Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Pinecone Pals

At this time of the year it is almost impossible for me to come back from walking the dog without a pocket full of pine cones.I can't stop myself from picking them up, no matter how many I already have at home. Some get put on the fire, scenting the room with outdoors, but most get made in to pinecone pals. They are one of my most popular items in the lead up to Ch******s and I thought I would share them with you, just in case you have the same compulsion for collecting that I have.

Some Pinecone Pals
The pine cones don't need any preparation other than leaving them alone for a few days. This allows the seeds to be released and any unwanted inhabitants to vacate the premises. I use a 2cm diameter untreated wooden bead for the head, I coat this with a PVA solution in order to seal it so I can draw on it later.

This is a great way to use up any scraps of fabric you have. The hat template has a radius of 4.5 cm. The scarf can measure from 12 - 16cm in length with a width of about 1 cm. It really isn't a precise science, these are just the measurements that work for me.

Hats and scarfs cut out in advance

Hat piece and cord/string( about 22cm )

fold in half and stitch along side seam

Insert knotted cord and secure with a few stitches

Use cord to help you pull hat right sides out

Smear PVA round the edge of the hat, this helps to prevent fraying, and place on the wooden bead, covering one of the holes

With more glue ( I use a glue gun for this )secure the bead on to the pine cone, using the stalk if possible. 

Fray the scarf at both ends and tie around the join, hiding any glue that might have made a bid for freedom, draw a face, and you have your very own Pinecone Pal
I try to make all of my pals unique, different hat and scarf combinations, a smile, a wink, a yawn. I've used festive fabric scraps here but they work equally well with homespun.
I'd love to see what you do with yours.

Monday, 27 September 2010

A place for everything......

I had a serious look at my workroom recently and decided it was time for a revamp. Since moving into the garage space was no longer too much of an issue for me, but storage most definitely was. Over the years I had been recycling my boys toy boxes, cramming them with crafting paraphernalia, piling them high in any corner that was available. Chests of drawers that were too small to cope with the increasing dimensions of their clothes were filled with my fabric stash.

But the drawers became so full that the bottoms began to break, and whatever I needed for a particular project was always in the box at the bottom of the pile. I forgot about half of what I had, being out of sight definitely was out of mind, and when I did go looking for anything my workspace ended up looking as if a hurricane had just hit.

So this week, after saving my pennies, and after much measuring and calculation, I took a trip to IKEA in search of suitable storage.


This was the start of my construction marathon. I have to point out that the drill was a gift from my husband a few years back. It might not be the most romantic offering but I like to think of it as his recognition of my ability and my independence (although the sceptic in me sees it as his way out of doing all the odd jobs!)By the end of the evening I had created an area that provided a more visible display with easier access, and I'd done it all by my little self. I was chuffed to the gutties.

Billy book cases used as open shelving that allows me to see what fabric I have. Plastic boxes and glass jars are used for greater visibility. Lightweight cardboard boxes offer high level storage that's not too heavy to lift.

My painting table and easel are to the front of the room, the window providing natural light. A tall Billy book case holds paints, pastels and canvases

Various fabric,used mainly for linings, folded and kept in drawers. This one holds 100% cottons. 

I can't say how long it will stay this tidy, probably only until I start my next bag( and I haven't taken a picture of my work table as it's still covered in the stuff I haven't found a home for yet)   but I'm happy with it for now. However, I'm always open to suggestions for improvements. 

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Fabric Addict

I was doing so well, keeping my addiction under control. I only fed my habit 2 or 3 times a year, a binge session at Hobbycrafts and Creative Stitches and the occasional trip to the city. Okay, so I had the odd fix in between times, but only if I needed something specific.

Now however it's out of control, I'm off the wagon, hitching a ride to textile paradise. I can no longer curb my desire by spending days searching for fabric on the Internet, gradually losing the will to buy as the hours pass. I blame it all on Very Berry and her big list of UK fabric shops.

They're all there, on that list, with more being added every week. All available at the click of a button, all pushing the most delicious fabric and all complicit in my decline. How am I supposed to turn away from temptation when it comes so beautifully presented?

After removing the inconspicuous outer packaging this was how my recent purchase from Seamstar looked

With a handy little bookmark with all sorts of useful info on it

Not forgetting the fabric

I know I'm weak, I really shouldn't give in. I should call on my resolve, repress the need to own more fabric, cease to be swayed by pretty packaging. 
But Oscar Wilde had it right, and as the Borg would say "Resistance is futile"

Monday, 20 September 2010

Weekend wash day

I'm no lover of housework, anyone who knows me will testify to that. I see it as a necessary evil, a series of tasks to be endured rather than enjoyed. Except for one. Dare I admit it? Yes I will.  I relish days when I can hang out a washing.

Some of my earliest memories are of helping with this chore. Watching my mum carefully as she prepared the line, pulling it taught as she went, the intricate weaving of the rope around the poles to secure it. Handing out colourful plastic pegs , making her wait patiently while I searched for ones that matched, 'helping' her carry the wooden clothes pole to prop up the sagging line.

Then I would watch as the laundry would put on a show depending on the weather. Sunlight bouncing off the brilliant whites, blouses gaily waving in the gentle breeze, the snap of sheets in the strong wind as they fought for freedom from the line. When everything was dry I would help gather them into the waiting basket, being the extra pair of hands required to fold the sheets, never quite getting the folding direction right first time! 

And oh, the smell of clothes that have been dried outside, a clean, fresh smell that no laundry product will ever truly be able to imitate. Then the rope would be loosened and I would watch in awe as my mum would wind it round her arm between thumb and elbow then neatly wrap the end around the middle. It took me years, and many tangled ropes, to get that action right.

