Thursday 31 July 2014

Ruby's new activity toy.

A few weeks ago one of my friends on Facebook shared this video...

Video Source / You Tube / Eveline Poot

What a genius idea, I thought, that would be perfect for Ruby.   It would keep her amused, interested and make her brain work all at the same time.

So I made my eyes go all big and girly and dropped my voice to a sqeecky whine and said....

DADDY !! Make me one of these for Ruby  Please  

A few days later he was photographed rummaging around in my Brother In Laws trailer for supplies.

Then he got to work, with the help of the before-mentioned Brother In Law and built Ruby a new activity toy.

She has not quite yet got the hang of it.  Well perhaps she has in her own way, she nudges it a bit, makes it swing, then looks at us with her puppy dog eyes, we then kick the bottle into action releasing the treats.   Maybe she is just a bit cleverer than us!!

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Spirograph Embroidery

Inspired by something I had seen, beautiful embroidered patterns, I thought they looked a little like some Spirograph patterns that I had made when  I was a child.

Trotting myself off to Hobbycraft I bought a Spirograph set - much different from how they used to be, does anyone remember those pesky little pins that used to get lost only to reappear in the bottom of your bare foot?

I also bought an embroidery hoop, a disappearing fabric marker and a cotton tote bag.

I drew some pretty patterns on the fabric - which wasn't the easiest thing to do as the blooming thing kept slipping and it took some working out as to where the wheels had to go to make the pattern match!

And also, some patterns were a little too 'busy' so I had to choose quite carefully, or adapt the design to suit with a little jiggery pockery.

Then I got to stitch  :)   (Hint:  Don't draw your patterns too much ahead of time with disappearing ink - it disappears!   Funny that  :)  )

Quite an enjoyable little craft, and so addictive. Luckily I have plenty of space left on my bag to add loads more patterns.

I am going to offer this up as a workshop - so why not come along and have a go yourself   :)

For more details and booking information, please click HERE.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Rose Hip Syrup

While out walking with Ruby in our usual spot, I noticed, along the hedgerow, these beautiful bright red rose-hips.

"Oooooo", I thought, "Freebies, what can I make with those?"

And pocketed myself a bagful of the fragrant berry things.  Now these things don't really want to be picked, they have spiky thorns on their stems which dig in your fingers and make you yelp.

During some research I discovered that Rose Hips have LOADS of health benefits and lots more Vitamin C than oranges.  They were planted on the sides of housing estates during the war so people could collect and cook with them - maybe you can find some in a hedgerow near you.

My Mum grew up in the Lake District and she told me that on the long walk to school all the children used to pick the Rose Hips and take them into school where they would be paid a few pennies.  Then a truck used to appear to collect them and take them away to be processed.  I love stories like this  :)


I wee while ago I bought this book, Booze for Free by Andy Hamilton, and I scooted through it to find a Rosehip recipe - the only one was wine and it was a bit messy to be honest, with fermenting buckets and the like, so I decided on syrup which I could add to some gin... or vodka.

So, after a wee bit of Googling I found the River Cottage recipe was going to work best for me - minimal effort and all that.

I washed the hips.

Then weighed them in at 600g.

Have you ever seen the inside of a Rose Hip?  No,me neither, they look awfully like they should be hot and chilli-fied.  I was scared to touch anything after cutting this one up.

Using my Kenwood Smoothie Maker - certainly not ideal for the job as you can only chop a few at a time, but it did do the trick.  I have since purchased a proper chopper - well, when I say purchased, Hubster was buying some new t-shirts in Tesco and I popped it into his basket.  I don't think he noticed, even though it filled the basket.  If he did, he said nothing.   ;)

Hey, chillies!!  No, Rose Hips.

Chillies?  No, still Rose Hips.

The recipe calls for 1.25 litres of water per 1kg of hips, so I worked out that my hips at 600g would be 750ml, personally, I don't think this was enough so added a splash or two more.  Simmered it for about 15/20 mins.

Then strained it through some muslin and left it to drip for an hour or so.

The recipe says to wash out the muslin and restrain it, which I did, but it went smoothly through with nothing caught second time round.

Measuring the liquid I ended up with around 300ml.

 For every 500ml you need to add 325g of sugar, which works out at 65g per 100ml - I had 300ml so added 195g of caster sugar with the juice into a pan and brought it to the boil before simmering for 3/5 minutes.

Then I popped it into a Nutella jar that had been washed in boiling water and dried in the hot oven.

It's blooming delicious, let me tell you. I need to hide it from myself or I might be tempted to keep on tasting it.

Now to go buy some gin   :)

Monday 28 July 2014

Time to update my Cork hat

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may remember that last year I bought myself a cork sun-hat, and jazzed it up with a rim of crochet daisies.

Well, this year I decided they looked a bit tired and that it was time for a change.  So off came the daisies...  (aww, poor little flower heads, they look a bit sad all wrinkled and past their best)

I grabbed this remnant of yarn  (from the 'Drops" range)

And crocheted a very simple band to go all the way round.

