Dissertation. That is all.

At the moment I am in dissertation writing mode. I have a target of words to write each day. Well actually I have 2 targets of words to write each day - one is a target for words written, the other much more important category is for GOOD words written, words which are going to stay in the final version. With only 23 days left till I submit the second category is getting more and more important.

When I was grappling with my early drafts I was pointed in the direction of this blog. I really enjoy people who document little aspects of their lives and how this paints a portrait of them, so I instantly fell for Alex's count of tea and words. I have never been any good at sticking to things like this. BorderlineStraggler keeps a record of all the money he spends in a notebook. This stack of Moleskins is a wonderful glimpse into our lives together and I have often been known to thumb through them to find out what we were doing some day years ago described by the things we bought. As a way to inspire my writing I decided to start a little record of the number of words I write.

Today looks like this:


Quick Fix

I had a craving for a tuna melt today. On the way to procure such a sandwich I treated myself to some craft porn. I try not to buy craft books unless there are several projects in them that I want to make and need the book to show me how. There are too many beautiful books out there and not enough room in my studio for me to just buy up the good looking one. These babies have got to earn their shelf space. Today I just wanted a pretty craft book to lose myself in while I ate my sandwich, practicality be damned. I settled upon Granny Chic. 

While most of the projects are not my taste I fell in love with the styling and photography. There are pages and pages of inspiring ramshackle eclectic spaces that were perfect to disappear into. 

One project did catch my eye, the "make do wash cloths". There are a lot of flannels being used in the Rats house at the moment so I could justify spending an hour this afternoon running some of these bad boys up. I have a stash of towelling in my fabric cupboard for my go-to baby gifts and I have recently learnt to love my Clover Bias Binding tool (after a long time of not seeing eye to eye). Inspired I rooted through my quilt cottons, found some contrasting fabrics and got snipping, pressing and stitching. 

Aren't they lovely. So much better than their plain white predecessors. It is so satisfying to have a quick craft fix like this I'm already lining up my next few projects from this book!


Week in Pictures #3

My favourite mirror/Christmas preserve joy continues/tiny tiny squares...again/obligatory snow shot!


Money, money, money

The big hurrah at the end of my course is exhibiting at New Designers which a huge exhibit in London with stands from all the design courses in the UK. It is a big part of the reason I came to Hereford and I have been looking forward to it for a long time. As a year group we have been fairly sure we wanted to try and raise money to fund this trip and my contribution was arranging a stand at the Hereford Art Market just before Christmas.

Students created work for us to sell and then we took turns manning the stand all day. For a lot of people it was their first experience of selling their own work.  The feedback from the students was so overwhelmingly positive in terms of experience gained I was full of inspiring joy. Hopefully participating in this fair will be something that future 3rd years will do.

I made cushions, bags and napkin rings (very similar to the stuff I sold last year) all of which went down. I ended up bringing very little stock home with me which was such a satisfying feeling - though it did take quite a few weeks for all of the props we had used on the stand back into their proper places in our house, who knew I owned quite so many vintage suitcases in different sizes!


Week in Pictures #2

coffee with the ladies/ current piece/ lunch break Who/ more fuel for my 12 books NY goal/ Saturday Quitch times

Week in Pictures #1

My Week in Pictures is one of my favourite features over on Happy Daisy and as part of my New Years goals I am going to give it a go. I'm going to try and do this every week but no promises just yet, let's just give it a go.

breakfast at work/NYE! / charity bookshop gold/New Year's day brunch/ Coffee with BorderlineStraggler


Tiny things to make the world better

When I tweeted this picture last week I got quite a few confused questions as to why a small laminated square was such a big deal. I work in a theatre bar with two stages, the main house and the studio. When you order interval drinks we pop the slips in this glass to keep them all together before we sort out the order. For the last 2 years every time there has been a show someone has written Main or Studio on a slip of scrap paper, then pops it under the glass and once the show is over we chuck it in the bin. This can happen every night. That is hundreds of times, and each and every time the process manager in my head cries. I FINALLY took matters into my own hands and spent 20 minutes one very quiet Sunday and made some little laminated ones. The sense of achievement I felt from this is truly disproportionate to the thing, I realise that, but it makes me smile each time I see them.

