Feeling the pressure | WIP {knitting}

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

This week is my last week at work, and more importantly my last week commuting to work - I cannot actually believe that as from Thursday night, this will be it, but I am delighted about it, commuting has really taken its toll on me. So much so, I was worried I was going to give birth on my way home last week . Not ideal when you are an hour away from your hospital and your husband, who happens to work near said hospital. Thankfully we are all fine. But I am definitely feeling the pressure - and want to finish the baby blanket asap. If I have the hand knitted blanket, all will be fine and will go smoothly (in my head). 

I have made progress - a whole repeat of progress to be precise. I am getting the hang of the pattern, even though I still need the paper next to me at all times, but it makes more sense. By the third - and last - repeat I am sure I will know it by heart. 

It is not a hard pattern, just a lot of cable and yarn over work, and you need to be careful (no late knitting for me!) - this makes a beautiful effect of course. I am in love with this pattern, really. 

I think the colour of the yarn is probably as close to the real thing as can be - and really shows off the pattern. I am always worried that the yarn colour will overwhelm the pattern - but it does not (totally worth that customs charge I had to pay, oh I hate customs charge). 

Pattern: The Hourglass Throw by Anne Hanson
Yarn: Swans Islands Yarn organic Merino and Alpaca blend yarn, naturally dyed
Needles: 5.5mm
Modifications: None - do not have the brain for it. But I reckon that it would make a great jumper pattern if someone wanted to take on the challenge!

I believe we could see a finish soon - cannot wait to block this blanket! There is already a finish at MiH, Slable is finished and has been photographed - but more on this later this week... 

As for the reading, I am finishing Inferno by Dan Brown. It is not the Da Vinci Code but it is surprisingly fun to read, and I do love all the additions of historic details about Florence and Venice. 

Will be joining others over at Ginny's today. 

You can also see my choice of baby blanket patterns here, if you are interested. 

Serial Pompom Maker | Maker versus Cardboard {Review}

Sunday, 19 October 2014

I love pompoms, but I must admit I dislike making them. It is quite time-consuming and I am always worried about the thickness of them - as in them not being thick enough. I love really chunky ones (which eat yarn).  This was until I (finally) bought some pompom maker.

I have known about those for a bit of time, but never bought one. I was really worried that the pompom would not be thick enough and that it would not actually make me save any time. Wrong, wrong, wrong! I was so wrong... 

Those makers (I have 4 because you have to buy them by two and the two sizes I wanted came into different packs, of course!) are my pompom saviour - the things that are going to make sure I will be able to make a pompom garland without giving up after 2 pompoms. 

I will probably never use the cardboard technique ever again, except for making oversized ones. But I will definitely use my pompom makers a lot. If you have not bought it, but are considering it - do it now! I was not paid to say this, I bought all 4 with my money.. 

Slow Start | Christmas 2014

Friday, 17 October 2014

I made a very slow start on Christmas decorations - well singular decoration in fact. I will be using this template (you can find more of my Christmas embroidery inspiration here) on burlap with cream DMC thread. I am using 3 strands at the same time to make it stand out a bit on the burlap - I may move to red thread next. 

I do love working on Christmas stuff though. 

The Peaceful Lion | Le Challenge

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Every month le challenge deadline arrives, and I am wondering whether I will finish what I intended to make - texting Lu in-between for some moral support. This month's theme was 'mix' and I knew I wanted to make something that would be a mix of fabrics - with hints of vintage. I knew quite quickly that it would a cushion for Little Baby MiH, but that was about it - and then I fell in love with this picture and I just had to make it happen (how did I survive before Pinterest, who knows?). 

I did not have the background  fabric in my stash - but found this great organic herringbone fabric at Ray Stitch (they have a great range of organic fabrics). It is quite sturdy which is great for home dec' projects. I had the felt - probably intended for a Christmas project many years ago, and the vintage fabric is from the vintage sheet swap organised by Mary
All set in the Moses basket, and yes the bumper basket is out again
The project was easy to put together once I finished making the template. I never make templates - I just get on with it usually and hope for the best (well to be fair I follow a lot of patterns). But this time I spent some time trying to create a picture and played a bit with the colour scheme. I made the template not knowing what I actually had in my stash, but the colours/fabrics I found are nearly the same one as the ones I had on my original template. 

All the pieces were ironed on the background fabric thanks to the wonders of fusible web - which makes unfortunately the embroidery step just that bit harder - and I really missed having a thimble handy. I drew the eyes and the mouth and just went for it with some black thread. 

I don't have any great pictures of the back - but I used the herringbone fabric and added a zip (thought that it might be wise to be able to wash if needs me). 

I love it despite not being perfect. The face could be a bit smaller, I may have been over-enthusiastic with the embroidery of the nose, and I am really not sure about my French knots technique. But overall the cushion is what I imagined it to be - it is a great mix of vintage and modern fabrics. It is also quite different from high street ones, and makes me happy every time. 

