Thursday, January 29, 2009

She read my mind....

.....that Lucy Locket......I had been told to look out for the postman today......I'd made a big mug of tea and was feeling the urge for something sweet to make it less wet......the postman came at that very moment....perfect timing......and look what he brought......CHOCKLIT!!!

Not only did Locket send me an edible lifesaver but just lookee at this bundle of birdie fabricky gorgeousness!!

Thank you soooooo much Lucy - this was the most perfect antidote to a cold and grey wintery day. I would love to make some cushions with this but can't bear the thought of Moog drooling on them (if I ever have another dog it will never ever be allowed on the furniture - did you hear that Moogsdad?).

I've sent something to Lucy but it was neither prettily wrapped or chocolately - hope she likes it!

I'm pleased to say Moogsdad came down with a horrible cold last weekend.


You think that's really mean of me?

Aaah, but it meant he didn't rip down our bedroom ceiling and cover the whole house in thick black dust as planned.

It also meant that I could quietly get on with bits of housework interspersed with periods of sitting with my crochet :-)

Having run out of the lovely gold for the centres I was unable to find a close enough match and have opted for cream centres for the next batch. As I've made a square with the ones I've done so far it should look okay framed with a contrasting border.

I managed a bit more playing with the overlocker and PVC and threw together a quick stash basket to hold my sock yarn - strange how it seems to mulitply without me noticing....

This, in turn, led me to a bit more socky goodness - the yarn is a bamboo/nylon mix called Happy. It's so soft and silky to knit - takes a bit of concentration as it slides about and splits a bit too but it does knit up prettily.

Work has rather hogged all of my time of late but even that has the odd crafty bonus. I took a trip to the Scrapstore today to pick up some supplies for a recycled craft session at a school tomorrow.

The teacher mentioned maybe making something for Chinese New Year and a combination of spending hours on Google and finding a whole load of this pleated blind material today....

....resulted in one of these.....

This was a very rough trial attempt and I did improve it slightly. Hopefully the 15 children I'm working with will manage these okay!!

In the interests of repurposing I had to see what else I could do with the blind fabric and of course that means fabric baskets!

Ideal for transporting the fan making bits to school.

I have a yearning to try making bags with this and may have to nip back to the Scrapstore before my 'diet' begins!!

Now I'm off to read the rude messages my lovely children have been creating with our fridge magnets and maybe make something hot and tasty with the last of the Christmas turkey out of the freezer.

Keep warm....or keep cool...depending on your hemisphere :-)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Full steam ahead!

I haven't had my usual Friday off for a couple of weeks and have really missed that quiet time to myself to get on and sew. My list of things I have to/want to make was not getting any shorter.

As a result of having today all to myself - well, okay.....six hours - I've managed to make inroads into that ever lengthening list.

I was under no illusions as to my first job. Minx has been asking me for ages to make her a new school bag, as the stoopidly overpriced High School Musical one that I bought for her in September was already falling apart.....and she, apparently, doesn't like HSM anyway!!!

A brief stop off at the Range earlier in the week yielded a few half yard pieces of PVC - all with 10% off and costing about £1.30 each.

Minx made her selections and told me exactly what she wanted (!) and all that was left was for me to get on with it. So I did and here it is....

I managed to salvage the handle and nice blue velcro from her old HSM bag and it came up like new after a whizz through the washing machine.

As per Minx's instructions, it includes a pocket inside deep enough for her water bottle. Her old bag had no such pocket and as a result of her water bottle rolling round inside it we've had one or two soggy moments!!

My sewing machine coped brilliantly with the PVC. I used a jeans needle and my 1/4inch plastic foot (well...not my know what I mean!). I even managed to topstitch it and only had to swear once!!

Having caught the PVC bug I had to play and made one of these....

...then I made it a tiny friend. The big one holds my patterns perfectly and the little one holds all my sewing machine attachments.

So, that was the first three hours of freedom taken care of. What next?

More bags - two shopping bags, in fact.

I broke out the overlocker for these and whizzed through them in no time. Just lookee at that lovely neat corner!

Not bad for a few hours playing :-)

Now then, onto something potentially very serious. I may end up with quantities of egg on my face with this.

I seem to have been buying a bit of this sort of thing lately....

(for some Minxy clothes sewing I hope)

.....and possibly have succumbed more times than is healthy to beautiful things such as these...

What I'm about to do may truly shock you!

I'm going on a diet!!!!!

No...not a food type diet (although that wouldn't go amiss either!!).

