Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Weekend sewing

Just as I'd written my post on Saturday, having given up hope of receiving my fabric for the weekend, my postman made a late and unexpected afternoon delivery with the package. I delved straight in, cut tiny swatches, put the fabric in the machine to prewash it, then raced down the road with the swatches to buy some matching thread so that I could start work on a wedding gift for this coming weekend.

It's a napkin set of 6 double sided napkins with a matching linen pouch to hold them. The friend who's getting married has collected vintagey bird items for as long as I've known her, so this fabric from the Blossom line by Moda seemed like a good choice. Her fiance is also a bird lover, so hopefully they'll like them!

I carefully photographed all the steps with a view to maybe writing a tutorial on how to make the set - though I wonder now if it's too simple a project for a tutorial. I've made a set like this before, but with single-sided napkins with a turned hem. These take a lot more fabric, obviously, but they have a lovely weight to them, which is what I was after for this set. Just need to sort out some pretty wrapping now!

I was a bit remiss and forgot to photograph the contents of the package of fabric as I was so anxious to start work on the gift! It also contained some more fabric from the Summer in the City line by Urban Chiks, which is now the backing on this quilt:

I machine quilted it yesterday, using a wavy built in quilting stitch on my machine. I'm really pleased with the end result. Now I have a decision to make about the binding. I think I'll probably turn a binding from the backing fabric, with mitered corners ... like this:

... though I'm also tempted by a turquoise binding like this:

Hmmm decisions, decisions! I'm having a night away from the machine this evening - too sleepy after a little boy alarm call before 6am the past two mornings on top of a couple of late nights. Fingers crossed for a lie in (7am) tomorrow!

Monday, 24 March 2008

Happy Easter!

In spite of the strange weather this weekend, we've managed to have a fun family Easter weekend. Much chocolate has been consumed, there's been plenty of outdoor play, plus a bit of sewing time for me. We've also undertaken goodness knows how many Easter egg hunts, as the children, rather than eating the little bag of chocolate eggs that was the prize for solving the clues, just wanted to keep on hiding them so that they could find them again!

Back to school for my husband and my daughter tomorrow, as our Easter holiday doesn't coincide with Easter this time around. Just me and my boy tomorrow morning - things are going to seem pretty quiet around here!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Knitting again

It's turning out to be an unusual Easter weekend - snow, interspersed with patches of bright sunshine, and high winds! Not a good start to this morning as I dropped my eternity ring on our bathroom floor, it rolled behind the sink pedestal and under the floor, and so far we haven't been able to retrieve it. My husband gave it to me when our daughter was born, so it's of huge sentimental value. I'm just hoping we'll be able to find it - next step is pulling up the bathroom floor ... At the moment I'm holding on to the idea that it can't have gone very far, and that it will just be sitting there ready to be picked up. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Not much sewing this week, as I'm waiting on some fabric I ordered from the US. I'm hoping it'll put in an appearance by the beginning of next week as I urgently need it to finish off a wedding present for Saturday.

So, in the absence of fabric, it's been a knitting week this week. I finally managed to get myself organised enough to go to Outcast's knit night in Reading on Wednesday, which was lovely. I made some progress on the drop stitch scarf I'd started. The drop stitch scarf was the perfect project for a knit night, as it's really straightforward once you've started - no patterns or charts needed!

I also cast on for a sweet little cardigan from Rowan Babies for my little girl before going home (seen above), though I must have been tired, as despite counting the stitches twice or 3 times, it was only after knitting 5cm or so that I realised I'd cast on 104 stitches instead of 93. Oops - started again now, and I'm now back at the point where I was before! I love coral pink and green together - the fabrics I've photographed with the yarn (4 ply cotton by Rowan) are going to be made into a little skirt to go with the cardie, I think. I've made this one before - it's a pretty little knit in cotton with a border of crochet squares. My daughter wore the old one from baggie cardie to cropped bolero stage, and I'm sure this one will be worn lots too!

Friday, 21 March 2008


edited to add a photo of the vegetables for yesterday's soup at lunchtime!

I've been tagged by Jo at Today we are to write a post about my blogging. I was just thinking as I sat down to write this that I'm really new to blogging, but I've just looked back and realised that I started this blog in October 07, which means I'm heading for 6 months as a blogger, and almost on my 50th post! So here are the questions which I have to answer (you can see Jo's answers here).

