Tuesday, 19 May 2015

My Time In Australia

Where I'll Be Heading Tomorrow

My time in Australia is drawing to a close. You can read more about it by clicking HERE .

Monday, 18 May 2015

Crafting "Down-Under"

A Cute Little Chap at
Featherdale

The photo above is one that I took when I was in Sydney in 2013, but he's so cute I didn't think anyone would mind seeing him again!

I have been in Australia for a week and a half, having had to travel out at very short notice. When I booked the flights I asked if crochet hooks are allowed on their flights and was told that they are not. It was a bit frustrating that I couldn't do something productive on the journey but I wasn't too bothered about it. However, when we were waiting to go through security at Changi Airport in Singapore, I saw a woman who was travelling on the same flight and she was doing tapestry with a needle! I wonder why the rules are different for different people? Hmph.

During the time that we have been here in Adelaide, I have managed to do some crochet.

Jackets crocheted prior to this trip
 
I have been continuing to crochet the same design of baby/toddler jacket as shown above. (Apologies for using this photograph again but my iPad and Picasa refuse to play together nicely!) I have been making the hexagons in readiness for sewing up and then finishing off bands. I decided before travelling that I wouldn't bother to bring a sewing up needle as the button bands might be awkward to do without having the buttons to hand.



Crocheted jacket with contrast bands

The hexagons I am making are from a huge ball of cream-coloured aran yarn. I brought a small amount of baby blue yarn to use as a small amount of contrast. I am on my fourth hexagon so at least I shall have two jackets to complete for children in Syria when I arrive home.

If you are interested in making items for children in Syria, there are several charities who will be grateful, including the charity that I take my donations to: Syria Relief .


Thursday, 7 May 2015

Just A Quick Thing And A Request

This is just a quick note about the adverts that you may be able to see on my blog, at the top of the column on the right, and at the bottom of my posts.

For a long time I didn't want adverts on here, but recently I relented. What I have decided is that if any income us derived from the adverts, I shall donate it to Syria Relief.

I don't expect there to be much income generated but every little helps, doesn't it?

So, now we come to the request: if you have a few seconds to spare, would click on or or both of the adverts, please. I'm not sure how money is generated, but, if it's based on the number of clicks on a particular ad, you could help to improve the situation that so many Syrians find themselves in.

If you would like to know more about Syria Relief and the work that they do, CLICK HERE. If you would like to help to raise a bit more money for people in Syria, please click on one or both of the adverts.

Thank you.


Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Ever Wondered What To Do With A Few Bits Of Ribbon?

Have you ever wondered what you could use a few scraps of ribbon for? The odds and ends of ribbon that you keep from boxes of chocolates or that lovely basket of smellies that Aunt Agatha gave you three years ago? Well, I am here to give you an idea which will not only use some of your stash, but will also help babies in Syria.


Loops-a-Playsies for Syrian babies

Many, many Syrian children are among the refugees currently in countries like Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan but also amongst the internally displaced persons in Syria itself. Life is indescribably hard for ordinary Syrian citizens living within their own country. How much worse must it be for the children, so many of whom have only ever known the hardship and deprivation caused by the conflict which has been raging in their homeland for years?

If you have read any of my previous posts on this blog, you will probably know that much of what I make is for Syrian children. Usually, the items that I make and donate to Syria Relief are knitted or crocheted clothes for the children. I have also made stuffed toys such as these:


Teddies, rabbits, cats and dolls

This week, however, I have been making taggies Loops-a-Playsies for babies.


Taggies Loops-a-Playsies made from my stash

It is well known that babies need stimulation to help their development. I really cannot imagine what effect the conflict is having on those young lives but it occurred to me that making taggies Loops-a-Playsies for some of them would be simple and may help them a little. Furthermore, as the taggies Loops-a-Playsies are flat, they should be easily transportable to Syria when a shipment of aid is sent by Syria Relief.


More taggies Loops-a-Playsies 
for Syrian babies

These photos show the taggies Loops-a-Playsies I made yesterday, but my sewing machine is poised and ready to continue making them today!

At the moment the earthquake and aftershocks in Nepal are dominating the news, and rightly so, but please don't forget the ongoing disaster that is happening to the Syrian people.

If you would like to make a donation to the Nepal Earthquake AppealCLICKING HERE will take you to the "Big Give", where your donation may be doubled.

If you would like to make a donation to Syria ReliefCLICKING HERE will take you directly to their donation page. You even have a chance to choose how you would like your money spent!

Please don't forget GIFT AID if you are a taxpayer. It makes your donation go that bit further.

