Sunday, 27 October 2013

Hooked on Plants

This week a very special installation 'Hooked on Plants' opened at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. I am very lucky to have been a part of this exciting project along with fellow members of Cam City WI. Since January we have been meeting once a month in the cafe at the Gardens to study some amazing plants and recreate them using crochet. The project is part of the wider Festival of Ideas, an initiative set up by the University of Cambridge which celebrates the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Led by the fabulous Joanne of Not So Granny we started practising basic leaf shapes before moving on to free-form lichen and then trailing plants. The lichen became a mat for display in the Arid House.
Miss Chaela Boo: Hooked on Plants - crochet lichen
Once we had worked out the basics we divided into five smaller groups each working on different plants. Working with Claire (claireabellemakes) and Kelly (Miss Dotty Loves) we set about devising a pattern for our chosen plant. Cissus quadrangularis, which is type of grape, soon became affectionately known as the Sausage Plant for obvious reasons. We studied photographs as well as the real plants in the greenhouses and took on the advice of greenhouse supervisor Alex when planning our designs. Using our collective crochet skills and plenty of trial and error we came up with our pattern.
Miss Chaela Boo: Hooked on Plants - Cissus Quadrangularis
After creating lots of long strings of green sausages we edged them with a fine light brown yarn in order to recreate the slightly crispy dried edges of the real plant.

The finished Sausage Plant has been displayed entangled with the Ceropegia haygarthii as that is how the real plants are growing together in the greenhouse. Can you spot the real Cissus quadrangularis?
Miss Chaela Boo: Hooked on Plants - Cissus Quadrangularis and Ceropegia Haygarthii
Miss Chaela Boo: Hooked on Plants - Cissus Quadrangularis and Ceropegia Haygarthii

Other plants within the installation include Epiphyllum oxypetalum (Dutchman's pipe or queen of the night) with it's beautiful big white flower.
Miss Chaela Boo: Hooked on Plants - crochet Epiphyllum oxypetalum
Epiphyllum anguliger (the Fishbone Cactus) which includes it's own crochet pot.
Miss Chaela Boo: Hooked on Plants - crochet Epiphillum anguliger (Fishbone Cactus)
And the slightly scary Bowiea volubilis or Climbing Onion which looks to be taking over the greenhouse.
Miss Chaela Boo: Hooked on Plants - crochet Bowiea volubilis (Climbing Onion)
The finished plants look fantastic displayed alongside their living counterparts and are well worth a look if you are in Cambridge during the next week. 'Hooked on Plants' is open until Sunday 3 November. Usual Garden opening times and admission charges apply.

Now get yourselves over to Handmade Monday for some lovely bloggy goodness. 

Monday, 21 October 2013

Book review: Homemade Gifts Vintage Style

Today I'm sharing with you a great book that I picked up some months ago. Homemade Gifts Vintage Style by Sarah Moore is full of upcycling ideas with a vintage feel and is a slightly dangerous read if, like me, you have hoarder genes as it does encourage hoarding tendencies. The basic kit list even includes a 'hoarding' list of things to keep in your stash!
Miss Chaela Boo: Book review: Handmade Gifts Vintage Style
The book's introduction is a useful read for anyone who isn't very experienced in thrift and charity shopping and includes advice on what to look out for and, very importantly, what to avoid. Of course the very nature of thrift shopping means that it can be tricky to find the materials needed if you have a specific project in mind. It took me a few attempts to find the right cups and saucers for the teacup candles.

The projects are broken down in to three main sections: 'Made by Hand', 'Sewn by Hand' and 'Sewn by Machine'. There is also a small section on 'Cards and Packaging'.

