I promise, my craft room was clean on Saturday, I'd put away all the bits and pieces, I'd even worked through my random stuff cupboard. I have half a box of goodies waiting to be passed on and then
Well, then I got a round-to-it and now there's stuff all over the craft room, some of it shouldn't even be in there I've decimated my kitchen and my garden and it's all over the floor, the desk and every other surface I could lay my hands on.
When we moved into our new house we discovered all sorts of very weird and wonderful things left behind and a few mundane things that were just plain ugly. One of those ugly things was the kitchen clock. Black plastic. Vaguely reminiscent of a bin bag .
Sadly this thing keeps really good time and so we kept it. And blushed every time we looked at it .
This week I had a revelation: perhaps if I covered up the black plastic it would look better. I tried papier-macheing it with a nice floral paper. Yes much better , but the black still showed through and really, flowers are not my thing . Ok, so the principal works, now I had to decide what I really wanted. I decided to go with some of the old library book pages that I've used before.
Much, much better . It now looks a lot less embarrassing to look at. And much more suitable to the home we are building.
"I don't think you'll like it when it's done" was the response my mother-in-law gave when I described this project to her. She's wrong. I do like it, very much.
My dining room chairs are wooden, rather elegant (I think) and really quite uncomfortable to sit on for a long period of time. I have ordinary cushions, which just slide off and don't seem to cushion the awkward bits. So, having a bit of carpet underlay left over from when we had the carpet redone, I cut one to size. Actually, not bad, especially considering that there was just a thin skim of foam really. In fact, it felt so much better, that I cut pieces to fit all 6 chairs (This was in mid December, a day before I went down with a bug that lasted until beyond the new year-yuk) and we used them, just a foam cut-out, for Christmas dinner! However they still slipped off the chairs-in fact, even more so because we sat on the chairs for longer because they were more comfortable.
Anyway, over the last week, I've finally acquired a round-to-it and covered them, with old tee shirts, which fitted them so nicely. I've added ties to the back so they no longer slip off the chairs and I have some of my favourite old shirts back in use. Wins all round I think.
Oh, and they are thrifty because it is all from recycled material I had on hand anyway: nothing new used at all.
Here are 3 so you can get the idea,
and a close-up of one, so you can see where the ties are.
The joy of the ties is that they are teeshirt material, so all I had to do was to cut a thin piece, stretch it like teeshirt yarn and tack it to the back
to make the body of they cushion cover, I turned the teeshirt inside out, put the cushion insert inside, pinned through all layers and then, using the zipper foot on my sewing machine, sewed 3/4 of the way round the outside. Simples!
We have a kite team, which I may have mentioned once or twice here . Our team uniform is black, as are our kites, but each member of the team has a specific colour which is used to help distinguish the kites in the sky. Well, this year I found some watches that actually come in the colours of every member of the team a harder job than you might think!
We have a standard size stencil (the smallest my cutter can manage to do and keep tidily) of our logo, that we use to sign whatever random piece of kit that gets passed round at festivals (posters, kites, hats, shirts, mugs, tablecloths, winders e.t.c.). We each keep one in our wallets, and for me, it lurks there all year, not just in festival season. I dragged it out of my purse to use to highlight each gift this year.
I used a morsel of foam to apply the acrylic paint I used. On the acetate stencil, I used spray glue on the reverse in order to make sure I had a good seal on the concave curved surface of the watch strap, and I quickly learned that I needed to reapply the glue for each watch. The acrylic will wear off the silicone of the snap on straps eventually, but it shouldn't be a problem. Yes, that's the stencil in the centre.
From pink, going clockwise: Irene, Val, Pete, Mick, Keith, Paul, me & Doug.
My partner said she had a special interest in Nanny Ogg and I kind-of got inspired. It turned into a huge parcel, thank goodness for inland postage!
this is the bag and most of it's contents.
I don't have any before pictures, to show how much it's changed, nor any more detail pictures, sadly. It started off as a tan, pristine briefcase, lined and pocketed, neat and tidy. I got it from the thrift store, but I suspect it was an unwanted gift. It had a a great clasp and I decided that if nothing else worked, I could salvage that for the bag I wanted to send. Nanny Ogg is a witch who gets most of her things by hand-me-down, a pristine tan briefcase would really be nothing of hers. and besides there wasn't the space for any of the bits and pieces she'd need.
The first thing I did was to polish it with black shoe polish, to darken it, well, it sort of worked, but was nowhere near enough. So then I worked on the shape so I took out the lining, and removed the dividers which gave a lot more space and made it look a lot more like a doctor's bag, so I was much happier with that, but it looked brand new still and still dark tan. Sigh.
So I took some sandpaper to it, rubbed it down all over to give a better key for the polish and polished again. Better, much better, but still not quite dark enough. And still looking new.
I took the sandpaper to it again and concentrated on the edges, corners and likely wear places. Much better, beginning to look as if it's seen a little life. But now all the bits I've been really aggressive with are far to pale. Polish it again. Yes, I like that, the colour looked a lot better and it didn't look so new.
But Nanny Ogg has a cat, a really mean and viscious cat, It had to have some claw marks. I took a scalpel to it: it pretty much healed immediately. Hmm, I took a nail to it, that made good scratch marks, but I had real difficulty making them parallel, like claws. Aha! I went into the kitchen and found the carving fork: perfect (but it did take alot of washing up afterwards). Time for another polish. Good, but it looked too nice still.
