Sunday 30 June 2013

International Diploma in Crochet

Yep, you read the title correctly.  There is indeed an "International Diploma in Crochet" and I have just signed up for it!

Actually, I love to learn, I have been teaching myself new crochet stitches by working through the book 50 Stitches for Afghans and enjoying it lots, so when I read about this course in the Woolfest program, I decided to hunt down the lady behind it and ask some more.

I found Pauline Turner deep in the pens in Woolfest, amongst a pretty array of colourful crochet samples, and we got talking.

The Diploma is a 3 part course, the details are HERE if you would like to see for yourself, the fees are there for you to view too (look for the link within the page).  Should I?  Shouldn't I? I knew if I came home and thought about it I would probably not bother (I'm a bit like that you see, very impulsive but change mind when spend time thinking about things) so I decided to jump on in and give it a go!

I paid my deposit and came away with the first part of the course.

I flicked through it last night, thought "Oh my goodness, what have I done!" and put it down again.  I will look at it again later  :)

I would like to share my progress with you - good or bad - I think it will shame me into completing the course and not end up throwing my pennies down the drain. So watch this space.

Saturday 29 June 2013

Woolfest 2013

Have you ever been to Woolfest?

It is held in an auction mart in Cockermouth, Cumbria.  Right there, in the animal pens.

The bars of the pens end up dripping with an array of bright colours and textures.  Everything NEEDS to be touched and fondled.  But some of the stall holders do not like photographs being taken, so these ones I am going to show you are not so great as a sneakily took them with my phone.

Everything a knitter, or a crocheter, or a weaver, or a spinner, or a felter could possible need/want will be under the corrugated roof of the auction mart when Woolfest is happening.  From fleeces straight off the sheep, to dyed and treated merino tops in a vast rainbow of colours, ready to do with what you choose.

There is a lot of pushing and shoving, not many manners within buyers/browsers (of course the stall holders are great) but be prepared for a nudge from a sharp elbow if you happen to be in the way of what someone else wants to see.

You can even talk to the animals.

I must apologise again for the really rubbishy photos, I didn't realise quite how bad they were until I uploaded them, and obviously I cannot go and retake them, so they will have to do  :)  Still, it gives you an idea of what it was like I guess - or you can go and have a look in the Woolfest gallery...

I made a few sneaky purchases, ones that you will no doubt see popping up on the blog at some future point.
I bought some batting and some coloured norwegian felting wool to make some more needlefelted animals.  A few spare needles, and some wool that I bought 7 balls of a while ago in a shop (7 was all they had left), so I was delighted to find the same yarn on a stall at Woolfest - I think a jumper might be in the pipeline.

I also signed up and paid for the first part of a distance learning Diploma in Crochet!  (more on that soon)

Did you go?  What did you buy?

Friday 28 June 2013

Needlefelted Flopsy Bunnies

On Thursday my friend, Lezley, and I took a course at Higham Hall with Joss Wrigg.

The course was to make Flopsy style bunnies from sheeps fleece using the Needlefelting method.

It was held in conjunction with Woolfest that happens once a year - more on that in a later post.

You may remember last year I took a Needlefelting course with Sue Allan from Sewsister, we made Fantasy Birds, which was loads of fun.

This time we were using fleece, straight from a sheep, a native Lake District Herdwick sheep no less, and although it had been cleaned and washed there was still the odd bit of 'natural history' hidden amongst the fluff  :)

Using a batting we formed a basic shape as a starting point.  

No rude comments about the shape now!

When we had a basic shape we added Herdwick Sheep fleece, trying to arrange the shades of the fleece to be where limbs and bulges might be.  Not being much of an artist I found it difficult to place limbs at first, but with the help of Joss's own big bunny (below) I worked it out.....kinda!
Isn't he a beauty?

I decided on a moon-gazing hare, so pointed his little head to the stars. (No, it's NOT a duck!)

Adding some darker fleece as detail for the muzzle and eyes made him (I decided it would be a him) come to life.

Looking up at ya!

And gazing at that big fat moon (or even the fluorescent strip light in the studio!)
He's called Colin  :)

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Opus Moon - my new, but not so new, website

I am stupidly pleased with myself as I have re-built my website.

My web domain was coming up for renewal a few weeks ago and the Hubster asked me if I still wanted/needed it.

"Nah", was the reply, "Don't bother with it much anymore".

So it wasn't renewed.

Then for some odd reason, I wanted it back. I had spent ages and ages picking the name and suddenly the thought of letting someone else have it was haunting me. Bless his little cottons, he only went and got it back for me.

