Sewchet

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Sunday Sevens #170

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series devised by Natalie over at Threads & Bobbins – check out the link to see what it’s all about and how YOU can join in.

1. Despite being just too busy to go out for meals lately, we managed to squeeze in a quick lunch at our local. Not much in the way of conversation was actually had as hubby was working most of the time (note his TWO ‘phones on the table). Still, it’s nicer than our office at home:)

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2. Ham Hock Terrine with Quail’s Eggs, Piccalilli, Pea Shoots and Sourdough…..menu idea for the future B&B perhaps? It was delicious.

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3. Talking of which, I read this book from cover to cover and emerged even more impatient to get going.

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4. I don’t suppose I’ll have chance to get breakfast in bed for much longer….

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5. ….thanks Hubby!

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6. In spite of eating well I’ve managed to lose a stone without even trying. Must be all that nervous energy – either that or knitting is the best form of exercise going!

Trouble is, my clothes still fit but my watch is now too big and I never had fat wrists in the first place!

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7. A rare day out with No.2 Son. No, this isn’t our lounge, it’s Clara’s Cottage in Weston-Super-Mare museum – a cottage restored to its 1900 origins.

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8. Teaching two ladies to sew. They were dressmaking novices so it was great to show them what they were capable of with a little encouragement.

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9. The Wedding Blanket in situ – I’m so pleased it fits in with their decorating scheme.

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10. Happy Mail came in the form of these two parcels of yarn from Love Knitting. All are destined to become Christmas presents.

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11. I know what you’re thinking – why am I ordering more when I’ve still got so much on the go? Well, there has been ample progress on the WIP pile…

…the poncho is twice the size it was last week….

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12. ….I re-sewed my polo neck jumper with seams that make me happy enough to finally wear it.

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13. I finished the jumper…..

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14. …and made a matching hat, but just couldn’t squeeze any more hours out of the week to make the matching Teddy Bear’s ensemble.

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15. I’ll leave you with the cutest little model showing off her birthday present – it fits!

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Sunday Sevens #169

Only a day late, but trying to get back into the swing of things with another Sunday Sevens.

1. No.3 Son and his dance partner gained medals in their latest Latin and Ballroom competition – 2nd and 4th places in Waltz and Jive respectively.

2. It’s Somerset Art Weeks at the moment and I spent a day visiting some of the exhibitions with my sister and mother. This particular exhibition was in a converted barn on a farm where there were hungry piglets feeding.

3. My sister and I asked the artist to pose for a picture in front of some of her sketches.

4. Back home we’re still getting bookings for b+b guests well into October, so I’m kept very busy with laundry/cleaning/cooking.

5. I keep expecting business to die out for the season, but if more guests give us a bottle of bubbly from their own village in Italy as a ‘Thank you”, then I don’t mind!

6. Jumper weather isn’t here just yet, but I resurrected this make from a couple of years ago which has never been worn because I wasn’t happy with the way the seams were finished – so I unpicked them all.

7. Ready to be put back together with a better method of joining this time.

8. Following on from last week’s Christmas present make of a jumper, I cast on again.

9. This will be a really striking and unusual asymmetric poncho, also destined to be a Christmas present. And if they don’t like it – I do! This one will be hard to give away.

10. I cast on another present as well, in these two colours.

12. Progress as of Sunday night is looking good.

13. I finally wrapped up and sent off The Wedding Blanket to its new owners, who have since received it and sent their thanks.

I’m really focused on Christmas presents now and feel like I’ve made some good progress this last couple of weeks – how are you getting on with yours?


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First Christmas Present! Stylecraft Jumper #9484

As usual, I plan on making a significant proportion of Christmas presents, although with better reason this year than previously.

If you read my last blog post you will remember that we have accepted an offer on our house and, predictably, the new owners would like to move in before Christmas. This presents more than one problem:

a) we host a big family Christmas every year

b) the purchase of our new place is uncertain/complicated so we will be in temporary rented accommodation

c) we need to save as much as possible for the move

Focusing on ‘c’ means handmade will need to preside, and on a budget, too. All you Makers out there will know instantly that the two, ‘handmade’ and ‘budget’, don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand as raw materials are often very expensive. That said, if I research carefully, I should be able to find some bargains – and my time is free (only when making presents!).

And so, on to my first Finished Off!

This 200g ball of Batik Swirl yarn in ‘Rainbow’ by Stylecraft cost just £8.99, and the pattern #9484 an additional £2.99. It’s an 80/20 mix of acrylic/wool so will wash well.

