The post Christmas skinny

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas, or just a lovely weekend depending on whether Christmas is your thing or not.

Ours was eventful but very enjoyable even so. Santa was good to Chloe this year, a little too good due to an over-compensating nanna but that was expected I suppose.

I should probably get this out of the way early on or the whole "over-compensating nanna" comment will seem a bit odd. Robert was made redundant the day before Christmas Eve! I know, shocker.

At least it should have been, I feel like I should be in more of a panic about the whole thing but I'm not, he isn't either. Don't get me wrong he's very uncomfortable with the whole "unemployed" label, if ever there was a bloke not built for unemployment it's Robert.

If I'm concerned for anything it's my appliances. Robert is a born fidget, I think we'll be ok until Chloe's back to school but if I can't get him occupied with something else after that he'll take the toaster apart, probably the fridge too I just know it.

If I'm honest I've had an iffy feeling about the place he was working since September, I don't know but the guy he worked for just seemed far too laid back for my liking. He didn't seem to care when things got done or even if they were done and if you're running your own business that kind of blasé attitude coupled with a small amount of laziness is just a recipe for disaster.

Anyway, so, over-compensating nanna.

My mum is, at her heart, a deeply disorganised person. No money at the end of December would have meant no Christmas to my mum because on 23rd December my mum would still have most of her presents to buy, along with all the food and likely a bill or two to pay.

She's always been like that and we love her anyway.

However, because she's so disorganised my brother and I are the type of people who set out to arrive at an appointment 30 minutes before we need to be there just so we can be sure where the place is, we're organised, never late and had an attic full of presents in September and freezers full of food in October.

So my mum could be found in Smyths on Christmas Eve, regardless of what I told her she was convinced that Chloe would wake on Christmas morning to nothing because the same thing happened when my brother and I were kids (another story, too long for a tangent).

Now I have to find room for all the things we got for her, plus the stuff my brother and mum had already bought for her (an entire corner of a huge room filled with presents, I swear to you) plus my mum's last minute panic purchases that include a toy kitchen almost as well equipped as my own kitchen, swing ball and a 7-in-1 football/air hockey/snooker table thing all of which I will find a space for, but the Spongebob instruments are staying at mum's house! She made that bed, she can lie in it:)

Apart from that Christmas was really nice, oddly more relaxed than the last few years, likely because we don't have to cram all the visits and guests in before Robert goes back to work.

Now if I could just figure out what to do with the rest of the gammon, we've had it in everything and there's still about a pound or so in there.

I am totally over gammon!

Merry Christmas

Well here it is. Christmas is finally upon us, the kids are probably running around the house like something possessed waiting for the arrival of Santa Clause, I wouldn't mind a visit from the big fella myself:)

The presents should all be wrapped and the turkey well and truly defrosted, but just in case you're only remembering to do that now, you'll be needing this, you can always have that bird on Boxing Day.

But, if you're completely ill prepared and nothing is bought, made or wrapped or you've forgotten to tear a few pages off the calender and Christmas has jumped out from behind the bushes at you this year don't panic, sit yourself down and take it easy because I've heard a rumour that they're planning on making this a yearly thing. And sure it can't be ruined if there's an unlimited supply of do-overs, can it?

Merry Christmas everyone, and if I don't see you before then a very Happy New Year too.

Love Leanne xx


Finally I think that's just about everything done for Christmas and just in the nick of time too as we've had a *lot of snow over the last few days.

Sales online were flying out but they've also slowed too. Hopefully all my customers are the same position as me and they've a couple of days of winding down ahead of them before the holidays. It's worked out well this year because I need a couple of days to put some other things to bed before the holidays so I'll be flipping over the closed sign and pulling the shutter down on Monday and Tuesday to give me time to finish those without stopping to pack orders.

In saying that, I've a few people stopping by tomorrow afternoon to pick up a few last minute gifts that they don't want to risk buying online, but that's always a nice way to spend an afternoon anyway, they come by we have some coffee, Chloe natters away incessantly and they leave with a few things, I even gift wrap! It's nice a relaxed and not at all panicky, plus Chloe will be home from school by then so I definitely wouldn't have been crafting in the afternoon.

