Friday, 30 May 2014


No, I'm not on a trip to the tropics. 

Parakeets have become a normal sight in my part of London. A few years ago you would very occasionally see one, but it now very common to see and hear them in Richmond Park and the surrounding area. This one was taking a rest in my garden.

There are various theories about how they have arrived in this part of London. One popular idea is that they escaped from a film studio during the filming of The African Queen. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Dress

All other crafting seems to have been abandoned, as I just concentrate on "the dress". I am really pleased with how it has turned out so far.  I added a really pretty but quite simple trim, and this time the skirt is lined and it has a bow at the back.

The top section is organza, and the main purple sections quite a simple cotton, but it seems to have quite a nice silky sheen in these photos.

Doing my practice version really did help, mainly with my confidence.

So the only thing left to do is the hem. We are still having a heated debate over this. I think my daughter is coming round to the idea of keeping it fairly long, as at this try on she liked how it felt so swishy. Sorry, but you will probably have to see some more photos of the actual event.

Friday, 23 May 2014

House Guests

Since just before Christmas we have had two house guests. Here they are: Sugar and Dave. They are mother and son, and have been staying with us as my sister has been moving house. They will be off to their new home soon, and we will miss them.

Sugar has been queen of the house. She is a lap cat and has a very soft, thick coat, and is the main reason we have been covered in cat hairs for the last few months. Aren't her eyes pretty.

I put this picture on my facebook page, which is her transfixed by birds on the telly. Whenever a wildlife programme comes on she is glued to the screen. Did you know you can find short films of birds on Youtube, for if your cat just can't get enough on regular TV? This is Sugar at the computer. She even got excited when we were watching the animated film Rio.

Despite her obsession Sugar has not yet caught any wildlife, partly I think because she is so visable, and also because she makes a funny noise in her throat due to excitement whenever she sees a bird, so they realize she is there.

Dave, who is the most lovely natured cat, doesn't have this problem, and frequently brings us little presents in from the garden!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

A Jigbee of Turtles

The internet tells me there are various names for a group of turtles. A bale of turtles seems the most well-known collective term. Baby turtles, which I think mine are, are also called hatchlings. Other names include a bevy, dule, nest, or turn, but my favourite name is a jigbee of turtles. I can't find the origin of this word, so if you know this or have any more information, please let me know. 

I had a lot of small oddments of various green wool left over, and thought it would be fun to knit something, but it had to be small. These are made from Raynor Gellatly's Tiny Turtle pattern on ravelry. Her patterns for tiny creatures are very cute, and I also enjoyed making her hedgehogs

I have reduced the size of the head, and decided not to add legs. Perhaps I should, as I have realised that they may be mistaken for snails. (Am I getting lazy, but I thought they are quite cute without.) But the main body part follows the pattern. They remind me of old-fashioned boy's school caps. 

I have mostly been sewing "the dress" this week, and also working on a project that I won't be able to reveal until well into 2015. Mysterious and exciting

My daughter has started her own blog, which is going to be photography, craft and cooking, and is call Sugar, Spice and All Crafts Nice.

Saturday, 17 May 2014


A few more photographs from our trip to Suffolk at Easter. The beach huts at Southwold are very cheerful. These sometimes sell for over £100,000, and although lovely I think I would prefer to sit on the beach. Well at least that is what I'm saying.

The view south from Southwold Pier. It was such a lovely fresh day. Can you see Sizewell Nuclear Power Station in the background?

And finally some shots from Minsmere RSPB nature reserve. These are Avocets. This wader with its distinctive upturned beak, have come back from the brink of extinction in Britain. And so quite rightly they are also the emblem of the RSPB.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Practice Dress

Pretending to study the sewing pattern

I've mentioned that my daughter is going to be a bridesmaid for my niece. The only stipulation for the dress was that it be purple, but after a few fruitless shopping trips, we decided that the easiest thing would be to make a dress. 

We picked the pattern McCall's 6829, pictured above, and having decided that the shoulder section should be organza, I then got very cold feet. I have done quite a lot of sewing, but not much recently making garments. The pattern seemed so complicated (underlining, lining, understitching etc). Thankfully the Great British Sewing Bee had covered understitching, and this was a big help. 

I also had never sewn organza, so my initial idea was to make a practice version of just the top section of the dress. I was also a bit inspired by Gertie Makes and Bakes, and her practice toiles. We could also then check the fit was right, as my daughter is very small for her age.

"I'm so excited about my new dress! Mummy still needs to put zip in though."

