Saturday, September 22, 2007

Chunky Monkey

I nearly forgot to say the most exciting thing that happened to Hagos lately. He was at Annie Lennox's charity gig at the Albert Hall last night, and got to meet Ben and Jerry! From Ben and Jerry's ice cream fame! We were all really impressed. Hagos's favourite is Chunky Monkey. I quite like Phish Food (very OTT), though when we go to the cinema I sometimes have Chocolate Fudge Brownie.

Meg, Meg, Meg, Selvedge and Donna Tartt

Meg hunting (lazily) for birds in the bush. Sometimes she crawls into the bush to lie in wait.
But mostly she just sits on the coal bunker and moves her head from side to side.
The new Selvedge magazine. I'm looking forward to November's issue, whose theme is Scandinavia and Christmas!
So far I'm enjoying The Little Friend. Though the font is tiny. Must be 7 or 8 point.

I can't show what else I'm making until November, though I'd really love to as I'm so impressed by how quickly and easily it's come together.

I have nothing I'm sewing at the moment. The fabric I ordered from Cotton Patch about a month ago hasn't turned up yet. They said they'll send it when it comes in but maybe I'll have to order other stuff. I'm thinking of making the pyjama bottoms from In Stitches. I've found material I really like, a light cotton with random circles on it. Also thinking about making placemats and coasters from bend-the-rules sewing. Thought I could mainly use linen, with a bit of Amy Butler fabric in the middle square, then embroider different things either side of it on each one. Hm, that wasn't very well explained, but I'm tired.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Friend Indeed

This is the present I made for Joyce, for being a very good friend. It's a toiletries bag, because she often goes away for weekends.

It's the same material I used to make her skirt. I lined it with mustard, (what I hope will be) waterproof material and pulled it all together with cord and a toggle. Inside I put two empty bottles for shampoo and conditioner, a soap dish (with some Sanctuary soap) and a toothbrush holder.It was well worth it to see how excited she was opening it.

Over the last three years, particularly, I've become very sensitive to kindness, and lack of it. Maybe it's to do with getting older and dealing with a broader range of life's challenges (how euphemistic is that!), but kindness means a lot to me. And Joyce is one of the kind people in my life.

It's to do with honesty as well, and not judging people.

Moving on.

It's just me and Meg at home tonight as Hagos is at another awards ceremony in London. She always cuddles up on my lap when it's the two of us. I think she feels usurped by Hagos when he's home. She has such a sweet, triangular face.

I read the very beginning of The Secret History in the bath tonight. I love the prologue. The distillation of the narrative. The language, scene-setting and rhythm is concise, like poetry.

I want to read a grown up book after my children's books outing and thought of reading My Little Friend, also by Tartt. I've begun it twice before and only got through the first fifty pages. It's dense. I'll give it another go. I have to read the right book at the right time.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Secret Santa - in November

At work on Friday we realised it was time to do our 'you have to make it' Secret Santa in Autumn. I think last year we did it in August. Only Anna and I took part last year. This year we managed to convince the rest of our table, Hannah, Rosie and Bethany, to join us. That was after we said 'making it' could include a cake or a pie or a quiche. It'll be interesting to see what turns up!

I looked through a few books and came up with a great idea, and was very excited about it until I met a friend of Hagos's on Friday night. She is a knitter, and after chatting with her I immediately went out and bought some wool and started making a project for the Secret Santa using wool instead of material, which had been my original plan. Now I'm not sure which present to give. Maybe I'll make both and see how I feel. Anyway, unfortunately I can't divulge what either project is at the moment in case someone reads my blog beforehand.This friend (I never know how much personal information I should give out on a blog that's surely only read by good friends and crafty women), is currently working as wardrobe mistress for Erasure and they played at UEA in Norwich last night, so we went along to see them for a wee while. I stupidly didn't take my camera and wished I had when I got onto the tour bus. I love tour buses, never going on them myself anymore. This one was very sparkly and well-maintained. I particularly miss sleeping in a bunk. For anyone who hasn't been on a tour bus - there are bunks lining either side of upstairs, usually one up, one down, with an aisle in the middle. At first it feels like being enclosed in a coffin but when you share a tour bus with twelve other people for a couple of months it soon feels very spacious and welcome because it's the only personal space you have on tour. And the movement of the bus driving overnight to the next destination lulls you to sleep. There are also usually two lounges in a tour bus, one with a TV/DVD/music system in it, the other with a games console and a little kitchen. If I ever win the lottery I think I'll hire a tour bus and get a bunch of friends to travel round Europe with me like that.

