PICK OUT PIX!

We have all played games as children, and with our own children about spotting hidden “things” in puzzles, games and pictures, well this very thought came over me  today  when taking my little doglette Pix out for a walk!!

It was a lovely bright and brisk typical English Autumn morning, blue sky and not a cloud in the sky,  absolutely, without a doubt the best for going for a walk in the woods.  A few strides from my front door is the country side, big fields, wood land and country lanes… off we go!

Apart from Pix there was only me in the copes… I could hear nothing at all and for a moment,  I thought SBJ … I’d lost my dog…

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For that moment this is what I saw…

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Then, phew wee, there she is!

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Without dog…

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With dog!  There she is sniffing around in the fallen leaves…!

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Easy one for you now… without dog…!

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With dog!

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She is the cutest little thing, small and blond, has the sweetest nature and is as good as gold!

Best wishes to all this Autumn, I would love to hear from you if you are passing my blog!

Jay x

Little extra snippet for you from Snoo “….seeing some one else smile actually makes you happier!…”

CROCHET BLANKET

I almost didn’t write to you about my crochet blanket as there are already a squillion “stories” posted about  crochet blankets and crochet in general, so why would mine catch your attention above the others… It possibly won’t!!!   I had taken photos  whilst in the making, so half way to a blog anyway, I must say I have really enjoyed making it too…

I wanted a BIG crochet blanket to throw over the sofa, and maybe  throw over my lap during the cold winter evenings sitting in front of the fire … My first decision .. what colour?  ummm a little bit Christmassy, with a touch of Nordic me thinks…

Off I trot to the shops to look at wool, this is what I came up with:-

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It’s really super yarn,  PURE WOOL WORSTED from ROWAN, I loved the colours and the fact these colours are available  in such big bumper balls of 100grams in each!

My inspiration came from LITTLE WOOLIE

littlewoollie.blogspot.com/littlewoollie.blogspot.com/‎

who is the most imaginative and talented “Princess of wool and colour” out there in the big wide world of crochet… THANKS TO YOU!

My crochet skills are limited so decided to re-cap on the basic crochet in stripes techniques from a rather old and retro crochet book… and a number 3.5 crochet hook.

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Now all I need to add is time… and quite a lot of it!

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… and this is what I came up with using only three stitches and just those lovely ROWAN yarns…

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I reached a “guessed” size – throughout all my crocheting I have never measured, the original foundation chain  was “yep, thats about it”. So, I have been crocheting for ages, lots of rows until I decided it was big enough.  It is now a square,  I checked by folding corner to corner diagonally.

While I had the blanket spread out on the lounge floor I could clearly see that my edges were a bit wobbly!  As I had left quite long tails it was easy to crochet a little extra here and there, equally easy to pull back a few stitches.  I spent an evening fiddling and re-shaping until I was happy that it was more or less “squared-up”… I am pleased I took time to do this as I would have been disappointed when adding the final edge surrounds.

The surrounding colours were really governed by the wool that I had left as I  didn’t want to have to buy more wool… Gee, it’s a long way around a blanket!

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The first boarder I used up the lime green, wasn’t sure how to tackle the corner, after a couple of attempts I plumped for four stitches in one to form a slight fan shape.

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Next came the grey, again tackled the corners with a similar idea, but thought two stitches in two stitches looked best.  Had a half ball of cream too, so  sneaked a row of that in as well!

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Then finally the green grass shade.  I had bought more of this colour originally as there was very little left in the shop,  the lady who served me said that this particular colour would not be re-stocked.  I wanted a simple yet definite edge to the blanket, and this is what I came up with…  Four chains, then three double crochet into one, thought the slightly wavy edge looked quite good!

So, thats my crochet blanket story.

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Stripes for a distance

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Stripes on the diagonal

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All corners!!! (and edges)

The colour on the photo’s… yep they do differ, some are really quite bright in the value, others softer… the actual true  colour of the blanket is of the softer tones.

What do you think?  It would be good to hear from you!

Best wishes, Jay xxx

My little extra snippet for you from Snoo “… baby African elephants throw themselves headfirst into mud when they are grumpy!…”

 

 

 

 

sushi

Sushi… and Sushi

It’s one of those foods that looks so pretty, clean, precise and smart… Very pleasing to the eye.  The Japanese are clever with food like so many other great nations.  Around the world we have become so cosmapolitian with our desire to eat and admire a huge variety of delicious cuisine. We are so lucky, there is a special food for every one even if it’s not from our native land.

