Sunday, 1 December 2013

Finished Hat

I finished a hat for myself this week. The reality was I wasn't feeling well and I wanted to knit something quick and practical. However, I wasn't feeling well and I had zero concentration. I won't even begin to tell you how many times I had to restart. (Hint, it was more than twice.)

However, as soon as I began to feel better and I had full concentration, I knitted this up in no time. I'm quite pleased with the results and it only took one 50g ball of yarn. 

One winter hat

Now, that is complete, I'm starting one of my more ambitious projects. Here's a sneak preview:
This is the back...plain for now.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Finished vest

I finished my vest I was telling you about. I have mixed feeling about it. Yes, it looks good on the hanger but I wish it would hang better on me. I think I tried it on with the wrong top or maybe the boobs got in the way. I just wish there was a little more on the sides to it. But could be worse.

The plus points...I like the colour, it was knitted on circular needles as a one piece, it does keep my shoulders warm and it has a nice shape. It will grow on me. On the plus side, I still have enough yarn to make another vest...need to search for a pattern I like.

Here it is in its finished glory:
A quick, simple knit

Friday, 22 November 2013

Finished Cardigan!

My beauty
Last weekend, I finished my cable cardigan. It was therapeutic to see it finished. I even wore it to work on Monday I was that pleased with the finished results. Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure. Unfortunately, the one hanging on the door is way too dark but you get the idea.
Cardigan slowly being pieced together
Potentially too dark of a picture but you get the idea about its shape

I like how the cables turned out on the sides of the front. I also like eyelets on the raglan sleeves. I modified the pattern to do this as I thought it looked nicer than the original pattern.  Here's a close up of the cables.

Finishing this cardigan has been inspiring. It made me get off my butt and I'm now nearly half way through a vest that I began last week. I find I've been watching programmes on hoarding on the Internet and knitting at the same time. Its strangely therapeutic. It makes me feel less anxious about the amount of stuff that I own and keep things in perspective about my own life. I would like there to be a good film to watch on telly but it just seems to be an endless circle of repeats. I think I need a light comedy tonight. Just the thing to end a long week at work.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Finished Tunic!

Remember the fabric that I cut out and was ready to sew? Well, I actually finished the project over a week ago. I meant to post them sooner but as often the case, real life gets in the way of blogging. I was back at work, which meant to adjusting to early mornings again and days preoccupied with work. It always seems to take me a week to feel like my old self again after the initial shock of those 6:30 wake up calls.

So, here are some photos for your viewing pleasure:

I'm really pleased with the neckline and the sleeves
As you can see the sleeves are gathered!

I have also nearly finished my cardigan. I have one more sleeve to attach to the body and then the rib around the neckline. Oh and add the buttons. I promise to post pictures of that real soon. 

I have to admit, I have this huge mental block about piecing and blocking together my knitting projects. I really need to learn to get over that hurdle. I tried one night after a particularly long day at work to sew it together and the sides didn't match. I was getting all flustered about it when I realised, I didn't match it at the bottom so of course, it was all askew. The following night, I pinned it together very carefully and voilĂ , the sides matched exactly. A valuable lesson in learning to be more PATIENT.

My next knitting project is going to be done on a circular needle with no need for blocking or piecing together. I feel pretty excited about that prospect so you would think I'd be more motivated to finish my cardigan. I will get there and hopefully, get over the piecing together anxiety.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Procrastination and Sewing

Remember me being full of motivation and ideas for my fabric purchases? Well, if you don't...I don't blame you. I'm trying to get over the all talk, no action thing. The fabric sat on the day bed for a month (or two...) gathering dust while I mulled over what to do with it. I would look at it, feel guilty and then flake out on the computer. I'm sure none of you know what I am talking about with that one.

So today, I spent a considerable amount of time going through my various patterns, asking for advice from both my sweetie and my son...getting the fabric out, putting it back down, looking at my patterns again. Finally...I took a deep breath and made a decision. I hope its the right one. Seriously.

Here it is at present, pinned down, ready for cutting. It was a tight squeeze but doable.
Beautiful fabric, lets hope it washes well.

One view of fabric pinned down, ready for the chop
Another view, note things waiting to be pinned.
My biggest worry is how it will fit me. Silly things like: Will it fit me in the shoulders? Will it fit around the expansive hips? Will the buttonholes look crap? I always have issues with fabric that way. Wondering if I was careful enough with the cutting of pieces, doing my tucks and hems...making sure I match things correctly...oh you get the idea. The biggest challenge will be the button holes. I have never done them before on my sewing old one yes...this one no. Thankfully I have enough fabric to test first and get a feel for things. It should be an interesting process. A huge learning curve potentially. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Knitting Therapy

I've been making a conscious effort to get more involved with my knitting. Last night, I finished the first sleeve of my cardigan so I have now completed the back, sides and one sleeve...which leaves one sleeve left, blocking and then the ribbing. I can actually see a light at the end of the tunnel.

The positive thing about knitting as it does require some of my attention so it stops me for fixating on crap like work issues, applications for Graduate School and future plans. I obviously still have to write a personal statement and that will happen in due course. The truth is I need a clear head and lately, work has been draining and I'm not in the right mind set for that this week. Next week will be different, no work and time to just focus on that. 