Sewing the organza was not as hard as I imagined. I just had to be really careful to tack everything. No slapdash a pin here and there will do. With a new fine needle for my machine, and the advice to keep the stitch long. This rather goes against intuition, but it did work.

The fit of the dress was perfect, which was a great relief. The wedding is fairly soon, and I really just want it to fit well on the day.

Having made the practice top, it then seemed a bit silly not to add a skirt. The cream top colour I rather regretted. I had just grabbed the first bit of fabric in my stock of the right weight. So it took as a while to find something that matched nicely. We found this interesting fabric, which unfortunately wasn't wide enough. I had to put a seam down the centre front which isn't in the pattern. The pattern matching is not perfect but fairly good I think. Would it pass on the Sewing Bee? As my mum would say "A blindman would be glad to see it". I won't have to do this seam on the actual dress, though am going to line the skirt section, which I didn't do on the practice.

Handsewn button loop

The other mistake I made on this version was not buying an invisible zip. I put in the one I had bought, but am going to try and get this right on the actual bridesmaid dress. Though I think from this photo you can see how nicely it fits, and my neighbour's lilac tree sets it off nicely.

I love the dress at this length, but my daughter has got to an age where she has quite strong views on fashion. She likes thing to be really short, but we compromised on knee length. I hated cutting off the extra fabric, but as I know she won't wear it long, it seemed the only thing to do. Although she thinks the length of the actual dress is open to debate, it is definitely going to be ankle length. 

So here is the finished practice dress, and now I just have to make the real dress. She has a cold, and asked me to cut off her red nose. Fabric has been purchased, and I do feel more confident having done this trial run. It has also made me remember how much I enjoy sewing. It is just not very economic, except for something like this for a very special occasion.

Friday, 9 May 2014

New 2CVs

I've been knitting my 2CV's again, from my Henrietta 2CV pattern. Making them is a bit compulsive. These are already be on their way to Italy. You might notice that they have no numberplates in some of the photographs, but I am going to add some personalized plates.

Each time I make a car I find it a bit easier than the last. I think somehow with knitting your hands remember the pattern, not your brain. Do any other knitters find this? So although I said before this is not an easy knit, perhaps I was exaggerating a bit, as each time I make one I find the knitting and the sewing up a bit easier.

The burgundy/black car is an attempt at the 2CV Charleston. It took quite a while to find exactly the right shade of wool. 

I have been working on a blue car, which I have just added to my Etsy shop.

And here are the cars with their personal numberplates.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Blythburgh, Suffolk

I have been so preoccupied with knitting recently that I forgot to put on some photographs of our Easter trip away. I was ill for a few weeks before, so this trip really restored me. 

We had a few days in Suffolk, staying in Blythburgh, which is just a few miles from the coast. The area is known for its marshland and mudflats, and wildlife. This was our view from the end of the garden, and we had some lovely walks both up and down the River Blyth, following the old disused railway track. I have some other photos of the coast and wildlife, but I thought I would concentrate on those I took in Blythburgh in this post and put those in another.

The church in Blythburgh is known as the Cathedral of the Marshes. Blythburgh is a small village, so the size of this church is quite amazing. I rather stupidly didn't take a photo of the outside, but if you want to read more there is a really good site here Holy Trinity, Blythburgh.

The ceiling with its wooden angels is just beautiful. There are 12 angels in all. I am not sure if the angel below is as old, but I really liked her too.

The wooden figures on the end of every pew were very unusual. These bench ends represent the seven deadly sins, the seven works of mercy, and the seasons.

This Madonna and Child was made by Peter Ball in 1997. We called her "The Big Foot Madonna".

This was the view from one of the windows up a spiral staircase. I did take a shot where the churchyard was in focus, but much prefer this moody view.

And finally this sunset also seen from our kitchen window

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Sea Urchins

I have added a new pattern to my sea creature collection: a Sea Urchin Shell. Do you like my real sea urchins? They were my Christmas present from my husband. I know that is a bit odd, but I really like them. They sit on a shelf in the room where I make things with a few other seaside bits and bobs. I thought they would look good with the knitted ones in my photographs. 

Sea urchins are really fascinating creatures. It took me quite a while to find exactly the right wool. These are knitted with James Brett DK Marble Colour 5, which seemed to have exactly the right mix of grey and pink to give a natural look. This is the same wool that I used for my Our House project.

The knitting is done on two needles, and is not difficult. The dots are then embroidered on down the ridges afterwards. I refer you to my photo tutorial for some help with these french knots. I have tried to be very careful with the number of ridges, and there are five main ones with large bumps, each with two smaller ones inbetween.