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Touching Swiftly on a Hatbox

In keeping with my pledge to add to my Liberty Hatbox wall hanging project at the end of each month I’m afraid I have failed miserably as I still  can’t decide on the final block.

 So, I made another one.


I won’t bore you rigid with the choices I face again but I’m still not sure and now I think I’ve made it worse by having three to choose from instead of two.  Kate, on the other hand, is making great progress and has started hand quilting (yes hand quilting) her full size quilt and putting me to shame.  See and admire here.

So that’s the hatbox pledge dealt with which would make for a very short post indeed .

Your hopes, however,  are dashed!

Did I mention Liberty of London fabric?  I think I told you they had a sale and I think I told you I indulged.  I’m not sure I realised there were actual skyscrapers on this fabric when I ordered it but, now I know, I like it even more.   The simple shell top on this New Look pattern that had come free with a magazine seemed just the thing….

and so it was.

I’ve decided I have a back problem in that nearly everything I make gapes a little at the back of the neck.  I think I have narrow shoulders in comparison to my bust so, next time, I’m going to cut a wedge out of the centre top of the back bodice and see if that fixes it – a tip I found on By Hand, London.  Unless anybody has any better ideas.

Also, I bought this astrology themed tana lawn in the Liberty sale to make a shirt for Mr. Tialys who had a hand in choosing the fabric.

I’ve never made a man’s shirt before but thought it was time I gave it a go as my wardrobe is full, one daughter makes her own clothes, the other doesn’t much care about clothes so that leaves the husband (or the pets and don’t think I might not go there!).

I chose the Negroni by Colette as it’s a nice, casual style but with some interesting features, it has good reviews and there is a very detailed sew along (from about six years ago!) on the Male Pattern Boldness blog so what could go wrong?  Actually, so far, very little.  I’m working on a muslin using fabric that was more expensive than the tana lawn due to the fact that there was 60% off in the Liberty sale but I  always hope my muslins (when I actually bother to make one) will be wearable otherwise I get upset if all the work comes to nought – apart from ensuring you’re making the right size of course which is the main purpose of them after all.

Anyway – how’s this for a flat felled seam?

An inside view of course – the fabric is dark on the outside and I certainly wasn’t confident enough to use contrasting thread so you wouldn’t be able to make it out.  This is the first time I’ve tackled a real flat felled seam, although I did mock ones on Tilly and the Buttons’ Rosa dress,  and I’m pleased with the way this one turned out.  I say ‘this one’ because the other one didn’t turn out quite as neat but I’m not going to show you that now am I?

Did somebody mention a sale by the way?

Fifty six 50g balls of cotton double knitting yarn in all the shades in the range and no,  I don’t know what I’m going to do with them, thank you for asking.

Mr. Tialys is still creating awesome leather things in his ‘spare’ time which is strange because I didn’t think he had any of that or that’s what he tells me if I ask him to do anything in the house or garden 😉


This is a laptop bag he designed himself and is in the kind of leather that already looks as if it’s been ‘lived in’ which is the kind I like.

I decided to have a clear out in the cupboard in the conservatory and threw some stuff in a box ready to go to the charity shop.

I know I sometimes get fed up with having so many animals but I haven’t quite resorted to this yet.

What is it with cats and cardboard boxes anyway?

 

 

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Fungus Folly

Today I spotted some unusual mushrooms in the garden

An unusual turquoise-y green colour I thought might be poisonous so I didn’t touch them.

It crossed my mind they might be birds’ eggs fallen out of a nest.

I was going to Google ‘small turquoise fungi’ after walking the dogs but on my way back down the hill from our walk I realised it wasn’t necessary.

Sometimes I worry.

 

Another ‘should’ve gone to Specsavers’ moment?

 

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Is It Mothers’ Day Where You Are?

It’s not the Fetes de Mères (Mothers’ Day) in France until the end of May but as my Mum is English and in England, today is Mothers’ Day as far as I’m concerned.  Also, since Mlle. Tialys the elder lives back in the U.K. now, I only stand a chance of being remembered on Mothers’ Day if we stick to the U.K. one because she will see all the palaver surrounding it beforehand and remind her sister who is still in France and would otherwise be blissfully unaware of it.

Who better than your mother to practice on when indulging your new sewing passion?

Unfortunately, even though my crochet hook has been a blur, I didn’t manage to finish the blanket I was hoping to give her for Mothers’ Day but, being my Mum, I’m sure she’ll forgive me.

