Wednesday, January 31, 2007

how much is ...

I have been admiring Manda's gorgeous sock pups and felt encouraged to try the pattern in the Martha Stewart Holiday magazine. The same magazine I got the mice idea from.

The little doggy looking out the window is Scrufty - so named because, well he is. I made him from and old pair of cotton socks I had. The wear on them had made them nice and soft but it also meant that didn't hold their shape too well when stuffing. So he has some funny little lumps and bumps. It is also still chilly round here so he needed a scarf.

The other thing he needed was a play pal. So here is Betty.

She is made from a brand new pair of socks but let's face it she doesn't have a great deal of sartorial elegance and the elastane in her socks makes her feel slightly naf. Hence her name Betty - named after the wonderful Betty Suarez of 'Ugly Betty' fame. But just like her name sake she is very loyal and her heart is totally in the right place. And Scrufty loves her just the way she is.

Thank you also to everyone for all the lovely congratulations and comments - don't forget you have plenty of time still to leave a comment to be in the draw for the bag.

Monday, January 29, 2007

one hundred ...

This is my first big blogging milestone - my hundreth post! It has taken a while to get here, in the region of seven months, but for someone who can be bad at sticking with things it feels like a genuine acheivement.

So following the precedent set by many other blogs that have celebrated significant milestones I offer you a gift, well one of you.

What is it I am offering? Well, I have made a tote using some of the Liberty cord I bought yesterday and I thought I would offer it as a celebration gift.
Please excuse the very yellow photograph - it was dark by the time I finished the bag hence the light bulb jaundice.

If you would like to be entered into the draw then leave a comment between now and Saturday. On Saturday evening I will get my son to draw a name out of a hat and I will send it off on Monday. I am happy to post worldwide.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

by jove ...

I think she's got - no, not the ability to annunciate "The Rain in Spain" with perfect diction but rather the ability to crochet.

Yesterday afternoon was spent concentrating on the photos in a crochet book and working at it until my fingers hurt but it suddenly just clicked. It felt fantastic. I think the big difference was using a bamboo hook rather than a metal one and going for a larger size (5 mm). It just made it easier to manipulate the yarn. I used an old Rowan cotton I had lying around, the paper wrapper disappeared long ago so I can't tell you exactly what it is.

I have to confess that it is by no means perfect. I seem to gain stitches and lose stitches all over the place and as for tension well just forget it. As for the stitches themselves I have only really figured out slip stitch and double crochet. I still need to practice triple although I think it only means wrapping the yarn more times around the hook? Half and double triple are still a complete mystery to me.

Also I still haven't got to grips with what to hold with what hand. The hook is easy I hold that with my right hand but it is the wrapping the yarn around particular fingers of your left hand whilst holding the worked crochet with your left hand too that has me feeling like I am all finger and not enough thumbs. But I am so pleased that it has 'clicked' and I have made a start.

On the spur of the moment, today involved a quick trip into the last day of the Liberty sale to see what bargains I could find in the fabric department. Sadly, there was a lot of jersey and only a little Tana Lawn. In the end I bought some fine corduroy which I think I will turn into tote bags.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

snow and thank yous...

Hurray!! We woke up this morning to a world of white. It is quite a rarity in London because of all the concrete, brick and latent heat.

It has more or less all gone now, there's nothing worse than snow that out stays its welcome and goes all grey and sludgey. But at least there were snowballs on the way to school.

Now, I want to say thank you to my two strip swappers and show you the wonderfulness that has dropped through my letter box.

This fantastic package arrived from Sarah on Saturday.
And this gorgeous bunch of loveliness came from Lazylol yesterday.

Thank you so much girls, it was a complete delight to open both packages. Now I have to get my thinking cap on and come up with some ideas worthy of these lovely fabrics.

I know that one of my packages has arrived safely with Sheila in France and I hope that my other package is nearing the end of its journey to the States.

Thank you for all your comments about my weirdness - how strange so many of us have ganglions?! I also meant to say that I wasn't tagging anyone because everyone seems to have already shared their weirdiness. I have enjoyed reading them and found it rather reassuring that we seem to share so many oddities in common.

Finally, have you heard the news? Lock up your credit cards ... Kitty Craft has reopened!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

oi, weirdo!...

Both Simmy and Laura have tagged me to share six weird things about myself. Well, I have had to think long and hard about this because I think I am completely normal. But then when I had done a bit of thinking I realised what I think of as normal could be other people's weird.

I suppose the first weird thing about me are my hands. They have two weird things about them. I suffer from Raynaud's which is basically bad circulation and it expresses itself in my hands and feet but worst in my hands. Even on the mildest days they can turn blue, really truly blue and on colder days that blue is punctuated by luminous orange spots. Yes that is really orange spots. If I am really unlucky my fingers go white and dead looking which is really painful when the blood starts to return. This condition meant that I could never do up the buttons on my school shirt after playing hockey (real hockey not the ice variety) and just forget about tying shoelaces.

