Regarding my last post – one of the reasons I had been feeling so crappy is because I had had the flu since Christmas day and two weeks on, just as I thought I was getting better, the glands came up under my chin and back I was, sofa bound (apart from walking dogs) again.
I am finally well and have emerged ready and able to listen to all the other poor sods who have also been ill, and there are many, probably because around Christmas everyone gets more social than usual and we cheerfully and unknowingly go about the town spreading our germs.
While I was ill, our possessions that we had shipped, arrived from New Zealand. Unfortunately I was in no fit state to deal with them and it is only now that we have finally got down to the last box.
It is lovely to have all our rugs and bits and pieces about again although it is taking some doing, shoe horning everything in to our tiny bolt hole. It is fortunate that I was rigorous in what I packed, although somehow a large amount of yarn managed to find itself secreted into whatever crevice it could be stuffed into.
And talking about yarn – here is my new poncho which I whipped up when I got hold of some discounted, beautiful Japanese Noro Hanabatake wool and silk yarn on Ebay – yay! Finished just in time for this very freezing weather.
I am going now to take tea and catch up on some socialising but I will be back later in the week with a couple of blog posts about some of my friends here in Hay-on-Wye and I’ve got lots of lovely photos to show you. Have an awesome day 🙂
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.
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?
So my friend Yvonne said to me on the phone a couple of months ago “Please update your blog” – I agreed and then proceeded to procrastinate with a vengeance…
It is far to scary to attempt to recount all that I’ve been up to in the many months since I last posted so I am just going to start with the here and now..
The view out my window is lovely and green – that is because we have had eleventy million litres of rain bucketing out of the sky all summer. Believe me this is only a slight exaggeration. Now normally I like rain – specially heavy rain, but I like it to be appropriately cool – rain and cold, they go together don’t they? Instead we have had rain and hot – so sweaty hot that the obligatory walk with the dogs ends up with me as wet as they because it is far to warm to wear a coat. I hate that.
The other small thing of note in the photo is the surprisingly lovely and incredibly long lived pom pom flowers which grew from our neglected leek plants. Well worth growing just for the flowers.
The last thing I note from this photo is the card celebrating the 1st of August – Lammas, the first harvest festival. We have had so little sun it seems a bit of a swizz that we are already on our way back into the dark half of the year. Ah well, at least I will get the cold as well as the rain that I am moaning about.
This morning I spoke to my Mum in New Zealand for about an hour. She told me about her week – playing bowls, outings with friends, her renewed interest in Coronation St (oh yuck) and I told her about the amazingly wonderful effects of HRT that I have finally twisted my GPs arm into prescribing. I feel like a ‘normal’ person again, truly incredible and I wish so much that I could have started taking them years ago.
I did do some research before swallowing the first pill – and amongst it all I found this article from the New York Times really interesting if you are trying to make your mind up about it yourself.
The rest of my day has been filled with house work, walking the dogs (one Toastie and one visiting aged and quite lovably stupid Springer Spaniel named Alfred, whose elderly owners are both in hospital.
My other job of the day has been to revive my Etsy shop and start to list some of my new creations. Not that I think that anyone will actually buy them but more that I have to justify continually making new ones and purchasing the yarn to make them.
Also – a couple of months ago I committed to go to Rome for four days the last week in September with some friends and the trip has worked out to be a lot more expensive than I expected. As Mr T did not want to come and I am spending vast amounts I need to show willing and at least try so sell some of my wares.
Here are the ones I listed today.. They are great fun to make – partly because I am not using any pattern so there are no rules and I get to use whatever yarn I want, including strips of tee shirt.
Also they look good on me so they will look good on anyone!
That is my day so far – I am off now to feed my furry friends and settle down for my currant fave True Blood and a little hooking.. Have a good one all..
You would think from my latest posts that I had given up on crochet – no mention at all, that would be WRONG!
The trouble is I have so much else I want/have to do that the hooky bit gets somewhat crowded out. Here then is one of my latest finished projects – the first actual garment I have ever crocheted. Then I created my own edging, collar and lined pockets (everything has to have pockets) – fun to do and I really love it.
The basic pattern used is taken free from Ravelry and is very easy to make. You need to be a member of Ravelry to use their site but it is so worth it. So without any further ado –
I am eating one of the apples off our tree. It is the kind of apple that when you bite the red bleeds into the white, which is kinda cool. I am also drinking a mug of tea – a new type of PG Tips that I got free in a mag, it is surprisingly nice, or maybe I am just really thirsty..
Two days till Mabon, or if you like – the Autumn Equinox and you would need to be blind not to be able to tell that the year is into wain. I presume that even if you were blind you would be able to tell the special smells that go with this season. One of the few smells I really don’t care for is that of coal burning and I have had a whiff or two of that in the last couple of weeks. We have already had one load of wood delivered and another arriving next week, it will feel nice knowing that if all outside power sources go we will still be able to keep warm, cook food and have hot water and light.
Fire, my favourite element? Mmmm.. Certainly will be for these next couple of seasons..
I have a little shrine on my lounge windowsill and on it I have one of the cards from the Goddess Sabbat Cards set designed by Wendy Andrew that grace every seasonal celebration. At the moment it is still showing the harvest card for Lammas on the 1st of August.
I have been unwell again, as you might have noticed by the dearth of blog posts, none for September so far. Feeling ok today however and more inclined to reach out to you lovely people again.
