Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Two bags full...

Time as been at a premium just lately and I was putting myself under a bit of pressure to make a couple of birthday presents.  I fondly thought I'd have loads of time during my week off..... ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Michael's jean bag has been much admired so I thought I'd make one for his lovely boyfriend, Andrew for his 21st birthday.  I used a pair of my eldest son's old black jeans, an old Paul Smith shirt, some grey shot silk I got from a car boot sale last year and a teeny, tiny piece of fabric I bought of eBay (not realising how small it was so I had to use it carefully).  I had to present it to him unfinished and then whip it back off him so I could add the embellishments.  I could have finished it on time had it not been for some very crappy quality cotton which kept breaking in the machine (along with several needles too so maybe my machine is sick...)
Little card pocket

Phone and wallet pockets

He liked the unfinished version - hope it still likes it.

Lacking the energy to do much else on Sunday after reclaiming the house and garden and doing a bazillion loads of laundry, inspired by the beautiful bag my sister made for my birthday I managed to rustle this little bag up for my friend's 40th birthday.  It's pretty eye catching - just the job for the lovely Summer evenings.... I'm sure we'll have some more soon...

I added an interpretation of the Swedish flag (yes, she's Swedish!)

and some bits and pieces of crochet and a few buttons

and a little pocket inside for her phone

I'm happy to say that she was very happy with her gift.

And remember, never buy cheap thread - it is evil and will make you crazy!


Monday, 18 July 2011

Fridge magnets

I was just reading Vicki's post about her messy yarn room which brought to mind this fridge magnet I found in Asheville, NC a few years ago

This is so true, don't you agree?  
I daren't photograph my dining/craft room at the moment - it looks like it's been trashed by burglars!  I was so defeated by it that I didn't even clear it for the return of the prodigals and just closed the door instead.  It got back into this state because I had a frenzy of tidying a while back, so much so that when I came to start a new project I couldn't find anything.  When it is a bit messy I work better as I know where everything is but it's now to the point where I just can't face it.  

The pea magnet was sent to me by my son's girlfriend as she hates peas but she was tempted to taste one of the fresh ones from the garden at the weekend.  See, she did...  give peas a chance :)

Every now and then I think I should go a bit minimalist and clear lots of stuff away, starting with the fridge magnets

but each one tells a story so I think they have to stay.  Maybe I'll start with my clothes mountain.... or then again I might just get my crochet out instead!

Hope your week has got off to a good start.  I consider mine a great success as I did manage to get to work... almost on time.


Sunday, 17 July 2011

It's been a busy old week..

.. this might be a very long post!

Sister Anne and I went back to the lands from which we hail and spent a couple of very interesting days near Stoke-on-Trent.  I forgot my camera so only have mobile phone shots but really, I can't put it any better than Anne did in her post here.

I loved the Burleigh shop and tok ages deliberating over what to buy.  I restrained myself knowing that we would be spending the whole day at Bridgewater.

Oh to have a dresser like this.
or this!

The building was lovely, retaining most of the original features

After our little sojourn to Burleigh we braved a trip into Hanley and did a good impression of Cinderella as we tried on posh lady shoes in M&S - the little toes were protesting and not at all happy about being squished into high heels

We went back to our hotel and had a budget version foot spa - Anne sat on the loo and me on a chair with our feet in the spa bath with a glass of wine in hand pretending we were at Ragdale Hall instead.

Despite our reservations and this warning sign we did enter the establishment and partook of a very good steak and bottle of house wine.  A lovely and unexpected bonus.

Feeling in good spirits we wondered if we should round the evening off with some clubbing but decided against it - afterall, a girl can have too much of a good thing!

The day at Bridgewater was an absolute delight.  I am absolutely convinced now that I am living the wrong life!
Although I am grateful that I don't have to spend my day working like the clappers to make half pint mugs 

or fettling, dibbling or wiping said cups bottoms before they go to the kiln

I wouldn't mind spending my day sponge painting beautiful works of art though (you get to sit down to do this bit)

This is a bespoke range for Conran

The tour was really interesting and very impressive as they recycle pretty much everything, from the reject firings that are sent to make plasterboard to the heat from the kilns to warm the green houses on top of the factory roof where they grow tomatoes and such.  I'm sure factory life is not that much fun but it certainly seemed like a nice place to work with very much a family feel.

I hope we'll go back again if only to spend some time in the cafe

heated by this gorgeous Aga

Lovely bits of memorabilia on the walls and home grown sweet peas in jugs on the tables

A very nice lunch followed and also a talk by 'the very nice Matthew Rice'

a very satisfied looking sis :)

I spent a frivolous amount of money but justify it by adding that since my youngest son is off to uni in September and my middle son is moving into a new place soon I can bequeath my slightly battered old china to them and replenish my empty nest with some beautiful things....  did that work, are you convinced?  Well, William Morris must be right and who am I to argue with him?  I'll post pictures of my purchases later as they deserve to be staged properly.  I wasn't about to get them all out whilst the house was full of partying young folk.

