Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Hook in Hand

If someone asked me what's your favourite thing to make I just couldn't tell them. I've never been too good at coming up with favourite anything's anyway. I love patching, knitting, making clothes and toys and a wee bit of embroidery (but not loads so this wouldn't be at the top of my list if I had to make one).

On Sunday I laid down my knitting, put the patching to one side and picked up my hook once more. Two things had inspired me recently to want to get back to my crochet again. I'd seen a second hand blanket on Stitchy all edged in pink and stored it away in my head with all the other images I like a lot. Then a comment from Colour in a Simple Life mentioning me not crocheting for a wee while got me thinking. I realised I'd been too long with just the quilts and knitting, a change was needed. It was all rainy outside so it was the perfect curl up by the fire and hook away kind of day. By the end of Sunday I'd a decent pile of flower burst grannies worked up using leftover Amy Butler yarn all soft and fairly chunky to work with.


With the clocks falling backwards I even had an extra hour this morning to get back to my growing flowery pile. Mr B caught the 7.30 bus, I tiptoed downstairs to quieten Alfie Blue who was yelling at him from the back of the sofa to stay home and cuddle a while. Then I saw all the colourful yarn and suddenly yarn was more tempting than my bed. I might have taken it back to bed, but I'd left a 12 year old sleeping up there who'd come in with a nightmare.


Little Bun joined me some time later with a bowl of cereal. She chatted merrily, I listened, hooked and nodded.  We had a chat about her favourite colours and then out of the blue she named this thing that I bravely think I might make up in to my first ever finished blanket. Little Bun called it the Bubblegum Blanket and I liked that a lot being as it was the pink that got me onto it in the first place.


In the middle of this early day peace the Postie suddenly banged loudly on the door. Most times it's just a pile of certificates from the exam board to hand out to our students (Mr Bun being his own mobile college). Today the package was soft and squishy and I'd been warned to expect it. 

Ada of Vintage Sheet Addict had chatted with me about sending some more bits of colour my way. I was blown away by her kindness in sending me so many wonderful pieces to play with. It's taken me a while to get my head around the sheer generosity in this corner of blogland from the supportive comments, the fun and chats to favours done and gifts sent on. I've an idea of the gift I'll be sending her way and there are a few others which I really have been meaning to post on as well. I'm just rubbish sometimes at getting my act together.



Midday I managed to sneak in a trip to the yarn shop to add a few more colours to the choice pile. When we got home Little Bun got back to creating her Lego village, Miss Rosey got her art stuff out and that left me with a spare moment or two of hooking time. This one's getting addictive to be honest. I'm loving seeing how all the different colours work together. I'm trying out some colours that I wouldn't normally fancy together and then feeling really surprised when I love it.


Each one I look at becomes a favourite. I might go off them when it comes to sewing in ends and stitching it all together mind you.


Usually I join as I go to save all the extra work at the end, but this time I've left the squares on their own waiting to be sewn together. That way I can fiddle about with them all until I get the colour combination I want.


Little Bun and I did have a wee play with them before they went back in the basket at teatime. I think I'm going to like this one a lot. I'll definitely keep nagging myself to finish this one.



Sunday, 28 October 2012

A Jolly Good Haul

After many weeks of a lack of proper treasure hunting Little Vintage Lover Fair came to town. If I have a pitch I get to have a good look while everyone's setting up, if I go as a punter then I get to have a lesiurely stroll around. We all went this time which meant lots of eyes to spy where the goodies were. Admittedly there were a lot more than I could bring home as I had to stop opening my purse at some point.


Little Bun found this sweet tin with animals dancing around the base which I adore. The cowboy print was part of a bundle of scraps that I collected up. I'll show you those in a wee while.


On the top is a young magician surrounded by a gnomey cloth that I thought could come out at Christmas time.

After half-term Little Bun is going on an evacuee day adventure and needs to dress appropriately. Sadly she's outgrown all the clothes that would be perfect and so I've handed them on to a friend and we have to find and make our own in the true spirit of the times. Miss Rosey found the most perfect cardigan for her, made even more adorable by the felt and embroidered flowers. An idea I think I'll be borrowing.


Once all that shopping was done I started adding to my fabric stash. I collected up a 70's sheet, a barkcloth blossom curtain and then found packets of delicious offcuts from the 30's to the 50's.




I've been thinking of making my mum a lap quilt for Christmas and knew the lilac and black liberty prints would be a great place to start planning the quilt around. I think I'll add the 50's orange and yellow rose print in too as they look so good together. 