Sushi hits the spot for me on many counts:-

*It looks delightful, designed and carefully crafted a pleasure to look at.

*It tastes wonderfully different, and is quite unique for flavour and texture.

*Healthy little morsels, low in calories

*Made from ingredients that have little or no cooking, all natural flavours and vitamins      remain.

*Great for sharing with friends, and will often create a talking point.

*Very little preparation and hardly any washing up!

*Great for snacking or for a pack-up lunch.

*You don’t need much (in my opinion) to feel satisfied.

*Now available in most good supermarkets… Favourites are M&S and ASDA.

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This is the fish roll snack selection that I buy from M&S, I make it do for two snack lunches. Comes with a little plastic bottle of soy sauce, sachet of wasabi paste and a few flakes of fresh ginger.

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Take special note of the shrimp sushi at the bottom right of the picture… Yumm… this is one of my all time favourite fish selection from ASDA at about £3.oo great value.  Comes with a little bottle of soy sauce – (look at the next picture to see the shape, cute!) sachet’s of wasabi and fresh ginger.

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Because…. look at this!

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This beautifully crochet sushi set was given to me at Christmas from my daughter.  She bought it on line from an etsy shop… May I introduce Perrine, of MushyP, go and have a look at her shop to see all the other beautifully made goodies!  A very talented lady! She also has a blog, go to:- mushy-p.blogspot.co.uk

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Look at the workmanship in close  detail of each piece, the shrimp is perfect!

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Little glass seed beads add to the authentic look of each sushi morsel.

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I am a TOTAL fan of any one who makes some thing different and who obviously puts their heart and soul into their chosen project, even better if its a little bonkers! I love it!

Thanks for looking by, please get in touch, would be smashing to hear from you.

Jay x

My little extra snippet for you from Snoo “… no piece of paper can be folded in half more than seven times…”

CANDLES!!

Scented candles… ummm! I know some people who buy them get teased… but I do have a place for them in my life…  I  light one in the kitchen after I have cooked some thing that I don’t want the smell hanging around, especially when you go the the kitchen the next morning and you get that big whiff of fish or onions!  Know what I mean?  Also, I do like them in the winter months, the ones with a hint of forest or  warm spice. And, I must admit I do kinda like the one in the bathroom, along with bubbles and a glass of wine…

So, I bought a lovely and very expensive  one (yep, candles do seems a bit pricey don’t you think?)  Its from the MELT who produce  all sorts of different fragrances.  I chose the big chubby one called NOCTURNE.  It is absolutely devine!

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However after several sessions of it being lit… this is what happened.

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It’s such a shame that the candle looks so ugly and at some point useless as the wick has burned right down to nothing.  This has happened several times with other candles, I’m not sure what the manufactures can do…  I have seen really big wide candles with several wicks, which I assume gives a more even burn.

Had this candles been just an “okay” scent I probably wouldn’t have been so upset, so I had a little think and came up with a cunning plan!

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I chopped it up into little chunks

Saved a food tin (it was from canned tomatoes which had a very thin inner white plastic lining which is better for less contamination) washed it so it was scrupliously clean, and completely dry.   Once finished with this project, just toss the tin back into your recycling bin!

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Boil water and poured it into a small saucepan… I did think I could heat the wax straight into my saucepan, however I didn’t for several reasons.  This candle is black and I thought it might mess up my rather expensive pan (don’t have a cheap old one otherwise I may have used it!) Thought the scent may remain in the pan, and also the black wax might stain the pan… also would I want to use it for food after scented wax had been in it…?

Put the little wax chunks into the tin and place the tin in the water.  This method is the same as melting chocolate!  The wax has a low melting point so it started to soften and melt into liquid almost right away!

As the tin bobbed around a little in the water I placed my kitchen tongs over the top to keep it stable, also great for using as the tin and wax gets very hot, using them avoids possibly burning your hand.

In the mean time I had prepared little “shot” glasses.

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Bought some wax wick tapers with little coin-like stands.  I got this little pack from Hobbycraft for £1.50

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Me thinks… the taper might move as I pour in the hot wax… so I thought a tiny pip of blue tack would just hold into place ….