We were supposed to be going to London for a week at the beginning of October to celebrate my birthday but have called that off as I cannot be sure that I will have the energy to do all the things that one does in London. Instead we have taken a caravan at a place called Pennard Cliffs on the South Wales coast and will relax and walk the dog ragged (some hope with a terrier). I am looking forward to it, instead of being anxious about it when London was still the plan.. I have been assured that London will still be there when I am more able.
I am working on far too many crochet projects, I broke my own rule and now have seven items which need finishing, including my Japanese Flower Shawl which I should have finished months ago. I have this idea that if I sewed all the motifs together and blocked it I could wear it on my birthday! Just a week and a half to go, we will see..
Late for me anyway, it’s usually pumpkin time around ten – ten thirty.
But I’ve been an eBay listing fool for the greater part of the evening as well as cooking a chicken dinner for His Nibs when he got in.
So what with one thing or another, blogging got pushed to up to the time where my eyes are sand paper and I keep making mistakes… CONCENTRATE! Ah – that’s better.. I’ve just been handed a mug of tea.. enough to keep me going at least till I have finished this.
Now I have the eBay listing out of the way I have only one day of work tomorrow and then my time is my own until next Wednesday. I have a possibly mad hope that I will get all the flower motifs of my shawl sewn together some time soon. It really is a pain in the bum to have to do and next time I make something like it I swear I will join them as I go along. The thing is I suspect that it is going to look fricking fabulous when it is all put together and also – once you have actually crocheted 34 motifs it would be a crying shame not to finish it. Sooo.. I need to stir my stumps..
Two photos for you before I hit the hay..
I have a small obsession for Wombles, Moomins and others of that ilk, including The Banana Bunch. From another age when I was A LOT less cynical about television. Anyway, I found this fair maiden at Past Times in Hereford the other week and just had to have her. She even whistles when you squeeze her tummy – how cool is that!
A sparkling day today… one of those days that seem to be trying to make up for the fact that it was minus seventy billion degrees celsius last night and there is still, at 10.30am, enough frost on the pavement to make walking on the road a safer bet.
I set out to do a few essential tasks, mostly enjoyable, filling in my time sheet at work, visiting the bank, picking up fresh sour dough buns from Kate our own personal baker around the corner. Took a few photos while I was out, just to show you – nothing special mind, just where I live..
The last of the photos are to show you some of the rest of my day. Our Ikea trip last weekend was highly successful and our house is now full of shelves. Which have all been erected but not without the odd melt down or two and a threatened divorce. I spent part of today setting up the lights I got along with the shelves – still on a quest to fill our little house with light.
My good friend Julie is arriving on Wednesday night. She is from New Zealand but spends several months each year working in Norway, this time she is stopping off on her way home to spend a week with us. I can’t wait – it will be so good to see her. I will be busy for the next couple of days getting the house ready as well as working. Not long to go..
I have a sore spot on the roof of my mouth, it has been there for a few days now and has discouraged me from eating my usual marmalade on rye sourdough toast for breakfast – too sharp. Instead I got to eat my first porridge of the year. Porridge with full fat organic honey, Greek yogurt, banana, and a large spoon of dark muscovado sugar. Mmmm, soft, warm, rich and sweet, feel sorry for me?
The sourdough has been a recent addition to the household. My neighbour Rosie kindly introduced me to her baker – a woman who lives on the next street over and makes bread to order for collection every Monday.
I have started, rather cautiously, making things again. My recent attempt at chemical relief resulted in a complete non-interest in any sort of creative endeavor at all. I did keep trying for a while, with rather disastrous results. I had to pull apart my knitting several times, then I just chucked it into a corner. And the bag I was making! I had to unpick THREE TIMES, and when I did it wrong again, I chucked it into a corner as well.
A couple of evenings ago I picked up the knitting again, figuring the drugs must have worn off enough by then, and sure enough, no problem. The same with my bag. I got it out yesterday afternoon and a couple of hours later it was finished – not perfectly mind, looks a little ropy – as you would if you had been pulled apart and put together that many times. But I was determined..
There are a couple of things I learnt from making this bag
Next time I will alter the pattern and make the bag deeper, so I can lose things easier and..
When you are making something for the first time do NOT use your most favorite vintage material which is probably IRREPLACEABLE. So that if you DO cock it up and can’t fix it, it won’t be such a big shame. Duh!
Kath looked wonderful and THE DRESS! Just lovely and made of silk.. I will never forget the moment during the wedding breakfast when, in the middle of a conversation, she hit her hand on her knife handle and flicked tomato pasta sauce onto the bodice – her recovery was masterful! She is my good friend and absolute honey – I am so glad Julian had the sense to marry her..
Busy, busy – but not to busy to show off my newest creation. This is my first stuffed toy (really a toy for grownups) and is made from bits and pieces of unwanted fabrics, old doilies etc, that people have given me or I have found in charity shops. She was a learning curve that’s for sure as I only went to trusty google after I had made lots of mistakes. Such as – always, always pin your pieces together before both cutting and sewing! (which meant going out and buying pins as our boxes haven’t arrived yet). And for gods sake CONCENTRATE! – and then you won’t sew the toes up the side or the ears around the wrong way. Really this is a credit to my ability to unpick seams. 🙂
I also need to mention that the reason why she is a bit lumpy is because I don’t have any proper soft filling yet and so she is stuffed with socks and balls of wool – just so I could show her to you all.