Friday, 19 September 2014

I Have Received A Lovely ATC

Lovely ATC received from Stephie
This week saw the postman delivering this sweet Artist's Trading Card (ATC) to me as part of the fourth Very Berry Handmade ATC Swap. The theme for this swap was "Getting Away From it All".

The tag that Stephie included in the package
Stephie of Dawn Chorus Studio was my swap buddy who made the ATC and who wrapped it in purple paper and tied it with ribbon. The face of the card was stitched onto a vintage handkerchief. On the back, Stephie used a piece of vibrant Liberty fabric that she had recently bought from a fabric shop in Exeter. I love the back of the card a much as the front! Stephie has blogged about designing and making this ATC: you can read about it here. I feel honoured that she used some of her precious "memory" Liberty fabric on the ATC, partly because she is, in effect, sharing some of her special day in Exeter with me, and also because Exeter is one of my favourite cities. I have some lovely memories of times there with some of the important people in my life.

The reverse of the card showing the
stunning Liberty fabric
I enjoy being part of the Very Berry Handmade Swap. When Ali arranged the first one I signed up as I wanted to push myself, creatively - but I didn't want to end up feeling overwhelmed by the challenge. Making an ATC fulfils the criteria and I am finding it easier to think of ideas and actually put them into effect as I gain more "swap" experience.

If you fancy having a go at something a little different from your norm, why not consider taking part in a swap like this? You never know... you might even enjoy it!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Knitted and crocheted bootees
for Syrian babies
I have been making bootees! I have only attempted bootees once before and they didn't turn out well. No, let's be honest. They were absolutely terrible - didn't look like bootees, or anything recognisable. So, it has taken me a long time to even think of attempting bootees again. Some of the prevarication is due to my not being keen on knitting fiddly things. I expect the main reason for not trying again is that I didn't want to be faced with my knitting inadequacies!

Anyway, I put all of that aside recently and attempted a pair of crocheted bootees. I had found a really simple pattern for crocheted bootees somewhere (apologies but I can no longer find it online!) so had a go. They ended up a bit small but I think they will be OK for a premature baby.

Crocheted hats for premature
babies in Syria
These hats are so simple to make although it takes me longer than the "10 minutes" the name of the pattern claims! I find I can easily carry around the hook and small amount of yarn needed for a hat so I can sit making them anywhere. I made several during our recent stay in Edinburgh. Also, they are really useful for using up scraps of yarn! You can find the pattern here.

Loom-knitted hats for Syrian children -
Made by Jacqueline
Yesterday, Jacqueline gave me these seven hats that she had knitted for Syrian children. She began using a knitting loom fairly recently, as a change from using ordinary knitting needles, and has found these hats quick and easy to make. The loom gives them a pleasant texture and they feel wonderfully soft. Thank you, Jacqueline.

Taggies for babies in Syria
Also, yesterday afternoon, I decided to christen my lovely new sewing table. I cut out and pinned a small pile of taggies. I managed to sew together five of them before I ran out of energy. I have a sneaking suspicion that dratted chest infection has returned for a longer visit! I am hoping that I will be able to finish sewing the taggies today or tomorrow.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Inspiration Came Quickly

Usually it takes me quite a while to come up with an idea for papercrafting. Last year (or was it the year before?), I decided to make all the greetings cards that I needed during the year. I was pleased that I managed to achieve that goal but I haven't continued it. However, during our return journey from Scotland a few days ago when Peter and I were discussing "thank you" cards for Marianne & John and Andrew & Joy, I offered to make the cards. It seemed right to do make the cards, especially as both couples know that I am a keen crafter.

When I sat down in my craft room to make the cards I pulled out a few plastic wallets containing a selection of papers and an idea immediately sprang into my mind. That's a very unusual occurrence: normally I struggle to think of ideas. However, I think that the activities I have done as part of the Be Creative weekends and the Summer Journal project, have helped to kickstart my creativity.

Cards made using a selection of
papers and textures
The design of these cards came to mind very quickly. I don't often work with neutral colours but I am pleased with how they have turned out. I think the colours work well together and are enhanced by the unbleached thread.

In true crafter style, the papers came from various sources including a compliments slip from a fabric shop in Sydney, a scrap of handmade paper that someone gave me because she was unhappy with the way it turned out, two pieces of paper that I marbled during a "play day" that Little Sis and I had when I was staying with her in Somerset a few years ago, a page torn from an old book (which I had coloured using orange juice) and a scrap of  cheap and cheerful paper that I had deliberately marked with rings from the bottom of a mug!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

The Riddle is Solved

I am still excited but, at least, today I am going to reveal the reason for this extended period of joy.

It is quite probable that you will be deflated when I reveal the cause, but that won't change how I feel.

And so...

Ladies and gentlemen...

Bossymamma is proud, not to say excited, to present...

My new sewing table!
Here it is! The cause of my excitement: my new sewing table!

My sewing table, with both leaves down but
with three drawers slightly open

I have had a dilemma for some time about where to sew. In my craft room I have a glass-topped desk which is lovely to work on for general crafting and/or computing. However, I really don't think it would be safe to use a sewing machine on it. Not only that, but it would involve carrying the sewing machine upstairs whenever I needed to use it.

Using the dining table is not an ideal solution as Peter tends to take it over at weekends for one of his pastimes so that I have to clear my sewing away on Friday evenings.

I came up with what I thought was an ideal solution: a wooden shed/garden room. Dreams of my own private space for crafting and sewing floated through my mind. Plans progressed well... in my head. However, Peter was not keen on the idea. He said it would feel as though I was always out. So, it was back to the drawing board.

A few weeks ago I went to Ikea with Elizabeth and we found the answer to my problem...

