Sunday 30 June 2019

On The Flip Side

After posting our weekend cabin sleepover photos last week, I thought it only fair to show you the less idyllic but just as blog worthy side of our efforts at the farm on Midsummer weekend. There was mess, dust, decisions to be made and a little mild bickering thrown in for good measure. I can't let you think we are living some kind of perfect life- oh no no!

We have demolished the old hay barn. This is a really big event because it reveals an unblocked view of the Shropshire Hills from the kitchen and the back elevation of the house which is my favourite part.

The kitchen is also very light now which I am happy about because I made the decision to remove a window on the opposite wall to the bifold doors to allow for a full kitchen run. It has worked. Phew!

There have been a lot of indoor jobs: tiling the utility floor with the dog and fitting the kitchen piece by piece along with the last of the electrics.

The weather has not been on our side - so wet all through June. We managed to snatch an opportunity to work outside a few weekends ago. We wanted to board up this roof overhang before it became a nesting site for swifts. 

The outside is complete. All the stone guys have left. Their final job was to put in the date stone I bought for us. There is my name, blokes name and the year we took the project on (the year my dad passed away) so it seemed a fitting tribute to all concerned. I mean what year would I have estimated it would finish on, I have no idea??

There has been a lot of painting. Nearly every room has three coats of white on. It has taken me 72 hours to do that. Beano did not help last weekend when he knocked a nearly empty tin of undercoat over the edge of the landing. It bounced on the stairs and landed on our hall floor. Thank goodness the parquet was covered and there was some plywood leaning up against the stairs so that stopped most of the splash going on my pine cupboard which is underneath. There was just enough to finish the window cills. 

It was blistering hot on site yesterday. We demolished a rotten mobile home but we could only manage short bursts under the hot tin. We poured jugs of water from the tap over the backs of our heads every couple of hours. It was a scorcher! Time for a rest and some family time today though.

It would be nice to show you something finished wouldn't it? Here is the lounge light complete with squirrel cage bulbs against a painted ceiling. All done.

Just a little update for those following the story. I know it is not everyone's cup of tea but thanks for reading. Jo xxxxx

Thursday 27 June 2019

When things get busy...

...make a blanket. Sometimes when I am really busy to the point that I don't sit down until 9pm at night, the only crafting relaxation I can manage is to crochet a blanket. Easy-peasy rows of chevrons are perfect for an hour. In this instance it has even been row counted to save me having to make the taxing decision: "When shall I change colour?"

Sometimes this is all I can do at the end of the day especially when bloke is on a late shift 2pm until 10pm. The routine of doing an hour of something with my hands and switching off works a treat. 

I didn't intend to start a blanket but my friend gave me a beautiful book of crochet blanket patterns by Haafner Linssen. It was hard to choose one because they were all so beautiful and achievable but I chose something simple to relax my mind.

One of my new year crafting resolutions was to make a stash busting blanket, which I have done, but there is always some donated acrylic in this house languishing in a basket. 

I don't have anyone in mind for it but when you need a pram blanket as a gift very often there is not enough time to make one so this can wait patiently in my gift chest.

It was a simple choice which had straight sides. I sometimes struggle with the sides on blankets but there were eight trebles after the last hole so it was easy to keep track. 

Now back to the trickier crochet top on 2mm needle and a colourwork jumper. They won't make themselves you know!

Jo xxxx

Sunday 23 June 2019

Midsummer Weekending

We were tempted to have a weekend off house building but we went to a festival last weekend so we need to keep the momentum going on our house build while there are light nights and non-rainy days. To ease the blow, we slept in the cabin, ate al fresco and tied everything in with a little kitchen building and shed demolition. It felt like a good way to please everyone.

 The early evening was warm and sunny, an ideal time to walk around the fields and catch the foxgloves. It is the first time we have slept at the cabin since last Summer. Everyone was really looking forward to it.

We had chicken on an open fire with salad. While the girls and Bloke walked to a nearby ford, I put some bananas and chocolate (yes, we are still eating chocolate rabbits from Easter!) on the dying embers. Bloke thinks they are disgusting but I was hoping Little M would get full towards the end and leave me some - she did!

Beano was exploring new areas. He is a very attentive puppy and always stays close to our legs. We did wonder what he would be like in the dog crate in the cabin but he slept soundly like us. Sometimes, contrary to the tranquil images, it is really difficult to sleep at the cabin due to animal noises, the sheep or the wind and rain. But this weekend it was perfectly quiet because the sheep were in another field and the sun shone.

The girls dragged out an old T-pee I made from a double duvet when they were little. They still enjoyed the den building aspect of putting it up and sitting in it together to eat marshmallows.

I sat at 10:30pm and watched about ten bats in the dusk catching insects from the pond. They fluttered and swooped close to me but I really liked the feeling of sitting on my own amongst them.

We all sat and watched the sun set from the cabin door, took some silly selfies in the orange sunset glow and did some grass identification with a reference book. I managed one row of crochet. Wholesome stuff folks.

