Friday, 21 December 2012

Late to the party - bits and bobs

We have  been struck down by seasonal coughs and colds and a stomach bug.  Yuk.  Yuk. Yuk. I knew I was ill as I didn't want to read any blogs! Apologies for lack of comments.  I now have two recovering kids off school so any reading is out of the window.   But fingers crossed we are recovering now.  Today,  I have been dealing with the seasonal sink unblocking.  And the seasonal five year old tantrum.  Oh and the unseasonal car repair bill.   Ho ho ho. 

I have completed just one present this year

Finished and ready for posting - a scarf from my granny hexagons.  Some of them turned out to be octagons but never mind!  I edged them all with pale grey thrifted wool and stitched them up to make a bright textured scarf for an old friend. 

Christmas bits and pieces are appearing around the house. 

While Rocket Girl slept last week I finally, finally, FINALLY, cut out my first Renfrew.  I am so late to the Renfrew party.  All the cool sewers have moved onto to something else I know.  I bought the pattern in May, so it has been waiting 6 months.  I am using some purple cotton jersey given to me by the lovely Scruffybadger.  Hopefully it won't be another 6 months before I sew it up. 
Tova pattern hanging up
I also finally printed out my Tova pattern last week (I am so late to that party too) which I bought as a PDF about 6 months ago.  Now I am just sticking it together, which so far is straightforward.  I know I won't get any work done on it till after New Year and the return to school. 

So anyway, I hope you all have a peaceful and happy holiday.  On Sunday  I am off to stay in a house with no internets....eeek.  The good news for me is I am not cooking Christmas dinner, tee hee.  See you on the other side. xx

Have a chocolate, go on....

Friday, 7 December 2012

More drowning than waving

By this title I mean, drowning in the sea of chaos, not actual water. 
I was tempted to title this post "Help!"  -  I have been feeling a lot more overburdened recently with various things.   I have found myself shouting and being grumpy.  I am trying to make a concerted effort not to be so grouchy and not to shout but, you know what?  It's hard somedays. 

So here's what I have done to alleviate shouting...and get organised.  So far.  It's a work in progress.

"drawback???? Who is she calling a drawback? "
Using a  suggestion from the book "Organized Home" , I created a "launch pad"* for T and one for Little I.  They are only plastic trugs but in them goes anything for school.  At the end of the day they put their school bags in them.  When there are letters to return, musical instruments, wellies, whatever I put them in the launch pad.  This was partly clear the space in our hallway with stuff dropped anywhere and to stop having that awful panic at the last minute when something has been forgotten or misplaced.  This worked well till we hit the drawback.  The drawback is...a very cute drawback...but one who is now trying to pull herself up to standing and plastic trugs do not support that weight.  She also is putting EVERYTHING in her mouth so I have to find a new home for the launch pads.

Random seaside illustration
2.  In the summer I bought a charity shop rack and used it as rack for shoes near the front door.  No more shoes scattered across the house.  No more shouting "I don't know where my shoes are"  Result!  A few weeks ao I just had to move the rack of baby's reach as she was pulling herself up on it and eating shoes (mmmm...tasty).  So it has a new home by the kitchen back door. 

3.  I made weekly wall planners for T and Little I.  T is a scatterbrain, a total scatterbrain and I am trying to train him for taking more responsibility before going up to senior school in two years time.  I looked online for a weekely planner template then was struck by the idea of just drawing out my own.  T was so happy because I drew Yoshi on his.  "You were born to draw Yoshi, Mum" (I have now found the reason for my draw Yoshi.  I am soooooo glad I have cleared up that question). 

* Try telling a logical thinking five year old that l'aunch pad' is a metaphor for launching them into their day, "no, it's not for a rocket, no, really nothing to do with rockets"....she looked at me as if I were insane. 
Any more organisational tips?  Or shall I just quit now and lie down in my own chaos?

