Sunday, 27 July 2014

Fun With Yarn

So far, this weekend's craftiness has been all about yarn!

My main crafty task has been catching up on my sky pompom making:


I'm supposed to be making a pompom a day to record the sky, but actually what's been happening is that I write down my sky colours for the day and then make a big batch of pompoms all at once. This lot are almost finished - they just need trimming to be nice and neat (like these pompoms I made for June) and labelling with their dates.

With all the amazing hot weather we've been having lately, it's not surprising to see that I've used lots of bright blue this month!

Yesterday I also finished sewing in the yarn ends on the patchwork blanket pieces I blogged about last weekend...


... and I've been knitting some more blanket squares. I finished the turquoise blue yarn and have just started the lilac which is proving a pleasure to knit with. The large squares will be added to this blanket, then the leftover yarn will be knitted into more mini moss stitch squares for my patchwork blanket.


My knitting got abandoned mid-row last night because of our cats was very loudly demanding some bedtime cuddles. Knitting is all very well and good, but kitty cuddles = always more important.


P.S. I just bought my tickets for the Festival of Quilts! Yay! I decided to treat myself to two days at the Festival this year (Friday & Saturday) because there's always so much to see. Can't wait. 

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Handel House Museum... and a Crafty Cuppa

Man, I am so far behind with blogging about my Nice Days Out! I have been taking days off and going to fun places, just not getting round to editing all my photos and blogging about my trips.

Waaaay back in June, it was time for the second Crafty Cuppa of the month so I headed up to London for the day. My plan was to do a whole bunch of tourist-y stuff before lunch, then head over to the Natural History Museum where we were meeting at 2pm. Unfortunately I had a bit of a slow start that day - I can't remember if this was due to laziness or me needing to get something done before I left, but whatever the reason the end result was the same: I got into London much later than expected and didn't have a lot of time to spare before I'd have to hop on the Tube and head NHM-wards.

Only having time to squeeze in one thing from my planned list, I picked visiting the Handel House Museum. I'm not at all interested in classical music so you'd think visiting the home of a famous composer wouldn't be my cup of tea... but I was really looking forward to it after after visiting the Foundling Museum earlier this year and learning a bit about Handel's life and philanthropic work. Plus, like the Foundling Museum, the Handel House Museum is another place I can get in free with my Art Pass. Hurrah!

The house is just off super-fancy New Bond Street, with the entrance tucked round the back of the building.


You go down a little side street...


... turn right, and there it is.

 

When you arrive at the house, there's an introductory video to watch but I skipped this because I knew I was going to be short of time. Once you've been introduced to Handel and his work, you can explore his house and then look round the exhibitions in the adjoining building (where Jimi Hendrix once rented a flat!).

The rooms have been restored and furnished with pieces that are similar to ones known to have been owned by Handel, with lots of portraits and other pictures on the walls relating to his life and work. In each of the four rooms, you learn about a different period of Handel's life - there are detailed information sheets that tell you about the composer's life and about all the objects and art in the rooms. 

Now, sitting and reading lots of facts about a long-dead composer and his life in Georgian London is not for everyone but I loved it and I got so absorbed reading the interesting sheets in each room (and making notes, because I am that much of a nerd) that I totally forgot to check the time... and all of a sudden I had to rush to catch the Tube! So, no time to look round the exhibition but maybe I'll pop back in another day? 

I got to the Natural History Museum just in time (phew) for the Crafty Cuppa.


I was joined by Julie, Carina and Fiona and it wasn't long before we were nattering away about making and blogging while enjoying a cuppa and some very yummy cake in the museum's cafe. The plan had been to wander round the museum but unfortunately it turns out the the NHM is very stuffy on a hot day, so we decided to go for a walk instead.

We checked out a photography exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society...


... then walked through Hyde Park...

 
 
 

... and visited the Sackler Serpentine Gallery.

 

Finally, after much walking and chatting we headed to Kensington High Street...

 

(I held everyone up so I could cross the road to take a photo of this building - typical blogger behaviour - isn't it delightfully bonkers?)


... then said our goodbyes at the Tube station and headed homewards.

Such a lovely afternoon.

PS There will be two more Crafty Cuppas happening in August! You can see the dates & some more details here and I'll be blogging the full meet-up info at the start of the month. Carina & Julie (as part of the &Stitches team) are also hosting a stitch-y picnic on the first weekend of August which looks like a lot of fun.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Crafty Ladies: Meet Sarah Fordham

Today I'm sharing the first post in a fun new series: Crafty Ladies! Each fortnight, I'll be introducing a new Crafty Lady who'll be chatting about her work and sharing a few crafty tips. I've met so many talented designers and makers over the years, I'm really looking forward to introducing you guys to some of them.

