Crafting Achievements during Lockdown

Like lots of people, at the beginning of lockdown I felt a need, I wouldn’t go so far as to say pressure, but a definite need to be productive. To not waste the enforced time at home. I guess, to make a bad situation a little less negative so I started making a list of all my crafting ‘drumroll’ moments during lockdown. The mistake I made was to assume that firstly lockdown would only be a couple of weeks and secondly that there would be a defined moment when lockdown ended and normality resumed in the same way that normal did before 23rd March and that that would be the time for me to proudly list and record all my achievements on this little platform.

Well, reality’s gone a little bit differently, hasn’t it? Are we still in lockdown? Kind of, sort of, ish! I could, if I wanted to, go to a pub or a restaurant, but I’d likely be surrounded by people wearing masks, I may have a timed slot and I wouldn’t be allowed to stand at the bar. I could jet off on holiday, but again masks would be ever present, lots of attractions wouldn’t be open and I may get stranded or have to unexpectedly quarantine on my return. I’ve had my hair cut and coloured (thank the Lord) but my lovely hairdresser was wearing a visor, she couldn’t offer me a drink or a magazine and while my colour was cooking I had to sit in my own little cocoon (being the stereotypical introvert I actually quite liked this part). I’ve been to the dentist but I felt like I was on the set of Ghostbusters! So, we have what seems like partial normality, but it may be the new normal, at least for the foreseeable future.

Anyhow, the point behind this rambling, is that I’ve decided to share my crafting makes, some more impressive than others, now as it doesn’t seem that there will be a definitive return to normal point. So, bear with me while I scroll back eleventy million weeks on my photo reel to the beginning of this weirdness.

Week one of lockdown and I finished my first project and posted it off to its intended recipient (or his mum and dad anyway).

It’s the Bunny Parade blanket by Kerry Jane Designs and it’s currently (actually, probably not literally ‘currently’ given that it’s eighty in the shade today) being enjoyed by my new nephew, Leon.

Next to be finished was a knitted project rather than my usual crochet.

I bought the pattern and yarn for this jumper over a year ago when some friends and I visited Wool Warehouse and met Lucy from Attic24. I knitted it on and off and used this extra time to finally finish and assemble it. I love it, but again, far too *warm *hot *sweltering (delete as appropriate) to wear it right now.

Next I made some masks eases for a nurse friend.

Wearing masks all day, every day becomes very uncomfortable, but is obviously necessary for our key workers, and becoming more so for us all. I hope these helped keep her a bit more comfortable.

Speaking of key workers, I crocheted two rainbows to display in our windows to show support for NHS workers and other key workers.

The bears are there to cheer up children as they walk past. I saw this idea on the news and knew I had to join in.

Next I decided to catch up on some Little Boxes of Crochet that I hadn’t found time to do. First was this delicious tea cup.

Included with this box was a little sewing kit to make Margaret the Corgi.

How thoroughly British!

Next up was the fabulous beachcombing blanket CAL (crochet along) by Eleonora of Coastal Crochet. This is truly my lockdown blanket and it filled my days with yarny wonderfulness and dreams of the seaside at a time when it could’ve been so easy to be fed up (to say the least).

After this things got a bit festive!

These were a kit from Aldi the Christmas before last. We even had a Christmas dinner around this time. Everything was just so strange that. Christmas dinner seemed appropriate!

A bright and colourful bag came next. This was another Little Box of Crochet project.

Niffler looks really cosy in there.

Another Little Box of Crochet next, this time Honey Bloom the Cockapoo.

Next was a little project that I saw Attic24 do ages ago.

I bought the hangers from Amazon a couple of years ago but never got round to making the covers.

I was spending such a lot of time in the garden during lockdown, especially when I was furloughed and the weather was so good so I decided I needed a pair of shoes that I could keep by the door to slip on when I came out. So I made some.

Next came the most recent Little Box of Crochet which was designed by Eleonora from Coastal Crochet (such a busy lady!)

It’s Marilla the Mermaid. Amanda from Little Box of Crochet and Eleonora came up with this gorgeous project way before the awful incident in America with George Floyd and the ensuing Black Lives Mather campaign but the timing of the box was very apt. BAME people are very under represented in the crafting world, both as designers and in the actual projects, so I hope this starts to redress the balance and that things change for the better.

Marilla fits in perfectly to my new Harry Potter themed office. As do my newly framed mystical cross stitches and long stitch.

I can’t give lockdown the credit for these because I actually finished them in the year 2000, but I did get them framed during lockdown.

