Wednesday 30 November 2016

Looking back at my craft projects in 2016

I started 2016 determined to be more creative. I wrote a post in January about wanting to overcome negative thoughts. One way to create more positivity in my life was to pick up my needle and thread and get sewing again. I find hand stitching relaxing, yet over the past few years I rarely make time for it...

I was inspired by an Anne Lamott quote I had seen on the Story of Mum Facebook page. It talked about embracing a 'big, juicy creative life'. Who wouldn't want to do that?!

For me, hand sewing is a form of mindfulness. I find concentrating on the stitches helps me to focus on the moment. I also like the sense of accomplishment when I reach the end of a sewing project. I run my fingers over the stitches and feel proud of my handiwork. Once one project is complete, my mind jumps to the next idea. It's definitely an outlet for my creativity.

In 2016 I wanted to aim to create at least one sewing project a month. I also wanted to blog about my creations and encourage others to make more time for creativity - our 'Crafting is my Therapy" blog link-up was born.

Now we're heading into December and 2016 is coming to a close, I wanted to look back at the sewing projects I've created over the past twelve months. I know my crafting output isn't huge, one look at Pinterest or Instagram shows me that some people create vast amounts of embroidery and crochet. I love admiring it though and you can't really compare yourself to others. The hand embroidery I've created has given me lots of pleasure, so that's all that matters...

I kicked off 2016 creating my "Sewing Mends the Soul hoop pictured at the top of this post...

February's Craft Project was inspired by the Beatles lyrics "Love Is All you Need".

In March I blogged about my vintage fabric applique rabbit hoop.

I also created a post in March about Learning new embroidery stitches

In May I put together a blog post about "It's cool to be kind: why we should value carers". This is a subject I feel strongly about as my husband and I are both support workers. This was one of my most popular posts of the year and I had lots of positive comments and reaction to the post.

My project for June was chain stitch spirals and french knots. I discovered the joys of sewing onto a favourite piece of vintage fabric...

In July I made a hand embroidered butterfly hoop. I think July's project is the one I'm most proud combines stitches I had never tried before until this year.

In August I didn't sew a single stitch. The school holidays got the better of me I'm afraid...I did create this 'Sewing is my Therapy' hoop back in June, so I'll add it in here.

In September I wanted to learn more new stitches. So I had a go at learning ribbed web and lazy daisy stitch.

October and November have seen me return to my favourite past time of embellishing vintage fabric. Again, it is a great way to practice some of the new stitches I have learnt in 2016.

I hope you're enjoyed the review of my craft projects in 2016. I would love to know what you've been creating this year and if you've learnt any new crafty skills.

I will be linking up to December's "Crafting is my Therapy" with this post. December's link-up will be the last one we're hosting for a little while. There will be more details about a new Instagram community to replace the linky whilst I take a break from blogging. More details can be found in Friday's post when #craftingismytherapy goes live...

Saturday 19 November 2016

A year on the allotment: November 2016

decaying sunflower head on our allotment plot

We were gifted some beautiful Autumn sunshine last weekend so we grabbed the opportunity to get down the allotment. There's still lots of clearing to do - it was time to say goodbye to the sunflowers.

autumn clear up on the allotment plot

tall sunflowers reach into the sky at the allotment

This year's crop had grown incredibly tall, most of them were easily ten or eleven feet high. I'm always amazed at how tough the stalks of sunflowers are, it's like felling a tree. Magoo helped to stack them into a neat pile, we always leave the seed heads for the birds and insects to feast on over the Winter months.

clearing away the decaying sunflowers at the allotment

macro photo of a sunflower seed head at the allotment

We've had a good crop of celeriac this year too. I love the smell of the leaves when you pull them out of the ground - they produce a zingy aniseed fragrance that hits your nostrils as soon as you touch them.

