Felt Flower Frenzy!

It all began when I decided I wanted a tribal-belly-dance-style headdress to wear to the Barefoot Dance… on the day of the Barefoot dance!  So of course being me, I made one for myself with what I had to hand, which was some bits of felt, funky buttons and beads and some leftover ‘dreadlocky’ felting yarn!  All this got stitched and tied together with thread and attached to a (now re-purposed) alice band.  Whoo-Hoo: tribal headdress, funky felt style!And THEN, me and my Phoenix Crafts pal Cy went on a needle felting workshop with the brilliant Emma from Ffolky Felt, and we were hooked! (Or should that be ‘barbed’??). So I’d had this idea to make a mermaid headdress for my dance pal M., and this was my first go at a flower for it, made at the workshopHow cool is that?? – BUT, a bit on the big side and a tad heavy for the alice band.  So I came up with this insteadand THEN, I bought a hot glue gun, and life has never been the same!  Here’s the finished Mermaid HeaddressI’ve been on a roll ever since!  I made one for another friend who asked for lime green and turquoise.  I had some beautiful wool felt I got at last year’s Quilt Festival in those EXACT colours, plus some sparkly turquoise beads found in a charity shop for 50pI absolutely LOVE making these!  They are so much fun to do and to wear!  I made myself a MoonFlower headdress next (modelled here by Cuddles the Tiger), to go with my Velvet Party fRock.  The flowers are a combination of shapes cut from home-made wet felt & wool felt sheets and needle felted pieces all worked together with the felting needles.  The band is covered with some scrap dress fabric, and I finally got to use the sequins I bought that never made it onto the actual dress! Another friend had a Significant Birthday a few weeks back, so I made her something to match her party outfit.  She liked the flowers but didn’t want an alice band, so out came the hot glue gun and some crocodile hair clips.  These are her flowers, again a wet felt/wool felt sheet/needle felting combinationThese are the finished clips, embellished with beads and dreadlocks.  Pleased to say they stayed in her hair all evening, despite some vigorous dance-floor action.  Groovy!

And since I was going to said S.B. party I thought I’d better make myself something too.  This is my first go at doing wet-felt spikes.  I like the way they look BUT: sooo fiddley.  I finished up adding some needle felted ones as well, much easier to make.

(and quite tricky to photograph in all their dreadlocky glory, too)I’m totally addicted to this felting malarky, I’ve been making all sorts of funky things lately.  More soon, but for now – Wishing you all a bright sunny weekend 🙂

 

My back yard

backyardafter1I haven’t written much about my garden this year, I know, but it’s still coming along and I’ve gradually been reclaiming it from the weeds and rubbish left behind by previous tenants.

Lately I’ve been on a Mission to brighten up my back yard (not least because it’s the best spot for taking those sewing-selfie-pics to share here with you!).  This little space leads from the alley by my back door through to my garden and also, in the higgledy-piggeldy world of 18th century cottages, is an Access for my neighbours’ garden.  This is what it looked like when I moved inbackyardbefore1Not exactly welcoming, I think you’ll agree!  So I began to gradually tidy it up, replanted the hanging basket with geranium cuttings and cheapie things from Aldi, and installed a big rainwater butt given to me by some friends who were moving.backyardbasketyardclearingI began to move a few plants in, although only one section gets any sun and I have to keep most of it clear as a thoroughfare.  What I really wanted, though, was a big ‘planter’ that I could fill with colourful scented annuals to make a bold, bright splashbackyardbetI saw some wooden ones at the garden centre recently – priced nearly £50!! This is roughly ten times my usual ‘makeover’ budget!  So one morning a couple of weeks ago, the rain held off long enough for me to construct this rather ‘rustic’ affair from bits of wood left over from making the second compost bin.  This wood was actually given to me by my neighbours, so I thought it would be nice to use it for something they’d see and get a smile from as they passed by.planterbuildingI planted it up with sweet peas and love-in-a-mist grown from seed, and made a wigwam of sticks for things to climb up.  Total cost: packet of woodscrews £1.20, 2 half packets of seeds £2.00, half a grow-bag mixed with garden compost £1.75 = £4.95!  Not bad, eh?  Here it is just plantedplanterplantedA week or so later and It’s all growing up nicely, hopefully soon to be full of flowers and wafting scent across the yardbackyardafter2Next step is to persuade my landlady to get the back wall painted for next year, and my mum has given me some planters to put up on it.  Goodbye dull, grotty old space: Hello cheerful, perfumed oasis!backyardafter3aWishing you all a bright & colourful week 🙂