Of course, like most knitters, I'm already thinking about what I would like to do next when I complete this project. Last week, I went to Purl and Jane in Skipton and got this lovely pattern. 
From Purl and Jane, available on her website
Jane makes such wonderful patterns, so easy to follow and yet so beautiful. She is also incredibly helpful and very friendly! It requires 3 ply wool and I know I will have to do a tension square next. It leads to all sorts of problem solving for me as I tend to be a “loose knitter” and generally have to go down a size in needles. I don't really intend on knitting on much smaller needles than I already have and since its in children's size...I might have to experiment with that. The fun part will be deciding what wool I would like to use. Yup...first world problems.

Say it with me, just two more days of work then a whole week off. There, it doesn't sound that bad now, does it?

Monday, 7 October 2013

Moving Forward Inch by Inch

I made the mistake of returning to work last Monday when I still felt unwell. The days just dragged by with me feeling like I'd been dragged through a bush backwards and then had barbed wire pulled up through my throat. Not to mention the never ending feeling of overwhelming tiredness. I was beginning to think that recovery was just NOT going to happen.

Thankfully this week, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. The throat is only a little scratchy, the headache is still lingering a bit but that's mainly due to a long and noisy day at work and I no longer ache all over. Lesson learned. Next time, I get this brilliant idea of returning to work before I'm truly on the mend...hit me hard folks.

In the meantime, very little has happened. My concentration was shot to pieces...even watching television for any length of time proved difficult. But, on the plus, I somehow managed to look at some information with regards to Graduate School. Yes, I have made a decision to go onto Graduate School and do something else with my life. I can't begin the process until 1 of November but I got my references, bookmarked appropriate links and I'm ready to apply. Wish me luck...its going to be another change in my life.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Fit Nor Nothing

You know how you think it would be wonderful to have some quiet time at home and then you get ill and think NOT this way?!!! Well, that is what happened.

On Tuesday, I came home from work feeling a little bit grotty so I had a shower. I thought it will pass.  Silly me. By the time it was 10pm, my throat felt like it had been ripped apart by barbed wire, every joint in my body ached and my nose was completely blocked. Oh the joys of being unwell.

Wednesday, I pretty much spent cat napping on the bed on and off for the entire day...finally, I just went to bed at 7pm and slept and slept and slept. Today, the throat is feeling marginally better and I'm still fatigued and achy. Clearly, no work for me for the rest of the week. So, yet again, life is put on hold. It happens.

Today, I've been losing myself in blog land. Reading some of my favourite blogs and admiring some people's approach to life. I don't ever remember country life being this appealing when I was young! Soulemama and Small Measure are worth reading. I've also been looking at Brooklyn Tweed and this cardigan is just gorgeous! However, I made a promise to myself...finish what you are doing first! I'm waiting for my concentration to return and with that, energy levels.
The other half has not been updating the shop with stock yet as we have car issues and we are awaiting parts for him to carry out a repair job.  Also, he is in the progress of completing cushion covers for dining room set.  Two more to go!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Cable borders

I'm not really a huge fan of television. There is a lot of stuff on telly now that does not interest me at all. However, last night there was a film on telly that I quite enjoyed. It was a golden opportunity for me to sit feeling calm and focus on my knitting.

Remember the cardigan I wanted to knit a lace panel into and then decided against it? Well, in the end I decided on a cable pattern going down the sides. I've finished a bit, sleeves still need to be done. It needs to be blocked and pieced together. But here is a picture of the cable pattern so you can get some idea of what it might look like:
Remember it hasn't been blocked yet...
The weather today is gorgeous. Bright, clear, crisp day. I spent a few hours gardening today. It might be the last time before the tedious job of pruning things back, raking endless leaves and removing the old flowers in the flower bed. I feel refreshed. Last night I slept very well...where has the weekend gone?

Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Maker's Fair!

The past two weekends have been spent enjoying the Saltaire Festival. Last weekend was the Maker's Fair. Its probably one of my favourite events of the year in this year. There was lots of beautiful prints, cushion covers, ceramic pots and other lovingly handmade crafts. It was exciting to meet the makers themselves and appreciate their work.

One of the women I was impressed with was a weaver, Chrissie Freeth. I loved the colours of her beautiful cloth and I fully intend to buy some buttons from her in the foreseeable future! I always like the idea of having a loom and being able to make my own fabric. I remember years and years ago, I worked in a summer camp in Vermont and they had looms and I was thinking how great it would be to learn to use a loom and then how disappointed I was when I found out the person that ran that craft was absent that one year! 

Rachel Johns had some incredible quirky art as well. I love the boobs on things! I got a Christmas card that I know I will have trouble posting off as I love the art on it. Maybe it will find its way into a frame for all to appreciate in my house.

The Print Project also had some quirky post cards and wonderful designs. I bought a collection of postcards to add to my collection. I have some albums of postcards I collected over the years. Some from family and friends, some I just love and others to mark significant moments in my life. However, since the Internet, I seldom collect or receive postcards any more. What a shame!

If you ever have the chance, I would recommend a visit to the Maker's Fair!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

A more little time please

Its only Tuesday and I'm exhausted. Work has taken more out of me than expected. I would like my blog to be upbeat and positive and inspiring and all those good things but today, nah, that can't happen. I'm tired, the sky is overcast and I have no energy. Life happens, I'm human...that's how it rolls sometimes.

