A wobble

Hi all,

Hopefully you are all healthy, happy and enjoying the beautiful (yet wet) change of seasons.

For the last few weeks I’ve felt as though I’m riding the worlds biggest roller coaster with ups and downs and twists and turns a plenty.

Since I began crafting at the back-end of last year, I have discovered, and fallen in love with many beautiful blogs.  On an evening I love to curl up in my favourite chair by the window with a cup of tea and the iPad, soaking up all those crafty tips, tutorials and wonderful stories and photographs.

However, since starting my blog I browse very differently.  I’m a perfectionist and the fear of ‘doing it wrong’ can sometimes be suffocating.  I know I’m in the early stages and I know that I will gradually find my voice and feet.  But right now, I feel as though I’m at the top of that first drop and I’m not sure my safety belt is fastened correctly!

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As well as blog procrastination I’m wading through my course.  At the moment the bottom of the academic lake is swampy and dense.  Some days I’m on land – I write with confidence and un-abandoned passion, other days I’m back in that swamp, dragging my feet through poetic mud.

Poetry – It is taking its toll and panic is beginning to set in!  Assignment one deadline – 7th November! Eeeeek!

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The craft fair countdown has also started with the 2nd November looming ever closer.  Don’t get me wrong – I am excited, but with a tinge of worry.  I crochet and stitch very slowly (unlike this super talented lady!)  So far I have very little to display.  I just have to hope that Jenny and Natalie bring plenty of handmade goodies along.

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Over the last few weeks my life has been filled with coasters, pin cushions, collars and baskets.  I’m itching to do more, the creative side of my brain is fit to burst.  Every room in our home seems to have piles of craft books and magazines, scrap paper keeping pages with patterns and ideas ready for another day.

I keep telling myself that everyone venturing into new territory gets overwhelmed and fuzzy-headed in the beginning…

Next week we are treating ourselves to a seaside break.  I’m hoping sea air and some different scenery will bring me back to my old self and I will come home with a tea cup brimming with optimism and steely determination.

Thanks for taking the time to drop by,

Sarah x

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If I may quote …

If I may quote Billy Elliot…

“Tutor 1: What does it feel like when you’re dancing?”
“Billy: Don’t know. Sorta feels good. Sorta stiff and that, but once I get going… then I like, forget everything. And… sorta disappear. Sorta disappear. Like I feel a change in my whole body. And I’ve got this fire in my body. I’m just there. Flyin’ like a bird. Like electricity. Yeah, like electricity.”

(Written by Lee Hall. Quote taken from IMDb)

These words encapsulate exactly how I feel when I write.  To begin with I’m ‘sorta stiff’.  It takes me time to get into the rhythm of the words and the patter of character life, but when I do, it’s like running free.  Its my time to be 100% me, no holds, no pleasing, no ego.  Just words.

This is the reason I started my journey on a Creative Writing Course.  For too long I prioritised the wrong things, things that didn’t make me smile.  Studying changed that, it makes me write.

I feel lucky to have found something which makes me feel this way.  Everyone should get a chance to find the thing that makes their heart sing and their jigsaw complete.

I wonder, have you found your electricity?

Thanks for dropping by.

Sarah x

Handmade = Personal

Happy Friday everyone 🙂

I need to keep this brief – I shouldn’t even be here.  Serious slip of discipline.  I should be writing poetry!

One of the absolute joys of handmade pieces is that when they are given as a gift, they have a special personal touch.  Every stitch, every wrap of the yarn is done with love and care, something which sadly, is missing from many shop sold items.

It was my friend’s birthday yesterday.  Last weekend I decided I wanted to make her something unique, just for her.  As she is a busy Mum I thought a bag would be a cute yet practical idea.

I turned to Cath Kidson, Sew and traced the pattern for the large tote bag.

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Now incase you are looking at the book and thinking I’m a pattern piece short, I omitted the front pocket from my bag as I didn’t want to break up the pattern on the fabric.

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She LOVES owls so this beautiful linen was perfect.  I went with a plain black lining as I didn’t want a busy fabric inside to detract from the super funky owls on the outside.

I don’t feel I need to go into too much detail with regards to the making of the bag as the instructions in the book are nice and easy to follow, with great written and picture tutorials.  But I do have a couple of handy tips…

A Cool Little Helper

If like me, you would love an overlocker but simply do not have the space, you should look into purchasing an overedge foot.   Image

Fray prevention becomes as simple as butting your fabric up to the foot guide and taking a nice steady stitch to the end of your fabric.  No need for any tricky ‘zigzag as close to the edge as you dare then trim the excess without cutting the stitches’ with this little gem.

