Sunday, 30 October 2011

Hurray for an extra hour

I want an extra hour EVERY Sunday please. I had a whole, new, sparkly, surprising hour to get all the dull everyday stuff done before the Sunday indulgence of making /sewing /painting with the companionable Broadcasting House, Archers Omnibus, Desert Island Discs began......bliss. Guilt free making as all the chores have been done. And what have I been making?

It is a refined version of a case I made a couple of years ago to hold my templates and rulers, it is a bit silly and whimsical as it has a little kimono inside a tea house on the front and I have been asked to teach a class how to make it.

As the original was made up as I went along , aside from the kimono which I was taught to make, I've had to re-make it to work out how to teach it and to get the measurements and cutting guide right. I am reassured to note that the new one is made far better than the original, so I have learned something over the years, and I've added a few refinements, toggle buttons tied on with sari silk and a coconut shell flap button,

some extra, slightly deeper pockets

and a flap to hold things in when it is shut.

I like this new one so much, I might have to find a new use for the old one.....I know that from now on it will get dark early, the light is fading, but oh, I so enjoyed that useful extra hour.

Biscuits. 60 biscuits, all but three eaten by wave after wave of knee-high monsters,vampires and ghosts who all very politely only took one...if you live around the corner from a Primary School, you can expect visitors on Hallow'een, the zombie headless/legless/armless gingerbread men were the most popular.

Friday, 28 October 2011

and some more....

Clara Eynsford-Hill evening dress ( which will have a matching hair ornament) and her Tea Party costume and hat.

Mrs Eynsford-Hill's Tea Party outfit, which has a straw hat trimmed with feathers to match- and her evening dress, how wonderful is this period Opera Cloak? She will have a peacock feather and pearl hair ornament to match.

It's all go here...just four more to sort out, but they will have to wait as there is another sewing project I need to create today, more of that later...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Costume time again

This year I'm making costumes for Pygmalion. Due to be finished in two weeks, when I shall see them on people properly for the first time, for the moment I'm fitting them on my lovely dummies: adjustable dummies are the biz when fitting costumes for many ladies of different sizes and shapes.The costumes look very different once they have a person in them- people are softer and bendier and have arms,which makes a huge difference , in particular to the evening dress with no sleeves, you have to imagine bare arms in long satin gloves and a matching green ostritch feather fan. The horrible old corsets we were using finally fell apart after Charley's Aunt two years ago ( hurrah!), so I have invested in lovely new corsets-photos of them on ladies later, they don't really work well on dummies! So far I've finished costumes for Eliza- before you ask, there isn't a racing scene, that is My Fair Lady, in Pygmalion it is an Afternoon Tea scene, so we have an excuse for lots of lovely lace.I was lucky to find a couple of period pieces in the costume store that fit Eliza, so she will be wearing some of the real thing...lucky girl.

There is a hat to go with this outfit- best seen on the wearer.

The evening dress has a frill of antique lace around the top- carefully hand sewn to keep it in good condition, nothing hangs so beautifully as proper period lace.

The flowery corsages need to be sewn into position properly on Eliza whilst wearing the dress so that they cling to her figure rather than stick out as they do now, she has another matching one for her hair.

The second lacy outfit also features a period piece, she will have a white hat with arum lilies and a lilac trim to go with this- she is on her way to her Father's wedding. I will probably change the cream sash for a lilac one.
And where, you ask yourself, is kitten Rita while I'm doing this sewing? I had to play many games to get her tired enough for me to start using thread without disturbance. She's safely asleep with Fred.

Monday, 24 October 2011

When Black Dog comes calling

When Black Dog comes calling he does it by stealth- sneaks up on you and, suddenly, there you are feeling that everything is just too difficult, even the simplest task is like climbing a huge mountain, all the joy goes out of even the thought of making anything and colour drains from the world.

One day you wake up and realise he has gone off elsewhere, just the odd prickly discarded whisker to remind you he may be back some time. Stuff gets done, tasks that have loomed large and long are dispatched in a morning and things get back to normal:today the desk is looking enticingly jumbled with things to make instead of mind-numbingly distressing.

Trouble is, in the weeks Mr B.Dog was in residence so much should have been done- costumes to make for Pygmalion and I daren't even think about how much I need to prepare for my Christmas Stall and Open Studio...aaaargh!

But first, a look at some colour in the sunshine- we are forecast rain and strong winds for the next few days, so the leaves and flowers may be gone very soon, enjoy them while they are here.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

First Frost

The weather has been glorious. On Thursday morning I woke at around 5am and the moonlight was so bright I thought the outside lights were on. On the shed roof on Friday morning we had frost. First frost. Spending as much time as I can in the garden this week getting ready for Winter and moving plants about ready for next year while the earth is still warm and I remember what I meant to move!

