Tag : crochet

The Crafty Lass does… Hope the Whale TOFT crochet workshop – at The Natural History Museum!

So that’s it. I need to join the C.A. also known as Crochet Anonymous as I am officially addicted. Does it exist??

The little one naps? – Crochet. Contentedly jumping in his jumperoo for half an hour? – Surely I can fit in a few rounds of the latest project… Chores are being ignored, sleep is too. The Husband is also not really being spoken to much and usually often with “wait a minute” or “ssh, I’m counting”!

My TOFT #edsanimals collection is slowly expanding… starting out with the lovely Bridget the Elephant last year – and across the last month I have now completed Gregor the T Rex, our Patch the Crafty Dog (adapted from Maximillian the Weimaraner), Boris the Red Squirrel, (and now Blue the Whale Calf) – and with Hank the Dorset Down Sheep, Blake the Orangutan, Douglas the Highland Cow, as many dinosaurs as I can find – and of course ‘Hope the Whale’ in the pipeline…

The thing is, the reason it’s addictive – is it is almost meditative. You focus, you relax and as a bonus – the output once you know the basic stitches is FAST!

When the opportunity to go and crochet TOFT‘s #hopethewhale at the Natural History Museum came along – I jumped at the chance. My only questions of ‘where do I book’ and ‘how do I pay’?
The Natural History Museum, that along with the V&A, and The Science Museum (all of which I frequented yesterday!) in that wonderful area of South Kensington, London – has always been magical to me. Beautiful architecture, every corridor filled with wonder and excitement. As a child particularly at the Natural History Museum – it felt special to be there. Those big archways and the huge, unbelievable dinosaur rising above you…

Well, as I discovered yesterday – the amazement doesn’t stop even when you have become an adult!

Walking into the Hintze Hall to see no longer Dippy the Diplodocus (which I have just discovered is excitedly going ‘on tour’ around the UK!), but the new majestic ‘Hope the Whale‘ – magically suspended in all her glory. Truly breathtaking.
Then, underneath this magical spectacle – were around 40 tables for over 350 other awe inspired crocheters – ready to take on the challenge of a new TOFT pattern!

A true blend of never crocheted before in my life newbies, to resident experts – it was fascinating to see the task ahead being taken on with such patience and gusto! Kerry Lord – founder of TOFT and creative director, announced an extra special surprise that not only would we be crocheting ‘Hope the Whale’ but her lovely calf too. She threw down the gauntlet for the little calf to be completed by the end of the event… I am pretty competitive and so off I went, suddenly back in my crochet meditative state – yarn over and through, yarn over and through…
What Kerry failed to initially mention was this pattern threw in a few unexpected surprises from her usual format – new stitches and techniques that would also need to be mastered! Surprisingly to me however – was that although they actually sounded complicated, they were all just versions from the same theme and easy to follow once explained – we were all quickly off crocheting for a beautiful hour and a half. With plenty of explanations from Kerry herself, and those that needed extra tuition had plenty of support with the full TOFT team on hand… I was so focused, enjoying the moment – that at the end of the workshop I introduced myself to the person I was sitting next to! Who also was undertaking her own personal mission to complete the calf…

As I expected… I didn’t quite finish it on the night – I was too excited to look around and absorb the magical resplendent beauty of ‘Hope’ in the fading evening light.
I chose to try and complete the calf – on the train, on the way home… Many thanks to Angela (my friend and crochet partner in crime) for her skill and patience with this, as of course 11pm was the perfect time to get practicing half treble and treble crochet stitches?? In the end, some sleep and a cup of tea was all it took to refocus and complete the final stitches this morning.

A truly wonderful event – Kerry and TOFT should be thanked and congratulated…! Bravo! My crafty self has certainly thanked me for going, but my bank balance hasn’t… off into London, child free, and let loose with a sense of freedom and my credit card let’s just say I bought a few ‘momentos’ to remember the event… because who doesn’t need whale shaped baking measuring cups??