I'm going on a (gulp....breaking out in a cold sweat here...) stash and book-buying diet! For the whole of February ...which, by sheer coincidence happens to be the shortest month ;-)

I will not buy any fabric, sock wool or craft books during February. I will allow myself a concession :
- I can buy any notions that I need to complete my projects, such as zips, thread, interfacing, toy stuffing but only what is absolutely essential.

Apart from that, I intend to only make things that I already have the materials for. This may mean that I have to, temporarily, mothball a couple of projects....including my hexagons....gulp!
It's not going to be easy but I need to stop spending all my wages on books and fabric and it would be interesting to know just how much I can save next month. I may even carry it on into March if I feel up to it!

Wish me luck.....or join me if you dare!!

I know you must be reeling from this shocking declaration so let's restore calm.
Here's what I had for dinner last night and lunch today...

It is not, as appearances may have you believe, mud soup - it's very very tasty cream of mushroom soup from this recipe. I substituted the huge amount of butter for a tablespoon of olive oil and used slightly less cream but the verdict was a resounding yum :-)

I'm sad to say that some or all of this weekend is to be devoted to housework - a big clear up and sort out is in order and Moogsdad is muttering silly things about blitzing our bedroom in readiness for removing (and then replacing) the manky ceiling.

I want to curl up in a corner crocheting...or crying at the very thought of all the mess that that task will produce!!

Wish me even more luck!

I hope your weekend is fragrant and tranquil :-)


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Happy hooking

There's been a huge amount of inspirational crochet in the blogosphere of late. It started here, then I saw some here and when I saw it here I just knew I had to join in too!

Lucy at Attic24 posted some fab instructions for the hexagons and they are really easy.

I soon got the hang of it....and then stopped referring to the instructions....which is why the top three look slightly different from the bottom four in the right hand photo!!!

I did quite a few 'wrong' before I realised. Instead of panicking I decided to leave those ones as they were and change back to doing them Lucy's way - I'm possibly the only one who'll know anyway - well, apart from all of you that is!

One thing I did do was look really carefully at Lucy's blanket and realised that I love how all the hexagon centres are the same colour which somehow seems to tie it all together.

After a very busy and, at times, stressful week at work this was the perfect antidote.

Not a lot else got done round here this weekend. I started on Friday evening and am now on my 31st hexagon!

Never fear though - I did get my three baskets of ironing done too!

I'm pleased to say I'm feeling 100% better now and have a slightly quieter week ahead at work. Hopefully I'll get to catch up on some of your blog posts.

Right now I'm off to watch Dancing on Ice with the kiddlies....and maybe have a play with a bit more woolly geometry :-)


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pulling myself together...

Quite frankly, me being ill bores me and irritates me. I find it near impossible to take to my bed. I'd rather just 'get on with it' - as my lovely Mum used to say. I'm not usually a miserable person but this weekend my cold turned into 'man-flu' and I became a grumpy old grouch - and I really really got on my nerves!!!!

I soothed myself (and no doubt everyone else too!) by sitting quietly in a corner rippling. This is the perfect thing to do when I'm under the weather as it's not overly complicated and has such a gentle rhythm to it.

It's only cheapo acrylic yarn - as I still can't bring myself to spend loads on the good stuff for such a yarn-hungry project - and is my attempt at stash-busting as I've only bought three balls of yarn for this. It's also very warm and snuggly :-)
I made one brief foray out into the world on Saturday. Moogsdad wanted to go to a wine-making shop in a neighbouring town and I happened to know there was a sewing machine shop very close by.

I went in with Minx to see if they sold the very old needles for my very old (ca. 1900) hand-cranked machine.

They didn't.

So did I come home empty-handed and go on the internets to find some for just £3 on Ebay?

No, I did that later.

After I'd bought this!!!

It's a 1960's Singer hand-cranked sewing machine that takes modern needles and modern bobbins. This is for the children - honest - and they love it.....although they haven't learnt to thread it yet so I keep getting shouts of 'Muuuuuum, can you thread the neeeeeeedle?'

Just in case you're wondering....the current sewing machine count in this house is as follows:

sewing machines - 4 (would have been 5 but I sent my Mum's old one back up to Birmingham at Christmas for my niece to use on her textile course!) - this may seem a lot but includes the one I use almost every day, the very basic one that's kept as a spare, my very old hand-cranked one that doesn't work right now and this 'new' one

overlockers - 1 (for now!!!)

embellishers - 1 (note to self - must use this again!)


Moving on.

