Saturday, 30 January 2010

A place (mat) for everything

The weather has continued to thwart my plans for photographing my stock. There was snow in our garden this morning so definitely not a go-er for messing about out there setting everything up. I have progressed though and if there is a nice morning next week I will do a quick shoot. I have continued to work on another project and today finished a set of four place mats to use next Christmas time. The paisley fabric has holly on it and each mat is slightly different, I really liked making these and was planning a set for each season until I showed the first one to be finished to Simon. He raised his eyebrows and asked if I was joking. Apparently as our idea of laying the table involves throwing a random assortment of cutlery onto it Simon doubts that we will ever bother with place mats. Maybe he has a point (she said sulkily) but I refuse to give up on the idea that there might come a day when we have nice things that stay nice.
Next weeks project is 'minerals. I have a bag full of fabrics and threads in mineral colours and a gorgeous coffee table book from the library so am thinking this may be a mini series of bits and bobs. Firstly I am hoping to work on this base of sculpted felt, I have some space dyed grey scrim to be added next and then lots of crystal organzas to make the glinty bits- (sorry to any geologists!) I am looking forward to getting on with this, who knows next week I may have my list down to fourteen!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Going Bananas in New Pyjamas

Isn't this fabric bonkers? It did have the advantage of being cheap- but now I have a pair of ginormous pyjama trousers made from it I am off to join the circus! I will not be hooking any new love interest in these (not that that would be my intention obviously). You have to feel sorry for Simon, before the kids I would slink around in tiny silky numbers with my hair free exfoliated pins on display to lure him away from his paper. Now?.......Co-co the hairy clown! I am not feeling as sorry for myself as that sounds, the pyjamas are one more thing off the list- another adventure is dress making and will be blissfully airy on a hot summer night- best tuck a lavender sachet in with them in the drawer- it will be a while before they see the light of day- or the circus spots again.

I am aware that 'clearing stock' is the job for the week, an I have made progress with sorting and purchasing a variety of Jiffy bags but the light has been just terrible so the taking of photographs has been out of the question.

Anyway who can be sad? One more down, sixteen to go, and at least when Simon chucks me out for letting myself go just a little to far I know where I can run away to!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

The Help Yourself (and others) Cook Book

The Help Yourself (and others) Cook Book is a Search Press publication with a difference. This book is being sold at £4.99 with all proceeds going to the Ghana Education Project to build a school in Nkwanta Ghana. The book has been written by Dawn Waldron who is a trained nutritional therapist and a cancer survivor. Are you getting the idea, this book is good from every angle. The recipes do you good, the money you spend on the book does someone else good and there are many other food related issues which are touched upon in the non-recipe passages.

I am not always a wholesome eater- (proven by my figure!) but the recipes actually had even me going wow and there aren't even any carefully styled pictures!

Search Press very kindly said that I could take an abstraction from the book and here it is. Tonight for tea we had 'Simple Chicken Bake' I usually do a roast on a Sunday night and this was much, much more low maintenance. I sliced a leek and a mammoth sweet potato, these went into a small pot. I half covered this with chicken stock. On top I placed four chicken thighs, the recipe calls for them to be rubbed with pesto, but also suggested a Marmite/Marmalade combo I was very brave and went for the double M option and it was very yummy! This was baked happily for 45 mins. The chicken was sort of steamed and baked and only having one pot to wash up is a huge advantage. the recipe suggests serving with greens but I felt it might have been more veg than we were used to! The meal serves four adults, with two smalls at the table the chicken got finished and the pot still held some veg and stock and meat juices. I stuck in Billy the blender and now have a soup base for my lunch tomorrow.

There are lots more recipes in this book which look cheap, healthy and quick so it will be a kitchen shelf regular. If you are considering a New Year detox, think carefully about your consumption of food or fancy supporting a great educational cause then it's got to be £5 well spent!

Moving minster

This has been the first week of the year when I haven't actually finished anything so 17 projects remain on the to-do list. Am I glum? Not a bit! This piece has languished for five years and the fact that this week I have managed to move it forward makes me very happy. The machine embroidery on the apple casket gave me the confidence to free machine the blue carpet with a tendril /paisley pattern. I have also used black velvet ribbon to make the pattern on the flooring. When I come back to this I now know the next couple of 'moves', it isn't haunting me any more.
What is really nice is that his came about after a sketching day in York minster so I have a sketchbook of observations. Each element was observed from the minster itself and I hope because of this it will have a real feel if the place when it's finished.

When I do finish it though I will have to find a longer term hanging method than getting Will to hold it up.

