Thursday, 26 November 2009
But I think you still need something nice to look at, so here's a picture of this week's cake instead. The marvellous mocha cake from Rachel Allen's Bake. Just look at all those reviews on Amazon - it's clearly not just me who loves this book! Go and get yourself a copy if you haven't already.
Oh, and you can have a look at some knitting as well. Last night I finished the second baby kicking bag of this autumn - the second new nephew is due in just about a month's time. This is such a lovely gift for a winter baby - he will be toasty and warm in this brightly coloured bag. The pattern is a free one from Ravelry, and it's very straightforward to knit.
Monday, 23 November 2009
Walthamstow has a famous daily market which is a wonderful madness of stalls selling fruit and veg, clothes, toothpaste, buttons, sweets, handbags, shellfish, CDs and herbs. The stallholders are all local Eastenders and they bellow their prices at the top of their voices to the crowds squeezing past.
But the Sunday farmers' market is very different. It is part of the London Farmers' Markets organisation and is much smaller and quieter than the weekday version. The stallholders just sell food and drink and are all producers. Many are from Essex and Kent but others come from eye watering distances to sell here. They don't bellow as loudly as their midweek counterparts.
The first stall the children and I always stop at is The Giggly Pig Company who are there every week (their website gives details of their shop and all the other markets they sell at). I love their slogan: "No fat or crap in our sausages!". The women manning the stall each week are so kind and offer the children endless free samples. I often buy their sausages but the highlight is their faggots, which are the best I have ever tasted - savoury, meaty and not too salty. Ask C what is favourite food is at the moment and he will say faggots.
They're an old fashioned and rather unfashionable food I think, but I'll keep singing their praises and so will my children. Are any of you fans?
The next stop at the market has to be a cheese stall. The cheese producers vary each week; last week we had a buffalo cheese producer from Gloucestershire and this week the Lincolnshire Poachers were there. Yet again they were very understanding about my greedy children sampling every single one of their cheeses. But maybe the stallholders are wiser than me, because pretty soon I had O asking for this one, C asking for that one, and I ended up buying both.
The last stall was one at which I got to do ALL the sampling - the Millwhites Cider stall. So good.
And actually doing all the sampling myself didn't make me any more decisive. I bought one of each type of cider on the basis that G would need to try them all as well.
Thursday, 19 November 2009
I'd better have a look...
Oooh! Could it possibly be a new sewing machine?
I have been dithering over whether to buy myself a new sewing machine for at least a year. I have been very attached to my old machine, which was a 21st birthday present and has served me very well for many years. But after a day frustratingly unpicking mangled seams alongside a zip and failing to get the old machine to sew through three layers of linen, I decided enough was enough. I got on the tube, went up to Oxford Street, and bought the machine I have been secretly coveting since I used it on a Make Lounge course last year.
And I love it. It does everything I want it to, and more. Even the air vent on the back is beautiful!
The first thing I have made with it is a small, fiddly bit of doll's clothing. A type of sewing which the old machine used to really struggle with. Fine lawn fabric and tiny seams? It used to end up in mangled fabric, ripped seams, much swearing and eventual hand sewing.
I've made a pinafore dress for this young lady:
This is Harriet. And she is one of two identical purple bears that O has loved since she was a baby. This is the oldest photo I have of O with one of them (like proper twins, only O can tell them apart). O is about 18 months old in this picture.
Harriet is getting really quite threadbare, and O is very worried that one day she will just disintegrate.
We talked about patching her, but that didn't seem quite right. She is threadbare mainly on her tummy, not on her paws, and tummies aren't easy to patch. I thought a little pinafore might be better. And a pinafore, being removable, wouldn't compromise the essential Harriet-ness of Harriet.
So with tiny scraps of fabric, thin seams and miniature bias tape, I used my new machine to make Harriet a pinafore. I shirred around the waist to make it look less sack-like and Harriet seems very pleased indeed with her new dress.
But now I can tell Harriet and her twin bear, Charlotte, apart. That seems all wrong. I think I am going to have to make a matching pinafore for Charlotte now as well. What do you think?
