Super Cute Scandi Style Embroidery

Some of you may remember a previous post of mine discussing a deal that I made with my son.

In short, the Monkey agreed to be less upset about the Christmas decorations coming down and in return I agreed that we would have a go at making our home “sparkle’ a little bit more throughout the year. But the Monkey is a firm believer that homemade is best so we’ve had to do this with our own hands rather than a trip to the shops or an evening trawling the internet.

So when I signed up to a blog-world mass crafting event I knew that I would have to make something for our home.

After all… a deal is a deal, and we shook on it.

So here’s the finished project, my super cute scandi inspired cushion cover embroidery.
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And the Monkey is ever so pleased with it. To quote him, “it’s fantastic mummy, its awesome”.

Phew!

And here’s the pattern.

Now you can use these lovely little flowers to cheer up a cushion cover of your own but please don’t feel tied to my layout or, in fact, to using them on a cushion cover at all.

Let your imagination roam. Just promise me one thing, ok?

Use them to make your home feel loved in, as well as lived in.

So how about a Scandi style apron to cheer up the back of your kitchen door? Just pop those flowers on the pocket and maybe add a bit of matching ric rac along the hem and away you go.

Or how about Scandi-fying your bathroom with some bright blue flowers on crisp white towels?

In fact, pillowcases, curtains, clothing, even clusters of framed pictures or decorative mini embroidery hoops. They could all benefit from a bit of Scandi cheer.

Need more impact?

How about a splash of applique on some of the leaves, or breaking out of the restraints of monochrome into a riot of colour?

You could even liberate these flowery guys from their little square homes if you wanted… I’m sure they won’t mind.

What I’m trying to say is that these few, small, simple flower designs are just the starting point. It’s your imagination, love and effort that will transform both the designs themselves, and whatever corner of your home in which you choose to place them.

So, if you’re ready to let these little flowers loose in your home (whether on something you’ve made or something you’ve bought) then you’ll need at least some of the following items:

  • The item that you want to embroider;
  • A printout of your chosen flower design, resized to suit your chosen item;
  • Scissors;
  • Needle;
  • Embroidery Thread in your colour of choice (I used anchor stranded cotton 400 for the vast majority, and a smattering of Anchor’s 233 thread for contrast);
  • Embroidery Hoop of sufficient diameter to contain a whole scandi square;
  • Water Erasable Marker Pen/Dressmakers Chalk Pencil;
  • Stabiliser (optional); and
  • Normal thread (if attaching a stabiliser with temporary tacking stitches).

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So, what do you do now you’ve got all this stuff?

1. If you are using a stabiliser then you’ll need to start by attaching it to the back of the fabric, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

2. The next step is to transfer the pattern to your fabric.

Now there are many methods of transferring a pattern,  but in this case I cut the template to make a stencil. I find this keeps the transferred design closer to the size of the original than simply drawing around the outside of a shape.
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I traditionally use a tailor’s chalk pencil but as the fabric was quite textured I thought I’d be a bit crazy and branch out to an erasable marker.

It’s worth adding at this point that, if you are using the square outlines, then I would recommend that you draw and embroider these first and then go back and repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 for the flowers themselves.

This helps you to iron out any wonky lines prior to investing time sewing the detail of the flower designs. It also makes it far easier to centre the design in the squares.

3. Moving on, place the part of the fabric which you are about to sew in the centre of an embroidery hoop and make sure it is tight without being overly stretched in any one particular direction.

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4. Go go sew!

I used three strands out of six strands of embroidery thread. If you are sewing on a smaller scale or using a finer fabric then you may find two strands to be perfectly adequate.
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Most of the pattern is stitched using a simple backstitch but, as you’ll see in the pattern, I also used a whipped backstitch for the outline squares, a split stitch on the stems and a double running stitch on the detail of the cup shaped flower.

Wherever there is a little blob on the pattern, I simply stitched a small star.

That said, the entirety of this design can be sewn in backstitch with no significant detriment to the final result.

5. Once finished, remove the stabilising fabric, press with an iron and enjoy your newly scandi-fied item!
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I’d love to hear about, or even better see, your completed projects. It’s easy to sit here at my computer throwing my words and ideas out there to the wide-open-impersonal-internet. It’s lovely to see where they have taken root and the fruit that they have borne.

And it goes without saying that I’d love you to use this tutorial and scandi-fy all manner of items for yourself or as gifts for friends but please don’t make any to sell. Feel free to re-pin, copy, or borrow a couple of photos to spread the word, but please link back to this post and credit me. Please don’t share the pattern itself or my little ‘how-to-do’ guides on your site.

