vanillamagick: (Legs)
So *cough* I’m still stitching. The arm, well, its okay. I’m supposed to rest it until the 27th. Yeah...


This is Holly Berry Ornament by Carolyn Mitchell. It is a small design that uses the same stitches as a larger design, Holly Berry Trivet, that was published in the Festive 2011 issue of A Needle Pulling Thread. The fibres are DMC perle cotton #5 and 1/16th ribbon from Kreinik. It is stitched on #18 mono canvas.


It was a fun and quick design to do. Although I will admit that I don’t care for the navy blue smyrna crosses around the holly. I think they are a bit too bulky. I might substitute them for something else when I do the larger piece.

And it is pretty obvious that I haven’t finish finished this yet. I need to do the “lacy binding stitch” all the way around, and add a hanger and tassel. That I will tackle when I’m back to my “normal” self. 😉

Proud mama

Feb. 5th, 2016 05:00 pm
vanillamagick: (Beads)
Good afternoon, Dreamwidth!

I am a very proud mama. My little girl Regan, has been accepted to her first choice university to do the course she's had her heart set on for years.

(Now all she has to do is get the A-Level results she needs but I have no doubt she will!)

I like pie

Feb. 5th, 2016 10:41 am
vanillamagick: (Innocent)
So, I might not be resting my arm as much as I should be. But this is so cute!


The pattern is All Your Pie Tape Measure Cover, designed by Tabitha Rose. It is available through Ravelry for only £1.70. And it is a perfect way to show off your multi-crafty skills since it uses both knitting and crochet. I used Bernat Satin in Sable (I think) and the filling is Red Heart Soft in Really Red.

Now I really am resting my hand. Honest... maybe. We will see what the doctor says this afternoon.
vanillamagick: (Random Shoes)
Before I was told to rest my hand I spent some time working on Chocolate Humbug Bag from Northern Pine Designs.


I think it is looking really pretty. To be honest, though, the instructions are a little confusing. Which is why I have to pull out this beautiful Jessica stitch:


I’m one row too low. Instead of ripping it out right now and restitching it, I’m going to do the diagonal line of stitches that mark the edge of this section. Then I will work up from them. But my heart will break when I have to rip out that lovely stitch. :(
vanillamagick: (Phone Box)
I may not be able to knit thanks to a sore hand and a bad elbow, and I can still wind up yarn for future projects!

I have to wind all my hanked (or skeined, depending on the term you prefer to use) yarn myself. While I’m lucky enough to live in London, a city with several excellent and well-known yarn shops, I don’t do a lot of shopping at them because none have a particular good selection of non-wooly yarn. And, a few don’t even offer to wind your purchases for you. So, I’ve got the Amish-style swift that my dad built for me, and an adequate ball winder from Knit Picks, and every few months I grit my teeth and wind up some yarn.


My handmade swift (Thanks, Dad!)

So, why would you want a shop to wind yarn for you? Well:
  • You don’t have a swift and ball winder of your own.

  • It is over 1,000 metres and you do have a life. 😉

  • You want to get started on your project right away.

There are, however, many advantages to winding your own yarn. Such as:

  • You can’t always return yarn that has been wounding into a cake, even if it was done by the store. So, keep your yarn in a hank/skein if you think you might want to return it.

  • It is easier to trade or sell your yarn if it is still in a hank.

  • The shop could wind the yarn more tightly than you like, and it could bounce back after being washed, shrinking your project.

  • Yarn is easier to store in a hank, depending on your storage system.

  • Yarn cakes can trap moisture and smells much more readily than hanks. They also make cozier homes for bugs. Yuck!

  • You can check the ball for knots, weak spots, and strange colour changes as you wind it. This will allow you to be prepared for what might be coming, and also allow you to splice out bad spots.


One thing to watch for when winding your own cakes is tension. A yarn cake is wound too tight if it feels very firm when you give it squeeze. It should bounce back.


Balls of yarn ready to go… when I can knit again.