Miss Rosey rescued a bear who she quickly named Chive.  Little Bun has a bear called Parsley also lost and then found again so I think they might get on.


Daffodily yellow spots couldn't be resisted either. I'm really getting a thing about yellow at the moment. Two squished but pretty chinese lanterns came away with us as did another wee wee boy doll and one of Austrian persuasion in tight lederhosen.


All in all a very exciting haul. I caught up with friends and chatted here and there before we headed off to get our theatre tickets for Little Bun's first ever dance performance in Dick Whittington.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Firsts

I stayed up very very late last Sunday. I was getting so close to finishing knitting my first ever glove and I just couldn't wait until the next day to see what it would look like. I'm very impatient like that.

Knitting for me (well any making to be honest) is a mixture of excitement about the yarn or material I'm using and what it might end up looking like. Then I start worrying that I might do something wrong somewhere along the line and wonder if it will all have been a waste of time. Then I get really impatient and want to see what my thing will look like when it's all done. I tend to flip between these daft feelings along the making process.



After the excitement of finding a glove pattern that made me want my own pair badly I searched out some yarn in my stash that would be ideal. I really wanted a yellow pair to be honest, but no yellow to be had at the time so off I went with a very warm blue merino and alpaca yarn.


Only a few rounds in I did what I always worry I'll do and cocked it up at first. I took my eye of the ball so I frogged away. Next time round and I had the hang of the pattern. It was flicking between the thumb increase and the lace pattern that threw me off. I'd never bothered with markers before either, but after the shouty comment that made me laugh about this I was put right.


Four fingers and one thumb later and I realised I'd actually made something that looked human hand shaped. When I slipped it on it fitted too.


I'm so proud of my first knitted glove. To have one glove though is not much use to me with my two hands to keep warm is it, I really must get on with knitting that other blue glove very soon. Thing is, I did find the perfect eggy yellow yarn and I couldn't resist the temptation to see how it knitted up. I'm halfway through glove number two which is a different colour and also a left hander. At the moment I'm not sure if it'll fit as I forgot to go up a needle size. I'll have to wait and see I guess.


Thankyou for your interesting comments on my graveyard post. I did wonder if it would actually be anyone's cup of tea, so I'm really pleased it was. 

Now we have half-term excitement. Miss Rosey finished mid-week and Little Bun today. Tommorow a vintage fair and fleamarket beckon to kick off the week perfectly for us. We have a Little Bun to dress for an evacuee day so I'll be looking for a wee knitted cardi or jumper for her. Any other treasures that flit past my eye I may find it hard to resist.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Exploring

Exploring new places gets me all excited with the anticipation of what I might see there. Even better when that new place offers more than I had hoped for.


With a bunch of full on energy teenage boys to keep occupied for three days a week I've decided half day outings to drain their energy is the way to go. Admittedly any kind of outing that involves a walk, not a taxi ride ends up being called a real mission. I just laugh and say get walking.

Yesterday I took them to the Rosary Cemetary. I'd never been, but my Mr had and he fell hook line and sinker for its Gothic splendour.


My students didn't see the charms of the place quite so easily and told me I was weird for bringing them here. After a run round they went for a smoke and I had a good explore with my camera. 

Overlooking the city and perched on the side of a hill, it was created as a non-denominational cemetary in the C19th.


I enjoyed walking along the hidden pathways covered in leaves peeking into part of a persons life story. This small angel sits as a memorial to a young wife who died in July 1918 at the age of 27. Her husband probably fought in and survived the war only to come home and have his wife die from the influenza epidemic.


This is the grave of John Barker a travelling showman who owned a steam fairground. He was crushed to death between two machines while setting up on the cattlemarket which used to be below the castle.


As I wandered along taking in the surroundings I didn't feel edgy as I normally do in graveyards, there was just something peaceful and above all really interesting about this place.


In the middle of the cemetary is Eye surgeon Emanuel Cooper's masoleum.  Apparently he came here to smoke his pipe while they were building it for him. His daughter Ada Nemesis Cooper married John Galsworthy who wrote The Forsyte Saga which was based on their lives.



I found this small headstone particularly poignant. It commemorates a young man who died at the age of 20 in 1916. My colleague who was with me has a son only a year older with plenty of dreams for his future.


After a throughly lovely time soaking myself in some new to me history, we went off in search of those cheeky teens and cheered them up no end by telling them we were walking back again. 

