Sewing, crochet, crafts, accessories, baking, tutorials,


Sunday Sevens #175

Two week’s worth of Sunday Sevens today – on a Monday, of course:)

  1.  The husband has been hard at work in the evenings finishing off the bits that need doing before we exchange contracts on the house. We finally almost have railings on our bedroom balcony!!

2. Exploring a new local walk with Tess. I love the way the sun creates flare through the trees.

3. We discovered the derelict building that The Boys have been playing in for years!

4. Another trip down to Exmoor to get to know some of the other villages that we are not so familiar with.

5. We tried out one of the local pubs.

6. We had a stroll through what will hopefully become our neighbouring village very soon. Could there be a more quintessentially English scene?

7. Popping out with a friend the other day could be an expensive exercise when I spotted an all-singing, all-dancing coffee machine….

8. Just after The Hunt galloped at a rate of knots through the fields behind us, we were happy to see a deer that had avoided capture.

9. The view across the fields is ever-changing with the seasons and I caught this rainbow streak as it briefly coloured the sky.

10. No.1 Son called in after a night out with friends in the area. The ‘phone rang mid-haircut….

11. Lobster tail for supper. You’ve got NO chance, Tess!

12. Our local Farm Shop has just extended its café, so I had the perfect excuse to go there.

13. The Farm Shop also has a Trading Barn attached and I picked up this sock box for a fiver. Obviously, I now HAVE to make a ninth pair for myself to fill that last cubby hole.

14. Perfect! Well, almost…..

15. Turns out that handknit socks are far too bulky and the lid isn’t even close to fastening.

16. Talking of socks, the third Christmas pair are blocked and ready to wrap….

17. …..and the fourth pair are already on the needles.

18. I made this Polo Neck, so called because it’s neither a cowl nor a scarf and is all the better for it. It sits nice and snuggly against the neck because of the double rib and doesn’t let in any draughts.

19. I finished this poncho whilst watching Marple. It has been quite the marathon and just needs blocking before I can photograph it properly.

20. Well deserved, as it was quite a feat, that poncho. Prosecco with Pomegranate seeds that travel up and down with the bubbles….:)

21. I moved swiftly on to the gloves that will be gifted with the poncho.

22. Instead of casting on the second glove, I cast on a Polo Neck for myself, allowing just two evenings to complete it in time for the 24th Annual Christmas Shopping Trip to Bath with my daughter.

23. And here’s proof that I did it!

24. First stop, as always, was breakfast in The Pump Rooms.

25. A trio of musicians accompanied our meal.

26. “Quick”, I said, “the bride is in shot – smile!”

Turns out there was a wedding party having breakfast just behind us.

27. The moon is visible well before sunset at this time of year, although this was taken just as the sun had dropped below the horizon at 3:55pm. Days are getting short in the Northern hemisphere.

28. Finally, a festive-feeling shot of berries taken at the other end of the village. Christmas will soon be here!


Sunday Sevens #174

Linking up with Nat at Threads & Bobbins for another Sunday Sevens – a weekly blog series showing your life outside the blog.

  1. The first photo is especially for Pauline – proof that they did enjoy the competition last Sunday!


2. Hubby and I went out for coffee at Hooga in Wincanton. He worked and I did a bit of knitting.

3. I spent a couple of solid days sewing Christmas presents at the dining table and this is the mess that ensued.

4. Here are a few sneak peeks, all of which I hope to blog soon.

This one was made of patchworked scraps of fabric.

5. There were just enough scraps of this Orla Kiely fabric to make a washbag. It’s moments like this that make me glad I keep the tiniest scraps of leftover fabric!

6. Another washbag made from hubby’s old tweed suit – definitely for a man in the family.

7. A matching cosmetic bag for his good lady. Now they can travel in matching classy style!

8. Discovered in Sainsbury – 100% dark chocolate! I love the ‘warning’ on the packet.

9. Mr H-L bought this pocket book of pub walks whilst we were out after a dental appointment. The scenic view on the cover is the exact same one if you look left out of the side gates of the house we’re hoping to buy in Allerford.

The irony is…..there is no pub in that village!!

10. I am a sucker for nostalgia, so couldn’t resist this little book of Christmas.

11. Talking of Christmas, The English Home dropped on the doormat and its gorgeous cover made me rather sad that we don’t even know where we’ll be living by then:(

12. This is me with the husband, all glammed up for our niece’s 21st birthday on Saturday. Rather the worse for wear in this photo taken at the end of the night, I nonetheless feel duty bound to recount to you the words of a little girl uttered as we entered the venue: “Ooh Daddy, look…’s a Princess!!”

