Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Edit: The Title that I Forgot!

 I attempted to follow the suggestion of some of my commenters regarding the "Boring Beige" and decided to try it on with some accessories to brighten it up a bit. 

All I could find to try with it was this scarf!  If temperatures in future winters continue to go into minus double figures, as in the last 2 years, I can see me making a lot of use of BB.  Despite all its boring beige-ness - it is very warm and cosy! 

It's only a couple of weeks since we had the severe minus temperatures but you would never have thought it last weekend.  On Saturday afternoon we attended a 50th birthday party at the local hotel where we sat outside in the sun (some in T-shirts!!) then enjoyed a hot buffet and watched Wales play beat England in the Six Nations rugby on a big screen.  I took advantage of the lovely sunshine  later to get OH to take a pic of the "Grey Cowl" (with me in it).  It's a difficult colour to photograph but this is just about right with the little flecks of orange showing. This has been added to my intend-to-sell drawer - along with some cedarwood mothballs to prevent the little blighters chewing at the black thread that runs through it.

I have pairs of ankle and knee-length boots in both black and brown.  When I bought the knee-length black ones a few months ago I paid for good quality ones and vowed to make a concerted effort to keep them (and the rest of my shoes/clothes) well-maintained in order to get value, and produce less waste. I wear boots to work most of the time in the winter and with it being a construction site they can get quite muddy.  True to my vow, I dug out the polish and cleaned them up the other day, only for the bottom of the heel to fall off one of the ankle boots at a works Safety Stand Down Day on Monday!!!  I didn't notice until it was almost time to leave so there's a lonely black heel lying around somewhere at Cheltenham Racecourse.  The boots were nowhere near in need of reheeling but both will have to be done so they match!!

When I was at school I, and many school mates, would clean our shoes religiously every day after school ready to be smart again the following day.  These days it's not only school children that don't clean their shoes.  It doesn't seem to be frowned upon these days if shoes are dirty and scuffed.  I sometimes see women in high heels with the ends worn right down so the coloured covering splays out like a frill and the toes turn up.  As with clothes these days, footwear is often worn to death and replaced rather than looked after.
The last 2 photos show both sides of the first of 7 purses I've been asked to make.  Two more are under way but I don't expect to get the rest finished until I get back from next week's holiday. A group of 8 of us is off to the Alps in France. 

Progress since last time:

One commission purse finished and two more started. 

Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Giving Without Expectation!

When I gave the little key-purse to my work-friend for her birthday I had no ulterior motive or expectation of any kind.  It was simply a gift and I was grateful to pick up the clues from her to be able to give something that was genuinely useful.

About a week later, I received an email from her.  She'd had the idea to give a similar little purse to each of her grandchildren and asked if I would be kind enough to make them. And how many grandchildren do you think she has? Seven!!!

I am so excited - it's my first commission since my brief daliance with machine knitting many, many years ago (I've been searching for my creative niche for a long time)!!  

This may be the key to the start of selling my homecrafted items and it's come about by accident.  Rather than making random things to sell, I should concentrate on making gifts for others and things to use/wear myself.  This would be a way of testing the market and finding out what people like.  It could lead to orders and would make people aware of what I do in order to open doors in the future.  I wouldn't want to launch myself into things too suddenly so this would be perfect. There's a strong possibility that my job will finish around September this year so I need to have a plan :-)

I promised a handmade bag to another friend at work after she gave me lots of materials during a clear-out, so I'd better get on with that soon.  And this time I will have (not so much an ulterior motive as) a plan!!

While DD and her boyfriend were away in Florida we shared the care of their 2 doggies with his parents.  They looked after them in the week and we brought them to our house for the 2 weekends.  Here they are  in the back garden after we had a little snow. 

This was their home for 3 days each week. It's an enclosed area at the back of our house but has no heating. Due to OH having developed a mild allergy to furry animals (since being stung by a hornet and various wasps over the years in his work as a forester) we had to keep the dogs out of the house. Unfortunately, it was the coldest period of the winter so far and they are not used to being kept outside, but they had plenty of warm bedding and we set up a heat lamp.  They seemed happy enough and are now back home with DD. 

I used to think it would be nice to have a dog around the place - maybe when I retire and can be at home more - but this experience has made me think again.  The dogs were on my mind most of the weekend and I felt guilty when leaving them outside to amuse themselves.  It was like having small children again and I felt like I should be entertaining them constantly.

I'm still on a roll with the stitching!!  Using fabric from my store I've run up this lined shopper and matching purse for my sister's birthday in March.  All the materials are off-cuts or recycled.  I ran out of the red buttons when I got to the purse but noticed I'd used one on my needle case so cut it off and will now have to find one to replace it. 

