Sunday, 26 February 2012

And another thing...

Well, two things actually:

First, another book with a stitched spine.
I made the cover first, then thought "now what?".  Probably not the best way to go about doing these things.
It's a bit floppy, I think a taped and stitched spine may have been better.  We live and learn.

Front, with my new "thing", a cable stitch tree:




I'm not sure what to do with it now!  I need to think some more about the shop as it just sort of sits there.  I may have a sale.  I need to work out how to do that.  Stay tuned...

And then there's Thing Two: tomato ketchup and mini cheddars have added sugar.  Doh!
The ketchup was an obvious one I missed, the mini cheddars I had a nagging doubt about but ate them anyway....

Oh, and I suppose the stewed blackberry and apple had quite a bit of added sugar, but my excuse is Bramleys are inedible without it and I'd made it last month after the great Freezer Meltdown Debacle which involved 11 bags of defrosted blackberries, 5kg of Bramley apples, a peeler, wrinkly fingers, a preserving pan, quite a few bags of the white stuff and a lot more new freezer bags....and no custard was involved this weekend, or icecream, only plain yoghurt.  So there.

Thursday, 23 February 2012


There's been a bit too much of this lately:

and so Threadnoodle is giving up added sugar for Lent...two days in, and we're doing OK.  I can get round the knotty problem of what to feed the cake-monsters at the weekend, by making fruit cake as it's not really my "bag", I'm more a lemon drizzle/apple&almond cake/anything with icing kinda gal!

So to take my mind off the deprivation, there's been a little bit of creating:

And I mean little, this tiny book is only 5cm square!  It was a little exercise to have a go at stitching a spine and making a "proper" book, and it worked!  It's filled with random papers that were littering my desk, and covered with a picture I cut out of a newsletter at the weekend.

(I've finished my bag as well, and road-tested it today with a trip to the library.  Photos next time, if I remember - it's too busy being used to stand around for photos!).

NB I'm not alone in my Lenten deprivation: the Girl has given up Nutella, and Mr Gonecycling has given up beer&crisps. 
The dog, unfortunately, hasn't given up being stupid.  Here he is finding all the sunny spots:

and here is a particularly favourite spot, between the armchair and radiator - just right for a narrow dog!

he just stands there for hours, looking vacant....

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Trains of thought

I've taken a lot of trains this week, and have been up to Town three times!  (I'm not sure why I called this post Trains of Thought, because it's mostly been Train Journeys spent reading Metro and the Evening Standard...)

On Monday, I had a (routine) appointment at Guys Hospital and thought I would go early and do a bit of exploring.  So I ventured off into completely new territory aka Shoreditch High Street, and was terribly pleased with myself for finding this vintage fabric shop!  It's just called The Shop and is soooper lovely, so lovely that I just didn't know what to buy.  In the end I bought two little silk scarves (will I ever be brave enough to chop them up?) and a pair of black leather "detective" gloves for the Girl...

Then on Tuesday for my second trip, me and Mr Gonecycling went to this exhibition at the British Library.  If you haven't been, you love books, and you are able to get into London - go!  And plan to spend several hours there....we spent three hours looking at it all.  If you have an iphone or ipad, there's an app available, and I think there's also lots of pics on the website....

We finally emerged blinking into the sunlight at around 3pm, and went off to Soho in search of lunch, and another of my favourite shops:

Look at all that deliciousness!  And what did I buy?  4 metres of cotton tape, and 25cm of block printed cotton...oh well!

Then on Thursday, the Girl and I went a-visiting a certain nephew/cousin, and wanted to take a present.  So at 5pm on Wednesday, we sat down and put together this little book:

He didn't try to eat it, but it's only a matter of time...

And then all these train journeys made me realise that I only have really boring bags.  And so I dug out this tote bag, made for a competition a few years ago (came 2nd, again!) and started to de-and re-construct it:

It was originally way too big, and made my shoulders ache, so it's now a lot smaller and will only have handles not straps.  I've got as far as pinching the handles from an old National Trust bag, dyeing them indigo, and pinning them in place.  And discovered that I should have used the pelmet vilene to stiffen it before sewing it all up.  Oh well.  Onwards and upwards! 

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Inside out and upside down

I've been trying to beat procrastination, and just getting on with stuff that's sitting on my desk staring at me...

I started this a few weeks ago, without any plan in mind.

It wasn't supposed to be a picture, but it sort of became one.  I had to unpick the green triangular clouds, but I'm getting very bored with it.  I've struggled on with it today as I'm not the sort to chuck something in the bin when it isn't working - but I was starting to get despondent about the amount of time it has sucked up.

