Saturday, 15 June 2019

Chicks 2 weeks

2 weeks old already, and the weather is too rubbish for us to have them go outside at all.

We've made the round brooder bigger,   and we're going to remove the round walling today or tomorrow so they have more space - enough to fit in a seed-tray sized dust bath. 

I've been under the weather for a couple of weeks,  but I've ensured that they each get picked up at least twice a day.     Normally I pick up 6 at a time and put them in a trug with some food,  then pick up and stroke each one.  Then I get the other six out.

Here are the 6 Leghorn. One of themhas a broken toe, so I need to see if its possible to splint it (although I think its too late)

Still no idea on sex.  We have 3 yellow partridge, and 3 silver duckwing.  Number 8, the chick I htought wasn't going to make it,  is one of the yellow partridge ones.

All 12 chicks are coping with being picked up and stroked, but it wouldn't be correct to say they are happy with it.    They are happy to eat the delicious Garvo Alfastart while they are stroked, so that's all good progress.

The leghorns are more tolerant than the Barnevelders.  They are also the ones who watch us when we walk in,  their little owl-like faces look up and watch carefully.

One of them is particularly cheeky, and s/he's the reason we're removing the circle and putting up the taller barriers.

This picture was after the leghorns had been put back in the run, and I was collecting the barnevelders and putting them in the tub. The leghorn wanted back  to the tub that had the special treats in.

Can you see the two leghorns in the background?   That's what I mean abou their owl-like faces watching us.

Saturday, 8 June 2019


This year's chicks started hatching on 1st June, and continued throughout Saturday and Sunday.   

Only 1 of Bertie's eggs was fertilised, and s/he was the first to hatch.  We guessed, correctly, that Pimg and Pong's eggs would be clear,   we had hopes for Barbara and Annie's eggs,  and Phyllis was a last minute addition.      The black chick that hatched suggests it was from either Annie or Phyllis, and we'll be able to tell more when we see the shape of the comb.

6 out of the 8 Leghorn eggs were fertilised and hatched (3 Yellow Partridge and 3 Silver Duckwing),  and 5 out of the 8 silver laced Barnevelders hatched.

We had one traumatic hatch, and the little chick has survived so far. They are, of course, the cutest little chicks.

We've been trying to handle them several times a day, with mixed success.  It's helpful that we have two different breeds so we can divide them to make sure we handle each one),.  

We'll miss having Miss Tween around,  as she's great with the chicks.  She's old enough and responsible/sensible  enough for us to let her go and see them and handle them unsupervised,  which is a great help. 


It was my parents Significant Wedding Anniversary recently, and we had a party in the garden for all the family.

We were really lucky that the weather stayed (mainly) dry. Everyone seemed to have a good time.

We completely failed to have family photos taken, and many of the youngers had left by the time we thought about it.  We did manage to get (what is left of) the oldest generation together for a snap or two.

Those that stayed overnight nearby met for breakfast at a local pub the next day, and that was a really good way to finish it all up.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Little Shop of Horrors

We often use the AudreyII voice singing "Feed Me!!  Feed Me Now!!" when imitating the cats demanding food.

Some time ago I explained to Miss Tween that it was from Little Shop of Horrors and I 'sang' snippets like "Feed me Seymour" for her.  It turned out that her Drama club had  the title song one term.

She wanted to see the film.

Last time she stayed I bought a used DVD, which turned out to be a much older version.  I bought the correct version, and it has been sitting by the TV for ages waiting for an opportunity to be played.  DH didn't want to watch it again (we've seen it before, AND we've seen the stage show).

We watched it yesterday.

I hadn't realised that there were so many things that I was going to have to explain.

Whenever Miss Tween asks me anything potentially embarrassing,  I make sure that I reply factually and in the same way I would as if she asked me, for example, "what's 2 plus 2?".    It's important that I don't appear embarrassed, as I want her to feel comfortable asking about anything.

First thing.  Steve Martin appears as the sadistic dentist . Audrey gets on his bike, and he asks if she has the handcuffs.  "Why does he want her to have handcuffs"  "Because some people like to be tied up when they have sex" "That's weird!" 

