Thursday, August 31, 2006

blog day 2006 ...

I didn't realise this even existed until I read Ali's blog this morning but thought it sounded like a nice idea.

The idea is to recommend 5 new blogs. Preferably they should be of a different culture, view point and attitude. Well I have figured that as all the people below are from outside the UK I could argue cultural differences. I think they also offer different points of view even if they are all craft related and they also offer varying attitudes to craft, creativity and life.

liquid paper
little shika
two little banshees
maggie grace creates

I decided not to give any descriptions of the blogs I have recommended as I get worried I might put people off going to visit them.

You can get more information about Blog Day 2006 here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

is it Wednesday already? ...

well that crept up on me with alarming speed. A mixture of a Bank Holiday and thoughts of 'Back to School' have left me feeling discombobulated. I have so many things that I would like to get done but so many things I have to get done. Today's chore is to sew name tapes on new school clothes and to double check we have all the required items. But it isn't all work and no play...

The clouds built up again this afternoon so there was nothing to do other than bake some comforting and indulgent brownies.

And of course whilst feasting on them a little bit of inspirational browsing through this was required. My knowledge of French scraped me through O'level, just. So I understand shockingly little of the instructions but I can usually get the jist of it. And a French-English dictionary always helps!

The morning was filled with a trip to the picture framers to try and decide on a frame for a print that is to be a wedding gift for my father-in-law and his wife-to-be. I just couldn't choose between two frames, I've plumped for one but am now worring the other one was a better choice. I took some pictures on my camera phone to show my husband this evening, to see if he has a preference, but the pictures are so bad I can't see that they will help. Why am I finding it so hard to make decisions at the moment?

Then I got down to some cutting out. I am going to try out the binding idea for the pen holder. So apart from cutting out the body pieces I had to make the binding.

I don't know why but the making of bias binding always flumoxes me - especially when I have to join lengths together.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

one lucky girl ...

the postman delivered a fantastic package to me on Friday

it was my prize from Heather's birthday joke contest.

In the box was a card that gives a sneaky-peak of a fabric design she has created for Free Spirit and due to be launched in the Fall. I can hardly wait although it will probable mean ordering it from somewhere like Cia's Palette as it is notoriously hard to find Free Spirit fabrics over here.

Then there was the winner's ribbon which is just gorgeous and will be worn with pride.

But mostest and bestest of all was this scrummy divine pear pin cushion. Just looking at it fills me with joy and cheers a gloomy day - it is a very happy pear.

Thank you so much Heather - I surely am one lucky girl.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

belated wip ..

aghh! Blogger has been messing me about. This post should have gone up yesterday but in the age old adage 'better late than never' here it is ....

I decided I wanted to develop my flower badge cards. So I went to bed thinking of ideas ready to conjure up some designs for Friday morning.

I used some of the Apple Pie fabric I purchased from the Quilt Room before the summer holidays descended. They use primary colours and are a lot more definite than fabrics I usually choose which tend to be on the wishy-washy side.

I like the smallness and compactness of this little badge. However, I ended up having to hand sew it as the petal pieces were just too small for me to manoeuvre through my machine. Unfortunately the hand stitching just isn't strong enough and far too time consuming. But, I think I have thought of a solution.

Also froggie now has a name - Yakul and a smile.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

we have the technology ...

My son has been on at me to help him make a frog beanie so with the rain coming down in stair rods today seemed like a good day.

He made a drawing of the type of frog he wanted to create and we assembled the necessary fabric, stuffing, beans, eyes and created a paper pattern. He cut the pieces out and watched while I sewed them on the machine - he was going to do it but got worried after I gave him a safety talk. He then stuffed the legs and filled the body cavity with plastic beans. A lot of the beans scattered every which way - the hoover is going to make cruncking noises for weeks to come.

And here he is finished except for a mouth which needs to be stitched on. He also has no name ... yet.

Now the evening has come and with it little people's bed time, so of course the rain has stopped and the skies are cloudless and blue - I ask you where is the justice in that?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

pens and missions ...

Here is a prototype of a little project I have been working on, as I am fed up with ferreting in the bottom of my bag for pens.