But as I struggled on I began to notice that the back was far more interesting than the front...

And then I wondered what would happen if I inverted the image in Photoshop...

Now then, that's much better!

Now what?!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Do as I say not as I do

While I've been redecorating my kitchen tiles with pomegranate juice

("that's not a fruit, that's an autopsy": Mr Gonecycling)

colour-coordinating my lunches

rummaging around in charity shops finding a pirate costume for a 10 year old

and stitching away at my little procrastination project

my students have been a bit more productive, so I thought it was high time I shared some of their fantastic work.  It truly puts me to shame...

Carole has whipped up a cuff (sorry the photo is a bit blurry)

a bookmark

a seascape

and a rather magnificent landscape

And so has Jane!

And Jane also cunningly saved and used her offcuts to make this delicate beaded piece of work

The others have done magnificent things as well, but either have the "lurgy" and didn't make the last class, or haven't yet given me permission to post their work....and I'm too shy to ask again! 

PS Hello to new follower!  Hooray and welcome!

Monday, 6 February 2012


of creativity, not MORE snow! 
(I have to keep checking the view of the streetlight from my kitchen window, to check it isn't SNOWING again!)

The random pile of metal strips and bits from last Saturday refused to be tidied up, so I made a sort of pot/vessel/crusty bag:

Here it is mid-stitch:

Ann said that some of the copper looked a bit thick to stitch

and she wasn't wrong. 
Hence the big stitches on some of the pieces!  It all got a bit "clonky" (technical term).

I cut away the corners, stitched them together to draw it up into a pot/bag/vessel/container, then went at it with the heat gun.  It wasn't pulling in enough at the top, so I thought that I could try and thread a thick copper wire through the strips and pull it up, a bit like a drawstring bag.  So I did.

I then realised that I could attach dingledangles (another technical term) to the copper wire with thinner copper wires:

And here is the underneath, showing the weaving:

I'm not normally a burny-melty sort of gal, but I was quite pleased with this. 
I try and avoid using man-made/oil-based fabrics (nylon sheers etc) due to my (selective) ecowarrier ethics, so I was pleased to rediscover metal as a material. 
(Not sure about the acrylic felt though...I think that's what I mean by selective ethics.  And to be honest if I continued in this line of thinking I'd have to question the origin of the copper shim...and the beads...)

Moving on, another flurry of activity, from something I've never made before, to something I make all the time:

I can't remember if I've posted THE definitive no-knead recipe and technique, but I reckon I've absolutely perfected this!  I usually start the recipe at about 6pm in the evening and bake the loaves before school (if I'm organised) or after first dog walk (if I'm running late).

480g bread flour (I use half and half wholemeal and white)
1/4 teaspoon dried yeast (Doves Farm)
1 teaspoon salt
360ml water (room temperature, from the filter jug)

Mix the yeast and salt into the flour with a knife.  Add the water and mix it all together with the knife until there are no dry floury bits left - I do a sort of slice and flip motion with the knife.  There is absolutely no need to knead....Put a cover over the bowl eg. shower cap, clingfilm, dinner plate, and leave at room temperature for 12 hours plus.  Last week it was incredibly cold in the kitchen, so I put it in the airing cupboard.

Flour your worktop, and scrape the dough out of the bowl.  Flop it over once or twice using a stiff spatula or dough scraper, to form a big ball of dough - be careful with it, it is soft and squidgy and beautiful.  Cut it into two equal pieces, then turn each one around with both hands on the floured surface, gently bringing the rough edges underneath to form a soft, smooth ball of dough.  Place each ball on a teflon baking sheet, at diagonals to each other (so they both fit on one baking sheet).  Sprinkle each ball with flour.
Put the timer on for 20 minutes (30 if your room is cold).
When it pings, put a baking tray in the oven and turn it on to max ie. 230C and set the timer again for 20.
After it pings, use a serrated knife to score a cross about 2cm deep in the top of each loaf.  I use my bread knife.  Carefully slide the teflon sheet of loaves onto the hot baking sheet, return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, turn down heat to 200C and bake for another 20 minutes. 
When loaves come out, I usually tap the excess flour off the tops.
Leave to cool for at least an hour.

I also made a cake:

A partially invented apple & almond cake recipe. 
It sank in the middle, but there doesn't seem to be any left now...

I have also started on yet another mammoth procrastination exercise (but this one does at least involve stitch).  To be revealed another time!