Tuesday, 1 September 2009
So much to cover and so busy that I seriously doubt i'll manage to do it all justice! Indeed, I am entirely unprepared to be blogging today having taken no photo's! Thus I need you all to plug back in your imaginations. You remember, those things that we used before the modern world began to bombard us with images, when we read novels, not text messages, surfed waves, not the internet and played in the playground instead of on games consoles.
Had a few days off recently and had a wonderful time. Wednesday saw me at my sisters, indulging in a new haircut and a variety of beauty treatments. I've been waxed, plucked, massaged and tinted all over in preparation for the wedding this Friday! Such a lot of effort for one day but I'm sure it will be evry special. Picked up my suit this afternoon too so desperately hoping that I've not put on any weight since I went for my fitting (I'll just kill myself if I have - it was only five weeks ago!).
On Thursday Nathan wanted to go to Thorpe Park so off we trotted. Not my scene really. I don't understand the compulsion behind paying out £35 quid to be thrown around in circles and sprayed with water. Some unsteady garden furniture and a length of hose would, in my opinion, do the same job! Nonetheless, we did go and it wasn't as awful as I'd imagined it to be. I staved off the desire to pack my knitting, though I do think that completing a row whilst plummeting hundreds of feet on a rolercoaster would elevate me to the level of master knitter, truly skilled!
Friday was my choice for the entertainment and our feet remaimed firmly on the ground as I led Nathan around Hampton Court and its grounds. What a lovely couple of hours that was, all the better because the short series of showers seemed to have kept many of the parent-child parties inside their own homes. I have nothing against children - i'd just rather not see or hear any! If anybody out there is able to make a trip to Hampton Court, I sincerely suggest that they do!
On Saturday we took a brief trip to the Royal Egham Show. I wont bother to elaborate any further. It was a complete waste of time. They charged six pounds per person for entry (and I do understand that there are costs to cover)but the entire effort seemed pretty half hearted. If all of the food stalls were removed then the 'exhibitors' list would have been reduced by about 50%. The same situation again when it came to tombola's offering as prizes what was clearly the unpacked contents of bin liners that had been left outside charity shops. I always wondered why they have signs outside saying 'Please do not leave carrier bags outside the charity shop. They WILL be stolen'. Now I know why...... Furthermore, the 'craft' tent featured a multitude of stalls selling everything from plastic jewellery to 80's style hand knitted baby jumpers in god-awful shades of acrylic. I know it all comes down to taste.... but please? Nathan now thinks I am a craft snob but I can live with that.
To turn to my own crafting pursuits, I've been busy with a variety of things. I'm still working on a HUGE felted bag that is to be given away as a Christmas gift. I also finished a felted hat based on a design by Nicky Epstein. I'm pretty pleased with it. It's a gorgeous deep shade of purple/red that Nathan spun by hand with some Angelina fibre to give it some extra sparkle! Glorious! This is also to be a gift but I can't say anymore yet! In fact, we've decided this year that we are having an entirely handmade Christmas. We intend to do little xmas hampers for all our friends and relatives. Nathan is a fiend in the kitchen when it comes to xmas cakes and jams/preserves, plus all of our knitting and crochet items. It's not even about the recession, just a desire to get back to a time when less was more!
Has anybody read 'The Friday Night Knitting Club'? I recently discovered the joys of audiobooks and listened to the entire novel whilst knitting this weekend. It wasn't in the least taxing, indeed, the entire thing was something of a cliche for the genre. Nonetheless, it was hugely enjoyable and far superior to watching re-runs of 'Friends' on TV (why does Friends seem to be running on a loop these days? It should have its own channel!). It was actually quite nice to listen to what pretended to be nothing but a simple, nice story. I have a degree in English lit and used to feel terribly guilty if I was reading anything but the classics. Now though, I'm comfrotable with it. Who cares? Moreover, who wants some aged and infirm British actor narrating War and Peace in their ear whilst trying to navigate a tricky lace pattern?!
Pleased to report that my Boss has given the thumbs up to my suggestion that we take part in Take Your Dog To Work Day on September 16th, so Deny will be coming to play at my office for the day. Bruce is a bit of a nightmare, so Daddy Nathan is taking the day off to spend time with him alone. Ahhh!