Second thing: The Dentist is singing away, causing pain to all his patients. "Why does he do that?" - "Because he's a sadist" "What's a sadist?" "Someone who likes to cause pain to people"

Third thing: Bill Murray is waiting to be seen by the Dentist. When his turn comes, he's enjoying the pain "Why is he enjoying it?" - "Because he's a masochist" - "What's a masochist?"  "Someone who likes pain".  "That's just weird!"

So far, so good.  (Although I'm sure her parents are going to wonder what I've been letting her watch if she starts coming out with this sort of stuff).

Fourth thing: AudreyII is singing, and in the song describes himself as a "Mean Mother*". What does that mean?

I failed. I strayed from my strategy.

I should, of course, have just answered her question with "It's short for Motherf****r and it's a really unpleasant swear word. Your Nan hated it more that any other word".

But I didn't.

Instead I said "It's short for a really horrible swear word".
"What word?"  "I'm not going to tell you,  it's really unpleasant".
 Later: "What word?"  "I'm not going to tell you.  Your Nan absolutely hated this word, and she'd be mortified if I told you".
This morning: "What word?"  "It's just an abbreviation for a really unpleasant swear word.  You'll know it when you hear it.  I swear a lot and I don't use it".

I can't give in and tell her now because she'll think that nagging will wear me down.

But I won't make the mistake again. My usual approach is definitely the right one!

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Old Bag

Miss Tween had a school trip to France, lasting several days.

We had to get her to school by 04.15 (yes, 04.15, a.m.) and had to provide a packed breakfast and a packed lunch for consumption on the ferry.    Discussions with Miss Tween started some weeks ago about what she would like in her breakfast pack (I had already decided on her lunch),  and so I was well prepared.

I was going to buy her two pretty lunch bags, one for each meal.  I'd seen some when I'd walked though TK Maxx the other week.    But then I realised I should just make a bag. 

I worked out what to do to make a lined bag, and I decided to box the bottom so that the takeaway containers (which I was reusing so they wouldn't be single use plastic) would fit it neatly.  I didn't want the lining to have seams.

It went well. Until I decided to overlock around the whole thing, which of course created the most ugly seam you can imagine.  It also ended up much smaller, due to me neatening the edges before sewing, trimming, and vrious other things.

I rethought it (whilst waiting for MIss T to finish playing horses) and did it again. I started with much bigger pieces of fabric.  It took me almost up to bedtime to finish,  and it was...enormous.  I also seemed to have a lot of bagginess in the lining, but I didn't have time to fix it.  I later realised that I should have boxed the lining too, but it was too late.

Miss Tween was very kind.  She loved the fabrics,  and she really liked that I had made it for her.   It was just a bit...big.  She decided to use it anyway, even though it took up all the space in her compulsory rucksack.  I showed her that it would roll up small (ish) when she was on her way home.

I'm really pleased with the meals, and she was very happy too.  We talked through whether the bagels should be toasted (yes) and why we had to let them go cold before wrapping them up.   She suggested tht she took the Philadelphia in a separate tub, rather than pre spread,  which was great as that was what I had planned.  She had a tub of salad and tomatoes,  some finger sized cucumbers,  a pot with some salami and sliced w├╝rst in, an apple, and a Gu pudding.  I put in some Nutella b-ready sticks as well.   

Breakfast was a simpler affair. Untoasted scotch pancakes,  a shop bought waffle, some chocolate spread in a tub,  and a banana.   I gave her one of those fab little squeezy things of Robinsons squash to take.

The cutlery was wrapped in hen-related napkins,  and I popped in one of those origami things we ised to make as kids.  The things where you put it on your hands, pick a number and open it that many times, then pick ooe of the flaps, and then read a message written underneath.   I'm not sure she's ever seen one before so she probably won't know what to do with it.   Even if she does, I'd written everything in French (I picked simple phrases for her).  What are those things called?

