Tulips

My wonderful grandmother recently turned 90, so she threw a big party to celebrate with family and friends. I offered to provide a celebration cake for the occasion, and drew inspiration from the tulips she included on the invitations.

I intended to model life-like tulips from flowerpaste, but struggling to get them right and pressed for time I resorted to a more stylised approach, which worked well when combined with the small vase of real tulips. My grandmother liked it, and it fed everyone about twice over!

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Equilibrium

Today is apparently my 4 years blogging anniversary! Over the years, crafting has given me fuel to blog and blogging has motivated me to keep crafting. Recently I’ve had less time and motivation for either because my creative energies and time have been increasingly directed towards my theatrical pursuits, which is less suited to writing about. Rehearsals don’t make for many pretty pictures! Here’s some pretty tulips instead!

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I’m currently rehearsing for my third show of the year and I’m hoping to take part in a couple more before the year is out. Not only that, but I have also recently gone back to work after nearly 9 years of stay-at-home parenting. I wasn’t planning to go back to work just yet, but when my dream job fell in my lap, I couldn’t possibly refuse! I’m currently in the rebalancing phase – hopefully I’ll find my way back to crafting and therefore blogging once I’ve found the new equilibrium. There’s still plenty on my making list!

 

Eat dirt!

Pickle has just turned five and just like that we’re out of that ‘early years’ stage of parenting. What!?

He’s been very much set on a chocolate birthday cake for quite some time but the decorative details have been harder to pin down, but with Minecraft as the general theme. When I started the baking process a few days ago, I had in mind a vague plan of some sort of Minecraft landscape with different levels and features, maybe a few trees and a waterfall. Once I had a large square slab of chocolate cake ready, and I invited Pickle to scroll through a few images on Pinterest with me, I had little inclination to do anything too complicated and he picked out a pretty straightforward simple block of dirt with grass.

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Looks straightforward enough, but cutting out small squares of fondant is more time consuming than one might imagine! Nonetheless, it turned out ok, Pickle was happy and it tasted good and impressed the other parents. I felt it needed something a little more on the top, but I ran out of time, materials and inspiration so left it plain. The candles were enough to add a little detail.

 

 

Toothless flies again

Those of you who have been around for a while may remember the Toothless cake that I made for Pumpkin’s birthday a couple of years ago. He still loves How To Train Your Dragon, both the books and the TV series, so of course, having been Hiccup last year, he requested to be Toothless for this year’s World Book Day.

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Despite him giving me plenty of notice of his character choice, I of course left everything to the last minute and was only saved by the snow which caused the dress up day at school to be postponed by a week. In the end I still cut it ridiculously fine, sewing in the morning while the boys ate breakfast and pinning the wings on him as we went out of the door!

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I bought a plain black hoodie and jogging trousers as the basis for the costume. I marked out and cut a straght line up the back of the hoodie to insert the dragon spines.

I drafted pattern pieces on paper for the spines and cut them out of some leftover black jersey and used a bit of iron on interfacing to stiffen them a little.

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For the head of the dragon, I drafted the ears/horns on paper and again cut them from black jersey and padded them a little to get the right shape and make them stand up a little, and hand-sewed them in place on the top of the hood.

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I found some perfect green cotton fabric at the Knitting and Stitching Show to make Toothless’ cat-like green eyes. I googled to find out the best way to do the pupils and hand-stitched them using black embroidery thread and a satin stitch and was very pleased with how they turned out. I edged them with black jersey to help define the eyes and make them a bit more 3D and stand out a bit more and then sewed them onto the hood.

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The tail was the tricky bit. I didn’t want it attached to either hoodie or trousers as I thought it would get in the way, so I made up a simple belt using some fabric tape I had in my sewing box and a couple of hook and eyes. The tail itself was a long triangle of black jersey. I considered adding some spines down the tail but decided it was a bit fiddly and probably unnecessary, not to mention I was rapidly running out of time. I had just enough black jersey left to make one of the tail fins and cut up an old red T-shirt to make the other fin. I pinched a bit of fusible fleece from my lovely bestie to give them a bit of structure and filled the tail out with toy stuffing.

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A pair of wings was hastily chopped from a bin bag and safety pinned either side of the spines. It was a quick fix but they actually looked quite good, giving a bit of different texture, and I wasn’t worried about them getting snagged on things during the day.

With more time I probably could have improved on it a bit more, but as it was, I was happy and he was happy.

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Knitting and Stitching 2018

It’s been quite a week!

I have spent a larger than average amount of time crafting in one way or another. The costume bits for the musical involved a lot of hand sewing. I returned the set to the wardrobe mistress and she’s giving me another whole set to do this week.

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I bound off the sleeves of Crazy Stripes at long last and have begun the lengthy task of sewing in many many ends. Buttons and blocking will follow soon.

I moved my attention to costumes for the boys for World Book Day. The process was taking longer than I anticipated when I finally got round to it, but fortunately I was given a reprieve when school declared a postponement and then a snow day! It will be rescheduled for sometime in the next week and I still have a little work to do so I’ll save the details for another time.

I finally finished the alpaca hat just in time to give it to my bestie on the train this morning on our way to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Kensington Olympia. She will need to attach the pompom on the top and I still have the scarf to finish, but it was good to get the hat done.

I went to Knitting and Stitching without much intention to purchase as I still have several projects in the works, and yet I still managed to come home with a fair haul.

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I picked up a couple of thimbles as all that hand sewing on costumes made me realise my fingers were in dire need of some protection. I nabbed a fat quarter for some details on Pumpkin’s Book Day costume. I had a rummage in a box full of assorted patterns and picked up three for a tenner that I thought would be useful to use with fabric I already have.

