Monday, 29 June 2015

A Baa-rilliant Doorstop

Is it just me or does the Summer seem to be much busier than Winter? Maybe in the Winter it's just easier to curl up cosy with some wool and needles, or to ensconce yourself in front of the sewing machine for the whole day without being distracted by the outside world? I don't know but I'm finding it hard to get the time to make as much as I want to at the moment!
Thankfully I do have a list of "have to make" items which gave me the excuse to stop everything to craft.
On top of the list was a sheep doorstop for a friend who asked me to make it for a gift (by the way, please forgive the rather boastful title, I just liked the play on words). I didn't have to ponder for too long on how I would make it- out came the crochet hooks and wool and I designed it as I went along.

For the body, I decided upon a standard creamy, "sheep colour". For added texture I used seven strands of yarn together making it nice and chunky with a 10mm hook.
Four of the strands were the same yarn along with three different yarns of slightly different colour and texture. I started by chaining 5 stitches, adding a round of treble crochets (doubles in US terms) into the chain then continuing to work in rounds of treble crochet.
For the head and tail I switched to black yarn, again using different yarns together, in this case two types, and a 4mm hook.
The head was made with three different crocheted sections sewn together with two ears sewn on once crocheted. I attached the head at a slightly jaunty angle as I always think it gives a slight quizzical impression that I find cute (could be just me).
The tail was was a crocheted strip folded and the sides sewn together. Both were made using double crochet stitches (US singles).
I partially stuffed it with the filling from an Ikea cushion- my go to stuffing of choice, it's so much cheaper than buying the stuffing directly from a craft shop and still meets all the safety requirements!

To give it weight I set plaster of paris in a bowl with odd screws and bolts I had cluttering up a kitchen drawer. I wrapped this in scrap fabric to cushion it. (In a previous post with an owl doorstop tutorial I give more details about weighing it down) 
For the base I sewed a piece of green felt to the bottom row of crochet stitches.
A couple of black beads were sewn on as the finishing touch for eyes.

Fingers crossed she likes him?!
If you would like the actual pattern to create one yourself just let me know and I'll sort it out.
Until next time, craft in earnest! Craftin' Ernest x

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Celebrating in Salisbury

Last weekend my husband and I headed down to Salisbury for a long weekend to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary.

Back in January, when I was booking somewhere to stay I noticed most of the places were fully booked and I thought to myself, "gosh Salisbury is a popular location!"
It wasn't until I had finally booked a B&B after a lot of searching that I thought I would check to see if there was a particular reason for that weekend being so busy.
Indeed there was and it was a case of not putting facts I knew together!
One of the reasons I wanted to go to Salisbury is because the cathedral is home to one of the copies of the Magna Carta, the best preserved one in fact. I was also well aware of the fact that this year is the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. So knowing those 2 facts and that everywhere was almost full right at the beginning of the year you would have thought that I would have worked out that it would be the anniversary whilst we were there! I'm a dope.

Day 1 consisting of exploring and shopping. Fisherton Mill, appropriately located on Fisherton Street, is amazing and most definitely worth a visit! It's a wonderful space filled with exceptional goodies, all of which were exquisitely handmade (perfect for picking up my pops a Father's Day present too). There was a lovely coffee shop on the ground floor with yummy looking cakes but sadly we had just eaten. I was told by another customer though that the coffee was the best he'd had in a long time. Upstairs are a number of studios, well worth exploring.
There was Born To Knit, as the name suggests it was filled with lovely yarns, books and tools. I was very restrained and only bought a single ball of wool but I certainly couldn't leave empty handed. Next to that was Create Escape, a boutique haberdashery and bespoke soft furnishing makers, there I picked up a couple of lovely fat quarters. There were many other studios worth having a look around as well as higgledy-piggledy floor boards and old machinery.
Also on the same street was a wonderful shop called Franklins, the downstairs of which was mainly dedicated to sewing and including machines, fabric threads etc. Upstairs housed all the yarns and books, notions and what-not. All in all another great shop.

Our plans for the Sunday included lots of history and culture, we  went to the cathedral to see the Magna Carta.

We also visited the ruins at Old Sarum managed by English Heritage. We were pleased to discover vintage buses had taken over the main square as the local bus service "Salisbury Reds" which cover Wilts & Dorset routes were celebrating their centenary.
There were lots of vintage buses to be seen and we got to take 2 free trips, one of which dropped us off at the ruins- how handy!

Another part of the celebration was "The Barons' Trail", 25 life-size, decorated baron sculptures representing the barons who represent the wealthy landowners who signed the Magna Carta alongside King John. My favourite was Baron 1 "Conrandin", the design is based on medieval illustrations of the Guilds and craft workers who helped create Britain!

In the evening on our way to dinner we stumbled across some yarn-bombers- appropriately disguised with knitted facial hair.

Their mission was to promote their group Yarn ARTivists, they looked like they were having a lot of fun doing so, this is their Facebook page. Great stuff!

I would recommend a weekend in Salisbury, lots of lovely shops (most importantly good crafty ones) and restaurants and plenty of sight-seeing (although not all the celebrations we were lucky enough to encounter)
Until next time, craft in earnest! Craftin' Ernest x

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

An Easy To Make Button Necklace

On a recent trip to the picturesque city of Wells (the details of which can be read here). I picked up a tin of buttons from a charity shop. On a side note - it was a Quality Street tin which in my experience is by far the nation's favourite container to home buttons once the chocs have gone, as such if I see the familiar glimpse of white and pink in a charity shop or car boot sale my heart does begin to flutter.
Among the treasure inside the tin were these 5 buttons...
They're leather with small sections of thin wire for decoration. They are shank back buttons where the actual shank is a puffy circle of fabric protruding from a hole in the back. There's probably a technical name for them but I don't know it.

Anyway, I thought they'd make an interesting statement necklace so decided to give it a go and it was dead simple.

You will need:

Large buttons- shank ones are good for this but not essential, holed buttons will work
Strong glue (e.g. E6000)
Chain with fastening (e.g. a lobster clasp)
2 jump rings
Pliers (to attach jump rings)

I arranged them until I was happy with the look of them, basically a downward v shape.
I removed the the fabric shanks with scissors.
I then glued them by overlapping so that the bottom button (the point of the v) is lowest, the adjacent two are glued on top on the lowest one. I also put a spot of glue between the edge of these two sticking them together for a bit of extra strength. Then I glued the uppermost two onto the middle two.
I wrapped them with low adhesive tape while the glue dried completely (I left them 24 hours in this instance). Once I was happy they were securely stuck together I removed the tape.
It's then just a case of attaching the chain.
To keep it simple, I just attached a jump ring to each end of chain and glued one to the back of one of the uppermost buttons and the other side to the opposite button.
Again leave to fully dry and then you're all done!
What do you think? Not bad for for a simple make with unusual buttons in my opinion. I'll update with a photo of it being worn when I don't look like I've been dragged through a hedge backwards ;-)
Until next time, craft in earnest! Craftin' Ernest x