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… yes… it worked!

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Pressed the wicks into place at the bottom of each little glass

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Then I poured the hot wax gently into the glasses. I found that it was better to fill the glass half way, let it set then pour on more  hot wax.

Once the wax was set I did notice the wax settled around the wick so there was a little dip, easy…  just melted a little more wax and topped up the glasses.

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These new little “shot” tea lights are a perfect size and hope they will burn away completely!

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The scent in my kitchen as I was doing this little candle “make-over” was soooOOOO lovely and heady, I wish I had a “smell-o-blog” so I could share with you!

Hope this might give your scented candles a little more burning time… thanks for popping by, as always it would be smashing to hear from you…

Bye for now, Jay x

Little extra snippet for you from Snoo   “… Honey is the only food that does not spoil…”

 

RED CURRANT JELLY

 

It is that time of year again when the soft fruit is at it’s best… My two little red currant canes in the back garden have been loaded with fruit this season, so, once again I get my trusted, rather battered old preserving pan out of the larder, washed and ready for currants!

However before I go full-on into my jelly making, please let me share with you the glory of these little bright gems with these pre-batch snaps.

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As you can clearly see the sprigs are heavy with fruit…

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Ripe and juicy!

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Perfect little sprig!

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This is my huge haul exactly as I harvested them from the canes, few leaves, twigglets and a few green-unripe ones, all precious for a good blend of flavour and pectin content.

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I had a happy hour sitting on the back step, in the sunshine  picking the currants from the little stalks…

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What a lovely colourful picture!

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… and all the stalks ready for my compost bin…

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Washed and already in the pan.  I never bother to weigh the fruit at this stage if I am making jelly, as it’s the collected juice amount that matters for ratio of sugar required. I barely cover the fruit with water, bring to a simmering point, when the fruit is hot and popping, I bash the currants around to release all the juice, a wooden spoon squashing them against the side of the pan works well. This takes about 20/30 mins…

Then strain through a jelly bag or fine muslin over night …. ooooOOops, sorrree forgot to take a photo of this stage…

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Next day measure juice back into the washed up preserving pan, for each pint add one pound of sugar.  Normally I would use good old plain and simple ordinary granulated sugar, however as most of the fruit was very ripe (maybe I should have picked it early) I was concerned that I might not have a good balance of “ever-so-slightly” unripe fruit which you do need for good pectic value.  I invested in this sugar which specifically says good for currants!

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Sterilise the jars by pouring boiling water in them, then pop them on a baking tray in the oven (low heat) to dry and keep warm.  Boil up the juice/sugar for about 30 mins, test setting consistency, then pour into warm jars, seal with wax disc and cellophane while jelly is still hot…

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I wanted my finished presentation to be jolly and bright so chose this red fabric with tiny white pin dot.  Cut circles from the fabric,  make a bunch of little labels (see my past blog on how to make them if you want!) and look out my bakers/butchers twine.

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I do kinda love RED!  Popped my little stash into my mug cabinet to take this photo… I made TEN jars of jelly from my harvest this year, two jars are missing from this picture as I was sooOOoo excited I gave one to each of my neighbour’s before I realised I hadn’t finished the photo shoot!

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The jelly is rich and dark, full of flavour and because of the different sugar a firm consistency … perfect for toast or scones!

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Sweet!

Hope you enjoy having a little read of this current-currant blog, as much as I have enjoyed making, I will keep a couple of jars for those moments when you just need some thing sweet and fruity, the other jars I will give to my friends…

Jay xxx

Little extra snippet for you from Snoo   “… ants stretch when they wake up!…”

(I love the thought of these little creatures doing a big yawn, back stretch and say mornin’ to their fellow ants!)

 

CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW!

I had a CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW moment this morning!

SAM_5324May I share with you this bizarre experience with you… Let me set the scene…

It is pouring with rain, decided that it didn’t really matter about the weather I still needed to go out for fresh air and take the dog for a walk.

Ummm?  which way shall we go?  Several little walks from my house, decided on the direction so off we trot.  It’s one of our favourites, never normally see many people so expected to see no one as it was raining so hard.

In the distance I could see a dark figure standing on the over grown path, in dark coat, black boots, and I kid you not a tricorn hat!  Yep, saw it with my own eyes, oh yes I did!