We walked along through the back of the train station. We found a fabulous apple tree full of the reddest apples. Scrumping was much more their thing than graves. See we were all happy and had a lovely wander out and about.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Vintage & Thrifty

My Mr and I had a long chat about this whole vintage and thrifty thing the other day. We reminisced about all the old stuff we've always liked before it became fashionable to desire someone elses cast off's. When we wore secondhand clothes people used to say "yuk someone might have died in that." In my teens I dressed in as much original 50's style as I could get my hands on. Some were originals passed on from an elderly Jewish aunt who had all her clothes tailored for her in the 40's and 50's. She was a very stylish woman with a life and wit to match. I grew my hair and swept it into a high hairsprayed quiff. I had a big thing for the psychobilly boys with their sharp pointed quiffs and brothel creepers. I had a whole lot of fun with old clothes, but then everyone else at art college did too.


What I love best about vintage being a fashionable thing at the moment is that it means there's so much more gorgeous old stuff about (for a price, but at least it's not being binned as old tat). 

Vintage and being thrifty seem to go naturally hand in hand. I've lovely bits and bobs about the place that I've found and collected sitting on shelves waiting to become something new and useful. Some of it comes from hating to waste stuff when I don't need to, some from saving money, but mainly it comes from a love of collecting and turning something cast off into something useful and beautiful to us. Take Alfie Blue's dog bed.

 
On Friday he pee'd all over his nightime bed. That meant I couldn't lock the needy wee fella away from us at night, which he's used to, as he only had his bed in the sitting room left and I didn't want that trashed too. Free to roam about he kept us awake gassing the room out, licking and grunting. When I shut the bedroom door he scratched and cried for his master. I needed to sort a dog bed out quick today before he killed us. When I looked at dog beds they were mega expensive and ugly so I spent £8 on a pair of pillows instead so I could make my own for Alfie Blue.


I chose some 70's sheeting and ran up one with a red bone as his smarter one to lay on in the kitchen. A brown floral sheet covered the pillow for his nighttime sleeps.


He looked thrilled to bits with his new bed and loved it even more when a doggy chew appeared on it.


While I was whipping up Alfie's beds, I thought I might aswell run up a few more handtowels and teacloths from the odds and ends of soft fabric and towelling hidden here and there. A proper thrifty and vintage day methinks.


Saturday, 20 October 2012

Wet & Happy

The Plumber visited our house yesterday. It was a day for a mini-celebration. Mr Bun texted me asking "is the Plumber there?". I replied he was, and then we got all happy inside thinking of lovely hot bath's later on. Even Little Bun got in on the act as she was told by a school mate that her step-dad was at our house today.


With the plumbing being sorted and the rain lashing down outside it was a day for staying in. After talking endlessly for three days the peace of being in my own head at home was bliss. Mind you it's been a great week. I ended it in the dungeons of the castle scaring the bejesus out of my students. I take each group there for a free visit to try and get them interested in history. If we're lucky I bump into someone I know and then we get whizzed down to the dungeons for tales of torture and executions. When the lights get switched off we all scream like girlies. Or is that just me?


Anyways, back to yesterday. Wet outside, dry inside and a whole day of whatever I fancied ahead of me. I got out my making things tin and had a good look at the hexies I'd rustled up on the go.


I used to wonder how there were so many pictures of towering piles of hexies in blogworld. How on earth could anyone whip up so many of these time consuming thingies in just a night? Then Sophie shared what really was the most obvious solution once you know it and then there was no stopping me. Suddenly I'm speeding along. Paper hexies cut, a pile of fabric squares waiting to be quickly stitched any old how into a hexie and I think this is the business. I love quick results and hexie making certainly gives quick results before the fine stitching that I'll be doing next.


Once I had enough hexies to make a few more plates, I fiddled about to see what colours went where. It could be a lifetime before I actually finish this into a quilt, but I'm loving the process and seeing how it all works together.


Part of the problem of taking so long is not having lots of quilt making time and the other very big problem is me. I get distracted so very easily and want to be making all sorts of things all at the same time. 

After a morning of hexie making I fancied a change so I got back to chopping more squares to help the triangle quilt grow. 



All this playing with my stash made me realise I'm pretty low on yellow and green fabric. Now this means that I've no choice but to go searching for some more to add to the pile. There really is no other option is there. Am I sounding convincing here?

Mid afternoon, the Plumber had installed a tank and given us back the gift of hot water from a tap. Hurray we say.  Mr Bun arrived home and we drove off to collect girls from here and there before coming home to a cosy fire, a curry, fizzy stuff and a bath. I do love Friday's so very much.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

A Wee tin with A Cat on

Well I feel much better after my sorrowful lament in my last post.  All your supportive words and laments of your own broken stuff didn't half cheer me up and make me laugh knowing that some of you've got it just as bad. Good knowing you're not alone isn't it. Seems quite a few people enjoyed reading my moan too as it had the most hits on a post yet. Maybe I'll use sorrowful titles more often.


