Monday, 17 October 2011

A square-free zone

During the summer I made great progress on a quilt I'd had in mind for a while. It started life as a piece of unfinished patchwork I found in a second-hand shop years ago. I loved the vintage fabric in the patchwork, and couldn't bear to cut it into pieces, so it stayed as a metre-long (ish) piece and I left it in a cupboard for years, not knowing quite what to do with it. It sometimes got lucky enough for an outing, where I'd stare at it thoughtfully, admire the 70s patterns, fold it up and put it back. And there it sat, waiting for the muse to arrive (on the number 76 bus I think, that's usually how it arrives).

This is part of the original bit of patchwork. It's equipped with a charming degree of wonkiness! Whoever made it struggled with the different weights of fabric and in trying to get the seams to match up. Or, well, who knows, maybe the person didn't struggle - they just didn't give a hoot! anyway. Back to the story. The muse got off the 76 bus, walked down the lane, into the house and slapped me roundly about the chops whilst proclaiming "you should make a quilt in the style of the original bit of fabric! Equipped with a degree of wonk!" It was like a quilter's game of Whose Line is it Anyway. A quilt in the style of.......a wonky quilt! So about it I went. And after a few days of slicing and dicing, I had this.

Well, that's part of it. It's about double bed size. I haven't finished the quilting yet. I've decided upon a scribbly circle for the quilting, I think you can see a bit of it in this...

How I love those vintage bits of fabric! I tried to keep within the theme of the original with the colours and 70s styles. I put in old shirts, skirts, sheets, duvet covers, old aprons, in fact any old bits of  vintage fabric I'd been collecting over the years. Not that it's made much of a dent in the shameful stash! To make up the size I slipped in a couple of new fat quarters too.

As you can see, I haven't bothered about lining up the seams. I wanted it to be totally randomly pieced. I didn't want matching perfect squares or lined-up lengths. I love working without a plan or a sketch! (possibly why I don't get on with knitting patterns...). So that's how it turned out. The scribbly quilting needs finishing, then it needs binding (urgh). But I'm nearly there. And here's the ultimate test: does the dog like it?

I think that's a yes!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Non-wonky knitting!

After showing you the horror of my sock knitting the other day, (hahah, there really ought to be a 'Real People' style magazine for my knitted horrors... I could fill it with tales such as 'Evil Twin Knitted Sock Ruined My Life!",  "I Knitted Some Socks Without Knowing I was Knitting!", "I Left My Knitting in the Lurch!", "I Knitted a Jumper With Three Arms and no Neck!" "Double Pointed Drama at 30,000 Feet!" etc) I thought I'd share a success story. Aaaw. Everyone loves a happy ending, right?!

This is another one of those Nearly Finished objects! Just the one sleeve to go. Here's hoping I manage to get the sleeves the same length. After all, there's no hiding the dodgy sleeve inside a wellington boot (, wait, even I can't carry that off as a fashion statement) The pattern is Cadence and I've managed to knit this far in about a fortnight, which is unheard of for me. It's knitted in Sirdar Bonus Aran, in a rather fetching shade of purple. For me, of course! It's not blocked or anything (not sure I'll bother as I have no patience) but it's meant to be an off-the-shoulder number so the yoke looks a bit more like this when it's on.

The funniest thing about this though, I think, is the size of the ball of yarn. It's a hilariously huge 400g ball! I feel like Dougal in Father Ted. Near, Far Away, Near...etc...

So if you happen to read the headline "I was Savaged by Huge Ball of Yarn!" in the knitting edition of Real People...well, that'll be me...

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Object in Nearly Finished shocker


Oooh, a Nearly Finished Object. Rare in this house, let me tell you. Well, I started it a while back but in a late-night frenzy, I decided to chip the entire design off the bath and start again. Insanity!! After lots of swearing, banging, crashing and regret (regret isn't quite as noisy so my husband didn't mind that one), it metamorphosed into this.

Had to do a bit of a David Hockney to get the photo to show properly because it's a curved bath and the design is too big for my lens! I've no idea how many square feet I've covered, but it's a lot. About a squillion trillion, something like that. I think you can see it on Google Earth. Anyway, it's all done bar the grouting. (sorry).

I'm going to make up a cobalt or turquoise grout for it, as I'm not keen on white. There's no getting up late at night to rip it out once the grouting's done though so I've been taking my time deciding (well, that's my excuse for not quite finishing anyway. I haven't finished the grouting in the kitchen on the plain square tiles either. ahem).


