Saturday, 25 April 2015

Philippines trip #3

The BIG day finally arrived and this is just a little of what Andrew said about it - 

"Truly amazing day with my Mara.

We all met at Davao quayside and when Mara saw me she raced over with her mum and project worker and threw herself into a hug with me. She had the biggest smile ever on her face. We then went island hopping on a boat around the Philippines for 7 hours.
Mara was so polite and chatty, so affectionate and beautiful. She answered most of my questions via the project worker translator but some of the easier questions in English. Her mom came as well as Mara's Compassion project worker. She was lovely as well - unable to express her gratitude to me in words - really overawed.

Mara and her mum had never travelled more than an hour from their home, so all the following were firsts for both of them : going on a bus (8 hour journey), going to Davao City, sleeping in a hotel, sleeping in a bed, going in an elevator and on an escalator. Eating at Jollibees (equivalent of McDonald's), first time having French fries. Seeing the sea, going on a boat, and walking on sand. Can you imagine the overload of experiences Mara must be feeling!!

stopped at a couple of coves and swam in the very warm sea.
We had lunch on what I can only describe as a Caribbean looking idyllic beach and played ball games and swam again.

The whole day was a wonderful dream and after 7 hours , it was sad to say goodbye.

I have so much more to tell but I'll leave it there. Needless to say, I have promised to return in 2-3 years on a personal home visit and can't wait.

PS The presents you made and gave were amazing. Mara and her mum were overwhelmed."

He still has another week in the Philippines, visiting other Compassion Projects, as well as having some free time for sightseeing but this was the day they had all been waiting for and I'm so pleased that they had "a truly amazing day" together. 
If you would like to learn more, make a donation or even Sponsor a child yourself, click HERE to go to Compassion's website. There's also a UK BLOG, where people like Andrew have recorded their experiences.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Philippines trip #2

More news from my friend in the Philippines with Compassion
Day 2
  • "I have just got back from an awesome visit. We went to a Compassion project and were warmly greeted by the church and about 200 children. After a short service, we were taken in small groups to the home of the sponsored children. 
    They live down corrugated iron walkways, all crammed in. Their house (two rooms for a family of 10) is on stilts above the river - which also doubles up as the garbage disposal facility. And even so, the 17 year old sponsored child has ambitions to break away from poverty and be an architect.
  • We had a fabulous meal laid on by the project and then led various activities for the children. I was in the sports team and somehow seemed to adopt the leading role. I have never sweat so much in my life after three 25 minute sessions with the kids. If I don't lose a stone in weight this vacation, I will be disappointed!!
    The kids are great. Many speak English
    and they just want to play and have photos taken. Little ten year old called Angel took a shine to me and we played lots of ball games and she ended up being carried most places on my sweaty back!! 
  • Awesome time!"

  • Day 3
    "Ten hour trip today saw us venture into the countryside and go to another project. Another set of immaculately behaved kids all benefiting from Compassion.  They sang and danced for us , allowed us to help them with their project learning activities.
    Then had a huge spread for dinner followed by the taste of a durian fruit. They say it smells like putrid flesh but tastes like heaven. To me, it didn't smell as bad as it could have and didn't taste as good as it could have. Left a caramelised onion taste. I found out that it is the fruit that keeps on giving - burping durian taste over and over again. Hmmmm!! 
  • Then played some great sports with some of the kids. Bring out a basketball , a tennis ball and a frisby and its amazing the reaction.
    The home visit was a kilometre walk into a banana plantation.
  • The house was wooden construction on stilts with split bamboo floors that we were worried we would break. Filipino's are quite small and light - unlike us. A family of ten sleep in a 8ft x 8 ft room - eight of them on the floor. They did have a "living room" and a kitchen space. The outside toilet was interesting. 
  • Twice a day, they have to walk thirty minutes each way to collect dirty water from a river which then, thanks to Compassion's water filtration device, turns it into healthy clean water.
  • Tomorrow is the BIG day. Meeting Mara and starting to get nervous."

