silence

These days I am not as sociable as I used to be.  This past weekend was lovely, filled with loved ones and laughing and fresh air.  Every day I feel fortunate to have such wonderful family.  But suddenly now it is silent, and just as lovely.

This afternoon there will be quiet work in my office, with just Penny curled up behind me.  Chocolate cake.  Maybe a little seed planting.  Maybe a little snooker.  And definitely an epic, muddy hike.  (We can’t say the ‘w’ word around here anymore, it puts sweet Penny into a frenzy.  Soon that will happen for the ‘h’ word too and we will have to find an new one.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

sneak peak

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I am working on something new.  In three weeks we have A Big Day in our family, and it requires both a gift and something to wear.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This the gift – nothing very fancy or groundbreaking, just something I love to make, in fabrics I love, for people I love. It’s coming together quickly and I planned to finish the top this weekend.  But um, the sun is shining.  So off outside I go to dig and potter about, and I’ll take my makings with me when we travel up North for a few days and hope my mum doesn’t mind me using her sewing machine.

The Something To Wear is in its very early stages and I am taking my time to get it right. For the first time I made a little test bodice and got some help from friends to get a good fit.  There’s a little sneak peak on Ysolda’s blog just now (ignore the silly face – I had a fit of the giggles and didn’t know where to look), along with a very thoughtful post on the fashion industry, and our wardrobes.  Enjoy your weekend x

picnic blanket skirt

Ta da!  For the first time ever I have finished a sewn garment that is actually going into my wardrobe!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Not the sharpest picture, but since its also one of the only times I’ve smiled into a camera without looking like I am about to murder someone, its the one that’s going up.  (Bowie the Chicken says hello.  She is in a very friendly mood just now and wants a cuddle at every opportunity.  Its egg-laying time and she hopes I might be a man.  Anyway….)

I made a Picnic Blanket Skirt mostly during a class on Saturday at Ray Stitch, with the lovely Tilly.  It was fun, and I learnt a few things that are probably super-obvious to sewing people of experience, but which being self-taught and always alone at my sewing machine I just never figured out or thought about.  The class also made me want to sew all the things.  Now.

Once I got home and was faced with the final touches on my own I discovered a bit of a problem.  Originally I drew and cut the pattern so the waistband would sit lower (probably closer to where I wear my jeans), but after trying it on this was NOT a good look.  It really needed to sit closer to the narrowest point of my waist to make those gathers look sensible.  In the olden days I would have realised this, though ‘oh well,’ finished it anyway just to be done and then put it away in a drawer.  Not now!  Taking the whole thing apart – gathers, top-stitching and all, seemed a step too far, so some surgery was required.  I figured out how much fabric needed to come out to make the waistband narrower, centred it on the back, calculated seam allowances, cut out a chunk and french seamed right the way up the back.  It means there is a little lumpy bit on the wrong side of the waistband at the back, but it sits nicely in the small of my back and doesn’t bother me.  And it means that I’ll wear the skirt, so I’m calling this a success.

The offending extra piece late at night -

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The fabric is Architextures by Carolyn Friedland, from Ray Stitch, and the buttons are cute ones that were on their counter beside the cake.  A darker fabric might have been an idea (I already smeared a teeny bit of chocolate on it), but hey ho, I love it anyway.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I also took the time to finish this really, really well.  I’m going to visit my Gran next week and she likes to look inside the things I make.  She has very high standards…  I even added a hook and eye closure at the waistband to stop any gaping.  (Insert smug face here.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And now a silly picture, which is going up only as proof that I wore awesome shoes to match yesterday.  Just need to practice walking in them..  They don’t look that high in the picture, but as a chicken-lady who lives in wellies, I teeter in these beauties!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

february and april

We’re back now from our little trip (more on that later).  I used my train travel wisely, and stitched away on my samplers from the Dropcloth Sampler of the Month Club.  As much as I love knitting, its nice to have fallen for another portable craft.  It almost makes me miss my commute.

This sampler series is becoming a bit of diary of my year.  I stitch the samplers in colour combinations that are meaningful to me at the time, or that are featuring in my life in some way.  The fabric I use for backing is starting to be involved in this too.  I feel sure that these samplers will become part of a quilt next year, and the plan is starting to come together in my head.

February was blanket stitches, and all about love –

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAApril landed in my ‘craft tambourine’ (as Mr Saz calls it) as soon as it arrived, leapfrogging March since it didn’t require a stitch dictionary and therefore was a bit more travel-friendly.  March has some very personal inspiration behind it, and needs a bit of thinking.

And so April was running stitches, and all about growth -

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAApril makes me want to go back to the previous samplers and attack them with the embroidery foot on my sewing machine.  But since I’ve already considered them done, I am resisting…

happy mail day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m about to go on a little trip, and take a class a class with Tilly at Ray Stitch.  I am beyond excited about this, my dress-making skills have slipped a bit and a refresher is required.  Especially when there are 3 metres of blue silk waiting for me when I get back, ready to be transformed into something amazing for my little brother’s wedding next month.

Before that though I am squeezing in some last-minute decorating (what do you think about the grey wall?, I am a little in love with it) and getting my crafting ready for the trip.  The new plants will be potted on in the greenhouse and will need to wait until next week.  So much to do!  It’s starting to feels like the season of doing and growing.

sniffing out spring

So according to the calendar it’s spring.  The snow might have gone but I’m not so sure.  Penny and I went hunting for evidence.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA worm buddy!  I love worms.  I wish there were more of them in my garden and I’m working on it.  I picked this one up and put it into the grass, to make it less likely to be snaffled by a bird – is that the wrong thing to do?  It seemed grateful, I think.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALambs!  I was getting worried, usually I can hear them bleating when I let out the chickens, but nothing so far.  Turns out they’re just in a different field this year, and all is fine.  I couldn’t get that close without spooking them, but the muncher above was totally uninterested in me or Penny.  Clearly the grass was too tasty.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy garden!  I spent the weekend in the front garden carrying out what felt like an archeological dig.  Clearing away 15 years worth of dead plants was a big task.  I found a rockery, paths, and these lovely daffodils which have been flowering every year under a mass of dead branches.  It feels like I haven’t even scratched the surface, but the two-car loads of weeds I took to the community recycling centre tells me otherwise.  (I am starting to make friends with the guys who work there.  I love too that they take away my weeds and stuff I don’t want to compost, and then give me free compost in return.)  I am utterly determined that this will be the year my garden will be returned to former glories.  I’ve heard that 15 years ago it was loved and a thing of beauty, but the previous owners obviously neglected it, and did nothing but cut the grass occasionally.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANew plants for my doorstep…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis might look like a picture of soil.  I guess it does, really.  But right in the centre, that teeny tiny speak of green is actually a baby carrot!  I had one good carrot year back in 2006(?), and have had no success since then, struggling even to get them to germinate.  I have a good feeling about this year…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOut of the 100+ teeny seedlings in my greenhouse, this little cauliflower is my favourite.  Something about the way it stands seems so earnest, and it looks like it waves to me whenever I go in.  It’s so friendly.

Our local ice-cream man says that May is going to be a hot month.  It doesn’t feel like it, but he is wise and all-knowing, so I’m choosing to believe him and be optimistic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA