Monday, 29 June 2009

Nathan Returns....

I'll begin this post with a brief update on the whole cooking situation. Not because I want to, but because others have told me that it is necessary. OK, so Nathan told me I had to post about it whilst he was laughing at me down the telephone. It now appears that throwing my cold soup all over the kitchen floor early last week was merely the beginning of my problems. On Wednesday night I was determined to actually enjoy a hot meal so dashed out and bought a very healthy salmon and green vegetable thing. It was only a microwave meal - i've already made my culinary ineptitude quite clear, so I refuse to apologise for it! After banging, cursing and generally abusing the microwave for ten minutes, I phoned Nathan for some advice.

"What's up? I'm spinning."
OH are you!!!! Well PARdon ME for TRYING to feed myself!
After a few minutes of guided investigation it turned out that I had plugged the blender in, not the microwave. Mmmmmmm......... I wont bother to regale you with further stories of burnt omelettes and exploding pasta sauces. Lets just say that, come the weekend, I was more than happy to confine myself to salads. It's probably not a bad thing, really. I've just purchased one of those Wii Fit consoles in the hope that I can shift some weight in the next two months before my sister's wedding. Failure to do so will result in the construction or purchase of a male corset (don't think I wouldn't!). I dare say that there will be some stories to tell on this, so watch this space!

To return, loosely, to the crafting world.... I was ecstatic today to receive an award! The whimsical (and now my best buddy! Shallow? Moi?!!!) 'Oddsox' very kindly sent me an award for having a lovely blog! I never win anything! Nothing. I can't even win a tin of baked beans on a tombola so I am completely overwhelmed. Especially considering that I have not been blogging for any length of time at all. I'm also reliably informed that this will also be featured on Twitter. If it hadn't taken me about nine months to finally work out how to use FACEBOOK, I expect I would be more excited by the prospect! I mean, women conceive, grow and give birth to babies in less time than it took me to master it! ***Perhaps what I am most bitter about with my Facebook experiences is the fact that when I was actually able to comprehend what was going on, I realised that I didn't actually like it! What a waste of time!***And here is my award in all its glory:

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 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!

Nathan also got me a lovely felting kit, but I am not going to discuss that with you now as I have a few ideas in the pipeline and wouldn't want to spoil the surprise. In fact, talking of ideas - does anybody else out there feel like a modern day Miss Havisham?! I am slowly accumulating so many supplies and vast numbers of patterns and ideas that I can see me very shortly being sat, enrobed in not an aged wedding dress, but a jumble of half finished knitted my side a table, not filled with a decaying wedding banquet but bags and bags of moth eaten yarn and yellowing pattern books..... Just me? When will I EVER have the time to do all these things that I plan? Nathan nearly slaps me every time I tentatively suggest taking up yet another hobby. Indeed, after our visit to Carole Keats I was caught looking online at triangle looms and was pretty much told it was him or the loom. Well, it is such a pain moving house, so I let him have that one!!!!
Evidently, Nathan spent quite a lot of time at the Woolfest with Julietta from http://www.knitshop, I met Julietta a while back and she is a most charming woman. I am so jealous that Nathan got to spend so much time with her as she is definitely somebody that I would like to get to know better. She stocks a prolific range of felting and knitting goods on her website and I am reliably informed that she is due to open her own shop in Central London in the coming weeks, so look out for her! I wish her all the very best in her new venture! As an aside, if anybody wants to try knitting with something that is durable, unique and amazing value (when knitted up it looks as if it should have cost an awful lot of money) then may I suggest trying Julietta's cotton/linen blend yarn. Really is wonderful stuff!

But goodness me! I keep telling all of you how wonderful other peoples things are. Mine are also very very good! Drop in on my Etsy/Folksy shop and browse around (or better still -buy! I have a corset to purchase, you know!) I should be adding some new items later this week. Especially since Nathan's Mum gifted me a tonne of pencil rovings (pictured below) which should look amazing when knitted up and felted. The muted tones of this fibre immediately made me think mock vintage, so I think I'll make some kind of felted handbag with vintage embellishments.