Actually, one of the three required new fabric, so I went in search amongst the various stands, but I struggled to find what I was looking for. Lauren at Guthrie and Ghani was immensely helpful and though she didn’t have quite what I wanted, she and her staff helped me work out what it was that I needed so I knew what to look for if I resorted to ordering something online. As it turned out, just as we were leaving, I spotted a stand that had a rack of various bolts of fabric for just 2.50 per metre, which included a bolt of black stretch denim, which was a perfect alternative for my pattern. At that price, it was worth it even if just for a practise make. I also nabbed a metre of blue jersey at the same price.

Finally, not being totally satisfied, I also bought a metre of this cute llama jersey which will become a top using the other pair of black sleeves that I cut when making my pink top.

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We had a fab day and I can’t wait to get working on some of these projects.

 

That’s what friends are for!

Life’s been rather busy here of late. Suffice to say I’ve not had much time for crafting and even less for blogging. I’ve rehearsed and performed one show already this year and I have a musical nearing curtain up.

I’ve done a spot of flower arranging; my cardigan just needs binding off, buttons and blocking. The alpaca hat and scarf for my bestie is in a state of perpetual WIP – I’m not sure they’ll be done in time for wear before the weather warms up. Soz, C! I’ve missed Unravel Festival for this year, although I will be going to the Knitting and Stitching Show with my bestie in a couple of weeks time – excited, much? Thanks, C! (Anyone else going?) I’ve just been given a stack of costume bits to sew for the musical. But looooook what my bestie just brought back from holiday for me…

Ain’t she just the best!? Just gotta find time to knit them now…!

A rose by any other name…

Today I have been turning my hand to something a little different. In need of a more suitable prop for a scene than the fake daffodils we’ve been using in rehearsal, I volunteered to do a spot of flower arranging!

A quick scout round town came up trumps for Arum/calla lilies, white roses and some greenery.

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I used a Stanley knife to separate the stems of the roses and the ivy so I could arrange things more easily. I built up the arrangement and secured it with florists tape (which really didn’t stick as well as I hoped) and some sugarpaste flower wire that I dug out of my cake making supplies. I was concerned that my first arrangement may be a bit big for its required purpose, so I used the leftover stems to make a smaller arrangement. Tonight is our dress rehearsal, so I’ll see what the director thinks and I can always rearrange them tomorrow if necessary.

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Fear

What do you do when you’ve been working on a project for so long, and you’re so close to the end, but you have fear that it’s all totally wrong?

I love the pattern, I love the colours. In general I like how it looks. I’m terrified that it doesn’t fit well, the neckline is too wide, there is way too much ease around the body. I have no idea what blocking will do to it, whether it will grow or not, whether the sleeves will end up too long. I’m not sure I like the texture of the neck band. Will I even wear it once it’s done, if it ever gets done? Could I bring myself to rip the whole thing if I decide it’s just not right?

Is this a normal part of garment making or am I overthinking? I’m so close to finishing it, but so terrified of the end result not being what I want.

Good times!

I do enjoy Christmas. The run up is always a little crazy with school nativities and activities, parties, planning and shopping, decorating, preparing and wrapping. I’ve had rehearsals for two different shows as well as taking part in my church carol service – learning the harmonies for various carols has been a particular highlight!

I also ended up with various creative projects on the go too. Along with the apron for my nephew which I showed you last time…

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There was a fair isle hearts hat for my niece. I used the TinCanKnits Clayoquot Toque pattern as the starting point, but changed it up with a folded brim and my own design for the hearts.

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And a wheat bag for my sister in law, which I made from a little corduroy skirt I found in a charity shop. I used my mum’s sewing machine to sew it – she’s got an all singing, all dancing Janome machine that took a little getting used to, but sewing machine aspirations right there! – and filled it with wheat and homegrown lavender.

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There’s also been a fair amount of baking. Vanilla shortbread and slightly experimental apple and cinnamon cupcakes with caramel buttercream (I’ll be making those again!). My first ever meringue kisses made in a hurry to use up some egg whites before we went away for a few days, and my first ever Christmas pudding which fed the family on Christmas Day.

Fortunately, Christmas itself is a time to chill out and spend time relaxing with family and generally not doing too much except eat and wash up and eat some more and keep the kids entertained!

When we travel up to spend time with my family, Mr Jack and I like to spend time on the journey reflecting on the year past. It’s been a good one, with lots of things falling into place following the last couple of years of upheaval with house hunting, moving, school uncertainties etc. The boys are well settled at their new school, and we feel better rooted in our new house and town. I’ve surprisingly become a runner over the last year. I’m loving parkrun, and though I didn’t quite officially meet my target of a sub-30 minute 5k parkrun by Christmas, I have done sub-30 training runs and I’m not far off that at parkrun. I’ve also shed nearly 2 and a half stone thanks to Slimming World. I aimed to be at target by Christmas and was just a couple of pounds away. Technically that’s within the target range anyway, so I’ll call it a win! I feel very boring going on about food and pounds but ultimately I feel so much better for having done it and just for me!

I’ve been involved in some great theatre this year too and am so excited for what’s lined up for next year already. My first turn in  Shakespeare in February followed by a fun musical in March and then I’m booked to see both Harry Potter and Hamilton in London during April.

Then of course there’s also Unravel in Feb and the Knitting and Stitching show in March too. Plenty to be looking forward to.

For now though, I’m going to enjoy a few more days of food and family and a chance to not do much. Maybe I’ll manage to get this second crazy sleeve done before the year is out. Now that would be an achievement!

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