This weeks project from the list is to clear my stock- the bed is covered in things to be photographed and listed on Folksy. I hope I can move on some bits and bobs to continue to clear the slate and free up some storage space for whatever I produce as part of the City and Guilds.

This blog usually isn't a food blog- except for the occasional birthday cake- but I have been given a cook book to review so tonight's tea will be the next post, along with a little review- of the dinner and the book! (unless I completely bugger it up in which case please be kind enough never to mention it again!)

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Good day Sunshine

I was so pleased to be awarded the Sunshine award by Simply H the other day.

This award is for bloggers 'whose creativity and positivity' inspires others. Which is a lovely thought but as I consider myself a pretty- 'why is my glass half empty- what rat bag drank my drink?' kind of gal- I wonder whether I live up to this one! A big thanks to Helen though as hers is another blog I read in awe and wonder!

I am meant to pass this to twelve other bloggers, I think I might struggle as I know this has already been given to some of my other favourites. Here goes then, twelve blogs which inspire me;

I am off to see the new Sherlock Holmes film tonight and watched Coraline last night, it is too cold and miserable for much more activity than sitting and watching! I really enjoyed Coraline, although an animation it's not a little children's film. It is pretty dark really and very clever, it certainly has lessons for busy parents and demanding children!

Hope you have something nice planned for the weekend.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

York minster

This week I will be wrestling with another long-running beasty. I have already gummed my iron up with Bondaweb (the invention of Satan himself) trying to add some bonded applique to this piece this afternoon. I really do loath Bondaweb, I'm sure it's totally irrational but I think it hates me too. I'm not sure how far I can take this in a week, but again, by the end of the week I should have a better idea of whether it's something I want to spend any more time on.

I will post again in a couple of days to pass on a lovely blog award which I have received, and then again with details of anther book I have been sent which is a little bit of a diversion.

I hope you have had a lovely weekend. xxx

Saturday, 16 January 2010

One more in the bag

Firstly, I'm sorry that I couldn't find enough natural light to take a non-flash picture of my apples. I really enjoyed the machine embroidery and even made the leaves using water soluble film- really outside my comfort zone.

Unfortunately I have had to put the casket on ice at the final stage as I am waiting for my consultant wood turner (Dad) to make me another foot, and to re-drill the large bead for the closure The whole casket design came about because Dad made me some beads from apple wood and I liked the idea of a link. It will only take an hour to complete this with the wood, but for now it remains on the list.
One thing has come off the list this week though. I have finished the raggy bag! These bags are so effective and are brilliant for using up scraps of brilliant coloured fabric which might be difficult to use elsewhere. This bag has a top layer of a needle cord shirt I bought in the Next sale years ago and wore about twice, I like that it will now get some proper use as an accessory. Again I am sorry that the colours aren't true because of the flash.

I have also cut out some pyjamas trousers for myself and finished the left front of Anna's knitted jacket.
From tomorrow I will work on York Minster, again a long running project which I will be really glad to be able to move on a stage.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


I have used the random Anna number generator... and the winner in the book give away is Jennifer. So Jennifer do please get in touch, you have been leaving lovely comments on here for a little while now and I have had no way to reply. I would love to get this book off to you and the above little card which was my attempt from the book.

Well done Jennifer and thanks to all of you who entered.

The apple casket has been under the needle and I think I may have got through the barrier. I will show you the progress on Saturday or before.

It is Embroiderers Guild again this Saturday with Sandra Meech as our speaker. If you live in East Kent and fancy a jolly afternoon out do come along!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Week 2 The ***** apple casket

Gosh but I'm sick of this thing! It has been hanging about making me feel inadequate for toooo long. I think it needs machine embroidery on the apples and I can't 'do' machine embroidery. Do you know what though?- I need to put this one to rest and I'll give it a week under the needle and see if I can exorcise this demon.
There is still time, until the end of today, to enter the book give away. Go on, go on, go on now!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Two down- eighteen to go!

Week one of project 'finish off some stuff ' has been a great success; the Waterlilies went to the framer on Wednesday and I moved to the last item on my list in the work room which was dress making for Anna. I haven't sewn any clothing for a good ten years but had borrowed some children's clothing patterns from Mum last time we were in Weymouth and have been buying fabric from the Embroiderers Guild bring and buy for a while now. I started with a New Look pattern and some ace vintage yellow pink fabric with daisies on, this little peasant top came together in an afternoon, I had the elastic already so I guess it cost less than 50p to make- I can see Anna's summer wardrobe being full of these- and doesn't she look happy about it!
Simon did look a bit confused about me making such a flimsy garment during a cold snap and the next thing on the list was some warm trousers. I used some blue needle cord and a Simplicity pattern for these. I fond this pattern required a little more careful reading but they were still very easy and went together in a couple of hours at most. Again these cost pence to make and although Anna is not so happy with these as they aren't very pretty I found half a Wispa got a happy looking picture! If I make more of these I will make them a bit prettier with some embellishment.

