Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Autumn days when the grass is jewelled...

.....And the silk inside a chestnut shell
Jet planes meeting in the air to be refuelled
All these things I love so well

That was my all time favourite hymn ever in the world at primary school. You can watch a slightly naff photo montage piano version of it here with the full lyrics. *sigh* happy days :)

So it's autumn. I'm out of denial. It's not going to be summer again until next year (allegedly). It's long sleeved vest time again, and as Munchkin seems to have grown quite a bit (why do children insist on doing that?), I've had to buy some new ones. I chose plain white ones because they're cheaper, and can be customised, of course!

I've kept it nice and simple with a bit of stamping, as applique on a vest is a pain in the bum and I can't be faffed with it. Plus I have a squillion things to do, including putting together my very first tutorial. Yes, a tutorial! It's all very exciting. Whether anyone will actually bother following it or not is another matter, but it's the blood, sweat, tears and mental exhaustion thought that counts, right?

Monday, 28 September 2009


I am feeling rough today, because I picked up a bug from Munchkin. Grandma pickledweasel babysat for us on Fri night so we could go to a community meeting about wheelie bins*, and while we were out Munchkin was sick all over herself and her unfortunate baby sitter :( I'm guessing it's something she's got from nursery, which considering she only goes for one afternoon a week is quite impressive.

I foolishly went to The Trafford Centre yesterday to look for something to go with the ridiculously flimsy purple dress I've bought for a wedding in October. And I had to take Munchkin with me because everything's gone pete tong at mr pickledweasel's work and he had to spend the afternoon looking at spreadsheets. I managed not to throw up, despite having to drive round for half an hour looking for a parking space, battle my way through hoards of people, and sit in the longest traffic jam ever on the way home. Bleeee. I'm nearly back to normal today, although mr pickledweasel can't hold anything down. I am making him sip flat lucozade to try and keep his liquids up.

However, this little reversible tunic I made is cheering me up no end. I bought the pattern from someone on Etsy, and in her listing she included the glorious words, "It is just fine to sell the completed pinafore to whomever you'd like." So in theory I could do custom orders through my Coriandr shop if I decide to.

It was all going swimmingly until I had to cut notches under the armpit seams to reduce bulk - I went a bit too far with the scissors :( I've sort of darned the hole back together again, but as it's under the armpit I'm hoping no-one will notice. Lesson learnt!

Sorry for the model-free photos, Munchkin was still feeling a bit off colour when I finished it, and although she did try it on for me, she really wasn't in the mood for a photo-shoot. This is a size 2T, and is meant for next summer, hence the lightweight cotton. Next task is to make a winter version with some baby cord.

* This is a whole other post, but I probably can't write about it because it's a bit sensitive - basically wheelie bins that are left in the back alley have had their lids removed, paint poured on them, dog pooh put on top of them, and set on fire. Coincidentally, someone who lives in our street has been saying quite vehemently that they don't think people should leave their wheelie bins in the back alley, they should keep them in their yards. Hmmmmm.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

What I are lerning

I started a college course a couple of weeks ago, and I thought it would be a good idea to do a little post about what I've learnt each week. It's a 30 week course entitled, 'Developing Sewing Skills for Fashion', and it's exactly what I have been looking for for about the last five years. It covers a little bit of arty farty stuff - aspects of design, how to develop ideas, that kind of thing, and then the rest is practical skills - button holes, cuffs, pleats, overlocking, waistbands etc.

I haven't done a post for the first week as we covered things like what to do if the fire alarm goes off, what equipment we need, and who they should contact in an emergency (like if we sew our finger to the table or something), and that's all very important but not very interesting.

This week we made our first mood board, which involved lots of sticking and cutting and felt very primary schoolish, but actually looked quite good. Mine was based around the two photos of metal objects, which are part of an exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. They're by an artist called Ndidi Ekubia, who was born in Manchester but now works in London.