As I drew near I was tempted to say some thing like “How ‘do my hearty…” but instead simply said “good morning…”

I kinda love these sort of totally unexpected little bits of life that flash by, especially so when they make you smile for the whole  duration of a rather wet and sodden dog walk!

Love Jay x

Little extra snippet for you from Snoo “… China’s Beijing Duck Restaurant can set 9000 people at one time…”

***STARS***

 

On a clear night I do look into the sky and see if I can identify constellations, but its really quite difficult if you are a novice like me, until you get the hang of it… try and block out certain stars to focus on the ones that form a recognised star constellation.  The best way I find is  to hold my Apple IPad up high, arms length, on a clear night in the garden (!) I have even been known to walk down to the playing field at the bottom on my lane… at “silly O’clock”!  There are all sorts of different site you can use to find the stars.

Not only have I found to my delight star formations in the night sky,  I have also seen the ISS (International Space Station)  moving across the sky, this is quite special to see. Go onto the site (I just tapped in ISS schedule over the where I live) and see if it’s in your evening sky, then you can time and plot a moment… some times it’s at a crazy time of the night, or early morning, but I think it’s worth setting the alarm to watch, maybe once!

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Besides the stars in the sky, there are loads of references to stars in our lives, we say the word “star ” lots in our every day conversations.  We see it  on posters, on the supermarket shelves,  they are featured in many  countries flags, we hear it on the TV and radio, read our stars in the newspaper or magazine’s, they are  in many song lyric’s (my favourite is that beautiful song STARS that  Javert sings in Les Miserables), many stories, we hear them mentioned at school, in the work place… just think about it, quite amazing how well used this little word, we all know so well.  It is used with such affection, and so often.   It’s a word that is mostly used for good special meanings,  for quality, bravery, and excellence.  Hardly ever do we hear it being used in a bad or negative way… There are a few exceptions I grant you…

** MY LIST OF “STARS” **

Lucky STAR

Chasing STARS

Future STARS

Super STAR

Film, Pop, Rock, Sports STARS

Risings STARS

Your’e a STAR

Seeing STARS

STARS in their eyes

STAR performance – STAR turn

STAR gazing

Reading your STARS

Shooting STAR

STAR dust

STAR bight

STARdom

Shinning STAR

STAR pupil/student/worker/colleague

STAR struck

STARred/STARring

Five STARS

… And then there are actual STARS…

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STAR of Bethlehem.  This picture is actually a Christmas card I looked out.  The artist Ivar Benavides is a mouth painter, what an amazing talent!

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Beautiful and colourful Quilts with STAR designs (there are lots of meanings in quilting star patterns)  This particular beauty was made by Cath of Wombats Quilts. Check her out at  wombatquilts.com

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STAR fabric

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Antique STAR jewell brooch, I bet this one sparkles, much like its value!

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The Lone Star of Texas

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The Northern Star

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STAR Clipper cruises (Highly recommended! Two ships in the fleet which are STARS… STAR FLYER, STAR CLIPPER and their big sister who is a star, however her name is ROYAL CLIPPER.

Chocolate STARS…

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I remember these little treats were a favourite of my daughter when she was a little girl.  I saw them in the local newsagents the other day so bought some – for research purposes for my blog only I might add !!

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This little guy ‘*’  is under our  noses every time we’re   on our computers!  I know some say asterick or asterix … An asterick is derived from the late latin word asteriscus,  the Ancient Greek word meaning “little star”.    It is a typographical symbol also, it is so called because it resembles a conventional image of a star (details taken from google. Howerver, I do think this little star looks a teeny bit more like a daisy!

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Christmas STAR – STAR decorations

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The movie STARDUST OH go on, you must watch it, I found it delightful, bit cheeky and really quite entertaining if you fancy a light chic flick film to make you smile!

Back to my STAR GAZING!!! A few little facts for you about our starry night!

**CASSIOPEIA**

With a group of five stars that form a “W” or “M” at different times of the night or times of the year. To find it… opposite side of the pole to the Plough.

**DRACO**

The dragon! This is a long winding constellation of stars that is difficult to recognise.  If you find the Plough, Draco’s head is at the opposite end!

**VULPECULA**

VUL – The Fox.  A small constellation which lies as part of the Milky Way.

