Thursday, December 22, 2011

To you and yours from me and mine

Hi everybody!

It’s that time of year again – my last day at work until 4th January! Yippee!

However, the downside of no work is absolutely minimal internet time, so I very much doubt I’ll be blogging again until the New Year.

However, on the plus side, a mysterious box has appeared in our house containing a wireless router, so we may shortly be wireless at home! Yippee again! But on the down side, although my ipod has largely been behaving itself, the backlight has now died completely, so that I can scarcely use it other than to listen to music.

I’m hoping to use the some of the time over the holiday to photograph all the things I’ve been having fun making over the last few weeks, and starting to think about writing up some patterns. I’ll certainly have to make some notes on Cedric as he’ll be off to live in Manchester early next week.

Cedric, Viktor and Fleur - the Tri-Wizard Tournament never saw champions like these!

So, until 2012, I’d like to wish you all the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of New Years,
to you and your families,
from me and mine.

Friday, December 16, 2011

When is a design mine?

I suppose this one of those old chestnuts that comes up every so often. I’ve been madly crocheting away, every spare moment I can get, to make Christmas presents for the Children in my family. Often, I start from a pattern written by someone else and wander off on my own doing what I think will work better, or making it into the thing I want to make. Sometimes, I’ve seen a photo online and tried to make something that looks like the photo. But when do these designs become my own?

I suppose, of course, there’s no simple answer. It all comes down to when an item becomes substantially different from the original design, and the crossover isn’t clear.

For example, say I want to make an amigurumi doll. I already have books with patterns for several which I will look at before I decide exactly what I want to do. The end doll that I make may have elements from several designs from my books, none of which include all the features I want in my doll, and there will also be elements that I’ve thought up from scratch. There may be a significant amount of trial and error involved in putting all this together. The overall doll may be my own ‘vision’, but individual components may be copied from elsewhere. When does it become my own design?

And what if something’s copied from a photo? Cedric is the perfect example here – he is based on this photo, but I have no idea what the pattern for it is like, although I suspect I have one ‘significant’ difference.


I would like to start writing up and selling patterns but I’m just struggling a bit with this cut-off point. To date, I’ve been thinking more of publishing the patterns here on my blog with reference to my sources of inspiration, but if my pattern is based on someone else’s what right do I have to publish the directions for the bits I’ve copied?

And anyway, how many different ways are there of making amigurumi heads, arms, legs or bodies? If you want something roughly the same size, you’re likely to end up with a very similar pattern.

And where does Petal fit into all this? Her pattern is a translation with one or two tweaks.

I have a doll I’m making for Iona (and I’ll have to make one for Niamh sometime too), it’s based on a pattern by someone else, but I’ve done some of the basic body parts slightly differently. However, I’ve gone completely off at a tangent, influenced by someone completely different, in embellishing the doll and in the techniques I’ve used to do so. I’m really excited about her (Iona will LOVE her) and I’d love to write it up as a pattern, but I don’t know that it’s sufficiently different to count as my own design.

Anyone know any answers or advice?

Spot the cute monkey! Too busy crocheting to get decent photos these days!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The 7th day of advent

Today I’m joining in with Jo’s advent calendar – a wonderful idea to feature some wonderful stitchers and Christmas stitching in the days up to Christmas – thanks Jo for organising it!

For Christmas stitching, I’m going to share my Celtic Christmas, stitched many years ago (probably late 1990s) well before my blogging days!

Celtic Christmas

I do love this design, and all the Celtic Ladies, although this is the only one of these designs I’ve stitched. I love Celtic designs – the swirls and knots.

I think this design represents a number of firsts for me – first time on evenweave, first time with beads, and first time I made changes to my version of the design, swapping the word Noel for some made-up patterned squares so that I could have it out all year round without it being a specifically Christmas thing. And it was the first time I had framed something so big myself! Phew!

I dug her out recently to show Iona, as Iona is a typically pink girly girl obsessed with princesses – she loves it! Even Niamh took one look and called her Cinderella! Now she has pride of place on Iona’s bedroom wall.

