Thursday, 15 April 2010

Spring Stitching

Ah, nothing like the bursting forth of blooms to make you realise spring is here. (That, and the rude awakening due to the arrival of British 'Summer' Time). In the garden the forget-me-nots are out...

...and I quickly picked these daffs before the slugs got to them. I love the contrast between blue and yellow. Although this pic does have the 'Windows Desktop' feel about it!

All this got me inspired to stitch. I made a little embroidered card (click for bigger):

and an unholy mess:

When I cleared all that up I made an even bigger mess with fabric and thread, and here's a sneak preview of some rather nice new knitting accessories that will be going up in the shop soon:

Over the Easter hols I also got around to tinkering with an old sewing machine. I got this one from freecycle - it didn't work, it had no foot control or accessories, so I stripped it back for its parts. I am a savage!

It's wearing its Halloween skeleton fancy dress outfit. ha. I couldn't believe how many screws held the thing together. Sixteen to get the front panel off; plus another dozen keeping the back panel on. It was a modern plastic thing (bah! yuck!) - my old model Jones only has two screws to keep the access panel on. Eeee by 'eck, modern stuff just in't like it used to be!

(good old Quality Street tin again. I have a few, mostly fillings thus remaining largely intact!!)

Here are the sewing machine's innards. I'm going to mend another old machine with the new motor. Recycling at its finest!

I've been inspired this week by reading (this week, I have been mostly reading...!) Miss Savidge Moves Her House - the tale of a lady who, upon finding her house was to be demolished to make way for a by-pass (not an hyperspace one I don't think) decided to dismantle the house (and next door) and have it moved, piece by piece, a hundred miles away, where she then set about re-building it, without any help.

I'm not going to re-build my sewing machine 100 miles away :) But taking things apart and putting them back together (or re-using them somewhere else) is something which fascinates me, and I love to breathe new purpose into things that would otherwise go to landfill. I'm not an evangelical Greenie or anything like that; I just like making use of old stuff like bits of broken pottery...old fabric...old sewing machines...old cardigans... (coming soon: a patchworked mosaic of knitted sewing machines)! The book is a really good read if you get the chance (don't be put off by the only blurb being from the Telegraph and the Daily Mail - no idea why the Guardian review didn't feature). I borrowed mine from the library (recycling, haha). I think it's her determination in the face of bureaucracy, the elements and ill-health that is so inspiring. And her eccentricity - the characteristics that make me like Hannah Hauxwell...or the Lady in the Van, Miss Shepherd. (one day I will tell you all about my late, crazy, mum...but not just yet!) Here endeth the book recommendation. I don't usually shout out about books on this blog but I liked this one so much I thought I'd tell you all about it!

Hmm, I think my waffling might be testing someone's patience:

I think she's saying "play with me!!"

"...pretty pleeeease?!" How can I resist a face like that...!

Thanks for all your lovely comments about the mosaic mirror! It's really not technical - you could have a go - it's just incredibly messy and you need a tolerant other half who will put up with a) the banging and b) the disappearing tea-cups. Oh and the missing hammer. And tile cutters :) Glad you liked the end result! x

Monday, 5 April 2010

Cracking piece of work, Gromit!

I got messy this week, with my mosaic mirror. Annoyingly, it's not one of those crafts you can do sitting by the fire, watching telly, with the puppy on your lap. You need a dust mask, industrial strength gardening gloves (which make holding anything like trying to grab on to a wobbly jelly) your working area (and yourself) wrapped up like a Christo artwork, a plastic bag to work inside to stop shards flying everywhere, goggles, and strictly no puppies. 

I used a few of my stash of found pieces - a collection I've hoarded over the years and just knew it would come in handy for something. Argh, our house is full of things both Paul and I think 'will come in handy for something'! It means we have a lot of things that haven't yet found their purpose in life (Thinks: ooh, I can now mosaic most of them though...).

The sticking bit was really addictive and I stayed up late to finish it off (impressive, believe me. I never stay up late). The challenge of finding the right smashed-up piece to fit in the gaps was fun. No, really - where are you going, come back! It was fun!!!

The tricky bit: waiting for 24 long hours for the glue to dry. Grrrrrr. Not good for a crafter like myself, who is used to rushing headlong into the next process. I really had to sit on my hands to stop myself moving the pieces of china - I kept wanting to re-arrange or even go back and fill in some of the larger gaps. argh!

Enter stage left: THE BLUE GROUT! White grout? No way. I like colour too much so I added some blue pigment and got mixing. Well, I thought the cutting bit was messy - but this turned my work room into a building site. Blue grout everywhere. And when it dried it went all powdery so there was blue powdery mess, (like lines of a Smurf's recreational drug or something...)!?! Not to mention my hands, which were blue, as I'd dispensed with the jelly-gloves at this point. All that done with, I had to wait another 48 long hours for the grout to dry to its finished colour. I gave it a lick of acrylic paint round the edges and then...ta-da...that was it:

 Finished! Shame the bathroom wall isn't quite as finished :) There's a bucket of B&Q's finest 'Turtle Seas' waiting to go on the wall - I just have to get round to doing it. However, there may be a problem because these caught my eye in a charity shop:

And I might just find smashing these to smithereens slightly (ever so slightly) more interesting than decorating.