Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Hard sums

Whenever the Whippet has to think hard about something, such as "come here" or "don't eat that stick" or "cuddles with Mum or cuddles with Dad?" he gets confused ears, and we say that he is having to do Hard Sums.

For me, selling things - anythings - is very much Hard Sums. Same with stitching teaching samples. Which is why I get distracted and do things like make swirling vortices of marmalade instead:

or have a sudden urge to buy a red skirt in a charity shop, chop off any frilly extraneous bits (the skirt's on the bias and won't fray too much - fingers crossed) and stitch on some braid salvaged from another charity shop find several years previously...



(have you ever tried to photograph your own legs? bloomin' difficult...)

The red boots were a separate procrastination project. They were the Girl's, and she has grown out of them so when I was clearing them out of the porch, I followed a whim to try them on - and discovered that they fitted, in a slightly snug toe sort of way. So then I had to ransack the understairs cupboard for the special sheepskin washing liquid so I could chuck them in the washing machine, dry them for a week, and proclaim them My New Slippers. Girl is slightly miffed, and can't work out why her old boots that are now too small for her suddenly fit her Mother who has bigger feet than she has. I'm not complaining mind.

Emboldened by the success of the Red Skirt, I dredged from my wardrobe another indifferent bias cut skirt in an indifferent shade of beige. This was also originally from a charity shop and bought because it I deemed it suitable for "work". But seeing as I never really do much of that, I thought it would now be a fine candidate for another chopping session.

But first, to address the general beige-ness, a dunking in the dye pot was called for:

(note the teaching sample on the wrist!)

We are now at this stage and have come to a temporary halt until I stitch the braids together.


In between simmering things from my wardrobe, I finally did do something with all the bits that were lying on my desk.

Here they are cut into strips:

and then with added sheers

then with added hearts

then with added stitch

and finally with added mount board, ready to go into the etsy shop.

And while I was considering this bold and dramatic move, which gives me very uncertain ears, I found this little piece from last year, which I shall list at the same time:

The most Hard Sums of all involved finally listing some stuff on eBay - the carved wotnots that I found in the loft last week, which Mr G said looked a bit like some members of the Kenyan paralympic team....

So I get it done eventually, but I do find it very Hard Sums and wish I didn't. Maybe I just need to do more of it...

Monday, 20 January 2014

Playing with water soluble

At the end of last week we played with water soluble fabric in the Fairwarp class. It was also an opportunity for me to try taking photos with the New Toy! I managed to work out how to get them onto my Facebook page, but no further than that. This is me now trying to get them into Blogger!

While I get my head around that, here are some bits of stitch.

First up, you need to stitch a grid, making sure everything is interlocked with stitch. You can add other bits and pieces and thick thread, like Jane did in the sample above.
When you think everything is stitched down, you can dissolve the fabric and fingers crossed it doesn't all unravel in the sink!

Your grids don't have to be square, you can stitch circles like spider's webs and then maybe mould them over a plastic bowl to dry. Here's one ready to be dissolved:

So there you have it! More later this week, when we add more bits of fabric, thread, ribbon and such like and make actual "things" (hopefully!).

And the conclusion for blogging with an iPad? Don't do it. This is me back on the laptop. But I have worked out that I can send photos to flickr and then post them into Blogger. 

Except I can't without posting a new post! AAAGgghh. How does anyone else do this??

Sunday, 19 January 2014


Coi-toi - the Girl's word for "curtain" when she was 18 months.


And chuffed!
And warmer, shockingly - we've now discovered just how cold our stairwell is, and just what a difference the lack of insulation between the garage and the stairwell makes.

There were a couple of "sticky" moments on Friday evening, when it came to the Great Hanging Event. 

Firstly, I had to ask Mr Gonecycling to break out the power tools to put up the curtain track onto a concrete lintel. Yes, on a Friday evening. I'm cruel. Hammer drilling in a confined space. I hid in the kitchen and drank a G&T.

Second, I then discovered I'd stitched the header tape to the wrong side. Doh! Of course, the curtain FACES the track, not the other way round as is usual for curtains. So I had to unpick it all and stitch it to the right side - "literally". (go on, click on that link, it's one of my favourite songs of all time...)