And, no, she wasn’t referring to Him.

13. Despite the previous nights excesses, we all got up in time to join in the commemorations for the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.

What a moving end to the week.


Felt Owl Purse (With Secret Pocket!)

Browsing Pinterest with no particular goal in mind is usually dangerous in that it will take away hours of your life that you will never get back again.

On this occasion, however, this image caught my eye almost immediately.


Now, owls are perennially popular and, when given a useful (not to mention cute) function, proved too irresistible a present-making opportunity for me.

I remember when my daughter was about ten she loved Polly Pocket and a large part of that enjoyment stemmed from its minuscule nature and the fact that, as it hung from a locket around her neck, it was a portable toy that could go anywhere with her, ready to play with as the urge arose. This purse had similar amusement potential.

Clicking on the image through to the original post revealed that the owl was a coin purse with – and this bit is crucial – a secret pocket!

Instantly I knew two little girls that would potentially love this, and I also had an idea for the contents of the secret pocket.

You can find the full tutorial here.

Made from scraps of felt, the only extras needed are a zip, D-ring and two buttons, all of which I already had so these were effectively ‘free’ projects.

Although if you were to count the hours spent (approx six for both) they’re probably the most expensive felt purses ever:)

The raw materials…..



….the completed front and back before final construction.


Here’s a peek at the insides.


A combination of hand and machine sewing make for an interesting mix.


I chose to include zips of contrasting colours, but you could match them to the felt for a more blended-in finish.




I’m going to buy some sprung keyring clips to attach to the D-rings.


A bit of hand embroidery makes a welcome change for someone who rarely gets the chance to indulge in such things!




The tutorial calls for a magnetic clip to close the secret front pocket, but I literally just used my last one so improvised with a tiny piece of Velcro.


As for the secret contents, the obvious choice was a sleeping baby owlet.

I sketched out a quick pattern and cut out the pieces from neon-coloured felt.


At the last minute I decided to add a pair of legs, sandwiched between the front and back layers of the body.



Another one made in opposite colours for the second purse.



Lift the flap and……a little surprise is revealed under the wing!


So there we are, one each for two girls that will, hopefully, derive as much fun from a tiny toy as my daughter did all those years ago.



Sunday Sevens #173

Linking up with Nat at Threads & Bobbins for another Sunday Sevens….

  1. Autumn has well and truly reached South Somerset and with it comes frost. Crunchy, beautiful…and cold!


2. Still, it was nice to light the fire and put the Christmas decorations up again for another Christmas Present Workshop. At least the weather felt more in keeping than last week’s workshop.


3. Seven more children (including No.2 and No.3 Sons) donned festive hats and spent a day making as many gifts as they could, before wrapping them up ready to put under the tree in December.


4. Socks, however, take rather more than six hours to knit. Little pleasures like my favourite stitch marker help to keep me going.


5. Tada! The second pair of Christmas socks finished.


6. I also finished Teddy’s matching jumper and hat. All I need now is to find a teddy bear that will fit said jumper.


7. We popped up to the flat to do a bit more work. I say a ‘bit’, but it’s all relative and we actually spent two days solid doing remedial works. Another couple of days effort should see it ready to put on the market.


8. Relatives were kind enough to put us up overnight as the flat currently has no furniture in it. If you look carefully, you’ll see Tess going nuts at her reflection in the mirror, daft dog.


9. Another clear, frosty morning saw us making the most of it by walking through the woods from Alfred’s Tower to Stourhead.


10. I know this photo was in my last post, but this is in context.


11. Just look at that sky!


12. Back home to a roaring fire and PJs, although I kept my socks on!


13. We took The Boys to ‘Flip Out’ in Bristol for No.2 Son’s 13th birthday on Saturday.



14. Basically, it’s a warehouse full of numerous trampolines on floors and walls, together with foam pits and foam gym ‘horses’ for Parkour (free-running).



15. Within five minutes No.2 came over sporting a sheepish grin….


16. ….Yep, he’d knocked a wobbly tooth out.


17. Luckily there was a café on site so I cast on another pair of Christmas present socks and managed quite a few rows in two hours.


18. Not the best photo as he was too eager to blow the candles out and eat the cake….


19. Sunday saw No.3 and his dance partner come 5th out of 35 couples in a 4-dance format competition.


20. My eldest came over for the afternoon and we had lunch followed by supper and a family film, during which I added to the latest socks.


See you next week!


Knitted Aran Jumper

Three and a half years ago, in mid February 2015, I started knitting myself a jumper – the first one since the Eighties, in fact, the first one in nearly thirty years.

Back then, I knitted lots of jumpers. All in mohair of course, as was the fashion, and all of which have long since disappeared into the ether.

Nowadays I favour a more practical yarn, one which doesn’t shed or tickle and one that washes well, so when I happened upon Stylecraft Special Aran with Wool in “Oatmeal” in our local garden centre, I bought a couple of 400g balls. A nice Aran jumper pattern also caught my eye.

Sometimes I wish I’d gone for the green in the photo on the pattern leaflet, but I figured that “Oatmeal” (aka “Beige”) would go with more things and would get worn more.

5mm needles, Aran weight yarn and a simple cable design ensured that the jumper knitted up relatively quickly.

I can’t remember exactly when I finished it, probably later the same year, but it immediately got relegated to the bottom of the wardrobe until a few weeks ago when it reappeared during a clear out.

Here it is.

I remember loving the generous ribbed roll neck…..

….and the simple but pleasing cable running down the centre front and back of the jumper.

The yarn was so nice that I even used the plentiful leftovers to make a two matching hats, one for myself and one for a present….

….and a pair of fingerless mittens for a Stitching Santa present.

So why didn’t I like the jumper?

I had set in the sleeves too tightly using a basic oversewn edge and it was uncomfortable to wear.

That was it.

Biting the bullet, I carefully unpicked the sleeves, shoulder and side seams of the entire jumper and started again.

Taking my time, I used a more appropriate method of construction which resulted in more flexible seams and a neater looking jumper to boot. A simple solution that took just a couple of hours, but one that I had procrastinated about for three years.

I was impatient to wear it but I’m naturally a hot kind of person who rarely feels the cold and rarely wears a coat, let alone a jumper. So, as soon as the weather turned cold enough this week, I gave it a try.

A freezing cold, frosty morning with blue skies and no hint of a breeze – perfect for a walk through the woods.

Knowing that a T-shirt and jumper would be more than sufficient, I confidently left the coat at home.

Even standing still whilst The Boys worked up a sweat on the rope swing, I was as warm as toast.

By now, the temperature had risen to around 6°C and I was almost too warm thanks to that cosy roll neck!

Oh, and the handknit socks that you can just see poking out of the top of my walking boots:)


Sunday Sevens #172

Linking up with Natalie at Threads & Bobbins for another Sunday Sevens….

  1. I held the first of two Christmas Present Workshops for children. Yes, it might have been 18°C and sunny, but we managed to feel extremely festive what with the Christmas tree, hats and carols playing on the CD player all day long.

2. Seven girls went home tired but happy after six hours of sewing handmade gifts, all wrapped and ready to put under the tree.

3. This is a sample I made that I’m actually commandeering for my Ray-Bans:)

4. We made the most of some glorious Autumnal weather by taking The Boys out for a long walk. It struck me that the sun is so low in the sky now at midday that it casts long shadows.

5. Boy fun.

6. Walking through a field full of inquisitive steers isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but we don’t mind.

7. Having worked up an appetite, we had a pub lunch afterwards.

8. Inspired by the seafood pasta dish in the pub, I cooked up a fish head we had in the freezer and turned it into a tasty seafood soup.

9. More creative goodies were finished by the kids in sewing classes this week.

10. I even managed to squeeze in a 4 hour 1:1 session with a keen adult student.

11. A new knit’n’natter session started at a local café and the first three of us to arrive all happened to have a mustard coloured project on our needles.

12. The first pair of Christmas Present socks are blocked and ready to wrap…..

13. …..and the next pair are well under way.

14. I’m just about to start on the heel flap of the second sock so am hoping to have this pair wrapped by the end of the week, too.

15. I’ve actually managed to add a few inches to Hubby’s jumper, mostly at the knit’n’natter as it requires little concentration at this stage.

16. A couple of non-yarn Christmas presents have been sewn, too. Here’s just a glimpse so as not to spoil the surprise.


18. You may remember the jumper and hat I made for our granddaughter’s birthday a couple of weeks ago?


Well, there’s the option to make a matching set for Teddy, so – why wouldn’t you?

