Sunday, July 20, 2014

Scrappy do

 Last Sunday, Mr Moog took the Minx out for the day on his motorbike. They went to a ride-in day at Beaulieu Motor Museum with hundreds of other bikers. Although I don't want to be an old worrypants, I must admit I never relax or feel at all able to settle to anything until they're home safe and sound again.

To distract me from myself, I decided to ignore housework and spent the day playing with my box of scrap fabrics. There was no plan and I had no idea when I set out what I was going to make. By the end of the day, I had a floor full of skinny trimmings and 48 little 4.5inch scrappy squares and it totally took my mind off things.


 I'm still not sure what they'll become, as I need to make more if I even want to make a lap quilt, but they do make me very happy.
There's been plenty more sewing over the past couple of weeks. I managed to finish my  English Paper Pieced apple cores and got them stitched together - through gritted teeth, I might add, thanks to me being a bit too generous with the basting glue. They were somewhat tough to stitch together but have ended up becoming a very sweet little scrappy cushion cover.

Another cushion received a makeover when I dug out some of the scrappy squares I made back in April, and combined them with some scraps of grey linen, from the Scrapstore. I'm so pleased with this one, which now sits on my favourite armchair.
Earlier this week, on my way home from work, I called into a local patchwork shop that I recently discovered, Jolly Stitcher, tucked away on an industrial park in Fareham. It's a lovely shop with a great selection of fabrics and yarn too.
I needed some thread and hadn't realised how hard it is to find a decent sized spool of 100% cotton thread on the high street these days. Hobbycraft had nothing bigger than 100m, and the same went for my little local sewing shop but Jolly Stitcher had a great selection. However, it must have had special magic magnetic properties as it attracted all manner of other things into the basket with it.
One of those things was a new rotary cutter. My old one was very old and I'd been unable to find a new blade for it and had started to struggle with accurate cutting. Well, the new one - an Olfa rotary cutter - is a complete revelation to me! I had no idea just how good a sharp rotary cutter could be and what a difference it makes to your cutting.
I spent Wednesday evening, once again playing with my scrap fabrics, cutting little 2.5" squares and then carefully piecing them together with my new 1/4" sewing foot. I'm surprised and delighted at what a difference these two new toys have made to my piecing.

By the end of Wednesday evening I had nine pretty little nine patch squares. By the end of Thursday evening they'd been joined together with some skinny charcoal grey sashing, with little strawberry print highlight squares and thus became...another new cushion cover!


This one is my absolute favourite and I still can't believe I did such neat and tidy piecing!
In other exciting patchworky news, I got my copy of Issue 1 of Quilt Now magazine this week - edited, of course, by the very brilliant Katy Monkey . Not only is it a beautiful magazine, with bucket loads of inspiring projects but it's also so exciting to see someone who I've known in blogland for several years, taking on such an incredible venture. It's been great to share her excitement on Instagram, where I've been lurking rather a lot lately.  
So, now we're onto today. After a busy day yesterday, hosting a little family bbq, and a bad night's sleep last night thanks to the heat, I opted to stay home and potter today, while Mr Moog took children and dogs to the beach.
I waded through a mountain of ironing, whilst listening to sewing podcasts, and once done I rewarded myself with a very quick bit of sewing, attaching flags to some tape to make 10m of bunting for my friend's upcoming 50th birthday bash. Of course, being bunting, it's a pain to photograph but here's a snippet.
To those of you who left lovely comments, and emailed me, after my last post about Minx's 'friend' problems, thank you so much! I'm very pleased to say things did settle down, almost as quickly as they erupted. Her friend, completely uncharacteristically, apologised and suggested they put the whole thing behind them.
Although Minx wanted to tell her to shove her stinky 'friendship' I talked her down off that little ledge and she went into school happily enough on the Monday, with a view that she may as well say yes and have a more peaceful last couple of weeks of term!
Here's her latest loom band creation - no signs of this little craft obsession abating just yet :)
Only three more days of work and school and then the summer holidays begin - bring it on!!
Moogs xx
p.s. Recipes!
linky link for my favourite falafel recipe - falafels (I added a pinch of cayenne pepper too).
Easy peasy tasty houmous:
1 400g can chick peas
3 tbsp tahini paste
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 crushed garlic clove
chuck it all in the food processor and whizz until smooth - add more lemon juice if you want to. Yum!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Random Saturday

It's been a glorious sunny and warm week and I've been dying to get out in the garden and potter but our garden is still a weed-ridden tip, leftover from last year's building work, so I've been consoling myself with little views, like this one of my Narnia lamppost against a blue blue sky under which is my bird table, full of sparrows and baby starlings.

