Advent-ageous

I have always loved a good advent calendar. I still remember the nativity scene one we had when I were a lass and the excitement of opening a door, even though it was the same one we had every year and we carefully folded the door shut ready for the following year when we were done.

There’s even more excitement in the countdown in our house these days, as it’s my eldest’s birthday on Christmas Eve as well!

So we have always made a big thing of the Christmas season, and it’s still my kids’ favourite time of the year. When I spotted a wooden Santa figure with 24 drawers when they were really little, I knew I had to have him, and every year I intend to fill the drawers with something more exciting that chocolates or sweets, but so far have not managed to do so. I also see ideas for advent garlands and envelopes (damn you, Pinterest!) and think “ooh that’s a lovely idea”! and then somehow never manage to get around to putting it into practice.

So this year I am determined to do something different. My youngest and I spent some time in September learning how to make origami stars, and writing positive messages on them for when she had her own stall at Bearwood Crafty Pantry Food Festival. And we have as a family spent a lot of time in 2016 talking about what is right and wrong, what is kind and what is fair, in light of global and local news events. My girls are both turning out to be conscientious global citizens, and have a strong sense of what they believe to be right or fair, I am delighted (and not at all surprised) to see. So I thought perhaps we could combine a little sweet treat each day with a bit of thoughtfulness; by us adults, by them and sometimes requiring some action too. Last year we did a Christmas parcel for Ryan and Wayne, the two homeless men who used to sit outside the car park I use for work, and their dog, Bella. The girls were really into it, and had lots of suggestions for what we might include in it.

So I had a look at what other people had done, like the Padbury family with their random acts of kindness countdown, and also these great ideas in Country Living, and decided to come up with a combination of family treats (like a trip to the German Christmas market in Birmingham, or ice skating), some thoughtful consideration of others (from putting some coins in vending machines or parking meters through to smiling and saying hello to strangers in the street or bringing in cakes for colleagues), and some positive action like helping out the local Foodbank in the run up to Christmas, as well as some quality family time at home watching Christmas films, baking treats and going for walks. My intention is to print these off in long strips on paper and fold them into the origami stars, which would fit perfectly in the little drawers.

origami rainbow-stars

As long as I also put some chocolate in there, I think we should be OK….

Tap is back!

pint and wool

It was lovely to see so many familiar faces and new ones at the Midland last night.  I lost count of the number of people who came up and said “thank you so much for bringing the Tapestry back – I’ve really missed it!”

There were, as always, some amazing WIPs on the go, from Jo-ann’s beautifully delicate cross stitch

joann

To Collette’s designs for a future mosaic house number

collette

and Michelle’s detailled wire wrapped pendant, just waiting for a gemstone!

wire wrapped

We introduced our neighbours to the concept of Craftivism, and some of the projects currently underway.  #fortheloveof is a lovely simple project which sees fabric hearts embellished to demonstrate what it is you love, so you can literally wear your heart on your sleeve.

christina

We talked to lots of people about their passions, and gave away lots of handouts to encourage people to look into what the craftivist collective do.  If you want to find out more, check out their website.

craftivism

Our next Tapestry is Monday 26th October – it will be here sooner than you think! Can’t wait!

We’re going on a Bear Hunt…

 

So a few Saturdays ago we all came together and did some communal crafting! It was the culmination of sharing of ideas, inspiration, a box of nails and a bag full of neon wool!

There is a Bear Trail around Bearwood, where people can track down 30 decorated wooden bears between 17th and 31st May. The amazing We Are Bearwood folk successfully bid for some funding to enable this lovely initiative to happen, and they have asked various local groups and organisations to decorate them.

The Crafty Muthas took possession of our bear and shared ideas for a couple of weeks before alighting on our final plan.

 

An evening perusing various fonts and working through my wool stash later and Mr B was dispatched to buy a big box of copper nails from the local hardware store.

box of nails

We all gathered in Jennie’s kitchen with 6 hammers, a shed load of neon chunky wool and some ear defenders (just kidding, but we should’ve!).

paper nailing no words

First we worked nails in around the outside of each letter, then hammered nails around the edge. Next we started with the neon pink and outlined the letters and started taking it out to the edges and criss crossing to fill in the space between.

pink pink complete

Bright orange came next, and luminous yellow really brought the whole thing together.

pink yellow

The last thing to finish it off was to outline the letters and the outer edge of the bear in bright zingy green.  Doesn’t he look smart?!

final bear

The best part of it was the whole experience of doing something creative together (and no alcohol was even consumed!). It’s been so long and we’ve all been so busy with other things lately that it was such a buzz to get together and make such an amazing thing as a group. Total bonus that it looks so awesome too!

jen   as

Today we had the chance  to see it as part of the trail when all the bears went live and wild!

bum   side view

 

The bears were amazing, and I will post again about the trail as my phone battery died half way round! Thankfully Jen’s extra long arms were “on hand” to take a group selfie of some of us in front of our bear, which is situated in …. Nah – go find him! The trail is ace!

imageimage

 

Full on making mode

We had a full and busy half term with Marvellous Machines, Anglo-Saxon horn-blowing and grisly tales, baby cousin munching, big cousin missing and cousin-to-be showering, much needed family time, the tentative start of de-cluttering, much leafleting for the Handmade fair, some weed-pulling, a wee bit of film-making, a couple of days of “proper” work, crisp packet shrinking, and I managed to cram a little bit of crafting in there too!

