Welcome to my 'other blog' the one that explores my crafty side. I have been a maker of 'things' since childhood. By nature I'm creative. I still love to write, and you can click on this link to visit my blog: Hanging On My Word, which is where I indulge in the thought and word side. Although a teacher by profession, I don't offer tutorials. This is my showcase of projects I like to share. So pull aside the curtains and let's begin (I'm a bit theatrical too!).

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Rhubarb the Puppy

I started to make this little puppy last Christmas but it took me longer than expected when other things got in the way, so I put him aside and finished him later in the New Year. The pattern is ‘Rhubarb’ by the talented Amanda Berry and it’s a free download from ‘Let’s Knit’.

I’ve actually bought a few of Amanda’s patterns as they are so easy to follow, with line by line instructions. This one is a little different, but I managed it in the end. The problem for me, as a still novice knitter, was the Intarsia  - again. I wasn’t completely happy with the finished result, so I Swiss Darned over the stitches and it looks much neater.

I used all the correct yarns, as listed in the pattern; I chose the Robin as suggested, although King Cole Dollymix is offered as an alternative. I’m pretty pleased with the result, especially his facial features, although I couldn’t get the centre front seam as neat and ‘closed’ as Amanda’s. Never mind, he will look great with the Christmas Teddies when they come out of their box (Let’s just get Hallowe’en out of the way please, before we think of that!).

Monday, 29 August 2016

Baby Blanket Blue

I nearly called this post Baby Blanket Blues, but it sounded like the song from the television programme Sesame Street, ‘Baby Blankie Blues’ so I dropped the final “s” and now I have Neil Diamond’s ‘Song Sung Blue’ going round my head instead!

Song sung blue
Weeping like a willow
Song, sung blue
Sleeping on my pillow

Well this little chap is certainly sleeping, and he seems quite content with his new baby blanket. Thomas is a few weeks old now and he’s already able to charm with that smile. We’ve known his mum since she was a little girl and the playmate of our own two, so it was a pleasure to be able to make his blanket, which is proving just as useful to lie on as under.

The pattern is free from Black Sheep Wools website. I used Schachenmayr Bravo Color (02119, which is a random dye double knit acrylic yarn for the granny squares, and Boyes Double Knit (1422 Aspen) for the edging and joining.  Each 50gm ball of yarn made four squares.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Something For Nothing

This is a vintage Monsoon labels dress, which I tracked down in some charity shop or other about ten years ago, when it was probably already old. The colours were still vibrant and, as it was 100% cotton, it was a perfect ‘cool’ wear for the hot Lanzarote summers.

Then I went and lost 2.5 stones in weight (about 16 kilos); amazing what retirement does for a healthy lifestyle. I hacked away at the material and preserved the best bits - mostly the voluminous skirt- with the intention of making something with it a later stage. It languished in a drawer until recently, when I thought of trying to make a simple bolero/jacket. I drew round my daughter’s shop-bought model, and made a pattern for the front (two pieces) and the back (one), and here it is!

Eight years since the first pics - older, wiser, slimmer, wrinklier (me) and still vibrant and useful (the jacket), but also me :)

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Vintage Santa Mouse

This little Santa Mouse is looking good, considering his great age. The pattern dates back to at least 1983, which is the first sighting of him on our Christmas Tree. I have a feeling this one may have been made a few years later and that I gave away the original. That said, he’s still getting on a bit as I haven’t crocheted for years, until I took it up again quite recently.

Can you spot him?

I still have the pattern and I’m reproducing it here, alongside the Christmas stockings and bells, which were also part of the pattern. Crocheting was very much in vogue in the 1970s and the early 80s, but, as with knitting, it dropped out of favour for many years, until the recent resurgence of interest.

  I think the pattern came from a women’s magazine, judging by the story illustration on the back; I’ve searched on line but can’t find it anywhere else.

