pillow talk

pillow talk

 

as promised, here’s the sneak preview of the cushions for sunday’s handmade birmingham stall. they are all upcycled from jumpers, shirts and jeans, designed by me and hand sewn without glue or indeed the exploitation of small children. (although two 3 year olds did help stuff a couple of them, but they really enjoyed it!)

pillow talk

 

inky blues are the colour of the season i’m told so i’ve tried to keep on trend,

pillow talk

 

but i’m always drawn back to the classic neutrals

pillow talk

and these two sexy little numbers are just asking for a squeeze.

every day is like monday morning

the days are just disappearing in a blur of banana bread, p.e. kits, school runs, snatched conversations, cold coffee and bedtime stories. in between i’m desperately trying to make things for the weekend handmade birmingham (http://handmadebirmingham.com/) stall. i felted some wool jumpers a while back so i’ve been cutting and stitching like crazy. here’s a small taster of what i’ll be bringing to the crafty muthas’ stall on sunday.

 

every day is like monday morning

 

more owls from the wood and more corsages/ brooches.

every day is like monday morning

cushions are half finished and i’ll let you have a sneak peek tomorrow hopefully.

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it would be lovely to see lots of friendly faces at the stall on sunday. please tell your friends, colleagues and families to pop down, bring some spending money and make a start on the christmas presents. handmade birmingham is providing a home to some fantastic designer makers and they really need your support. we can all make birmingham a more interesting place to live and shop if we support the unique talents of local producers and give the big chains a miss every now and then. sorry, lesson over for today. a small person needs food so i’ll get back to my real job.

skunk love

i know a beautiful girl. she’s in love with skunks. she had a birthday coming up. i challenged myself to make her a skunk.

skunk love

i thought about it for a while. i looked at lots of photos of skunks. i learnt some things (i though they had a solid white stripe along their back, they don’t). i drew a pattern. found some material from my stash – an old top of mine from h&m that shrunk after the first wear. also some cream brushed cotton left over from the baby pillow. i made some pom poms from chunky wool. kept it very simple – this is a rare two legged variety!

skunk love

 

and hey presto. i was in love too. turns out loving skunks isn’t that hard. what with my owls and now this….i’m definitely growing soft in my old age.

skunk love

This is a real post!

Wow, keeping up this blog posting lark during the summer holidays is hard….but I looked on our group blog the other day and noticed it had been about three weeks since anyone had posted. (That’s if you don’t count the mysterious viagra ads that have been popping up on the site occasionally – sorry!) This is even more worrying because we’re supposed to be gearing up for handmade market stalls and a christmas pop up shop/craft fair and if the lack of blogging is evidence of a lack of crafting then our stalls will be quite bare. Myself, I’ve been terribly busy, but haven’t produced much. Apart from cake…I’ve made lots of that! The other Crafty Muthas have been terribly busy too, making things for me. It was my fortieth at the beginning of the month and my incredibly generous friends made me a bounty of beautiful things which I will try and post here in future if they don’t.

So time for a catch up. Last time I posted (a whole month ago) I threatened to make penguins. And so… I give you penguins. Slightly twisted, a bit Tim Burton, not exactly cuddly but they appeal to me and they are made from the very best felted wool jumpers and scarves and some very nice buttons.

This is a real post!

 

I also tried out a little mouse for CM Nat’s daughter’s birthday. I was thinking the mice from Bagpuss when I cut her out and I was lucky to have wool for the tail that matched the cashmere felt. Little beads for eyes and a few strands of embroidery thread rubbed with a wax crayon for whiskers complete this mousey character.

This is a real post!

 

Finally I made this sweet little cushion for a friend of a friend. Not my style usually, but I was asked to make a cushion with a bear on for a baby girl called Christina and so that’s exactly what I did. I used some baby soft natural brushed cotton for the pillow and some vintage pink scraps for the bear. I part traced the bear outline from a picture on the internet and amended it a bit to get the look I wanted. Then I chain stitched the name and blanket stitched the bear in place.

This is a real post!

 

secret heart cushion

secret heart cushion

 

another cushion. this one is very small and was a birthday present for my friend helen. the original cardigan was one of mine and i’ve used it a lot – i’m still amazed by just how much you can get from one jumper. i used a section with a pocket in it because i thought it would be quirky and cute and i know helen appreciates quirky and cute. she has a beautiful house and great taste and i hope she finds a place for this. i also made a tiny little card to go in the pocket by using a couple of paper flowers and making stems with pin holes.

secret heart cushion

green sleeves

green sleeves

 

i wanted to make some sock monsters/monkeys for the upcoming picnic in the park stall but then i realised that no-one outside of my immediate family would want anything made from one of our old socks.  i want to reuse as much as i can but with the line drawn at socks i needed to find a way to make fun creatures out of something else.  one thing is certain, in the craft world owls are everywhere.  i suppose they have a pretty unique look amongst the animal kingdom and so are recognisable even when distorted by crafting genius/incompetence.  i was totally inspired by lori nichols.  www.lorinichols.com.  like me she felts thrift shop jumpers and she has used them with acorns and bits of pumpkin skin as well as, (sigh), old maps (another total favourite of mine – i love this woman) to create some truly beautiful pieces and her owls are, i think, the best out there by far. definitely more art than craft.  i’m never going to collect enough acorns to use in my crafting so i’ve gone down the strictly stitched route and used lots of buttons and other fabric remnants.  the very best bit is that the owls’ bodies are made from jumper sleeves.  i have a lot of sleeves left over from my recent cushion frenzy (i use the trunk of the jumper for the cushions).  i’m so glad now that i took the lazy route and didn’t cut up the sleeve seam before felting my jumpers (it’s how to avoid a permanent crease in the finished felt).  i put some rice in the bottom of each owl to help them stand before stuffing them and to be honest i think they are at their very best when gathered in a little huddle on a mantlepiece.  my mantlepiece.  listening to nick drake sing sad songs as i finished the last one i swear i nearly welled up at the thought of parting with them.