Thanks for checking in. Have a good week. Jo xxxx

Friday 21 June 2019

The Story of a Perfect Swimsuit

This is a long story - grab a cuppa or a poolside cocktail. Is it interesting? Who knows? but I thought I would share it anyway. 

I had a go at making a bikini way back in June 2016 as part of the vintage pledge challenge. There were peaks and troughs as it were in this 1960's pattern. The bottoms were totally brilliant but the top popped over my breasts when I did breaststroke in the pool! I had made the straps so short, to create support, that there was just too much tension. I like to take the positives so after one holiday I kept the bottoms and binned the top after salvaging the plastic clasp.

To ensure I could continue wearing the best fitting bottoms ever I then made a tankini top to match them, luckily I still had some of the same fabric left over. I modified the Tilly and the Buttons Fi Fi boudoir set top. I had finally cracked it and it is still in holiday-suitcase-circulation two years later.

But then I wanted a swimsuit. In Feb 2017 I tried the flojo Belle swimsuit to test their new release at the time. Again, there was mixed success. It was groundhog day;the bottom was brilliant, the midriff was marvelous, the straps were super and the top was TERRIBLE. It was so flat, there was no shaping or support and it  was really quite unflattering. I stuffed it in a box on top of the wardrobe and wore a swimsuit my mum gave me for 2018 - she didn't like it, I gave it a home.

Then by chance, I found another half started attempt at swimwear in my fabric cupboard when I was having a clear out in February. I had cut another pair of the 1960's bottoms with lining but had never sewn them up. Maybe I needed to shop for elastic or something and it fell off my radar. I don't even remember cutting them out...but in 2019 it got me thinking again.

I made them up and they were indeed as nice as the first blue pair. I hunted out the old Belle swimsuit and salvaged some fabric from it. The straps were good and there was enough front and back fabric to make a top.

I had been on a blog called cookin' and craftin' where there was a brilliant list of patterns for sewers who wanted to try incorporating twists and ties in their sewing: one of them was the Nautilus swimsuit. I took the 'plunge' and bought it. I wanted to make the full swimsuit but decided I had the opportunity to make a few fitting decisions by making just the bikini top first.

My machine didn't agree with the rubber swimsuit elastic I all ready had which ensued a month with a broken sewing machine. Although it is a super fit, some of the sewing is what you might call a sh*t sandwich. It is still wearable though and taught me a few things for my main swimsuit make.

I now had a new stripy set (by recycling the old costume, some cups from an older swimsuit and the original clasp) Keeping up?? I felt more confident about cutting out a full new Nautilus swimsuit. 

I was making my swimsuit in the week leading up to a swimsuit being made on The Great British Sewing Bee. My partly made top half was featured on the Minerva lycra swimsuit mailshot that week. It was easier to make this time because I had been through the pattern once before. It is not an easy pattern to follow but it is supported by photo tutorials on their blog which held my hand through the trickier parts. 

I now own: a tankini, a bikini and a swimsuit all made by me.
I got there in the end, it has only taken 3 years!

You can, if you think you can. Jo xxxxx

Saturday 15 June 2019

Making Stuff

I am always making stuff. My family makes stuff. It is what we do. Nothing overly exciting but here is a little round up of what we have all been making over the last week or so.

Heidi has made a rather top quality apron from a Sewing Bee apron kit which she had from Father Christmas. It has an adjustable belt, pockets and even a little label. 

Megan made some cream bars from a recipe in Pom Pom magazine. She likes making soap but these had different ingredients.
I tried one after a particularly dusty day at the farm. The shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax made for a pretty waterproof skin coating - I could have swam the channel! But my oh my it made my skin soft by the next day. I could not risk having a shower covered in it because I would have slipped over and broken a hip but relaxing in the bath was lovely. She added lavender or calendula petals to the bars.

I am on my second set of Roman Blinds. In order to make these for the new house I have taken down a pair of curtains at home to recycle the fabric. I love this woven blue check, it was from Laura Ashley 15 years ago but I really want to keep it - it seems timeless. A friend gave me a set of unwanted curtains for my home window as a stop gap so that I could take the blue ones down to recycle the fabric.

After a postage stamp quilt mention the other day a comment below said, "Don't forget to make a date label." I winced because I realised I had not made one for my king size quilt which was finished last year. My stamp quilt is a long way from this stage but I rectified the 2108 one with a little mini cross-stitch.

Nothing fancy, just my name and the date. I was sat next to Heidi who was doing a rather stunning embroidery so it seemed silly not to do it when everything was laid out next to me.

She has learnt stem stitch, back stitch, lazy daisy stitch, chain stitch and star stitch. French knots are on the horizon. I surprised myself that I remembered them enough to show her and that she is really accurate when making them.So lots of making here. A bit of this and that to keep our creative brains ticking over.

Our town has a street music festival this weekend but it is looking a little showery. We will don wellies and coats. Have a good weekend whatever you are up to.
Jo xxx