Saturday, 30 January 2010

Step by step sewing. Part the first.

This is an absolute beginner's guide to sewing, with a sewing machine. Very step by step, very simple. Everybody needs to start somewhere, and once you are confident the world is your - er - sewing oyster. Sewing was my first love, I ruined my mums hoover with the amount of pins it had to pick up from the (cold) dining room where I used to have her old sewing machine set up. My nan sewed, my mum sewed - my aunty and my sister - and my daughter - zero interest!

OK, so you have a machine. It does NOT have to be a super flash thing that does everything except wear the damned clothes - my current one is cheap and cheerful and absolutely super. Price-wise - this cost me about £140 about 4 years ago, they are available cheaper and simple ones like this also sell second hand. Ask around, you might be surprised who has one sitting unwanted and unloved upstairs - borrow one or two, and see what you like. Is it quiet enough? Smooth enough? Easy to thread? Does it seem strong enough for your needs - this little machine wouldn't be too happy about sewing a lot of thick heavy denim for example. Find a decent sewing machine shop and don't be afraid to ask! Do not be led into the expensive side - machines can cost thousands.

This (above) is the side of my machine - the little switch is the on / off (I warned you this was going to be literally step by step! don't be offended!),the light on this one comes on automatically when I flick the switch, on some models there is a separate switch near the light- the black connector leads to the plug, and one wire leads to the foot pedal which is under the table. The wheel pulls in and out - more of that to come.

Don't worry about the round dials on the front just yet - let's have a look at this bottom part. This is the footplate (the silver metal plate) and the feed dog (thats the grooved, rippled silver metal where the needle will go in and out of). Lots of little bits to help you in the area, but again, we don't need it right this minute, We have more important things to do.
The front of this machine just unclips - most will have a similar section that does this, to allow you to thread the machine. Bit tricky to sew otherwise .... see the little white door under where the needle is? Open that ...
...and this is what's inside. This is where the spool lives - this is the part that catches onto the sewing machine needle and its thread, to form the loops of thread that hopefully will hold your work securely together! This is an important part of your machine - keep it clean (more later - and yes, my machine is dusty and needs cleaning).

With me so far? We have looked at the overall layout of your machine - the part that plugs in, the bits that whizz round and have opened secret compartments to find the bit that holds the spool. Now we are going to be extra brave, and tease open the spool case - that's the silver case that holds your little spool (the spool is hidden at the moment, try to contain your excitement).
More to come soon! Part two will show you how to successfully thread your machine, and look at a couple of other important parts on it. I don't know if anyone will ever read this, or find it useful - I hope so. I have some nice easy projects in mind, ones that should actually be useful and not too naff! Please come back very soon, thank you for reading!


Had written a post with piccies and everything - and it vanished. The tinternet connection (physically speaking, not the ether itself) is falling apart, time to ring up and get it upgraded to wireless methinks.
Anyway. Will replace that one later. But now - a moan.

Knitcamp. I am going, but only booked two classes due to funding (they aint cheap) and other things, called Knitting Doesn't Rule My Life and I plan on having a holiday!
other reasons.

The thing itself (and it has descended into being a 'thing') is 'organised' by one woman, who shall remain nameless. Novel approach to customer service, that runs along the lines of, and I quote - 'I am the organiser and I make all the rules'. I kid you not.

There will be one knitting supplies shop on camp (it's based in a uni - I am NOT staying on site thank fek) - three guesses whose it is? Am I the only person who finds this fundamentally wrong? The whole event, which is costing people a lot of money, seems centred on self promotion and money making for her, as much of it as she can grab.

Then the issue of kids in classes came up, when somone asked if she could bring her breastfed baby with her into classes. I like kids, I teach kids, but god no, on my holidays I don't want to be anywhere near other people's bloody kids! I am the person who walks miles along the beach to find aq quiet deserted spot. And to me, those who think it's fine to bring them to this sort of a thing, are often the parents who have a rather free and easy approach - ie their kids are little shits and they ignore them.

