Little Alien Doll – July 2015

Following a (possibly drunken) late night conversation with a friend at a wedding, we came up with a sketchy plan to book a craft stall as an incentive to make (and sell) some of the pretty things we always seem to be working on. My making list was filled with things like the plarn crochet baskets and possibly some embroidered brooches and I wanted to have a go at re-working the little aliens that went inside the pockets of the Super Chunky cushion that I made for my daughter a while back.

I bought some variegated sock wool so I would end up with stripy creatures. A few modifications to the original design – I’m going to use stocking stitch throughout and am hoping to add felt embroidered faces and tummies.

First little guy done and I’m OK about it but not quite happy. I’m going to try another one with a wider head and shorter body. I like the felt tummy though and my daughter has adopted him as her own – at least someone likes my efforts!

Yarn: Schachenmayr My First Regia in Levin (shade 01893)

As an update to this, now writing in June 2016, my friend and I never did get our craft stall! She went on to bigger things and developed a fab knitting subscription box called Sonic Knits (www.sonicknits.com) whereas I took on the Cliff Richard Craft Challenge! I haven’t made any more aliens but did develop the pattern – details of what it became in a later blog post.

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Experiment in Texture – July 2015

As an experiment in texture I want to try using plarn in combination with yarn. I’m using a combination of green plarn (courtesy of the plastic bags used to carry wine home from my local off-licence!) and some neon Red Heart mega wool that I couldn’t resist on Amazon. So far, so interesting! This will be a circle to square base with 4 sides and hopefully two ripples per side. I’ve pretty much decided that as I write this now – I’m sure it’ll probably work out but as always they’ll be some mad maths and pencil scrawlings to work out the logistics!

DSC_1122Right, I’ve done 5 rounds so am ready to square the circle as it were! 60 stitches round, so each side will start with 15 stitches. So to square it, I repeated the following, four times.

2tr, 1tr, 1tr, 1htr, 1htr, 1 dc, 1dc, 1dc, 1dc, 1dc, 1htr, 1htr, 1tr, 1tr, 2tr, with a chain 4 round the corners.

This means that each side now has 21 stitches so I decided to do two ripples per side – 2 lots of 10 stitches with a single dc in the middle. It worked and I finished with a straightening off row at the top. In theory, I’m pleased with the experiment using the plarn and yarn combo but I’m not sure about the mad yarn. The whole neon overload is a bit much for me but the husband likes it. Also have to add that I worked on it poolside in Portugal. Not as glam as the big Crofter blanket in Monterey but pretty cool nonetheless! And the basket is now used to store my son’s socks in a bid to keep the pairs together and stop odd ones wandering off to the land of missing socks, hair bobbles and scissors – all of which disappear from my house on a regular basis – I’m sure there’s some kind of conspiracy…

Yarn Used: Recycled plastic bag yarn, Red Heart Super Saver Yarn in shade Blacklight (E300-3939)

June Cliff 2016

I love paper cutting. It’s such a beautiful, delicate craft and there are so many astonishingly intricate examples of gorgeous work out there. So I can’t be criticised for wanting to have a little go myself. I’m pretty good with my attention to detail and I have reasonably good levels of patience – this could be the craft for me.

Or so I thought…

I still love paper cutting but I have a completely new-found respect for the purveyors of this art. Yes, a steady hand and a great deal of patience are definitely a bonus, but I’m pretty sure you need to have some kind of in-built laser vision and perhaps the ability to shrink yourself down to the size of an elf to even begin to achieve the levels of accuracy and intricacy that I so admire and so much wanted to be able to replicate!

DSC_0640I started with a 20cm by 20cm square of paper from the June page of the calendar – Cliff was wearing a particularly lovely sequined zebra print shirt so I tried to include as much of this as I could. Working on the reverse of the paper I first drew out a rough border then got to work on the design. Knowing that the ultimate recipient of the 12 Cliffs of Christmas is a big Stone Roses fan, I looked for a lyric that I could use. I don’t really like the Stone Roses and the only thing that seemed halfway suitable was “I Wanna Be Adored” (shoot me now, I’m sure there are a million Ian Brown quotes that would be perfect but my limited internet research was not forthcoming). I found a Steve Martin quote that I really liked “A day without sunshine is like, you know, night” but I felt that the humour may be slightly too off-beat! So I settled on the following:

80% of success is showing up – Woody Allen

I drew the text out backwards and then began designing the star motifs. I wanted to use a series of 5 pointed stars and having taken inspiration from several designs on Pinterest I decided that I’d like to include a starburst design as well. I cut a couple of stars first then began on the text.

Most of it went according to plan, there are a couple of bits that tore (around the tiniest stars) but I’m pretty sure you can’t tell now that everything is glued down. I did all the cutting over two nights and backed the whole thing in hot pink. I think that if I was attempting this craft again I wouldn’t use a patterned paper as it detracts from the design but as an addition to the whole Cliff Craft Challenge I’m quite happy with the results!

