Monday, 21 November 2016

Sunny November Days

Winter has arrived! For the last two days we were greeted by this view out of our kitchen window in the morning:

November has been anything but dreary so far this year. The first few days were more like early autumn with mild temperatures and sunny days.

We're out on a walk nearly every day enjoying the autumn sun and until recently sampling the last blackberries which grow in abundance along the roads. I felt a bit guilty giving them to Aidan straight from the bushes without being able to wash them but he loved them and has been fine ever since.

Even though meteorologists tell us that 2016 has been the hottest year on record we haven't felt much of it this summer which was wet and cool. So I'm even happier about this lovely autumn. You hear a lot of complaints about the rain in Ireland and I haven't figured out so far if it's just another example of Irish modesty. I've been asked so many times how I like living in Ireland always followed with the question how I put up with the rain. Though I've never been a fan of hot weather I do sometimes miss a bit of summer and whenever I visit my home in Germany I'm grateful for the heat. On the other hand I do love living in Ireland and the rain is just part of it. There's nothing you can do about it anyway. And while it is sometimes depressing to hear people moan about the rain, there's also the other side to it which is probably an example of Irish optimism: whenever it's not raining you're greeted everywhere with a happy "Isn't it a fine day!!!". No matter how cloudy and cold it is. Such optimism always lifts my mood.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Tutorial: Felt Teddy Bear

Last week I needed a little gift that was quick and easy to make. Looking through some magazines I found instructions for making a teddy filled with rice to use as a heat pad. I liked the look of the teddy but wanted to simplify it as I needed to make three teddies for three kids. That's why I decided to use felt which has the advantage of not fraying at the edges and simply sew front and back parts together with a blanket stitch. It only took me about an hour and a half to make each teddy so I thought it would be nice to make it into a tutorial.

These teddies are an easy beginner's project, requiring only basic sewing skills and a minimum of materials. They make nice little Christmas gifts and are also a great way of using up scraps of fabric.

You will need:
paper pattern (I adapted mine from one I found in a magazine. It's easy to make your own: you won't be turning the teddy inside out after sewing so you don't need to worry about seam allowances)

Felt for the body of the teddy
Scrap of black or grey felt
Scraps of contrasting material ( I used printed cotton, but felt will work as well)
Stuffing material (or some wool yarn; you could even use left over bits of felt)
matching sewing thread
embroidery yarn
sewing needle
embroidery needle

Cut out two identical pieces of felt by pinning your paper pattern on a double layer of felt and carefully cutting around it.

Using contrasting fabric, cut out an oval shape for the belly and two half circles for the inside of the ears.

Pin onto one of the felt pieces and stitch around the edges using blanket stitch. If your contrast fabric is felt you could use running stitch instead of blanket stitch.

Cut the nose out of black or grey felt and stitch onto teddy's face with a few running stitches.

Embroider the eyes and mouth: Make two French knots for the eyes and stitch two little lines for the mouth with another line connecting the mouth to the nose.

Pin the front and back of the teddy wrong sides together and stitch all around the edge using blanket stitch or running stitch. Leave a gap on one side between ear and arm.

Push a little stuffing through the gap and using a pencil push it into the arms and legs. Stuff the rest of the body.

Sew the gap closed.

All done!

They make nice little gifts in their own right or you could use them to spruce up a gift wrap.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Creativity Burst

In the last few days I went through a burst of creativity and what's best, I actually sat down and carried out most of the things that popped into my head. Sometimes it can be hard to find the time for crafting and sometimes when there is time I just feel tired or not in the right mood. When I was pregnant I was worried that the next few years I'd have to stay away from crafting but the funny thing is that I'm doing much more than ever before. I've noticed that before: when there's only a little bit of time you learn to make the best of it. If I had only been that wise when I was younger! All that precious time squandered away!

Saying all this, I had a lot of help last week as my parents in law minded Aidan for a day, so I was able to get more things done than usually. Three hours undisturbed in my sewing room makes all the difference!

Firstly, I finished the scarf I was making for my friend:

It wasn't very hard as I decided to make it a bit shorter than I originally had in mind. All I had to do then was choosing and sewing on the buttons. I used two fabric covered buttons and a wooden one that has flowers painted on it.

As I needed some small gifts for the kids of a friend I sat down made this little guy:

He is the first of three that I since made as they're really quick and easy to do.

I also carved two pumpkins, made pumpkin bread from the Minimalist Baker Cookbook and did a little last minute Halloween decoration. I'm really bad at decorating the house! My friend is always doing a really great job with the outdoor decoration using just a few well selected items. I always get lost in detail and lose sight of the overall picture. But I managed to get the entrance a little bit decorated at least so the trick or treaters could see that they were welcome.

Apart from that I finished a few knitting projects that I had lying around... and started a few new ones. It's so exciting to start something new! It might make more sense to concentrate on one thing on a time but that's not how I do things. There's always at least two projects lying around.

I'll better publish this now and stop my son chasing the cat!