Tag Archives: DIY

Mosaics : a new challenge

10 Feb

I’ve always liked mosaics, the more inventive and colourful the better. I dream of having loads of colourful mosaics in my garden and took a lot of inspiration from my trip to Barcelona back in October.

My trip also made me just get on a book a workshop I had been pondering doing for some time, so the same day I got back from my holiday I booked a workshop with Lily Mosaics & attended a day later!

It was a lovely relaxed day, I loved picking out colours and seeing all the different mosaic bits n bobs on offer to work with. I went with the intention of making a small plaque of an owl/bird, that I might have hung in my bathroom, but then on a whim started creating a bold geometric design on a small tray.

It is quite a time consuming activity, (well it is when you do something far from simple as a beginner), I found it very relaxing cutting and playing around with different pieces. I got most of my larger motifs done in the workshop and then took a few spare bits to continue at home. I had already acquired several mosaic tiles myself and I ended up incorporating several of these into my patterns at home, as my design evolved.

I had originally planned to do a grey background, however a went for a lighter white, as I thought it’d make the colourful tiles standout more and match the already white tray.

I rather like my finish tray and found the grouting less arduous than I expected, though some of the really tiny pieces I used were a pain in the bum (lesson learnt).


mosaic tray - nettynot blog

mosaic tray close up - nettynot blog

I have since covered a simple picture frame, I’m not a huge fan of the finished result, I didn’t think enough about the edge where the tiles meet, but it looks alright in situ and still an improvement on the boring pine (fortunately I’m not too much of a perfectionist)!

I also made a set of Rennie Macintosh inspired coasters for part of my parents Christmas present. I really enjoyed making them. It was one of those rare occasions where the idea in my head worked out exactly as I imagined!

macintosh ungrouted - nettynot blog
macintosh grouted coasters - nettynot blog
The only thing I’ve not figured out, is what’s the best way to seal them, I didn’t want to make the lovely matte tiles shiny, but equally don’t want them to end up tea stained. I gifted them as they are, but keep meaning to do further research, does anyone what any suggestions?

 

I’m eager to do more now & started collecting ideas on a mosaic & garden board on Pinterest. Just need some warmer drier weather now.

Thanks for reading!

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And relax – it’s Christmas!

21 Dec

For me the run up to Christmas is always more hectic than actual Christmas, organising, sourcing or making gifts as well as doing a few craft fairs and the wonderful amount of socialising that happens in the festive period it has been pretty much non-stop, until yesterday!

Late on Thursday evening I arrived ‘Home’ (I say home, however I have never actually lived here, home in this sense is where my parents live), in a lovely, although currently slightly soggy, Lake district for a weeks festive holiday. This is where my relaxation starts, I’m not great at doing nothing, but doing things with no deadlines is wonderful. My Mum had saved decorating the tree for me to do, which is always fun and she had also cut a few of holly branches ready to create a garland, something I’ve not done before.

Garland

I like a little challenge and I will happily try anything new so I decided to just get stuck in, in a very relaxed ‘let’s just see what happens’ manor. My results were far better than I anticipated, given that I just used a bit of garden wire to put it all together I think it looks pretty good (even if I do say so myself).

Garland mantel piece

To create it I found a couple of straight-ish larger branches, cut off the excess twiggy bits and wired 3 lengths together (just a few wraps around did the trick), then with all the smaller twiggy bits I placed them in a line along my branch (trying to get an even-ish spread of berries throughout) and starting from one end, I wrapped the wire around the branches and twigs until I reached the other end. Once I’d done this, I went back along and filled a few gaps by poking more twiggy bits into the wire and also trimmed off a few little bits that were sticking out too much – it really is that straight forward.

wiring the garland
mantel piece

The garland fitted perfectly along the mantel piece, I had enough holly left from a few small branches to create a small garland to decorate the dining table and all the left over bits I cut down to size and placed in a glass vase.

left over garland pieces

Quick, easy and very effective; all you need to make this is a few holly branches, secateurs and some wire, this took me about half an hour to create. So if have some holly or you’re out for a winter walk, why not keep your eyes peeled for some and create your own simple little garland.

Continuing in my week of relaxation, last night I took great delight in frogging a cardigan I knitted ages ago that I just don’t wear, the fit wasn’t great and I ran out of yarn for the sleeves, so my selfish knitting this Christmas is turning my once unloved cardigan into a cosy jumper, with the help of some additional new yarn, we’ll see what happens.

frogged cardigan yarn

Thanks for reading, I hope you all have a lovely and relaxed Christmas.

A bit of jewellery making

3 Apr

Having had a relaxed Easter weekend, I’m all inspired and have lots of projects I want to get started, it could also have something to do with the fact the sun has been pouring into my craft room as I’ve working this morning – I’m always more inspired when spring feels like it might be on the way (I just have to remember not step outside into freezing reality).

