Wednesday, 30 November 2011

I learnt to cross stitch as a young girl and it is still one of my favourite past times.  Not that I do it very often, but put a piece of it anywhere near me and I can't help myself as the poor 10yr old will tell you when I was "teaching" her!

The reason I don't do it very much is because I rarely find a pattern that gets me all excitable, I'm not a fan of pictorial stitching and there's only so many samplers you can make, and one day I will make a sofa full of cushions, but deciding on exactly which ones is a long and complicated business! ;o)

But the other day, a very good friend posted a beautiful piece of calligraphy on FB and it got me thinking.   I don't currently have any graph paper on me to draw up my own chart (possibly my most favourite part of any stitching project) and so I googled quickly and found a new favourite  For free, in a variety of sizes and stitch counts, and in your choice of thread manufacturer, they will draw up a full colour chart complete with thread listing.  I was amazed!  It makes you want to find any picture, of anything, and run it through their programme, just because you can!

Those cushions may not be so far off after all....

Monday, 28 November 2011

In memorium

Of the people we first met when we moved to the village, Hanningfield Bill was one of our favourites.  He didn't live here (hence our nickname, there are a number of Bills!) but loved the village and the pub and drank in there a number of times a week.  He loved the chair at the end of the bar, our Megs, my lemon curd, talking about dogs and promising to steal me away to his villa in Marbella... he was (is) a true gent and made us feel truly welcome here.

He very sadly passed away last week and was laid to rest today, in the presence of over 200 close family and friends.  He is much missed and loved.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Godfrey: a Doberman's favourite toy!

Well, coutil is pretty dobe proof, felt less so: I am amazed at the dexterity of Megs teeth which have been able to strip the felt of his nose and mouth... and the coutil arms were obviously too much of a temptation to last.  But he's holding his own and has become her new favourite toy; and yes, he's not too pretty but I've had "indestructible" toys last less than an hour of Megs' attention and Godfrey is nearly a month old!

And today... we made a roof!

It's been making and doing of a whole different nature the last two weekends; our kitchen needed it's roof repaired and relaid.  As with all things in this house, normal doesn't cut it.  The tiles (dutch double romans pantiles, with the cutout bit, for those of you interested!) are so hard to find having originally come from the Netherlands in the early 17th C having been used as ballast in trading barges.  They were then traded here as the barges stocked up with goods to take back home and so supply is specific and limited... trust the old owners to pick them for our extension!  They are old and can be brittle, so prone to breaking and buying in replacements involves treks to the middle of nowhere.  Having already run minor repairs on the roof, the boyf has now taken it all personally and so, as the pics show, is the one responsible for all the good stuff... anyways heights and I do not mix.  

I, instead, ran errands, moved tiles from roof to ground and back up to roof again, cleaned them, tidied up, cleared leaves, make snacks and drinks, offered moral support and took the photos!  In the process we found out that the back wall is red brick (and in pretty good nick, always good to know in a 600yr old property!) and also discovered, in the roof, the old porch roof, which had just been built around... always nice to find another piece of the house's history.  

Today we rendered in the sides and cleared yet more leaves...  the roof should now be good and watertight for the winter - fingers crossed!  As the boyf mortered, the 10yr old and I cleaned the chooks out, mixed mortar, and cleared more leaves.  I look at how our life has changed since we moved to our little house in the country, and the positives it's had for all of us, but particularly the 10yr old, and I am so very grateful for our life here.  But, as I was having my little moment, I couldn't help but notice that the dobe has focused on the really important stuff and found a good spot to relax ;o)

In the meantime, I have also finished my little project, so pictures up next week, the 10yr old and I snuck out and browsed my favourite shop for some special Christmas presents and I'm now indulging in an marathon night of Aussie Masterchef on TV whilst doing some more Christmas shopping online; beats the crowds anyday!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Cue Cards... or Love Notes?

There is definitely a word for this week, a theme, a tagline: compromise, cooperation, compassion, communication… I can’t pin point it, but it’s certainly not crafts! 

But sometimes life throws a curveball and its at those times that you need to focus past your own nose and the list of want-to-do’s that otherwise keep you very happily occupied.

That said, I have one Christmas project nearly completed, I can tell you more about it next week and I made the lovely boyf a little present today: Cue Cards!

They are hardly my most creative works, though I quite like the bow and the “can be hung anywhere” clip ;o), but they are fun and could prove useful one day.  I don’t know about any other wonky-thyroidists, but I have times when I bottom out; exhaustion hits at full force and everything crumbles, all I can do is try to sleep and eat and wait to come out the other side again.  One of the worst side-effects is a complete inability to communicate in anything other than grouchy grunts and glares, sometimes for a good few days.  I have it on good authority that, at such times, I am not that much fun to be around!