At Christmas, I also think of my Granny – my maternal grandmother. Her birthday was 27th December – she would have been 110 this year, had she not died in 2000! She was a strong character who was widowed in 1942 with a 3 year old son and a 4 month old baby. The last time I spoke to her was to tell her I was pregnant with Alexander. I made her this cushion as a Christmas present one year, and when she died, it came back to me.

Granny's cushion

Christmas was also very special to me as a child – I have very fond memories of rushing home from church on the Sunday around 10 – 14 days before Christmas and then heading along to a local farm to choose a Christmas tree. It was a family event – we all went and marched around the farmyard and round a field to pick the perfect Christmas tree! Then home again to get the box of decorations from the loft.

Decorating the Christmas tree is still something special I love to do, although these days, it involves a lot more negotiation with certain small people! We haven’t done it yet this year, but I’m looking forward to heading up to the loft next weekend!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

My favourite yarn


Oh, I really love this time of year, the few weeks up to Christmas (the fun ends after the kids have opened their presents!), I love all the anticipation and excitement. I felt like a little kid myself this morning as I rushed downstairs with Iona to help her find no. 1 on her advent calendar!

This year, I'm particularly loving all the fun I'm having making presents for the children in my extended family. Partly stash-busting, partly money-saving! And over the last week, I've been particularly loving working with this yarn!

I 'made' it myself from a whole load of colours of roughly DK weight yarn in my yarn stash! I cut a whole lot of lengths, roughly around 2 feet long, knotted them together in a randomish order and then wound it all up into a ball. They're mainly just solid acrylics, but there are some different textures in there too!

When it's worked up, it looks something like this -

And I did a version with baby yarn too -

And together, these add up to a little something for my own littlest monster!

I can see many more monsters coming along with this yarn, maybe a dragon too?

See you next time!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Petal: from Russia with love

It all started on Pinterest here and here. You can see more pics in here gallery here, but this is my absolute favourite.

Aren't they completely adorable? I love dragons, so I just had to track down a pattern to make my very own. And I landed on this!

See that? There's a pattern!, Downside - it's in Russian and my knowledge of Russian is absolutely zilch!

But I didn't let that stop me - the Russian translation was actually rather fun! (And how geeky is that? Well, problem solving is something I do a lot of at work.) I picked up a translation of Russian crochet terms from a couple of sites online (which I can't find any more), then I used an online Russian keyboard to type in various mysterious bits of text and copy them across to Google Translate to get an English version. Luckily, the original pattern's in a fairly standard layout and uses Arabic numbers so it wasn't too hard. Anyway, all I wanted was enough of a pattern to at least get a rough method to work on.

But I'm so delighted with how Petal's worked out!

I can see you!

Some of the translations were a bit odd - Alexander really wanted to see me put the 'handles' on (arms/hands). And I still haven't worked out what it means by 'One eyelet knit head 5 dc' - I think it's a nostril!

Or is this my best side?

I already have plans for more dragons and once I've fine tuned the pattern a bit (Petal has a slight problem keeping her balance!), I'll write it up for sharing!



To all those who've offered me positive words and encouragement over the last couple of weeks - Thank you so so much. It really is appreciated and I certainly don't feel quite so isolated and invisible for now.

Ideally, I would like to make you all a little Petal to send you, but speaking from experience, that would probably take me until the middle of next year and I'd never want to look at a dragon again - not sure how constructive that would be!

But I just want you to know that I really do appreciate every word.

Petal says thanks too!

Monday, November 21, 2011

iPod or not?

A quick poll!

I suspect my iPod touch (2nd gen) may be coming to the end of it's life. It frequently goes mad and rapidly switches itself between on and off (standby really) and back again many many times regardless of whether I'm using it or not. At times this can make it almost unusable and it's also having a knock-on effect on the battery. The standby button doesn't work any more either.

I've done a bit of digging online but not found anything relating to this particular problem. However I've been disappointed with comments I've seen around the life of Apple devices. Hence I'm starting to think mine may be on the way out.

I do love my iPod and I use it all the time. I use it as much for reading text as I do for listening to music, and also for Internet and blog reading.

But it seems to me it's rather expensive if it's only going to last around 2.5 years. So if I'm going to replace it, then what with?