As our friend arrived in Norwich a day early, we met her at her hotel and went to Wagamama's for dinner. I absolutely love Wagamama's. I always have the same thing, Yasai Chilli Men (sp?). I get a craving for it sometimes. It was a really nice evening. Her and Hagos were able to chat about tour stuff/people they know, and her and I were able to chat about knitting and embroidery and sewing. We have some of the same books and like the same wool!

I still haven't got round to making my present for Joyce, for being a good friend to me recently. Hagos is going to London this week so maybe I'll get it done one of those days after work.

In the meantime, here is some ribbon I recently bought from Panduro. I always feel Christmassy when the seasons turn from summer to autumn, then I'm thoroughly fed up with it by the beginning of December!

I've been enjoying reading some children's fiction recently. I think I like it because I read so much when I was a kid, and it brings back that feeling of absolute safety/being completely absorbed I felt then. I must read more now.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

'Algae' necklace

It was Mo's birthday yesterday, and I decided to make her a present to match her skirt. Here it is all wrapped up complete with a ginger guard!

I think every little girl must've had bracelets made out of these beads? They were certainly popular circa 1975 in the south of Scotland. That's why I love the Kaffe Fassett material so much.

And at risk of Mo seeing my blog before getting her present, here is the finished article: I used to do a lot of beading and necklace-making, inspired by my friend Kerstin. There was a lovely bead shop in Covent Garden I got my supplies from. I still have an organised tub full of beads, mainly little ones now. I've used most of my semi-precious stones over the years. I still like choosing colours and knotting the thread. You can't see it in this photo but I used little beads either side of the flowers. So if it was a black flower, I used blue, green and red beads either side. If it was a red flower, I used black green and blue beads either side, to complement it, see?

We've had a lovely day lazing around at home, pottering, doing stuff, reading, writing, bathing, cuddling the cat.

Simplicity Top #2, and some musings

It's a wee bit crumpled from wearing it yesterday. I made it over three days this time, just doing a bit at a time, otherwise it's too knackering. I got the material from my local fabric store, Anglian Fashion Fabrics. It's the first time I've had to centralise material because of the pattern and it wasn't too difficult. The pink and purple embroidery is really lovely.
Sometimes I struggle with what I'm doing with my life, or what I should be doing. The happiest I've been was when I did both my degrees. The chattering in my head stopped. I knew I was doing something worthwhile. I was learning, improving, progressing. I didn't have any existential angst! Anyway, the other night I had one of those unplanned, 'at peace' moments. I had got this book out of the library: And was reading through it, sitting between Hagos and Meg on the couch. Hagos was trying out his new headphones and asked if I wanted to listen to the sound quality. I then sat for about an hour listening to great music (Tunng, Kate Nash, Nick Drake) and reading great poetry. It was bliss.