We have big garden revamp plans but Mr Moog has been having such busy, stressy weeks at work lately that he's done in by the weekend, and I've been extra good about not 'nagging' as the garden will still be there when we're ready.

I've been getting my flowery fix by pouring over gardening magazines and playing with flowery fabric. This week, I had a day off on Thursday and once I'd got the children off to school and walked the dogs, I had a very sudden and unexpected urge to stitch up a quilt top.

I've had this fabric for years - it's Chocolate Lollipop, Anna Maria Horner's first fabric range and I'm not even sure if it's still being made. I'd been saving all those fat quarters and quarter yard pieces for something and now its time had come.

It's my first attempt at half square triangles and I've since found out I should have trimmed them before piecing the whole thing but hey ho, it scratched the itch and I had a lovely day putting it all together. I'm now shopping for a very dark chocolate brown as it needs a border to make it a more useable size.

The leftovers are being put to good use with some English paper-piecing.
In fact, I do seem to have developed a bit of a thing for EPP patchwork just lately. I got an urge to do some apple core patchwork and spent far too much time on Pinterest looking for just the right template but nothing was quite right. Minx and I went shopping last Saturday at a local patchwork shop in the vain hope they might have a template, which they didn't.

So, I came home and had a play with a compass and a protactor but nope, still didn't quite get it. Then I Googled a bit more and all of a sudden I found the PERFECT tutorial on how to make your own template and actually laughed out loud when I followed the link - to my dear friend Thimbleanna's brilliant tute on making your own apple core template in any size you like!

I dug out a whole load of scraps of leftover fabric in reds, pinks and blues and so far, so good. They might be easier to piece had I been a little less generous with the basting glue but I'm getting there and these are destined for either a cushion front or a mini-quilt. That itch is nearly scratched.

This itch is ongoing and likely to be for some time.

 I seem to have decided to only do white hexies from now on, with the odd coloured hexie thrown in as and when the feeling takes me. This could be years in the making.

I seem to be amassing a nice little pile of summer holiday projects here....two and a half weeks left before we break up...not that I'm counting or anything...

In other news, the meat-free meals thing is going surprisingly well. Last Saturday we had aubergine lasagne and I was genuinely shocked that everyone loved it! My lot love a proper minced beef lasagne and this was a risk but it was obviously one worth taking. This was the least burnt looking photo of the dish in question - it wasn't photogenic but it was very very tasty.

Tonight's dinner was even more surprising. My lot don't share my love of blue cheese at all, not even a little bit but apparently gorgonzola risotto is the best dinner ever and a repeat performance has been requested!

I do plan on sharing some of these recipes but as most of them are from books or are slightly tweeked versions of online recipes I'm going to try to put them in PDFs to make it easier to print them off. That will take a little time as Mr Moog has upgraded various things on our PC and I seem to have lost my PDF making gizmo....amongst other things, like all my six years' worth of work folders and dozens of knitting/crochet/sewing files, ahem.

To round off a pretty random post, here's what my girl is up to right now - loom bands.

They're everywhere. I hoovered up several (dozen) today. She loves them and has made at least thirty bracelets so far. They're also helping her get through a pretty crappity and emotional weekend, all caused by one rather noxious little b**ch who claims to be her friend but has been anything but for the past couple of days, especially when cloaked behind the forcefield of Facebook personal messaging.

This child lives her life like it's an episode of Jeremy Kyle. Nuff said. She obviously doesn't realise that our girl can and does talk to her parents about things that worry her so we're onto her.

Teenage girls are horrible. I know because I once was one and I wasn't even keen on them then!

Moogs xxx

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Seasonal crafting

Do you find your preference for different crafts changes with the seasons? I've noticed a distinct pattern with my making over the past couple of years and it seems to be a seasonal thing. When autumn arrives and we move into the short, dark days of winter I begin to hibernate and seem to choose cosy, woolly knitting and spinning as my favoured crafts.

As the days lengthen through spring I gradually slow down on the knitting and seem to find myself with a hook in my hand, crocheting as if my life depends on it. It's a more immediate craft as it seems to grow so quickly and gives the instant gratification that I don't seem to need in the winter. As the summer comes on I lean away from anything yarny and seem to prefer crafts involving fabric.

So it is that in the past couple of weeks I finished off the last few bits of crochet that I just HAD to do - you know, HAD to do it or the sky would fall in... 