So if anyone reading this can tell me how long they'd expect an iPod touch to last, could you let me know? Also any thoughts on alternatives? I know Samsung have one, but how well do Samsung devices last?

Or should I just get used to buying a new iPod every 2 to 3 years? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

Any thoughts will be very interesting! Thanks!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The invisible woman

Firstly, thanks everybody for all the lovely comments on my last post! I’m glad you like Cedric and Celebi as much as I do!

I don’t want to moan (but sometimes maybe I should more?) and complain about how depressed I am. This blog is supposed to be about doing crafty stuff, not about me navel gazing and feeling sorry for myself. But sometimes there are too many thoughts whizzing around in my head and today I just want to get some of them out into the open to try and make sense of them.

At work, I often feel like the work I do is invisible, as am I. There are times when I can be actively involved in new IT developments, in thinking about what we do and how we should do it. And I love that bit. But too much of the time, I get dragged off to work on urgent tasks to ‘keep the lights on’ metaphorically speaking, to make sure everybody gets paid the right amount at the right time. And because payroll never falls over completely and disaster doesn’t strike, nobody ever notices the amount of effort it takes to get there.

And at home, I put all the love and effort I can into caring for my children, so that they can have the opportunity to do anything they choose with their lives. And when my DH comes home from work in a foul mood and short tempered with everybody, I do everything I can not to let his unkind words hurt us and make sure the children can stay happy and child-like.

When Iona has a bit of a tantrum or can’t talk about what’s bothering her for crying, it’s not that she’s doing it deliberately (well, not usually anyway) because she thinks that’s how to get what she wants, it’s just that she’s only 3 years old and still learning to talk to people about what she wants or likes or doesn’t like, and is still learning to negotiate. And staying calm and supportive and encouraging her to calm down and talk is not teaching her that crying is the answer.

And when Niamh does the silly things that toddlers do or won’t leave daddy alone with whatever he’s trying to do, it’s not that she’s deliberately misbehaving – she doesn’t know what misbehaving means yet. She just needs someone to be calm and supportive and to talk to her or distract her.

And getting cross with Alexander won’t encourage him to talk to you or share anything that’s bothering him and could end up completely alienating him.

And I feel like the effort I put in there is kind of invisible too as, to the children, that’s just what their mum is like, so it’s not worthy of anything special. And I can’t tell my DH these things as he’s almost impossible to have a conversation with these days.

But I love love love making things! Some days, it’s the one thing that keeps me going, that makes me feel alive. Usually there isn’t as much time as I’d like, but I can live with that. It’s the days when there isn’t any time at all that are hard.

And blogging seems to be the only way I can share my love of making things, but sometimes that feels invisible too. I think blogging culture has changed a bit over the years – people don’t comment as much as they used to – probably at least partly because to the sheer number of blogs out there! But also I think, because of feed readers which don’t present you with the opportunity to comment quite so readily – it’s just a few clicks more further away and just not so quick or convenient. And I know I’m especially bad at it these days too, for reasons that would take up a whole new blog post!

However, I would love it if you’d just stop by and say hello as you’re passing – then I won’t feel quite so invisible.

Friday, November 11, 2011

To blog, or not to blog, that is the question

Not sure whether I feel like blogging today or not, but here goes anyway. I want to share a couple of finishes, but just don't feel like saying much.

So let me introduce you to Cedric ......

(I made up the design myself, but he's based on photos I've seen around the 'net. He'll be going to one of my nephews for Christmas.)

....... and Celebi!


I'm a real softie when it comes to my kids - I said I was making Celebi for Alexander's Christmas or birthday (in 2 weeks), but when he came home from being away on a school trip for a week, and asked (not expecting a positive answer) whether I'd made Celebi yet, I couldn't lie! But I'm grateful to Alexander for helping motivate me to finish him - I was finding all the small fiddly bits rather frustrating.

Celebi's very cute and Alexander is very pleased with him. Celebi has even inspired Alexander to a bit of crafting himself as he had to make Celebi a sleeping bag for his bed!

Celebi is based on this pattern, although I went my own way a bit with some bits, like the feet and wings, and I kept changing between a 3mm and 2.5mm crochet hook.

