Monday, 27 June 2016

A new course ....

Hi everyone, I hope you are all enjoying the season whatever it is your side.

I recently saw a beginners crochet course offered locally. My late Mother & grandmother were dab hands at crocheting but I took little interest & so never learnt to crochet. It always seems so social & relaxing with people chatting while they work away ...

I was relieved to find all at the course to be complete beginners, like I was because we were all starting from the same uncertain place.  I was pleased with my first effort - not too uneven at all.


The second lesson proved to be a bit more challenging with granny squares. It look a while to get my head around the pattern & how many stitches for each section etc. I admit to quite a lot of pulling out on this section.



On a Friday night, us three cousins were really rock 'n roll - sitting round crocheting granny squares so that I could get my homework done. They have both had a little lay off from crocheting but were now fired up again... 


I was quite pleased that mine were a uniform size & shape. I did not change colours on these because I was doing them while chatting ... 


Our final lesson was sewing our squares together with various methods to find which we preferred. 


 I was looking forward to learning to do this pattern in our last lessons once we had stitched up our granny squares.  I love the freshness of this pattern ... 


 For the practice, I used darker colours - it was quite tricky but we all managed with lots of help.


Not quite as bright or as pretty as the example but time was limited & so it was a small section to get our heads around the pattern.

After 3 lessons, I am happier about crocheting but realise that I still have a long way to go to be proficient at the techniques & being able to do it without pulling out too much. Like any new skill, it is all about practicing it & learning the terms associated with the stitches & patterns. 

Perhaps in time, it will become a more natural action .... 

What needlework skills do you have? Tell all,  
Dee ~♥~

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Using vintage fabrics to make some gifts ....

Thank you to all the regulars who pop by even if I have been distracted by visitors & a demanding workload lately & have not managed to update my blog.

I have had visiting cousins that I have not seen since primary school & we have had a lot of fun catching up on years of news. 

My regular readers know that I am a great life-long-learner & so have done a crochet course.  While looking for some thread in my sewing box, I came across a vintage sewing / knitting bag from my hubbies grandmother - Ethel Maud. 


The cousins were quite taken by it, but one was travelling onwards, so Rue & I decided to surprise her with a gift of a bag after we found some handles in the craft shop.


We looked through my fabric stash (everyone has a fabric stash don't they) and found fabric we thought would be suitable. She favoured a vintage embroidered fabric & I chose a colourful one for Linda.


Having never made a knitting / crochet bag, we made it up as we went along. We selected vintage buttons & some robust ribbon to attach the handles then we were ready to sew.  This is the choice for Ruellen's bag.


Hot cups of tea helped with the planning - don't you love the fabric choices? 


Linda's bag, pinned & ready for sewing ....


The lining pinned in for stitching - carefully matched up & ready for stitching ...


It took some time to decide how to attach the handles to the bag but we decided on crossgrain ribbon & vintage buttons to match.  Rueben did the hand stitching while I was at work & it was a labour of love because of the layers of fabric ...


How gorgeous is this - one finished off ....


 The vintage buttons were just perfectly matched ...


 The second one went much quicker & the fabric is just as lovely. Rue selected large vintage buttons to complete it too with a paler crossgrain ribbon ...




The two bags - side by side - beautifully finished & ready to use. One was posted to Linda's next UK stop as a surprise gift; the other will be going home with Ruellen.


While the sewing machine was out & the buttons were being sewed on, I decided to make Rue a needlebook to hold her needles ... I have made several so it did not take long because I had everything I needed. 


The felt inside pages to keep needles safe ...


Good projects done together ... 

Thank you for stopping by & taking the time to comment & read. 
Dee ~♥~

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Art from unusual sources

My regular readers know that I am a bit of a restless soul - I love to change things about because I believe that you should enjoy your home & the things you have. My style is definitely eclectic with strong global / tribal leanings because we have lived in many countries due to work.

Some years back, my sister visited & gifted me some plastic shopping bags from South Africa that were made by WoolWorths (the UK equivalent of Marks & Spencer.) This was WW art bags - showcasing South African artists.

The bags were carefully rolled but not used & when I recently came across them, I knew it was time to enjoy them for their artistic value.


You can feel the energy of the Tea Party by Lundi Mduba - the sense of cake & gossip being dispensed in equal measures ...


Selwyn Pekeur is an acclaimed artist who 'observes incidents in everyday life, exaggerates and represents them to us in a style of compelling vigour and humour in his art.'



 I framed one from each side for myself & they really are iconic South African images that bring a smile to my face with their bright colours & cheerful subjects.


 They sit on our picture shelves between our two doors, along with various other bits of art that we enjoy.


A family visit by the Hatters was surprising. My b-i-l collects various art too & everytime he passed them, he commented on how he enjoyed them.

I knew that the second side of the bags would be going to a good home. This is how I did the art.  Ikea have lovely easy to use, light frames.  I could not justify the cost of professional framing for all my art changes so I use affordable Ikea frames, all in black to keep a constant colour in our displays.


The image was cut from the bag & then glued on to the back paper that came with the frame, then trimmed to fit.


I photocopied the back art detail to paste on to the back of the frame.


The pair of images, framed up in black frames, ready to be gifted to another art lover ...


These are my ones on the picture shelves - affordable art from unexpected sources. 