As part of our much more relaxed Easter weekend we went out for a special dinner, (special as we had a gift voucher) at World Service in Nottingham. I must admit a felt a little apprehensive having not really been anywhere that posh before, however the experience was lovely, the staff were friendly, down earth & their service was excellent, we neither felt bombarded or neglected they have the balance just right. The food was more expensive than I would usually pay when going out for dinner, but it was worth every penny! I had Salmon & it was amazing– cooked perfectly & very tasty! The atmosphere was great, the music & background sounds was just right, not too noisy or too quiet. I also had the most delicious mocktail ever (I was driving) called a pussyfoot, mmm! What a delightful treat it was!
World Service Dinner

Going out to dinner also gave me the opportunity to try out my new dress bought to wear at my friend’s wedding next weekend. It’s a little different to what I usually go for, I usually stick to small patterns or plainer fabrics, but this print appealed to me & it fit rather well, Siciliana Lace Dress from Oasis. When getting ready to go out I realised I didn’t really have any jewellery that was particularly suitable. I thought I necklace might look a bit strange with a high neckline on the dress and my earring & bracelet collection didn’t provide much joy! So what a perfect excuse to make a new set of jewellery!

Siciliana lace dress oasisDress fabric
So this morning I got up all inspired & started rummaging through my jewellery making supplies, looking for a little bit of inspiration and the ideal colour. Working in a bead shop does mean you inherently collect a lot of bit & pieces, just because you love the shape or colour of a new collection in the shop. I end up buying bits & pieces here n there without having a project in mind, however these collected bits came into their own this morning as I had all the items I needed to make a few nice matching pieces to go with my dress!

materials for jewellery set
Since this outfit is for a wedding & I thought I’d create something to go in my hair. Since I’ve decided a necklace wouldn’t look right with the dress I thought creating a bracelet, earrings & hair comb set would work well & dress up my outfit. I chose not to go overboard on different colours since the dress is patterned, I had some lovely small filigree pieces that complimented the pattern well, teamed with dark lapis Swarovski elements pearls and a few small ivory coloured pearl beads from an old broken bracelet I had enough to work with and this is what I created.
Finished jewellery set
I think this should work well with the dress, I’ll inevitably post a photo after the weekend.

I’m off to catch up with last night’s Great British Sewing Bee now – I hope it’s everything I want it to be…..& the answer is YES! I really enjoyed it, I like the challenges & the contestants, like on the bake off have varying experience. I sincerely hope that the Great British Sewing Bee can do for sewing & crafting what The Great British Bake off has done for home baking, especially since I was slightly shocked & quite saddened that my local John Lewis’, yarn, fabric & haberdashery department has shrunk by at least a third recently – not good! However I am now already looking forward to next week’s show & I hope a lot of people are digging out their sewing machines from dusty attics & thinking about what they could create for themselves.

New Year – 2013!

13 Jan

The new year is just about in full swing, it got off to a great start with a small & lovely fancy dress party at a friend’s house, here’s my costume – the theme was favourite animals! I felt like a big kid again making my costume out of an old cardigan, some fabric & felt – great fun!

Fancy dress New Years Eve!

A lovely & funny bunch of wonderful people (plus my owly costume)! Great fun!

I hope to continue my year as it started – doing what I love – being creative and spending time with friends! Last weekend I helped out a friend with a photo shoot for a lovely new hat & mittens pattern she’d designed & knitted, you can have a sneak peak at them on her facebook page. It was a slightly damp, but bright day, which provided a great wintery atmosphere at Wollaton Park, we had a little potter around the lake & I took the opportunity to take a few photos of the lovely deer before having a cuppa & a cookie in the cafe!

The lovely Deer at Wollaton!

The lovely Deer at Wollaton!

I have spent any spare time I’ve had this week organising my fabric stash – after creating some inventive storage for my small craft room with the help of Martin, who’s light bulb moment it was to put wheels on the bottom of a shelving unit – genius! Perfect for a small room like mine, where space is limited, I can wheel it away into the corner & pull it out whenever I need something!

Brilliant storage solution - shelves on wheels! Slides nicely down the gap by my worktop!

Brilliant storage solution – shelves on wheels! Slides nicely down the gap by my worktop!

A few months ago I discovered Pinterest, I may initially have got a little addicted (I’ve calmed down a little now) – I love it! It’s a wonderful way to collect ideas for all kinds of projects and plans. Making plans is a great way to start the new year, January can be a bummer, the weather is cold, a bit miserable, and everyone’s watching the pennies – but planning projects or holidays costs nothing and gives you something to look forward to.