On a problem solving high I turned my attention to one of my great failings as a quilter I cannot seem to keep track of blocks. As you are sewing up a quilt there is quite a lot of time when you have piles upon piles of little bits of fabric, sometimes in very similar but not quite the same sizes, or in patterns that look the same but need to go in the correct order for the quilt top to work. Most people lay out their quilt pieces, then stack them in the correct order, stitch them and then when they lay them back out the top is miraculously in the correct order as though the collecting up pieces, and sewing never happened.

I am not one of these people - no matter how hard I try, which is pretty hard.

I have tried stacking in rows, or in columns, sewing only the left edge or creating perfect stacks that move from one side of my sewing table, get stitched and then are re-stacked on the other side but not matter how I try they always get jumbled. I don't think I have made a single pieced top that at some point didn't have to have at least one seam unpicked because I sewed it on backwards, or upside down, or on the left not the right. Why don't you try numbering the pieces I hear you say, well for the Baby Commission I did. I labelled everything with masking tape, left as much of the quilt laid out on the floor as I could and then jumped over it as I moved from machine to iron. What happened? Turns out in my sloppy handwriting my 2's look just like my 5's when upside down. I think I actually cried when I realised that I had to unpick not one but 5 seams. Inspired by my laminated square of paper I had a brainwave. I have a sizeable stash of tape measures from an old brooch making phase, I decided to make quilt numbers out of one and this is the result.

I snipped up the measuring tape and punched holes in each tag so I can easily pin them to my pieces. There are two colours, one for rows and one for columns.

I tried the new system and it worked! I didn't have to unpick a single seam! Amazing. Thank you tiny things, you are making my world just a little bit better.

A Baby Comission

I have a secret. I hate commissions. Don't get me wrong, I love making things and am always very flattered when people want to buy the things I make, but the pressure of making something to a professional enough standard at a price someone is happy to pay in the style they want is very intimidating. My own high standards mean that even the littlest mistake plays on my mind for weeks on end.

A lovely lady at work wanted a quilt for her granddaughter, I've made a few baby quilts recently and I loved how quickly they came together so I said yes. I was looking forward to the chance to use up some of my cute fabric stash, while trying out a new design I'd been wanting to play with for a while. Trouble was I agreed to make a double sided quilt. Yes, not one quilt top but two, and not only that but one side was to be pin wheels. I am rubbish at triangles, I can never get the points straight so you can just imagine how many hours of stitching and un-stitching this bad boy took. Hint: it was a lot.

Now it is done and delivered and the pressure is off I can appreciate how much I love this quilt and what I learnt from making it. I'm particularly impressed with the colour scheme. My brief was neutrals with a some colour, but muted colour which I think I balanced well. The pink and yellows are some of my very favourite Joel Dewberry herringbone pattern and there is a smattering of Japanese prints courtesy of The Eternal Maker as well.

The reverse is adapted from a pattern in Aronzo's Baby Stuff  a book filled with my go to baby gifts. The animals are so cute and so Japanese this is a quilt top I think I am going to make again and again. Out of the whole quilt my very favourite thing is the binding I made.

It was from the same material as the backing but cut on the bias. I was so supremely proud I managed to match all the stripes when stitching strips together - I'm such a sucker for a candy stripe. I wish I could find this fabric in another colour way to make miles and miles of candy striped binding but alas I can only find beige and cream so far. But I am going to keep on searching!

This commission gave me so much to think about and has been brilliant research for my professional practise module at college but I think for the time being I am going to stick to making baby quilts as gifts rather than for profit.


Little Brown Bag

One of my goals for this year is to be more confident in using my DSLR in public. I have been fussing about for several years trying to find the perfect camera bag which would let me carry my camera and a few other things around without being too bulky and too camera bag-esq. I had been charmed by several Jo Totes but the price tags are far too hefty for me. Just before Christmas I went to a festive market at the Shire Hall in Hereford and found this beauty on a vintage stall. It was £15 and thankfully my friend Kayley was there to loan me the extra £5 I needed to make this baby mine. It is a proper vintage camera bag, take a look inside:

It fits everything I need - including the things I forgot to put in while snapping these pics! My camera is a bit bigger than BS's (featured above) so everything is a little more snug and less roll-around-able. And isn't the red corduroy lining just perfect?

