the things I made were just perfect. Others not so much. But I've had more wear out of them than other clothes and I've enjoyed wearing them. I like to wear things I've made when I teach, or work in The Wool Stop. It's good for people that I'm teaching to know that handmade clothes are wearable outside of the house, can be comfortable AND look good too. So more clothes to be made & worn by me and for me. Very happymaking!
    • More exercise. I started off well last year but was hit by a series of bugs & stopped exercising. I do want to lose weight, but more importantly I want to look after me. My body has been good to me depite all the abuse I put it through, and I want to start looking after it a bit better.I am not a naturally sporty person & would love to find a class or activity that just feels good. So that's what I am going to try to do. In the mean time, I am going to go back to walking a few times a week. I know it takes a chunk of time out of my day, but I know it makes me feel better once I've done it. So I'm going to stop making excuses and get off my backside a few days a week.
    • Say yes to opportunities that excite me, but continue to say no to things that are not kind to me. At the moment, my creativity is at a low ebb. I know that once I know what is happening with Matt it will come back. But at the moment, deadlines & putting pressure on myself to submit for magazines, to do a book proposal, to say yes to any work - they're not good for me just now. The world won't end because I don't submit to magazines - I learned that last year when I decided that deadlines were causing more problems than I needed.  So I will carry on being kind to myself and knowing that I'm lucky to be in the position where I don't have to hustle for every bit of work, and the work I do will be so much better for it.

     

    Not very deep and meaningful really, but there you have it. Handmade clothes, exercise, be kind to myself. I think those are the kind of resolutions that I can keep. You can borrow them if you like ;)

    Happy New Year, and I hope you have a truly happymaking 2015

    Jacqui xx

     

    By the way - I'll tell you the story of this next time

     

    Sunday
    Dec212014

    Free pattern - Christmas Snowflakes

    I designed this snowflake for a crochet class, and have really enjoyed making them for the christmas tree & to give to friends. So I thought I'd give my readers a little gift and share the pattern with you!

    They are quick to make and only use a little yarn so there's plenty of time for you to whip some up to gift. Make them teeny tiny in lace weight or as a window decoration in bulky yarn. The one pictured was made with Rico bamboo yarn - dk  - with a 3.25mm hook.

    6 point Granny snowflake:

    Rnd 1: Into magic loop, 3ch, 2tr, 2ch, (3tr,2ch) 5 more times, sl st to join (6 clusters)  

    Rnd 2: sl st along to ch sp, ch3, 2tr, 2ch, 3tr into 2 ch sp, (3tr,2ch,3tr) into next 2ch sp 5 times, sl st to join (12 clusters)

    Rnd 3: sl st along to ch sp, 3ch, 2tr, *picot, 3tr into 2ch sp, sl st into sp between clusters, (3tr,*picot,3tr into 2ch sp, sl st into sp between cluster)  5 times, sl st to join. 

    *Picot: Ch4, sl st into back of 4th st from loop, ch4, sl st into same st as before, ch3, sl st into same place. Yes, I know that looks wrong - but it makes the most even looking picot loop.

    Hanging chain: For one of the picots, extend the centre ch4 to around ch25 (you don't need to be exact, just long enough to be a practical loop) before working the sl st into the same st as before.

    To stiffen decorations

    Decorations are best made at a tight tension. Use a smaller hook than recommended for the yarn.

    For the star shown I used clear children's glue. I got a pack of glues from the pound shop & one of the clear glues had a small circular sponge applicator which makes it quick to apply the glue exactly where it's wanted with minimal mess! PVA glue works well - dilute slightly to make it easier to paint on. I sprinkled some fine silver glitter over the stars after glueing & pinning. Because - sparkle!!

    I used some dense foam chilled food packaging as my blocking board for this, not wanting to get glue on my good blocking mats. I also found that the foam discs from pizza packaging works well :)

    Other ideas:

    Spray starch. Quickest option. Spray starch onto surface of decoration and press with iron. Most suitable for natural fibres - it is easier to melt synthetic yarn! Several thin layers are easier and more effective than saturating then ironing. Remember to spray both sides.

    Sugar solution. Make a concentrated sugar solution by heating a small amount of water in a saucepan and adding sugar until no more will dissolve. Soak decoration in solution, pin & leave to dry.

     

    Wednesday
    Dec032014

    New crafts & new traditions

    Just over a week ago, I went on a workshop. It was lovely to be a student - I love teaching workshops & classes, but haven't really been on many workshops myself. I went on a Christmas Glass workshop with Caroline Lambert at Kingshill House and it was fab. I've never done anything like it before and (typically for me) wanted to try both the techniques that were available. Who knew that soldering was so satisfying! I really loved the process of the copper foiling technique. I had less time for the fused glass, but it's faster to do. I had to wait for the fused glass to go through the kiln before finding out how they turned out. So here we are - 3 christmas decorations and a year round decoration.

