Monthly Archives: March 2016


Joy of spring

Last day of March, today, roll on April.

March had some very stormy days. This last year or so has seen the UK (UK sends us their weather!) naming every storm that comes along and there’s been a whole raft of them. The last one, just a few days ago, was Katie. She blew and blew and threw rain, hurled hail and dashed at our windows with gremlin fingers in a very unpleasant way. Proper little tiger with PMT. Thankfully, she’s disappeared back to where she came from and the sun has come out. Washing has been dried on the line and taken in with that gorgeous smell of the outdoors wafting from the wash basket.

Doesn’t the sunshine put a spring in your step and a smile on your face? Daffodils are blooming in their golden bonnets and brightening up gardens everywhere. Buds are looking swollen and getting ready to burst. It’s lovely. I lopped off the dead flowers from the several hydrangeas in the front and back gardens. It’s a proper chore but has to be done. Come mid-summer, they’ll be in full bloom and make for a tremendous show of colour, a real hot riot of pinks and blues – carnival colours. I love them.

I’ve had time, between helping lay some laminate flooring and radiator painting, to do some paper cutting. The letter H for a girl. It’s now mounted on a piece of black cotton and framed in an Ikea Ribba but the picture above shows just the papercutting in the raw.  I did a similar one as a gift for a lady’s leaving present. Hers was mounted on dark grey linen which also contrasted excellently and set it off a treat. Using fabric instead of paper was the result of necessity. Sourcing nice paper, ie, not plain pastel or brights, is Mission Impossible. I didn’t know what to do until I looked through the fabric stash and inspiration flashed.

We’ve also got our new fire surround – not fitted yet but give it a month or so. The current fireplace has to be pulled out – that means ripping up the carpet. That’s okay, the carpet is old and needs replacing but once the fireplace is in, the floor will probably need some repair work and the walls will need papering before we can get new carpet. It means the house will be like Paddy’s Market for some weeks (months??? erk!) to come.

Want to see the surround? It has a matching mirror, pretty much the full width of the mantel. It’s a sizeable piece and very heavy, like the mantel. Big hunk of wood. The insert is cast iron with a central panel featuring a thistle and other little motifs. It’s art nouveau (I think) and makes me so happy to look at it.

It’s in the back room ‘glory hole’. Everything is stacked in there at the moment. Tools, tables, boxes…. This room will be the last one to tackle so I have to live with it as is for a while. Anyway, back to the surround. I LOVE it and can’t wait for it to take its place in the lounge.

Also found time to sew a few birdies.

This chap is made from cream and grey linen with the fringe from a woolen blanket edging the smaller circle’s (the bird is simply a couple of circles folded in half) perimeter. I used the same woolen blanket for the beak and the tail – strands rolled and tied with fine string. It’s filled with lavender and hung with wooden beads and jute twine.

The first bird would have had lots of French Knots to decorate but I got ahead of myself and stitched him round without the embroidery. The other two have bugle beads, seed beads and French Knots a Go-Go! Their tails are made in the same way as the first chap. Sandwiched in between the linen layers is a fleecy lining cut with pinking shears to add a pretty trim to each bird.

These birds look so simple but each involves a LOT of work, from Bondawebbing the layers then stitching them down, making the tails and beaks, stitching the blanket edging, tacking the bird together leaving an opening for the lavender filling and securing the tail and beaks, machine stitching them closed then hand-sewing the embroidered French Knots, (for a quick how-to, I created a tutorial with Illustrator here: Mastering the French Knot) sequins and beady eyes. Believe me, I doubt I could charge enough to cover the work and time that goes into them.  My regular Samsara birds Samsara birds2 Samsarabirds3 Samsarabirds4 with their concentric circles of machine stitching aren’t much quicker and I sell them very cheaply at craft fairs for a local animal charity. I make them because they’re a joy to make despite all the work – maybe because of all the work – that goes into them.

Anyway, this trilling threesome are flying off as a Thank You present and will be leaving the nest any day now.

Last word from Gracie. Purrrrrrzzzzzz.

You’d think that all Gracie does is sleep! Far from it. She’s a little tyke and loves to be outdoors as much as possible. When she comes in for the night, she likes a fishy supper a good wash and bed. Here she is in her radiator hammock wearing her furry pyjamas looking very relaxed and happy. It’s a cat’s life!

First day of April tomorrow – doesn’t time fly?!


Gone potty

Happy Sunday to you.

Have you been busy today or taking it easy? I mowed the lawn, strimmed round and helped Smiffs shift a load of stuff to organise the tools and other things still needed for the million of jobs left to do to get straight following the recent work we had done.

