Handicrafts by Kate Perry and other ramblings

Thursday, February 26, 2015

It´s Rudolf Day again

Well, actually it was Rudolf Day Yesterday, but I was too busy to post then as it was the last day of my son´s visit, and we had a party in the evening. 
For anyone who doesn´t know, Rudolf day is the 25th of each month, when we try to make a Christmas card to go towards our stock for next Christmas. So why not join in and start on your collection.
Fortunately I had made my cards early this month, before my son arrived, so I do have some ready to post.
I rarely make just a one-off Christmas card, so I have two to show again this month and they are based on a card I was given last Christmas. It was a purchased card from a well-known chain of supermarkets, so there are hundreds of them around and I felt it was OK to copy the design. The one I received was a simple white cutout bauble, mounted over a plain blue, sparkly card.
I wanted a different look for my card so I made a cutting file of the design and cut two from good quality white paper, using my Silhouette Cameo. I coloured them with copics using traditional reds and greens on one, and for contrast I used blues and pinks on the other.

The backgrounds are white paper embossed with one of my first cuttlebug folders. This wasn´t big enough, but the join is hidden under the cut out image, and it really doesn´t show. The base cards are plain white card.
For the red and green one I coloured the edge of the bauble with a gold pen, and dug out some very old peel-offs to find enough gold stars and snowflakes to cover the ones in the cut design. I use a tiny piece of red ribbon to hang the bauble, attaching it to the back of the embossed paper, then mounted this onto the base card and covered its edges with a gold peel-off border.
I then did the same to the second one, using a silver pen and peel-offs and a piece of silver ribbon.
Now all I need to do is pop over to Scraps of Life by Scrappy Mo to link this up, and then I shall go and see what everyone else has made.
Thank you for visiting me. I love to read all your comments.

Happy Birthday Ben

I have just enjoyed a lovely week with my son Ben. Sadly he had to leave this morning, but we were able to celebrate his birthday with him on Sunday. I had made two pictures for him, to go on the wall of his music room in his new house.
People who follow my other blog, will have seen one of them over the past months as it was a long-term project. In fact it took me two years to complete as I couldn´t handle it much through the heat of the summer, so it kept getting put away. It is done in counted cross stitch and was bought as a kit, but I hadn´t realised how difficult it would be to just sew in black and shades of grey. I would not attempt another monochrome one in a hurry! The chart was much too tiny for me to follow, so I had to enlarge it on the computer into four A4 sheets, but that at least gave me the satisfaction of finishing one page at a time.

I actually completed the cross-stitching back in October last year, but it looked a bit ´sorry´then. It had no definition, and it was crumpled and grubby all around the edges from my hot hands!

But then there was lots of top-stitching to do. I don´t enjoy doing that bit but it brought the picture to life, and made it look a lot better. I finished that in January.
The next step was to gently wash it and rinse it carefully, and leave it a while to dry a little. While it was still damp I turned it face down onto a towel and made sure it was squared up properly, and then I ironed it on the back and left it there until it was completely dry.

With cross stitch pictures that I have done before, I have taken them to a craft shop to be stretched and framed, but that wasn´t an option here, so I had no choice but to do it myself. I had a long chat with my sister Jean on Skype because she always does her own, and then I did my best with it, and I was pleased with the result. I had the mount and glass cut at the shop, and a frame made to size. I am glad to say that Ben is really pleased with it, so it was worth all the work. (I´m afraid you can see my reflection in the glass on this, but there was no other way to take it.)

Ben´s second picture was quicker and easier to make. This time I bought a standard size frame and made my picture to fit in it. I did have to have the mount cut at the shop though.
This time I used ink dusters and distress inks to make the background sea and sky, using a mask to add the setting sun. The picture is one I saw on the net on the front of a T-shirt, and I designed a cutting file in my silhouette studio software. I cut the top half of the image from black vinyl and added it to my background. Then I altered the cutting file to make the image more open, less dense. I cut this from sparkly black vinyl to make it like a reflection in water. I added this to the picture. Both halves were cut in three parts because I only have a twelve inch cutting mat and this was too long for it. But I used a transparent transfer tape, so it wasn´t too difficult to match it all up. 
A while ago I bought a digital scrapbook kit called Listen to the Music by Kimeric Kreations at Digichick. I took the saying from the Word Art file in this, and again turned it into a cutting file, cut it from black vinyl and added it across my picture. I wasn´t quite happy with the background because there was no difference between the sky and the water, so I used an old, very tiny water ripple stamp by Art Impressions, to stamp randomly over the lower part with one of the inks I had used already. It doesn´t show very much, probably most clearly over the sun reflection, but it makes the distinction I was looking for.