I'll wrap things up for now as I am incredibly busy!
Just wanted to say hi before the wedding day.
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
If anybody out there does knit a pair - I'd love to see some photo's!
Monday, 17 August 2009
After taking my little babies out for a walk on saturday morning, followed by a quick blast of housework, Nathan and I decided to treat ourselves. Now, I dont pretend this isn't poncy. Indeed, I KNOW it is! But that's what makes it so enjoyable.
Nathan made a quick trip to the shops, while I pulled out all of my vintage china and laid the table. What followed was a gorgeous feast. We had a huge pot of leaf tea served in my favourite teapot and drinking out of my hand painted tea-cups. Two big plates of sandwiches - the traditional cucumber variety and some beef and mustard for a little more kick! Plus a cake-stand absolutely chocca full with slabs of rocky road, macaroons, butterfly cakes and other goodies. Some easy listening music on the stereo, the patio doors thrown open wide....it was bliss..... (And I wonder why I am the size I am.....)
After gorging myself so thoroughly that my mobility was seriously impaired, fending off the overwhelming temptation to have an afternoon nap, and succumbing to the desire to unbutton my trousers, I decided I really ought to get at loeast SOMETHING done. So I pulled out my laptop and began writing up my new pattern for Artisan Threads. I'd hoped to be able to upload it to my blog today to show you all, but it's not saved to my memory stick properly. Very frustrating. I do, however, have some pictures. So here goes. This is 'Vianne'. A beginner's pattern for simple fingerless lace gloves. I'm pretty proud of how they turned out, and I can just imagine them done in white or ivory silk for an autumnal wedding....
You'll have to excuse my chubby fingers! Unfortunately, in a male only household it is somewhat difficult to model feminine garments effectively! I just love the colours of the yarn though. This is a colourway called 'Terracotta' from Artisan Threads. It's a joy to knit with and luckily, the colours didn't seem to pool which can happen quite easily when using hand dyed yarn. If anybody is interested in purchasing this or any other yarn then please visit http://www.artisanthreads.co.uk/ On the other hand, if any of you are lucky enough to be attending 'fibrefest' in Devon this year, Gill will have a stand there so pop along and see her!
The choker is made from 100% cotton and is finished with a single vintage button. Again, the lack of a suitable model prevents me from showing you how it looks on (I was NOT about to take photographs with my hairy chest in the background!) but I can assure you that, twisted to one side, it clasps the throat perfectly and is more than comfortable to wear.
I really like this item. It's different to anything you can buy in the shops and with a simple black top it could make a real statement. Mind you, I'm something of a magpie when it comes to sparkles! I'm attracted to anything that glitters! I'm planning on putting this item for sale on my Folksy shop today. I wonder if anyone will buy it!
That was about it really in terms of crafting this weekend. Nathan did some spinning and I worked on a couple of other unfinished projects. Last week I completed the sketches for my next design and so I am just waiting to have a word with Nathan's mum to get her to send down the wool in order that I can knit the sample. I'm definitely going to start working on some men's patterns too! Honestly, men's patterns are so DULL! I know that, as a (seriously) gay man, my tastes probably differ from your average guy. I mean, I'd sooner shave all my hair off than wear a football shirt out of the house, and I don't even own a pair of trainers. Well, I don't run anywhere, so what's the point! But, why do designers assume that men, REAL MEAN RARGH, only wear shades of black, brown and blue? It drives me crazy! I'm not suggesting for a minute that we should all don paisley prints and large floral motifs every day of the week. But come on! I think that the colours we see every day can have a genuine effect on our moods. How can anyone expect to dispel the Monday Morning Blues when they are dressed for a funeral? (Although, in my office it is somewhat fitting to do so). In fact, and I know this is an extreme case, while browsing the internet last week, I came across a horrific website that was basically condemning all men that dared grow a fringe or wear shades of pink. These middle aged, utterly irrational neo-nazi's were proclaiming that men should be completely unconcerned with, entirely unaware even, of their own appearance. How outdated is that?! More to the point, the fact that this idiot felt the need to start an entire website dedicated to the issue somewhat undercut his own arguement, I thought. He was obviously painfully aware of his own appearance in comparison to others. And I bet he didn't use deodorant!!!!
