Friday, 22 August 2008

We have a kitchen

Well, today is a minor milestone as I have reclaimed the kitchen. You may recall that I have had a giant dollshouse sitting in my kitchen since October, as I slowly assembled the Greenleaf Willowcrest kit. The main construction was completed a few months ago and since then I am really only working on furnishing the inside. For quite a while the house was on the dining table and we were eating on the picnic table. Then the mostly completed house got moved to the picnic table and we got the big table back. And to be honest I haven't been working on it much, not least because I didn't have enough working room on the little picnic table (I am one of those people that can fill up any given worksurface with cr*p and end up actually working in a clear area about six square inches right on the edge.) So today I took the big decision and moved the house up to my bedroom, and all the tools and bits and pieces and RECLAIMED THE KITCHEN! Hilariously, neither Ds nor Dh have noticed yet, even though they came back to the house while I was in the middle of doing it. I think the mess has been there so long that we have all developed a blind spot for that corner. Needless to say, the kitchen seems enormous now that the massive blot has been cleared away. My plan is to continue to work on furnishing the house in my bedroom (which is also my sewing room). Here is a before and after pic of the kitchen.

Another milestone this week was that I finished my Sonora top that I have been knitting this summer in Katia linen. It was going to be a cardigan, but when I was trying on the body I decided I liked it better as a sleeveless vest. It has a sort of updated hippy chic look. I wore it to work yesterday and it was really comfortable, perfect for air conditioning, plus I felt happy every time I went to the bathroom and saw myself in the mirror. I used six balls of Katia linen, and as said before I knitted a bit of extra length in the body because my swatch shrank up a little. I also lowered the line where the lace gives way to the cable pattern so that it fell more attractively lower down my chest, in more of an empire line. Knitting this yarn was a bit like knitting coarse string, but now that I have washed it, it has softened up a lot and is really comfortable to wear. The pattern calls for buttons but I found I liked it just tied in one place.

I also knit a pair of gorgeous little baby booties in Regia Silk Color, from a kit of yarn + pattern that I bought at C&H fabrics in Canterbury a few weeks ago. There is enough yarn left to knit the baby beanie (also in the pattern) so I have cast on for that. I need to thread some ribbon through the eyelets in the booties. This yarn is lovely and soft, really nice to knit with. It's also nice to knit something small and quick and colorful.

Last weekend I finished the other two mosaics. This is a picture just after I grouted them. If it ever stops raining, I will install them out in the lawn and take a pic of the three of them. The first one is out there already and glistens attractively in the rain.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Recoiling from change

There seems to have been a lot of change in my life the last few months. Some changes are momentary shocks - like when I logged into Blogger just now, and the account screen looks completely different than it did last Friday. But that isn't important to me so I quickly recover. Other changes take much longer to adjust to, like starting this new job back in April. Tomorrow I will have officially done four months in the job, and I feel like I am only just pulling out of the slough of despair that I have been wallowing in all this time. It was just too much change all at once: new career field, going from working solo to working in a team, going from my own office to cramped open plan, going from part-time to full-time.

Somehow change seems harder the older I get. I'm in my late 40s now, which is hardly old, but I look back on what I coped with in my twenties, including major changes such as moving countries, and I just don't think I could do it now. And not only that, but I have developed a fear of change - I have recently been considering a move to a bigger house where I would have a separate sewing room but the risks and the work involved just seem like too much. Ds of course is completely against moving, and Dh isn't very enthusiastic either, so the majority of the work would fall to me. And of course there is the financial risk, and all the work we would need to do to renovate the new house, not to mention de-cluttering the current house and putting loads of stuff in storage and doing viewings. I will likely play it safe and stay where we are, but that is depressing because although we have quite a nice house, I feel very cramped when it comes to my hobbies and haven't got any dedicated space for them apart from my knitting shed. If we stay here I think we will have to undergo a massive de-cluttering as we are bulging at the seams.

As usual I haven't got very much crafty stuff done this week. I was working on another kit for my dollshouse, a little sewing box from Lisa's Little Things, but I found that the kit was missing some pieces so I've had to email for replacements. I did however make some bunting. I saw something similar to this on sale in the gift shop at Charleston farmhouse, cut from vintage embroidered linen and overlocked on the edges. I liked it but didn't want to spend $50, so when I spotted some embroidered linen on sale at an antiques shop the next day for a few dollars, I snapped it up. I starched it heavily, and cut out 8-inch triangles, then overlocked two sides, and sewed the triangles to a header tape decorated with rick-rack. I made two short runs for the two windows in my bedroom. I'm quite pleased with it, and I don't feel bad about cutting up the linens because they were in the ragbag pile and not likely to be loved by anyone else.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Another weather report, and mosaics

Summer has apparently concluded, as a new wave of rain and clouds blankets the UK. We were thinking about going camping this weekend, but I don't think we will bother as it isn't worth getting the tent all wet just for one night. It's also quite humid, which I don't like, makes me headachy and stupid.