What about centre-pull vs. working from the outside? As a non-wooly, I always work from the outside of a cake or ball of yarn. Non-wooly yarn (especially 100% cotton, bamboo-heavy blends, and silk) tend to collapse if you work from the inside. The yarns are slicker than wool. They don’t have the little hairs that wooly yarns have, and those hairs are what helps those yarn cakes stay together well when working from the inside. If you don’t like the idea of your yarn rolling around on the floor when you work from the outside, consider setting the yarn in a small bag or on your lap. (To be honest, my yarn almost never escapes from me.) And when you work from the outside, you can use the centre of the cake for storing your label!

One last thing about yarn swifts. They come in a few different varieties, and can range from reasonably priced to very expensive (just like ball winders). Knit Picks even puts theirs on sale once in a while. But, you can make your own.
vanillamagick: (Default)
I mentioned the other day that my sewing machine seems to be working again. And that means I’m trying to finish up some kits I’ve had lying around for a while.


This is Cosmetic Bag from The Village Haberdashery. I’ve made a few of their kits in the past and I still have a couple more to make. The next one I want to tackle is their Doctor Bag, which is just a purse sized version of this bag. The fabric in the kit is really cute, too.


I did make a few minor mistakes, partly because I didn’t understand the directions. But, overall I’m very pleased with it. And now I know what not to do when I make the larger bag.
vanillamagick: (Random Shoes)
Finally, another pair of socks for me!


These are the Salto Socks I started back on my holiday in November. I finally finished them and Wow, that took a long time! They are a little longer than I normally knit. The yarn is Blue Mountain Fiber Arts Sock Candy in colourway Dusty Blue.

To be honest with you, I made a few mistakes with these socks. The increases on the back of the first sock were done wrong and left tiny holes. (I was in the middle of the Caribbean Sea! I didn’t want to waste my precious Internet minutes looking up how to do an increase I thought I knew how to do.) And the second sock is actually a bit taller than the first since I did one extra cable twist on the leg. Oops! Thankfully the foot (which is what you see when wearing socks with pants, as I am wont to do) is perfect for both socks. I even followed the advice of the pattern and reversed the cables for the second sock.


And can you believe that I haven’t cast on another pair of socks yet? I’ve started another project, which I will share tomorrow.

Santa-ish

Jan. 26th, 2016 05:34 pm
vanillamagick: (Shiny & New)
Not every project can be a success.



This is why I’ve decided not to do any more towel painting. Even with the help of an iron on transfer, my artistic skills aren’t sufficient to pull off something like this. I also hate having to fight with the damn tubes of paint every time.

Oh, and the blue star is to cover up a big spot of flesh-coloured paint. I added more blue dots to make it look “better”.

Overall, it is cute but kitschy. Meh.
vanillamagick: (Piano Kitty)
The great purge of 2016 continues. Yesterday’s targets were the main bathroom and my sewing stash.



This is about a quarter of my fabric and trims. The rest was actually properly sorted away, and there are a few in-progress projects with my sewing machine. (And my sewing machine seems to be working again! Yay!)

I’ve learned some things while doing this purge:


  • I will never be a quilter. I may, however, still try to make a Hello Kitty lap quilt using a simple pattern.

  • I think beading is pretty, but I don’t like to do it. Thankfully, my mam has really taken to making beaded jewellery. I will probably finish the bracelet I’m working on and a couple of small projects from A Needle Pulling Thread, and I think that will be it for me.

  • I really don’t like using acrylic yarn for anything other than toys. I know that makes me sound a bit like a yarn snob, but it is how I feel. Actually, that isn’t totally true. I do have some very soft acrylic and acrylic blend sock yarn that I do like.

  • While Tunisian crochet is an interesting technique and looks lovely, I just don’t like doing it.



What it comes down to, I think, is that I need to decide exactly what hobbies I enjoy the most and I need to focus on them. Sure, I can paint towels and make beaded things, but ultimately I’d rather spend my time cross stitching or knitting.

