Saturday, 25 July 2009

I cannot crochet

I often wish I knew how to crochet.

Because then I could attach these lovely edgings to finished sewn objects.

Also I could tackle this, which I want to knit everytime I look at it:

It has a picot crocheted edging which I don't know how to do. The instructions say blithely, "crochet a picot edge, making buttonholes as you go".... er, how??

I do own two crochet hooks in different sizes, which I use for picking up dropped stitches, and, lately, for provisional cast-on.

Apparently provisional cast-on is a simple crocheted chain, so I suppose that is a beginning in crochet. Perhaps one day I'll get hold a some instructions for beginners, and have a proper go.

Meantime, repeat after me, "I must not start anything else before FINISHING something off existing list".

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Lift off!

I've now completed this outer space duvet set, using a mix of applique and embroidery on a plain white IKEA duvet cover and pillowcase.

I used Lazy May embroidery patterns published in Sew Hip issue 6. They were fun to stitch. I embroidered a selection of the outer space designs on the pillowcase, and along the top of the duvet cover.

For the applique, I used two rocket print panels from Prints Charming:

It took a long time to complete that purchase, but we got there in the end (I declined to send my credit card details in an email as suggested.)

Ds has already slept in his new sheets. He is very happy.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


Our runner beans have finally got going - tiny beans are appearing now.

Ds's vegetables are also growing well: a sweetcorn plant (cornstalk on left hand side), and a pumpkin plant (front of picture) mingled with self-seeded nasturtiums.

Ds is very excited by the cornstalk - he loves sweetcorn. I hope it produces some for him. The pumpkin plant has a healthy number of flowers on it, and is growing like a weed now, so I am quite hopeful about a hallowe'en pumpkin.

I expect all these will crop about the time we are away on holiday, in typical fashion!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Out of this world

I did a little sewing last weekend, but have not yet got a FO to show. This is work in progress.

The outer space stitcheries were in Sew Hip issue 6, accompanying instructions to make a lampshade (that's not what I'm using them for). The designs are by Lazy May:

LAZY MAY: modern stitching
She has a wonderful range of stitchery patterns for sale on her site. I especially like the crafter's dilemma and the Caketastic pattern suggested for a kitchen wallhanging. Although I have far too many to-sew projects already on my list, so I'm resisting adding to it at present.

Embroidery is lovely and portable. Just right for when you want to take your sewing out of doors in good weather. Infants' sports day was cancelled owing to torrential rain today, so I hope the weather improves this weekend.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Garden produce

This is the harvest from just one of our potato plants. They weighed over 2 kg. For the record, they taste pretty good too.

It's a pity we do not have a local show to submit our wonderful potatoes to, like the one in a nearby village that we attended last weekend. This was in the old-fashioned country fair tradition, with a marquee full of Victoria sponge cakes, garden produce and hand-made crafts. After we had looked at the exhibits, dh declared he should have submitted some potatoes. And I opined that next year, I would have to submit entries to the knitting and needlework classes, as none of the prize-winners was as good as some of my FOs.

But perhaps I have too rosy a view of my own craft output.

There were also children's classes. Ds was interested in the six to eight year-olds classes. Many were outer-space themed, and this is a particular interest of his - as you'll find out when I next post about my sewing output [mysterious look]. As well as the classes for models and paintings, and biscuits shaped like stars and moons, there were also traditional categories like miniature gardens on plates.

I smiled to see that for the teenage cookery class there were no entries. I doubt our dd would make the effort either (she wasn't with us on this occasion, having spurned a village show as "boring").

I'll have to find out whether outsiders are permitted to participate, next year.

Saturday, 11 July 2009


I love hollyhocks. They are in flower in our garden right now, and remind me of 1970s evening dresses.

But perhaps I'm influenced by this little verse:

The stately Lady-Hollyhock
Has graced my garden bed for years,
Sedately stiffened in a frock,
All frills and ruffles to her ears.

Those lines are quoted in Six cousins at Mistletoe Farm by Enid Blyton. I've since discovered, they are actually by Sarah J. Day, and were first published in her 1900 collection of poems about flowers, "From Mayflowers to Mistletoe". This is in the public domain now, so you can view the whole poem, and her other flowery verses, here. But for those that don't want to scroll down and down, here's the rest of it:

For at the fashions one may mock
When one is born a Hollyhock.

Her gay companions creep and twine,
And riot in the summer breeze;
But she doth haughtily decline
To join in common sports like these;
Such indecorum needs must shock
A well-bred, well-starched Hollyhock.

"Our family pride will not permit
That we should bend or sway or sprawl,
We never care to loll nor sit;
One posture — the erect — is all
Befitting our patrician stock."
So spake my Lady Hollyhock.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Claire's Virtual Quilting Bee

Craftyclaire is organising a virtual quilting bee.

I haven't done much quilting to date, but this seems to be a good way in.

A quilt is a big project, but a quilting bee breaks the task down. Rather than slog away making twelve blocks in similar fabrics, each participant makes twelve different blocks, one per month, each with a different colour set and/or theme.

Every month one person supplies fabrics to the others. Everyone makes a block. These are sent back to the person whose turn it was, who can then put them together with backing and binding fabrics as necessary to make a full-size quilt. After 12 months, all the participants have a quilt each.

It's also a way of making more friends in the online world :-)

You can read more details about how it works at Claire's blog here.

Most of the quilting bees online I've seen have been in the States, but this one is based in the UK/Europe, so the postage costs will not be too bad.

Anyone reading this who is interested should sign up by leaving a comment at Claire's blog. There are five of us so far, so we do need more participants.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Ice-cream Sundae

I didn't do any sewing yesterday. Instead, I made ice-cream.

I have a Philips Delizia ice-cream maker. This is a pretty basic model - a bowl for churning in, that needs to be pre-frozen, with a motorised dasher that slots onto the lid. I would quite like a better machine, with a larger capacity. The Delizia only does 750ml at a time.

However, since I don't make ice-cream very often, I can't really justify the purchase. For me at least, ice-cream making is definitely in a mathematical relationship with daytime temperature and no. of hours of sunshine. During last year's so-called British summer, the machine never even came out of the cupboard.

Spurred on by a whole week of sun, I swung into action on Saturday morning. I made the custard base and left it chilling in the fridge while we went to the school fair.

Came back, whizzed raspberries and blackberries with lemon juice and sugar in the blender:

Stirred the fruit mixture into the the cooled custard, switched on the machine and poured the mixture in:

About forty minutes later, we had berry delicious ice-cream to eat.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Boiler saga

I wrote recently about our boiler, that was turning itself off randomly, so I would discover there was no hot water at ds's bathtime, or more likely was notified by dd's loud shrieks to the same effect. (A cold shower and a teenaged girl are not a good mix.)

The engineer came today, cleaned the burners and fitted a new thermocouple. I hoped this would do the trick. But no. We have to replace the gas valve, at a cost (estimated) of £200. And the bloody thing will not re-light at all now, so when the hot water that's left in the tank is gone, there will be no more until the boiler is fixed.

The sad thing about unexpected domestic expenses is their negative impact on fabric purchases. I was planning to import some Heather Ross yardage, but now I'll have to wait till next month.

Still, could be worse. Tim the boiler engineer has promised to come back tomorrow at 8 am with a new gas valve. I'm quite charmed to find a local tradesperson prepared to work on a Saturday.

Fingers crossed for hot water tomorrow, then.