Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Bees Wax

So a couple of weeks ago I decided I needed some bees wax.  Apparently its very good for making cotton easier to work with when sewing and book binding; more about that project in another post.
I didn’t really want to get it on Amazon, so decided to visit our local market town and see if the sewing shop there had any.
I couldn’t see any so asked the lady in the shop.  She didn’t think they had any and as I was turning away to try another plan, a customer in the shop asked ‘Did you want some bees wax?’

I said yes I did and she explained that she was a local bee keeper and she has just cut off some excess wax from one of her frames which I could have if I wanted. 
Not really knowing what to expect I agreed and we (me and 'im outdoors) drove out to one of the small villages in the area to find a house on top of a hill with a beech hedge (the actually instructions we were given).

We actually got there before she did and had to explain to her poor husband why we were knocking on the door!
However after a chat and a cup of tea we left with a beautiful piece of comb and the promise of more later if I want it.
Once home I had to work out what to do with it.  I couldn’t just use it as it was as it would just crumble and it needed cleaning.

After a bit of research I tried boiling it.  To do this you need to place the comb in something so all the imperfections are captured and you end up with clean wax.  An old pair of tights were perfect.  

Although the piece of comb was quite big, once you melt it down and form it into a ball there isn't really that much there which I think makes it even more amazing.
Anyway there should be enough for my project, more about that later.

Monday, 29 May 2017

The new utility room

At the beginning of the year we moved into our new home.  We knew right from the start there were projects, but it was good enough to live in so we happily unpacked. 
One such project was making the little bike store at the front of the house bigger so 'im outdoors had somewhere for all his tools.  This became a priority once we realised the floor was rotten.


So over the last 4 months 'im outdoors has ripped out everything which was in the bike store/utility room/downstairs loo - including walls and the rotten floor, and then rebuilt it to our own specifications.  We've reused as much as we could, including cutting one of the old doors down to make a slim cupboard door.  Or we've looked for deals like the old belfast sink found on Gumtree.

Ready for the ready-mix lorry to unload
 'im outdoors has worked tirelessly - working evenings and weekends with me helping where I can - the painting and tiling is all mine! And today we finally finished it.
It is so amazing to have a space like this, where washing can be done and hung to dry without getting in the way and with the little downstairs loo nicely finished so we're not embarrassed when visitors need to use it. 
And once again 'im outdoors has impressed me with his ability to do everything himself, from plumbing and electrics to laying the floor and making me cupboards.


If you visit anytime soon, don't be surprised to be invited to view the new utility room and downstairs loo - I am so chuffed!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Rainbow Bag

Is 2002, before I had a blog (probably before I knew what a blog was) I saw someone somewhere with a rainbow bag and suddenly desired one for myself!

I can't remember quite why I decided to make it myself, but I was in the middle of my cross stitch phase and so this is what it was made from.  If I had mastered knitting at this point I probably would have knitted it.

I also can't remember how long it took me to make, but I do remember taking it to work with me and working on it in my lunch breaks. I believe this was also the end of my cross stitch phase!

My mum helped me to line it with nice thick material so that the light cross stitch material wouldn't get pulled out of shape.  My dad found an old seat belt to be used at the strap - nice and strong (I think it goes all the way round - making a strong bottom too).

Of course by the time it was done, my desire for such a bag had started to wain and I never really used it.  Maybe also because of all the work I had put into it, I didn't want to see it wrecked by too much use.

As we went through our stuff packing for the move I came across it again.  I'd pretty much forgotten the poor thing, but because it has sat in a cupboard for the last 10 years the colours are still as brilliant as when I created it.

14 years on, I've just started to think about cross stitch again (life is a wheel after all) so maybe it's appropriate that I found it again now.  Maybe I'll even start using it.  It is after all a lovely strong bag, and I do still like it, even after all this time.  
So now you know that massive projects are not something new for me.  If I had had the blog I would have blogged then, so it is only fair that I blog about it now.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Fierce little dragon

I first came across the fierce little dragon pattern over 2 years ago.  But as a beginner crocheter it looked too complicated for me to make.  So I printed out the pattern and added it to my big folder of patterns and forgot about him.

But I have learnt much over the past 2 years and so it was time to have a go and make a dragon. And I surprised myself.  Most of the projects I've worked on have been flat so I wasn't sure how I would get on with a 3D pattern, but actually it was fine.  A bit more concentration needed for counting, but I think he came out really well.  His wings use a front post stitch which I've not tried before, but a couple of youtube videos and some practice and it was pretty easy.