**URSA MAJOR**

The Great Bear… Many cultures have associated this constellation with a bear, the word “ARCTIC” comes originally from the Greek word for bear.

**PEGASUS**

Although one of the stars actually forms part of Andromeda.  The Great Square of Pegasus is an easily recognised land mark in the sky, mainly because there are very few stars in this area of the sky.  During fine night skies you might be able to count 12 or 13 stars!

**CAMELOPAR DALIS**

The Giraffe… A relatively modern constellation, proposed only recently in 1613 by Petrus Plancious.

**DELPHINUS**

A small but very distinctive constellation.  It is said to represent the Dolphin that rescued the poet and musician Arion from drowing.

**LACERTA**

The Lizard… Zig zag of stars not easy to recognise because it lies in a fairly crowded area of the Milky Way.

If you can think of any other STAR references PLEAES PLEASE do leave me a comment and I will add to my list!

I have really enjoyed writing this blog, it has made me smile very much indeed!

Best wishes to all,

Jay xXx

Little extra snippet for you from Snoo… “… sound travels almost five times faster underwater that in the air …”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LONG LIVE WELLINGTON BOOTS!

Not so long ago, I guess it could have been around Christmas I bought my self a new pair of wellington boots… An essential bit of foot wear when you have a dog and it’s winter! I suppose I do wear them for a couple of hours most days so they do get worn, but I had thought I’d get at least a winter out of them.  They were “mid” priced so did expect them to last a bit longer.

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I was really upset to see  the back seam on both boots has split apart, the foot part is fine and water tight.  With down turned mouth,  (hate waste!)  I was just about to toss them in the dust bin when I thought  “wait a moment” I have an idea… bit of a light bulb moment actually!

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Let me share with you the life of a lifeless (so I thought) pair of wellies…

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Kicking them off in the garden after discovering the splits

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The splits

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Getting out my scissors and cutting… and shaping…

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Scrubbing and pulling out the old baggy  inner…

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New pair of inner socks

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Voila’!

They are perfect for keeping by the back door and slipping my feet in when I either nip to the dust bin, or popping the washing on the line when the lawn is wet, and taking the dog for a walk in the very muddy park. Of course, going for a paddle in the river or sea might not be great with these guys on your feet as they would soon fill up over the bulkheads!

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I  have no particular rush to go buy a new pair of wellies now, I will invest in a tall pair soon  for those occasions  when “me and the doggie”  do want to splash through deep water, would be such a shame to miss out on those walks just because I only have a pair of “short” wellies!!

Bye for now, please send me a comment, especially if you feel like telling me I am a little bonkers!

Jay xxx

Little extra snippet for you from Snoo “…seeing somebody smile actually makes you happier…”

 

 

 

BLOCK, SPOT AND PIC…

Following on from my blog titled “Spots can be beautiful” I would like to share with you another project using the spot applique technique.  I didn’t think to take photo’s as I was making this one, however the procedure is almost exactly the same as “Spot can be beautiful” with the edition of a colourful block design in the centre.

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This fabric was fab to work with as it was a woven striped texture which was super for getting a nice easy curve on those spots!

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You can just about see the weeny stitches around each spot.  I also had a reel of fancy bright rainbow varigated thread which I decided to use for the quilting.  The stitching on the beige surround I did using  my sewing machine, normal straight stitch, and just wiggled the piece as I stitched to gain a wavy line effect. Really easy to do.

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The quilting on the block section I did by hand using the same colourful thread.  With a chalk pencil I drew circles varying in size all over, then simple stitched over the lines.  Brushed off the chalk makings once all stitching complete.

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I had a piece of turquoise left, and it was a perfect size for the backing.

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The binding was made by using up all the little left over pieces.  Easy to sew together, then add to the edge bringing the colour together for the whole quilt.

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I look this photo standing on a chair in my kitchen… just putting the chair back, and look who sneaked in to see what I was doing…

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This is “Pic” my cute fluffy Yorkie-Russell, she an  absolute delightful little thing even if she is a bit naughty some times,  sneaking onto my quilt, and flopping down for a little rest!  This quilt  is normally used as a topper for the dining room table.  Couldn’t resist taking this photo!

Some of my photo’s look really dull, some really bright, I guess that is just one of those things, I am an absolute amateur with regards to photography, little hit and miss.  The actual colour of the quilt is more like the bright snaps, if you are interested.