I am looking forward to the next one already…

Now on to make mumma ‘Hope’ and continue to ignore those chores…

x

Categories: General Craft, The Crafty Lass does..., Workshops

The Crafty Lass does… Too much!

I really wish there were two of me. Or, if we are going for ideals – perhaps even three or four…

Right now, there is simply just so, so, (SO) much whizzing round my mind. Multiple, multiple tabs open that often sends my brain in to overdrive. I actually started to write this blog post at precisely 1.45 am (!) – instead of divulging in gentle slumber and taking advantage of the fact my little one was (finally) snoring contentedly, I decided then would be an opportune time to start writing a blog post and plan workshop ideas…

So many crafts, so little time. I have to say though, I’m not complaining – I do actually much prefer having a lot on. I am not someone who thrives on boredom – I need projects, plans and a purpose to get going! I like deadlines, pressure and things to be doing.  Right, here goes – to give you just a taste of what is going on inside my (too full) mind… 

So obviously my primary role is to be a mother, and a wife, and (try and) find time for a social life… We have just moved house, so there are rooms to be decorated, boxes still to be unpacked, chores to be done, dogs to be walked (although The Husband is a star for this one!), Freddie’s weaning ideas, our dinner to be cooked, eaten… I’ve started a new part time role, working from home – it’s great and of course helps to keep the bills paid before The Crafty Lass takes over the world… I have crochet to be done, sewing projects on the go, product ideas being designed (!), commissions to be made, various new crafts I would like to try and taste. 

Obviously within all of that – the main thing is getting the new ‘craft space’ up and running and those (very exciting) workshops planned. I need to practice, cost, time, prepare. I need to think about how everything will be laid out, and when this will all happen… And sometimes I might relax and sleep…

 

I recently have a new sewing machine, which doesn’t help with the brain activity – as that in itself is like a dream come true. My old one served me well – it had gone through college, uni, various house projects over the years. I went to get it serviced – and the answer was a big fat crafty NO – it was time to give up the ghost, and send it into haberdashery heaven. I was sad, but being realistic and honest – wahey! – A NEW MACHINE. Without sounding old and past it – wow, hasn’t technology changed?? I can now have the machine thread the needle for me?? And a ‘top-loading bobbin’ – basically, no more faffing around with it… it sews neatly, consistently, basically the best thing I could have done was to finally invest in a new one.

Except – I am now obsessed! So many lovely fabrics to turn into projects – and fun accessories for our boy! Dribble bibs being the starting point… love that a simple splash of fun fabric can update even the most basic of babygros! I wanted to buy him lots of different designed bibs – and then I had a lightbulb moment – why not MAKE them. I am The Crafty Lass afterall…! Yes, they will get messy – but he can look cool and I can have fun with it too!!? 

To help with my (ever growing) list of things to do, ideas to be realised and dreams to be achieved, my mum is currently here for a few days. (And, yes, it is simply amazing having her here!) In reality – what I could have done this afternoon, is have a (very well deserved) nap?

But no – I made a ‘tag blanket’ for workshop practice, and for little one…

Again, a simple little sewing project – but it has given much joy today… for both me, and Freddie! Fun nautical inspired prints from ‘The Craft Cotton Company’, different coloured and textured ribbons – great fun! ūüôā  Keep your eyes peeled for a craft workshop on how to make them for yourself, coming soon… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Business, Crafty Kids, General Craft, The Crafty Lass does...

Top 10… Christmas Crafts!

Oh… the ‘C’ word. The one that no one wants to mention. Well, not until at least December is here anyway.

Me? I LOVE Christmas. I love the cold weather, the roaring fires, the indulgence and fun and high spirits. Normally, I am prepping WELL ahead of December. Usually there is a handmade advent calendar, and table decorations and handmade crackers on the go. Wreaths are being designed and made, shopping lists written, Christmas cards written, recipes being organised. This year? No. I have done very, VERY little. It’s not for want of trying – I just can’t believe the magical festive season is nearly upon us! The arrival of the (brilliant) John Lewis advert was a shock. What do you MEAN it’s nearly Christmas??

