5 things I liked this week – 4/3/16

  1. The quiet, calm routine of work.
  2. Spectre with it’s lovely grey scenic palettes and some damn fine tailoring.
daniel-craig-james-bond-bw-e1417693457606
Image credit: The Idle Man

3. This article from The Londonist on the history of Queer London.

4.Lotta Jansdotter

I love Lotta Jansdotter’s Everyday Style book, it’s beautifully set out, more of a ‘lifestyle’ book than just a sewing book, there’s gorgeous photos and it’s set out in four seasonal sections. It’s very inspiring, in that she talks about having a basic year round wardrobe of patterns that you can alter by sewing with different materials or by changing details like the length. Her fabric choices are mostly gorgeous too, I would love that raspberry coloured dress (top right) and the yoga bag in maroon (bottom left), eep I want!

5. I can’t make it to The Knitting and Stitching Show this time round but I love seeing the pictures of the stalls on Twitter, I particularly like this display from Hannah Bass.

 

 

Advertisements

5 things I liked this week -12/2/16

1. A son wanted to help his mother find love, so he made a video all about her.

2. A friend of mine has a small part in the next series of Fortitude, which will make it a must see for me but as I hadn’t watched the first series, I’ve started going through the box set on NowTV and it’s brilliant! Mr. Lacer, who knows more about TV than I do, correctly guessed that I would like it, as it involves murder in a remote, cold place (I am predictable in my tastes). It’s set in the small town of Fortitude in the Arctic circle, where there’s basically scientists and miners and a mayor desperate to build a hotel and that’s about it. There’s a grisly murder and some rather odd things going on, I think I’m going to become addicted.

fortitude_sss
Image credit: Sidereel.com

3. Julie from Button Button is a constant source of EPP inspiration, I spotted on instagram that she was doing the Diamond Hex quilt and I just had to start my own and now I see from Julie’s blog that she’s also doing the Star-A-Day pattern, which is incredibly tempting too.

FullSizeRender 17
My progress on the Diamond Hex Quilt so far.

4. Getting out for a walk somewhere new.

5. I really liked The Martian book, so I was a bit nervous about watching the movie but I shouldn’t have been, as just like the book, the movie is fun and definitely has the big plus of science being the hero (Matt Damon is also of course a big plus too). But to anyone who has just seen the movie and not read the book, read the book because so much more exciting stuff happens that they didn’t get a chance to put in the film.

martian-gallery3-gallery-image
Image credit: Fox Movies

2015 review and ‘plans’ for 2016

Craft

embroidery 2015

1. firefly, 2. Tuesday Bassen pattern, 3. Tawny Owl, 4. Fowl Talk, 5. Bibliophile iPad case, 6. Advent Calendar, 7. Christmas mitten, 8. Cindermice trio

The amount of embroidery I’ve done this year as first looks a bit pathetic, specially as most of the embroidery in the mosaic above was done in the last few months of the year. However, I did do two large comissions for clients this year (and by large, I mean much much larger than the work I normally show here) and those took up a lot of time (and yay for getting comission work!).

I do have quite a few WIPs, particularly cross stitch, it doesn’t look like it much from the mosaic above but 2015 has definitely been the year of the cross stitch for me.

sewn 2015

1. Global week – welsh costume, 2. Tuesday Bassen pattern, 3. Wales 2015-22, 4. Wales 2015-50, 5. Slippers, 6. Headphone cozy, 7. Sew Easy Retro Duffel Bag, 8. Another headphone cozy, 9. Book pincushion, 10. Hexie cushion and pouches, 11. Sew Liberated carpet bag, 12. Bibliophile iPad case, 13. Advent Calendar, 14. Cindermice trio

Oh I had hoped to sew so much more this year but I didn’t, space, the normal problem, but I did manage to make a couple of bags I’m quite proud of.

wool 2015

1. Untitled, 2. Adapted Wool And The Gang Lula Hoop, 3. Wristwarmers with contrast rib, 4. Slouch Hat, 5. Log cabin washcloths, 6. Hat from Mollie Makes issue 60, 7. Another hat

This year my knitting has definitely continued to improve and I’m a bit more confident. I mastered rib and knitting in the round with those needles which are attached together (I’m such a rubbish knitter, I can’t remember what they’re called), but I tried dpns on a pair of leg warmers and as far as I’m concerned dpns are the work of the devil. I just about managed to knit one leg warmer, although it looked awful, the rib was all over the place and it was rather holey! I doubt I’ll ever make the other leg warmer.

Cooking

As pretty much usual for me, this year I knew that the best sort of food for me was food I prepared myself, from scratch but that actually happened far less than it should have. A good cook book makes all the difference though, so my top 3 for 2015 (not necessarily published in 2015) are –

1.

simply nigella

 

For lovely, simple but tasty recipes that are a pleasure to cook. Nigella positively exudes calm from the pages.

