Monday, 9 December 2013

I think I'm in love with Julie Arkell

no really, I think I am!!  I was lucky enough to take part in her Make a Scene workshop yesterday at the gorgeous Ray Stitch and was blown away by her and left thoroughly inspired.  Myself and Nicki spent a glorious day surrounded by Julie's work and getting hints and tips in brooch making from the lovely lady herself.

I left the workshop with the above.  We all made one of Julie's World War II brooches as she calls them in the morning and in the afternoon I decided to make a little girl.  The idea evolved as I started making her but I loved this apple print fabric.  The idea of apples got me playing a little word game with myself in my head and I spent a while day dreaming about apples.  In the end I thought of "an apple for the teacher" which lead me to "teacher's pet."  I remembered I had some apple buttons at home and I was keen for her to have a woolly hat (I had even taken some mini pompom makers to the workshop with me!)   Once home I worked on her a little more determined to finish her that same day.   

Ta dahhhhhhhhh!!  Here is my teacher's pet.  I love her and have worn her proudly to work today.  She has received much admiration from friends and colleagues.  I chuckle to myself being a teacher and all!!
 My brain is buzzing with ideas I have taken away from the workshop and now all I can think about is making little people and bits to go with them!!

Love love love
Erin xxx

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Granny Shack Love


I absolutely love my little Granny Shack.  I've been there just over a year now and it really does feel like home.  It's come a long way from the blank canvas I moved into and feels lovely and cosy (despite being freezing at this time of year due to the rubbish heating.)  It's full on handmade makes made by myself and my crafty friends.

The Granny Shack is it's official name.  The above sign is testament to that fact!  This sign hangs proudly on my living room door.  It was made by the super talented Fee according to my rather rambling not too specific specifications.  It includes everything I asked for right down to the cats, doilies, spots and buttons. 

The Granny Shack now has a second gorgeous name sign.  This one a hoop perfectly decorated by the very lovely Hen and is currently residing on top on my printers tray.  I really do love it. 

Both signs very different but both represent my little Granny Shack wonderfully.  I did say to Hen yesterday that I am going to have to call wherever I live The Granny Shack now!  This year has gone so quickly and I have only 6 months left of my contract.  With the property market perking up I have a suspicion that the land lady (or her son) will really try to sell it this time around.  It will be hard to leave but I am finding myself a little restless.  Who knows what 2014 holds in store for me...........................

love love love

Erin x

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Brooch Love

I have an absolute, unwavering love of brooches.  I have always worn a brooch on a coat or a jacket but over the last few months, after much inspiration I have started to wear a brooch on cardigans too.  in fact brooches are my now daily accessory go to.  At work a necklace isn't always practical and I have learnt the hard way after having many a cheap necklace broken.  Brooches make a statement while remained firmly out of the way!
I have a few favourites which I'm sure you're all itching to see and a few favourite brooch makers that I would like to introduce you to if you don't already know of their talents.

Through Instagram I have *met* the super lovely Ali who makes adorable felt and Liberty print brooches available here To say I am a fan is a little understatement.  I am smitten with Ali's gorgeous creations and I have quite a fine collection!  Here's a few of them:

Cute fun brooches that brighten up any outfit!  Ali's stitching is exquisite, I only wish I could work such tiny neat stiches. 

Another super talented lady who has made a number of my favourites is the very gorgeous Hen I have admired her work for years through being a bit of a lurker on her blog *slaps wrists* and am happy to say that Hen is now one of my real life crafty buddies who is an absolute pleasure to hang out with.  I have some of Hen's gorgeous felt flower posies inspired by original 1940's designs.

Anemones are my absolute favourite flower so I knew I had to have this when I saw it in Hen's Etsy shop 


 I am also the very lucky recipient of two brooches gifted to me by Hen, someone who has a mutual brooch love and knows me so well already.
 I just love this fun quirky tic toc clock brooch.  It adds a lot of colourful fun to an outfit and gets many admirers whenever I wear it.  I just love it!
I was blown away and completely overwhelmed when I unwrapped this one at my little birthday gathering.  It was the first time I had met Hen and was amazed to receive such a gorgeous generous gift.  This has to me THE favourite and I save it for weekends and holidays so it doesn't get grabbed by little hands.  Such beautiful stitching and fabrics.  Swooooooooooooon.
My friends know me well and I have received several brooch gifts for occasions and some just because I have very lovely, thoughtful friends.