I found time to finish the door number plate I posted a little while ago: Stencil.  After cutting the stencil in vinyl, Smiffs weeded it for me and ran masking tape strips across it to keep the design together. Obviously, the negative, ie, the area cut out, was the space to paint in.

After sticking it down on the tile, I used spray paint to lightly spritz the design and repeated the spritzing a few more times over a number of  hours, allowing drying time between each coating.  Finally, the outer vinyl was peeled and weeded off leaving a crisp, clean, sharp-outlined design. The four white dots in the corners are for the pilot holes to be drilled when it gets mounted. We chose some nice dome-headed screws for that job. Am very pleased with it. It’s a lot more work than perhaps it looks, though. Its simplicity is very deceptive.

I had to finish the pot above as it was commissioned for Saturday morning. I used a vintage image from the Graphics Fairy and Mod Podge as the transfer method. Round the other side of the pot are the words ‘Happy Birthday from ****’ in Brockscript which is a free font, at least it is from Da Font.  The lady is celebrating her ninetieth. I do hope she likes it as much as the lady who ordered it.

Finally, I completed a paper cutting to celebrate a new baby:

I wanted to do something completely different and new but the lady who ordered it liked the elements I’d used in a couple of previous designs so here it is. It turned out well and she was delighted with it. The banner is obviously where the name went and looks a bit odd without something there!

Looks much nicer with the name cut out, obviously obscured a bit in Photoshop for privacy, but you get a better idea of the final effect.

The cutting is laid on a rich wool-mix tweed and was mounted in an Ikea white-framed Viserum. It did it proud and looked really pretty.

Well, a busy weekend. Dublin yesterday (still no mohair) but got some lovely Sirdar Soukie which is a polyester, acrylic and cotton mix with sequins in cream with a satiny golden thread woven in. It will make some pretty flower embellishments. As will Sirdar’s ‘Ophelia’ – described as ‘softest fur with glimpses of glitter’ – sounds delicious, doesn’t it?!. It’s a nice hairy, fuzzy wool and will produce wonderful crochet roses.

Crochet is coming along nicely. Am half way through a two-coloured chevron tea pot cosy. Not coming along any where nearly so well is Crocodile stitch that I am ineptly trying to achieve, let alone master. I tie myself up in knots trying to crochet a line of scales, never mind a whole tier or cascade of them. Very frustrating. It creates such a wonderful layered design and I’ve seen some great baby bootee patterns with it but it’s got me beaten for the moment. Practise makes perfect so must persevere and see how I get on. There are lots of You Tube videos so will try a few till I find one that ‘clicks’.

Anyway, time for tea and maybe watch something on the telly. Or might read. Or just fall asleep. The gardening, and the bath I had after, has left me a bit tired and a good dinner will probably zonk me out.

I’ll be curling up with Gracie! Enjoy what’s left of the weekend.


Turning Japanese

Hello Flower!

How’s yourself? You looking out at a garden full of dead headed hydrangeas? I am but spring is on the way. Gardens all around are resplendent with golden daffodils and glowy-white snowdrops and don’t they make a difference? Can almost feel the flowers smiling.

The photograph is from Mother’s Day. My boys are not in Ireland so no personal visit but a laugh on the phone and flowers delivered help me feel loved and not forgotten!

Following in the wake of the building work we had done recently, is the decorating and finishing. Not forgetting cleaning. Hard gritty-shitty cleaning.

The PC room floor has had laminate flooring laid and we’re ready to put the skirting boards back on then we can re-build the desk and plug in the scanners, printers, monitors, cutter, PC, etc. The Sewing room is also down for laminate and the landing is the storage area for the packs of Ikea ‘Tundra’.

We’ve decided on a new bath in the upstairs bathroom. The one in there is cast iron with a painted on enamel coating. In cold weather, the water cools very quickly so a modern fibreglass, or whatever they’re manufactured from, will conserve the heat better. It’s such a shame as the bathroom is fully tiled, walls and floor. Sink and loo are lovely. We have a dual flush as well for water conservation. It’s just the bath.

So, it has to go. The taps will be changed as well – they have a central shower hose leading to the shower head mounted on the wall (no shit Sherlock!). Unfortunately, without a pump, the water relies on there being sufficient water pressure to force the water flow against gravity and emerge from the shower head in a cascade of glorious streams and jets of deliciously hot water – the likes of which we hope to achieve as in the shampoo and shower gel adverts. On telly, women are positively orgasmic with their personal hygiene products that lather in a hedonistic orgy of  soap and bubbles.

Sadly, mine doesn’t quite manage those glorious levels of self-indulgence and would be better descibed as a dribble.  Possibly a power dribble but still a dribble.