The only problem for me was the strap, it is very thin and kinda diggy-in. I am not a lady who embraces a handbag very much, I'm more of a backpack gal so my shoulders aren't used to little digging in straps. Yesterday I finally took half an hour off my current project and got round to stitching up a new strap.

I used two layers of thick twill tape with a wide strap of webbing sandwiched in the middle for extra strength. The twill tape is pretty soft so gives me just the right amount of comfort. Now my little brown bag is even more perfect. Ready just in time for my cheeky trip to Oxford this weekend.


The Joy of Geek

2012 gave me a lot of things. It gave me my first ever 89% in a module, it gave me too many reasons to have to own funeral clothes, it gave me a promotion at work and many other highs and lows, but one of my favourite things it gave me was a chance to embrace my geekiness. Not just embrace it but revel in it. One of my favourite nights of 2012 was sat in my local pub having a serious discussion about the merits of rival zombie mythologies. This wasn't just me on my own, no a table full of people happy to debate the finer points of conflicting sci-fi mythology.

I have been a massive Joss Whedon for many many years. I started watching Buffy during my teen yeas when a person's capacity for obsession is at it's peek and whilst I have found other fans of the Whedonverse I have never matched my youthful geek-dom. That was until I started going to the pub with Caramel Latte Kiss, Jen and the man we call Daddy Dave (he's less creepy than the nickname sounds). To start with there was the dance of shared jokes, little references to browncoats and before you knew it we were drunk, singing the theme to Firefly and the die was most certainly cast.

I finally had people for whom I could make geek craft. And I have embraced this quite hard. There is nothing like taking a break from lofty thoughtful contemporary applied arts by knitting a Jayne Cobb hat (though I didn't remember to take any pictures of the finished one, here is a screenshot from the show)

or stitching up little quotes with dinosaurs

And even throwing the best Dr Who themed hen do ever where the bride got custom made Dr Who shoes

It has been so nice to revel in this side of my personality even for a few short months though now Caramel Latte Kiss has left Hereford there is much less revelling and trips to the pub have become much less frequent, but maybe that is a good thing I've got this pesky degree to finish.....


Happy New Year

Good Morning 2013.

Yes, 7 days in and I am facing the new year which has a little something to do with today being the first day of school, yesterday being the last day of panto and a lot to do with having made some lists. I am not a resolutions kind of person. I get really bored and frustrated by routine, particularly if it is one I have constructed for myself for no discernable reason. I am in education, or have worked in education for the last 7 years so for me September is the start of the year not January. But I have been quite inspired by a trend for 2013 goals (rather than resolutions) that have appeared all over my blog feed and I reckon I can get on board with this approach. So I made a list. I also made several sub lists, got distracted, started doing something on a list and then made a cup of tea before doing some more. I'm trying to keep it simple and achievable. I am going to be trying to set mini goals each month so this year I've kept it to three.

coffee date with BorderlineStraggler keeping to resolution #1

1. Take the camera out of the bag Before applying to college I splashed out one of my last proper pay cheques on a DSLR. I love the pictures it takes by I am too worried I'll break it embarrassed to take it out in public. It makes me feel like a tourist, I don't have the right camera bag, it's too heavy. I never see anything all that fun to photograph. Blah, blah, blah. No more excuses. I now have a great camera bag and am determined to get over this worry. Especially as I am at art school where it doesn't matter if you spend twenty minutes photographing a wall. I need to take advantage of this!

2. Graduate Which will obviously be prefaced with creating my final collection, submitting my dissertation, passing my degree but that is a lot of pressure in a list so I'm sticking with graduate.

3. Read 12 "proper" books I read a lot. I find it hard to sleep without reading at night and I read a lot of very easy books. I like a wedge of trashy crime books, fantasy and a sprinkling of chick lit. This year I'd like to widen my horizons and challenge myself a bit more - though maybe this should be after I have completed goal 2 because really I am kinda busy..... One evening at work I asked everyone to suggest a book for me to read and the list so far reads:

  • Mansfield Park
  • A Brave New World
  • Cat's Cradle
  • Homer's The Illyad
I have downloaded sample chapters of all the books to my Kindle and made a start on Cat's Cradle as it was the one that sucked me in. Any suggestions for books would be very welcomed.


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