Late summer colour: ripple blanket inspiration

SunflowerBorder

Around the middle of August, it always feels like the garden begins to move into a different ‘phase’, as the warm colours of late summer and early autumn really come into their own.Sunflowers1Just look at these fabulous sunflowers, towering cheerfully over everything, full of sunny yellows and rich browns!Sunflowers2

I love mixing flowers into the veg garden, too, and seeing the squashes and courgettes ripening amongst a jungle of nasturtiums is like finding secret treasure at the bottom of the gardenSquash&Nasturtiums1Squash&Nasturtiums3

Calendulas (pot marigold) are one of my favourite annuals, and this year they’ve been amazing, brightening the borders and veg garden with masses of yellow and orange bloomsCalendulas&Nasturtiums

So, if you remember, last December when I was working on my Purple Waves ripple blanket, my mum asked me for one in shades of blue – and so the Blue Waves blanket was conjured.  And my dad said he’d love to have one in shades of orange (his favourite colour), with maybe some reds and yellows mixed in.  I didn’t want to do Yet Another Mexican Sunset colour scheme, so I began by playing with graded stripes, from cream and pale yellow through orange to deep red.  But it looked a bit too subtle and ‘flat’, somehow; it just wasn’t getting my colour-mojo going!  It got me thinking though, about the grand riot of late-summer-garden colours that I love so much.Nasturtiums1Crocosmia

Oranges, reds, yellows, russets and browns – just looking at the calendulas and ripening tomatoes against the mellow brick of the old shed made me want a blanket full of these colours, all jumbled up together! Toms&Calendula

As with the other two blankets, I chose my yarn from the Stylecraft Special DK range and found all the colours I wanted.  I dropped the cream and deep red and added russet brown and gold instead.  I wanted it to be cheerful and colourful, but a bit more ‘masculine’ and, dare I say it, subdued than my usual psychedelic style!  Here’s a close-up of my final colour scheme ripples:CloseUpbest

I just finished stripe No 54 today, and lay it out on the bed for the first time.  Seeing all those colours working together is a real thrill!Stripe54

I only started this project just over a month ago, so I’m definitely getting quicker at this pattern!  It would be lovely to finish it in time for my next trip down to visit my folks in October.  By then, the summer colours will have faded and blankets will definitely be required!  But for now, I can still sit out in the garden some days and crochet away amongst the flowers, veg, and happy bees!Bee&Marigold

Wishing you all a warm and colourful weekend 🙂

May Daze

BluebellTastic

May is one of my favourite months!  I love the energy of this time of year, all the trees coming into leaf and flowers opening, the feeling that everything is gushing with life. The gorgeous scents of bluebells and tree blossom! Going out without a coat!  Warm enough for picnics but not yet for hayfever!  Plus, it’s my birthday month, what’s not to love??  (Apart from being reminded about getting older, that is!)

To celebrate Beltane (Mayday), and in defiance of said ageing, I decided it was time to lop my long locks.  I’ve not had a major re-style for many years and I felt like a change.  Wow, did I feel LIGHTER when I walked out of the salon!  I’m still getting used to it but I think I like it.  In fact I might go even shorter next time…hairbefore&after

…earlier in the month, some friends very kindly came and rotovated the last bit of the garden for me, so that I could get on with making the ‘potager’ beds for the main section of the kitchen garden.  Here it is, freshly rotovated (and pre-compost bin)…rotovation...and here it is last week, just before my back gave out on me…postrotovator

