Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Pip, 2009 - 2012

We've not had a good week.  Last Thursday Pip had a stroke and we spent the last 5 days giving her 24-hour care; camping out with her in the lounge as it was the only room without any steps out to the garden.  Yesterday we sadly watched as the vet put her to sleep.  For a very active dog to go virtually blind and to lose her mobility so suddenly was extremely distressing for her and for us, so we decided we needed to put an end to it.

The house seems very empty this morning.

Pip and her brother, Kit (died in Canada, 2010), came to us from a rescue centre when they were about 6-7 months old in 1999.  They had been starved and beaten and they always remembered this.  Pip would stash food in hiding places around the house in case she needed it later ... and she only ever ate what was in her bowl when she was sure we were home for the day and could fill it up again.  Really not typical dog behaviour!

But then Pip wasn't your typical collie!  She loved sitting like this on the stairs.

And tennis balls were her favourite toy ... Kit got to keep all the chew toys (which he promptly tried to destroy - even the super strength kongs!), but the tennis balls were always Pip's.  Walking round the house could be a bit of a nightmare - either Pip was being a trip hazard on the stairs (you try walking downstairs with a full washing basket .. I fell over her more than once) or running into her tennis balls strategically placed to entice us to throw them for her or treading on piles of food from her stash!

We had a great time with both Pip and Kit.  Now that they're both gone we're going to take a while to adjust.  We definitely aren't planning on having any more dogs - moving house so much wasn't planned when we got the dogs 13 years ago and it is really unsettling for them, plus it turns out that I'm allergic (long story - hard to believe I didn't know that until 6 years ago!).  So we're going to have to get used to an emptier house and find new ways to exercise.  It'll take a while.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Oh, Fiddlesticks and some Awards!

Sometimes things just don't go to plan ....

Like running out of the brown yarn I need to finish the handles off on this little bag.  I was using up odds and ends of yarn, so mission accomplished, but do I now buy some extra in the brown or make it look even more like a mish-mash by finishing the handles in the orange or the green (the only colours I have left)?

Or not quite paying attention to what I was doing when I sewed this folding shopping bag ....

The handles are supposed to be joined the other way (i.e from left to right not front to back).  I knew that, but was thinking about something else and only realised when I finished the binding.  Doh!  The tutorial for how to make this bag properly can be found over at Crafty Ady's blog.

Folded up the bag looks like this:

Very neat.

As is obvious from my mistake, I wasn't following the tutorial step by step.  I used it to draft my pattern and then winged it.  This bag has french side and handle seams with a bound seam at the base and magnetic snaps to fasten because I didn't have any poppers.  I bought the fabric from Liberty back when I lived in Oxfordshire well over 10 years ago.  I was probably intending on making cushion covers (I did make one in this fabric), but never used it up.  

Hopefully that's it for mistakes in the near future as I'm crocheting a sweater at the moment - my first ever Doris Chan pattern made top down and with no seams (joy, oh, joy - no sewing all the pieces together).

It seems to be award season at the moment.  No, not the Oscars, but blog awards!!  I was really touched and honoured to be given two awards recently.  Firstly the Liebster Blog award from Cindy Bee from The Bee Lady at Hilltop Farm and secondly the Versatile Blogger award from Pam at Threading My Way.  Thank you both very much.  I am still contemplating who to pass these onto and will be blogging about that soon.

Linking up this week with We Did It Wednesday and Our Creative Spaces.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Another City Bag!

One of the very first bag patterns I purchased back in 2009 when I started sewing again was the City Bag from Nicole Mallalieu Designs.  I made 3 bags from it back then, I think, but never one for me ... until now, that is!

This will be my new summer handbag.  I ordered the fabric from a store in Canada, had it delivered via a colleague to Andy on his last trip to Brazil and he brought it back for me!  It is from Dwell Studio's "Eclectic Modern' collection and is called "Bella Porte".  The lining is a gorgeous fleur de lis pattern (blue on white) from Robert Kaufman ... I never take good photos of linings, so I didn't try!  

I love this pattern for many reasons.  Firstly, the bag is a good size and has a zip closure rather than a magnetic snap. Secondly, the design is simple and classic and I think it suits geometric prints very well.  Thirdly, it's actually really quite quick and easy to make!