Monday, 26 November 2012

Works in progress

 Despite not posting much recently,  I have been busy with sewing in little bits of snatched time. Did you read Tilly's  recent post about sewing in fifteen minute segments.  I feverishly commented that this was my sewing existence with Rocket Girl on the scene.  Here's what those fifteen minutes have been adding up to.    I am making some bibs for RG and some for my friend's son's Christmas present. 
I have almost finished my winter skirt. Just the lining left to hem now.   My proposed autumn sewing plans were cast aside when I bought a length of floral cordory in the charity shop.  At £2.50 I had to buy it.  After much consideration of skirt patterns, looking at some Ottobre ones, I went back to the tried and trusted Sew U skirt from the first Built by Wendy book and used her slant patch pockets to make two front pockets.  The Built by Wendy knits book has come in for a lot of new attention recently in the sewing blogosphere but I am going to put in some love for the first Sew U book which has trouser, shirt/blouse and skirt blocks and such very, very useful pocket pattern pieces.  Those pocket pieces enable me to create my own skirts with details I like.  Plus sewing in short bursts means I cannot really try out new patterns - that just seems too scary.  
Polka dot lined pocket
I had enough cordory to make Little I a skirt.  It is a bit more exciting than mine, featuring ruching, lace trim, ric rac, oversized shiny buttons and a polka dot underskirt.  Can you bear the dotty, shiny, ruch-y (is that a word?) excitement? Oh, to be five years old.   It is nearly finished and deserves a post of its own. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Crochet rediscovered

 The elderly lady who used to babysit me and my siblings taught me to crochet.  She also always had a ready supply of chocolate.  Then I learnt more crochet in girl guides.  It was the only useful thing I learnt in guides.
After the teddies reignited my knitting I was sorting through my bag of odd balls of yarn and found my old crochet hook.  A quick Ravelry search later and I was off!  Happily my brain hadn't forgotten how to crochet. 

I love making these little circles, they are so quick and easy to pick up in odd moments. I don't have enough yarn for a blanket( I was so inspired by Snippa's blanket, check it out)  but do have enough for a Christmas'll have to wait and see what it is. 

I think crochet is easier than knitting and more portable.  If the hook slides away you only have one stitch to find, rather than a dropped row.  I am curious though - which one do other people find easier? 

Thursday, 8 November 2012


It is hard to photo your own eye in close up. 

Recently, I have been experiencing a disturbing phenomenom.  Here's an example.  Our local library is accessed by a lift or stairs.  In the lift is a large mirror.  I get in the lift and see a harried, middle aged woman staring at me, huge under eye bags, birds nest hair in a straggly ponytail, wearing some rag bag collection of clothes topped off by a sensible waterproof jacket and a harassed expression.   "Oh crap"  I think with a sinking sense of dread, "Is that really me?"  It seems that only five minutes ago I was twenty, an art student, skinny and young.  Do I want to go back in time?  Well, not really.  Some things have improved with age....I like myself more, I think I have gained some acceptance of who I am.  I hope I am better dressed, certainly I am less paint spattered.  I am definitely a better listener and more considerate of others. I can speak up for myself.   I think I am less self-centred. (Don't laugh, I realise the irony of that sentence in a post with many "I"s in it)   I definitely have better boots and scarves.  I can manage my time and energy better. 

Last week I went out to eat in an Italian cafe with my family.  There were lots of mirrors.  I had thought I looked okay...a bit of concealer, mascara and lippy, I even remembered to use a hairbrush.  Then I glimpsed her again in one of the many mirrors...that crazy-haired washed out complexion woman.  I also realised my default expression is "worried".  Even if I am not worried, I look as if I am!  Maybe I need to try grinning like a maniac to counter the worried expression.  I have always been irritated by people saying  "Don't look so worried"  "I am not worried" I want to shout - "that's just my face!" 
Does anyone else avoid mirrors in cafes?
What am I going to do? Should I stop caring?
Still hard to photograph my own eye

 I have always been plagued by having dark pigment round my eyes, at school I would get told off for wearing eye make up when none was there.  Now I have dark lids and big big under eye shadows.  I hate them.  They are naturally part of me though.  They are exacerbated by the relentless early morning schedule of Little I and Rocket Girl.  I don't know if there is any wonder cream out there.  

Even before children a saleswoman told me that my eye circles were too dark for YSL's touche eclat.  So what do I do?  How do I convince myself to love my dark eyes? Any recommendations?