The second thing weird relates to my right hand - it has a huge ganglion. This ganglion sometimes disappears but eventually it comes back and becomes a large turgid lump that effects the movement of my hand and can cause a fair bit of pain. It is a nuisance that is in my right wrist because it means that sewing, knitting, drawing has to be curtailed sometimes.

I am completely anal about making sure the housework has been done before doing anything creative or crafty. I find that my mind works better when it is clear of worries and concerns about the washing up or laundry or hoovering. I wish I could ease up about it and let go but I guess that is just something that makes me, me.

A sort of adjunct to the weirdness above I can't go to bed without making my bed. Equally , I can't make my bed until it has been well and truly aired.

I don't like making phone calls. I won't phone up for takeaway or to book anything. I can do it but prefer to just make my husband do it. If I know I have to phone someone I get really anxious and nervous before hand. I have to carefully think out what I want to say and then I get all let down when the phone is either engaged or I get the answer machine. The only exception to this rule is when I am phoning up to complain about something and then I can pick up the phone straight away and let rip.

My husband has suggested that I mention that I don't like mashed potato which he thinks is really weird. I love chips, roast potatoes, dauphinoise, crisps and I can even just about eat boiled potatoes but mashed potatoes - yuk.

My final weirdness and it is quite a good weirdness is my eye for colour. I have the ability to see a fabric once and then go and pick out the perfect thread to go with it. Well that is making it sound a little to easy as common as often there isn't an exact thread colour to match. One might be a little too red, or a little too blue or not have enough yellow to it. The Gutterman may be a little too light whilst the Sylko is a little to dark. I like to think I have a good sense of colour pitch. The downside is that I have a hell of a time trying to marry fabric combinations together.

Yes indeed, I am weird and proud!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

serendipity ...

If I hadn't made the Wendy Shirt, then Rebecca wouldn't have pointed me in the direction of this lovely blog. I am in awe - she uses Illustrator to help create her quilt tops. I must get on and learn Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign they are all sat on my machine so it is stupid not to use them. OK, add that to my growing 'must do in 2007' list.

Sadly, because of work, I will miss tomorrow's DD fest but it is Thursday's I am really looking forward to. You can't beat a bit of classic Doris and Rock. Abby, I tried to get your details but blogger wouldn't let me view your profile - sadly, I think you live outside the UK so Channel 4 wouldn't be available to you.

Monday, January 15, 2007

ta da ...

I've finished the blouse! Thank you for all your help with choosing which buttons to use, I went for the blue buttons in the end.

Everything worked out well in the end although I had terrible problems with the buttonholes on the cuffs. My machine just didn't want to do them properly. It would do the bottom and one side but it messed up when it came to doing the top and the return down the next side. After unpicking for the umpteenth time I decided to give up and just use press studs until I could gather up enough strength to try them again. Luckily the buttonholes down the front of the blouse were no problem at all.

It was a great pattern to use. The instructions were clear and the number of pattern pieces weren't too numerous. All the pieces were necessary there was nothing extraneous. I would certainly use another Wendy Simplicity pattern, I just have to decide which.

This afternoon I got home from work and sat down and watched Doris Day. Channel 4 are showing a DD film every afternoon this week. The perfect opportunity to sit down and do a bit of quilting.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

B is also for ...

Books .... for which I have a passion, OK I guess it is really a fetish, I just can't help but accumulate them. It is such a pain that there are so many wonderful, gorgeous craft books out there and so many more being published. A pain, because it calls for some tough decisions and convoluted selection criteria when choosing which to purchase. Which is why I appreciate it when fellow bloggers offer up their thoughts on books they have.

Well, I thought it only fair to reciprocate and share my thoughts on book that was sent to me recently. "The Apron Book" by Ellyanne Geisel.

At first, I thought a book totally dedicated to the apron would be, shall we say, a little limited. I mean how much can you say about aprons, or pinnies as I grew up calling them. But I was sucked in from the very start when the writer of the introduction talked of the first apron she ever made - a yellow gingham one for a Brownie badge.

The first apron I ever made was also for my Brownie Needlework badge and it too was yellow gingham (small world -huh?). Mine was very simple with little red crosses embroidered along it's hemline and across the top of the little patch pocket. I had forgotten all about that apron. And that is what this book is brilliant at, it is dotted with the most fascinating stories and anecdotes of aprons in peoples lives. It is a completely fascinating social history.

But the best of all it comes with lots of instructions to make your own aprons as well as a full size pattern tucked into an envelope at the back of the book.

Sadly, I didn't get any book tokens this Christmas but if I had then these two books wouldn't be languising on my wishlist. But when my staff discount card comes through rest assured I will be getting them.

And I can't wait for Amy Karol's book to be published, although it will be a few months yet, and after reading so much about aprons I might just take part in her 'Tie one on'.

Friday, January 12, 2007

B is for ...

Bleeauh, which is how I was feeling at the beginning of the week as an upset stomach wiped me out. I am not usually a sicky person but since I started work I seem to have come down with all sorts of bugs. And I thought school kids were the generous ones

Behind, which is what I now am. So many things to do, so little time and a bout of illness really didn't help at all.

Blouse, which despite the above I have actually started - yay! I have made the body and the sleeves but I haven't set the sleeves in yet. I have to do the buttonholes on the cuffs before I set the sleeves in.