Oh yeah, and I’m never sewing fleece with my sewing machine again! 😛
vanillamagick: (I Give My Heart To You)
Exploding spaceships, a mad escape from thinking robots, boiling mud? Wow, that sounds like some great material for a short story. They are the basic elements of Hunting Harkonnens, the very first story in the entire Dune chronicle. And while the end result might not be the most exciting story, it is a great introduction to the basic ideas of this early Dune universe.

Every series has to start somewhere. And, of course, the Dune purist will say that Dune starts with Dune–the original series as written by the venerable master Frank Herbert is all there is. Full stop. Well, I don’t belong to that camp. I want to embrace the whole Dune universe, even if some of it doesn’t really fit nicely with the original novels. Remember, the events of Dune take place a very, very long time after the events of Hunting Harkonnens and the books of the Butlerian Jihad series. So, things that don’t agree with the original series can be dismissed as details lost in the mists of history rather than mistakes by the authors.

Hunting Harkonnens begins with the elder heir of the Harkonnen family, Piers, and his parents returning to Selusa Secundus after visiting some of their holdings on the planet of Hagal. (All familiar names to Dune fans.) Somewhere above the sparsely populated planet of Caladan, the Harkonnens are intercepted by a small fleet of thinking machines, neo-cymeks and the great Titan Agamemnon. Piers escapes to the planet’s surface where he eventually finds shelter with a small tribe of natives. The climax is quite exciting, but ultimately changes little in the Dune universe. Nonetheless, we now know a Harkonnen was stranded on Caladan long before the Atreides family arrived.

The most common criticism levelled at the Dune books and stories written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson is that they aren’t well written. I have said so myself on several occasions. However, after rereading Hunting HarkonnensHuntingHunting Harkonnens Harkonnens with fresh eyes (and having, unfortunately, read some truly terrible books last year), I can honestly say I think Herbert and Anderson make a pretty good team. Sure, they aren’t at the level of the elder Herbert, or Issac Asimov or even Dan Simmons, but they are good writers. They have laid a good foundation for the first book (so far!) in the series The Butlerian Jihad.
vanillamagick: (Swing)
Back about 20 years ago I fell in love with Dune. I don’t remember who introduced me to it, or why. It could have been one of my foster brothers, who got me reading great fantasy and sci-fi novels, or it could have been a chance purchase at the book store. Either way, the 25th anniversary edition of Dune found its way into my hands sometime around 1993. I was a young teen, and I think the book was a bit over my head at the time. But it still influenced me a great deal.



Over the years I’ve read Dune around 15 times. That is no exaggeration. My copy is well loved but still in good shape (I am very, very careful with my books). I’ve also read all of the sequels and prequels, with the exception of the last three books to be released (Road to Dune, Winds of Dune, and Sisterhood of Dune).

I was also lucky enough to find a copy of The Dune Encyclopedia (which gets less cannon with every new book released), Dreamer of Dune (the biography of Frank Herbert, Dune Pop-Up Panorama Book (without the free standing pieces) and The Notebooks of Frank Herbert’s Dune. I think I might have a comic book and a colouring book somewhere too.

So, one of my 2016 goals is to (re)read the entire Dune chronology. Right from Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s Hunting Harkonnens all the way to Hunters of Dune. I know that the newer books don’t compare to the genius of the original, but I love the universe so much. I can’t wait to immerse myself in it again.

Oh, and for the record, my favourite novel is Dune followed by God Emperor of Dune.
vanillamagick: (Phone Box)
2016 IS the year I get back on social media. I know I kind of suck at it but it's one of my New Year's resolutions and everything. I miss it. I miss sitting here, typing out the random shit that's in my head and reading what everyone else up to.

Of course, on a related note, 2016 is also the year I change all my passwords. I guess it's a good thing as it's something you're supposed to do semi-regularly anyway.