The pupils haven't been allowed to take their phones so we've no idea how she's getting on.   They were allowed to take disposable cameras,  but of course she has no understanding of what a film camera is or how it works.   I suspect the pics will not turn out well.  


Sunday, 12 May 2019

Continuing on, Cooking

Creme Caramel in the Instant Pot.   Oh my goodness, it's a revelation!  It's like the time I tried pressure cooking a cheesecake!   Who would have though that it could be possible to make fabulous  Creme Caramel in a  pressure cooker!   I've had the recipe for over a year, why did I wait?!?!

I also bought a Philips Airfryer.  We've used a Tefal Actifry for cooking oven chips for years,  but I was tempted by the Airfruer because it looked more versatile.  I kept putting off buying one because it seemed a bit of an extravagance.    Costco were offering one at a reasonable price,  so I bought it. 

We tried it.  It worked really well.     It's too tall to fit in the cupboard  space occupied by the Actifry and, on the basis that we can try and use it instead of the oven (the saving is in the lack of preheatng required),  I had to find it a home on the worktop.    Easier said than done.

I spend over a day rearranging the kitchen.   I appreciate that sounds ridiculous, but it's true. It was like a 3D version of one of those sliding puzzles!

As an example,  I moved one item into the cupboard wher the Actifry used to live.  The space it created wasn't suitable for the airfryer,  as that needs to be near the extractor fan.  So i moved the vacuum sealer over instead.  But that meant that the drawer full of vac sealer bags and bits needed to move too.   And it wasn't as easy as just swapping over two drawers.  Or just two items.

And of course, I had to clean thoroughly as I moved stuff.  And I went through the drawers I was moving to see if I could get rid of anything.  I was brutal. 

Anyway,  it's done.  For the first time in months my worktops look tidy and aren't cluttered up .  Well, no more cluttered than they need to be.  The accumulation of piles of 'stuff' have been dealt with (apart from a relatively small pile of  "I don't know what to do with these"  things on a tray on the breakfast bar).

I also put one of the long-redundant kitchen appliances (previously relegated to the utility room while it waited for me to see if I missed it)  up for sale.  And I think I'll be finding a new home for the Actifry.  

I'm hoping I can keep it tidy for a few more weeks. We'll see.


Continuing on, chickens.

A busy week, travel wise.

I started the week visiting my parents, with my brother,  as they had to travel to an unfamiliar hospital some distance from where they live.   In fact, it was an easy journey, and they will be able to drive themselves if they have to go again. 

The following afternoon, I started a rather large round trip, including an ovenight stay,  to collect eggs for the incubator.

This year I wanted to add a Silver Laced Barnevelder (SLB) to my garden girls,  and also a Leghorn. I would also be happy to add Leghorn to the allotment flock,  and to introduce SLBs to raise chicks from in future.

There are so many gorgeous breeds and colours of  hens.  I don't particularly want to repeat breeds/colourways in my garden flock,  as I like to assoiate each type with one particular individual.  This meant I had to search high and low for Leghorn eggs which were non-white Leghorn(Lily) and non-exchequer (Lotti) Leghorn, andit was harder than I expected.     I found a lovely lady in Northamptonshire who seemed to have both breeds though, which was a bit of a result,   and I contacted her.

It turned out she's lost her SLBs to a fox attack, but she could help with the Leghorn eggs.  I found a couple of other people selling SLB eggs. Bith were some distance away,  and in the end one lady didn't have eggs at the time I needed them, so  I ended up  arranging to go to Devon.    The egg collecting trips weren't going to be linked originally - apart from needing the eggs within  couple of days of each other so they could all go in the incubator at the same time.

Meanwhile,  we penned off the Allotmenteers that we wanted to breed from this year.  Ping and Pong, our Dorkings, were in that group, but we fully expect their eggs to be clear.   Bertie really dislikes them (and/or they dislike him, we aren't quite sure).  Luckily they have plenty of room so they can avoid each other on a day to day basis.  I've got two girls I particuarly want to breed from,  but I haven't seen Bertie cover them, so it wouldn't surprise me if they turn out to be clear too. 