 He's a little smaller than I thought he'd be, but that's ok.  He rather makes me think of Terry Pratchett's swamp dragons - small enough to light your cigar!
I used double knit special by Stylecraft in claret and black, which was great to use and feels nice.  And added a little detail to his eyes with some pretty green/blue cotton given me by 'im outdoors grandma.
I'm really pleased with how he's come out.  I just hope he doesn't start any fires! 

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Basingstoke 2017 5k

Today was my first race in a year.  It was the 5th edition of the Basingstoke 5k and my 5th attempt.
After leaving a job in London, where I worked for over a year, I've slowly been training back to an acceptable level of fitness (running to the office from Waterloo and back most days kept me running but there was too much sitting to really be fit). So I wasn't really sure where I would come on todays race.

I was delighted to finish with a time of 25:40, coming 112 over all and 18th female!  It just shows that the training is worth it.  With this reassurance I can start to think about improving my 10k time.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

A train whistle

I haven't made anything out of paper/card for ages, but I do still love this medium, so when I saw this big train whistle on the Rob Ives newsletter I had to have a go.  
I didn't actually mean to do it this week though, I had other things on my to do list, but then I found a bit of card the perfect size and one thing led to another!

Unlike most of his projects where you just print out the pattern then cut and stick, this only had one thing to print out - a diamond shape which is a template for the bellows.  Everything else was made from scratch following his instructions.

A bit of careful scoring, sticking and folding and I had some bellows.  Add some pipes and I had a whistle.  Its pretty big, definitely a two handed job, and makes a fantastic sound! Toot toot!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

A big tiny scottie dog

A couple of weeks ago I found a knitting pattern for a tiny scottie dog.  I made my boss one called Little Sniff, which everyone loved and I know I'll be making more at some point.  
Being so small though I wondered what would happen if I used a super chunky wool.  So in a stash busting manoeuvre I had a go at making another scottie dog, just not so tiny this time.

I used some left over wool from the Frensham cushion cover I made a while back and some size 9mm needles and he came out very well.
And although he is not a tiny creature, he is still a nice size and kept his shape really well.  Now I am thinking about how you could change the pattern to make other creatures...

Note: He has now been named Hector, and is living with my parents at the seaside.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

George the long haired pink bear

A year after making a mohair bear called Cyril, I had forgotten most of the pain associated with hand sewing long fur.  So when I came across some gorgeous pink fur at the knitting and stitching show, I couldn't help but buy it.  When I made Cyril, I had copied the pattern a size bigger too and had hoped the bigger pattern would fit on this material, but not so.

Over the course of a week I cut the bits out and stitched them together carefully by hand.  In the process I got totally covered in fluff!
Then he was carefully stuffed and joints added on arms, legs and head before stitching up.

He's come out really well and with a bit of careful trimming round his muzzle I think he looks quite friendly.  However considering he came from the same pattern as Cyril, I am surprised how different he looks.  I can only assume this is something to do with the weight of the material I used.
I know I shouldn't have favorites, but Cyril still holds that title.  Sorry George.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Little Sniff

Last week I was using the biggest knitting needles I own, while this week I was down to nearly my smallest! 
So last week I came across the pattern for a tiny scottie dog which I fell in love with.  I adore tiny creatures so couldn't wait to make one.

And then I found out my boss was going to our Belfast office for a couple of nights and would have to leave her beloved Sniff at home.  I couldn't help myself.  The pattern said it could be made in an hour, which was about right, so I made her a Little Sniff to take with her and keep her company.  He went down a treat.

The real Sniff

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Heartstrings cushion cover

This year I promised myself I would be a bit more adventurous with my knitting and try out some of the methods I've been putting off.  I've always wanted to try cable, and my friend Katie keeps telling me how easy it is. 

When I decided to make some cushion covers for the new house, I knew this was the perfect time to try cable out.  I made sure I had a special cable needle, found a pattern I liked - in this case Heartstrings cushion cover and found some wool at the local wool shop.

I chose this beautiful Creative Bonbon super chunky, although if I was doing cable again I might use a slightly more plain wool as the colour can detract from the cable a bit.

And I have to say, Katie was right.  Cable really is easy!  The pattern was nicely written, so a quick look at YouTube and I was away.  I did start with a tension square - they make more sense to me now and really do help.  But there wasn't really anything to worry about.  I can't believe its taken me this long to try.

My only real problem was a slight looseness to one side of my cables.  Apparently this is due to the tension of the wool as I do my purl stitch.  It is slightly annoying as there really didn't seem to be much I could do about it.  However the cover came out really well and still looks pretty good. Its good to see my first cushion with a friend.  And I will be trying cable again!