…on what was probably the hottest day of the year so far, two of my lovely friends from the Dyfi Valley came for a visit and we spent a gorgeous afternoon picnicking in nearby Hergest Croft arboretum and walking in the bluebell woods…BluebellTastic2

…I also went to a plant fair, where I met the folk from Broomy Hill Enchanted Gardens.  Annette makes living sculptures out of plants (mostly native, organically grown), natural materials and found objects, called ‘Emplantments’.  These photos don’t do justice to this magical piece, and I’m looking forward to visiting the gardens later in the summer to see some more …emplantment1emplantment2…and then there was my birthday!  I actually came down with a coldy/virus thing that week, so I was feeling a bit flat and didn’t get to go away camping as hoped.  But I was so thoroughly spoiled with cards, pressies, and general loved-up-ness that I ended up having a very good day indeed…birthday...so what with lurgie-recovery and back pain, it’s been a quiet end to the month for me.  I did manage to get out for a short walk before the rain set in though, and in the fields behind our town I came across this sweet little duck pond, although the ducks were not impressed by my presence and declined to be photographed…duckpondAnd finally, this month marks a whole YEAR of picture round-ups!  I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing them as much as I’ve enjoyed doing them, it’s a lovely way to remind yourself of your best days and achievements in a month, and I thoroughly recommend it as a practice.  Thanks to everyone, as always, for reading, and for your lovely comments and emails.  I do appreciate it very much!

Here’s looking forward to a long and dreamy summer! 🙂

April Delights

HergestGateAloha everyone, and welcome to my picture round-up for April.  And what a GLORIOUS month it’s been here in the Marches!  It’s honestly been the most beautiful spring I can remember for years.  My little house and (not-so-little!) garden have been giving me so much to smile about this month, but the warm weather has also seen me out and about visiting some of my favourite places and people…

…A million years ago when I lived here in my 20s/early30s and my friend Arainn & I used to work as volunteers for Radnorshire Wildlife Trust, we spent a lot of time at the (then) newly-acquired nature reserve Burfa Bog, making stock-proof fences, coppicing overgrown trees and clearing brambles.  I went back there on Easter weekend, and was delighted to find that one of our toughest bramble-infested areas is now covered in wild primrose…burfa1

…on another glorious day, I went out for a lovely local walk and came across THE most idyllic cottage-spot!  These are definitely my favourites so far…KnillCottages…as mentioned in yesterday’s post, there’s not been a lot of sewing or crochet going on this month, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy…ColdFrameSeedlings

…one of the best things about living back here is being able to pop round to visit old mates and see what’s happening at their places.  About 12 years ago, I helped plant some trees on some friends’ land, including this one that I grew from a conker that had sprouted.  As you can see, it’s very happy in its hillside home!…RowansTree

…I also went back up to the Dyfi Valley for the annual SeedSwap event at Bro Dyfi Gardens.  It was great to catch up with friends there, and to have a look around the beautiful gardens created by volunteers on the site.  And buy some plants, of course…BroDyfiWoodlandFaces…so, hmm, yes: I do seem to have gone a bit garden-crazy this month!  The sunshine has definitely seen my health improving a bit, and it has been so lovely to spend time outdoors, soaking up the spring energy.  And just in case you were thinking this post was a bit short on colour, I will leave you with these amazing plants that grow all through the ponds and streams in our local Park Wood… they’re called Skunk Cabbage, can you guess why??skunkcabbageWishing you all a very colourful holiday weekend, and a magical month of May! 🙂

Spring Progress: the Garden

wellies&geraniumsIt’s Spring!  And the weather has been so amazing, all I’ve wanted to do these last few weeks is be outdoors playing in my new garden – it’s been all spades, muck and wellies instead of yarn, hooks, and fabrics for a change.