 

 

2.

Thug Kitchen

Whereas Nigella excudes calm, Thug Kitchen is like going round a mate’s kitchen where they firmly but affectionately lecture you on eating healthily whilst plying you with gorgeous food. I know some people don’t agree with Thug Kitchen but they always make me smile.

 

 

3.

a modern way to cook

 

Generally lovely recipes but I particularly like her tables of different kinds of dishes (like soups, bowls and salads), where she gives suggestions about what you can put in but it’s totally up to your imagination / what you’ve got in your kitchen.

 

 

Books

book 1 2015book 2 2015

I read a whopping 88 books this year! I am totally gobsmacked by that! My aim, at the beginning of the year was 50 and I thought that was over optimistic. I normally read somewhere between 30-45 books a year. This year has been highly unusual though, as I’ve had so many surgeries and most of my reading this year has been done whilst I was recovering. I had also rediscovered my love of crime fiction, so I had several quite long series to gallop through and that always boosts the book count.

books 2015 3books 2015 4

I read 72 adult fiction (up 49 from last year!), 4 kids fiction (-5 from last year), 3 collections of short stories, 2 memoirs (up 2 from last year), 2 comic books series (up 2 from last year) and 5 non fiction (up 3 from last year).

My top 3 books I read this year were –

1.

watchmaker

 

I fell in deep book love with The Watchmaker of Filigree Street this year, it’s imaginative, deeply atmospheric and has the sweetest love scene I’ve read in a long time. Set in Victorian London, it’s a bit steampunk. And oh, I’d love to go for tea and scones in the watchmaker’s kitchen.

 

 

 

 

2.

the death house

This was another deeply imaginative book, although a much, much sadder premise than Watchmaker. Children with some sort of defective gene or something (it’s never completely explained) are sent to death houses to wait to die. Whilst in the death house they have some schooling but they’re pretty much left to themselves, friendships and romance ensue. It is very sad but beautiful too.

 

 

 

3.

station eleven

 

Another unique story idea, crossing between the before and after of deadly pandemic as it follows various characters, including a Shakespearian band, across the US. It’s a strangely hopeful book.

 

 

 

Life

  • This year has been a very medical year and unfortunately 2016 will also be a very medical year. I leave 2015 minus two pieces of anatomy
  • All this medical stuff has put quite a lot of other stuff on hold.
  • Girl Lacer has started secondary school this year and we’re so lucky that she seems to have ended up at yet another remarkable school. We’re very excited about the opportunities she’ll have there.

And plans for 2016

  • Eat less sugar, eat more veg.
  • Keep up my walking (when I’m physically able to, I have more surgery coming up next year), going further afield to find interesting routes and look for other types of exercise to do as well.
  • Aim to read 50 books (I’ve ummed and ahhed about this, after all, I read 88 this year but it was an unusual year with all the surgeries but then again I have definitely one op next year, ‘hopefully’ two (if I can sort doctors out for the second, having issues there at the moment) plus a series of not very nice sounding dental surgeries and well, call be pessimistic but the two ops and the dental procedure I’ll be having next year have been on the books for a long time, whereas the four ops I actually had this year were sprung on me at much shorter notice, so who knows what could happen next year? So I may end up reading more than 50 books again next year because if it’s a year with lots of recovery time, I could read a lot more but if it’s a much more normal year, 50 books will probably be a bit of a struggle because it normally is.
  • Hopefully get more freelance stitchery work, I need to get a portfolio website up and some proper contact details.
  • Maybe, just maybe, set up that business I’ve always dreamed off.
  • Do more drawing and painting.
  • Continue to practice my computer skills.
  • Work more on my photography.
  • Reduce the amount of stuff I own and to think more carefully about and actually use stuff I buy in the future.
  • Work on some advanced embroidery skills.
  • Continue to work on improving my knitting skills.

 

 

 

 

What I stitched for Christmas (a What Delilah Did marathon)

thumb_OriginalPhoto-471798572.730669_1024

I had lot more planned to stitch for Christmas but it didn’t happen, just too busy (or in one case, it went wrong). A couple of the pieces (two presents for the kids), will hopefully get completed and given at another time, though. Anyway, as it turns out, all the stitchy stuff I actually completed for Christmas was by What Delilah Did. I made the little stitched mitten above as an ornament for my sister (stuffed with a few art things as a present). The pattern is from Stitch the Halls (which is a lovely book).

thumb_OriginalPhoto-472771341.526360_1024thumb_OriginalPhoto-472771400.764905_1024thumb_IMG_5501_1024

And then I made the trio of Cindermice patterns, with kits from Cloud Craft. I absolutely loved making these. The patterns come with video tutorials, so Sophie from What Delilah Did really walks you through making these. I hadn’t really made anything of this scale and complexity before and although my cindermice do not look as neat as Sophie’s, I am really pleased with the results. There is something so pleasurable with creating something small but detailed, that will sit in the palm of your hand.

