Friday, 22 May 2015

Swatching a New Project ::

Things have been crazy since I came back from maternity leave, it's only been 5 weeks, but it feels like a whole lot longer. Almost as soon as I started back a load of work landed in my lap. It's such a nice feeling to have people search you out and ask you to do work for them.
Of course most of what I've been working on is massively top secret, but needless to say there's been a whole lot crochet going on.


One project I can tell you a little about (though not a lot!) is my upcoming entry in Design Wars. If you don't know about Design Wars, it's a weekly challenge pitting 2 (sometimes more) designers against each other. Usually the designers use the same yarn, sometimes they follow a theme, both produce a pattern and the public votes for their favourite. The last time I took part was back in 2013 before the challenge went weekly, you can see my entry over here.

My yarn arrived last week and I finally got a chance to doing some swatching with it last night. It's Scheepjeswol's gorgeous Sunkissed. It's a cotton yarn that's beautifully matte and soft and has a look of a hand dyed yarn. I'm really impressed with it, despite it being 100% cotton I haven't had any problems with splitting so far and it has a much nicer drape than you'd expect from a cotton.


Did you see my ingenious use of knitting needles as blocking wires! This is what happens when you decide to block at 5am and your usual wires are upstairs where everyone else (except the baby who is the reason you are awake at this ungodly hour) are sleeping. I'm pretty impressed though, I think I will always use dpn's for swatch blocking from now on.


My only problem now is choosing a stitch to use! I love all of these swatches so much.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Play Dough :: A Recipe ::


When I signed up to take part in the Magic Square Playdates Challenge, hosted by BritMums and Petits Filous, it got me thinking a lot about what we usually do when Milo has friends over to play and what we could do to mix it up a bit and make it all a bit more fun.

Recently the time when Milo has friends round has become a lot more led by him and his friends, with a lot less interference from me. I'm here more as a referee in case any arguments break out and to ensure everyone is safe, happy and fed! Now he's six, he has his own very definite ideas of what he wants to do with his friends (play lego mostly) and he certainly doesn't need or want me getting involved. The more I thought about it though, the more I kind of wished I was more involved in the activities that take place when we have little get togethers. Just like when his friends aren't here, Milo's happy to play lego all day every day, with the occasional snack break, if I suggest a different activity it's generally met with very unenthusiastic mutterings, but once he starts to get involved, he usually enjoys whatever crafty endeavour I've 'forced' him to take part in.


Play dough was always a huge part of afternoon playtime and playdates when he was younger, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to dig out my old recipe and make some up, in an effort to draw him away from his beloved bricks.


To try and get him a little more involved I decided we would make up some accessories for our playdough and make some monster figures. So I quickly sketched out a variety of arms, eyes and teeth on a piece of card, Milo coloured them in (this kept him busy whilst I made the playdough) and then I cut them out for him. We also gathered some googly eyes and pipe cleaners we had in our crafty supply cupboard.


Milo decided of course that he wasn't making monsters, oh no, he was making Lego Mixels! We had so much fun together, creating these little figures. I suspect there will be a lot more playdough making going on again in our future and something I will definitely get out next time Milo has a friend over to play.


The recipe I use is the one my Mum taught me to make when I was probably not much older than Milo is himself. Don't be fooled in to thinking I have this committed to memory now though after all these years of making it. I have to call my Mum every single time I decide to whip some up! I know the ingredients required, I can just never remember in what quantity. This means I've also tried my hand at various other recipes I've come across via the interwebs when she has been unavailable and I still believe this to be the best recipe I've tried.



Ingredients ::
3 cups of Flour (any flour will do, I tend to use plain as that is what mostly have on hand)
1 1/2 cups of Salt
3 tablespoons of Oil (any oil will do, I tend to use baby oil, just because I like the way it smells, but any cooking oil is fine)
6 teaspoons of Cream of Tartar (you can make this without the cream of tartar, but this magically ingredient really helps to give it some elasticity)
3 cups of Water
Food Colouring

Method ::
Place all the ingredients in a pan, heat gently, stirring until it works in to a dough.
It's as easy as that. Ideally you want to add your food colouring in with the rest of ingredients, it's much easier to blend that way, however if you hope to make multiple colours, that's a bit of a pain. I often make up one plain, uncoloured batch and mix the colouring in after it's done. It's not as easy to blend and can be a little on the messy side, but it can be done.



This post is an entry for BritMums #MagicSquaresPlaydates Linky Challenge, sponsored by Petits Filous.



Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Me Made May :: Week 1 (and a bit) ::

I have been so good at dressing in handmade by me items every day throughout May, but I've not been so good at capturing myself doing so. I'm just too awkward and uncomfortable with photos of myself. I really wish I wasn't, but I really struggle. When I actually remember to take a photo, I then agonise over each and every detail of it, until I decide I don't like it and therefore refuse to post it. I feel so silly for behaving like this, I'd like to think I am comfortable in my own skin, that I'm happy with the face I have inherited, but there's still, somewhere hiding inside of me, the shy insecure teenager of my youth.