To cut a long long story short by about 4 days, I ended up with Opus Moon - the meaning of which works something like this - Opus:  A creative works, and Moon: A play on Amun, God of Creation.  Do you see what I did there?

Now, this was a good few years ago when I was wanting to push my Lampworking (melting glass into beads) but I wanted a name that didn't contain a product description so I could adapt it to suit most things.   I used it quite a lot back then, but recently have left it to go to seed.

Now, it is time to resurrect the name and start using it again.

I ordered some cute little woven labels to add onto anything that they suit, sewed them onto some tie-dyed tote bags and decided that they would be the first thing to be featured on the new look website.

I have spent the last two days rebuilding it, fiddling about with fonts and images, and working out how to put frames in the first page!  (The Diploma I did in Web design a few years ago seems to have been mainly forgotten) but I think I have it to a point where I quite like the look.

What do you think?

Monday 24 June 2013

Rainbow Crochet Slipper Socks

How funky are these?

Rainbow slipper socks, bright and cheerful, they are just the thing to chase away the early morning blues  :)

They are crocheted using two strands together to make them thick and comfy.

Would you like to know how to make them?  OK then, just for you, here is a tutorial.

What you need:
  • Scraps of DK Yarn, I used Hayfields Bonus DK
  • 6mm Crochet Hook
  • Knitting Sewing Needle
Stitches used:
  • SS - Slip Stitch
  • HTC - Half Treble Crochet
Yarn patterning:

Use TWO strands of DK yarn held together.  For the rainbow pattern I started with RED and HOT PINK for 4 rows, then I dropped the RED, keeping the HOT PINK and picked up a PALE PINK (4 rows).  Then I dropped the HOT PINK and picked up a PURPLE, then I dropped the PALE PINK and picked up a LILAC - do you see how this is working out?

What you do:  (working in rounds)

  • 4 CH and SS to join into a ring.
  • 2 CH (counts as first HTC) then add 10 HTC into the ring, SS into first 2 CH to join.  (11 stitches)
  • 2 CH (counts at first HTC) then 2 HTC into each stitch. SS into first 2 CH to join (22 stitches)
  • 2 CH (counts as first HTC) then 1 HTC into each stitch, SS into first 2 CH to join (22 stitches)
  • Repeat the last row for another 12 rounds.
Change now from working rounds to working rows.
  • 2 CH (counts as first HTC) then 17 HTC, turn.
  • Repeat this last row until your sock is the required length for your foot.  For a sz 6 sock, I had a total of 20 rounds + 14 rows.
  • Fold the heal edge in half and sew up the seam.
  • Working around the rim of the sock now, join new yarn and work HTC stitches evenly around the rim (different sized socks will take a different amount of stitches - just make sure they are evenly spaced and remember how many for the second sock.
  • Using HTC stitches throughout work in rounds decreasing one stitch either side of the foot (as shown by the cross in the silly little pic below) for the next 6 rows.
  • Work another 6 rows straight, then sew in the ends, fold over the cuff and wear with pride!

© Sue Simmons / 2013

Sunday 23 June 2013

Tie-Dyed Tote Bags

I've been messing about with Dylon dyes of late, tying knots and marbles into tote bags and making pretty patterns on them.

I even ordered some fabric labels to sew on as I have decided to resurrect my idle website and put some prettyful things on it.  (Don't bother looking yet though, it's still idle  ;) - you will be the first to know when it goes live.)

Back to the bags then.

I got some plain tote bags from good old Hobbycraft.

And some Dylon hand dyes in nice funky colours.  (I do like bright colours, they make your heart sing!)

I tied the bags up in all different manners with a big pile of elastic bands.

Then dipped them in the dyes.

Then I sewed my brand new funky label on them  (at a wonky angle, just coz I can!)


I thought I might sell these at £4.00 each + postage.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Live Below The Line - Last Meal

It's my last day on the Live Below The Line challenge, and it has been interesting.  Least of all the revisiting of my own past, marvelling at how life changes over time and the enjoyment of experimenting with food again.

So, this morning, guess what I had?  Yep, you got it - marmalade on toast  (12p)

I spent lunch time in Hobbycraft doing an Artisan Fair, forgot to take lunch so send Hubster back for supplies, but he brought back crisps, Marmite cheese and crackers - emmm??!  So I decided to wait and have a late lunch rather than cheat  :)  (Good aint I?)

Lunchtime was 4pm, I wondered what to make as I stared into the fridge.  How about a leftover hotpot?

