Monday, 30 June 2014

Patching together my Summer


 I saw a couple of patchy bags on Instagram recently. That got me to thinking about making my own bag.
In my stash I had three odd shaped squares of barkcloth that were too small to do anything with.

I loved these squares and felt sad that I didn't have more. It's always the way with vintage fabric finds. Mostly there's only enough for small makes and so you have to be even more creative about what you do with it.
 

 I chose a few other bits of barkcloth to add to the three cream and floral squares and then got chopping until I had twelve the same size.

All patched together, I took my threads into the garden with a man of mine and a jug of Pimms to run colourful stitches along the rows.


The next morning it was a quick job of making a lining and base before stitching the whole thing together.


I'd planned to use pale blue ready made handles, but when I got them they just weren't right.

Now I need to make cloth handles which I'll have to stitch on the outside as there's far too much unpicking needed otherwise.

On a roll with patching I decided to get on with making a new cover for our sun brolly.
 Last year I thought about it all summer long. This year I thought it was about time I got on with it.


 Being as it was such a hot and sunny day I pictured us sitting under it on the lawn later on. I even baked a cake to eat while we lounged about. 

Well - instead it rained like you've never seen. Apparently there was lots of flooding in Norfolk that afternoon. Ever since then it has rained and rained. The best rain was saved for this weekend so my new brolly has hung limp and wet, probably getting stinky too.


Being inside more than usual I've been attacking the knitting again. I've finished one side and I'm halfway through the back of my short cardi. Problem is I'm not sure I like the pattern any more or if I'll wear it. I've seen quite a few I fancy knitting up more. Not easy trying to decide whether to pull out all those slowly worked stitches and to start again or keep going because I might like it after all.


As a reminder to me of what lovely summer weather looks like. On summer Solstice we met up with friends with a picnic for an evening walk. 

The girls ran ahead with the dog, bounding through the cornfields.


In the middle of the woods we came upon a ruined church. Once the village had been sited here, but had eventually moved further down the hill to drier land.



After trampling through bushes and trees we came upon old brick kilns too. 
I forgot to upload that photo from my phone.

It was a magical evening. Hushed girls voices came to us from their hiding place in a field while we ate and drank. 
Pure bliss.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Learning As I Go

Here I am again. 
I was going to write a post last night, but I got distracted by a bit of post-war drama and my knitting instead.

Tomorrow the girls and I have a special extra day off. 
 School's in this County close for the Norfolk Show each year. Some close tomorrow and the rest on Thursday. We used to have fabulous family days there so I feel sad when we don't go, but it's darned expensive now. Anyways we have to get stuff sorted for Miss Millie's two day Bushcraft camping adventure so we thought a bit of mooching and maybe a ladies wot lunch treat instead.

All in all I have an extra day with my girlies, just us three.Woohoo.

Now I've still been busy sewing along these past few days.
My night time knitting's a slow old thing, one day there might actually be something to show you.

Do you remember these fabulous fabrics I found on the May bank holiday weekend. The purple's been re-born into a bag, the blue is in bits slowly becoming a coat and as for the big brash rose print. 
Well a couple of weeks ago I was buying breakfast pastries before work and I spied a sewing magazine with a great free pattern. I can't remember the name of it right now, but there you go, that's my mind a lot these days.

 Anyways, I was saving the black and greeny rose 60's print for exactly the right dress and there on that magazine was exactly the perfect dress shape.


It was a dream to make up. In fact it took a whole night of football until 1am to stitch it together. 
I changed the pattern about a bit to suit my height and longer rib cage and I was off. 

Now I'm thrilled with the dress apart from two things. One, I kept it to the 1960's hemline, but I think I'll have to lengthen it as my knees shock the hell out of the dress. And for two, I just don't do black at all. I have nothing black to go with it so it's not been worn in public and roadtested yet. 

For me if I can wear handmade in public for a whole day, feel great and the outfit doesn't rip apart then it's an all round success. I love the dress, but it hasn't loved me back yet.


Even so I really enjoyed making this and as I love the shape I'll try making more of these dresses. That was before finding a fabulous book in the library.

I'd not come across Gertie before, she also has a blog you know, so it was all the more exciting to find this gem of a book. I'll be ordering my own copy once payday comes around as I want to make pretty much everything in this book too. All the clothes in it are exactly the styles I love so I'd better get stitching hadn't I.


 A dress I absolutely love in it is a drop waisted cocktail dress in a sassy leopard print. Well I'm sold on it and fancy a saucy hussy dress for myself before I get too old.

I thought I'd kick off first though with a Peter Pan collar blouse where I had to draft the collar myself.


 Now having used up nearly all the longer lengths of fabric I'd got in my piles and being on the skint to very skint side I turned to my trusty pile of 60's and 70's bedsheets for inspiration.


 I chose a white with pink rosebuds in the end, although I think a polka dot is made for this pattern.


