Saturday, 28 November 2009


Today, we went to the town centre, one of Peter's bands was singing wintery songs. Before they started, I wandered into the gallery, and there was a cheery sale of handmade, Christmassy, crafty cheeriness. I didn't buy anything, but I did sneak a few photos, for a bit of inspiration...

Considering I'm meant to be making all (most??) of my presents this year, I'm probably leaving it a bit late for the relaxed, cheery preparations I was imagining...

Still, I know what everyone's having (I think!), it's just a case of, er, getting on with it. Funnily enough, when it's housework that needs doing, crafty things seem far more interesting. When it's crafty things that need doing, there always seems to be something else that needs doing first.

Anyway, the first Christmassy project is started - hooray! There's going to have to be several on the go at the same time, some of which I'll be able to show you, some of which will have to wait...

So now I'm all inspired by the pretty, Christmassy loveliness I saw today at the gallery, and keep imagining even more lovely things to make. Self discipline was never one of my strong points, but I'm trying to add things to the end of the list, rather than the top. But there might be just a couple of changes of plan, a few small extra things... We'll see...

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

An update

So much for regular blogging once the PhD was finished! The past two weeks just whizzed by in a flurry of full time work (which doesn't suit me at all), socialising, and a bit of sewing.

The problem with sewing and blogging at the minute is that many of the things I'm sewing are destined to be presents for family, some of who pop in here from time to time. And I don't want to give anything away! So it's all got to be timed, and there's so much waiting...

Actually, if I'm completely honest, there's not that much waiting at all, because I haven't even started on Christmas presents yet. Everything's planned, I know what I'm making, it's just the making part that's not happened yet. There's still time, I think! But it'll be a fairly full on few weeks of sewing. The best kind of full on weeks.

One present I have finished recently is for one of my gorgeous nephews, who turned two recently. I pinched the idea from Handmade Home, which sadly I do not own a copy of (yet!), but there's so many fab pictures of projects from the book around on the internet. I looked at a few of these treasure bags, and scouted around the house for things to make it from, then had a go. I think it turned out rather well :) So far I think it's been mostly used to carry toy cars...

I'm easing my guilt about using the idea without buying the book by promising myself that I WILL buy it, very soon, and possibly copies for everyone else too :)

Since I've got nothing much else of my own to show you at the minute, I thought I'd show you what someone else has been up to instead. I went to visit my family last weekend, and was very much appreciating the way that many of us seem to have found some kind of creativity in the last few years. My mum makes cards, and sells them to her friends. My sister is making all sorts (remember the patchwork skirt??), and has recently started having a go at corsetry.

My auntie has been sewing longer than all of us, and has made quite a few gorgeous patchwork quilts, most of which I don't have pictures of (must change that soon!). This was one of the first she made.

It's slightly shakey as the owner of the quilt, my 12 year old cousin, is hiding under it, squirming around and giggling while I was trying to take the picture. Look at those colours! It's the most colourful quilt I've seen, there's so many things to see, and it's so cosy to sit under.

Most recently, my auntie has started making boxes. These are made from sturdy cardboard and fabric, the first couple were done from a template, but now she makes her own designs. This is the most recent one - again, marvellously colourful and jolly :)

The first one's being used to hold sewing bits and bobs, and there's one been made specifically to hold a piece of telescope (very technical description there).

Aren't they fab??

I'm off work today. I was off yesterday too, but felt so rotten I couldn't do anything other than sleep. Today I feel better, not well enough to go to work, but maybe good enough to wander around with a camera taking a few pictures. I might even knit a few rows, or sew a bit, and maybe I'll even make it back in with another blog post before the day's out. We'll see.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Commemorative peg bag

I had this idea. There's a llama and alpaca farm up the road, and I know they spin the fleece into wool, and I thought it'd be lovely to knit some gloves or scarves or jumpers from local alpaca wool...

So we went for a very soggy morning out there at the weekend.

Apparently alpacas don't produce lanolin like sheep do, so they get a bit soggy in the cold and wet weather. They were looking rather bedraggled! And sadly, at £11 a ball, I won't be buying any alpaca wool any time soon... I really must investigate local sheep's wool soon too.

Anyway, aside from the alpacas, it's been a busy but rather mellow weekend. I'm working full time for two weeks now, so I wanted to get a bit of sewing and resting in before all that started.

I found some fabulous old sheets in a charity shop on Saturday. I just couldn't resist them. I bought them with a specific project in mind, but now I've got them I almost can't bear to cut them up! I can think of several gorgeous things I'd love to make with them. Hmm. Watch this space to see what they end up as...

And now, for some sunflowers - the very thing for a rainy November weekend. Bizarrely, the sunflower seeds we planted a few weeks ago and then thoroughly ignored them, watering them only when they were so shrivelled it was embarrassing, have now started flowering!