This is one of my favourite bits. It's like a puzzle - there are lots of little motifs I've cut out that take some finding in the general mêlée of the design. I've been really lucky in scoring shards - Polly Polkadot's mum has been very kind in collecting bits and pieces for me when she has been digging over her allotment (thanks Gill!!)! A lot of the mosaic has been found in the ground or in the river, but I did have to do some in-filling with 'new' plates and cups found at car boot sales and charity shops. I prefer the 'found' bits though as they have more character.

Now that my bath is officially a Nearly Finished Object, I'd better go and get some more objects to nearly finish...!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Why I don't knit socks for anyone else...

Because this happens when I knit socks. In fact, I don't think I own a pair that aren't in some way, er, wonky. Or saggy. Or impossible to get on. Or unfinished. So I tend to make them just for myself (to hide inside my dog-walking wellies) or for my husband (to hide completely and pretend he loves them really). I love knitting them though...and surely that's the point...? I wouldn't embarrass you by giving you a pair for Christmas though. Or would I? Ha!!

In other news: blog neglect! Sorry for not being around during the summer. Thanks for all your comments - hello to Lou, Picto, Helen and CrazyJane - some of you I think popped over from Polly Polkadot to say hello and some of you from Pinterest (love your pins, CrazyJane!!) thank you for reading! - and sorry for my absence. Been so busy dyeing, seeking out new yarn for the shop (exciting times, stay tuned folks) knitting bad socks, etc etc. And of course the biggest time-stealer of all (aside from pinterest, haha) is this:

Ironing the dog. No...I mean, just the dog! Love how she picks the clean clothes/ironing basket to sit in though...typical pet behaviour I think!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Pedal power

I dusted off the treadle machine the other week and started quilting. Well...I mean, it wasn't quite as simple as that. I tacked all the layers together (with much 'assistance' from the dog), and started quilting on my old Jones electric machine. After about half an hour of solid sloooow free-motion stitching, the controller foot got really hot...and I found it had melted the carpet underneath!!! eep. So...rather than risk a trouser leg fire I thought I'd try to find some way round it. I thought about electronic foot controls and stuff but it turns out that they cost more than I spent on my machine. So I'm not sure it's going to be worth replacing the pedal. But...after a lot of thinking...I realised the answer was in front of me. (well, to the side actually)

ooh, nice radiator...
My Singer 15k Treadle! Sure, it's not as pretty as some treadles out there but it works just fine. The pretty bits on this model all seem to be located where you can't see them:
Engraved face plate

And then there's this bit which sits at the back covering the oiling thingummybob:

I've removed it and sat it ontop of the machine to show you. I think it looks like part of a shawl pin or something! It's very elaborate for just sitting on the back of a thingummybob, that's for sure.

Anyway, after a few backwards treadles and a bit of a practice on some spare fabric, it all seemed to go okay.
that nice radiator again!

I've chosen to quilt around the pattern of the fabric or be inspired by the shapes - it's much easier than trying to draw a pattern and follow it. I've always enjoyed free-motion stuff but doing it on the treadle has made me obsessed. I try to do a bit each morning when I get up, and before I walk Trixie! Mind you, I don't recommend treadling when tired. I have made a few sleepy mistakes...

If you accidentally pedal backwards, this is what happens. A big ugly loopy mess on the back. It's easy enough to pick out and get started again though. Well, as long as I remember not to treadle backwards again...I wonder if I could do all my sewing on the treadle...? Maybe when I am a bit more practised at it. Only 3,00000000000000000000000.142857 approx square feet of quilting to go - I think I'll be ace at it by then...

After last month's post about my rubbish craft organisation skills, I thought I'd follow up with a pic of my rather different yarn organising capabilities. I don't have much mess when it comes to my actual work/business room, just in case you worried that your Yaffle Yarn would reach you with Trixie paw prints or bits of random fabric in it.

I impressed myself with how tidy I keep my work yarn! :-) One day I'll have one of those nice box-style shelves with lots of 12x12 cubby-hole type things (I'm struggling for words today...! Quilt brain!) but this will do for now...

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Craft rooms of the real world unite!

Today, I present, Ladles and Jellyspoons, the Perfect Craft Room. You know, the one you find in all those 'oh so Martha Stewart' craft magazines. The rooms with twenty thousand (approx) perfectly white IKEA storage units and Farrow-and-Ball painted furniture in which to store immaculately folded fabric. Yep, just like mine, as you can see here.