I have created a board on Pinterest called “2013 projects”, at the moment they’re all fairly achievable aims, some decorating, others new skills I want to learn. What’s great is that since I’ve encouraged several friends onto Pinterest (they too have become a little addicted) they’ve seen my pins and I’ve had already had conversations (in the real world) about my ideas and plans. I now have someone to go learn basket weaving with & had a gentle nudge of encouragement to complete one of my ongoing blanket projects. I love that a list that I might have made in a little note book (and inevitably been forgotten about a month down the line) is kept fresh and I can constantly add to it and it is already having a positive effect.

You can find me on Pinterest, if you like (Steph Gibbs) & check out my boards.

You can find me on Pinterest, if you like (Steph Gibbs) & check out my boards.

Future plans…

I was very fortunate that when I moved into my very own house several years ago, I was given several useful pieces of furniture from parents & friends of my parents (who fortunately were down sizing just at the right time for me). I also bought a couple of bog standard Ikea items so that I had everything I realistically needed. I appreciated it all, (I’d have been sat on the floor of my living room for some time otherwise, not to mention having nowhere to sleep or store any crockery). It is now time to start replacing the old (& now a little worn out) pieces with items of my choosing. I can’t wait! It’s going to be a gradual transformation, however what I am looking forward to most is having little projects on the go, being able to think what would I like in that room, as opposed to where can a put this piece I’ve been given. I’m also looking forward to giving my old pieces of furniture new homes or a new least of life. Again some of these projects have already made it on to my Pinterest board for 2013 projects.

I will be writing blogs about all my projects and any transformations I make to my home, so watch this space! I have a few busy weekends ahead of me, so today I’m having a relaxing day, knitting, catching up on a few films & I just baked this lemon loaf!

I do love a bit of baking - homemade cakes are the best kind. This recipe was taken from The Hummingbird bakery cookbook.

I do love a bit of baking – homemade cakes are the best kind. This recipe was taken from The Hummingbird bakery cookbook. Mmm!

Felting it up!

31 Oct

I seem to find it a little too easy to forget all the things I’ve created for my home, they do tend to blend into the background of your surroundings after a little while. So I thought it’d be good to post a few items I’ve made, how, why & where the inspiration came from.

In my house I have a small window at the top of my stairs, it had a blind when I moved in & although curtains were not that necessary, I decided it would make my landing look a lot more homely.  I wasn’t sure on colour or style, so I let the idea brew for a while. Inspiration struck when watching the first series of Kirsty’s Homemade home – as well as meeting makers to do various projects in each program she met different creative folk. When Kirsty met Cath Kidston, they were talking about her style & vintage looks, while the camera was panning round her home, she had some plain, mid coloured curtains in the background, which had tie backs made of felt beads! So that went into the creative thoughts bank!

Considering the only other significant item in my hall/landing area at the time (other than a book case of paper backs) was my 1950’s Atomic coat rack (which I love – particularly since I picked it up at a flea market for a few quid about 12 years ago – bargain), I thought a dark/mid blue pair of curtains with multi-coloured large felt beads for the tie backs were the way forward.

Retro Atomic Coat Rack

My Retro Atomic Coat Rack

Having looked around for some suitable fabric to make my curtains, I ended up in John Lewis rummaging through their home furnishings remnants bin, fortunately for me, they had just changed over a lot of their display items and I managed to get myself an over sized single, ex-display curtain for about £10. The fact there wasn’t a pair didn’t matter, as one curtain cut in half & shortened was just right for my little window.  Once I had made & hung my new curtains I set about making my tie backs.

I’d done a little felting before at a workshop with Clare Alderson, but not on this scale, but I relished the challenge. I bought a bag of mixes coloured roving (all lovely bright shades) from a stall at the Knitting & Stitching show at Ally Pally a few years ago, the bag was approximately 100g for £5, which I thought was ideal!

It took me one whole evening to make all of the large beads, I decided to add a bit of interest by adding spots to some of some of the beads. I used the wet felting method, I wrote a blog for work (The Bead Shop (Nottingham) Ltd) about needle felting beads, you can read how to make them here. To add the spots I used a felting needle and just before the balls were completely felted I added them to the surface. I threaded my large beads onto 1mm cord, knotting the cord in between each bead, so there would be some movement in the tie backs.

Large Felt Beaded tie back

Handmade Felt Beaded tie back

 

I was really pleased with how they turned out, had I seen something available to buy in a shop I’m not convinced that I’d have immediately liked them, but having seen them in situ first (even if it was on a TV program) it sparked the inspiration.

Hedgehog Jumper!

24 Oct

So when I first heard about Ravelry (as an inexperienced knitter) I was amazed, I found myself searching though incredible looking patterns thinking I’d never be able to knit that. I added several patterns to my faves (for inspiration & day dreaming purposes).

