Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hooked again...just a bit

I've been a bit busy. A good busy. Crafting busy - my very favourite kind of busy.

There's been a lot of sewing, to make some pretty washbags for my first commission. I started by doing some free machine applique on my lovely new-to-me old Singer sewing machine but managed to kill the electrics in the foot pedal, so that's now gone back to the sewing machine man for a bit of tlc.

There was nothing for it but to crack out my little old cheap and cheerful sewing machine and for the first three bags we got on very well but then threads started breaking, things jammed, stitches started skipping and I started some very bad swearing. I nearly gave up. However i didn't, what I did do was give it a thoroughly good clean and oil and a bit of a mini service and do you know, she positively purred and chortled through the rest of the sewing.

Ten zips inserted and ten bags sewn up and ready to go.

 There's been some little bits of twiddly crochet too, as I try out ideas for things I might be able to teach in workshops.

I found both of these on Ravelry and if you fancy having a go the hearts are here and the 'paperchains' are here.

By this point I was really getting into my crochet again and after seeing Gina's post about finishing some of her crochet projects I dashed upstairs and pulled my unfinished granny stripe blanket down off the top of the wardrobe, where it's been mocking me every morning when I wake up for over a year!

I had a very pleasant surprise when I pulled it out of its plastic crate as I'd clearly forgotten just how much of it I'd done before it was put away. There and then I decided it would get more use and be more practical as another cuddly homemade throw to snuggle under in the living room than if I carried on and made it into a blanket big enough for our kingsize bed, especially as Mr Moog is hot stuff and can only cope with a thin duvet even in the harshest winter (I'm the one next to him in pj's, wool socks, possibly even a hat and a pile of blankets). 

All I had to do was hook up a quick edging and it was done!

Naturally that left me with nothing else to crochet and a rather large crate of leftovers. Quite by accident I had a bit of a rummage in the loft, where most of my fabric and yarn stash now resides, and unearthed a bundle of nine sherbert coloured cotton granny squares all ready and waiting to be made up into something. Within an evening they became a new cushion for my chair.

During my attic excavations I also found 40 crocheted circles leftover from the hexagon blanket I finished three years ago! Some had even been made up into squares, obviously with some sort of purpose in mind...whatever that was, I have no idea. After a little thought I decided they might make a nice blanket for some friends of ours who are due to have their first baby any day now.

Two evenings of finishing the squares, sewing them together and giving them a pretty edging and we have a baby blanket, that I have christened 'Grannies in the Grass' - or should that be 'Granny's in the Grass'?

I'm so pleased with this little blanket. It's just how I pictured it in my head.

I'm very much hoping it'll be snuggled under, rolled around on, made into a den, dragged through puddles, sicked on, snotted on and get rolled over by pushchair wheels, used to wrap up poorly teddy bears and generally used and loved until it becomes a tatty shadow of itself :)

You may or not be surprised to hear that's not quite it on the crochet front. Despite finishing two blankets I was still left with rather an embarrassing amount of 'leftovers' and went on a Ravelry quest for inspiration and something to use them up....ha ha ha, who am I kidding, I've started something else and have already bought one or two balls of yarn in colours that I didn't have enough of!!

Still, it's making me very happy indeed to be adding to this little pile of rainbow goodness and is the perfect antidote to the grey outside. 
The pattern is Squaring the Big Circle by Kate Jenks. It's in US crochet terms but is so easy to do and more than a little addictive. 

My last little bit of news is that these arrived this week:
Business cards! Tiny steps in the right direction :)

Moogs xxx

Monday, October 28, 2013

Playtime at last!

Half term at last! I love the October half term break, because we're really ready for it after a busy start to the school year and it's a perfect time to relax, pottering about at home and spending lazy mornings in our pyjamas all cozy and dry - our favourite thing to do at this time of year while it's blowing a gale outside.

With a blissful week ahead, with very few plans, I decided it was an ideal time to work on some ideas that have been brewing and to play with my new old sewing machine. However, because my little helper is also at home she soon decided she needed to be involved, which meant my help and advice was sought and my own projects took a back seat for a little while.

So, let's see what the Minx made, starting with Saturday when she designed and made herself a new bag.
Made from scraps of patchwork fabric and three cheap tea towels! I helped with cutting out and little technical bits like pinning but she stitched every bit of it herself.

Once that was done, I was allowed a little craft time to finish of some small projects that I thought might be good for workshops at some point.

On Sunday, my lovely daughter once again felt that some mother and daughter sewing time was in order and while I finished off those little flower brooches she got busy with the Bondaweb.