It seems my thing for rainbows shows no signs of diminishing. Several people have admired these little bowls that are now nestling on my kitchen island unit and all have asked what I use them for. I didn't realise I had to use them for anything :)

Whilst on my crochet binge the seedling of an idea had germinated and once it took hold there was to be no stopping until it was done. So with this:

 and rather a lot of this:

and the addition of a bit of cardboard and some moving parts, I made me a crocheted clock for the kitchen, complete with flowers placed not even approximately where the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock points should be. Still, I like it being approximately something o'clock-ish.

Having exhausted my crochet fixation I dug out some paper-pieced patchwork that I started ages ago. I hadn't got very far initially but it's been growing steadily over the past week or so and I have over 100 more hexagons ready to add to it. I love just picking it up whenever the fancy takes me and doing a few hexies.

I've also machine pieced a couple of lap quilts and both are ready for hand-quilting. This one is still waiting whilst the other is under way but unphotographed:

It's been a bit warm of late to sit stitching under a quilt but with a cooler weekend on the cards I'm planning on plenty of quilting fun.

In other news, I'm currently conducting a culinary experiment on my family. 

During a chat with my work friend she told me she'd seen a very disturbing film about the terrible impact of meat production on climate change - I think it was this one Meat the Truth. She then told me she and her family had taken the decision to stop eating meat as a result of seeing the film.

My first instinct was to say we couldn't possibly do that as Mr Moog loves meat and would miss it too much and the children would too. Then, after one particularly meaty filled weekend with the in-laws down to stay
(father-in-law is a total carnivore, has sausage and bacon every morning for breakfast, and has at least one more meat centred meal a day on top of that) during which we'd had a barbeque and a huge roast lamb dinner, I felt it was time for a change.

I know I'm not the only one who gets thoroughly bored cooking every night, trying to come up with different meals that everyone will enjoy but usually sticking to tried and tested favourites and lacking variety. 

So, after that meat-fest of a weekend I pulled out my recipe books, poured over foodie websites and set the family a challenge to each find a meat-free recipe they liked the look of, which I would cook for them. I wrote out a menu plan for two weeks of evening meals and have surprised myself by sticking to it!

We've had some delicious meals, which everyone has enjoyed, and I'm thoroughly enjoying, planning, shopping for, and cooking our meals. Favourites so far have been Spinnachio Pie from the Abel & Cole cookbook; tomato, thyme and goats cheese flan, and feta & pesto stuffed peppers from River Cottage Veg; and homemade savoury rice from Mary Berry's Complete Cookbook

Tonight we've had a Middle-Eastern feast of pitta breads, with homemade falafels, homemade tsatsiki and the best homemade hummus I've ever made:
Everyone tucked in and it was a resounding success which will definitely be repeated. I found these recipes somewhere online and wrote them into my recipe book, so have no idea where they came from! Let me know if you want the recipes and I'll do a recipe post.

I'm amazed at how well the family Moog have taken to this change in diet, and we're now down to one or maybe two meals a week which contain meat or fish and the meat is no longer the star of the show but a small addition to add a different flavour. I've got Aubergine Lasagne planned for Saturday - I'll keep you posted!

Moogs xxx

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

She's hooked again

After my last post I was fully expecting to crack on with more weaving and some sewing, using my woven fabric. I had a plan and a head full of ideas.

However, my lovely niece came to stay for a week, as she was working down here and as a recently self-taught and now thoroughly addicted crocheter, she asked me to show her how to crochet a granny square.

This led to me hauling out my stash of acrylic yarn, which happened to contain a work in progress - my rainbow circles that I started last November.

Being me, I immediately got thoroughly obsessed with finishing this blanket, forgot all those other things I had planned, and in just a few days it was all done.

 Naturally, whilst busily hooking away at my rainbow circles, my head was already racing ahead to my next project, which turned out to be a super-bright and colourful patchwork of a blanket, based on the Babette blanket pattern on Ravelry. I started this on 25th May, hooked all the way through the half-term holiday, and finished it on 5th June. Fairly safe to say, I was a little absorbed in this project!

Both of these blankets have decided they want to be draped over the back of the armchairs in the kitchen, where they really brighten things up.
As is always the case with me, one thing leads to another and all of a sudden all of my cushion covers were looking a bit tatty and jaded, so I set about revamping them.
Cushion #1 - in pretty shades of blue. This is my favourite :)

Cushion #2 - a ripple cushion cover in subtle muted shades. 

Cushion #3 - bright, in your face, colourful African Flower squares. I wasn't expecting this to turn out quite so garish!