I was most excited about trying to do some projects that I had been keen to try for months, but never quite got round to, like re-igniting the resin obsession last experienced by my sister and me around 1989, almost knocked out by the fumes in the non-ventilated garage at our family home involving love heart sweets and lots of glitter. Roll on 25 years and there’s still plenty of glitter and candy based goodness to be encapsulated for posterity in clear plastic!

The smell was instantly recognisable and snapped me back to the days of the Wonderstuff and dressing in my granddad’s old PJs quicker than you can say “my bloody valentine!” My experiments can be viewed in the pics below and I look forward to trying a few more variables before next weekend’s Bearwood Handmade fair. Bloody love a bit of resin, me. Right naive, but happy.
resin sequin resin millefiori resin hundreds resin 4 resin 3 resin 2 resin 1

Then I moved on to the tape measure rosette – again, something I figured I would be born to do, given my obsession with measuring my figure and sewing. Not as straight forward as I had envisaged, but quite chuffed with the end result.

tape measure rosette

Then came the flexi purses. Ah, the flexi purses! Unswayed by the fact the tutorial referred to a purse frame wider than those I had procured, I ploughed ahead, wildly unmatched thread in top and bottom of the machine and, cheered by the fabulous snippets of fabric I was using, discovered upon thrusting the holding pin into the frame with a triumphant flourish that I hadn’t sewn across the bottom of the casing, so the frame was disappearing down into the purse. And it was a bit wide for the frame to boot.. So after some tweaks to the pattern (on the back of a piece of card from the Book People box – reduce, reuse, recycle!) I managed to turn out a slightly neater looking version (even if I still made the same mistake I made on the first one by sewing the wrong seam first….again). So I hacked into the initial frame and rehashed it and added a new frame. Head pounding and feeling very sick at 1.30am, I called it a night!

flex purses

My last good idea of the week came late Sunday afternoon and was inspired by the alphabet beads I was using in some of the resin hearts. I have long been an advocate for id bracelets with parents’ phone numbers on for the kids whenever we were at events or large spaces (like the Botanical Gardens, Picnic in the Park, Shuffle etc). Now they’re growing up, those reflective plastic bands are too small and too UNCOOL! So I threaded the requisite number beads and some lovely turquoise crystal beads from Bearwood’s own Bead Savvy onto stretch elastic and job’s a good un! Have sourced some slightly more boyish beads too for the male friendly variety. And relax and sip your cider at the festival…..just wait for the inevitable call!

bracelet 2 child bracelet

inspiration cup runneth over (or, do you know when to stop, Ceri?!)

So, anticipating a rainy week in deepest Pembrokeshire this summer (which actually only became one rainy day!), I took along a couple of my dirty secrets – craft magazines!

It was lovely leafing through all the thick paper, drinking in the sumptuous photography and imagining I was an expert at every craft they featured!  I was particularly taken with a couple of projects though, and couldn’t wait to get going.

So on my return I bought a whole heap of ricrac, and ran up a bouquet of ricrac roses as shown below.  The tutorial I followed was in Mollie Makes, but there are plenty out there all over t’internet – I have seen loads on Pinterest since.

x 4

I mounted the red one onto a vintage style brass ring base which is visible underneath the flower, but neglected to take a photo – I will remedy that soon!

As you can see in the photo, the metallic silver one stayed tightly furled, and could not be persuaded to bloom!  I have a stack of other colours in my basket, awaiting planting and watering – am thinking hairclips, embellishments and more rings!

Other loveliness prompted by perusing in my holiday flat include these rather darling retro looking pin cushions.

x 3

I love these – so practical and funky, and relatively easy to do, and take a small amount of fabric so can be a good way to showcase nice material.  This was featured in Making magazine in the summer, along with a case for stork sewing scissors – dying to give that one a go too! Have half a dozen or so pin cushions waiting for the final binding and tassel treatment – finished pile photo to follow!

Also in Mollie Makes were a series of bracelets, made from embroidered lace, crocheted wool onto metal chain and jersey threaded through curbed chains.  I haven’t got around to the lace yet (but have some lovely vintage looking stuff in red, black and cream lined up and ready to go!), but have had a go with some jersey and chain.  Really easy tutorial to follow in MM, but bit fiddly with gluing on the ends.

x 2 x 1

One went off to my best friend once she’d fancied it on facebook, so that was a bonus!  An old pair of littlest daughter’s leggings was sacrificed in the making of these fellas, as the girls even made their own wrist warmers out of the ankles!