Since I finished these two, I've been sewing up my monkey, I've started crocheting something for Niamh's Christmas, and I've been having a bit of fun (and yes, I do mean fun!) with a spot of Russian translation!

As for not blogging much, I'm starting to feel like depression probably plays a much bigger part in my life than I realised, and when I feel depressed, I know I turn in on myself  and avoid sharing things with other people, so hence I don't blog either.

And on another frustrating topic - I still can't comment on Blogger blogs!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Technological breakdown

In order of priority –
  1. The head gasket on my car went 2 weeks ago and I’ve been without my car ever since.
  2. My iPod keeps switching itself off and on constantly without any interference from me and is now almost unusable.
  3. When I try to restore the settings on my iPod via my laptop, the laptop can’t cope as it doesn’t have enough hard disk space, despite my deleting or moving everything I think I can get away without. How much space does iTunes need???? (I stayed up until 12.30 last night trying vainly to sort it out – now I need some sleep!)
  4. I really need to get a wireless router!
  5. The laptop also only has 256MB RAM, so it’s not the fastest.
  6. Our TV is on its last legs – needs a good thump whenever it’s switched on.
  7. The DVD player has decided to stop working.
  8. The video recorder (part of the same piece of equipment as the DVD player) hasn’t worked ever since Iona fed it some coins.
  9. I can’t find my mobile phone (again). It’ll be lying around somewhere with a flat battery, should turn up …… eventually.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fits and starts

Hi there!

Well, fits and starts has been exactly how my week's crafty stuff has gone. Out of the whole week, I only felt that I achieved anything yesterday.

So no finishes this week, I'm having a WIP Friday and sharing a pic of the WIPs I've worked on this week. Maybe the fact that there's so many of them accounts for the lack of finishes! LOL!

A certain person has been away with his Gran and Grandpa this week (it's half term), so I've started a Pokemon amigurumi for his birthday or Christmas - I've got a head and a bum so far. He's away on a school trip next week, so I'll be trying to get as far as I can before next Friday.

You'll see I still haven't chosen the final floss for my trees either - I feel like I'm spending far too much time looking for the perfect colour!

Finally, I've also got around to sharing pics of Billy and Belinda in Inside Crochet!

Inside Crochet with Billy Buttons

My name in lights!

Hey - aren't those my photos?

Just as a final thought, I'm not feeling particularly inspired today - please share a link with me that inspires you! Here's something I found yesterday that I'd love to find time for.

See you next time!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The stuff of nightmares

"Help! It's coming to get me!" she screamed.

She didn't seem to be able to run fast enough, but what terrible fate would she suffer if it caught her?

Those awful snapping claws!

And the dreadful headless body ....

Don't worry - Lily was quite safe!

And the 'evil' mastermind behind this terrible monster?

Maybe not so evil after all!

- Composed using BlogPress from my iPod & finished off on a pc!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Blah blah

I'm suffering from a nasty case of the blahs at the moment and not really in the mood to say much, but I wanted to share pics of some bangles I made 2 or 3 weeks ago.

They're all crocheted over cheap supermarket bangles using 4 ply cotton yarn, perle cotton and a 2mm hook. The charm one has some small celtic silver charms and swarovski crystals.

Oh - and I've FINALLY got hold of Inside Crochet issue 23, complete with my Billy Buttons pattern in it! Yippee! Although I'm a bit puzzled - if I send Billy and Belinda off to a photographer, why have they used my own photos to illustrate the pattern? Not that I'm complaining, it's not every day that you have your first crochet pattern published!

Ugh - and now I can't even comment on blogger blogs either - I just get an error. So to Natalie (pinkundine) - I really love the solid cosiness of your blanket! To Sam - I love your stripy mouse! To Hazel - I love the colour and texture of your WIP Wednesday cushion too! To Richard Rose - love the Chrtistmas trees - is that a kind of wiggly crochet?

And guess who managed to wear odd shoes to work all day yesterday?

Not that anyone noticed - or if they did they didn't tell me!

Well, that turned into a longer post than I expected! And now I feel a bit brighter too.
See you next time!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Windmills of my mind


Very helpfully this morning, I’ve managed to leave my camera at home, so I’ve no photos of my own to share today. Not that there’s any particularly exciting on the WIP front. So it looks like today’s post is just going to be a bit of a ramble around my mind!