Our visit to Charleston Farmhouse a few weeks ago inspired me to finally try my hand at a garden mosaic. I've always liked mosaics, and have probably picked up 4 or 5 books over the years, including the Kaffe Fassett Mosaics book after we went to his exhibition in Bath. Charleston had several mosaics crumbling away in the garden, and it happened that the next day we stopped in at a bric-a-brac / antiques flea market where I picked up several plates in blue and white transfers fairly cheaply. A stop at the tile shop on the weekend to pick up mortar, grout and some tile nippers, and I could get started. I am starting small, with three small flagstones pried up out of our lawn. I decided to try something simple, just a collage of blue and white fragments, but my quilter's instincts took over and I found myself wanting to make a border with one colour and fill in with the other. It was also surprisingly hard to nip the plates into shape (after smashing them up with a hammer first) and to try to keep the pieces fairly flat. Here is the first one just after I grouted it. It is now back in the lawn, where it glistens in all the rain we are having... I love the end result but it was a lot harder work than I had expected. Two more to go.
I tackled another kit from Lisa's Little Things for my dollshouse quilting shop. This one is of vintage looking ribbon reels. I may leave them empty, as decoration, or put ribbon on some of them to make them functional. The centre of the reels are of laser cut wood discs, stacked to the required height. The ends are round card, with supplied printed labels glued to one end. Easy enough to assemble, the only thing I did different was to run a brown felt tip pen around the edge of the label to remove the white edge.
I knit the second Penny sock on my Brother 881 machine. I don't think I said why these are called Penny socks - it is because the pattern calls for you to fill up the toe (knit first) with pennies, to weight the rest of the sock as you knit circularly on the machine. I didn't find that the pennies gave sufficient weight, but they did make an ideal handle to grasp with my left hand to pull down on the stitches, as I pushed the carriage with my right hand. This was a self-striping sock yarn from Garnstudio, a wool/nylon mix. I like the colours but the stripes are just weird, strange one-row stripes that don't go all the way around the foot's circumference, blotchy bits floating against solid instead of a contrast colour where they might look like fair isle.
I took my 13 year old ds to see the film Wall-E. He was lukewarm about going, but we actually both really enjoyed it. I don't think it is as good as Toy Story or Finding Nemo, but it is quite funny and has great characters (although the next time I see a larger person wearing red, I may have flashbacks to this film...) There is also a hilarious short before the main film.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Where is the summer going?

I can't believe it is virtually August, and that Ds's summer break is almost half over already. I think partly the reason the summer seems to be disappearing fast is that we had really terrible weather until recently which made it feel more like autumn. It's turned hot and muggy now, up to 30 degrees C on a few days, which I don't like. Humidity makes me feel stupid and sluggish.

I've done very little crafting this week, work continues to get me down which doesn't leave me a lot of energy for being creative. I do a little handknitting most evenings - I am on the second front of my linen cardigan, having completed the back and one front. I put together another kit from Lisa's Little Things for my quilt shop: this one is a button rack. You can't really see it in the photo but each printed button has a little dot of Diamond Glaze over it, to make it 3D and shiny, it gives a pretty realistic look. The kit was well designed, the instructions make more sense after reading them over a few times. However, having read the warning to be very careful to get all the button cards glued on the right way up, I still managed to glue every single one on upside down - they were all orientated in the same direction, it's just that I had the base facing up instead of the top when I was gluing them on. Duh. I didn't even notice until I went to take the picture. Luckily the glue on the sign and base hadn't dried yet so I was able to rip them off and do some rejigging. The whole display is about three inches high. The height of the stand in the kit allows for three different height positions - I decided to cut the stand short and go with the table-top display, which I will stand on one of the display cabinets in the quilt shop on the ground floor of my dollshouse.
We went camping for one night last weekend, to a lovely farm in East Sussex near Lewes. The quiet field had a nature pond in the middle with a running water feature, and the woodland on two sides of the field had a lovely nature trail winding along a creek bed. We enjoyed breakfast sitting outside our tent looking over the pond. Later we had a drive to Charleston Farmhouse
where we enjoyed the lovely cottage garden and even more, enjoyed the lovely cream tea we had in their cafe (scones with cream and strawberries - yum!!).

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