I have a list of things I would like to do in the forthcoming weeks. Realistically, things might not happen immediately. I would like to sew a tunic dress with my new fabric. The fabric is beautiful and when I look at it, I sew this tunic dress would take some time and patience. Patience is in short supply today. Maybe tomorrow if I pace myself, I might begin tracing out the pattern from the book, another day for cutting pieces out and then leave the sewing for the weekend. We'll see...

Anyone else get back to work blues? This too will pass but for today...I'm just going to flake out.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Back to Work with a Bump!

I am back at work now its the end of summer. This always causes me a bit of anxiety and tiredness. I try to avoid it but it always happens, no matter how carefully I try to adjust to new sleeping patterns. I'm not a morning person...I find getting up early difficult and even the walk to work just about wakes me before I get to work. Its a 3 mile walk. That should tell something about my zombie state most early mornings.

The weather has suddenly changed here in the past few days. It did nothing but rain all day Friday and it was actually cold. Saturday was dry but still bitter. I walked my son to his guitar lesson and we had a chat about life and the meaning of the universe as normal. We put the world to rights and then quickly forget our solutions on arrival home. However, that walk was punctuated with talk about the cold wind and what a shock it was to the system.

On a positive note, I finished the lining on the satchel my other half crocheted for me. Its beautiful and unique. I'm very happy with it. Its a wool blend with a cotton lining so I will only hand wash this and let it air dry. Its actually pretty hard wearing. Here's a picture for your viewing pleasure:
Inside view of lining

Closed with buttons
I finally got my colouring pencils from the States. All 72 of them. Beautiful ones indeed. So no excuses, I can get on with some art. I also got my beautiful Kaffe Fassett fabric as well. When we were in Liberty over the holiday, they had some there and I won't even tell the price per was not in my budget!

So yes, lots of project in mind. One tunic dress to be made with new fabric. Portrait of other half to be completed. Cardigan to be finished. 

On the plus side, I'm not ill. All last night, my body ached all over, even my wrists and this is never a good sign. I was convinced that I managed to catch some nasty bug this weekend or from work. However, last night I slept like the dead and feel like myself once again. I think its just Arthur again screwing around my joints and the excess rain we had on Friday triggered a return visit from him. It made me realise that the weather had dry and warm for so long, I was living without pain for most of the summer. Oh the joy of winter coming...grumble, grumble, grumble.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Pleats and (Lack of) Waistlines

At the start of the school holidays, I began sewing a top from the Stylish Dress Book. It is a Japanese import book as lately I've had trouble finding sewing patterns I like, not to mention the crazy prices. One pattern I loved, then managed to cut the pattern too small and we all know this has everything to do with the expanding midriff, shrinking waistline and ever increasing my head I still have the same body I had 10 years ago and of course, this is wrong, wrong, wrong. The outcome was the pattern is no longer suitable/usable for my size and I ruined a perfectly good piece of fabric. So when I saw this book at one of my favourite haunts, I was immediately impressed by the loose fits and dresses that would hide a multitude of sins. Since buying this book, I've made a pink smock top and then finished this one off today.

This top was a total pain...make no bones about it. It was a stretchy fabric and on more than one occasion, my sewing machine decided to chew it for lunch. The biggest problem was the neckline. The original neckline called for three big pleats and well, they looked like crap on me. So then I tried an off-centre pleat, it made me look like I was carrying three tyres up front. Finally, I decided on lots of pleats. I got my inspiration from this etsy shop. Her clothes are amazing...hats off to her. I love her waif like designs but you know what? I'm not skinny any more.

Here is the finished top. Along with a close up of the neckline.

Nice fabric but a pain to sew
A close up the neckline...a lot of work but worth it.

I'm getting some Kaffe Fassett fabric soon and I know what I want to make out of that, but that will be a surprise. I still have too many unfinished projects...I think that's the norm for me. I have lots of ideas that need to be documented, dated and maybe then it would be the kick up the butt I need. Anyone else have these problems? 

Friday, 30 August 2013

Back from Holiday

I just got back from a week's holiday down in London visiting family and friends...hence the silence. I didn't really want to advertise the fact my house was empty for a week so I'm back home and blogging again.

I did have a fantastic break visiting everyone. I saw two friends that I haven't seen since I was at Antioch a million years ago. Of course, a lot of time has passed but any one who has been to Antioch will tell you that you build strong friendships there. It was so good to reconnect! I bought along my son for the ride. My son thinks I was always some middle-aged woman with no sense of adventure...can't imagine why he would get that idea?

My other half is busy making cushion covers for our newly painted dining room set. I'm torn between leaving them plain or adding something to them. I've had a few suggestions on my facebook page. No, I won't be adding a Fonz picture with the words “Sit on it” as suggested....or a bull's eye target. Nice thought.

Here you go, here's a picture and you are welcome to suggest ideas...suitable ideas, I must add...but I do have a few of my own:
One cushion cover for chairs, Five to go


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Table, chairs and Cornelia Parker

I've been thinking a lot about crafts and art. I recently watched a documentary on the bbc iplayer about Cornelia Parker. I found it interesting that she would formulate these ideas and then take her projects to crafts people to make her ideas into a reality. She would talk about they knew what they were doing and how she trusted them. It made me wonder if at what point was it was a craft or a piece of Art. What is Art because of the concept behind it? Who knows. It just gave me food for thought.

