Thursday, 17 April 2014



Today I made a skirt for Miss M. With hems and everything. And a French seam in fact. Urgh, I've got a thumping headache here so I might be a little incoherent, but here's the gist. I'm following in the footsteps of Marianne of Ladybird Diaries who has made several for her own Miss M and swears they are easy.  I'm following the same instructions she used, which are the Easy-Peasy Skirts tutorial from Punkin Patterns.  I did more ironing today than I've done all year (I'm not big on ironing) - in fact I spent more time on the ironing than on the sewing which for once went like a dream. Miss M claims she cast 'reparo' on the sewing-machine last night, which was helpful - also I cleaned the guts of the sewing-machine out again. Getting quite quick at that now!

I don't remember ironing in the sewing class at school. Maybe they didn't trust us with hot metal. I certainly wouldn't have trusted us. But pressing everything does seem to make the fabric so much more manageable, so I'm feeling more confident with this sewing lark. 

Very fortunately Miss M seems to really like her new skirt and would like me to make more for her. Last summer I had a real problem getting her a lightweight skirt for the summer - no such problem this year!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Disaster and triumph (may be slight exaggeration)

Why do weird things not happen when My Beloved is in the house?  On Monday the cabinet that encases the boiler just fell off the wall. Out of the blue. Very fortunately it just sort of flipped out away from the wall so the boiler wasn't damaged and neither was the microwave that sits underneath it. In fact the only thing actually broken was one of the cat bowls but it was a cheapy plastic thing so was easily replaced for the unprincely sum of 79p. And even more fortunately neither the kids nor the cats (nor me for that matter) were in the kitchen at the time. I was up in the bathroom trying to get the shower curtain pole back up because it had just fallen down. Honestly, in any other part of the world I'd have suspected an earthquake but it's about as seismically active here as a teabag.

Monday was a bit chaotic generally, it has to be said - I had an exercise class in the morning, then Miss M had her ballet class in the late afternoon, then a gymnastics class after tea, so it was a bit of a running around day.  On the upside, the weather was sunny and bright and both the kids and the cats got out into the fresh air a lot, and I got a tonne of washing done and out on the line.

The garden is starting to look more springlike:

And yesterday (also sunny) we discovered that there are masses of tadpoles in our tiny pond. I'd been about to clear some of the green sludge out of the pond when I noticed all the black wriggly things.

The camera sees many more details than my eyes did!  Now I'm wondering if I should try and clear some of the green sludge out to give the tadpoles some space or if they need it to lurk in or eat. All I remember about tadpoles from the tadpole tank in our classroom when I was in Primary Three is that they'll eat each other given half a chance. Bleurgh. However I am delighted that our tiny pond has been deemed worthy of spawning in, so good luck to them. I'll just not look too closely.

In the interests of staving off holiday boredom I got some marbling inks off ebay (yes, I actually planned ahead!) and Miss M and her friend had a go at marbling yesterday. I think the results are beautiful - why have we not done this before?

Not sure what to do with them - maybe cut out shapes and stick them up on the pinboard?

The latest episode in my further adventures in sewing is that I have made a small drawstring bag which is now a lavender bag (I made a small pouch for the lavender to go inside the bag otherwise with just a drawstring there would be lavender everywhere) and I'm just trying to pluck up enough courage to start Miss M's skirt. I've washed and ironed the fabric, now I just have to stop over-thinking it and just have a go.

The kids are out for a bit with their Grandad tomorrow so my plan is to try to start the skirt then. How hard can it be?  (Don't answer that)

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A Celebratory Woohoo!

I did it! I sewed a thing! To put this in context, this the first machine-sewn item I have finished since about 1984* so I do not care that it's a mere pincushion - I look at that and see Achievement!

I do really need to practise steering though. I was halfway through sewing it when I suddenly recalled the denim pencil-case I made in first-year that got smaller and smaller until it ended up a make-up bag because pencils wouldn't fit in it. Looking back on it I made quite a few things in sewing at school - pincushion, wonky pencil-case, small red quilted purse, and then a skirt in second year.  All long lost, yet I have several things I made in woodwork - guess which I preferred?

Oh well, I'll practise. Fortunately I have plenty of that pink gingham kicking around and also an old thin cotton curtain so I can just spend a few days practising steering.  Maybe it'd help if I made vroooom-vroooom noises like the boys in my sewing-class at school did.

As to what the problem with the sewing-machine was... well, I'm not sure. I was extra careful threading up, especially round the tension discs - you seem to need to give the thread quite a good yank round that bit on our machine - but I also replaced the needle so it might just have been that. In my nauseating Pollyanna-ish moments I think it was quite good I was having issues with the sewing-machine because I've learned quite a bit, but on the other hand there were moments of extreme frustration and quite a bit of muttered swearing. And some-not so-muttered swearing.