       He sent me a message later to say that he will be spending the whole day with Mara - 7 hours - going on a boat trip, island hopping and going to beaches. And he doesn't even know if Mara has ever seen the sea! They're seven hours ahead of us, so by the time I get up for work he will already be with her...

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Philippines trip

My friend is now in the Philippines on his visit to meet Mara, via the charity Compassion.
Luckily, thanks to the internet that has made the world so much smaller, I've been getting regular updates from him. Remember the days when someone went on holiday and you had to wait until they were home to hear about it? You didn't even know if they arrived safely...
Well, he did arrive safely and met the rest of the group he would be spending time with and said they are all lovely. The organisers have lots of things planned for them during their visit, including seeing local community projects they run and meeting the people that are helped by them, along with plenty of free time.

This is the message I've just had from him, along with a very short video -

"Today was full on. Visited a Compassion Project when it was a Mums and babies (pregnant or children up to 3) project day. They were fabulous and the toddlers absolutely gorgeous. Had a meal with them and then we split into twos and did a home visit to one of their homes. We walked through and over graves in a cemetery to get to where she lived - squeezed in a gap between the cemetery and a filthy stream. Lives in two rooms, wooden shack with corrugated iron but gets full health checks and good support for her and her two children from Compassion. Makes one realise just how privileged we are in the UK. "

Makes you think...

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Circular crochet shrug

I've been thinking over the last couple of days about what I can start making. Now that I've finished all the things I was doing for Mara I'm getting itchy fingers!
I got my crochet ripple blanket out this morning (see the link in the sidebar) and hooked a row but didn't really feel like doing much. With the glorious sunny weather we've had for the past couple of weeks, I felt more like making something summery, not a nice warm blanket...

Then I remembered the wool I bought almost a year ago. I bought a lovely dark blue &  burgundy variegated wool by King Cole and made a crochet waistcoat but at the same time I bought 3 balls of Stylecraft Summer Breeze in Bluebell. It's a lovely soft lavender blue and white, cotton/acrylic mix. The dark blue/burgundy waistcoat was finished fairly quickly but I soon discovered that it was rather warm and it was put away for the winter. I didn't want to make another in my summery wool as clearly it would be too warm to wear in the summer. So the wool got put away... but now it's back out and raring to go!!
I've decided to go for an open lacy style circular shrug. I've had a good hunt around in Ravelry and Pinterest for a pattern and at the moment I've settled on this one by Heidi Walsh -
I didn't want anything too simple in the centre but at the same time, as I'm using DK wool, it can’t be too complex either. Heidi’s looks just about right. I've no idea what size hook to use, or even if I’ll have enough wool and as I bought it nearly a year ago I won’t be able to get any more…
(Heidi adapted a tablecloth pattern to make it - can you tell?...Please don't remind me of that fact if you ever see me wearing the finished article!)
Now...just where are my crochet hooks??...

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Cherry tree

There's a lovely little cherry tree at work, on the lawn outside the office. It has bloomed very late this year but suddenly on Friday last week, I noticed the first handful of flowers opening. By Monday it had burst into full bloom! Just look at this photo taken Tuesday afternoon, isn't it lovely? -
Tina's Allsorts Cherry Tree
Sadly the blossom didn't last long. With the glorious sunshine and strong winds we've had this week, it has nearly all blown away and the bronze coloured leaves are rapidly emerging. This is how it looked by Friday, just 4 days later -
Tina's Allsorts Cherry Tree
While I was saving these photos to the computer, I came across one I took seven years ago at work. We were in a different building then and had an extensive garden behind us. Adam, the gardener at the time, used to take great pride in mowing the lawn every Wednesday morning and putting stripes in it. Clearly he was bored one day and decided to go for something a little different! You had to be on one of the upper floors to fully appreciate it though.
1 The Close,Winchester,SO23 9LS
He didn't have time to look after the garden properly, which was a shame but I spent many happy lunch breaks walking round the garden and would often have a large vase of flowers on the desk in the summer. Indeed, if the traffic permitted and I arrived early at work, a quick walk round before taking to my desk was quite a treat - I even kept a pair of wellies by the back door to help with the heavy dew! And in case you're wondering, yes, this photo was taken from the window behind my desk. Luckily, I faced away from the window or I would never have got any work done!
I took some lovely photos in the garden - I must find them out and post a few here. Maybe set up a gallery page? Not today though - the sky is still blue, the birds are singing and I don't want to stay inside!!

