Saturday, 31 March 2012

I want to ride my bike!

I had such good intentions for this past week. I'd had a lovely weekend at my parents (without children) and came back with a long list of things to do before the children broke up for the school holidays. But on Monday I was woken by a flushed and feverish five year old, so instead the week was taken up with cooking, cleaning and soothing of brows.

By Thursday he seemed to be perking up and so trotted off back to school - he's still at that age where he's keen to go. So I took the opportunity during youngest's preschool session to do something I haven't done for an embarrassingly long time... I got on my bike.

Reader, I have a confession to make. I bought this bike brand new when I was pregnant with my oldest, so about six years ago. And then didn't ride it...

First I felt wobbly and pregnant, then after babies one and two arrived I felt vulnerable enough putting myself in traffic, let alone setting off with a tiny child on the back. But at the beginning of this year I wrote a list of things I wanted to achieve this year, and returning to cycling was on there.

I had forgotten how much fun free-wheeling down a big hill in the sunshine can be, it was pretty amazing. Climbing up the other side was not so enjoyable, and my aching legs did mean that I ended up walking for significant periods. I arrived to pick up youngest from preschool sweaty and red-faced with a bit of wheeze going on.

But I did it, and that feels good. Because tackling cycling means freedom for someone who has a driving licence but no car (and I intend to keep it that way).

And where did I go to on my cycling adventure..? Why to the wool shop of course, where else!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Fancy a Suffolk Puff?

Is it just me that sniggers at the name 'Suffolk Puff'? Childish I know, the other name for them is a yo-yo, and they originated in quilting. I'm planning to make these into brooches for the shop but you could  use them as an embellishment on a bag or hairband.

If you'd like to have a go at making your own puffs, you will need:

  • Two contrasting fabric scraps
  • A nice button
  • Two circular things to draw around (I used a small tea cup and its accompanying saucer)
  • Fabric marker pen
  • Sharp scissors
  • Needle and thread

First use your smaller circular thing (let's say cup for brevity) as a template and mark out and cut out a circle from one of your fabric scraps. Place the fabric right-side down on the table and turn a small hem (it's easiest to turn over a little at a time). Then just sew a long running stitch all the way round the hem. When you get back to where you started stitching, draw the thread tight and your puff is formed!

Make another larger puff in a contrasting material and stitch the two together. Sew a button in the middle to make it pretty (and hold the two puffs together firmly). Sew a brooch pin on the back if you'd like to use it as a brooch...

And if you fancy making lots and lots of Suffolk Puffs, you can always make them into a quilt. I found this lovely image at All Our Hearts Content.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Cutting Edge

Just a quick post to show off my new purchases... My very generous mother-in-law gave me some John Lewis vouchers for my birthday, and the lure of the haberdashery department was strong, so today the three-year-old and I set off on the mammoth bus trip to the windswept out of town mall that is Cribbs Causeway.

The wall of yarn was tempting, but I plumped for a rotary cutter and self-healing mat, as I'd like to do more patchwork and quilting, and these tools make things a whole lot easier (and more precise). Rotary cutters are notoriously sharp, so I'll have to be a bit careful with my fingers as I'm not the most co-ordinated person in the world.

I was a little saddened by the JL haberdashery department, as it did seem to be a shadow of its former self. As a child I remember gorging my eyes on all the reels of trim and fabric as I waited for my mum to choose the right buttons to finish off a hand-knitted cardigan. They still sell sewing machines, but the expert woman who used to advise customers was made redundant a few years ago. Now you're just handed a photocopied leaflet from the manufacturer with a list of bullet points on it.

I also picked up a couple of packets of machine needles, as it's important to change needles regularly and I've been going through them at quite a rate recently.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Sunshine Tea-Cosy

I've been feeling a bit gloomy recently, and so this is my first blog post in a while. I had an interview last week for a job I really wanted. It ticked all the boxes, but sadly I didn't... My five year old was pleased as he didn't want me to go back to work in the first place. He told me sternly "but you already have a job, looking after us". Now for some people this would be an 'ah cute' moment, but I just wondered if he's secretly been reading the Daily Mail.

So what's a woman to do when she's dejected? Make a quilted tea-cosy with some lovely vintage fabric of course... As a bonus it utilises some of the wadding left over from making the quilt.

The other upside of not being gainfully employed is that I have time to help my friend Ursula set up her new shop, which sells vintage fashion and china, plus some handcrafted items from your truly. If you're in the Bristol area the shop is at 125 Cheltenham Road (just by junction of Ashley Road/Stokes Croft), it's open Tuesday to Saturday from 11am - 6pm. It is currently a shop with no name, but we're working on that...