Have your cake … but don’t eat it


I machine-sewed another felt wrap, based on the pencil-roll project in The Creative Family; Melody will now be able to carry along her crayons on the long train journeys we’ll be making over the Christmas period.

With the many smaller remnants in the crayon box, I had some fun making crayon cakes – an idea for which I must thank CraftSanity. Here they are before …

… and after 10 minutes in the oven on a low heat.

They were so pretty as they melted that I had to resist the urge to grab every crayon and oil pastel in the house and bake ’til we had a stack of cakes in rainbow colours climbing to the very ceiling. Fun though it might have been, I would have regretted it.

And I’ve had cakes on the brain, it seems, because I have also crocheted these little fellas – based on a pattern by KTBdesigns – to go with M’s tea set.

Lastly, my Christmas cards for this year, of which I’ve made only a handful.

This is one of the simpler designs from Paul Jackson’s wonderful collection of paper creations, The Pop-Up Book, which I recently tracked down at my local library, having found much in it to delight and impress me when I first browsed its pages years ago.

My Christmas card-giving has diminished over the past 14 years. This is, I suspect, the very last time I will send them.

Troobs in progress


I have given myself permission not to fret about fitting in any sketching or painting ’til November is out, so as to catch up with crocheting and sewing gifts for Christmas.

I have two crocheted cupcakes to complete (intended as play food to accompany my daughter’s tea set … I offer this as justification for what sounds on the face of it like an insanely silly undertaking, even to me, and I’m the one doing it), three pairs of fingerless mitts to get started on, another crayon wrap to sew, a sketch to frame and a number of cards still to make. Next year, by some miracle I might start planning the handmade stuff about six months earlier …

The project pictured – Danielle Kassner’s “Troubador Socks” from the Spring 2008 issue of Interweave Crochet – is my first attempt to get to grips with fair-isle crochet. I’m already doubting my choice of yarn, but after getting about seven rows into the toe and unravelling three times, I am just about at the stage of no longer feeling I’m wrestling with spaghetti, and instead, enjoying the process. These will be what they turn out to be: no expectation, no deadlines, no stress.

This isn’t, of course, one of my Christmas projects.

I’m such an idiot.

A handmade’s tale


Inspired by Amanda Blake Soule’s delightful book The Creative Family, I decided it was time to put my vintage sewing machine to use. My aunt, who sewed so lovingly for forty years on this machine, died last month – just six weeks after I’d become its proud new owner. This has spurred me on to try and surmount my technical ineptitude, and get to grips with this formidable beast.

The first project in SouleMama’s book is a pencil wrap made of felt; perfect for a beginner, since there are no hems required. My version is smaller – a wrap for crayons, for the son of a close friend of mine. Happily I am confident that both she and her little boy will see past the imperfections of my first sewing project and enjoy the bright colours, and the fact that it’s a handmade gift.

The wrap ties shut so that it’s easily transportable …

… and there’s a flap to help keep the crayons in place …

… with the crayons themselves tucked into six little pockets.

I plan to make one of these for my little girl, who is already aware of the importance of having her art materials always to hand!

As for SouleMama, her blog is full of beautiful photography, a visual hymn to the comforts and creativity of a rich family life. Congratulations, Amanda, on the gorgeous new addition to your family.