Sunday, 29 January 2012

A quiet crafting weekend in Norfolk

I managed to get three things done this weekend…

1. I made a birthday card using flowers cut out off some fabric and stitched to thick, textured paper and embellished with beads at the centre of each flower.


2. I bought wool for the first time. It’s definitely time that I learnt how to crochet. Watch out for my first attempts over the next month or so.

3. I spent another seven hours on the red kite. I’m now up to a running total of 112 hours spent on the project and upon completing my session today I decided to analyse my stitching speed and estimate just how much time it’s going to take me to complete. If I stitch at today’s pace for the rest of the project, it should take me another 36 hours taking me rather close to the magic 150 hours that I’ve been estimating almost from the start! Given that the six nations starts next weekend, which is a superb stitching companion, I’m aiming for completion by the end of March but don’t hold me to it!


Sunday, 22 January 2012

Bean Bag Seat

When I’m at home I never sit on a chair. I work, craft, browse the internet and watch TV from the floor with my coffee table and a couple of bean bags that constantly need replenishing because they get so much use. We bought one of them from John Lewis with vouchers that I was given from people at work when we got married. This one has been nothing but trouble. It’s made of brown corduroy material that splits at the bottom seam. I’ve patched it twice but spotted yet another split this morning.
It doesn’t look good, does it? I’ve run out of patches so headed for the computer to search the web for new bean bags. After browsing some of the options I decided that I’d be best to get a flat(ish) cushion type bean bag as I like to sit on top of rather than in the bean bags when working and crafting. There were a few options but it suddenly dawned on me that the ideal solution would be to use the beans that I already have, along with my sturdiest Ikea fabric, to make my own perfectly proportioned and beautiful bean bag seat.
It took less than three hours in total and I’m chuffed to bits with it. My new rotary cutter and A2 cutting mat (that arrived this week) proved to be fantastic purchases and my little sewing machine coped admirably with this task. It measures about 50cm by 50cm. I really enjoyed making it and I hope that David likes it when he comes home.
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Friday, 20 January 2012


Look what arrived today!! :¬)
This is yet another amazing book for the incredibly niche market that fits me so perfectly. It contains ten academic papers along with the crafting projects. Each chapter contains definitions, experiments and conjectures,  observations, theorems and corollaries, as well as advanced questions and teaching ideas for use with my students. I have the best end of term activities!!
So, mostly to indulge the mathematical me, I’m going to briefly run you through the projects and principles.
1. Quilted Mobius Band
image This chapter includes work on the Euler characteristic, homology groups, matrices, graph theory and map-colouring problems. The crafting item seems to be of little practical use but this particular topological structure will always hold a special significance to me. David proposed by writing the all important words on a Mobius strip and placing it in a bouquet of flowers for my 26th birthday.
2. Picking up stitches and diophantine equations
Other than the diophantine equations this paper uses algorithms and mathematical modelling as well as considering the existence and uniqueness of solutions to produce bi-directional knitted hats that do not require ‘finishing off’ at the end of the knitting process.
3. The Sierpinski variations: self-similar crochet
The Sierpinski triangle is a fractal consisting of mathematically similar triangles produced using a simple iteration. I’ve taught lessons on ratio and proportion based on the Sierpinski triangle. It also discusses Pascal’s triangle, binomial coefficients and modular arithmetic. It contains a couple of ideas for creating crocheted shawls.
4. Only two knit stitches can create a torus
Combinatorial analysis and curvature are the main discussion points in this chapter. However, they also consider a number of interesting questions such as, “How could the plain torus pattern be altered to change the ratio of the longitudinal and meridianal cycles?”
5. Symmetry patterns in cross-stitch
Whilst creating beautiful stitched patterns using the expected symmetries and transformations, the authors discuss Isometries of the Euclidean plane, group theory and how to use cross-stitch to see that tan(60o) is irrational. I love the two large patterns provided and will definitely make them at some point.
6. Socks with algebraic structure
image As yet I have not mastered the art of knitting so it may be some time before I have the ability to tackle algebraic socks but I certainly can appreciate the modular arithmetic involved!
7. Fortunatus’s Purse
There is more fun to be had with topological manipulation in this chapter. The Klein bottle makes an appearance and we must consider colour theorems in the Euclidean plane and antipodal points on shapes such as dodecahedrons and truncated icosahedrons.
8. Knot cables and braids
image Again, there are lots of patterns and ideas about knitting braids and cables. In the Teaching Ideas section they suggested that the braid group can provide useful examples that explore algebraic properties such as commutative and associative laws.
9. The Graph Theory of Blackwork embroidery
Eulerian graphs, Holbeinian graphs, multigraphs, Aragonian graphs, four definitions, four theorems and five corollaries, need I say more?!

This chapter is a Mathematicians dream and I can’t wait to try this new craft. The final pieces are stunning.
10. Stop those pants!
image Ever fancied knitting hyperbolic trousers? Well, now’s your chance. In this chapter the authors discuss the curvature of wearable trousers and how to model both constant positive and constant negative curvature from plastic.
Amazing, an inspirational, thought-provoking book that pushes all of my buttons. The next purchase will be Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes but I guess I’d better get on and learn how to crochet first…

Little Princes

14th January - I’ve just finished a couple of birth samplers for the brand new and ever so gorgeous Prince twins. I still need to frame them but here are the stitched pieces…



I completed these whilst watching Button Moon and The Raggy Dolls Series 1! I wasn’t particularly keeping note of the time but I think they took a couple of hours each. I need to remember to use a larger font in future though, this size 22 is slightly too fiddly.

