Monday, 26 November 2007

Back in the land of the living

The last week seems to have gone by without me even realising - blinked and missed it in a haze of sleepless nights! Luckily everyone is now well, so normal service has been resumed. After school today, my daughter and I had a little baking session - very aptly made 'easy peasy cupcakes' from this book, which she had for her birthday last year and has been well-used, and an apple and plum crumble (yet to be tasted as I'm holding out for the children to actually eat more than a mouthful of their tea first!).I think I'll be finding hundreds and thousands on the kitchen floor for weeks to come!

I've been back to handsewing felt Christmas decorations for the past few nights. It's really exciting to see some of them in the UK Street Team's Etsy shop in promotional Christmas themed packs. The whole thing was organised by Pouch and c-urchin, two UK Etsy Sellers (blogged by Pouch here) . I really hope they sell well - I'm tempted myself having seen some of the lovely goodies made by other sellers.

More sewing tonight - my first foray into working with oilcloth. I'm wondering whether my walking foot might work as I don't have a teflon foot for my machine. Otherwise, I'll just have to sacrifice some of the tissue paper in my wrapping stash. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Sleepless nights

It seems I was just tempting fate by saying that I hoped we'd have a nice illness-free weekend in my last post. Right on the back of my little boy's funny tummy he's had a nasty dose of croup. I was so glad my mother was staying with us as it was one of those occasions where I was pretty sure it sounded like croup (lots of wheezing and a sort of animal bark), but just wanted a back up diagnosis.

Three sleepless nights later and he's still not himself and has lost lots of his baby plumpness from hardly eating for a week. We're trying to steam up his room to ease the cough at night (hoping this might have the added bonus of stripping the horrible textured wallpaper off!) but other than that there's not much we can do. Here's hoping he's better soon.

Meantime, I've been having a crafting lull, just pottering away at a bit of knitting. I've been knitting a pair of long fingerless gloves for my sister for Christmas from Louisa Harding's Hats, Gloves, Scarves. I really like this book, on loan from the library and renewed several times already. The projects are all really straightforward, but are all very wearable. I did notice though that the reviewers on amazon are a bit divided on the book.

The gloves are knitted in RYC Cashsoft DK (not Cashmino as the book states - not sure whether this has been renamed or if it's an error) and Rowan Kidsilk Haze. Both are beautifully soft; it's the first time I've used Kidsilk Haze and I definitely want to buy more now to make a lacy scarf a bit like this one.

Here's one finished glove, complete with the velvet ribbon tie suggested in the pattern, which adds a really pretty touch. The other just needs to be sewn up and to have the ribbon threaded through.

I really like the style of these long gloves. Now that I've got my head round the shaping involved (this is the first pair of gloves I've knitted since I was about 12 years old!) I feel inspired to tackle another pair but to make up the pattern myself - I thought I'd make a pair of fingerless wristwarmers for my sister as she was saying she liked these the other day.

Friday, 16 November 2007

at home

Had a couple of days at home at the end of this week - my daughter's been off school with a nasty cough and my son has had a tummy upset. Poor things haven't been themselves at all, so we haven't ventured far. Hoping they'll wake up tomorrow feeling a lot better so that we can have a nice weekend and get out and about.

Much excitement yesterday as I received an email from my Holiday Traditions swap partner, Sherry. We've exchanged a couple of emails and now I'm starting to think about what to send. I love Christmas, so this swap is going to be really good fun!

Despite being nurse to two sickly children, I've managed to get a bit of sewing done - three little coin purses and a wristlet for my shop. I'd planned to sew all four on Weds eve after the children went to bed, but my luck ran out after finishing the wristlet as one thing after another went wrong. I finally gave up after a long session with the seam ripper. I did have a brief 'elves and the shoemaker' moment as I laid out the pile of fabric pieces I'd cut out before going to bed. No little helpers turned up though!

This morning things were going a lot more smoothly, so I've got something to show for my time in front of the machine.