19. We took The Boys to the cinema to watch the newly released film “Johnny English Strikes Again”.  Very silly and very enjoyable, like the previous ones.

Johnny Eglish

20. Whilst the latest of our B+B guests went down the pub for supper, we had some friends round, one of whom had just accepted a new job and brought some bubbly to celebrate with.

You don’t have to look too closely to see that I have three glasses on the go at the same time:)

21. The next morning we opened the bedroom curtains to find a car parked on the lawn.

It turns out that our guests didn’t know that all the parking areas belong to us and they were afraid of blocking someone in or getting clamped!

22. Just a random picture of Tess because it’s a cute way to finish.

See you next week!


Sunday Sevens #171

Linking up with Nat at Threads & Bobbins for another Sunday Sevens…..

1. A child-free few hours saw Mr H-L and me nipping into Bath where we started off in The Pump Room with coffee and cake with a pianist accompaniment.


2. Isn’t this just the most artistic piece of gluten-free carrot cake you’ve ever seen?


3. The reason we went to Bath in the first place was so that I could start knitting some of these balls of wool that have been burning a hole in my knitting basket since they arrived…..


4. ….because the KnitPros that came in the same parcel snapped after casting on just SIX stitches! Even more infuriating was that Love Knitting were out of stock and refused to send me out an alternative as it was against their policy.

Great Customer Service – not. I won’t be spending any more of my money with them.


5. Newly armed with a perfect pair of ChiaoGoo circulars from A Yarn Story in Bath, I got stuck in with the Arno colourway from Stylecrafts’s “Head Over Heels Boho” sock yarn.


6. Whilst we were in Bath, we couldn’t NOT have lunch at Thai Basil, not when it’s only £7.95 for two courses of authentic Thai cuisine….


7. Back home, I also cast on a jumper for the husband in specially requested ‘Mustard’ wool. Initially intended for his birthday at the beginning of December, it now looks like it won’t even be finished in time for Christmas. Oops.


8. Knowing full well that a man-sized jumper in stocking stitch might just push me over the edge of Boredom Cliff, I designed a cable strip to run up through the centre.


9. My adult students finished their PJs in their Wednesday class.


10. Hubby and I popped down to Exmoor for a few hours to check out another house just in case our front-runner falls through.

We decided that we’d be quite happy with this as our local, especially after we’d sampled the marmalade-glazed ham in front of the wood burner.


11. My newest student finished her first project – a sewing bag.


12. The weekend saw us taking a road trip to the South coast, during which I had all the essentials to keep me occupied on the 3-hour journey.


13. It was sunny, so the Husband wore his sunglasses despite having sat on them and losing one of the arms.


14. A quick family selfie outside the coffee shop.


15. Our cheeky little granddaughter got in on the action in this one.


16. The reason for our trip to Newhaven was to watch No.2 Stepdaughter play her inaugural football match for a ladies team. In this photo she is three stone lighter to date, due to her commitment to the slimming cause!


17. On the way back to Somerset we stopped for food at a service station and were pleasantly surprised to find “Tossed”, a healthy Malaysian option amongst the usual crappy offerings from KFCrap, Pizza Crap and Mc-Crappy-Donald’s.


18. Finishing on an Exmoor note, I discovered a supplier of Exmoor sock yarn for the ‘Made On Exmoor’ items I am planning to sell in our future B+B. It’s a hardwearing yarn from the local Exmoor Blueface Sheep – a cross of Exmoor Longhorn with the Blueface Leicester.


We’re talking proper, quality souvenirs here – I wonder if there’s a market for it? There’s one way to find out…..


Sunday Sevens #170

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series devised by Natalie over at Threads & Bobbins – check out the link to see what it’s all about and how YOU can join in.

1. Despite being just too busy to go out for meals lately, we managed to squeeze in a quick lunch at our local. Not much in the way of conversation was actually had as hubby was working most of the time (note his TWO ‘phones on the table). Still, it’s nicer than our office at home:)


2. Ham Hock Terrine with Quail’s Eggs, Piccalilli, Pea Shoots and Sourdough… idea for the future B&B perhaps? It was delicious.


3. Talking of which, I read this book from cover to cover and emerged even more impatient to get going.


4. I don’t suppose I’ll have chance to get breakfast in bed for much longer….


5. ….thanks Hubby!


6. In spite of eating well I’ve managed to lose a stone without even trying. Must be all that nervous energy – either that or knitting is the best form of exercise going!

