Three little shisha elephants

I posted a while back about starting a small project that turned into a much bigger one & would need its own post; well, here it is!  It all began because I wanted to learn how to do shisha mirrors and indian-style embroidery.  Then I found a beautiful book called Indian Inspirations by Gisella Thwaites, which truly is inspiring!  Full of lovely embroidery and patchwork techniques (including shisha) and some funky patterns and projects too.  One of which is these little embellished elephants.  What better way to practice my shishas than to make an elephant?!  So!  Elephant No 1:This was my first go at crazy patchwork and I stupidly forgot to add seam allowances around the outside edges, so he’s a bit tatty around the seams!  Also my first every shisha mirrors: my foundations & stitches are too loose – you can see the top mirror is hanging out and the second one fell out and had to be replaced with a large sequin stitched into place instead.  Time for another go!  Elephant No 2:I remembered to add seam allowances this time, but the trunk still came out a bit wonky!  I’m pleased with my newly-learned stem stitch and feather stitch and my shishas are much more stable, but I’m not happy with how uneven they look.  A bit of online research led me to the wonderful resources on Sarah Homfray’s site, which includes an excellent video tutorial on shisha embroidery.  Elephhant No 3 (pre-stuffing):and with 1 &2 for comparison:Elephant evloution!  I’m very pleased with this one!  I had such fun playing with different stitches and adding beads, sequins, etc.  I seemed to get more ambitious with each one I did!  But three was enough; the original project in the book was to make a single hanging elephant with beads and bells, but MORE IS MORE, right?!Aaah, sooo cute!  They’re hanging in my bedroom window now.

So now my shisha-confidence has increased I’ve been busy playing with them in all sorts of ways, like this little felt brooch:But that’s not actually my reason for wanting to learn how to do them.  Nor, as long-term readers will know, is this my first Outing with Elephants!  Remember this?The Psychedelephant Quilt!  It never did get quilted, and I realised that what I really longed to do was add some lovely embroidery and embellishment to it.  So this is going to be a long-term project, something to sit and do whenever I have the time to enjoy a bit of fancy sewing.  Like the little elephants, each square is small enough that I can really play around with it and try out different ideas, and that will keep me entertained for ages!Me & the elephants, wishing you a bright and shiny weekend 🙂

Felted Faerie Houses

Greetings, mortal folk!  Welcome to our Faerie settlement. Our local builder has been very busy lately as you can see, having just scored a whole pile of new materials at WonderWool last month.  Shall we take you on a little tour?

That online embroidery course last year has resulted in some rather fancy door and window frames The clematis are flowering nicely at the momentvery good for attracting the wildlifefaery houses are remarkably fertile places, and all sorts of interesting things like to grow around them of course it’s not only faeries who are attracted to these little abodeswe don’t mind though, there’s plenty of room at the top It’s a very friendly neighbourhood I’ve got a feeling there will be a few more of us very soon! Wishing you all an enchanted faery weekend! 🙂

The story of Crochet Turtle

One summer afternoon last year, me, my brother, and his partner were all lounging in my lounge when my bro remarked on how much he liked my round cushion.  It was a gift from my old housemate, made by her friend Svetlana and has Indian-style embroidery on one side, soft green velvet on the other.front&back

We all agreed that we liked round cushions, and I said I’d like to try doing a crochet one. He said he liked the green velvet though, because it made him think of a turtle.  So I said, what about crochet on one side, velvet on the other?  And as one voice we cried, it could be CROCHET TURTLE!  Those of you old enough to remember Touché Turtle and his battle-cry can no doubt imagine the silliness that ensued…

And so the idea was born, and I declared that I would make them a pair of Crochet Turtles as a slightly-belated housewarming gift, and then spoke those words FATAL TO ANY PROJECT, “How hard can it be?”.

I searched the Blogsphere, Ravelery and beyond for my perfect turtle pattern…. who remembers this cute critter (pattern here by Little Muggles) from last Xmas?shelley profile

And I experimented with some lovely different turtle shell designs, by Kathrin Bardeleben and this one by Sonea Delvonprototype shell

But none of them were quite what I was after.  I had this idea in my head you see, of EXACTLY how these turtles would look.  I wanted a crochet ‘shell’ of granny hexagons on top in shades of green/teal/orange, crochet head and flippers, and a soft velvet ‘belly’ underneath.