Not sure how much I like it, but it will do until next year   :)

Friday 25 July 2014

Vera Lynn Tribute at Shap Wells Hotel

Father's Day was last month and I have the type of parents that have everything they really need and apart from wine (Daddy L that is) don't really hanker for anything.  So when Birthdays, Christmas's and other special days come along it is often a struggle to figure out what to get them.

Recently though, I have found that "experiences" seem to be worth more than a bottle of perfume, or a garden ornament, or a box of wine..... actually, maybe not the wine!

So, as Father's Day approached this year I found this...

A Tribute to Vera Lynn by Lorrie Brown.
It was to be held at the Shap Wells Hotel, which incidentally was the same hotel that Hubster and I married in nearly 9 years ago.

The price of £12.95 included a two course lunch and the show.

It was a bit secret though, after picking them up Daddy L speculated on where it would be that we were going  ("Do I need my Camera?", "Are these shoes suitable?", "Am I dressed ok?" - IF YOU LIKE, YES, GET IN THE CAR!!)
All the way through the city he was trying to guess which venue we would be lunching at - as it was bound to include lunch as I had collected them, along with my sister, just after 11am.  When we approached the roundabout to leave the City, he guessed it might be a favourite Indian restaurant.  When we hit the M6 Motorway, he decided we were going to Penrith.  When we missed the Penrith turn-off, it must be Kendal.  

He was wrong, it was Shap.

When we got to the hotel and the event was displayed on the welcome board, he seemed quite chuffed.

Then he had wine and seemed even chuffed-er.  ;)

After lunch  (Salmon for them and cheese salad for me) and desert  (fresh fruit salad) the show started.   The "warm-up" act was Lorrie Brown's husband, Gary who did a (quite) cheesy, but equally funny comedy stand-up routine.

Then Lorrie came on and sang not only Vera Lynn songs, but other war-time entertainers songs too.

Daddy L sang so loud that he even got a stint on the microphone!

I knew some of the words to some of the songs as I remember my Nana, and of course my Dad, singing them when I was young.  But even though I didn't know them all it was a good afternoon and most enjoyable to watch loads of .....em.... older folk, having a great time.

Lorrie is doing a "Doris Day" event in October.  Might book for that one too :)

Thursday 24 July 2014

Craft Fair in Carlisle Town Hall

Last weekend (or was it the one before?) I did my first craft fair as Sooz In The Shed.

I was very lucky and got given two tables as the person next to me had not turned up, so I could really spread my stuff about - actually, I think I might have to book two in the future!!

It was held at Carlisle Town Hall, above Costa Coffee, the entrance being through the Visitor Information centre.

It was a right miserable day, the whole day was peppered with downpours of heavy rain, hail and just generally yukky weather, so there was not many people about.

Having said that, we did ok, made our table money, our lunch money and a bit more beside.  I talked to a lot of people, gave out a lot of cards and attracted lots of comments as I sat with some French Knitting - everyone remembers knitting with a French Dolly Bobbin apparently.

I am going to book onto one in Penrith next, on the 16th August at the George Hotel.  Maybe I will see you there?   :)

Tuesday 22 July 2014

August 2014 Classes

August Classes
Why not come along and learn a new hobby... or two?

Crochet & Craic - 04/08/14 (5.30-7.30pm) - £5.00  (BOP)
Bead & Banter - 05/08/13 (5.30-7.30pm) - £5.00  (BOP)
Necklace & Bracelet Set - 06/08/14 (4.00-6.00pm) - £10.00
Spiral Rope Beadweaving - 07/08/13 (4.00-6.00pm)-£10.00   
Bead Embroidery - 12/08/14 (2.00-4.00pm) - £10.00
Crochet Wreath Pt 1 - 13/08/13 (12.00-2.00pm)-£20.00*   
Beaded Pen - 13/08/13 (5.30-7.30pm)-£10.00
Bead Around a Cab - 15/08/14 (12.00-2.00pm) - £10.00
Crochet & Craic - 18/08/14 (5.30-7.30pm) - £5.00  (BOP)
Crochet Wreath Pt 2 - 13/08/13 (12.00-2.00pm)-£0.00*   
Rag Rug Making - 21/08/14 (5.30-7.30pm) - £10.00

BOP = Bring your own project.

Kid's Club Classes
Different activities to keep little hands busy through the Summer Holidays.

Peg Dragonfly - 05/08/14 (10.30-12.30pm) - £1.00 per dragonfly
Felt Pincushion - 06/08/13 (10.00-12.00pm) - £2.00
Crochet for Teens - 07/08/14 (12-2pm) - £10.00
Beaded Bangles - 08/08/14 (10.30am-12.30pm)- £2.00 per bangle.
Pom Pom Owls - 11/08/14 (10.30am-12.30pm) - £2.00 per owl.
French Dolly Knitting - 14/08/14 (2.00-4.00pm) - £6.00
Shrink Plastic Keyrings - 18/08/14 (10.30am-12.30pm) - £1.00 per keyring
Mini Rag Rug making - 19/08/14 (10.00-12.00) - £2.00
Paperclip Necklace - 19/08/14 (3.00-5.00pm) - £2.00 per necklace
Cross-Stitch Bookmark - 21/08/14 (11.00am-1.00pm) - £2.00 per bookmark

Hobbycraft, Carlisle. Call 01228 812362 to book.
50% non refundable deposit required on booking.  Places are limited booking is advisable

Friday 18 July 2014

Launching my "Kid's Club" activities

This August I am going to be trialling a new set of craft classes - aimed at Children and Young People.