I do have a great excuse though… I have been so focused on our new little one, and even just what day of the week it is, that well, Christmas, and planning for it has gone slightly off plan. My days – that would normally around this time of year – be filled with planning the perfect mince pie recipe or working out just how many gold baubles does a girl need for the new colour schemed tree? Have been swapped for planning the perfect nights eat and sleep routine and counting how many nappies in a day. Times, have, changed.

I’ve got some of the priorities sorted anyway – Santa knows what bubba would like under the tree and even our little doggie has his gifts all sorted! Our dog even has a (rawhide) advent calendar himself this year… and a dog BEER. Yes, you read that right. I am one of those people that buys the naff Christmas items at the Pets at Home till. Apparently it is not really ‘beer’ – pretty sure it is chicken flavoured water or ‘moisture’¬†as the label attractively lists on the ingredients! The Husband was NOT impressed at first when I showed him – ‘What gave you been buying now?!’ – however, I think he is secretly excited to have a beer with his four legged pal on the ‘big day’. Talking of The Husband – he does NOT have any presents… yet, and there is a general shopping list in the go… I just need to action it, and perhaps work out how to get the pram and car seat adapters to actually fit together and man up and attack the shops. Or, just crack on with 3am online shopping. God bless the internet!

So, my new focus instead of Christmas and all the wonderful things it brings (mulled wine, aforementioned presents, and our lovely family – in that order! ūüėČ ) is our little man.

He is now 6 weeks old. Amazing. But, where has that time gone??
We have just been treated to his wonderful first smile, and as most babies at this developmental stage Рhe just LOVES lights! So, we need to get our Christmas tree up ASAP and I plan to simply COVER it with lights Рhe will be mesmerised. And, I am sure this will bring plenty more delightful smiles. They literally make my heart melt, and me cry. Bloody hormones!

Anyway, enough about me and – if unlike me, you have time to start making anything (there is no doubt I will… I can’t NOT have a crafty Christmas, I’m The Crafty Lass!) here are my top 10 Christmas crafty links for you to try, with a little something for everyone! And, if I don’t manage to post again before – have a very merry Christmas¬†and a happy New Year!

 

1. Decorations!

How about this for a simple, but very effective craft! All you need is ribbon, and plenty of baubles to make a bauble garland! Beautiful.

 

2. Wrapping Paper!

How about making your own wrapping paper? I usually spend time (far too long) picking out the right one to go with the ribbons and colour scheme I have chosen for this year… but perhaps, as¬†shopwalkinlove.com shows us – all we need is some plain papers, pens, some inspiration and to have fun with it! This is certainly going to be on my to do list this year ūüôā

 

3. Table Decor!

A very clever idea for lovely place cards – mini ‘wreaths’ made from cranberries and greenery! You could even try this with beads and ribbons if you wanted to make them reusable for next year – but, nothing screams Christmas more than a cranberry or two! ūüôā

 

4. Advent Calendar Ideas!

I’m going to put this out there – I HATE advent calendar chocolate… Now you can get seriously luxurious calendars and they don’t all taste like plastic like they did when I was a kid (please note a Hotel Chocolat advent would be lovely, thanks Husband) – but why not countdown to the big day with doing something different everyday? Here is the ‘Ultimate Advent Activity List‘ to give you plenty of festive ideas to get into the holiday spirit!

 

5. Kids Crafts!

Just how cute are these clothes peg snowmen! Something you can make together and you could even use them to hold up any Christmas cards received!

 

6. Crochet!

Love crochet? How about making these amazing elf slippers!

 

7. Sweet Eats!

Give everyone a surprise and a smile with their after dinner coffee – and why not turn normal ‘Malteasers’ into mini Christmas puds?! Simply pipe on melted white chocolate, and decorate with small coloured icing/toppings. Clever!

 

8. A Different Tree!

If you don’t fancy the traditional fir tree – why not make one out of cardboard? Yes, you read that right – cardboard! This clever link shows you how to make a ‘stackable’ tree!