There is still time to enter the book give away on the post below- I am pleased to see some new faces commenting- thanks for dropping by.

I have some knitting and a raggy bag which I will work on for the rest of today and will then post tomorrow with week 2 project. I am not promising to keep up this pace though- or I might not make it to September.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Book give away A-Z of silk ribbon embroidery

A-Z of Silk Ribbon Flowers by Ann Cox is a beautiful hard back with a very clear lay out. There is a large section with technical information on how to achieve the flower patterns in the second part of the book. The introduction encourages you to read all of this information before you start any embroidery- which I didn’t. I wish I had though because I’ve only ever had a tiny play with ribbon embroidery and hadn’t got a clue how to finish off the ribbon at the end of my stitching- of course it then occurred to me to read the first section of the book which gave me a very elegant answer!

The book uses a variety of techniques to produce flower embroideries which are almost like botanical illustrations in their accuracy. The designs have a rating to indicate their complexity but the directions for each design are incredibly detailed so I imagine it would be possible to move on quite quickly and build up ones skill. I attempted a very simple Aster head and was really pleased with the results. The book does recommend painting the silk ribbon to get a very subtle and realistic result but I used a space dyed ribbon and liked the end result. One particularly nice feature of the designs is that in the materials listing the ribbons you will need are represented actual size and colour so if you are using ribbon from your stash you can check its suitability- how sensible!

The author does have her own website selling kits and supplies which would allow a result to be achieved which would be very close to that pictured. I think this book would form an excellent course, like having a very experienced expert sat along side you as you work. The book costs £19.99 and I think compared to an evening class that represents excellent value for money and would add another silken string to any embroiderers bow.

I really rate this book and feel a little sad in offering it up here as a give away, but a give away it is. Leave a comment and I shall draw a name next week to send it to. I wonder if these reviews are of use to you? I thoroughly enjoy doing them and have to say that I'm learning lots, my next review title is something slightly different and I'm really looking forward to having a go at something form it. It's so lovely to have comments from lots of new faces....please make sure I can contact you if you win- by leaving an e-mail or ensuring you allow replies on your account. Thank you!

You may notice that I have now listed all of my unfinished projects in my side bar- isn't it scarey?!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Week one- Waterlillies

So my weeks will be running from Sunday to Sunday. Unless I finish a piece I shall work exclusively upon it for one week and then move on. This is the first to be finished. I started the Waterlilies a while back and need to do a lot more stitching, the water is coming together but I need to add the Lilly pads and strengthen the willow. I think this will be achievable in one week and I then plan to stretch this and perhaps get it framed.
I have had a few people ask about the course in a little more detail. I should actually say that I haven't yet submitted my application form, so I hope they let me on! I am hoping to do my City and Guilds certificate in Stitched Textiles with Stitchbusiness. This company allows you to either attend classes at their studio in Durham or complete courses on line with optional face to face tutorials. I would have liked to work in an evening class but there just isn't one nearby so I am going to use this online course and the blog to try to get feedback on what I produce, so thanks in advance for supporting me!
I have visited a shop which was selling some of my scarves today and collected some stock. I also collected some money from them for sales over Christmas and walked straight into Clarks to buy two pairs of shoes for the kids. It was very useful in these post Christmas money conscious weeks! I wonder how much I will miss the buzz of selling what I make? I just can't see how I will have time to do it all. I guess it all comes back to what I said before about wanting to do myself justice and produce my best work.

Friday, 1 January 2010

A new chapter

I hope you have had a really lovely break. I did and am today nursing a very minor hang over which was a very small price for the lovely New Years evening we had. Christmas was full of gorgeous handmade treats. It was a very real sign of just how well my friends and family know me stacks of fabric, brilliant books, ace supplies and gorgeous jewellery.
Now my thoughts turn to what this year might hold; Anna starting school, Simon qualifying as a teacher, me starting my City and Guilds course. So much learning and development for all of us- exciting forward steps. I now have nine months to prepare for the beginning of my course and want to really clear the decks mentally and physically. I still have 20 W.I.P to complete and have decided to work on one each week moving on at the end of the week, usually I flit about so much that although a week doesn't sound long it will, for me, be a real concerted effort. I will of course share my progress taking a picture at the start at end of each week.
I will also be trying to sell off my stock and this means a Folksy clear out. I am looking forward so much to spring cleaning my work room and making sure that amongst all the wood I can actually see the trees!
What are you looking forward to in 2010?