Tag Archives: house and garden

Weekend

Whilst I’ve been missing from this little corner of the blogosphere, I’ve been off doing ‘real life’ stuff.  Most of it has just been the minutiae of everyday life, coupled with a real drive to slow things down (not entirely successfully, but we’re making a start).

However, you may have seen on Insta that Dave and I managed to bunk off parenting for a couple of nights and zip up the motorway to the Southern Lake District for a bit of time just being Mr and Mrs.

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Handmade Acorn Bird Feeder

We are so lucky to have many birds living in the woods at the bottom of our garden (including some very noisy woodpeckers, who are some of my favourites).  At the moment they are happily feeding their beaky faces with the fruits of a very hot summer.  But, for once, I’m ahead of the game and ready for winter with an adorable little bird feeder that I made at The Clay House at Cedar Farm a few weeks ago.

This was another new challenge for me, as whereas previous projects have been made from slabs of clay, this was made from balls pinched into shape.

It’s not terribly easy as the natural inclination of the clay is to do it’s own thing and completely ignore everything you’re asking it to do.  And then it just laughs at you and collapses in on itself!

But a bit of perseverance (and the odd Anglo Saxon expletive under my breath) and I had two different sized bowls ready to join together to make my acorn shape.

The large hole above was cut out with a knife…the smaller one made with a piece of wooden dowling.  The decoration to the “hat” of the acorn was also made with a knife.  It started off very neatly and quite precise, and rapidly descended into boredom and random stabbing!

Which kinda worked in the end!

Coats of glazy stuff were applied.  One matt, so the birds don’t slip on it, one shiny and pretty.

A bit of baking in the kiln, and voila!

Now all I need is for my resident handyman to hang it for me and we’re ready for the winter.  Just not yet, thank you very much.  I’m enjoying the sun too much.


Basket weaving

Continuing our intermittent day dates, where Dave and I do something creative together, we recently did a basket weaving course with the lovely Joe of Creative with Nature, whom you may remember from my willow hare escapades.

This time we were making baskets, and they are a completely different process.  Which made for a really interesting day for me, learning something new again.

We started off making the base.

This simple cross was opened out so you could weave between the sticks to form a circle.

I swear it’s not as easy as it looks.   Apparently, traditionally apprentices would spend a year just learning how to make bases of different shapes, ensuring that each of the “spokes” are evenly spaced.  I can understand why.  Getting that even separation was impossible for me.

Once the base is completed you slip in some longer stems to form the frame of the basket.

And then you weave.

We did two different types of weave.  They do have specific names, but I’ve completely forgotten what they are.

What I do remember is that the fancy weave that makes the top of the basket completely flummoxed me, and, as we were rapidly running out of time, Joe stepped in and helped me out with the finishing touches.

That beautiful finish is all down to Joe.  The slightly wonky shape of the basket is all my own work!  😉

Dave’s a natural at basketry.  His is so beautiful, with a perfect shape and lovely tight weaving.  But, despite the flaws in mine, these are a gorgeous pair of baskets, and I’m inordinately proud of them.

As I did when I made the hare, we had a lovely day with Joe and came home feeling quite accomplished.   I have my eye on her Stag Head course….maybe in the autumn!


A Willow Hare

This year has turned into a year of new creative adventures.

In January, my friend Julia and I went to Toft to learn to crochet.

Hubby, Dave, and I have been having dates to go and learn to make things in clay.

And today I attended a willow hare making workshop run by Joe of Creative with Nature at Cedar Farm in Mawdesley.

I’ve just got to say that I’ve never done anything like this before, but love willow sculpture and love stargazy hares.  So when Ma gave me some cash for Christmas, with the instruction to buy myself something I truly wanted, this course was it!  A day to myself, exploring a new creative outlet, with something (hopefully) lovely at the end of it.

I really appreciated the way this workshop was structured.  Joe took us step by step through the process, working with each person individually to make sure they were clear about what was required.

Slowly, slowly…step by step, the hare came into shape.