The 'Made by Hand' section includes some of my favourite makes from the book, most of which are very straight forward and pretty quick. The layered cake stand requires nothing more than a stack of plates, small glasses and super glue. My three-tier stand is perfect for storing nik-naks on my craft bureau.
Miss Chaela Boo: Book review: Handmade Gifts Vintage Style - tiered cake stand
The beaded door hanger is great for using up random buttons and beads. I had a little go myself with this rainbow mini-version.
Miss Chaela Boo: Book review: Handmade Gifts Vintage Style - Beaded door hanger
The teacup candles are really cute and would make the perfect table decoration for a vintage tea party.
Miss Chaela Boo: Book review: Handmade Gifts Vintage Style - teacup candles
The instructions are easy to follow and there is a good range of ideas from the very basic wrapped guest soaps to the machine sewn projects such as the bakers apron. Other sewn projects include cute lavender bunnies made from old woollen blankets or jumpers and a simple fabric mobile which would also make an excellent garland.
Miss Chaela Boo: Book review: Handmade Gifts Vintage Style
All of the projects are beautifully photographed and this is a lovely read for snuggling up with a cup of tea on a chilly autumn afternoon. 
Miss Chaela Boo: Book review: Handmade Gifts Vintage Style
Have you got this book? What did you think? Which is your favourite project?

Since it Monday lets finish up by popping over to Handmade Monday!

***This is not a sponsored post***

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Five ideas for...crafting with buttons

Welcome to my new series of posts where I'll be sharing my favourite uses and crafts for using up those materials in the craft stash that we don't know what to do with. This first post post has taken a bit of planning as I wanted to show you the makes in practise rather than just collating a list from around the Internet (although I do also have a themed Pinterest board for further ideas you are looking for more inspiration). 
Miss Chaela Boo - Five ideas for crafting with buttonsThis first post is all about buttons! These wonderful little things stop us falling out of a our clothes and embarrassing ourselves but they are also great for crafting. Every crafter has a button stash and I know that sometimes we just want to hoard them in pretty jars and never use them. My button collection comprises of buttons snipped off old cardigans, charity shop finds and a lot of 500 buttons that I bought from Ebay. I've already got my eye on the green button attached to a pair of trousers I only bought yesterday! Anyway, in order that I don't become a crazy button lady I thought is was time I started using up some of the stash. Then I can buy some more?

1. Button Greeting Card

This is a really quick and easy make but will take a little time for the glue to day. Start by very lightly drawing your shape on to the card in pencil, you won't be able to rub it out once the buttons are glued on so make sure it's barely visible. I chose a heart shape but a number for a birthday or letter of someone's name would look great too. 
Miss Chaela Boo - Five ideas for crafting with buttons - button heart card
Use craft glue or PVA to glue the buttons in place. Start with the largest buttons and fill the gaps in with the smallest ones. If you have a few small beads you can use them to fill the even small gaps. Leave to dry flat. 

2. Button covered notebook

Using the same technique as the card, starting with the largest buttons. Glue onto the cover of a sturdy note book. I chose to cover my little black sketch book which now looks a lot less boring.
Miss Chaela Boo - Five ideas for crafting with buttons - button covered notebook

3. Button charm bracelet

To turn your buttons into a charm bracelet you'll need a length of charm chain, jump rings (for attaching the buttons to the chain), a clasp and some buttons. You'll also need two pairs of small pliers to open and close the jump rings. You'll find all the supplies in Hobbycraft but with a bit of detective work Ebay is a great source materials and tools. Go simple with just a few buttons or load up the chain for more impact.
Miss Chaela Boo - Five ideas for crafting with buttons - button charm bracelet

4. Cord button bracelet

This bracelet involves threading buttons onto cord or elastic. See Anna's button bracelet DIY for a pretty elasticated version. If using non-elasticated cord, like me, you'll need to make a loop at one end of the cord which you can slip over the button at the other end to fasten. Make the loop before you start threading the buttons!
Miss Chaela Boo - Five ideas for crafting with buttons - cord button bracelet

5. Crochet button garland

I love this DIY. It's a very basic crochet project involving a crochet chain with buttons incorporated along the length. The buttons are threaded on to the yarn before starting to crochet and are worked into the chain at regular intervals to make a beautiful simple garland. I'll bring the full tutorial for this make later in the month.
Miss Chaela Boo - Five ideas for crafting with buttons - crochet button garland
So that's my top five uses for buttons. With a bit of glue you can embellish almost anything with buttons and the possibilities are endless. Do visit my 'Button Love' Pinterest board for lots more buttony goodness and if you've got a button craft idea leave me your link in the comments so we can all come and see!

Now it's been a little while but I'm heading over to Handmade Monday. Won't you join me?