I am a work in progress and learning to deal differently; and like “ice-breakers” at dinner parties, I hope that these little cards will help me climb out of the brain fog and make the whole process of communicating a little easier… plus I threw in a few silly and naughty ones, just for the laugh.  The boyf and I have a history of love notes, some more unusual than others (the plastic lizard in the bathroom is one of my favourites, but a whole other story), and these are an extension of that because his patience with, and care of, me through the whole sorry saga since wonky-t turned our lives upside down has been a true declaration of love.  I hope one day to not be talking about all of this because I don’t need to, rather than because I’m embarrassed by myself and maybe my little cards will help…

Love notes, however romantic, naughty or prosaic they may be, the act of sharing that secret communication reminds you of your place in each other’s lives and hearts.  So find some card, labels, post it notes, the back of a till receipt!;  think of a dozen or so things that you want to say – even if it is, as in my case, “I’m doing the housework, no need to help” – and use them with abandon…

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The not post

Oh, I had so much to say yesterday.  My laptop and Word took a hammering, thankfully they're robust, discreet, listen very well and are utterly non-judgemental!

In the meantime, I'm feeling utterly uncreative and am behind on all my projects with Christmas approaching fast...

Bah humbug!  ;o)

Friday, 18 November 2011

A thought...

my thought for the day; this is what I would like the 10yr old to learn.

Pudsey... a crisis averted!

As 10yr olds are occassionally wont to do, I was only told at 7.30 yesterday morning about today's Pudsey/spotty-themed dress down day at school.  Sadly, for the 10yr old, on 24hrs notice it wasn't possible to buy anything officially Pudsey.  Now the 10yr old is not spoilt, she has nice things and as the lastest in a long line of want to be hoarders she keeps things way past their "sell by" date, but I have conciously brought her up to appreciate the value of her possessions in terms of quality not quantity.  In many ways, my daughter is a little old-fashioned in her outlook and I am very proud of that fact.  On the drive home I thought through the craft stash and was pretty pleased when I came up with an alternative Pudsey plan, and genuinely surprised when she looked borderline mortified at the thought of going into school wearing something that wasn't "printed".  After a lecture about the value of money, the fact that we could donate the saved pounds directly to the charity where it would go further, a pep talk about being proud of herself and her creative abilities... jeez I'm an annoying mother some days!... and with the back up of the wonderful Mr S who was prepared to combine felt circles with a maths lesson we got out the felt, the glue, the paint and the results are here to see...  I'm not entirely sure she is completely happy with our creation, the desire to conform is still outweighing her pride in her creativity, but she's wearing it and smiling!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

American Girl Doll Dress Patterns

The boyf is going to be away again (a week in South Africa, not a bad gig!) and so I need a little something to do.  I have been pondering on clothing for Dolly for a while now; it's a back of the head thought, tucked way down under a pile of others, but there in the background nevertheless.  I find so many patterns for dolls clothing disappointing; a series of rectangles gathered together to create the illusion of shape and some basic detailing thrown in at the end.  I know that its just "dolls clothes" but I wanted more than that and was looking for vintage patterns.  Thanks to Barbs Craft Books I discovered a page of pdfs of American Doll patterns; mini wardrobes for particular dolls.  Now I am no AG fan, they are really not my thing, and I was going to click straight past but I am glad I didn't because the patterns are delightful.  There's a story about each doll, explaining why she would wear each item in the pattern, and the clothes are detailed pieces of craftsmanship: the jacket I am contemplating is lined and laced, and another pattern for a Regency dress included interchangeable stomachers.  I can imagine that many a happy girl has thoroughly enjoyed picking new outfits for her AG doll and many a happy mother has also enjoyed the small challenge of sewing them.  I have printed the Felicity pattern; it will require some adjusting to fit, but that will be part of the fun... I have tonight to Friday night to get Dolly dressed.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Art of Dressing in the 1870's

Thanks to Sew Curvy who I follow on FB, I found this video (from Indigo Multimedia) this morning and was enthralled.  I have spent the last 20 minutes pausing it over and over and noting all the tiny, useful details.  The dress is extraordinary, I wish I could make something as beautiful as that, and loved finding out about the little details such as the corset hook and the jacket's inner waistband.  It makes me more tempted than ever to make another Victorian dress, earlier period this time, with a bustle and a different corset design - I love the curves of the model, I want them!  It also demonstrates the need for  truly fabulous fabrics, I couldn't afford silk faille for my first dress, but now that I am comfortable with the process I would definitely consider it, it sits so beautifully.  Oh, and when do you think I could squeeze in a little time studying with Luca Costigliolo at the National School of Cinema in Rome?!? Why didn't I know about him 15 years ago!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Live, Laugh, Love