I have enjoyed showing you these photo’s, especially the doggie one!  Would love to hear from you.

Jay x

Little extra snippet for you from Snoo “… cows have best friends within their herds…”

SPOTS CAN BE BEAUTIFUL!

I am quite a fan of spots, dots… any thing with a  pin dot on or spotty bit of china, to spotty fabric   I   L-O-V-E   IT   ALL

So decided to use up my bits of  ROWAN FABRIC to make a  JOLLY SPOTTY wall hanging for my hall.  This is what I came up with with another favourite of mine…. appliqué!

I started off with collecting all the bits and bobs of really quite small little snippets of left over fabric. Cutting it into manageable squares approx.  4″ x 4″

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I like a clean edge to my appliqué shapes and I find the best way to achieve this is to use an iron-on VILENE product… these are the weights that work well with craft, patchwork and quilting 100% cotton fabric.

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I decided on a circle approx. 2   1/2″ to 3″ across the diameter, I actually hunted around the house to find some thing to draw around, actually my plastic pot of pins was the perfect size!   Draw out a bunch of circles onto the “fabric” side of the VILENE.  You can tell the difference between sides on close inspection , the slightly “shiny” side is the glue which you want to keep an eye on as you do not want this to stick on your iron.  The “matt” side I think of as the fabric side.  Cut out the circles.

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Remind your self which side of the VILENE is which, then place the “shiny-glue” on the WONGE side of the fabric and gently iron on low heat so the VILENE circle and fabric is bonded together.

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Cut around each circle approx 1/2 inch larger than the VILENE circle.

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Make as many or as few as you wish…. I got a bit carried away and used up all my little ROWAN scraps!

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Thread a needle with a strong thread (or double up) make  tiny running stitches the complete way around the circle approx.  1/4 inch from the fabric edge, as a guide roughly between the edge of the fabric and the vilene.

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Gently gather the thread so the vilene circle “takes shape” … you may have to tease the fabric/stitches a little to get a good circle look.  Much depends on the fabric chosen, most P&Q fabric works very well, the soft slightly woven fabric is great as it can almost be moulded.  I find stiff fabric or fabric with a close tight weave is difficult to “curve” batik is one I find difficult and try to avoid using with this style of applique.

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Secure with a small stitch.

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Once you have a little stash done, you might wish to lightly press them, I find finger pressing is more than adequate.

Decide on a backing fabric.  Maybe choose some thing without too much pattern other wise you may find the whole piece looks too busy.  Think where you might wish to hang the piece once finished may help your colour choice too!

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I went really neutral (some may say boring!)

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Arrange your spots, pin and tack into place.

With a shortish length of thread just nip the edge of the circle with  tiny slip stitch so you can’t even see it, continue around the whole circle. Repeat with all the other circles.

Once top is complete cut a piece of wadding (Americans call it batting) and backing fabric slightly larger than the piece.  Make a sandwich …. TOP appliqued piece, MIDDLE wadding and BACK (right side facing out) backing.

Quilt as much or as little as you want either by machine or by hand.  I chose by hand as the piece was quite small and could be handled easily. Bigger projects might be better to tackle using a sewing machine.  Or, you could always use a quilting service, there are plenty if you research.  If you find one who has a Gammel Long Armed Quilting machine thats a sign they are  serious about their craft.

Trim off the excess.

Finish the quilt by binding.  I like to double bind.  Cut a strip of fabric long enough to go around all four sides of your quilt.  You most likely have to join.  I find the best method to reduce bulk is to cut/stitch on the cross. Or, as I have done, four separate lengths. As this project is small and going to be hanging on the wall I decided not to cut the binding on the bias, as quite often is recommended.  Several reason why I didn’t.  Using up fabric I had. Knowing the quilt is going to remain still and in position on the wall rather than being “used” on the bed so no movement is involved.  And, I’m breaking the rules!

Stitch on the right side, fold over the edge and catch with tiny slip stitches.

Add a “sleeve” on the back of the quilt.  Easy to make, basically a tube wide enough to thread a length of dowel through.

Et voila!

Jay x

Little extra snippet for you from Snoo   “…there isn’t a word that rhymes with purple…”

OOOPs… Sorry, Just realised I’ve not added all the photo’s for this blog… will add them later, please pop back to have a look at the finished project…