Thursday, 10 April 2014

Bun overload

This week, I have mostly been baking.

Making things for Easter. 

Simnel muffins (also known round here as muffins of death since the incident with the Whippet, three muffins and the V.E.T on a previous Easter Sunday) - and the usual bread, as per this recipe here

I make this bread at least once a week - well, Mr G makes the dough in the evening, and I shape and bake in the morning. We always make two small ones - one to eat and one to freeze. You can make one large loaf, but I find it unwieldy. A small loaf is just right for making Mr G's cheese sandwiches, giving the Girl her daily Nutella fix, and for me to have the first end slice of fresh crust with salty butter.

Yes, they are different sizes - the first batch were large muffins as per original recipe, and the second batch were fairy cake size - a bit more manageable to eat (although some would argue that the large ones are perfectly do-able) and twice as many for the same effort!

I also made HCBs

and none of that flour and water glue nonsense here, proper pastry crosses thank you very much.

I hasten to add, a lot of this is for the freezer! I'm having a bit of a holiday next week, and so this is me getting ahead.

As well as the baking, I've been working on making some little sketchbooks (inspired by the books at the show last week). Hopefully they'll be bursting with work to show you when I next check in - ha! - watch this space! (Is that self-doubt, or do I just know myself too well?!)

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Bejewelled and Boro-d

So here are my finished necklaces.


The dreamcatcher circle has given me ideas for this year's Art Trail. Together with the CD felting and weaving, I think there will be a circular theme!

And I liked the first, smaller blue necklace, and wore it for much of the time while making the others - so definitely wearable!

It's always difficult with machine embroidered jewellery to make something soft, as machine threads always seem to go scratchy - even if they are soft to start with. Metallics are the worst.

I then had the knotty problem of how to display them. A utensil rack found in the charity shop looked promising,

 but a shirt box from the local "gentleman's outfitters" was the final choice - perfect!

I finally made it out of the house on Friday. It's been a week of snuffling with a cold, allergies (I blame the catkins) and smog, sitting huddled over my sewing machine stitching beads for the competition, so by Friday I was ready for a change of scene.

Someone had given me a freebie ticket to the creative stitches show (which was just as well considering how much I was fleeced for a Travelcard...) so I toddled off there first. I wasn't sure what to expect, but there were some delightful surprises - including Bobby Britnell's barkcloth shoes, and Dionne Swift doing her thing. I was particularly inspired by Christine Plummer's little books made from recycled paper and Decovil.

And despite not really being a "quilt" person, this log cabin made of old shirts caught my eye (and sorry, I didn't make a note of the maker - I usually do but forgot this time).

But it was the next visit on my itinerary, the Boro exhibition at Somerset House, that made my day. Absolutely lovely. A real meditation for the eyes. And all the more wonderful as when I tentatively asked if photos were allowed, I was told to take as many as I liked! So I did...

Even Mr G was inspired. He reckoned I could "do something" with old jeans and shirts. Which then strangely reminded me of the shirt log cabin quilt. Maybe he's onto something...

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Thinking under pressure

It's that time of year again. The EG branch competition. Actually, it was probably that time of year about a month or so go, and a deadline of Saturday afternoon is probably cutting it fine.

So I'm thinking. Brain hurts. Trying to get from scribbles in notebooks, made over the months, to a stitched piece of jewellery. By Saturday. I stupidly thought that after classes stopped for Easter I would have oodles of time. How naive!! You'd think I'd learn....

So this where it's at this week chez moi:

Love the optimistic scrawl on that last page: "branch comp?". In my dreams.

Nothing like a deadline...

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Comfort zone

My husband said the other day "I'd like a comfort zone. Everyone talks about being outside your comfort zone, but I'd like to have one; I don't think I have". He ended up writing a poem about it.

But it got me thinking. I've been looking ahead to next term's teaching, trying to decide between ideas and projects, trying to come up with something that will stretch those who need stretching, but not intimidate those who are just starting out: I want to challenge people to move a little out of their comfort zones, but not so much that they get scared and don't come back in September! I've also wanted to introduce a random element to the class, where they don't know what's coming next or have to make quick decisions, just to mix it up a bit and get us all out of our ruts.

Then I stumbled across the work of Lauren Shanley on Facebook, and thought "aha!".  (BTW, Gina Ferrari has also recently stumbled across the work of Lauren Shanley, also said "aha" and she's beaten me to it with doing something similar in her own class!).

Here is my tentative start. Hating the colours:

I used some free fabric that I was given the other week. When offered it, I said YES! and got all excited, but discovered on receipt that it is all less-than-inspiring colours, and all just a bit bleurgh. So I was well and truly out of my comfort zone using those colours, and those fabrics - quite heavy duty furnishing stuff. And there weren't even any useful patterns for a bit of the ol' broderie perse.