Luckily, once she'd finished this lovely mini quilt she was happy to leave me alone to finally get to play with the lovely old sewing machine I picked up from a local sewing machine shop a few weeks ago, and had not had chance to use until now.

Here she is, my 53 year old Singer 201k - as yet nameless but already much loved.

I've wanted one of these models for some time now, having done a lot of reading up about them. Something I love to make is bags and purses but my little modern machine isn't happy stitching through thick layers of fabric. This old girl eats thick fabric for breakfast, such as four layers of leather:
Or six layers of upholstery weight fabric:

That's not all she can do though. I'd also read that these machines are particularly good for free machine embroidery, again something that my little modern machine struggles with.

So, yesterday afternoon I found out how to drop her feed dogs and we got cracking.

There'll be lots more of that happening around here from now on!

Then we come to today and we were all up surprisingly early, thanks to the clocks going back, so I got cracking on a day of proper sewing, doing what I love to do the most. Bags and purses. These are just three of the six I made today!

Isn't the sheep fabric on the bag brilliant! It's a teatowel by Mary Kilvert that Trashy bought me for my birthday this year and it was far too gorgeous to be used for drying dishes :)

There'll be more playing as the week goes on, in between days out and Hallowe'en sleepovers. not to mention helping my daughter to make a mini tepee for a homework project!

Moogs xxx

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Grown-up knitting...with a bit of fluff too

I have a very serious bit of grown-up knitting to show you today but before we get to that I really felt the urge to show you some fluffy fun. A few weeks ago, whilst having a particularly crappy week at work, I decided I needed to play with something pretty.

So, I delved into my little (that's a relative term) stash of spinning fibre and came up with a mixture of bits and pieces that when put together make at least a jumper's worth of fibre.
The blues, turquoises and purples came from the sales table at Guild last year, the purple plait is some merino that I hand-dyed with food colouring and the bright pink is a bag of mixed fibres picked up at last year's Wingham's Wool Day at Guild (more of that later).

I split it into smaller bits and laid it all out in the kitchen.
Next, I sorted it into little piles of fibre, each with a roughly equal amount of each fibre. I ended up with over 30 piles of fluff! Next step was to break out the drum carder, so generously gifted to me by my lovely friend Maria, and I had a very happy time making up some mixed batts ready for spinning.
This is the first batch. I still have well over 400g of fibre left to blend! So far, I've spun up one full bobbin, with another nearly full and I love how it's coming out.
Once I've got three bobbins full they will be plied together and I reckon it'll be roughly DK weight and should make a really pretty jumper or cardigan.

Yesterday was this year's Wingham's Wool Day at Guild where Wingham's Woolworks come all the way down from Yorkshire and fill the village hall with the most mind-blowing array of fibres in every shade of the rainbow. One of the best bits of the day, other than filling a huge bag with fibre to bring home (and choosing not to worry about having to live on soup for the next two weeks), is that we are allowed to spend the whole day with our wheels spinning up samples of all the fibres on display.

I had a wonderful day, spinning and chatting, and hopping up every half an hour or so to find something else to spin. I came home with a gorgeous happy bobbin full of spinning with lots of colour and lots of sparkle. I think I'm going to spin up a hand-dyed skein of fibre that I've been saving to ply with this and might even use it to knit myself a shawl. For now, I'm just going to look at it and stroke it :)

So, now it's time for that seriously grown-up knitting that I warned you about. Earlier this year I treated myself to a very special knitting book Colours of Shetland by my favourite designer Kate Davies. As well as being full of beautiful, inspiring patterns this book is also full of the story behind each design and it's link to the landscape, wildlife, people and history of Shetland.

The reason I bought the book was that I'd seen one pattern. I fell in love. I had such an overwhelming urge to knit this pattern that I deliberately overlooked the fact that it had a number of features that had formerly filled me with fear.

Namely Fairisle knitting, in Shetland wool, and it involved doing something very scary to my knitting with a pair of scissors.

That there is an action shot of me cutting my knitting open, slicing it up the middle to turn a jumper into a cardigan. It took me about a month after knitting it to actually bring myself to get the scissors out but Kate Davies's brilliant tutorial and a bit of hand-holding from Youtube helped me do the deed.

Although this looks nearly finished it really wasn't! I then had to pick up and knit the buttonbands and the neckband, knit icord onto every edge of the whole tunic, face the buttonbands with grosgrain ribbon, stitch on snap fasteners and then make buttons - not just sew on buttons mind you. No, I had to make them first.