And here is the finished picture.
I am glad to say that Ben was equally delighted with this one, and he is looking forward to hanging them both in his new room.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Recycled Robins

Two posts in one day! Seeing as it is ages since I was here, I am having a catch up. My internet problems seem to have settled down now the high winds have dropped. In fact I am sitting by an open window, with the sun streaming in, and I´m writing about snowy robins!
As I send, and make, around 150 Christmas cards each year, I really need to make 12-15 each month to avoid a mad panic at the end of the year.
My score for January;- 2 !!!
So I thought I had better get my act together this month, and I pulled out my box of salvaged bits from this year´s cards. Robins seem to have been top of the charts, and I had quite a few. Some were huge and filled the whole card front, and there is not much I can do with those, but I selected some of a more usable size and went through my file of dies to find ones they fitted in. When they were all cut out I raided my snippets box to cut a mat for each one, and my Christmas paper off-cuts box for pieces of backing paper. Then I just had to match them up, make some base cards, and add a few embellishments - perfect pearls for holly berries, gems, glitter glue, peel-offs etc.
So here are my first three.
Dies used: Creative Expressions from  Sue Wilson´s California Collection, Spellbinders Floral Ovals, and Sizzix framelets - Fancy lables.

It is worth remembering when making cards like this, that one snippet of card can be made to go a long way. For the green card, (top left), I only had one
piece of that particular shade so when I had cut it to size for the large mat, I cut the frame from the centre of it. I put a small piece of white card stock in the ´hole´to bring it up to level with the rest, and glued my backing paper over it. Then before I used the frame, I cut the sentiment from it and hid that under the robin image. So I had a mat, frame and sentiment that all matched, from one off-cut of card.

Here is my next set. These two are smaller; an A6 card and a 12cm square.
This time I used some paper off-cuts for the first one, as well as some pieces from the original card, and a Martha Stewart punch to make the borders. I liked the little red square one, and for this I used a Impression Obsession Cover-a-card stamp on plain white card to make the backing paper. Red frame - Nellie Snellen die.

And finally, two more A6 cards.
For the first one I used a snippet of snowy paper, and a Marianne snowflake die, and for the second I used my favourite holly stamp, a very old one by Penny Black, with red perfect pearls for the berries.
Dies used. Spellbinders Resplendent Rectangles, and Nellie Snellen foliage frame.
Well that is seven made this month so things are improving. (I have actually made nine because my Rudolph Day ones are ready to post on 25th as I have visitors until then so I won´t be doing a lot of crafting!).
I have made a small dent in my snippets boxes with these cards so I am off to Pixie´s Snippets Playground. I have just posted some Spring flowers over there, so she´ll be thinking I´ve got my seasons in a muddle.

Not quite a Valentine.

This was never intended to be a Valentine project, but I just happened to finish it this weekend. It is a simple Spring wall hanging which I saw on the blog, Attic 24, that belongs to a very talented lady called Lucy. You can find her tutorial here. If you enjoy crochet then her blog is really worth a visit.
This is my attempt.

A while ago, a lady from our Wednesday sewing group offered me a bag of assorted cotton yarns in a range of colours. They were only little odds and ends and I had no idea what I would do with them, but as soon as saw this, I knew it was a perfect way to use them up. So this is all cotton, approximately DK weight, but you could really use almost any yarn. The flowers were quick and easy to make. In fact the most fiddly part was sewing on the buttons! The base is two pipe cleaners twisted together, and maybe the Spanish ones are different from the ones Lucy used, because I would like something a bit more robust for the frame next time. I have enough cottons left to have another go so I will get one made for my Easter craft stall coming up soon.
As the wool was all oddments I think I will go and hang this in Pixie´s Snippets Playground.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Flat Susan´s Spanish Adventure: Part Two

As  promised, here I am again with the rest of Flat Susan´s activities while she was here with us.

Flat Susan has accompanied me to most places that I go, including church (she likes the singing best), and to my sewing group. She has watched us knitting, sewing, crocheting, and just chatting, but she was very interested to see my friend Sue making some bobbin lace.

In the afternoons she sat with me as I finished off the crochet blanket that I was making for my Africa project. When it was done I laid it out for her to see, and she chose to try out the red square.
I had to make sure I put it away after that so she couldn´t creep back on it when I wasn´t looking. I wouldn´t want to send her off to Africa by mistake!

She also came with us when we walked the dogs over on the campo. It was lovely to see them running around, but she was very impressed when they ran back to make sure we were still there. I told her that twice we have seen wild tortoise over there, and I think she was a bit disappointed that we couldn´t find one for her to see, but they are very protected and we would not have been allowed to take it away for her.