For all the other Le challenge entries, go here. If you enter a recently completed project that fits with the theme 'mix' - and let's face it this is quite easy - you could have a chance of winning a $25 Fat Quarter Shop gift certificate. Please remember to include the button or a link to Le Challenge in your blog post or Flickr description and use the hashtag #lechallenge if you're linking up from Instagram.

Serial cross-stitcher | Soluble versus Waste canvas {Embroidery}

Sunday, 12 October 2014

It took me a while to start cross-stitching outside the comfort zone of the ready-made canvases - but once I started there was no stopping me! I have now cross-stitched felt (you can see how with my boxy pouch tutorial here); a baby vest; and a new top! And I am already thinking of the next project - probably some Christmas cross-stitching on random pieces of fabric or felt I reckon. 

I may be a serial cross-stitcher but you can be too - thanks to the wonders of soluble canvas or waste canvas. I used both (soluble canvas for the felt pouch and waste canvas for the tops) and both techniques work. 

I like the soluble canvas method a lot - it is really easy to cross-stitch, it is really easy to get rid of (as in put it into water and leave it to be). However it is quite expensive - for the square you get (you should have seen my face when I opened the packaging) - and it comes only in the one size (from what I could find), so not big project allowed. 

The waste canvas method is a bit more cumbersome (I bought mine here). First of all you have to work out why the hell there are so many holes in the canvas.

You are supposed to cross-stitch through the little holes. It was easier with my top because I did it over 2 squares, it does not look as consistent on the baby vest top though. 

Then, there is the issue of getting rid of the canvas - it takes a bit of time (no leaving it in the water and wait for it to do its thing!).

Yes, people you have to take each strand off, one by one - hours of fun, right-there (ok it is actually not that long, but still a bit tedious). You are supposed to do it with tweezers, and yes it is easier to do it with tweezers. You have to be careful not to pull too much, otherwise the cross-stitching may move. Arggh!

However it is cheaper and you can buy the waste canvas by the metre, and it does do the job perfectly well. For the baby vest top, there are a couple of more steps to take, you have to add muslin fabric behind so that the jersey does not get distorted - I followed this tutorial.  

So what will you cross-stitch next? 

Getting started | Christmas 2014

Friday, 10 October 2014

It may seem a bit early but as you may have seen on my IG feed, I have Christmas on my mind - big time! There may be a simple explanation for this. I will be giving birth in November (if all goes well) so December may be fairly busy at ours (in a very good way, of course). And I am also planning Baby MiH's birthday (and maybe mine if I get round to this) in December. So I need to start now (or probably should have started in August). But the silver lining is that Christmas craft books are very much available at my library. 

I found two that are full inspirations - The Christmas book by S. Goldsmith will probably be my inspirations for edible presents, and Christmas crafting in no time (C. Youngs) for ornaments. That should get me started. 

Have you started thinking about Christmas? I am hoping that I will have time to make some handmade presents, but may give myself a break this year... 

Bouchees a la coconut | A recipe

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Bouchees a la coconut or the homemade version of the Bounty chocolate bars - one of my favourite chocolate bars. This is a recipe I have been dying to try, ever since I heard about the blog La Super Superette and had time to go through it. The concept is simple, replicating biscuits or chocolate bars or other (French) supermarket (delicious) convenience food - without all the E numbers. 

I have only tried this recipe - and it is probably one of the easiest on thee blog. But these are like the real things. Makes me want to try more recipe - I like the idea of knowing all the ingredients that get into my food. The great thing about this recipe is how little you have to do. It is a long process because you have to leave the coconut balls in the fridge for 5 hours, but other than that a fairly quick recipe. 

I made smaller versions of the bounty - but you can make them into whatever shape you want then to be. 

Ingredients (for 8 bars)
– 100 g of dessicated coconut
– 3 tbsp of crème fraîche
– 40 g of cane sugar
– 160 g of your favourite milk chocolate
How to make them
Mix together the coconut, the crème fraîche and the sugar together. Make sure you stir until all the crème fraîche is totally absorbed. 
Grab handfuls of the coconut mixture and shape into bars - you can make them as big or as small as you like. Arrange on a lined baking tray or piece of greaseproof paper and allow to set in the fridge (for at least 5 hours). The coconut will not go too firm but it will hold it's shape.
Melt the chocolate, either on the hob or in the microwave, and allow to cool. Spoon the chocolate over the coconut bars and leave on a wire rack to harden. Place a plate under the wire rack to catch excess chocolate. Once a little set, put onto some greaseproof paper and place in the fridge to set. 

And there you have your finished Bounty bars - they couldn't be easier! Try the recipe if you like the Bounty bars, and let me know what you think!