                (yep, the wall behind the shelf is ugly brown. and beige. More of which later)

Well, the equivalent for me is three old kitchen drawers, shoeboxes (I don't own that many shoes, that's my husband's habit, lol) and old quality street tins (stolen from recycling boxes up the road. Shhhhh). And maybe the odd basket and plastic IKEA box ("so cheap! let's buy 20 and get some tealights and a washing up brush too!"). I did try folding up bits of fabric (see bottom of picture) but as you can see it's not easy when the pup's around. Oh, and I lost the will to live halfway through folding the fabric...

Some handy hints for your craft room (if you have one, let alone a Martha version) are this. 1. Collect lots of dust. You know, for posterity.

This isn't through lack of use of the sewing machine - it's just that I never have time to put things away and therefore keep them dust-free. If I put things away I would never get things out again, and nothing would be done. Tip number 2 for your craft room: If you really want to find things, keep your 'thrifted antique' drawers open, missus!!! At all times!

(object identification - bendy ruler for pattern drafting, box of sewing machine feet, old tins with stuff in. With their lids on, I have no idea what's inside, sorry. Anyone who knows why my hair elastics are in there wins a prize. Of hair elastics.)

Seriously, how would I find anything otherwise? It's all very well having pretty bits of old sh!t in your craft room, but how on earth can I remember where all my bits are, so to speak? I don't think I'll ever be featuring in your Mollie Makes or your Marthahahaha, but I am happy with what I have. I wouldn't change my little mess for the world (well, that is, apart from the brown and beige which I'm going to have to turn purple at some point).

If you click on the pic, you can see a bigger version, for use along with this handy cut out and keep guide!
1. Scissors. Magic scissors. With a zig zag pinking edge. wooo.
2. Scissors my husband uses and shouldn't because they're ONLY FOR FABRIC!!!!!
3. Horrid beige coloured wall left over from previous occupants. 5 years ago. No, I don't like decorating.
4. Tin of sh!t - ie, all the stuff that covers my workspace as I go gets stuffed into the tin which is why the lid won't shut, which is a shame as the lid has a kitschy picture of roses on it and I'd like to see it more often
5. Ironing table. Covered in a luxury assortment of stuff that doesn't need to be ironed. Such as double sided tape.
6. The table itself is a treadle sewing machine. Seemed like a Good Idea at the time.
7.  More Scissors. Not magic ones. Ones that are stuck together through cutting double sided tape. Ah well.
8. Pincushion (note: it's not in a teacup) and threads ready for dyeing that day.
9. Inevitable Cath Kidston Mug. This one contains a brew which was freshly made - others have been known to be er, 'vintage'.
10. Festival of Quilts leaflet that came in the post. Nope, I'm not going.
11. Smaller Scissors.
12. Machine of Joy and Fun! Cost about £30 and it sews like a dream, and hasn't an ounce of plastic in it. (A real tip: Don't be afraid of vintage machines - they're way better than modern ones, don't go for a big brand, and don't pay more than about £50 for one!)
13. Old duvet cover used as tablecloth to cover a grotty freecycle table - turns out this is not a Good Thing because when I want to move the sewing machine all 6ft of duvet cover joins it for a ride
14. The wall was a darker shade of brown when we moved in. So this is an unfinished attempt to cover it up. Inspiring, no? The colour is this:

cost: about £3,00000000000 per tin from the internet and when you open it there are angel choirs singing. This shade is called 'Rock on Tommy'. Ahem. No, really, one day I'll be painting it B&Q purple. Because I can.
15. Anglepoise lamp. "The original" it says on the side! Which is why I've re-christened it the Angle-Flop lamp. Springs are a bit dodgy. Can't complain for £7 from a boot sale though...
16. Trixie. Every craft room needs one. She's available on request...

Bah to perfect craft rooms ;-) you'd be so scared to make a mess in them you'd never do anything! Let alone have a dog and her paws in there. If you're suffering from 'perfect craft room' syndrome, I can heartily recommend a dose of Trixie paws to make you re-think that shade of Farrow and Ball...;-) Let's rejoice in our messy craft rooms and start a backlash! A craftlash?!! xxx

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Pottering about

I've been busy 'pottering' again. Well, I have to find something to do with the bits of pot I collect like an obsessive crazy lady find on my walks, other than my usual habit of leaving them in a pile in a saucer on the windowsill.

