Monday, 29 April 2013

I need to get back in to my creative stride........

Despite having spent the last 9 months frantically drawing, painting, stitching, creating and basically drowning in a pile of fabric I feel that I have run out of creative steam!

I actually do not have anything to blog about which I am finding a bit unnerving after having this blog since 2007.  I only have one submission for OPAM this month and I am now in a position where I can now make anything I want and I am at a loss!!!

So my bloggy (is that a word?) friends do you have nay ideas of what I could have a go at which will help me to get my sewing mojo back as I seem to be a bit lost at sea.  Having had such a strong focus for so many months I feel like I have had my teddy bear taken away.
I am keeping calm but the Sew On bit is not.
I have really loved to course I followed and I have learnt a lot and once I get all of the work back  shall go through it with you all.  Might be of interest if you are considering a textiles course of some kind.

Well of to take a look at my fabric and books.................and find some inspiration..

Sunday, 28 April 2013

What a weekend!!

I have spent this weekend at a local college taking part in my AS level Art textiles practical exam.
It started at 9.30am on Saturday and finishing the day at 4pm.  Then back in again on Sunday at 10.30am and ending at 1.30pm.

We then needed to cut window mounts and tidy up etc so I eventually got home at about 4pm.
It was a very full on two days and I would love to show you the end result but we have been asked to put any images on the Internet until after the results have been issued.
When will that be....I hear you ask?   September or October at the earliest, I am afraid.
The image above plays a re part in the 10 week project work and I am really pleased with the outcome.

I am now just wondering what Grade I will end up with.
Due to the work load that this course has needed my other sewing projects and also this blog has had a bit of a back seat since last September.

Many thanks to everyone who has kept coming to see what I have been up to and I know that you are still with me as I had many visitors during Easter when I was able to post more often.

I do have many blog posts planned and hopefully over the coming weeks I will be able to have a higher presence at Indigo Blue.

Have a good week.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Happy Birthday to....

Toffy is a rescue cat and he first came to live with us when he was 8 weeks old
We went to see all of the kittens when they were 4 weeks old and Sophie chose Toffy.  All of the others were either black or black and white.  Toffy looks like his Mum.  We did not tell Sophie what we were doing to start with.  We made up a story that we were going to look at some chickens, which we did but then we moved over to a chicken house and lifted the lid to show her the kittens.  Well the look on her face was a picture.  I had never seen kittens that small before and the Mum being a stray decided that the chicken hut was going to be their home.  The picture abouve shows Sophie holding little Toffy and it was at this point we asked her which one she liked and she said this one.
The question "would you like him/her to be your kitten wnet straight over her head.  So once she understood she did not change her mind.  It was Toffy all the way.

How did he get his name?
Well,  when we brought him home he had Toffy coloured ears..............not any more,but there you go!  The spelling is the result of  a 7 year old writing  down the way it sounds....but I like it.

We then brought him home at the beginning of July.  You can see that post HERE.
He was soooo small when he arrived.

Today Toffy is 3 years old!
He is a very well loved cat and he does belong to Sophie.  She loves Toffy and her new found crafting skills have been put to the test.  
The latest is for his birthday, his own mat.  He is moulting at the moment so we have been encouraging him to use this.  It is all  her own work which she designed and put together in 4 hours when she had to come into school with me during the Easter holidays.

Sophie was given some iron on badges at Christmas and she ironed these on as well.
She is loving the fact that she can have an idea and put it into reality.
She has already started her next project but more on that another time.

So Happy Birthday Toffy!!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Well Done Hubby!!!