Weaving with willow is an entirely immersive and tactile experience.  It’s just you and the lengths of willow creating the shapes.   You bend and weave, unpick, and weave again.

There’s lots of tea.  And cake, of course.

And the magic happens without you even realising.

Until you step back at the end of the day, and TahDah!

A stargazy hare of your own.

If you ever get the chance to do a workshop with Joe, I’d highly recommend it.  I’m already contemplating which one to do next.  I have a thing for baskets, so maybe some bread baskets.

The hare is sat on my kitchen windowsill as I type.  I’m inordinately proud of him, and astonished how much fun I’m having stepping outside my comfort zone creatively this year.  It’s like a breath of fresh air.

Are you trying anything new this year?


Going Underground Quilt

I can’t believe it’s been a year since we moved house.  Time flies!

When we told our kids we had finally found our new home, their excitement at moving so close to grandparents and their beloved park was tempered by real stress at leaving their home.

For children without any challenges, moving house is a big deal. For adopted children with attachment (amongst other) issues, moving house is A Very Big Deal, that creates a great deal of fear that they cannot vocalise or even understand.  But it’s real, and it’s really quite debilitating.

For our boy, this was expressed as absolute desolation at leaving his bedroom behind.  I wish it was an exaggeration but it wasn’t.  He spent the last week making little videos on his iPad so he’d have his old room with him at the new house.

To try and calm his anxiety I promised him that not only would his new bedroom be bigger than the tiny box room he had in the old house, but that I would make it extra super special for him. It didn’t work completely to allay his fears, but he was certainly excited as decorating started to happen.

He has a passion for all things London since his daddy worked there a few years ago…made even more exciting for him when we had a trip there to visit Daddy. But he especially loves the London Underground, so there was only one way we could go…..

London Underground Map wallpaper on one wall.

London themed fabric for his Roman blind.  It’s Capital by Prestigious Textiles.

London Underground bedlinen (thank you Nana!).

And, for hiding under and playing iPads or reading.  For cuddling up in on cold mornings, or if you’re not feeling well.  And for making rather splendid dens…….

……a London Underground quilt!

I can’t claim the work on this one.  This is all Made By Ma!  A huge pile of teeny squares lovingly cut and then put back together in the shape of the London Underground Map.

It’s totally awesome!  Iconic! And very clever!

Funnily enough, our little man doesn’t miss our old house at all any more.   And loves his new London bedroom.

Phew!

Project notes

Pattern:                             Tikki London – London Underground Quilt PDF

Pattern cost:                    £3.95

Fabric:                              Plain quilting cotton

Colourway:                      Various

Purchased at:                  Black Sheep Wools

Total quilt cost:                Approx £100


His Simple Socks

Hellooooooo!

If you follow my Instagram feed you’ll have seen that I’ve been sewing pink gingham curtains for Miss Button’s bedroom.

I have to tell you that I was snow blind with pink gingham!

All of these are interlined, French blackout, with buckram and hand pleated headings. That’s 4 layers to be locked together before you even think about adding the buckram and pleats.  It’s slow work but the end result is worth the effort.  I never fail to be delighted when a hand stitched curtain is hung.  Despite the grumbling and cursing the construction inevitably produces

I’ve also sewn a blind for Boy’s London themed bedroom.  It’s also French blackout, which is even more effective in a blind than a curtain!

Life has also been full of house plans, garden clearance and fencing, revision, final exams, doctors appointments and diagnoses, walking 10k steps a day to fundraise for Cancer Research, and just the general minutiae of daily life!

Whilst all of these are good things, by the end of the day the most I’ve been able to manage is box-setting Madam Secretary (soooo good!) and a little knitting or tapestry.

The sock on the needles at the moment is my usual, and much loved, Regia pattern, however, I recently ventured a little off sock piste and tried a new pattern. I’m so glad I did. Although I have to confess that I was forced to do so as a result of picking up some luminous yarn that was on sale in John Lewis only to find it was 3 ply.