It marks a turning point in my usual working practices as for the first time ever I have actually measured it all out and created a paper pattern. I usually use a fly by the seat of your pants method and hope to goodness it all works.

If I were using a commercial dress pattern I would always use the paper pattern and check I had laid it out correctly several times before making a cut. My approach to my own patterns is far more slap dash - well not anymore. The one thing I have found so motivating from the various blogs I read is the work ethic and degree of professionalism that the bloggers have in their approach to their work.

Of course it doesn't mean it ended up perfect. I wanted it to have a structured feel so used shirt collar stiffening rather than just interface. However, in a couple of areas there is a double thickness of it and so when it came to turning it right way round I just couldn't get the corners to look good.

I like the linen and the patchwork 'accents' on the exterior and interior, however, I think I would use bias binding around the edges - this would mean I don't have to worry about raw edges and my corners would look neater. I am also toying with the idea of a velcro fastening - I know the button is going to get ripped off in my bag.

On a completely different topic .... wayhay! my son completed his reading mission at the library and so he gets a medal!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

to photoshop or not to photoshop ...

Well, with the skies getting dingier and good quality natural light getting harder and harder to come by my photos will certainly need some help. So I am going to try and get to grips with Photoshop and while I am at it Illustrator and InDesign too. I know absolutely nothing about them except that I have had the Creative Suite sat on my machine for some time now crying out to be used.

So my mission for this autumn (when the little fella is back at school) is to teach myself at least the basics. I have also found this and this useful for advice about taking and lighting photographs. It is certainly a hit and miss affair for me at the moment.

The refinement of my little crafty space also continues apace and I am so chuffed that I have finally sorted through my fabric and neatly folded and sorted it all and put it away nicely in the cupboard .

I suddenly feel very organised and able to take on the world. As they say simple things ...

Monday, August 21, 2006

embroidery and embellishments ...

I decided the time had come that I really had to give embroidery a go. The last time I did any was at school when I had to embroider my name in chain stitch on an apron we had made in needlework classes. I also got my Brownie sewing badge (maybe it was called needlecraft) although Brown Owl was rather dismissive of my stitchery. So I know the rudiments but am very rusty. However, armed with this book, needles, thread and a few ideas I managed to produce a piece of work I am quite pleased with.

I went french knot mad - I finally figured out how to do them so I was damn well going to use them. I think it needs a little more work but in general I think I may stick with this embroidery lark - it's good fun.

In further developments ... it has been sometime since I sorted out my crafty little area and having lived with it for a while I realised it needed some refinement. And this is the result

Finally I have somewhere sensible to store my ribbon (it had previously been tucked away behind the little drawers on my desk which was a real nuisance as I had to keep moving them whenever I needed ribbon. I still need to add another pole to accommodate the final few rolls. I do have a lot of ribbon, it is all the same plain grosgrain just in different colours. I pick them up when I go to the John Smedley factory shop - at 3 rolls for £5 it is something that just can't be passed up.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

quilts and gifts ...

I made it to the Festival of Quilts on Friday - I really didn't think I would get to go and infact still wasn't sure on Friday morning but somehow I found myself on the 10:40 out of Euston.

Having never been to a quilt exhibition before, and certainly never one this big, I had no idea what to expect. I could have easily spent a lot longer there and a lot more money but I kept myself in check. I fell in love with several of the quilts and would love to put photos of them up here but am worried about infringing people's copyright so they will just sit on my computer offering inspiration.

I met a couple of other bloggers there Penny and Ferret which added a whole other dimension to the day - I suddenly felt like part of a club. I know there were a lot of other bloggers there too and it is quite funny to think I might have been standing right next someone whose blog I read and admire - but in the flesh wouldn't know them from Adam.

It was a really interesting day out and I feel inspired to at least think about entering something for next year.

Oh joy, joy, joy - the postman delivered my bookswap parcel on Saturday morning. Although he left it in the doorstep rather than ringing the bell so when I discovered it some little toe-rag had opened it up, but having piggled a corner and discovered a book I think he/she/it decided it was of no interest to them.

