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October 2009

"Poof!" is time getting quicker?


Kindergarten, age 5

Today I'm a little older, but don't really feel it.

There isn't a lot about kindergarten I remember except Mrs. Hamilton was my teacher and I was the wolf in a play of The Three Little Pigs. Little me, the Big Bad Wolf, I've always liked the thought of that.

This is one of the only pictures I have of me as a young child. Only half a smile, the photographer obviously wasn't very entertaining. I wish I still had those braids, actually I think my mother does have them, along with all my teeth and my tummy button (cringe!) but not many photos.

I'm very excited to see friends who are driving from Kent today so we can spend a few quality hours together - coming all that way just for me. Thanks girls you know I love you. We'll share a meal and laugh a lot, a perfect way to spend a birthday.

Happy Tuesday!

Joanie x

Cheater's patchwork, a tutorial


Yet another project that uses up those scraps. These mini patchwork patches have multiple uses and are so easy it feels like a cheater's version of patchwork. They can be used to appliqué on t-shirts, for patching holes, stitching on to paper or cards or used as whole pieces of fabric to cover moleskines, make wallets, etc.

Sewing machine * fabric scraps * small iron * fusible webbing * rotary cutter or scissors

How to
Determine the size you want the final piece of patchwork to be, cut out a piece of fabric that size and iron a piece of fusible webbing to it.


Cut out a variety of small squares of fabric, best to use a rotary cutter for accuracy. My squares are very small, about 13 mm or 1/2 an inch; larger squares would be even easier.


Peel the backing paper of the fusible webbing off of your base piece of fabric then begin lining up your squares (right-side-up) on to the side of the fabric that you removed the paper from (the "glue" side.) Line them up horizontally and vertically with no spaces between the squares forming a grid with them.

Next begin pressing your squares with a small hot iron, I used a Clover Mini Iron but a travel iron would work too. I found it easiest to do one line of squares at a time instead of trying to line up the whole grid.


When you have filled the area you want to cover with squares secure them using a zig-zag stitch with your sewing machine stitching along the gutters of the squares of your grid. Experiment with your zig-zag stitch width and length before stitching the patchwork.

Note: It's easiest to not clip the threads at the end of each line, just lift the presser foot and gently move the fabric to your next line.


To finish, trim the edges of your fabric or cut a shape out of it and adhere another piece of fusible webbing to the back of your finished patchwork - thus creating a finished, ready-to-use patch. When you remove the backing paper from your finished patch be sure it is completely cool before gently lifting it off.


I find I can iron these patches on to paper to make cards or iron them on to fabric with equal success. You will need to stitch around the outer edge on to the fabric or paper the patch is adhered to. This is also an easy way to create quick pieces of patchwork for making small sewn items like wallets, just skip the final step and leave off the last piece of fusible webbing.

Note: I use the Bondaweb brand of fusible webbing because in the UK it seems to be easiest to come by. If you've never used fusible webbing before simply follow the manufacturer's instructions for whichever brand you use.


I hope you give these a try. It's another project that becomes a little addictive, I started going mad with tiny squares when I first tried out this idea.

About the Clover Mini Iron
Of all the various forms of appliqué one of my favourites is using fusible webbing then stitching the edges, it makes a neat job of small pieces appliqué. I bought the mini iron mainly for this purpose. Mine was about £25 which has been a worthwhile investment as I use it a lot. Clover now make a new version (Clover Mini Iron II) which allows for different attachments.
If like me, you wouldn't need any of the attachments the new iron can accommodate there are now bargains to be found on the old models like mine - I've seen it as low as £7 on ebay.

A little garden time


The week has been busy finishing this little project for my article in a winter issue of The Green Parent. The projects and writing don't take too long, but the photographing is a time consumer. I'm lucky my helper, Gracie is patient because I have to trick my camera and fiddle with light sources to get the exposures half decent.

My camera has now been broken for about a year, I'd love an upgrade from my 20D to an EOS 40D but would settle for a repair (which would be a third the cost of a 40D, ouch!) Perhaps the birthday fairy will get it repaired for me, though I dream of getting this new lens, a lens isn't much good with a broken camera. It's good to dream.


The sun is glorious today, giving me time to clip a few rosehips for a bare wreath on the shed and to enjoy the garden a little. The bunnies have been eating the windfall apples and and the birds are going crazy for blackberries, both reminding me that I'd better collect some myself before I miss the season for making more of my favourite pies.


Last week I got my bicycle repaired which meant I could cycle to the farm shop in the village this morning to get a few things. It's a nice road and only about a mile there and back - I hope the weather stays fair so I can discover more of the area on my bicycle.


I got to meet my friend Vicky in Winchester yesterday. It's such a pretty city, I'm excited to get to know it better. It was great meeting up with a friend from Kent and I can't wait until next week when a whole carload of them are making the journey here to visit, what a treat!