Well, that's if she's even at school tomorrow morning. Our school doesn't close until noon on Tuesday but most of the other schools in Ards were finishing up on Friday ... and then the snow fell so when Friday rolled around Chloe's was the only school in Ards to open at all. The looks on the little kiddies faces on Friday when they found that out was priceless.

Our teachers really are hard working and when others gave up they tried their hardest and managed to make it to the school to teach the kids. I even overheard one of the older kids say that even if hell had frozen over his teacher would still have made it! How's that for dedication?

There may also have been talk of staging a coup, but Fridays are ice cream and jelly day in the cafeteria so it didn't get past initial planning.

It does make me wonder though if the school will be open tomorrow. Our local council have been brilliant, they've ploughed and gritted all the main roads, but the snow's been falling almost constantly and when it's like that trying to keep the roads clear is a bit like trying to dry yourself with a wet towel ... while you're still in the shower, it just can't be done. A lot of the outlying roads into Ards are pretty much impassable at the minute so we'll just have to wait for the morning and see what happens.

At least if it is closed we can build a snowman instead. Some kids have even built an igloo just round the corner, but I think that's a bit beyond my "pick it up and slap it on there" snow sculpting skills.

Either way there's little point in worrying about it. Now I think I'll just have another wee cup of coffee before the rest of the house wakes up, but I'll leave you with an awful photo of Chloe wearing one of her grandad's wigs.

Yes, that's right "one" of his wigs. He has many wigs, I don't know why so don't ask:)

*Chloe said it was a lot of snow, so that's good enough for me.

14 days and counting

I must be honest and admit even though I earn a living in part from Christmas, it still managed to sneak up on me again this year. I'm off later this morning to do my big Christmas shop which should hopefully mean that I won't have to set foot in a shopping centre or big supermarket again until the New Year. I've ordered fruit and veg from the greengrocer and it's being delivered on the 23rd. I'll collect the meat I've ordered from our butcher myself on Christmas Eve.

I've the family presents all in apart from my brother's but he's always a nightmare to buy for. I'll either see the perfect gift in the next couple of weeks by pure chance or I'll give him money.

Chloe's being a little chore this year. I've got all the little stocking filler type items in and the things I'm making for her. We've got her a dolls house and I'm going to give her some virtual money to spend in rag rescue and we'll make little curtains and quilts and cushions and such from the fabrics she picks. But ... she's yet to finally decide on anything else yet, the Santa letter is ever changing. Put it this way, it's a good thing she wrote it in pencil, but we really do need to get her to make her mind up this weekend and get the last of her presents in. I'm always afraid the shops are going to run out.

That all sounds great and it sounds like I'm organised and ready, but I'm still having real moments where I just think 'Oh my god, it's only two weeks!!!!!" not least because I've been working flat out this year on orders and, honestly, the house is like a tip head. I'll carry on working next week, visit the stockist at the weekend and then on Monday and Tuesday when Chloe's in school I'll just have to blitz through the house and get as much done as possible because so help me, I'm not doing it while everyone else sits on the sofa eating the malteasers out of the celebrations. They're mine!

In amongst everything else, we had our first visit from the tooth fairy ...

I'm never so glad to see that tooth finally come out. Chloe was told my her dentist back in February that it was loose and the whole anticipation of losing it has been building since then.

Add to that, a couple of weeks ago one of her friends at my mum's house was coming down the hill on her scooter and the front wheel hit something. She's actually 7 and already has most of her adult front teeth so when she came off she knocked out her two bottom front teeth and broke the two teeth at the top, there was a lot of blood and a fair amount of panic. Luckily Chloe lifted the two teeth and my mum put them in milk so at the very least the two bottom teeth were reinserted the same day and took, but the whole thing left Chloe even more worried about her tooth falling out.

Robert had a sit down with her and explained that she only had baby teeth so when they fell out there was still another tooth already in there ready to pop up and take it's place and she wouldn't have to go to the hospital or anything like that, but she'd be a big girl and have her grown up teeth and that she'd need to look after them properly.

