November 27, 2011

Christmas Cards 2011

Due to the circumstances this year (baby due in a week!!!) we had an early Christmas lunch with some of our friends. So yesterday I finally decided to make some cards to go with the gifts. I picked the idea from Tracy Kyle design, just made it more simple I guess. I used some coloured and textured cardstock paper, cut out the shape of a triangular tree and a trunk and sticked them on together on the card. For the text on the side of the tree I used a gold Pilot pen. For the inside of the card (which is not shown unfortunately as I had already written some text on all of the cards!) I simply sticked a stripe of Christmas ribbon to the bottom of the page using double sided tape. To embellish the white and boring envelope I used some gold tape and gold Pilot pen for the text. 
Will have to make some more pretty soon!!!

November 01, 2011

And it's done!

The pram throw quilt for my baby girl is finally ready! lot's of room for improvement though. I'm thinking of writing a quick tutorial, so I don't forget the all process! I bet it will pass sometime before I tackle another quilt project, but I loved the experience.

October roundup

October.....31 days to do lots of things is never enough, but it ended up better than expected.
I manage to do almost all the basic things I intended//
  • Cleaning my wardrobe to make room for baby's stuff // I manage to fit all the extras in just 4 bags. I won't be able to fit in those clothes for at least the next 6 months!
  • Do baby's laundry // lost count of how many cycles I've done to wash all the clothes we have been kindly given by our friends. But it's all done now and the tiny clothes are now ready to be used
  • Attend NCT classes // very valuable to have an idea of what to expect before/during/after the baby is born, especially for G!
  • Go the gym // still managing to do swimming, aqua and yoga at least three times a week. Start to feel a bit tired nowadays, but I'll try 'till the end!
On the project side, I'm not as done as I could have been//

DIY Project 1 - Striped canvas (here and here)
It's pretty much done, but I'm currently not very happy with the end it's not going up the wall just yet.

DIY Project 2 - Felted bowls (here)
I made one using two straight needles, but I haven't felted it not sure if it works or I need to get a round needle.

DIY Project 3 - Pram throw quilt (here and here)
It's pretty much done, the only thing missing is the binding on two sided...I ran out of white thread. But I'm very pleased with the results and I'm hoping to blog about it in the next few days including instructions.

DIY Project 4 - Christmas quilted stocking (here)
Haven't even started on this will go in the November list!

DIY Project 5 - Striped baby blanket (here and here)
It's coming out pretty well, but it does take time to make it!

I'm starting to think that maybe I was a bit over ambitious, but overall I'm glad I set some goals otherwise I would have ended up doing half of the things that I have actually made!

On another note: So another month has gone by very quickly, leaving only 5 weeks until we'll meet our little baby, until our lives will change forever, until the unexpected will be ruling our days...until we'll settle in our new family life made up with more joy, love and excitement!
So November will be the last month, I guess for a while, when I can still plan things, dedicate time to make stuff and work on projects, take time for myself.

October 26, 2011

Striped canvas - Update

DIY Project 1 - Update 
I finally decided to tackle the first of the October projects...about time! but the thought of using acrylics on a big white canvas was a bit daunting. I started out easily, just using thin paper tape to define each row and then started with the first wash of colours. The bottom part looks smoother than the top, where you can clearly see the changes in colours. Also, after removing the tape I realised some of the paint had moved under it....acrylics on a canvas definitely work differently than watercolours! I'm hoping to be able to rectify things with the second wash.

On another note: When I started the monthly projects plan I thought I was overloading myself with too many things to do and that at the end of the month I would have actually felt as nothing had been done. However, being almost at the end of the month, I'm quite pleased to have at least started the majority of the projects. I know I haven't finished any yet, but this way I can jump from one thing to another without ever getting bored.

October 24, 2011

Striped baby blanket - Update

DIY Project 5 - Update
It was in the 'maybe' to do list for October, but it quickly became top of the list. As it started to get chilly and dark early in the evening I felt like I needed some kind of activity to do snuggled up on the couch under a throw in front of the tv. And there it was knitting a striped blanket working in garter stitch.
I'm using a very easy pattern of 3 rows, and multiple of 3, changing the colour as I feel plans, just what I think it works best next. 
So far, so good, except some initial mistakes.....
//the first one row of orange yarn was not supposed to be there, but let's pretend it was done on purpose.
//I slowly mastered the art of adding a new yarn to the work, meaning the passage from one colour to another for the first few colours was not done properly.
The only problem so far...I might run out of yarn sooner than expected!

October 17, 2011

Pram Throw Quilt - Update

DIY Project 3 - Update
After much debate and testing on shapes and colours, I finally made up my mind on fabric and design for one of my October projects: the pram throw quilt. I will be keeping the outer border in green and change the inner border from yellow to pink. The pinwheels will stay yellow, but instead of turtles I will be quilting pink vases with green stems and yellow/pink flowers.

I have already cut out all the shapes I need from a piece of paper; next step will be ironing and start cutting the fabric...this is the much dreaded bit!