Here it is after some stitching down:

And here it is with an idea pinned into place:

Then today I had a lovely stitchy day with a group of friends, and managed to finish it:

I'm kinda happy with it, but I still don't like the colours!

I've started a couple more, in different colours and sizes, as I found it difficult working on such a large scale as the one above.

My favourite is, of course, the last one. The smallest and the most colourful. Which in itself has been an interesting revelation (to me, probably blatantly obvious to other people) - my comfort zone is SMALL and BRIGHTLY COLOURED! 

More evidence can be found in the small and colourful things in my recently revived shop. Why can't one ever see what is right under ones nose?!

As the first side note to this, I've also been forcing myself out of my other comfort zone (pootling, checking facebook and emails, browsing charity shops, doing a bit of cooking, having a google and a pinterest) and I've been GETTING STUFF DONE! All thanks to this blog post about using a kitchen timer. By jove, it works! Highly recommended - go get one!

And the second side note, and only pictured here by popular request, I happened to be wearing this little object for much of this creative spree:

It is my new Getting Arty Things Done Potato Sack. There, you've seen it now. That'll do!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

New things old things

A week for new things and rediscovering old things. 

It started last weekend, with a trip to see a very new thing, my new niece, only 5 days old, a little bundle. Girl is relieved to have a female cousin on that side of the family and so are we to be honest, we don't really understand boys.

Then new things like giving notice, and discovering that the sky doesn't fall in, and getting used to the idea that paperwork overload will come to an end, but just not yet. But come September, I will be completely independent and running my own classes (if you are in Sussex, details are to be found here).

More new things, getting my head around the delights of eBay. The Kenyan Paralympic team are still for sale, nobody wants them:

but I have managed to sell a few bits of fabric.

And with the sales, more new things, confronting the fear of an eBay purchaser not being satisfied with the fabric when it arrives. What to do? What do you mean you liked it in the photo but not when it arrived? The photo showed it exactly! What do you mean it doesn't have any silver in it but is actually gold-coloured? Did I not describe it as "pale beige with shimmery highlights"? Do you know how hard it is to describe fabric? 

Then two Thursdays in a row, coming home from teaching to discover Etsy sales! A lovely lady has bought some braids. Then liked them so much she bought some more. Sales! A delightful New Thing.

Which has spurred me into action, taking photos of some old things and listing them in the shop, like the amulets from my last post, and these little velvet books:

The amulets still haven't made it into the shop, but the books have. 
(None of this is really old stuff, but just seems like it to me as I see it so often. I just haven't got round to selling it...)

And with listing things in the shop, I've learnt another new thing - how to use gimp instead of photoshop, to whiten the background of my photos. I think I've worked it out now, but it is time consuming, and I had to go and buy another new thing - a computer mouse for the laptop. Which will need its own new thing, a mouse house. I think a little felt one. I'll make one this week....

And finally today, I found this old thing (again, not that old, but made last summer), a collage that I have cut into two

added lining and pockets

and made into two notebook covers

I am currently making pages to slip inside, ripping up sheets of paper.

Lastly, kinda inspired by Sewing Bee but not really, as I got the patterns before I knew it would be on telly, I have been attempting to make some clothes.

I've finally finished this blouse

from a pattern I traced from a library book. But I forgot to add any pattern markings, and I think I may have misjudged the seam allowances. The length was a tad on the short side, the width a bit flappy, and the arms were clearly designed for a baboon or for someone whose knuckles touch their knees. I've added a bit of elastic to the hem to sort out the flappiness, and just rolled the sleeves up. I'm astonished that I've finished something, and that it is comfortable.

I've also made a dress from one of those japanese pattern books, a dress designed for a waif. I was worried it would come up small so made a generous size. I also made it in calico, with the notion of dyeing it when finished, and not spending a lot of money on fabric. But I seem to have made a potato sack. A potato sack with bias neck and armhole facings, all new to me, but still a potato sack. I haven't taken a photo of that one. 

Can I stop with the new things and have a quiet week now?!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Trees and leaves

Here are the leaves (and petals) stuck to painted Bondaweb, on velvet.

This is for class later today. We're starting to look at texture, so I've done a "Thittichai!"

And here are the trees:

I've been photographing things for the Etsy shop, and trying to come up with ways to capture the 'spirit' of these amulets. They're so long, I can't photograph them on the dining room table and the light in the living room is not good, hence the trip to the woods - but they kept blowing about in the breeze outside! And you'd think it would be a easy to find suitable tree with interesting bark and an appropriate branch to hang things on, in a wood - full of trees? Think again!

I still need to fiddle with the photos, so they're not in the shop yet, but a few other things are. I think this is why I have so many things at home that should be in the shop but aren't - I'm no photographer!

And now I'm off to play with more trees, namely our EG branch entry for this summer's Regional Challenge...can't say more until July!


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