In the meantime, my other half has finished piecing together my satchel and I know have to sew on the buttons. I bought my buttons from a local shop that has nearly opened up. I recently bought some fabric there and made myself a smock top. By mere coincidence, I was wearing it the day I went in to buy the buttons and she recognised the fabric instantly and gave me a compliment. I left the shop feeling very happy!

Here are some pictures of my (nearly) finished satchel. Isn't it gorgeous?
Blocked and waiting for buttons
I also finished painting the dining set. Here it is:
Cushion Covers to be added, other half making those currently
I'm still knitting and decided NOT to do a lace pattern for my cardigan I am making and I am making a cable design instead. I'm pleased with the results thus far. Yes, yes, yes...I need photos of that as well. I have been doing it for the past three nights while watching the LOTR trilogy on Film4. Daydreaming a fair bit in between...that happens.

Friday, 16 August 2013

A Sneak Preview

This week has been mainly preoccupied with painting the dining room chairs and table. I had to sand them down and then paint them. All that is left is for the furniture to be reassembled and the room put back to its original state.

It is a very bright green. Here's a sneak peek at the nearly finished project.
One chair!
Table minus its top!

Another chair with tape to prevent a mess!
I have to say knitting has been largely put on hold this week on account of this very time consuming project. So far I think the effort has been worth it. Good bye dull cream, hello vibrant green! I'm pretty sure my parents won't really like the colour but I'm not seeking their approval...its my dining room and believe it or not, I'm a big girl now.

Next crocheted cushion covers for the chair. Current ones are a pale yellow and pale green. Pale, pale, pale. Not really my cup of tea. Those will be made by the other half. He's nearly finished my satchel as well. Moving forward, always tired!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Green Chairs and Satchel

The past two days I've been sanding and painting the dining room set. I've done all six chairs and just have the dining room table to do. I say that like its a five minute job but its actually much, much harder work than that. I've managed to sand my thumb in the process as well. It is a constant reminder of being more on the ball when working on projects. The chairs are bright green.  My other half said he wanted a colour that would stand out and be bold.  He got that alright. 

I am happy with the progress so far but drained, exhausted, tired, and anything else that is tiresome from all the work. How do people do that all day? It would kill me, seriously.

My other half, on the hand, has been crocheting and piecing together a satchel for me. Here it so far: 
Still needs blocking, buttons and strap

I will make the lining for it. We need buttons and it needs to be blocking to prevent curling but I'm happy with the progress so far. It will be my unique bag, a one of a kind and handmade. How much better can you get that than that? Screw this mass produced, cheaply made consumer society!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Time goes slowly, so slowly (When de-cluttering)

I'm one of those people that sometimes gets overwhelmed by “stuff”. One of the things about having a house with decent space is that “stuff” accumulates. A. Lot. This really grates on my nerves and one of my big hair brained ideas was to actually de-clutter this summer. I had all these intentions of starting with my son's room first and gradually moving onto to other rooms upstairs. Clearly only a tiny amount of de-cluttering has happened. And I mean a tiny amount.

I have managed to get my son to sort out his tiny closet. He has put all his cars that he has collected over the years (cars in boxes, corgis, cars never been played with, etc.) into one box. It is nice, it is ordered...and less frantic. We cleared out his old school uniform and replaced with new ones that actually fit. We went uniform shopping today and you can imagine the fun and excitement that is with a teenager. He had shirts in there from when he first entered school 4 years ago. Small steps people but getting there. I listed 3 shirts on ebay that are still in excellent condition. I don't know if they will sell or not but it would be nice to actually make some money. How do people make money off of ebay? Is there a trick? Am I missing something? I feel like such a novice when it comes to these things.

He has cleared out his sock and underwear drawer. He got 7 pairs of socks today with days of the week on them. I wonder if he will wear them on the corresponding days or if the novelty will wear off. Who knows? He's 15...I was nuts when I was that age. Off my trolley completely. Socks to be binned...old school uniforms to charity. It hardly seems worth listing them on ebay as you can be new for £1! 
Is it worth listing or not? Decisions, decisions, decisions...

I want to tackle the problem of under his bed next. I'm sure that he has stock of Thomas the Tank die cast models and those would sell on ebay. If they are not under his bed, are they in the loft? I don't know...I never venture in there these days. I know the other half keeps his collection of tools and assorted man stuff up there. All I know is summer is almost gone and I still have “stuff” that needs sorting out. Is it mission impossible? Does anyone else have dreams of de-cluttering their home and life?

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Bags of Love

My other half is making something amazing for me. He's crocheting me pieces to make a satchel. I think he might even piece it together for me. I'm really looking forward to this as I've wanted a new bag for a while. I'm not really a handbag lady so for me, this is much better.

I picked out the yarn while we were on holiday at this very nice yarn shop. The yarn is deep purples and greens. I may or may not have enough but there are plenty of other nice yarns to compliment it if he runs out. (Not that I am someone preoccupied with matching things...) I will have to get him to take pictures of it while he is making it. I'm not really a materialistic girl but I do get excited about the idea of having something new and hand made. Something truly unique!!!