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Because the yarn is self-striping, it makes for a quicker knit and all that stocking stitch in the main body is pretty much a mindless task in front of the tele of an evening.

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The sleeves are a Godsend after some boring knitting and you relish the thought of a bit of cable to keep up the momentum.

Yes, I know it all looks a little weird because of the lack of symmetry in the colours, but stay with me….

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I’m pleased to say that I have mastered the art of seaming and will admit that many a jumper in the past has lain in the depths of my wardrobe, unworn, due to bad finishing.

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Not any more – how neat is this?!

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All the ends woven in….

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….and a label sewn in craft-style for good measure.

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A quick steam-block and here it is.

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Obviously, the back is different to the front, but I rather like that.

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Close up of the cabled sleeves.

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So there you are – first Christmas present in the bag, so to speak, and for the bargain price of £11.98.

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How are you getting on with your handmade gifts this year?


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Sunday Sevens #168

Hello Strangers!

I haven’t abandoned you completely, just put my online activities on the back burner whilst sorting out Real Life, but thought it was about time to post an update to those of you who are interested.

Sooooo much has happened over the Summer that I couldn’t possibly share even ten per cent of it, so I have cherry-picked just a few photos to give you a taste of what’s been going on.

1. At the beginning of August we ventured over the bridge to spend the weekend with No.1 Son and his girlfriend in Wales. We were treated to a family barbecue where we were delighted to meet his girlfriend’s family for the first time.

2. It was also the first time we met their eight week old Dachshund puppy, Gypsy, who is completely and utterly gorgeous!

3. Whilst in Wales, we took the opportunity to spend the day at St Fagan’s National Museum of History…on the hottest day of the year. What an amazing place! If you’ve ever considered going, I couldn’t recommend it more.

4. Do you recall that No.2 Son had a commission for a crocheted cushion? Well, he finished it.

5. He even embroidered a label for the reverse for that personal touch.

6. Very neatly stitched, directly over a tracing of his own handwriting.

7. All things handmade are highly prized in our household, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when he asked if he could spend his commission money on a bespoke pen in the form of a rifle.

8. He bought it from one of the many, what I call ‘proper’, craft stalls that were under marquees in the museum grounds. Here’s a photo with the artisan woodturner, Immy from Immy’s Woodcrafts.

9. Meanwhile, No.3 Son turned his hand to a spot of pot-throwing and had his very own creation to take home with him at the end of the day.

10. We spent a few days down in St. Columb Minor, Cornwall with family, where my cousin has this lovely holiday cottage. They also rent it out here.

11. Whilst in Cornwall we took The Boys to Paulos Circus. My, how times have changed – not an animal in sight, but lots of incredible acrobatics and the obligatory (non-scary) clown. Great fun all round and The Boys seemed to love it.

12. Back down to Earth with a bump – The Boys are helping us to renovate our London flat after a bad tenant moved out.

13. Not helping, but keen to be close to the action.

14. At least we had a camping trip to Exmoor to look forward to later the same week. Such a familiar part of my life so far, yet it seems weird that we’ll be living there permanently in a few months time, instead of just visiting.

Fact: Exmoor ponies are one of the oldest equine breeds in the world and are mentioned in the Domesday book in 1086. They still roam in semi-feral herds on Exmoor today – here are some I came across whilst there.

15. My usual role as Chief Cook and Bottle Washer at the campsite.

16. It was the first, but hopefully not last, time that ALL the kids and their partners came camping with us. We went to a café for a cream tea and our granddaughter didn’t want to be in the photograph, but you can just see her hiding underneath the table!

17. There was a stall with an Honesty Box outside a farm somewhere in Doone Valley where I bought this egg. I managed to snap a pic of both the massive egg and the Rhea that laid it in the background.

18. That’s one huge fried egg! The equivalent of six hens eggs, apparently.

19. Home again, and this is the last picture of Cock that we have, eating out of our hands as he often did.

He died a couple of days later, after reaching the grand old age of six years.

20. I don’t know who misses him more, The Girls or us:(

21. So we’re now down to just two hens and Tess and won’t be adding to our brood until we’ve moved.

22. No.3 Son has rekindled his love of horse riding, which has taken a back seat in favour of football recently.

23. No.2 Son couldn’t wait to get back to boarding school after a six week Summer holiday – he really is having the time of his life and his little brother is impatient to join him.

24. When they’re both away at school, I’ll miss the little things that make me smile on a daily basis, like this sign on their bedroom door warning me about their battlefield of soldiers on the floor!

25. Still, I’ve got plenty of things to occupy me, like keeping up the stocks of the homemade jam that is now available for purchase by our B+B guests in boxes of three.

