Sunday, 27 September 2015

New Begginings

Wow - I can't believe its been almost 3 YEARS since I last updated this blog, and SO much has happened.
2 years ago we lost my beloved grandma Queenie, my inspiration for crafting and my number one fan. She was 98 years old and had lived through 2 world wars and a world that had changed in incredible ways, not least the digital revolution that makes this post possible! I miss her, and think of her often.

Baby Fig has gone off to university in London to study fine art, and is loving being in her favorite city - and finds coming home to our quiet little part of England quite dull now.

For myself, well - I took the plunge as well and am just starting the 3rd year of a degree in contemporary textiles at our local collage. It has been a struggle at times with much soul searching and angst but I must admit I am enjoying it immensely, and looking forward to this last year (although the 10,000 word dissertation is like a looming black cloud at the moment!)

Mr Fig continues to make jewelry in his shed and has invested in a pressure pot - I steer clear as it all sounds a bit dangerous!

There has also been another major development in my life - but more of that at a later date...

So - some of the pleasure crafting has taken a back seat for the university work, I have learned lots of new things, and played with modern technology like the laser cutter, digital fabric printers, sublimation printers and computer programs like illustrator as well as learning how to do gold work and teaching some Russians how to make felt!

I shall leave you with a couple of images from the pieces I had to make for my course at the end of last term, and hope you are all well and happy and crafting!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

the creative bug!

I have been fortunate enough to discover a FREE art and craft class at the Ace centre in Nelson (Lancashire) 
It isn't often you get anything for free these days, and as one of those people who loves learning new skills, and meeting similar minded people, but who can't afford to go on a class, and doesn't qualify for a reduction, I have really relished these classes. 

I have had a go a drawing and painting (something I haven't done since 1990 back at collage - pre baby fig days!) and I have enjoyed the quiet contemplativeness required and been quite pleased with the results so far! (pictures at a later date!)

In the afternoon we have been doing various crafts, but I must admit I have been totally absorbed in Papier Mache. The last time I did any was to make masks for my Theatre A'level back in the late 1980's, but thanks to an amazing blog by Ann Wood  I have been inspired to not only do a few of my own designs but to have a go at a couple of the free designs she has posted. 
I have no idea what I will be using these tiny tea cups for - but who cares? they were a joy to make! 

And these two sailing boats have almost sated my desire to re-rig a vintage sailing boat! 
I have lined them with Primark tissue paper, and sewn patches of fabric and an old map to the canvas sails. They are names 'Harriett' and 'Bessie' after my crafty Grandmothers! 

Just click on any of the images to take you directly to Ann's website for instructions and templates! 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

When life gets in the way of living.

 It feels like I am forever appologising for not blogging regularly - but with one thing and another, life for example, it tends to take a back seat most of the time, even though I am usually writing it in my head one way or another. One day the technology will exhist for us to transfer our ideas directly from our minds to the computer. 
The weather has become really cold this past couple of weeks, and with the early dark nights back for the next 6 months and having to work longer hours, well, time slips away, and when I do have an hour or two to myself I just haven't felt like doing anything much at all.
 My baby brother found out recently he had cancer of the thyroid. He is only 36 and has 2 gorgeous girls of 7 and 15. Luckily it seams it has been cought quickly and he had surgery a few weeks ago to remove as much as they could, cutting him from ear to ear! While his partner spent hours at the hospital and dashing round here their and everywhere for him, we have had the pleasure of spending a lot more time with my nieces - the youngest is in the photo above with my 'little' girl and our old Jemmy dog, all cuddling up together. 
Baby bro is on the mend now - he still has to go to Chrisites for a radio active iodine treatment in the next couple of weeks, and will be on thyroxine and other drugs for the rest of his life - we are all just glad he is going to be around for a long time yet!

Mr Juicy is suffering with his digestion still, he is wheat, glueten and dairy intollerant and really struggles with his food. I decided to have a go at making crumpets for him a couple of weeks ago - baking always takes my mind of my troubles. It was the first time I had ever made crumpets, and I was just so chuffed when each stage did what it was supposed to do with the alternate ingredients I had to use. Look - little bubbles forming as they cooked in their rings! 

