Saturday 31 May 2014

Time for a change...

Hmmm so is it being 40?  Is it a mid-life crisis?  Or do I just need to take stock and alter a few things here and there?

Nothing major, don't get me wrong.  Things are fine and dandy over here but I would like a bit of change personally, within me.

1.  I need to want to lose a bit of weight.  Not a lot, half a stone maybe, because that half makes me unhappy and doubles my face (and my hereditary weak chin) and then I look like a giant beachball.  I dislike having a beachball for a face.  I really do!

2.  I need to go back to yoga.  It's been forever since I did any.  I love how it made my mind feel and how it made my body feel.  I feel stiff and old.  I do not like this feeling.  The only problem is, the nearest class to me is on a Tuesday morning when I'm in school.  I am searching for a very good dvd so I can yoga and meditate at home.  Providing the girlies and dogs let me that is!

3.  I have to cut out the crap that I eat.  In fact, that we all eat.  Hubby has gone vegetarian and whilst I admire that in him, that path is not for me.  Well it would be bloomin difficult considering I don't eat very many vegetables anyway (or tomatoes, but they're a fruit) and I'm dairy free so that rules out quite a bit of food that way.  So meat-eating will continue, but some of the sugar, nay, lots of the sugar needs to be reduced (see point 1 above).  I haven't told the girlies yet, but when the biscuits are gone from the cupboard this time around, it will be a limited stock next time.  We all eat too much sugar.  We need to find an alternative.

We've just come back from a lovely three-day break in Enid caravan.  We went to Ludlow which is only just over an hour from here.  I'll blog a bit of what we did soon, but it's hubby's new place for us to move to!  Just need to finish building this house first!!!

So that's what's going on here, with me at least! 

G x

Saturday 24 May 2014

101 Things for Kids to do Outside

101 Things for Kids to do Outside by Dawn Isaac
Published by Kyle Books
27th March 2014
Paperback Edition


Because it's about time you stopped staring at that screen and had a go at racing snails, playing human croquet, brewing potions, planting wigwams, setting traps, weaving nests, autographing pumpkins, hunting bears, making twig stars, building snow lanterns (and 91 more totally brilliant ideas that just won't fit on the back cover).

I could tell you that my family begins every day with a trek through the woods and ends it by singing songs round a campfire.  I could tell you that but it would be a BIG FAT LIE.  And, if you are that sort of family, who on earth are you sitting around reading this book?  There are bear traps waiting to be set and animal calls to practise.

Right, who's left?

Good.  This book is for you.

It's for those kids who like TV, movies, popcorn, lying in bed, wallowing in baths, hanging upside down off the sofa for no good reason and staying in pyjamas all day.  You see, you're the ones who need to get out a bit more.  You're the ones who suddenly realise it's five to six on a Sunday evening and you haven't left the house ALL weekend.  You're the ones who are so pale it's very difficult to see you when you sleep between white sheets.

And, when your parents gently suggest you might want to go outside for a few minutes, this book is to stop you moaning 'But there's nothing to do outside'.  Because guess what?  There is.  In fact, there are at least 101 things.  I know because I've written them down.

So get outside.  Race snails.  Make potions.  Go on a scavenger hunt.  Plant a potato tower. Get soaking wet.

You can even do these things whilst still wearing pyjamas.  What do I care?  I don't have to wash them.

Your parents are going to love me!

Dawn Isaac has written a fabulous book for every child and parent out there.  101 things to do outside is exactly that - with things to do in all seasons.  I can't wait to get my girls outside spending the holidays doing as much as possible, from setting up a potion lab, to creating a moonlight garden, there is something in here for every day, and more besides.  (In fact, don't tell anyone, as I really don't like snow, but I can't wait to actually build a snow lantern)!


You don't even need to be doing these things in the garden either, there are lots of suggestions for taking to the woods, the park and even on the beach.  Some activities can be done individually, some in teams, and lots involve water!!!!


If, like me, you plan to get your children out doing a bit more this year, Dawn Isaac has written the perfect book for all-year-round adventures.  Now...where's my string?