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A fray-free edge in minutes.

A Handy Strengthener

The pattern comes with an inside pocket.  The step I am about to show you isn’t included in the instructions but is something I was taught at college.  I think it’s handy, so I thought I would share…

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As per the pattern, I separated my pocket in two.  If you place a ‘V’ of stitches on the dividing line (yes the ‘V’ was supposed to hit the middle line perfectly, I’m a beginner, be nice!) It gives the seam a little more strength against all that hand in and out action that these pockets endure.

Ta-Dah

So, here it is, one finished tote.

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One cute owl tote finished in just one afternoon…

But hey!  Wait a minute… No handmade piece can possibly be complete without a little crochet addition.  So I headed to the internet and found this delightful pattern by Hopscotch Lane. Image

One hour and two pompoms later and we have ourselves a charm.

Bag complete!

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Time for a well deserved cuppa

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Should you have any questions about the pattern or construction of the bag then please feel free to comment below or email me and I will do my best to help.

Have a lovely weekend one and all.

Sarah x

A Beautiful Crochet Collar

Hi all,

Today I thought I would share a little project with you.  Issue 8 of Simply Crochet featured a pattern written by the incredibly talented Emma Escott from the beautiful Lulu Loves blog.    At the time of receiving the magazine my crochet confidence was more than a little low, I drooled over the patterns but never attempted them.  Each month the magazine was avidly read from front to back then simply added to the ever-growing pile on my sewing table.

Then at the beginning of last month Jenny from Pompom in the Attic asked if I would help out with a few crochet items for a craft fair they are doing in November in Leeds.  With Christmas sneaking up on us at an alarming rate, the collar pattern immediately sprang to mind as something that would be a nice addition to any Christmas Party LBD.  So last week, while I was feeling brave, I went online to Black Sheep Wools (I adore this store) and ordered myself some super soft Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo Yarn in cream, flip flop and putty.

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And then, this weekend I bit the bullet and gave the pattern a go…

Oooh what a delight it was, why I was ever scared of it is beyond me.

The pattern is super easy to follow and uses mainly treble stitches (that’s double to US peeps) with just one row of half treble (US half double) to begin with.  Now, I do everything incredibly slowly but I managed to complete one collar in around 2 hours.

The instructions say to use a 4mm hook (G/6) which will give you a 19.5″ neckline measurement.  However, I crochet quite tightly and found that the first collar was a little small on this hook (14″ neckline measurement) so I went up to a 5mm (H/8) and the collar fitted perfectly.

And here we are, my very first collar…

(I will apologise now for some of the images being a little dark, as I’ve mentioned before, we are in the throws of extending and so have light-stealing clutter EVERYWHERE!)

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I chose to keep the colour of the yarn the same for my first attempt, the pattern does change for the final row.  However, I have done a colour change since and it is incredibly easy to do.

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I wish there was such thing as ‘touch-photography’ so you could feel how divinely soft this yarn is.

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These pictures are of the very first collar I made.  The colour used is putty.

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This is a WIP shot of the second collar I made.  Here I used the bigger 5mm hook and extra stitches.  The yarn used is cream

I learnt something with this beautiful pattern – That I shouldn’t be scared of trying new things, because sometimes we know more than we give ourselves credit for.

Thanks for dropping by,

Sarah and May

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Building, making and crafty blog-loving

We are in the process of extending our home.  The plans have been passed and the hunt for the ‘perfect builder’ is on.  It was these plans that originally got me curious about sewing and crochet.  I wanted (and still do want) to add tiny touches of handmade goodness to each room in our home.  I’m talking a cushion here, a blind there, a blanket on here, few coasters there…

When I began my handmade adventure last November I had no clue that it was going to spark such a passionate love affair with wool and fabric.

Now, although I attended college to learn some of my sewing and crochet skills, other techniques and projects have blossomed from reading some amazing blogs written by breathtakingly talented people from all around the world.

