Tuesday 30 December 2014

FREE beginners Patchwork class, in Carlisle

Yep, you read the title correctly - FREE beginners patchwork class.

Ahh, but there is a little catch......... read on to find out.

Once upon a time, a good few years ago, I was a parent of three young children.  Money was tight, times were hard, I couldn't afford to buy nice things and go places - there was just enough money to put food on the table and gas in the meter to cook the food with.   But I don't need violins or sympathy as I certainly was not alone way back then.

But even now, 20 years later, folk are still struggling in the same way.  People having to go to food banks to make sure their kids are fed.  It must be demoralising and embarrassing.

I've done a little, I have donated to food banks, popped pennies in charity tins, blah blah blah....  It helps to feed, but what about the soul?   What about lifting peoples spirits so that they feel better about themselves or their situation.  What about teaching them a hobby, something that they can do to take their minds of things once the nippers are in bed, or even a skill they could use to make and sell items to better their situation?

So that is what I have decided to do.

In February I am going to open up one of my more popular classes for FREE.  The class is beginners patchwork.

The reason I picked this class is because you don't need to buy tools or specialist equipment and materials.  You can use the skills to up-cycle, renew old clothing and make gorgeous new items out of donated fabrics.

The art of patchwork can be used to make cushions, blankets, appliqué and soft toys, which, of course, can then be sold, gifted or kept.

So, the rules.   I am going to offer TWELVE places, totally free of any charge.

This is quite a difficult one to regulate I guess, as I am certainly not going to be checking people's bank statements to see if they should be attending or not, so what I really want you to do is to check your own conscience.

If you can afford false nails, a bottle of wine in front of Sky TV, or the odd take-away pizza, then this freebie class is not for you.   If, however, you have no spare money left at the end of the day/week/month.  If you go without so that your kid's can have, then this IS on offer to you.

I do not need reasons, nor will I ask for any, if you are happy with your application, then I am happy to consider you.

I can only take 12 people, if there are more than 12 applications then it will go into a Random Name Generator so everyone gets an equal, fair, chance.  You will be notified either way by email.

The class will be held on Tuesday 10th February, from 10.30am-12.30pm, in Hobbycraft, Carlisle.  Junction 44 of the M6.  (This is a class held by myself, using Hobbycraft as a workshop space, it is not run or endorsed by Hobbycraft)
Unfortunately there is no provision for child-care, but I have put it on during school hours so hopefully it will be easy for attendees to arrange a babysitter if necessary.

The workshop will included all materials, and you will get a little pack to take away with you so you can continue at home.   All you need to bring is yourself  (and specs, if you wear them).

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not take a place if you are not attending, someone else can use that place.

So, how do you apply, I hear you ask?   Simply send me an email at soozintheshed@gmail.com with your name and a reason why you fancy learning patchwork, I will email you straight back to let you know I have received your request and when the names will be announced.  Of course, you can always nominate someone you think might benefit from this class if you wish.

No names will be mentioned on here or any social networking site.  All correspondence will be made directly.  Everybody who attends should be all in the same boat, so it is a good opportunity to meet people in similar situations too   :)

Good luck with your application.

Sunday 28 December 2014

A Christmas rant

What is is about Christmas that brings the bad out in people?

Is it stress of spending too much, panic about not getting the correct gift, or is is catchy from other stress heads?  People can be rude, impatient and just down-right horrid at this time of year.

Do you remember, way back, when Christmas Day carried on into Boxing Day?   Two whole days when the family sat in one room, eating rubbish, watching rubbish, and talking rubbish.   Some folk had a nice walk on Boxing Day to blow away those Christmas cobwebs, some folk made left-over lunches out of turkey, some folk went out with their kid's to play with their new bikes/footballs/roller skates (delete as necessary).

But now?  Now the Christmas festivities are over as soon as we hit the hay on Christmas night.  Boxing Day is for the sales, for putting all the pressies away, for making the living room look like Christmas had just not happened.

Lots of people have to work, granted.  We need our emergency services, fire, police and paramedics, not to mention those who have to work in utilities.  BUT, do we need to open shops on Boxing Day?  Do we need hospitality staff to serve us dinner on Christmas Day?  Do we NEED it?

No, we do not.

Imagine if we stopped and thought for a while.  Let's cook our own Christmas dinner  (it's really not that difficult, and if you simply cannot cook, go buy it all ready to bung in the oven from Iceland!) and save the poor waiting staff, bar staff and kitchen staff all having to give up spending Christmas Day with their families to wait on our lazy butts.  I get that there is no mess to clean up if you go out (there is, someone else does it)  but if you delegate jobs it can be an easier task all round.