1. Why did you start your blog?

I’ve crafted forever, for as long as I can remember – I was the queen of the craft kit as a child, pyrography kit, quilling materials, a fisher price loom, earring-making – you name it! Most of all though, I’ve always loved knitting and sewing. After a bit of a fallow spell through my university years, I rediscovered knitting and sewing for my two children (now 4 and 2). My husband gave me a sewing machine for my 30th birthday, which really kickstarted my resolve to sew. I’d been bag making for a little while when I discovered Lisa at U-handbag’s fantastic bag making website and blog, which was probably the main spur for me to start an etsy shop in August 07. On the back of this, I thought I’d try blogging, mainly as a motivational tool to keep me sewing so that I’ll have something to post about, but also because I’ve so enjoyed reading the blogs of others and it’s nice to feel part of a blogging community.

2. How did you come up with your blog name?

My blog name arose from my etsy shop name, Angharad, which is actually my middle name. I think it’s probably a bit more interesting than my first name, Helen! My blog was Angharad Crafts for about 2 days, before I settled on Angharad Handmade as it felt like it had a nicer ring to it.

3. Do your friends and family know about your blog? What do they think of it?

I’ve mentioned taking photos for my blog just in passing to friends and family, but no more than that, and I don’t think any of them have actually seen it! That’s with the exception of my husband and children. My children, particularly my 4 year old daughter, find it incredibly amusing that I might take photos of our lunch for my blog (actually my husband is likewise amused by this!). Other than taking a slightly perverse interest in my ‘7 weird things about me’ post, I don’t think my husband has seen this blog! That’s fine by me though – I have a feeling I would get ribbed endlessly by my family if they read my ramblings!

4. How do you write posts?

I just log in and type away. Usually there’s a photo of some kind to share in the post, which is what I’ll start with. My style (ha!) is rambling away, with very little editing unless I find an ungrammatical sentence (though I probably don’t even notice my own mistakes for the most part).

5. Have you ever had a troll or had to delete unkind comments?

Luckily, so far, no! I have had a couple of those spammy ‘Look here and here’ comments which I’ve deleted straight away!

6. Do you check your stats? Do you care how many people read your blog? If you do care, how to you increase traffic?

When I first discovered stats I was hooked for a few days – it’s so amazing, in particular, to see people coming to my blog from far away locations! I also keep a vague eye on my subscriber totals – it’s always nice to see the figure going up, and I try not to get disheartened when the total goes down! I don’t actively seek to increase traffic, though I do post links to my blog on my flickr photos if it’s something I’ve blogged about.

7. What kind of blogs/posts interest you?

I love reading crafting blogs, especially those where you get a glimpse of the personality of the author. I am a sucker for tutorials – it’s great that other’s share their skills and ideas so freely. I hope I’ll be able to share a tutorial or two of my own as a step towards being a fully-fledged crafting blogger! My sidebar has a list of the blogs which I read which I’m currently adding to.

8. What do you like and dislike about blogging?

Most of all I love getting comments from people who have read my blog – this is the nicest and most unexpected part of blogging for me. It’s lovely to have regular readers who pop in to say hello, as well as new readers, and people just passing through who stop to comment. I also love the fact that my blogging keeps me crafting – I love the feedback I get on new designs through my blog.

As for what I don’t like – so far so good! I can’t think of anything to say, other than maybe my self-consciousness sometimes about putting my own thoughts and makes out there. Sometimes I feel that the photographs of my lunch are much less interesting than the photos of other people’s lunches that I’ve seen!

I'll pass this on to AnnieB at Overmilkwood, Two Hippos, and Driftwood, if they'd like to join in the self-reflexive blogging!

Sunday, 16 March 2008

My weekend in pictures

Nice bits and pieces for Sunday lunch - homemade butternut squash soup, ham sandwiches and scones baked with my daughter this morning. I like this picture as you can see from the blurring how fast those small hands are reaching for the goodies! I did make them eat their soup and sandwiches first though!

Finished sewing - another baby bib and a set of coasters ...

... and two clutches/wristlets in that retro tea and coffee cup print. All destined for my etsy shop this week!

Trying to keep up the sewing momentum, so I've cut out another bag ready to sew. I'm also waiting on some extra fabric from ebay so that I can finish off the quilt I began a week or so ago, so plenty to keep me busy. Lots of small person crafting on the cards too, as we've some Easter cards and a bonnet to finish!

Friday, 14 March 2008

Did I mention that I love books?

... did I mention that I love books? I've got a wishlist as long as my arm, which seems to grow daily (the list, not the arm!). I'm forever finding new books to add from browsing people's blogs or looking at flickr. Lately I've been thinking it would be handy to learn a bit more about pattern drafting for clothes as I don't have masses of dressmaking experience, so I've added two more books to the list, Sew-U by Wendy Mullin and Sew Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp. Unfortunately neither is available through my local library, but I do have a birthday coming up next month, so I might drop a few well-placed hints to my husband!

