Thursday, December 30, 2010

What I Want to Sew Round-Up

I have my brand new sewing machine. . . what am I going to sew? Even though I'm a beginner I've been having a lot of fun looking around at other peoples blogs and websites for those must-so tutorials I've never had more than a cursory glance at before. It's all so exciting! and a bit scary! 

So what's in my sewing future? 

This Super Simple Nightie at SewMamaSew
The stunning Gathered Clutch at Noodlehead 
The Simple Reversible Bag at Very Purple Person 
This Simple Party Clutch also at SewMamaSew
Amy Butler's Blossom Shoulder Bag once again at SewMamaSew 
Again at SewMamaSew, this Ponytail Scarf

And much more besides! I think some of these are at the moment just a bit beyond my abilities, despite the 'Simple' label on most of them. But we'll see!! 

Is there anything you think is a must-sew tutorial out there? 


That's all for now,


*Sarah*

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Very Crafty Christmas

The presents are all unwrapped, the fridge is being slowly emptied of leftovers and although the tree is still up, I've been enjoying the post-Christmas holiday of sun, drinks (though not to many), eats and family time. It seems that this year those I love have latched onto my passion for all things crafty and many of the gifts I recieved reflected that. I thought I'd show off my favourites, crafty and non-crafty! I'm feeling very spoilt right about now. . .

These cute as and super comfy slippers. I actually got them for myself in the Boxing Day sales, but with a giftcard from my Uncle, so I'm counting them as a present. 

This vintage floral clutch purse. I love love love it, it's so pretty. I really needed a clutch just for those occasions when a bag feels like to much, but I can't really lug around my gigantic wallet which is stuffed full of cards and coins and everything but the kitchen sink. It's actually exactly the same one I featured in this post, good spotting mum!

Some measuring cups and spoons, which will make a welcome addition to my flat kitchen this year. It's amazing how many little things you need for good baking, although I've always managed to make do. Now I just need a rolling pin. . . . 
Also a container of Mod Podge, which I only recently became aware was even available in New Zealand! It's a craft glue and sealer which I've seen innovative bloggers do just about everything with, from coasters to fabric covered shoes! 

My brother gave me this absolute tome of a book (over 300 pages!), I don't think I'll ever need a baking cookbook again!! It's brilliant. Allyson Gofton is a cooking institution here in NZ and her recipes are practical for the home and pretty fool proof. Up until now I've only had several different editions of Edmonds Cookbook, which is also an NZ institution, but of a very different type - it's a slim edition covering those need to know recipes in all genres and traditionally given upon leaving home. I think this new edition to my bookshelf will quickly become well thumbed! 

My beautiful friend Becky made me this absolutely stunning quilted bag. It's amazing, I love it to pieces, her sewing skills are so incredible in comparison to mine!! 

And now for the cherry on the cake. . . .

This is my new baby, a Bernette 66 sewing machine by Bernina. I still can't believe I have my own sewing machine!! I've played on it a little bit to make sure I know how to work it and I have to admit, my skills have already improved by about 10 times working on a machine less than 30 years old. . . although that's probably more the machine than me. It's a bit daunting. . .I've always been a little scared of the sewing machine. But now I have no excuses and I can see 2011 being a bit of a learning curve. But more on that in the New Year!! 

I hope you were all as spoilt at Christmas as I was! 

That's all for now

*Sarah*

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Final Poppies Post

After over a month of waiting my poppies have finally come back from the framers. They did a beautiful job, I really can't believe that I stitched the piece it looks so wonderful! I don't think I can really do it justice with a photo. 


It's now hanging in pride of place and will be for many years to come. Mum made me sign and date the back so "one day when you're famous I can say I have a Sarah ******* hanging on my wall". I pointed out if I'm ever a famous textile artist (unlikely) that she's my mum, and can have all the pieces she wants!

