A slight obsession with books

Reading and Fibrecrafts


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Fat bottomed bags

When I first started the Last dance on the beach CAL, I took a look around the website of the original designer. The CAL was in her memory and her website, with all its inspiration, was still up for people to enjoy. I found a pattern on there for a bag that looked so pretty that I filed it away for future use and a few months ago, decided to make two of them for birthday presents.

It wasn’t a difficult design and the instructions were clear so I felt fairly confident although it was something that I hadn’t tried before as it combined crochet and sewing with a bit of decoration.

These are some of the bits and bobs from my stash, although I changed my mind on the lining fabric before starting the bag.

blue05Obviously there was yarn as well, but I’d already started crocheting before I thought to take a photo.

First I needed to crochet a granny square. For the pink bag I did a solid square but I went with a more open square for the blue bag.

blue04Next it needed to be lined, which was a bit trickier than I’d anticipated but once I’d got my walking foot on, my sewing machine coped nicely.

blue06The next stage was to add lace. Whatever lace I wanted and as much as I wanted. I did the two bags slightly  differently to keep it interesting. This is the lace on the flat square.

blue07Once that was done it was just a case of putting some crochet on the non-lace edges and then the lacy edges, which enclosed the handles.

That made the structure of the bag so then came the really fun bit, which was adding the ribbons, beads and crocheted flowers with button centres.

blue02 blue01And the finished bag –

blue03And, this is the pink one, details first –

pink02 pink01The lining –

pink03And, the finished bag –

pink04They were fun to make and quite easy and hopefully my friends liked them 🙂

 

 


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2016 roundup

Working full-time has definitely stopped me from doing as much crafting and reading as I wanted. That and tending an ever-expanding vegetable garden. I did find some spare time though – this is what I achieved.

Cross stitch:

I had four finishes, Douceur de vivre, African sampler, Rose boudoir and Garden cat. I still have several in progress but as crochet seems to have taken over at the moment, they haven’t seen the light of day for a few months. Maybe soon.

Crochet:

I have no finishes this year,  but I did make some progress on the Ripple blanket before putting that away to work on two Last dance on the beach blankets. Progress on those got stalled when I fell in love with a new CAL – Carousel. The good news is that both of the Last dance blankets, plus Carousel, are very close to being finished. Once they’re done I can hopefully carry on with Ripple and think about starting Log cabin, which I bought the kit for. Then I need to use some of the huge stash of yarn that I’ve bought at Aldi whenever they had some in. I have about a dozen 400g balls of Aran plus some DK. I really mustn’t start any more CALs with kits until I’ve got my stash down a bit.

Sewing:

No finishes this year but I did make good progress on a small quilt for Rosie. I’ve started quilting it so there’s a good chance that I’ll get it finished this year. I’ve got several sewing projects to do so I’m hoping to find the energy to make a start on some of them soon.

Rosie's quilt - 06

Reading:

My Goodreads challenge for 2016 was to read 100 books and I just beat that with 106. Mostly they were on the Kindle plus 12 audiobooks and apart from two library books, the rest were from my TBR pile. I averaged 339 pages per book so even though there were quite a few shorts in there, the chunkier books balanced that out.

Some of my best finds were on Audible. I listened to the Silo trilogy by Hugh Howey and loved them. I also listened to Ready player one by Ernest Kline. It was narrated by Will Weaton, who did a brilliant job, and I really enjoyed the book. I shall definitely be looking out for more by both authors.

Apart from those and maybe a couple more, I stuck to familiar ground and comfort reading. I’m hoping to challenge myself a little more this year and read some contemporary fiction and maybe a couple more classics.

Gardening:

This year there will be very little in the way of gardening, which will hopefully make time for some more crafting. Although I enjoyed having a vegetable garden, my health isn’t up to the work involved at the moment. As well as needing a knee replacement, possibly two, my back isn’t great and I’ve just been diagnosed with sciatica. People keep telling me how painful that is. Oddly enough, I do know 🙂

I have plans to make the garden a lot less time-consuming and we’re starting by clearing most of it in order to have a new cat enclosure built. (when I say we, I do mean Stephen of course). The new enclosure is being custom-made, will be attached to the house and will be like an adventure playground for the cats. I cannot wait to see their reaction to being able to stroll out the back door and play.

I’m very grateful to the SAL which is run by Avis and Claire as it gave me a nudge to get some crafting done on several occasions lest I have nothing to post. We have lots more SAL members now too, so every three weeks there are lots of lovely projects to look at. It’s a great idea and super fun.

So, the plan for this year is to finish some of my existing projects and hopefully start some new and exciting ones. Yes, cat quilts, I’m looking at you!


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Rosie’s quilt #3

This is coming on slowly as I’m only getting time for it on some of my days off. I have managed to piece together the blocks though and now have a quilt top ready for making into a sandwich.

I struggled for ages with how to arrange the blocks. I wanted random, but I’m not very good at random. I like logic and order so kept finding myself making sure there weren’t any blocks with the same colours touching.

Eventually I just put the blocks into a pile and laid them out in rows as I picked them up and made myself leave it at that, although I did make sure to turn them so that as few seams lined up as possible. Less chance of them not matching that way 😉

I think it came out quite nicely.

Rosie's quilt - 06It’s sitting on the batting in the photo and is now all rolled up on top of some cupboards where the cats can’t reach it. Hopefully I’ll find time to sort out some backing for it soon and get it basted.


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Rosie’s quilt #2

Progress! It isn’t finished yet, but it’s coming on.