Dreamwidth. Livejournal. Twitter. Tumblr. Facebook. Last.Fm. Goodreads.
All back up and running. Let me know if you want a link to any of them, but in general just search for vanillamagick.
Tomorrow I'm hoping to get my old Wordpress site back up again.

Right now, it's time for the Monopoly death match between my Erin and I. We've played 4 games today, and we're at 2-2, so this is the decider. The last game we had was pretty intense. I was down to like £20 and nearly all my properties mortgaged but somehow I came back and won it. It was a 3 hour game!

Regan thinks we're completely and utterly boring but we're having a blast. It's cold and wet and windy outside, so what's better than being in the warm and dry, having coffee and flapjacks, a fire roaring, good music playing.

Hopefully the pizza we've ordered will come soon. Then it is ON!
vanillamagick: (Legs)
Happy 17th birthday to my beautiful baby girl, Regan.

I'm sure she was just 7 or so, how can she be 17?
But she is and she's blossoming into an amazing young woman - despite that unfortunate penchant for boybands haha. I may be biased on this of course but no-one else's opinion matters.

We went car shopping today, and she's now the proud owner of (and I'm useless with cars so bare with me here) a 1.0 VW Rock Up! in black, with black leather-look seats and a dark-silver dashboard. And for only £1100 over budget - although most of those costs were for safety features, warranty and servicing packages so I'm not going to complain.
She starts her driving lessons on Monday, so anyone in the Chelsea/Battersea area, please be careful around 10:30!

After that, we met up with her dad & Jimmy and all 6 of us had some lunch. Craig's present to her being the block of driving lessons.

She's now off out with her friends. Caden Bryce is with Craig & Jimmy. And Erin and I are about to start watching Sense8 on Netflix.

Hope you're having a nice Saturday
vanillamagick: (Love Will Tear Us Apart)
Hello Dreamwidth

Long time no see and it seems a few things have changed around here. Thank you [personal profile] badfalcon for the reminder that this place exists and for inviting me back. First things first I guess I need to do some tidying up around here - redecorate and kick the tyres as it were.

I've no idea if anyone is still reading this but as well as updating my layout and poking at my icons, I'll be checking through my flist etc.

Hope anyone out there is still well and enjoying this Sunday evening

Jade Rachel
xxx

Sick Day

Apr. 11th, 2014 12:59 pm
vanillamagick: (Ripped Jeans)
We’ve been very lucky with Caden Bryce. In his three short years, he’s only been sick three times. Once with a minor cold, once with roseola (that was fun), and once again with a nasty cold today.

Dealing with a child with a cold, especially with his first real serious cold, is an exercise in patience. He broke down in tears several times this morning because he just didn’t understand what was wrong. He kept whimpering and pointing at his nose and throat. And, while he is quite vocal and fairly good at understanding what we try to tell him, it is really hard to explain to a 3-year old why he is sick.

Thankfully, a little while after this picture was taken (and a long while after he calmed down), the little man was nearly back to normal. If I had half the energy he has when he is sick when I am well, I could take on the world!

I know this is one of the first in a long line of illness to come. Because of “advances in medicine”, we will likely get to skip over some childhood illness, like chicken pox. But, there will be colds and flus and goodness knows what else yet to come. Sometimes all it will take is some tissues and a hug to help him feel better, and sometimes it will take a whole lot more.
vanillamagick: (Beads)
It is more than halfway through January, and I still haven’t come up with any concrete New Year’s resolutions. I guess at this point it is a little late. My one real goal, to lose weight, is off to a bad start too. And, really, all of this makes me more than a little sad.

I’ve been thinking that I’m having trouble coming up with resolutions because I don’t know what I want or what I want to become. So, my plan for 2014 is to explore what I want to do and what I don’t want to do.

As the mother of a toddler and a teenager, there are a lot of things I have to do. I have no choice but to look after my son and daughter as best I can. I need to care for them and try to teach him all those useful things they need to know. (Caden Bryce is a stubborn little guy though, and we are at an impasse with regards to potty training.) They take up a lot of my time, and a lot of my mental energy. Really, being a mom of two is a lot more work that I ever thought it would be, and I didn’t think I was under any illusions.