We don't NEED corner shops to be open because we have forgotten baby milk/tin of peas/toilet roll.  Preparation is the key, and I am sure if we tried really hard we could write a list and make sure we had all the essentials in ready for those TWO days the shops would be closed.

As for the Boxing Day Sales, they astound me.   I have had people sympathising with me for "having to work Boxing Day" whilst standing in the shop with a basket of shopping.   Yeah, I have to work it because folk like you want to shop!

What happened was that once upon a time some silly bloke, who had a shop, got himself all concerned about people spending their Christmas pennies in other shops, so to try and beat this he opened on Boxing Day when all the other shop keepers were sitting watching films and eating mince pies.   All the bored folk went to his shop and spent their pennies on his stuff.  The other shop keepers were most unhappy, so the next year they all decided to open too and the money was shared equally.  What they haven't quite worked out yet is if they have a pact all to stay shut on boxing Day, the pennies will still be there on the 27th for folk to spend in their shops  ;)  Plus the staff, managers, delivery drivers, cleaners etc... etc....  will all get a nice extra day off too!  It is a bank holiday after all.

So what would be really really great, is that next year we all boycott the Boxing Day sales, we all refuse to go out for dinner on Christmas Day and we all stay at home for two whole days and enjoy our families company.

Whose with me?

Saturday 27 December 2014

A lovely Christmas 2014

Did you all have a lovely Christmas?

I did.  I got some lovely pressies too.  A new iPhone off the Hubster. (I am so spoilt). along with some wine (red), sun-dried tomatoes and walnut whips  (he knows me so well!)

I got two beautiful charms for my Nomination bracelet from Son & DIL #1.

A gorgeous framed photo of my beautiful Granddaughter from Son & DIL #2

And a wonderful "night in" hamper from my Daughter & DIL, consisting of a Wentworth DVD accompanied by wine, popcorn, sweeties and loads more - enough for a week I would think!

Of course I got loads of other things too, way too many to mention, clothes, books, wine, chocolate, smellies and a craft trolley too!

But all too soon Christmas is over and we are starting to think about the New Year.

What will 2015 bring, I wonder.

Friday 26 December 2014

Learn to Crochet - January 2015 - Hobbycraft, Carlisle.

I am holding a "Learn To Crochet" course this January in Hobbycraft, Carlisle.

It will be held over three weeks, (three x 2 hour classes) and will cover all the basics - chain, double, treble, granny squares and understanding a pattern.

I feel it is always easier to learn when you can see something done and copy, also the opportunity to ask questions can be invaluable.

So, why not treat yourself and come along.  There are only a few spaces left at the time of posting this, so you have to be quick  :)

Deposits are required, sadly because some folk book the spaces, fail to attend and someone else who was waiting misses out.  :(

The times and dates are:

  • Thursday 15th January 2015 - 5.30pm-7.30pm
  • Thursday 22nd January 2015 - 5.30pm-7.30pm
  • Thursday 29th January 2015 - 5.30pm-7.30pm.
The price is £25.00 for this course, for all three weeks.  It includes a different sized hook to take away with you each week and some yarn to practise with.

You can pay your deposit by popping into Hobbycraft in Carlisle and paying, in cash, at the till point (it doesn't go through their till system so you cannot use a card I am afraid)  Or, alternatively you can pay online using Paypal, or a card  (you don't need a Paypal account) if you click HERE.

It would be nice to meet you if you decide to come along and join us  :)

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Asparagus & Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche

I can't really share a lot of crafty stuff at the moment as a lot of the things I have made in the last few weeks have been for Christmas gifts.

So, instead, have an easy peasy quiche recipe.   

In my world I am quite well known for my quiches - amongst my kids anyway. I can get walls stripped, sheds painted, patios laid, and all manner of odd jobs in a trade for a "Mama Sooz Quiche"   :)

I am almost scared to share it  ;)  But honestly, if you have never made quiche before and think it is too daunting, try this.  It's fail safe.

First of all line your tin with pastry - homemade, shop bought, whatever suits.   Trim it or if you have a pastry crust lover in the family, leave it rustic.

I don't bother to pre-bake the pastry, I just put a layer of grated cheese on the pastry to stop it going soggy when the egg is added.  

So, put a layer of grated cheese on   :)

Time to add your filling.   The quiche is in the over about 40-45 mins, so whatever cooks in that time can go in raw.   Most veggies go in raw, but if I make meat based ones for my carnivores, I do used cooked meat.

This one was asparagus and sun-dried tomato, along with a smoked ham for Hubster.

Chop your filling up and chuck it in.

Next crack some eggs into a bowl, no measurements, try 4 eggs to start, you can easily add more if you need to.   Add a splash of milk, or cream, loads of black pepper, a bit of salt and some dried herbs.   Beat.

Pour the mixture on until it covers the filling and comes to the top of the pastry.