Now that Nicole has closed her online shop, it's a little bit harder to get her patterns in the northern hemisphere but you can order this one from here.

Friday, 13 January 2012

2012 BAMCAL: January Blocks

Due to popular demand, here are links to the pattern pages on Ravelry for these blocks.  You need to sign up as a Ravelry member to view these pages but it is free to sign up and these 4 patterns are free.

Clockwise from top left:
Pretty petals by Melinda Miller
16 Circles by Beatriz Medina (I added another round of circles!)
Drop in the Bucket by Janie Herrin
16 petals by Jenn Santa

No sooner than I said I'd probably never crochet another blanket, I happened across the Ravelry 2012 BAMCAL (Block A Month Crochet ALong) group and, before I knew it, I'd clicked 'join'!!  After all, how hard can one block a month be, right?  

Weak-willed .... I know!!  

So, how did one block a month turn into the four blocks you see above?

There's the official 12" block for the month (top left) and the 6" block (top right) for anyone making baby blankets, plus an optional 12" block that we voted on (bottom right) and then someone posted a new design in one of the discussion forums asking for testers (bottom left).  You pick and choose which ones you want to do; some keen people have done multiples of each block.  I'm just doing the ones I like, so some months I may just do one block or even repeat a block that I've already made in another colour combination.

You're probably wondering by now how my 6" and 12" blocks are all roughly the same size (and 8" at that!)! I'm using DK yarn and a 4mm hook, so my blocks were always going to be small and I added some rounds to the 6" block to bring it up to the same size as my others.

By the end of the year I should have improved my crochet skills considerably... I may even be able to dispense with reading my crochet book to work the stitches out at the beginning of every pattern!! And I should have a nice, colourful blanket!

Friday, 6 January 2012

The Kiss Purse

Love, love, love this one!!

This is the Kiss Purse pattern from You Sew, Girl (formerly Nicole Mallalieu Designs) and is my first finished project in 2012!  I've had this pattern for about 18 months and the first attempt at it was a complete disaster ... one of those rare ones that ended up in the bin! Such a shame as it was some of my favourite fabric and I was really very annoyed with myself.

I was going through my pattern box before Christmas having a clear out and came across the pattern again.  I thought it was about time to have another go ... but maybe not with a favourite fabric this time!  I had everything I needed in my stash except for the extra firm stiffeners for the base and to maintain the curve of the purse... struggled a little bit with those till I found an online store selling every possibly Vlieseline product going.  Managed to order S520 for the hard base and some S133 instead of peltex to hold the curve.

The fabric is a Robert Kaufman print that I got as part of a $10 off-cut bundle from one of my favourite fabric stores in Canada and the lining (not shown) is from the Amy Butler Mid-West Modern range.  Despite the fabric not being something I might have picked out, I think it works really well here (and I still have a fat quarter left to play with!!).

Not the cheapest purse to make with all the hardware and stiffeners, but it really is very cute!  I'll definitely be making some more this year! 

Pattern reviewed at Pattern Review.  

Monday, 2 January 2012

Tidying Up from 2011

I've got a few things still hanging around from last year to tell you about ...

After an almost exclusive diet of crochet from the summer up to the end of November, I decided to dust off the sewing machine in December.  This City Shopper from Nicole Mallalieu's book, "You Sew, Girl!" was finished before Christmas, but I've only just got round to photographing it.

This bag has a long shoulder strap so that you can wear it across the body and is very roomy.  The lining is the same raspberry colour as the button which I covered myself.  Inside there is a large zipped pocket and I added a magnetic snap to the facing.  Nice and easy!!

Also before Christmas, I was lucky enough to win a give away over at Tweed Delights.  I love getting post, especially when it contains home crafted goodies!!  The sheep button on the crochet purse is very, very cute!!  Apologies for the dark photo - it's getting very difficult to find good light at the moment.

Lastly, I ordered this yarn as a treat just before Christmas and it arrived last week.  It's a 100% silk, lace-weight yarn from The Natural Dye Studio called Precious and the colour is Firebolt.  I haven't decided exactly what I'll be making ... but whatever it is, it will be for me!  I may have mentioned it before, but orange is one of my favourite colours!!