I have managed one step - I went and my hair cut and my fringe put back in so I can banish the straggly ponytail look.  I think the fringe is a thinking woman's alternative to botox. Seriously.  It hides those frown lines so well. 

Just to round up this vanity-related post, a work in progress glimpse to prove not all is doom and peering in mirrors here.  I have veered right off course from my planned Autumn sewing.   Blame it on finding this needlecord in the charity shop, only £2.50 and enough for a skirt for me and a skirt for Little I.  Yes people, it's mix n' match mother daughter dressing - the sort of thing my twenty year old self would have scoffed at! 

Saturday, 27 October 2012


Last sunday I tried taking a picture every hour.  I didn't quite manage it but here's what I did manage.  We had no car and no T for the first part of the day. 

7.30am - note precarious sewing pile behind high chair. 

9.30am - preparing to go out

10.20am - she nodded off on the bus

11am - she dressed herself!  What styling.  And see the misty morning behind.  

12 noon - two friends at the cafe door

1pm - on the way home, mist cleared and sun came out

2pm - doughnuts to celebrate T's return from a chilly cub camp

3pm - the Barbies practice their maths skills (that's right Barbie, use your BRAIN to get ahead)

4pm - the dining table, no room to eat here

5pm - I found this scrumpled up missive from Little I, it reads " I am someth(ing) very special"

Monday, 22 October 2012

FO: Autumn flowers dress

 I started this dress in late August.  I am sure I was channelling Jessica and her floral dresses when planning it.  The fabric is from my mum's vast fabric stash.  It is liberty-esque or possibly even liberty.   I used the dress pattern 3c from "Simple Modern Sewing", but left off the sleeves as I didn't have enough fabric. 

The dress is a simple A line with a boat neck and a casing at the waist.  I put some pale pink ribbon in the casing but am planning on swapping that for something darker, as the pale pink looks too lady's nightie for me.

The pattern is easy to follow only two main pieces and two facings, one casing.  I made life more complicated by trying to be clever and sewing the neck facing on the outside to create a yoke.  It didn't work.  At all.  The yoke wouldn't lie properly so I had to unpick it and sew it back on to the inside.  I made the centre front have a little notch as it is a very high boat neck. 
Instead of the arm facing I made and added bias binding. (Not a fan of arm facing)  I handsewed the binding and hem as it is easier to find pockets of time for handsewing than machine sewing.  Quite a lot of this was sewn in the car outside school or while watching the i-player with a sleeping baby on my lap. 

Today I test drove my new dress.  Despite it being a floral best suited to summer, I enjoyed wearing it more than I expected.  The floral dress with tights and boots is a bit of a 90s throwback and I liked that.  It was comfortable and practical enough for a walk and bus ride morning out. 

This strange picture is me on the bus!  Brown woolly tights and green boots.

The bad points about the dress?  I sewed a size large and it is a little too big on the top, the neck is a bit too high.  I am thinking I could lower the front neckline easily enough by about half an inch.  I am not so sure about the bodice fit.  My bust size is a slowly shrinking measurement as I still nurse RG but not as frequently as when she was younger.  So I am tempted to leave the bodice fit until next year and hopefully only have to alter it once.  (I am also too lazy to do it now, and too keen to move onto the next project)

Strictly casual dressing round here.  Smart, well dressed people need not call round. (just joking)  And yes of course I always co-ordinate my colours with RG's clothes.

So I am happy with my summer floral dress completed just as Autumn edges towards Winter.  I hope to manage to sew something seasonly appropriate one day.

Friday, 12 October 2012


 Phew....I did it!  Two teddies knitted and two teddy sleeping bags sewn.  They are ready to join the other teddies heading for a Kenyan Christmas. 

Little I's teddy has a red jumper with pink heart and pink trousers.  Her sleeping bag is provencal cotton from some scraps. 

T's teddy is in grey school trousers and blue jumper.  His sleeping bag has some red ric rac trim. 