Remember the Stitching Santa organised by Sewchet I participated in last Christmas?  When I received my goodies from Pippa at Beads and Barnacles she included this turquoise drawstring pouch.  I was thinking I could use it to keep my current small crochet project in and saw another opportunity to practice the freehand machine embroidery I’ve become keen on.

Just the right size for keeping  my Fusion quilt squares in which, as you can see, is progressing slowly but surely, one square at a time.

The yellow thread started out as a representation of a slip knot.   It went a bit awry but you get my drift.

It can hang on my pinboard which I am very happy with as a way of keeping my tools and other bits off the surfaces but within easy reach.  I have two of these side by side and painted them duck egg blue to go with the woodwork on the top floor of my house which is where my sewing room is.

I bought my own Mothers’ Day gift – just in case my girls didn’t remember  –  this cool ‘maker’ pin from Jodie at RicRac.  I thought it would be just the thing to wear when I’m selling my wares at the fund raising craft fairs I sometimes do and, in fact, will be doing one next Saturday.  (It wasn’t really a Mothers’ Day gift  to myself  – just an everyday indulgence – but it was an excuse to show it to you)

 

 

A craft fair next Saturday?  Sounds like another opportunity for some freehand machine embroidery I hear you say – and, of course, being a fund raiser for a retirement home for unwanted old and disabled dogs, it had to have some sort of pooch on it.

Flex Frame Glasses Case with Freehand Machine Embroidery (with one I made earlier)

 

Much as I love the effect of the stitches against linen, this was a complete pain to thread the flex frame through at the top due to the linen itself being thick, plus a layer of fusible fleece and a cotton lining.  So this will be unique in the true sense of the word and not in the sense of  ‘rare’ or ‘unusual’ which seems to be in common usage these days  because I really am only making one of them.  I am going to rope in Mr. T and see if we can work out a way to make the channel at the top somehow separate from the body so I don’t have to go through all the thicknesses.  I’ve seen one done like this but the channel was not the full width of the case,  and I prefer it if it is,  so maybe I could adapt that.

Meanwhile, so far today – it’s 09.20 – I took Mr. T. a cuppa in bed and said ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ in what I hope was a sarcastic manner,  although I know I’m not his mother.  There is no sign of a card anywhere nor email nor text from the U.K. nor from the room at the end of the corridor where Mlle. Tialys the Younger will doubtless remain entombed until around 1300h, which is her usual habit of a Sunday.

I’ll let you know if things change.

UPDATE:

There was a lot of staggering and muttering ( and very possibly a lot of  husband/father involvement) and these appeared.  The morning staggering was even more pronounced than usual as we forgot to put the clocks forward last night so time was confused.

They looked better than this before I unwrapped them and then hastily wrapped them back up again for the photo so I could show daughter in the U.K. what she had instructed her dad to get me 😉

I must confess to a nostalgia for the early days when I got a cup of tea and croissant brought up to me in bed, a flower out of the garden on the tray and hand made cards with masterpieces such as this within.

Not the most flattering of images conjured up of me there but I’m guessing the rhyme was the important thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Eat Vegetables

Here in France the shops are full of courgettes (or zucchini to you perhaps) at the moment.  I don’t much like them as a vegetable but spotted a likely looking recipe in Nigella’s  How To Be A Domestic Goddess’ book and, undeterred by my recent tasty yet unattractive chocolate loaf cake, decided to give the stand mixer another whirl.

The early signs were encouraging.

We already had a jar of home made lime curd in the cupboard for the filling and a whole net of limes in a bowl seeking a purpose.

I just had to nip down to the shop for some cream cheese and there you go.

The recipe has you sprinkle the top with pistachios – which makes it even more green – but I stuck with the zest of a lime.  Because, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not keen on sweet things.

Have a great weekend.

Flora’s Famous Courgette Cake (from Nigella Lawson How To Be A Domestic Goddess)

  • 60g raisins (optional)
  • 250g courgettes (2-3, weighed before you grate them)
  • 2 eggs
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line 2 x 21cm round tins.
If using raisins, place in a bowl and cover with warm water to plump them up. (I didn’t add any and didn’t miss them).
Rinse whole courgettes, and then grate (skin on) with the course side of a grater – you want to see the flecks of green.
Place eggs, oil, and sugar in bowl of electric mixer, and beat until creamy. Fold in sifted flour, bicarb, and baking powder. Stir in courgette (and raisins if using).
Pour mixture into tins and bake for 30 minutes, until golden on top and firm to touch. Remove from oven and leave to cool completely before assembling.
For filling use a good quality curd or make your own.  Lime is best and we just happened to have some already made but lemon is good too.
For the icing.
  • 200g cream cheese, softened
  • 100g icing sugar, sifted
  • juice 1 lime (and zest if you want to decorate the top with it)
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped pistachios (not the salty ones you have with drinks!)