 

9. Peanut Garland!

A really lovely idea for (believe it or not!)¬†decorating PEANUTS¬†into little characters! Paint, glue – let your imagination go wild!¬†These could hang above the fireplace, on the tree – anywhere you want to make that little bit festive in the home! ūüôā You could even drape these around the table as part of your table decor on the big day.

 

10. Santa Logs!

Get creative with your garden decor and jazz up some logs into Santa!¬†Simply cut into shape, paint and add to your doorstop to welcome all your visitors! ūüôā

 

Enjoy!

Categories: Christmas, Crafty Kids, General Craft, Top 5

The Crafty Lass does… Motherhood!

Firstly, thank you for all your love and well wishes, our beautiful bubba arrived over three weeks ago now, and we are doing remarkably well. But… THREE WEEKS??!
It already feels that our new little boss has been here forever. But it also feels like HOW have we ALREADY got to 3 weeks since he was welcomed in to the world? How is he nearly one month old?
Everyone tells you it goes fast, well ain’t that the truth… It’s gone, in the blink of an eye. Crazy times, before we know it he will be treating the house as a hotel and asking to borrow the car!

I am trying to just take it all in, the days and nights merging into one constant stream of feeding, sleeping, nappy changing, repeating… He is changing already too, each day bringing something new – his eyelashes being that little bit longer, his eyes that little bit brighter and open longer. It is an amazing and fascinating journey. Mummy meltdown moment today as he suddenly no longer fits into his first babygros! Eek!

I recently asked the question when does the ‘staring and crying because I can’t believe he is here and so amazing stage’ stop? I’ve come to the conclusion I don’t think it does! Yes, there is no doubt an element of hormone induced rose tinted glasses in this – but, in a few weeks we will see those ‘it’s just wind’ grimaces merge in to a real smile, we’ve got crawling, walking, talking… Milestones that will bring such joy and excitement. Lots to learn and discover together.¬†There are the other important milestones too – like being able to sleep longer than four hours in a row, to be able to have a conversation with The Husband that doesn’t revolve around shades of poo colour or to be able to pee/shower sans baby again! Time will inevitably bring all of this and more, but for now I wouldn’t rush this for the world. A delicate balancing act of wanting him to grow up – big, strong, and experience life – in contrast for him to stay this warm, tiny, beautiful bundle of joy that is most content snuggled into mummy’s arms.

In terms of business and The Crafty Lass, my brain hasn’t COMPLETELY switched off. I’m not going to lie, watching back to back episodes of ‘First Dates’ with a little bundle of cuteness for company is pretty lovely – but there are lots of ideas for the future! The 3am Pinterest sessions aren’t for nothing! But, right now I am certainly enjoying mastering some new craft skills in the job role of ‘Mummy’. My new boss is a bit hardcore – very demanding. He expects me to be wide awake at all hours and be completely intuitive and understand his needs without him saying anything (weirdly, as a new mummy, you just do, don’t you – how does that sixth sense kick in?!) Anyway, I am becoming a dab hand at the art and craft of changing the nappy of a flailing screaming octopus at two¬†in the morning. I am enjoying the creative aspect of choosing just which cute little outfit can we put him in to today and have certainly upped the multi tasking stakes – I am now able to feed him, eat my own breakfast, watch TV AND apply my makeup AT THE SAME TIME. Certainly personal skills to add to the CV! My cuppa tea now goes cold, the bags under my eyes are getting bigger, our washing machine is wondering what on earth has happened with its new daily usage routine and I’m having to learn to eat one handed, but I just wouldn’t change it for the world.

In terms of projects made throughout pregnancy, the clouds and stars mobile now proudly hanging in the nursery, does prove to be a source of fascination for bubba at changing time. The yet to be used crochet elephants are here ready and waiting for their little buddy-to-be, to be chewed, sorry – played with. The cloud Pom Pom rug, is sadly yet to be finished BUT it will get done…
I will try and update this blog as often as I can with REAL craft updates and new projects, but in the meantime you may just be treated to a few personal indulgences of new mum and baby updates, as for now, in reality that is all I am currently thinking, dreaming, focusing on. Our own little new mum and baby bubble, where he is simply the best thing I have ever made.