We had a lovely bit of mother and daughter time when my little boy was asleep. I made the purses, and my little girl made this:

she has big ideas for trims to add to it!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007


Had a really good start to the day - I was already pleased enough that 2 of my items were in etsy treasuries at the moment, but then I find that Charlotte's treasury has made the front page, which means my bag spent part of the morning on the front page. Yay!

So thanks very much, Charlotte, for putting me in your treasury :D I have been smiling all day!

Monday, 12 November 2007

Teal velveteen take 2

This is the other bag I was working on over the weekend. The teal velveteen is my favourite fabric in my stash at the moment - so soft and sumptuous. I'm thinking it would make a lovely cushion for my living room ...

This second bag is one of my own patterns again. Each time I've made this one up, I've experimented with the interfacing and structure of it. This is partly due to the fact that the fabrics I have used have been so different - a herringbone wool tweed, quilter's cotton and, this time, the velveteen.

I used boning for the first time on this bag - a quick read through of this tutorial, and confidence boosted by reading others saying it's not so difficult. I put the boning just in the top of the bag - one piece on either side with a gap where the strap is attached. It does give just the right amount of support for the bag opening, along with the craft weight interfacing and plastic canvas base. The only thing was that it was a nightmare getting the bag through the machine when I was doing the final topstitching around the bag top. Really difficult not to pinch in the fabric when I reached the sides with no boning in them. Still, I managed, didn't break any needles! I'm really happy with the end result.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Weekend sewing and knitting

I finished the slouchy bag last night. I'm really happy with how it turned out.

The teal velveteen that I used for the exterior is lovely - really sumptuous and the lining fabrics set it off really well. I really love teal and brown together at the moment.

One note of caution is that the velveteen marks really easily on the feed dogs of the sewing machine, so I found it better to work things so that I was sewing with the fabric facing up under the machine foot instead.

The interior features a divided patch pocket, with room for mobile, purse, and a pen and on the other side a small zipped compartment

It's going to be in my shop tomorrow (Monday).

All in all, it's been quite a productive weekend. In between trips to the supermarket, jigsaws, duplo and Sunday roasts, I've managed to pack in quite a bit of crafting - one pair of fingerless gloves begun, progress on a baby cardie, two bags completed (the slouchy bag fabric was so nice I made a shoulder bag too) and another clutch cut out and ready to go.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

All cut out and ready to sew

Yay - I've cut out all the bits of the new bag ready to sew. No more procrastinating - I've decided to make a slouchy bag with that teal needlecord, lined in chocolate/teal print. I'm toying with the idea of putting piping in the top openings to stop it from collapsing in on itself, but I'm not sure - maybe slouchy is better. The shape is similar to the one I made recently for Alicub in the UK Etsy Secret Swap:

This one is in natural linen with a panel of pintucked vintage green floral fabric, lined to match.

Going for more Autumnal fabrics this time, so I'm thinking that maybe the bag should be a bit more structured.

This is my bedroom floor, which is my cutting out space. My little boy has parked up for the evening in the corner. I am so very jealous of spaces like this at house on hill road - I can dream!

I like to think I would be so much more productive if I could just keep my machine set up and ready to go all the time, and if all my sewing bits and pieces were kept in one place. In reality, I would probably still procrastinate and agonise over what to sew next to defer all that horrible cutting out! I do love a pile of neatly cut out pieces of fabric ready to be assembled into a bag, but I just hate the process of pinning and cutting and moving the pattern then pinning and cutting and (yawn)....

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Crafting inertia

A post without pictures as I don't seem to have managed to accomplish much today. I have played endlessly with my fabric from u-handbag, arranged and rearranged, but really I need to buy a zip if I'm going to make the bag I had in mind, so I've had to put that to one side till tomorrow.

I've unearthed my pile of little bits of dolls' clothes knitting and am trying to summon up the energy to do something with it. I'm just in a bit of a crafting impasse ... So I have high hopes for tomorrow's project on Sew Mama Sew's 'Handmade Holidays: 30 days of gifts to sew' - Nov 8 is 'whimsy', which sounds really appealling!

Off to knit for the moment, till bag-making inspiration stikes.

