DIY: Cute as a button

Pinterest has a lot to answer for. Once again I spotted a crafty tutorial I just knew I had to try. American Craft Studio posted a tutorial for an Element Monogram. A friend of mine had a baby recently so in her honour I decided to create a H.

I used:

  • Printer, scissors, paper, pencil, glue, double sided tape
  • A photo frame, without the glass (I’m using more Ribba from Ikea)
  • Card large enough to fit the photo frame (I’m using some lovely shimmery grey card to go with the white frame)
  • Buttons, lots and lots of buttons and beads (I used some from my stash, was donated some and bought some from eBay)

The original tutorial suggests printing out a letter, cutting around it and using this as a template. I really wanted a nice curly letter but it took a bit of time to find one that was chunky enough to allow for larger buttons. Eventually I settled on Angel Tears in size 850. When cutting out the letter I made it a bit chunkier again. Although I can see the logic in tracing around a letter with straight edges, I think if you are doing something a bit curvier freehand would be ok.

You then start sticking down the buttons, starting with the larger ones and then filling in the gaps with smaller ones, and layering them up. I used beads when I needed to fill smaller gaps.

I may have gone a bit overboard with the chunkyness and curlyness because Rossa looked over my shoulder and said “Oh, that’s beautiful” but identified it as a bird. I realised too late you also need to keep it simple, as something that is too curvy can become unrecognisable (my bird!)

I ended up cutting around the buttons I had glued so I could make the shape more recognisable, which is not an ideal solution. But now it looks more like a H than a bird so I’m happy. The buttons are quite heavy so I used double sided tape to stick the card first to the backing board and then to the mount before fitting it into the glass-less frame.

This Is Knit move house

Ok, this is a really quick post just to show off a few of the photos I took today when I popped into This Is Knit to see the new shop. The place looks amazing and the full of yarny goodness. The shop is flooded with gorgeous light coming in from the large windows.

The shop is split over two floors with books and a seating area upstairs with room for knitting classes. Downstairs the walls are lined with shelves full of yummy yarn. Don’t ask me what’s in any of the photos because I haven’t a clue, it really was a flying visit.

But there are buttons, which did make me actually squeal and yarny cards made my one of favourite photographers, Julie (and I’m not just saying that because she is shooting my wedding ;-))

This Is Knit is more than just a shop. Although it is a very successful shop. It seems to me to be the centre of a knitting community. There is nothing more special or important than people who are generous with their skills and knowledge. Because of this amazing community the skill and art of knitting will remain vibrant for years to come. They have really inspired me to push myself and my knitting ability and are always there when I falter to get me going again.

Oh and here is a gratuitous pic of little Mia.

Introducing Ollie and Mia

Ollie and Mia have already made an appearance in a blog post or two so I thought it was time to properly introduce them to you.

Ollie

Ollie

When Rossa and I first started looking for somewhere to buy I insisted we get somewhere with a back garden because I wanted a dog. We adopted Ollie from Dogs In Distress in July of 2009. We met him in his foster home when he was 6 weeks old and was just a tiny bundle of fluff. We think he is a Shuh-Tzu/Fox Terrier X and were told he was found wandering the streets at 6 weeks old.

Ollie is a real little character. He is such a gentle soul too. He loves to play and has two games. He drops a toy at your feet and then it’s a game of ‘fastest draw’ to see if you or he gets to the toy first. His other favourite game is ‘tug of war’. When I get home or someone comes into the house Ollie will run off to find a toy for them to play with.

Ollie grown up

Ollie grown up

He’s also very clever. He know sit, down, paw and ‘bang’ where we taught him to roll over and play dead. He knows who his ‘Aunty Aoife’ is, knows that we’re going out even before we know ourselves and can instinctively tell whether he’s coming with us or not. (If he’s coming he waits by the front door, if he’s not he hides under the couch.) He knows walk, park and ‘go in the car’ and sits when we come to a road until he is told to cross.

He loves cuddles and will keep nudging your hand for more, but isn’t a snuggly dog, he won’t sit on your lap for hours, although loves to snuggle against our legs in bed (where he sleeps at the weekends).