We also tested the two incubators, as one of them failed last year.  A new part was ordered, arrived, and fitted. Both seem to be registering the correct temperatures.

I then had an opportunity to help someone out,  so I ended up combining the trips. I went to Devon one evening, staying at an inexpensive B&B.  The next morning, I collected my SLB eggs - and some SLB cockerels and pullets.  The birds were for the lady in Northamptonshire who was supplying my Legorn eggs!

The eggs have been set,  divided equally between the two incubators.   I'm as nervous as a kitten.  Last year's hatch was, for the first time, really stressful.  I just hope this one goes more smoothly.

Continuing on, creating.

I've been trying to Get On With Things for the last few weeks,  and I've had some success.

I've managed to draft and stitch a sleeveless top, with the bust dart moved into the neckline and gathered!  I'm amazed!    I managed to baste, then overlock,  then put the neck band on,  and finally to coverstitch the neckband, the hem and the arms without any of the machines eating the garment!

The whole gathering thing was as hit and miss as ever - despite me taking precautions.   I sewed three rows of stitching,  a great tip I learned from someone's blog. (I wish I could remember who, because I'd like to thank her.) .   I sewed the gathering stitches at 2mm, 4mm and 6mm (my seam allowance was 5mm),  and I managed to sew them fairly straight.  I didn't cross the lines at all (which made me think of Ghostbusters!).  I managed to pull the threads without incident, it was just the allocating of the gathers that took..forever.

The top wasn't actually meant to be sleeveless.  I'd just had enough of it by the time I'd done the gathering.   I tried it on before I did the hemming and the arms, and it was Okay.   Not great, but Okay.    I decided to make myself finish it, good practice with the coverstitch machine and all that.   The machine behaved beautifully.  I tried it on with the neckband and the hem done, and it looked a but more okay than before.  Not quite right, but wearable. Not OK enough to be bothered to cut and sew sleeves though, so I decided to just coverstitch the armholes. 

I really like it, despite its imperfections.   I'm of an age and shape where sleeveless tops are inadvisable,  but I don't care.

I wondered whether the ruffler of gathering foot n my machine would work.  I tried the ruffler, and decided that it looked too...pleated... for what I wanted.  I cut a front neckline shaped piece of fabric, and tried the gathering foot.... and it did a reasonable job in no time at all.   

So, I made a second version.  This time I used the gathering foot on the neckline,  AND I made sleeves.   The gathering is really neat.   I suspect I would get an even beter result if I made myself learn how to gather manually  better,  but the results were acceptable.  

I'm now planning another version,  with a slightly wider necklne and more fluttery sleeves. I've just been a bit distracted by other things.

I also...shock, horror... did some machine embroidery!  I made a Batman mask for a birthday card for DSS2 (I didn't think to take a photo) ,   and I embroidered Arya onto a tee shirt for The Tween (previously known as Small Person).  I haven't seen her to give it to her.  Hope she'll like it.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

I've been a bit under the weather.

I've just realised how long it's been since I posted, and I wanted to try and do a catch up post.

Allotment Girls
Camilla had a case of bumble foot, and I brought her home to treat it.  She was desperate to be in with the other girls, but whenever she went near them, they attacked her.  We put her in our small coop and run,  and put that inside the Girls' run,  so she could see and hear them, but they couldn't attack her.

I found a really helpful post about treating bumble foot, this one didn't invllve a scalpel.  (link ).  I managed to get some of the gel she metioned from a local tack shop,  and colloidal plasters from Boots. I followed the lady's instructions,  and several hours later I'd got Cam's feet sorted and bandaged.   She went back to the Allotment after a week, and she seems well - she's roosting at night now.    The problem will return though, so I need to try and do her feet more routinely.

Garden Girls
All are looking well.  I went to Rokers Feeds to get some Garvo, ready for the chicks.   While I was there I saw something called  Gourmet Grit   which I bought for them to try. They can't seem to get enough of it,  so I've now bought a large amount from the manfacturer.