It finally came out last week in the middle of dinner and once we'd had the "mummy there's something weird in this dinner" and the "no sweetie, that's your tooth", she turned to her dad with the tooth in her hand and said "I'm going to be a big girl" with a huge grin on her face ... and then she burst into tears.

I think she was just so glad that the whole thing was over and that it turned out to be such a non event.

Hopefully there won't be such a build up for the next 19. I don't think I have it in me.

It's the law

If you live in the UK and have snow at the minute it seems that there is some long forgotten law that says you must post a photo of it.

Pathetic isn't it? A lot of the UK is buried (well buried for the UK) under snow and we've had nothing, not a jot until this tiny little smattering arrived this morning. Of course I ran at break neck speed out into the garden with the camera to snap a few photos before it all melted (which it has now done).

Anyway, if we don't receive another delivery of snow at some stage I've at least served up a couple of photos of what people in much colder countries might consider a light frost*, but here it qualifies as snow.

So there:)

*Chloe wholeheartedly agrees.

This post was called something else, but then my mum called ...

And we all know by now that my mum's a bit like deja vu in the Matrix, every time you see her it means she's been in fiddling and changed something ...

Anyway. This was supposed to be a post where I would ramble on for a few paragraphs reminding everyone about the time my mum said she was going to take Chloe on holiday with her, she even went so far as to tell Chloe that. A couple of years passed where my mum would book a holiday, Chloe would ask if she was going and be told she was a bit young to go this time and to be honest I'd kind of written the idea off as one of those things on my mum's 'to do' list that she would never actually get round to doing. So I stopped worrying about it.

Then she calls last week (this would be the first call that would have resulted in the original post, but there's been another since then).

She's booked a holiday in June and she's already booked and paid for Chloe to go and I need to get her passport sorted out. Next comes two days of me panicking because "June" is what's commonly referred to by mothers, fathers and most importantly Head Mistresses as "End of Term". It's when all the good bits like assessments, class transfers and class induction days happen.


Anyway, long story short, I got my knickers in a bit of a twist for no reason because her teacher assured me that if there was a good time to take a child out of the class (not that there's a great time) it's the two weeks Chloe will be away and she'll be back in time for all the changes which happen in the last two weeks of school.

Mind at rest ...

Then my mum calls again!

I should quickly clarify something before I go, my mum, dad and Chloe were going on this holiday with my aunt and her daughter who is the same age as Chloe and they get on like a house on fire, but

My dad booked the holiday and opted for one large room. My mum didn't find out until the confirmation arrived. Now while it's entirely reasonable for five people to share a room if you're one big family, when it's actually two families sharing you kind of like to have your own space and a bit of privacy.

So my mum called and changed it to two smaller rooms, which means paying for another adult whether one goes on the holiday or not*.

So I'm off to Fanabe in June:)

Woohoo. I feel a lot better about Chloe going on holiday now knowing that I'll be there too, but I do still feel a bit rotten about Robert not going even though he's says it completely fine by him and he can man up for a fortnight. He'll likely even enjoy a small dose of bacheloritis for a while. Hopefully I can get past the feeling that I'm running off and abandoning him for two weeks.

A dip in the pool might take my mind off it:)

* Yes it sucks but that's how package holidays work here and it's the biggest reason that I never book a package, I book a flight and figure out the rest myself at some stage. Basically package holidays are set up and price on even numbers of people travelling (except 3, 3 works for them). So if 2, 4, 6 or 8 people are off on holiday it's all good and you only pay for the number of people going, but if 5 people are going then you have to pay for six because the tour operator wants the most money possible for each room. That's just the way it is. One day I hope to make my mum realise that she hasn't spoken to a holiday rep in 7 years yet she pays through the nose every year for the sake of having access to one.

Oh yes we did

I know what you're going to say ...

It's only November!

It was Halloween five minutes ago!

You need locking up woman!

And maybe I do, but where's the fun in that. So here it is, Chloe's first "It's only the middle of November and you're mad you are Christmas Tree".