green sleeves

i was so pleased with the owls that i went a little further up the sleeve.  the shape i cut out was a little lop-sided – we are in armpit territory here!  i thought maybe bunny ears but i made them very abstract…so abstract that my husband thought they were swans!  i stuffed a pipe cleaner in one of the ears so its bendable. they have a slightly sinister look to them and don’t please me as much as the owls.  so no more evil bunnies –  i’ve decided i want to do penguins next.  watch this space.

green sleeves

one careful owner

one careful owner

as the blossom was just appearing on the trees back in april i did a quick dash around my local high street charity shops on the look out for jumpers to felt. i came away with a few choice cashmere numbers (looks like asda cashmere isn’t the lifetime investment that a good cashmere jumper used to be!). with these and some old moth eaten and misshaped things from my wardrobe i then spent a beautiful fresh spring day washing and felting, pegging out and cutting up, all in preparation for making cushions a plenty.

one careful owner

 

cushions are my new crafty passion and i’ve given some as presents but plan to sell some. that’s right…sell! the exciting news is that crafty muthas plan to have a stall at the bearwood picnic in the park, held annually in warley woods. i think ceri’s mentioned it on this blog before but just so you know, this year’s picnic will be on sunday 18th july, 1pm-6pm and we’ll be selling jewellery and hair accessories, photos, cupcakes and cushions of course. and lots more. wow.

one careful owner

 

this week i finally got down to finishing a few so i actually have what i like to call a ‘collection’. ha ha. it sounds pretentious to me so it probably does to you but seriously i’m thinking of this as my ‘one careful owner’ collection because they are all made from recycled jumpers that had been looked after but weren’t quite making it as stylish garments anymore. just calling it that makes me think more professionally and stops me turning the tv on in the evening. i have work to do! crafty mutha nat was the tearful recipient of the ‘love’ cushion but that’s the last one i’m giving away. the rest are for sale!

one careful owner

 

i think they are pretty cute but the good people of bearwood and beyond will have to prove me right by splashing the cash. and if they don’t….these will be coming to my nearest and dearest in a christmas stocking come december!

one careful owner

computer says no

finally, after a lot of humming and flickering, our computer has gone into full melt down so i’m typing from a laptop without my usual email and i don’t know how this post will come out but hopefully you’ll get some words and some pictures too.

march has been a bumper month for birthdays and this is just the start.  crafty friend erin got this little cushion, my first attempt at sewing with a machine for about 25 years.  how old does that make me sound?  i just checked the maths on my fingers to be sure and yes,  i haven’t used a sewing machine since my school days.  and i’m forty this year so about 25 years.  ouch!  even so, i couldn’t believe how simple this was.  i used a piece of denim from the usual source (husband’s old jeans), a charity shop jumper which i’d felted, i cut the tree out freehand from some of my old trousers (i’m an equal opps crafter!) and then used some old buttons for decoration.  the flap doesn’t open and there’s no inner cushion pad, i just stuffed it and hand sewed it closed.  i’m going to make more,  because for a start it was really satisfying to make something that doesn’t have a pin on the back!

the old recycled jean pocket bag has surfaced again for a 4 year old’s birthday.  this time i used some found red/white stripey ribbon for the strap, attached a little felt corsage and some buttons.  i was going for a jaunty angle with the embroidered name but its more like wonky!

apparently aunty mags is sixty.  i thought we went to her 60th party last year so delayed on the present until we got confirmation (that sounds mean doesn’t it?) but then i started making an icord with some of this lovely dark green wool (left over from the wrist warmers i made before) and inspired by a couple of things i’ve seen recently fashioned it into a flower shape pin.  i used the tail ends of the wool to sew the flower ‘petals’ together, which was really satisfying because usually all that weaving in ends annoys me.  then i sewed on a favourite mother of pearl button back to front (the rough, darker side looked lovely against the wool). so happy 60th mags.  i just had to stick a pin on something!

looking forward to the bearwood tapestry tomorrow night.  watch this space for more updates on our monthly crafty meetings.

i-cord i happy

as you may have gathered from ceri’s post about the crochet workshop some of us (me) don’t respond well to being taught. i left school at fifteen with some o levels but since then have pretty much picked up everything i know on my own. i like to find my own way, which is usually not the right way, but it’s how i like it. i’m just too old to change my ways now. i will return to crochet one day i’m sure, if i ever regain the use of my left hand, but feeling a bit of a failure after that session i decided to try i-cording instead. i just read the instructions on about .com (http://knitting.about.com/od/knittingskills/qt/icord.htm) way easier and useful too. so this little jean pocket bag which i made for ellie’s birthday combines both the abandoned crochet rings and an i-cord.

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what really pleased my simple mind was that when you turn the bag upside down you can pretend its a little house for your little people. that’s what i’d do if i was three anyway!

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now i want to share another fantastic recipe in response to ceri’s post about her failed lemon curd. this is not delia’s lemon curd. i’d normally turn to delia for the classics but this is unlike any other lemon curd recipe. easy and extremely lemony. i doubled it for christmas and still only got a few jars worth but this is so simple you could make it every week. i’m not going to write it all out – here’s the link. www.finecooking.com/recipes/lemon_curd.aspx you start off almost like making a cake which seems really weird but you end up with smooth un-curdled lusciousness perfect for filling cakes and mixing into yoghurt or ice-cream or just spreading on your toast. and if anyone reading this is coming to ‘the bearwood tapestry’ event on 18th feb you can sample some because i’m making a lemon curd drizzle cake.

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