Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Once in a blue moon...

Yes, it's a blue moon - the one we are told things happen only the once in, but which turns out to describe the second full moon in a 4 week cycle. As the saying suggests though, they come around but infrequently, and if today is anything to go by, I say THANK GOODNESS FOR THAT!

Thankyou to Michael Rhyne for this photo - it's amazing isn't it?

I was up bright and early and full of creative beans, and I also felt inspired to do some 'finishing off' - this should have been my clue that the wisest action at such times is to crawl back under the duvet until tomorrow. Like all good creative types I always have lots of work in progress, and many things which never quite make it out of the work in progress basket. My first job of the day was to tackle one of these.

I stitched, very carefully and lovingly, a beautiful sampler in my favourite colour, red. I did the stitching, uh hum <cough>, in 2011... It has been languishing in many a to-do list to get this sampler framed. After all, I did spend about four months sewing it. It is pretty big and very complex, guaranteed to be a test for your eyesight and your patience. It was done by way of a graph thingy (I'm sure there's a proper embroidery term for this, but I don't know it! Oh, hang on, turns out it's a chart), which I bought from The Historical Sampler Company. Just to complicate things a little more, I opted for using some rather lovely irish linen instead of the nice simple Aida suggested by the chart designers. They may have had a point there!

So, I've been meaning to send this to the picture framers, but pennies are a little tight and there always seems to be a bit more month left after the budget has been blown (mostly in yarn shops!), so I decided I'd do it myself. I mean, how hard can it be? I've been carrying the dimensions around in my handbag for months, and found one in Ikea that, whilst being a little bit larger, would do the trick nicely. Then I was told it needed to be mounted on acid free mounting board. Ah, a little fly in the ointment.

Then last week I was in Bristol and popped into a shop known locally as Wilcos (Wilkinsons) - I'd never been in there before and so had a field day buying all the folders and post its I would need for the coming study year (OK, for the rest of my life would be nearer the point), and then I discovered they do cheap picture frames... And one EXACTLY the right size (give or take a centimetre or two). So in the shopping bag it went, only to languish for another week while I built up the courage to have a bash.

OK, so it turns out the frame is cheap because the glass is actually 'glass' (aka plastic) but, beggars can't be choosers... After all, if I could choose I'd have a solid oak frame made and mounted by a professional!

I used the mount they supplied to sew the embroidery over - I've seen this in books and it looks just like lacing up a corset. Not that I have ever laced up a corset, but I've watched enough Merchant Ivory films to know ALL about it, and I imagine it's kind of similar. The first hints that things were not going according to plan began when I couldn't thread my needle... Oh, it turned out I was trying to thread a pin! (lol)

Into the frame it went and BAZINGA, I had a somewhat disappointing grand reveal... It's only blooming wonky. So once in blue moon, I am inspired to have a go at something that surely, can't be that hard - only to find that actually, it is. But hey, I have done another once in a blue moon thing... I've finished a long term project! That's got to be worth a Blue Moon Hurrah.

(oops it looks like that 'glass' is rather reflective!)

While we're on the subject of Blue Moon Disasters... I managed to make a total BMD in the kitchen today too. I had a sudden craving for Falafel after someone mentioned Berlin and Food in their blog. When I went to Berlin - around the same time as the famous wall was coming down - I ate endless Falafel, and so it thus, the Falafel Capital of Europe in my mind. Well my falafel were falfelling awful. I don't know what went wrong but I believe they ought to have been renamed Fa-LAUGH-el.

And those pictures are of the best ones! The rest were faluaghel goo paste. Needless to say my gills are now feeling a little green (well, there was nothing else for dinner!) and I am now on the ultimate quest for a fool-proof (or should that be Rachel-proof?) falafel recipe.

Happy Blue Moon folks, and thank goodness they only come once in the proverbial ;-)

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Mandala cushion

I was recently commissioned to make a gift for a couple's 40th wedding anniversary. That all sounds a bit posh really. Actually my Mum asked me to make her friend a cushion - that's more like the truth! She was looking through some of my crochet magaznes and found a mandala design that she loved. 

I thought a mandala made the perfect gift for a wedding anniversary - especially a 40th! - because the mandala symbolises unity and love. (altogether now - ahhhhhh)

Only problem was it was too small to be a useful cushion... So - infinitely confident of my abilities - I was asked by Mum to make it substantially bigger.

I used the pattern in the magazine, which seemed rather familiar... Turns out it is pretty similar to Made in K-Town's Little Spring Mandala. I had to ad-lib the colour repeats, which took a bit of fiddling to ensure it was more or less flat - too many stitch increases and you have something that resembles the skirt of a whirling dervish! Actually it ended up being a bit frilly, but I think I pulled it off with the fat cushion inner.

I backed the cushion with a plain round back in stripes that repeat the colours on the front.

The cushion got a bright pink liner - chosen so that it shows through the rather open design on the front - and some pink buttons to make it a removeable cover (the lady this was destined for has a dog!),added a scalloped edge and hey presto the cushion is complete.

I'd like to say it was a doddle... well the bit where I had a pattern was, the rest of it was rather frustrating as I kept having to unpick it and do less stitches. I think I need some more practice before I launch myself into the world of pattern deisgn!

Pip would dearly have liked to have this cushion for himself, but had to make do with the old manky one on the sofa, much to his chagrin. Yes, that's Pips chagrinned face.

The really great part of this project (other than finally finishing it) was to hear the response from Mum's friend - she loved it. Her husband, said that he's not allowed to touch the cushion and can no longer sit in his favourite chair, because that's the cushion's chair! I had to laugh at that.

For the cushion I used a pattern from Simply Crochet (issue 7), DROPS Paris cotton yarn and a 4mm hook. The feather cushion inner was from Design-A-Cushions. And lots of patience ;-)