Stop Press!

If this has whet your appetite for flower related craftiness then why not pop over to Bugs and Fishes to see the full array of flowery tutorials available for your use and enjoyment.

UPDATE!

If you fancy including those cute little birds in your design then you can now download my pattern for these friendly fellows here.

Happy sewing!

Painting memories

It’s easy to be busy.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the crazy mayhem of family life.

I love hearing the Monkey chatting away with a friend after school, their imaginations taking them wherever they desire.

I love the well rehearsed and proudly announced line in a school assembly.

I love a tightly grasped swimming badge and the smile that goes with it,
the warm welcome at our local baby group,
impromptu trips to the park,
sticky fingers and even stickier kisses,
and the breath being knocked out of me by a hug that starts five feet away with a running jump.

But its easy in this busyness to miss the miracle unfolding before my eyes.

Its easy to forget that, right in the midst of all these things, I have a little girl determinedly growing up before my very eyes.
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And so last week, Little Pumpkin and I called a halt to all of the busyness, and made our way to a local ceramics cafe for a bit of quality time together painting pottery and making memories.

It was just the perfect day as the sun shone in through the cafe window and Little Pumpkin sat in a highchair smiling, watching cars drive by and blowing kisses at the people who came in to collect their items.

There was freshly brewed coffee for me and a cookie for the Pumpkin. There was music in the background and friendly conversation.

We were highly industrious, fuelled as we were by caffeine and sugar.
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And Little Pumpkin got her first taste of painting and found it to be highly agreeable.

Particularly the paintbrushes.
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We have been waiting excitedly for a week to pass to collect our items.

Finally the day dawned and off we ran to collect our items, all lovingly wrapped up in tissue and a brown paper bag.

And here they sit, ready to bring a ray of sunshine to everyday meals, helping me to remember my beautiful one year old who loves to blow kisses to strangers while watching the world drive by.
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Let’s Make: Awesome Bunting!

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And so I dip my toe into the waters of tutorials beginning with bunting, which turns out to have a deceptively large number of steps to it!

I’ll be the first to admit that there is an overwhelming array of bunting tutorials out there and nearly as many different methodologies.

My tutorial is not the fastest method, but it is a relatively straightforward way of making bunting that will withstand a bit of rough treatment over the years and come out of storage in a fairly presentable state.

If you’re a seasoned crafter looking for something simple to follow then use the headings in bold as a framework for your crafting.

Otherwise, I hope that my general ramblings provide a few hints and tips that I’ve picked up over the years, most often as a result of frustration, tears and abandoned projects.

1. Get your materials together

So, you’ve been out to a shop/hit the online stores/raided your stash of fabric/cut up your children’s old clothes (not a joke – it can make a lovely run of “memory” bunting). You will also need bias binding of at least the length that you want your line of bunting to be, plus a little extra in case things end up longer than expected.

I used a patterned fabric on both sides so I could use the bunting at a window if I wanted to.

You could just as easily use a plain fabric for the back of each triangle or, if you are feeling particularly inspired, you could even use different patterned fabric on each side so you get two bunting themes for the price of one. But make sure that whatever fabric you use doesn’t show through to the other side.

So, fabric chosen, you should hopefully have a needle, thread and scissors as a minimum.
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Ideally, if you are anything like me, you’ll have a seam ripper too.

Mistakes happen.

A seam ripper means that you’re more likely to have your sanity intact by the end of the project. Bonus!

If you’re hoping to run this off in a couple of nights then you’ll be needing access to a sewing machine. This isn’t a necessity – I love hand sewing and the individual look it gives to a project. In this case, however, if you’re undecided between the two options then I would recommend a sewing machine for the more uniform finish that it gives.

An iron is useful too. Yes, getting it out to press your fabric does seem like a faff but it does give a much better finish and helps save mistakes. Believe me, I wouldn’t be suggesting this if I didn’t genuinely believe it to be worth the effort. Unpicking is infinitely more frustrating.

On that note, I’d recommend that you wash and iron the fabric. Fabric shrinks and if you are using a combination of fabrics then they may shrink at varying rates, causing your beloved bunting to go all wrinkly or wonky.

So if you’re in a huge rush then you may want to grab yourself some pinking sheers and a different tutorial, having decided that this tutorial is not the method for you.

I won’t take it personally, I promise.

2. Cut out your template

This is the template that I made, but it’s just a simple triangle so feel free to go crazy with your own pattern! If you’re not feeling particularly crazy then you’ll need to print out the template to a regular A4 size.