A poem I return to again and again is this one: I first read it at secondary school when we covered war poetry. I had a really great English teacher, Mr Girvin, who was so enthusiastic about poetry and literature and plays and English. I was lucky enough to have him teach me for four years. I can still remember him explaining how the weight of the consonants in the first line reinforced the meaning. It was a bit like those 3D pictures that were all the rage a few years back. You know, where you have to hold the picture really close and unfocus your eyes, then the form and depth suddenly appear?
Years later, when I lived in London, I went to a reading organised by Canongate in a really decrepit church in central London. It was to launch their '12 Books of the Bible' series where they'd published the 12 books individually in pocket format, and they'd got various writers to write a new foreward to introduce the books. I went with my friend Janie, and we were positioned up on the balcony. I think most of the 12 writers had turned up for the reading, and from memory they included Nick Cave, Doris Lessing, Will Self, Blake Morrison and Louis de Bernieres (the Dalai Lama was absent). Louis de Bernieres was spectacularly heckled by some man further along the balcony raving about blasphemy. It was great. Anyway, because Mr Girvin had impressed upon us how important it was to read the Bible for litarary reasons, I decided to buy him a couple of autographed books and send them to him and say thanks for being a great teacher. I sent the package off to my old school address and a couple of weeks later he replied! We ended up meeting for lunch in the City of London one day, where I was working nearby. It turned out his daughter and son-in-law lived in London and he was due to visit them anyway. It was really nice to see him. He was still enthusiastic about literature, though no longer working. I think he'd retired early due to health reasons. One of my favourite plays, Time and The Conways by JB Priestley, was also due to Mr Girvin's interpretation and passion. I love the anachronistic structure, the playing with Time. It satisfies my existential tendencies! That's why I also love The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Time, existence, development.
Talking of which, I must get on and do things.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Sublime Stitching Cat Cushion

I made Meg a present today. She has two of these cushions propped at the end of the couch with a blanket for her comfort. I made the original cushion covers (from the same purple fleece material above) a couple of years ago, but now they're matted even though I vacuum and use sticky tape on them to try to remove the hairs. So, I found the leftover fleece in the cupboard, washed and dried it, and decided to try out a transfer from Sublime Stitching. It worked really well and I really like the result. It's a first attempt, so I didn't think too much about the embroidery colours I used. I wish now I'd used a lighter blue and pink for the kitten, but I was thinking orange = Meg at the time. I have a couple of ideas for more projects now.

I also made a second Simplicity top, which I'll photograph and upload tomorrow. I'm wearing it now. And I REALLY like it.

I have one more project to make this weekend. A present for a friend indeed. I'll photograph and upload that soon too (once I've made it).

The cushion being beautifully modelled...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

There's no place like home...

I love this photo, even though the glare makes it difficult to see. The cheesy grins are superb! This is Hagos and our friend Nathan posing inside our other friend Rik's camper van. We all coveted the camper van and took turns sitting in every seat and dreaming of holidaying in Scotland.

We were in Scotland for the wedding of our friends Sam and Kev who were married beside a lake by a Humanist minister.Hagos and Lynsey en route to the lake. Hagos is wearing a 21st Century Kilt with a Vivienne Westwood glow-in-the-dark skeleton, long-sleeved T-shirt, and Lynsey is wearing a lovely polka dot dress. Pete was one of the Best Men (there were three altogether) so had gone ahead to help prepare things.

I particularly like Humanist ceremonies as they focus on what is really important in life (family, friends; the importance of love and friendship in marriage) and are more personal.

After the ceremony we all headed back across the field and had a lovely dinner in a converted barn, then danced celidh dances for most of the night. The first dance was the Gay Gordons, which is my and Hagos's favourite. We're particularly good at it and danced it in the kitchen on our own wedding day.

Sam and Kev impressed and surprised everyone during their first dance. It started off slow and smoochy as usual, then there was a pause, they turned their backs to everyone and broke into a synchronised bhangra dance. It was so cool. They'd been practising since January, it later transpired. A rather dark photo, but it shows the amazing individual chocolate cakes they had instead of a wedding cake. Really delicious. Waiting for the bride.
And as a happily married man.

I went to Scotland the week before the wedding to see my folks. As a result of circumstance, I also got to meet LOTS of relations that I don't usually see. Literally, we have hundreds of relatives and it seemed they all appeared over the five days I was at home. I also got to meet Keigan for the first time. He is very bouncy, always on the move, and has a knowing look on his face all the time, as if he's sussed out everything. He's very cute. I'll take a still from some video I shot of him and post next time. A photo of my mother when she was a girl. It could easily be me. I was probably still blonde at that age though. I've never felt the distance from home more keenly than I did on this trip. I miss my family and friends. And the land too.