Christmas bits and pieces

We bought and decorated a tree at the weekend and I do like having it in the corner of the room, smelling all pine-y and nice! We got a Norwegian spruce so the needles will drop everywhere, but it was cheaper, smells stronger, and looks bushier so I like it, though it’s a shame the thin branches can’t hold the weight of bigger decorations. I think it looks better in real life than in the photo.

Christmas Tree

The prosecco on the mantlepiece, by the way, was given to my husband allegedly by a pigeon, for rescuing it from the chimney of his office at work… something to do with it being stuck and him putting a light underneath to lure it down and release it, when the works department wouldn’t help. The tag is written in very small writing and says he – the pigeon – has 20 baby pigeons who would have missed their daddy at Christmas. Someone in his office has a sense of humour! (I think the prosecco was left over from an office function, maybe the one he missed when we got snowed in).

I finished a hat I started knitting when staying with my parents. The directional knitting was okay until right at the end, when there would have been a strange lump so Mum and I just cut it off in its prime and pulled it through the last few stitches to finish it off. I also had a big old to-do when it said to keep knitting until it measured 20 inches, but that that had  to be on row 14 – it was too long when I got to row 14 and no amount of fiddling about with stopping it on a different row worked. I pulled out loads and now can’t tell you whether I pulled it back a whole repeat, or knitted it up again with a tighter tension. The yarn (acrylic) was a brand called Bergat that I hadn’t heard of before. Anyway, it sort-of worked except that it’s too big for me so I have to roll up the brim and with my round face it doesn’t suit me at all! The last hat I knitted wasn’t great either, but I got used to it, then I lost it. Perhaps I should give up on hat knitting.


Lastly, I made this cross stitch Christmas card kit for my brother, with beads. I really like the design, it’s effective yet simple (if a bit fiddly). This kit was in a sale but still really more than I should pay for a Christmas card, but I’ve kept the pattern and it should be easy to get the fabric and threads to make again. The worst part was putting it into the card holder using double-sided sticky tape. Only in the photo (which is on my mantlepiece at home for display purposes before I sent it) have I noticed the top of the pot looks wonky, I don’t know how, perhaps the fabric stretched when I stuck it to the card. Oh well, too late now. It’ll remind him of me at Christmas, like I’d let him forget (hee hee)!!!



Work Christmas carol service tonight then drinks and nibbles. Maybe having it on a Monday is to dissuade us from staying too late!



Cathedral Windows Christmas tree decoration

I’m just back from a week staying with my parents in the home I grew up in Northumberland (for those who don’t know it, a county in the far north east of England, bordering Scotland, with hills and a beautiful coastline). While there I made a Christmas tree decoration using a pattern I bought on Craftsy months ago. I’ve never done cathedral windows before, and think the effect of them is stunning, but knew that when the pattern introduction said it would be ‘easy’, ‘quick’, and ‘simple’, that wouldn’t be true – at least not for me!

It’s a double-sided decoration, the ‘O’ shape on one side and ‘X’ on the other. I followed the instructions with not the least idea of where they were heading. It’s a bit like origami, but with sewing. At least I though to use spray starch, because the pieces are tiny.

Here are the two sides after the first stage was completed:


Can’t explain how I did it (and if I’d known what it would look like once unfolded would probably have positioned the left and right green triangles so the fabric pattern wasn’t facing the same way, but as it turns out you can’t see that when it’s finished); but the pattern if anyone would like to do it is by Shelley’s Studio. The green is scraps left over from the Christmas cushion cover I made for my brother last year. Hope he remembers to bring it out this year!

Then you sew a third colour on at the corners, and open up pieces to reveal the colours beneath, and sew them down. Rather like slits in Tudor gentleman’s robe, I suppose. This is one side mid-process:

O midway compressed

Unfortunately I forgot that I am hopeless at binding, at least the part where you have to get the beginning and end to fit together. I also definitely needed a longer piece of binding. I cut the pieces before going home and took them with me on the train, so when the pattern said ‘at least 14 1/2 inches’ I cut it to exactly that but should have made it longer. Although it’s a single rather than double binding I turned the edge up to stop it fraying, which the pattern didn’t mention though I think it looks better. But I ended up with not enough to make the fourth corner mitred like the others, and with a lump, not to put too fine a point on it, at the point where the start and finish of the binding met. So all I could do was make it as neat as possible and try to hide it under a thicker piece of velvet ribbon hanging than I would have chosen. Fortunately Mum had some I could use, because I forgot to bring any with me. I would have preferred to have the end of the hanging ribbon inside the binding, but even without the mess at that corner which needed to be disguised, couldn’t work out how to do that.

The overall effect of the finished item is nice, though the ‘X’ has come out better than the ‘O’. I would make one again, but be prepared to spend a long time on it. I wanted to leave this one with Mum and Dad so stayed up late, a Christmas ‘tradition’ I really must stop!

The ‘X’ in two different lights (to try and show the gold snowflakes):

X compressedX on wood


And the ‘O’:


And in situ (blurred I’m afraid, I was in a rush)!:

tree compressed

Changing seasons

We went on holiday to the North Pennines a month ago, but it doesn’t feel so long ago; so much crafting has been going on since then! Before we left, I finished this autumn jumper, in Rowan British sheep breeds boucle:


It’s perhaps a size too big (the last two having been a size smaller than I would have liked it seems this time I over-compensated), but I like it.

I took projects with me on holiday that I can’t do on the train so don’t get much attention unless I’m on leave… an ‘extreme knitting’ rug, the quilt back and leaf shapes to do applique, and my cross stitch cushion cover. Also the pieces for the next autumn block, the wool to knit snowmen Christmas tree decorations, and even some pieces to make cathedral window Christmas tree ornaments. Good to have a choice! In the end, I focussed on the cross stitch, though mostly when on the long car journey, and the rug. Neither are finished, but are close, if I could have continued to focus on them when I got back.