So after a very weird lot of exchanges, where those who disagreed with babies in classes were made to feel like King Herod, the rule book began to change. From something along the lines of 'Oh no, it would be ridiculous to have kids in class! Would spoil the lessons and tutors wouldn't like it, and no way are we getting CRB checks!' to 'Yes, children can come, no problem!', with many twists and turns and backtracking along the way. And I am not exaggerating.

Pile of crap.
Apparently the cost of booking a stall for Ravelry weekend there is huge, and many of those interested have dropped out, due to it being too close to fibre festivals with LOTS more visitors (ie thousands more), the attitude of this woman, the general disorganisation etc etc. Me? I would like a stall, I think my bags would sell quite well as they are not expensive and are useful, but lordy, is it really worth it?

There, that's that out of the way. Now, time for an hours knitting .... happy weekend everyone.

the lost post ...

A fairly blurry photo of my slapdash approach to blocking - this is the bodice section (obviously) of the Lilith cardi - the body is finished as are both sleeves, lace and ribbon trims are bought, and since I took this, the bodice has been seamed. So today I aim to get it pretty much sewn together, and then sit and look at it for a week while I decide what to do about the front.

I fancied plain black tape down each side, with buttons on the right side and black poppers on the insides, but I am not convinced it will be strong enough. So it might be a case of picking up stitches and knitting a band, which I didn't really want. Hey ho.

And this - the first successful attempt at knitting in the round, on circular needles - for some reason I have had a lifelong mental block about this, but finally gave it a go.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

My bed, With knobs on.

I have a new bed, and it is gorgeous! A bit of a sod to put together single handed, but it's done, and I love it - very comfy, very old fashioned, very nice. And it has knobs. (insert childish snort of giggles here)

And sewing has been happening, listed four new bags on etsy yesterday, more to take photos of, and more to make (I think there are about five cut out ready to interface).

Stuff aplenty to do today.
Is it bedtime yet?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Wish me well ...

... the bed madness begins. Am about to get dressed (still in jimjams and haven't dried my hair yet) and nip into town, need a new spanner! Have read through the comments on the new bed and it sounds fine, just lots to tighten (all the slats are separately fastened down).

Kerri is due sometime in the afternoon to help with the heavy work, so I had better get a move on, although I don't plan to be out for long. Get this lot out of the way, and then I can crack on with some knitting and sewing, the house is clean and tidyish so the rest of the day is my own.

Knitting - have almost finished Lilith, from an old The Knitter magazine, its a lovely pattern but I am pretty sick of it now and want it finished. Narvik (a Rowan pattern in Cocoon) is currently blocking on the floor, so will get seamed tonight all being well - that's my second cardi of the year.

Sewing - have several box bags to photograph and list on etsy, and then get some more cut out and interfaced tonight ready to sew tomorrow. Piccies to come (sun, would be nice to see a bit of you so I can get some good photos!).

Bye for now, enjoy your weekends whatever you are doing.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Where has it gone?

No other reason than I really really like this coat! LOVE THOSE BUTTONS! That's all.

(see below)

The last week, that is - another Saturday and STILL clearing upstairs! Ha! That's what happens when you have a teeny tiny house (or the cottage, as my mum now calls it) and many hobbies. Painting, woodwork, paper crafts, jewellery making, stitch markers, knitting, spinning, sewing - I also want to get a loom but that one will have to wait until I ever get a new job and move.

But finally, upstairs is looking as good as a teeny tiny bedroom and a ridiculously small 'spare' room (ie box room) can get. Am so looking forward to Monday night, so long as the new bed goes together OK ... tomorrow is for bringing the existing crappy bed down and stacking it in the teeny tiny garden (then I neeed to ring and book a couple of collections from the 'bulky waste' folks). Bulky waste ... doesn't bear thinking about does it?

The knitting - I like the headband (that's the purple cabled wotsit above) - I needed a break from the 4 cardies I am knitting (one is finished and needs seaming) (one is almost finished and I am DREADING seaming that one), and needed a cable fix - also trying to get some of the ridiculous mountain of wool upstairs knited up. This did the trick (only half a ball of wool though) - Wendy Mode, which is very cheap but feels soft and shows the cables pretty well, might make Kerri a cabled cowl from the rest. The pattern is free on Ravelry - (don't know how to magic link that so it doesn't have the full text?). Took 3 hours infront of the telly last night, have finished it with a button and loop instead of ties and rather like it.