Anyway, here are the few shots I did share over on instagram (including the photos I shared with you in my first post for Me Made May, I realise I've only managed 6 photos so far out of 13 days) ::




And here's a list of what I've been wearing ::
I hereby pledge for the rest of the month, to be less self conscious and get photographing and sharing my handmades!


BiBs 2015 ::

Last week on facebook, I clicked through to the shortlist for the BritMum's Brilliance in Blogging awards after the lovely Lucy of Capture by Lucy announced that she had been shortlisted. To my complete surprise and amazement I found myself on the shortlist for the craft category!



I'm so thrilled to have been included among such great company and for such a prestigious blogging award. If you don't already know, here is a little about the BiBs from the BritMums website;
'BritMums highlights the best of parent lifestyle blogging in our Brilliance in Blogging Awards – the BiBs. It’s an opportunity to recognise the most creative, inventive and compelling blogging of the year! Last year more than 200,000 nominations and votes were cast – making it one of the UK’s most popular blogger awards.'

BritMums

I'd be beyond excited to find myself in among the finalists, so if you'd like to vote for me I would forever grateful. You can find the voting page here and find me in the craft category.
Thank you xxx


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

7 Months ::

I'm a little behind with this, as Effie actually turned 7 months back on the19th April. It's all been a little crazy round these parts, what with me going back to work and the possibility of a house move drawing closer.
However 7 months this baby is and what a delightful 7 monther she is.

We've finally formed the basis of a routine. She'll go to bed at 7-8 after dinner and a bath, she has a feed, then down she goes. Sometimes she grumbles a little, sometimes a lot, unless she's crossed the line from tired grumbling to 'you've abandoned me screaming' we leave her now and she'll fall asleep pretty quickly. She usually wakes once in the night, the time of this massively varies, anytime from 11-5. Making it pretty tough for my sleep schedule but I'm doing ok. Then back down again until about 7. When we get up we play for a little while, then another feed and back to bed about 9. This is the magical part of my day where she sleeps for a good 2-3 hours. Without this sleep I would never get any work done. Up around 12.30. Some lunch, another feed a trip out of the house, then off for the school run. Another feed when we get home. Dinner at 5.30ish and back to the bedtime business. It can change and one day can be turned upside down if I don't get her down for her nap quickly enough. But it's something to build my day around.


As for milestones;

  • still no teeth.
  • she's mastered the sounds 'dada' 'at' 'ta' and is still the bestest raspberry blower in the west, but no 'mama' yet, despite my best attempts at teaching her! 
  • she can sit without assistance indefinitely now.
  • can crawl backwards, around in circles and lifts herself into the right position, but hasn't quite mastered forward motion yet.

Her brother is her favourite, but she loves people, has smiles for everyone and has started to recognise those we see lots of.

We're all having so much fun watching her little character develop.


BritMums

I'm thrilled to have been shortlisted for a BritMums Brilliance in Blogging award! If you would like to vote for me, that would be super lovely. I'm in the craft category and you can cast your vote over here xxx

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Me Made May ::

Last year I watched my social media feeds come alive with super talented ladies taking part in 'Me Made May', I was so inspired by seeing the wonderful garments and accessories everyone had made. So much so I thought I'd join in myself this year.


If you haven't heard about this challenge before, the idea is pretty simple. Founded by So Zo What Do You Know, the main idea is that throughout May you strive to put your gorgeous handmade items on show. You make a pledge that fits with you, whilst still being a challenge of sorts. Here's my pledge;
'I Vicki Brown, of Vicki Brown Designs, pledge to wear at least one handmade by me garment or accessory throughout the month of May'



I'll be sharing daily shots of my handmade wares over on Instagram and will do a weekly round up over here too.



If you fancy joining in, do it! We're only a couple of days in so you definitely still can.
I've already found myself pulling out neglected handmades and feeling so good for it. It's also helping me to see what would be good future additions for my wardrobe. Which coincides nicely with my new found love of sewing, my discovering a whole load of really 80's sewing patterns I had hidden away and a new blog project I'm starting with Bex of Ampersand Commodities (more on that soon!).

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Goodbye April :: Hello May ::

Oh my gosh, I love this time of year. Summer is oh so close and everything is springing to life.
April has been a blast, so full and so joyous and so so sunny. We had Easter, a birthday and lots of ice cream and sunshine. I went back to work, got shortlisted for a BritMum's Brilliance in Blogging award (you can vote over here, I'd be extremely honoured if you voted for me-I'm in the craft category), found myself involved in lots of exciting new work projects and have been taking up new hobbies.

But May to September is totally my favourite and I'm so excited about summer. 

May sees the lido open, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Giffords Circus comes to Winchcombe, Wychwood Festival and (with all the fingers crossed, maybe, possibly, hopefully) the buying of our very own, very first house! Wish us luck.
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