G x

Monday 19 May 2014

Love at First Stitch

Love at First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking by Tilly Walnes
Published by Quadrille
8th May 2014
Paperback Edition

Do you remember that I said I had a review copy of this in my hands?  Of course you do!  I have to say, I did do a squeal of joy, and some seal-style hand clapping when Quadrille announced that yes, of course, I could have a copy of the lovely Tilly Buttons' new book.  I was under strict instructions NOT to review it before publication, but now it's available for everyone to look at, here's my review.
Firstly, lovely book.  Gorgeous layout, lots of poppingly bright colours inside, and lovely clear photographs that show you just what you should be doing.  I hate it when there aren't lots of pictures, I'm a visual learner, I like to see what it should be looking like (recipe books take note!).
Photos borrowed from the lovely Tilly's website
Tilly introduces each pattern, and then shows you different ways in which you can alter this, for example by adding a pocket.  Small things but they do make a difference to the finished garment.
The patterns, all new ones, include the Brigitte scarf, the Delphine skirt (the one on the cover) and the Mimi blouse.  There are also two dress patterns, another skirt pattern and a pair of pyjama trousers to be made, all available in 8 different sizes.
I decided to be brave, and not only review the book but also to try making something from it myself to show if it really could be done.  Whilst the girlies played on Saturday, I decided that I'd make the Margot pyjamas from a charity-shop brought duvet cover.
I have to say, the instructions were clear.  Tilly does state that the pattern pieces might not match up but to get your side seams together and everything will be okay.  I was daunted.  My trouser legs did not match-up.  Had I done something wrong?  I matched the seams and sewed anyway, nothing like taking a risk now and again.  I sewed them together.  They hung right, in other words, it had worked!  Tilly was right - thankfully.
I added a drawstring - orange bias binding though I will change it for some ribbon once I get the change to go to the haberdashery.  Then came the moment of truth - would they, could they, did they fit?  I opted for size 3 as I'm about a size 12 and they seem just fine.   I cheated a little and didn't zigzag finish my seams, which I should have done, but I just wanted to try to actually finish them and see if they worked.  Next time, I'll do the finishing properly - promise!
Here they are!  Very funky if I do say so myself!
I think this is a fab book to get started with on dressmaking.  It's perfectly suited for beginners and advanced sewers will just whizz through the patterns - all of which are included, no downloading to be done here.  Also, if you subscribe to Love Sewing magazine, they are offering the book for new subscribers, so be quick about it!  If you want to see more, Tilly has reviewed it on her own blog too.
I can't wait to get started on project where did Tilly get that lemon fabric from?....
G x

Saturday 17 May 2014

Temporary Measure

When we were in the Lake District for Easter, we popped to Keswick for the final hour of shopping time, and there upon I discovered the most wonderful shop.

It's called Temporary Measure and not only is it a beautiful shop, but it's also a café too. 

They sell all manner of crafty goodness, designed by themselves.  Balls of Debbie Bliss wool line the shelves, along with patterns and kits for you to make your own woolly gems.

There are also their printed range, featuring a bear and a rabbit - canvases, bags, cushions, mobiles, oh I could go on!
You can also have your own photos put on to something special too.

Do take a peak over here to visit their website, from whence I have 'borrowed' these images.

I bought the pattern to make a knitted purse whilst I was in there (but I could have spent much more).  I then bought some wool when I was at Abakhan, Sirdar supersoft aran, and started knitting.

Ta dah!  Here's my completed purse.  The knitting part was tres simple, the fitting the fabric bit not so, fiddly corners etc but I persevered and this is the result.  I'm pretty impressed and as I bought three balls of wool, can make many more combinations still.

If you are in the area, do drop by.  I hear that the shop is up for sale, as it's grown so busy that the owners cannot continue to do everything all at the same time.  For, after all, it was only ever meant to be a temporary measure.

G x

Sunday 11 May 2014

woolly wips

Oh me, oh my, the wip, it's never-ending isn't it?

I read Daisy Jones' post on her crochet wips and thought to myself, hmmm I wonder how many I have on the go.

I hang my head in shame at the number of started, yet uncompleted, projects I have here.....

The 7 year old has asked for a cardigan, she even chose the wool herself (Patons Smoothie DK - it's horrible to use, all splity and such) - I started this an age ago and had to undo it all as it is now the next size up that she requires.  I MUST finish this for her.

Crochet blanket for Enid caravan - started but not yet finished.  It's so large now that each round takes me an hour to do!

My other crochet blanket for Enid.  This is about half-way to being finished.  But that still means I have another 40 squares to make and hook together and ends to sew in.

Granny squares cowl designed by Bunny Mummy from Simply Crochet magazine.  I'm half-way through with it now thanks to an hours worth of crochet whilst the 5 year old was at her dance class on Friday.

