Friday, 29 January 2010

Thrift Gifts

This is what I am going to take to my friend tomorrow. Homemade apple chutney and carrot-pineapple jam and a thermos I found on my thrifty rounds. It is the same colour as one of her kitchen walls. I don't mind giving people gifts and them doing whatever they are moved to do with it, but this time I am going on train and don't want to carry unnecessary things, so I actually asked her whether she fancied the thermos. She has not seen it yet and since she is not reading this blog I am safe showing it off to the whole world.
I am always pleased to find treasures in thrift shops and this thermos has been calling for me for months. Luckily I remembered to ask my friend, because when I went to the shop the flask had made it from the shelves to the pavement box. Close shave!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

From the Doll Archives

This is a doll I made about a year ago. The story is rather similar to the Princess' birthday party. The Elf son was invited and I was the Royal Purveyor of the Present, as usual. The little Lady who was to receive this doll is herself rather an artistic girl. I thought she would appreciate a doll, which was looking a bit like her. The doll was made of a mixture of old and new fabrics/ lace/ buttons. I painted the face with acrylic paints and filled her with English sheep wool.

Afterwards I heard that she was awfully pleased about the specs, as she wears them herself. Obviously the Big Brother had immediately removed these from the doll, which had caused a little skirmish between the siblings. Luckily the specs were made to be removed. I remember as a child being thoroughly frustrated with dolls and soft toys with non-removable "bits" like collars, jewellery, hats and specs. I thought that it would be awfully unpleasant for my charges to sleep wearing these things.

I toyed with an idea making these for sale, as I enjoyed producing this one. I made a few more, but was not that happy with them and admit that they still sit in my draw. I could easily make more, if anybody wants to have their handmade dolly. They are suitable for over three year olds and adults too! Obviously I can make dollies for younger children, but I would then do away with the painted face and any "loose" bits. (Obviously the face would be there, but embroided, I think.)
My absolutely favourire bits about this doll were her specs

and her green felt mary-janes.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Crochet Madness

I purchased a couple of crochet hooks and am now officially hooked. I blame Lucy from Attic24. I just had to try after seeing all her lovely crochet. I learnt to crochet as a child, but cannot remember doing it since age 10. So...we were in for long shots here. I could miraculously dig up chaining and single stitches from my muscle memory. They sort of flowed automatically, if you know what I mean. Beyond that, thank heavens for utube. It didn't take long to get the movements back and now I am thoroughly enjoying it.
To start with I just did some boring samples on stitches. Then I tried "granny squares" just to see if I could actually produce something. This is when the above pictured flower also was made. It was easy with Lucy's really clear instructions. (If you want to try, go onto her blog and all the patterns are in the sidebar, brilliant). I made the flower to a pin and put in on the lapel of my wintercoat.  I still hadn't quite made up my mind what to do as my first "big" project, so I decided to try the crocheted birds. And this bird was made

I have two of them as unfinished projects lying in my yarn basket. They will be completed, but just now time and efforts, besides having the horrible cold, are used for this one

This is going to be my summer bag. I am so proud of noticing that I had made the bottom far too big and had the guts actually go back and unravel it to a more appropriate size. I unravelled more than a skein of cotton, so there was quite a lot of work going down the drain...
I am using Lucy's pattern, but have modified it, so if you make it from her pattern, it won't look like mine, not exactly. I think that my bag is going to look quite different on the whole, so watch this space.

I hope you have avoided the seasonal sniffles...See you soon!

Monday, 25 January 2010


That's how I have sounded last five days. I have had a cold and haven't had energy to blog. The pictures need to be taken of the latest crafty things and a few lines written. I promise I will be back VERY soon.

Saturday, 16 January 2010


I went to my local charity shop yesterday to give them items I had cleared out of our kitchen cupboards. Of course I had to have a nose around for some treasures for myself. I am slowly building up a collection of glass containers for our pantry items. I like my flour, nuts, salt, sugar etc in containers instead of bags from which they tend to spread all over the cupboard in our household. I don't want to store my food in plastic, so big old jars do the job for me. I am in no hurry, I just pick up things when i see them in charity shops or car boot sales. This time I got one jar for my peppermint teabags and a new butterdish. Hurrah! I was starting to despair with our current butterdish, cheap stoneware from a supermarket, which had chips in it. It was not the most hygienic of containers any more.
I try to do mine for the environment, but I do buy new materials and yarns etc for my crafts. I hugely admire Amanda Blake Soule of for using so many repurposed materials. When I am in thrift shops I try to think in terms of "materials"and am getting better. There is also the matter of keeping all the stash, especially when it does not just fold in neat piles of fabric. I cannot make myself to cut the garments into fat quarters, as I know that so much of  the garment can be used as smaller pieces. Anyway, there was somebody's stash of fabrics for sale yesterday and I took a few pieces home with me together with some wool for my new crochet projects.
I picked up something to be shined up as a present for a person, but not going to show that as yet. Quite a while I have planned to start using fabric napkins instead of the never ending use of kitchen towels and paper napkins. My plan is to make some myself, quite simply from some cotton or linen, but these were cute and price was pennies...