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At this point I’d suggest that you take the physical template, cut it out and hold it up to where you are likely to use the bunting. When I did this, I ended up shortening the triangle by a few inches to the final size on the template. If it had been bunting for outdoors I’d probably have stuck with the larger size.

If you do make your own template then remember to add a seam allowance. It’s fairly standard to use a 1.5cm seam allowance but I reduced this to 1cm on this project due to the smaller scale. Lives will not depend on the difference between these two measurements so feel free to vary this with reckless abandon.

3. Cut out your fabric 

There are many ways of securing the paper template against the fabric, the most common being pins.

I’m not a huge fan of using pins for small projects as I find that they have a habit of fidgeting out of place. They also, far too often in my hands, completely make a bid for freedom and hide in my carpet ready to reveal themselves when the nearest inquisitive crawling one year old passes by.

Incidentally, should you find that you are in possession of similarly sneaky pins then a magnet hovered over the general area can be a helpful tool. If you don’t have a magnet then playmobil have a fantastic working metal detector in their spy range which is surprisingly good at finding pins.
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Anyway, returning to the project in hand.

When making my bunting, I simply held down the template and drew around it using a ruler to ensure that it kept the edges nice and straight.

For the best results, consider where you are placing the template on the fabric. Do you want the print or images to run in a certain direction, for example, or is there a pattern that you need to place in the centre on the triangle? I would also suggest that its best, in this case, to ensure that your pieces are cut ‘on the grain’ rather than on the ‘bias’.

Once you’ve marked out or pinned down your template then it’s time to be brave and make those daunting first cuts into your pristine fabric.

4. Attach your fabric triangles together, right side to right side

Put simply, place your two triangles of fabric so that the ‘right sides’ are facing one another inwards, and temporarily attach the two fabric pieces to each other.
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Again, thanks to my slightly irrational mistrust of pins I hand sewed some temporary stitches, also known as tacking stitches, for this purpose.

Thousands of crafters in thousands of homes across the country use pins successfully and without the need for a German metal detecting toy.

You too can be one of these people should you so desire.

5. Sew pieces together and turn inside out

When sewing the pieces together, make sure that you sew the correct distance from the edge of the fabric. This should be whatever the length of your seam allowance is, which in my case was 1cm. Your sewing machine will probably have markers on it but, if not, just use some tailor’s chalk or other similar temporary product to mark where you should sew.

When this has been done your triangles should be turned inside out so that the right side, or print, is on the outside as you ultimately want it to look.

6. Press the triangles with an iron

Yes it is a pain. Yes it is worth it.

7. Topstitch the triangles

This stage isn’t strictly necessary, but your bunting will sit a lot flatter and will keep its shape longer thanks to topstitching the triangles. It’s the difference between good bunting and great bunting.
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8. Attach your triangles to the bias binding at your chosen intervals

So, take your bias binding and unfold it.

You’ll find that you essentially have a very long rectangle in which both outer edges are folded into the centre of the rectangle, making two inner flaps.

Take your triangle and stitch it to one of the flaps. Do this stitching all the way along the bias binding until all of the triangles are attached. The stitches won’t be seen but will hold the triangles in place.
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9. Turn the bunting over and fold the bias binding over the top of the triangle and secure in place

You need to secure the bias binding or it will more than likely move while you are sewing, causing bumps and folds in the final item.

You can use pins for this task but will probably be unsurprised to hear that I used more hand sewn tacking stitches instead, just to make sure that everything stayed in place.

Bias binding, I find, is also sneaky and fidgety when my back is turned.
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10. Top stitch along the bias binding and remove any tacking stitches

Ta da!
Congratulations!

You are now the proud creator of awesome bunting.
Display with pride.
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The Sea…

The Hoogally household had a long awaited trip to the seaside to visit Grandparents over Easter.

We usually hold off telling the Monkey about trips away until as close as possible to the event itself. In fact, the ideal point to tell him that we are going away is around about the moment that we put his shoes on by the door.

But this time the Monkey has known for a while about this trip.

We’ve not been able to visit his Grandparents for over a year and so this trip has been both long anticipated and the source of great excitement. It’s been beautiful to see.

But the Monkey was not only excited about seeing his Grandparents but also about visiting the sea.

And truth be told, so was I because…

I
Love
The
Sea.

There’s something about the sea that calls to my spirit. When I’m there I feel alive. It’s as if something primal stirs in me.

Perhaps it’s the untameable wildness, the vastness that stretches out further than my eyes can see.