My gorgeous friend Nicki gave me this brooch as part of my birthday present and I just love it.  Everything does indeed stop for tea!  Love the little dinky doily on there too! 
 I received this brooch as a *just because* gift from the super lovely Claire who is an absolute gem and someone I am so happy to call a friend (check out her Etsy page for the lovely jewellery makes, maybe my Mummybird collection should be my next post!)  This brooch was made by one of Claire's market friends, Teresa, and I feel really bad that I don't know what her Etsy shop is called to link to.  I feel extra guilty about that as I spent the day yesterday on Claire's market stall right next to Teresa's!!
I also have a couple of very sweet birdie brooches which I adore.
This cutie was made by the very talented Anna Wiscombe and I bought this brooch from the lovely lady herself at Spittalfields market.
Not forgetting this very cute little birdie bought here
I have been dabbling in a little brooch making myself and have had some mixed results.  I love the inspiration I get from brooches I own, brooches I see, from Pinterest and of course ideas I dream up (which probably are a combination of all the aforementioned places! )
I knitted this little brooch as a sample for a knitting session where I acted as assistant teacher to the super knitter and crocheter extraorindaire Catherine 
I made this little brooch to practice my French knots, a stitch which I find so tricky to get my head around!  I think I've cracked it now though!!
What's your go to accessory of choice?  Any fellow brooch lovers out there?  Please do share your favourites and introduce me to your favourite makers at my peril!!
Love love love
Erin x

Friday, 9 August 2013

A Blanket Story

Well, I've said before how much I love making blankets.  In fact blankets are my favourite thing to crochet.  I dream of filling my flat with handmade blankets.  I dream of piles of folded day that dream will be a reality.  For now I make blankets for myself in between blankets for the new babies popping into the lives of friends and family as well as plenty of other smaller projects to keep my creative juices flowing.
I obvious love making blankets because the final items are lush but aside from that I love making blankets because of the memories that are stitched into them.  Each blanket I make is filled with a whole variety of different memories of places and people.
I wanted to make a blanket for a friend at work who is having a baby boy in September.  I started the blanket in May half term.  That seems massively organised for me, I'm normally a last minute person, but said friend was leaving work in July to start her maternity leave and I wanted to have the blanket ready for her baby shower at the end of term.  Here is The Blanket Story for this baby blanket.

Ok so this blanket story starts in the same place as all good blanket stories, at The Wool Sanctuary (those beady eyed folks amongst you will realise that this pictures was not indeed taken during May half term.  I didn't take any gratuitous yearn pictures that trip.)  I was staying with Cuckoo and her family and went to Suzie's for Knit Club.  It was a fab Knit Club, slightly fewer people than usual due to it being school holiday time and an extremely sunny day!  This was good as it meant I could really pick Suzie's brain about colour choices.  I also had a bit more spaces to fondle the yarn in the living room!!  I had an idea in my head that I wanted to use mustard and grey and I wanted to do some kind of hexagon design.  We pulled yarns from the shelf and shuffled them around.  Suzie showed me some photos of tiled floors that she thought might inspire me.  I loved the colours in the tiles but to get the overall effect that we thought it would need a very large blanket. 

So here are the colours we decided on.  Yellow, green and light and dark grey.  A gorgeous combo for a boyish blanket without being boring or pastely.  I spent a lot of the weekend making these hexagons.  At one point Cuckoo thought I was going to finish the whole blanket in the weekend and was ready to christen it The Weekend Blanket.

The sun was shining that weekend and I sat in the garden stitching lots of love into that blanket and taking in the gorgeous views from Cuckoo's garden.  Perfect scene for stitching.  As the sun was out, Cuckoo's two older boys were out playing most of the weekend.  I got the odd call of "Owen look at me!"  "Owen watch this!"  I had the odd bit of company when one of the boys joined me for a chat or to play with the yarn (I had my scissors well hidden as remembered the fascination with them last trip!) 