We had a civilised family get together on the Thursday evening.  The sun was shining, the wine was flowing and the  garden was full of laughter - perfect.

Michael and Andrew
Liz and Ben

The next night wasn't quite as civilised although I am sure it started with good intentions.  The day was spent shopping,  preparing and cooking for an ever increasing number of guests
Ben the chef, Liz the apprentice
A rare event and one worthy of a photo - Liz in an apron, being domestic!
I didn't take a picture of my lovely little oasis of a summer house when it was full of sleeping drunken young men - five in total and then more in the lounge but all very grateful for scrambled eggs on toast and copious cups of tea the next morning.  When your home has been voted the best place to have a hangover in it's hard to be annoyed at the carnage - ego be gone!

I think Fairy washing up liquid must have changed because believe you me, these hands are not soft!  The fridge is bare, we were down to half a loo roll out of a pack of 12, no washing powder left and enough empty cans and bottles to warrant several trips to the bottle bank in the dark.

The house feels empty now with just Will and I.  It's back to work tomorrow for a rest and maybe a chance to get back to the crafting before the travelling begins again.  I was catching up with blogland with my feet most gratefully up last night when I saw Amanda's post and was inspired to get my act together and finish a few of my own on-going projects and then I saw Lynne's post about a hexagon quilt along so I'm now torn!

Hoping you are all enjoying the rain and the reprieve from gardening as I am!

Monday, 11 July 2011

They may mock... love of crochet and the granny blankets but it's a different story when they are tired babies and a little chilly...
Will and Megan finally convinced that they DO keep you warm even though they are full of holes!

And I'm not averse to putting my feet up now and then either

There won't be much of this going on this week as I am in full on Mummy mode.  All my boys and their partners will be here this week - the fridge is groaning, the bank manager is groaning but I am happy, happy, happy!


Sunday, 10 July 2011

My doesn't time fly?

Just like me.  I seem to have spent a little bit too much time on planes of late and it's made me cranky.  It's the delays, missed connections, lost luggage followed by the manic catch up on housework and stuff which has left me feeling a little deflated.  Not much time for crafting and the garden seems to be running wild what with all the warmth and the rain.

I realised I never showed you my goodies from the US of A so here goes.  Do you remember this?

Well, I know I showed you the finished article but here it is being put to very good use

I was quite restrained I thought - only the top shelf and the middle right pile is new from the States.  The yellow on the left middle shelf is from York and newish I must confess.

From the top: some foxy material which I have in mind for a Christmas present and the one below is also foxes and owls so just perfect for Michael; some black and white - birds and also Dr Seuss which I am sure will come in handy - Marijke's wedding quilt inspired me to make some more black and white as it was so striking and a real change from my usual choices.

A selection of pretty pastels and modern brights - no idea what I am going to do with them but I am sure inspiration will strike at some point.

These three I have in mind for some tops for myself.  The top one is lawn and I am thinking of using some of my Liberty lawn stash to make a patchwork strip top of some kind.  As you can tell, it's still very much in the 'thinking about' stage.

Inspired by this gorgeous scarf with dangly lace trim that a dear friend bought back from Spain for my birthday I have been on the hunt for some similar lace trim.  When I was in John Lewis in Kingston the very nice lady in the haberdashery department suggested I tatted my own as she had done the same upon not being able to find this sort of trim herself.  Lordy, that's all I need, to take up a new craft!  I did manage to find some very nice but rather expensive trim though so I may have to give her tip some thought.

All I managed to make when I was away were these dishcloths.

but now I wonder if they are too nice to use!

I added to my book collection 

Now if only I could buy some more time I might actually get around to making something from them!  

I am still on with the stool cushion covers, making slow progress around the edges now that all four tops are completed and I'm working on a black denim bag for a present.  Three sewing machine needles and two very sore fingers later it's on hold as I have run out of black cotton, grrrr.

Last week I was in Finland but this week I am at home and off work - yippee!  And double yippee because my boys are coming home for a while.  And triple yippee because Anne and I are off on a little jaunt to Stoke-on-Trent this week for some pottery therapy.  It's going to be a busy one so I am hoping my cup of chamomile tea will lull me back to sleep after my 4.30 am awakening to the fairy elephant steps of my youngest coming in from a night on the tiles.  I've got baking and cleaning to do, no time for being tired!

Hope all is well in your world and if you have a drop of sunshine to spare could you send it my way please?