Mia

Mia

When I started volunteering at the DSPCA I started to pine for a second dog. A friend for Ollie don’t you know. After bullying Rossa into eventually agreeing we contacted several rehoming organisations, including going back to Dogs in Distress. I think because we had kept in touch with them since we adopted Ollie we were given first choice on Mia.

We met Mia in the same foster home in November 2010. We fell in love immediately. How could you not! Mia is a Chihuahua Yorkie X and was surrendered by a family at 4 months old. The first few weeks Ollie was very jealous and we had to be careful not to give her too much attention, but bit by bit he realised she wasn’t going anywhere.

Mia all grown up

Mia all grown up

Mia is mental. Totally mental, but she is also the sweetest little thing you will ever come across. She is hyper and demanding, high maintenance and exhausting. She is also a bit thick. Alright, a lot thick. She barks at 5am at mysterious shadows in the garden and still isn’t 100% house-trained. Right now she won’t leave my hand alone as I try to type demanding cuddles.

When she gets really excited she climbs up on our shoulder and starts rolling around like she wants to cover herself in our scent. She wants ‘up’ all the time but will snuggle in against your neck or flop her head on your shoulder in a way that makes my heart melt. She is utterly adorable (even if she is crazy.)

She is besotted with Ollie and bullies him at the same time. When she gets excited she pulls at his ears, she bites his neck and pulls at his legs. But I think we can finally say they are friends. Kind of.

Waiting patiently to cross the road

Waiting patiently to cross the road

 

DIY: Tied up with string

I’m getting married to the love of my life next April and I am very excited to be planning our wedding. I’m hoping to make and do as much of the decorations and extra touches myself for three reasons. First I feel it makes it very personal, second simply because I want to. A distant third, for me anyway, is saving money, although this is undoubtedly a nice bonus.

I spotted these table numbers propped up by corks on Pinterest, and immediately fell in love with the rustic feel of the corks and twine. Aren’t they fab? They were originally posted on the website of a Melbourne Wedding Planner and Event Manager, A Lavish Affair.

As a DIY bride I couldn’t resist giving these a go myself.

I used:

  • Glue & scissors
  • String
  • Wine corks (I have a collection of these just waiting for a project to come along, a huge thanks also to Elana and UnderMeOxter for donating wine corks)

The first thing to do is sort the corks into sets of 6, you’re looking for corks of similar height and shape.

The next step is to glue the corks together. You only want to put the glue on the bottom half of the corks so that the paper can still slip between them. I found that gluing them in pairs, and then gluing the pairs together worked best.

Finally, wrap the string around the corks around three times and tie in a bow. When you are happy with the placement of the string and I would suggest adding a few more drops of glue to hold everything in place. You’re now ready to pop your card into place.

I also spotted these really cute table decorations on Pinterest  – 5 things his side should know about her/ 5 things her side should know about him. The originals come from Etsy shop La Belle Vie Design. Jenn from La Belle Vie has loads of super cute, customisable stationary for weddings and some really unique ideas. I’m going to have to tie Rossa down to persuade him to write 5 things about me, but I think it will be a really personal touch, especially for those guests that don’t know one of us very well.

Knitting and I

I mentioned in a recent post that my recent love of knitting was inspired by watching Mastercrafts on BBC last year.

I think I was in a bit of a rut. I used to make jewellery and absolutely love photography, but without even really noticing I had let both these (and probably other hobbies) slide. Rossa kept pushing me to get the creative juices flowing again, to *do* something. He may now be regretting this.

knitting bagI felt energised watching the crafters on TV creating such beautiful fabric on their looms. Something in this particular program spoke to me, tickled a memory somewhere in the back of my mind. I knew that weaving was a step too far, but knitting slowly appeared in my mind and I grabbed it.

I first learned to knit in primary school. I remember knitting a hairband. In a slightly sickly blue colour. It had holes everywhere. It did not have a straight edge by any stretch of the imagination. My best friends Hazel got her mum help her to knit hers. It was red. And it was perfect. But my one was mine, I had knitted it myself and I loved it. I was *so* proud.