 

First Birthday Card – May 2015

A quick make for my not so baby boy who turns one next week. I’m relatively happy with the execution – a few imperfections but on the whole it turned out as planned. I love the idea of building blocks and really wanted to try and get some sort of 3-D effect going – it sort of works if you squint but you can definitely get the idea!
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On his actual birthday, we also introduced my son to the delights of chocolate fudge icing. Instead of a traditional birthday cake, I decided to make a dozen teddy bear face buns. Very easy to decorate, chocolate fudge icing “roughed up” with a knife then chocolate buttons added for the features with piped eyes and smiles. He definitely enjoyed it to say the very least!

May Cliff 2016

We’re only just into June and I’ve only just finished my May Cliff Richard Craft Challenge.DSC_0341 May Cliff has caused me untold problems. As previously mentioned, I bought myself a drop spindle. Following several very informative YouTube videos and a couple of unsuccessful false starts, I successfully managed to spin some yarn from mohair wool tops. It was all going well until I got to the end. I’m still not entirely sure how to remove my newly spun yarn from the spindle without it all untwisting itself – it’s still there… I’ll write a post about my adventures in spinning at a later date but for now back to the challenge.

I had been under the impression that spinning paper into yarn would be a reasonably straightforward thing to do. Trust me it isn’t. Firstly (and I feel, in my defense), the calendar is made of the “wrong” sort of paper. All of the tutorials I looked at were using newspaper – shiny calendar paper doesn’t behave in the same way. I cut the calendar page into one massive strip of paper (like the plastic bag to plarn idea from my previous post) and tried to spin it myself by hand which worked a bit but mainly ended up with a lot of swearing and a lot of short lengths of twisted paper. Secondly, I’m pretty sure the tutorials lied – spinning anything, let alone paper is hard! There are so many ways to make a mess of the whole thing! After a serious rethink I adapted my plans but continued with the intended May project.
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The May Cliff Challenge was to use circular plastic canvases as the base for weaving a set of raffia and paper coasters. After the disappointment of the whole calendar to yarn failed experiment, I decided to use the calendar pieces as a feature rather than the main component of the coasters. I used strips of the calendar as the centre of the canvas, weaving them into a cross pattern before completing the first round of the coaster with green raffia. Once again I made sure that Cliff’s eye was prominent in the centre of one of the coasters along with an eyebrow and some more of his leathery face. I also wove strips of the calendar at uniform intervals around the canvas then filled in the gaps with natural raffia. This sounds so simple! The strips that I’d originally cut the calendar into were too thick to thread through the holes in the canvas even after twisting them so after several obscenity filled attempts, I had to cut the strips in half to make them thinner. I once again tried twisting the thinner strips but was once again defeated by the make-up of the calendar paper – I’d manage maybe two or three stitches before the paper “thread” broke and I had to, once again, tidy up the ends and start again. So I carefully and delicately used the calendar paper in flat strips to add the detail. You may be able to spot tiny snippets of Cliff’s particularly “jazzy” (snazzy or natty would also work here – perhaps read hideous) shirt if you look closely! Each coaster was then edged with orange raffia and I did a round of double running stitch between each different colour.
I used a spray gloss lacquer to finish to coasters and to try and make them more durable. A great craft find – so much easier and quicker than painting a layer of varnish. I also backed them with circles of cork (leftover flooring tiles from the DIY store). My husband said that they looked almost like something you might buy in a shop – damned by faint praise indeed! I’m pretty pleased with them – OK they didn’t go exactly as planned but the finished article is useful and almost beautiful, so all in all a successful project.
Materials: 7cm plastic canvas circles (mine were from Fred Aldous), raffia in various colours, Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Craft Enamel in Clear, Cork floor tiles

Plarn Baskets – May 2015

I’ve started experimenting with plarn (plastic yarn) and I like it! I used a template from Crochet Step by Step by Sally Harding to cut plastic bags into one long continuous strip that can be used as yarn. I’m using a 6mm crochet hook and I’m currently working on a little basket trying to do some rippling.


The whole plarn experiment is going swimmingly and I feel I may be obsessed! I keep looking at plastic bags and thinking about how the different colours will work in future projects (Marks and Spencer – lovely shades of green, Sainsburys – orange, Argos – pale turquoise etc etc).  Ombre basket in shades of green completed plus one with green and white stripes. I’m working with double thickness at the moment with a 10mm crochet hook – the plan is for an orange and white base with black round the edge of the base and bottom of the sides then back to orange for the rest.

Really pleased with the results and yes, I have a massive stash of plastic bags ready to turn into yarn when I get a free moment! What a fab craft for using up all those hundreds of plastic bags that everyone has stuffed in a drawer / cupboard / larger plastic bag!

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