PS If you read yesterday's post "Relaxing with crochet", can I just say they weren't really my hairy legs! I don't think I actually said that and I wouldn't want to give anyone the wrong idea...

Friday, 17 April 2015

Relaxing with crochet

On the drive into work this morning (holiday time still, so no traffic - lovely!!) I suddenly thought about something I saw on a blog  a couple of years ago and I emailed it to some friends. Thought I'd go back and look for it and share it with you...
I wrote -
"I quite like to read blogs about my hobbies and came across this one yesterday. It's by a filipino lady and she took this photo whilst crocheting, saying that, yes, she really does crochet on this position."
I followed this by saying I was inspired to take a picture of my own legs while relaxing with crocheting...
>wait for it
>keep scrolling

>nearly there


Not quite the same effect really is it?...

Her name is Trey Ajusto (that's her with the really nice legs...) and this is her blog if you'd like to take a look.
Have a good weekend!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Mara's Sewing Kit

In case you haven't been following what I've been making and why, here's a quick recap.
One of my friend's sponsors a 12 year old girl called Mara, who lives in the Philippines. He's going to visit her very soon, through the company that organises the sponsorship - Compassion.
I wanted to make something for her and decided initially on a book cover. Then I made some little hearts, which was followed by a needle-case and then putting together a sewing kit.

This is the final stage - the sewing kit. I've bought all sorts of bits and bobs to go in it and quickly "out-grew" the little tin I bought for it. So I bought a second one. And filled it. Then I bought a third one. And filled it. The rest will have to just go in a little bag, I daren't buy another tin...
Here's the bulk of the bits and bobs I've collected - including a mini bar of chocolate, a bird brooch and some brooch pins.
Sewing Kit Tins
I went through (some of) my fabrics and pulled out/cut some small pieces in an assortment of colours. I got carried away and ended up with a pile that Fills the extra tin I bought...Luckily, due to the decorating, a lot of my fabric was packed away, or I might have chosen enough for 3 or 4 tins!!
Hopefully, she and her friends can use it to make all sorts of things with it (all sorts, get it??) and who knows, maybe they'll be able to make things to sell and earn themselves a few pennies...
Sewing Kit Tins
Wouldn't you just love to have a sweet little tin full of fabric to play with??
Sewing Kit Tins

Sewing Kit
Hopefully, I've managed to fill these little tins with the right tools to make a really useful sewing kit for Mara.
Who knows, maybe she'll develope a love of crafting and designing like I did and will still have these tools into adulthood...

I've really enjoyed putting it together and making things for Mara. What am I going to do now?...

Scissor keeper, pin cushion & pin box

One of the blogs I read is Sandra of  Cherry Heart and just over a year ago she posted a lovely little crochet Boho Heart she had designed. (She has a lovely blog and it's well worth a look if you have time, with lots of pretty things she's made - some with a free tutorial and some with patterns for sale.)