So, chanting ‘How hard can it be?’, I went and made up my own hexagon pattern, which I’m pretty pleased with.  Once I’d figured it out I went ahead and ordered my yarn.  I wanted something really soft and smooshy but also machine washable, so I went for Cascade 220 Superwash.  It’s 100% wool but – I guess because of the superwash process – I can handle it without too much allergic reaction.  Plus it comes in a wide range of bright, vivid colours!turtleyarn

I finally started crocheting my granny hexies in April this year, still without any real overall pattern in mind!  I didn’t get far before I realised I would also need a half-hexagon to make my design work.  That took me quite a few goes to figure out, and it wasn’t until I’d actually made all the pieces and started stitching them together that I realised they still weren’t righthexagonslaidout

Can you spot my mistake? – There’s no single crochet border on the long edge of the half-hexies!  So I had to unpick and re-do them all…

Next came the head and flipper challenge!  I wanted the heads to be crocheted and stuffed, so I adapted the Little Muggles pattern for these. But again, I couldn’t find any flippers that really fitted my turtle vision of crochet on top, velvet underneath, so I had to make up my own.  I’d bought some lovely soft velvet from Minerva Crafts in the sale, but didn’t realise until it arrived that it was stretch knit!  So I had to use fusible interfacing on all my flipper pieces to keep them stable enough to stitch the crochet to them.  BUT, it worked!  And I’m quite chuffed with how they turned out!flipperb&f2

OK! – I now had my shells, heads, and flippers, all I needed was a cushion pattern.  I didn’t fancy trying to sew a zip into stretch velvet circles, and poppers or buttons always come undone I find, so I decided on the ‘envelope’ option.  Could I find a pattern??  It was beginning to look like these turtles would still be on my ‘In Progress’ shelf by the time their intended recipients had saved up and emigrated…

So yes, I had to make up my own cushion pattern as well.  “How hard can it be?” – well, VERY, with stretch velvet, I discovered!  Note to self: stabilise your top circle with some fusible interfacing first before trying to stitch your crochet and bottom cushion-flaps to it!

BUT, I prevailed!  Heads and flippers were sewn on by hand last of all, and FINALLY, one year, two months, and three weeks after the idea was born, WHOOHOO!!  I give you – CROCHET TURTLES!bothpadded1How cute are they?!?!swimmingturtlebothpadded2

Here’s a (slightly blurry!) ‘belly’ shot so you can see how the cushion cover bit works:turtlebelly1And a nice turtle-in-action shot!swimmingturtletop

So there you go: it was a big designer-maker adventure for me and the finished cushions did turn out pretty much the way I had imagined them in my head.  Plus they are VERY silly and make me smile a LOT!

The turtles have now swum to their new home in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, where they’ve been so warmly received that it’s given me a great big happy in my heart!bothunpadded1CROCHET AWAY! 🙂

Funky festive round up with gifts galore!

Well hello!  I hope everyone is enjoying the festive season and looking forward to the New Year!

It all got a bit busy for me the week before Winter Solstice and Christmas, what with making gifts to parcel up and send off in the post, and parties and gatherings to attend.  headwarmeronpurple2 First up are these funky chunky headwarmers, made for my best friend’s two daughters in chunky WOOL: yes, I have found a brand of sheep wool I’m not allergic to!!  I wanted to make these very thick, super-warm and snuggly, so I decided to try Drops Eskimo.headwarmeronpurple I’m VERY pleased with the way they turned out, the wool was lovely to work with and although ever so slightly itchy on my hands, no sign of a rash – hurray!  I made these from my own pattern so if I can remember it (!) I’ll put a tutorial up in the New Year sometime.

Next up is this little critter, made from a fab pattern by Little Muggles: shelley profileHow cute is he??!  Now, I have to confess that he was made with the intention of being given away as a gift, but you know how it is, when it came to it I just couldn’t bear to part with him…shelleyfrontAfter all that crochet I fancied a bit of a change, so out came my fabric stash, cutting mat, and good old Auntie Janis (that’s my old Singer sewing machine!).  What better excuse for rummaging through all your favourite buttons, ribbon and embroidery bits than making a special gift for a lovely friend?   This was my second go at making one of these journal covers, using the excellent tutorial posted on BySmallMeans.  You can have a look at my first attempt over on my Flickr page, which was a bit on the tight-fitting side!  The tutorial is for a paper-cover spiral notebook, but mine was for a hard-cover bound book.  This time round I found it works out fine if you add 1/4″ to your measurements to allow for the thickness of the cover.purple journal2All in all a very creative Christmas, but just to prove that I do get outdoors sometimes, this is what I did on the Solstice:Solstice Tree plantingMe and my friend Annie in 10 layers of clothing, planting the very first tree of her new woodlands on her land!  Only another 3,000 or so to go…

Happy New Year, everyone!


Cute crochet owls

This last week has seen me busy sewing together all the squares for the ‘Granny Takes a Trip’ cardigan, but if like me you enjoy doing a little ‘quick-finish’ project whilst working on something larger, I can recommend these cute crochet owls!three crochet stuffed toy owlsThese were made using the very easy-to-follow tutorial over on Bunny Mummy’s blog .  I made my first two whilst watching Return of the Jedi one evening, that’s how quick they are to do.  The one of the left has now gone to live in Borth as he was a present for a friend, but three seemed a nice number to have around the house and I was having so much fun with them I made another to keep Luke and Princess Leia company!three crochet stuffed toy owlsBack to the cardigan now, and all that edging still to do…!