Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Apron Strings

A last couple of pre-Christmas makes.  As I am as far from being a Domestic Goddess as it's possible to get, obviously I didn't make the Christmas cake, I bought one from a supermarket beginning with S.  But I DID marzipan and ice it - that way you can have the icing as thick as you like, cos that's obviously the best bit.
Ditto the chocolate log, which is my favourite bit of festive food.  Sorry Mum, I know you've spent years slaving away in the kitchen to produce the perfect Christmas dinner - and I DO enjoy it - but I'd probably have been just as happy with a bowl of chocolate butter cream.
So, here's my cake, topped with silvery glitter stars .....
and before you ask - yes it IS edible glitter.  I'm not that daft.
And here is my chocolate log, displayed by me wearing my new Christmas pinny.  

I bought this delicious fabric from Creative Sanctuary several months ago.

I was sorely tempted to buy enough to make a dress just like the one the Doris Day lookalike is wearing, but (a) I'm not sure that I could have justified all that time and effort into making a dress that would be worn on one day of the year and (b) my waist is not quite the same as hers (that'll probably be years of Royal Icing and Chocolate buttercream).  
Anyway, when I rediscovered the fabric in my stash on Saturday, I rapidly rustled up an apron, complete with gingham ties and pocket, and trimmed with ricrac.
After all, there's no reason why a 'Can't Cook Won't Cook' shouldn't dress up as a 'Domestic Goddess' at Christmas.
Have a good one xx

Apron Strings - Marty Wilde

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Do They Know It's Christmas?

Just a quick one - I was handwashing one of my favourite jumpers at the weekend, and, as I wasn't after the 'felted wool' look,  I checked the care label, and I happened to see the contents.
It says 51% Cotton, 24% Wool, 19% Acrylic and 6% Yak.
I had to google it, just to see exactly what a Yak looked like.  Turns out the Yak is a long haired bovid found throughout the Himalayas, Tibet, Mongolia and Russia, and looks like this -
or this
So, to show my appreciation for their (albeit small) contribution to my favourite jumper, come on, let's hear it for the Yak.
And, apparently they DO know it's Christmas - here's one wearing his Christmas jumper
So, Happy Christmas to Yaks everywhere.

Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid

Saturday, 21 December 2013


Like everyone I guess, it's been a busy few weeks - although to be honest, I have it very easy compared to some - and it's been mostly good stuff.
My friend Angie had been given a 'Tea for Two' voucher for Harrods, and she invited me to go with her. I thought I'd better check the dress code:-
Ladies & gentlemen are required to be of smart casual attire; the management reserves the right to refuse entry any person deemed to be dressed inappropriately. Specifically the Dress code does not permit: sports shoes and trainers, wearing high-cut, Bermuda or beach shorts; swimwear; athletic singlets; cycling shorts; flip flops or thong sandals; with a bare midriff or bare feet; or wearing dirty or unkempt clothing.
Please note that fancy dress, novelty and branded or promotional clothing is not permitted.
Bit disappointed, obviously, - I had planned to wear my Superwoman costume, or, failing that,  my 'Daisy Duke' shorts and a boob tube, but sadly I had to rethink my outfit.
The day started well when I met Angie at her office, with brilliant views over the city.  it was a bright sunny day and we could see Wembley Arch, the post office tower, the Shard and the London eye 

Then on to Harrods for afternoon tea.  It was a lovely setting - and you could tell the people who weren't regulars - they were the ones taking photos.
 The tea was fab - little finger sandwiches with the crusts cut off, scones with jam and cream and cakes.
 Let's have a close up of the cakes
We didn't QUITE finish everything, but we had a good crack at it, and I didn't eat again until the following evening!  Really lovely afternoon - I'd recommend it if you want to treat someone.
I had another trip into town to meet a friend and visit the V&A.  We saw the Pearls exhibition which we both enjoyed, and I decided I'd rather like a tiara.  I can see myself in a tiara
Maybe not wandering around Sainsburys - but could possibly get away with it in Waitrose without looking out of place. 
As we came out we saw the skaters outside the Natural History Museum.  It looks so Christmassy, I was almost tempted.  Almost.
I'm progressing my 'let's get things finished and use stuff up' resolution.  I've made this dress - it's my second Tiramisu dress.  You may remember that I thought my first one here was a bit 'mumsy' which wasn't really the look I was going for.  Anyway, this time I left the pockets out (although I like a pocket, they do tend to make a bit of extra bulk where you don't want it) and I chopped 12cm off the bottom.  It's also in a nice fabric, a much more drapey jersey and I'm really pleased with it.  The light's not great today so I didn't bother modelling it, but I may, if there's a photo opportunity over Christmas.
 I also found this 'London map' fabric that has been in my 'imminent to-do' pile for well over a year, and I knocked up a quick cushion
 AND - with buttonholes and buttons.