 So things haven't all been doom and gloom - I have been enjoying knitting these "V Junkie" socks from "Socktopus" - starting them in the hospital waiting area (socks are the best ever portable project)
 Baby fig got a full time job she seams to be enjoying - and I daresay she will enjoy it more when she gets paid!
 I have finished another pair of socks for Mr Juicys Christmas pressent and will soon be starting on his Birthday pressent so I am not rushing between Christmas and New year to make them,
And I have been enjoying a FREE art and craft class weekly - we have been doing Art in a morning, something I haven't done since school and am really enjoying the peace and quiet of studying and interpreting images - then we have been doing crafts in the afternoon - for me mainly papier mache - which I have enjoyed much more than I thought I would - photo's of my projects to come! 

Here in the north we have had the most spectacular autumn - The colours of the leaves dying on the trees has been more vivid than I can remember for a very long time. I have consistantly forgotten to take my camera out with me, but it doesn't matter, at least I have had the opportunity to walk or drive past them daily and never cease to be awe struck at their colours - the yellows have lit up against the stormy skies, the reds have glowed, and their seams to have been every colour inbetween. Lets hope winter is mild and bright.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

I am a sock puppet.

I have had a pair of socks on the needles constantly for months now - as soon as one pair is finished, I start on the next. It has become a compulsion almost, and now I am going to justify it! 
First of all, there are so many gorgeous sock yarns out there - everywhere I look! I start most days drooling over one yarn site or another - and have 3 balls of the most gorgeous coloured yarns saved on my e-bay watch list. I have yet to save enough money in pay pal to buy them, and have watched them for almost 60 days now. One day my beauties, you will be mine.
Secondly, Mr Juicy has been wearing the last two pairs I knit for him in a 'wash wear' rotation for weeks now - so I NEED to knit him some more, what with winter coming up and us no longer having a tumble dryer etc etc....
Thirdly - I have still got about 6 different sock yarns to use up in my sock yarn stash trunk, it would be a shame for them to sit there unused.
fourthly - there are oodles of amazing sock patterns out there that are begging to be knit, can you hear them? "knit me, knit me"
fifthly - socks are small practical projects that can be carried any ware with you to fill in those boring moments, e.g. sitting outside a shop waiting for husband/daughter, in hospital/dentist/doctors waiting room, and perfect to take to a knit and natter if you are just knitting round and round - you can't make a mistake while getting all the juicy gossip.
and sixthly - oh, I am sure there are a million other reasons! can I not just LOVE knitting socks?

My latest socks on the needles in an amazing Opal self patterning yarn - for more details of the yarn and the VERY basic pattern, click on the photo to take you to my Ravely page.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

a little bit of everything.

All sorts of life has happened since I last blogged, some good, some bad. 

I thought it was about time I did a quick catch up, but just the good stuff! 

on 24th August my brilliant Grandma was 98 years young. I knit a pair of socks for her in bright stripey colours. Anyone who has read my blog will know she was a sock knitter since WW2 when she was passed 5 needles and an ounce of sock wool in her local yarn shop and told "you never had a better chance to learn" - however she was convinced until getting her new socks that sock wool only came in grey. I would love to take her to a yarn shop and show her all the amazing colours there are now.

I also gave her some small tatted ornamental hangings bought from a leprosy charity in India. She was an amazing tatter. I explained where I had got them from and that no - I still had not got the hang of tatting. She declared she would tell everyone in the home that I made them anyway, and that she was incredibly proud of my tatting skills. Thanks Gran.

Earlier in the year a project had started to "Yarn Bomb the Castle" - the castle in question being Clitheroe Castle - the nearest town to us, just 4 miles away. 
This had caused some controversy in our local paper after a Clitheroe craft shop owner wrote in to say what a dreadful idea this was, and that we should all be knitting baby clothes for Africa. It was a long story and I did end up writing a letter in response and getting quite irate about the whole thing (I am not one for writing to papers!) 
Anyway - nearly every local knitter I know ended up knitting 5" squares for the project. Our little knit and natter group made hundreds and my mum took it upon herself to sew them into strips. This was so the strips could be wrapped around things then taken down and made into blankets. Her living room was full of huge wheels of colour. 
On Saturday 25th August it poured down! This was the day of the "Clitheroe Torchlight Procession" an event held every 10 years, and the yarn bombing coincided with this event - and even though the castle itself remained un-bombed the trees, railings, signs etc were covered in wool - it looked really good! 

September is the month we all say "oh no! it's less than 4 months to Christmas!"
I have been wracking my brains for gifts that don't cost much as we are still completely skint, but that have time and love put in to them - September is the month to plant bulbs that will flower for Christmas - so I have reserved a dark cool space in the shed, will be hunting through my cupboards for vintage dishes, teacups and bowls - and am about to go and peruse the bulb selling websites so I can compare them with prices at our local garden centres. this years motto is to be "BE PREPARED!"

