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26 April 2013

Itty Bitty Crochet Bunny

So I attempted my first crochet amigurumi toy! Introducing Itty Bitty Bunny, he is from a pattern in Issue 2 of Simply Crochet, if you haven't checked out this new mag yet do it now, like today, if you love crochet you will love it, from the same people as Mollie Makes (which just confirms its greatness!).  The pattern is originally from Toft Alpaca, so if you missed it in the mag, you can buy a kit here.
For my bunny I went for Life Chunky by Stylecraft wool in Oatmeal, I used just over 1 ball, so if you buy 3 balls it will make 2 bunnies.  I have already started my second!  I also used a size 4 crochet hook.  There is a lot of counting of rounds in the pattern, which I am not used to, so I recommend having a pen and paper to hand to mark off rows to keep you right, also a stitch marker will be useful.  You don't need to go out and buy these, simply use a bright colour loop of wool.
 
So this pic, above, shows all the pieces completed, ready to sew up.  I was scared of this stage, the mag instructions didn't give any advice for sewing up and having not done this before I was a little nervous.
 
I started sewing up and actually it went quite well.  Obviously use the same coloured wool to sew the pieces together and it is a good idea to leave really long tails at the end of each piece to use to sew together.  This I thought of after I began sewing up, again this tip was not on the pattern, probably very obvious to most!
 
Wuhu, I finished the sewing up part, I am really pleased with how it turned out and it doesn't look too different from the picture, wow!  Now to add a face, eek another nerve wracking step! The face creates the bunny's character so if I mess it up, bunny could look scary, freaky or just odd.  I purchased some tapestry wool in a dark brown/black for the eyes and pinkish colour for the nose.
 
I don't think the little face turned out so bad, he looks kind of cute, do you think?
 
As a finishing touch I tied a blue polka dot ribbon round his neck just to disguise the join and because this little guy is going to be a present for my friend's brand new baby boy Drew.
 
Ooh almost forgot to show you his little tail, hehe!
 
Here he is from the side...
 
And a final photo! Can you tell I'm quite proud of it? hehe.  I was so impressed that he actually looks like a bunny, and quite cute.  I am now well underway with making my second bunny, this one will have a pink ribbon for another friend's new baby.
 
What do you think? Have you had a go at Itty Bitty Bunny or other crochet amigurumi yet?
 
 

23 April 2013

The Bookcase Project Part 2

Here it is finally, the wait is over! The Bookcase Project Part 2, I know the pressure to see the next stage has been killing you! (haha!) if you haven't yet read Part 1, you can see it here.

So we were on stage 4 last time, after painting the first coat of green I was waiting and drying! A week later I went back round to Mark's house to do another coat...

Step 5 Further Coats - In total it needed 3 coats of green and the little tester pot was just enough paint to cover all 3, phew!  I was a little worried after the first coat that it looked very streaky but by 3 coats you can't see the streaks anymore and the colour is so bright.

Next I opened this new little tester pot of bright blue, what could this be for???

Step 6 Backing Board - I decided that I would like the back of the bookcase enclosed, just so that the books etc do not fall off plus it is an excuse to buy another pretty colour. I chose the blue as I thought it would go well with my bright green and I liked the idea of having a contrast colour peeking through the shelves.
 
So we measured the bookcase carefully and set off to B&Q, the backing board is just cheap MDF and cost around £5 for a very large sheet.  B&Q cut the board to size for us, and we had tons left over.

Step 7 More Painting - The backing board needed 3 coats of the blue, but the paint dried really quickly out in the sun so I was able to luckily paint all 3 in the same day, less waiting, which is great news for impatient people like me.

Step 8 Attaching - Get one's boyfriend to do this part, he will make a much better job (haha), well that's certainly true in my case.  Mark just got some tiny nails and hammered them around the backing board.  He even measured exactly where each shelf was and secured the backing board with the nails in the middle.


Step 9 'Ta Da Moment'  - And stand back and admire all your hard work! I am so pleased with how this has turned out, I love the bright colours.  Is it a bit 'primary school' though? nah! I don't care, the brighter the better, these colours make me smile.
 
Oh, but wait, it is STILL not finished! Yes, that's right there is still a third and final instalment of the Bookcase Project to come!  But what else could I possibly be doing to it??? Tune in next week to find out (Oh I know the suspense will kill you...)
 
So what do you think so far? Honest opinions, constructive criticism welcome... What colours would you choose?

15 April 2013

Cumbria Bloggers Meet up

On Sunday we had our second ever Cumbria Bloggers Meet up, it was great fun and lovely to meet new bloggers.
We held the meet up at the prettiest little cafe in town, I Love Cafe, super girly and cute, complete with proper china tea cups, distressed mis matched shabby chic furniture and of course bunting, of course being bloggers, we could not help ourselves taking lots of pictures!
The cafe has a super yummy menu with lots of interesting juices and teas and of course amazing cakes, this cupcake had a gooey chocolate filling, droool!
 
The best thing about the meet up is of course meeting lots of lovely new people and finding out lots of great new blogs to read.  We are quite a diverse group with blogging interests of craft, baking, health and fitness, fashion, beauty, fashion and lifestyle.  Go check out all these blogs...
 
(Clockwise from left round the table in top image)
Me!
and Sooz, (who isn't in the photo) http://soozintheshed.blogspot.co.uk/
I highly recommend a visit to I Love cafe if you are in Carlisle, you can check out their Facebook page here for full information.

Have you met up with any other bloggers in your local area> Would love to hear about it in the comments...

