Impressive but easy

Once a year at work we host a thank you dinner for our volunteers.  As a typical charity we probably have about 5 times as many volunteers as staff, and we like to try and thank them properly for giving up their time.  We take turns in who makes the main or the dessert, last year I did a chilli so this year it was my manager’s turn to do the main and I got to do dessert- yipee!

I needed something easy because I had almost no time but with 20 people coming I actually went for two things – Dutch Apple cake from Rachel Allen’s Bake which I’ve made many times with great success, and Chestnut Ice Cream Meringue Cake from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, which I’d never done before. It was pretty easy, and looked spectacular. Sadly I didn’t take a photo until I’d got the leftovers home, oops.

I can thoroughly recommend this recipe – several people asked for it with a view to making it as an alternative Christmas dessert. Super easy to do, and does make you look like a domestic goddess!

Messy but marvelous

Messy but marvelous

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Bye Bye Han Cave

It’s been a long while since the last post, but I am making things, just not getting anywhere with them. Updates to follow if/when I ever finish anything. The main news is that the Han Cave has to achieve its true destiny now.  My mother in law has been calling it “the nursery” since we moved in (to my dismay at first!) and now that is just what it must become. Goodbye Han Cave, you were a beautiful dream…

Sorting out somewhere for my sewing stuff to go was described by Mr Han as “a cog that will allow many other cogs to turn” – I think he meant “clear out that room or we can’t do anything to get ready for the baby”.  Anyway, proof that he loves me was that he got interested in helping me find a new sewing space in the house.  We settled on a corner of what we grandly call the Garden Room (it leads to the garden) which is one of the strange rooms of the house. It is double height and has a mezzanine section which holds an office he works from home in sometimes. It’s white and light so good for sewing.

I stalked Pinterest for ideas for small sewing corners and hit the jackpot with this . Which is how we ended up going to Ikea on the first rainy Sunday afternoon for weeks, with the rest of the world. Traumatic.  I bought a bureau after some dithering about whether the drop down leaf would be strong enough when the machine was in operation. I can now confirm it will hold an operational sewing machine, and a cat. Plenty strong enough.

We spent a Friday evening building the bureau – no cross words, we are ace at flat pack. I was genuinely excited about filling it up and organising things (saddo).  This necessitated lots of purchases of nice baskets of course, mainly from the Homebase sale (luckily, this new space is adding up in cost!). I spent several happy hours sorting things into them. I particularly enjoyed sorting the yarn.

Mmmm, yarn...

Mmmm, yarn…

There is actually more storage in the bureau than the Han Cave! The light is also very nice in there.  The first thing to be sewed at it was not at all glamorous – fitted sheets for the memory foam topper for the campervan bed made from a single duvet cover that was £4 in the sale, but I did do some proper seam finishing so they are quite smart.  I think I can look forward to some happy crafting time here, if the baby naps long enough anyway.

Next up I ordered some cork “off the internet” which was cut to size and then stuck in to the top doors with no more nails to be a pinboard.  As an aside, I am always the one who suggests the low effort version of DIY. As in “we need to fill the hole above the boiler pipe, I’ll get some plasterboard, cut it to size, then plaster over it to make it look neat” me: “no one looks in there, why don’t you just fill the hole with expanding foam?”. This type of thing is why we own no more nails.

DSCN1662 DSCN1665It’s very neat right now, but it probably won’t stay that way! Top cupboards are for sewing related things, bottom for knitting and felting. It was a lot of fun putting things in, seeing what needed to go where, what needed to be close to hand… I even managed to get the wool/knitting supplies stash nearly all in here, so it’s not in three different rooms anymore!DSCN1666

The nursery has started to be painted, but I have had nothing to do with that. My weekend working put paid to that, and also I suspect Mr Han raised a few eyebrows when he had to go and look at prams/pushchairs/strollers whatever the hell they’re called on his own – the only man in Mothercare!

