“Eastward Ho!”

So I’m moving to the big smoke in two weeks time – East Dulwich in South East London to be precise – and instead of packing I’ve been making pretty things for my room. Call it an avoidance exercise if you like. Everything for my old room has had a blue/cream/green theme, whereas I appear to be introducing shades of pink. But I’m hoping that it’ll all come together and look homely, if not eclectic. At any rate, this might be the last of my blogging and crafting for a while as I’m bound to discover that, on leaving the family nest, I can’t afford to pay for internet connection or heating, so I’ll be too cold to knit and unable to access my blog! It’s important to have these life experiences, right?!  But I’ll see you anon, when I may have left behind my country ways and converted into a true Londoner…

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Before and After

This week at work we were jokingly discussing what we’d do for a living if we couldn’t do our current jobs (i.e. publishing). I would definitely open a craft shop. Of course, you need a lot of handy revenue to buy a shop, and I lack fundamental accountancy skills to manage such a venture, so it would probably fold within a week… Added to that, I’m probably not as good at crafting as I like to think. Every project I embark on takes twice as long (at least) as I think it will, as I get distracted and lose dedication and will-power to continue.

These last few months I definitely bit off more than I could chew with a reupholstery project. I bought a very manky looking, but structurally sound, dressing-table stool from a charity shop (see below) and proceeded to strip off the old fabric. In fact, reupholstering was the easy part. Sanding the legs down in order to paint in a french-chic ivory without possessing an electric sander was hard work. Certainly good for the old arm muscles though… In the end I became impatient and in my eagerness to paint broke out with a paintbrush. The end result is satisfactory though. The joke in our house is that I’m buying things for my “bottom drawer” for when I move out. This won’t fit in any drawer I own, but I can envision it in my own place, along with the antique chair from Lewes.

“Now… What would France with Us?”

I’m blogging today for many reasons: because it’s been a long time since I did so (as reminded by some good friends!), because I have finally finished some long-standing craft projects and because, bitterly, I’m trying to block out Wales’ defeat to France in the semi-final of the rugby world cup. C’est la vie, I suppose.

The late spell of Indian-summer heat saw me in the back garden painting furniture (a blog on a renovated “upcycled” charity shop stool yet to come) but, conversely, I was also stricken down by a pathetic mini version of man flu which confined me to the lounge and to my crochet hooks… The result? Mission: Crochet Blanket is now accomplished! It’s taken me a year, but I’m chuffed with the final result. As with many things in my life, it shows that perseverance definitely pays off in the end.

Today I am also, in true Kirsty Allsop style, recommending Lewes for its gorgeous labyrinthine antique centres, where I snapped up a beautiful mock-French bedroom chair. And my doorstop (made with material matching my draught excluder from an earlier post) is now completed and filled with Welsh sand, from Tenby’s North beach, no less. Finally, for some Keatsian autumnal fun, evidence of what we’ve been growing in our back garden this year…

As a postscript, I really would recommend crochet to anyone considering it. It’s addictive and fairly simple in its repetitiveness. Youtube has some good tutorials. In the meantime, they say that idle hands are the devil’s something, so I’m moving on to cushion covers and bunting. Should be done by Christmas…

“I Thought the King Had More Affected the Duke of Albany Than Cornwall.”

In a fit of post-royal-wedding-withdrawal-symptoms I got crafty in my pjs this morning. Being now as I am a busy working commuting type person I’ve missed leisurely crafty days, so it was satisfying to get the needle and thread out once more, although I did come over all dithery in a state of seam allowance/ slip stitching/ lack of matching thread and sewing machine related confusion. In the end I decided on a combination of a  Cath Kidston/ printed internet patterns/ make-it-up-as-you-go-along technique for my vintage floral peg bag. I’ve combined gorgeous material bought from a local village vintage shop with ribbon and button from a collection given me for my birthday (for other birthday delights, see the below “furry” tulips). The result may be more pretty than practical as I appear to have misplaced most of my pegs, so the sturdiness or otherwise of aforementioned slip stitching remains untested for now.

I also bring you evidence that my crochet blanket (begun in a blog many months back and wrongly foretelling that I’d be done by Christmas) is very nearly completed. I feel almost royally triumphant about this and can’t wait to stitch all the squares together. I have only 3 (THREE!) granny squares left to go, and then perhaps I’ll count them all to assess exactly how much of an Everestian task this has been!

PS: For the template that I loosely used, follow this link: http://www.housetohome.co.uk/articles/Make_a_floral_peg_bag_195226.html

“Now, Fair Hippolyta…”

Spring has sprung and this makes me want to languish poetically in plays such as A Midsummer’s Night Dream, with fairies called Peasebottom and the like. Of course the weather isn’t quite midsummer balmy yet, but there’s nothing like casting off the gloom of winter to make me ridiculously overly optimistic.

The next line of the above is “our nuptial hour draws apace” and as a whole plethora of my friends are getting married over the next six months I’ve been reflecting on pretty home-made gifts for weddings. As such I’m actually (in contradictory fashion) featuring below a fabric-covered noticeboard for my own room (matching bunting to follow) and a blanket box that some friends and myself built, painted and decorated for another friend’s baby shower. However, ideas for wedding gifts would be much appreciated, particularly, in this economic climate, items of the “thrifty chic” variety. For now I’m off to revel in the spring sunshine…

“Escalus”

I have spent the week in bracing cold Yorkshire, visiting relatives, and assisting my grandfather’s family history hunt (or at least, attempting to). This was how my sister and I discovered that one of our great great grand uncles, sadly killed in WWI, was called Sylvester. Which is almost as great a first name as Escalus – the opening word of Measure for Measure.

Another brief post to wrap up 2010, featuring perhaps one of my most adventurous craft projects – involving second hand china and melting candle wax to near boiling point over a stove. The result is fun and vintage: teacup candles for friends (or yourself!).

Should auld acquaintance be forgot/ And never brought to mind? …
For auld lang syne, my dear / For auld lang syne. We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet /
For auld lang syne.

“Blow, blow thou winter wind… Then heigh ho, the holly!”

I have taken this moment to break my own rules in favour of festivities. Although Shakespeare does not seem to ever spend long pondering Christmas in his plays, these lines from a poem in As You Like It are suitably seasonal and definitely topical wintry-weather wise.

Today’s post is short and merely features some recent Christmas crafting activities: candle table decorations,  home-baked gifts from the kitchen and a selection of my favourite red and gold themed tree decorations.