Categories: Business, Crafty Kids, The Crafty Bump

The Crafty Lass does… Learning to Crochet!

Driving through the rolling green hills of the British countryside, beautiful unspoilt views, an exciting morning of crafting ahead – no matter the worries on your mind – you can’t help but allow a¬†sudden and overwhelming sense of calm.

This, is how I felt last Saturday. I was driving up to TOFT in Dunchurch, Warwickshire Рa lovely alpaca farm with a learn-to-crochet workshop space, cafe and all manner of lovely-must-be-bought things at the shop.

I’ve been able to knit from a fairly young age – nothing too exciting – just the basic ‘knit’ and ‘pearl’ stitches. I have never followed a pattern, and I have always only made scarves, as simple as you can get –¬†cast on X amount of stitches and basically just keep going until either¬†your creation is complete, or the ball of yarn runs out (and I do still freak out slightly when I have to change to a new one!) However, crochet is just not something I had ever experienced. I owned a lovely little crocheted toy called ‘Dolly’ as a child (it was my comforter) and carried it with me EVERYWHERE. There are a few family ‘horror’ stories of temporarily losing Dolly in the park or not having her before sleep – it was apparently a serious and would need to be urgently rectified issue! I also own a lovely crochet blanket that my Aunt made for me before I was even born… I still use it now in the winter and so really, with lovely associations of this craft – why I hadn’t ever tried to crochet before now is beyond me.

I saw ‘TOFT‘ at a recent craft trade show, and was so enchanted by their ‘Edward’s Menagerie‘ range, designed by Kerry Lord – a hugely adorable and characterful selection of crocheted toy animal kits. At the time, as much as I could recognise that they were beautiful – I didn’t feel the need to learn how to do it and to make a toy. Now that I am expecting a baby – that is as good as excuse as any to get crafting one of these lovely creations!

TOFT do offer the kits for sale directly off their website, and there are a good selection of helpful video tutorials to get you going – but, as a complete novice – I knew I would need more than a little hand holding to walk and talk me through how to get it to not look like a lumpy fluffy mess! Luckily, they offer workshops on site too – hence my scenic drive to their beautiful location.

I have to say, I am almost slightly (ok, lets admit it, very) jealous of the stunning crafting area. Rustic farm-esque buildings, large, light areas just ready for teaching in Рcontaining lots of like minded crochet wannabees all there to either stock up and buy the beautiful yarns on offer, or to learn, or to just sit and while away the time in the little cafe serving decent coffee and scrummy cakes. I. Must. Work. Very. Hard. And. Save. Lots. To. Have. A. The. Crafty. Lass. Farm. It is certainly going on the big life ambition bucket list.

I was even lucky enough to be there on a day that a tiny little new-born alpaca entered the world. Awwww. ūüėÄ

Anyway, back to the crocheting… We all chose the colour of our yarn, took our places and were ready to begin. I chose a fairly dark-ish grey tone and I was making ‘Bridget The Elephant‘. I was warned by our tutor Emma, that darker colours could be slightly more difficult to work with (just as harder to see the defined stitches) and I confidently and naively, definitely wanting that specific colour said – ‘don’t worry, I will be fine’. Ha! Famous last words hey?? It wasn’t that bad – but I certainly can confirm she was right.