 

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My contribution to a crafty wedding

I mentioned in the last post that I’d been making some things for the wedding of a good friend.  Well, I can reveal that despite promising after doing our own that we’d never do another wedding cake, I made a three tier wedding cake.  The bottom tier was fruit cake (secret Elkington recipe, amended by me) and the top two were gingerbread.  The gingerbread recipe was from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess – always a go-to baking book.  You can actually get the recipe for free here. I added 1tbsp of ground ginger too because I thought it wasn’t gingery enough.

Making cakes is not too hard, but decorating them is.  I wouldn’t win any prizes for that! Luckily the wedding was in a field and had a homemade feel so I don’t think the cake decorating was judged too harshly. Mr Han actually put the icing on, I really wouldn’t manage the neatness needed for that.

I provided the decorations.  Remember when I made felt acorns? Well the plan was the cake would feature those, so I spent a few afternoons making some.  Attaching them was interesting – we ended up using icing as glue, which maybe wasn’t the neatest…  bride Laura had provided some white squirrels for the top so it all went together nicely.

Laura and Jamie's Cake

The whole wedding was full of awesome crafty touches, I hope Laura won’t mind me showing some pictures of what she made… Sadly I don’t have a picture of the bar that was hand made by groom Jamie! It was a brilliant wedding that ended with a campfire sing a long and camping by a misty lake, beautiful and unique just like the happy couple.

Origami cranes in the entrance

Origami cranes in the entrance

Crane table decoration

Crane table decoration

Wool!!

Wool!!

Congratulations Laura and Jamie, thanks for letting me make something for you!

 

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A moose in the hoose

So I’m a very bad blogger,  it’s official, but then I never said I was Blogger (with a capital B) just someone who tries to fit in some crafts, and writes about them a bit. I’ve been a bit better at “life” recently – feeding friends, working hard, eating ice lollies and playing with the cat. I’ve also started my first baby crafts!

Ever since I got Sarah Keen’s “Knitted wild animals” book I’ve wanted to knit the moose and I knew it could only be for MY child. We have a whole moose thing going on here. Her patterns are excellent and I think it is worth putting in the extra work to make all the pieces and sew them together because the finished article look so professional. Even the embroidering of the features went OK.

I love it. I’ve joked I’m going to withhold all other soft toys until it forms a favourite toy attachment to this one…

Moose in the garden

 

 

Moose side view

There’s lots more baby related stuff on the go at the moment (and some wedding related stuff for a friend, but I’d better not reveal that just yet) – more knitting, some sewing projects in the pipeline and time to say bye bye to the Han Cave as it becomes a nursery. Watch this space!

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July sew crazy challenge

Well, the #sewcrazychallenge this month was “Put in on” so you had to make something to wear. I don’t really have much interest in becoming a dressmaker, I just think I lack the required precision and cannot be bothered to learn how to use a pattern.  But I did feel like making a skirt out of stretchy material with no pattern at all! I used the one from the CLP blog and it WAS easy.

Just a couple of edits though (cos I can’t ever do something the totally easy way…): I had been reading about different kinds of knit (i.e. stretchy fabric) here at Tilly and the Buttons and got the idea that for my first time sewing with this type of fabric I wanted to use something that didn’t have masses of stretch to make it easier. So when I went to Franklins – my local fabric shop that looks like it hasn’t seen an internal refit since the 80s (think strip lighting and everything in grey) I bought some striped ponte di roma. It’s in a cool grey and dark purple stripe. The cat liked it anyway…

Cat "helps" with sewing, again

Cat “helps” with sewing, again

This meant that it wasn’t as stretchy as the fabric used in the tutorial, so I decided to size it up a little bit.  I really should have done that plus give myself a seam allowance, because whilst it fits, if my bum gets any bigger, or it shrinks in the wash (I forgot to prewash too!) I am in trouble.