That's all for now,

*Sarah*

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Baking: Malt Treats

Lately I've been doing some Christmas baking. My mum works full time right up until Christmas and as I work an evening shift it means I'm free during the day to do some of the things that traditionally she would do. I admit, it makes me feel a bit old! and shows how my place in my parents home has changed as I get older. 

Anyway, I thought I'd share with you the recipe's for some of my favourite Kiwi Christmas treats. A Kiwi Christmas is very different from those in the Northern hemisphere and my favourite treats are chilled and perfect for a 30 degree (celcius) day. Nevertheless, they make a tasty treat at any time of year really! These are easy recipes from easy to find ingredients - you'll probably have most of them in the cupboard already. I haven't included photos of the method, just the finished product, but honestly it's so easy you don't need them!


Lolly Log
You'll need:
  • 110 grams of melted butter
  • 1/2 tin (200 grams) of condensed milk 
  • Dessicated coconut
  • Vanilla essence 
  • 1 packet of plain malt biscuits (girl guide biscuits, malt milk or wine biscuits are a servicable alternative)
  • 1 packet of fruit puff lollies/sweets/candy. This is the only one that may cause some difficulty for non-Kiwi attempts, as I've never seen the same type of lolly overseas. They are similar to dry marshmallow or confectionary foam. A picture can be seen here. If no substitute can be found, marshmallows can be used just as well although will give a different texture and flavour from the traditional.  
  • Baking paper

To make:
  • Add condensed milk to melted butter and mix well until fully combined
  • Crush biscuits until crumbed (a food processor is the easiest way, adding 2-3 biscuits at a time)
  • Add crushed biscuits to butter mixture with a few drops of vanilla essence. Mix well until forms a crumbly dough. 
  • Chop fruit puffs or similar into halves or quarters according to own preference. Combine with dough. This may not look as if it's combining well - don't worry! Just combine as well as possible. 
  • Tip mixture out onto baking paper and form into a rough log shape. Cover the log in dessicated coconut
  • Roll the baking paper around the log and refrigerate for at least two hours. Slice to serve. The log will keep well for weeks in the fridge! 
 

Marshmallow Balls 

You'll need:
  •  Half a tin (200g) of condensed milk
  • 1 packet of malt biscuits (or similar, see last recipe)
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa
  • 100 grams of butter
  • 1 packet of marshmellows 
  • Vanilla essence 
  • Dessicated coconut
To Make: 
  • Melt the condensed milk, brown sugar, cocoa, butter and vanilla essence together, stirring constantly, but do not bring to the boil. 
  • Crush biscuits (again, a food processor is useful here) and combine with the melted mixture until forms a stiff dough.
  • Break of small parts of the dough (approx two teaspoons) and flatten in hand (having wet hands really helps here). Roll flattened dough around a marshmallow and into a ball. 
  • Roll each ball in dessicated coconut
  • Refrigerate for at least two hours until hard. Again, these will keep easily in the fridge for weeks.



Once again, Merry Christmas everyone! I hope your enjoying your friends, family and a bit of Christmas craft. 


That's all for now,
*Sarah*

Summer Reading Challenge Update: No change :P 
 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Things I Like Friday: Christmas

I admit I do love Christmas. There's just something about it. . . last year I spent my Christmas on the other side of the world with my wonderful man and his family. Nowadays I can't decide what I like better, the traditional white Christmas I had in France and the UK or the typical Kiwi summer Christmas. I think I'll just have to alternate in between! I thought I'd share a little bit of what my parents home looks like at Christmas. Many of our decorations were handpainted by my late grandmother, who was a talented folk artist. 


The small pieces of cross stitch were both done by me several years ago now. The flowers are various types of lilly, the white being the Christmas Lilly that is traditional here and for me smells like Christmas even more than pine does. 