19th January – I’ve had a bit of trouble finding frames for these. I thought that the frames I usually use were A5 but it turns out that I was mistaken. I headed into Loughton for some this afternoon only to find that I couldn’t buy anything from Max Speilmann due to a power-cut so in desperation I went across to a card and party shop over the road. This was a drop of luck in the end as they had a fantastic array of frames in the size that I needed at very reasonable prices. I’ll definitely use them again. Here are the framed pieces:

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Sunday, 15 January 2012

2012–The year of the Kite?

A couple of weeks ago my husband made a request that I make 2012 the year of the Kite. His initial request was that I finish the cross-stitch in January, which is totally unrealistic and damn near impossible. I think the horror in my face must have said it all because he quickly decided to give me a year to complete the project. I have to admit that I’d like to finish it sooner and am really looking forward to having it hanging on the wall.

Anyway, I’ve just made it over the 100 hour mark today. According to my estimates this should mean that I’m about two thirds of the way through. I can’t do anymore today though. Doing fiddly cross-stitch in the dark is not a good idea for your eyes or your sanity (no lights in the lounge at the moment…)

Have a look at what I’ve done now and what I have left to do. Any bets when in 2012 I’ll be done?

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Now that I come to look at it, it doesn’t appear that I’m two thirds of the way through yet does it? Ho hum…

So, it’s latch-hook rugging for me for the rest of the day. At least I can do that by lamp light!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

That Tuesday Feeling

This Tuesday was actually not that bad as Tuesdays go but I still felt like doing a little crafting when I got home. Today I decided to make myself a patchwork pencil case using some of the fabrics featured in my blog post this weekend.
It took me just a couple of hours to make and other than one little wrinkle I’m pretty happy with it. I could have chosen some better matching fabrics I suppose but it wouldn’t be proper patchwork then!
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Sunday, 8 January 2012

Cards sold for Mother’s Day 2010

Rather than crafting this weekend I have continued to organise, creating two photobooks of our 2011 holidays (Texas and Canary Islands) from Truprint as they have a 50% off offer on at the moment and inserting photographs into my journal from our most recent holiday. Whilst sorting out I found some unused photos lying around on an old memory card…

In the first half of 2010 I was busy fundraising with the Zingolo girls to spend a month in Ghana in the summer. One of the many things that they did during this time was to hold a Mother’s Day stall at school. Here are the cards that I made for them:


I’d like to think that my quilled flowers are a little more uniform these days. These ones look particularly sloppy to me!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Crafting Clutter

Clutter is the curse of a crafter, or at least, it is the curse of this crafter. I find it very difficult to control my buying and I am always on the look out for new crafts to try (which inevitably require new and exciting equipment or materials). It goes without saying that I never turn down anything when it is offered to me…
P1050797blogJust before Christmas I was given a big bag full of fabulous retro fabrics and was very happy to give them a home with all of my newly purchased Ikea bargains. Until tonight, that home has been the lounge floor. I just couldn’t look at them any longer; I had to attempt to organise.
I store my crafting materials in boxes on a bookshelf in the spare bedroom, on another one in the lounge, in magazine racks on a desk in the lounge and in a chest of drawers in the lounge. In short, I need a bigger house with at least one room just for my crafting. It’s hardly a surprise that it quickly ends up in a mess and I can rarely find anything. I’ve done a lot of sorting this evening and was astonished that I needed a whole drawer for “cutting and sticking” and an entire shoebox for my ribbons, many of which are harvested from cards, chocolates and flowers given to me by my students – David’s not the romantic sort!! It’s getting a little ridiculous. I have card, thread, buttons and beads everywhere.
I’m a little ashamed of the amount that I have collected and so have made a late New Year’s resolution not to buy more for some time. I’m not prepared to put a timeframe on this but I do promise to try.
Now that I am almost certain my dear husband will have had enough of reading this post and returned to reading something bird related I shall divulge the second and much more important reason for organising my crafting things today. I needed to sneak a few new crafting books into the house…
These are not all brand new – some are old friends! What you see here is my entire crafting collection. I was given The Happy Hooker, Crafting by Concepts and one of the Compendiums of Cardmaking for Christmas. I bought Quilting In No Time from The Book People in November ( I think) but Kirstie Allsopp’s Craft and Fast Fabric Gifts arrived today. They look fantastic and I’m looking forward to trying out some of the projects. They were heavily reduced on Amazon so I couldn’t resist. I may even try something tomorrow if time allows.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Beautiful Christmas Cards Made by Others

Having spent the Christmas break in the Canary Islands (which was amazing) my opportunities to craft have been minimal but I’m really looking forward to trying out a few new things in 2012.

In the meantime, here are the five handmade cards that I received for Christmas…

This one was created by one of my Year 12 students…P1050792blog

Katie made this stamped card…P1050793blog

Amy cut out a snowflake from the words of ‘A Christmas Carol’, which was a fantastic idea…P1050794blog

Steph made this using stamping, embossing and decoupage…P1050795blog

Ruth’s stunning design is made by stitching and beading papers onto card. She did it all by hand and I love it…P1050796blog

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