Time for a rethink. It needed repairs, after all it had been used for a long time. I bound the handle with string as if it had split and been repaired, I stitched over the original stitching in several places as if it had burst & been repaired and I decided I had to do some real damage to it: I pried off one of the corner re-inforcements, so I made sure that the re-stitching there was actually functional as well as show-y. I also decided that the fastening would probably have broken, after all, it is a midwifery bag, things would probably have grabbed out of there in a hurry. But I didn't really want to actually break to fastener: it is supposed to be useful after all this! I tied a bit of string to the clasp and wound it round the bag and used it to close the bag. The string prevented the lock from closing which was great: just untie the string and the bag would be fine, leave the string on and it looks old & battered: win, win.
The outside and the shape were just what I wanted now. However the inside, despite having the lining ripped out looked very tidy. Also there was nothing to say it was Nanny's bag. It needed a label, so I put together a gummed label that seemed appropriate and stuck it inside. It still looked a bit pristine in there. So I mixed up some of my acrylic paints to get a really revolting brown, diluted it down with pva glue and smeared it over the inside with my hands for a really uneven coating. Lovely, like it had been used, and used, and used.
So next I had to consider what went in a midwifery bag that was full of "things you hope you never need". I could have gone down the gruesome route, but my partner had specified she wanted useful things. So, I decided that you never wanted to see a home that poor.
an old towel
dried frog (calming) pills for nervous husbands
needle & thread in an old tobacco tin
candle & matches
spirits and a glass for sterilising, the bottle was filled with a brown bubble-bath to simulate whisky, the label says Bearhuggers Whisky aged 8 minutes! and the drawing is the University tower (a landmark in the fictional city it comes from)
some pages from an old copy of Grey's Anatomy
oh, and in the back I put a few thank you letters and Greebo the cat had put a mouse in there
This is what I've been doing most of the year: knitting.
My knitting takes a long time, average time for a jumper: 9 months. I think I'm getting a little better though, because I started this one in April and finished it in November, so that's 2 part months instead of 9 whole months. Since then I've worn it pretty much every week . It is almost exactly what I wanted .
I take time to understand the knitting patterns I use. I read them through before I start, I try to puzzle out the new terms and make sure I've got all the bits I need, but my bugbear is sleeves . It really is. For this cardigan I knitted no less than 5 sleeves for it .
The first sleeve I knitted to my best understanding of the pattern: when I held it to my shoulder it touched the ground . My arms really aren't that long . It didn't surprise me however, I'd had a similar problem with every jumper sleeve that I'd ever tried to knit to a pattern. I re-read the pattern . Carefully . I passed the pattern to other knitters: they couldn't see where I'd gone wrong . I read the pattern again and sighed really hard.
I counted my rows, looked at the measurements required, wished for a bit more clarity and did some arithmetic . I un-picked that sleeve and started again with my majorly adjusted pattern. I knit another sleeve, which actually came to the right length and looked OK. (2 sleeves in total)
I reversed the pattern and did it again. A pair of sleeves, somewhat imperfect , but at least they'd fit. (3 sleeves in total).
Then I moved on to the back of the jumper, OK, I adjusted that a bit as well, but that was easy: I just added a little to the length to get the fit that I wanted. When I got to the top of the back it took a little figuring out because it seemed to be uneven, but I worked it out .
Revelation: my pattern writer was inconsistent! Although in one part of the pattern for the sleeve I was asked to do something at the beginning and end of each row, elsewhere the phrase each end of the row meant the beginning and end of the row as well, not simply each far end of the row. I'd had twice as many rows in my first sleeve as was intended.
So, I cheated , I knitted the next sleeve out of the wool I was intending to use for the front in order to compare it with the previous sleeves I'd knitted: it looked sooooo much better . (4 sleeves in total)
Then I un-picked the second and third sleeves and set about knitting the 5th sleeve for my cardigan. I put them side by side to admire them. That was when I discovered I'd made a mistake in the cuff of one of them! I looked at it in horror : to take it back to the cuff would mean a whole new sleeve again . (5 sleeves in total)
The muslims believe there should be a flaw in everything created by man, because to attempt perfection is to challenge God. I decided I wasn't going to challenge God this time , my flawed sleeve would stay.<BIG sigh of relief>
The rest came fairly smoothly , although I am insanely grateful to whoever first thought up safety lines for complex patterns - that cable pattern has a 24 row repetition, many of which are absurdly similar, but not quite the same.
If I had to do it all again, apart from doing the sleeves right first time out, I'd knit it one size smaller. But I think I've worked out a fix for that. I shall sew a press stud in the place of the first button and move the button along so that the second button will become the first and there will be a wee bit more overlap at the top.
Ooh, ooh, Sir, Siir, SIR, I got a parcel! Can I show them please. <jumps up and down with excitement>
I pulled out 2 beautifully wrapped gifts and a card from my parcel (which I was too excited to wait til I got home to open, so went to a coffee shop straight away to unwrap). The card I looked at straight away and laughed out loud to the annoyance of the other drinkers.
And then I unwrapped my goodies.
First of all I got a Stamp album! Not just any stamp album, but Stanley's own stamp album , and I can spot that it comes from just the point where he has stopped collecting pins and just started on the stamps.
My mum is bookish. No, actually she's very bookish. No, I think the adjective I'm looking for is extremely, yes that's right, extremely bookish.
So in addition to all the non-bookish things she will get for Christmas, like wooly coats and socks and shopping delivery vouchers (she's been known to without meals so that she can finish the next chapter and to forget to buy a winter coat because the coat shop is next door to the book shop and she spent all her money on books before thinking about coats ), she'll get a wee fix for her addiction.
The tin is covered in air-dry clay, which was then painted in acrylics, the inside is lined with (shock, horror )old library book pages. and there's a selection of bookmarks inside.
There is a title to the book tin now, but I photographed it before I sorted that out. I may have to take another couple of pictures, because I now realise I haven't shown the shape, or the pages very well.