More important than the decorations is remembering the reason for the season. It's a time to thank God for our blessings, our family, our friends and our lives in him. I am truly thankful for the people I have in my life, the abilities and passions God has given me. Craft being one of them! 
God Bless you all and may you have a safe and merry Christmas

*Sarah*

 
 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stocking Up

Yesterday I returned to the city for the day to pick up the keys for my home for next year, do some Christmas shopping, catch up with friends and the like. It was a fantastic day and great to get "out and about"! One of the highlights was a stop off at Spotlight, which is a homeware and hobby store. Unbeknown to me before I arrived, they were having a wool clearance sale with a huge variety going for a dollar a ball. I'd been meaning to get maybe 3 balls of wool for a small project and I ended up with 13!! At $1 a ball though, how could I resist?!? I think I now officially have a wool stash. Which is both exciting and kind of scary, my craft stash has never been huge but lately it's been steadily increasing in ways that haven't over-extended my students budget. 


By luck of the draw the ones I picked out turned out to all be by the same brand, Moda Vera. The one on the bottom left here is actually the same kind of wool I used for my man's scarf and hat set, just in a different colour. I got between 2-4 balls of each kind here.



I've been cleaning out my childhood room lately and during the weekend managed to free up this crate box (it was full of lego sets I hadn't been able to bear dismantling when I packed away my lego years ago. These days I'm a bit more ruthless and realise that lego can be put back together again). With a quick wipe from a wet cloth its become my new wool stash box. 



I also got something new for myself I just had to share. Remember my post about florals and vintage style? 

This was my buy for the day from Cotton On at Dressmart, which is a mall in Christchurch thats main feature is discount stock chain clothing stores. I love the lace detailing around the shoulders and the modern/vintage mix. For me this is very girly in comparison to how I've dressed for most of my life and the first clothing item I've had by choice since I was 6 that can undeniably be called pink. Just goes to show how tastes change through the years!! I think I'm developing my own style more as I approach the end of my teenage years.

That's all for now, stay tuned tomorrow for a special 'Things I like Friday' post! 

*Sarah*

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Writing my recipe file

The other day I did something I've been meaning to do for ages and 'created' my own recipe file. By created I mean I bought a notebook and wrote/glued in all the recipes I've collected and have been gathering dust on numerous scraps of paper and in random computer documents. It was suprisingly hard to find the type of notebook I wanted. . . around 5x7 inches and with a hard cover and binding. Eventually I found what I was looking for by finding a step in the store and investigating the display shelves that are out of most peoples reach. 

I'm one of those people that are naturally organised, so it was nice to finally get rid of all the scraps of paper. Then again, the file itself is somewhat lacking in terms of my usual level of neatness and organisation. I threw the recipes in as I found them, so I've ended up with soups next to desserts next to snacks and the like. But I really don't mind. I'm sure the pages of my favourites will become well thumbed enough that they'll be easy to find. 


Here's a page. On one side Chilli Corn Fritters and on the other Vienna Almonds. The corn fritters I've made so many times now I know them by heart anyway. The almonds are something I only found the other day, in a section of a magazine titled 'edible Christmas gifts to make at home.' Maybe not this year as most of my Christmas gift buying/making has already been done, but it may come in handy for next year. I'm looking forward to filling in a few more pages by then.  ..which reminds me, I must ask my flatmate for her pumpkin cassarole recipe!

That's all for now,
*Sarah*

Summer Reading Project Update
Non-fiction read: 2
Fiction read: 1
Currently reading: "The Political Animal" by Jeremy Paxton (non-fiction), "New York" by Edward Rutherfurd (fiction). Yes another historical epic, who knew I was so predictable?!   

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sew Crafty Phone Sleeve

In a post not long ago I mentioned that I recently got a new touch screen phone and have been a little scared that I'll scratch the screen when I throw it into my bag alongside keys, pens and numerous other pointy things. Solution. . . a chance to rehash my almost non-existent skills on the sewing machine once again. When it comes to sewing I really am a beginner. I haven't consistently used a sewing machine since intermediate school (non-Kiwi's would generally call it middle school). Still I'm always willing to pull out my mum's 20+ year old machine and give things a go in hopes that it will one day magically translate into real ability! 


