I still love you the girl from mars

In the late 90's Ash's 'Girl from Mars' was one of the anthem's of my teens. Every week when we would go to the coliseum (the local club) I danced to it, got drunk to it, kissed boys to it, kissed girls to it and still to this day when I hear it I'm 17 again.

The verse has the line 'oh we'd stay up late playing cards, Henri Winterman cigars...' so when BS and I were wandering round our local antique shop and saw this, I could not resist.

It is a Henri Wintermans cigar display case. Amazing. 

Only that morning BS and I had been discussing the best way to display my current curios and inspiring objects in my studio. We'd decided to mount a white box frame I use at college on the wall. This, of course, is so much better. Clearly designed to be my new cabinet as well as a cheerful nod to my indie disco youth.

So I stripped out to dodgy black velvet lining

Relined it with some 70's green curtain offcuts that have been languishing in my stash for a while, and filled it with a few pieces that are knocking around my studio at the moment.

Once I've finished finally sorting out the piles of stuff lying around up there I'm going to fill it properly. Though I am already considering how cool it could look with a collection of curios which move. For now though I am going to enjoy the song it plays in my head and the smile this puts on my face.


For my holiday this year I had a kind of stay-cation. I went to stay with a very good friend for a week of not working, baking and crafting joy. I spent two very good days in her shed making pretty things. This shed has had several incarnations during the time I have known her and it is always a place of wonder. There are tiny drawers filled with treasure and larger drawers filled with the most gorgeous fabrics in the most amazing colours, there are undyed silk cocoons, a rainbow of dyes and most recently a sewing machine with built in scissor function.  I have wanted to spend unsupervised time in this shed for about 5 years and now I have. And it was good. Very good. In fact I don't want to go back to work on Monday, I want to spend a week in my studio making more lovely things. I had forgotten how quick sewing is compared to knitting and how much I enjoy it.  

Before I go any further, be warned that there are pictures of some of the baby gifts I am making for various pregnant relatives and friends. If you are one of these friends, *either* stop reading now, or practice your surprised "awww its lovely face" please.

Once I got to the point that I had three babies due to craft for I felt investing in a baby craft book would be justified and I had read alot of good things about Lotta Jansdotta's 'Simple Sewing for Baby'. Now a lot of what is in the book is (as the name suggests) simple but really excellent projects.

I made taggy blankets:

Including my first proper use of a log cabin square:
And giraffe rattles - which since taking this picture have been stuffed and had bells added:

And I worked on some notebook covers. 

This is my favourite detail on the last cover I did. I love the feather stitch appliqué. These are destined to become notebooks-come-diaries and when finished they'll be the first products in my revived shop. I'll also have a proper post about them once I can get some decent pictures of them finished. Speaking of decent pictures, there was the most amazing light in the house I was staying in. I have to admit to having gone round the southside of my house peeking under carpets in the hope of finding some potential floorboards to beautify. To no avail. We have either concrete or crap boards- and I'm not sure that our landlords would be too pleased if I went round ripping up the carpet. Instead I will have to continue my photo taking journey in trying to find the perfect background. 


Festival of quilts 2011

Yesterday I spent a lovely day at the festival of quilts. As I am a poor student I was very strict about spending money and I only bought two things, a new wrist support (my Dr has suggested taking a few months off crafting to rest it and prevent the RSI twinges. I just cannot do it. So instead I got a new support) and a 1/2 metre of Glasses by Echino :

image source: The eternal maker

My favourite part of the festival was the quilt exhibition, particularly the contemporary and art quilts. Beware the following quilts are beautiful and may inspire a quilt addiction.

This picture quilt is made up of tiny paper pieced hexagons to create an image. All of the fabrics were black and white - no grey, instead the grey tones come from the density of the pattern in each of the different fabrics. It appeared to all be hand pieced and as such must have taken an age. Totally impressive. So much so that Nearlybutnotquite, who is addicted to hexagon paper piecing, kept being drawn back to it.

This piece called 'Samplers' was made up of 6 panels, each one referencing the traditional form of samplers, using the decorative stitches available on many modern sewing machines.

I was captivated by the idea (read: Jealous). In the centre of each panel there is an alphabet section E is for Elephant in bright primary colours.

As you looked closer, surrounding the bright primary coloured words there was muted beige, or white on white  text offering alternative words which told a much deeper, conflicted story:

This knitted log cabin quilt won the judges choice award. I liked the idea but the thought of knitting all of those tiny strips of knitting would be insanity making!


Lets get cosy

Tonight I am packing up ready to head off for a week at a friend's house. It is going to be a week of crafty calm in an oasis of my timewarp life at the moment. I am currently temping at an office in the kind of role I used to do before college. I am having trouble balancing the old administrator me with the new art school me and my creative output has suffered. No longer though. This week is going to be a great chance to get my craft on.

I've packed a large box full of supplies for the various things I want to do this week, sewing, bookbinding, crochet and knitting. Turns out that I have a thing for tool storage. I have quite a broad range of craft tools, (which might be a sign of my sluttish ways when it comes to picking a craft 'discipline') from sewing to metal work. I am very partial to categorisation so each type of craft has its tools stored together, usually this is for ease of use rather than an obsessive need to keep tidy - a quick peek in my studio would show I am a messy crafter. I just find it easier to flit between projects if my tools are together. But I am not content with Really Useful Boxes or drawers. I like tool rolls or pouches
top: tiny pouch for dpns, middle: needle files for small metal work, bottom: bookbinding tool roll 

I love pulling out my bookbinding tools or files at college and seeing them in their pretty cosies, I love taking my knitting bag out on the train and fishing stitch markers out of cute tiny bags. I like that I am the only person at college who has these custom made cosies. Just because something is useful doesn't mean it shouldn't be pretty. And most of these tools cost a small fortune, they deserve to be stored with love. I have also learnt I am much more likely to put things away if they have somewhere nice to go.

All this said, tonight,  much to my dismay I realised that I have nothing to put my knitting needles in when I head off tomorrow. My needles usually live in a vase on top of a unit of drawers, a wonderful jumble of metal, bamboo and resin joy. I need to take a selection of needles with me next week but not a vase full. First I took the ones I wanted and jammed them in my yarn bag. But there were too many and they stuck out the end in a perilous fashion. Then I considered elastic bands but then they looked unloved. So what is a crafty girl with an hour on her hands to do? Well whip up a pouch of course!

I searched my stash and came up with some dark green corduroy pieces which I perked up with some appliquéd quilt cotton.  This took me about an hour to do and came together really easily. Almost. There was a slight seam allowance issue which meant I sewed far to big a seam allowance, trimmed the corners, turned it out and then realised my longer sets of needles would no longer fit in. I have decided to breathe, and leave the longer needles at home. I am pretty sure I'll be able to live without them. A decision that shows I am certainly chilling out a lot more when it comes to the things I make and the inevitable mistakes that come with handmade goods. Adaptability is key!


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