What else - am increasingly pissed off with a prat of a woman over on Ravelry, to the extent that I rarely post in my favourite group. Silly to let it get to me so much maybe, but she really is a fekwit of the utmost degree, and in reality? No, let's not go there ... A spoiled, greedy, cheap, lazy, selfish winging and moaning baby, pretty much everything I dislike in people, all rolled into one.
There. That's better out than in! Think hapy thoughts and breathe .....

Or eat chocolate until you feel sick. Either will do.

Chocolate. I would love chocolate right now, lots of it - a big fat bar of Galaxy would do fine. But Fat Club is on Monday and I am determined to shift some lard from this rounded body of mine - lost 3.5lbs last week which was great.

And I still haven't written a single word in my journal . diary. Twit.

Saturday, 16 January 2010


I decided in my limited wisdom to shift all the very heavy furniture in my very tiny bedroom. I loathe my bedroom furniture (IKEA Malm range - very roomy drawers - oo er madam - but I hate modern angular stuff, loathe the bed with a vengeance), absolutely hate it - and by hell it's a sod to shift.
Especially if you are 4ft 11 and not terribly healthy.

Anyway, it rapidly reached that 'can't stop now I can't get out the door and there's nowhere to sit never mind lie down' stage - and then the sodding bed broke.


It is now propped up on one side with a large mount of books, and more books propping up the slats in the middle, it is like being an art student all over again but without the vomit. Or without the singing of hymns up scaffolding in the early hours of the morning, but that's a different tale entirely ...

New bed arrives next Monday, and my daughter is going to help me get this one down the stairs next Sunday, in return I have promised to fill her with food. Meanwhile, I can just about get in my bed and have hoovered half the room - I can't bear another minute of tidying it tonight. I needed food, comfort food - Slimming World skinny chips were nice, but I really really want a bloody great bar of chunky chocolate to bite into.

(new bed is pretty much my dream bed, big white metal Victorian style, lovely)

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Stress and my missing mojo

I half plan to make something like this gorgeous jacket, for the spring, If we ever get a spring ...

And this lovely photo (taken from one of the upcoming Louisa Harding pattern books, which I love) is my incentive to keep growing this damned fringe out. It's driving me mad at the moment - doesn't help that a lot of my hair at the front has been falling out (due to stress), can't bear to think about it. (insert sad face here)

And I love this skirt - in black, with big blousy pink and red flowers, lovely! Can you tell I am trying to get my sewing mojo back? I think being off work so long has made me become a bit too lazy ...

I am off work with stress (work related) at the moment, and have been since November - I have not been off work for such a long amount of time in ages (0nly once, after having my wrist broken by one of the lads at work), and it's a very odd space to be mentally.

Had a major meeting at work this morning, and without going into too much personal detail , it went better than expected (I was utterly dreading it, dreading going back through the doors, the whole thing) and people were very kind and supportive. The biggest shock was the assumption and acceptance - by those in the meeting - that I might not return for several months.

So ...

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Pondering ...

... what to do. This blog is strange - it isn't very 'me'. I don't write or talk anything like this in reality - nowhere near as sane or as controlled! I babble, I meander down lanes of thought and often forget what the hell I was on about.
I am creative - I knit and sew and paint and make jewellery and I write and and and - there's very little evidence of it on here!

Hmmm ... I am toying with a photo tutorial off and on, a sort of beginner's guide to sewing - I don't want to do video as I loathe hearing my own voice and certainly don't want my ugly mug on screen! And neither do you, take my word for it.

I had planned to keep a journal (sounds rather pretentious doesn't it, journal. A posh diary. With an excuse for forgetting to write in it - 'but it's a journal dahling, not a diary!'). Haven't written a sodding word. I love my nana's old diaries, my mum and I can curl up (with a large lagnifying glass for some of them) and read them back to back, they are wonderful - I would have loved to have been my nan's friend, I bet they had such a giggle!