If you enjoy an image, find a way of displaying it.  I hope this inspires you to enjoy various forms of art which is by definition is ...

the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Thank you for stopping by, I would love to see what art you have in your home. 
Dee ~♥~

Friday, 20 May 2016

Transforming a vintage suitcase for stationery ...

I love my job working with Elective Home education students but I love my Friday off so that I can relax, clear the mind of all the paperwork & details & just enjoy doing the things I love.

I recently found this vintage suitcase which was small & in good condition except the inside which was dated with paper lining & a name in the top which was definitely past its best.  However, I needed a stationery suitcase so this was always going to be used.


I admit to being a bit of a hoarder & knew that I had the perfect paper to reline the inside.

This paper with script writing & colour change which looked quite aged was in fact the paper from inside an Urban Outfitters box that had contained some shoes. I had rolled it up & added it to my paper stack a while ago because it was thin with an 'aged look. ' I knew it would go perfectly to line the case.


I had everything I needed, including some lovely sunshine in the conservatory so I got out my pot of trusty Mod Podge & a pack of very useful Ikea brushes. The glue was slightly thick so I watered it down just a little to brushing consistency.


A rough size measure for the base of the suitcase & another for the top section convinced me that my two pieces of paper would suffice.

I first lightly glued in the original lining where it had come away to give a firm surface.

Next I cut the paper to a workable size, the edge had a cut in to make them fold smoother.

Mod Podge was brushed over the surface in light, even strokes then I lined up the paper & eased it on to the glue. It is not easy to move it so best to take your time to line it up.


I did the bases then I cut strips to overlap for the sides & glued those in.

I dried the glue with a hair drier till it was no longer damp, made a cup of tea then brushed some more Mod Podge over the top to seal the surface then dried it again.


I am very pleased with the result & I know exactly what it will be used for. I have some lovely coloured pencils & stationery that needs to be kept in one place so I use it more often - this scripted case looks just lovely now ...


It is also the exact size to hold coloured crayon boxes as well as the thin brushes needed for water colour pencils which I used with a vintage glass salt holder ...

Useful & beautiful - what more can you ask from an afternoon well spent.

Thanks for stopping by, what projects are you working on?

Dee ~♥~

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Have you been bowled over?

I'm sure you all have come to realise that I am a huge china & crockery fan. I also love collecting & using china in my tablescapes - mixing old & new items to create the look I like at home.


I host a Thanksgiving for a friend & that is always as formal as we are likely to get for 12 guests  ...




This week Mary Portas put forward the idea on her TV programme 'What Britain Buys' that bowls are now in great demand  because more & more of us are eating out of bowls rather than off plates!

She cited the popularity of food images on Instagram, as one of the factors, saying that food looks better in bowls!

Several broadsheet newspapers agreed with her -

The Telegraph reported on how-bowls-replaced-plates-in-our-kitchens

The Guardian saw it as How bowls replaced plates in our kitchens

The iconic ceramic makers Denby confessed that 

Housewares supplier Denby is certainly benefiting from this boom. Denby senior designer Nicola Wilson told Mary: “We’re really starting to see a trend in the UK for using bowls in the home - almost over plates - and this has been fairly recently. We’ve seen it in our sales figures: we now produce a lot more bowls than we ever did. It’s now totalling about 32 different bowl shapes than we’re slowly introducing into the UK market.” 

While Habitat commented that:

Habitat creative director Polly Dickens said the chain’s experience reflects this trend. “People are eating ‘internationally’ so we’re eating laksas (a noodle dish which is a combination of Chinese and Malay cuisine) and Japanese rice as well as risotto, pasta and main course salad – and all of these foods look better in a bowl.” - 

Which foods do you eat out of a bowl? Do you have several different bowls for different uses?

Whitebait served as a starter in a restaurant ...


Beef salad at home


So where do you stand on the bowl vs plate discussion?  Are they more acceptable for puddings / desserts?

Favourite vintage bowls because they are a good size with a nice rim & pattern ...


Small Robin bowls that are a sensible small portion ...


My A Wondering Star daughter has a stunning Portmeirion Sophie Conran dinner set which is beautifully modern & it has several bowl options which they use very effectively. They have a mixture of the white & pink items which all look so lovely together. Anything would look wonderful on these plates & bowls.


Her Sophie Conran set by Portmeirion is modern, has a great design & various bowl sizes & shapes


Salads are definitely easier to eat out of a beautiful bowl  - especially a bowl that is good at portion control. How lovely is this fig-and-pear salad or the beautiful bowls used when she bakes?


I am pondering whether this is just a natural progression in our eating habits - few of us even have a wide range of glassware these days & our flatware / cutlery has become more standardised from the Victorian obsession with so many items of cutlery ....

Is this trend driven by social media like Facebook & Instagram to photograph every aspect of our lives?


Is it just that our eating habits have changed?  Spaghetti is easier to eat out of a bowl & our salads have evolved in to meals in their own right.

Perhaps it is because our busy lives don't allow us as much free time to just enjoy leisurely meals?


What do you think? Have you got a growing selection of bowls? Are all bowls the same or do you have various ones for various purposes?

Tell all ... I would love to hear your thoughts on the bowl phenomenon.
Dee ~♥~

All photos are my own or A Wondering Star - please ask if you want to use any!