But the best bit about my outstanding pincushion cheevos is that I managed this before the final of The Great British Sewing Bee, which is on tonight. Now I can nod knowledgeably at the screen and think 'yes, I too have sewed a thing'. Maybe I should make a pincushion with a peplum next. And French seams.

*Aaargh, just realised that's thirty years!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

I spoke too soon.

Inspired by Marianne of Ladybird Diaries, who made a skirt for her Miss M, I thought I'd have go at making a very simple skirt for my own Miss M. But as I'm rather rusty with the sewing machine I thought I'd better do something even more basic first, so today I started to make a pincushion. All has not gone well. The sewing machine has regressed to its previous state of recalcitrance. I have been googling and watching youtube videos on how to solve my problem, and cleaning out the guts of the machine again, using a spoon as a screwdriver again (those screws on the needle plate are bloomin' awkward things, aren't they?) but there has been no miracle cure this time. The top thread just keeps snapping. Yes, I've tried altering the tension. I've tried everything, even threats.

I think there should be a special episode of The Great British Sewing Bee, for people like me. 'You have one and a half hours to thread your sewing machine and sew a wonky hem 15cm long. The judges will be looking for creative use of bad language and the ability to thread and rethread and rethread and rethread and rethread your machine without resorting to tears or a chainsaw.'  I think I've been extraordinarily patient.

I've ordered better quality thread because what I was using was from a cheap set from Lidl, that up until now I have mostly used for handsewing name labels on the kids clothes. It is supposed to be suitable for use in sewing machines though. And it's what I used a few weeks ago when the sewing machine miraculously worked, but I'm not thinking about that just now.  I'm thinking serene thoughts about otters.

Serene. Oh yes.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014


My computer is working properly again! I'd had an upgrade go a bit wonky, so My Beloved reinstalled and tweaked and fixed and now it's functioning so much better. Of course I have to fight the kids for the computer but they're asleep and it's mine all mine!

I was of course going to write a sensible blog post, but it's been a long day and it's a bit late at night for rational thought, and besides I have a rather silly picture of a duck to share with you:

This was one day last week when we had actual sunlight. The reflections were so bright I couldn't even see what I was taking a picture of, but quite by accident I've taken a picture that really makes me smile. It reminds me a bit of the opening titles of Peter Davison era Doctor Who, so it's a space duck. Or perhaps a time-duck.

It really was a beautiful day, though still a bit chilly.

In other excitement, our washing-machine shuffled off this mortal coil recently and our new one arrived last Thursday so I've been playing with that. It turns out that it sings little tunes to me when it finishes a cycle, and when you turn it on or off, which I'm still at the stage of finding amusing. I've learned how to switch the sound off though, in case it all becomes too chirpy and Talkie Toaster for words.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

I've finished a thing!

I've done it! I've made a crochet rectangle which I've folded in half to make a pouch, crocheted up the sides and done two hanging loops. It's a thing!

For a long time I've been meaning to come up with something better than attaching party invitations, school stuff I need to remember and so on to the calendar with a paper-clip.  For one thing if I do that the bits of paper always cover up something I need to remember and for another they fall off in the slightest breeze, such as that created by a ten-year-old running past. Now I have my crocheted pocket and I am Organized!

It may be slightly wonky (though much less than it would have been a week ago) but I'm very proud of it. Thank you to commenter Anon for all your help!

Thursday, 13 March 2014


It's all going wonky. I may need the collective wisdom of the crochet bloggy world.

This is yesterday's wonky thing. Although I can just about do a granny square, I've never got the hang of going back and fore, so that was my aim this week. The start, at the bottom, was (UK) doubles. Then I realised I wasn't putting the hook through both bits at the top of the stitch (the 'v' on its side) and sorted that after which it went a bit straighter. Then I switched to trebles and didn't notice for ages that I was straying into trapezium territory again. Straying? I'd invaded trapezium airspace big time!

So I ripped it all out and started again, doing trebles this time, but I'm still getting distortion - is that just because of the tension of the chain row at the start? Or am I going wonky again? It looks to me as if it would be fairly parallel at the sides if the bottom edge were pulled straight, but that may be wishful thinking.

Frustratingly google and youtube have not been much help here - there loads of how-to's for stitches and so on but not much that I can find on recognising, diagnosing and rectifying mistakes. I only found one website addressing the trapezium/trapezoid issue, and it suggested that most people's crochet gets wider not narrower! So I'm weird. Hmm.

Help me Obi Blog Kenobi, you're my only hope!  *flicker