Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Crochet Tea Cosy

What exactly is it that makes a tea cosy so pleasing?  Is it the nostalgic reminder of a bygone age when every home in the land had at least one?  Is it the association with hot, comforting, freshly brewed tea?  Or is it simply the fact that all tea cosies, regardless of style or shape look like rather comical hats?  I'm not entirely sure but I often find myself lusting over tea cosies, despite not even owning a teapot at the moment.

 It was my mum's birthday at the weekend and she'd asked me for a new teapot to replace her broken one.  I duly located a pretty teapot, four cute cups and saucers and a vintage style tin to store them in, but the set just didn't feel complete without a tea cosy.  So, with approximately 12 hours to go until I was due to see my mum, and 8 of those hours to be spent asleep, I decided to have a go at crocheting a tea cosy.  As my mum's teapot was an unusual shape, I eschewed the many tea cosy patterns available online and winged it, adapting my pattern as I went.

I'm rather pleased with the results...


'Seriously? You're taking photos of a teapot when I'm right here?'
I used cluster stitch, increasing and decreasing as necessary according to the shape of the pot.  When I'd finished, I edged the cosy in single crochet and added a vintage button and chain stitch closure under the handle.  The only part I didn't edge was the spout opening as I liked the way it looked.  The beauty of bulkier stitches, such as cluster, is that they work up in no time, making this an enjoyable, speedy little project for an evening.

I hope you like it and as I'm planning to rectify my lack of teapot shortly, I am pretty sure I'll be making another one in the near future!


Friday, 15 March 2013

Tea + Embroidery

This time last year, I had just completed my first ever embroidery.  It was done freehand, featured applique, was a present for my mum's birthday and had a tea theme.  Never one to push the boundaries too far, I have once again completed a tea-themed, freehand embroidery featuring applique for my mum's birthday.  She asked me for a teapot and some nice teacups so I though this would be a nice accompaniment to her pretty new crockery.

And get this, it's BACKED so it looks all neat and pleasing.  I don't know why the back pleases me almost as much as the front but it does.

I love embroidering by hand - there is something very soothing and mindless about it - but I am itching to try freehand machine embroidery.  I didn't think a birthday present needed at short notice (my mum's birthday is on Sunday) was the best place to practise this but I will be frantically seeking advice on here and Twitter when I do have a go!


Monday, 11 March 2013

My 2013 goals: A progress report

Like so many others, I tend to start the year full of good intentions and excitement for what lies ahead, only to have the long, cold, miserable months of January and February sap all my motivation and positivity.

This year, I set a few goals on New Year's Day.  Some were kind of vague, some more specific and all seemed manageable.  Ten weeks on, I thought it was time to look back and see how I've done so far...

Go vegan two days a week

Fail.  Kind of.  I have definitely eaten a lot more vegan meals this year but I haven't stuck to two completely vegan days every single week.  On the whole, though, a large proportion of my food and drink has been vegan so I think I've done OK.  

As always, tea is my biggest struggle as I just can't drink it with soy milk!  Maybe if the weather ever warms up, I'll find it easier to forgo the several piping hot mugs of Yorkshire Tea I need to get through the cold days of winter.

Learn a language

Yes!  I am currently learning Italian and (I think) it's going rather well so far.  I can count, I can order a meal, I can introduce myself...that's enough to see me through a few days next time I'm in Italy, yes?  I'm loving learning a language again and Italian feels much more natural to me than Spanish did when I started learning that a few years ago.  Maybe it's the language's similarities with French, the fact that I well and truly left my heart in Rome or just that I am much more into Italian culture (and food).  

Make more time for friends

Yes!  It's so hard getting everyone together but I've definitely made more of an effort so far this year by being more flexible and shifting my schedule around to enable me to see friends more.  I've also got a couple of roadtrips lined up to make sure I don't leave out those friends who are further afield.  

Try a new recipe every week

Kind of.  I haven't consciously tried a new recipe every single week but looking back, I reckon I've just about tried 10 new recipes this year.  So I'm saying "yes".  I've made fresh pasta, a first for me, stepped out of my lasagne rut, made chocolate souffle for the first time and had a few cooking experiments turn out very well.