With the little time I have left to myself, I need to work on fitting in some self exploration among the dishes, laundry, research work and crafting. Who am I now that I am not just me? What do I want out of life? What goals do I want to achieve? Do I still feel the call to be a writer? Is it more or less important than spending my time knitting or cross stitching (both of which I love a great deal)? What do I really feel about my weight? About my shyness? About how and where we live? Are there things I am doing because I think I should? What should I stop doing because it doesn’t bring me joy? What should I start doing?

All of these questions need to be answered for me to find peace with myself.

Unsettled

Jul. 17th, 2013 01:02 pm
vanillamagick: (I Give My Heart To You)
I really do need to get back to a more regular schedule of blogging. I know [personal profile] imagineireann was saying that she always feels she has nothing of importance to say and I can agree that is definitely part of why I don't post as much.

It also doesn't help that I can't find a layout I want. It's one of those, I don't know what I want but would know it when I saw it. Erin keeps saying she'll design something for me (she wouldn't be able to code it and I'd have to find someone to do that) but I'm tired of waiting and nudging. I suppose because that is part of the work that she does for pay makes it less fun to do for free. This new theme will do for a little while but I'll keep looking for something more me
I'd love a theme that brings in elements of nature and maybe crafting. That’s not asking for much, is it?

Things have also been very unsettled around here, for various reasons.
Erin and I broke up, got back together, broke up, had lots of long talks about what we want/need and our priorities and are back together again. I do think our relationship is stronger for it and we both know how to move things forward, what does/doesn't work for us.
Caden Bryce is fully embracing his terrible twos.
Regan is stressed with school and peer pressure.

Something has to give and I'm hoping it's not me! I'm trying to rediscover my outlets, my escapes from all of that. I'm definitely reading more than I ever used to, and losing myself into various facebook games. And now I want to reassert my online presence this way too.

Next up, poking at ye olde livejournal and wordpress sites!
vanillamagick: (Beads)
I’m a bit behind when it comes to the exercises with the Gaian Tarot and the online community. When you have a toddler, life isn’t always what you’d like it to be. And, yeah, that is a bit of an excuse, but it is also true.

Anyway, today I am having a bit of a hard time with the Seeker. Life is a bit uncertain around here. Okay, in all honesty, life is generally always uncertain. But we are waiting for more information and someone else to make up their mind before we make a big decision. A really big decision. And part of the problem is that some people are trying to talk us out of it, some people think it is a great idea, and, well, I just want us to decide one way or the other.

This brings me to the Seeker. She has decided. She is setting off on her journey and heading out into the unknown. I don’t know if she is as afraid as I am, or if she is as excited as I am. What I do know is that I want to be her. I want to take this chance, even if it turns out to suck. I still want to try.

But that leaves me thinking about how I will feel if it doesn’t happen. How can I still accomplish the things I want to accomplish, and what can I do instead?

Right now, though, I’m stuck in this unknowing limbo, unable to do much of anything other than envy the Seeker.
vanillamagick: (Chucks)
Caden Bryce is not sleeping. As you can tell from the fact I'm writing this at 01:10 on a Sunday morning. Regan is a very light sleeper and the slightest thing wakes her up. She cannot sleep through Caden Bryce's cries. The stress of dealing with a cranky teenager and 2-year old on little sleep combined with all the nights I’ve spent sleeping on the floor has lead to a very, very sore back for me. At this point I am running on fumes and pain medication. And caffeine. Goddess bless you caffeine.

Miss Jade

jade rachel. 37. october 29 1978. scorpio. snake. welsh. lives in london. black hair. green eyes. tattooed. pierced. mother. daughter. sister. aunt. widow. wife. lesbian. wiccan. hippy. geek. goth. ravenclaw

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