26. I’m also still teaching a couple of sewing classes each week, with students that are as keen as ever.

It’s a ‘poo emoji’ cushion, just in case you were wondering! I turned it into a skill-learning exercise by teaching her to do some appliqué and machine embroidery.

27. Socks are still ever present on my needles.

28. These, the eighth pair in my personal collection, mean that I have reached my goal of having only handmade socks in my wardrobe. A goal that I am actually rather proud of as it means a step forward in greener living.

29. Also on my (other) needles at the moment is this Holey Shawl, again, pour moi.

30. It’s not all selfish knitting though, as this jumper is to be a Christmas present.

31. Probably the biggest news of the Summer is this though…..

SOLD

If you got to the end, “Well done” and I’ll try not to leave it so long next time!


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Sunday Sevens #167

This week’s Sunday Sevens is the culmination of three weeks again – teaming up with Natalie from Threads & Bobbins.

1. My daughter came around for the day to enjoy the continuing hot weather as our garden is more private than hers….and she gets breakfast, lunch and dinner cooked for her.

2. The paddling pool has never seen as much use……

3……and we have actual olives on our olive trees!

4. Cock has learned how to climb the blackberry bush to get to the ripest berries and even throws them down for The Girls.

5. Then he comes in and finishes up the dog food, if he can get away with it. Tess is NOT happy about that.

6. No.2 Son finished school a week earlier than his brother, so we spent some nice time together, just the two of us.

7. The school does all his washing so I had no idea how small his trousers had got until he tried them on for me. He’s been wearing them like this for months and kept ripping the arse out of them – no wonder! His little brother is wearing the other pair and shows how they used to fit just eight months ago!

8. Growing up fast, he might be, but he’s still not too old to come down dressed up like this and scare the living daylights out of me.

9. We managed to sneak in a nice pub lunch with hubby, where my tan matched the colour of the table.

10. Another day, another venue, this time just drinks at a local café.

The pink dress is getting a lot of wear.

11. Craftwise, it’s been slow, but I did manage to complete the border on The Wedding Blanket and just have to block it now before sending it off.

12. Most of my time has been spent doing horrible things like cleaning behind the fridge and painting.

13. We finally got everything done though, and the house is officially up for sale. Here’s the link if you fancy a nose: –

https://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-66638677.html

14. No.3 Son is a goalkeeper for the Yeovil’s Junior Premier League and they got to play a mini tournament on the pitch at halftime during a Yeovil Town football match.

15. He was thrilled to bits to have his photograph taken with their goalkeeper afterwards.

16. We had a fun messy day making costumes and painting backdrops for my mother’s 70th birthday party, As it was Art themed, no shower was necessary and No.2 Son went covered in paint.

17. Just in case there is any doubt, that’s me on the far left, dressed up Lichtenstein -style.

18. At about midnight, The Boys collapsed on the straw bales, oblivious to all the music still blaring out around them. Oh, to be able to do that.

19. The Boys made their Gran this crocheted cushion and a knitted scarf, (which I neglected to photograph) on the back of which, No.2 Son gained a commission to make an identical one for an admiring guest.

19. We booked a table for a lovely little pub about twenty minutes away from us, followed the Sat Nav and found that it was an entirely different place to the one we thought we were going to. Such a nice way to discover a new great place to eat!

20. The National Trust said “Yes”! Next step is putting the lease to their legal team for change of use so we can run it as a B+B.

21. Reading through the terms of the I-don’t-know-how-many-pages lease deserved a pint at the end of it.

22. And then I left hubby to deal with the B+B guests while I hopped on a train “oop North”. The first leg of the journey up to Bristol was great and I managed an hour’s uninterrupted sock knitting…..

23. ……a further five hours of standing on two trains without air conditioning, and Ali (akathimberlina) had a very frazzled house guest to collect from the station. #sewdowndewsbury here we come!

Then followed a fab day in the fabric shops with loads of other lovely bloggers…..but that’s a whole different blog post:)


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New Cloakroom – Finished At Last!!

As I have mentioned in my recent Sunday Sevens posts, we are getting the house ready for sale.

I know that doesn’t sound like it’s anything major, but I’m a stickler for detail and have delayed putting it on the market until I’m happy that all the little things have been finished.

Things like painting the inside of the cloakroom door, for example. In theory, no potential buyer would even see the back of the door as they’ll only poke their head in for a quick glance.

As I said, I’m a stickler for detail.