Plenty of stitching took place in Cuckoo's Bird Box (craft room.)  I was crocheting hexagons and Cuckoo was trying her hand at making her dream pair of bloomers........

a bit too much of this (Pimms) was consumed so many hexagons were remade as I kept forgetting a row of the pattern and Cuckoo's bloomers were re-named "bloopers" due to the number of mistakes being made!  Yes, the Pimms definitely didn't help on the crafting front but it stitched in lots of laughs and joking and fun times.

Despite the huge number of hours I put in over the weekend I didn't finish the blanket in the weekend.  At the end of the weekend Suzie took me home (very kindly all the way to my door) as she was staying in Essex that week.  That meant we went to Knit Club at MD&M on the Wednesday.  There was a little party at Knit Club that weekend for Kath's sister who was off to start an amazing adventure in Australia.  Suzie saw the colours of my blanket in the jelly beans (and then in true Instagram style took a picture of it and in true Suzie style said that it was me messing around instead of using the time to crochet!!)
I also worked on the blanket at Nicki's gorgeous cottage over tea and sandwiches and scones and cake!  I made a few hexagons here but I mainly just looked at them and admired them.  At this stage I was still deliberating the layout and weather to make some half hexagons for the end of the rows.  I was trying to weigh up the possible preferences of the recipient and my own choices.  If the blanket had been bigger with more colours I would have gone for a less orderly colour placement but due to the fact that this is a small blanket then I decided to follow a pattern (I was also thinking of the recipient or recipient's mum and thought there would be a preference for order!)  I did however go with my personal preference and not make the half hexagons in order to give a more interesting shape and pattern.
Now the above picture represents a time when the blanket was talked about, hexagons were admired, joining intentions were there BUT nothing was done (apart from taking a picture!)  This photograph represents a lovely morning/afternoon spent with Kath and my old boss Jan eating cake and scones and salad and drinking lots of tea and talking creative talk in The Granny Shack.
Considering I started the blanket so far in advance I think I did put off the joining, the sewing in of ends and thinking about the border (as I was still undecided) so it did end up being a big concentrated effort over the last week of term.  We had a little craft fair at school which took a lot of my crafting free time as I had a stall so I knew I would have to finish the blanket after that.
I took the unfinished blanket to a barbie at my aunt and favourite nearly uncle's new house.  My family are used to my crochet projects (and knitting and embroidery) being brought to various gatherings.  This event was a bit of a house warming, our first visit to the house and plenty of Pimms and champagne was drunk to mark my mum's retirement after 25 years at the same school (after about 14 years at the school before.)  I can't imagine teaching for that long!!
It took me a long time to decide on what kind of border to do.  So many borders seemed too fussy or too girly for a blanket for a boy.  I did a few rows of doubles while I thought about it!  In the end I opted for a simple picot border to finish it off.
Now this seems apt that the only picture I have of the finished blanket is one taken from my phone (and not matter how many times I enlarge it and try and take a new one, I cant get rid of the details!!)  I think it's quite fitting really as I had to take this one off IG!  I may even have a picture of the baby on the blanket for you in a few weeks (parental permission permitting!)
So there is The Blanket Story.  This blanket doesn't have a name.  Maybe it's new owners will give it one!  This is quite a well travelled blanket with much love stitched into it and memories of time with family and good friends.

love love love
Erin x 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Blanket Love

One of the main reasons I wanted to learn to crochet was so that I could make blankets.  Right up there on the top of my list was a traditional granny square blanket for myself! 

This is the beginnings of that blanket!  Only three years later I am making myself that traditional granny afghan. 

The reason for this massive wait?!  Making lots of lovely blankets but giving them all away!!

There were the ripple blankets..........

The granny stripe blankets............


(That there on top of the Starburst blanket is a granny stripe for my aunt's birthday.  Her birthday was 6th March!  I still have the blanket in my flat.  Only difference is that it's now safely away in a cupboard not adorning my sofa but the temptation is there, I'll tell you!!!)

The Spring Time Throw blankets........

The Fancy Square blankets .........


The Blankets That Appeared in a Book Blankets ......

The Catherine Wheel Blankets ........


(This one was for Kath's baby George.  I've make another one like this, very similar indeed.  Just different ribbon.  It was the original one that Kath admired so I said I'd make her one for when her little one.  Had to make this a bit quicker than I'd planned as George was five weeks early!)

The Japanese Hexigon Blanket.......