10 April 2013

A visit (to what's left of) Kirklinton Hall

On Bank Holiday Monday last week Mum, Dad, Jen and I made a little visit to Kirlinton Hall.  This derelict mansion is in the countryside just outside of Carlisle and has intrigued me for a long time! I first discovered it on a random drive with friends years ago, we saw the top of the building peeking out from the overgrown bushes.
We did of course attempt to have a little explore all those years back, we sneaked over the locked gate (with big private property sign on it) and walked towards the house, but didn't get very far before hearing something and running back to the car (wimps!)

Last summer this story appeared in the local newspaper, saying that somebody had bought the Hall and was planning on restoring it! Wow, that's a big job.  But then a couple of months ago an advert appeared in the paper advertising an Open Day, yeah, the Hall would be open to the public so we can see the restoration, how exciting!

There was lots going on on the day, Morris dancers, singers, guided tours, tea and coffee and yummy massive slabs of homemade cake. There was even a company running ghost tours, eek! (It is bound to be haunted though).

Kirklinton hall has a long history, originally built in the 1670s from the stone of a neighbouring castle, then added to in the Victorian era.  During the war it was taken over by the RAF and then in the 60s became a casino with a rather dubious reputation!  There was then a fire and various attempts to sell it, make it into flats etc but as you can see it has got a little damaged over the years!

 
 
 
There is just something so fascinating and intriguing about ruins, they make you ask so many questions, what happened to it? Who used to live there? etc etc. It is also amazing how fast buildings deteriorate when they are unloved.
 
I am very happy that this old house is going to be restored, the owner is very keen to keep original features.  The oldest part of the house will be restored fully and will be the family's home, then the Victorian wing will be left as a ruin.
The great news is that the house and gardens are going to be open every Sunday and Bank Holiday, it will be great to see the restoration in progress. You can find out all of the visitor information on the website here http://www.kirklintonhall.co.uk/.
 
 

8 April 2013

A Crochet Birthday Card

It was my Grandma's 93rd birthday this week so of course I had to crochet something for her, any excuse! hehe.  She greatly admired (but of course who wouldn't!) my crochet Mother's day card I made for my Mum so I decided to make her a pretty flowery card for her birthday.
 
I chose these pretty colours from my wool stash, they were leftovers from this but my Grandma loves purples and pinky colours so I thought they would be perfect.
 
The large main flower above is from a pattern on Attic 24, my favourite crochet blog, I may have mentioned it once or twice before. I was dying to make one of these amazing flowers, so pretty and of course very easy if you simply follow Lucy's clearly written pattern.
 
 
These little flowers I made up a simple pattern myself...
  • With colour 1, ch4 and join with a ss to form a ring.
  • Ch 1, then 9dc into ring, join with ss to first ch1 and fasten off.
  • Attach colour 2 securely and ch 2.
  • Work 2tr, and 1htr into the first stitch of the colour 1 round.
  • Be sure to go through both loops of the stitch and catch your colour 2 end to ensure it is secure.
  • Ss into the next stitch.
  • In the next stitch work 1htr, 2tr and 1htr.
  • Ss into the next stitch.
  • Repeat 3 more times to until you have run out of stitches and have 5 petals, ss into first ch2 and fasten off.
  •  
    And here is the finished card.  I have been using PVA to glue my crochet creations onto the card, it works really well if you leave to set somewhere flat over night.
 

5 April 2013

A Visit to Brougham Castle

Last weekend on the way back from our Treasure Hunting Road Trip Mark and I paid a little visit to Brougham Castle and I took lots of photos!
I have been wanting to visit this little Castle for a while now as it is really close by and also because my friend happens to be the Manager, that's right she has her own Castle, how cool is that! Such a cool job, she of course doesn't live there as this particular Castle has no roof and not too many complete walls, but it's still a Castle!
I love castles and it is great to have a friend who likes castles as much as me to visit them with, you may remember my post from last year about Carlisle Castle which we visited together.  To be honest I didn't know what to expect from Brougham, I knew it was a ruin and knew it was small, so I thought there would maybe be a few walls left and nothing much to see but I was very pleasantly suprised! There is loads more to the Castle than I thought.  It is also in a stunning location, and on a rare sunny afternoon it really is such a lovely place to visit, I can't wait to come back when the weather gets a bit warmer for a picnic.  Oh and the fields surrounding the castle have lambs! LAMBS! They were all over the little path, so cute!
There are so many little details remaining, the beautiful gatehouse passage, picture 3 above, and the window details, which you can see in the picture above you could never discover all the little secrets of the Castle on just one visit! But the best part is that you can still go upstairs!!!
So you have to go up a teeny windy spiral staircase that goes on forever and if you are not scared of heights (like me) it is amazing! You can walk around the top floor of the Keep, but er there are some places where there is no wall and just a metal railing so I was a little nervous.
But if you can brave the height it is very much worth it as there are some amazing details up here, original wall carvings, and check out that amazing roof detailing.
And here is the Castle Manager herself, hello!
Here is Marky perched on a little window ledge, hello!
So if you are in the area I cannot recommend highly enough that you visit this Castle, and all for the bargaintastic price of £4!  You can visit the English Heritage pages to find out the opening times etc here http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/brougham-castle/ and of course there is a guide book to purchase for the bargain price of £2.99 which tells you the history of the Castle and explains all the different parts.  But I found this Wikipedia page if you wish to know more but cannot make a visit. 
Have you visited any castles or amazing heritage sites recently? Would love to hear about them in the comments below.