My Hubby and I have known each other for over 20 years (good grief where has the time gone!) and been married for 15 of those years.  So we have experienced a range of things in that time.  One landmark was coming back from our honeymoon to find out that Hubby had been made redundant!!  He was obviously upset, not an ideal way begin married life and was worried about me.  So I surprised him when I said that it was not his fault and that we had my job, etc etc, something new would turn up.  He was very pro-active in finding a new job and did lots around the house and garden, then 5 weeks later he was very lucky to have his first interview....and got it.  He worked there for nearly 10 years then the owners decided to sell up and retire.  Sadly the business was not sold as a going concern so again he found himself out of work.  This time I asked him what he wanted to do and he wanted to try something else, a new approach so being self-employed in his field of knowledge was born.  Over the next 5 or so years he did commissions, technical work etc and then applied to be  asurveyor and was taken on in a casual capacity.   
It all got a bit tricky when two people left and were not replaced then the work load suddenly increased which meant more driving, paperwork etc.  Not a bad thing but being on a temporary contract is very uncertain.  This has been the situation for the past 2-3 years.  The possibility of a permanent contract has meant the he has had to sever ties with his self employed work, any design work/consultancy/involvement in a company and basically burn of all the bridges built up to avoid a conflict of interest.  Then not knowing what would happen. he has had it confirmed that he is now a full time permanent employee!!!!

The worry of wondering if he had shot himself in the foot and would be left with nothing has now gone.  He did take a huge gamble by burning bridges before he got the job but he needed to have a clean break.  It all sounds mysterious, it is not but as a surveyor you are not  allowed to have a situation that could be seen as a conflict of interest.
The current job climate is of great worry and uncertainty for many all over the world and to see the look of relief and delight on my hubby's face just made my day/week/month/year!!!!!

He has gone out to run the Radio Control Car Club that he runs on a Friday, so we may celebrate tomorrow.  A good start to our weekend and I wish a good weekend to all my readers and visitors.
Tomorrow I am off to spend a day with my evening class tutor and fellow group members to work on our exam prep for the day.  Sophie has a tap exam on Sunday so it is all go this weekend.
Take care all

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Purple Malden - Mini Size - Creating Dividers

A few weeks ago I spoke about my own past use of Filofaxes and how I might drift back to using them as things change and I do not like to have dates etc on a mobile phone or other digital device, but prefer to use paper and pen.
Well,  I have not been able to find my dream purple A5 version but after several days deliberating I decided to purchase the Purple Malden mini size for my handbag.  I thought it would save me from having to buy a new diary every year and the inserts do not cost as much as a new diary would.
I took this picture in good day light but I do have to say that the colour is much darker than this,  alovely colour and is so nice to the touch.
It is just the right size, even for my evening bag which I used when we went out for a meal yesterday.
Many are used as small wallets so there is a pocket at the back for notes etc.
A little zipper pocket for change and some slip pockets for coupons etc.  I do have to say that using this as a wallet would not suit me at all,mainly because I am very likely to leave it lying around somewhere and lose it!
At the moment I can only find a stubby little pencil to fit in the loop, but I am sure I must have something in one of my numerous pen pots that it will fit and look more glamorous.
Last summer a trip to Paperchase in Plymouth resulted in these owl tab stickers being brought home and they are just the right size for this little Filofax.
One thing that I did want to find was a hole punch that actually worked and I succeeded after two years of searching.  This is a multi-adjustable punch in metal that I found on Ebay UK and will cut from A5 down to pocket size, not mini I hear you cry ...ah but wait.....
You may remember in my earlier post that I made my own dividers for the Paperchase Filofax I used for blogging etc and wanted to try again for this little one.
So I drew around one of the A_Z dividers at the level that I wanted and carefully cut it out.  By sliding the hole sections in the hole punch and sliding the paper up to one end I managed to punch accurate holes for the mini as well!  I do need to do this by eye rather than use the plastic slide out guide.
Brightens it up a little.
This version it too small for a plastic today ruler so I made a card stock version, I could laminate it but it would just add bulk so I made it a bit longer but still within the edges of the cover and punched the holes again.
It all just peeps out at the top of the cover...........
Not over full yet...but time will sort that out.  There are couple of slip pockets in the back cover where I have put business cards but other than that I have not really done much else with this Filofax.  It will live in my handbag and be used as a simple but gorgeous diary to update each year and grew old gracefully like its owner.  I may just change and add to the dividers or tabs as time moves along.
Went to Plymouth again today and had to visit Paperchase but more on that next time as I have not taken any pictures yet.
What do you use to help organise yourself, or in my case try not to forget to be somewhere or to do something important!!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Jamaica Inn - Recent Read on the Kindle