Remember this post back in March, when I showed you the garden I’d taken on with my new house?BigViewB4Empty, apart from weeds, rocks, and, as it’s turned out, LOTS of broken glass and pottery.  I mean, bucket loads – go figure?!  But nevertheless, progress is being made. The hedge is trimmed, the border by the shed weeded, flower borders and lawn marked out and clearing & planting begun.  My main priority though, was to get my veg beds dug.  Here is my long pea & bean bed, a triumph of pacing for a middle-aged woman with M.E. and a bad back I think you’ll agree:bigview290415Don’t be fooled by bean-bed’s smoothly-raked surface: beneath her lies 3 sacks of rotted horse manure and two of kitchen waste!  To keep out the ubiquitous dandelions (has anyone else noticed what a bumper year for them it seems to be??), I covered each section with cardboard and old carpets as I finished.  In the foreground here you can also see the young willow cuttings I’ve planted that will eventually grown into a screen for the compost area.

Here’s the other side by the fence as it looked in February:WestSideB4

And now, with two lovely new beds, one for spuds & beetroot, one for leeks & roots:WestSide290415

These beds were forked over to remove the worst weeds, then mulched with cardboard and a deep layer of manure.  Nothing much is happening yet, though one or two brave radishes have popped up already!

And yes, ALL those stones I’ve used to start making the paths were dug out of the beds…

There’s still a lot to do, but I am very much enjoying the process of making the garden. Seeds have begun to germinate in the cold frame, both veg and flowers.  And I’m really looking forward to planting the flower and herb borders, finally giving all the plants I’ve had in pots for years on various balconies and front steps a permanent home!  shedborder290415It hasn’t all been gardening this month, and I’ll be back soon with some pics from April to prove that I did do SOME other stuff this month (mostly visiting gardens though haha!).  Til then, wishing you all a lovely weekend and a very happy Beltaine/Mayday 🙂

 

Spring Progress: Blue Waves Blanket

springdaffsHello all!  What a fabulous time we had last week here in the Marches – glorious sunshine, lighter evenings, and WARM enough to turn off the heating and throw off your jumper!

All this has meant I’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors, but nonetheless, I HAVE been making steady progress on the Blue Waves blanket.  Yesterday I reached wave #45, so I’m more than halfway, and very pleased with the way it’s looking so far:BlueWaves45This is a lovely, rhythmic pattern to be working on right now, perfect for relaxing in front of the TV or radio in the evenings after a day in the garden.  If you’ve been toying with the idea of making a blanket, I encourage you to have a go!  Pattern & tutorial HERE at Attic24.

Wishing you all a bright and beautiful week! 🙂

 

Colourful plans & projects

NewHQWell HELLO and greetings from my new HQ!  Pretty smart huh?!  Despite it still being box-maze chaos, I’m happy to report that I LOVE my new place.  Especially the big bay window, letting lots of lovely light into my front room and makeshift sewing space!

Last weekend I unearthed the Simplicity dress project (abandoned the week before the move!) and eased myself back in gently by making some bias binding for the sleeves.  One day, there will be a Whoo-Hoo moment, but not before I cross the Great Plateau of The Invisible Zip.  See you on the other side…Grey&Pink Sleeve BindingMeanwhile, I’ve made a start on a second ripple blanket.  This one is for my mum, who wanted a single bed size in shades of blue.  I’ve gone for the Stylecraft Special DK as before, and although the blues are totally gorgeous, I couldn’t resist slipping in a little bit of purple (it’s called ‘Bluebell’ though, so it’s within the remit, right?).  After making my huge, double-bed sized Purple Waves blanket, these rows feel quite quick to work!BlueWavesBlanketSo there’s some colourful crafty projects going on, but I’m also planning to create something much bigger, and much more colourful, starting this year… can you guess what it is?!gardenflowersYep, I finally have MY OWN GARDEN!  For the first time in many, many years I have my own outdoor space to fill with flowers, veg, herbs and all kinds of strange and beautiful things.  I can’t WAIT to get started!  Which is all to the good, because this is what it looks like right now:GardenTodayNever let it be said that I don’t relish a challenge!  I’ll keep you posted on my progress, but if my sewing speed is anything to go by, you know this one’s going to keep me busy for a VERY long time…

How are you getting on with your spring plans & projects I wonder?  – Here’s wishing you all a very colourful, creative week! 🙂