After our lovely sunny days, we all find the evenings very cold and we are so grateful to light our newly mended fire, which makes the sitting room so cosy. But Flat Susan knew instinctively that she mustn´t get too close to the flames, as she might go rather floppy! So she preferred to keep warm by snuggling into Tango´s lovely soft fur.

We had one more exciting day out for F.Susan that hadn´t been in our plans. My friend had intended to go to Lubrin bread festival, but her husband had to go to UK for family reasons, so we said we would take her. Lubrin is a little village in the mountains to the north of us, and it was high enough to be quite chilly there, so we all wrapped up well, and F.Susan stayed safely tucked into my pocket. She didn´t want to see out of the car window because it is a very narrow, winding road, and she thought it was a bit scary, but she did pop out in time to see the village as it came into view.

We settled at a café table by the plaza and watched the preparations. F.Susan liked the coloured flags on all the verandas, and I explained that the red and yellow ones are the Spanish flag, but the green and white ones are the flag of Andalucia. 

The bread festival marks San Sebastian day, so I took Susan down to the church to see his statue. She loved the red roses and the fresh bread all around the statue, so I let her creep up and sit among them for a while. She looks very tiny hiding in there.
Back at our table we joined with everyone else in buying a tiny bread circle to pin  to our coats, but Susan thought mine was just right for her to sit in. A friend who lives in Lubrin, told us that the children had made these in school during the previous week.
After a mass in the church, the fun began as larger bread rings were thrown from all the verandas and caught by the crowds below. 

The men carried ropes that they threaded their bread onto, and it was a real competition to see who could catch the most. Some caught so many that they needed help to carry them.
Because so many were needed, some of the bread had been cooked days in advance and was very hard, so we warned F.Susan to take cover, but she was so excited that she couldn´t stay hidden and she was even more happy when Chris caught our first ring.
She wanted to sit in that one too. Fortunately it was a nice fresh one, and quite soft, so we broke it and all had a little taste.
It was a very ´exuberant´celebration, and F. Susan wanted to record some of it to share with you, and give you a taste of the atmosphere there, so I took a little video as the procession passed our plaza. Here is a link to it. I hope it works for you. It looks a bit fierce but really it was a very good-natured event. Everyone is happy on Fiesta days.

On Friday I took F.Susan with me to Turre market. She loved all the colours and bustle, but it was a very windy day so I made sure she was pinned tightly to my jumper.
Then, as it was the last time I would be taking her out, we drove down to the beach at Mojacar Playa. The beach itself was almost deserted.
It can be a bit uncomfortable there on such a wild day, as the wind whips the sand up against your legs, but it was an off-shore wind so it wasn´t too bad, and we stood a while just enjoying the noise and sound of the waves breaking on the sand.
F.Susan was delighted to find some flowers growing out of the sand. She thought they were just the right size for her and insisted on sitting in them.
Then she spotted a patch of sea grasses with their furry seed heads, and quickly climbed on to one of these. It was so windy that I had to pick a grass stem to tie her on, to keep her safe, but she had a great ride, swaying in the wind.
Then we crossed the road at the big roundabout, and stopped to watch the fountain, and admire the red poinsettias still blooming around its base.
The white building behind the fountain is called Parque Comercial, and it is a complex of clothes shops, cafés, a supermarket and a collection of fancy goods and tourist shops. We went into one of these so that F.Susan could chose a tiny Indalo man to fix on the tag I am making for her to take back to Neet. Indalo man is a little stick man holding what appears to be a rainbow, and he was found in some cave drawings to the north of here. He has become the icon for Andalucia, and appears somewhere in just about every house, as well as on street furniture, and various small items such as jewelry and leather goods, that are a favourite buy for holidaymakers to take home as a souvenir. Here are the railings along the new path that runs all along the road leading up to Mojacar Pueblo, and you can see Indalo man on every second panel.
So now it is time for Flat Susan to pack her suitcase and head back to the UK. She has been travelling for nearly eighteen months, so I guess she will be quite happy to go home and rest, and share all her adventures with the folk there. We have loved having her here, and I think she also enjoyed her time with us. Safe journey Flat Susan. Thank you for visiting us.

Flat Susan´s Spanish Adventure: Part 1

My apologies to those who regularly read my other blog, as much of this will sound familiar. I have mentioned Flat Susan on several occasions, but now it is time to collate it all in one place, and there are some previously unpublished photos.

The idea was for Flat Susan to come to share Christmas with us in Spain, but unfortunately her flight from Australia was delayed, and she did not arrive until Boxing Day. That´s plain  old 26th December for us, as Boxing Day is not celebrated in Spain, so it is just a normal day, which why the mail man was working as usual. Poor Susan had done a lot of waiting around over the past few days so she was glad to meet her new hosts and just relax for a day. 