Little handmade Wheel House buttons.
I wore it yesterday for the first time and so many people at Guild commented on it. I was getting seriously big-headed by the end of the day but honestly, without such a fabulous designer and a well-written pattern I couldn't have done it and if I hadn't loved it so much I wouldn't have even tried!

At last, I've strung this out long enough! here is my Scatness Tunic - crappy photos 2 and 3 courtesy of bored teenager who clearly had better things to be doing!

I steeked!!!

That is all.

Moogs xxx

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Spoke too soon

It seems I may have tempted fate with my last post, when I introduced you to our lovely hens. This Wednesday Mr Moog and I both had busy evenings and for the first time ever forgot to check with each other that we had shut the hens into their pen, after them being free-range all afternoon.

He thought I'd done it. I thought he'd done it. Neither of us had. Sad to say, Mr Fox took advantage of the situation and I came down to a horrible scene on Thursday morning. Every one of our beautiful girls had been killed. One had disappeared entirely, we assume taken away by the fox. Mr Moog and I were beside ourselves and felt so terribly guilty for such a stupid avoidable mistake.

I came home from work late yesterday afternoon to find four new inhabitants in the hen house - it seems one day without hens was one day too many for the Mr. So, without wishing to tempt fate again...I would like to introduce you to the new girls.

At the back left is a little speckledy hen called Dotty, at the front left is Tango - a Sussex Ranger, and behind her is my girl Geraldine (a dead ringer for my lovely Miranda) and here, laying her very first tiny egg is Fizz - a Blue Ranger. 

I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Mr Moog and I are not going to be taking any chances with these babies. Lesson learned.

This morning I had a lovely surprise brought by the postman. My lovely friend Lucy Locket had warned me he might be bringing something to cheer me up - and it really did cheer me up :)

A bundle of gorgeous goodies that brought a huge smile to my face, including the cutest little felted sheep brooch and a skein of beautiful turquoise yarn that my camera just could not do justice to. It's an absolutely stunning colour and I think I'm going to have to knit a shawl with it as I don't want to make socks and have it hidden in my boots! Thank you Lucy - I love it :)

We have the in-laws here for the weekend and so far I've been on my feet all day in the kitchen, making meals and cups of tea. Grandma has just popped out to the Co-op so I decided to sneak on here for a quick post, while a lovely beef stew bubbles in the oven.

Just before I go, here's a scarf I finished a few days ago, using some handspun by me - the turquoisy-blue is a whole load of mixed fibres that I blended myself, including some sparkle, and the white stripes are soft and fluffy handspun alpaca. I can't wait for it to be cold enough to wear it!

Hope you have a lovely weekend, whatever you're up to and I hope to be back soon with some very grown-up finished knitting!

Moogs xx

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A bit of a wordy one

The past few months at work have been more than a little strange. In fact, for three of the past five and a half years that I've been there, things have been a little strange. It seems inevitable that our jobs will go at some point but we go from one temporary contract to another, never quite knowing if we'll have a job next year. As it stands, we're okay until next March.

Because of this, I've been constantly re-evaluating my options each term  and each option has it's good and bad points. I've never been a career driven woman, although thoroughly admire friends who are - how do they do it?

What it boils down to is this: I need to do some sort of work to bring some money in, and at least while the children are at school and, in the not too distant future, studying for exams I want to be here for them. We want  to be able to take holidays together instead of using our leave to cover school holidays. I also want to do something I love.

For now, while my work is still there, I'm sticking with it for the financial security. However, as I only work part-time that does give me time to start working on other ideas. What I really want to do, if I'm totally honest,  is to become self-employed creating and possibly even teaching the crafts I love so much and I don't think there has ever been a better time to do that - it's just a matter of working out where to begin.

I've been pondering this all summer and this has drawn me back to my blog and the community I have come to love so much. Everyone out there is doing such fantastic things and showing it really can be done.The support and inspiration from my fellow bloggers is something that continues to surprise and delight me. When I posted on Sunday, for the first time in seven months, I wasn't sure if anyone would hear me but I was so thrilled to get so many lovely comments from my dear friends - thank you for that :)

Goodness, this is a wordy post, isn't it?

Time for a picture, I think. The view from my kitchen window today is making me very happy!

I haven't had a washing line since March. All that glorious drying weather in the summer and I couldn't use it as the garden was, quite literally, a building site. Yesterday, Mr Moog surprised me by putting my line up again and I surprised me by being really excited about it!!

You may notice there's a big green thing lurking at the end of the garden. It's one of these.