So, as we have a lovely new shower in the downstairs bathroom, the Power Dribble taps will be changed and the shower bits will be dismantled and consigned to the death row of disjectamenta destined for the tip.

The Sewing Room is also going to have laminate flooring and will have new curtains, as will the office room. I have the fabric and lining materials so just need to make them.

Fabric is from Ikea. Should look fresh and pretty.

Am also up for making Smiffs a Yukata (very similar to a kimono) for prancing round the house in when he emerges from the shower.

I have the fabric:

Again, from Ikea. It’s been washed to soften it and just needs a quick press before making the garment.

I’m using a pattern from this lovely book found in a charity shop a little while ago:

Pattern construction is very simple as you can see and I’m excited to get started but haven’t got time.

And, just for turning that little bit more Japanese:

I got these fabulous scissors. It was strangely exciting to have an authentic Japanese invoice:

I say ‘we’ but the reality is, they get delivered to us via the Magnificent and Marvellous Parcel Motel!! Still felt very exotic. Ooooh. Frisson of excitment made my toes curl just looking at the picture.

Talking of toes, my Sliding Foot also arrived:

Am sure it will be a wonderful addition to my foot collection (you do read about people with foot fetishes, don’t you? Maybe I’m one). I’ve not had time to do anything with it yet as sewing is on hold while we decorate so it will just have to tap its toes and wait patiently for me.

I hope or aspire to one day, maybe… possibly…  posting pictures of each foot and a sample of what it does with tips and techniques but that dream is the moon on a stick at the moment.

The picture of the fireplace with the flowers at the top of this post will also be a memory soon. A new fire surround and plinth is (hopefully) on the cards. I’ve been hankering for a vintage Victorian type fireplace and mantel for some time and will know by the weekend if I’ve found The One. Fingers crossed. Of course, it means More Mess but I’m getting used to awkward working arrangements so will accommodate the upheaval with a sanguine expression of serenity. Well, up to a point. It’s always possible that the serene expression may come closer to resembling a rictus, grimace or a full-blown gurn with time.

My dining table is the office space at the moment which means both girls can easily inspect and inform progress…

Obviously not been very productive here and Gracie is not impressed. We’ve had her 2 years now so she’s pretty much grown up.  She is our IT expert.

Hmm. she’s probably thinking that it’s no wonder I’m not getting much done if I’m fannying around with a camera.

The dining room table arrangement is particularly inconvenient as I have my sewing machine on the other end and loose bobbins are so much fun to chase around.

And where do we eat? Good question. In the kitchen at the drop-leaf Ikea table that I put together! Toot toot! With power tools. Girl power, ladies! Love it! And am knowledgable in the Noggin or ‘Dwang’ department, too. Just call me Womp!

Crochet is still a big pash and have been happily making flowers and leaves to embellish Other Things and the crochet bag posted recently:

crochet bag

The lovely roses were made from a pattern on the Green Dragonfly blog,:

crochet roses

The leafy raindrops are made following a You Tube tutorial from Sheruknitting (it is a CROCHET tutorial):

Leafy Raindrops

I went looking for Mohair but Nothing. I wanted some different colours but came up empty! *Shock*. Cannot find it for love nor money.

Anyway, as if I didn’t have enough projects on the go, I have a plant pot to personalise for a neighbour (pics to follow when finished). I’ve used a vintage image from the Graphic Fairy site. That site offers the most wonderful collection of free vintage graphics you could ever ask for! If you haven’t ever visited (you living under a rock? Only joking) the link is here:
The Graphics Fairy

And I have a papercutting for a March baby to get done. The design is pretty much worked out in Illustrator and just needs client approval before I start cutting.

Still, it’s all good and the upheaval will pass.

Before I go, a couple of sweet pictures of Jess. She’s the bookworm of the family. Maybe the bookcase should say Me-Ow?

Time to go. Much work to be done and many curse words will be uttered before the end of this month, I’m sure, but will try to temper them in the Irish way. With an ‘E’ instead of a ‘U’.

Until next time, my lovelies, take care, have fun and play nicely.



Last wheezy gasps of the Auld Boiler

This little sewing kit is based on the Tilda House sewing kit template. It’s quilty and warm looking – like my house is now!

I have a new boiler! The previous one was an old Baxi and was vented up the chimney flue. It used to roar  on windy days and fill the house with monstrous noise like Carson at Mrs Hughes mishandling her Patty Pans. It’s efficiency had dropped off over the years and was down to about 30% meaning that two thirds of the heat it generated was going up the chimney. It drew it’s last few wheezy gasps over a week ago when we got a a new, 98% efficient, one!