My first ever scarf

My first ever scarf

The two greatest female influences in my life, my mother and my grandmother, both knit. My nanny died when I was in 6th class, about 12, and I was devastated. I still miss her to this day even though I only knew her as a child. My mum, told me only recently that nanny used to machine knit garments to earn extra income for the family. She also tells stories of winding hanks of yarn for pocket money. I can imagine her as a girl in my nanny’s kitchen winding the wool.

My mum, despite her foibles that have become clearer to me as I get older, is the most inspirational person to me. I remember my mum knitting in the 80s before she went back to work. She made us the most amazing jumpers (a Mr. Happy jumper and aran style jumper knit in cotton come to mind), she knitted cuddly toys and clothes for my dolls. I feel so proud to have re-introduced her to the craft, although I’m still working on convincing her that the more luxury yarns are worth the extra cost. This is a common battle ground between us.

I remember going into Springwools in Nutgrove (now long gone) as a child. I was mesmerised then, as I am now, by the colours and textures. By the floor to ceiling shelves full of yarn. By the books of patterns to leaf through. By the rows of tubes of buttons.

Yarn Tasting SamplesSo I bought my needles and yarn and set to knitting some swatches. Then I discovered a shop called This Is Knit and a true knitter was born.

I consider myself to be a very tactile person, I love to touch and squish and feel. I also love colour. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I entered This Is Knit. I cannot say enough good things about Lisa, Jackie and their staff, they are passionate, helpful and knowledgeable. They and the other knitters I have met accepted me without question into a community that, up until then, I didn’t even know existed.

blanketSo for those people who are confused by what they see as an old-fashioned pastime: I love knitting because of the textures, the colours, the joy of creating something, of seeing it grow in your hands. I love the generosity of the community I have discovered. I love the possibilities of using a pattern as a starting point but not necessarily an end point. I love wearing a cowl or scarf that *I* created. I love giving gifts that I made with that person in mind. I love the fibres that I never knew existed (mmmm alpaca). I love crafting something both beautiful and practical. I love using my hands to create. I love that my mistakes become a feature that make an item unique. I love the link to my past, to my nanny and to my mum.

I love knitting.

Yarn Storage

I’ve been knitting for about a year and a half now and have already managed to amass a fair sized yarn stash. Initially I was using a Sortera storage box from Ikea, but this is now overflowing into several paper bags. So I decided a more elegant solution was needed. I also wanted something that could fit, at least most of, my crafty bits and bobs and would also function as an aesthetic piece of furniture.

Once again I turned to Ikea, because they have great storage solutions and because they are, in general, cheap. After much surfing of the Ikea website, I finally settled on a solution I was happy with. My new shelves are going to live in the kitchen where we have white presses with red accessories, so I chose a two by two Expedit shelving unit in white, with four Lekman boxes in red. Seeing as I sorted my stash into ziplock bags I didn’t mind if the boxes weren’t sealed. (I also picked up some ziplock bags, as well as some Ribba photo frames for another project and some new covers for our Karlstad armchairs to replace the white ones which are frankly not compatible with having two dogs.)

I spent an hour or so putting them together and they are done. I’m delighted with them. I should point out that Mia has since eaten the pencil in the photo, you’d swear we don’t feed her. They look good and should be big enough to hold my yarn and at least most of my other crafty bits and pieces. They should also be large enough that I won’t outgrow them (I hope).

I think for the moment I’ll use one box for Lace weights and 4ply, then one for DK, one for Aran and Bulky and then the fourth for other crafts, including ribbons, paper and beads. If you have any better suggestions for how my yarn should be sorted please let me know in the comments as I’d love to hear other ideas.

Oh, and Ollie and Mia like them too.

It’s not quite a craft room, but it is a craft corner and I’m delighted!

Why I love volunteering with the Dublin SPCA

The pond at the Dublin SPCAAbout two years ago I was put in a four day week in work. Around the same time we got our first dog, Ollie. We decided to bring Ollie for training classes and picked the DSPCA training classes (which, by the way, I would highly recommend) and I found myself looking towards the shelter and wondering if, now that I had an extra day off a week, they would take me as a volunteer.