Look at this fantastic bunch of goodies

I haven't read either book but when they came out I knew I would like to and so now here is my opportunity. There was also a lovely book bag for my acquistions from the library or charity shop. A matching bookmark and this sweet little guy

My son claimed these for himself

Thank you so much Maxine - this was a wonderful box of surprises to receive on a very wet and bleak Saturday morning. I love it all.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

hiatus interruptus ...

wow where does the time go? It has been ages since I have bothered to blog but I have been using my time wisely (honest). Such as buying little extravagances like the little lady above.

No really I have found it hard to do any serious crafting because of the holidays but I have enjoyed having the time to just browse blogs and gather inspiration from where ever.

I collected this book from the library this morning

I ordered it last week and was expecting a phone call to say that they couldn't find it. It had to come from another branch and quite often, although the catalogue says the book is there, it has not been put on the correct shelf and so becomes 'lost'. But I got an email yesterday to say it was ready for collection - yay!

This book has been popping up on quite a few blogs and I can now see why - it seems to cover everything you could ever need to know although some of the toys in it are quite sinister and scary looking.

I don't care if she made it into a Christmas issue of 'The Lady' she is scary.

My time has also been well spent catching up on my knitting and reading. I have been playing around with some patchwork and quilting ideas, some of which involve some really tiny pieces (very hard to machine sew).

and playing around with some embroidery ideas

An early evening ritual for my son and me has been watching the Studio Ghibli season on Film Four. Our favourite was definitely "My Neighbour Tortoro". They are such heart-warming films and the Japanese with subtitles proved no problem at all for a seven year old as the pictures really tell the story.

And my last bit of news that made me squeal with delight the other morning was finding out I won this. This from the girl who never wins anything. OK not quite true I remember winning a library competition when I was about 7 or 8 but I only came joint third which meant sharing the glory and the book token with someone else. If I remember rightly this meant that a £1 book token became a 50p book token. (Book Tokens in pence now that is going back some years).

I am also pleased to report that my bookswap parcel arrived safely.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

crossing off ...

yippee - I have managed to get some of those things I was muttering about last time crossed off my to do list and boy does it feel good.

First up I wanted to make birthday cards for my mum and my aunt. The fabric was sat there yesterday but it was only today that I actually buckled down to it and got them done.

The one on the right is for my aunt and the one on the left for my mother (neither of them read my blog so I am fairly safe putting these pictures up). I like the way that they are 'grown up' birthday card badges. So much more sophisticated than a Tweenies, Thomas or I am 4 badge. I have to say the badges (or are they really brooches?) are thanks to Molly Chicken's fantastic tutorials.

I finally made it to the Post Office and so there is now a parcel winging its way to my bookswap partner. It was fun trying too choose a book to send and a little self-debating went on as to the merits of various books.

In my mundane little world my washing has been brought up to date courtesy of some fantastic drying weather, so that can now come off the list - I won't be adding ironing to the 'to do' list. I strongly feel that unless it is a special occasion or an item is really creased then the summer holidays are just too short for ironing. Well, not just the summer holidays but life is too short too. I hate ironing unless it is to aid my patchwork in which case I can iron up a storm.

Talking of patchwork (cheesy link) I found this book today at a local charity shop. It is from a 1972 exhibition at the Palais du Louvre, Paris.

Most of the pictures are black and white but there are several colour plates and for quilts created in the latter half of the 19th century/ beginning of the 20th several of them have a very modern look. Whoever owned the book before made little marks by some of the quilts - I wonder if they made them and if so where are they now?

Just as I am trying to cross things off my to do list these little ladies dropped through the letter box and added themselves to a list that just isn't getting any shorter.

Monday, August 07, 2006

greengages, plums and bikes...

at the supermarket today they finally had some English plums and they had some greengages too albeit French ones - but I couldn't resist I love them so much. I think I'll make some sort of plum tart in a couple of days time - if they aren't all eaten by then.

My big excitement, yes even bigger than the fruit, was that I got a bike on Saturday.

I haven't had a bike since I was about 14 but my husband and son have them and they have been off on adventures and picnics without me. So it was time to spoil their fun and get a bike and join in.

So on Sunday we cycled up to Richmond Park, around it and then back home - suffice to say I am a little tender in places today. But the cycle ride was lovely - the weather was warm and sunny and it provided a good opportunity to take the photo above. The grass was brown and tinder dry but the elderberries were ripening nicely as were the blackberries - it will soon be scrumping time.