You never forget your first Christmas tree or at least I didn't forget mine. It was tiny, about two foot tall and all the decorations and lights were permanently attached to it so 'putting up the Christmas tree' for me meant taking it out of the box, demangling the branches a little and plugging it in. Not much I know, but it was mine and I was the boss of that tree. It stayed in the box in the bottom of my wardrobe and it was up to me when I put it up in my room, usually the middle of November.

I can't in all honestly take any credit for Chloe's tree though. My mum first mentioned it a week or so ago that she was going to keep an eye out for a little fibre optic tree she could keep in her bedroom and Robert remembered the spare one we had in the roofspace.

The spare one was my first Christmas tree, I was 17 and working in a job that paid a pittance. I walked to work for two weeks instead of taking the bus so that I could buy that tree. When we moved from Belfast to this house and I bought The Biggest Tree Ever™ I just didn't have the heart to get rid of the old one.

So now it's Chloe's tree, even if it is seven years older than her already.

Robert even took her out last week to pick the decorations for it, pink and purple tinsel and a stack of resin decorations, plus a few of my own. The little wooden nutcracker decorations are the set I bought 12 years ago:) You'll notice though that Robert being Robert, he couldn't resist wrapping up one of her stocking fillers and putting it under the tree to torture her.

Do you think she'll still remember her first tree when she's my age? I hope so.

Alls well

Oh here, three weeks! That's quite bad isn't it?

Oh well. You know when everything is just going so well and you roll with it and enjoy life and let time get away from you. Well that's exactly what I've been doing lately, I make no apologies. Life has been great.

Chloe is loving school at the minute. We had her parent teacher meeting just before Halloween and apart from the fact that she sometimes rushes things and can be easily distracted the odd time her teacher is really pleased with her progress. There isn't a book she's brought home the past few months that she has trouble reading and she's excelling in maths. Her teacher likes to let the kids progress at their own speed and there are different stages in each topic but if the kids are ready to move past their current stage she lets them, so some are further along in reading, some in maths, some in writing. Logistically it must be a nightmare or the woman is a genius herself because I can't quite imagine keeping an eye on what 25 kids are doing when they're not all doing the same thing at the same time:)

Financially we've had some good news too. We are due to come out of our current mortgage offer on 1 December so I called my lender* to renegotiate, figuring that either I could get the same rate fixed for a few years or a small reduction. I didn't. Instead they more than halved the rate, effectively cutting my current mortgage payment in half as well and fixed it for two years for me. Now it's blue sky and plain sailing for a while with more spare cash maybe for a holiday (Robert's Chloe's desperate to go to Disneyland in Paris) and definitely for Chloe's trust fund so I can start to build that up again.

Plus we got a letter from the gas company to say we've overpaid this year by nearly £70. Roll on the warm toasty Christmas:)

My dad's all better, it's truly been an amazing thing to see. You really wouldn't believe to look at him that he had Cancer a few short months ago, or that he had major surgery to treat it. He actually counts it as a blessing now because a) he's much more aware of his own health and actively looking after himself and b) he was able to spend loads of time with Chloe while he was off work. My dad doesn't have kids of his own so he just loves the fact he has a grand daughter. The only problem was that he worked nights and would be tired during the day and Chloe being the handful that she is, this meant she spent more of her time with my mum when she was at their house.

The fact he's been able to spend so much time with her is brilliant, she gets it now that my dad is "the fun one", the one who will put her in the car and drive 30 miles just to show her a bit of tree trunk because it looks like a bum or he'll let her make shortbread and milkshakes and completely destroy the kitchen in the process because "otherwise the brush and mop were a waste of money".

He's back to work now on light duties, but he's realised that it's better to have more time than more money so he's sworn off the idea of overtime. Hopefully this means he'll have not only more time, but more energy for his family now.

And lastly to top off the good news, Robert's boss reminded him last week that he hasn't taken any holidays yet, he also reminded him of the company motto "It's Christmas, stuff the work". His boss wants to shut up shop while the kid's are off school for the holidays, he didn't need to ask Robert twice so now we'll all be home together for the holidays. I couldn't really ask for more to be honest.