Cowl knitting is also progressing well.  For this I used a ball and a half of yarn left over from knitting OH a jumper about 20 years ago.  The yarn has a small percentage of wool in it and judging by the missing bits of the black thread that runs through it, my guess would be that THAT is the wool part (pesky moths!)

very useful needlework book I've had since 1983
I didn't use a pattern as such; just cast on as many stitches as I thought necessary (in multiples of 10) to suit the stitch I wanted to use from this book (the cream stitch design with diagonal holes in the book above) and knitted until the yarn was all used.  Will sew in ends and join into a ring soon to finish. 
Usually, when I've had a good run with stitching something else has gone by the wayside, such as baking or cleaning.   But look!!  Over the last couple of weeks I've even managed a bit of this too.  Above is one of 2 Walnut and Banana Loaves from Jamie's Great Britain (my son's book)........

..........and this is Gingerbread made in my breakmaker. I've also managed a small batch of scones which are all gone. The fact that my house is filthy is neither here nor there (only joking!!).  All of this is due, in no small part, to the fact that it's a quiet time of year for social, church and family events.  The trick is to keep this up when the whirwind begins.

While making the bag for my sister, I experimented with a different style of bottom corner with a little scrap of the fabric. It was sitting on the table for a few days, as I continued sewing, looking as though it was waiting to be finished off. So I tidied up the edges, made a little lining and topstitched the edge.  I don't know what to do with it now!!  It's really quite sweet and needs to be put to good use.  I want to find a really ingenious use for it so that I have an excuse to make lots more in different fabrics!

Stitching progress since last time:

Shopping tote for sister with matching purse - finished
Grey lacey cowl - just needs finishing off
The 7 Zipped Purses - fabrics gathered
Mini fabric pot - waiting to have a use

Bye for now
Teresa x

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Before and After!

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I've joined a musical theatre group so I thought you might be interested in a little update. Despite a few doubts, I've continued to go to rehearsals for Me and My Girl.  I'm not quite sure who I'm supposed to be in it (I don't have a speaking part) but think I'm probably a servant.  Not having seen the show, and rehearsing songs without knowing the story or how the songs fit into it makes things a bit confusing.  I'm sure things will become clearer as we progress.  I've made a few friends now, which was difficult at first when all we did was sit and sing then go home.  We were informed at the last rehearsal on Wednesday that it is 10 weeks until the first performance!! Gulp!!  I'm not sure how many times we're doing it or exactly where, but I will keep going and put my confidence in the experience and knowledge of the longer term members to pull it all together. 

I had a lovely day off work on Monday!  I booked it off recently after remembering that I had a day left to take before 1st February.  The plan was to sew all day, seeing as it was a day I wouldn't normally have been at home.  
Unfortunately, there was a large pile of ironing calling me from the basket in the bathroom.  My sister, (who normally does my ironing these days) had just gone on holiday for 2 weeks so it was not a good idea to ignore the pile and keep adding to it for the next fortnight!  And besides, I know me, and I wouldn't have been able to settle down to sewing knowing that it was there lurking and taunting me. 

So - it took me all morning (it doesn't look that much does it?) but it was done.  I felt a great sense of satisfaction when it was finished, particularly as it was the first time the ironing basket had been completely empty for quite a few years (yes that's right - years)!!  Then, it was onto the fun stuff!!


I'd been over to my shed in the garden on the weekend and, with a few projects in mind, pulled out some supplies. Some of it is pictured above.  I wanted to make a couple more zipped pouches trying a different method for putting in the zips.  This time I covered the end of the zips before making up the pouches.  The result was neat-ish but still a bit bulky.  For good measure, I also ran up a mini pin-cushion with the same fabrics.

Last but not least was this little pouch with an appliqued key.  This one I made for a friend in work who was celebrating her birthday.  She'd mentioned a few weeks ago how she always had to go hunting in the bottom of her bag for various keys and that she should get a purse to put them all in, so when I heard that it was her birthday, I had no trouble coming up with something to give her.  She was delighted with it and filled it up with her keys straight away. 

Later on my friend asked me if I'd sewn the key on, thinking it was a bought pouch.  When I told her I'd made the whole thing she was very impressed and said I should make and sell more things like this.  Another friend, who was present, said to me knowingly "See!!" because that was something she has said to be many times before.  If I'm lacking in anything to motivate me to sell what I make, it's certainly not friendly praise and encouragement.

Now, with the danger of repeating myself like I did last week, here's my progress:

Zipped pouches - 2 complete
Pin cushion - 1 complete.
Knitted cowl - roughly 20 rows completed (not convinced the stitch pattern is working yet)
I also have some fabric standing by to make a couple of tote bags so let's wait and see what comes of that!!

Bye for now
Teresa x