I got the original four blocks made up but it definitely wasn’t going to be large enough for what I wanted. Rosie loves sleeping on the chair next to the bed and was very impressed when I borrowed one of the other small quilts to put on it. I’m thinking that a larger quilt plus a cushion would be perfect for her.

These are the four blocks that I did to start with.

Rosie's quilt-02I just needed to find more fabric for eight more blocks. I had more than enough of the patterned squares from the charm packs so that wasn’t a problem. I had a bit more of the blue fabric and enough of a matching brown fabric, but that left me needing something for the centres. I didn’t have any more of the silver fabric so I took four pink/lilac squares from the grunge charm packs and sent for a pale golden-brown for the other four squares.

Rosie's quilt - 05Yesterday I found the time to sew up the eight blocks and now have this lovely pile.

Rosie's quilt - 03 Rosie's quilt -04Next step is to cut them into four and then play around with them to see how I want to arrange them. I’ve got some long shifts coming up this week so it may be a while before I can get back to this but I’m happy with how much I got done this weekend, considering that most of today has been spent in front of the TV with three Wimbledon matches and the British Grand Prix.

 

 


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Rosie’s quilt

I’ve made small quilts for both Sammie and Frodo so I want to make one for Rosie too. The plan was to have it ready for when we brought her home, but as I was having problems cutting the fabric, due to the dodgy shoulder, I waited until I’d bought the new ruler thingy from the craft show.

I’ve given the ruler a try and it is definitely easier to cut. Less pressure required and it doesn’t move at all. So, now that cutting is going to be easier, and more accurate, I shall crack on and get little Rosie’s quilt made before she outgrows it.

I looked at lots of different blocks and rummaged though my fabrics, but I’ve decided to do yet another Disappearing nine patch, using some pretty squares from a couple of small charm packs that I got at a show a couple of years ago. I added two fat quarters of a plainer fabric in a nice blue.

Rosie's quilt-01I’ve already cut the squares needed from the fat quarters and have made a good start on sewing the blocks. I feel that it isn’t going to be large enough though as I’d like it to drape over the chair that she prefers to sleep on upstairs. I don’t have any more of the silver squares that I’ve used for the centres so I think I’ll use some of the squares from the new Moda grunge charm packs with some brown FQs that match the blue ones. I need one more colour for the centres so I’ve sent for a couple of fat quarters plus some rather pretty fabric for the backing.

Hopefully I’ll have some more progress to report on this one soon as Rosie needs something nice to snuggle onto.

 


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A mat for the cats

As the cat tree is next to some of the bookcases, the cats use it as stepping stone to get even higher. We were pretty sure they’d be up there even before we got them, so we cat-proofed it. The bookcases run along one wall and round the corner, leaving a gap in the corner itself. We were worried that the cats could fall down there, either by accident or design, and as the bookcases are very securely fastened to the wall, it’d take some time to get them out again.

So, Stephen fastened a piece of board to the top of the bookcases, and covering that open corner. The cats enjoy going up there and napping, but I didn’t think it looked very comfy.

Luckily, I had a plan for that.

BookcaseMat-04The board is fastened down at the edge of the bookcase, leaving it loose along its length. It’s perfectly adequate to stop it from moving and it means that I could slide something underneath it.

I made the mat using the quilt as you go technique. I rather like that as it’s so quick and easy. Once made, I fastened elastic to the sides in three places to make straps that would slide under that board and hold it firmly in place. If it wasn’t fastened, the cats would just keep throwing it on the floor.

BookcaseMat-03Not the neatest sewing of the elastic, but it does the job.

It looks ok, and more importantly it gives a softer surface for the cats to nap on.

BookcaseMat-02I tempted Frodo up there once I’d fitted it and he seemed to approve. Since then, both cats have taken to it nicely. They do seem to like anything that I make for them 🙂

BookcaseMat-01


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Frodo’s quilt – finished

Finally finished it just over a week ago. It’s been sitting on my desk for ages, half quilted and needing binding. I’ve been very busy with job search activities recently though, as well as the garden, and have had two very inquisitive cats to contend with every time I went near the sewing machine. Also they’d taken to napping on the partly finished quilt, while it was on the desk.

Once I’d made time to get it done, it didn’t take as long as I’d thought so here it is, all quilted, bound and even washed. (to remove the numerous cat hairs that it had already accumulated.)

Frodo'sQuilt-05And a close-up to hopefully show off the quilting a bit better.

Frodo'sQuilt-08Once I’d taken a few photos outside, to take advantage of it not actually raining, I tried some inside as I wanted to get a shot of the back, which shows the quilting off a bit better. Sammie was determined to take a nap on it though so I only managed a couple of slightly dark photos.

One of Sammie

Frodo'sQuilt-06And one of the back.

Frodo'sQuilt-07I’m really pleased with the quilting. I stitched about a quarter-inch either side of all the seams, and I think it turned out quite well. The binding leaves something to be desired, but it’s better than the last time, so there’s improvement. Can’t ask much more than that, and these cat quilts are great for practising on.

There hasn’t been any crafting of any description since last Sunday. I had a bit of a mishap. I was preparing some veggies and decided to use my new mandoline. Bad idea. On the first attempt, the cucumber flew one way and my finger was dragged over the very sharp blade, removing a decent slice from it. It would be the index finger on my dominant hand too, wouldn’t it. I’ve not been able to stitch, sew, crochet, garden and I can’t even type properly. Gah! Still, my Fitbit stats are great this week as I’ve been going for walks instead. Hopefully it’ll heal soon so I can get on with all the fun stuff.