Perhaps it’s the power lying in those waves, barely restrained and answerable to no one.

But I think that mostly it is the breeze, a wind that comes off the sea teasing around your hair, whispering tales of far-flung shores and adventures that it has borne witness to.

But we live in interesting times and so this day is a family day and this day the sea is as much a partner to its sandy companion as it is an attraction of its own.

And so we found ourselves on the first day of our holiday, with the sun out and fluffy white clouds dancing across bright blue skies, throwing on our sandals and making our way to the beach.
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The beach where as a child I carried buckets, inflatable rings and towels down to the waters edge before running into the lapping waves with a disregard to the cold that only small people can muster.

And now it’s the Monkey, my Monkey, storming ahead in excitement.
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And this year he is, slowly but enthusiastically, now followed by Little Pumpkin. Her hands are still in ours but her sights are most determinedly set on following her brother under her own steam.

So, for now, the untamed waves and whispering wind must wait.

For today is the day of beach huts and sandcastles
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shells and stones
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ice cream and chips.
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Today is the day of sand dunes turned into pirate islands in the eyes of a five year old boy,
his sandals long since discarded,
jeans rolled up
and hair tousled in all directions…

perhaps by the wind that whispers to him too….?

Roll up, roll up ladies and gentlemen!

In honour of the Easter season, the Monkey’s school ran an egg decorating competition on the slightly unusual theme of the circus.

Now I’ll admit that I wasn’t quite sure how he would take to this theme but it ended up really capturing his imagination.

And so we ended up with the (drum roll please ladies and gentlemen….) Egg Man Cannonball!
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Look at his shiny green costume glistening in the bright circus lights.
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And his bright red cape flowing behind him as he stands preparing for his next daredevil feat.
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It’s no surprise that there are ripples of excitement in the crowds as they wait for their ovoid shaped hero.
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Beth Made It!

I love creativity.

I love the carefully made item, patiently worked on evening after evening, love poured into each stitch, cut or brushstroke.

But I also love impulsive creativity, most often found at the hands of those too young to be misinformed that the creative must be hard work…

streaks of paint across a page…
unconstrained handfuls of glitter scattered generously…
yogurt pots, bottle lids and cereal boxes turned into the international space station.

I love the exploring-as-it-goes-and-see-what-we-discover creative process.

And so I’m planning a regular celebration of fledgling crafters and creators in the form of an “I Made It!” post each month.

And so we are starting off with a bang with this fabulous egg cosy made by Beth.
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I love the bright cheerful colours that sing out to you. Absolutely perfect for a springtime breakfast and guaranteed to make you smile.
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Beth said, “I liked choosing and sewing on the buttons”, and I’m sure you’ll agree that the buttons really are the crowning glory.

We have very much enjoyed having it sit in our dining room while waiting to be returned.
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So thank you Beth for sharing this with us.

Birthday Bunting

This is a higgledy piggledy post insofar as it is a post about an item that’s already had its debut on this blog.

But birthdays don’t wait. And this is bunting with a story…
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You see we bought this house many moons ago when I still had the Big Career and the Big Wage.

Since then we’ve had job changes, redundancies, and two new (and wonderful) people join our family. Most recently there’s been our decision for me to step out of the workplace for a while in order to focus on our family.

And so we’re no longer able to buy the lamp, chair or curtains that my heart might leap at in a shop window. But it’s my home, that we all return to, and I love it because of that.

So, a while ago, we were taking down the christmas decorations and in the midst of trying to squeeze everything back into the boxes they hibernate in, I looked down to discover the Monkey crying.

Now I can’t blame the Monkey, I love christmas and am sad to see it go, but this wasn’t like him and so we sat down to try to hear what was tugging at his soul so much.

It turns out it wasn’t the end of presents, or chocolates on tap, but putting away the decorations.

The house didn’t sparkle any more.

So we made a deal, the Monkey and I. We even shook on it, so this was a Serious Issue.

We’d not cry about the christmas decorations going away, but in return we’d work slowly but surely at putting the sparkle back in the house, at making it look the way it did in our hearts.

And we weren’t going to do it with the shop bought rugs, or internet-store cushions.

We were going to do it with love,
and fabric,
and thread,
and wool,
and paper
and our imaginations
and most of all our hearts.

It won’t be an overnight thing as it takes time to really stuff these things with love and memories but little by little we will make our house sparkle so we don’t have tears in January.

And so, I’ve started with plain old bunting. But it will become our birthday bunting, there whenever we come together to celebrate another year with a treasured family member. There in the backgrounds of photos of cakes being blown out or presents being opened.