I slept extremely well last night. It was such a relief to sleep so well in bed again. I never take having a good night's sleep for granted. I work with some people who have trouble issues with sleeping. Thankfully, sleeplessness only plagues me once in a while. I need my sleep to function as a human. Hope you are all having a great day. Me, I need some sleep now.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Seaside and Yarn

It was very good to get away from our home and look at some other four walls for a change. We went to the seaside and all the trash that goes along with that. I'm glad to be back home now as the bed was about 10 inches wide and the mattress stuffed with straw and nails not to mention to stench of 10 stag night parties in one room.

There was a lot of people everywhere and we would prefer somewhere more tranquil and less congested in the future. We did the usual tourist golf, fish and chips by the sea, museums and one castle visit. We did a crap ton of walking and even managed to get t-shirt burns tans.

I started knitting a cardigan for myself and as usual, didn't do a tension square and after completing the back, I realised it was going to be WAY too big. I never learn, do I? So I have started again. Just as well, I don't grow attached to stuff that easily and don't have any qualms about starting over. I would have given up knitting a long time ago if that was the case.

I did miss my own cooking...we ate very simple food on our holiday. At one café, a river of grease flowed out of my beef burger and some child at another table threw up so that was a memory I'd wish to forget. I guess that's the main problem with holidays, things can be hit and miss.

The good things were the friendly staff at a local yarn shop...yeah, yeah, I know you can't take us any where. The weather was decent. The walks were relaxing. No one killed anyone and we still love one another. I guess that's an accomplishment with a teenager on holiday. I was never, ever young.

Waiting to be blocked and buttons to be added
Finished, waiting for more photos for folksy
While we were on holiday, my other half crocheted 3 cushion covers...two need buttons but are nearly complete.  I know some people go to the pub on a night, we stay in and knit and crochet...even on holiday.  I'm sure you are thinking we are all kinds of crazy now, aren't you? We are slowly in the process of transferring over to Folksy so you can find our shop over there.  Here are some pictures of the nearly complete cushion covers.
Waiting to be blocked with buttons to be added


Thursday, 1 August 2013

An New English Summer

It's actually very hot out for the UK. I used to live in a hot climate but the difference was it was the desert and its usually not humid with the added bonus of cool nights. But here in the UK, its just sticky. I'm not really complaining, just noticing that the weather lately has been more like New England than England.

Today I spent time gardening. I trimmed the edges on the path, around the garden bedding areas, pruned the trees, weeded the bedding plants and swept up the path. It was hugely satisfying. The back garden needs a crap ton of work doing it but there are far too many trees covering it and there's hardly any sunlight in it. Its not the most cheerful of places. When I have to deal with that garden, it is through gritted teeth.

So far, I am immensely enjoying the time off from work. Its so nice not getting up at 6:30am and walking 3 miles to work. Actually the truth be told, the walk to work isn't that bad...its the 6:30am wake up that kills me. The walk to work usually is a time of reflection and feeling calm plus my son normally walks with me for part of the journey.

I have been doing more creative pursuits, photos to follow. I hope this summer doesn't fly by too I really am enjoying the time now.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Autumn Colours and Summertime

Life has been fairly quiet in the past week. For starters, I have finished work until September. (Definitely one of the perks of working in a school) This is great news as it means having free time to pursue my hobbies. I say this as I look forward to having this time to myself all year. It has meant I can do things in my own time as opposed to finding the energy and motivation after a long day at work.

I've made myself a new top with the fabric I told you about. It is definitely in need of a wash now...the fabric has a strange smell, more likely the dyes in the material. Its a simple smock top. I did a dummy version with some cheap material for another version of a top but I don't like the way the pleats hung so I decided on something different. I'm so glad that I decided to make a dummy version with cheap material first rather than risk ruining the new fabric. I still have my beautiful Liberty fabric, which is dress thinking about dress possibilities.

The other half has spent hours blocking and took new photos of his latest work. I'm thinking of trying etsy or folksy to sell his stuff as the shop seems hard to reach. This isn't a site search for shops and it lacks other useful features. Here's a taster of some of his latest work:
Autumn Leaves Cushion

Browns, Greys, Red Cushion

Grey Skies Cushion

I would like some of it to sell but so far, nothing. Yesterday, in a certain chain store, I saw some cushion covers with Autumn colours so maybe some of his cushion covers with Autumn colours will sell. They are some of my favourites but sadly, not the same colour scheme as our house. Maybe if we move, we can rethink our colour schemes. Downstairs we have blues and red and browns. Who knows?

Monday, 15 July 2013

To Cut or Not to Cut

I have spent some of the weekend tracing a pattern out from one of my dress making books. I have spent some of the weekend carefully measuring myself and then carefully measuring the pattern to see if it will provide me with a good cut. So why haven't I bit the bullet and started to cut out the fabric pieces yet?

I think the main issue is that I want it to be a nice fit. I have this fear of it being too big in the front and the back too narrow. Even with the darts in front, it seems to be an excess amount of fabric in front. Then I toy with the idea of making it into a dress and then when the possibilities seem endless. It could be a simple tunic dress, it could have a cross over front, it could have pleats, it could be a shirt dress, it could be a smock dress, etc. You get the idea. Too many choices. 