We've decided to buy in fertilised eggs this year, and I've chosen Silver Laced Barnevelders and Leghorns as the two breeds I want to bring in.   If we manage to hatch girls, and if they are pleasantly natured,  I'm planning to keep one of each breed for my garden flock.   I don't really want 7 chooks in the garden,   but the other alternative is to keep any girls at the allotment until space appears here.  I thought it might be better to just keep 2 girls.

This year it's likely that we'll keep all females (unless we have a 100% hatch rate and they are all female).

I've sourced breeders and reserved eggs, and pencilled in a collection date.   

Let's hope they don't go broody just before I want the eggs.

I did a 4 day jacket retreat, which was much harder than I expected.  I had no idea just how many pieces there are to a lined jacket with collar!   It's not quite finished,  and has been sitting on Nellie waiting for me to do the last few steps.   It'll be waiting for a while longer.

I managed to make and finish a pair of leggings for Miss Tweenie (as we now call Small Person),  made in horrendously expensive Game of Thrones fabric.

She came to stay for a few days each week over half term, which was fab as always.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019


Yesterday was a gorgeous summery sunny day. I had the windows open, and the back door open,  and I spent most of the day cleaning.   I can't help it, it's something about the Spring air that makes me want to clean.

I was cleaning out the fridge, and sorting through my various fermented foods.   I decided I'd make some more of that gorgeous German Rye bread using my two sourdough starters,  so I fed decanted them, fed them,  and washed the pots.      This morning, I used the Ank to make the dough. All was going well.

The recipe I was following said that the rye needs a bit of help,  so I decided to use the proving function on my oven to help ot along for the first half hour.  I popped the lid onto the Ank bowl, such a neat idea,  and got on with other stuff, mainly vacuum sealing a load of frozen food.

When the oven beeped to say the 30 mins was up, I decided to leave the bowl in the moist oven, but I turned off the proofing function.

Much later, DH commented that I was cooking the bread in the Ank bowl.   I was in the middle of something else, so in my eye-rolling voice I explained that I had just put it in the oven to start proving, and I'd left it in there.  He asked me why it was on 170 degrees fan.

Of course I'd stuffed up when turning off the oven.  Now my beautiful dough - 350g of starter, 600g rye flour, 200g of white flour,  ground caraway seeds, rye grains,  was a partially baked mess.... and of course the plastic lid had melted on to it all anyway.

What a mess. What a waste of a beautiful dough,  of 350g starter, of 600g dark rye flour,  of cut rye grains,  and, of course, the Ank lid.

I'm lucky that DH spotted it when he did, and I think the bowl is salvageable. 

The lid is not.

I'll try again tomorrow.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Still missing

I'm getting on my nerves at the moment.  I just can't sustain any momentum.

I've had a couple of successful forays into making something.  Firstly,    Small Person came to stay on Tuesday, just for the nigt and following day,  and I managed to do some sewing for her while she was here.  I'd  intended to have it all done before she came,  but in the end I managed to do it before she left.  Right now I'm taking that as a bit of a win.

Thursday was another 'I can't be bothered' day although I did I manage to make home made pizza for dinner. I did manage to get a skirt pattern out to look at,  but that's as far as I got

Yesterday, Friday, was another apathetic day.  I got a second skirt pattern out, to compare to the first, and they are both sitting in a heap on the sofa.   I finally managed to make Brazilian Cheese Puffs.  I wanted to make them weeks ago, but I had to wait until I could get some Tapioca starch,  and then I wasn't well, and then I just couldn't be bothered.    They were worth the wait.  They looked like yorkshire puddings, just like in the recipe picture.   They rose beautifully, they tasted divine, they were easy to make.  I followed the Quirky Cooking recipe.    I can't find the recipe on her blog, I can only find it on her Facebook page so I'm linking to that. Apologies if you don't use FB.

I also made a Bolognese yesterday, for dinner tonight.  Small Person is staying again.  She's a creature of habit and, because she likes it,  we usually have Fish Fingers and Chips on a Saturday when she stays.   Hopefully she'll like the proper bolognese as well, especially as we'll make our own pasta.