I'm not getting my usual Friday off this week as I have a busy week at work. Therefore, I had a bit of yesterday afternoon off and decided some sewing was in order and felt a project from this lovely new book was just the ticket:

I wanted to make this lovely pincushion caddy, with the great little 'well' in the middle for keeping scissors etc to hand.

Something went wrong with mine, however, and it looked like an overstuffed tractor tyre!

Humph! Most unimpressed, I thought I'd better quickly scan through the instructions again - but slightly less quickly than I scanned through them the first time......and that's when I spotted this:

Aaah - that would explain why my 'well' in the middle didn't have nice crisp straight sides. At least I'll know next time!

Did I mention my apparent inability to read instructions?

I consoled myself by sewing some secret somethings

and a couple more of the Melly & Me wallets. The blue one is for Minx's best friend's birthday. I made her a red cushion last year but we decided on a wallet with some spending money this time. The top one is for me as a treat for being so grumpy this weekend :-)

Just in case you were wondering - this is what we had for lunch on Saturday. Carrot and coriander soup from this recipe. The verdict? A resounding yum!

I'll leave you with a little reminder that spring is on it's way. My first Tete-a-Tete daffodil growing on my windowsill - perfect :-)

Looking at how this week is panning out I should imagine I'll be back at the weekend!
Have a good one xxxxxx

Friday, January 9, 2009

Q & A

When you're embarking on a new crafty adventure do you ever run through a whole series of questions before you begin?

Do you plan meticulously and only start when you know it's going to work out right?

Or do you just jump right in there, fully clothed, with both feet - not even bothering to take your boots off?

Yup. Me too ;-)

After a week of busy at work, a headful of cold and too much family distraction, I finally found the time to play with the overlocker today.

I thought of my questions retrospectively.....and thought I'd share them with you as you may find them helpful.

1. Will you read the instruction book fully, at least twice and watch the 'instructional DVD' at least three times before even threading your machine?
Nope. I'll thread the machine whilst watching the DVD for the first time, having given the instruction book the most cursory of glances.

2. Will you spend your time wisely, practising all of the machine's functions on a wide variety of fabrics, so that you know what it is capable of?
Nope. I'll spend about ten minutes whizzing up and down straight bits of an old curtain and then get bored.

3. Now that you are ready to start your first project on your machine, will you choose something sensible and straightforward like a handkerchief or a cushion cover?
Don't be daft! I'll remember having read something somewhere on the internets ages ago about how you can use an overlocker to put in a zip and then I'll make a zipped pouch to keep my sock knitting in (without bothering to find the said internet article just to check if its actually true or I dreamt it).

...took ten minutes....only very slightly bodged.....and you can't see the bodged bits!

4. Now that you seem more confident with your new machine, it is time to move on to your next project. Maybe keep it simple,huh? Straight lines? No curves?

Righty -ho, I want to make me a pinafore, to wear with jeans, a bit like the lovely brown linen one that I bought in the sale at that designer place.....Peacocks....with a nice curved neckline and armholes.....and an interlined bodice.

5. Um, good idea. Are you going to take a trip to the fabric shop to choose a nice pattern?

What? Of course not! I'm going to take off the brown pinafore (cos I'm wearing it) and draw round it onto some old wrapping paper!

6. Ah....well maybe you could treat yourself to some lovely new fabric then? time...need to start this RIGHT NOW....where's that denim duvet cover I got from the charity shop last year?

7. Mmmm - could work. How about making it look really lovely with some pockets and maybe some reverse applique or handstitching to give it that 'designer' touch?

Not possible - to finish it in as little time as possible....

8. Have you ever made an interlined sleeveless bodice before?

No but I saw this tutorial for a fabric carrier bag and the principle is the same.

9. Good luck......fool.....

So there nerrrrr - I did it!

A few adjustments made along the way and it fits. I mean, it's not exactly perfectly tailored or anything but the fabric is actually very nice and I can wear it under a big long cardigan!!! The carrier bag tutorial worked brilliantly for the bodice, by the way.

I think it may be time for something more sensible.

How about Wednesday's dinner?

Charlie P has set herself the challenge of trying out one new recipe a week this year. I almost contemplated joining in but just knew I'd buckle under the pressure!

However, in the interests of using up some eggs - 'cos our crazy chickens are still laying when they're supposed to be taking a break - I went googling for a do-able, edible eggy recipe.

I found this one - layered potato with leeks and bacon. The recipe is here.

For once, I actually had all the ingredients at the ready. It was delicious and very very cheap - especially if you grow your own eggs :-)......or even cheaper if you grow your own potatoes and leeks....and bacon....