One week into the build Mr Moog became gripped with an overwhelming obsession to get some new hens - our old girls having succumbed to Mr Fox a year or so earlier. This time, he went for the red mite and fox proof accomodation of choice...right in the middle of a garden full of bricks and cement mixers!

Do you want to meet the girls?

Of course you do :) We have four lovely hens - starting with the three below, Miranda, Penny and Peggy (left to right).

And this twit - known as either Echo or That Broody Idiot, depending on whether she's in 'I want a baby' mode or not (and right now she is!).
You can't hear it but she is actually swearing at me in this photo.

Before I head off, on a very exciting mission to see the man at the secondhand sewing machine shop, I'll leave you with some teeny tiny crafting that I hold Mrs Pebble entirely responsible for - even mentioning the words 'a kitchen made of wool' was bound to cause problems, wasn't it?

Naturally, a tiny needlefelted Aga just had to be made.

Moogs xxx

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Welcome to my new home!

When I came up with the title for this post I was about to up sticks and move to another blogging platform but after failing dismally with formatting the stoopid thing I decided to stick with Blogger after all!

However, the post title is not totally useless and here's why...

Lots has been happening Chez Moog over the past seven (7!!) months since I last blogged. There's been the usual crafty stuff, with plenty of knitting, a good sprinkling of crochet,a teeny bit of sewing and a fair bit of spinning but for a good couple of months earlier this year my crafting mojo upped and disappeared, without a trace.
Something else demanded my time and energy. A very very exciting something. A something that, at times, we doubted we would ever get around to doing. We achieved a dream and it's transformed our home and our relationship with it (for the better) more than I would ever have thought possible.

On 8th April this year work started on our kitchen extension and by the end of June it was done and ready to be lived in. Grab yourself a cuppa and join me on a picture-filled journey to the kitchen of my dreams.

This was the old kitchen - that's all of it (most of it is hanging off the walls)! I'm standing with my back squeezed against the kitchen door to take the photo.

The rest of the downstairs of the house comprised a lounge/diner that used to be two separate rooms, with a small conservatory tacked onto the back, that became the dumping ground for most of my craft stuff and anything we didn’t know what to do with…which was a lot!
So before anything could happen, I was tasked with emptying the conservatory, a Herculean task if ever there was one. It certainly focussed my mind and urged me to rehome rather a large amount of ‘stuff’ that I’d been hanging onto for years.
Mr Moog then busied himself with demolishing the conservatory while I hid inside, forgetting to take photos.
Then the day came, when Shaun the Builder and his band of merry men, arrived and got stuck straight in digging the footings, and drinking more tea than I would have ever thought possible (worth every cup!).

 In less than a week we had this:
 And in what seemed like the blink of an eye we had this:

Which very soon became this:

The builders were brilliant (Merlin LOVED them!) and the build went incredibly smoothly, apart from one day very early on when the newly built external wall skin on one side was caught by a freak gust of wind and five courses of bricks fell on the builder! Thankfully he was shaken but unhurt.
So, are you ready? Would you like to see it? It’s 99.8% finished as we still have the odd bit of skirting to paint and can’t decide on tiles for the splashback, but we’re in and we love it!
Here goes!

#1 - standing in the doorway from the hall - this first little bit at the front is the old kitchen!

#2 standing where my old patio was outside the old kitchen window looking
across to where I now sit to knit!!
#3 - standing with my back to the French doors looking across to my
 ISLAND UNIT - I love this sooooo much!!
#4 - looking from where my old conservatory was across to my ISLAND UNIT
 -  that I love!!
#5 - standing just behind the....island unit...and looking across to the dining
room. There's now a new wall separating this from the lounge part of our old
lounge/diner so we have a lovely new cosy lounge too!

Now, I'd like to show you some of the very exciting twiddly bits that make the 
new kitchen even more fun!

Pull out drawers for my spices, herbs, oils and sauces - I looove these!

Drawers for my pots and pans - I really love these!

A carousel for my baking dishes - this, I love very much..

Pull out recycling bins! No more manky plastic bag hanging from a hook on the wall - love it!
Possibly the very very most exciting thing - a broom cupboard!! I've never had a broom cupboard and have spent the past 12 years tripping over the Dyson and the ironing board - this makes me very happy!
But I reckon this just has to be outright winner - just look at the view from my knitting chair!

We've lived here for over twelve years. I fell in love with the house as soon as we saw it. It just felt right.

Over the years we've filled it and perhaps even outgrown it and I admit I'd fallen out of love with it.

But now? Now, it's perfect...or it will be once the garden is done (it suffered with the building work) and once we've built me a shed of my own...

Moogs xxx