 I re-drafted the blouse pattern for my shape and then followed the instructions on how to draft your own collar. That's the thing that interested me about this book. It's about the more advanced dressmaking techniques I want to learn and all in designs that I love. 

To make a lot of the designs you have to re-draft the patterns and there are brilliantly written explainations to help you learn how to do this. As I want to keep on learning all I can then this book hits all the right buttons. It even uses boning and horsehair stiffeners so it's serious stuff!


 Now at this angle it looks like I've done ok with my Peter Pan Blouse. Actually my collar's gone wonky and shrunk on one side and I've yet to sew all the buttonholes down the back.

For sanity, as I've got to unpick facings and bias bindings, the blouse has been stuffed in a bag for now.

I did find a few other things to get on with between then and now mind you. I'll show you those makes next visit.


 Thanks for stopping by and leaving your encouraging words. 
I was really pleased you enjoyed reading my last post so much. 
The fact that you say you find this a happy place to visit means a lot.
I write honestly and from my heart, it's how I am.

Now I believe bed is calling as my eyes are struggling to keep open. 
Night night.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Joyful

With each passing year on the ageing clock I seem to find more joy than down in the dumps blues.
I remember trying to will myself into a melancholy state when I was a teen. Didn't everyone know I was an artist who should be living a devil may care life. Instead tea arrived on the table not long after my mum got in from work, my folks played loads of golf all summer long and a little bit less in the winter, relatives and friends visited and it was all very regular and happy. 

To a teenager it was so dull and so I did lots of stupid things to test my parents sanity. Sometimes my eccentric auntie Annie would visit to liven things up. Life and a bit of drink added to her strange charm. After one visit she left The Happy Hooker under her bed which I was shocked and delighted to find. It sure was a real eye opener to my twelve year old self as my parents just didn't discuss any of that sort of stuff  with me. I pretty much learnt all I'd need to know about sex and more besides from that book.

I had a few years in my late twenties when I wasn't as happy as I should be. Nowadays I refuse to let whatever life throws my way hit me for too long. Sure I get down, but I never give up fighting. I do my best to seek out all the happiest bits in life and just enjoy.


I ended up thinking about joyfullness and happiness when I looked over these pictures.
They're just a few of the wonderful moments of the last week or so. In fact I realised each one captures some of the things and people that make me really happy.

I love having flowers in the house. I'm definately no gardener, but I can weed and dead-head roses. I added a few of these sweet smelling blooms to my cutting and tidying pile after work one evening.


Fresh seasonal food has made mealtimes bliss lately. Fresh veg from a friends allotment and then this gift of sweet strawberries from another ended up as a risotto and Eton Mess the other evening.


Yucky drink, gorgeous bottle. I've always been a sucker for lovely packaging. Miss Millie and her daddy drunk the contents.


Now I do love a bit of lace. In a typo error on Instagram I ended up saying "I tend to come all over lace" which really isn't true at all you know, but I do like it a lot.


I loved this Modflower barkcloth and was holding on to it for a while. A friend really really wanted a Happy Shopper bag made in it so in the end I though what the hell. Spread the fabric joy around I think, I still have enough for a teeny bag for me.


I was thrilled to make another Annual Top for the lovely Laa Laa lady.


In fact I've been so busy sewing, knitting and making lately my fingers are on fire when I'm not at work.
It's a real juggle around family, keeping house and cooking when we get in at the end of the day, but it makes me so happy and I just need a fix every day or I feel I'll get all hissy with everyone.

Mind you I gave up my making time tonight for an evening stroll down the lane with my man and Alfie Blue. Sunlight on green fields, clean air and utter peace after a day in the city and teaching in a non-descript room. Yay that makes life feel good. We talked about childhood a bit and both decided we'd go back to 1975-77 because it was always sunny then! Life was just happy and simple at seven or eight.


Last night I watched the BBC Land Girls on DVD and fiddled with felt.
I'd made a purple brooch with a cluster of these flowers, but fancied trying single blooms this time.


 

I quickly stitched on the brooch back at seven this morning so I could wear this one to work. I wear a brooch every day, it's another part of my happy making ritual.
 

I just had to include this picture as it makes me smile each time I see it on my phone.
This is post being a bridesmaid at a pretend Hindu wedding at school.


I also treated my man to a large cup to replace the beautiful Meakin one he broke. It's by Midwinter and has got a fabulous name. Quite Contrary  just sums us up pretty well. We decided long ago we were were well suited because we doubted anyone else could cope with us.


At the same time I treated myself to the Midwindter Queensberry jug on the far left. All bought from a  lovely lady selling Midwinter who chatted to me as if we'd known each other for years.


I don't ask for too much really. My home keeps me sane and calm, my family fill me with joy, being creative is what I've realised I need and as for food - a friend said recently that it's how she sees me showing my love for others. I like that.

footynote: I was so thrilled you enjoyed reading my last post and thankyou for all your lovely comments. I used to be able to tell who visited me, but now my sitemeter is broke and tells me no one comes this way any more so who knows who pops in unless you say hi.
 I really appreciate all the connections and comments left aswell as those of you who've stopped by lately to follow- hello to you.