I do have a couple of book tabs at the top of this blog, one for Kindle and one for paper/hard backs.
I read Jamaica Inn about 12 odd years ago and I remember being completely drawn into the story.  I live about 10 miles from Bodmin Moor and I am familiar with some of the surrounding countryside,

I had borrowed it from a Friend so this time I purchased it for my Kindle instead.  I will confess to spending one or two much later than normal nights reading this book and I was quite pleased that I could not remember the ending at all, but did have some thoughts that the Vicar was not all he seemed.  So I felt like I was reading it for the first time again.

If you have never tried this book then I would certainly give it a try, especially if you live near a library.  It is often said that Rebbecca was Daphne Du Maurier's best novel but I have always had trouble settling into that book and I prefer this novel by a long way.

During my reading session 12 years ago (had much more time then!  sigh)  I also read Frenchman's Creek which I do also remember being a gripping page turner so that will be next.  However I do have a paperback up stairs that I was also given at Christmas which needs to be read first.
What do yo have in your reading pile (or mountain in my case)?
Any recommendations for the forthcoming summer holidays.  Yes, I do start to crave for that needed break but we are still waiting for spring here in the UK.  I do have to say that today it is lovely in Cornwall and Sophie and I have been out in the garden and have just popped in for a tea break.  Hopefully the start of better weather?  We shall have to see but I am not packing my thermals away just yet...........

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Crystal - 15th Wedding Anniversary - UPdate..

Today Hubby and I are celebrating 15 years of marriage!  Where has it gone?
Sophie has been with us for 10 of those years and the time since she was born has flown by much too fast.

Last year was a quiet affair and we went out for a meal.  There were only us and two other couples!  This time we are going back to the same restaurant but taking Sophie with us for a change.  She was disappointed she was left her at Grandmas last year.  Does her good to be taken out to nice places and get dressed up a little.  I think it promotes social skills and good manners.

It has been raining but the sun has won through this afternoon.  However despite the day Hubby is upstairs working and I am downstairs marking GCSE coursework.  Sophie is in between playing with her toys and games.  Such is life that it has to keep moving no matter what the day is.  
So best get back to it as I would like to finish before I go out later and it is taking longer than I thought.
I am going to promise myself a crafty day tomorrow as a reward and to do some baking with Sophie.
Take care
Had a lovely time and Sophie was wide eyed with it all.  Just look at what the chef did with our dessert!
Sorry about the picture but there were more candles than electricity and we were using an i-Phone as well.
Lovely lemon and lime baked cheese cake with lemon sorbet!!! Yum Yum.  I shall not need to eat until Saturday I should think.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The great British Sewing Bee Episode 2

Well, episode 2 this week proved to be quite interesting.  I have never really enjoyed making trousers even when I had to ( I remember nearly losing the will to vcarry on at one stage during my degree!!)  and I could feel total sympathy for the contestants last evening trying to put in the zip and understanding the waistband details.  I also felt it was very fair seeing as the male contestants had to deal with female garments last week.

  The direction of the zip is a tricky one and Lauren got caught out despite using her own trousers to check the direction and still made a mistake.  I wonder where she bought her own trousers from?  It did get us all checking but my Hubby spotted the two facing the wrong way immediately.  Give that chap a round of applause.  

The next challenge of altering a high street skirt was interesting and fun, and I am planning a similar project for my Year 9 Art textile group which will involve a plain white T-shirt.
I loved the red tulip idea but I did notice that no one said that the direction of the pocket opening actually made them difficult if not impossible to actually use but idea wise it was great and we all voted it the best in our living room.  I love rickrack braid too.  I also loved Stuarts blouse too....he had a brilliant week really.....and was very difficult not just due to the design and details but the fact that the fabric being so plain would also highlight any mistakes or inaccuracies that the patterned fabrics may have been harder to spot initially.  Lovely shape and when it was judged that the hemline was perfect we all agreed that he deserved the positive comments.
Now, the teacher side of me is going to come out....I was a bit annoyed that it was said that it is not enough to be the most improved to stay in the competition....tut tut..I think it most definitely is as it proves that they have been able to raise their own skills bar and rise to the challenges set.  Well, that is what they say on the Bake Off right?  So I think that Stuart was very good this week despite not knowing which way round to put his trouser zip!