I used a cotton print for the exterior in lime green, one of my favourite colours. The interior is light blue fleece, that provides the cushioning that the sleeve was designed for without being to fluffy or heavy. The fabric came from just my local store and I got both pieces on special at a fantastic price, though I now have a heap of both left over!!

As you can see, I've done some top stitching in red to match the red buttons. This was my first attempt at buttonholes, which mum's sewing machine didn't really like very much, but it kind of warmed up to the idea eventually. Luckily you can't tell when its buttoned up just how wonky the holes are. The whole thing is also very forgiving of my far from straight top stitching. I think in retrospect I should have used velcro instead of buttons, more for practical use now than ease of creation then - doing up the buttons takes a wee while! I think it also would have been better of with one strap instead of two. Nevertheless it's a truly practical project and I've used it every day since I made it.

I adapted the design from the tutorial here. The Cottage Home is a fantastic blog, and her tutorials are always so easy to follow!


That's all for now,
*Sarah* 

Summer Reading Project Update:
Non-fiction read: 1
Fiction read: 1
Currently reading: "A Land of Two Halves," by Joe Bennett (non-fiction). A hitch-hiking journey around New Zealand by a favourite newspaper columnist/"travel" writer of mine that I've been meaning to read for over a year. I wouldn't really call it travel writing, it's more beautiful and brutally honest descriptive prose. I'd also recommend his book "Where Underpants Come From," in which he traces a pack of underwear bought at a discount retail store here in NZ back through the manufacturing process to a cotton field in China, while analysing how such a phenomenon came to happen in the first place and the new economic dominance of the Chinese industry. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Creative Space: Christmas Stitching


A few Christmas pieces are starting to come together. Is it really December already? It must be, as I start doing the real late night shift at work as store opening hours extend. 

This will probably be the first and last hint of Christmas craft I'm doing this year, as much of it is destined for people I know are regular readers! 

You can see more creative spaces here

For creative space visitors who may have seen my progress on the knitted hat and scarf set, you can see it completed in my last post.

That's all for now,

*Sarah*

Book Update: Still going through The Making of Modern Britain

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mens Scarf and Hat Set

It's finished! I've been working on this set now for what seems like forever (although in reality is actually only a month or two). They've both turned out beautifully and I've taught myself a few new skills in the process. What I've learnt from this project is 

- Purling
- Reading a knit pattern 
- Decreasing 
- Ribbing
- Adding a Fringe to a knit scarf 

I've finished them right in time too, as where my man lives is fast dropping in temperature as the depths of the European winter approach. Just as it's reaching 25-30 degree days here!




I know that these photos don't really do the set justice as a photo of someone modeling them would. But I'm still a bit cautious about showing my face in a setting where anybody can access the photos! So this will have to do :) At the very least they show how beautiful the colours are, although that's down to the wool rather than me. 

The scarf is a simple knit/purl alternate rows until appropriate length. The hat is No.24 Knitted Family Cap (Mens) in Patons Book 483: Winter Warmers. Both are knit with Moda Vera "Athena" green yarn on 6mm needles and it took 4 and a half balls of wool for the two.


That's all for now,

 *Sarah*

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Summer Challenge

As mentioned in previous posts I read. . .a lot. . .I tear through fiction at lightning speeds. During the Uni year however I tend to leave non-fiction. I read so much of it for class anyway - course reading, project & essay reading, textbooks etc - that it's the last thing I want to spend my free time on. But university is now well over for the year, so I've set myself a challenge:

To read at least one non-fiction book for every fiction book

To keep myself accountable I'll probably mention briefly what I'm reading everytime I start something new at the end of my ordinary posts. Hopefully I'll manage to expand my mind a little and get through some of the list of 'non-fiction books I'd like to read but not right now' (I do actually keep a list)

So what am I starting with? My first fiction read of the summer is 

The 3rd in the 'Wilderness Series' it follows the lives of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bonner and their descendants as they make their lives in colonial America. I enjoy historical epics in general and this series immensely so, although I wouldn't recommend it for immature audiences. Each book weighs in at 700-1000 pages, so they really are epics. 