On the practical side of things we got to grips with the industrial sewing machines (eeek!), and learnt about pleats. In class we just ironed fabric into pleats to get the idea, but I thought it would be best if I tried to put them into context just to see them work properly. So here is a version of the ruffle sleeve top from Sparkle Power's blog with an inverted pleat in the front:

It took me a while to work out the alterations I needed to do to incorporate the pleat, and I did about 20 squillion more things than I needed to do to make the band across the front, but I like the way it turned out.

It's dress length at the moment, but I really don't think it will be warm enough for winter, even with tights underneath. So once it starts getting properly cold I'll shorten it to a tunic top length.

I also had a bit of an epiphany moment - just before I added the ruffly straps, I looked at the dress and thought, 'I've completely unintentionally made a really cool skirt for a small child!'. So I'm thinking I'll keep it when munchkin grows out of it, whip off the straps, and use it as a skirt.
I have no idea about sizes for bigger kids though - does anyone know what age child has a 20" waist?

Next week - button holes and pockets, woohoo!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Web Trackers

Don'tcha just luv 'em? How else could you find out that someone in Bucharest, Romania, was looking at your blog at 3 in the morning? It's the sort of information you can't live without.
I love finding out how people arrived at my blog. Mostly it's from a comment that I made on someone else's blog, sometimes it's via my Coriandr shop, and quite often it's through some random Googling. Some people search for really weird things. Especially to do with pickles and weasels. Here are some of my favourites:

1. Valentine Warner's pickled peaches

2. Weasel cufflinks

3. Slut Rossendale (this one is slightly worrying)

4. Pickled weasels and where to buy them (this is also worrying, but in an 'awww' way)

5.Weasel sewing pattern

6. Goblin craft

Looking at my stats, it seems most googlers land on me via looking for stuff about Valentine Warner. So, just to try and increase my traffic a bit, repeat after me: Valentine Warner is a stud muffin, Valentine Warner is a stud muffin, Valentine Warner is a stud muffin, Valentine Warner is a stud muffin, Valentine Warner is a stud muffin...

P.s. If you have no idea what a web tracker is, take a look at statcounter, which is the one I use.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Christmas Making - Knitted neckwarmer

I love my cobbled together neckwarmer so much, I thought I'd make a couple as Christmas presents. I finished the first one yesterday, and I'm really pleased with it.

It's for my brother's girlfriend, and I think the blue will be perfect for her colouring, as she has olivey skin and lovely dark brown hair.

It's knitted all in mock fisherman's rib, from a really chunky wool. It didn't take too long to do, so I'm going to start on my next one tomorrow, which is for my mum. I had said I was going to make one for munchkin, which I did, but my measurements came out all wrong and it's far too big, so I'm going to have to unravel it and start over again.

I shouldn't really be here blogging, as I have a job application form to fill in for tomorrow, and so far I've just done the easy bits, so you ain't seen me, right? ;)

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Mr Pickledweasel's Crafty Corner

Mr pickledweasel has recently been spending his evening hunched over squinting at a needle and thread and a pile of feathers rather than blowing people's legs off on his PS3.

No, I haven't got him making bizarre feathery bibs for me, he's been tying tiny weeny flies in an attempt to catch big fat fishes. He's been a bit of an armchair fisherman for years, regaling me of tales of the ones that got away in his youth. Recently he's decided to put his rod where his mouth is (that sounds wrong in so many different ways), and he's actually been doing proper real fishing. And he's caught some fish! I have two lovely plump rainbow trout in the freezer, and I'll be oven baking one of the blighters tomorrow night.

I have no idea how fishing works. Or rather I do have an idea - take stick with string on, put hook on, put worm on hook, dip in water, catch fish - but apparently it's a bit more complicated. My only fishing experience was one sunny afternoon when were camping a few years ago. Mr pickledweasel couldn't find a bait shop open, so used tinned sweetcorn and spam on his hook, and caught two lovely fish which looked very nice but we were apparently not allowed to eat.