I have really tried to find the link for the cushion challenge shown on the show this week.  If they want people to have a go I wish they would either slow down or put the tutorial on the Sewing Bee web page.  If I track it down I will then update this post.
I have dug out my four skirts as promised last week, but the weather has changed again......but I shall feature them and show you which patterns I used if you would like to have a go yourself.
I had a lot of hits after yesterdays show so please if you read this add a comment....what do you think of the programme?  Would you like to see more to counter balance the cooking and card making shows (QVC).
What made you watch it in the first place.  You do not have to have a blog to leave a comment.
Take care all
Off to do yet more on my Textiles exam piece.
I have continued to search for a link to a cushion tutorial featured on the show and I have found out that that book which goes with the series has the cushion instructions in it.  So perhaps unlikely to find it on the internet otherwise it will not help the book sales.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

It has been a week!!!!!

I may not exactly have Happy Feet but it has been a week since my hip injection and I do have a Happy Hip!!
I have been doing as advised and testing it out to see where my pain thresholds might be.  This has included stairs, walking, walking in woods with uneven ground and slopes and dips.  I have been getting in and out of various cars without falling over or being in much, if any pain at all.    I have attempted some gardening, walking in crowds, which can be hard going when the hip is bad, without any problems at all.  I have sat, stood, crouched down etc and a part from one incident it has been a massive improvement!!

I can get my socks etc on without any problems but I do need to sit down when getting boots on, still a little weak and wobbly for that task.

I will have a follow up appointment in the middle of May and I am going to bring up the topic of possibly having the other hip looked at as well.  Even that has improved, probably due to me walking much better over the past week or so.

The NHS is wonderful and we are so lucky to have it!!
I have been working on my Textile exam piece today and Sophie is off out with a friend tomorrow so I can spend all day on it if needed.
Will yo be watching the Great British Sewing Bee 8pm BBC 2?  It got mixed reviews last week but the show should be given a chance to grow.
Take care all

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Knitted toy for Toffy

Ages ago I made a little knitted toy for Toffy and the other night he was playing with it and it was clear that he had grown quite a bit and needed a bigger version.
So I picked out some scraps of wool, not big enough to do anything with, and cast on about 25 stitches and knitted two squares.  The red square has got two tones of red as the first ran out.
I then pinned the two squares right sides together.  Using a wool needle and the strands of wool left when casting on and off, I over sewed the two squares together leaving the fourth side open.
Turned the little bag round the right way.  Trimming of the excess wool.
Added stuffing but also a good handful of catnip which I sprinkled in and around the stuffing.  Toffy goes wild for catnip!
I then twist the bag so that the seams are lined up and pinned the opening closed.  This gives a triangular/pyramid shape which is the same as Toffy's current toy and makes it easier for him to pick up.
Taking another length of wool and the wool needle again, over sew the opening shut securely and knot off carefully.
The best bit........Toffy has played with it loads and the bigger version makes it easier for him to play with.  He was only about a year old when I made the first version.
One happy little cat!
Give it a go, very easy, uses up some scraps and your cat enjoys playing with it.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Egg- tangled

Better late than never with this but I wanted to try out a new zentangle for Easter with an Easter Egg.  I was astonished when I looked in by little book and saw that I had not created a Zentagle since last August!!
The hardest part was trying to draw a decent egg shape!  I then used three different width opens to create this tangle. I started in the middle and worked my way out just thinking up different shapes and getting some inspiration from Tanglepattern.
Next year I want to try a much bigger version, but I will need to start much earlier!!
Hope you all had a good Easter.  The weather has been cold here but glorious sun shine and bright blue skies.
Off to Boconnoc Flower Show tomorrow.
I shall take my camera and hope for continued good weather.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Great British Sewing Bee. BBC 2

The Great British Sewing Bee started tonight at 8pm and I was going to apply for this.  Even downloaded the application form and then the rules stated that teachers (among others) could not apply as I make a living and had training in this field.  So in the bin it went.  Never mind.