I have so much more to tell, but am going to get started on my Christmas project and will return soon with further adventure! lol

Monday, 13 August 2012

Isn't baking just BRILLIANT!

With the wonderful 'Great British Bake Off' starting tomorrow I thought I would post a Guest Post I wrote some time back for Penny wise penny. 

I have also been baking non stop for the past week for a party last Saturday to celebrate Baby figs 21st birthday on the 15th August - we had a fancy dress Alice in Wonderland tea party - with embroidered table cloths, mismatched china, cucumber sandwiches and lots of cakes. If it has taught me one thing it is NEVER to attempt to enter the GBBO


Bread has been around for about 30,000 years. It is still a staple in most European diets, and comes in more shapes and variations that you can shake a stick at. It is filling and comforting, and there is nothing more satisfying than making your own.

At one time making the daily bread was part of most housewives’ routine, in fact for many cultures it still is, but for most of us the routine has changed to buying either a mass produced supermarket loaf or maybe treating yourself to an artisan loaf every now and again.

I am not trying to convert you to giving up shop bought bread, but I am trying to encourage everyone to have a go at making just one loaf – you never know where it will lead, and the whole experience is more than likely to lead to more bread making, experimenting and appreciation – it is just so satisfying on so many levels, and very economical! 

A basic loaf of bread is made from fewer ingredients than you may imagine, a strong bread flour can cost as little as 80p for 1.5kg, enough for 2 large loaves, dried yeast lasts for ages, but do check the use by date, after all it is a living organism – and fresh yeast is incredibly cheap, even free at certain supermarkets – just ask at the bakery section - but please only get an ounce at a time as it doesn’t last long! Then you will need a couple of teaspoons of salt, an ounce of butter, and water – that’s it! And if you don’t have a loaf tin use a flat oven tray – there is really nothing to stop you having a go, and I promise you all your senses will be in for a treat.

From the texture of rubbing the silky flour and butter between your fingers, mixing in the warm water, the change in the dough’s texture as you knead it to become a stretchy, smooth pliable balloon. Your eyes will never become tired of the delight of seeing the bread rise under its damp cover as the yeast works its miracle. The smell is comparable to nothing else, warm, homely, comforting, and finally the taste – a slice of warm soft spongy bread with butter gently melting into it might give you serious indigestion, but trying to resist really is futile, even the day after, if there is any left, toast a slice and cover with home made jam or marmalade for breakfast – it doesn’t get much better!

So what are you waiting for? Most bread making products, i.e. the flour and yeast will come with a basic recipe printed on them, give it a go and if you become hooked, experiment! I can assure you, the final sense you will experience is an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. Happy bread making!

Monday, 23 July 2012

when everything turns to cr@p - knit socks.

I don't know if it has been the rotten weather of late but all my mojo seams to have gone. I have not been in my craft room for weeks and just don't feel inspired to do very much at all. I have let me folksy shop run down to almost no stock because I was just not getting any interest at all, and my Etsy shop has had few visitors either, I emptied all the books from my Amazon shop because they were all very heavy and you don't get enough to cover postage, and when others sell their copy at 1p - well, I just couldn't compete - and I seam to have almost run out of things to sell on ebay.
I have been desperate to finish quilts before starting any new ones but the tops I have are all huge so I just don't have the space to do them properly and likewise I really want to go through my fabric collection and make myself some new clothes but can't for the same reasons. 
To be honest I have feel thoroughly sorry for myself.
Mr Figs Noro Rainbow socks

Something that does keep me busy and is ultimately rewarding is knitting a pair of socks. 
They are something I can do without having to think too much, I can watch telly, chat, take them anyware, and that tube just goes round and round and round. In the past month I have knit 4 pairs - two were claimed by Mr Fig instantly and he has worn them in rotation ever since - even gently hand washing them himself! Another pair is for my Grandma's 98th birthday next month (deliberately in bright colours as she can't believe they make anything but grey sock wool, or that people knit them these days.) and the last pair has been for myself as a pair of slouchy warm soft sitting around at night socks. 
Grandma's 98th Birthday present.

My box of sock knitting wool is still full to the top - and there always people who are willing recipients of a pair of hand made socks. No matter what other projects I have on the go - or not on the go as the case may be, I will hopefully always have a sock on the needles.

random arty close ups of socks!

If you are a sock knitter you will know what I mean - if you always wanted to have a go at sock knitting but were afraid of using 4or5 needles - HAVE A GO! it's easier than you think (once you get past the first couple of rounds!!!!)