If you didn't get a Christmas card from me, here's a picure of what you would have received - I cheated this year and made one stitched fabric and paper collage, then scanned it and printed it onto watercolour paper. I then squidged a bit of glitter glue and stuck on a sequin or two.  
You'll have to image the glitter and sequins - I just hope you don't feel too hard done by.
Hope you have a really lovely Christmas xx


Sunday, 1 December 2013

I Started Something I Couldn't Finish

I decided that I've got far too many half-finished projects on the go, so I made up my mind I was going to finish a few things before starting anything else.
Firstly, I finished my final Summer/Festival 'round robin' piece in plenty of time for our Spectrum meeting on Wednesday.  Sue started  it with some coloured bunting stitched on plain white fabric, then Gina added black and white flowers and lettering with a Sharpie pen.  I'm afraid I forget who it was passed to next - but the mystery stitcher appliqued and stitched some coloured flowers, and also coloured the lettering in with a red pen.  
My task was to make it into a finished piece.  I decided to make it into a mini quilt and backed it with thin wadding, and a black and white floral cotton fabric.  I was going to bind it with red gingham, but my Mum thought it drew your eye away from the stitching, and she was right, so I used some batik fabric.  I would have finished it all in a day, had it not been for the fact that I managed to do myself a minor injury and sliced my finger open with some enthusiastic use of a rotary cutter (I'm not really a quilter)
Yesterday I started and finished a project.  Sounds quite impressive, but it was a Young Embroiderers' project - Gina had us making felt decorations, and the girls all finished at least two each.
Mine is the Christmas Tree with coloured buttons on the far right.  I think they all look lovely - the girls just get on with the stitching without any real assistance from us.  Gone are the days when we have to thread needles with an already soggy bit of embroidery floss.

Then I remembered I hadn't actually finished our last Young Embroiderers' project from a couple of months ago, so today I rooted around and found that.  Oh, ok then.  I was looking for something else and I found it and THEN I remembered I hadn't finished it.  But now I have.

When I'd finished my crow, I also discovered the 'cheese box collage kit' that I bought from Anne Brooke (otherwise known as H-Anne-Made) at Yarndale in Skipton, so I thought I'd make that.  I really enjoyed ripping up bits of paper, cutting and sticking, and then stitching the collage.  So that's another one-day project finished!

At this rate, I'll have finished all my projects by, ooh, 2020 maybe?

I Started Something I Couldn't Finish - The Smiths

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Road to Hell

Now that the weather has turned I am less inclined to spend hours out in the garden and less likely to feel guilty about sitting indoors fiddling about with fabrics, threads, buttons and beads. So I started on one of my to-do projects.
If you know anything of the lovely Bobby Britnell, textile artist, you will probably know of her charity Hands Up for Uganda, which she founded with her (equally lovely) husband Martin.
She currently has a challenge/project running with Janet Middleton of  Starchild shoes to produce lovely little 'art shoes'.   For more information, check out her newsletter - scroll down and you can see some examples of the finished art shoes.
Basically, the idea is to buy a piece of barkcloth from Bobby for a minimum donation of £3, which you embellish using which ever textile techniques you like, and then post it off to Janet who will make up the shoes.  They will form part of an exhibiton at two ICHF exhibitions in 2014, in Birmingham and London.

Having looked at my piece of barkcloth for a couple of months, I made a start.  I was going to do something in keeping with the fabric, something tasteful.  But I remembered that I don't really do tasteful, so instead I machined lines of sparkly metallic cord that I bought years ago at one of the shows.
Then, running with the 'star' theme, I hand stitched on star shaped sequins, topped with flower sequins, held in place with beads.  
Fortunately, the shoes don't have to be wearable as I'm not sure how long the decorations would stay put.
You've got until the end of this year to send your finished pieces in if you fancy having a go, and it's all for a really good cause. Just contact Bobby via the links above and she'll sort you out.