Buttons, which is the reason I haven't done the buttonholes yet. Before I can do them I have to choose which buttons to use. I have four choices and I just can't make up my mind - any ideas?

Beautiful fabric. It is a Liberty Tana Lawn and it is gorgeous to work with. I was a bit wary initally as it can sometimes be slippy and hard to manipulate but not this time. Thank goodness because it certainly wasn't cheap and I would have be very upset if I had bodged it. Actually I better not speak to soon - it's not finished yet.

Big difference which is what having the dress form has made. It is fantastic to be able to put the pieces on realistic body shape. I had always relied on a wooden hanger hanging from a door which was not good.

This weekend I need to play catch up and start cutting some noodles for the January strip swap. They need to be in the post by next Friday and that will come around quickly enough.

Also, thank you for all the offers of help with crochet. I think at the moment I need to concentrate on my other projects at the moment .... but I will be touch.

Monday, January 08, 2007

she's here ...

Do you remember the parcel I was expecting? Well it arrived this morning and lo and behold in the box was this little lady.

Yes siree bob, that dress form I was talking about buying with my first wage packet well after a bit of research I found a company in Kent who make and sell them direct. So I placed an order at the beginning of January and it came today. And after a wee bit of assembly I am as pleased as punch with her.

With the expectation that my little lady would arrive today, yesterday, I finally cut out the pattern pieces for the Built by Wendy shirt I have been planning to make. I hope to get down to sewing it over the next few days.

Yesterday was also spent trying to teach myself how to crochet, there are no pictures of my rubbish attempts. I find the instructions in books too confusing so I think I need to find someone who would be willing to teach me some basics. I love the essence and practicality of crocheting too much to fall at the first hurdle.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Epiphany ...

I had my own little epiphany today - just to spend the afternoon quilting whilst watching 'Charade', the housework can wait. It feels good to be back to the handquilting there is nothing you can do but sit there and enjoy the luxury of relaxing. The other little epiphany is discovering the Clover chacopel pencil. I have tried lots of different things for marking quilt tops - fabric pencils, air erasable pen, masking tape and this Clover pencil is the best by far.

Anyway, true to Twelth Night tradition the tree and decorations have all come down, I don't wish to induce any bad luck so soon into a new year.

Also as a special treat I bought a Galette de Rois from a local French bakery to have today. Who will find the feve and become king for the day?

In an effort to cheer up a grey wet day I also bought some pretty little flowers. I am looking forward to Spring. The seeds that I spent New Year's Eve ordering arrived today so in a month or so I can start transforming every window ledge into a nursery for seedlings. I also ordered three blueberry bushes and a lingonberry which should be despatched soon. It was a very fruitful (pun intended) way to spend New Year's Eve.

I have something exciting coming in the post and I think it will be delivered on Monday. I unreasonably thought it might come today but it isn't a working day and they don't make deliveries so Monday it will be. Ooooo I'm so excited, I hope to goodness it measures (another intended pun) up to my expectations.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

quilts ...

While I was at my parents' over Christmas I read an interesting article in my mum's copy of 'Country Living' magazine. It was all about Lynne Edwards and her quilts. I had always, quite wrongly, thought that Lynne was an American quilter so it was a surprise to read all about her quilting life in Suffolk.

Anyway, the article prompted me to take out a couple of her books from the library. I admire her attention to detail and am totally with her on the meditative qualities of hand quilting. And whilst my current personal taste in patchwork may be different, think Denyse Schmidt and Kaffe Fassett, her techniques and knowledge leave me with a lot to learn and plenty of ideas to explore.

Whilst I was at my parents' I also took the opportunity to take some photos of the quilts I made for my mum. They are some of my earliest quilts and very traditional in their demeanour.

I just love it when something prods you out of a fallow period. All this has made me think more about quilting and has rekindled some ideas I have had. Talking of quilting I am loving Monica's placemat so bright and cheery and full of the promise of Spring. And Rebecca has finished her beautiful Swedish inspired quilt. And don't forget Flibbertygibbet's Strip Swap which closes this Friday

Good news, the antibiotics appear to be working and I feel a trifle more human today - thank you very much for all your well wishes.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


ah, the second day of a brand new year and I am trying to stick to my good intentions. I am drinking more water and my fruit consumption has increased too. I have even started to eat a healthy breakfast. Let's see if I can still say the same thing this time next week.

I also took myself off to the doctor's this morning to try and get this cold kicked good and proper. So I now have antibiotics and mega loads of painkillers so I am hopeful that the sinus pains will abate and I can actually get my head round some creative projects.

ah, creative projects. Whilst in the doctor's surgery I started to make a list of some of the things I wanted to accomplish this year. But the doctor wasn't running as late as usual and my list making had to be curtailed but as it stands there are a couple of quilts, some knitting, learning how to use my camera properly, a shirt, a skirt and I really must get to grips with crochet.

On a less creative front, it has also been a day of trying to clear out paperwork and complete my tax return but thwarted by not having my password to file it online. Ahh well the intention was there.