Then common sense hits me square in the jaw. The pattern on the fabric is just too busy for a dress. Hence why I changed my mind about the dress idea in the first place. So a top it is. I need to be downstairs, rethinking and redesigning the top. So far, it appears it would be the right length. I need to add a bit more to back...fold the pattern itself so I can judge actually how wide the front will be and modify it accordingly. Finally, I need to just take a deep breath and cut out the fabric pieces themselves.

Why am I so nervous? Its not like I've never made anything for myself before.

Last year, I decided to make myself a tunic top. I overestimated my size and the top literally swam on me. I did try to modify it, but it didn't hang right. It lay in my dresser for months untouched and every time I looked at it, I felt disappointed. It was donated to charity in the end. Let's hope careful planning will alleviate those fears with this new top. Here goes nothing...

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Up and Down

This past week was not the best week. I had a job interview for an internal position where I currently worked. To cut a long story short, I didn't get the job. I felt like I had my teeth kicked in while I was down on the ground. I felt like I spent the aftermath in days of confusion, anger, disappointment and frustration. It has taken me until today for the mood to have lifted.

I wanted to be more positive and upbeat, feel a sense of achievement and have that push forward that I needed but that all disappeared and was replaced by utter despair. Who would think something like that could knock me to the core? But it did...and now is time to move forward.

My goal of the week was to knit 3 square lace patterns. I did two, hated one and started a new my goal of the week...well, I did one. Insufficient to say the least. However, that is not to say I won't complete my task because I will.

On a positive note, I ventured into a new fabric shop that has recently opened up near me. For me, it was very exciting to see lovely fabrics on display and I even purchased some fabric for myself. I'm in the process of making a pattern, carefully measuring my body to ensure I get a decent cut and correct fitting for myself. Since I hit my forties, I no longer feel I know my body shape like I once did...I wonder if that happens to other women?  I would like you to the fabric shop but she doesn't appear to have a website...but I would recommend it as it has 100% cotton fabric!

My other half has been much, much motivated than me. He's made a frame for blocking his cushion covers and he has been carefully blocking his cushion covers and thinking about taking new pictures of the blocked cushion covers. He had crocheted many more cushion with greys, one with autumn colours and one with rich purples. The stack grows and grows. Some of these really need to be sold. Pictures of our work to follow soon.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Shop is Open at tictail!

Long at last, our shop is open. We are trying tictail. They were on the Click programme on the BBC and after some initial frustration with uploading the pictures and lack of snazzy templates...I finally uploaded 6 items for sale in the shop. I'm giving it a month's trial to see how it works. Please feel free to visit our shop here!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Goal of the Week...Lace Knitting Blocks

Like most people, I find that life can “get in the way” with things we would rather be doing or things we would like to be getting on with. This time of the year for me is always a tricky one. I work in the school and there is only 2 and a half weeks before the end of term. I say “only” like it isn't that long now. However, I have so much to do that it is bound to feel much, much longer than 2 and a half weeks.

I'm determined not to make that an excuse for doing the things I love. Its too easy for me to sit there with lots of ideas spinning around my head and have none of them materialise. This can often be the case, especially as it gets closer and closer to the end of the school year, I grow more tired and less motivated. I tend to live day by day at this point. It would be better if I slept well, but its difficult with so much racing around the mind.

Some of my ideas I thought I might share with you. I have some stashes of some lovely yarn the other half bought me back in March for my birthday. Yes, you heard that right...back in March. I even have the knitting pattern for one stash of yarn and know exactly what I want to do with it. The other stash I was a little less clear. Its a cream with brown flecks. The idea being it was more neutral and therefore would be easier to wear with a wider range of my work clothes.

This leads me to another clothes. I hate my work wardrobe. I don't know how I allowed this to happen. Why would I have clothes in my wardrobe that I feel are underwhelming and dull? I really need to rectify this. Work is a chore at times and why should what I wear reflect this? That needs to change. Do other people make distinctions between their normal clothes and their work clothes?

So I need to make the cream and brown yarn something more inspiring and not just for “work”. I have decided it needs to reflect more of me, my personality, have some umphhhh about it!!! So I'm looking at lace patterns for that yarn. A challenge am I up to?  I'm going to use this lovely box of can get it from here
Lace Knitting by Andrea Tung

My goal for this week is produce three knitted blocks of lace to see which would be suitable for the yarn. There it is. Published for you all to read and kick me later if I don't achieve this goal. You have my permission.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Finished Cushion Covers!

Here is an update with photographs of his latest creations. I love them all! The problem is when he makes these, I find I feel quite attached to them but they are actually going to be for sale. It makes me rethink the colour schemes in our house and how would that fit into our current decorations, etc.?

The Red/Grey Version 14" x 14"
The Blue Version 14" x 14"


The Green/Blue-Multi Version 14" x 14"
The Red Version 14" x 14"
The Green Multi Version 14" x 14"
The Multi-coloured Version 14" x 14"

How it began

My other half crochets. I blame myself. Last summer, I decided that it was high time I took the plunge and taught myself how to crochet. I knew how to knit and I knew how to sew. We recently redecorated the bedroom and I wanted to make some cushion covers for the bedroom. We were going on holiday to Filey so it seemed the ideal opportunity to teach myself as I wouldn't have the normal distractions of home life.