I definitely learnt some new techniques / improved on old bad habits with this one and I’ve discovered two new favourite tools, the haemostat, which is actually a surgical tool but is fantastic for getting into small, fiddly spaces or tugging needles out of them and applique pins, I can’t believe I’ve been struggling along with normal size pins for so long (plus they’re cute!).

I really love the details on these and I hope they’ll be on the Christmas tree for many years to come (and I hope What Delilah Did does something similar next year!).

Advent Calendar

thumb_OriginalPhoto-470673126.009122_1024

I made an advent calendar! To be honest, this was one of those projects that sounded great initially in my head but I had to force my way through it a bit when I started it (and to get myself to complete it) but now it’s done, I quite like it! Okay, some of the embroidery is extremely dodgy, which is what happens when you’re stitching in bad light / on tiny hoops where you’ve not allowed yourself enough fabric / on trains / trying to do fill stitch using black floss over black ink on Sulky Solvy and you can’t always tell if you’ve completely covered the area you want to cover.

Some of my more better examples of embroidery

I created the project by making a page in Word with the numbers 1. to 24. (obviously) at the sort of font size I wanted (I think it was 72). I made all the numbers bold and then I made each number a different font. I printed this up on Sulky Solvy and then cut each number out and placed it onto the fabric I was using for the bags. If I were to do this again and I was again going to use black embroidery floss, I would perhaps print the numbers out in a different colour, to make the fill stitching easier to see as I progressed. As for the fill stitching itself, to stop myself getting too bored, I changed my fill stitches around a bit (it also helped in that some fonts, for example, would be not as easy to satin stitch but much easier to stitch in a different fill stitch). I used satin stitch, back stitch fill stitch and chain stitch. Using french knots would have been nice too but oh I did not have the patience for that!

FullSizeRender 18

Some of the bags at the bottom of the calendar look empty because they are; I’ve filled most of the bags with either mini Mars brand chocolates or mini bags of Haribo starmix but I’ve run out (which *ahem* has nothing to do with me eating them). It’s probably a good thing though that some of the bags are currently empty as I’m a bit worried the whole thing is going to fall down as it is, so all the bags full up would only make it heavier. I will be going to the shops and getting some lollipops or something similar or maybe getting a few small toys from the pocket money toy section or some small pieces stationary. With the advent calendar, as with Christmas presents in general for the kids, I try and get like for like for both of them (although that’s getting increasingly hard, as Girl Lacer gets into teenagery girl stuff and well, Boy Lacer is a 10 year old boy) but if I were to do this for just a girl or two girls, I think some nice lip salve and stuff like that would be good too.

Bibliophile

IMG_5257

I’ve got a million other things I could / should be making but I needed a new iPad case as I have some travelling coming up, so my thought process basically went “I could make one” (relatively quickly) to “I could make one out of patchwork” (not so quick) to “I could make one with patchwork and embroidery” (definitely not at all quick). Now I have a massive collection of embroidery patterns I have yet to stitch up, so I had fun looking through my collection and I settled on the Bibliophile pattern from Urban Threads. I thought it was nicely ironic considering it’s for an iPad but in my defence it’s got an awful lot of ebooks on it.

IMG_5256

I knew, stitching it in white on a patchwork background was a bit risky and I don’t think it’s completely paid off, for a start I’d used Sulky Solvy for this again (is there some sort of embroiderer’s help group to wean me off this stuff?) and when I washed it off, one of the colours in one of the fabrics ran, staining my nice white embroidery grey! Luckily though sticking it in my washing machine with a colour catcher sheet, this time did work, phew! But back to the actual patchwork, I don’t think the embroidery is particularly clear against the greeny – blue fabric with little squares, still, you live and learn and actually, you can’t really get this across in photos but it is one of those things that looks clearer the further away you are from it, it only looks really indistinct close up.

IMG_5254

(my back garden, the only place with remotely decent light today)

I constructed the iPad case with a layer of patchwork, some fleece to act as some very minor padding and then an inner lining. When I did the embroidery I embroidered through the fleece layer as well to try and get a bit of a quilted effect, it worked only slightly, but oh well. There’s also a button and a small loop of ribbon to act as a closure. The whole thing is a little tight but it luckily fits, so my iPad is all ready for its travels.

IMG_5251

(the back)