I used Sandra's pattern to make myself a little padded scissor keeper. It's also very handy to use as mini pin cushion/needle holder when you're crocheting or sewing and constantly cutting off ends etc.
Heart Scissor Keeper
I simply followed Sandra's pattern and made 2 hearts, then crocheted them together with a little stuffing inside. I added a few beads as decoration and a crocheted loop to attach it to my scissors.
I thought it would be nice to make one for Mara to go with the little pink scissors I've bought - 
Boho heart scissor keeper
As soon as it was done I got cracking with the pin cushion. (The decorating is drawing to a conclusion so we were able to put the dining table up - hence the sewing machine came out to play for this one!!) I used the lovely floral fabric from the needle-case and the last scrap of lace from her book cover on one side, and that last teeny piece of pink gingham managed to sneak in on the other side. I had seen some lovely pink polka dot binding that had a little white picot edge and just had to buy some. However, it was very hard to attach and doesn't look brilliant. Had I thought through mitring the corners and joining the ends, I would never have used it... 
Pin cushion

Pin cushion
Those sweet little heart topped pins you can see in the picture needed an equally sweet little box to keep them in. I used an empty swan vesta match box, which I gave a couple of coats of pva glue to stiffen it nicely. Then it was covered on the outside with some pink patterned paper and the inside had a pink felt lining.
Swan vesta pin box
(It actually took ages to make but turned out well.)
(Update - Do NOT line your pin box with felt! Your pins will grab hold every time you try to put them in! Line with paper.)

Then I returned to the needle-case one last time. I had emailed a lot of the staff at work asking them to each donate a button or 2 to go in the sewing kit. Some of the buttons were so lovely that I stitched them into the needle-case. In the front I put an antique glass button from a 1950's dress. And in the back, several colourful buttons.

I think I've made everything I wanted to, so it's time I actually put together the complete sewing kit.
But that will get it's own post!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Needle-case Ta-Dah!!

Well, here it is!! Mara's needle-case is finally finished.

I've decided to do a photo tutorial on a separate page as there are quite a lot of pics.
Find it here.
There are no measurements given though. I simply made it in a size that would fit inside the little tin I bought to hold the sewing kit I'm putting together for Mara. This little tin here -

Needle-case tutorial
 And as the gingham had it's own built in cutting lines, I had no need for a ruler and cutting mat either, other than when I came to cut the felt pages. The only machine stitched seams are the one to join the front and lining together (to be sure they wouldn't come undone) and attaching the felt pages. Everything else was stitched by hand.
And I don't want to think about how many hours it took by doing (almost) everything by hand - just imagine what dress making must have been like before the invention of the sewing machine?...
Although I haven't followed any one design/tutorial for the inside, if you take a look at the needle-cases I've pinned on Pinterest you'll soon realise mine is a combination of all sorts of designs.
It turned out far better than I could have imagined and has given me an idea for a new design (already) for a blog header.
All the fabulous pink gingham is used now, other than a thumb sized piece - I'm still trying to work out what I can make with it. Maybe incorporate it into a pin cushion for Mara?

I hope you enjoy my first proper tutorial - it was a lot of work but I enjoyed doing it, so might be doing it again.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Needle-case sneak peak #2

Mara's needle-case is just about done. It's turned out better than I could ever have imagined - I'm so proud of it. But then I always make my best work for others...
I'll put together a photo tutorial as soon as I have time so you can see it step by step. But for now, here's a couple of pics.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Needle-case sneak peak

I've made a good start on the needle-case I'm making for Mara. No sewing machine at the moment, so it's all hand stitched so far. I'm using the last little piece of pink gingham for the outside, along with a flowery print that I've had for a long time. It's one of those fabrics that is so gorgeous you just can't bring yourself to use it. I only bought a fat quarter and I've hardly touched it but I decided this called for something special. I haven't quite decided what to use for the lining - I have a couple of fabrics in mind, left over from a patchwork playmat I made for my friend's baby girl a few years ago. But more of that when I get to it.

The outside is coming along nicely so far. I used a muslin handkerchief as an interlining as the gingham is quite floppy and I haven't decided yet if I'm going to add a layer of wadding or felt to give the needle-case some body.
As well as some felt pages to hold the needles and pins, I might put a little pocket on the inside to hold a needle threader maybe.
I've bought lots of bits and bobs to put in her sewing kit - so much that I may have to buy a bigger tin to put it all in!!!
Hopefully, I'll find time to finish it over the Easter weekend and can do a proper reveal soon.