I love this one.  I'm currently making myself one of these too (running out of yarn has halted the process at the mo!  I'm reliably infomed at least one of the colours I'm using has been discontinued!)

Finally The Granny Square Blanket......

It was making the blanket above that made me get my ass into gear and make myself a granny square.  I found it very hard to part with the blanket above (but doesn't little Bethany look content with it?!)

I have made many other blankets.  I just don't happen to have pictures of them all.  The problem is that most of my friends keep reproducing.  I can't help but make blankets for all the little babies that keep popping up.  Blankets are a joy to make.  They're not quick projects but a whole lot of love get stitched into each and every one.  The added bonus to making baby blankets is that they are small (although I do tend to make them a bit bigger than I probably should.  I like a blanket to look like it would be a useful size for a very long time and babies grow you know!)

What's your favourite thing to make?

Must dash.  There's more blankets to be made!

Love love love

Erin xxx

Sunday, 12 May 2013

About two years ago, yes it was two years ago, May 1st 2011 to be precise (thanks Statigram) I set myself up an Intagram account.  I didn't do very much with it.  I only joined because I was being nosey.  A couple of my FB friends were posting IG pictures on their pages and I wanted to see what it was all about.  I can't remember when I started using my IG account as much as I do now (and by that I mean obsessively!)  I think that may have been around Easter time last year but without trawling through my account I'm not really sure how I'd find that out.  I think it may have been after reading about some of my favourite bloggers using IG so I went to check them out (ie. stalk!)

It was only after I started using IG more and following more people and talking to people on it that it got me thinking a bit more about my IG aims.  Here, inside my phone, were loads of people with whom I shared multiple interests.  People who I would never have met or found if they hadn't lived in this little community in my phone!  The more I got "talking" to people the more I thought about how great it would be to meet some of these people IRL (see how I'm converting to text speak! haha!!  I don't use it seriously, just as a bit of a joke with a few other IG buddies.)  These people didn't make me feel like I was strange because I enjoyed making things in my spare time (an aside to this, I have been told by a lady who worked with me that I was born in the wrong century and that I should be out pole dancing of an evening, not embroidering or crocheting!!)  The more I thought about it the more I thought that some of these people could actually be "my kind of people" and I was sure that we'd get on swimmingly in real life.  I often got that feeling when I read other people's blogs but as a non blogger I didn't tend to leave many comments on people's blogs and thought that contacting bloggers was a bit stalkerish if I wasn't a blogger myself!  Although there is a stalkerish elemement to IG at least there was the potential for it to be mutual!! hehe!

So, reason no. 1 for loving Instragram my new found crafty buddies. 

Without IG I would never have met the super lovely Cuckoo  and the gorgeous Beany  both of these fabulous ladies I now consider as dear friends (IRL.)

Cuckoo is one of the "my favourite bloggers who started using IG that I went to stalk" as mentioned earlier!  I have already confessed to Cuckoo that I was a bit of a stalker.  She's ok with this!  She's even given me a couple of tests to check!  I must say I failed the test, so maybe I'm not such a stalker after all!  The first time I met Cuckoo it was a bit like meeting a celebrity (in my eyes!)  She said I looked a bit shellshocked when she threw herself at me! haha!!

Haha!!  Cuckoo will no doubt go mad when she sees this! ( It's the only pic I had of you, honest!! I wish I still had the text in which you gave me permission to publish any pictures I had of you!)  Cuckoo in her Bird Box after we'd had a couple of drinks with dinner!!  Such a fun weekend.  I love my time with Cuckoo and her brood!  Can't wait until half term!

I'm laughing now as this is the only picture I have of you Suzie!! haha!!  (thought I had the one of you holding the baby you found in your tights!)

This picture makes me smile.  Suzie loves beans and this is one of her cuddly beans!  I was making one of these while at Suzie's one weekend and it turned out far bigger than it should have been.  Suzie tells me that my tension was too loose.  I gave it to this bean as a hat!  I think he looks happy about it!

Not many friends would knit you!  This always makes me laugh.  It's a pincusion that Suzie designed of my head.  I can't even remember how this came about other than one lazy crafty Sunday Suzie decided to knit me!!  I'm definitely adding this to my CV.  Pin cushion model!  I bet no-one else has ever done that!