I tried non jersey fabric and it frayed badly, so I created some tubes (ideal opportunity o try out my loop turner!!) and gently stuffed them with toy stuffing and then, as they didn’t bend properly, just threaded the tubes through the big old chains.  As the chains then fell down like Nora Batty’s stockings, I stitched a couple of holding stitches each end to secure them, and on they look really effective.

chain tube chain tube close up

Finally, in Mollie Makes there was also a darling tutorial about crocheting directly onto a chain bracelet and adding a bead – which of course I had to try (given the surfeit of beads I have acquired!).  Loving the outcome – and even lost my first attempt to CM Jayne at our last muthas’ meeting!  Big girl fancies the khaki green one…maybe for her birthday with a hat to match?! Hats and headgear next post topic!  Need to get my models warmed up!

crochet chain

Simon Cowl

As the days started to draw in and the cold seeped into my bones, I have been knitting and crocheting steadily for the upcoming Handmade Christmas fairs.

Always on the lookout for a new pattern, and sick to death of berets and bobble hats (post to follow on those beauties soon!), I joined Craftsy.com and stumbled upon this lovely pattern for a simple crocheted cowl by Frayed Knot.

cowl 3

I started off hesitantly, as I am not so au fait with crochet patterns, and true to its claim, it really was for beginners!! Above is the half way mark (cunningly promoting Mr S in his newspaper ad as the face of divorce for lawyers Slater & Gordon in the Daily Express!).

It should have been the same again for the second half, in the opposite direction, but the yarn I used was a bit thicker than the lace weight recommended, so it doesn’t have the movement, and has come up more of a neck warmer than a drapey number.

cowl 1

So I decided to just do the one round of scallops to complete the edge, and finish it off there.  I love the steely sheen to the wool, which is more of a dark teal than the pictures show here.  It sits up, as demonstrated in the pic below, which seems very crown like to me!

cowl 2

The pattern comes with a detachable flower, which I am thinking of doing in the red version of this yarn, but I don’t think it really needs it.

Have cast on last night in a lovely soft yarn with a metallic green thread through it which was a present from my friend Kate – it is a rule that you must only create for yourself with yarn that was a gift, so who am I to argue?! Watch this space!  C x

 

Bearwood Handmade June 2013

fun of the fair

In not so stark contrast to the March Bearwood Handmade fair, Saturday 22 June dawned damp and dreary. One step through the doors of St Mary’s Church Hall, however, made it seem like a light had been switched on, with all the hustle, bustle, handmade loveliness and welcome cheer that spilled out onto the street!

Coming in from the car park, you couldn’t fail to be cheered by the verdant lushness of Andrew’s Urban Herbs, served by Theresa (and her new gardening gloves!). Up the ramp and waylaid by the delicious treats served by Bearwood Pantry, you came into the main hall bedecked with thrifted bedsheets from the finest charity shops Bearwood has to offer! We were up til all hours trying to hang them blighters!

The fare on offer was of its usual high standard, and it was uplifting to see so many familiar faces. Some new names, including

the Faerie Factory, faerie factoryPenny Jane designs, penny dixon

Tigoda  tigodaand Gems and Jumprings  gems jumprings

sat alongside second timers like Oldskoolretro Kitsch Boutique, oldskoolretro kitsch boutique

Offbeat Girl Designs,  offbeat girl Amy Carter amy carter,

Joanna Hughes, joanna hughes, Leigh Pipkin, leigh pipkin

Carolyn Carter carolyn carter  and Lise Heeley. lise

Regular faces at Handmade, Mango Mosaics,mango mosaics

Helena Moss,helena moss   UnRuley Articles, unruley articles

Ita McKenna ita mckennaand Meeni meenireminded us what we’d been missing since Christmas, and the crafty muthas, Jennie, jenniejennie 2

Nat natty bards and Ceri ceri

provided the focus which Bearwoodians and visitors alike flock to when they hear Bearwood Handmade is in town.

Rachel’s cupcakes were sadly missed, and we are glad she is feeling better now. Other edible (and catering for allergies) delights were enjoyed from

Kate DeRight kate derightand Three Bears Bakerythree bears .

As usual it was lovely to see what everyone had to offer – from paper work to reclaimed furniture, beaded parrots to felted minions, jewellery to fairies.

A big thank you to all stallholders, without whom it would not work, and now for a wee rest until the next one…

Can’t wait til Christmas! How many days to go?!

ta da!

003

here are the finished tonal blooms, all gathered together.  Think I’ll just do some of the usual fave colours, like red, which are popular.  Maybe some smaller ones too….

dishy

May’s Tap was a slightly different event to usual, as we held a themed night!

It was a recipe swap, so people brought along samples of their favourite dishes (yum!) and recipes, for Tappers to sample and try at home.

An amazing feast was recreated on the bar, with tasty pizza pinwheels and spinach and onion bhajis, delicious dips and a plethora of scrumptious cakes, biscuits and sweet treats!

I have copies of all the recipes now, plus some additional ones from people who couldn’t make it on the night, and we will pull them all together into an easy e-book for downloading (when we get 5 minutes!)…

Yum yum, pig’s bum!jayne cake