Monday, 23 September 2019

Waldorf Doll making

Just over a week ago, I attended a weekend Waldorf Doll Making workshop in Hereford! It was run and hosted by the very talented Ildiko of Waldorf Doll Shop. It was a very intensive 2 days ………….. and with ‘homework’ to be done on the Saturday evening too! That was to start crocheting the wig cap. Ildiko had us working hard, because there’s a lot to do to complete a doll in a weekend – she’s a very good and thorough teacher; and the ‘proof of the pudding’ is in the dolls we produced. And that didn’t include making the clothes either – they were already made for us. During the weekend, Ildiko also fed and watered us with plenty of delicious homemade food, biscuits and refreshments.

I’ve had a go at making a couple of Waldorf dolls over the last year, but with little success. It’s the head and face that’s the key – get that wrong and you’ll have a weird looking doll, so that’s what the majority of the workshop concentrates on. My interest in these dolls has been growing over the last couple of years – and at the same time, my interest in the teddy bears has been diminishing. The elephant I showed in the last post was the first bear I’d made in over 12 months and I didn’t particularly enjoy making it, so I see myself going down the Waldorf Doll route from now on so long as I can repeat the technique next time. I like that they’re made totally organically of all natural products, which is part of the Steiner principals. I also approve of the fact they are likely to be played with by children, which is why they are made so well. There are collectors out there too, but they are really designed to be played with.

Anyway, the little lady in green is the one I made - note, every bit is handmade! There were five of us making dolls and the next picture shows all the dolls together made by Sue, Alice, Manuela, Siobhan and me.

Now I don’t wish to offend anyone, but I just have to show you her cute little bum :0) 

If you're not familiar with Waldorf dolls, their origins are in the Steiner education system, although the original doll was of a much simpler design.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

A bit of this & that!!

Well it’s again been a while since I last posted – not intentional; however, I’ve had stuff going on and I suppose lost my sewing mojo to some degree. I moved house mid-May. What I’ve actually done is to move back home, having temporarily moved in and lodged with my sister-in-law for about 18 months – I rented out my house to tenants. It was a great opportunity for me to reduce my mortgage a bit, which is in preparation for me retiring next May when I’ll be 60-years old (cannot wait!!).

In moving back home, I decided it was a good time to have some decorating done, which I did before moving back. I’ve had all of the upstairs and the staircase redecorated and new carpet laid, new wardrobes from Ikea, new light fittings and I’m still waiting on a bespoke handmade chest of drawers, which I designed. So, a fair bit of my time was spent organising all of that. Plus also re-packing my belongings, removals, ending the tenancy and everything that goes with that etc. etc.

So to start with, I made a bag for my nephew’s wife (Hafsa). They had been to Turkey on holiday, and Hafsa had bought back a print of lovely colourful doors. As soon as I looked at the picture, I saw ‘free-motion applique’ which had to be done, and as everyone can use another tote bag, that’s what I decided to do. I used faux leather for the base. Here are the framed print and the bag:

Next, and for whatever reason, I decided to make a ‘Tilda’ duck with some of my Tilda stash – I then thought I might as well make two!!

I’m fairly sure I’m moving away from the Artist Teddy Bears in favour of the Waldorf Dolls I’ve been loving more and more over the last couple of years or so. I have LOADS yet to learn about them, but here is my third attempt.

It’s better than the first two, but I’m FAR from happy with the face – getting it right is about the eye/mouth/chin area, which I’ve not done well; however, it is the face that’s the most difficult to get right. Still, in about 3 – 4 weeks, I shall be attending my first Waldorf Doll Workshop, which will hopefully guide me in the process of the face and hair making. I also made the dress and knitted the cardigan that she’s wearing, together a spare red & white dress.