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add icing sugar, beating continually. Add lime juice.

To assemble cake, place bottom layer on a serving plate and spread thickly with lime curd. Place 2nd cake on top carefully. Spread cream cheese over the top, and sprinkle with pistachios or just the zest of lime as I did. 

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A Sunday Short

 

macyukiincrowsnest

‘What do you think of the newest kit in town?’

Cat tree

‘He’s alright I suppose but he’s not getting up here.’

crochet cafetiere cosy

My first crochet project has come to fruition.

 

After the teal boots…….

 

Shoes

the teal shoes.

I just couldn’t not buy them.

 

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My Specsavers Moment

My daughter went on her Christmas ‘works do’ on Friday night.  I vaguely remember her telling me where it was being held but it had slipped my mind.

She has a friend called Ricarda.  a pretty young german girl with long blonde hair.

So when she sent me a text with this photo of herself  – in something I took for a flight simulator – I texted back  ‘Fantastic photo – is that Ricarda?’

 

Star Wars Exhibition Madame Tussauds

It was only when Mr. T. , through his incredulous laughter,  reminded me that the company she works for had taken over a section of  Madame Tussauds in London where there is a Star Wars exhibition on at the moment, that I realised  I obviously need some stronger reading glasses.

https://www.madametussauds.com/

chewbacca

Wookie warrior, pretty young german girl – what’s the difference?

Here she is later in the evening fraternising with somebody from Game of Thrones.

 Star Wars Exhibition Madame Tussauds

Only joking about that one but I know this isn’t Carrie Fisher.

Star Wars mania passed me by.

I want to say this was a real Specsavers moment for me but I don’t know that anybody outside of the U.K. would know what I mean.  Specsavers is a high street optician which has the tagline ‘Should’ve gone to Specsavers’ – they’ve even had approval to trademark the word ‘should’ve’ I believe – and, over the years,  they have produced a series of ads with various situations where the person comes a cropper through not being able to see properly.  I know I’ve directed you to a few ads lately so I won’t do it again.

Oh, go on then.

 This is a very good one because of the beautiful music but, I must confess, I’m rather partial to the one where the vet starts to panic when he can’t find a cat’s heartbeat, only to realise he is trying to operate on his assistant’s furry hat.

I blame it on the hideous cold I’ve had – I think it might have affected my eyes.

Back to the arts and crafts next time – I promise.

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Can I Mention the S Word?

It’s October now – so can I say ‘Santa’?

Do you have lots of friends and family who understand just what a sewing/knitting/crochet addict wants for Christmas?  If you have, you’re lucky.  I find it difficult to make a wish list for my family unless it’s very specific and then that spoils the surprise.

For the third year running,  Sheila who blogs over at Sewchet, has the answer.

secret-santa

She is organising Stitching Santa again .

In a Christmas nutshell :-

Sheila will partner you with somebody in your category –  you can participate in the one for Knitting/Crochet or the one for Sewing – or you can enter both.  I am!

If you don’t already follow that person’s blog, it is a good idea to ‘blog stalk’ them to get an idea of their likes and dislikes and their taste in general.

You send a parcel containing a gift costing no more than £10 (other currencies shown over at Sheila’s blog) and anything else you think your recipient would like such as little handmade gifts, accessories, notions, etc.

You will receive a parcel in return (woohoo!) which you should put under the tree until Christmas morning even though you might be tempted to squeeze and manhandle it a little

You can enter from anywhere in the World and Sheila will try to match you up so the shipping costs aren’t too bad.

For full details and to register, go over and register on Sheila’s Stitching Santa page here

I entered last year and it was great fun to choose gifts to include in the parcels and to have pressies under the tree that I knew would be themed especially for me and my sewing and knitting habits.

Sorry, I think I put the ‘C’ word in there somewhere as well but there’s only about 84 sleeps left.

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Not For The Squeamish

This dress caught my eye the other day in a French magazine

Drape Neck Knit Dress

I like the unusual draping effect at the neckline and, as it’s in a knit fabric,  I am once again able to avoid my nemesis, the zip.