First class delivery

Yay! I got my fabric order from Lisa at U-handbag yesterday morning. And I only ordered it late afternoon on Monday, so was really surprised to get it so quickly. It was all beautifully packaged in tissue paper, as ever - though that didn't last long as my daughter was keen to help me unwrap it all! She was also thrilled to find the freebie bag of sweets included, but kind enough to give me a couple of cola-bottles (my favourite!).

my new fabric haul

I am feeling a little bit guilty as I already have a growing stash of fabrics that I should probably use up before ordering new things, but I was looking for some new Autumn/Winter bag fabrics and couldn't resist this. And one thing led to another ...

I'm going to get cutting out this evening once the children are in bed - probably a bag made from some teal needlecord I accidentally bought on the weekend, lined with one of the prints above. Pictures soon!

Monday, 5 November 2007

Day trip to London and finished objects

A nice weekend - my sister and mother came to visit, which was lovely. We then went into London the following day and visited the London Aquarium with the children, which was a fantastic day out. My little boy slept through the first half, but it was worth it just to see the look on his face when he came round in front of a tank of manta rays! The children were so taken with all the sea life, especially the tiny jellyfish, a spiky anemone with black spines and, of course, the sharks.

I've scavenged a bit of time here and there for crafting. I made my first bib, which I'd cut out the fabric for a little while ago. I used my own pattern but the method came from Amy Karol's Bend the Rules Sewing, which I bought a little while ago. It's full of really simple projects which are beautifully presented with some good corner-cutting along the way! Normally, I'd just cut a pattern complete with seam allowance, but cutting out the fabric roughly round the sewing line on the reverse made sewing this really quick and easy. I finished the bib with a pearl snap and I really love this combination of fabrics from the Urban Chiks Summer in the City range

bib front view

bib back

I also finished off this little coin purse, a custom order for my friend. I've had so much support from friends and family with purchases from my shop, which has been fantastic.

This has been by far the most popular fabric in my shop. I'd really like to get hold of more, but it's sold out from the shop where I originally purchased it and I just can't track it down.

The Christmas cake method of inducing labour ...

Had a lovely few days. I made my Christmas cake on Friday, having soaked my fruit in marsala overnight. I used the recipe from How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson for the third year - it is the best Christmas cake recipe I've cooked and I am completely sold on it, though I have to say the TV programmes are not for me!

cake in progress

The small hand belongs to my daughter- I am not really an elf!

I actually first bought this book the day before my due-date for the birth of my daughter. I was absolutely convinced that as she was my first, I would be a fortnight late, and thought I'd while away the days baking. So I bought the book and the ingredients and put my dried fruit to soak overnight ready to bake the following day. I can't tell you how surprised I was when I woke up in the early hours of the following day as my waters broke! Spent the night in hospital and gave birth the following morning.

Suffice to say that fruit soaked for quite a lot longer than suggested in the recipe! In fact, the cake was cooked by my mother-in-law, but as I was completely exhausted I didn't actually get around to icing it that year. Instead the cake sat wrapped in foil in its airtight tub for a whole year!! Just goes to show how long fruit cake lasts - I just fed it a bit of brandy then marzipaned and iced it the following Christmas. So that's my tip for giving birth on your due date - never mind pineapple and curries! (Sorry to say that it didn't work next time round though - my son was a fortnight late, in spite of my tried and tested fruit cake method). It does make me smile at the memory every year when I start soaking that dried fruit - I've hung on to the receipt for the book and my shopping list as a memento in my baby book!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

It's that time of year ...

... when I begin to think about Christmas.

Halloween has been and gone with only 11 trick or treaters, which leaves me with a huge quantity of funsize goodies. Obviously, I don't approve of lots of chocolate for my children, so what's a girl to do??

our halloween pumpkin

So, halloween being over, I'm thinking Christmas! The fruit is soaking in marsala as we speak, and tomorrow I will be baking the Christmas cake.

I've signed up for this lovely-sounding Christmassy swap today at Montessori by Hand, and I am so excited. Already thinking up things to send to my swappee. This whole concept of swappage is so very right up my street :)
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