First up: Sarah Fordham, whose excellent book X-Stitch I reviewed earlier this year. Sarah's cross stitch designs - which she sells via her Etsy shop Magasin  - range from the super cute to the slightly sweary and are always so much fun!

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Hello!

My name is Sarah Fordham and I am addicted to cross-stitch and embroidery. I am originally from 'The Garden of England' (aka Kent) but have found myself living in the North for many years now. I now call Manchester my home. Most of my week is spent at my 'day job' which is at a glorious shop called Cath Kidston -  famous for it's floral and quirky prints, it is 'the home of modern vintage' and a very inspiring place to work. As much as I would love to be fully self-employed and sat at home all day stitching I know I would miss the social aspect of my job.

I am known for both my potty-mouth (I'm trying to be better, honest!) and peanut butter KitKat Chunky addiction. Oh, and last year my first book 'X-Stitch' was published, which is probably the only cross-stitch book that has budgies on the front cover.

http://bugsandfishes.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/book-review-x-stitch.html

Recently I’ve been stitching…

... some dinosaur themed badges! I bought some Dinosaur print fabric from my day job on a whim, and doodled on it with a washable pen and then hand embroidered flowers over the top. I made a small batch of these dinosaur doodles into badges and they have sold out already! It's one of those funny things where what you see as a doodle and something a bit silly, everyone else sees as great, I guess. Typically the things I think will be a hit never are!


I’ve been working on… 

... organising some embroidery workshops! My work pal and illustrator Ian Halawi and I have teamed up as Drawing Threads which aims to combine both of our disciplines of drawing and stitching. We hosted our first 'Creative Embroidery' workshop at Manchester's Craft and Design Centre earlier this month. We want to run a series of workshops, and even go around the country to whoever will have us. We also want to set up a regular craft club so we're rather busy brainstorming and planning it all at the moment.

I have also been taking a brief break from cross-stitch and getting back into tapestry again. I am LOVING it! I did a lot of it during my time at university where I first taught myself. This time around I have made a largescale Devo themed piece and I've started planning a Bill Murray / Steve Zissou themed pattern as he looks just like sailor-themed pre-printed tapestries you can buy. The only problem is that my Devo piece has joined my pile of 'needs to be finished' pieces and I haven't had the time to start my Steve Zissou piece yet!

 


I’ve been blogging about…

Well, I have a confession... I set up 'www.sarahfordham.com' recently and I STILL haven't got around to making it look pretty and writing on it yet. I have just received my copy of 'Mollie Makes Guide to Blogging' through the post today, so I will be digesting all of that tonight! If you have faith that I will get posting soon, do bookmark my blog!


I’ve been reading…

...I am a very lazy reader, but Manchester's City Library has recently had a mega refurb' so I have popped in a couple of times. Recently I got myself a heap of art books from there. I am mainly flicking through a couple about Tracey Emin as I have been contemplating making quilts and wall hangings in a similar applique style to her work.

While I stitch, I've been watching... 

I was recently off work for two solid weeks after having my tonsils yanked out, and I confess I watched the entire collection of The Sopranos in record time! There may have been days where I realised I had watched it back-to-back for 13 HOURS straight (yes, you read that right). Boxsets are great for stitching to – I always go back to My So Called Life too as that's a classic!

I haven't YET made any mafia or Jordan Calatano related pieces yet, but the things I watch and listen to can inspire my stitchery. I made a few Beastie Boys 'Brouhaha' pieces recently which I love! Also, some 'good friend / bad friend' badges inspired by an episode of Girls.

 
 


Sarah’s Top Tips for Cross-stitch and Embroidery:

1. Who cares if it's the 'right way' of doing it? Do it your way and only follow the text books so far. I hated cross-stitch when I first tried it as it seemed too much of a headache. As soon as I picked it up again just to play around with, I fell in love with it!

2. Metallic thread is the enemy. It may look nice but it is a bitch to work with. If I dare to go there I like to keep the thread I'm using pretty short as it is bound to snag and snap otherwise!

3.Stitch what YOU want to stitch and don't pay too much attention to what everyone else is doing. I used to get bothered by the odd person copying designs I had made, but now I think, 'what of it?' they weren't able to come up with their own in the first place so they won't be getting very far. Keep improving on what you're doing and most importantly, enjoy it!

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Sarah's new website is still in progress, but in the meantime you can find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also follow her new venture Drawing Threads on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

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