They will be held in Hobbycraft, in Carlisle and will be drop-in sessions, although you can of course book your place if you want it to be held for you.  Please click on the links in the descriptions for details of dates and times.

I am going to be doing some French Knitting on a Dolly Spool - the price for this is £6.00, but it does include the Dolly and needle to take away with each child so they can continue in their own time.   Do you remember French Knitting?  I used to make miles of knitted tube when I was young, then coil them into coasters and table mats.

Also I will be doing a Pom Pom Owl session.  Using a pom-pom maker  (otherwise they would take hours and hours!!) the young folk will make a two coloured pom pom then attach felt pieces to make beaks, wings and eyes.  This class will be £2.00 per owl.

Dragonfly Pegs - are these not just too colourful and cute?   I will offer different levels of artwork for the wings, so that they will suit different ages and abilities.  Prices are £1.00 per Dragonfly. (Or Butterfly)

Perhaps for the older children, this is a cross-stitch bookmark.  Made on a large count Aida fabric with coloured threads, it can be as complex or a simple as the child chooses. Of course, if they find they love cross-stitch there are a whole host of designs they could take on - a lovely little hobby for a youngster.  £2.00 per bookmark.

Or what about a pin cushion?  Or maybe I should rename that "pin-pie" as it looks more like a pie, don't you think?  Blanket stitched felt, stuffed, then adorned with a button.  £2.00 per pincushion.

A "paperclip necklace" - a cluster of paperclips made into a necklace might be fun to do.  Each paperclip is wrapped in sticky-backed plastic then attached in a chain and cluster.  This one will keep little hands busy for a while.  £2.00 per necklace.

For the older young person I am offering a crochet class for teens - working at their own pace we will work through the popular stitches and even go on to make a Granny Square.  £10.00 which includes a two hour class, hook and yarn to take away.  Or, if you bring a friend you can have two people for £15.00.

What about these beaded bangles?  If a person can thread a bead, they came make one of these.  Colourful and great for the summer.  Just £2.00 per bangle.

Then there are Shrink Plastic Keyrings.  Come along and colour in some magic plastic stuff, which will then be popped into an oven to shrink down into a hard sturdy little charm which will then be attached to a keyring.  £1.00 per keyring.

And last, but not least, I am offering a mini rag rug workshop.   Bring some old clean clothes and make yourself a mini rug for your room.   Just £2.00 per person.  The rug will need to be finished off at home as they can take quite a while to make.

Really looking forward to these classes, I hope they will be lots of fun  :)  Maybe I will see you there?

Monday 14 July 2014

So, what work goes into a kit?

Sometimes I just feel like I have worked all day yet achieved not a lot.

There is so much work that goes into one of my kits, work that you don't necessarily think about, so I thought I would tell you   :)

First of all I have to think up the kit - I don't have to think too hard, it's more like sorting through the 1,000's of ideas in my head and choosing a single one!   Hard work that bit.

Then I need to make the idea, to check it works.  This can take ages - days, sometimes weeks, depending on how complex the piece is.  For example, the "Helena's Blanket" kit, although simple, took weeks to produce as it was so big.

When the item is done, and it works, I then need to remake it so I can take step-by-step photos for the instructions.

Next comes the photo editing.  Photo editing is a pain in the bum.  Depending on where the photos are going means I have to do different things to them.  If a photo is to be used on the front of the pack stickers of the actual printed instruction,s then I need to crop all the backgrounds out as too much coloured background uses up too much ink unnecessarily.  It can take a whole day sometimes to edit photos to my satisfaction.

Then I write the instructions, step-by-step, adding the photos as I go.

After a single print and proof read  (3 or 4 times) I do the final edits and print them out ready for the kits.  I then design the pack labels and print those out too.

Now it is time to trot off to the shed to make up the kits.

First of all I get all the components together in sectioned trays, I count beads, measure and wind thread, bag up buttons, strap needles together and fold the instructions.

The packing of the kits follows, this part needs concentration as I talk to myself quite loudly as I pack - this is to make sure I have everything in the packs.  I make up a little chant and chant away - goodness knows what the neighbours think!

That's the kits made, time to leave the shed and back to the office for more computer based work.

The next thing to do is to price the kit - I list all of the components and search out the prices on my database.  Pop them all into an XL file which gives me a price.  This can also take a little while as some of those pesky prices go back a few years and just don't want to be found.

Lastly, it is time to get the kit listed on my webpage.  I write the wording for the listing, add the photos, if there are any choice options I have to put them all in place, which can take a wee while to do. I check it and check it again, then I make it live and whoooooosh, up it goes for sale.

Now, it's time for the next idea.....