On saturday night we popped over to see my friend Zola. It was a perfect evening. We fully exploited the remaining sunshine and sat in the garden late into the evening with scented candles burning and a bottle of champagne. I truly believe that in life you only find a handful of real friends and Zola is definitely one of them. She is so genuine and an amazing person to be around. Furthermore, being something of a miserable b*sta*d, it is unusual for me to find somebody that makes me have those full body convulsing fits of laughter that are so often a feature of our times together. She did tell me a hilarious story about her daughter while we were there. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing it with you as she did spend the entire ten minutes that I was rolling around the decking in fits of giggles interjecting with comments about what an awful mother she is for seeing the amusing side! It's a cliche, but so many of Zola's anecdotes rely on her style for telling them and this is something that I simply cannot replicate! The upshot of this one was that, whilst out shopping, Zola asked her daughter, Francesca, to pop over and put a baking tray back on the shelf. Evidently Fran tripped and made furious sprinting motions to try and steady herself again, only to fall face first into the baking tray and slide along the laminated floor of the store. It's terrible to laugh but I can gladly report that Francesca did not do herself any serious injuries!
My indulgent weekend ended with a fabulous roast dinner. Nathan was delighted with the fact that ALL of the vegetables were organically grown on the allotment. I, on the other hand, can only get so excited about a cabbage before my interest wanes! Credit where credit is due though - Nathans baby carrots in a honey glaze were to die for! I just wish there was some way that you all could try them! Nathan's also found a gorgeous recipe for muffins that he is going to try next weekend, so it doesn't look like I'm going to be getting any thinner! I don't know if I was lucky or unlucky to end up with somebody that is so good in the kitchen!
I'll end here, but it's been fabulous sharing with you guys and I promise I'll be back before long!
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
The countdown has finally begun for my Sister's wedding (4th September) so things have really started taking off in that department. The flowers are chosen, table linen has been ordered, the cake is waiting in the wings and we've -so far- had two bridal gowns (don't ask). The latter, and preffered, dress was in desperate need of taking up when we finally got our hands on it. My sister is only about 5ft, so even with skyscraper heels the dress was never going to be a perfect length. (Don't feel sorry for her - the jammy cow is practically perfect in every other way! Perfect white teeth, petite frame, gorgeous blonde hair and cheek bones that Julian Clarey would kill for! I, on the other hand, drew the short straw and took after my father. I got the round face, 5 o'clock shadow at 11am and hair that will, I am reliably informed, start to recede within the next five years!) Off we trotted to our local alteration place where Becky was asked to put the dress on so the hem could be pinned. The shop assistant merrily threw back the curtain of the 'changing room' to reveal a space about the size of a small espresso cup. Needless to say, the next five minutes were very hot as I wrestled my sister into the dress, pulling zips, hoisting the skirts in order that she could bend to do up her strappy heels, alternating between my denim clad behind sticking out between the drapes and her frilly red thonged one. By the time we catapulted ourselves out of the match box sized room, quite a large number of the shop staff had gathered together, supposedly to "look at the beautiful dress". Personally I think they were more curious about who the thong belonged too! One confused woman did look at me for a short moment with a slightly bemused expression on her face and a partially extended finger before quietly saying "The Groom?"...... "Nope, Gay Brother" I replied and the confusion vanished from her face. Anyways, that is all sorted now and I am pleased to report that the dress is exceptionally beautiful and ready for the big day....
There's not much else to report really. Nathan and I took a brief trip into London earlier this month. We were at a bit of a loose end so decided to go and have a rummage around in 'iKnit' London shop and then go for lunch. After eating, we felt too lazy to walk back to the station, so Nathan hailed one of those rickshaw contraptions that ride around all over the place. Have you seen them? I tell you, I've never felt so guilty about my weight in my entire life! Realistically, I'm not huge. 13 stone is, however, still overweight for somebody of my height. The entire duration of the ride, while Nathan giggled as we wooshed over cobbled streets and zipped in front of pedestrians, I was transfixed by the driver's calves! As his muscles pulsed and contracted under the effort of turning the pedals, I clenched my butt tighter and tighter in an effort to make his load lighter. Of course, the fact that I was already clenching came in pretty handy when we came face to face with a large black (insert car name here - I'm useless!) that seemed determined to run us off the road with nothing but a piddly bicycle bell for protection. Nonetheless, we arrived in one piece and while Nathan paid the fare, I managed a slight nod and a smile...my feeble apology for the beads of sweat that had formed on our driver's brow.....