Regulations had changed since the old one was installed and boilers must now be mounted on external walls. Having a new boiler meant re-routing gas pipes from the hot press upstairs, across my office room and down through the floor to the kitchen below. Floorboards up, pipes cut, capped, and soldered.

Plus we had a bigger shower put in the downstairs bathroom, an extension with three external walls. Two sides of the shower cubicle were comprised of the external walls, a third internal wall had been built to enclose the single shower tray and it closed up with a shower curtain.  Very dark, cold and grim!

Showering with a curtain rather than a door in a small enclosure means that you run the gauntlet of dealing with the attendant hilarity of the curtain sticking to your back and legs like a cheap suit when wet! It was a rotten experience on colder days! Fortunately, we have an upstairs bathroom with a bath so we were able to enjoy a nice soak in the tub but it’s nice to have a shower as well!

And now I have a lovely shower room! The shower now extends across the width of the bathroom, it has glass doors to let in natural light and it makes what was a long room better proportioned for having its length capped off. The builder also put in stud walls around the shower to insulate it from the cold making it naturally warmer.

But, all this building work, the knocking down of walls, the ripping out of the old boiler, the flushing of the central heating system, the changing of the radiator valves in every room and so on,  means brick dust, soot and proper dirt. Everywhere.

“I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes.

Dust is all around me and so the feeling grows.

Dust is all around me

I blow it out my nose”

Deep Cleaning

The builders finished lunchtime Wednesday afternoon. I spent ALL afternoon cleaning the kitchen. Deep cleaning. It’s odd but regular cleaning, the general maintenance-level cleaning, is a bore. Give me some deep cleaning to do and I get really absorbed. I don’t stop till it’s done and actually love it.

Yesterday I tackled the lounge and got it fresh and sparkly. The office room upstairs is being painted this weekend and we’re putting down laminate flooring – Ikea’s ‘Tundra’ so lots to do. More rooms to clean and others to decorate.

Did I mention cleaning?

Lots of cleaning.

All the building work kept me pretty much stuck in one room. The sewing room upstairs is full of bags of bedding and towels from the hot press and I can’t get to my ‘proper’ sewing machine.

Not that I take part in those ‘What have you got on your work top’ but if I did, I wouldn’t show you! It looks like a landfill site. I took a picture of a bit of wall to remind me of better days ahead when the bags of mess will be put back into their hot press hidey holes and out of sight.

Luckily, I have a machine downstairs so I could stitch a Tilda sewing kit and take my mind off the drilling and bashing going on all around the house.

It’s already in use. The bias didn’t go on very well but hey-ho! I did my best in the circumstances.

Some straggly bits of taradiddle trim made for pretty hollyhocks on the back.

A little scissor case on the right-hand-side makes it a neat and handy bit of sewing kit.

I lined the case with some felty wool and had some fun playing with the built-in stitches on the Elna and left over felt:

Kept me absorbed and oblivious (almost) to the dust devils and dirt levels! I folded it in half and suddenly it became another needle/pin holder! That meant the inside needed some interior design.

A padded heart hand-stitched down for pin impalement. Nearly took a pic of it with some pins in but it looked a bit like the Tarot three of hearts…. ooo-er…

I had an Annie Bonnet tea cosy to make as well, so was able to get on with that. Here is one side, ruffled up with more of the taradiddle straggly trim. The hearts and beady bobbles you’ll know well if you visit here regularly. I offered them to the crochet bag I made recently but couldn’t get them to shake hands or make nice with each other. Very undateable! The scale of the cosy to the hearts is a good match though and I can see them tying the knot soon.

The ribbon for the tie top and elastic for the bottom are hidden in the sewing room proper and inaccessible so the cosy pieces are put away to be finished in the next few days. As soon as I can get the house clean and organised again.



And a trip to Ikea was managed. Moth to a flame. It always burns me! Finally managed to get the curtain fabric I wanted. Sigbrit. Have looked for it the last few times I’ve been but it was always sold out – until last night. Success!

Bought shower room bits and mats and towels and stuff.  Isn’t it exciting when you’re picturing the room all dressed and pretty?! The process of shopping around looking for the nice things to set it off is a very pleasant preoccupation.

Quick diversion – Interior design competition on the telly box

Dancing Feet


Presenting the wonderful Pintuck Foot and its helper, the Pintuck Guide! Yay. I’ve been Googling things to make with this happy couple and will show the results when the house is better organised. They’ve been stepping out for a while. Don’t they make a lovely couple?!




Here’s Grace, stretched out on her radiator hammock. She looks like it’s too small for her but it really isn’t! Cats don’t sleep where they’re not comfy so she must be comfortable.

Happy Snow Day (we have snow!!!) and speak laters, taters!

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