I really need to break through the apathy and have a go at making one of the skirts.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Knock out!

Flu took me by surprise on Saturday night.

I don't mean a bad cold, I do mean flu.  I think I''ve only had it once before.   Saturday night was awful, I felt like a small child. Everything hurt and I had to decide whether it was more painful to have a dry throat or more painful to move and pick up the glass of water.

I couldn't get out of bed on Sunday, and I had a temperature of 103.   Even if I'd heard a fox, I'm not convinced I would have been able to get out of bed.  Luckily this wasn't put to the test.

I'm fortunate that DH kept me well supplied with drinks, temperature taking, and ibuprofen.  He also offered, at suitable intervals, food, cups of tea, and my phone/tablet, but I wasn't up to any of those.

On Tuesday, I got up, and ate something for the first time since Saturday. I answered a WhatsApp message.

On Wednesday I got up and stayed up.  I answered a couple of the other  messages.

DH brought home some allotment parsnips, and made parsnip soup. 

I'm up again today, and I feel OK, just a bit tired. I haven't managed to find the "..And Go" part of my "Get Up And Go".   I spent yesterday looking for it unsuccessfully.    Over the last two days I've done a few things, slowly.

I cleaned out the chooks, and found our first Garden Girl egg of 2019, laid by the lovely Fayoumi.  I sorted out the two spare nesting boxes; the Girls refuse to use them, they just like to complain about boxhogging by everyone else. Still, I like to offer them an alternative, and they can'thave the spare cube as I'm keeping that off limits. 

I sat on the swing in the garden, in the sunshine,  and fed sunflower seeds to the Girls.

I changed the bed, with DH's help.  I've done 4 lots of washing.    Today I tackled the  the things that needed fixing after several days neglect, but which I didn't want to do whilst I might still be buggy.     My Kimchi has been decanted into jars and put in the fridge.   The cabbage I bought for this week's Kimchi is now in the chickens.      I've changed the water on my sleeping water kefir.    I've changed the milk on my milk kefir.    I've fed my sourdough starters, and they are sitting on the worktop getting active.  I won't be attempting anything vaguely bready until tomorrow.  

I've vacuumed downstairs.   I've caught up on emails, and Faacebook, and stuff.  Mostly caught up. I've been reactive rather than proactive, and it's going to bite me on the bum.

I've looked at the piles of stuff on the cutting table, and chosen to walk on by.   I've told myself  I'll not do any sewing until  next week.  I'm hoping that this will take the pressure off me, stop me feeling guilty.

We had some parcels delivered, one of which was enormous.  DH asked if it was fabric,  and I was happy to tell him it wasn't, it was cat litter. I haven't ordered fabric for a couple of weeks! Ha!

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Momentum lost

Well, that didn't last long.

It feels like I've been unable to do anyting creative for a while, and I've been getting on my nerves.

Yesterday I wrote about it in my diary,  which was both cathartic and interesting.  It turns out that things are not always what they seem.

When I sat down and made myself think about what I've actually  been spending my time on, when I haven't been creating things, it wasn't as bad as I thought.

Not in actual sequence:  I cut and started to sew the replacement velvet top,  I had to wait until the skirt was done before I could continue.

I spent a lot of time on research.  I've been thinking about buying in some hatching eggs this year (as well as raising our own), and I went through my breed wish list.  I looked for possiuble suppliers.  I made a decision on one breed, and contacted a supplier to reserve eggs.    I've almost decided on a second breed,  and have been looking for suitable sellers.    The rest of my wish list has to stay on my wish list for now.  I made the decision to increase my garden flock by 2, assuming 2 suitable girls hatch.

DH has been doing some technical drawing, and he asked me to reconsider buying an A0 printer. It's been some time since I last considered this,  so   I've spent a lot of time researching suitable second hand printers. I've got the list down to a few now, and I'm still thinking about it.