Obviously I haven't spent my whole time stitching, and on Tuesday, when the weather returned to normal, my friend Jill and I went to Sunbury Antiques Fair at Kempton Park.  
We didn't need anything, and we weren't looking for anything in particular, but we both came away with some treasures, none of which cost more than a fiver, and several of which were only 50p.  
Not sure the necklace is real diamonds though.
It was a really good day out, although we have both vowed that in future, we will never go anywhere that requires travelling on the M25.

Road to Hell - Chris Rea (who did, in fact, write it about the M25)

Sunday, 6 October 2013


I've said it before, and this time I mean it.  I'm not growing tomatoes ever again (said with a sulky face and a pouty lip).  For the second year running, I had loads of tomatoes, but before they turned red they all went mouldy looking - I think it's tomato blight.  Anyway, I pulled the rest of the plants up today and binned them. When I think of the cost of seeds and compost and bamboo canes and Tomorite (other tomato feeds are available) together with all the effort that goes into growing the seeds and potting them on and planting them out, then tying them up, and pinching out side shoots and making sure they get fed and watered - it's be a darn sight cheaper and easier just to buy them.  

I might do beans again though - they've been very successful - I got back from Yorkshire and picked loads, some of which I've had for my tea. AND as a bonus, as I walked up the garden, something red caught my eye under one of the strawberry plants.  There were five big strawberries that somehow, despite complete and utter neglect have grown all by themselves and haven't been eaten by the birds or slugs.
Two of them are huge ....
So, if you'll excuse me I'm just off to have them with some yoghurt.  Maybe they taste horrible and that's why the birds didn't want them?

Never Again - The Mission

Saturday, 5 October 2013


No excuses for my absence - I've just been here and there on holidays and workshops, and lost my blogging impetus.
But I'm back to tell you about my latest excursion to Yorkshire, specifically Skipton, or even more precisely - Yarndale - the woolfest that was celebrating all things 'sheepish'
I first read about it a year ago on Lucy's blog and decided that it would be an excellent excuse for a week in Yorkshire. The cosy little apartment that I'd booked was perfect - ten charity shops, a branch of Fatface, and a Thornton Chocolate Outlet shop within five minutes walk of my front door!  
And, as it was so very close to the town centre, I was able to leave my car there and walk along the Leeds and Liverpool canal and through Aireville Park to  Skipton Auction Mart.  
I knew I was heading in the right direction because of all the yarnbombing that had taken place
and the miles of bunting
but mostly by the hundreds of women all making their way in the same direction.  It was a bit like some kind of weird pilgrimage, with women from all over the country, flocking (get it?) to one place to buy yarn.  In spite of the fact that I heard lots of them say "Well, actually I don't need anything...", believe me,  they WERE there to buy wool.  And needles, and crochet hooks, and buttons and patterns and gadgets for spinning, and felting and weaving.  You name it, if was wool related, it was here.  
Did I mention the bunting?

I was very tempted to buy one of these, as they're so pretty
but I remembered that my accommodation specified "No Pets" so I resisted.
I really liked the quirky knitted picnic
and this trader's riotous use of colour -
It was a really good show, and a fantastic achievement for the band of women and their helpers who made it happen.  It must have taken months and months of hard work - so big congratulations to them all, and I'm looking forward to next year!

And what did I buy?  Oh, I didn't need any yarn; I've already got some.  

Sheep - The Housemartins

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Everything's Coming Up Roses

Oooh dear, big blog absence - no excuses, it's been hot, and I've been busy.  
So, what have I been doing?  Well, our Spectrum Textile group had an outing to the Henry Moore Foundation at Perry Green.
We all agreed it was a brilliant day out, with lots to see.  One of the highlights was a guided tour of Henry Moore's house, which was exactly how it had been when he lived there.  The Moore's didn't appear to go in for updating of furniture or kitchen appliances - choosing to spend their money on art instead.  For example, a wall-mounted can opener (very 1960's) next to an original Picasso.  I kid you not.
We had a wander through the gardens to see the huge sculptures
You only get an idea of the scale when you see someone standing next to them 

Then last Sunday, my friend Jane and I went to the RHS Flower Show at Hampton Court.  Last year we were slopping around in mud, and this year, the wellies and cagoules were replaced by summer dresses and sunhats.
So stylish - I look a bit like Audrey Hepburn after she's eaten all the pies.
The floral displays had a bit of a vintage theme going on this year ...