I did all three of those covers over four days/evenings. When I get obsessed I really do get properly obsessed!
I'm still planning to do that sewing and weaving and have a million things I want to make but this crochet thing is ongoing for now. Rather than get stupid and stressed about all the other things I want/ need to make or finish I've chosen to just go with it and see what happens.
I do have quite a few other little bits and pieces of crochet that I've made this week but they're as yet unphotographed. I have one project in my mind and I'm waiting for something to arrive to finish it off, so I'll be back with that one soon. 

 In other news, the Wobbly puppy has been recovering from being spayed. Having her spayed was a condition of her adoption (as was having Merlin Moog's boy bits lopped off) and our vet does this procedure from six months onwards. Wobbler was seven months old a couple of weeks ago.

She's been a real star about being forced to wear the cone of doom and is now once more lampshade free. A reaction to one of her sutures has led to two short courses of antibiotics but all is now well.

Merlin and I, however, are still recovering from the severe bruisings we received when she ran full pelt into us with this thing on her head - we ended up wrapping the edge with sticking plaster to soften the blows, which didn't work!

 As you can see, it totally messed her hair up and she developed a fetching pair of devil horns through wearing it. How apt.
Moogs xxx

Thursday, May 8, 2014


As mentioned last time, I accidentally bought myself a new toy which arrived last Tuesday. It arrived at 9.30am, which is rather good considering I only ordered it on the previous Saturday evening. Anyway, it had to sit there in its box for several hours as I was having a meeting at home with my two lovely colleagues but as soon as they'd gone I tore open that box and got building.

Here it is, my beautiful Kromski Harp Rigid Heddle Loom...

 I seem to remember some years ago saying to myself that I'd never spin my own yarn. Three spindles and two spinning wheels later I then told myself I'd never take up weaving. Oops.

It didn't take me long to get my first warp on the loom, using some Regia sock yarn that had been marinating in the stash for several years.

 This first bit of weaving was so much fun and I learned loads, especially about trying to get the selvedges nice and even, which they really weren't on this first attempt. However, I was thrilled with the fabric that came off the loom and the way the self-striping sock yarn used as the warp created pretty long stripes.

 This was off the loom within a day and I was ready and set to go with my second attempt. This time I used a pretty turquoise sock yarn as the warp and some leftover turquoisy handspun for the weft.

 The middle photo of the weaving is the closest in colour, it reminds me so much of bluebell woods and I love it!

Now, when I was in denial for so long about weaving one of the main reasons was that everything I'd heard or seen about weaving at the Guild or on Ravelry, made it seem like an extremely technical skill, involving lots of maths, complicated charts and vast amounts of new weaving language. Although I was impressed by the weaving I'd seen from Guild members I was also intimidated by it and not always very inspired. I didn't want to weave superfine silk cloth that looked (to me) like it was not hand woven as it was so flawless.

It didn't sing to me.

It seems I'm all about the texture and the colour rather than the technical aspects of weaving. I have no desire to weave a houndstooth check (yet), although I completely admire those who do.

Whilst mooching about on Ravelry I came across the Saori Weavers groups and was immediately captivated, just as I had been by the talk at Guild. This was the kind of thing I wanted to do. Here's a link to some information on Saori Weaving and a quote from that website:

What is Saori?
Saori is hand weaving that emphasises creativity and free expression. No rules, no fear – just pure absorption and immersion into weaving and working with yarn and threads. This ‘non-technique’ is meditative in nature and aims to build self worth from the process and the resulting textile'
 By now I was itching to give it a go and as soon as we got a busy weekend out of the way, the loom was warped and a bundle of handspun and ribbon yarns had been chosen.

This grew really quickly as I just couldn't stop playing and it was the perfect soothing project for a week which started with me being a bit stupid and stressed about crappity work stuff.

This proved impossible to photograph well but I'm hoping to get some better pictures soon.

So, what are my plans for all this weaving? When I started I imagined hundreds of scarves, tablemats and table runners. I've since changed my mind and am now dying to get the scissors out and start cutting into it!

My head is full of ideas for handspun, handwoven bags, cushions, purses, brooches, lavender bags - I don't intend to waste even the tiniest scrap if I can help it.

In the meantime, weaving number 4 is on the loom and nearly done and Mr Moog is very happy at the rate at which my yarn stash is diminishing :)

I'm convinced getting the loom has been a good idea, especially as all of a sudden Mr Moog has started talking craft studio plans with me again!!

love Moogs xxx

Monday, April 28, 2014

Playing with fabric and torturing myself with knitting

 After visiting my brother and his family in their caravan in the Dales at Easter, I came home inspired to make sister-in-law a little caravan warming present for her birthday next month.  So, I made her a cushion.