I now have a back and a front of a knitted monkey. I’m surprised at how fast it’s knitted up, despite the fact that my crafty time seems to be getting more and more limited! The back and front of the monkey don’t exactly look like the back and front of a monkey as the edges are all curled up – I might have to get the iron out. It’s funny, but until I started reading about crochet and knitting online, I’d never heard of blocking, despite the fact that I’ve been knitting and crocheting since I was a child. (The stitching came much later – there are no other stitchers in my family, although my mum knits and one sister crochets.)

Julie commended about knitting being very relaxing and how she’s doing more knitting and crocheting than stitching at the moment. I know what she means – I think knitting and crochet just require a bit less concentration than stitching, so they can be easier to work on at times.

I still haven’t started stitching my trees yet – still working out what I want to do with the different floss colours. I’m planning to keep the number of different colours to a minimum in the hope keeping the concentration levels fairly relaxed – I might have narrowed it down to just 2 colours now, although the red/orange is a bit strong in one of them. I may just break the thread at that point and not use so much of that shade.

This is probably the sort of colour scheme I want for my trees!

Anyway, I hate posting without photos, so for the sake of a few pics, I thought I’d tell you about something I’m working on via Pinterest. I blogged ages ago about how I can find working with colour difficult and don’t feel especially confident about choosing colours for a project.

So, one of the things I’m collecting on Pinterest is colour palettes. I particularly like the palettes from sites like Design Seeds or Photo Card Boutique where they give a photo for inspiration and a palette to go with it. I’mm saving up my favourites in a folder on Pinterest – that’s where the pics in this post have come from. Sometime I’ll kit up some stitching based on one of these colour palettes – I’m already looking forward to doing it!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tossing the Floss

Hi everyone,

Thanks very much for all the lovely comments on my last post - I'm glad you like him as much as we all do. Certainly finding him brightened up a grey day, and your comments brightened up another dull day!

Not that I'm complaining about dull days! From now until Christmas is just about my favourite time of year. I love watching the trees change colour and the leaves fall. I've been noticing recently that the area around where I live and work has quite a lot of trees and a walk outside always throws up something worth looking at. I have to keep reminding myself to carry my camera with me all the time!

I have a couple of stitchy designs in my stash featuring some gorgeous trees and they've been calling out to me recently so much that I've dug them out!

La Pineta di Classe by Renato Parolin

Il bosco di Bengtsson, Renato Parolin again!

I've planned, since before I bought it, to stitch Il bosco di Bengtsson on a greyish background using white floss with a touch of blending filament to give a frosty feel. But I've suddenly started thinking about doing La Pineta di Classe in autumn colours.

Don't you just love those autumn shades?

But which to choose? I've managed to narrow it down to about 5 colours, but none is exactly right - I can have greens and golds or browns and reds, but not all at the same time!

Choices, choices! I'm not quite sure what to do yet - a mixture is probably the answer, but how? Any ideas, suggestions or useful thoughts welcome!

And how do you like my latest new start? Shock horror - it's knitting! I've been planning to knit a monkey for a nephew's Christmas present and got started yesterday. It was very strange to be knitting at 10.55pm last night, and enjoying it!

See you next time!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Chirpy chirpy cheep cheep

I was wandering up the road to work last Friday when I heard a little whimpering sound coming from somewhere around my feet. Looking down, I saw this sorry little chap, lying lost and abandoned, half buried under a pile of leaves at the side of the road.

I picked him up, calmed him down and gave him a few sips of water, whereupon he snuggled down among the tissues in my coat pocket and slept for the rest of the day!

Once I got home again, and after a 'bath', he still didn't look too happy, huddled in his blanket feeling sorry for himself.

So, I handed him over to Miss Bertha to nurse back to health.

That did the trick - Miss Bertha is a wonder with the little ones! And before long little Chirpy was feeling much more himself and ready to join in all the regular monkey games.

And he rather enjoyed a little treat at the weekend with me and Iona!

007 is very protective of the little ones!

See you next time!

- Composed using BlogPress from my iPod & finished off on a pc!