My cardigan - only the sleeves to do and the joining-together.  Sleeves, alas, are my nemesis - I really dislike knitting sleeves.  They bore me!

I still have the ends to sew in on my poncho; I took it away with us the other week but them mislaid my sewing needle so couldn't do it.  I finally found the needle yesterday!

I bought this pattern book plus wool to start earlier in the year - it's still in the bag!

Last week I downloaded the Ships and Seaside cowl from the fabulous Stephanie Dosen and ordered some wool (Aztec Aran) from Deramores.  I daren't start this project.  I must finish the 7 year olds cardigan with it's horrid wool choice.

I must.

I must.

I must.

G x

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Sneaky Peak

oooh, I'm a lucky, lucky girl!

Look what arrived through my door at the weekend, all ready for reviewing on the blog....

Yes!  (Excited squeals all round) ) I have the new books from Chloe Owens and Tilly Walnes here to blog about.  I'll be reviewing Chloe's first, as I'm not allowed to show Tilly's until publication date - sorry but must follow instructions!



Reviews up soon lovely people, I promise!

In the meantime, I think I'm off to subscribe to love Sewing magazine.

 I quite like issue 1 and they are doing a subs offer of the next three issues for only £6 (or you can choose Tilly's book as a free gift)!  Might just give it a whirl.

G x

Saturday 3 May 2014

Half-Yard Heaven

Half-Yard Heaven by Debbie Shore
Published by Search Press
4th October 2013
Paperback Edition
We all have scraps of fabric that we never end up using, so this bestselling book by Debbie Shore for 26 projects to make with less than half a yard of fabric is ideal.  There are lots of different ideas in here, some you will have undoubtedly seen before, but lots of other new ones too.  They range from tissue box covers, to slippers, glasses cases and placemats.
The images, as you would expect, are very clear and bright and the instructions are perfect for sewers of all abilities.
This can be used for needles and hooks too

Some of my favourite inclusions are for a sewing machine cover, neck cushions (which annoyingly I'd just bought for my girls but will be using the pattern from this once they split) and a gorgeous chicken doorstop - who could resist?!
I think that there are lots of useful projects to get your teeth into, and to use up those scraps of left-over fabric!
G x

Thursday 1 May 2014

Sewing Bee Afternoon Tea

Did I announce that on Saturday I was having tea with David from GBSB?!  Oh yes, of course I did!

I guess you all want to know about the day then?  If not, don't bother reading further, but if you do, then carry on right now....

I went to the lovely Abakhan in Mostyn with my sewing buddy Lottie for a two hour workshop with David learning to make the leggings that are in the GBSB second book, and then for afternoon tea.  We were both fairly excited! (I even wore my sewing bee top in honour of the event)!  Upon arrival I then discovered that I had forgotten my phone, so all photos were kindly taken by Lottie on my behalf (disclaimer).

We had a look at some of the fabric outside - would this be suitable for leggings we wondered?!

It was windy - this is not my hairstyle!

After a brief lunch, it was into the dragon's den for our workshop, they have a specially designated room at the Mostyn site - check out the website for all the courses that they are offering over the next few months, there's loads!

Wish me luck!

There were 10 of us making leggings that afternoon, David was a very competent teacher, especially as it was his first ever workshop session.  We started by choosing our fabric, and then cutting out the pattern....
Mmmm, which would you choose?!


Then it was all guns blazing as we set to work on our machines - except my bloomin work wasn't playing ball - time to get the teacher in to fix it!
Now I can begin....
Looks like someone is taking a break!

Now the tricky part - pinning them together and sewing the crotch!

Oh yes! Even David was impressed!!!

Then some waistband quartering and some ankle hemming and we was finished!!!
Check me and my leggings out!
Then it was time for tea!!!
I did ask David lots of questions, and here are my improvised answers - hopefully I've remembered more-or-less what David replied and that he will be happy with what this says.
Q: Was it as cold as it looked when you stepped outside for your tea?
A: Yes!!!
Q: Is Claude totally wonderful?
A: Yes, she was very funny and the one who motivated everyone when energy levels were low.
Q: Would you do it again?
A: Definitely
Q: Did the right person win?
A: Heather is a very lovely person...
David has now started a drop-in sewing session and pattern borrowing scheme following his success on the Sewing Bee.  So if you're down his way, drop in and say hi!  (Obviously the first session has been and gone now but his contact details are here for anyone who needs them).
He is a thoroughly lovely man, and I think we all had a wonderful day out.  Thank you Abakhan for organising it!
G x