Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Great Wall of China 2012

I trekked The Great Wall of China!
Looking back at the photographs it still seems unreal that I was in such an incredible place.

I trekked the wall with an amazing group of 22 people for 5 days and each day presented a different challenge.

I organised the trip through Action Challenge as a self funded, open challenge. Rather than having to commit to raising thousands of pounds for a specific charity, you pay the cost of the trip yourself and can then choose to raise money for the charity of your choice. I decided not to fundraise, however it was such a challenge to compete the trek I wished I had made the effort to gain some sponsorship.

I cannot praise Action Challenge enough, the trip was so well organised and really good value for money. We had a UK trek leader and UK doctor from Action Challenge who both met us at Heathrow Airport. On arrival to Beijing we were greeted by two Chinese guides, both stayed with the group 24/7 for our entire 10day trip. Their knowledge of the route, Chinese history and culture was fascinating.

I will post a few of the beautiful photos in a round-up post next week. Here's a taster...

Thank you xx

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Trekking snack: Dark Chocolate Bark!

So tomorrow I fly off to trek The Great Wall of China for 10days!
I'm very nervous at the moment, but my rucksack and day sack have been packed with trekking clothes and equipment. I've also managed to pack quite a lot of snacks to keep me fuelled during the day long climbs along the wall.

My new cookbook: Practical Paleo has inspired me to make a snack, rather than rely completly on packs of nuts:
So I have made dark chocolate bark, inspired by the pepita goji berry bark on pg400 (yes it's a super long book stuffed full of recipes)

Dark chocolate bark:
1 pack of dark chocolate (I use Aldi moser roth 125g 70% dark)
1 knob of butter
1 handful of chopped walnuts
1 handful of pumpkin seeds
1 handful of cranberrys
Sprinkle of salt

1. Melt the chocolate and butter. I used a bowl over a pan of hot water, stirring little and often until all the chocolate melted.
2. Stir in the nuts, seeds and cranberrys. Grinding some salt over the top.
3. Pour onto a lined baking tray and leave to cool in the fridge.
4. Enjoy this tasty treat!!!

I will be taking lots of pictures with my new Panasonic Lumix SZ1 camera, hopefully will share the great photos and all my experiences with you on my return!!

Thank you xxx

Monday, 3 September 2012

Project Progress: Granny square decisions

Blogging gives a completly new perspective to my crafting!

The process of creating my granny square blanket post made me consider what I was creating. Seeing all the colourful squares laid out, I started to really love how it looked. After photographing the progress of my blanket and decisions I was taking, I started to question how it was going to look.
So I have scraped the decision to add more white to the borders and have been busy crochetting more granny squares!

I have over 160 squares completed now... sewing these together is going to be a challenge!!!

Thank you xxx

Sunday, 2 September 2012

How to: Handmade ribbon blankie!

A friend of mine has recently had a little baby girl, so I was able to make another ribbon tag blankie. I thought it would be lovely to share the process with you, as its a quick gift that isn't boy or girl specific and different to all the babygrows new parents usually recieve.

I first made a tag blankie when my niece M was born. Now she is 8 months old it has provided endless hours of fascination for her; either rubbing the soft blankie on her face or 'tasting' all the different ribbon textures.

I followed a pattern from Lotta Jansdotter's simple sewing for baby book, adapting the instructions as I go, as reading every instruction carefully is not one of my talents, I much prefer to jump in and see how it turns out!

I like to use minky for the blankie material rather than cotton, plain minky for one side and a dimple minky for the opposite side, to give baby some lovely textures to enjoy touching.

I know white is probably not the practical choice for a new born baby, but I love the contrast of colours. It’s machine washable, so any mess can quickly be cleaned.

I selected lots of colourful ribbons in a variety of textures; velvet, grosgrain, satin, woven stripes and polka dot. I also found a use for a free gift from Mollie Makes magazine; cotton twill tape stamped with 'Handmade with love'.

I use inches as this is a very simple guide for me to use on my cutting mat, making gliding through with the rotary cutter a simple task.

Tag Blankie
·    0.5m of plain minky
·    0.5m of dimple minky
·    0.5m Lengths of different ribbons
·    coordinating cotton

1. Cut your minky to 13" squares (~33cm) using a cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler.

2. Cut your ribbons into a range of lengths between 3" and 5.5", making sure you have 4 lengths of each colour. Any larger than 6" and I have found baby can get their hands caught in the loops.

3. Lay one square of minky right side up, take a length of ribbon and fold in half wrong sides together. Starting at the top left corner begin pinning the lengths of ribbon along the edge of the minky, matching the raw edges of minky and ribbons. I decided to follow a rainbow sequence when pinning my ribbons in an order, however you can be totally random. Try to select contrasting lengths of ribbons next to each other to create interest.

4. After pinning all the ribbons along all edges of the minky, sew 1/4" along all sides to secure the ribbons into position. Then remove all pins.

5. Lay the remaining minky square on top of the ribbons and minky you have just sewn, right sides together creating a ribbon sandwich. Ensure all ribbons are enclosed in the sandwich.

6. Sew a 1/2" along all 4 edges, leaving a gap of 3" on the centre of one side to allow you to pull all the fabric through.

7. Trim all edges so there is 1/4" hem to reduce the bulk. Leave the 3" gap will full seam allowance.

8. Turn the blankie the inside out through the 3" gap, so the right sides of the minky are on the outside, with the ribbons popping up along all the edges.

9. Press the ribbons and edges of minky, folding the seam allowance of the 3" gap inwards and pinning into position.

10. Sew along each edge, as close to the edge as possible so that you secure all the ribbon ends in the seam.

11. You can then sew an additional row of stitching 1/4" from the edge to add some interest and secure the minky layers together… Extra reinforcement.
12. Done!!!

Here is my finished tag blankie along with a soft rattle toy I made using another pattern from Lotta Jansdotter's book, Simple Sewing for baby.

This is a great book for any crafty mum to be, or if you are looking for some new ideas for handmade baby gifts. It contains instructions and patterns for 24 simple projects, so you do not need to be a very experienced sewer. The simplicity of the patterns allows you to be creative with your fabric selections to create something baby, and hopefully the new parents, will love for years to come.

Let me know if you try to make a tag blankie, I would love to see your creations. If you have any questions along the way then get in touch and I’d like to try and help you.

Thank you xxx