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

a little colour in an otherwise grey sky.

Yesterday I drove a whole 5 miles to Gisburn to collect baby fig from the beat-hearder festival.

Last year she had gone for the first time. The weather had been amazing, she came back the same colour as a boiled lobster with colourful tales to tell about the whole experience. The people, the bands, the food, the camping, and everything else that goes with a festival.

Yesterday I struggled to get my car onto the site through the mud. Everything she had taken was caked in it, wet and muddy and more than a bit smelly, her legs were aching, and she was tired.
She has just woken up after a good 13 hours sleep in a rotten mood, so I have escaped upstairs to avoid give her some time to sort her stuff out.

I have been playing with colour to keep a cheerful head on while the rain continues to fall here.

I have been working on a bathroom rug made from Tee Shirts cut into 1" strips and knitted.
It is working out better than I hoped, but is getting quite heavy now and squeaks while being knit. 

It is also taking a lot more Tee Shirts than I thought it would. I am on my 4th now and it is still only 20" long.

A friend gave me a ball and a half of some Rico creative DK - so I decided to make myself my 2nd 'Childry' 
It is perfect for just protecting my neck from drafts and keeping the earache at bay.

Although the frilly edge is over 600 stitches long, so I only knit about 3 rows instead of 6 - they were taking almost 1 hour each - and lets be honest, who really need a frill that deep?

We have between the rain and floods actually had 1 really nice day last week. As I sat in my little sewing room this lot pulled up outside the window. They were off to the fields behind us to cut the grass for haylage. It is like a military operation with the filled trailers hurtling up and down the road all evening - and none of them slow down for the speed bump about 20 yards away because I think they like the incredible noise it makes. Ah, the bliss of country living!

Monday, 18 June 2012

shouldering the burden

For over a week I have been feeling very sorry for myself. An old shoulder injury came back to haunt me and I have been fairly immobile and full of painkillers, wincing and moaning and feeling generally crappy.

It is easing away now, and just in time as over the next few weeks I have to work long hours doing 'piece' work for a rush order of plastic flags for a company in the village. It pays well but is rather sporadic. It's not what I want to be doing, but at the moment is a necessary evil. Today is my last day off for a while!
I was so glad the sun shone this morning. 
I have had to lay off the knitting for a while as it aggravates my shoulder, but managed to finish off the squares for a cushion cover - all laid out ready for assembly.
The Country File photographic competition is upon the nation once again. So I set out with my camera for a short stroll round the field a couple of streets away - just me, the dog and the cat. Always a strange sight!
I don't think I managed to get any winning shots - and the animals are as far from wild as you can get - but they are so cute I can't help myself. 
I suppose I am going to have to get all extreme with the weather of the time or the situation to get the shots I really want! 
Poor old Jemmy having yet another rest. 

Friday, 15 June 2012

I didn't know you Felt that way!

I have been living a deluded existence. 

Yesterday - for the first time ever, on two separate occasions in two separate towns by two separate people it was assumed I was a GRANDMOTHER!

So obvious was the shock and look of worry on my face I do believe I have actually aged about 10 years.

The first lady to make this terrible error was attending the same class as me in Nelson. I had taken in a small bag made from a piece of felt I had made the week before. 
"what are you going to do with it?" she asked - "I bet your grandCHILDREN would love it"

The second lady was in ASDA in Colne - She was promoting mayonnaise, and my Daughter and I stopped to dip one of her tempting potato wedges into a pot of mayo with a hint of wasabi.
After chatting with the lady and agreeing to buy a jar of this tasty sauce she handed us a promotional pack with a competition in it along with some cardboard crowns and a party game which would be perfect for my to give "to your grandCHILDREN" 

I couldn't believe it - as we say around here "I was gob-smacked" 
not only did I look old enough to be a grandmother but I looked old enough to have several of them. 

As my family have pointed out to me I am technically old enough to have one or two - me being the ripe old age of 41 and my daughter is 20 - and maybe in Nelson and Colne most people of my advanced years do have grandchildren, I don't know - or maybe I delude myself that I look younger than I really am and all those years of going to illegal raves, dancing all night and sleeping for about 10 hours per week back in my late teens has finally taken it's toll and to the great unwashed I just look knackered.

Anyway I phoned my mum straight away for sympathy - and when she finally stopped laughing I told her it just meant that she probably looked like a Great Grandmother. Harrumph!

Here are a couple of photo's of the felt I have been making that my Grandchildren will no doubt love so much!