I also got this tablecloth with fabulous colours and that unmistakable old-made-to-last-quality. The napkins I bought quite long ago from the same shop.

The ladies in the shop are absolutely lovely and know me. They even remember Elf Son. Yesterday they sent a surprise to him in form of a tin full of marbles. Elf Son has a marble collection and these were a well received addition. All in all a very pleasing expedition with some stuff I didn't bother to show. The price? £5. Have you found any good things lately?
Editor's note: Sorry about the poor quality and total borishness of the pictures. There has been no light around these latitudes for a week and I could not wait with posting until we got some more natural light.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Birds and Birthday

OMG.OMG. I did delete a LOOONG post just there. Have to start again (swearing silently in three languages as young ears are listening).
I thought of having a "mama does rounds in charity shops" type of birthday yesterday while my boys were at work and in school. Well, we still have snow and schools are closed, so my plans changed. I decided to settle for a cosy stay at home-do crafts day.
During the Christmas holidays I found Lucy's blog Attic24 (, which I have been enjoying like a good book. I really think you should pay it a visit. Word of warning though, it is addictive. Lucy inhabits a world of colour and pretty photos. I really got a hankering for bright colours after immersing myself in her world.
I used to live with rather a lot colour, like many of us during the 90's and in my case well into noughties. Then I got tired of it and wanted to have white walls, loads of wood and natural materials. This is where I am now, Kitchen and Elf Son's room excepted. Our kitchen walls are in need of painting and I have decided to change the burnt orange walls to something more neutral. Now that might sound counter intuitive as I just said I want more colour. But it is far easier for me to have and tolerate loads of colourful things, if the background is in neutral.
As mentioned I have read Lucy's blog and saw her little crocheted birdies and got inspired to make some. I am not very clever with crochet hook, so I decided to sew. My colourful supplies were dug from the bottom of the deep draw

and these dudes were made:
 I seek harmony, also when I am sewing and tend to make things pretty or stylish. I really admire all the creative people in the blogland, who throw together wild combinations of colour and pattern and end up with waa-waa-woom results. I decided that my crafty New Year's resolution should be to try this approach once in a while and the birds were the first attempt on it.
The birdies are now hanging in our kitchen from an IKEA chandelier, which i dressed up with glass beads sometime last autumn. For once I could not go for the "nice" look as I did not have enough of beads in any single colour or even a two-colour combination to make it tasteful. So it ended up with all the colours and I liked it!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Calendar and Snow

This is what we woke up to yesterday morning. The pictures are from Papa Elf's morning walk in the snow:

This amount of snow is not common around here. We are normally seeing rain and if we are lucky a dusting of snow. The snow is still there, not as thick and pretty, but covering the ground nevertheless.

I am changing my plan and inserting a fresh project here I made yesterday after we have built snowmen and -woman, sledged and generally frolicked in the snow. We needed a calendar to hang on our fridge door. For our family it just needs to have very little space for each day to show the upcoming birthdays and to give us a quick overview of  where we are in the month. (Not that it helps us to remember to send the cards, as our friends and  family would be able to tell). All our "proper" organising happens in a diary, which lives next to our phone.

I went to one of the "print free calendar" sites and chose a simple calendar, which left space for a picture on an A4 sized paper. I left the "2010" out of the design, as I thought that even my amnesia is not that bad that I would forget which year we are in. I hope that my February design is bit more exciting, the January needed doing quickly and we had just had a big dump of snow, hence the snow flakes.
I printed out all the months of the year, but I think I will make the February page in the end of January and so forth. In that way I will get a calendar which reflects my mood for the coming month. In this way I will also avoid hanging a big bunch of paper on my fridge door. I hope that the Elf Son will agree to design as many of the months as possible. Editors note: The Elf Son has already been to request a page for March, that's his birthday month, so my plans of making a month at a time might change. Aw, just noticed that I haven't made a stellar job of glueing my paper cut pieces...

Friday, 1 January 2010

A Princess' Birthday

I am going to start with a couple of posts about past projects. In the autumn the elf son was invited to a princess' birthday party. I was not in the mood to go to the shops to find something suitable and decided that as she would receive plenty of plastic things, I could give her a home made pressie. As I don't know the said princess that well, I decided to make things which hopefully any six-year-old princess would like. I heard later from her mummy that the present was well received, so I was happy. I think that in the midst of all shop bought items, home made ones can make a real impact as well as give children the idea that they could make presents as well. And hey, I would be happy to have that drawstring bag for my bits and bobs, so I guess it could outlive many of her other presents...

Here is the drawstring bag of unbleached calico with her initial embroidered on it.

In the bag went a home made notebook for important drawings and stories,

a Suffolk puff pin

 and the all important lace crown.

And here is the whole present
As you see I threw a pink pencil into the bag for a good measure from my stash.

This year I will try even harder to think of presents I could make myself and you will be able to see here how it goes. What have you made? Any home made Christmas presents?


After reading a lot of blogs for a year and being inspired by many of them, I thought that I will give it a go. It is a way to mark the beginning of a new decade and go back to writing some sort of a journal. This blog will be a show and tell to share my "ta-daa" moments with friends and family as well as a place to think "aloud".

Hope that the year has started well for you!