*Progressive Building Society for anyone interested. They're absolutely brilliant to deal with and their customer service is second to none. I've never known a company to go so far out of their way to be helpful and most importantly they do this both when the times are good and when they're bad whereas most other banks seem happy to drop their customers like hot turds when the chips are down, Progressive have always been brilliant and got me out of a tight spot once or twice.

Blasted Birds

I liked my little craft stall. It was nicely laid out, easy to assemble and it had a few different levels to display everything at it's best. I was happy with it, it needed nothing more.

A shame then really that I made things that need to hang up. Therein lies the problem, things that are made to hang look their best when hanging oddly enough.

I needed a stand of some description.

Or three in an ideal world.

Well in truth, in this ideal world I speak of, I would really need a bigger table to accommodate the three new stands without me having to faff around with the rest of the display.

I don't ask for much in life really!

The obvious place to look seemed to be my usual haunts, the charity shops, but I came up empty handed, new shops turned up even less options.

I needed something big up top but with a small heavy base to prevent it toppling, but the only things I could find seemed to be the opposite with some spindly little effort up top and a base the size of a hub cap.

With no other option I was forced to make my own. You may remember I've mentioned in the past that wire just isn't my things, but this is what I came up with.

I had some 1mm galvanised steel at home which would easily have supported it's own weight (the taller of the two stands is a little over 2 feet tall) but wouldn't have managed with the birds and charms in place. A trip to the garden centre turned up 3mm and 5mm wire.

If you're ever thinking of making something like this for yourself, I beg you, I implore you, go for the 3mm. I used the 5mm. My hands have yet to forgive me. I have nine extremely fine little cuts on my hands and another six on my left wrist, I didn't find most of them until I was washing a few dishes later and they hurt like you wouldn't believe!!!

On another note when I made the first stand, I cut the wire to the right length, held them all together and bent the bottom ends out to create a little base for the weight in the jar at the bottom to hold onto, I then wrapped the six lengths of heavy wire with the 1mm I already had. Don't do this, leave 'em straight, leave 'em straight, leave 'em straight until you've finished wrapping them because that tiny little base at the bottom turns into the spinning wheel of angry death while you're wrapping it, hence the six cuts on my wrist.

I live and learn:)

Just the random witterings of a girl avoiding the dishes

  1. Is it only Chloe who suddenly remembers that she has toys in her bedroom after I've tidied and organised them or do all kids do that?

  2. When I do a giveaway I should really get my finger out and post the parcel instead of just wrapping it and leaving it on the shelf in the hall so that I won't forget it. Sorry Sarah, it's on it's way now.

  3. I'll have to remember in future not to ask for something unless I'm prepared to receive it. I'd met a friend for coffee earlier in the week and she wanted to plunder my wares for crimbo presents so when I was walking home later that morning I was still carrying a big bag of shop stock.

    I'm not entirely sure what came over me, I think it probably had a lot to do with the slightly evil part of me who still laughs at home movie clips of toddlers being knocked flying into a paddling pool by their own mad spaniel ... anyway ...

    Where was I, yes, I was on my way home and for some unknown reason I decided to pop into a lovely gift shop in town and ask if they would stock some of my things. I should probably clarify a few things first;

    • To say I wasn't looking my best is definitely being generous.
    • I hadn't phoned first.
    • The shop in question doesn't stock handmade items in any way, shape or form.
    • I didn't have enough stock to actually be in any position to supply much.
    • It's normally considered a good idea to arrive at a shop with a range of cohesive products, things that might look like they belong together if the shop owner is kind enough to give you a shelf.
    • If you had seen the "range" of items I took into the shop that day, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I didn't know I could buy fabric by the yard and had instead been buying up FQs in all the colours of the rainbow:)

    So the evil part of me basically thought it would be a laugh to send me in completely unprepared. I'll have to keep an eye on that one from now on.

    Not that it matters because now I've a new stockist. I know I couldn't believe it either, course I've precious little left in my shop and less than squat for a craft fair that I'm doing in three weeks, but sure I'll worry about that tomorrow.