Saturday, 5 October 2013

UK vegan food swap September

I took a break from the UK vegan food swap in August so couldn't wait for September to arrive when I could join in again. My food swap recipient was Claire who just happens to be another crafty vegan. Claire has a Folksy Shop called Magpie Boutique where she sells her handmade and upcycled knitted goodies.
Miss Chaela Boo - UK Vegan Food Swap September
My box for Claire contained:
  • Oragnic vegan malt loaf
  • Suma apple and pear spread
  • granoVita organic mushroom pate
  • moo free banana chocolate
  • nakd strawberry crunch
  • Clearspring udon noodles
  • Panda raspberry and blueberry licorice
  • raspberry Yo-Yos
  • Yu mango pieces 
  • Clipper tea
I was so excited to see that my sender for September was Jasmine again. I just had one request; Ruffle Bars please! Jasmine didn't disappoint and even included extra Ruffles in the form of individual ruffle creams.
Miss Chaela Boo - UK Vegan Food Swap September
During September Jasmine took part in the Vegan Month of Food. During Vegan MOFO participants blog  everyday on a different theme depending on the day of the week. Jasmine added an extra challenge by dedicating her recipes to beans and extended her bean theme into the box she prepared for me. 

As well as the scrummy Ruffles, Jasmine included:
  • nibl wasabi beans - I love wasabi peas so these are perfect for me
  • Tilda Mexican chilli and bean rice
  • Food Doctor cereal, pulses and beans
  • Blooms peanut perfection popcorn - Yum!
  • Graze crisp breads with basil oil
  • Pink Panther wafers
  • Homemade bean chutney
Thank you Jasmine for another smashing box! 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

September Highlights

Wowee! Here we are again!

September was a really busy month away from the blog which meant I didn't get much crafting done and didn't get to share a huge amount (boo). I hosted a giveaway to celebrate my birthday but the real celebrations took the form of afternoon tea with the lovely Ro of Magpie Maker, her partner Steve and the beautiful Rufus and Ivor. I baked the cherry bakewell cupcakes from my favourite vegan baking book and Rufus helped to decorate them.
Miss Chaela Boo - September Highlights - Bakewell Tart Cupcakes
The main highlight from the blog was attending the Cherry Hinton Craft Party as a stall holder at the mini-craft fair. It was great event to be a part of and within a few days I had signed up for another fair!
Miss Chaela Boo - September Highlights - Cherry Hinton Craft Party
I'm so very excited about putting together my stall for From Cambridge With Love in November AND I'll also be holding stencilling workshops throughout the day. How exciting is that?!

The annual summer party at my work took place at the Duxford Imperial War museum with a 1940's themed dinner and dance. The welcome drinks took place in the main hanger which is jam packed with planes and it was pretty amazing to get up close to some of the massive beasts. I'm sure the Corcord was about as wide as my house!
Miss Chaela Boo - September Highlights - Imperial War Museum
The very end of September was holiday time and I went away for the weekend to Center Parcs in Elveden Forest with Mike and our friends Ewa and Rick. Our villa was right next to the lake which meant we received lots of ducky visitors and we had a beautiful view through the pine trees. 

Previous trips have involved lots of sporting activities but this time we took things a little more leisurely and booked in to the spa. Strangley I found the heat of the steam rooms and saunas really tiring and we had to drink tons of water to stay hydrated. All of the rooms smelled amazing but I couldn't bare the salt steam room which tasted strangely soapy.
Miss Chaela Boo - September Highlights - Elveden Forrest
The highlight of the holiday was the new ride in the swimming pool called the Tropical Cyclone. Up to four people ride on a huge inflatable raft along a massive flume whihc includes a vertical drop and lots of swooping and screaming. I had a sore throat by the end of our first ride but I absolutley loved it!

I usually get a bit snap happy when I'm on holiday but this was the third year that we have been and it was much more relaxed than our previous trips so I was much less manic with my picture taking this time. However, I did manage to get my camara out in time to catch this peacock who was out for an afternoon walk.
Miss Chaela Boo - September Highlights - Elveden Forrest peacock
In October, I'm looking forward to long-sleeved t-shirts, fleece-lined tights and snuggling with the kitty cat (and making lots of cards for the upcoming fair in November. Eeeep!).

What did you love about September and what have you got planned this month?