The turning point for me wanting to learn how to crochet was my son's blanket in his bedroom. It was (and still is) a beautiful example of Tunisian crochet in warm reds, greens, ochres and creams with a black trim. My parents actually brought for me, thinking he would like it. He does. It lives on his bed.

Example of his latest work.  They measure 14" x 14"

So on this holiday, my other half watched me trying to get my head around crocheting and then he definitely expressed interest in wanting to learn. I taught him the basics and he was off. He has never looked back since. He has made cushion covers for the day bed and the living room sofa, he has made three throws and one huge blanket. He has at least twenty phone socks and numerous tablet covers.  

He feels lost if he doesn't have any yarn...he looks forward to visits to the wool shop. I can say it really is something he enjoys. But if you were to ask him about it, he would just say, “Its something to do with my hands, I like to use my hands.” It does make me laugh when he says this because when he has no yarn, he decidedly lost...

He is currently making some black, grey and white cushion covers. He has some rich deep green yarn for another one and some purple yarn. I give him a week before he runs out of yarn yet again.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Blasts from the Past

When I was a student (first time around), I studied Visual Arts. There were lots of aspects I loved about studying Art and clearly, things I didn't enjoy as much. I discovered that I was happy with the creation of 2D Art, such as painting and drawing. I found sculpture and ceramics were not my strong points. Don't get me started on how I was completely incapable of actually talking about what my work was about! I haven't painted in years, I'm ashamed to say. It is actually my intention to paint again.

I have been talking to my other half about Art from back in the day, when I had free time to paint. I was telling him about a photograph that has managed to survive the various moves in my life. I was telling him about how I actually painted some of these photographs and how my parents had them up in their house in their kitchen and living room for all to see. I was telling them that I doubted that they existed any more and wondered if I had anything to remember them by at all.

Then today, I was talking about my childhood and found three pictures from that period of time of my work! It was like seeing an old friend again. So he has kindly cropped them and enlarged them for you to see. Of course, I still have the same issues I had with back then...I don't like the shadow of the nose on one, the background in some feel “weak” and as usual, I focused a lot on the layers and folds of fabric, less on the features of the faces, etc. I probably am my own worst critic. On a positive note, even though they aren't the best quality, they represent a nice step back in time from my student days. Please remember this is back from the late 1980s and I have no idea what my work would be like now if I did start to paint again.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Seven Cushion Covers

The Man has been hard at work making cushion covers. He had made 7 in total in the past 2 weeks. I finally got him to take a picture for me to share with you. I, on the other hand, have been working and not much else.

Here they are for you to see:

I apologise that the colours look a bit washed out. The colours in reality, are a lot brighter. I am hoping to post another interview soon with another friend of mine who is very creative indeed. Watch this space!


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

His Creations

My other half has been very busy. He has had made 6 cushion covers so far. Hopefully, we will be organised enough to open up our online shop. The colours range from greens, blues, reds, and multi -coloured.

Here is a picture of some of his work:

While, he has been motivated, I have to admit, I feel less than motivated lately. This always happens when a decent game comes out on the xbox or playstation. I get lost in my own world. I would recommend “Last of Us” if you like that type of stuff.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Interview with the Incredible Jen Parrish of Parrish Relics!

Jen Parrish is the owner and designer of Parrish Relics Jewlery in Boston area of Massachusetts. Her jewellery is very inspirational and has a definite “romance of the past” about it. I feel pleased to know her indirectly from an old friend of mine and it is an honour to interview her.
Do you consider yourself a self-taught artist when creating jewellery or did you learn your craft formally?
I grew up in a very artistic home, my mom was always doing Arts & Crafts projects, and my dad sketched, painted, etched and was a graphic designer for a living. (Teddie Peanut Butter Jars!) Have been sculpting since I was a kid playing with Plasticine. When I got tired of my clay animals getting squashed I moved on to Fimo, an oven-hardened clay and haven’t stopped playing since.
What was your main area of study when studying at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts?
I studied metalsmithing, stained glass & Art History at SMFA Boston. My favourite time there was the very beginning, where I was in an immersive pre-college summer program that helped plump up your portfolio, as Malden High didn’t have a very varied Art Program and they wanted to show us all the options open to us. It was pretty amazing, taking Print-Making one day, doing site-specific sculpture the next (I was shy so I built mine in a ladies room stall where no one could see me) One of my favourite courses there was called “Glass Plus”. We hammered and chiselled slabs of glass and set them in a concrete mixture. Sandblasting was fun too.
What do you find motivates/inspires you to create your jewellery?
Architecture mainly, particularly Medieval or Gothic Churches.  Venice.  I still haven't been but I am constantly drawn to create shapes that echo the windows that overlook the canals there.  And Nature.  The colours, green and blue, sky and leaves.  Oceans.  Gemstones, semi-precious mostly.  I love Labradorite, it looks like a tiny forest within a stone.  I am motivated to continue because I have stacks of found images I want to recycle, and Stained Glass shards that fill up shelves to the ceiling full, waiting to be made into something.  Love sculpting, creating these tiny frames and hand painting lucky and thankful to have customers who keep me busy and excited to bring new work to my Etsy shop and shows.
Sylvina's Window - Stained Glass & Labradorite Gothic Arch Necklace
Photo used with permission of Parrish Relics

How long have you been making jewellery?
My High School Art teacher knew that I made animals out of clay when I was younger, and suggested I make my own jewellery instead of wearing safety pins, keys, and other various and sundry I was putting through my ears and around my neck. (Hey, it was the 80’s!) I sent her a letter recently to thank her for putting me on my life’s path. She is currently a painter of beautiful landscapes ~
Was there a turning point in your life when you decided to make jewellery or was it a gradual process?