Anyhoo, this time round he's doing fly fishing, which doesn't involve any spam (much to my disappointment, as I quite like spam), but does involve eating what you catch. And lots of funny little pretend flies which are works of art in themselves.

Mr pickledweasel has bought all the kit for tying them himself (and stolen half my reels of cotton AND my embroidery scissors), and today went and picked up a lovely handmade chest to store all his gubbins in. Isn't it nifty? I might just stash a few packets of sequins in there, he'll never notice :)

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Christmas Making...

...as opposed to Christmas shopping. Sorry to mention the 'C' word in September, but as I'm aiming to make at least one present per person I kind of need to prepare in advance :) This'll be a regular(ish) slot, so as I finish making presents I'll tell you all about them.

This first one is a test - I don't think this present would remain uneaten in my fridge until December :) My brother's girlfriend is a self-confessed chocoholic, so I thought I'd try my hand at making her something sweet. This recipe was in Olive - I've tried to find it online but it's in this month's issue, and I think they don't put the current recipes on the website until next month.

It's Rose, Fig and Pistachio Chocolate bar and it's flippin lush! The rose bit comes from Rosewater, which I've never used before, and it gives it a slightly alcoholic flavour. The recipe says you can use dried rose petals as well, but I've given those a miss mainly because I couldn't find any in my local shops. I used half the quantities in the recipe, and it made more than enough to fill a gift box for someone. It's passed the mr pickledweasel taste test as well, so I'll be knocking a batch up closer to Christmas. Next on the list - a neckwarmer, all in one piece this time though, not cobbled together from squares.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Shiny New Things

Look! Little treasures now listed in my shop.

A froggy tissue cozy - this is pretty much a one off as I only had a teeny piece of this stripy green fabric. Shame!

Some sweet little wooden brooches.

These were a big hit at the craft fair grandma pickledweasel did last weekend, so much so that she's agreed to take them along to all the other fairs she's doing in the run up to Christmas. Hurrah!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Altogether now, 'Awwwww!'

Here's my lovely little niece, Juliet Rose. She's a little bit Mediterranean looking as she has a touch of jaundice, but apart from that she's in fine fettle.

Munchkin didn't quite know what to make of her. She liked her, as far as I could gather, but I think she expected her to 'do' more :)

She was much more impressed with the nice outdoor space at grandma's house where she could practice her newly acquired riding skills. She's still not walking yet, but give her some wheels and she's fully mobile :)

Thursday, 10 September 2009

'...you and me babe, how about iiiit'

That was me singing. I've had the Dire Straits song 'Romeo and Juliet' in my head for the last couple of days, since my shiny brand new niece was born late on tuesday night :) She's called Juliet Rose, and the whole pickledweasel family are very excited about meeting her tomorrow.

Technically she's mr pickledweasel's niece, as it's his sister who's popped the sprog, but I get to call her my niece too, right? I'm not sure about the rules on these things. Is she my niece by marriage? Anyhoo, goes without saying that I've had to make her some presents. Her big present is a travel cot, which is very very boring, but very very useful, and the sort of thing that new parents appreciate.

I've made her a sleeping Bimble, which has a bell inside, so when she bats him with her little waving baby hand he'll make a noise.

And I've made her a bib (obviously!), modelled here by the lovely Big Ted.

I'll be clucking and cuddling and getting broody all weekend, so I'll not be posting for a few days, but there will be baby pics a plenty on my return :)

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

I have craft goblins

I do. They have been hiding things. I'm having a pretty crappy week anyway - a cold, sinusitis, possibly no job in about 4 weeks time, an interview last week that I still haven't heard anything back from, rubbish hair, not enough leave left to go on holiday in October, and a Munchkin with a hacking cough.

And then yesterday the craft goblins struck. Grandma pickledweasel is doing a craft fair this weekend (she makes fused glass jewellery), and had kindly said I could put a few of my little wooden brooches on her stall. So I've been making some new ones. Only yesterday I needed my brooch backs to finish them, and I couldn't find them anywhere. Annoyingly I had seen them the day before and thought, 'Hmmm, that's a silly place to keep brooch backs, I'd never think of looking for them there if I needed them.' And then I promptly forgot where they were, and then the craft goblins moved them and now they're lost forever.