    It was lovely to dive into something completely out of my comfort zone (not a textile in sight!). I've since found out that a surprising number of my friends have kilns, and one has the soldering equipment - so I think there will be more colourful glass things in my future!

    Do you remember my advent solution last year? December has a a habit of taking me by surprise, and last year ws no exception. By the 10th when I had failed to get any advent calenders and the only ones left were 50p Disney princess ones, I improvised a solution with my sewing machine, some sweets and some white A4 printer paper. 

    This year - the boys asked for the same advent calender. This year I bought some festive paper napkins, and (with the help of one of my sewing class students!) had the packages ready to fill on Dec 1st. Progress! I actually got round to filling them today. Percy pigs feature heavily! They look more christmassy than last year, and the boys are happy. We just don't need to mention it to the orthodentist!

    I have been informed that this is how advent calenders should be. I love that improvising as a result of my disorganisation has resulted in a new tradition! 

    Do you have any new traditions, or any that came from mistakes?

    Back soon xx

    Monday
    Nov172014

    Daisy

    Thanks to everyone who has sent messages and promised to donate to Daisy's fund.

    Sadly, Daisy died in the early hours of this morning. Her Mum & Dad were there holding her hands. 

    She was exactly 7 years old.

     

    This is not my disaster. I never met Daisy. But she was almost the same age as my oldest niece, I knew her Mum & Uncle back when we were teenagers & so I feel a connection to her. Nobody should lose their baby like this.

    Please, please donate - every penny makes a difference. The money is going direct to the team at Bristol Children's hospital who are so close to giving children a weapon against this shittty, shitty cancer. One day, a child will survive this, and their families won't have to go through this devastation. 

    Thank you xxx

    Sunday
    Nov162014

    DIPG fundraising update

    Warning - there are all sorts of triggers in this post, but please read to the end if you can x

    Do you remember my post about the Ice bucket challenge & why I was donating to a different charity? Micro donations (as well as big donations) can make enormous differences to small charities. 

    A friend from teenage days, Anna, had a horrific thing happen earlier this year. On the 3rd May, her daughter Daisy was diagnosed with DIPG, an incurable brain tumour. 

    This was the statement that Anna & her family gave out earlier this year.

    'She went from being a normal healthy little girl playing with her friends, jumping on trampolines, having fun and going to school to being in hospital over the course of two days! It all happened so fast and without any warning.  Her parents were told to think in terms of weeks and months not years before they would lose Daisy. As you can imagine this is the worst possible news that any parent could ever receive. Daisy started radiotherapy straight away to try and buy them a little extra time,  during this time her parents scoured the world for a treatment that could help . They discovered a brain surgeon in Bristol who had been studying DIPG for the last ten years and he felt confident in using his pioneering techniques to treat a child so in July Daisy underwent a procedure to fit a port in her skull to deliver chemo direct to the tumour (she was the first child in the world to ever have this operation). 

    Brain cancer research gets less than 1% of the national research funding even though it is the biggest cancer killer of children. Please donate, the sooner they find the perfect drug to kill this kind of tumour the more chance Daisy and children like her have a chance of surviving this otherwise terminal condition.’

    The research team at Bristol were able to employ an extra 2 members of staff as a direct result of the first fundraising push. The port that was fitted to Daisy's skull was 3D printed to fit her exactly. This pioneering work was done by Renishaws, an engineering firm that are a big employer locally, and have close links to my sons' school.

    The research team are so close to getting everything in place to really fight this horrible cancer. They managed to deliver chemo directly to the tumour, bypassing the blood-brain barrier that makes treating brain cancer so difficult. More details can be found here.

    Sadly, chemo drugs aren't tested on children and so the research team has to rely on best guesses to get the drug cocktail right. It hasn't worked for Daisy.

    Daisy is terribly ill. She is going to die. They don't know how long it will be, but I guess it won't be long. 

    It's Daisy's 7th birthday today.

    She is unconscious most of the time, can't really move or talk but isn't in pain. She's with her Mum, Dad & little sister & is surrounded by love.

    Around 40 children are diagnosed with DIPG each year. They are mostly between the ages of 5 and 8 years old. The survival time is normally less than a year.

    40 isn't a big number. But that is one child diagnosed for every single week of the school year. Or 1 every nine days. Not a lot statistically. But if one of those 40 is yours?

    I went through a grieving process when Matt was diagnosed with autism. I grieved for the normal life he wouldn't have, for the assumpions you make about your children that wouldn't happen. For the loss of dreams. But he is alive. I can't imagine the strength is take to keep going when you are told your precious child is going to die, and there's nothing you can do.

    I know this is an expensive time of year. I know a lot of you will have donated to Children in need. But please, please consider a little extra donation to Daisy's fund. Either today, on the last birthday she will have, or the next time you buy yourself a little treat. A bottle of wine, a bar of chocolate, a ball of yarn - whatever your personal reward is. Would you consider matching the cost of the treat to yourself & donating that money to Daisy's fund? 

    One day a child will survive DIPG. It just won't be Daisy.