Its been a glass half empty day which was a shame because glass half empty days are not very productive and I'd had plans for my Thursday afternoon off...  However, as luck would have it, my recent purchases arrived in the post.  I buy the Laugh Lines calendar every year, it makes me smile every time I look at it.  Normally, I don't remember to buy it until late December, but this year I am strangely organised.  I also carry round half a dozen notebooks each year with my lists and thoughts and scribbles and jottings, and had decided that for 2012 I would instead treat myself to the date book from the companion Live with Intention range.  With storage space, month to a page, week to a page and extra notes pages, I think it may do the trick and keep me a little more organised than all my notebooks do!  We'll soon see.. In the meantime, I am curled up in front of the fire in my lovely new slippers (not yet chewed by Megs, a rare treat!), with a glass of red, and am taking a sneak peak at my purchases, no better antidote to a glass half empty day than wise words and beautiful artwork to remind you what is truly important.

Monday, 7 November 2011


Well it's all still pretty quiet on the making and doing front, unless you count the tears on the 10yr olds trousers and the boyf's jeans which needed stitching up; contemplating blue or green for Dolly - votes are tied... hmmm; turning another pair of the boyfs (utterly ruined) jeans into boyf jeans for me, I'm thinking of decorative stitching to cover the tears; a tattoo for the boyf; and Christmas card designs.

In the meantime, the boyf and I celebrated our 5th Anniversary and my Mum's been Amazoning again with abandon... I have a lovely stash of books, which tonight calls for a cup of tea, a blanket on the sofa and a good old peruse.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The LBD, pictures from the ball

It doesn't look half bad my LBD :o)

Catching up, pottering about and my H&M skirt revamped

Post Halloween/Victorian Costume is a very quiet affair... I hardly know what to do with myself (she says smiling broadly!)  The beginning of the week, I looked at the boyf in mild panic asking "What shall I do next?" and the look on his poor face said it all!  And I have plenty for me to do (there's a certain naked Dolly looking at me very hopefully), it's just that the next big project may just have to wait a while so that we can enjoy the simple things, like our dining room being an actual dining room...  So I have promised not to take it over for just a while, projects will be short and sweet or "handsewn?" ;o)

Its proving rather useful: on Monday we made Godfrey (still no replacement for Gareth the Cow, but the 10yr old is not willing to part with him just yet); Tuesday... no, not so productive, Tuesday; yesterday I made a damn fine fire and worked on some Christmas related design work for work (I am so not yet in the mood for Christmas, but thankfully in my world, Herb Alpert and his Tijuana Brass Band are a year round treat!); and today, with an afternoon at home, I have finally finished a skirt revamp that I have been contemplating for ages now, have costed up the Victorian Costume, ordered my calendar for next year (instead of waiting till the end of December and panicking), sorted out the "stuff" wardrobe (the hoover attachments can finally stop hitting me on the head as I put my sewing machine back in; its in there, behind the ironing board somewhere) and am back to trying to find a little more Christmas spirit...

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My Favourite Skirt, Revamped

Its only cotton, from H&M, but it's lined, it suits me and it has huge sentimental value as it's the first skirt I bought after the boyf convinced me that I had legs worth baring!  It got torn ages ago and the repair did not look good so it languished in the cupboard until tonight. Following on from the LBD, I am having a bit of a love affair with broad two-tone hems and this afternoon I pulled out more of the leftover taffeta and recovered the bottom 10" of the skirt.  There wasn't quite enough taffeta to do a complete lap of the hem so I added a 4" wide decorative insert with a ribbon trim.  I love it!  It's pretty and a little dressy and I can wear my favourite skirt again, yay!

It's just annoying that black never photographs clearly...

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The Victorian Costume Costings

When I started looking for inspiration for the Victorian Costume I came across a blog where a lady had spent $3500 on a similar outfit!  I immediately decided that my budget would be 1/10th of that, in pounds, and I am very pleased to say that my final spend was £269.71 - for everything, corset, chemise, both skirt parts and the jacket.  Add in the bloomers and the petticoat and I would still have £30 to spare.  You can see the breakdown here.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

7 Billion and Me!

I love facts and details and statistics, so when I spotted on the BBC News website a little calculator which could tell me where I come in the 7 billion of us that now inhabit this planet, I had to have a look.  So, where do I come in all of this?  The answer is 3,996,400,760th.  More astoundingly, they can tell me that I am the 78,314,786,509th person to have lived since history began.  The boyf went next and is the 4,676,113,840th and 79,398,145,545th person alive; and the 10yr old is the 6,196,400,082nd and 81,835,526,486th respectively.  I know it's not exact - that it may be pretty darn inaccurate really - but to have just an idea of a number is, to me, pretty cool!

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