Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Not quite going to plan

Merry Christmas one and all, welcome to the last New to Me link party of 2019.

I hope that you are enjoying a lovely day wherever you are, I shall be celebrating our grandson's first birthday today so have an extra reason to be joyful!

As it is the 25th of the month it is also time to celebrate our attempts at trying out a new technique or activity in December.

New to Me's have been thin on the ground here as we have been having some work done to the house so I have essentially been confined to the kitchen for the last couple of weeks :) Finding your way to the sewing machine barred by a pasting table puts a bit of a dampener on the enthusiasm I have found!

 I did manage to escape the mess and head off to Kirsties Flowers for the evening with my son's lovely partner, Zoe, to create a festive table arrangement. This is what we were aiming for!

Unfortunately I didn't take any photos of the final arrangement for some reason, that might have been something to do with the consumption of Prosecco on the night :)

 I have also been trying my hand at "Furoshiki" gift wrapping with middling success it has to be said! I bought the wrapping square (and a book on Furoshiki wrapping) when we were in Japan in October with the full intention of wrapping all of our Christmas gifts with fabric! Needless to say that plan went by the board when I realised quite how many gifts needed to be wrapped. I did, however, pull out the book for this gift bag for a daughter-in-law using one of the fabric squares we bought in the most gorgeous shop in Kyoto.

All of the fabric squares were laid out like this, how could I resist??

So, that's my New to Me's this month now it is your turn to share what you have been trying out in December. The link party will remain open until the end of the month so if you have been trying something new for gift giving link up once the gift has been given and received. I look forward to seeing what you have been up to in December. As always, please visit our linkers to encourage them in their new endeavours and add the link party button (on the sidebar or above) to your post to help others find their way here.

Finally, have a great Christmas I shall join up with you again in 2020!

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Sunday, 22 December 2019

A bit of housekeeping

One of the joys of my sewing room (yes it is almost finished!!!) is the pull-out ironing board set in to a cupboard. I know I am easy to please :)

Given the punishment ironing boards take around here I wanted to make a cover for it to make sure that the nice, fawn surface wouldn't get ruined when I inadvertently iron fusible wadding the wrong way round!

So, I grabbed an old shirt of my DH's cut one side out of it and added a part of a sleeve to give me the length that I needed. A rough  measurement of the dimensions of the opened out ironing board gave me the pattern and I then stitched a 0.5" channel all around for the drawstring. Job done :)

The ironing board folds over on itself, then swivels to slide back on the runners for storage. The cover stays on throughout that manoeuvre thanks to the drawstring tie.

I am happy now that any ironing mistakes will not result in a ruined board and happier still that the whole thing was put together from my (large) stash of shirts for recycling - win-win!

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

This little piggy went to Market

This year the destination for our annual Christmas Market trip was Prague and because of the flight times from Glasgow I had to spend a day longer there than my fellow Marketeers, it's a tough life :)

We arrived in Prague the evening before the main market opened, what can I say we were keen??

So our first port of call the next morning was to check out the main market in the Old Town Square, which as you can see was appropriately festive for the weekend ahead.

Prague's Christmas markets are spread out throughout the city with stalls set out naturally in Wenceslas Square as well as in other areas of the city

including in front of St George's Basilica next to Prague Castle.

We ventured off the beaten track a bit to visit Namesti Miru Christmas market, which is held in front of the Church of St Ludmilla. This market had a much less touristy feel with stalls selling mistletoe branches and Christmas trees as well as Czech sausages and hot drinks.

There has been an open-air market at Havelska street in Prague since 1232 when Wenceslas 1 was the ruler, so it was definitely on our list of must-visits!

Of course as well as sampling the delights of warming svarak (mulled wine) we had to try the local speciality of trdelnik, or chimney cake, which as you can see above is a pastry wrapped around a roller and baked over coals. It is then rolled in sugar or cinnamon and can be eaten as is or filled with fruit, cream or chocolate. You will not be surprised I am sure to know that we went for the filled version, with a delicious Apple Strudel filling!

For the first time on one of our market trips we stayed in an apartment rather than a hotel and it worked out really well. We were a 5 minute walk from this view from the Charles Bridge to the Castle and Cathedral,

We spied this very patient donkey in the live tableau at one of the markets in the city.

We were, however, rather underwhelmed by the Christmas markets in Prague to be honest. The majority of the stalls were selling food or drink which was fine but there is a limit to how much mulled wine and cake a girl can eat and drink! The market in front of the cathedral, for example, had 29 stalls and all but 5 of them were for food or drink.

One of our pleasures from visiting markets in Germany is collecting the ceramic mugs that the mulled wine is sold in, the particular stall we buy from is often determined by the novelty of their mug :) In Prague, however, the drinks are all sold in paper cups which had the benefit of making the cost of the wine cheaper but wasn't quite so appealing.

We had hoped too, that as our visit was at the beginning of December that we would be able to find different to the usual Advent Calendars, we have very fond memories of the Gingerbread Advent Calendars that we found in Aachen. Again we were disappointed as there were no Advent related gifts or calendars at any of the markets we visited.

One of my youngest son's favourite foods is Stollen, the fruited yeast bread with a marzipan centre, and he is often the happy recipient of several Stollen items from these market trips but we couldn't find anything like it in Prague either. The chimney cakes weren't for travelling unfortunately.

We enjoyed our trip and saw lots of lovely parts of Prague, but I could not in all honesty recommend it as a Christmas Market destination. It will be back to Germany, hopefully, for us next year!

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Secrets revealed

In the last week I have been out for Christmas Lunch or Dinner every day of the week, which is good for reducing the washing up at home but not so good for the figure :) Two of the lunches included the need for a Secret Santa gift to be produced on the day.

For my first project, where the intended recipient is an embroiderer, I pulled out a long-term orphan block and set to incorporating it into this Embroidery pouch. The pattern is from the book Patchwork Please by Ayumi Takahashi which I had made before and you can read about here

The original pattern calls for a slightly different patchwork block for the front cover but I had only to add a border to my orphan block to make the pattern work.

I fussy cut these sewing motifs from some scrap fabric for the applique on the back of the pouch

and added a small cross-stitch pattern, some needles and pins and a reel of metallic thread to the inside of the pouch to finish off the gift.

My second Secret Santa gift was another pouch but this time a boxy pouch and the pattern was again from Patchwork Please.

I have also made one of these pouches before and if I had read about my earlier attempt at this pouch I could have saved myself some unpicking! Once again the instructions for adding the zipper panel to the front and back of the pouch had me thoroughly confused, so my first attempt just didn't work. After thinking about the construction method overnight I realised what was needed and redid the stitching. This time, though, I have written my own instructions in the book so that when/if I attempt another of these pouches I will not make the same mistake again :)

I was keen to use up my stash for these projects so the exterior of this pouch is made from some lovely lilac linen fabric that I brought back from Latvia a few years ago and have come across again in the sewing room re-do.

The interior of the pouch is a floral cotton light furnishing fabric that has been in my stash for ages. I added a nice wooden button to the front, popped a scented candle and sewing-themed pin in the pouch and wrapped it up ready for distribution.

I am happy to report that both of the recipients of the pouches seemed pleased with their gifts, and appreciated the fact that they were handmade, which is always nice to hear!

These two projects are the only two that I have made from this book and I have now made both of them twice, maybe next time I ought to think about trying a different project although it is always tempting to fall back on the tried and tested, isn't it? 

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