Here are just a few of my favourites which are more than worthy of half an hour your time.  So, grab a cuppa, crack open the biscuits and click on a link or two…

http://pompomintheattic.blogspot.co.uk/ – A charming and eclectic mix of craft and inspiration

http://flossieteacakes.blogspot.co.uk/ – Flossie is the perfect stop point for all things sewing and quilting.  Her work is not only beautiful but also incredibly inspiring.

http://www.attic24.typepad.com/ – Lucy is, without a shadow of a doubt the queen of crochet.  Her blog is fully of very generous tutorials and infamous ‘Ta-Dah’ moments.

http://emmallamb.blogspot.co.uk/ – Emma’s blog is packed full of inspiration and crocheted goodness.

http://www.tillyandthebuttons.com/ – Tilly shot to fame when she appeared on ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ however she hasn’t let fame go to her head and still keeps us mere mortals in dressmaking tutorial heaven.

http://patchworkchickens.blogspot.co.uk/ –  A beautiful blog about sewing and life in the Yorkshire Dales.

http://onesheepishgirl.blogspot.co.uk/ – A cute peek into the life of a knitter

http://www.afashionablestitch.com/ – Superb sew-alongs and tutorials

These are just a handful of the blogs I love.  I’m hoping to, eventually, create a page listing them all.  In the mean time, if you have any favourite blogs you think I should know about then PLEASE do not keep them a secret – You know me, any excuse for a tea break…

Have a lovely weekend,

Sarah and May

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The ode beckons…

I must begin with a thank you.  A thank you to all the tea-lovers out there who dropped by on my first post.  Time is precious, I need you to know that it means a lot to me that you chose to use some of your diminishing life minutes to read and comment on my words of wisdom.  For some reason, I didn’t actually believe anyone would be interested… However, it seems you are.  Therefore I now feel under pressure to entertain.

So, lets pour the tea, choose a cake and begin with… Poetry!

The Creative Writing Course which I recently enrolled on begins with a year of ‘Writing Skills’.  A toe-dip into different aspects of  writing, beginning with poetry.  Now, I began this course with very few academic qualifications (as you can probably tell from my poor grammar and limited vocabulary).  GCSE English Language resulted in a C and I haven’t done any other writing-based studying since.  However, I have such a burning desire to write I just had to do something.  I wanted a focus for the future, an aim, an excuse to find time to put pen to paper every single day.  The OCA Creative Writing Course is it.

 

Poetry isn’t something that I’ve ever taken the time to read.  My daughter is a student at a weekend drama school and she has performed poetry for exam pieces in the past. I listened and sometimes I shed a tear, but on reflection, I know that these tears were more for the pride in seeing her perform than for the words themselves.  I never really paid full attention to the ti-tum of the rhythm or language of the verse.  Right now, I’m seriously regretting that.

My course comes with a reading list.  From the poetry section I chose to read ‘The Ode Less Travelled, by Stephen Fry.’  I picked this particular book as I love and respect Mr Fry as a comedian, actor and author.  I love his wonderfully visible intelligence, his quick wit and most of all, his seemingly-endless vocabulary.  I soak up his words of wisdom, dictionary clutched in one hand, note book and pen in the other.  Ready to scribble, research and expand my hungry mind.

(Focus Sarah, back to poetry…)

Basically, I’m finding it hard work.  It begins with the rules of poetry, I thought creativity was supposed to be free!  No-one mentioned any rules to me!  Then there are the principles, words which I cannot even pronounce never mind understand.

For all those out there who read and write poetry, will this get any easier?

Am I ever going to be able to complete Exercise 1?

Right now I feel like Alice when she fell into that rabbit hole.  I feel like I’m falling in the darkness.  I still have a whole new world to cross before I even glimpse the tea table with its quirky attendees and crazy hat-wearing host.

Why hello cyberspace…

Hmmm – this feels strange…  I’m no doubt talking to myself right now as no-one except me knows I’m here…

Anyway…  After many months of debating, procrastinating and sitting for too many hours at my desk with my fingers hovering over the keyboard like reluctant birds of prey,  I’ve done it.  Blog established. 

I’m hoping this is going to turn out to be a kind of cyber-tea party.  Where people can get together and chat about all things creative.  I named the blog after my Grandma – May.  She passed away a few years ago now but that doesn’t mean I don’t still miss her very much.  She wasn’t into crochet, sewing, knitting or writing but she did love a good cup of English tea and a nice slice of cake, over which we used to sit and put the world to rights.

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May and I

Over the past 11 months I’ve been on a mind-blowing learning curve in sewing and crochet and I have to say, there are some amazing blogs out there, many who have taught me so much more than any college classroom or book has managed.  The beginning of this month I decided I needed a new quest and so in a moment of madness I enrolled with the OCA on a course in Creative Writing, which may, or may not result in me working towards my degree (fingers crossed on that one).  To be honest, I have lots of things in the pipeline, changes are afoot, these are exciting times and do you know what?  It would be really great if you could come along for the ride…

Bye for now,

Sarah (and of course May)