So then (4 weeks ago) I decided to break my ankle!!!!!!!!!!!! Now if you’d read my last blog post, you may recall I was on crutches then because I’d had a total knee replacement. So, this is a bit of a déjà vu moment – same leg even! What happened was that I was going downstairs (getting ready for work at 6:15am) and thought I was on the last stair before the floor – unfortunately, there was actually another stair, which I missed, and I landed very heavily in a heap on the floor. A trip to A&E and then the fracture clinic resulted in a moon boot and crutches – and 6 weeks (or so) off work!! Mind you, boredom has really set in being housebound! Daytime TV is totally pants – here I am watching the ‘Sewing Quarter’. I’ve even signed up to ‘Netflix’! Still, it could be worse! Speaking about Netflix, have you seen a wonderful film called ‘Lion’? It came out a couple of years ago and is a true story about a 5-year old boy who became lost from his home and family in India; accidently ended up on a very long train journey across India and was eventually adopted by a couple in Tasmania ….. what a fabulous film (and a tear jerker).

I have to keep my leg elevated as much as possible, which rules out sitting at the sewing machine, so I’ve settled down to some knitting instead. A few weeks before the ankle break, I’d been to the Birmingham Yarningham Knitting Festival, where I excitedly bought a kit to make a VERY quirky (which I love) little fox. So excited was I when I bought the kit, it didn’t occur to me to read the pattern. Now, although I’ve been a knitter since I was a child, I’ve only ever knitted in what I’m now terming the ‘old-fashioned’ way on 2 metal single pointed knitting needles with either double-knit or 4-ply yarn. This quirky looking fox has been a massive (and welcome) learning curve to my knitting skills. I’ve had to knit with what is probably equivalent to something like 2-ply yarn (very thin), knitting with dpns (double pointed needles) in size 2.25mm (also very thin) – my sister-in-law said they look more like cocktail sticks, which is true, especially as they’re made from bamboo. I’ve learnt to do something called ‘short rows’, I’ve knitted ‘in the round’ – I’ve cast on with a method called ‘figure of 8 cast-on’ – and all this on needles only a little bigger than cocktail sticks. I did it though and my ‘quirky fox’ is the result AND he looks like the picture on the pattern. He measures about 8 inches from top to toe.

This week, I also finished an ‘Ellie’ which I’d prepared months and months ago. Finishing meant stuffing the body and doing the head. He has a little pair of trousers, but I’ll probably finish him with a little knitted top …….. eventually!!!

Next on my list is a couple of small (I hope) cross-stitch projects.

I think to be honest, I’ve been doing a lot more dreaming about the crafts I want to do, rather than actually ‘doing’!! I’m really hoping I can do something with my crafts once I retire, such as holding workshops as well as selling made items and I think I’m getting too anxious about it all. Although I have loads of ideas of things to make, I just really don’t know where to start with the ‘doing’ side of things!! I need to do some business research I suppose and make a plan! I also think I’m probably afraid of failure and am procrastinating big time!!

Anyway, to finish, and just because he’s so gorgeous, here’s a photo of my great nephew, Mika, who is just over 8-months old now ……. isn’t he a cutie?

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Post-op Crafting re-cap!!

I shall be going back to work on Monday next week after 10 weeks off following my knee replacement surgery – rather glad to be getting back to normal actually!! So I thought I would do a little re-cap on what ‘crafty’ things I’ve achieved during my enforced rest!

No.1: Cross-Stitch
I love this - Jolly Happy Soul cross-stitch by Brenda Gervais – very rustic in style

No. 2: Christmas Stockings
These two stockings were from some free fabric I received from the Home Shopping channel ‘Sewing Quarter’. I was placing an order anyway; and this was a free offer on the day – there were 4 half metres, plus a couple of other things. The fabric was unknown, but I was really pleased with all of it when it arrived. The stockings were made with two of the pieces of fabric and I gave the stockings to 2 lovely little boys I know.

No. 3: Baby Quilts
I made two special quilts for two very special little boys – although the sex of the babies was unknown when I set to on them. I love that the parents didn’t choose to know in these days where most young couples want to know – I’m clearly rather old fashioned!!  My Great Nephew, Mika was then born on 2nd December – my nephew’s wife, Hafsa, chose the ‘elephants’; and then William Owen was born on 27th December and his quilt ‘the bunnies’ was sent all the way over to Australia where he lives with his mommy and daddy, Ross and Amy. Ross is my nephew’s cousin (not blood related to me); but he did grow up calling me ‘auntie’.

No. 4: Padded Christmas Trees
I made two of these and gave them both away. I made a couple a few years ago from (I think) a Simplicity pattern. I no longer have the pattern, but I remembered how they were made, so they were easy enough.

No. 5: Triangle Christmas Tree
I also made two of these! I didn’t know what else to call it, but ‘Triangle Christmas Tree’ seems appropriate. I made a couple some years ago; and I really don’t remember where I had the idea from – all I know is I couldn’t have come up with the idea myself. I’ve clearly ‘nicked’ it from somewhere - probably Pinterest!!One has been given away and the other will be.

And no Artist Teddy Bears!! I haven’t stopped making them; it’s just me being me and getting distracted by so many other things to make. In fact, I do have two bears prepped (thank you to Wendy for suggesting it), but haven’t gotten around to them yet. My next project, apart from finishing off some hand quilting, will probably be my next Waldorf Doll ………. can’t wait to make that!!

So, my stitching will likely slow down a bit once I’m back at work – I anticipate being a wee bit shattered at first, even only working half days – so wish me luck!!

And I’ll take the opportunity to wish everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Baby Quilts x 2

I can now show you all the two baby quilts I've been busy with lately! They're almost identical with the exception of the top panel, which have different animals. The 'elephant' one is for my nephew Jonathan and his wife Hafsa, who made me a Great Aunt on 2nd December with the birth of their gorgeous little boy, Mika (pronounced Mee-ka).

Isn't he just beautiful?

The 'bunnies' one is now in Perth, Australia, which I made for Ross & Amy - Ross is my nephew's cousin and he also grew up calling me Auntie. He married an Australian girl a couple of years ago and is now settled over there. Their baby is actually due tomorrow and we don't know what they're having yet (and neither do they!)

I designed the quilts myself and then managed to source a gorgeous selection of fabrics - they're mostly vintage/retro child/nursery themed designs. It's not a true rainbow of colours, but I chose 3 different fabrics in each of 7 colours. I knew exactly how I wanted the quilts to look and I have been chuffed to bits to be honest with how they've turned out. I didn't have a clue what size to make them though and 'Googling' didn't really help, as I ended up with a variety of sizes!! In the end, I opted for 'on the larger size' because they will actually be big enough for a child's first bed. 
They're both labelled on the back in the hope they might be kept and treasured and become family heirlooms - that's if they survive the baby treatment!! LOL

I hope you like them!

Monday, 3 December 2018


You just sometimes know when a package is going to fill you with joy – and this one certainly did! It was waiting for me when I got home this morning. Lovely Wendy has sent me a ‘cheer-you-upness’ Autumn themed package following my knee replacement surgery 5½ weeks ago. I clearly laid on the ’sympathy vote’ thing well didn’t I? It has been painful though ….. see, there I go again! Wendy is a very talented crafter and her prim, rusticy kind of style is very ‘me’. So, here we go with the reveal!! First I opened the box to see it filled to the brim!

Then, one by one, I eagerly opened each package and I was not disappointed.

My eyes immediately fell on the Maltester Truffles – Maltesers are my favourite chocolates by the way, so they will not last beyond today!! And so on to this gorgeous velvet pumpkin pincushion with three of those lovely decorated pins. Isn't it fabulous?!

Next this really lovely cross-stitch sampler cushion – Wendy is a very prolific cross-stitch expert – check out her blog for proof and see the exceptional work she produces. Also, the sweetest little felt blackbird sitting on a wooden bobbin – just so lovely!