The Ikea Norden table
I had seen a similar table elsewhere but was worried that, being a gateleg table, it wouldn't be sturdy enough. However, Elizabeth and I had a really good look round the Norden, including checking that it would not wobble, and agreed that it fitted the bill. Not only was it sturdily built from solid wood, but it had three capacious drawers at each end which were ideal for storing sewing paraphernalia. Perfect!

I didn't buy it during that visit as I knew Peter should see it first so, whilst we were staying with his brother and sister-in-law, the four of us took a trip to the nearby Ikea store and the table came back with us!

I am so thrilled with my table that I have even been waxing it! (Sorry, that must have been a shock for you to read, in view of my aversion to housew*rk!) When the waxing is finished I shall have fun deciding what to store in each of the drawers.

There is just one, slight drawback: as it is made of solid birch, it is very, very heavy and I shall probably have to move it to use it! Ummmmm... Suggestions on a postcard please!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

There Is Much Excitement Here!

Peter and I have just arrived home after a few days in Edinburgh, staying with friends and family. We had a lovely few days: first with Marianne and John, whom we met and became friendly with on a cruise; then with Peter's brother and sister-in-law, Andrew and Joy. We enjoyed good home-cooked food (a rarity in our house!) and good company so thank you to each and all of them.

The cause of the excitement
IĆ³So, now we are home and I am VERY excited! You see, we have brought home two  cardboard boxes which we bought in a store near Andrew and Joy's home, just a few short hours ago. I have put on my dancing feet as I feel like tripping the light fantastic around the room.

The cause of much excitement and
dance fever!
I'm sure you can see why I am so bouncy and twitchy. Hee hee hee. I have even taken these photos of the boxes in the actual location where the completed item will stand, making it obvious what we bought!

More photos may well follow fairly soon.

In case you are wondering what is in the boxes, I shall give you a clue:

"The two boxes are one thing and they are seven things."

Answers on a postcard, or in the Comments below, please.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

I'm Only Going To Whisper This...

I'm not going to say it too loudly but I think I may have finally shifted the chest infection! I certainly hope so!

I am in Scotland for a few days but had thought I might have to cancel because of that dratted chest infection, so you can imagine how pleased I am that it has taken the hint and disappeared.

Usually, I spend more time packing crafts to do than packing clothes. However, this time I decided to take some crochet. So, for the time being I am making more hats for premature babies in Syria. I think I have made 30-odd to date (including those made before I came north of the border).

I am enjoying making the hats. It may be because there are lots of results for not much effort!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Syria and Me

Someone asked me yesterday why I am so keen on helping Syria and the Syrian people. As I do tend to mention Syria and helping various charities who deliver aid there, quite a lot, I thought I would try to explain.
A selection of hats that I have made
and donated
My partner, Peter, and I went on a tour of Syria in January 2005. We had received a brochure from a holiday company which included the trip. I like to visit places that are not the usual type of destination and it immediately appealed to me.
Peter was widely travelled before I met him and, together, we have been on some wondrous holidays but Syria was definitely a favourite for each of us.
A few of the teddies that I posted recently -
 some were made and donated by other people
We were in a small group with a tour manager and coach driver who stayed with us throughout the entire holiday. Samir was our tour manager and guide and he was excellent. He was fluent in english and had a degree in archaeology, both of which helped to enhance our enjoyment of the trip. He was a skilled communicator and could bring history to life as he talked. I remember being amongst some ruins at Bosra (I think that was the place) and, as Samir told us about life at the time of the Nabateans I looked up expecting to see them emerging from one of the buildings!
Unfortunately I was taken ill as we arrived in Aleppo. However, the hotel staff, doctor and our coach driver were so friendly, pleasant and helpful that, what had begun as a very scary experience, become much less worrying with their respective interventions. In fact, our driver was most attentive. He made a bed for me at the rear of the coach, made sure I always had water available to drink, physically helped me if I needed it and always checked that I was properly dressed for the weather. He was most solicitous, without being overbearing.
Some of the Taggies that I have
made for Syrian babies to play with
The contact that Peter and I had with Syrian people affirmed for us how delightful they are. This was confirmed by another passenger on our return flight to Heathrow.
Our Syrian cabin crew asked a young male passenger if he would mind moving so that they could make a bed for me to lie on during the flight. He kindly agreed. At the end of the flight I thanked him for having moved and we began talking. He had been on the Hajj and had travelled via Syria as he had not been able to book a direct flight to Saudi Arabia. He told me how pleasant the Syrian people had been and how different his treatment had been from that he received in Saudi.
A pair of socks that I knitted and donated
That holiday had a profound effect on me. I loved Syria and was keen to return. Even though we had glimpsed some effects of living under the Assad regime, I thoroughly enjoyed the places we had seen and meeting some of the people.
Over three years ago, the UK media began to run stories about the uprising of the Syrian people. At the time, Aleppo appeared to be bearing the brunt of the regime’s reaction. We had arrived in Aleppo to the sound of the banging and crashing of drums that were being played in joyful celebration. Now, however, the banging and crashing was from gunfire and air strikes.
Hats for premature babies - there has been
a sharp increase in the number of premature
births in Syria
Our tour manager, Samir, and our coach driver (whose name escapes me) both came from Aleppo. It was a horrid feeling, knowing that we knew two lovely people who were, most probably, caught up in the terror and destruction. Indeed, one or both of them might even have already been killed. From what we could see in the media, there was widespread suffering and destruction. It broke my heart, and it still does.
I do not profess to be an expert on Syria or its people nor can I quote endless statistics to back up anything that I say. I can only follow my conscience – and my conscience is telling me that I must do anything that I can to help those in need.