I'd better turn to something crafty now - I don't wish to lose all of my followers! I've had a massive shift in perception these last few weeks and have discovered that, while I have a natural propensity to over-think EVERYTHING, I also have the ability to just jump in and get on with things. Having seen, and even featured here, various crafters that are in the business of making toys and softies, I decided that I wanted to have a go. In the absence of any tuition, I grabbed my sewing machine, a few pairs of socks and decided to muddle my way through making one of those adorable sock monkeys. All in all, i'm pretty pleased with him, and he has already been claimed by Nathan and re-homed in Richmond as the office mascot. There are a few things that I will be changing on subsequent chimps, but I love the fact that each monkey can have its own personality! There are endless opportunities to have fun with them! I may do an Amy Winehouse version with a huge beehive! What larks! Here he is before he was abducted:
Thursday, 9 July 2009
These baby booties were crocheted using a worsted weight merino yarn that I had left over in my workshop. I believe it is Malabrigo. Anyhow, I was pretty pleased with them. The pattern wasn't very clear after making the soles, so I kind of made it up off the top of my head after that. Still, I'm sure there'll be a bouncing bubba somewhere that will appreciate them! [I've been desperately trying to convince my sister to have a baby for quite some time now. She said originally that she was going to get married first, which is fine as that is only in September. But I am so impatient. I did recently threaten to knock her out and throw the ...err.... 'swimmers' up there myself. None of my own, I hasten to add.....]
Thursday, 2 July 2009
And again, this time snoozing away a sunny afternoon with Archie....
Just last night I was merrily (I say merrily, I was actually cursing with every movement)bouncing around on my wii fit console ('bouncing' is definitely the appropriate word) and my little cyber instructor ( I hate her, the smug cow) ordered me to drop and do ten repeats of the 'Jack Knife'. Well, as I flailed around on my back trying to hoist my own body weight more than an inch off of the ground ("keep in time to the beeps now", "did you just lift your foot off of the board?", " your muscles wont train themselves, you know" Arrrggghhhh I hate her!) the doggies thought it was great fun and that Daddy Mark was having a game. Have you tried doing a 'jack knife' (why doesn't she just call them sit ups?!) with a 35kg Dobermann plonking his horse-like body on top of your stomach and a Staffy who is determined to sit on your face????
Monday, 29 June 2009
"What's up? I'm spinning."
Isn't that just wonderful? I don't wish to turn into one of those awful, gushing women (though I seem to have a natural propensity!) but little surprises like this really do make me feel welcomed into the crafting community. I just love it! I will, very soon, be passing on the honour, though I'm afraid this must wait for a short while because I have so much more to cover today. Anyway, Oddsox, I accept your award and wholly agree that I am simply fabulous! *Just playing in case anyone is considering sending me hate mail for complete arrogance*
Luckily my darling Nathan returned from Woolfest today, completely laden down with goodies. It really is true what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder. I have truly missed him. Of course, as an eternal realist I am also acutely aware that it will, more than likely, only be a matter of hours before I am berating him for not taking the bins out or leaving his wet towel on the floor or some such minor irritation. Hey, I cost a little more and I am quite high maintenance but I think I'm worth it!!!
And apparently he does too! Just look at all of the presents I was given upon his return! This gorgeous little item was sold to him by the British Coloured Sheep Society, courtesy of Carole Keats. I met Carole a few months back when a few of us descended on her workshop and spent many interesting hours discussing her spinning and weaving. Carole has a fantastic eye for colour and produces some of the most gorgeous yarns, particularly through her skilled use of angelina fibres which gives her items a fantastic sparkle. I am like a Magpie. Show me anything shiny and I'll be sure to like it. You can check Carole out on her website http://www.willowclosestudio.co.uk/ but you cannot hope to truly appreciate her skills without tracking her down on the UK exhibition circuit and actually getting up close to her creations. I'm a naturally tactile person anyway, but gazing at all of those carefully blended colours and oh-so-soft fibres always seems like an open invitation for me to plunge my hands in and have a rummage. It's a wonder that Carole lets me near her stock!