I hope your week has been full of treats, happy Thursday :)


Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change.


We are definitely in a spin, ringing the grooves of change around here. Not only the obvious changes, new home, new school but even more.

Gracie has been off school the last two days with a streaming cold. Today she was feeling better which meant a lot of artwork being made. Spin art, water colour painting, clay shape making and letter writing in calligraphy; and that was nearly all before lunchtime - clearly she's ready to go back to school.


This year she has many more options for after school clubs and has chosen all sports: netball, judo, football and gymnastics (not all at the same time.) In the past she'd have opted for the art clubs but says she gets a lot of art at home and "I finally get a chance to play football!" Changing indeed.


She wanted me to show you her special spin art machine, an old favourite that she recently rediscovered. I looked for a salad spinner at boot fairs forever to make spin art with the children but never found one, luckily Gracie received this machine as a gift.


We had a lovely visit back to Kent at the weekend for a big birthday party (happy birthday Tim.) We had a chance to meet up with lots of other friends and I finally got my chance to cuddle baby Rufus and so did Tristan, he loves babies.


And Tristan just returned from two days away at an adventure and bonding session with his new classmates. He returned full of stories and though it was late when he returned we had a lengthy conversation about his time away before he fell into bed for an early start tomorrow. As he was talking I realized that this was a new type of conversation, a little boy wasn't explaining things to me, a more mature little man appears to be emerging. Though I'm not that familiar with this little man yet, I'm very happy to get to know him. Spin on!


For Lovers of Spin Art

I'm a spin art lover. It reminds me of happy days at the county fair where I could sidle up to a booth and make my own abstract masterpiece in minutes.

Make Your Own
If you've never tried the salad spinner version with children here's how it goes:

Use an old salad spinner and put a paper plate in the bottom of it, the plate should fit snugly. Make it spin, remove the lid while it's spinning and drip paint on the plate. If your spinner stops spinning when the lid is removed then put some big drops on the plate first then put the lid on and spin.

Paint that's slightly runny but not watery works best.

I've also toyed with the idea of rigging up my electric drill to create bigger art but I haven't finished figuring that one all out yet.

Many uses for the finished art
We've used the finished artwork for collage, gift cards and framed art. For the gift cards we cut shapes out of the finished spin art. For instance, we cut lots of petals and created a multi-coloured flower.
For the framed art we lined several finished pieces of spin art up together in four stacked rows to create a larger piece of art.

If I could find any samples of these ideas in our many boxes of junk/treasure, I would show you.

And for iPhone and iPod Touch users of course there's an app. It looks fun, not as fun as real paint, but fun enough to amuse yourself if you're unfortunate enough to be on a long commuter train journey with no book to read or sketchbook to fill. Oh and of course there's a Flickr group for art made with the Spin Art app.

If I had an iPhone, I might have to get it just so I could be whisked away to my 10 year old self at the county fair whenever my little heart desired :)

Have a great Wednesday!

Settling in


The sun rising, shining on our bedroom window. I'm loving the quiet of my solitary, early mornings again while my family sleeps.

Last linen weather

And because the sun has decided to shine again I get to wear linen just a little bit longer. As it's Wednesday I think it's time to check in with Fi's WWW players, it's been a long while.


Our local town had a big food and music festival at the Bank Holiday weekend, it was fun and filling.

And the children are still enjoying the unpacking, discovering old toys that have become new again. I'm definitely not enjoying the unpacking, but not much left to do.

With an editor's kind extension on my deadline and the sun warming my craft space, I've taken a few moments to catch up with a few of you friends. I'm hoping to get a chance to update this space soon and also finally add to my blog list which has been sorely neglected.

I hope your Wednesday is sunny too :)

Everything is New Again


Our new front door

Thank you for all the good wishes while we've been away, it's nice to be back in the online world but I can't stay around for long. It's Christmas edition time and my little fingers will be busy putting together projects for the festive season over the coming week. Hopefully that can be stretched to a couple of weeks because finding supplies is like a scavenger hunt at the moment.

Today, however has been name label day. Although our children wear no uniforms at their new school they have oodles of PE kit, coats and wellies that need naming so today has meant last minute school stuff and helping them be as prepared as possible for going off to their new school tomorrow.The two of them are very excited, T actually said "I can't wait for school to start!"

And now Hampshire is home, and I'm sure it won't be long before it feels that way. Right now everything is new, but new is exciting, a little scary, but mostly exciting. The new village is lovely and the people we've met so far are very warm and inviting - most even smiled as they approached our giant moving truck that blocked the lane for 6 hours, we really know how to make a first impression :)

Now that we finally have our internet service I'm just dying to catch up with friends online and see what you've all been up to but I'll have to wait a little longer. I do hope you're all well and that the last days of summer have brought you happy times, see you soon.

J x