With a little picture of their 'van, complete with the resident pheasant who stalks them, and their little spaniel Tess, peeping out of the window.

I edged it with some strips of Amy Butler prints, that I bought years ago in bundles of scrap strips for £1 from the Cotton Patch, a lovely patchwork shop that I used to pop into for a bit of a break when I was up in Birmingham visiting my dear old Dad when he was very ill.
I had quite a collection of these strips, about six bundles in all and taking them out to make s-i-l's cushion got me thinking, and the thinking led to a lot of time on Pinterest, a bit of playing and rather a lot of sewing...and the whole island unit and the dining table covered in my playthings.

I tried scrappy log cabin blocks for the first time and love them! These are from scrappy bundles of Kaffe Fassett prints - I'm rather partial to Kaffe Fassett's fabric designs.

Then it was onto quarter log cabins.

Next up was scrappy Courthouse steps.

Then just some tiny 2.5" scrappy squares - the fabric strips are between 1 and 1.5 inches wide before piecing so become very skinny when stitched together.

...and a bigger version of the same (this might be my favourite).

Some random scrappy strips, that I was rather pleased with.

During my play with scraps I unearthed a bundle of 3.5" squares leftover from a fabric flower making session from ages ago and decided to throw them together and see what happened. Certainly not planned but I quite like it for it's complete randomness.

And finally, some scrappy log cabins made with the Amy Butler strips.
None of them have been made up into anything other than squares just yet and I'm not sure what I'll do with them but I lost myself so completely in all that happy stitching and it was so much fun to just do it for the sake of it.

I don't know if you're the same as me but I rarely let myself sit down and play for playing's sake, because I seem to feel I need a definite end product in mind when I set out to do some sewing (or knitting, crochet etc etc!). This can mean that I end up completely stalled, spending a good deal of time thinking about things I'd like to do but not actually doing them!

In other news, I had a lovely day out at Guild on Saturday, in which we were treated to a very interesting and inspiring talk by Ritta Sinkonnen-Davies, a Finnish textile artist, who now lives and works in Pembrokeshire.

Her talk about using fabric strips in weaving really struck a chord with me, especially in light of my recently playing with scraps adventure, and for the first time I felt properly inspired to give weaving a go. It's never really appealed before, partly because many of the fantastic weavers at Guild seem to be very technical and I felt a bit intimidated and that it wasn't for me. However, that may well have changed and I may have had a bit of an accident in Wingham's and there might be a new toy winging it's way to me soon....

Mr Moog took the news of my accidental purchase rather well really. His eyebrows only slightly shot up.

Every September the Hampshire Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers has a stand at the Romsey Show, a one day agricultural and countryside show. I went last year for the first time and we did a 'Fleece to Finished' challenge, in which we carded, spun, plied and knitted some jacobs fleece into a child's sweater in the course of the day. It was great fun and I've signed up again for this year.

This year's show is to have a World War 1 theme, what with it being the centenary of the start of that terrible war and all. We're going to be spinning in Edwardian costume this time around - should be interesting!

As part of that we're having a display of knitted items that are like those that would have been knitted at home for the boys on the front-line. We were given a choice of things to knit, including socks but I plumped for a helmet and came home armed with a copy of an original pattern and this wool.

This is not only a revolting pooey khaki green colour but it is also the harshest, itchiest, most sandpapery yarn. It's utter torture to knit with, like parcel twine, although it's doing a grand job of making my rough old-lady hands feel smooth - I'll be all set for spinning silk after this....or committing the perfect crime, what with the fact that I'll have no fingerprints left!

The thing that has struck me most, however, is that this is completely authentic yarn of the type that would have been used back then. That makes me feel nothing but admiration for the thousands of knitters who spent the war knitting many thousands of scratchy, wire-wool garments to keep their soldiers warm and it makes me feel a profound sense of pity and sadness for those poor, brave men who as well as dealing with the horror of fighting, and the dreadful conditions within the trenches, also had to spend the war encased in torturous, itchy clothing that probably made them wish they could peel their own skin off!

That's keeping me going. I'm knitting it in remembrance.

So, two posts in a week. That must be some kind of record for me! Let's finish with something soft, pretty and not in the least bit itchy. This week's spinning project that I started at Guild - some gorgeous, rainbowy shetland and silk from my favourite fibre shop


Moogs xxx