But she wan´t able to relax for long as the very next day we took her across the green zone at the back of our house, to watch a simulated traffic accident.  It was a training/information exercise, and we were impressed by the way all the local services worked together to sort out the traffic, give first aid, and get the patients (all volunteers from the village),  loaded into ambulances. 
Flat Susan was quite upset by it all at first, but once she realised it was only ´pretend´she began to enjoy it, but she stayed tucked inside my jacket for most of the time, all the same.

Her first real celebration was New Year´s Eve. By then she was getting used to having the dogs around and they no longer felt the need to sniff her to decide whether she was friend or foe. Foxy was more interested in pinching her snacks than in eating her!

Although they are yard dogs really, we usually invite them in to see the New Year in with us, so we all settled down to watch Big Ben strike midnight and enjoy the fireworks. I think F.Susan was a bit confused because we had already celebrated an hour earlier when the Spanish clocks all rang in the New Year. But she was happy to have a sip or two of wine from the tiny `glass´ I had made just for her.
With just a couple of days to catch up on some sleep, we then took her out to lunch with a group of friends from our village art club. They all wanted an introduction and she got on well with everyone.
My Spanish friend Cati was most interested. She thought I had made her, and asked whether I could make one for her, so I tried to explain that Flat Susan is quite unique, and soon she would be travelling back to her home in UK. Cati was very disappointed!

The meal started with entremeses, a plate of meat and cheese. Flat Susan nibbled at the cheese, but found the meat a bit too chewy. She decided to just watch while we ate the main course, but she got quite excited when the rice pudding came along!

After the meal we sat around chatting so I made her a raised seat from the wine corks so she could see better what was going on.

On January 5th, the night when the Three Kings arrive for Epiphany, we drove over to Almeria city, to meet up with some friends. We had never been to the procession there so it was new to us as well as to F.Susan, and we all enjoyed it immensely. Flat Susan couldn´t believe her eyes when the procession started with two real elephants walking down the street.   There was a huge crowd of people, and it was very noisy, so she was a bit afraid of getting separated from us, and decided to stay very close, but I pinned her to my coat so she could see everything. The Kings arrived on very ornate floats and she loved all their bright lights and music.

But we all loved the last bit when the big, inflated caterpillars (?) floated along with ever changing coloured lights inside them. It was the perfect end to an exciting evening. Then we had to drive home to get some rest before the Three Kings Fiesta in the village the next day.
So January 7th dawned clear and sunny. Once again we were blessed with a beautiful day for our fiesta. We went across to the plaza in time to watch the pageant. First the soldiers arrived at King Herod´s Palace, and it is fun to see our friends dressed up and obviously enjoying the parts they played.
Then it was time for the Kings to arrive, and F.Susan thought they looked very fine!
When the play had been acted out, we took Susan around the stalls, stopping to chat to friends as we went. 
I asked Flat Susan if she was feeling brave, and when she nodded I took her over to the tent where there were several birds of prey and some reptiles. i warned her to sit still while I held a very big, and heavy long-eared owl. He was very beautiful, and she stayed so still, I don´t think he even noticed her.

She behaved so well that I took a bit more of a risk and asked to hold the boa constrictor. They said he was too strong for me which was a shame, but they did let me hold this one, which is also a type of boa. Susan was a bit more wary of this, but she stayed very still, and afterwards, when she how close he was to her in the photo, she felt quite proud of what she had done!

Food plays an important role in  all our fiestas, but particularly this one, and she was amazed at the variety available. I always think this barbecue looks amazing, with its racks of ribs, slices of lomo, choritzo, black pudding, sausages and chicken. And it smells amazing too.
Other people prefer the big pan of paella, but I am not so keen on it if it has lots of shell fish or snails in it! Here the rice has just been added, so it will be a little while before it is ready to eat.
Then there is the meal provided by the Town Hall for anyone who wants it, and this year it was a giant tortilla - layers of potato and onion with beaten eggs, and cooked over a log fire. It is hard enough to cook evenly in a little pan made for the purpose, so I am filled with admiration for these men who use a pan the size of my dining table!
When it is ready they serve up big slabs of it in huge bread rolls so we all shared one.
After lunch we took Flat Susan home for a rest, but then, as it was twelfth night, it was the traditional time to take down the Christmas decorations and pack them all away. F.Susan asked if she could have one more cuddle with my little angel bear before I put him away, and she also had a last chat with Santa.
Well that is the end of Susan´s Christmas Adventure. Tomorrow I will write part 2, and you can see what else she has done during her stay with us.