** Since writing and first publishing this post I have been advised that "taggies" is a trademark. I did not know that and was under the impression that it was simply an informal name given to this type of baby toy. For that reason I have decided to call mine "Loops-a-Playsies". My apologies to the owners of the aforementioned trademark.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Hands, Knees and Swapsies

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have taken part in the Very Berry Handmade ATC swap several times. In case you are not aware, ATC stands for Artist's Trading Card: generally they measure 3.5" by 2.5" and are usually made of paper or fabric. For the Very Berry Handmade swap the ATC must be made of fabric and include some stitching.





Having missed the Winter Sparkle swap because I was in my favourite place in the world I was pleased when Ali (the person behind Very Berry Handmade) announced that she was running the next swap with the theme "Home Sweet Home".

There was quite some time between receiving details of to whom we should each send our ATC, and the actual date for posting so I wasn't worried that I was going to be away on holiday [yes, again!] for some of that time. What I didn't reckon on, though, was that I would return from holiday with a chest infection which, in turn, would provoke a prolonged flare of the Fibromyalgia that I suffer. Consequently, as the date for posting loomed I was struggling with making my card. This wasn't helped by Ali requesting an update from all participants a week or so before posting day!

I was completely honest in my reply to Ali, telling her that I had been struggling but was pretty certain I would manage to finish my card: I desperately wanted to avoid her having to ask one of the swap 'angels' to provide an additional card.

On the Friday before posting day [Monday of this week!], I took a selection of stuff to begin making my card, to my craft group. I told them about the swap and that I was still trying to decide on a design. Then, behold, my own swap angel appeared! Lillian suggested using some of the places I had travelled to as the basis of my design. That idea sparked an idea in my head which I decided to run with.


The ATC I made for this swap
OK! Let's get all the guffawing out of the way before I talk any more about it! 

Yes, I chose to use green thread and, yes, I still loathe the colour green!

The reason I chose green when stitching the outline was that it seemed the logical colour to depict land. I didn't trace the outline, I drew it by carefully copying a tiny map that I found in the library where the craft group meets. I'm not particularly happy about how the Western Isles and west coast of Scotland turned out, but, all in all, I don't think I did too badly.

The next stage was adding the text. Having done that, the card looked rather empty and unappealing. I was discussing it with Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon [yes, that's right, the day before posting day] and decided that I would add a bead to show roughly where home is for me. I couldn't add 'home' for the recipient as I remembered too late that she lives in Ireland!

I then decided to use a variegated blue embroidery thread to stitch the waves. Finally, I constructed the finished card by machine stitching in zigzag to hold the two pieces of fabric [front and back] and the card contained between them.


The reverse of the ATC, showing the
title: "Wherever I wander"

Finally I wrote the title of the card, my details and the details of the swap on the reverse of the ATC and posted it on Monday.

Although it was done almost at the last minute, I am pleased with the idea I came up with, thanks to Lilian's initial suggestion. I am also pleased, by and large, with the way I put that idea into effect.

In case you were wondering, I haven't received my ATC from this swap yet. I hope it comes soon as I am getting impatient!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Have You Heard The One About The London Bus?

A London Bus [in case you didn't
realise!] 

Here I am again with another post, just like a London bus: you don't see one for ages then they all come together! [The picture above shows a bus on the number 6 route. It brings back memories from before my children were born as I used to travel on that route from Charing Cross Station to my office. Ah, happy times.]

I mentioned yesterday that I hadn't been around because Peter and I were in Turkey but that was only half the reason for the long gap between posts.

During the autumn of 2014 I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia - don't worry, I'm not going to bore you with the details. The link above will take you to the website that my GP refers patients to, so click on there if you would like to find out more about Fibromyalgia.

When we returned from Turkey I became ill with the chest infection that had been 'doing the rounds' on the coach. The infection caused a major flare up of the Fibromyalgia and it has only been during these last few days that I have begun to feel human again. So, apologies for the extended break in transmission. I sincerely hope you will forgive me and thank you for your continued support of this 'ere blog. (For anyone who is interested, I have been writing an online diary about learning to live with Fibromyalgia and all it has to offer: you can find it HERE.

OK. Back to the important thing in life... Crafting!

Crocheted children's jackets
being donated to Syria Relief

During the Fibro Flare I wasn't able to do much crafting, or anything else, for that matter. I had a large ball of self-patterning aran yarn which I had decided I would make a small corner-to-corner baby blanket with. I found a couple of tutorials for the blanket on YouTube and, after watching those, set to on the blanket. It was slow going but that didn't matter as I wasn't going anywhere.