I may have bitten off (or merely nibbled) more than I can chew with my latest project though. I've chosen to cover the entire side of our bath in mosaic. I know. A squillion tiny bits of pique assiette to cut out and stick to the side of an enormous bath panel. Hmmm. What was I thinking?! It's left a fair bit of mess. Here's a bag of offcuts:

And here's the general mess of pots and bits of found china that goes into making the mosaic.

And here's the not-even-nearly-finished bath!

I ran out of tile adhesive part way through - possibly because of the amount I dropped on the floor before I could get it onto the piece of pot. As you can see it's not exactly the Sagrada Familia so I am sure I will finish it eventually (she said - wooo, wait what's that over there, some socks to knit? let me get on with that!). In the meantime, it just adds to the general eccentricity that pervades our house... something you may euphemistically describe as a 'conversation piece' eh?!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Wardrobe enhancement!

Fings wot I made earlier! I had a couple of winter weddings to go to earlier in the year and needed something nice to wear that wasn't my usual uniform of dog-walking jeans and jumper, so I took this bit of Philip Jacobs fabric...

and with some help from Simplicity 6776 I made this:

(yes, that is a patch of tester paint on the wall ;-) it's been there for 4 years now, almost to the day!)

Definitely my favourite dress, but it's useless for dog-walking and clambering over barbed wire when retrieving the dog! I spend most of my days in muddy non-glamour so it's nice to dress up occasionally, even if it is in Philip Jacobs quilting fabric! My next project is more 1970s:

I've been collecting  Gunne Sax patterns to turn into a kind of folksy-franken-maxi-dress (catchy!) using different elements of each pattern. Won't be using Kaffe or Philip (first name terms, man!!) for this one either since it needs about 6 metres of the stuff! forget that!! I've chosen a vintage-looking purple fabric and oodles of lace and red ribbon. I'll post some work in progress pics (featuring a new olympic sport, the 100 metre frill-gathering race) when I can find a tidy corner of my room. I am going to end up looking like a wench from a medieval battle re-enactment. Or 'folksy', 'boho', or simply 'Wendy Craig', depending on what your view of the frilly side of the 70s is...;-)

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Quilting with dogs

Oh good grief, I'm terrible at keeping this blog up! I've not been well (again) lately for one thing. I've become the reluctant curator to a collection of revolting chronic chest infections, one snotty grotty mess after another - so I've been really enjoying that. This has made every task akin to walking through treacle so I've not had the energy to write much or dye much, although things are getting a bit better.

I managed to get some photos done of my latest creation - I finished this strippy quilt top a while ago but only just got around to a) getting the camera out b) getting some sunshine and c) being well enough to get out!

It's a 'can't be arsed' quilt. No measuring, no pins, no neat assembly, nothing. I don't think there's a straight line in this. I used to sit for hours, years ago, measuring and cutting out squares and making perfectly formed quilts to other people's directions, but I felt really restricted, and very bored. So I stopped. I like to think one day I'll write a book myself, "Can't be Arsed Quilting"! "Can't be arsed to quilt? I couldn't either! That's why I sat down and wrote this book rather than finish that quilt!"

The other book I'm going to have to write is entitled "Quilting With Dogs".

For instance, imagine plain white sashing around those strips. And now imagine your beautiful quilt, the brilliant white contrasting with the pretty rainbows and how cheering on a rainy day, too - whenthedogcomesrunninginfromthegardenandjumpsuponthebed-aaaaaghtrixienooooooo!
You get the picture. So I chose a purple floral number. Florals - great for hiding a multitude of muddy sins!

Phew, well all that uploading of photos (with steam-driven broadband) and fighting with blogger has left me exhausted, a bit like Trixie! More quilting-with-dogs adventures later :-)

Thursday, 17 February 2011

woof. woof woof woof yap. woof.

Woof, arf. Wuf arf yappy yappy raaaaoooooowf. Yap. Yappy yap yap. (this goes on for a bit, usually in the back garden).
Loosely translated as:
My owner is a Very Bad Blogger. I've had so much to tell you about tennis balls, the dogs in the village, sticks, yaffles, chasing birds, eating yarn etc. and it's not like I can post here. Look at these paws! You can't expect 60 wpm typing, can you? anyway, I've had a word and my owner says she'll be blogging soon. She's had a lot on. Busy, apparently. Too busy to play ball with me sometimes! outrageous! Woof.