Years later having learnt a lot more, through experience & plenty of trial & error, I went back through the list I’d created years before & decided to give “Paper Dolls” by Kate Davies a go.
Kate is currently my favourite knit wear designer, the first full garment I knitted was one of her designs, Owls, & I chose that for several reasons – I love owls, it’s knitted in chunky yarn = fast knitting, but mostly because her patterns are written so clearly (essential for a novice, as I was). A lot of old fashioned & dated patterns are hard to follow partly as they are a list of instructions with no further details. Kate’s patterns are wonderful, she provides you with just the right about of information, with helpful hints along the way. Here’s a photo of part of my Owls jumper, I finished it about 3 years ago, it’s a lovely and cosy, a little bobbly in places now having been worn so much, but I don’t care – I love it!
Owls Hand knitted Jumper
I knitted it in cash merino (I forget exactly what yarn) which I bought from the Knitting & Stitching show at Ally Pally some time ago it was about £25 for 10 balls (I had yarn to spare that made great hand warmers). I thought at the time that was a very reasonable price and I still do; I probably wouldn’t think twice about buying a lovely jumper that price.

So last year I decided to embark on my first 4-ply jumper with colour work, (throwing myself in at the deep end) eek! I got my yarn from Knit Nottingham, I went for Cygnet Truly Wool Rich, with dove grey at the main colour & blue & green for the patterned part. Paper dolls is a lovely pattern & I thought why make life easy for myself…reading Kate’s blog about the pattern & seeing everyone’s customisations, I decided to make two adjustments of my own. I find jumpers with short sleeves a little odd (if it’s cold enough to be wearing a jumper, make it a proper jumper, but that’s just me), longer sleeves – not a problem, however I fell slightly in love with one customisation, hedgehogs! So I planned out my own hedgehog design. The planning part I found easy – the execution less so!

Hedgehog planning & swatch

Planning my Hedgehogs & my swatch!

I got there in the end – the journey was a little frustrating at times, but that was entirely my own doing! It’s always tricky changing a pattern (although I quite enjoyed the challenge – in hindsight). The problem I came across (despite reading Kate’s notes) was the decreasing while working the stranding. The first time I knitted my hedgehogs the overall yoke ended up far too short, I knew my design was shorter than the dolls, however my tension square was also a little long – so I assumed the two would cancel each other out (I was wrong). I ripped out & re-knitted the yoke – the hedgehogs were looking great (& less puckered than my first attempt), I carried on & finished the jumper.  However…I couldn’t get it over my head, my tension was too tight on the corrugated rib & the I-cord cast off. Needless to say I was disappointed & more than a little frustrated with myself and the jumper went into hibernation in my knitting basket over the summer!

Last weekend it came out of hibernation, I ripped out the last few inches (again) and re-knitting the final part, sewed in the ends, soaked it, blocked it & dried it! Now it is completely finished, it fits & looks amazing & it was showed off at knit group last night (as photographed by Jem Weston)! I have learnt a lot from this project, I have not been put off customising patterns – I just need to think a little more carefully in future!
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Sunday Craft-a-noon!

9 Sep

Well today I have been all set to get crafting, although been a little distracted by the lovely weather & the need for ice cream & chocolate. However the crafting has commenced! That saying “you have to speculate to accumulate” springs to mind, my box bedroom, which is now my craft room was tidy when I started earlier, I haven’t got as much done as I’d have hoped, however I am feeling inspired which is great!  The Craft Room

I love my little room; when I got my house several years ago now, the front bedroom was pretty useless, with an over sized built in wardrobe & very little space. The previous owner had squeezed in a reasonable sized desk & a filing cabinet – which made the room look crowded!

Box room
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since I have a very practically minded & very useful Dad (when he’s not working hard) he put on his thinking cap and helped me come up with a solution for this little room to make it efficient and useable. The more challenging issue would be finding a time for him to visit & help me make the plan come to life! (He does live far away, so can be forgiven!)

The problem we faced with such a small room was limited storage space (& I had an abundance of stuff – my Dad’s words, not mine – to store) & not to mention the slope of the stairs encroaching in to the room in one corner. My parents came up with the brilliant idea of hanging cupboards high up on the wall, which would free up the floor space, and my Dad measured up for a custom built workshop suitable for the small slightly awkward room.

So I prepared the room, removing Winnie the Pooh decorations & painting the walls a lovely light warm & neutral colour (almost oyster). My Mum & I on a previous visit had taken a trip to Wickes & bought some kitchen cupboards & floor units in anticipation for the custom made worktop my Dad and created!

The end result is wonderfully perfect – yes one day I’d like a huge custom built craft room/house, however for now this is ideal!

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