I might make it for my youngest or, add a few inches to the hem, and make it for me.  I have just the right fabric.

Jersey Dress Pattern

This is quite fine knit fabric and very drapey and Mlle Tialys likes purple so I thought it would be the perfect project.

Until I saw the pattern.

Magazine Pattern to Trace

Really?!  It’s bad enough tracing off an individual pattern but can there be any excuse for this?  Plus, the instructions are in French of course which is not beyond my capabilities but yet another unnecessary obstacle to be overcome.

Ironically, I think the pattern is by Simplicity.  Anyone know the pattern number so I can buy the blooming thing and not go cross eyed in the process of making it?

In other, totally unrelated, news – my dog, Stan, has something nasty on his paw.  I thought it was just a grass seed causing a boil or some other simple thing but the vet says it’s a mass/nodule/tumour – yes, she variously used all three of those words none of which was less scary than the others.  She gave me some anti-inflammatory tablets and a spray to administer once a day during which time I have to put a sock over his paw and sit with him so that he doesn’t try to lick it for at least half an hour.

image

If it hasn’t gone by Monday he might have to have surgery which worries me as he has had a few fits and I’m not sure whether a general anaesthetic might exacerbate them.

stanreadyforwalk

He’s mostly hopping about on 3 legs at the moment but he’s missing his long walks and, most of all, running after his tennis balls.   Fingers and paws crossed for a non-surgical outcome.

 

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Let’s Get The Holiday Snaps Over With

I think I mentioned we were off on our holidays and, as I signed off with ‘hasta la vista’, most of you realised we were going to Spain – unless your Spanish is even worse than mine.

If you’ve managed to get this far after seeing the words ‘holiday snaps’ in the title, well done and thank you for persevering especially as, although I did take my iPad and tried to read my emails occasionally, when I got home, I still had over 400 waiting for me so, if I haven’t commented on your blogs, please forgive me but I did read them all, honest.

We went to Empuriabrava which with nearly 24 kilometers (15 miles) of canals, and 5,000 private jetties is, apparently, the largest residential marina in the world.  It is only about 40 years old so if you want quaint fishing villages or picturesque bays you would need to nip up the road to Roses or Cadaques (which we occasionally did) but it has a fantastic large sandy beach, lots of restaurants and many millionaires’ boats to gawp at so what else do you need on holiday?

We stayed in a villa meant for twelve people – there were only five of us but we booked late!

Empuriabrava Villa

This was the barbecue provided!!

Barbecue for 12

It stood out like a sore thumb in an otherwise immaculately presented property.  Luckily, we had our own bar – imagine Mr. T’s delight – (I know you can Sheila Sewchet 😉 ) which also housed a chimney and, once the security shutter was up, it looked out onto the pool so was a semi-outdoor barbecue and we were able to cook more than two burgers at a time.

Empuriabrava Villa Bar

We hired a boat for an hour.  None of us have a Skipper’s licence so we could only go at 3mph around the canals – no sea-faring adventures – which is just as well as I get seasick.

Mr. T, Mlle. T. the elder and her boyfriend went and collected the boat and arrived to pick up me and Mlle T. the younger up at the bottom of the garden.  As you do.

Empuriabrava Residential Marina

Empuriabrava is also home to Europe’s most famous skydiving school, considered to be among the three best in the world.  They have the equipment (don’t know the name) where you enter a vertical tube with a powerful fan in the floor and it simulates freefalling from an aircraft which we saw people doing practically constantly every day.  Eek!!   I didn’t try it out myself because I was accompanied on my holiday by an enormous infected swelling just underneath my eye which meant I had to wear sunglasses all the time – even at night! – in case I put people off their food.    However, Mr. T., one of my madamoiselles and her boyfriend all had a go – albeit briefly as you pay by the minute!!

We had never met ‘the boyfriend’ before and it was perhaps a bit rash to go on holiday with him for a week but he proved to be a lovely chap and, although I also have photos of  my husband and daughter in the wind tunnel thingy – the one taken of him best expresses the thrill and joy the experience apparently gave them.

 

windoor-dan

Just as well they didn’t try it earlier in the week otherwise all our holiday funds would have gone on this one activity!

Anyway, that’s the holiday photos over with – you certainly wouldn’t want to see any of me and my eye.