Bake at gas 5 for 40-50 minutes, or until the middle stops wobbling.  No one likes a snotty quiche, so make sure it's firm to the touch.

Serve on it's own, with salad, with boiled spuds, or with a large Merlot  ;)

Monday 22 December 2014

Lining those crochet / knitted stockings

Do you remember the pink stocking (below) I made a few weeks ago?  If not you can find it HERE.  I have since made a smaller one in Christmassy colours.  It is smaller as I only did three rounds in each Granny Square, rather than the four I did with the pink one.

Well, there is always a slight issue with knitting stuff - bags mainly, but also stockings - in that.....
  1. The wool stretches and gets baggy with weight.
  2. Things poke through it.

So I decided to line them.  I took a spare pillowcase.... (sometimes using cheap pillow cases is better value than buying fabric, keep an eye out for them in supermarkets)

.... and cut around them leaving a larger bit at the top which I would trim down later.  Better to have some to trim than cut them too short.  I had two pieces as it was a pillowcase, if just using fabric, fold it in half before you cut.

Pin the two pieces together  with the top folded down so it is the same size as the stocking, and run a stitch around them with a sewing machine.  You can do them by hand of course, but it will take a lot longer  :)

Now pop it into your stocking, seam side out, so there is not an ugly seam inside.

Pin it in place using quite a few pins so it doesn't pucker, then with tiny stitches, hand sew the top to the top, all the way around.

Voilà!  Perfectly lined stockings.  How easy was that?

Ready for the big jolly man in the red suit to come calling now  ;)   And anything skinny will stay safely inside and not fall out through the gaps.

Saturday 20 December 2014

"Hope" - painted and blinged

Following on from my painted baubles post a few days ago........ a while before getting the baubles, I bought this from a Craft Fair.

It is about 8" long, so quite a decent size.

So it came just raw, cut playwood.

Then started to bling!   At the time the self-adhesive gemstones were on 3 for 2 at Hobbycraft, so I bought a few different packs.

 I blinged, and blinged and blinged.  Until all the space was used up  :)

Now all that is left to do is to add some double sided sticky pads to the back so it can be stuck on her bedroom door.

Pink and blingy, just perfect for a Princess  ;)

Thursday 18 December 2014

A guest slot on BBC Radio Cumbria

This morning was invited to do a guest slot on BBC Radio Cumbria to talk about wrapping Christmas Gifts.

It was loads of fun, even though I still have a really croaky voice after have a nasty winter virus.

If you click on the link below, press the 'play' button and scroll forward to around 38 minutes in.


These are the wrapped gifts we discussed on air.   
The bottle of wine wrapped in fabulously fluffy socks.

The children's handkerchief wrapping a beaded bangle.

And the chocolate bar, sewn into brown paper.

I then went off to the Radio gallery to wrap the Golfing Umbrella and Potted Plant that you heard mention on the podcast.

At 01.08 I was back on air with my wrapped gifts.

At 01.32 you can hear how I got on with wrapping up the producer Tom - yep, I wrapped a bloke!

You can view the video HERE if you like :)

I just thank goodness I was not presented with a bicycle to wrap!!

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Crochet Christmas Decorations

At "Crochet & Craic", the bi-weekly crochet group I run at Hobbycraft in Carlisle, we have a monthly theme - all entries get entered into a draw to win a little prize.

This months theme was 'something to hang on a Christmas Tree', and these were the fabulous entries....

Let's have a look up close shall we?

First there is Nya's owl, gripping tightly onto a candy cane - so much fun!!

Then Karen made one of my Christmas Pudding baubles from a kit she purchased.

Next came Sandra's hangings - a cracker, and a sweetie.

Liz made a flat, glittery white bell.

And Vera made a 3D bell.

Pat made a Candy Cane to hang on her tree.

And last but not least were these lovely, almost Nordic like, decorations from Louise.

All names were entered in the draw and Louise won a Lindt chocolate bear for her efforts.

Well done all who entered, looking forward to seeing what you make next year.

Crochet & Craic is back on the 5th January, 5.30-7.30pm.  This year we will be having a monthly project, you can join in if you like, or just do your own thing.   January's project will be a crocheted and lined bag.

Feel free to pop along, no need to book.

Monday 15 December 2014

Cute crochet Christmas baubles

I've been having a bit of hooky fun with a bag of polystyrene balls and a box of mixed yarn this week.   My theme was Christmas, as you might work out from the photos.

First of all I did a Christmas pudding.

Followed by a rocking robin, that came bob, bob, bobbing....

Then a snowman, who I have named Chilly Billy.  I am particularly pleased with his nose, don't know why, it just amuses me somewhat.

What next?   Santa?

These are now available as kits,  You can find them HERE.