Trouble is, my clothes still fit but my watch is now too big and I never had fat wrists in the first place!


7. A rare day out with No.2 Son. No, this isn’t our lounge, it’s Clara’s Cottage in Weston-Super-Mare museum – a cottage restored to its 1900 origins.


8. Teaching two ladies to sew. They were dressmaking novices so it was great to show them what they were capable of with a little encouragement.


9. The Wedding Blanket in situ – I’m so pleased it fits in with their decorating scheme.


10. Happy Mail came in the form of these two parcels of yarn from Love Knitting. All are destined to become Christmas presents.


11. I know what you’re thinking – why am I ordering more when I’ve still got so much on the go? Well, there has been ample progress on the WIP pile…

…the poncho is twice the size it was last week….


12. ….I re-sewed my polo neck jumper with seams that make me happy enough to finally wear it.


13. I finished the jumper…..


14. …and made a matching hat, but just couldn’t squeeze any more hours out of the week to make the matching Teddy Bear’s ensemble.


15. I’ll leave you with the cutest little model showing off her birthday present – it fits!



Sunday Sevens #169

Only a day late, but trying to get back into the swing of things with another Sunday Sevens.

1. No.3 Son and his dance partner gained medals in their latest Latin and Ballroom competition – 2nd and 4th places in Waltz and Jive respectively.

2. It’s Somerset Art Weeks at the moment and I spent a day visiting some of the exhibitions with my sister and mother. This particular exhibition was in a converted barn on a farm where there were hungry piglets feeding.

3. My sister and I asked the artist to pose for a picture in front of some of her sketches.

4. Back home we’re still getting bookings for b+b guests well into October, so I’m kept very busy with laundry/cleaning/cooking.

5. I keep expecting business to die out for the season, but if more guests give us a bottle of bubbly from their own village in Italy as a ‘Thank you”, then I don’t mind!

6. Jumper weather isn’t here just yet, but I resurrected this make from a couple of years ago which has never been worn because I wasn’t happy with the way the seams were finished – so I unpicked them all.

7. Ready to be put back together with a better method of joining this time.

8. Following on from last week’s Christmas present make of a jumper, I cast on again.

9. This will be a really striking and unusual asymmetric poncho, also destined to be a Christmas present. And if they don’t like it – I do! This one will be hard to give away.

10. I cast on another present as well, in these two colours.

12. Progress as of Sunday night is looking good.

13. I finally wrapped up and sent off The Wedding Blanket to its new owners, who have since received it and sent their thanks.

I’m really focused on Christmas presents now and feel like I’ve made some good progress this last couple of weeks – how are you getting on with yours?


First Christmas Present! Stylecraft Jumper #9484

As usual, I plan on making a significant proportion of Christmas presents, although with better reason this year than previously.

If you read my last blog post you will remember that we have accepted an offer on our house and, predictably, the new owners would like to move in before Christmas. This presents more than one problem:

a) we host a big family Christmas every year

b) the purchase of our new place is uncertain/complicated so we will be in temporary rented accommodation

c) we need to save as much as possible for the move

Focusing on ‘c’ means handmade will need to preside, and on a budget, too. All you Makers out there will know instantly that the two, ‘handmade’ and ‘budget’, don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand as raw materials are often very expensive. That said, if I research carefully, I should be able to find some bargains – and my time is free (only when making presents!).

And so, on to my first Finished Off!

This 200g ball of Batik Swirl yarn in ‘Rainbow’ by Stylecraft cost just £8.99, and the pattern #9484 an additional £2.99. It’s an 80/20 mix of acrylic/wool so will wash well.


Because the yarn is self-striping, it makes for a quicker knit and all that stocking stitch in the main body is pretty much a mindless task in front of the tele of an evening.


The sleeves are a Godsend after some boring knitting and you relish the thought of a bit of cable to keep up the momentum.

Yes, I know it all looks a little weird because of the lack of symmetry in the colours, but stay with me….


I’m pleased to say that I have mastered the art of seaming and will admit that many a jumper in the past has lain in the depths of my wardrobe, unworn, due to bad finishing.


Not any more – how neat is this?!


All the ends woven in….


….and a label sewn in craft-style for good measure.


A quick steam-block and here it is.


Obviously, the back is different to the front, but I rather like that.



Close up of the cabled sleeves.


So there you are – first Christmas present in the bag, so to speak, and for the bargain price of £11.98.


How are you getting on with your handmade gifts this year?