Nathan also bought me this fantastic title by Ruth Lee. I've thumbed through his Mum's copy many times when visiting her in Scotland so I'm pleased to finally have one of my own! This is a great coffee table book. Patterns can be so prescriptive at times and when you have one of those days where you feel that you need to break down the boundaries of knitting, this will be your inspiration. Or rather, mine! Go and buy your own!
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Nothing much has happened here. Certainly nothing very crafty. Nathan hopped on the overnight train to Inverness last night. He volunteered to help his Mum with her exhibition stand at 'Woolfest' this year, so the poor little sausage has to drag himself all the way to Scotland to collect her and all her goodies, back down to Cumbria (where he is staying in a tent for the duration!!! Can you imagine?! Needless to say, they didn't even bother to invite me!) only to travel all the way back up to Scotland to catch the London train! I've a feeling he may be a little tired when he gets back which should certainly help my performance of the annual 'I need a holiday' speech.
Mind you, I say that I haven't done anything crafty. I did crochet some lovely roll cuffed baby boots from some leftover Merino wool that I found in my workshop. A very basic pattern but I thought they came up quite nicely. I'll post pictures soon. I'm still debating whether or not to felt them slightly as it can have such a great effect on toddler footwear. I'm going to go and buy some fabric this weekend so that I can start making one of my vintage bag patterns. Very exciting!
Other than that I have nothing to report, i'm afraid. With Nathan gone I am left to fend for myself and unfortunately that means feeding myself! Given that i'd rather use my oven for storing sweaters than I would to roast a chicken, it is something of a given that I will, at some point, have a horrific kitchen experience. Last night I thought I'd play it safe. What could possibly go wrong with shop-bought gazpacho? No cooking involved, no heating involved. Just open and eat. Except.....well......my floor got most of, and the smidgen that I did have clinging to the sides of my dish were.... how can I put this? REVOLTING. Cold soup? Cold soup? I should have known. Its like oven roasting a salad. Just. Plain. Wrong.
Saturday, 20 June 2009
I will admit that, although the book professes to offer 20 original sewing patterns, there are more like a dozen or so with some bags differing only in terms of the fabric choice and embellishments used. Nonetheless, this is still a fabulous book. Emma's instructions are clear and concise which is perfect for the beginner sewer. Furthermore, there is something fundamentally inspirational about the way this book is produced. I cannot put my finger on it but something within these pages genuinely compelled me through an amazing creative journey and I have, thus far, spent many happy hours contempleting various ways of making these designs my own. All this before I even sit down to make one! I would certainly recommend this title.
Perhaps I ought to explain the motivation behind my getting this book? My good friend Zola Purdie recently donated a rather gorgeous vintage sewing machine to me. It is a lovely Singer 201K from 1958 and runs like a dream. I swear, I am no engineer and about as far away from your typical man as I could get (please keep the eyebrow raising to a minimum - I know it was an obvious statement to make!) but this little machine actually feels like quality! Anyway, I was, up until this little gift, only really a fibre fiend. I knitted, crocheted, spun etc but had never really thought about delving into fabric/textile crafts (well, no more so than to imagine my glory at wrestling some gorgeous slip of a thing into a Dior-like creation that just happened to be made by MOI!). So essentially, yes, this was my starting point for my foray into the sewing world. I wanted something small and relatively simple to begin with, but did not want to compromise on style. I'll let you know how I get on.....
Incidentally, Zola has just recently sent me some pictures of her latest 'make'. This is all her own design and made specially for her darling neice. Isn't it adorable?!
Zola has just started writing her own blog - check it out at http://www.cocobelissimo.blogspot.com Although I am slightly biased, you really couldn't hope for a nicer, more genuine or funny blogger!
Now for something a tad more strange. Picture me, sitting at work yesterday, almost noon and I am tap-tap-tapping away on the keyboard of my computer. Suddenly the mobile rings - Nathan. I answer and am immediately advised (and I mean immediately - Nathan has no patience when he is excited and I did not even manage to get out a tentative "hello?")that I am now the, and I quote, proud owner of half a flock of sheep.