Finally, I decided to get crocheting some wreaths. I’ve always wanted seasonal wreaths to hang on the front door throughout the year but have never found the time to make them.

Here are the first three that I’ve completed.

On the left is my Autumn wreath. The fox curled up at the bottom was a previous Little Box of Crochet project. He’s called Gareth. I designed the spider, the bonfire, fireworks and sun and cloud myself and I scoured the internet for patterns for the rest of the elements.

The middle is my Winter wreath. I love this one. It almost makes me want it to be Winter (almost!) Most of this is from patterns I found on the internet or in various books. The snowdrops are knitted rather than crocheted. I embellished it with diamanté pins.

The final one is the latest special kit from Little Box of Crochet designed by Kate Eastwood of Just Pootling. Some of the elements of this were quite fiddly, especially as my tension means everything I do turns out small (even when I go up a hook size!) but it was so worth it because I’m really happy with how it turned out and it makes me smile every time I come in the front door (even if that is less often than usual given lockdown!)

I’ve also done quite a bit of jigsawing during lockdown. Luckily I got back into this at Christmas so I had a few lying around, and also got a couple from Amazon.

I’m very glad that I also made masks, because, while I’ve been sat here on the swing chair writing this, it’s popped up on sky news that masks are going to be mandatory in all public indoor settings from 8th August.

Here’s me rocking the masked look!

Right, I have got to skedaddle because we’re off to the seaside for the weekend the minute hubby finishes work and I haven’t packed anything yet! Toodles!

Six on Saturday 25th July

Can’t remember when I last did a Six, and next weekend we’ll be (hopefully) sunning ourselves on a Norfolk beach, in a socially distanced manner, of course, so I won’t be blogging.

I just managed to pop out in between rain showers to take some photos to share, and decided that this week I’ll focus, again, on emerging flowers and veg. I’ve split it equally down the middle and gone for three floral treats and three edible delights. I think I may well have shared some, if not all, of these before, earlier on in their journey, but I find it interesting to see the progress. Hope you do too.

First up is Sunflower Teddy Bear. I’ve got several of these that I grew from seed in the greenhouse. Planted out now, they’re only about a foot tall, and this one looks to be the closest to flowering. Quite excited about these because they’re not your stereotypical Sunflower bloom.

I seem to have found a much more suitable place for growing Sunflowers this year. Last year I grew a really tall variety only, and of the fourteen that I planted out, only two made it as far as flowering. The others all got knocked down – I think I inadvertently planted them in a fox/cat run route and the poor things got bashed and trampled on. This year I’ve planted them next to a trellis-like fence and with additional supports for the tall ones and so far (touch wood) they’ve all made it with just the odd slug nibble along the way.

Next is a Zinnia, also nurtured from seed in the greenhouse. I did think to myself when I got the greenhouse, being somewhat fickle of nature, I hope I stick at this now I’ve gone this far. So far so good – greenhouse is now an essential part of my life.

My only knowledge of Zinnias prior to this venture was from the song ‘There’s a sucker born ev’ry minute’ from the stage show Barnum.

If I import at monumental cost
A lady, fair, whose head was lost
While crossing railroad tracks to pick some zinnias
Who has no ears or eyes or nose
And wears pink tights instead of clothes
If that ain’t worth a buck my name ain’t Phineas.

Well I’ve lost my head to these before they’ve even bloomed. Isn’t that bud pretty with the promise of something so special to come some time soon?

My final emerging flower is a Nigella.

Definitely not far off a blooming delight, and again, what an attractive bud. There’s something of a prehistoric look about it. I almost expect those little green hints to be the claws of a tiny dinosaur just clawing it’s way out into the world (although hopefully not – not sure the garden’s big enough for dinosaurs!)

Moving on to the edibles and my first courgette is tantalisingly close to being ready. I’ll keep an eye on it so I don’t get a marrow! There are another couple well on their way too. If anyone has any good courgette recipes other than stir fry and ratatouille, please let me know.

Next is a new one for me. I’ve never grown runner beans before but I’ve had some success with my first attempt. There aren’t hundreds of beans growing, but I do have a few. I’m looking forward to these – homegrown always tastes so much better than shop bought.

Now I know I’ve definitely shared my pepper plant before, but there’s progress! The first two peppers at the bottom seem to have halted so maybe they’re not going to get any bigger, but I’m leaving them because I prefer them orange or red.