And my first non-fiction? 

One of the ones lent to me by my man's grandparents. It's a popular history of Britain covering the World Wars and the period on either side. Even as a numptenth generation Kiwi I still feel a spiritual affinity to Britain, as would many other Pakeha (of European descent) New Zealanders, and I've always been interested in their history and politics. 

Can I survive the challenge? We'll find out. . as one friend pointed out to me it's perhaps an unfair quota as reading non-fiction often takes far longer than fiction. But I'm a fast reader in general so we'll see how we go. 

For more information on the books I've mentioned or my reading habits in general there's a link to my Shelfari reading record profile in the bookcase on the sidebar --> 

That's all for now,

*Sarah*

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Things I Like Friday: My New Phone!

This week my long suffering phone decided that it had simply had enough of life and committed inpromptu suicide. Which meant I had to go out and buy a new one. My old one was a artefact of the days when phones didn't have sim cards (which in New Zealand wasn't actually that long ago) and on the whole it was pretty basic. On the other hand my new one (bought for the same price my old one was a few years ago) has a touch screen, wifi, digital camera better than my actual digital camera - if you've noticed an improvement in photos over the last few weeks it's because I've been using my parents camera - on the whole it's pretty different from what I'm used to and I admit I kind of love it. I guess I'm a gadgety person hehe.


This is it. Pretty cool huh. I admit I'm a bit worried about the screen getting scratched with my keys or something while it's in my bag, so I think I'm going to be adding a pocket for it onto my project list. I'm thinking of adapting the tutorial here. 

That's all for now. . .though photos of my finished hat/scarf set are coming up! 

*Sarah*
 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gingernuts

Homemade gingernuts cooling on the rack. . .ahhhhhhh. They were good too. One of my many escapades in the kitchen this week. Some have turned out better than others, but I think that's more because I've been trying lots of new recipes rather than my baking skills. Easter biscuits needed more spice and more flour. Gingernuts need more ginger, but thats only because I like mine with some kick! 


I've been playing around with some new blogs designs, so there will probably be some changes coming in the near future. Nothing to scary though :) 

That's all for now,

*Sarah* 
 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Better than my last post :)

The knittings working now. I'm onto some more familiar stocking stitch before I start decreasing. . .another something new to add to the skill set :P 

I love being back at 'home.' I say it with quotation marks because it's only one home of many nowadays. There's home with mum and dad, home in Christchurch, home in France with my man. But for the moment I'm happy to be in this 'home.' 

I went to visit the man's grandparents last week. I love visiting them and do almost every time I come back to my hometown. I have no remaining grandparents of my own, so it means a lot to have a place with them. Both of my grandmother's were extremely crafty ladies and I will eternally regret not listening to what they had to teach me when I still had the opportunity. . .by the time I found my crafting bent it was too late.

As well as the pile of books I always seem to come away with hehe (much to my delight) I was also passed on a pile of 'Embroidery and Cross Stitch' magazines. It's Australian. . .I admit I don't like them as much as British equivelents (which have more patterns and less advertisements) but gorgeous and much appreciated nevertheless. 


I also got to visit an annual Arts and Crafts fair at a town nearby. I didn't indulge in much. . Mum got some flower bulbs and a Christmas present for my aunt - she also bought me this lovely necklace.


Isn't it pretty? It's the first thing I've chosen myself for years that can undoubtedly be called 'pink' hehehe. 
As it develops I'm realising this blog is moving further and further away from it's original design. . as it is in my mind anyway. I'm thinking about renaming/restyling. Thoughts anyone? 

That's all for now,

*Sarah*

Actually that's not all for now. Thought I'd just mention that my recent post on how to frame your own embroidery work has been featured on the blog Totally Tutorials. Exciting!! 
 Totally Tutorials Blog 

 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

ARRRRRGGGGG!!!