Just before we left, I decided to make more practical use of the space in my workroom.  I asked the Depot-Vente down the road if they wanted to try to sell my big, lovely oak cupboard and, even though they take 30% of the sale, she said she didn’t want it as it was not ‘à la mode’ and why didn’t I paint it.   I had to laugh as the place is full of crap and I can’t imagine that much of it is ‘à la mode’ but I didn’t really want to paint it the ubiquitous chalky grey that is trendy at the moment, firstly because it’s oak and quite old and it seems a shame and, secondly and more to the point, there are gazillions of carved pieces and twisty turny bits which would be a complete pain in the arse to paint.

Dresser

So, we manhandled it down two flights of twisty stairs and gave it – sort of on loan so that no money had to change hands – to some friends of ours who have a holiday home here.

I replaced the object of beauty (or not depending on your taste) with some ‘à la mode’ stuff from Ikea which is definitely not beautiful but is eminently more practical.

Ikea Sewing Room

It looks so ‘fit for purpose’ now I feel as if I should be running classes or holding crafty ‘get togethers’ but, if nothing else, it should encourage me to get a move on with all the projects I have in hand so that, next post, I should be able to show you some finished work.

 

 

 

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Any Old Iron

A bit of a vintage or antique thing going on today, depending on what side of the pond you’re from.  According to Etsy (who are a U.S. company) anything over 20 years old is vintage and anything over 50 years old is antique.  Thanks Etsy!  In the U.K. I think items have to be over 100 years old to be an antique and I’ll let you know whether that bothers me if I get that far.

Anyway, a little while ago during one of my frequent rummages in dusty old barn type places I came across this old clock face.  I wasn’t even sure if it was old or a modern item that had just got a bit battered.  I thought it was made of concrete but Mr. T thinks it is like lava rock but, anyway, it was only 20 euros and I had in mind making a little garden table out of it if I could find a suitable base.

Paul garnier clock face

When I got it home I decided to do a bit of research and it turns out that it is indeed old (19th century) and appears to be by the famous French clockmaker, Jean-Paul Garnier, who was an early pioneer in the unification of time on the railway system.

Like this one in fact.

PaulGarnierClock

(photo by Stefan Sonntag found on Google Maps here)

Apparently this is in a railway station in Syria.

( I hope Mr. Sonntag doesn’t mind me using his lovely photograph from Google images but I have linked to his work just below the photo.)

Recently I stopped at the same Brocante again and there was not one but three iron bases lined up against the wall.  So, having kept my eye out for one for a few months now it seems that, like buses, iron table bases come all at once.

Iron Base

I think Mr. T. will mount the clock face to a wooden board before fixing it on the stand as we don’t want to mess with the face.  Then it will go on the garden terrace – maybe – or stay indoors, I can’t decide yet.  What do you think of it?  The hole in the middle will have some sort of ‘decorative bung’ inserted but I’ve just balanced it on top for now to show you.

ClockTable (1)

This may well be a unique table in the truest sense of the word.  Talking of which, it literally drives me mad when I see things being described as ‘unique’ when people only mean ‘unusual’ or ‘a bit rare’.  Note that I have used the word ‘literally’ in the sense it is now being abused  used which also irritates the hell out of me but it seems there is no hope for ‘literally’ and it looks as if ‘unique’ is to follow.  I also hate ‘so fun’ – shouldn’t it be ‘such fun’.  Ooer, I’ve gone all pedantic, sorry about that.  Back to any old iron.

There is a huge old wall to one side of the front of our house.  The other side to the front  has been hideously deformed by our neighbour which is why we fell out with him until he helped us get our dog down from his roof and we were forced, albeit briefly, to speak to him again.  See here for the gory details if you haven’t read it.

Anyway, until recently, it was covered in masses of dark green ivy – home to blackbirds and all sorts for decades – which has now been removed.   Old wall revealed, climbing roses ordered, trellis work being considered.  The wooden trellis work available in most garden centres is not always of the best quality – although it should be with the prices they charge – so Mr. T. is considering making his own.

However, in the same brocante, I spied these lovely old  ironwork panels – there are three of them actually – and I thought they would look great on the wall amongst the roses.  They measure around 110cm high and 40cm wide (43 x 16 inches)

Cast Iron Panels

Here is the wall in question which is about 15m long (getting on for 50ft) and around 3m high.

Garden Wall

Do you think there might be something wrong with my sense of scale?  Mr. T does :/

No matter – they will go somewhere – I couldn’t just leave them there now could I?

I’m considering having them mounted in wooden frames and fixing them to the wall behind the large pots we have either side of our front door and planting the pots up with an annual climbing plant.  Any other suggestions welcome.

 

 

 

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