Anyway, if you would like to see the first episode then you can find it here
The first episode was interesting and making an A line skirt was the first challenge.  Crikey I can remember making pattern after pattern draft of variations of this skirt at college....with pleats, without, waistbands, facings etc etc.
I still have most of them too!
The choice of fabric is the key to this skirt and any skirt for that matter.  I also hate lining with lining fabric but actually prefer lining with a same weight cotton.  More on that another time as I have an idea along those lines.  I shall leave the rest for you to view and not spoil the shows content.  If you like sewing or if garment making is a mystery then this may help or put you right off forever, but a simple shop bought pattern for a skirt is easy to make and can be adjusted to fit at the darts and side seams if needed.  Always make a mock up first, an old sheet would do for this, before cutting into any decent much loved fabric.

I am going to dig my skirts out that I have made over the past three years....I hope that the weather is better this year so that I can actually wear them.  I have made simple skirts with 15 year old students and they all turned out really well and we did fit them too.

A quick (and I mean quick) tutorial was given for a viewer challenge to make a large drawstring bag which could be used for a laundry bag.  So I had a look for the instructions, thinking that I would like my students to follow this programme.
image from Radiotimes/Google
 Not on the above website anywhere but eventually I did find it here
I have bookmarked and even though I might not actually make this as yet (I need to get my textiles exam piece out of the way first) it might be nice to tackle it at a later date.
Next Tuesday it is trousers, always a bit of a love hate garment for me so it will be interesting to see what happens.
Did you see this programme?
What did you think of it?
I am hoping that it will raise the profile of this skill and I want Mark to stay in as he is heading my crusade that sewing is for males too.
Take care all.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

All done and the wait.......

Today was an early start for all of us and we arrived at the hospital for my hip injection at 8am.  The night before did not lend much sleep and hubby was not feeling very well either.  So he had only had a few hours sleep as well.  It was a glorious sunny day and blue skies as our clocks have just changed back to British Summer Time so a lighter sunnier start to the day.
I was not sure what to expect and that was probably just as well.  I had numerous forms to fill in, temperature taken, weight noted down (not too bad)   The most surprising outcome was my perfect blood pressure!?  I am a teacher who has been in pain for months and months with work coming out of her ears and poor sleep pattern and my blood pressure is good!  Years of perfecting the skill of keeping calm I suppose.
I will not lie that despite the local anaesthetic (I will spell check that) when the cortisone was put in it was very uncomfortable indeed and felt like a bolt was being tightened to extreme in my hip, a very odd feeling. Now, nearly 9 hours later I am beginning to feel very uncomfortable and the anaesthetic is has now worn off.
Due to sterilising solution I have a bright pink upper leg which I have resisted  showering off so that I do not disturb the dressing which stays on until tomorrow morning.  I also have a black marker pen arrow on my left thigh, (just to make sure that the right leg was looked at and could take a bit of getting off).

It may well take several days and up to 14 days before I see any real change in pain levels.  I have been up and down the stairs, walked around, worked on my sketchbook standing up etc and all is ok.
I have to fill in a pain diary until my out patients appointment in 6 weeks time and then see what happens then.  When I walked into the theatre my right hip clicked all the way up the corridor and in through the door!  May be I shall be back again in the near future to have the other one done.

Just as we got back in through the front door after the 60min plus drive back, we had our neighbour's daughter round for the afternoon which gave me a chance to potter around while hubby went to do some work.  I feel (and have) been up for hours and I think an early night will be upon me soon.  I did enjoy a quite afternoon and after I felt that I had done enough wandering around I enjoyed a peaceful hour reading Jamaica Inn.....I think it was so quiet that I nodded off for a few minutes.
Many thanks for all of the supportive comments I have received since Christmas concerning my dodgy hip and even though the consultant said it is "not a good hip" as it is, hopefully today will enable me to delay a replacement which is a much bigger deal and go about my daily life more upright and in much less pain. 
Take care to read another chapter.

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