I'm sure even the most occasional or constant of crafters have those moments where they just want to throw whatever they're working on against a wall and then maybe sit down and have a good cry. Welcome to my first such moment of this blog! In the last few days I've finished the main body of the scarf I've been knitting, and as it took far far far less wool than I had estimated, decided to start on a matching hat. Which just so happens to be the first time I've tried a rib pattern. Or a pattern at all actually.


Approximately half a row of this is mine. The rest is my dear mum fixing up my mistakes and then finishing the row for me so I can start afresh. Even the casting on is hers, although it wasn't originally. . .there's just a limit to the number of times I can cast on 98 stitches myself in one afternoon. I swear I made every mistake possible: I purled wrong constantly, I did the wrong number of stitches, I started the row from a knit stitch instead of a purl stitch and didn't notice until 98 stitches later. I had to tear out the whole thing and start again 3 times, and tear out at least a row another 4 times. My dad found the whole thing incredibly funny and spent an hour or two happily teasing me that even he could do a better job . .  mum had more patience, but in the end I just went to bed and decided to look at it again another day. Sometimes that's all you can do. 

Let's hope today's efforts are more successful,

*Sarah*

Friday, November 12, 2010

Just Potting Around

University is over for the year, which means I've moved home for the summer to spend some time with my family and take up a summer job in my hometown! I've spent the last week settling myself in, finishing up uni stuff and making a room that I haven't spent more than a week in for 2 years now 'mine' again. It seems that summer has finally arrived permanantly at just the right time, so I've also been soaking up the sun! 

Earlier in the week I took 'clippings' (not really, I tried to get some root in there as well) off my mum's herb plants and repotted them. With any luck they'll take root again and I'll have 4 nice herb plants of my own to take back to university with me next year: rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano. 


It really has been very hot here this week and although they've had a good watering every second day, the sage is already showing signs that it won't go the distance. I anticipated this might be the case with some of them though, hence why I started the first attempt months before I head back to university. 

I couldn't resist taking some photos of mum's roses too. The garden looks beautiful at this time of year. 


Don't they look stunning? As I'm writing this I'm looking out my window with 9 or 10 of the roses forming a foreground for the setting sun. Ahhhhhhh. . . .


That's all for now,
*Sarah*

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Finally! Knit and Purl

Yes this is finally an update on my knitting! And with nearly two balls of wool down I think I can say with confidence that I can officially purl. There's been a mishap or two. One day I was frustrated with unrelated issues and ended up dropping stitches and pulling out rows everywhere. When I finally managed to pick everything up again (took me two days) it still didn't end up quite right, but no one will ever notice - it will just annoy ME forever. Have to remember knitting isn't something I can just do without concentrating on like I do with cross stitch quite yet!

I

It's curling a bit more than I thought it would. I think I can sort that one out in the end though. Looks good though, doesn't it? I love the colour. 


That's all for now. More coming soon though!
*Sarah*

Friday, November 5, 2010

Things I Like Friday: Second Hand Book Sales

This isn't going to be a regular thing. . .just my excuse to share things that aren't strictly craft related from time to time :) 

I love reading, I have since I was 6 or 7. Most of you have probably noticed the bookshelf on the sidebar and those of you that read regularly will notice the speed I get through books. I don't actually spend a lot of time reading, I just read incredibly fast!! And I admit I love owning and being around books (libraries are heavenly) almost as much as I love reading them. That being said I very rarely buy a book new - partly because they're often just to expensive to indulge in and partly because I just like old books. Second hand booksales are where I've picked up a majority of my library. My favourite is the annual 'bookorama' in my hometown, which attracts buyers from all over the South Island of New Zealand. When I go I have to go on the Monday - to get the good books before they disappear - and the Friday - when they have fill a bag for $5. Unfortunately I've missed it for the last two years, much to my chagrin. But missing it this year was almost (ok, so not really) made up for by the Christchurch City Libraries annual booksale, where they get rid of old/slightly damaged/unpopular stock and multiple copies. I limited my haul to 6, although my initial pile was 11.