    Welcome to the very lovely little gift shop which also goes by the names 'Marmalade Moon' and in some circles, 'Cath Kidston Heaven' and in slightly smaller circles again 'The Tardis'. It is a really, really tiny little wee shop but you would have to see the inside to believe how much is actually in there. The owner must have been awesome at Tetris.

  4. It's just not possible to run away from a cold, trust me I've been trying all week and it finally caught up with me last night.

  5. Colds suck! We should definitely devote more time and energy to developing a cure for the common cold. Imagine how many sick days companies would be saved each year.

  6. I'm wondering what I'll be told at Chloe's first parent teacher meeting on Wednesday, I hope it's good.

  7. I can hear Robert making himself a cup of coffee. I wish he wouldn't because it's one more thing to wash and it's reminded me about the dishes.

  8. I wouldn't mind if he made one for me though, after all I'm the one with all the hard work ahead of me!

A very happy bunny

I know it seems an odd thing to be happy or pleased about, but I finally have a new best seller:)

For the past year the top spot has been held (rather firmly) by the big ass daisy.

Obviously you won't get the gist from a photo but that bad boy is about a metre across. I do still love the daisy, I really do, I even have two of them myself but at the final count I'd made 23 of these (not counting my own) and a stack of mini ones too and there are really only so many daisies one girl can make.

I don't mind admitting that it was a bit annoying having an item that I no longer make as my best seller, but I'm very glad to say that my wallets have now easily out stripped the daisy:)

And they're back in stock now too!

The Giveaway Winner with a bit of Folkfest too

It's been a whole week since I last posted anything, but then that's nothing new really!

Of course I have excuses, don't I always. Like, you remember Chloe's new school shoes, well she's already managed to break the strap so we're on our second pair. I'm very proud of her, six weeks to trash a pair of shoes is a new personal best. Thankfully I had the receipt and the shop agreed that they should really last a bit longer than six weeks, even on a child who gets into everything wearing them:)

Hopefully this pair last a bit longer, even if they make it to Christmas I'll be happy...

Anyway, getting to the point now. I've been taking part in the Folksy listing challenge again this month and I've chosen a selection of very lovely things from the other Folkfesters for my Folksy Friday this week.


Iyobo Design

J Austen Jewellery


Diomo Glass

And now for the giveaway winner ...

I used to pick a number for me and out popped #5.

Congratulations to Sarah (theothermousie), your new cuff will be winging it's way to you shortly.

And don't worry if you didn't win, you can always whip one up and make sure you pop back every now and then because I've a few xmassy giveaways planned too.

Rose Cuff - The Giveaway

Cast your minds all the way back to Wednesday. Yep this Wednesday. Wednesday, two days ago.

Anyway, way back on Wednesday I posted a wee tute on making one of these absolutely gorgeous (even if I do say so my own self) rose cuffs.

You do remember! Brilliant, well that makes everything all the easier then. Happy days.

Anyway, I also mentioned that I'd be giving away the cuff I made for that tutorial on Friday and given that this is Friday here comes the very difficult, jumping through hoops process of actually entering said giveaway.

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning this stunning (modest, aren't I) cuff is leave me a comment answering the following question ...

Are you ready?

Prepare yourself now!

Deep breath.

Right, here we go ...

Chocolate or Cake?

I like both if I'm honest and I don't particularly mind if you do too.

I'll pick a number out of the hat that is next Friday (8th Oct) and get this sumptuous little baby in the post to the winner as quickly as my knackered little legs will carry me.

As with all my giveaways only individuals currently residing in any country on Earth are eligible for entry. So that rules out a few of you;)

You know who you are.

I've never been so glad to miss a phone call

A couple of weeks ago my lovely husband was driving to work listening to Cool FM as usual when Pete Snodden phoned some poor bloke after receiving a call from his wife complaining that he always forgets birthdays and anniversaries and what not and he proceeded to take the piss out of the poor guy live on the air.

On Tuesday my lovely husband and I celebrated our anniversary, or at least we did when he called at 10am to remind me about it.

It was our 8th anniversary and I even had to double check my marriage certificate for that because, honestly I thought it had only been 7 years. Anniversaries just aren't that big a whoop for me, I get why prisoners check off another year but quite frankly I just can't be bothered.