Err.... excuse me? Evidently Nathan's mum, Gill from Artisan Threads, has 'gone halves' (what does that mean??!!!) with us on a flock of sheep, arriving on her land in Scotland next week. Very nice, me-thinks! I love all animals and sheep are no different. I begin picturing myself shearing them by hand (who am I kidding? I've just had a manicure!) and rhythmically spinning the wool into yarn on our old Ashford traditional spinning wheel. That is, of course, until I am reminded that Nathan's mother is slightly more, shall we say, organic? Rural? than I am and therefore it would only be a matter of time before next years lambs are slaughtered for their meat. Only now do I see the irony in the fact that my favourite film is 'The Silence of the Lambs'. Please, please, please people - leave your comments here to back up my claim that my sheep should be seen as pets and I am certainly NOT a farmer!!!!
Friday, 19 June 2009
I really must dash for now but I promise to leave a post tonight! I'll cover everything from baby's bibs to my latest purchases AND sheep! Dont ask......
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
In between messing around with the various items in my own online shops, I also spent some time browsing other peoples creations and I simply have to share one little treasure with you all. 'Hotdog and Me' http://www.folksy.com/shops/hotdogandme is a fabulous little Folksy shop selling the most adorable doggie softies! When I embarked on my crafting life I was convinced that handmade products had to have a purpose, a specific use, to make them worthwhile. Gradually, however, my opinion has changed. In todays high speed, high risk, high cholesterol, high stress and high priced world it is a rarity to find something to smile about. But these cute little hounds made me do just that! Smile. So forget the credit crunch, rising unemployment and outrageous living costs and take a moment to enjoy these guys! Hell, if you are able, you could even adopt one and take him or her home with you! And the names! I couldn't help but chuckle, particularly at 'Hubert Woofswell'!
Mind you, it is not surprising that 'Hotdog' struck a chord with me. I own a Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Denny and a Dobermann named Bruce and they are my BABIES! I love them to bits! There is nothing better than snuggling up with a playmate who is not too self-aware to show their affection. I love my dogs and I KNOW that they love me back!
Anyways, it looks like I've finally got my shops sorted now so fingers crossed for that first sale. I'm thinking of having an opening offer to start the ball rolling. Maybe 10% off everything for the first week? I don't know. I'll think about it!
Also, it is my sister's wedding coming up in September, so i'm desperately trying to come up with some ideas for a knitted gift of some kind that she could use on the day. I did think if a lace garter but that will be entirely useless after the event. Not the kind of thing you can artfully display in your living room as a memento, is it?! Any ideas?
Sunday, 14 June 2009
Friday, 12 June 2009
I guess it’s fitting that I am starting the blog now. This weekend will see the re-launch of my shop on both the ‘Etsy’ and ‘Folksy’ sites. Please go along and see the somewhat eclectic collection of handmade goodies on offer! My shop name is Mother’s Ruin, not just because gin happens to be my favourite tipple and is often a large part of my, shall we call it, ‘design making’ process, but also for the many and varied connotations that the phrase has. All good fun in my opinion! Of course, having the technological know-how of an as-yet undiscovered sea creature from the depths of the Pacific will, no doubt, cause me a few problems. On this count I am desperately hoping that my already put upon friends can offer some sound advice or, better still, do things for me! Watch this space for a link to my shop!
Before we get down to the knitty gritty (no pun intended) of crafting, I guess it is only fair that I slowly introduce you to my family. I'll start with this little terror. This is Archie, my beautiful and incredibly vocal bengal cat! I'm beginning with him for the simply reason that he may not be with us much longer. Up until now he has always been a house cat which worked perfectly for me, prone to hysteria wherever my animals are concerned. Only, after pushing open my kitchen window at the end of May, Archie decided to go on a little adventure for ten days and has only just condescended to re-join the household! Needless to say this was quickly met with a trip to the vets for a new microchip and collar. Panic over.....
*I must point out that he doesn't always look quite so disdainful! *
Still, I can't ignore the fact that he wants to be out and about, so i'm just desperately hoping that he'll gradually reduce the length of time that he feels necessary to punish me with his absence! Honestly, why do our feline friends always have such attitudes?!
I also have two gorgeous dogs, Denny and Bruce, but you'll hear more about them later....
Ciao for now
Thursday, 11 June 2009
The last 18 months have been a rollercoaster of new crafting experiences and i'm afraid that is all that qualifies me to write on the subject. Still, are you along for the ride?