The joys of back to school laundry

I get the same sense of satisfaction now as I did then, probably more so because it is my washing, my line, although I did give up on the colour co-ordinated pegs. I'm just not sure whether the warm fuzzy feeling I get as I glance out at the laden rope is about the washing and a job well done or more about the memories it conjures.

What's that? What about the ironing? Ah..., well..., that's another matter entirely...... 

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Not quite making hay ......

Cumulus, cirrus, stratus, I never could remember which cloud was which, one of the many and varied reasons why I never pursued a career in weather forecasting . My prediction yesterday proved that was a wise decision.

The sun did make an appearance today, several in fact. Instead of the dreich day I had expected I was treated to a meteorological game of hide and seek. Every time I reached for my camera to take the promised pictures the solar joker would nip behind a cloud, of one sort or another, not re-appearing until I had gone back inside. Fortunately for me, having spent many hours entertaining my boys in the same fashion, the sun got bored of the game long before I did.

So here is what I created with one of the fabulous fabrics I received.

A combination of tweed and suedette in green and lilac
The new fabric as lining
Part of the 'Weekends' collection by Erin McMorris 

Bag detail, badges with a little bit of added bling

Hope you like it.

Happy Bunny

You know how some days you dread the postman arriving? If it's an early delivery you lie in bed, eyes closed, just waiting for the squeak of the letter box and the ominous thud that follows, or there's the dive behind the sofa that precedes a later delivery in a vain attempt at avoiding the inevitable.

There was none of that for me this morning. Oh no, I greeted our postman halfway up our front steps, his surprise at seeing someone stopping him in his tracks. The reason for my eagerness? Well it wasn't the usual offer to clean my guttering or the free trial of a discreet hearing aid that had me all of a flutter, although I'm sure at some stage in my life that will be considered a high point. 

No, this morning would see the arrival of two packages for me and I couldn't wait for him to climb the 13 stairs to the door. And arrive they did, some glorious new fabrics from Fabric Rehab and a new set of speakers for my i-pod. I was such a happy bunny.

I've discovered that I can't work without music. Strange really because music was never a big part of my life before. When I worked in retail the piped 'musak' that had to be endured daily led me to appreciate the hush of being home. Now I find the silence quite oppressive and will find any excuse to escape it. My work rate increases when there is music playing, and even if it's a bit ropey at times at least it's my choice.

Snow White definitely seemed to be on to something. The woodland animals of Moffat might not be participating in this particular scenario ( you can never trust a squirrel to be there when you need it ) and I wouldn't advise whistling if you want to avoid lip lines, but a jaunty tune or two does get you through the day.

Oh, by the way the fabric was also put to good use, but poor light this afternoon meant I couldn't take any decent photographs. I'll get them on as soon as we have another good day, maybe next Spring some time :o)

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Best laid plans....

When spontaneity was being handed out to those who just happened to drop by I was obviously busy tidying my sock drawer. Yes, it can be a bit of a drag not being able to do things on the spur of the moment, but at least when I do get around to doing them the preparation before hand means I'm usually equipped for every eventuality.

The downside comes when your plans get obliterated by fate. 

I'd had great plans for last week. September sunshine was seeping in to every corner of my workroom, filling it with light and me with an energy and desire to make that had been missing throughout the summer. I had it all worked out in my head, what bag would be made on which day and how much time could be given to working on new designs. Unfortunately while the sunshine lasted my energy didn't. 

I only managed to get these two bags completed.   

An 'A' line bag that tucks neatly under your arm
 Bold floral lining
Bag detail

Messenger with asymmetric  flap

Detachable brooch

Guess I'll just have to re-adjust my plans for next week. It's not called spontaneity, it's called contingency ;)

Monday, 6 September 2010

Embracing Autumn

Out in the garden this morning there was no getting away from the fact that Autumn is well and truly underway. The herbaceous border, which I'm afraid I neglected this summer, has become a tangled mess of autumnal tones. I'm sure seasoned gardeners will be shaking their heads disapprovingly but if I'm honest I quite like the chaotic combination of colours. These ones in particular reminded me of something I couldn't quite put my finger on.....

...... and then I remembered. I had bought some luscious cotton fabric from Dots n Stripes at Hobbycrafts and Creative stitches in March. It was still languishing in a pile in my workroom, just waiting for the perfect project. The pattern is bold and bright but with a subtlety that reminds me of the season. 

So with Autumn as my inspiration I have teamed it up with a rich chestnut brown tweed and will be working on two different styles of bag.

I'll keep you posted on progress but in the meantime enjoy the September sunshine.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Where did it go?

There are times when I'm sure that Moffat is some sort of Brig O' Doon. I am absolutely positive that when I began the art and craft event at the Old Well Theatre on the 23rd August it was still most definitely summer. Eight days, that was all, my attention had been focused elsewhere for just eight days. So how did this happen?

Now I don't want you to think I have a problem with Autumn. How could anyone not appreciate a season that puts on such a spectacle.

Actually Autumn is probably my favourite season, Spring being a close second. We get some of our best weather here in May and September and there are no midges around to spoil things (just the occasional dying wasp that needs to be dodged). The light mellows, the colours are deep, rich and vibrant, natures flamboyant finale. The cooling temperatures bring a sharp scent to the air, you can almost smell the season.
No, it wasn't the arrival of Autumn that bothered me, it was more the fact that it seemed to happen so quickly. Where did the Summer go? How did I miss it? Did I go to sleep one night and wake up a month later? What else am I missing?
Could I have Brig O'Doon in reverse please, one day lasting a hundred years, because I really don't want to miss a thing. 
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