And each time we unpack it, it will be that little more precious because we will be unpacking family memories.

So here it is monkeys, ninja racoons and owls all present and correct.
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And a smiley Monkey all of our own.

Happy Birthday Little One

Thank you for joining our particular circus troupe. We are all the richer for it.

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Here’s to the next year and adventures in waiting.

Trousers…

So it’s been a bit of a rough ride recently in the hoogally house.

A nasty tummy bug swept through our family hitting one of us at a time, just to really make its presence felt.

So we retreated and kept our heads down then slowly, one by one, we got back onto our feet and shook off the dust of the previous week.

But, onwards and upwards, turning our faces towards warmer weather and new beginnings.

Which, in the manner of a 1950’s television announcer, links back to my previous post which explained that I’d had somewhat of a pause in my craftings, but was filling this time with plotting and planning New Things.

Well my mind has indeed been beavering away and these beaverings have started to bear fruit in the form of a pair of simple trousers for the Little Pumpkin this summer.

For Little Pumpkin, when not laid low poorly, has a generous tummy.

A most adorable tummy.

Just perfect for blowing raspberries into, for kissing, for cuddling your arms tightly around.
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But not perfect for trousers with hard metal buttons, or tight leggings that draw her into a figure of eight.

And to be honest, I am a firm believer that a baby or toddler tummy should be celebrated, applauded and embraced.

Not constrained.

But it does make clothing a little tricky.

And so I can proudly reveal the first, of what I hope will be many, lovely elasticated rolling-around-and-having-cuddly-adventures type trousers.

I’m quite proud of them actually. My first piece of clothing for Little Pumpkin.
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They aren’t lined, because these trousers are intended for summer adventures. So they are a smidgen too long at present.

But not too long for a practice run…
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There are a few tweaks that I’d make to them next time.

But then I’m one of those annoying people who are never quite satisfied. Always fidgeting with a sense that if I just make this piece a shade wider and move that piece just a teeny bit to the left, that the world would be a better place.

But I digress. They work. And Little Pumpkin seems to like them.
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So just you wait…

There’s a sunny day in July, waiting for these trousers.

Little white clouds will skip across the sky carried by a light refreshing breeze. Birds will be chirping away, bike bells ringing from the street mingling with the sound of laughter. If you time it right and listen hard, I think that might be the sound of an ice cream van far off in the distance.

Little Pumpkin will be toddling a bit more confidently but her hands will still be in mine, at least now and then.

Maybe we will be playing in the sandpit in the garden making tracks in the sand, or maybe we will be at the park whooshing down slides.

Shall we meet you there? It’s going to be lovely…

New beginnings

I’ve had a quiet few days on here.

Truth be told that after all of the (starting and) finishing of the beanstalk costume and the excitement of my birthday, the remainder of the week has been filled up with our day to day rhythms.

That’s no bad thing in that I find a peacefulness from waking up knowing that today we go to this place, meet these people, or do this thing.

Every so often its the day that the Monkey gets to catch up on retro cartoons at his after school club. I miss him. After nearly five years of him by my side I’ve learnt to walk in step with him and I still miss his hand in mine and the chance to see the world through his eyes.

But every cloud has a silver lining. So on these days the lack of the Monkey is counter balanced with a glorious whole day with Little Pumpkin and a chance to learn to walk alongside her too, even if its only figurative steps at this stage.

For in the ordinary run of things we go straight from lunchtime nap to school run. This makes Little Pumpkin very happy because there is no better point in her day than when she is reunited with the Monkey. Because the Monkey is Crazy, Unadulterated Fun. With bells on. She giggles and waves her arms as if to say “Hurrah, and now there is fun afoot. Let the crazy begin!”.

But as her mummy, an extra afternoon with her is a blessing. It often marks a change in our pace, a slowing down to really start to get to know the little girl who is blossoming before my very eyes.

The afternoon, truth be told, is her very best time of the day. And it’s nice now and then not to have to share it, or her.

It also gives me space to think and to start to form ideas of new things to make.

I’ve a few things coming together, I’ve been dreaming up designs and planning away. But all in my mind so far.

And so here sit some fabrics.
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Some new and some old (loved but held back for that perfect project). Waiting for scissors to cut, needles to weave in and out, back and forth and dreams to form into reality.

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Such an exciting but daunting stage. Will it work, will it be as lovely in my hands as it seems in my head?

So here’s a toast to first steps and fresh ideas.

Here’s to dreams.
And making them real.

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