All year I have been growing on grasses in readiness for potting them up when I did the Autumn sort of the front garden. Both gardens, front and back, need to be ruthlessly sorted over the next year, they have, as gardens do, changed . Plants grow, they don't live forever and get past their prime, after a few years it is time for a real re-examination of the look of the garden and refreshing of the plant stock. One of the great pleasures of gardening is that every year the garden looks different, but as one gets older, stiffer and a bit slower, it needs to get simpler to look after. I love grasses.

I love the way the move in the wind, shine in the sun, the insects they bring to the garden and how easy they are to look after. My front garden is hot and rather dry and a cold wind whips across it in Winter- grasses can cope with this and many other plants, as I have learned the hard way, just can't.

After a ruthless clear out and tidy-up the grasses are ready and sparkling in the morning sunshine. Now the frost is here things will change fast so, out for a look at colours and the last flowers before they are gone- the garden isn't all grasses.

Oh the pleasure of brilliant colours in the crisp low light of Autumn.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Stitch and Knit

Many, many ladies have, over the years, urged me to go to the Stitch and Knit Show at Alexandra Palace. When my Dental Hygienist expressed her astonishment that I still hadn't been, despite her urging me to for several years, I decided to give it a go this year. It was a beautiful day on Thursday- stunning views over London from the hill at the Palace- I'd never been there before, so it was an interesting journey on bits of the tube network I'd not done before.Tube geek? Me? Just a bit. Wood Green station is on the Piccadilly, a rather stylish line with some beautiful deco stations.Wood Green did not disappoint, some very delightful ironwork of deers and leaves- totally akin with the station's name, but bearing no resemblance to the less than sylvan busy traffic junction outside. I never cease to be impressed by the willingness to experiment of ladies- usually young- who do their make-up on a moving tube train. Anyone who has experienced the unique rattle-bang of a tube line will know exactly why doing lipstick and eyeliner/mascara on a moving tube train is an expression of quite dizzying heights of optimism. The show did not disappoint. Smashing stuff on show from textile/knitting designers , both experienced ( how excited was I when I discovered that the nice lady I was chatting to on the Sasha Kagan stand was indeed Sasha Kagan?) and just graduated and lots of stalls to shop at. I did not take my camera as it is just another thing to carry and I was doing the day without a stick ( managed too- amazing) and knew I would have bags to carry by the my lovely assistant Rita has helped me this morning to show some items of delight. I had a list. Astonishingly, I stuck to it. Admittedly it was a long list including a request from my niece to find some "manly, Goth knitting needles" for my nephew , an ambulance driver who has recently discovered the delights of knitting. After his triumph of a swiss roll for the picnic in the Knitted Garden, he has moved on to little hats, knitting the baby hats that are presented to babies born in the ambulances. I found a lovely pair of dark Rosewood needles-not too long- manly and suitably darkly Goth, from the Little Knitting Company, perfect! This shop also has some very delicious yarns.

Japanese fabrics from Euro-Japan Links,who also do lovely shashiko threads and kits.

The pins of my dreams- long, thin and also beautiful from Merchant and Mills.

Some lovely wool to make into fingerless gloves for wearing indoors ( the way forward if this Winter is like the last three....) and some for a lace scarf/shawl- a project I have been pondering for some time.

These rather beautiful yarns from Nimu are dyed in the Summer House at the bottom of her garden- lovely and unique. There were lots of yummy yarns on stands from wool shops, but I wanted to find some from an individual and I was really excited by these, particularly the thread with the little slubby bits...given the way the weather has turned abruptly into deepest Autumn this past couple of days, I can't wait to finish my current knitting project and get stuck into those fingerless gloves. She also has some gorgeous textured mohair mix- I don't get on with mohair, but almost weakened when I felt this yarn and saw the colours.

Felt sheets and stars and balls from Blooming Felt- very popular with my assistant, especially when I put them away in a kitten-sized paper bag.

Strips of woven wool blanket, cut-off edges left over from weaving...sure I can do something with these, other than make a kitten nest. These came from a rather good fabric shop, Ray-Stitch. Very delightful ladies running it and a selection of fabrics that were really original, good patterns, nice textures and a selection of brushed cottons that were, for a change, not simply pyjama fabrics- if you want some more unusual fabrics, take a look at their stock.
Gorgeous buttons from my favourite on-line button emporium, Textile Garden. Textile Garden has buttons like no other button shop, sourced from all over the world they put other button shops to shame- everyone seems to have the same buttons despite claiming they have 'exciting' or 'original' selections. Textile Garden are truly exciting and original, their ribbons and trimmings are fabulous too.

I shall finish with a picture of Team Tabby- to prove that Rita does sleep, occasionally.