Maybe tonight I will get my arse into gear and get started ...
Talking of arses - mines too big, And I didn't lose a single solitary pound last week - it was Fat Club weight in night last night and I was gutted. I ignored the box of After Eights and the Pringles and the crisps and only succumbed to the tempting whispers of one Bueno bar all week - for what! Sweet fek all.

So from me and my fat arse, bye for now.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The view from the door (again).

Looks good, but really - snow, we are bored with you now. Begone!

(My garden looks so so manky, I didn't get round to planting any new bulbs in the Autumn (that was the time of Dooooom at work), will have to fill it will colour as soon as the snow vanishes)

This is the latest spinnery - finished this ages ago but only got round to taking piccies today. The one bonus of the snow is that the days have been sunnier than ever!
Quite like this - I ususually spin much finer, but thought I would see if I could manage anything thicker and still consistent, and this is OK - not brilliant, but definitely OK. The white is silk, it was a bugger to spin but it's very soft.
Probably destined to become the striped band (with black) on a cardi.

And this is next - merino (I think), hussar silk and hemp, nice pinks.

It's so cold! I thought I had overdone it on the shopping yesterday - Tesco delivery, then a quick wizz round Sainsbury's to get the things I forgot, and I also have a veg box being delivered Thursday. But two things - I started fat club last night (eeeeek) so glad I have oodles of veggies now, and little in the way of chocolate temptation. Plus I woke up to loads of snow, and it hasn't stopped all morning.

Nipped out to feed the birdies, and it's pretty deep out there, so I plan on staying put all day today (am going to curl up with some knitting and a film when I finish this), and I don't have to go out until my course tomorrow evening (but that might not be on if the weather gets any worse).

Hibernation, good plan ... keep warm people!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year

And I hope it is going to be a good one for all of us.
Looking back, 2009 certainly wasn't the best of years -nobody died, nobody was seriously ill, nothing disastrous, just not the best of times, and ended with me being off with work related stress, and pondering what to do and where to go next ... time to move on, both for my physical and emotional health I think. Teaching still maybe, but not necessarily, and ideally by the coast somewhere, or in the country. NOT the city. Uh huh.

There were good parts - some great parts - work was fun, until things all changed and went belly up (long story)(ok, not long, just probably dull), had a lot of laughs with the usual bunch of reprobates and ne'er do wells (staff) and as usual, when these children work they REALLY work. Tough getting there, but inspirational when they do.

Had my first flight that I can remember (I was 6 last time, can't remember a thing), and it was bonkers - the tiniest plane, I spent both flights crammed against the window with my camera, grinning like a loon, especially on the return flight when we hit spectacular turbulance - I ended up wearing most of my drink, loved every single second. I could be a pilot! Sod teaching, fly planes!
Went to Orkney for an interview (went to Orkney twice, again a long dull tale), didn't get the job and didn't feel it was quite the right one for me, its been a long time since I taught in a primary school and I felt a touch out of my depth, but had a fabulous time (NOT the second time, that has been consigned to some of the Craptastic Events of 2009).

Rediscovered my sewing mojo, had fun making this for a Christmas Stocking swap on Ravelry, crammed it with 25 goodies of assorted worth, and was lucky enough to receive a fabulous stocking in return, full of beautiful hand crafted loveliness. This was a good swap, one of those where it just all goes right.

And managed to make some knitty things I am not at all shamed of, this was a present for a friend's birthday and I loved it.

This was only a month or so ago, seems like ages - as for the summer, well - I know we had one because I spent plenty of it on the beach soaking up the sun (yes, here, in Yorkshire, we DID have sun!). And I know the bulbs will start sprouting soon, and spring will - er - spring. And then it will be summer, truly it will. But it all seems too far away! It's fairly bright outside today, and the birdies are all clammering as they attack the feeders, but bright sunny days and a bit of warmth that's not from the fire would be nice!

Happy 2010.