I was excited to see this morning that there are at least another three peppers growing on there now too. You can see one top right at the back, one top left and if you look carefully another just below that one at the back. There are still flowers too so I may get even more. I’ll keep everything crossed that they ripen soon so I can harvest.

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator for more Sixes.

Until next time TTFN 👋🏻.

Harry Potter Home Office

It seems that I’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future, and even when I do go back to the office I think it will only be for a couple of days a week with the rest of the time working from home. So, with that in mind, I decided to put some of my last three week stretch of furlough to good use and I made my home office/spare bedroom more functional and comfortable.

Unfortunately I was so eager to get going that I completely neglected to take before photos so I’ll have to describe it instead. My desk was in the alcove to the right of the chimney breast so essentially I was staring at the wall all day. The end of the bed was immediately behind me so I couldn’t properly turn in my chair. There were heavy curtains that blocked out the little light that makes it past next door’s forest and it had grotty carpet that was here when we moved in. Oh, and it wasn’t Harry Potter themed!

It is now!!!

I decided I wanted laminate on the floor, and I’d already decided that I was going with a Harry Potter theme (as you can see from the wall art), so I chose laminate that looks like a stone floor to emulate Hogwarts Castle.

We had to take up the dingy old carpet and underlay and then clean the floorboards underneath and then operation laminate commenced.

We’d never laid laminate before, but it’s pretty easy. The hardest part is measuring it properly and going round awkward pipes and edges.

Once the floor was down we got all the furniture back in and rearranged so that I was no longer shoved in a corner with no space.

I’d already painted the Free Dobby mural on the chimney breast. I had to do this freehand – there’s woodchip on the walls so stencils or stickers are a no go.

For once I don’t mind that we have woodchip because it fits in quite well with the old and shabby nature of Harry Potter.

Now came the fun bit – accessorising!

I upcycled a box table that I’ve had for close to twenty years which had seen better days.

I gave the bottom two coats of red and used gold paint around the edge of the lid. These are Gryffindor colours, the house that Harry, Ron and Hermione belong to at Hogwarts. I then drew the HP on the side and painted it gold, and finally I stuck Marauders map wallpaper on the top and added a sheet of Perspex on the top.

I also added Harry Potter wallpaper to the existing bin, an empty and thoroughly cleaned tin of chickpeas and a shelf.

Next I Potterised a cheap paper light shade.

I cut golden snitches out of gold card and attached them and I made wings for some keys and hung them from the bottom. The golden snitch is one of the balls that are used in the game of Quidditch and the flying key appear in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

I found stickers on Amazon for the light switch.

These are the spells to illuminate the end of your wand to see by, and then extinguish it.

I got rid of the heavy curtains and added a plain white blind instead, and I stuck the crests of each house, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin, along it.

I decided to create some more wall art.

Again, freehand because of the woodchip. These are the Quidditch goals and the golden snitch.

I continued with the creativity and pimped up the litter tray area.

I found this amazing piece of wood in B&Q and made a screen by painting it red (leaving the amazing bark at the top) and drawing on a Harry Potter silhouette. I attached some legs which I’d painted gold.

I made the sign by painting a bit of wood that I picked up from B&Q’s reject bin and adding a sticker that I got from Amazon and a cord that I made from some cotton yarn. We also invested in some bigger litter trays to be doubly sure that little furbabies don’t miss and christen the new flooring! The sign says ‘this way to the Ministry of Magic’ and the significance is that in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, witches and wizards gain entry to the Ministry by standing in a public toilet and flushing themselves down!

On one wall I created a portrait gallery.

These pictures don’t talk to you like the ones at Hogwarts, but it’s a good way to showcase all our photos from the Harry Potter studios in Watford and from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.

You’ll also spy Crookshanks, Hermione’s pet cat just disappearing off the edge of the photo, and in the corner is Marilla the mermaid which was the project in my last Little Box of Crochet. Perfectly timed! She’s joined all the other magical creatures.

On the final wall I was umming and ahing about possibly maybe painting a dragon across the whole wall. The silhouette wall art is one thing, but a realistic dragon (because clearly they exist!) in colour is quite another prospect. Whilst I was still pondering, I came across some cross stitches and a long stitch piece that I did in 2000 and had never got round to framing, and they’re perfect for the theme. I quickly found a framer, and yesterday I picked them up.

I LOVE them!

There you have it. A very productive furlough and it’s so much more pleasant ‘going’ to work now I have a magical room! I’ve got a few ideas of little improvements to make, but it’s pretty much finished. On to the rest of the house now then!