I registered on the website before I could change my mind (I have a habit of getting over excited about an idea, but the ideas often fizzle as quickly as they burn brightly.) Within a week I found myself scrubbing out the Dog Rehoming Kennels and loving every minute of it. Almost every Friday morning for the last year and a half I’ve been at the shelter, first working in the rehoming kennels and then attempting to help Barbara at reception.

These are the reasons why I look forward to Friday mornings:

‎- The feeling of being part of something worthwhile.
– The friends I have made with other volunteers and staff.
– The sense of satisfaction of a job well done – the animals deserve the best care and the cleanest digs and they get it!
– The feeling of utter exhaustion when I get home from a shift in dog rehoming – it’s hard work but so rewarding (and the dirtier I am the harder I was working).
– The sense of purpose I get from cleaning kennels and pods. I know I am making a difference in these animals’ lives.
– The reminder that life is about more than just me and what’s going on in my world.
– Volunteering at the shelter has really re-energised me and given me a sense of direction and purpose that was missing for a while.
– For some reason I don’t even mind scooping the poop.

(I saved the best for last)
– The wag of a tail when I go into a kennel. Some of the dogs at the DSPCA have had a hard life, but yet they don’t want much (somewhere warm to sleep, a good meal, access to water and a good walk). And above all they want a bit of love and affection and they reward this with ten times the love back at you.

Thank you Dublin SPCA for everything you have given me. And to anyone thinking of becoming a volunteer, for any charity: DO IT, it might just be the best thing you have ever done.

FO: My First Ever Wearable

Ok, so I have finished *a whole cardigan*, but it’s not for me. It’s a teeny tiny cardie for my new most favourite baby in the world ever – Holly.

Last year I was watching the BBC program Mastercrafts and I was inspired to go back to some type of craft. I was particularly taken by the program on weaving, but our house is too small for a loom. That’s when it hit me – knitting. You’re still creating something both beautiful and practical but on a much more practical scale.

A bit of online research revealed a wool shop (which I now know should be termed Local Yarn Shop/Store or LYS) in Rathmines, Knit ‘nd Make. For my non-knitty fiends, a FO is a Finished Object, there was a world of new terminology to learn. I bought yarn and needles and the rest, as they say, is history.

When Lidl had a special on yarn in July I bought some Lima cotton [Ravelry link] in peach and in teal in anticipation of my best friend having either a girl or a boy. That’s me, I’m prepared for every eventuality.

It took me exactly two weeks to knit. I used just over two balls, only starting the third for the button band. The yarn has beautiful stitch definition, but I found it a bit… crunchy. I hope it will soften with washing.

After really pushing the boat out on the yarn (which is sarcasm as the yarn cost €1 per ball) I splashed the cash and picked up really cute buttons in A. Rubanesque in the Powerscourt Townhouse. If little H is like her mum (and me) she will be a bit of a magpie.

Here the Ravelry link to the project page.

Doggy Day Out

Anyone who knows me knows I am passionate about animals and animal welfare. I started volunteering at the Dublin SPCA about a year and a half ago and it has enriched my life in so many ways (more on that in a later post). So this seems a fitting topic for my inaugural post.

The DSPCA are hosting their annual Doggy Day Out at Marlay Park next Saturday, September 17th from 12 – 4pm. It’s always a great day out for the pooches, with discounted Microchipping, training sessions, face painting and games, photo sessions with Michelle Griffin of Square Portraits. Michelle has taken photos of my dogs (Ollie and Mia, I’m sure you’ll get to know them soon) and is an amazing photographer.

The pièce de résistance, for me anyway, will be Scrufts, the all-inclusive dog competition. I’ll be entering Ollie and Mia, who we adopted through Dogs in Distress. I think it’s important for people to realise that rescue dogs come in all shapes and sizes and not all are mongrels either.

The whole event is designed to raise awareness as well as to raise much needed funds. I volunteer at reception once a week and it is truly heartbreaking the number of animals that come through the door. (Having said that these are the lucky ones and the DSPCA is generally a happy place. All the staff and volunteers have only one thing in mind: helping animals.)

So come along on Saturday and bring the family (canine and human). It should be great fun. Weather permitting of course.

(All images used with kind permission of the Dublin SPCA.)