Who's that hiding behind the celeriac leaves?

harvesting celeriac at the allotment

Celeriac are a funny looking vegetable, but they taste delicious. One of the joys of growing your own veg is seeing a plant in it's raw state, straight out the ground. I have to say that I had no idea Celeriac produced so many roots until we started growing them. It always amazes me how a little plug plant can transform into a sturdy vegetable...

muddy celeriac roots harvested from the allotment

photo displaying the muddy roots of a celeriac plant

Now the crops are finishing, there is more exposed soil for Magoo to play with. She spent ages digging a hole where the beetroot used to be. We love seeing her enjoying the allotment, especially as we don't get to visit so much in the colder months.

young child digging in the soil at the allotment

I blogged about our butternut squash harvest in October. Magoo, ever the creative, thought they looked like little people and decided to decorate them after school one day...

decorating a butternut squash

May I present - Mr and Mrs Butternut Squash!

decorated squash vegetables

child's drawing on butternut squash vegetables

child's drawing on a root vegetable

Only problem is, I don't want to cut them up now...

I will be back in December for my final post of the year - there will be a brussel sprout update, you can't have Christmas lunch without them!

I'm always looking for new ideas for our allotment. I've put together an 'Allotment Inspiration' board over on Pinterest. I love connecting with other pinning fans, so it would be great to connect with you over there...

This week I'm linking up with:

"Country Kids" over on

"How Does Your Garden Grow" over on

Friday 4 November 2016

Crafting is my Therapy #10

Welcome to the tenth “Crafting is my Therapy” blog link-up.
I hope you’ve had a wonderful month or making and creating.

selection of therapeutic crafts

We enjoyed reading all your blog posts from the October link-up. Welcome to all our new linkers, including Hillview Embroidery and Growing Family who joined us for the first time last month.

This month I have been using vintage fabric as a template for my embroidery stitches. I find the bold, floral patterns of fabrics from the 1960s and 1970s lend themselves perfectly to hand embroidery. It offers me a lovely template to work with and the only limit is my imagination. What have you created recently? We'd love to see your crafty blog posts...

I wanted to help spread the word about Mind's upcoming Crafternoon event. The idea is to gather friends and family together to raise money and awareness of Mind's important work with mental health issues. Here at "Crafting is my Therapy" we support the idea that creativity can help to promote happiness and wellbeing. As this quote from the Mind website illustrates, crafts can absorb and distract us:

"Crafting gives me a huge sense of satisfaction. It helps me feel productive and also acts as a distraction when needed. All of which is really important for my mental wellbeing"

Hosting a Crafternoon sounds like a fun way to help support Mind, I have applied for my fundraising pack and I'm hoping to hold my own crafty afternoon very soon. I will of course blog about the event. My late-father suffered with clinical depression, so Mind's work is very close to my heart. Mental health issues affect one in four of us, it's important everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.

If you are interested in supporting this fantastic initiative, please head over the Mind website for further info...

Have you created anything crafty this month? Sewing, knitting, crochet, painting or pottery…please join in and share your blog posts.

The focus of our blog link-up is crafting for pleasure, basically taking some ‘me-time’ to unwind in our busy lives. It doesn’t have to be a finished project, we love seeing work in progress, planning posts or tutorials too.

Grab the Crafting is my Therapy badge:

Me You and Magoo

I co-host Crafting is my Therapy with Jennifer Jain. She writes the popular craft blog Jennifers Little World
Jennifer hosts our Pinterest group board. Would you like your blog posts to be seen by over 700K followers? Craft Bloggers linking to #craftingismytherapy are welcome to join our board. It's a great way for your posts to reach a wider audience...

The “Crafting is my Therapy” linky will open on 4th November at 7pm (GMT) and stay open for the whole month – giving you plenty of time to get involved.
– You can link up with maximum of three posts per month, old or new.
– The focus of the linky is crafting for pleasure, so please don’t link up with posts promoting handmade items for sale.
– Grab the linky badge or link back to our blogs on your post.
– Please share the love and comment on other people’s posts.
– If you could share your post and the linky (using the hashtag #craftingismytherapy) on any social media channels that would be great. This will help us to grow the community. We will retweet all your posts via Twitter if you mention us (@pouchvintage/@JenniferJain )
– And finally, if you would like to follow me on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, you’re more than welcome! Jennifer Jain’s links are here too: Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

Thursday 3 November 2016

Crafting in October: embellishing vintage fabric with stitches

vintage irish linen embellished with embroidery stitches

As someone with a huge collection of vintage fabric scraps and offcuts, it makes sense to use them in my crafting. I have been making and selling handmade homewares on Etsy since 2007 and I've always used retro fabrics. I have amassed heaps of pretty scraps and I never know what to do with them. Until I have time to sew an enormous vintage fabric quilt, I will make do with using some of it for embroidery practice.

