Monday, 19 December 2011

Closing for stocktaking

With great sadness I must close the shop doors for a while. 

It is getting harder and harder to find the time. Some very nice people have given me a proper job you see.

So I find myself facing stark choices like: make something or notice that I have children. Blog or sleep.

I've started to get my qualified art teacher badge, and hopefully inspire the next generation of makers, artists, bloggers and shopkeepers. 

I shall miss this place very much indeed and hope I'll be back to dust down the shelves in the summer.

Your support and comments both here and on facebook - verbal and typed - have meant the whole wide world to me. Thank you. 

So my little ol' blog will start and finish with something for a baby, which feels good and cyclical.

And I never did learn smocking.

'Bye for now, and thank you again for stopping by from the bottom of my heart.


Saturday, 26 November 2011

Autumn leaves baby blanket

A boy-child is born. A craft project is made. Leaves turn gold and fall. Thus my friends, the world turns. My world, anyway.

He is the baby of a dear friend. He is also the unknowing demonstrator of the magic time-shifting properties of crochet. I have no time at the moment, but I also have my ever-present need to make stuff. 

Happily, crochet takes no time. You simply do it whenever you are sitting still. Find yourself watching '30 Rock' at the end of a long day? Half a granny square. Stuck in traffic on the M1? Enough time to make some more, join them together and do the border. Crochet will not only slot in to these otherwise passive activities, it will actually MAKE you time.

Before you know it you will have a blanket for a new baby when you thought you had far too much on to be even considering a craft project. 

They say the act of eating lettuce actually makes you lose weight as it has so few calories. Well, crochet is lettuce.


In all my adventures in crochet, I had never made the classic granny square. The internet is full of instructions for these and they are easy and incredibly satisfying, not to mention beautiful.

I had also never joined-as-you-go. This method appeals as - rather than wait until you have finished and have the task of joining the squares together - it happens as you make the squares, and is border-free.

I went to the oracle Attic24 for instructions, then kind of made it up myself. I enjoyed watching the blanket grow like a puzzle as each new square was added:

The other challenge was keeping everything muted. The boy's parents love grey with a passion. Yes, grey and passion in the same sentence. It's new to me. So I thought I would use two autumn colours and four greys on each square to keep the balance. And my interest. 

 A few autumn colours for the autumn baby. I love to crochet in autumn colours.

I was pleasantly surprised with the result and quite sad to hand it over.

Sleep well little baby. Please. 



Wednesday, 2 November 2011

kindle case

I am a compulsive reader and member of a book club. So I have participated in quite a few Kindle debates. I hear that they are great for reading whilst travelling/in a queue/on the beach/in a shed/breastfeeding/breastfeeding in a shed, but I am still not convinced. 

You see, I love books. I love paper, spines, smells, bookmarks,  cover artwork and all that good stuff.  

But I do understand the arguments of the people who love them. I am a fully paid up member of the digital world after all.

One of these people is my dear sister-in-law, who asked me to make a cover for her beloved Kindle. One that would also hold her charger and keep it all safe from the bottom of her handbag. I know how dangerous those places can be.

She liked the laptop case I made so we talked it through and this is what I came up with.

I made the cover using scraps leftover from this quilt and a piece of felt to strengthen it in the middle.

I made it up as I went along but the design was a cross between the laptop case and the book roll I made back in October.

In terms of process, I sewed the strips right side to the felt along one side, and then opened the flap so it was the right way round, like this:

And this:

A bit fiddly, but it worked well. I bound all the edges with shop-bought bias binding, and a lot of strategically placed velcro.

This case will be winging it's way to France where the Kindle lives so I sadly don't have a photo of it in action. But I hope they will all be very happy together. 

Me, I'm building more bookshelves.

Stop press! A communiqué from France containing photos of the Kindle case in use:

Merci Réjane!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Bucking the trend: Library opens

Like many families with young children, made-up stories are very much a feature of our lives, and a part of being a parent I find quite hard. Tell you a story from my head?  Do you realise it is 6.45am? Learn how to make tea and I'll tell you a story.

I usually defer to their dad, who finds the muse quicker than I do. Some of these stories and characters have become part of family life.

For my daughter, a highlight of the trip to the library is having a go at stamping the return date. And so, inspired by this rubber stamp I bought in Lille, we have been playing libraries.

I made a few little books for our library, and this lead naturally to making our own storybooks. Drawing the covers, writing the stories, it was lovely. And a very funny insight into the nearly four-year-old mind:

And so, the little books became a way of recording these stories, a snapshot of a time that will pass before I know it, and doubtless before I am ready.

I used some thin A4 card for the covers, I sliced them across the middle and folded in half. For the pages, I used some A5 coloured paper, though plain would do. 

Folded in half, I found the centre, and using thick thread (tacking or button thread) I sewed the whole together with one large stitch. I finished by tying a really strong knot and trimming off any overlapping edges.

We made little tickets for the inside cover - and for the all-important stamping - and they were finished.

I think she needs to work on sustaining the narrative arc, otherwise great. The Booker prize 2041 is in the bag.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

mixy matchy serviettes

This project was mainly an excuse to get some fabrics down from the shelf and play with them, if I'm being honest.

It is really nice, and a bit more grown up, to have cloth serviettes, (or is it correct to say napkins?) but I do not feel grown up when it comes to ironing and washing, so paper it is.

But. What if I made a load of them, and they weren't linen or anything silly like that, and maybe if they were patterned so the odd tiny speck of sauce didn't really show, and well, it would be an excuse to use the rolled hem setting on my overlocker that looks like fun.... so here they are.

Each one is comprised of two 42cm squares of fabric placed wrong sides together. I slipped in a bit of fusibile interlining into the middle. Then overlocked around the edges on a rolled hem setting. I added a line of straight sewing a few centimetres in to hold the lot together. Really easy, the only challenge was finding patterns that contrasted. A nice challenge.

They made their debut last Sunday as we soaked up the last of the heatwave with a barbecue.

At the time of going to press they are drying and not looking too crumpled. I reckon if I maintain my low standards I can get away with not ironing them.

Goodbye summer, hello autumn. How happy I am to see you and your beauty.

a year above the shop

a year above the shop