Ingredients needed:  (anything you can find in the fridge really!)
  • 2 sleepy sad looking carrots (4p)
  • Half a baking potato (22p)
  • Quarter tin of tomatoes (8p)
  • Couple of spoons of curry sauce (3p)
  • Half tin of potatoes  (10p)
  • Mixed Herbs (1p)
What you do:
  • Wash the baking potato and slice thinly without peeling.  Pop into boiling water and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Peel and chop the carrots up quite small and put onto cook for 10 mins or until soft.
  • Chop the tinned potatoes up into little pieces, mix with the tomatoes, curry sauce and cooked carrots. Put into an ovenproof dish.
  • Lay the sliced potatoes on top and sprinkle with mixed herbs.
  • Cook at Gas mark 6 for about 30 mins until golden brown and crispy.
  • Serve.

Today's lunch cost me 48p to make, but I only ate just over half of it - it was very filling  :)  Potato topped potato pie, now who would have thought of that?   :)

Thank you to everyone who sponsored me in this challenge, there are still some pennies coming through from various places so I don't have an exact total to hand, but it will be around the region of £120 - THANK YOU EVERYONE.

The conclusion:

Putting today's lunch in as Wednesday's dinner my week looked something like this.....

Breakfast 11.5p
Lunch 27p
Dinner 40p
Breakfast 11.5p
Lunch 27p
Dinner 37.5p
Breakfast 12p
Lunch 23p
Dinner 33p
Breakfast 12p
Lunch 26p
Dinner 43.5p
Given Away 18p
Breakfast 12p
Lunch 27p
Dinner 22.5p

Wow, well look at that, five days of three meals at day for just £3.84.  As you can imagine I have loads of food left from my original shop, I haven't touched the pasta and only had two portions out of ten of the rice.  I still have a little curry sauce left and a quarter tin of tomatoes. I have loads of spread and a decent amount of marmalade left too.

I can honestly say I have never been hungry -  I have been fed up with lack of variety and tempted to just grab a slab of Halloumi or liberate those Linda McCartney Fish Free Scampi from the fridge (which incidentally, I am going to have to eat a day out of date tomorrow!) but I am proud to say I have resisted and ploughed on through.

Thanks for following this journey, it's time to get back to craft blogging again now  :)

Live Below The Line - Day 5

Today was my final full day on the Live Below The Line Challenge.  (I have one main meal left from Wednesday)

Breakfast was as per usual - Marmalade on toast.  Breakfast is usually marmalade on toast anyway, it's not a  compromise, its a norm.  Tomorrow, it will still be marmalade on toast and probably still the basics marmalade and budget spread as I have loads left.  Breakfast cost me 12p.  How will I ever cope with paying £5.00 for a breakfast ever again?

Lunch was a good old bowl of soup with bread, the last portion in the pot.  It has got thicker as the days have gone on and it could have really done with a good shake of black pepper, but it filled a gap and tasted good.  Lunch cost me 27p.

Dinner was going to be baked arancini on a bed of crushed tomatoes and herbs.  I cooked and cooled some rice, then mixed it with a little curry sauce in the hope that I could get it to bind together - not a chance!

So a compromise had to be made........ Curried Fried Rice with Beans.

Ingredients used:
  • 100g cooked cooled rice (4p)
  • Curry Sauce from jar (9p)
  • Half tin of Indian Beans (25p)
  • Spread (1p)
What you do:
  • Put a portion of spread in a frying pan and heat on medium heat, be careful it doesn't burn.
  • Meanwhile mix the cold rice, beans and curry sauce together in a dish.
  • When the spread is bubbling drop in the curry mix and stir until thoroughly heated through.
  • Serve!

Dinner cost me 39p.

My food cost for the day was.....
Bread 6p
Spread 2p
Marmalade 3p
Tea 1p
2 Bread 6p
Spread 2p
Soup 18p
Tea 1p
Curried Rice & Beans 22p
Tea 0.5p
TOTAL 61.5p

I am craving variety today, I have never been hungry throughout this challenge, but I am so BORED with eating the same things, just mixed up differently. I know I am actually not eating the same thing, but everytime I look in the fridge I see the same things, even though I have tried to make things quite different in my recipe creations, it's still boring.

 I want eggs, cheese, cider, wine, SALAD, sauces, spices, herbs. 

Tomorrow I shall work out how much worth of food I have left in my stash.

I am so pleased to tell you that I am only £2.00 off my target.  That is the price of a soft drink in a pub, a sandwich & crisps at lunchtime, a bus ride to town, a newspaper & bar of chocolate.  If you haven't already and you can afford £2.00 would you be so lovely as to donate to this great cause?  I thank you.

You can find the details here...