Definitely High School, but I started my fascination for ornamentation early on ~ putting pen springs on my dolls arms, etc. My mom took me to an exhibit at the MFA on Pompeii, and I was fascinated by the jewellery, the relics found in the frozen city. Things weathered, dug up from civilizations long gone. A beauty in the aging process that I saw everywhere in the museum, the patina on metals, rust and verdigris.


What was your experience of your first show like?

My first show was at a Hair Salon around the corner from my High School. The owner, Albie, had a friend who also made jewellery and invited us both to take over for a night. So much fun. That first sale was a thrill, and I was hooked. My first Renaissance Festival was at Vizcaya in Miami, an amazing mansion on the water with formal gardens and human chess matches. I was so in love with the costuming and festive atmosphere. Have been vending at one every year in Ipswich at Hammond Castle, coming up at the end of July! I have the “best seat in the house”, a cloistered room at the top of the stairs leading out to the back yard ~overlooking the ocean on one side, and the performers on the other in the Great Hall. Can’t wait!

Do you have favourite pieces that you find difficult to part with?

Elaborate crowns are always difficult to part with as they take so long to create.  One piece that I made for DIFFA had to be shipped off right after I completed it, but I kept it around long enough to take some photos wearing it J  It is pretty much hard to part with all of my work, as I try to make things that I would want to wear, as opposed what I think other people would like.  That never seems to work for me, it is like they have less "heart" ~ that mysterious piece of ourselves that goes into what we create when we love what we do.  Hope that make sense!  I do have a few particular pieces that I keep for myself, including a necklace with a picture of my cat Athena that I wear when I have something difficult to do.  Like a talisman, she was a wise soul cat friend that I miss very much.


How would you describe your jewellery to someone who had never seen any of your pieces before?

Windows or Shrines to Nature & Art. Amulets, weathered and patinated with age. Historically inspired but modern in technique.

What is a typical day of your life like when you are making your jewellery?

I usually make pieces in batches, first choosing the imagery and stained glass that catches my eye. Then I go downstairs into the “glass shop”, cut and then shape each piece with an electric grinder. Then back up to the studio to form the clay frames around each piece, using various tools to create the patterns and textures, then back down to the oven for firing. Back upstairs to hand-paint at least four different finishes built up to achieve the antiqued layers of “age” that I like to achieve. Then comes the beadwork, but usually these processes are spread over a few days. Additionally I have to photograph & edit each piece for the Etsy shop, then write copy and list them all. Though time consuming, I enjoy each step very much.

What is your long term vision for your business?

Good question! I could be more productive if I outsourced any of these steps but I prefer to do it all myself, possibly because of control freak issues. Or maybe just because I enjoy it and may get bored just doing one part of it only. Now just trying to figure out how to be more prolific, manage my time better. We are hoping to move into a bigger home in a year or two that will make it easier to work faster…be more organized. A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Is there other mediums in Art that you do? (Do you paint, draw, etc.?)

I do like to sketch ideas at museums or when I’m out and about and get an inspiration. I love drawing animals, Beatrix Potter was a huge joy for me as a child and still is. Would love to do more illustrations and maybe incorporate them into jewellery someday. Also enjoy Interior Design, ornamenting inside spaces is great fun. Transforming rooms with fabrics and found objects, antiques that I have collected over time thrift-ing and yard sale-ing. Was toying with the idea of doing it for other people as I was asked often enough, but it seems too personal and I don’t think I could be confident enough to tell someone else what their home should look like. I also dabble in making Stained Glass windows, but sadly never have the time and there are a few unfinished projects. David (my partner) and I will be taking pottery classes together in the Fall, excited about that

Do you have other friends that are active in the creative arts and crafts?  If so, what do they do?

So many wonderful people I have met over the years through shows and even online, the creative community is one of the things I treasure most.  Too many to list here but I will start with a few friends that are also on Etsy~
One of my closest friends creates incredible embroidered purses and sumptuous costumes and is also a graphic designer.  We collaborate purses when we can,
( ) and I am lucky to have quite a few of her pieces. Traci, a friend of mine since High School makes jewellery and other crafts (along with the best cupcakes/best goods ever!) Two are illustrative collage artists ~ Zoe & Kurt (also an Architect!) Facebook has helped me reconnect with an old friend who designs really unique clothing out of New Orleans ~    I really could go on for days, but just looking through my favourite shops on Etsy will show lots more:

All photos used with the kind permission of Jen Parrish and Parrish Relics.  An extra special thank you to Jen for this wonderful interview.  Please feel free to visit her website, Parrish Relics, you won't be disappointed!!