Same View -Different Day..

I’m not complaining mind..

Same as yesterday only a bit whiter!
Same as yesterday only a bit whiter!

Especially since this fresh fall of snow has meant the roads are blocked and Mr T will only have to do half of his shift and will be home early, Yay!

We had run out of our stash of fire wood but Mr T has sourced some cheap sacks of hard wood which should see us through the next couple of weeks – he is a good man.  He will have a curry later when he gets home to reward him.

All well here, snuggling down, sewing and telly watching and music listening and a little light crochet – bliss..

Hope all is light in your world.

Keeping toastie..

It’s a bit like this today..

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Toastie is in her second favourite spot (the first one being in front of the fire) – the back of the sofa, behind which is the largest radiator and the front window – you’ve got to keep warm whilst watching out for intruders and of course, her arch enemies – the evil neighbourhood cats.

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To keep out the gloom I have made an enormous one of these –

Sprinkled with cinnamon
Sprinkled with cinnamon
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Latte Coffee in my favourite mug.

Then I plan the rest of my day, which unfortunately requires me to walk out in the Weather with my terriersaurus who will need airing.

I will be doing some more work on this..

A la Alabama Chanin long sleeved bolero.
A la Alabama Chanin long-sleeved bolero.

Finishing the Cretin Stitch edging, which I have finally got the hang of and am now really enjoying.  I had been going through that part of the learning curve where I did know how to do the stitch but it really didn’t make a lot of sense, now it’s clicked and plain sailing, whew.

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I am also finishing the second part of Stephen Fry’s autobiography which I have just loved to bits – his utter honesty about his inner demons is so touching and so brave, while his reminiscences of his career set in the media cultural landscape that I grew up in are fascinating, rude and hilarious.  Everyone from my hero Douglas Adams to Rowan Atkinson, Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie of course, Ben Elton, Paul McCartney and the Queen Mother – just a few in a cast of hundreds of famous people to write your life around.

Later tonight we shall be going to our friend Leslie’s birthday party – supposedly dressed as Pirates but unfortunately we will be very crap Pirates as nether of us has a costume.  Hopefully Leslie will forgive us and just be happy that we are venturing out to her place in the snowy night.

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Chocolate Rabbit..

Ostara – the Spring Equinox, didn’t so much as roar in on Hay this morning, as float in on fat winglets of snow.  Britain is having a very cold March with not much good news in the near future and all around me I can feel people grinning and bearing, grinning and bearing – I swear if we suddenly had one hot, sunny day the whole place would burst into song, mardi gras, fiesta!

But in the mean time we practise stiffening our frigid upper lips and wait..

And in the mean time I have no problem with eating my own body weight in chocolate to help usher the Spring in – isn’t that why we do it?  Nom, nom..

Please lady, don’t make us wait much longer ..

Oh and for you Southern Hemispherians, particularly those of you in my home country of New Zealand – I wish you a happy Autumn Equinox and a long, drought busting soak 🙂

[Artwork: "Spring Equinox" by Amanda Clark of Earth Angels Art, 2011]
[Artwork: “Spring Equinox” by Amanda Clark of Earth Angels Art, 2011]

making, making, making..

I have all three Alabama Chanin books.  I know that most of you won’t have heard of this Southern American clothing design house and if you are not of the sewing/making persuasion you might want to go off now and descale the kettle or sit about gazing blankly or what ever else you non-makers do in your sad, sad down time ;-).   That’s just me trying to justify my absurd need to always be doing something even whilst watching a movie.  If I could sew/draw/crochet/knit while reading a book my life would be perfect.

Natalie Chanin is a designer and maker who lives in Alabama and heads the company that sells utterly gorgeous, hand made clothes out of organic jersey cotton (t-shirt material), you might want to check out their website now and see just what I am talking about. The unusual thing about Alabama Chanin is that not only do they support their community by employing local people to make their clothes (and pay them a living wage), they actually encourage you to make their clothing yourself – it’s the whole handmade DIY aesthetic and to that end they have published three books with instructional how tos, and patterns.

I bought the books last year and got slightly obsessed about making her clothing – creating a set of fingerless mits out of a double layer of jersey and a sleeveless bolero out of an old t-shirt.  I learnt two important things from these experiment, firstly – I would need to scale up the patterns to fit me if I was ever going to get serious about making these garments, and secondly – don’t make handmade anything out of old or poor quality fabric, too much time and effort for a finished project that bobbles quickly or just looks plain crap.

In saying that, I was immensely pleased with myself for making these things and until the mitts started to bobble I just loved them to bits.  Sewing by hand is a whole different ball game from using a machine, the act can become a contemplation, it’s slow (although you do get faster, just like every thing) and  a lot more comfortable for me, possibly because it is so portable, you can sew watching telly or wherever you want really, and if you make a mistake, it’s ultra easy to unpick.  With this style of sewing the stitches can become part of the design, like drawing on cloth – not something to be hidden and I really like that.  Sewing for me has always been pretty scary, I was very bad at it in school and never really thought I could get good at it.  Plus I guess I never saw anything I really wanted that much to sew – until now..

I stumbled across the Craftsy website the other week,  I was aware of it but had not been attracted to any of the courses they offer, and then I saw a course to make this Alabama Chanin jacket run by Natalie Chanin herself – how cool is that! I had to sign up.

Alabam Chanin jacket

The pattern is free with the course and arrived last week, I have the two layers of jersey yardage, one of which I have yet to dye.  I have a shit hot pair of sewing scissors and am partway through cutting the surface design stencil into milar.  I have yet to get the textile paint (next week) and I will be ready to go soon.  I’m scared..

To help me conquer the fear I have already practised by cutting a stencil and negative reverse appliqueing my favourite t-shirt and I have made a long sleeved black bolero from the book Alabama Studio Sewing and Design, which I enlarged and it fits me, hurrah and amazing.  I am up to attaching the edging with cretan stitch and then I will take a photo and show you the finished product.

So that is me at the moment.  Or part of me anyway.  What are you lot up to?  Is there anything you are all excited about at the moment?

I am aware that my last post was leading to Shrewsbury and nothing since so..

You are due some Shrewsbury photos.

We did have a lovely time and the weather was great.  It’s a brilliant town to take a dog  to as it has a huge park that hugs the river and almost completely surrounds the town.  So it was easy to get up in the morning and walk Toast along the beautiful river side, safe enough to let her off lead to explore the bushes and paddle in the river and meet other dogs.  Then we would have an explore of the town – some very cool shops and ancient Tudor buildings, Shrewsbury has over 660 listed historic buildings and still has it’s medieval street plan.  We had a great time.

On the way back we called in to Much Wenlock and then went for a walk along  part of Wenlock Edge – 24 kms of wooded limestone escarpment with wonderful views for miles.  Although we were 330 metres above sea level we had a grand time finding fossil shells in the rock.

We certainly got enough exercise that weekend.

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Morning walk in the park with Toastie going ‘cracker dog’. St Chads in the background where Charles Darwin was baptised in 1809
War memorial
War memorial

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Beastie
Beastie
On the wonk.
On the wonk.
From Wenlock Edge
From Wenlock Edge
On the way home - current favourite place name.
On the way home – current favourite place name.