1. A Year of Cross Stitch: Patterns for Every Season. There weren't any patterns in it I'd stitch for myself, but there were plenty I can see myself stitching for others and plenty of bits that could be used as motifs in other places. Besides, cross stitch pattern books are hideously expensive so for $3 I was snapping it up. 
2. Fabulous Crocheted Ponchos. I can't crochet, but the patterns in here are absolutely gorgeous. I would have taken it just to oooohhh over the pictures even if I had no intention of ever learning to crochet. As it is, it will serve as fantastic inspiration! 
3. The Postcard, by Beverly Lewis. I've read this one before and am more than happy to own it, even if there's a couple of pages loose. I haven't managed to get my hands on the sequel yet, it's always on loan whenever I'm at the library . . . I want to know what happens!
4. The Shop on Blossom Street, by Debbie Macomber. Honestly there are not enough good things I could say about this book. It's the first in what is my favourite series at the moment by one of my favourite authors. Debbie Macomber is a secular 'romance' (I'd give her that title loosely) novelist, who also happens to be a committed Christian. She writes stories with strong female characters whose lives are at most influenced by men in a positive way, rather than revolving around them. The emotions her characters portray are realistic and moving. Although her plotlines often do involve a romantic element, the emphasis is on true spiritual connection rather than sex and sex is rarely portrayed before marriage, if at all. It's incredibly refreshing given the 'chic lit' of today. I already owned this one as an e-book (it's available from numerous legal sources online as a free download) but am overjoyed to now have my own paper copy. This particular book focuses on the lives of 4 very different women and how those lives are changed when a knitting store opens on Blossom Street. I'd recommend it to anyone and for those of you that know me reading this, I'm happy to pass on my e-book copy. 
5. Someday Soon, by Debbie Macomber. A stand-alone novel by the same author. I haven't read it yet, but looks good! 
6. The McKettrick Way, by Linda Lael Miller.  I've been reading a few books by this author lately after a friend lent me a series by her. Honestly haven't really decided if I like her or not yet, so I'll read this one and if I don't like it will probably pass it on to said friend. 

All in all, a stash I am more than happy with!! I spent a few hours when I got home repairing broken spines and removing library stickers, so now they feel completely mine. My bookshelf is looking very happy for the new additions. 

That's all for now,

*Sarah*

P.S an update on the knitting is coming, I swear

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Home Framing: Lace Method Tutorial

In my still comparatively brief time in the blogging world I've seen literally hundreds of tutorials for 'finishing' embroidery and cross stitch pieces; pillows, scissor fobs, pincushions, bags and lots more. But very few avid stitchers frame their pieces. I've seen all sorts of reasons for it, the most common being it's to expensive to get a piece professionally framed and you can't achieve the same look at home. Not true!!! It's perfectly possible to achieve a nearly professional framed look, quickly and cheaply at home. So I thought I'd show you how with a piece I just framed as part of my brother's birthday present (I'm not sure how much he'll appreciate it, being at 18 year old male, but it suits the decor of his house and I'll get him something more stereotypically appropriate as well). This method works with any fabric piece, however works best with pieces stitched on aida or evenweave.

What you need: 

1. The piece you want to frame, cleaned and ironed. In my case it's DMC's Golden October Cocker Spaniel which I stitched just over a year ago and has been sitting in a drawer since. 
2. A store bought frame that will fit your piece. I took my embroidery to the store with me to figure out what size I need. The frame can really be as expensive or cheap as you like. Being a student on a limited budget, mine was decidedly middle of the range. 
3. One piece of mount board that will fit your frame and a backing piece for the frame - usually a store bought frame will include one of the above and I cut another out of a cardboard box simply by drawing around the first. You can also use fibrecore, thin plywood etc. [NOTE: As has since been noted by several commentators, acid-free mount board is definitely the best option here. I've never had any problems with other options, but with more experience since I originally put this post together, completely agree that it is the ideal!] 
4. Basic craft supplies: Needle, cotton thread, pins. 