So after the brooch fiasco I thought I would sit down and do a quiet bit of knitting. After confessing my knitting fear t'other day, I went and bought a really easy little cardigan pattern - it's just knit knit knit all the way, apart from the ribbing on the edges, and the knitting shop lady said she'd help me with that if I got stuck. Grandma pickledweasel gave me this lovely wool from her stash, I think it's from the eighties, and it's just perfect for a summer cardi.

Only when I got the carrier bag out last night, 4 of the balls of wool had become tangled in a big woolly knotty mess. The work of craft goblins, obviously. So rather than spending the evening casting on and doing lovely easy rows, I sat in front of the telly swearing as I tried to untangle it all.

I've set traps and baited them with jam and some buttons, but I don't know if they'll work. Anyone have any tips on how to get rid of a goblin infestation?

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Liberty Ruffle Top

I've finally used some of the beautiful Liberty fabric I bought from Preston market a couple of months ago. I had to find exactly the right project for it, as I only had half a metre.

Obviously it had to be something for Munchkin! I was a bit scared when I first cut into it, but everything turned out wonderfully :)

I used this fantastic tutorial from Sparkle Power, which was very easy to follow. I used the measurements at the bottom for age 2-3, with a couple of adjustments. It's still a weeny bit too big for Munchkin, but that just means it'll last until next summer.

I need to find a nice plain long sleeved top to go under it for winter - the one she's wearing in the pictures has a flower on the front and is too thin. If I find a cream one I might do a bit of customising, as I've got a sizeable peice of the Liberty fabric left over - maybe some bands of fabric around the cuffs?

Monday, 7 September 2009

Breaking News: New Magic Fabric Shop.

*Beepitty beep beep beepitty beep bing bing* (news jingly music)

We are bringing you breaking news from East Lancashire. Earlier today it was discovered that a brand new magic fabric shop has opened its doors in Rossendale. Pickledweasel, mother of one, spoke to us earlier today with her account of its discovery:

'It's amaaaaazing. Just like the original magic fabric shop, but a lot more orderly and with less stuff, and it's only 5 minutes drive from me rather than a trek halfway across the county. I bought all this fabric and it only cost £9.40!'

Eyewitnesses reported dress fabrics being sold for as little as £1.00 per yard, Irish linens for £3.00 a yard, and remnants for as little as 50p.

It's feared that the presence of a new magic fabric shop in the area will increase rates of fabric hoarding by up to 73%. Rossendale Council have already received a strongly worded letter of protest about the opening of the shop from a Mr Pickledweasel.

And now, the weather.....

Friday, 4 September 2009

Cardigan flowerification

Our local Ethel Austin relocated to the empty Woolies recently (eee, it's all go in our neck of the woods), and they had a closing down sale. I picked up a couple of boys chunky ribbed zip-up cardigans for Munchkin for 75p each, one for now and one a bit bigger for later.

Obviously I couldn't leave them plain and bare and boring! I started with the one that fits now, and printed flowers with black fabric paint on to some (Liberty?) cotton scraps, and then appliqued them on to black felt.

I was a bit worried about sewing onto a knitted fabric, but it was surprisingly easy. Even if I had made a hash of it, you wouldn't be able to see the wonky sewing on the black felt.

The other cardigan is a fawny/oatmealy colour, so I thought something in pink would go well. I'm not sure whether to do more flowers or try something different... I'll have to see how the blue cardigan washes, I'm a bit worried about the colour in the felt running.

In other craft news, the pattern I bought to help make my 'copycat but less slutty' dress. has arrived in the post. Unfortunately, in between ordering the pattern and it arriving, I seem to have purchased a purple silk halterneck dress for the bargain price of £75 (reduced from £249) with the intention of wearing it to the wedding. Ooops :)