October 10, 2011

Knitting and Stitching Show @ Alexandra Palace 2011

And I'm done for this year! this is the one show that's becoming my regular annual thing, been there last year and back again now. It was packed as usual, even on a Friday, but I loved checking each stall and rummaging through baskets full of yarn and fabric!
It was tiring, but I came back home happy and without the feeling of having spent too much money, which I think I didn't!
One of the best buy of the day was the wonderful PAY PER BOX deal! Basically you get a clear box, I got the £11 one, and you can fill it as much as you can with all the paper sheets you want :)
I got loads of plain and patterned cardstock paper. In addition I got 14 rolls of double sided tape of different heights! I'm still very excited about that, it will help finishing off a scrapbook I'm making for the baby before she arrives :)

The main goal now is to make sure I use all the things I bought, unlike last year....still have 10 balls of a very nice country wool stored at the back of my wardrobe....what was I thinking!
So here are the next projects added to the list:

DIY Project 3
Make a quilt for my baby's pram. I'm new to quilting, but I always wanted to try, hence I 'll start with something small. I picked a Timmy Turtle Pram Throw kit from The Little Lavender Patch, which came with instruction and all the necessary fabric. I might make few adjustment to the design, but will decide once I start.
DIY Project 4
Make a quilted Christmas stocking for my baby. We still don't know where we are going to spend the holidays this year, but wherever it will be I will have something to remember my baby's first Christmas. I haven't found a tutorial for it yet, but I know for sure I want to put my baby's name on the sock! I will be using the Countdown to Christmas Charm Pack from  SWEETWATER.
DIY Project 5 (still in the maybe list)
Knit a striped blanket for my baby. I's all baby stuff, but it's all new to me, and because all the things I will be making are tiny, I'm hoping it won't take long to do them....this is my wishful thinking anyway! The yarn I choose is Patons Fairytale Dreamtime 4Ply Baby Wool, in green/red/blue/orange.

I will probably start doing an update and a monthly roundup, just to make sure I do all these projects I'm planning!

October 06, 2011

Love this

....and I will not settle until I'm in love with what I'm doing!

September 30, 2011

October Plan // DIY Projects

Last day of September today, so I thought I get better organised for the coming month! It will be a busy month....finishing off house renovation, attend antenatal classes and a lot of other things that have been on my 'to do list' for months now!
But I've set two goals I want to achieve by the end of the month:
DIY Project 1 
I've been thinking about a large canvas painting to hang on our bedroom wall for about a year, but couldn't make up my mind on the subject. I knew I wanted to use acrylics to do it, as I wanted it to be big and narrow, and I didn't feel very confident in using watercolours for doing big washes. So inspiration stroke a few days ago while flipping through The Watercolour Expert, from the Royal Watercolour Society in London (a gift I received from my colleagues when I left my previous job). I came across a painting from David Whitaker called Sunrise - Sunset and I felt in love.
Sunrise - Sunset, Watercolours (49 x 97 cm)
The painting look simple, it's just a set of stripes with colours ranging from blues/purples to oranges/yellows. But if you look close enough, each stripe actually has most of the colours in it, so it's not just a matter of painting each of them using only one colour as I thought at first!
Anyway, I've decided that I'll give it a will be my art project for this month. Got a big size canvas (40 x 120 cm) half price from Surbiton Arts, acrylic paints and a roll of narrow paper tape.
I hope that this is all I need!
Forgot to mention that I have never used acrylics before....maybe some tests before starting would be a good idea!

DIY Project 2
For the second project I got inspired by one of the books I got from the library a while ago (post here). It's a felted bowl, an orange one for our living room to start with, which I will probably use as a keys or jewellery bowl. If it goes down well I'm planning to do a few more as Christmas presents. 
It's quite easy to knit (instructions to follow soon), but still not sure if I can do it without a circular needle just stitching the ends together before felting! I will give it a go as it is, and see what results I get!

September 28, 2011

Pencil shades....& relaxation technique

Came back from the exam this afternoon quite tired and still feeling a bit as I had been pushed under a lorry! I think it went well, but will have to wait until the end of November to know the results :)
G asked me to help him out with some pencil effects for some work is doing at the moment, so I drew some squares on scrap pieces of watercolour paper and started to pencil them in. I had so forgotten how relaxing it is when your mind get lost in doing something so repetitive and, if you think about it, a bit boring! I sat on the couch for at least half an hour just thinking about nothing else but filling the blank squares...soooo relaxing!
Will have to remember to do some more in the future if I need to take my mind off things; I could actually make some art work using this technique, maybe using coloured pencils......will put it down in my 'to do list ideas'!

September 27, 2011

Back to uni?

I've been studying for the past two days now to get ready for my interview for chartership tomorrow afternoon. All the feelings I had at uni before an exam are coming back to life and I don't like it. Will I be good enough? Will I be able to answer to all their questions? 
Can't wait 'till it's over really!