It was my first time sewing with stretchy fabric and I bought a special needle to use, and used the stretch zigzag stitch function on my machine to do all my seams, and the straight stretch stitch to do my hem. Not sure if the hem one was the correct one, but it worked and looks OK. It wasn’t that hard, and I feel like I may have a go on some more regular jersey fabric now. It is so comfortable to wear – and the purple even matches my Birkenstocks!

Yes, it's a rare picture of me!

Yes, it’s a rare picture of me!

If you’re thinking, “well that’s nice but she looks a bit fat in it”, whilst I do have a serious cake/biscuit/chocolate addiction, actually that’s a tiny baby bump, oh yes! The ultimate WIP. So you can expect to see some baby sized makes around here from now on!

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June recap – what happened to June anyway?

It’s that time of year where work takes over my life entirely.  I work on a nature reserve and do all the school visits, in June nearly 900 pupils visited so I’ve been in a constant round of bug hunting, pond dipping (no it’s not seaweed, it’s in a pond!), bird watching etc etc. It’s hot too so by the end of every day I just want to flop, and do! I think that I may have tried to have a social life in June too, but I can’t remember.

I have been busy making things for other people in my spare (ha ha) time though. A very good friend is expecting twins soon so that was the perfect excuse to get out the knitting needles.  It was soooo nice to be knitting again, I hadn’t really done anything much for a while but was very fidgety as I didn’t want to/couldn’t start a big project for various reasons. Twins obviously means two of so it couldn’t be anything huge that I might never finish, so it’s just a couple of cute pairs of mittens in alpaca, lovely and soft.  Plaiting the cord to go through the sleeves took almost as long as a mitten! I hope the twins enjoy the fluffy goodness when they come out.

Mittens

 

Next up, #sewcrazychallenge for June. This one was about summer (what a surprise!) and I just thought that my dedicated beach goer of a sister might be amused to see my nephew in this. I got some cheap toweling on a rare trip to town, so it’s not going to be suitable after a drenching, but in that half dried off in the sun but wet swimming costume phase that you get at the beach it will be perfect. And it’s a shark. I sized it up by 20% as the pattern is for a little toddler.

I found the applique pretty damn difficult and had a couple of practice runs where many a bad word was shouted, but overall I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. I also learned that my machine is a total workhorse – it sewed though multiple layers of toweling easily. I hope they both like it, it’s going to be a birthday present for Rafi in August. It’s going to look a lot better on a person than a pointy hanger anyway…

Shark attack! Face

 

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May sewing challenge

So regular readers (hi mum!) will notice I skipped the April challenge. I did even buy fabric to make something but just never had time. I was pleased to see that the May challenge contained something quick, and something I’d already been intending to make!

I wasn’t planning on making the sunglasses cases initially, but then I logged into Pinterest and saw that my sister had filled hers with beach photos! I haven’t made anything for her before, so I thought I would.  I found doing the top stitching around the edge pretty difficult as it was a small space, it just seemed to bunch up.  Could be my haphazard outdoor measuring though. Luckily I have bought a cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter so hopefully those problems will be come a thing of the past. I can dream. I can also dream about not sewing patterned pieces on the wrong way up and not noticing until the end.

I used up scraps of other fabric for these. One for me, the acorns which Mr Han tried to steal, ice creams for Mum and the neatest one for tall little sis! Mine is already handily in use.

3 sunglasses cases

The thing I was going to make originally was some 3/4 PJ bottoms for me, I’d had the fabric for a while, and the acorns were planned to feature again.  Sadly this project was slightly delayed for the following reasons: too much work, and an iron so gummed up with scale it started leaking brown stuff everywhere and refused to be descaled. Thanks East Anglia’s water. Though if someone hadn’t been too lazy to go downstairs and fill it up with filtered water this might never have happened. Ahem. Anyway, they were finally done…at the beginning of June!
image

They were frustrating to make, and the black cotton seems to attract cat hairs from miles around. I’ve decided I shouldn’t make anything else that can be worn until I’ve learned to do some proper seam finishing, or spend more time measuring. Meh.

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