And carrying on with the sunflower theme... here's the result of all the pondering about the wedding present to make for my boss.

It's a commemorative wedding peg bag, in the colours of the wedding, with their names and the date of the wedding embroidered on the front :)

They actually really liked it! Well, they fell about laughing, at any rate :) The only commemorative wedding peg bag they, and possibly anyone else, had ever received :)

So a success, I reckon. I'm rather impressed with myself for thinking of it! And I think it turned out rather well :)

Friday, 6 November 2009

A bit of sewing

I've been sewing! Oh, how I've missed it. This is Patch, my second one, and he's so cheery I almost can't bear to give him away. This one is for my friend's two year old daughter, and I'm just trying to work out the best way to stick him in the post.

The pattern came from an article from an old magazine that Peter cut out years ago and stuck to a piece of card. We have no idea what the magazine was, or when it's from, but I'm so glad he cut it out all those years ago. Patch is really easy to make, even for someone as impatient as me... I didn't use old tights as stuff though - but only cos I didn't have enough!

Anyway, he was very cheery to sew, and I'm enjoying having him hanging round in the kitchen. He's adding an element of cosiness at the minute, as our boiler was condemned today, just as it's starting to turn properly cold.

It's 20 odd years old, makes rather a racket, but was working pretty much perfectly, as far as this morning. Sadly, the man who came to do the annual service didn't quite agree...

There's been rather a lot of cursing about the obsolescence of boiler parts. Apparently, the part we need is small, relatively inexpensive, but they just don't make it any more, and because of this we 'have' to have the entire system replaced, at a cost of several thousand pounds.

Well, we don't always believe what we're told in this house... so there's been lots of tapping of keyboards and phoning of friends as we've searched for a better solution. Questions have been asked that others might consider a little bit extreme - Can we find this obsolete part anywhere? (possibly) Can we manage without central heating? (yes) Is it warm enough with plug in heaters? (yes) Could we possibly, possibly justify a cheery solid fuel stove?? (Probably not, but doesn't stop me dreaming about one!) Do we have enough blankets? (undoubtedly yes, but that's not a reason not to acquire a few more!) Shall I start knitting hats? (ooh, yes!)

So. A fair bit of pondering going on here. This is one of the disadvantages of a 'simple' life - sometimes it doesn't seem very simple...

Both of us grew up without central heating, and we've never heated the house up like a greenhouse and walked around in shorts and t shirts. This house is old, 110 years old, and has lived through plenty of those years without radiators. The walls are thick - but filled with rubble rather than cavity wall insulation. Fortunately we have double glazing, and thick curtains. So we won't freeze, but it would be handy to take the chill off the house and not let the damp set in... So for now, we've got four small plug in radiators, and that's working nicely today. Not sure the washing's going to dry very quickly though, and we don't have a tumble dryer. Mind you, doing less washing sounds rather appealing!

If we both worked full time, we might have just agreed to buy a new boiler straight away. But we don't, and we didn't. So this is going to require a bit of creativity. I'm up for the challenge.

Back to reality

Well, here it is..

Not entirely sure how it took me 6 years, but there we are! I did hardly anything other than write, eat and sleep for the whole of October, and so far November has mostly involved working, coughing, sneezing and resting.

I'm slowly starting to re-enter the 'real world' now (whatever that means). So far, it's meant strolling over the hills looking at the scenery...

Trying to see the positives of leaving the house for work at 7.30am...

Appreciating that our city air is clean enough for lichen...

And generally stomping through leaves and loving the colours...

I've slowly started sewing again this week too, and if the sun ever shines for long enough when I'm in the house with a working camera, I'll take some photos. I've got lots of plans for Christmas presents too, which will be underway soon... And I'll be heading back out into the garden this weekend - I've already been out and picked some last minute tomatoes which are ripening on the windowsill.

All in all, I've breathed a huge sigh of relief at having got to the end of this writing extravaganza. It's been a long, hard slog, and even though I willingly started it in the first place, there's been many times I've wished I hadn't... I'm grateful for the opportunity, and if you ask me in another six months, I might even say I enjoyed it, but for now, I'm trying not to think about it at all.

I've started lifting my head up again and taking notice of what's around me - in the kind of housework, bank account, overgrowing garden, late birthday presents kind of a sense... So if you're waiting for me to do something that I should have done and haven't, then it's (probably!) on the list and I'll get round to it very soon! I'll have more to say about work, money, making things, growing things, and undoubtedly lots of other things very soon...

So, gardening, sewing, dancing, music, eating, more sewing, more dancing, and a bit of cake is on the cards for the weekend I reckon :)