Wednesday 29 April 2015

Fluffy Pom Pom Summer Skies

After knitting a Sky Blanket in 2012, last year I decided to Pom Pom the Sky: making a pom pom each day for a year, recording that day's weather.


I started in June, using six strands of yarn per pom pom, which meant I could use lots of different colour combinations to record the sky. I made pom poms for June and most of July... then I stopped.


I kept recording the sky colours but it took months to admit to myself that I wasn't going to restart my pom pom making, and more months after that to blog about it and publicly admit that I'd abandoned the project.

I'm making other plans for the finished pom poms, but in the meantime I have (finally!) finished all the made-but-still-scruffy-looking pompoms I made last year, lined them all up in date order...

... and taken some photos to celebrate their loveliness:


P.S. Fancy making your own sky pom poms? You could make a lovely 10 pom pom square cushion or wall hanging with just over three months worth of pom poms (maybe a summer's worth?).

I recommend this pom pom maker for easy-to-make, even pom poms (I used the 45mm one) and Stylecraft Special DK yarn for great sky colours (I used Silver, Grey, Aster, Cloud Blue and White).

I recorded the colours of the sky each day at midday, choosing colours for 6 strands of yarn (e.g. 2 x light blue, 2 x white, 2 x bright blue). To make each pom pom I wound 3 strands of yarn round each side of the pom pom maker (wrapping the yarn round 40 times to make a nice dense pom pom), then tied a little tag on with the date so I could arrange the pom poms in calendar order later. 

Monday 27 April 2015

How To: Make a Box of Sunshine!

Time for a free tutorial - yay! How to make a cute box of sunshine to brighten someone's day :)

This is a sponsored post, to celebrate the release of Annie on DVD and Blu-ray.

The re-make of the classic family musical stars Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz along with Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie ... and it's now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

This looks like such a happy film! So, my Annie-inspired project is all about spreading a bit of happiness: a box filled with rainbows and a little felt sun that you can give to a friend to make them smile.


I think a box of sunshine would be a really sweet gift for a friend or loved one who's ill or feeling blue.. or to send in the post to a friend you can't hug in person. This is also a very fun project to make, and one you could work on with your kids.

To make the box, you will need:
- the box template (at the bottom of this post), printed on white card
- felt tip pens, coloured pencils or crayons in seven rainbow colours (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, dark blue and purple), sky blue and black
- scissors
- a ruler
- a glue stick
- bakers twine or coloured yarn to tie the box, OR washi tape
To make the sun, you will need:
- the sun template (at the bottom of this post), printed on paper
- yellow felt
- sewing scissors
- a sewing needle and pins
- yellow thread
- a small amount of toy stuffing
- a black permanent marker pen

1. Print the box template provided onto a sheet of white card, or use the measurements provided on the template sheet to draw the box template onto the card.

2. Colour in the template - this will be the inside of your box. Colour the rainbow stripes in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, dark blue and purple. Then colour the central section sky blue. Remember to colour the four tabs!

3. Carefully cut out the box shape, then score along the inner lines of the box to make them easy to fold.

To do this you need something pointed that you can press into the card - a ballpoint that's run out of ink, a butter knife or an open pair of scissors. Take care with this step, especially if you are using scissors! Place the card on something like a cutting mat or a pad of paper to protect your worksurface. Hold the ruler in position with one hand and your chosen scoring tool firmly in the other and carefully score along the lines, bringing the tool towards yourself slowly along the edge of the ruler.

Fold each scored line then unfold them and flatten the box again. The box will now be easy to fold later and the line of each fold means the different sections will be clearly visible when you turn it over in the next step.


4. Turn over the card and decorate the outside of the box! You can use your imagination to add patterns or pictures on the four sides of the box and the two flaps (and even the bottom of the box if you want to). You could also add fun things like stickers or personalise the box with your friend's name or drawings of some of their favourite things.

Tip: make sure the box is the right way up, so that when it's opened red will be at the top of the rainbows.

I decorated my box with a red heart and some abstract patterns, using rainbow colours. I added the heart to the left flap and used the right flap for writing my message.

5. Now it's time to construct the box. Use a glue stick to apply glue to the white side of the four flaps, then fold up the box pressing the flaps into place inside one by one. Pinch the card between your fingers for a few seconds until the glue sticks the layers together. Then set the box aside so the glue can dry completely.

6. Print the sun template provided onto a sheet of paper then cut it out. Pin the template to some yellow felt and cut around it. Repeat this to cut a second circle.

