Monday, 29 April 2013

I'm still here...

This blog is supposed to be about crafting, but I just haven't had the opportunity.

The cooking and entertaining marathon of dd's birthday weekend was followed by two tremendously busy working weeks, dh working away for five days, more computer failures. Last weekend I mostly did domestic drudgery, plus driving up to Leeds to pick up a laptop on temporary loan from my brother, while I save up some money to pay for a new laptop for dd. As she clearly needs another. I did sew a lot of badges onto ds's new scout shirt, but that's not the kind of sewing I can blog about!

I'm taking a break from House Cup crafting as well this term, so I'll have even less motivation to craft. Slightly concerned that the stashdown objective is not working well in terms of crafting. I seem to have a bit of a stop on buying new yarn for possible projects. I suppose the answer to this is to get on with finishing my laceweight sweater (stalled at middle of first sleeve), or cast on for the socks and sleeveless top I could make out of yarn I have in hand.

Sunday, 14 April 2013


Eighteen year olds enjoy a family lunch at a tapas restaurant.

The spectacular batch of red velvet cupcakes was made for my dd by my SIL.

Later, there was partying with friends and cousins, and a great time was had by all, apparently. I was asleep by then. But how can it happen, that eighteen years passes so quickly? it's a cliche, but it does not seem that long since I was bringing my baby girl home from the hospital.

Happy birthday, dd!

Friday, 12 April 2013

A tornado of cakes

I took ds to see Oz the Great and Powerful this week; we really enjoyed it. That's the very first time I sat through a whole film in 3-D. It was awesome, wonderfully visual, I really liked it, and so did ds, although I think it might be rather frightening for small children.

After that, I really felt like making something out of the Oz-themed book of makes. So I whipped up a batch of cyclone cup-cakes.

They have lemon curd filling and then meringue on top. 

You're supposed to pipe the meringue to look like cyclones. I would have benefited from better equipment at this point, as I had one of those plastic icing sets, with a plunger, but I could only get enough meringue mixture in for two cakes at a time, and it wasn't ideal to have to keep handling the meringue. I am going to get a proper piping bag for next time!

My finished cakes do not look as good as the original book version:

Hope they pass the taste test, though! 

This wasn't the only cake I made. Here's my kitchen, looking like a disaster zone:

I have somewhere between 20 and 30 people coming over to our house for pre-drinks tomorrow. My dd was eighteen this week and the main celebrations are this weekend. I made two dozen small cakes and two large ones. Hope it will be enough!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Dressmaking on the telly

I'm having a hands-off crafting April, letting my WIPs languish whilst I consider my next move. In the time freed up, I've read one Agatha Raisin book already and I have also been watching TV (don't faint!!)

I don't watch TV as a general rule, but this week, I read a review online of The Great British Sewing Bee and so I looked it up on iPlayer. How wonderful to see a "real" programme about crafting (as opposed to Kirsty Allsopp knitting a row or two). And all eight of the contestants seemed to be really nice, ordinary people. There was none of the sniping or nastiness I have previously seen on reality TV (my dd watches the Kardashians, 'nuff said) and the approach to the craft was intelligent, explaining aspects of garment-fitting, what bias binding is, etc, without patronising or over-simplifying either.

In the first episode, the participants made an A-line skirt, altered the neckline of a cotton top, and made an entire dress to fit a real model. They had 3 1/2 hours for the skirt; I might have managed that, but sew an entire dress in 7 hours? Not a chance.

I already know at least one of the participants is online: Tilly has only been sewing for two years, in contrast to the simply amazing Ann, who is 81 and has been sewing for over 70 years. She is fantastic, and totally calm under pressure. I also rather like Sandra, Mark and Lauren. Heck, I like them all. Even the judges (did you see Patrick?! Swoon. Apparently he kisses girls, so I'll get in the queue.) Only Claudia, the presenter, annoyed me, and I think that's only because her fringe is excessive, so every time I saw her, I wondered if she could see out OK.

Ditching Michelle seemed a little unfair though. Taking all the three challenges, I would have let either Stuart or Tilly go, but both of them make good TV and I suspect that may have had something to do with decision-making.

If you're outside the UK and not able to access BBC iPlayer, I hear the first episode has been put on YouTube so you might be able to find it that way, if you want to see the programme. Or, you can read this blogger's very funny review where there are also screenshots. Or, if you want to try a variation at home, try this blogger's suggestion for alternative challenges!

An enticement to dressmaking has come at quite an opportune time, as after three years of intense yarn-related activities, I'm feeling rather worn out from knit and crochet. Even with my Stashdown objective, I can't bring myself to start anything. Meanwhile, I still have unused dressmaking patterns in my sewing box.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Normal Service...

... will be resumed as soon as we have reliably functioning equipment.

Dd dropped her laptop last week. It seemed OK at first, and I thought we'd had a lucky escape, but now it keeps turning itself off without warning, so it has gone to the computer shop for a diagnosis. It is only two years old, so I hope it can be fixed.

Our home PC, which is pretty old, has become increasingly erratic at start up. Today I got nothing but a black screen on boot-up. Eventually I got my screwdriver out, took the back off the base unit and re-seated all the connections in the hope that might help. It has since launched Windows but I fear it's just a temporary fix.

I MUST get an external hard drive tomorrow and do a proper back up (assuming I can turn it on...), as though all my docs and most photo files are now backed up on disk, the iTunes library and the New York photos from last year are too big to load on a DVD-RW, so something rather larger is needed.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Stashdown #3: March 2013

My stashdown report is not so good, this month. I was hoping to be able to report 1000 yards out on my finished laceweight sweater, but unfortunately I'm still on the first sleeve, so that is still a way off. I estimate I have knitted up getting on for 700 yards so far, though.

My stash went up this month, as I received 440 yards of lovely sock yarn in a swap parcel.

For my side of the swap, there was nothing really swapable in my stash, so I had to buy a skein of yarn to send. At least I managed not to buy any yarn for myself at the same time!

Yardage in: 440 yards.

I have done very little non-sweater knitting. I made a bunny made from a square - 25 yards of dk yarn - a dishcloth out of Rico creative cotton - 40 yards - and a crochet Easter egg - 25 yards of Rico cotton dk. That's 90 yards of FOs.

I also de-stashed some of the older yarn in my stash. About 250 yards of dishcloth cotton is gone: I have to face it, I do not like the yarn colour.

Total yardage out: 340 yards

Change this month: +100.
YTD: +187