Get back to nature

Fail.  I've definitely spent a lot more time outdoors so far this year as I'm now working from home again.  Most of this has been spent on the Wirral coast, though, and what I really wanted to do was get out to North Wales and the Lakes, climb mountains, stumble over scree piles and wade through muddy streams (I know, I don't seem the type, but I really am).  In my defence, it's been bloody cold and snowy so far this year and I don't think my boyfriend would take too kindly to being dragged up Mount Snowdon in heavy blizzards so this goal will have to wait for slightly warmer weather.  I really don't want to be one of those people who has to be airlifted to safety by Mountain Rescue, the shame.

I'll stick to the beaches for a few more weeks, I think.

Write, write and write

Yes!  It is definitely true that you get out what you put in, especially in the world of freelance writing.  I've been amazed by the volume of work out there and am plodding along, building up a nice little portfolio of writing while gaining experience in different topics and kinds of content.  

Complete all my un-finished projects...

Meh.  I've completed some, but started about 20 more.  That's OK, though.  This goal was more wishful thinking than anything else and the fact that I finally finished my little bluefinch embroidery after many, many months is good enough for me.

On balance, I think I'm quite pleased with my progress and it's come as a pleasant surprise to realise I am well on the way to accomplishing several of my goals for 2013!


Friday, 8 March 2013

Lavender stuffed crochet heart

A lovely Mother's Day heart for my lovely mum...

The heart is based on a pattern from The Complete Guide to Crochet from the people who publish Inside Crochet.  I don't usually buy crochet magazines but I couldn't resist this massive issue with 43 patterns!

I used a finer yarn and smaller hook than the pattern suggests as I didn't want it to be too big.   After stuffing with the filling and lavender sachet, I added a little loop as I think it 'll make a really nice hanging heart.  I'm going to make one for my Gran as well as a little Mother's Day gift so I'd better get a move on as I'm seeing her tomorrow...

Wishing a very happy and relaxing Mother's Day to mums, mams, mothers and mummies everywhere!


Thursday, 7 March 2013

Pretty stationery and the start of #PostCircle

As a child, I was obsessed with stationery. I was constantly writing, drawing and painting but I think the root cause of my addiction was the fact that my dad was head of supplies for Liverpool City Council. This meant he had a constant supply of free samples of the latest stationery and craft goodies from companies all over the world.  Pretty cards from Germany, Japanese writing paper, felt-tips from Hong Kong, stamps, stickers and glitter - my childhood pen-pals must have thought an explosion had taken place in Paperchase when they received my letters.

As an adult, my stationery addiction has been absorbed by my craft habit but my love of sending and receiving letters has been woefully neglected. I have one pen-pal I've been writing to since I was about seven but other than that, the last time I wrote letters with any regularity was when my friends and I were scattered around the country at uni. We agreed it would be a nice touch to exchange handwritten letters rather than just email and I'm so glad we did as I've now got a lovely box of letters documenting that important time in our lives.

When the lovely Anna of the delightful Miss Beatrix blog announced she was setting up a Post Circle, I joined immediately. The idea is that members exchange letters, notes, cards and anything else they want via post.  After collating short completed surveys from everyone, Anna separated us into groups of six. Each group is named after a woodland creature (such a cute touch!) and I'm in the fox group, or #TeamFox as I'm insisting on calling it.

 Once I was in a group, my thoughts soon turned to stationery. Like any self-respecting craft fanatic (I really feel that should be one word. Crafanatic? Craftanatic?) I already had washi tape, cards, glitter and stamps, but this was the perfect excuse to buy some writing paper for the first time in years!

If you'd like to join in the Post Circle, drop Anna a line and maybe one day we'll be sending each other  pretty packages of loveliness!


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Work in progress - Granny Square Blanket

The amazing throws and afghans made by tweeters and bloggers I follow always impress and shame me. I've been crocheting for about five years now and, despite not touching a hook at all for  three years in the middle of that time, I really feel I too should have a home full of pretty, jewel-coloured, welcoming, handmade blankets.  In my early days of crochet, I did once make a blanket. It was simply an enormous granny square in bottle green and I used it to cover one of the hideous armchairs in the rented flat I lived in at the time. Presumably, I left the blanket in said flat, as I've never found it since.

Previously deterred from making a proper, full-size, grown-up blanket by the knowledge that my fickle nature and short attention span would soon see it abandoned and forgotten, I decided to just try and give it a proper go. 

I'm just going to hook up a few squares whenever I have a bit of spare time but I'll keep doing all my other projects as usual to stave off boredom. 

Have you got any tips on staying motivated on a large project?  If you've made a knit or crochet blanket, how long did it take you?