I finally managed to obtain some second hand Kallax units to put in the guest bedroom (my sewing room).  I've been waiting for a particular shape to come up, locally, in a retired colour,  for what feels like forever (but was actually less than a month).   Units are now installed,  DH had to drill into the wall (which I didn't plan for, my beautiful smooth plastered wall!), and now all I need is a trip to I*** to get some more Drona boxes.

This resulted in some shunting around of furniture elsewhere, and I'm trying to get used to that.  I also learning about proper online auctions (not Ebay, I mean online auctions run by auction houses).  I knew that there was a hefty buyers premium on top of the sale price, and I knew VAT was charged on the hefty buyers premium.  What I didn't realise is that some of them charge VAT on the whole hammer price as well!  One of the auctions I was interested in ha a 16% buyers premium (plus VAT),  AND 20% VAT on top of everything (i've checked,  it's definitely VAT on the hammer price as well as VAT on the buyers premium).      Another one charged 29% buyers premium, but did not add VAT on the hammer price. 

Small Person came to stay overnight, which gave me a couple of hours to adjust her unicorn skirt. I sewed some clear elastic inside the elastic waistband (no pictures, annoyingly). I'm hoping it mightbe possible to remove it without destroying the waistband, so the skirt might last her a bit longer (if she wants it to).

I cleared the cutting table (which doubles as the kitchen table) enough to enable me to cut her two new pairs of leggings from fabrics of her choice.  I almost finished sewing one pair, but didn't finish before she had to go.

Kimchi (2), rye and wheat sourdough starters,
milk kefir, water kefir

I put my Water Kefir in the fridge to rest.  I made Kimchi, which was lovely and I'm making another batch today.  

I made some fab rye bread in the Ank.

I started some limes a-pickling, I'm planning to make some lime pickle. If I can find where I saved the recipe.   I'm going to make goats milk yoghurt today.

I'm glad that I made  myself think about the detail, rather than wallowing in my perception of my inability to get on and do

I just need to harness this right now, while I feel energised.

I'd better go and get started.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Clever lads

I can't remember if I shared a pic of the castle my uncle C made?   He finds bits of tree, and then turns them into amazing, detailed, unique, creations.   I've had mine for about a year now.

Dust, and dusting, was a problem. We tried to find a suitable case, the sort of thing stuffed objects sit in,  but these were mostly round based.    DH decided that making somethign was the answer.   The next time we saw Darling Uncle, they had a chat about it, as DU had obviously faced this problem before.

DH bought some bits and  and had a go with a small example (big enough for a tea light).  That came out well, so he decided what shape to do, calculated the size of the pieces.  Some time later, he got enthusiastic enough to give it a go,    got the glass (and the wood for the base) and spent quite some time building it.
He's a clever boy.  They're both clever lads.


I've been motivated enough to make a few things, and I've managed to keep the momentum going despite some challenges.

The easy things first.    My embroidery machine, Emma, and I made birthday cards for Small Person and DGD4.   The bunny was a bought design, one I've had earmarked for DGD4 for a while.  I used metallic thread, and Emma stitched beautifully.
 Small Person's design was based on a drawing she did for me just before Christmas.  The amazing Meryl, of MerylMakes,  digitised it for me.
Once again, Emma stitched faultlessly.  It's all down to the hoop support arm I bought her,  I wish i'd listened to myself and bought it months ago!

Next up was clothes sewing.   I made a couple of raglan sleeve tops (Pattern 4 Pirates, Jolly Roger Raglan). Sorry about the rubbish photos,  the clothes look much better in real life!

These were amazingly easy to make, and I hope she likes them enough to want me to make her some more!

DGS2 is coming to stay at Easter and, if he's still interested in sewing, I might suggest he makes one of these for himself.

Next up was my Big Project . I decided to make Small Person a dress for her birthday, using the unicorn duvet cover I bought months ago.    I couldn't find a pattern that was exactly what I wanted and  I ended up making a separate skirt and top. This was so that I could, in future,  make several different tops to go with the skirt.