Had some nice days when away…

And some less nice…


… but it was great to be away.

When we got back, I did finish the autumn block:


This reused the dark orange fabric in the centre that came from a block I’d dismantled, and used most of what’s left of a fabric I bought on ebay at the beginning of the project and which is best used for ‘fussy cutting’ because the motifs aren’t close together. It is an old fabric, thin and frays easily, so I’m a bit worried about how long it will last in the quilt. It’s quite hard to sew fabrics of different thicknesses together and I know this has ‘issues’! The tan coloured fabric is Moda and is very useful for autumn projects.

A last burst of colour in a London park a couple of weeks ago  (complete with dustbin, sorry!):


Since then, I’ve been working on a Christmas present which I really need to have finished by this coming Friday, when I’m getting the train to stay with my family for a bit as sadly I won’t see them at Christmas, so if I have it finished in time I can take it with me rather than trusting it to the post. It uses the sewing machine so really I can only do it at weekends – evenings in an emergency but I’m tired when I get home from work and make mistakes – but these last few weekends have been busy, with my husband’s family visiting and other things, so it’s not gone as smoothly as I’d have liked. I should finish it by working on it these next few evenings, it’s just something I’ve never done before so I’m doing a lot of reading and re-reading of instructions!

Then these little fellows have kept me occupied… They had to be delivered to church yesterday, to be put with other items to be sold at the church Christmas Tree Festival next weekend. So early! I feel like Christmas is over with before Christmas Day is even in sight, it’s so confusing and the day itself a bit of an anti-climax, I guess that’s getting older but with no children of my own – sorry, that’s a bit depressing. I’ll have to get used to it, because that’s the way it’s going to be now, best make the most of it. My in-laws will come to us on Christmas Day so at least it’s not just the two of us. I’ll try not to stress out about the cooking, when people are older they have fixed likes and dislikes which take precedence and that makes me anxious, but I should calm down and try to get a sense of perspective, because it’s okay really. At least on home turf I can have a glass of wine with Christmas dinner, which they don’t do. Anyway, here are the finished snowmen, which took me an insane amount of time to finish, the earliest I went to bed each night last week was 11, past midnight some nights, and I get up for work at 5.50. Crazy little snowmen!





Frosty photos

(Nothing to do with crafting!)

Frosty morning today, as well as misty, so I got out about 9.30 and took some pictures. It was melting by the time I got back; sometimes standing still in the woods I was surrounded by crackling noises and dripping as it thawed. I was glad I got out when I did, yesterday I didn’t get out til 2.30 and the best was gone by then. It’s nicer outside than in, though, now I’m sitting in two tops and a jumper and still have cold hands I’ve cracked and put on the heating!


Christmas Cushion Cover

Happy Christmas everyone!

I made this cushion cover for my brother for Christmas (he won’t have opened it yet, but doesn’t know about or read this blog, so I’m safe to show it!). imgp0039The core of the design, the central diamond and eight-pointed star surrounding it, came from a free Accuquilt pattern, though not in Christmas colours. But in that pattern there were pinwheels at each of the four corners and it felt a bit disjointed, like the separate elements didn’t quite connect, so I faffed about for ages (and ages, and ages…) coming up with a different design. I wanted it all to be half-square triangles, and was pleased with the cream eight-point star around the red star because with a very big stretch of the imagination it looks a bit snowflakey. But for the last bit of decision-making, the corners, I had to send my Mum an e-mail with mock-ups of three different designs, because of course I can never quite make up my mind!

I wanted the fabrics to be Christmassy but perhaps not too much so, so that it could be used through the winter as well as just the holiday period, though I suppose I ruined that with the sleigh fabric! That fabric actually deserves a much better showcase, and probably works better when you use larger sections of it so you can get the full picture with the deer pulling the sleighs, so next year I’m going to  see what I can do with it because I did buy quite a large piece with the idea it could be the background for a Dresden  plate design (something I’ve never yet tried). I first bought it so long ago I now can’t remember whose it is, but the others are all  Moda. The red fabric is Bonneheur des Dames, the dark green and the cream with holly are both Christmas Countdown, and the light green is Juniper Berries. Making something where all the fabrics are the same quality because by the same manufacturer is a first for me and I enjoyed that, because others I’ve done have ended up mixing thick and thin, and I find you do notice the difference.

The double border also came from the Accuquilt pattern. The mitred corners were new to me, and I tried to follow the instructions in a book but got a bit stuck at one point, but a nice lady at the craft group I go to helped me out, bless her.

This is it laid out to make a mitred corner, and the diagonal line being stitched. The first one wasn’t great and I did the ones in cream by folding them because I still despite being shown couldn’t quite get how to rule the lines once I’d got home, but I got the hang of it with the second border – whether I’ll remember whenever it is I next do one is another matter, but I was pleased for the time  being! It certainly looks better in this design than square edges would have done.

These two worked quite well…



… this one less so, on the inside anyway. Hopefully won’t notice too much now it’s got the cushion pad inside.


imgp0041The back, which I made using the sewing machine.

It’s actually 19 / 19.5 inches so a 19 inch cushion pad would have been best, but they’re harder to find so it’s got a 20 inch cushion pad and you can see here it’s overstuffed, but I think will squash down in time.

A couple of other angles,

and the finished item beneath the tree at my parents’ house (looking bigger than it is, I reckon).


Enjoying our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, including some homemade decorations that make it personal – snowman with the blue hat and the cross stitch bells by me, the crazy snowman with the tinsel hat by my Mum – don’t know what that tells you, but that’s the one that gets the admiring comments!!!

Happy Christmas! Best go to bed before Santa comes.