The small people yum yummed all the way through and Moogsdad and I thought it was delish. I'll be making this one again.

So now, the weekend is almost here. It's felt like a very very long week - not helped by having a stinky cold and a very busy time at work.

We have no plans for the weekend. Maybe a walk? Planning some meals for next week. Possibly a bit of sewing. A touch of rippling and sock knitting...and spending a bit more time enjoying these....

....ooh ooh - and listening to this that my lovely hubby bought back from last night's emergency trip to Tesco for another box of tissues, some wine and some....lady products...if you know what I mean. All he needed to add to that list to make it truly complete was a mahoosive bar of chocolate ;-)

Hope you have a happy and restful weekend xxxxx

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New toy!!

There's something I have wanted for simply ages.

Thanks to some cash from Father Christmas and a rather fortuitous bit of back pay this month I have indulged.




I spent hours and hours researching this baby over the holiday. I set myself a budget.....and only exceeded it slightly...ahem.

Last Friday afternoon I spoke to a very lovely and helpful young man in Welsh Wales who listened to my questions and gave me some very useful answers. He also told me that as I'd just missed that day's dispatch I could expect my machine to arrive today....and it did :-)

Thanks to a bit of obsessive sewing before Christmas I had concluded that 2009 would be a very good year for making my Minx a whole load of groovy clothes.

The only thing that put me off was making them on my normal sewing machine. Not only is it a pain to have to neaten all the seams but there's no hiding it's homemadeyness from some people!

Now I can churn out neatly finished can't tell it from Designer at Debenhams funky girl clothes at a rate of knots - this is how smiley I feel (the one of the left will no doubt be a good example of Moogsdad's patient face when he gets home ;-) ) :

Image borrowed from here.

Now all I have to do is read the 100 solid pages of instructions, watch the 'here's how you do it' DVD and then I can start to make inroads into the 50,000 metres of thread that came with it!!!

Certain other obsessions may take a back seat for a day or two.

Good job I got these finished in time then - socks#5!!!

Warm and cosy 100% merino wool for wearing inside my slippers socks. I did these in double knitting wool so they're extra cuddly.

Did I mention I can't knit socks?


Thursday, January 1, 2009

...and a Happy New Year!!

It's so good to be back!

I haven't been near an email or an internet since Christmas eve.

We had my Dad here for a few days over Christmas and although it was very lovely to have him here it was also very hard work. These days he needs help bathing, dressing and getting up and down stairs - it's been a learning curve for me! He did go home happy and relaxed though :-)

Today, we decided to recharge our batteries with a visit to one of our favourite beaches.

We made our first footprints of the year in the sand....

....dodged a few waves....

....and wished we had one of these.

Hengistbury Head has the best beach huts. Many of them have a sleeping loft, with water, electricity and a chemical loo.....and some great views.

The beach cafe also has a lot to commend it....

Apart from today, my camera has not been out once over Christmas. Not even for the opening of presents!

After a total blog break, I'm feeling recharged and am looking forward to 2009.

I love New Year for the anticipation of what the year ahead may bring. Whether this be good things or not we have yet to see.

With so much gloom around in the media right now it is harder than ever to remain positive but who knows what great experiences are just waiting out there for us over the next twelve months?

I intend to make the most of every minute. I'm not making resolutions. There are things I want to do and, hopefully, I will do them.

After a great year getting to know all you lovely bloggers even better, I'm looking forward to more of the same.

I'm looking forward to another year of exploring all things crafty.

I'm looking forward to a whole year of sock knitting - I'm on my fifth pair! (after spending most of last year belly-aching about how I couldn't knit socks!!!).

What are you looking forward to?

To start the New Year off on a good note, I have a prize to award. You all came up with some great suggestions for a name for Mr P0045.
It took quite a bit of choosing. I was very taken with Totty Teabag's suggestion but in the end the prize just had to go to Leanne.

In the truest spirit of obsessive blogging, Leanne googled 'Gloria &'
Just look at what she found - here.

Faced with such a superb piece of research I felt I just had to go with it and name Mr P0045 after the lovely newlywed chap on the website.
So there you have it - Mr P0045 will henceforth be known as Marcel. Only time will tell whether the woolly Gloria and Marcel will have as exciting a year in 2009 as their interwebs namesakes did in 2008.....

......who knows, maybe there'll even be a wedding of the feathered variety!

Well done Leanne, on a fabulous bit of work. At some point soon I will get something on it's way down under as a reward :-)

I'm now off to read 126 blog posts that I've missed but before I go.....