Thursday, November 30, 2006

The importance of 4

Yesterday was a very important day in this house, Tilly's 4th birthday. Her brother has his birthday in August which makes Tilly's birthday feel like a very long wait. She has been dreaming of her birthday since, well, since her last one I suppose. The grand age of 4 feels very grown up and the whole business of having a 4th birthday has been consumming all of us for weeks. Clearly there can be no talk of Christmas until this important birthday was done with. This year I made my very first proper birthday cake. I do lots of baking but have never really ventured into the realms of creative icing. Basic iced fairy cakes are no problem and I sometimes adorn the lemon drizzle cake with a little bit of lemon icing, always with a homespun (drippy) finish. Tilly had asked for a princess dress cake and I distantly remembered reading of this idea in my Nigella. Unfortuately Nigella really didn't offer very much by way of instruction but a quick google boosted my confidence a little. I couldn't find cake tins suitable and was forced to use pyrex bowls to get dome shapes. Subsequent oven temperatures and baking times were all a little haphazzard and I must confess that some cake did go to the bin (although it wasn't so bad that some of it didn't pass through our mouths too). Eventually the sponge was completed and so began the decorating. I never really thought I would one day find myself stripping Barbie and painting her with apricot jam, I suspect there are people who would pay to watch, should I ever fall on particularly hard times. I inserted her into the cake (again this is slightly uncomfortable territory) and proceeded to dye my fondant and create a ballgown. I must say that I am rather delighted with my efforts. I really was half expecting a last minute dash to the supermarket got rather stressed at one point but ended up being rather proud of my iced cake.

She wants a Fairytale Castle next year....

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

For the love of buttons

My button box is very much a work in progress. I feel envy when I see blog photographs of overflowing button boxes. I remember playing with my grandmother's button box as a child and it felt like such precious treasure that I cannot imagine a real pirate's booty giving me a better feeling. From a very young age I spent hours making patterns and pictures, (heck, it was the seventies, choking wasn't such a fear, once you were walking you were pretty much able for anything, I even wore mittens attached through my sleeves on a long piece of string, and guess what? I managed not to hang myself!). My button box is a very poor treasure chest at present, I do save buttons from old clothes and it is growing but I felt it needed boosting.....

These buttons are from Ebay, vintage buttons for a song and I love them, I paid very little and didn't expect much but felt a little flutter of excitement when I opened the envelope (which arrived the very next day). There are so many lovely buttons here, but I do have a few favourites. Apologies for the light, we are grey today, and indeed yesterday, the day before that and so on...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A squashy bag

The squashy bag is complete and already in use. I made my own pattern based on a bags I had seen in highstreet shops and a pattern pretty close to what I wanted in one of my Japanese Craft books. It has come out pretty much as I had hoped and I like the shape but I think for this fabric I prefered the original tote. This is certainly a useful bag shape though, comfy over the shoulder or in arm and plenty of space inside for a purse and of course a bit of portable sock knitting. I learned plenty as I went along, I am pleased that the shape came out as I had planned but the bias binding was very tricky and frankly does not stand up to close examination, but making a hash of it this time should mean that I know what not to do next time. I used some very stiff boning in the handles themselves which was a good move, I will certainly buy more of the boning to use on future projects, even if it did make the bias binding rather a struggle. I used a little magnetic closure and no inside pocket this time.

The outside is made from the same old charity shop blanket as the tote and I used a medium weight interfacing. Interfacing/interlining makes such a difference to the bags, gives them so much more body. The bulkier seams are a little troublesome but worth it I think.

Thank you for all the lovely comments on my finished Betty. She is keeping me warm on a regular basis. Several of you asked about the fastening which is a brooch. I did purchase some buttons, I spent about half an hour choosing them while a friend waited very patiently for me to decide. Of course they are too big for the buttonholes. I grabbed the brooch as an emergency measure, I was determine to wear Betty there and then, and in fact it somehow looks just right so I don't think I will look for any more buttons. The brooch is silver with some tiny gold details and was a gift from the technical advisor who buys most of my jewellery from the rather wonderful local gallery.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


This autumn I took the advice from Vogue and rushed out to buy the seasons must have blacks and greys, it was something of a makeover for my wardrobe which really didn't contain any black! I have worn plenty of sobre colours in the past, pre-children my working wardrobe consisted of mostly dark shades and I am sure I wore nothing but black at some point in my teens. However, the last 7 or 8 years have been full of colours, pinks, greens, blues and following this initial rush to embrace the seasons fashion I have decided I miss colour which makes me very glad to have finished this.