It's Friday, and we've a free weekend stretching out in front of us, which is nice. There's definitely going to be some kiddie crafting on the horizon as we've just had a letter home from my daughter's nursery to say that there will be an Easter bonnet competition next Thursday - I'm sure we'll have fun with that! Probably some sewing too. It's bibs and wristlets this weekend as I've got the pieces all cut out. I'm trying to make a few small things every week at the moment with the aim of increasing my stock ready for a craft fair near Covent Garden in June. At the moment there seems to be plenty of time ahead, but this will be my first craft fair, so I'm keen to avoid leaving everything till the last minute!

Other things to do this weekend probably include making soup. I've discovered that my little boy will eat any vegetable or combination of vegetables in soup form, so we've been having homemade soup and a sandwich for lunch for weeks now. I usually just toss in whatever I have to hand (today it was butternut squash, potato and onion). I've had this book for a while now, though, and I've yet to cook anything from it, so I might try the split pea and leek soup - yum!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Trips to the library

I love libraries! Having been a student for 8 years, I've spent a lot of time in libraries. I whiled away hours in the British Library when I was working on my PhD. When I was at Oxford I loved going to the Radcliffe Camera or the Upper Reading rooms of the Bodleian library and looking out over the dreaming spires, and to the beautiful Taylor Institution library where I sat up in the gallery looking over St Giles. My college library was right next to my room and accessible 24 hours a day - handy for those 2am visits to finish an essay at the last minute! It had lovely book lined booths with an individual desk in each. I'd like to think it was the beautiful surroundings which made it easier for me to work, but actually the fact of being trapped in a library with someone else sitting opposite probably had more to do with it. The best and most productive trips to the library were those when I went with my friend, and we mutually guilt-tripped each other into working, despite each of us being in on the secret!

Now, as a mother of two young children I'm rediscovering local libraries, which I haven't really used since I was a child. My children really love a trip to the library. It easily takes a whole afternoon as they like to settle in for a long reading session on the beanbags, and the walk there and back takes an hour. We always take our bookstart book bag to fill with books, and my daughter always insists that we get our full allowance of 10 books, so it always comes back full to bursting! At the moment, Percy the Park Keeper and Paddington Bear are firm favourites with both the children. My daughter also has a tendency to pounce on any 'scary' stories like Where the Wild Things Are or The Gruffalo in spite of the fact they keep her awake at night!

Here's what I've got on loan at the moment (you may notice a slight crafting bias to my choices!):

Denyse Schmidt's Quilts

Sew What! Skirts

The Complete Practical Encyclopaedia of Needlecrafts

Apples for Jam

I'm really enjoying flicking through these when I get a spare five minutes and getting ideas for things to make.

I always have some sewing or cook book on request from other libraries in the county (currently waiting for The Gentle Art of Domesticity). I have to say, having access to a legal deposit library would come in handy now, in my search for all the crafting books I'm hankering after having seen them on other crafting blogs!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Why I should not sew on Sunday evenings ...

I really thought it was a good idea. I was going to make a little photo holder, handbag sized, for photos of my children. I'm always embarrassed, and feel rather inadequate, when other mums are able to whip out photos of their children (and recent ones!) on request and I have nothing to show. I must be a very bad mother as I don't have any photos in my bag. I do have two in my violin case (since being shamed by other mums with photos of their children in their violin cases!), but they were taken well over a year ago and so are in need of updating. So cue the handmade mini photo album.

I bought these Amy Butler prints months ago, and have been hanging on to them wondering what to make till I hit on this project. I could picture it perfectly in my head - lovely crisp edges and contrast pink topstitching, a bright pink ribbon tie. Oh well - it wasn't to be, apparently. Maybe this is a lesson to me not to try and make things on the hoof on a Sunday evening.

Looks a bit sorry for itself, doesn't it! I didn't even bother sewing closed the turning gap to finish it as it was clearly a lost cause. I'm going to revisit this project though, as there are aspects of it I'm quite pleased with. It's just the overall construction that was off - too many layers, I think. Plus the vinyl didn't enjoy being turned right side out and has gone crinkly (the photo seems to disguise this a bit, but it's really bad in the flesh!).

It's good to learn from your mistakes. It's just nicer to learn by getting things right first time!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008


pieced quilt top

What a gorgeous day it's been today! We made our way up to the farm again this afternoon (our season tickets were a kind gift from my husband's grandmother and have been well-used). Just me and the children this time, meeting with some friends as my husband was at work. We had the unexpected excitement of seeing a kid being born this time, which was amazing. There were a few awkward questions to be answered (my 4 year old daughter specializes in awkward questions!), but the children were delighted by the whole thing. It was so amazing to see the kid up on its feet within minutes. Awww! And did I have my camera with me? No of course not, but I hope I'll be more organised next time.

A busy week this week as I've got an orchestra concert on Saturday (I play the violin), so I'm trying to shoehorn in some much-needed last minute practice when I can. This is much to the amusement of my children who always give their daddy the slip to come and find me and dance Irish-style jigs, no matter what kind of music I'm playing!

It's only Wednesday, and I feel as if it should be Friday already! What I have found though, is that now that I am short of time, I seem to have become a lot more focused. Unbelievably, I reached the bottom of the ironing pile yesterday evening! (I really wasn't sure it existed, and despite my recent resolution to tackle it, I had only made the barest indent on it till now). I've also made a dress for my daughter, and stitched together my quilt top. And I spent this evening cutting out the pieces for another set of coasters and another small baby quilt like this one for a friend who's expecting a baby next month. Okay, so none of the projects have been finished so far (even the dress still needs to be hemmed), but it's fits and starts or nothing this week, so I'm going for the small-but-achievable tasks approach.

Spring dress for my daughter- needs a hem, and some kind of embellishment - not sure what yet!

Finally, I've been tagged by three people at once, all UK etsy folks, namely KMCDesigns, debsmuddle and kittypinkstars. I'm actually going to sit this one out though, as I did the 7 weird things about me recently, and while I could easily (maybe a little too easily) find another 7 weird things about me to share, I think that probably I shouldn't reveal that I am any weirder than I have already!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

This is the lovely card and gift made for me by my 4 year old daughter. The vase of flowers was made at school, and they even sprayed perfume on to give them a scent, which is sweet. Then the beautiful card painted under Daddy's supervision yesterday. Most lovely of all was her handwritten envelope. I am such a proud mummy!

Slightly more abstract, but no less lovely for it, was my little boy's effort. He's only 2 and was so pleased with himself. He told me it was a 'night time picture', but also took care to point out the circle detail at the bottom!

I was treated to a bacon sandwich for breakfast, courtesy of my husband, and more flowers to follow the St David's day daffodils yesterday. It was so sweet to see the children so proud of their efforts, and I got a few extra cuddles too!

This afternoon I got a bit of time off for good behaviour so I finished off the bag I was working on yesterday. Just a magnetic snap to attach, the pleating at the front and slipstitching the lining closed. It's been pressed, photographed, and listed in my etsy shop. I'm happy with how this one turned out. I'd drafted a new pattern based on a handbag I made a little while ago, and tweaked it a little as I went along. So here's the finished item:

I really love this print - it reminds me very much of a Portmeirion Totem dinner service my parents had when we were growing up. I used to love having hot drinks in the little brown coffee cups. I bought the same fabric in a different colourway too, so there will be more tea and coffee cups to come!

Saturday, 1 March 2008

A day at the farm

Happy St David's Day! We haven't done anything in particular to celebrate the day, though my children did buy me some daffodils, which I love. I didn't even cook leeks for dinner, but chilli filled tacos, which would be difficult to pass off as traditional Welsh fare!

The wind has been howling here all day, but we braved the chill to go out to the local farm park this morning. The children love it, and it's right on our doorstep, so we often go in the afternoons after nursery, but today daddy was in on the trip too (which was lovely as I got to sit down with a cup of tea while he climbed the hay bales with them for a change!).

My daughter's theme for the coming weeks at nursery is animals, so I'm sure she'll tell them on Monday about the main excitement of the day, which was a very large billy goat trying to eat her ponytail! This was the same billy goat who a couple of weeks ago tried to eat my little boy's scarf. We'll tread more carefully around him in future!

Sewing time this evening, which I've abandoned for the moment, as so many things have gone wrong. I'm really near the end too, I just need to attach a magnetic snap and slip stitch the lining closed, but I sense that if I do it now I'll end up making a hash of the snap and the whole bag will be misaligned. I've finally learned when it's time to stop for the day! But here's something I made earlier in the week, in the same fabric, as I find myself unable to write a post without a picture of two:

I've also cut out some squares ready to start a small quilt next week. This is where my rotary cutter and mat come in to their own - it's just so satisfying cutting out little piles of identically sized squares (hopefully!). I'm looking forward to getting started on this project as I so love this Summer in the City fabric collection by Urban Chiks.

Next week's a busy week though, so I'm not anticipating too much sewing time. This one will just have to wait for the time being. Hopefully I'll have some bag pictures to post tomorrow though!
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