September 25, 2011

Wholemeal bread

We got used to eat amazing bread while we were in Italy, and now that we are back in the UK we can't really get adjusted to the local one. So we are baking our own. I must say, we had a breadmaker for over three years now, but never really liked the results; it's useful to do mixing, but the cooking bit is disappointing. So I started to use the oven instead, but with a little stone
And it works magic!
No excuses for not eating fresh bread everyday now :)

September 23, 2011

Goodbye Summer // Welcome Autumn

Summer memories 2011

It's the first day of fall today and it made me think about the long summer we had this year.....we spent over two months in Italy. We had a great time; lots of good homegrown food, swimming, sunshine, walks on the mountains, laughters and a lot of family. There have been not so great times too, but when you think about the past, your mind somehow remember all the good things and forget the bad ones!

Autumn is here

But now autumn is here, and I'm trying to think positively about the new season ahead. This year it will be different, in a very good way, but I want to be prepared. Our house will be changing to embrace the season, tones and colours will be matching the surrounding nature, the food will be warm and comfy and our lifestyle will slow down (just a bit!) so that we'll still have enough energy to go through the winter.

September 22, 2011

At the library

Could not get around the fact that yesterday the public library was closed (on Wednesdays!) so I spent the day thinking about all the books I was going to look for today.
I only spent about 1 hour there, sitting on a comfy couch, in silence, flicking through about 15 books, looking for ideas and inspiration.
Came back home with only four, as more would have been too heavy to carry. Moving from top left clockwise:
  • baby knits for beginners, by Debbie Bliss
  • Knit, Purl, Save the World - knit and crochet projects fro eco-friendly stitchers, by Vickie Howell & Adrienne Armstrong
  • One skein - 30 quick projects to knit and crochet, by Leigh Radford
  • The Knitter's Year - 52 simple seasonal knits, by Debbie Bliss
The projects look gorgeous and simple...let's see what I can make out of them!

September 21, 2011

Countdown to Christmas

So it starts! and this year will be more special with a little someone joining us just before the holidays. That means my countdown is even shorter.....only 76 days to go :)

September 20, 2011

Summer memories

I love collecting memorabilia from the beach over the summer months. I remember  collecting all sorts of pebbles, wood sticks, roots, shells and whatever I could find on the seaside when I was young. But really never got to use any of these things, they used to end up in the bin as soon as we were back home from the holidays.

This year I decided I would make something to remember the summer days we spent in Italy. I collected some halved cane sticks from our favourite beach in Roccelletta (Calabria, Southern Italy). I cleaned them from all the sand and cut them to the same length leaving some rough edges.  I had already bought one of those deep frames from Ikea from the bargain corner a while ago, which hadn't found any use, so far. I glued the sticks to a cut-to-size 300g cream paper which G brought me from paper source and used a 2B pencil to write some text at the bottom.

I haven't found a place on the wall for it yet, but I already like the idea of looking at it during the next winter months and remember the sunny days we spent relaxing on the beach.

September 03, 2011

Carrot cake

Got a fantastic carrot cake's recipe from my mum's cousin....she actually baked one for me to taste before giving away all the secrets! it was so good....
I'm not good at baking cakes, but I'm planning on getting better at it, so I've decided I will start recording all my attempts, bad and good ones, to see if I can improve a bit. 
I might start a baking project once we come back home from the summer holidays, maybe one baking attempt every week, if I can keep up with it!
Here's the recipe:

July 18, 2011

Cross stitch fan...not!

We started to receive baby gifts from family and friends! G's auntie gave us a yellow baby bib with some plain Aida fabric on the front. Since I realised I don't particularly like proper baby motifs, I chose a stylised tree instead. I initially picked yellow and blue anchor threads, but didn't like the finished stitch effect (too messy!), so I swapped it for some embroidery thread which was easier to use. After stitching the middle tree I decided to add two other colours to make it less boring and picked some olive green and a lighter blue. Did like the overall results, although I don't think I like cross stitching very much.......

July 15, 2011

Summer sketches - Part 2

Here is another batch of sketches done in Pescina (L'Aquila). It has been very hot during the past week, and was almost impossible to stay outside during the day because of the sunburnt one morning at 10am while sketching under the sun! Best time was in the evening around 8pm when the sun was setting behing the mountains, the colours were magnificent...not very well captured in the sketches above :(

July 08, 2011

Summer sketches - Part 1

We are finally off to Italy for a well deserved summer break! First stop is Pescina, up on the mountains of Abruzzo, in central Italy, to visit my partner's family.
The town is in the middle of what used to be a lake, il Fucino, drained in 1875. Nowadays it's a patchwork of cultivated land surrounded by the Sirente-Velino and Vallelonga mountains.

May 21, 2011

Pyracantha coccinea - Step by step

The Pyracantha coccinea is ashrub which produces masses of white flowers in May that turn into red berries in late autumn. There is plenty of those where I live; I picked a small branch on my way home from work about a month ago. First thing I did was to draw the branch on tracing paper; I then marked the outline with a Staedler fineliner.

I transferred the picture on Fabriano Accademia watercolour paper and masked the whole of the drawing.

I used a bright orange for the background to match the orange theme in my living room. Did two washes as the first one was too pale after drying.

I then removed the masking fluid and re-applied it only on the flowers and stems in front of the leaves.
I painted the leaves with three different shades of green, then removed the masking and painted the stems. The outline of the drawing was however not very precise as the tool used for applying the masking fluid had a large tip. So I decided to outline the edges with a black pen, and this is the final result.
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