Betty, from Rowan 38, in beloved Yorkshire Tweed, shade Skip, bought for a song on Ebay. I really like this one, it fits well, I made the small size, I love the colour and it is so lovely and warm. The pattern was simple to follow and inspite of every other row involving an increase into each stitch it was quite a quick knit. The stitch pattern makes quite a heavy weight fabric which means it is really a sort of cardigan jacket, very handy for me. I finished this at the start of the week and have already worn it several times and indeed was complimented on it today.

Prior to casting on for this project I did my usual google search for any blogland images of the project. I couldn't find a single finished picture which began to worry me, why didn't anyone else want to knit this? Now that I have finished Betty I still have no idea why no one else made it because I think it is a great knit, I do hope I am not deluding myself! Since casting on I have discovered that Cecile is also knitting Betty, the colour she is using looks lovely and I do hope she likes hers as much as I like mine.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunday, Sunday

Sunday is always one of my favourite days, we rarely stray far from home and start the day with a full English (or in our case an Ulster/Welsh) breakfast, cooked by the lovely Technical Advisor. At some point we try to fit in a long walk to work off that breakfast and usually are Sunday walks are leisurely and rambling and usually include collecting something along the way, the blackberries are now exhausted but last week we filled tubs of sloes which are now happily wallowing in bottles of gin, we rarely return home without a good selection of sticks, children need a lot of sticks it would seem.

We always have a large Sunday dinner, roast beef is a favourite mainly because of the accompanying Yorkshire puddings, Dylan in particular loves Yorkshire puddings and every dinner in between is a poor second while he counts down the time to his next Yorkshire pudding. At this time of year desert is normally apple crumble, apple pie, apple cake, stuffed apples, you get idea.....With three apple trees in the garden it would be rude not to! The arrival of desert on the table is normally accompanied by "not apples again" but everyone manages a second helping.

This Sunday I have a little treat, the Technical Advisor has gallantly taken the children swimming allowing me a little time to drink tea, nibble cake (apple of course) and blog, thank you Technical Advisor.

The bag is finished and I like the results. I love this combination of fabrics, the grey is from a length of grey woollen fabric picked up in a charity shop for peanuts, it feels lovely and soft and the colour really lends itself to embellishing. I already have another bag planned for myself, this time more of a squashy handbag, I am toying with embroidery but I'm not sure I am over the felt flowers yet.....

Friday, November 10, 2006

Work in progress
My goodness! Where oh where has the week gone. I have been quiet on the blog front but busy making, I keep leaving it too late in the day for decent photographs and did have great plans for today but the light was terrible all day. I have always wanted to do one of those WIP posts but never seem to be remember in time, anyway, here is my WIP for today. Sorry about the photo, I left it too late again and it was already pretty much dark outside but tomorrow I should have the finished object to show you in any case. I wanted to make a gift for a very kind (and extremely talented) lady, she is the aunt of a good friend and has been incredible kind to me. Her kindness includes the loan of a spinning wheel (I have been quiet about that because I just haven't had a good opportunity to sit down and really get to grips with it yet, soon, very soon) and several large bags full of all sorts of crafting treasure, fabric, felt, lots of assorted fleece, tops, fibres, all sorts of colours. Some of this stuff has provided (and will continue to provide) hours of fun creating things with the children but some of it is much too good to share with them and I have kept to myself.

As you can see, I am making her a bag, which I hope will be useful for carrying crafting type things around, or anything else she might care to carry I suppose. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Ding dong the Denim is dead!

Yes, yes, yes, it is finito, knitted, sewn, out of my life. Hurrah, hurrah, hear me sing from the roof tops. I finally finished that darned knit, 16 buttons!! The Technical Advisor seems pleased, although what will he moan about now? I am in heaven as I can now knit without guilt again, one sleeve left to do on Betty and I am eagerly browsing pattern books again.

The yarn is Rowan Denim, and the pattern is from Rowan People. It has been a never ending knit...... I had to make the extra large size and it was a lot of stocking stitch. To tell the truth it is a good pattern, the details are lovely and well planned but I didn't really enjoy using the Denim and there being so much of it and all that. There are some other really lovely patterns in this book, several that I fancy for myself but it will be a long time before I cast on for any of them. The Technical Advisor promises some model shots later in the week, he just needs to get his hair done first....

This week is our half-term so we have been busy with some of this.

And collecting lots of these.