And lastly, this ‘Salted Caramel Pumpkin’ candle in a jar – what can I say except Mmmmmmm, yummy – can you smell it? It’s so scrummy I can’t tell you!!

So that just leaves me to say a massive BIG thank you to my lovely, kind and very talented bloggy friend, Wendy – I absolutely love it all! You’re such a very kind friend xxx

Friday, 16 November 2018

Going round in circles!!

I knew it would be bad news for my bank balance being at home for an extended period!! Yes, there have been one or two (or three) random fabric purchases, but on Monday when all I went out for was paracetamol for my poorly leg, I came back with this absolutely gorgeous (well, I think it is anyway!) decorative spiral staircase .......... as you do!! It's in that lovely country, rustic, faux rusty style that is so me. I didn't have any plan for it; and probably wouldn't have bought it (it was £140!!!!!) if my dear sister-in-law, Ruth hadn't encouraged me. Usually Ruth encourages me not to buy things unless it's something I really need.

Anyway, as you see below, I have found a good use for it ............ it makes a great bear stand. And I do honestly think that once I've retired from work and hopefully have the time to do craft fairs etc. it will make a great display feature - have I convinced you??

In case you're interested, its approximately 4½ feet high, so not a little table top thing:0) 

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

‘Jolly Happy Soul’ - finished!

So, here’s my ‘Frosty’ (real name, ‘Jolly Happy Soul’) cross-stitch all complete and made up into a little decorative cushion – it’s a Brenda Gervais design. The original was designed as a pincushion I think, but as mine is bigger, I’ll just call it a small cushion. And that’s because I’ve used 28-count linen, instead of the 40-count called for by the pattern ……….. eyes and all that!! Now I hope none of you are cruel enough to attempt a close-up of those cardinal birds, because I can tell you, some of that was guesswork, owing to the one strand of floss over one thread. Even in lovely bright daylight yesterday afternoon, I was struggling with seeing where the needle needed to go – so be kind to me and look through squinted eyes LOL

I just love the way the holly leaves look ……. they have a very vintage look!

To finish it off, I used a dull red colour seambinding ribbon that I was lucky to have plenty of – I didn’t have any white/ivory, but I think I like the red anyway. And on the back, I’ve used a piece of hand-dyed cotton velvet (hand dyed by me several years ago), which also matched in quite well. Depending on your screen, it may look rather bright, but that’s probably the afternoon light I’ve just taken the photos in, so it’s not as bright as it looks.

I’m very pleased with it – I hope you like it too!

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Jolly Happy Soul - progress so far!

So here I am lying in my sickbed after my knee op …….. Well okay, I’m not in a sickbed! I am, in fact, becoming quite the master of these here crutches – getting around (so far) pretty well on them.

And while I’m fairly well being waited on hand, foot and finger by my lovely sister-in-law, Ruth, I’ve been keeping myself entertained with my Frosty cross-stitch – actually the pattern is called ‘Jolly Happy Soul’ and it’s by Brenda Gervais. Seeing that I have little else to do (apart that is from all the exercises I MUST do each day) I’ve gotten on quite well.

I’m leaving the trickier parts until last – that being those tiny little cardinal birds, which are stitched with one strand of floss over one thread – can you just about see them on the pattern? Don’t know how I shall mange those. I have considered popping them in the post to the lovely Wendy, who is so clever, she works on 40-count linen (mine is 28-count), but she must have 20/20 vision I’ve decided. Wendy would sort those cardinals in no time! Don’t worry Wendy, I wouldn’t do that really, because then it wouldn’t be ‘all my own work’ ……….. such pride LOL    I shall have to make sure I do them in nice bright daylight and then I might stand a chance. I won’t worry about them though for a couple of days!

I do love the holly leaves; and when the red berries are added, it'll really 'pop'! Maybe I’ll have it done by the weekend!