On Monday I decided I needed a mobile making tin. I thought I'd feel much better if I could make stuff whenever I got a spare moment. A while back now I had to cut back making and selling for Bobo Bun as we needed the guaranteed income that comes from me teaching. I'm good at teaching and getting the best out of people. I really love seeing how the teens I teach grow in self-belief and a sense of their own worth through the opportunities we give them. All the same I really love being in my own head with time to make things. I love designing something and then giving or selling it to someone who will get pleasure from having that wee handmade piece of goodness. I love having time to treasure hunt and time to dream up making ideas. Teaching is being creative in a different way and requires me to be larger than life most of the time in a room of very demanding people. There's no room for introspective absorbed in making kind of quiet days so I've decided to bring a little bit of that with me in my bag where ever I go.


This morning I filled my tin with hexie making things. The first chance I got to use it was between dropping Little Bun off at dancing and waiting for Miss Rosey to come out of high school. It worked wonders grabbing a bit of time to do something I loved in a spare minute or two. All the small fabric squares I'd cut up on Monday were quick and easy to stitch. I'm getting quite a pile that'll need to be made up into hexie plates pretty soon.


In my other spare moment I stumbled  across the exact shade of yellow yarn I've been looking for. I wasn't looking for it at all today to be honest and then there it was, a new yarn that I've not heard of before all perfect and eggy yellow. It's a Swedish merino yarn called Millmia in case you'd like to know. I'm excited about getting to see what this looks like knitted up, but I really must try and make myself finish my other gloves first before I start yet another thing.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Lament

Ok, just to warn you, I'm going to have a bit of a poor old us moment. As my blog is my happy place where I edit out most of the nasty and dull realities of life this rarely happens here. I want happy and I know that's one of the reasons anyone stops by to read and look. But - today I need to just say it as it is.


I started the day with a whole list on paper and in my head of to do's. Pleasurable to do's, necessary to do's, boring to do's and everyday need to be done to do's. You get the picture I'm sure. It's my final day off before the working week looms so I always seem to screw up Monday's. I try to fit so many things in and then I flit here and there doing nothing very well. Day wasted and each time I say to my self "don't do that again". First thing I thought I'd get going on the dress I cut the pieces for ages ago. Most marvellously I saw that I'd cut two front pieces the same and the same for the sleeves too. As it was only a curtain panel I don't have enough to cut more shapes so I did a patchy job on the bodice panel. By the time I got to the sleeve I gave up and moved on to something else.


I made hot choc and cut a slab of cheery cherry cake to stop awhile and ponder. 

Now this is where the real lament starts. As I've mentioned before we are a family of broken stuff. Both our cars literally blew up this summer, thankfully my mum gave me hers to help out. The Rayburn which heats the house and water broke completely in March. Then in July our back-up plan for hot water (the immersion heater) blew up too. A friend mended it (really I should have known it would go wrong as he tells so many tall tales, but I believed him this time). Two weeks later with no hot water and freezing cold I'm fed up with being resourceful. A plumber was booked for Friday, but turned up on Saturday and the whole tank split. He'll be back this Friday to install a new one, please let it work as I miss hot bubbly baths while drinking wine so so much. I think we'll still all be washing with a hot kettle at the kitchen sink. 


This morning I thought I'd finally found someone to mend our Rayburn. Funnily enough we have a Rayburn that has been discontinued, you can't get parts for and no one wants to mend it. After a long chat about how he could do it, but it would still probably break I've been left to try and find a secondhand Rayburn, find someone who can carry out our old monster and then get someone else to install it. My dear mum has offered to lend us the money for all of this or it would never be happening.


I feel wearied by the tedious nature of this stuff and trying to solve things. The upside is that we're all spending more time together as we huddle downstairs by the woodburner. I cook warm hearty stuff to pad out our jumpers for a bit of extra warmth too. 


I'm even planning my making around fireside pursuits. I fancy a change from my knitting tonight so I emptied out one of my forgotten and needs finishing baskets today.


Following Sophie's lead on Fading Grace I quickly cut squares of fabric, rather than cutting fabric hexies to speed things up. Now I could get on with the hexie plates quilt tonight or start handquilting the feedsack squares I patched a while back. No idea what to do with these other than make them into a useful cloth for trays and stuff.

 
Whatever I make, I know I'll be sat by the fire snuggling with my girls, a small black dog and my man.