I enjoyed making these teddies and rediscovered how nice it is knit in odd moments of time.  I even found that it is possible to knit and breastfeed at the same time!  Wouldn't recommend it though - it is taking multi tasking to a silly extreme. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

FO museum tunic

Ah-maz-ing...a finished object post.  I sewed up the museum tunic during the summer holidays but only just managed to photograph it this week.  As soon as I saw the Anna Maria Horner voile in the parcel Jessica sent me, I knew I wanted to make this tunic.  It is the simplest top to construct, just four rectangles and a piece of elastic in the front.  The instructions are on the Anna Maria Horner website here, though she makes it as a dress.  (I hope this link works as my computer seems to freeze evertime I go onto the AMH  site).

I have been wearing the top loads since making it and deriving a lot of pleasure in wearing it.  The fabric is so lovely and drapey that it makes the simple top hang well.  Thank you Jessica.  A plus point for speedy sewing is the square print which gives you an almost idiot proof cutting and sewing line! 
This week the only FO here is this hairband for Little I to wear to school.  She chose the fabric combination, I assembled it while Rocket Girl was trapped, imprisoned, sitting in her high chair eating rice cakes.
Thank you for the teddy comments.
Below is a teddy in progress shot, knitting in the car waiting outside school.  This teddy will have pink trousers and a red jumper, and grey body/head. 

Add caption

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Autumn sewing scuppered by teddies

Ugh..bleurgh...meh...that's how I feel about my sewing at present.  I seem to have made a wardrobe of ill fitting, oddbod garments. 
 My actual sewing is very infrequent at the moment.  My dark blue shirt dress (the Lisette Traveller dress) has been hanging up all summer, shoulder and side seams complete - the only progress I made was to tack on all four pockets.  My floral dress based on a patterrn from the Modern Sewing book is awaiting sleeves binding and a hem.  Despite this I was planning for autumn.  Thinking of what patterns I already have waiting, it is a matter of adjusting my summer plans slightly.  I was thinking thriftily and sensibly of using what I have and not buying anything new.  I am also thinking of making something that drapes well and fits.  Back in May I bought a renfrew pattern and lovely Winnie aka Scruffy badger gave me some purple jersey which I was planning to renfrew.  I also bought the pdf version of the Wikstein Tova a few months ago and have some greyish drapey cotton blend that I purloined from my mum's stash while sorting her sewing supplies this summer.  A grey tova seems to me to be a prospect that will fill many wardrobe gaps. 
Then Jessica kindly gave me a Crepe pattern so it would be downright churlish not to make a crepe dress wouldn't it?  I have some fabric lined up for that too. 
But all sewing is on hold because of The Teddies. 
 Both children bought home letters from school asking for knitters to knit up teddies.  The school has a partner school in Kenya and  the plan is to send every reception child in the kenyan school a handknitted teddy for christmas.   So now on the crafting horizon are two teddies.  Selfish sewing for me or selfless knitting for little children?  Uh-oh, what a choice!  Each time Rocket Girl naps out come my needles and knit, knit, knit I go.  Normal sewing will resume once two teddies are knitted, stuffed and have sleeping bags sewn. 

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Snippets, a meeting, a cult, florals

Bee People
So I didn't mean to have that blog holiday.  Life got in the way.  Devon was fun, in between monsoon like rain showers.   While there I met up with Charlotte from Sew far sewgood and her youngest son.  It was lovely to meet her in "real life" and to discover what good company she is!  Her little boy is very cute too.  We met at the RAM museum in Exeter where T and Little I joined a strange cult of Bee People and we saw lots of stuffed animals. It was great to chat to Charlotte and I hope to see her next time I am in Exeter (what do you think Charlotte??).

A knitted rag rug from old tee shirts

The museum was a strange experience for me as the museum has been majorly extended and rebuilt but retains original areas which I remember vividly from childhood. There was a sense of recognition but also a sense of dislocation.  That night I couldn't sleep lying awake trying to figure out where staircases led to now and where they used to lead to.

Charlotte very kindly gave me a Guardian craft book book "Making Stuff" .  I have been enjoying flipping through it. Here are some of my favourite ideas and images.

Using old buttons to make magnets

Soap making

Finally, I am doing a tiny bit of sewing with this purloined floral cotton. I am slightly worried I will end up looking like a floral sofa at the end of it.

Appropos of nothing, against all odds, and despite my gardening policy of benign neglect we have ripe tomatoes. 
Happy weekend to everyone.