I managed to come away without buying any plants - just lots of ideas.  I quite fancy a Hot Chocolate rose.  
I can't really describe it, except to say, imagine mixing a mug of drinking chocolate, with a large glass of orange juice, and it would be that kind of colour.
I saw the same rose again a couple of days later at the Gardens of the Rose at Chiswell Green, near St Albans. I took lots of photos but they don't really do the roses justice, and without the scent there's something missing.

I've also done loads of heavy duty gardening, visited the chiropractor (the two may be linked),  knitted with friends, eaten more than my body weight in cake,  and had a birthday.
Oooh, I must show you one of my presents - this beautiful crocheted bunting that my lovely friend Gina made for me.
She's knows that I'm not much cop when it comes to crochet and I could never have attempted to make it myself, and she definitely chose my colours.  I love it, and it's going to have pride of place in my studio, but I need to have a bit of a sort out and tidy up before I post pictures of the bunting in situ.

If you like to see more of the wonderful things Gina makes, she's taking part in the Cambridgeshire Open Studios for the next two weekends (20th/21st and 27th/28th July)  See here for more details

Incidentally talking of birthdays, I remember receiving an email on my birthday in 2001 about a new venture by Maggie Grey called Workshop On The Web. (I only remember it was my birthday because I know I emailed Maggie back and said it sounded like the promise of a present)
It sounded really exciting - online workshops and all kinds of other articles and news about textile-y arty things.  Twelve years on, and I am still a subscriber, and I have to say that Workshop on the Web gets better and better. 
It comes out four times a year, and each edition includes at least six workshop features, an interview with a well-known embroiderer plus book reviews, details of new products and how to use them and other articles and news.  An annual subscription is £20 which is great value for money and, as a bonus,  they are currently giving away a book with each new subscription.  All the information is here and there's also a Taster for you to look at.

Finally I've been to our Embroiderers' Guild Summer Supper Party tonight (the food was fabulous as always - big thank you to the Committee) and I was lucky enough to win the table decoration, a pretty posy of flowers.  Walking back in my party frock clutching a little posy, I felt like a bridesmaid who caught the Bride's bouquet.
Oh yeah, like I wouldn't run a mile if I saw THAT coming.

Everything's Coming Up Roses - Black

Sunday, 23 June 2013

I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles

Gina and I went into town last week to the Fashion and Textile Museum to see the Kaffe Fassett exhibition.

We both really enjoyed it, such a riot of colour and texture and all with a bit of humour thrown in - Gina has written more about it here , but something we agreed on, was that we would both like to make one of these
I thought it looked like a pretty sea urchin, but it turned out to be a hat - like these 
I'm not sure I'd want to wear it, but they did look pretty, and it would use some of my button collection.
The exhibition finishes next Friday, so you need to get your skates on if you want to see it.

After a cup of tea and a piece of delicious cake, Gina had to dash off to get her train, but as I didn't, and as the sun was shining intermittently, I thought I'd have a bit of a walk along by the Thames. I called into Tate Modern (not a lot that I liked in there, I'm afraid), and then I continued wandering along the South Bank where I discovered all sorts of jobs that I didn't know existed.

I don't know about you, but when I left school, I don't think I had much in the way of career advice.  I remember I borrowed a library book called "Careers For Girls" and it seemed to me you had limited choices. 
If you were thin and pretty you could be an air hostess, if you were clever and studious you could be a teacher, if you were kind and caring, nursing was for you, and for everyone else there was office work.
Now I'm not saying that I was a fat, ugly, stupid, obnoxious teenager, but I DID opt to become a shorthand typist.
But imagine, if someone had only told me that you could earn a living making sandcastles......

or that you could get a job blowing bubbles .... 
Which leaves me wondering, what other fantastic job opportunities did they not mention in 'Careers For Girls'?

You'll have to excuse me,  I'm off to write to Cadburys to see if they need any chocolate tasters.

I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles - The Cockney Rejects  (and West Ham supporters, obviously)