It was a serendipitous purchase, as it pushed me out of my comfort zone, if only by a smidge. Whilst there isn’t a massive amount of choice in 3 ply sock patterns, having found His Simple Socks by Elizabeth Seidle I didn’t feel like I was missing out. This  is super pattern that is well written and easy to follow.  The stitch pattern is simple enough for mindless tv knitting, but a little more engaging than plain stocking stitch.

The heel is reinforced which is a nice touch and pleasant to knit.

And I love how the toe, instep and heel look crisp against the patterned section.

Obviously we veered away from the sober, gentlemanly colour scheme of the original with this bold chartreuse.  That’s how we roll in these parts.

I didn’t swatch.  Which I should have done, as they came out a little on the snug side. Thankfully not too snug!  But next time I’ll go up a needle size just to make them a little more relaxed.

Whilst I missed Woolfest,  it’s not too long to wait until Yarndale, especially with the summer holidays looming large.  When I’m there I think I’ll keep my eyes peeled for some lovely 3 ply yarns to make these again.

Project notes

Pattern:                             His Simple Socks

Pattern cost:                     $3.50

Yarn:                                 Bergère de France Goomy 50

Colourway:                      Imprim Jaun

Purchased at:                  John Lewis

Yarn cost:                         About £6


Sewing room reveal

This project has been a long time in the making.  Not just the months since we moved into our wonderful new home in August, but the 10 years I spent sewing in the tatty loft room in our old home.

(Not that I didn’t love having that tatty old loft.  I had some great sewing fun up there.  But it was very tatty.  And boiling in summer.  And freezing in winter.  With no storage)

But this room.  This room is just perfection.

It was originally going to be our company office with a projector and screen so we could use it as a home “cinema”.  The previous owners had wired (and decorated it) as a cinema room:

However, I pointed out that:

  • we only use the office for a couple of hours a week
  • we have the most ridiculously large tv in the sitting room so why the heck do we need a projector
  • there is no way on God’s green earth I’d have got all my sewing crap supplies into the fourth bedroom that is now the office
  • I wouldn’t get a large cutting table in what is now the office
  • I want the big room, dammit!

No one was more surprised than me when The Husband said yes!  Love that man!

And so began the plotting and scheming.  I knew that my main priorities were storage and cutting space.  I’m so sick of not being able to lay hands on a pattern, or thread, or whatever.  And also trying to cut out on the floor or kitchen table.

So, off to Ikea I went.

The first thing to purchase was supplies for the cutting table.  It’s about 150 x 160cm. It’s constructed from 2 of the 8 box Kallax units with a 4 box unit at the top end. They are screwed together in a U-shape and then topped with 12mm MDF.

A pinnable surface proved invaluable in the tatty sewing loft.  Sadly we couldn’t lay hands on any of the insulation board that we had used 10 years ago, but I’m giving it a go with layers of the underlay that you use under laminate floorings piled 3 high on the MDF.

Finally it’s wrapped with curtain lining stapled to the underside of the MDF to secure. And set on castors so you can move it to get around all sides for large projects.  Or cleaning!

The top layer of spaces on each long side have drawer units, with boxes in the bottom. This gives me loads of storage options for tools, notions, patterns, yarn and all the other wee bits and bobs you have in a sewing room.

It is a joyous thing!

For books and magazines I have a run of Billy bookcases with half glazed doors.

I may have quite a few sewing, knitting, embroidery and quilting books!

There’s plenty of room for the odd magazine or two, too!

Crates of fabric and the stuff I don’t need to access often are stashed out of sight in the understairs cupboard that runs along the back of the room.

I’ve also got all my drafting/measuring tools hung up here, as they’re too big for the drawers.

All of this covers my need for storage and a super cutting table.  Now all I needed was somewhere to sew.

We picked up this little table at GB Antiques in Lancaster a couple of years ago.  It’s perfect for this corner, with a daylight lamp for when I need it, and a bluetooth radio for listening to music or podcasts as I sew.  An Ikea Raskog trolley holds projects handy, and my overlocker sits to the side of my gorgeous new Bernina.