Every year Santa Mouse now joins the Christmas Teddies in the hall. There’s ‘Little Donkey’ and  ‘Bear in a Kit’ from last year’s blogpost.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Snowman Surprise

The surprise in the title is that ever finished him at all! This ‘Derek - a squishy snowman designed by Val Pierce’. He was in my digital copy of Let’s Knit Christmas Special 2013 (the same one that had my gingerbread men in ‘Run, Run, Run as Fast as You Can); I downloaded him in November 2014 and threw him into the back of the cupboard sometime later! All year he has stared accusingly at me from there. I got so frustrated with the garments that I’m afraid to say, I gave up.

Remember I’m a latecomer to this knitting lark.  I managed Derek OK, except that the pattern called for Sirdar Snuggly Chunky and I ordered Sirdar Snuggly (non-chunky), so perhaps he would have been a bit denser in the knit with the correct yarn. Never mind he turned out just as soft and cuddly as the original.

My problem is with intarsia (ie the method of forming the pattern on his jumper and hat. I’ve watched countless YouTube videos and read lots of books, articles etc, and I still can’t seem to grasp it. My mother was an expert at this in her day, and turned out the most beautiful picture jumpers and Fairisle sweaters. Perhaps I’ve come to it too late. According to Wikipedia it requires no additional skills other than the basic knit and purl! I also used whatever yarn I had in my stash for his jumper and the white was not as thick as the blue, though still Double Knit. I ended up ‘Swiss Darning’ over the snowflake pattern to make it stand out more.

Never mind, when I could stand his stares no longer I fished him out of the cupboard and got cracking on some clothes to make him decent. I’m sure he’s be just as cuddly in the nude but it wouldn’t be the same, and not true to what the designer had in mind either.

He’ll probably make someone very happy.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Remembrance for Animals in War

This post has been updated for Remembrance Day 2016

This is Red Poppy from the book 'Flowers to Knit and Crochet' by Susie Johns and Jan Ollis. I didn’t finish it in time for last year’s Remembrance Sunday and so this year (2015) as it’s rather large, it’s been gracing my handbag.

Here it is keeping company with my keyring/tag from the Donkey Sanctuary, as a tribute to the many animals who give their lives in times of conflict.

No honours wait him, medal, badge or star,
Though scarce could war a kindlier deed unfold;
He bears within his breast, more precious far
Beyond the gift of kings, a heart of gold.

These words are from ‘The Soldier’s Kiss’ by Henry Chappell, written to accompany a watercolour by Fortunino Matania. These, and stories of famous animals in war, can be viewed here on the ‘Animals in War Memorial’ page.

Animals in War, Memorial, Park Lane, London, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
In November 2012, a news story appeared about the remains of a carrier pigeon were found by a homeowner renovating his fireplace. This was no ordinary pigeon, as was revealed by the red cylinder still attached to its leg and containing a coded message. The bird was on war work and was destined for Bletchley Park, it was thought. When the story broke, I was one of the contributing poets of a website called Poetry 24, now closed, and this is my contribution, a rondeau, published at the time, and offered now as a tribute to all animals who gave their lives in conflicts across the world.

Coded Message

A coded message never read,
Attached to pigeon, long since dead,
Which rested in its weary flight,
Revealed at last, exposed to light, 
A folded scrap, a paper shred.

The secret words could not be said,
Their import far too great, instead
A cypher expert had to write,
The coded message.

Top secret words in code embed,
And seal them in a capsule red,
Then send them flying through the night.
With Bletchley Park within its sight,
Fate took a hand and left unread

  The coded message.
© Marilyn Brindley 2012

A message written on rice paper is put in a container and attached to a carrier pigeon by members of 61st Division Signals at Ballymena, Northern Ireland, 3rd July 1941.*
Linking to Sepia Saturday, where the theme is War and Peace.

*By Bainbridge (Lt), War Office official photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Wanda the Witch

This is the friendliest witch and her rather bemused looking cat or her ‘familiar’. She is Wanda, by Amanda Berry of Fluff and Fuzz, and the pattern is available to download from Ravelry. I altered her hairstyle slightly as the original was in bunches and I wanted something fluffy, so I used the same method as with Serena the Mermaid. I also added a nose and mouth as I enjoy embroidering features.

Her broomstick landed at my grandchildren's house in time for Hallowe’en and here they are enjoying her friendly company. She looks as though she’s had a wild time Trick or Treating.