Last year (and indeed, for the previous ten years) this was a Cloakroom-in-waiting, (not so) dressed up as a cupboard/dumping ground, measuring an extremely modest 3ft x 5ft.

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Now, as it’s the room in the house in which you spend just a few minutes a day, I had visions of going crazy with the décor. I seriously considered going this bonkers!

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Thankfully, my sensible head kicked in just in the nick of time, as my finger was hovering over the ‘Add to basket’ button. Not the best choice for a house you’re hoping to sell in the near future.

Searching the ‘net for viable options, I came across this image and thought “Wow!”

The space was almost identical to ours and it had the unexpected ‘in your face’ kind of reaction when you opened the door.

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Decision made, I ordered two rolls of wallpaper in the charcoal and gold colourway (there are five different options). At the regal cost of £146, you’d like to think that the fish are real gold leaf!!

I held up the wallpaper against the Farrow and Ball paint chart and was pleased to find that “Charleston Grey” was a pretty good match, so ordered a 5l tin of water-based eggshell for the woodwork.

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Hubby installed the tongue and groove panelling and it took three coats of paint to get a good coverage – all to be done overnight before the plumbers came back the next day to fit the suite!

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We have a fair division of labour – he does all the construction stuff and I do all the painting and decorating.

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Decorating complete, it was time to gild the old mirror I picked up in a vintage shop.

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Mirror up and then……..that was it for a year.

Last month I finally persuaded Mr H-L that it really was time to box-in the pipework and add skirting boards. I think it was the phrase “So you’ll have somewhere to put your coffee mug” was what clinched it!

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No sooner up than painted.

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Drum roll please, for the big reveal…..

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A closer look at the details: –

The Oriental style Koi Carp wallpaper.

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Mr H-L did a bloomin’ good job of installing floorboards that match the ones in the hallway that he did ten years earlier.

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Downlights are much nicer than a central pendant.

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A towel radiator heats the tiny space in Winter.

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We even managed to find the tiniest of sinks complete with storage for the essentials. The sink measures just 16″ x 9″ and is the perfect solution.

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A single lever tap was the obvious choice for such a diminutive sink.

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A swivel plug is so much sleeker than the old fashioned chain that wrapped around the tap and dangled annoyingly.

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This ceramic light pull is better than the bare cord.

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Chrome loo roll holder and towel hook match the radiator.

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This is the view from the loo….

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….and when they’re bored of looking at that, I even put a few books in to entertain the men. Well, it IS only men that like to sit on the loo until their legs go numb, isn’t it?

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For those (like me) who love them, here’s a good old ‘before and after’ comparison:

Finally, I would just like to say that I have never slavishly followed any design inspiration before, but this was so perfect for the space that I shamelessly copied it almost identically, apart from the floor.

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Inspiration VS Reality

Yes, we could have played safe and done the usual beige thing of white ‘contrasting’ against magnolia……

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…..but why would you when you can have gold Koi Carp on the walls?!

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Who else has been bold with a downstairs loo?

I wanna see some of your photos, so put your link in the comments!


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New From Old : Linen Summer Dress

A couple of years ago I made this self-drafted linen dress and wore it quite a lot that year.  This year, however, I’ve always chosen something else ahead of it in the wardrobe so, when I decided to make a short, sleeveless Summer dress in an attempt to stay cool, I thought I’d cut it up and re-use the fabric as I still love the colour.

pink linen dress

I’ve used this New look pattern before when I adapted it to make a white triple-layered dress, also from linen, as in view B on the pattern envelope below.

This time, I chose view D.

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Most of the time was taken up unpicking the old dress, ironing the fabric and cutting out the new pieces, after which the simple shift dress came together quickly.

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I know it was supposed to be a simple shift dress, but it was a little too simple for my liking so I tried out this bit of sequinned trim around the neckline.

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Much better and still no too fancy for a day dress.

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I added a couple of long darts in the back through the waistline to give the dress a bit more of a shape.

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Although I initially hadn’t planned on re-using the pockets, I do like pockets and, as it’s a casual dress, decided to go ahead and stitch them on.

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I used French seams throughout and simply overlocked and turned the hem, armholes and neck edge.

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Bust darts stop it being too boxy, too.

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I had to join two short lengths of trim and there was just enough to do the front neckline only. Spot the join if you can!!

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Hubby’s away on business so I had to resort to mirror selfies again I’m afraid.

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So far this Summer it’s been hovering around 30°C for at least a few weeks which us poor Brits are simply not used to and, as such, the most I’ve worn is a pair of knickers whilst at home.

Luckily for the Postman, I now have a piece of clothing that I can bear to wear:)