Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Elephant Pincushions

I've spent a lot of time recently sewing more of the same pincushions.  I haven't posted about all of these because I have done before and I don't like to keep repeating myself!  But these little guys make me smile every time I make them.

This design was inspired by a photo I saw of a baby elephant at the Los Angeles zoo.  I did post these photos before, but it was ages ago so I don't feel bad about showing them again.  Besides with so much doom and gloom out there, these will brighten your day.

Looks like he's having fun doesn't it?!  

Below is the inspiration board I put together for this design.  All those vibrant colors make my heart beat a little faster.

I'm hoping to get these finished up and stuffed today.  

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Finished Woven Wall Hangings

Last week my daughter and I finished our first attempts at woven wall hangings.  These were just for fun and to experiment with different yarns and techniques.  They were fun and we are both pretty happy with how they turned out.  I have lots of ideas buzzing around in my head for a wall hanging with Fall colors.  I can't recommend these inexpensive looms from Target enough.  

This one with lots of neutral shades is mine.  My goal was to play with textures.  I kind of think the finished hanging is winking at me!  I'll be more mindful about placement next time.

This one is my daughter's and she has it hanging in her room.  I think it is lovely with a strong design and interesting colors.  She has since restrung the loom and has started a second project.  I have design ideas but I've had to spend time sewing this week which hasn't left me time to begin a new wall hanging.  

After spending some time collecting yarns with interesting texture and colors that appeal to us, I'm feeling inspired by my stash!

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Return Of The Prodigal Pincushion

Back in April I sold an antique clock face pincushion to Helen, who blogs over at Bustle & Sew.  I can't tell you how excited I was about this, I've been reading Helen's blog for a long time and there is always something lovely to read and pictures to inspire.  I duly packaged up the pincushion, printed the label and popped it in the special blue parcel box at the Post Office.  

I tracked it to London and then it disappeared.  Nothing to worry about I hoped..... about three weeks later and with no further tracking updates, I contacted Helen and told her I'd send a replacement.  It was beyond frustrating when the same thing happened with the second pincushion!  

I called Royal Mail and USPS but both were uniformly unhelpful.  We waited and eventually Helen emailed me to say her pincushion was being held for payment of VAT. The UK has a especially low threshold for VAT on imported goods and while VAT is what it is and I can't argue with that, the Post Office charges an absolutely outrageous 8Pounds (Sterling) processing fee!!  That pincushion took about 6 weeks to reach her.  

Today I got the first one back in the mail. 

I have my own label I'd like to add, how about 


Actually my true sentiments are a lot stronger than that and more colorful.

But at least I know my packaging keeps things looking good!

Please do check out Helen's blog.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


It's a myth that greyhounds need a lot of exercise.  Sure they need walking but no more than any other large dog.  Most greyhounds are total couch potatoes, perfectly happy to rest the day away with short bursts of energy now and then if it's not too hot!  

Tia has a small collection of soft, squeaky toys which she is very attached to.  She carries them round the house, sometimes using one as a pillow.   She enjoys her walks but she is happiest following me round the house as I go about my business.  She supervises laundry sorting, likes to be one step behind me as I vacuum the house and needs to be near me in the kitchen just in case something should drop and need cleaning up.  Her very favorite thing to do is sleep next to me while I sew (often with her eyes and mouth open as in the last photo -  yes it's a little creepy when she does that!). 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday Afternoon

It was a day for making things, for collaborating and problem solving.  I ended up going shopping for yarn and then spending this afternoon finishing my weaving.  My daughter came shopping with me and found an incredible dot-to-dot book where the finished drawings look like proper sketches.  Each one has a thousand dots.  When we got home, she worked on that and another drawing project.  

I still have to trim the tassels and remove the weaving from the loom and knot it.  It was a fun project and I'm already planning what I might try next.  

Despite the heat, the men were working in the garage, cutting and shaping a sheet of metal into a box that will be part of the guitar amp my son is building from scratch.  

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Weaving Progress

This afternoon I started working on my weaving project.  This is my first attempt and I found the repetitive motions soothing.  The yarn is soft, and feels nice in my hands.  It's a gentle craft. Most of my yarn is a bit thin for this project but I didn't really want to rush out and buy a whole lot of new materials.  I did a few rows of plain weave to anchor the project before adding two rows of long tassels.  I may trim these.  Then I wanted to experiment with some stripes and triangles.  I have since filled in the triangle shaped hole with some nubby pink yarn.  I'm liking it so far!  I think a couple of stripes of white wool roving would look good, and maybe some other white, chunky, textured yarn.  Looks like I'm going shopping after all!

Friday, June 17, 2016


I am embarrassed to admit that when January 2016 came around and I hadn't attempted any of the crafts on my "Things To Try in 2015" Pinterest board, I simply changed the name to "Things To Try in 2016". 

Fast forward to June and I still haven't experimented with any of these ideas.  However, when I was in Target a couple of days ago I spotted a very simple wooden loom for weaving and this is one of the things I've been wanting to try.  I even got as far as looking at looms online but they all seemed to be more than I really wanted to pay.  This Target version was inexpensive and so I tucked it in with the paper towels and groceries and here it is.  

For such an inexpensive loom, it is made of nice wood and is well finished, there are no rough bits for the yarn to snag on and it feels nice to touch.  The instructions however are completely rubbish.  The pictures don't show anything useful and there are no real instructions for how to string the loom - I don't suppose for one moment that that is the correct terminology! The first problem was that the side dowels were too loose in their holes and each time I tried to pick it up it all came apart in my hands.  I had to glue the dowels in and leave it overnight.  Of course now I'm stuck with it being full size but that's ok.  

Then I strung it, but it didn't seem right.....because it wasn't.  There were no instructions for this part so I had to google it and watched a couple of short videos before trying again.

There are so many beautiful woven art pieces on Pinterest so there is a lot of inspiration out there.  There are also tons of how to videos.  I've picked out a couple of color schemes from my very limited yarn stash and when I've chosen, I'll start weaving.  


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I Voted

Last week I voted in the California Primary.  No big deal you might think but you'd be wrong. When I get asked where I'm from with my lovely British accent, I used to tell people I was an ex-pat Brit but things are a bit more complicated than that.  I was born in Switzerland but grew up in England with a French passport. As a French national I was never able to vote in England (obviously!) but I also never voted in French elections either because it seemed irrelevant.  

Last year I became an American Citizen and now I get to vote.  Last week was the first time I voted, ever.  Huge Deal.  I felt quite emotional about it.  I was clueless about how to actually make my mark on the paper (not as straight forward as you might think) but the people at my polling place were super helpful and nearly as excited as I was about this being my first time voting!

And look at that cute little sticker.  I wore it proudly all day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Rainbow Of French Knots

I've had family visiting from England which has kept me busy for a few weeks and now, after their visit, I am settling into the different routines of Summer.  It always takes me a little while to adjust to a different pace with no school to govern our schedule.  

Ever since seeing this beautiful rainbow in the Spring, I've been wanting to make a rainbow of french knots.  It was one of those designs that just kept rattling around in my head until I did something about it!  I love french knots, they are my favorite embroidery stitch.  The colors of the actual threads are a little more vibrant in real life, my pictures don't really do this justice.  

Stitch-along part 6

  Stitching the ridge tiles to finish the ornament Take one ridge tile and wrap it over the ridge of the roof as shown below.  Using two str...