7. Pin the two felt circles together and whip sitch around the edge with yellow thread, hiding your knot between the two layers. Stitch most of the way round, leaving a gap big enough for a couple of your fingers.

8. Stuff the sun so it's nicely shaped but still squishy. Add little bits of stuffing at a time, poking them with your fingers so the sun is evenly stuffed. Then sew up the rest of the gap with more whip stitches and finish your stitching at the back.

9. Use a permanent black marker to give your sun a smiley face. Wait for the ink to fully dry before touching it, to avoid smudging.

Tip: practice drawing on a scrap of felt first.

10. Put the sun in the box, then tie it up with some pretty bakers twine or coloured yarn.

Alternatively, secure the top flap of the box with a small piece of washi tape.

Click here to view the box template sheet and here to view the sun template sheet. Make sure you're viewing them full size then print them at 100%.

Tip: for paler lines on the box template, use the "fast" or "draft" setting on your printer. 

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post, celebrating today's release of Annie on Blu-ray and DVD. Screenshots from the film are used with permission.

Saturday 25 April 2015

London Craft Week

Have you heard about London Craft Week?

It's the craft world's answer to Fashion Week - "a new annual event which showcases exceptional craftsmanship through a journey-of-discovery programme featuring hidden workshops, celebrated makers, other lesser known makers and highly specialised skills alongside famous shops, galleries and luxury brands."

The first London Craft Week is just over a week away and it looks completely amazing. Running from 6th-10th May, there will be a programme of demonstrations, workshops, exhibitions, tours, open studios and talks across the city (some free, some ticketed).

The events will be showcasing and celebrating the craft skills of watchmakers, tailors, jewellers, fashion and textile designers, bootmakers, engravers, hat makers, perfumers, glassblowers, ceramacists, print makers, costumiers, weavers, silversmiths, gun makers, bookbinders... and more!

Even the programme itself is gorgeous - gold pages and maps? Yum.

I am soooo looking forward to this!

Fancy going along yourself? Click here for more info about London Craft Week and to view the full programme of events.

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Exploring Chiswick House & Gardens

Back when spring was only just, er, springing, I headed to west London to visit Chiswick House & Gardens for a relaxing and delightfully sunny Nice Day Out.

The house itself (completed in 1729) is small but interesting - it was created by the third Earl of Burlington as a space to display his collections and entertain his friends. It's also one of the places that's free to visit if you have an Art Pass. Hurrah! 


The free-entry-with-my-Art-Pass was what took me to Chiswick in the first place, as I'm trying to make the most of my Art Fund membership, but honestly I think the real delight here is the gardens (which are free to visit, whether you have an Art Pass or not).

There are about 65 acres of grounds to explore, with lots of interesting things to see along the way. Created in the 1700s, the garden was (apparently) the birthplace of the English Landscape Movement, when formal gardens gave way to an idealised version of nature filled with picturesque views. More recently, the gardens were the location for two promo videos shot by the Beatles in 1966.

It was lovely to wander round the gardens, enjoying the first signs of spring...


... and the ornamental buildings, statues and other curiosities dotted around the faux-natural landscape.

A waterfall! A temple! A pretty bridge across a lake!

The lake itself was rather lovely...

... and buzzing with birds, on and around the water...


... including a family of loudly honking Egyptian Geese and their fluffy goslings.


Here's that temple again, and an obelisk (just what every garden needs), in an ampitheatre-shaped garden that was originally filled with potted orange trees creating a faux Mediterranean grove.


It was quite delightful strolling round the grounds and discovering new and interesting objects round each corner. There are statues of the great and the good, lots of urns...


... some sphinxes, a pair of rather cowardly-looking lions...


... and a statue of a naked lady stuck on top of a column who I thought looked a bit like she's having one of those "finding yourself naked in public" nightmares and is hoping she wakes up soon!

There are also some more formal sections of the garden, lots of interesting paths to wander down and plenty of wooded areas being enjoyed by lots of locals and their dogs. You could play a pretty good game of "dog breed bingo" here I think, I saw so many different types of dogs in one afternoon!

Dotted around the grounds are fun picture frames, with some interesting facts about that corner of the garden and a reproduction of an old photo or painting showing how the view looked many years ago.  These are helpfully marked on the visitor map (click here to view the PDF) along with the main sights to look out for as you explore the gardens.

After a visit to the house, a long walk round the gardens, and some tasty food in the cafe (which is pretty busy at the weekends so be prepared to queue or take a picnic!) I made a final stop: visiting the magnificent greenhouse to see the collection of Camellias. Click here to see my post about the Camellia Festival.

Then it was time to head home and start planning my next Nice Day Out...