So ... was he phoning me to give me a hard time for forgetting? Like hell he was, he was phoning to see where I'd been when Pete phoned at 9.20am!!

Do you know those times when you have your key in the door and get it opened just in time to hear the last ring from the phone and the caller hasn't left their number and it's a bit frustrating? Well, this wasn't one of those times.

My anniversary is now safely tucked away in the widowberry for next year:)

And the husband got soup and a tin opener for his anniversary dinner.

Imagine trying to get your own wife hauled over the coals live on air!

Rose Cuff - A Photo Tutorial

I appreciate that this post will be very photo heavy so I will try my best to keep it as unwordy as possible. The photos should make everything clear, but if you get stuck feel free to either shout at me in the comments or drop me a line at seethewoods at gmail dot com.

I've been making some rose cuffs and after a few requests, I thought it would be easier to just work up a tutorial for the cuff. If you don't know what a rose cuff is, look down ...

Lovely eh?

To make this cuff you will need
  • Two pieces of cotton fabric measuring 11 x 5 inches each
  • One piece of medium weight, sew in Vilene interfacing measuring 11 x 5 inches
  • One piece of bondaweb measuring 11 x 5 inches
  • Approx 5 strips of cotton knit jersey (no lycra or elastane % please) measuring approx 12 x 1 inch
  • Small piece of wool blend felt in green
  • Yarn cut into 5 inch lengths, around 25g of DK will be enough, you'll need more or less depending on whether your yarn is finer or chunkier
  • A selection of shank buttons
  • One larger button measuring approx 1 inch wide
  • Small amount of contrasting yarn
  • Regular sewing thread
  • Silver embroidery thread

Start off by taking each of the strips of jersey and holding each end tightly, stretch them to their full length. The fabric will roll in on itself encasing the raw edges, don't worry it doesn't unravel or fray.

Sew the Vilene onto the wrong side of one piece of cotton about 1/8 inch from the edge all the way around and set it to one side.

Take the Bondaweb and iron onto the right side of the other piece of cotton and remove the backing paper. Start laying one or two strands of yarn at a time on the cotton. Do a couple of inches at a time and press to hold in place with a hot iron. If you are using an acrylic yarn, retain the backing paper from the Bondaweb and place this over the yarn before pressing to protect it.

Top stitch four straight lines across the full length of the cotton using a short stitch. This will secure all the strands of yarn in place.

Now for the roses. Take one length of jersey and starting at one end coil it around between your thumb and forefinger making sure that the rolled edges of the jersey are on the inside of the coil.

I like to start each cuff with one large central rose. You can check it against the cuff and continue coiling until you're happy with the size.

Snip off any excess jersey and set to one side for smaller buds. Decide which side of your rose will face upwards (one side always looks better than the other) and turn the end of the strip to the underside of the rose.

Fasten the end in place with a few stitches using regular sewing thread and then continue to back stitch across the width of the rose securing each ring of the coil to the one next to it and so on.

Carry on making roses of various sizes and placing them on the cuff until you're happy with the the layout.

Next take the small piece of green felt and cut out a few small leaf shapes, you can make them as big or small as you like. I think five little ones looks nice.

Transfer your rose design off the cuff and starting with the centre rose begin to stitch each rose in place using a sharp needle and the silver embroidery thread*. Draw each stitch quite tight into the jersey. It will pull in sections of the rose giving it more texture and definition making it look more like a rose. Try and catch each ring of the coil with at least 3-4 stitches not forgetting to tuck those little leaves in and secure them with a few stitches too.

Next comes the buttons. Wedge the shank of the buttons down in between the roses and secure in place with regular sewing thread.

You could leave it at that, but I like to add a few stitches in contrasting yarn (I've chosen lambs wool here) in between and around the roses.

Again taking some of the contrasting yarn, make a loop for fastening the cuff by casting 25 sts onto 4mm needles and without knitting any rows, cast the stitches off again. Secure both ends together and trim away the excess yarn.

