Friday, 27 June 2014

A Birthday Elephant

I've been getting the Simply Homemade magazine regularly, since issue 1.  A few issues back, there was a pattern for a lovely crochet elephant.  I decided to make it for my mum and adapted the pattern a little bit, to suit what I wanted.

The elephant is basically the same, except that I made the "arms" a bit thinner than the legs because I thought they would look neater that way.  However, the original pattern was just for an elephant, with no garments.  I thought it would be nicer to make a dressed doll, so I invented a dress, hat and bag - complete with little friend!
 Here she is! She's rather nice, I think...
 And she has a hand-made dress, hat and bag... and a little friend!  

See, the little mouse?  I invented him too - no pattern! 

The elephant and mouse are made in double-crochet (US single crochet!), using the circular technique popular for amigurumi style toys.

The bag is two granny squares slip-stitched together, with a narrow ribbon strap.  And the dress is a fab stitch I found in my crochet stitch bible, adapted slightly to make it flare; the bodice is double-crochet again, with some lace I had in my stash, to make it pretty. The yarn for the majority of the dress is one of those "self-striping" yarns, in cotton. It's produced a great patchwork effect which I'm very pleased with.  I used a plain lilac cotton for contrast, which I also used on the hat.

I didn't photograph the back of the elephant... probably should have, as she has a dear little tail and her dress fastens down the back, with narrow ribbon bows.

I'm really very pleased with how this has turned out!  It's taken me about five months to complete it all, as I don't have much spare time for crafting, but now it's ready for my mum's birthday at the beginning of July. She adores elephants, so she will love to have this as a gift.  Eeeeee.... I can hardly wait to give it to her and see her big smile! 

Thursday, 29 May 2014

A Family Album Gift

We have a lovely friend, who was married last year and became a step-mum to a lovely boy and girl.  About eight weeks ago, she and her husband, were blessed with a beautiful baby boy, as a brother to her dear little step-children. 

I wanted to send a gift for the whole family, not just for the baby, or for our friend.  So, I made one of my extra large albums for their family photos and memories.

I posted it yesterday, but my timing was a bit bad, as they left this morning, to go and visit her mother for a few days!  The post office apparently tried to deliver this afternoon and left a card.  I really hope they're home before it's sent back to me as undelivered.

I know she doesn't read my blog, so I feel safe enough showing you photos here - just so long as it's not shared on Facebook yet!
I messaged my friend on Facebook and just asked her "Beatrix Potter, or (original) Winnie-the-Pooh?"  She replied  "Beatrix Potter", so this is what I have used - a lovely green fabric, with a paisley-style background and lots of the best-loved characters from Beatrix Potter's wonderful books.  
I teamed it with an emerald green silk edging and stitching in mulberry coloured hemp thread, to pick out the purpley shades on some of the characters and give a nice contrast with the green.
I made an embossed and printed "Family Album" label, which I mounted on a piece of silk and attached to the front cover.

I so hope she likes this!
Back cover,
The stitching of the book - a Coptic binding, with a section of French Stitch in the centre, as a decorative touch.  I hope the number of pairs of threads will help you to realise how large this album is.  It's about 11.5" tall and 13.5" long.
Each page was a single sheet, which I folded over to make a spacer.  The thirty pages were made into sets of three, then stitched on the folds, so the album will open out flat the whole way through. 
It made a lovely thick and heavy book.  You'll see that the spine edge is a lot deeper than the right-hand (front) edge.  This is why the spacers are there - to provide room for expansion when the photos are added.  Otherwise you'd end up with a book that bulged out of shape and looked "overfilled". 
I said it's big - the photos on the left are 6" x 4" and the right-hand photos are 4.5" squares, with white edges on three of them, making them 6" wide.  The album would hold a good number of photos. 

I really hope our friends like their gift - I so enjoyed making it! 

Monday, 19 May 2014

Up, Up and Away!

I was standing upstairs a couple of evenings ago, when I heard a familiar sound from outside. 
A whooshing kind of sound.  I knew that if I looked out of the window, this is what I would see:
Rising into the air, taking off from the meadow on the other side of the river.  I had heard the whoosh of the burner, as it was switched on and off, to warm the air inside the balloon and lift it above the house-tops.

What I didn't expect was this, just a few minutes later:  
A second lovely balloon, taking off from the same place.

And then this:
A Third Balloon! 

Totally unexpected - balloons are a fairly regular sight over our village in the good weather, but three at once hasn't happened before.   
Floating away on the evening breeze... Wishing I could be up there too!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

One Photo and Twenty Words - May 2014

Does he feel guilty? I think not.  The mummy starling wasn't impressed though, when he tried to eat her baby!

* * *
This is part of Abi's Meme 'One Photo and Twenty Words':
"Find one photo and choose up to twenty words to tell its story. Jot it down and link back here."

Why not join in too and leave a link in the post at Abi's Blog?

* * *
You may notice a bit of a pattern to my "One Photo & Twenty Words" posts... The Furry One features yet again!  This time though, he's in disgrace...

Saturday, 26 April 2014

An Interesting Experiment - A Travel-themed Journal Sketchbook

I recently  made a set of concertina photo books, with covers of Liberty print lawn bookcloth.  They turned out really lovely.   
While fiddling around with the concertina-folding for the album pages, I thought about the "flutter books" and concertina book structures, created by bookbinders Hedi Kyle and Alissa Golden (both my heros!).  I thought it would be fun to experiment with a book that used the concertina structure as a kind of support, with sets of pages stitched into each valley fold - on both sides of the concertina.

It seemed to suit a tall, thin type of book, also a journal/sketch book; I had some of the lovely Cavallini paper with a collage design of vintage luggage labels... A Travel Themed Journal started to form in my mind.

I cut hard covers of book board and covered them with the Luggage Label paper.

I folded a concertina of stiff cartridge paper, then used the same type of paper and some lined text paper to create folios of pages, mixing the lined and sketch paper, so that each sketch page had a lined page next to it.  Then I stitched each of these sections into a fold of the concertina.

I fixed the covers at either end of the concertina, with ribbons to tie each side together - this would allow the book to be opened like a traditional notebook - from either side of the concertina - or for the whole thing to open out when both sets of ribbons were untied. 
Inside the "back" part of the accordian, the three centre pairs of sketch pages fold inside, so there is a large page that opens out to almost A4 size (letter size for my US friends!). 
The "front" cover opens to show two pairs of ticket pockets, embellished with the same luggage label paper as the covers. 

I used red linen thread for the stitching, to give a cheerful pop of colour.

The concertina structure allows the book to be used in a very flexible way, not just in the usual sequential "turn to the next page" way you would use a traditionally bound notebook. 
It's a nice size too - just right to pop into the front pocket of your backpack or in your hand luggage, to take with you on your special holiday.

A successful experiment I think - I may make some more!


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