When I had worked about 6" [15cm] I saw that there was a problem with the way it was shaping. I had made a mistake near the beginning which had made the whole thing misshapen. The mistake meant that it was going to look very peculiar when finished, so I decided to pull it back and start again.

I managed to avoid the mistake I had made on my first attempt. However, after a while, I realised that my tension was too tight so I unravelled it and started again.

Undaunted, I began crocheting for a third time. When I was about halfway through the ball of yarn I could see that there wasn't going to be enough to complete a blanket. It turned out the ball was 250gm whereas I had assumed it was 400gm. At this point, some rude words were on the tip of my tongue... and some overbalanced and fell out of my mouth!

I unravelled what I had done and decided to give up on the idea of crocheting a corner-to-corner blanket. Instead, I decided to make a child's jacket. I had seen a pattern on Facebook that I liked the look of. It was designed by Eleanor Burke of Knit Nottingham and is available as a free Ravelry download.

OK. So, pattern and yarn at the ready, crochet hook in hand, I set to. The first part of the pattern was a little confusing - don't forget I was in the middle of a Fibro Flare, with accompanying Fibro Fog. I kept wondering how the shape would end up as half a jacket but carried on crocheting until it was the size I wanted. I finished off the last stitch and then realised why I had been confused... I had made a seven-sided hexagon! Oops!

Guess what happened next? Yep, that's right: I pulled it back! At this point I really don't know how I managed to find the enthusiasm to try again with that dratted ball of yarn. I think it was because I was just too exhausted to find any other yarn or pattern. However, somehow I did manage to start again and the two jackets in the picture above are what I created. I also managed to make two hats for premature babies, which will also be going to Syria Relief and a 6"/15cm crocheted square.

Child's crocheted jacket, also being
donated to Syria Relief

This jacket is one that I completed today, having begun it on Monday evening. I made it using a Patons aran yarn given to me by Peter's mother. I have used some odds and ends of aran yarn that I found in my stash to add a bit of colour to brighten up the jacket. The buttons for all three jackets came from my stash. I have already started the next jacket using this grey yarn.

I am really pleased with myself. I have spent quite a lot of time using up odds and ends of yarn recently and, yesterday, I had to rearrange my yarn stash... and I could see a space!!! There was room to move some yarn into one of the storage boxes plus I was able to amalgamate two bags! It really feels as though I am making progress with using up my stash, but I do wish items needed more yarn so that I could get through it quicker!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Well, What Do You Know?

It's been a bit quiet here lately, hasn't it? What do you think the reason might have been? Well, here's a clue:


And, here's another:

And here is your final clue:




Yes. I've been on holiday. Peter and I went on a tour of Turkey. Consequently there wasn't  much crafting going on during the second half of March. In fact, despite the fact that we were doing a coach tour, up until I was finishing my packing on the day we were leaving, I wasn't even going to take anything crafty with me! No, really! I had decided that I would go craft-less for the duration. However, once I had seen how much room was left in my suitcase at the end of the packing process, I thought I may as well take some knitting. Here are some of the things I brought back:

Shaggy hats for Syria Relief

Regular readers will have seen similar shaggy hats previously, but the stripey hats below are a variation on the scrappy yarn theme. I had found several small remainders of balls of yarn and decided that, rather than chop them down for shaggy hats or crochet multicolour squares, I would join them all together randomly and knit as a complete ball of yarn.
Hats for Syria Relief, knitted
with scraps and ends of balls
I am quite pleased with the result of that experiment so shall probably try that again, when I have another collection of part-balls.

Old Uzbek Suzani 

The hats are not the only things I brought back from Turkey. I treated myself to the Suzani in the above photo, which had been imported to Turkey from Uzbekistan. That photo doesn't do it justice so let's try this one:

Detail of old Uzbek Suzani
Hmm, that's still not great. How about this:

Corner detail of Suzani
I think that's probably the best reproduction I can get.

Peter and I were visiting an old tower in Istanbul when I noticed that there was a shop selling textiles. Well, it would have been rude not to visit, wouldn't it? And, once you're there, you have to buy, don't you? When we saw this old Suzani from Uzbekistan we both really liked it so I decided to buy it. It cost far more than I would usually pay for a textile item but it is beautifully worked, silk on silk and I just didn't want to resist - so I didn't!

The final photograph I am going to show you is of a shop window I saw one afternoon, in Ankara, I think.

Singer sewing machines are
truly international!
No, I didn't buy one of those!