I have the luxury that if I decide I need a larger table for sewing on, there’s one in storage in the garage that I can swap for this.

The chair needs a lick of paint, but I’m in no hurry for that.

After, all, I do have sewing to do!

I love this room so very much.  It makes me smile every time I think “I need a needle and thread” and can put my hands right on them.

And when we were house hunting, I never in my wildest dreams thought I end up with something so perfectly perfect.

Of course, none of this would have happened without my wonderful husband. Despite rolling his eyes at some of my ideas, he worked it out and brought them to life in the most amazing way.

“Thank you” seems so inadequate in the face of such a wonderful gift, but I hope he knows just how grateful I am for such an amazing room, and how very happy it makes me.

 


Steampunked sewing

The sewing room is ready to reveal.  The last boxes were unpacked a couple of weeks ago. All the fabric has been sorted, measured and catalogued.  All paper patterns have been scanned to Evernote ready for tagging, and then packed into easily accessible boxes.  Even the new blinds have been fitted.  I just need a bin, an ironing board and iron specifically for that room, and a full length mirror.

As the first thing I’m going to be making is curtains, and I’ve got all of the missing items in other parts of the house, I’d say I’m good to go!

I need to take some photos so I can share with you, but till then I’ve got quick snaps of a lovely sewing room warming present the husband bought me last week from Pipecreative in Hebden Bridge.

I’m sure the vintage sewing machine purists will be up in arms about this but I absolutely adore it!

A Steampunked sewing machine.  A Jones, no less.  It couldn’t be more appropriate!

The owner was highly amused that he was selling a Jones sewing machine lamp to Mrs Jones to go in her sewing room.  He didn’t believe us at first, and double checked the Mister’s bank card when taking payment.

It’s totally bonkers in the best possible way.

Sitting proudly on the windowsill to the side of my sewing table, it’s straight in your eyeline as you enter the sewing room. It makes me smile every time I walk in there.

My hubby buys the absolute best presents.  I’m one very lucky lady!


Hand made frocks and new houses

I just wanted to say a big thank you to all who have commented on the last couple of posts.

I read your comments to Miss B and she was so genuinely touched by the kindness of your words that it filled my heart with joy.  You guys are the best and have done such a Very Good Thing for one small girl.

flamingo_8

I am eternally grateful.

Thanks also for your kind words about the new house.  We’ve been here just over a week and it feels like home.  We have so much more space to breathe, and the proximity to family and the park for walks and play has improved our quality of life no end.

As soon as my trades are available the work begins on making it home.  I need plug sockets and coving (crown moulding) before I can start to decorate.  Some of the decorating will be done by the decorator but I’ll be doing some of it myself.

If I can get the sewing room and office decorated and unpacked, that’s the worst of it done. I also need the sewing room ready so I can get to work on the blinds and curtains we need for each room.   So. Many. Blinds!

This is what the sewing room looks like today!

sewing_room_before_edited-1

The wallpaper is depressing, and we’ve lots of stuff that needs to go to other rooms, but….it’s going to be AWESOME!

Wood floors, view over the front garden and masses of space.  I’ll have a table for my sewing machines, a custom height cutting table and plenty of storage for all my patterns, books, notions and fabric.

Fingers crossed I can get to it fairly quickly once the kids go back to school in September. Until then we are just chillin’ and enjoying usually lovely weather for this part of the world.

 


Home sweet home

Woodlands

After a years of searching, 2 failed house purchases, and over 4 months of wrangling on this purchase, we are, finally, in our new home.

We have a lot to do, and I’m going to have fun making this place into a wonderful home for our family.

For now…I’ve a million boxes to unpack and an awful lot of cleaning to do!  Not cool, but worth it.

Thanks to everyone for your kind wishes over the past few weeks, and to the grandparents for wrangling two very excited small peeps over the removal weekend.

This quick and blurry snap was taken on Sunday evening whilst we walked the short path from our front door to our favourite park.  If a picture tells a thousand words, this is why we moved.

parklife

Oh….and a separate sewing room 😉