Step One: 

Place the mount board onto the back your piece and position it squarely (or how you want the piece to be positioned in the frame). Check the front of the piece to make sure it's where you want it. 

Step Two: 

Ensure that the mount board and the piece of embroidery fit snugly into the frame, with any spacers you want to include (I wasn't using any for this piece). You may need to trim the mount board with a craft knife or scissors if the fabric used for your piece is extremely thick. 

Step Three: 

Once the piece is positioned how you want it, pull it tight and slide a pin through the fabric into the mount board in the middle of each side, leaving the excess fabric to overhang. I find it easier to do this embroidery side up, just to make sure the piece doesn't move out of position while I'm putting the pins in place!

Step Four: 

With the embroidery facing down, pin all the way down two opposing sides (it doesn't matter if you start lengthways or widthways). Make sure to slide the pins into the mount board rather than between the board and the fabric. I go for a pin about every 1cm - it's better to use to many than to few. When finished check the front to make sure the piece is still tight and well positioned. 

Step Five:

This is where the fun really begins. Get a long long (the longer the better) length of strong cotton thread. I used two strands, just for extra strength. Thread it onto a needle and tie a knot at the other end. Bring the cotton through the underside of the fabric overhang where your pinning starts, far enough in from the edge that it won't be affected by fraying. Feel free to trim the fabric if the amount of overhang is excessive, but an inch here is better than a cm. You can see where I've started in the top right corner of the photo above. Run it across the mount board and through the fabric at the other pinned edge. Start lacing back and forth, leaving about 1cm between each lace, as shown above, pulling tight as you go (but not tight enough to shift the fabric) so the lacing is taut like guitar strings. If you need a new length of thread, simply tie it securely into the current one before continuing. I've had people recommend all sorts of knots for making it look like one continuous thread, but honestly no one's ever going to see it and it's more important the knot is secure - so use whatever you feel comfortable will hold. 

Step 6:

Periodically as you go, stop lacing and go back to the beginning and pull each individual lace taut. You'd be surprised how much excess comes through - I did it about three times as I worked over the back, and each time pulled through around 5cm of excess thread. 

Step 7: 

Once you reach the end of the board, pull each individual lace taut once more, then weave or tie in the end of the thread. Again it doesn't matter how you do this so long as its secure. Don't worry if your lacing isn't entirely even, so long as you don't have gigantic gaps on any side. 

Step Eight:

Remove the pins from your laced side and pin the remaining two. The next step is simply a matter of repeating the process over again. Be careful when lacing that you lace through both layers of fabric where the corners fold in. Also be careful that that the corner fabric doesn't overhang the mount board when laced - if it does you may need to trim it on a slant slightly at the edges.

Step Nine: 

Continue the process until the entire back is laced. As you can see here, it really doesn't matter if things are a little uneven - at one point I even forgot to bring the cotton across before lacing the next line and it didn't make any difference to the overall finish. 

Step Ten:

Remove the pins, flip your piece over and make sure your happy with the result! It's easy enough to cut out the lacing and start over if you're not, although obviously not preferable! 

Step Eleven: 
Place your laced piece into the frame, with any spacers your using. Place the back of the frame over of the laced piece to hold it in place and hide it all! 


And You're Done. . .
It really does look like it's been professionally framed. Only thing left to do is stick something on the back to say who the piece is for and who it was stitched and framed by. All up framing this piece took me about an hour and a half, although that was stopping often to take photos. And total cost? NZ $13.99 (got the frame on sale :P) and a few bits I already had lying around. Who says you can't frame your own embroidery pieces?!! 


That's all for now, I hope you've enjoyed my first attempt at a tutorial! 

*Sarah*