vintage linen featuring chain stitch embroidery

vintage fabric embroidery hoop project

I find the bold, floral patterns of fabrics from the 1960s and 1970s lend themselves perfectly to hand embroidery. It offers me a lovely template to work with and the only limit is your imagination. It's also a no-stress project that you can pick up and put down whenever you want. So far I have added chain stitch around the flower and a little circle of French Knots in the middle. Over time I can add more or move onto another flower on the fabric and create new effects with different stitches.

sewing chain stitch onto vintage irish linen fabric

vintage fabric and embroidery stitches

As ever, I find hand sewing relaxing, even though I have less time than I've ever had with starting a college course in September. I also have lots of ideas for handmade Christmas gifts, but I have no idea where I will find the time. I don't like the conflict in my brain when I have ideas but no time to complete them. But it's something I hear from lots of other crafters, so I know I'm not alone. If I could find a way to go into a parallel craft universe, that would be amazing. Until then, I grab some stitching time as and when I can...

vintage fabric hoop placed inside work box

vintage fabric with chain stitch and french knot embroidery

One of the things that has caught my eye on Social Media this month are the "Crafternoon" events to raise awareness of Mind and mental health issues. I will write more about this on my Crafting is my Therapy blog post, which will go live tomorrow (Friday 4th November). You can read about organising a "Crafternoon" by following this link

I am linking up to November's 'Crafting is my Therapy' with this blog post. If you blog about crafts, we'd love to have you on board. The linky will open on 4th November at 7pm (GMT) and stays open for the whole month – giving you plenty of time to get involved.

Do you pin? I would love to connect with you over on Pinterest...

Tuesday 1 November 2016

A year on the allotment: October 2016

butternut squash harvest from our allotment

Things continue to wind down at the allotment - but there are still crops to harvest and jobs to be done. This year we have had a good crop of butternut squash.

We thought nothing was happening with the plants, but suddenly little green fruits began to appear in August. These soon grew into much bigger squash with beautiful cream-coloured skin.

butternut squash growing on our allotment plot

Our sunflowers are at their peak in September, sadly they start to fade in October. Despite the sunflowers being past their best, they still add some warm colour to our plot in Autumn.

fading sunflowers on the allotment in october

sunflowers add autumn colour to our allotment

Our Cosmos seemed to take forever to get going this year. When they finally flowered at the end of August, they put on a stunning display throughout the early Autumn months. Better late than never...

cosmos flowers on our allotment

bright pink cosmos flower

cosmos flowers add autumn colour to our allotment plot

One thing we've never had any luck with is growing our own pumpkins. Magoo has always wanted to carve her own homegrown pumpkin for Halloween. Our plants always get eaten by the slugs. Not sure what the secret is, but lots of other plot holders had grown some enormous ones.

We had to settle for admiring other people's pumpkins this year. I noticed lots of allotmenteers grow them directly in compost heaps, so maybe that is the way forward.

large pumpkin growing in compost heap at allotment

growing pumpkins in compost heap at allotment

We were pleased to see fruit appearing on our mini-trees. So far we've only seen one pear, so we can't get too carried away. Think we might have to have an arm wrestling competition to see who gets to eat it...

pear growing on our mini fruit trees

One of the main things we need to do at this time of year is clear the plot. We seem to produce tons and tons of garden waste in October and November. We have been overrun with nasturtiums this year and they are threatening to take over the plot.

Whilst pulling loads of the plants up, we spotted a huge frog, one of the biggest I've ever seen. My Mum screamed because she hates them, I managed to get up close and grab a photo before he/she hopped off. I felt a bit bad about ripping all the plants away and ruining the frog's cosy home...I'm sure they will find somewhere else to settle.

large frog hiding by raised bed on our allotment

large frog sat by raised bed on our allotment

We were still picking fat blackberries in October, we've left the rest of the fruits for the birds. I will be back in November for my penultimate 'Year on the Allotment' blog post. If you'd like to catch up on my previous posts from 2016, you can see them here.

autumn blackberries on the allotment plot

I'm always looking for new ideas for our allotment. I've put together an 'Allotment Inspiration' board over on Pinterest. I love connecting with other pinning fans, so it would be great to connect with you over there...

This week I am linking up with:

'How Does Your Garden Grow" over on the beautiful


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