It was a bit of a painful journey, and it isn't over yet.  The skirt was reasonably OK.  I used a Tadah Tea Party pattern because I wanted something really, really  really full. Annoyoingly, it only goes up to age 8 (when most of their patterns go up to age 10).     It also had to be extra long because I'd bought a tulle underskirt too.  I did the necessary adjustments,  and it was OK, although I ended up with a lot of fabric to try and cram into the waistband elastic.    The skirt took so much fabric that there was miles of rolled hemming to be done, and I pressed, pressed, pressed so that it looked fab.  It

It looked fab sitting on June the Duplicate, like a rockabilly type skirt.  

The top was a nightmare.  I had a large quantity of purple stretch 'velvet', and I wanted to use that.  It was already lined, so I didn't want to make a lined top.  This meant I needed a neckband and sleeves.   The first top, I stuffed up on the sleeves.   I'd also made lots of small errors, so I was happy to make it again from scratch  anyway.  

The second version  was better during consruction, I can't remember what went wrong with that actually, although I know it was near the end.     The third attempt was looking good, but I managed to irrevocably chew up the neckline.  Fortunately, I had decided to put the neckline on as soon as possible in construction,  so that if I did stuff up, I wouldn't have wasted all the rest of the work.  I'm going to do this from now on.

I ran out of time, so I took the incomplete top with me to try on with the skirt.  She seemed to really like it.   The skirt waistband was too big.  I expect I can try and fix it with some clear elastic (or a pair or braces).   Because it was hanging on her hips,  the topwas too short.  I quite like it sleeveless though, so I might cut another version of the pattern and make the next one without sleeves.
It was a little frustrating, but each time I made a new version, the top improved. I'm seeing her in a week or so, so hopefully I can get that done and dusted. 

I do wish I'd taken the time to do a Surefit blueprint of her, and I think I will take the time to do that next school holiday.

With that out of the way, I decided to try making an infinity scarf with hidden zipper pocket for my mum. She sometimes finds it hard to carry and handbag, but needs to carry tissues and stuff, and a scarf seemed like it might work for her.

I ordered some fluffy fabric, with a design on that I knew she'd like, but  which I hadn't realised had no stretch.  I also hadn't read the instructions before ordering,  it seems I need 2 yards of fabric - 2 yards! -  and I'd only bought 1.

I also wanted to make my version from two contrasting fabrics, rather than one extra wide piece folded, but that was easy enough to accommodate.  

I followed the instructions and video tutorial from Patterns for Pirates, and this also didn't go to plan.

Version 1:  I cut and sewed two lots of fabric to get to 72 inches long.   I followed the instructions, made the pocket, and managed to create something.  I wasn't happy with the way the zip sat,  and I wasn't happy with the unfinished edges inside the scarf.   I loved the fabric choice I'd made though. I decided to make again

Version 2:  I made this slightly narrowerI made a much better job of constructing this, finishing my seams, pressing, blah blah.  I still wasn't happy with the way the zip sat, so I thought about how to do it better. I watched a video tutorial from  Made Every Day about putting a zip in a dress, and decided that would give me the finish I wanted.

I'd run out of the fluffy fabric at this point. I decided to make Version 3 from stretchy fabric, which would also mean that I could make it shorter (and therefore more practical).    Once again I went for two fabrics.  One was a lovely soft grey jersey, which would be lovedly against the neck; the other was a really pretty black and silver sparkly fabric, which was reasonably thick and looked like the edge would hold up.

 This time, it came out pretty well.  The zip closure was much more neat and 'finished', and it sits well on the edge of the scarf.
Lovely zip pocket.

Lovely fabric on both sides
 I've posted it off, and I hope she likes it.

I was hoping to average making 3 items a month this year , and when I set myself that challenge I decided that items I'd made but stuffed up at the last minute (I call them 'OFFS ' - oh for !*! sake ) might still count.   I also decided to try and see each of my OFFS ) as something positive to learn from rather than confirmation of my uselessness at sewing.   

In January so far I've made 5 items (2 cards, 1 of the raglans, 1 skirt, 1 scarf) plus 3 OFFS (2 of the 3 velvet tops,  and 1 of the scarves).

Two weeks in and it's working well so far.