It was a small group, which was lovely to have almost 1-1 tuition at stages, and Emma was very thorough and patient. At times, when I thought I had lost the plot – counting, forgetting which stitch I was on, recounting, ripping it up and starting again – but¬†she patiently went through the same questions and answers again and again. ‘Is it here I put the needle?’, ‘Is that 2 stitches in this part’, ‘have I done 10 or 12 now?’. So thank you, Emma. There was a sudden lightbulb ‘AHA!’ moment when suddenly everything clicked into place and then, once I had eventually got it, and understood what on earth I was doing – I got going in to an almost magical trance like status – wanting to just carry on crocheting for as long as I possibly could. I even moved on to the side, and carried on while the next group had come along started. However, as time eventually does, it disappeared – and I had to down tools and be on with my day. I started to frantically plan in the car on the way home – when could I next do some crochet? Like an addict – I would need to get my next ‘fix’ in somehow – I think learning a new skill has that effect on you. I know how to do this – ‘look at me, I can make something from nothing!’ feeling. Plus, as an added bonus – I just love the fact the end product will end up being given to my little boy. I wonder if Bridget The Elephant will be the ‘new Dolly’ of his life.

So far, in the time I have managed to sit down and continue to crochet РI have made two legs, and an ear Рjust another 2 legs, another ear, the body and tail to go. Then, to stuff, sew together, add some eyes and et voila Рone toy!

The problem is, once it is made – what do I do then? Now what will I make?? Well, the beauty with that – is now I know HOW to do it – there are patterns a plenty. Both at TOFT, but also from everywhere else – homeware, clothes… but in reality – I think I want to make some more of the Edward’s Menageries. Bridget will need some friends! I will need to make a whole zoo of animals!

If you are looking to try something different, or are a seasoned crocheter and want to just try something new – I would highly recommend a day out to visit TOFT. Either to attend the workshops, or just admire the beautiful scenery and scoff a cake or two!!

However, a word of warning – crochet can get addictive!

 

 

Categories: Crafty Kids, General Craft, Places to Go & Things to See, The Crafty Lass does..., Workshops

Top 5… Spiffingly British Crafts!

With the Queen’s birthday yesterday, nearly the¬†Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s third wedding anniversary, still a V.I.B. (Very Important Baby) to appear sometime soon, AND it being St. George’s day tomorrow – it truly is a spiffingly British few weeks! Here are my top 5 jolly good crafts¬†to¬†make you feel truly patriotic!

 

1. TEA РUNION JACK MUG

Us Brits love our tea don’t we – according to a recent article, we drink on average 876 cups per year, enough to fill two bath tubs! What could be more exciting than serving your tea¬†in a home decorated Union Jack mug! This pinterest pin¬†advises that you simply¬†decorate a mug with Sharpies and bake at 450 for 35 min…cool in oven, wash and it does not come off!”¬†There are plenty more hints and tips for this craft technique here at Craftaholics Anonymous. (Great website name, might have to join!) Of course, it doesn’t HAVE to be a flag – get creative! ūüôā

 

2. DRAGONS – SOCK PUPPET

With St George’s Day on 23rd April – why not get crafty with the kids AND¬†make use of those annoying odd socks! This ‘No Sew Dragon Sock Puppet‘ from My Little 3 and Me has easy to follow instructions and templates included – perfect to¬†inspire your little one’s imagination!

 

3. ROSES – PAPER CRAFT

The rose being the¬†national flower of England, why not have a go at creating a giant crepe¬†paper rose¬†with this tutorial from Studio DIY. I personally, am a massive fan of creating flowers out of paper and fabric (see my commissions page!) they last forever, look oh so pretty… what’s not to love. It may take some time to create, but certainly worth the effort!

 

4. LIONS – CROCHET

Sticking with national symbols theme – this time, the Lion – national animal¬†of England. I have never quite got that – when did you last see a wild Lion in the UK?? Anyway, if crochet¬†is you’re thing… check out this ‘Little Bigfoot’ knitted lion pattern from Amigurumi To Go. Cute!

 

5. UNION JACK – DRESSER

I know I kind of already covered Union Jacks with the Sharpies mug above, but how could I not include this ‘Painting a Union Jack/British Flag on a dresser tutorial‘ from Meg Made Designs. The instructions are clear, the results look great! Why not give one of your own cupboards a really British makeover?

 

T.T.F.N, Tally-ho, Toodle-pip!

Categories: General Craft, House & Home, Top 5

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