I think that's it for now really. I do try to punctuate my writing with the odd bit of humour, but when I begin to bore even myself I know that it is usually a good time to stop! Besides, now that Nathan is back I'm looking forward to a proper meal!
Until next time, my dears.....
M xxx

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

All By Myself...

So...... dum de dum....

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. 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

Are you sitting comfortably?

Then I'll begin.......

Apologies for not posting last night. I've been so busy these last few days that after arriving home from work yesterday and pouring myself a glass of chilled pear cider, I collapsed onto the sofa and fell asleep with Toni Braxton crooning quietly from the stereo. Cut to 9pm and Nathan returns from the allotment. It is somewhat difficult to remain in slumber-land when your partner is thrusting a plastic dish of home-grown new potatoes under your nose (unwashed, I might add) and saying 'look, LOOK, the FIRST crop THIS year' with a gleeful smile. Anyway, suffice to say I was extremely tired......

But let's get down to business! While I am reluctant to allow my blog to become a series of reviews of the work of others, I feel duty bound to let you in on my latest purchase. Having tracked down my parcel from Amazon on Wednesday (just how irritating is Royal Mail when you pay an additional charge to have something delivered first class, only to be subjected to one of those floppy, barely readable cards that merrily informs you that, owing to the size of your parcel, you have no option but to drive all the way down to your local P.O. sorting office and collect it yourself')I was delighted to spend the next couple of hours ohhing and ahhhing over the lovely book I now owned! Emma Brennan's 'Making Vintage Bags' is certainly one of my better purchases! The cover of this book does not do justice to the content within:

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 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


Goodness me, the last two days have been a total nightmare. Have had all sorts of problems with our internet connection and have only just got back up and running. A million and one things to do now and, perhaps more importantly, a million and one things to tell all YOU guys about!

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

Look at me!!!

Well look at me! Who'd have thought that my blog and shops could look so professional?! Of course, I haven't become a technical wizard overnight. No, 'Blogspot' and 'Etsy' do make it very easy to achieve excellent results so a big THANK YOU to the angels of cyber space!

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' 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?

M xxx

Sunday, 14 June 2009


Goodness me! I have had such a ridiculously busy day! So much for my optimistic declaration that this weekend would see the re-launch of my shop on Etsy and Folksy! I've added about a dozen items to my Etsy shop, nothing on Folksy and still have tonnes to do tomorrow! I've spent most of the afternoon taking numerous shots of each piece that I've made. For this delightful task I decided to descend on my poor Dad with three huge canvas bags of stock. The reason for this is simple - although my house is clean and tidy, it isn't the most glamourous canvas on which to pose ones goodies! My Dad's place, however, is packed full of stunning antiques and comes with the added bonus of my stepmum, who is always happy to lend a hand in anything 'arty'. Indeed, we've had such fun positioning and re-positioning my knitted goodies and playing with props and backgrounds that i'm desperately hoping the pictures don't look too contrived!!! Still, it's art daaarling!

This is purely a personal thing, but here is my favourite picture that we took of a jumper that I finished and seamed this morning!
Just a short post today as i'm absolutely exhausted! Nevertheless, I thought you may like to see Archie out in the garden with his new collar and micro-chip!

Friday, 12 June 2009

And so it begins....

I love to talk. I can't help it, I just do. If I can't talk about the subjects I like, I read about them. I make lists. I spend hours on the phone to bored friends and relatives, expounding the virtues of the 'handmade revolution'. Whole days go by whilst I aimlessly float around the cyber universe on the hunt for inspiration or supplies. While my partner readily shares my interests, even he can struggle to comprehend the speed with which I move from one pattern/project/obsession to another. So, before I lose him as an audience completely (there have been more than a few exasperated sighs in recent weeks as I rummage through my bag in the middle of dinner to decant some new pattern or borrowed book)I've decided to start this blog. I don’t pretend to be qualified; I just figured that somebody, somewhere, would share my enthusiasm. So here is my open invitation to anybody out there – leave a comment, get in touch, share your thoughts, recommend a book, site or blog. Don’t be shy! I’m certainly not ;-)

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

Mark xxx

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Watch this space for the first instalment of my new blog.

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?