If knitting isn't your thing you could braid 3 lengths of yarn together or just use a length of cord or ribbon making sure that the loop is large enough to pass your large button through.

Now to pin everything in place. Start by placing the loop with the knotted end sticking out at one end of the right side of the cuff and pin in place. With right sides together continue pinning all the way around. The roses in the centre of the cuff will make it balloon out slightly in the middle but just make sure the edges are matched and pinned and it will all come good.

Sew around the cuff 1/2 inch from the edge, not forgetting to leave a 2 inch gap for turning on the short edge opposite the end with the yarn loop. Stitch back and forth over the yarn loop 2-3 times to secure and back stitch at either side of the turning gap. It can be a bit of a wiggle to turn these and you don't want to start pulling stitches out.

Clip the corners of the cuff, but leave the excess in place around the edges.

Turn the cuff through so that right sides are facing out and press on the reverse with a hot iron. Pin the edges in at the turning gap, pin in place and press again with the iron.

Back to the sewing machine and top stitch along the short edge only to close the turning gap. You can hand sew this closed if you prefer.

Finally wrap the cuff around your wrist and place the large button for fastening. Sew this securely in place on the cuff and you're all done.

Of course if all that is just too much hassle you could treat yourself to a ready made cuff from my shop or, if you can make your way back here again on Friday, I'll be holding a giveaway for this lovely yellow one.

*I like to use silver because the jersey has a bit of sheen to it and even when I use thread which matches perfectly it sticks out like a sore thumb because it reflects the light differently. I figure if the stitches are going to be visible, they might just as well be pretty.

Hey look it's a sunflower!!!

I know, I know a sunflower is not exactly out of the ordinary, but we've been trying to grow one for three years now....

alright I tell a lie. We tried growing one for two years, realised it was a royal pain in the backside and gave it up as a bad job.

The first year we filled four huge planters and put six seeds in each figuring that we could thin all but the strongest seedling from each pot and we'd be on our merry way to a garden full of sunflowers. Ah no ... the seeds were obviously duff and not one even bothered to give the whole growing malarkey a go.

The second year we figured that maybe the seeds didn't like big pots to begin with, so we planted them in little starter pots and waited patiently, finally four seeds started to grow and we forced ourselves to be patient a little longer (they don't exactly rush themselves do they?) until the seedlings were fairly sturdy before transferring them to larger pots. Only one survived a full week and the cat promptly made in the pot and used the poor seedling to bury it's business.

So we gave up, figuring that sunflowers clearly just didn't have the moxy required to survive our garden, never mind the freaky one eyed cat with a meow that sounds like a strangled car horn.

Plus Chloe was really starting to hate us because we made the mistake of not only telling her about sunflowers, but also being dumb enough to show her the picture on the front of the packet.

You can imagine our joy when in the last week of school she arrived home with a seedling (which honestly looked a little hungover) in a yogurt pot of all things and proudly announced that she'd grown a sunflower. I didn't have the heart to tell her that we'd no bother growing the things last year, just getting them into a bigger pot was the problem.

We popped it on the window ledge in the kitchen and waited until it was ready to get up and walk out of the yogurt pot all by itself before we gently moved it to a larger pot, sat back and waited for it to pop it's clogs.

But it didn't. It grew. And I googled to see how big they get, 3ft -15ft! 3 foot sunflower it is then, it can't get much bigger than that in my garden.

Well 3ft came and went and still no sign of a flower, 4 and 5 ft came and went and still no sign of a flower.

Chloe's lost all interest by this stage and has done a crafty bunk down to the back of the garden and is eating the peas without so much as picking them off the plant, let alone shelling the things.

6, 7 and 8ft came and went and still no flower. By now my mum has commented that it looks rather triffid like and asks if I've pissed off Chloe's teacher by any chance! Um ...

Finally at 8 ft 7 in the beginnings of a flower appear. I desperately try and hold my tongue because I know if I tell Chloe that it will have a flower soon a storm will blow it over or something and she'll hate me again. A storm does blow it over, twice!

But there it is with a beautiful big flower on top and I run to tell Chloe to come look at her sunflower.

"What sunflower", she asks!

She's getting daffs next year!