Speak to you again very soon.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Tales of the Rosary

I've been wanting to write this all down for a couple of weeks now. 
I have a tale to tell about my dad's family. It's an interesting story I think, but I'll try to keep it as brief as possible so you don't nod off.
As I've said before, I'm adopted, so although I don't have a blood link to my dad's family they're still linked to me by love and experience and for that reason they fascinate me.  I'm  also really passionate about history. I love putting together all the pieces of lives and stories left here and there by previous generations.

My dad led an interesting life, but rarely talked about it as he thought the past was where the past should stay. He was in his 40's when they got me so he was an older dad with a young wife. I think there were a few things that troubled him too and for that I wish he could have talked, but they were a different generation.  It was only after about 40 years of marriage that he said quite nonchalantly how he had come by his money. My mum had never thought to ask, me I'm really inquisitive, so I asked. Turns out his Great-aunt Millie left him all her money and six five bedroomed houses when he was 21. You'd think calling our youngest Millie might have sparked that kind of a conversation before wouldn't you.

It all started when my mum found a locked tin in the bottom of dad's wardrobe. I'd seen inside the tin when I was small and then forgotten about it.


Amazingly she found the right key to open it up and inside where all sorts of treasure. Family jewellry and coins dating back to the 1600's along with beautiful boxes of jewellers long gone from Oxford Street.

It was the Rosary Cemetary certificate that really caught our interest. My man and I love visiting there and now we found my dad's grandfather was buried there. 
It's a famous cemetary being as it's the first non-denominational one in the country, first opened in 1851. Walking around Norwich past high church walls you might wonder why the graveyard is at the top of those walls. Well bodies were buried often four deep and they were running out of room, there were fears for the sanitation of it all, those who had different beliefs wanted a burial ground to suit them and also a cemetary befitting their status in C19th Norwich.
As you wander about you find the Colmans, Jarrolds, Boardman the architect, a survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade to name but a few.

I also knew that Charles as a middle name was the given in dad's family. Now I knew that tradition came from his Grandfather Charles Clare and also who the owner of the third christening spoon was. I have my dad's, his fathers and his fathers.When I was pregnant with both girls, if they'd been a boy their chosen names were Gabriel Charles Clay S-C. I love a bit of tradition. Also having been born with another name names are very important to me.


When we got home I searched through some of the old photos trying to place Charles.


I think he's the gentleman with the cane in the foreground as I know for a fact that Emma, my dad's Grandmother is in the background and so I guess that the other two women are her sisters. One whose name I don't know, had a son who was an officer in the Great War and never came home. He is strikingly similar to my dad as a young man this uncle he never knew. The other sister, Millie lived with a French lady for many years.


Here is the Grandfather I never met as he died before I was born of an anurism to the brain.
He went to war two years after his father died. For some reason he was in Egypt (again no tales told) so I'll have to do some digging I guess. Unlike his cousin, he came home, married, had two children, played golf and became an Air Raid Warden in the Second World War.


This is my dad's mum. All he ever said of her was she never took that bloody coat off.
She looks lovely to my mind and is the spit of my beloved aunty Betty, dad's sister.
Dad never discussed this, it was my aunt who told my mum who told me what happened after the sudden death of her husband while staying at dad's garage. She sank into depression. She'd never so much as written a cheque before and probably couldn't face the future alone. Dad found her drowned in the Millwater at the bottom of his garden. I understand with this his desire to leave the past where it was.



Before any of this family tragedy, skipping back to 1926, here's my dad as a very chunky ginger baby.


 
Family tales and faces firmly in mind, we set off to explore the Rosary one sunny afternoon in half-term.
It really is an extraordinary place and one you must visit if you're ever this way and into this kind of thing.


It has a quality of being frozen in time. Nature has been allowed to take over as the visitors to the dead have slowly joined them too.

There is absolutely nothing creepy about the place either. It's fascinating and beautiful.



 The hardest part was going to be finding the grave. Although we had the plot number and had checked on the map of the old part of the cemetary, many were completely overgrown or the names had eroded away.

At this point we'd been looking a fair while, when I said to Miss Millie, if he wants to be found we'll find him.


Then I stopped and started clearing away the cow parsley and bindweed that grew over the top of this  cross and here were all the names we were searching for.


We were so thrilled to find him and put this piece of our family story together.

 

After that we searched about showing Miss Millie some of the more fascinating graves and she marvelled at all of the extraordinary names.



As you can tell Miss Rosey chose not to come. This really isn't for her, Miss Millie is spiritual and knowledgeable, she gets what it's all about. An old soul you might say.





At the end of this tale there is another story to tell. 

My mum was out with friends who are mediums and believers. They were reading Angel Cards. She randomly chose Abundance. It said the recent find of coins is a gift from a loved one.

Now some of you may say bunkum and that's fine to me, because that's what you believe. 
Hope you enjoyed the tale.