Today on the other hand has been wet, cloudy, grey and very humid so all the washing I did yesterday evening and last night in anticipation of a fantastic drying day has stayed in the basket unable to be hung out. So I spent the morning just browsing through blogs and catching up with office admin and housekeeping. Nothing creative whatsoever - but I want to add these to my to do list and this debate has sparked some thoughts. I'm excited to learn of this move. And last but not least I have been reading all of Alicia's postings on whip-up about selling your stuff - my husband has started muttering that my craft should really start paying for itself.

Tomorrow come hell or high water I must endeavour to cross some items off my crafting to do list.

Friday, August 04, 2006

fabric, fabric everwhere ...

what on earth possessed me? I suddenly got a notion to sort out my fabric cupboard and now as you can see there are piles of fabric everywhere.

Fabric on the table..

on the floor...

on the ironing board..

And to make matters worse I now have no inclination or patience to fold them all up and put them away properly - so as a diversion I am arguing with myself about which colour pile certain fabrics should go in.

I bought these this morning, I needed some little token gifts for birthdays and thank yous and thought these were perfect (and a lot cheaper than her bags).

Thursday, August 03, 2006

birthdays, books and blythe ...

Yay for birthdays - it was my son's 7th birthday today (where does the time go?) so we all went for lunch at Yo Sushi and then next door to the cinema to see "Cars" - which we really enjoyed. Then home for birthday cake (shop bought).

Noodles and Doodles bookswap kicked off today - so I think I have decided which book I intend to send but until the package is in the post it could always change. I seem to be very indecisive at the moment - decisions are a real problem.

As if to prove that my brain is clearly in another place at the moment I have this strong urge to acquire a Blythe doll.

There is just something about her face - oh wow and her eyes that change colour and the fact that I can dress her up in fashions I create for her. Maybe I am just in need of a surrogate girl child or maybe I just need a good night's sleep.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

books, films, knitting ...

So today was filled with books ... I went to my reading group this morning where we tore strips off the new Joanne Harris book "Gentlemen and Players" - just not our cup of tea I guess. Next month's book is "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote.

My son is also cracking on a pace with the Reading Mission, he has his first set of stickers and has got his next armful of books. He is really enjoying this book, whilst I made him also get this book out for my benefit.

Niamh Sharkey is one of my favourite illustrators. I love the richness of her pictures and the sheer imagination that goes into them - how I would dearly love an original of her work especially this picture

it is from her illustration for "Tales of Old Ireland" and is from "The Children of Lir" tale. This is probably my most favourite tale of all time although I can never read it without crying.

I sat down this afternoon to watch "The Trouble with Harry" which I haven't seen in years and it was on the newly free Film Four. I also thought I would take the opportunity to catch up with this knitting.

But my concentration was way too lax and I ended up unravelling all the rows I knitted - doh. This project has been hanging around for months now. I started it when the talk of heatwaves in the cold bleak weather of May made us all laugh. Though now I am now desperate to finish it but to do so I must improve my concentration.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

i'm still here - honestly....

oh dear it has been such a long time since my last post - life (and cream teas) has kind of gotten in the way. I have also been enjoying the opportunity to surf around various blogs looking for new perspectives and ideas.

This fantastic package arrived today from my vintage button swap partner, Lisa. Buttons, fabric, lace, cotton reels - all of it so delectable. Thank you so much Lisa.

My package to Lisa should arrive within the next couple of days - I hope she likes it. Please have a look at the Flickr to see what everyone has been receiving.

This afternoon the kitchen table looked like this

my son had a friend over to play and as the weather was unpredictable we opted for some arts and crafts. All lots of good fun but I always find the clearing away so tedious.

On the horizon.... Noodles and Doodles is planning a bookswap so I have signed on the dotted line .... Wee Wonderfuls has a set of embroidery postcards for sale tomorrow ..... I must finish my nephew's octopus ..... and I would love to go to the Festival of Quilts show in August and the The Knitting and Stitching Show in September but don't know if I can make it to either. I need someone to drag me along as I tend to prevaricate too much and then miss the opportunity.

But other than that I do solemnly swear to blog more regularly.... honestly.