Sunday, 15 November 2009
- People heading home and other people heading out in search of hangover-curing brunches.
- Barges nestled into the banks of the Regent's canal. Most moored and with their curtains firmly shut, but a few were pottering up and down the canal already.
- Hyenas pacing up and down and warthogs rolling around in the mud. We were hoping to see some giraffes but they had wondered over to the other side of the zoo.
- The London Central Mosque. Its brass dome matching the last few autumn leaves still on the trees after last night's storm.
- Canada geese being greedy and noisy. Flocks of pigeons being even greedier and noisier.
- Serene swans, looking rather disdainfully at the rabble of Canada geese and pigeons.
- A heron, right by our feet as we crossed a bridge, and my boy taking some photographs of it.
- Plenty of other Londoners out for a morning stroll, or jog, or bike ride, or scooter ride, or photography session.
- And elegant regency houses to live in, when we win the lottery.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
When I logged on last night I saw that since I was last there, Ancestry have made available the British Army service records from World War I. I started rummaging and searching and without really noticing I lost a whole evening reading the records of my ancestors who had fought in the war.
By far the best document I found was this citation for a DCM, or Distinguished Conduct Medal, awarded to my Great Grandfather in 1920.
Friday, 6 November 2009
This time, there was recycling going on. I've made a bath mat, using the pattern from Amanda Blake Soule's Handmade Home, a pillowcase saved from my childhood and some cheapo hand towels from IKEA (and being IKEA, the handtowels are a bizarre, Swedish size - long and thin - not good for a hand towel, but perfect for transforming into a bath mat). G and the children all refused to entertain the idea of using this marvellously retro pillowcase as a pillowcase, so I figured they can see it when they step out of the bath each day instead.
I love the Handmade Home book. This is the second project I've made from it, and there are so many more that I want to try. When I spread my mat out to photograph it, I realised that I've ended up using very similar colours to the one in the book.
Let's just hope that my family embrace the wonderful hand-crafted, repurposed, retro nature of the bath mat with the same enthusiasm as Amanda's family do hers. I live in hope.
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
With most of it I made another hallway mat. Inspired by the recent Scrap Buster Month at Sew Mama Sew, I quickly, and not too carefully, appliquéd a selection of pink and red scraps onto the linen, and then lined and backed it with flannel to make it stick to the carpet. I like the cheerful reds and pinks, and the easy going, not-too-neat, nature of the mat. Although I'm now thinking I should probably have given it a quick iron after I washed it. Certainly before I photographed it.
Then with two small pieces of the leftover linen, I made a drinks mat for my Mum. She has had her operation, and is walking again, but still in hospital. The recovery for hip replacements is long, and I am sure she will be drinking many cups of tea as she does plenty of knitting and takes things easy for the next couple of months.
This time I wanted a crisper, less rumpled look to the mat so I used bondaweb to fuse the appliqué onto the linen, and also the label onto the mug, before zigzagging around the edges. I like the way bondaweb appliqué ends up looking so well finished and just a little bit stiff. Which is exactly what you want for things like this.
I put leftover quilt batting in the middle and another piece of linen on the back. I made some bias tape to finish around the edge and did some outlining of the mug in running stitch. I'm still massively into embroidery and will embroider anything if it sits still for long enough.
Sunday, 1 November 2009
- A trip to the new, local ice-cream parlour. They had bubble gum flavour ice cream which the children thought was amazing. G and I were boring grown ups and stuck to raspberry ripple and cappuccino flavours.
- A sunny couple of hours at the local city farm.
- A very exciting visit to Oxford to see my brother and his family, and meet the new cousin. I was very greedy and cuddled the baby for more than my fair share I think.
- A trip to the shops to spend birthday money.
- Plenty of good food and lazy meals.
- A trip to Kew Gardens with friends on the mildest, sunniest October day I can remember.
The sewing will be a good distraction for me from my mother's adventures this coming week. I made her a 'no more sticks' badge to wear after her operation. She is wearing it already, which I think is an excellent illustration of her determination to get rid of the sticks at the soonest opportunity. Go Lady Hip!