But now we are chuffed! Although this curtain isn't going to be pulled back that much, despite the discovery of a lovely thick rope tie-back in the loft. (I knew it was there somewhere, but didn't reckon on also finding a childhood suitcase of treasure including various dolls in national costume; a very old soft toy of my Mother's, species indeterminate; two copper pots; one silver pot requiring an hour's polishing; one wooden mule, and two carved wooden napkin ring holders from Kenya - that occupied Saturday afternoon/evening).

The patchwork on the chair, btw, is my old cot quilt.

Friday, 10 January 2014

The good the bad and the inedible

Seems like the culinary bad form that started before Christmas continues unabated. But I digress! The good this week includes:
  • this little chappie putting in another star appearance:

(as I said last time, more details later!)
  • getting an awful lot of the To Do list accomplished, including my own piano practice, exercise, stretching and yoga, a daily gratitude list, keeping on top of the housework, fixing things around the house including the Girl's school bag (not buying another one!). Why this sudden rash of efficiency? The new toy! Apps! Who knew? Well, everyone else it seems. 
  • It has been very funny teasing Mr "what would anyone need an iPad for" when he pinches the new toy to play with spotify and check the weather and the tv schedule...
  • getting all this lot of fabric swatches for just £3
  • spending time playing and arranging same. I'm going to stitch them all together into a giant patchwork and make a "door" curtain for the bottom of the stairs (which open straight into the living room). The lengths we go to do get a bit of privacy to do some shoulder stands without people laughing...

Never mind that the last time I did patchwork I made enough to make a big pair of curtains for the Girl's room and a cot quilt, and swore never to do it again. But that was before we knew it was Girl and it was just Bump and the memory has obviously got a bit hazy.
  • collecting this lovely assortment of bits on my desk. I think I need a goal, target, some sort of forward thinking instead of randomly collecting bits of stuff. Something like deciding to make something, anything, using all the bits that arrive in any one day. Now that would be a New Year challenge...The pile has since been added to with some parcel packaging paper - dutifully smoothed out and folded, with what intention? To paint? When?! Do it now Girl!
  • 16th Night Crumble

I think we've the fixings for one more. The dregs of the mincemeat, the dried up block of marzipan, the frozen cranberries. Hooray! (NB we don't usually put sugar on top, someone forgot to put it in the crumble mix but wouldn't listen to me when I said it would be OK without).

And the bad?
  • Having a list with 19 things on it this morning. 19!! That's crazy. Thank goodness for the new toy to keep tabs on everything. Admittedly some of them only take 5 minutes, but they are usually the most important for health and sanity and the most likely to get dropped in the past.
  • Straight back into the new term with a new time-sucking activity aka Moodle. In the long run I can see it will make things easier and save a lot of time. But for now? I'm not exactly the best when it comes to filing systems (see my Twitter profile) so to let me loose with something that involves doing exactly that with all the teaching resources and links I could possibly's getting ugly.
  • The other great time-sucking activity aka the new toy...sigh.
And the inedible?
  • Tonight's dinner. I thought I would scale up the "fish in a parcel with leek and carrot ribbons and white wine" idea and just cook enough for three in one big covered dish. Don't Ever Do This. It did not end well. Even the Bokashi wasn't sure and had to be persuaded. Luckily there was pudding...
Apart from the crumble mojo (which is mostly Mr G's) I do hope the culinary skills return before tomorrow evening: I'm attempting lemon there's a word that always sets the Girl giggling for some reason!

Monday, 6 January 2014

A New Year boost

Nothing like oranges for a New Year boost!

I made these last week, for a something or other that I'm not sure I can talk about (sorry for being so cryptic, all will be revealed later in the year I'm sure)...

The wrapped and glued one looks a bit...gluey...but I'm quite pleased with the other one:

Stitched entirely by hand, as I took it to Wales to do over the holiday.  Goodness me, I can see why the sewing machine was invented...

Then yesterday evening there was another New Year boost to the system, with the invention of "eleventh night crumble".

 A very fine way to dispatch the leftover bramley apple, mincemeat, marzipan and cranberries!

(that's Greek yoghurt, not cream...)

And finally, there was another very definite perking up to the New Year with an email I received the other day, but this one I really can't say anything about yet! Suffice to say it's VERY exciting stuff and means I really need to get my act together and start stitching new things of my own instead of making crumbles and random orange things. As soon as I know more I promise I will post the news on here immediately!