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August 2010
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October 2010

Changing colours

Elderberries 3
Birds like elderberries too

There's been a lot of dyeing going on around here. Not just the kind on my hair, which I've finally given in to. Just couldn't look at my grey self any more; maybe it's the fact that my clock ticks over another year tomorrow, don't know. I hate the expense, the time it takes, the bother... but my vain self won out, and my son too, who wants me to "...always have dark brown hair." But after all, autumn is the season of change so it's only natural right? Wink, wink. 

Basket of berries
Basket of berries

We took the last of our elderberries to dye some pieces of linen I've been working with to make tiny pieces like these. I experimented with some blackberries a couple of weeks back with great success, until I washed the fabric, oops. We use mild, eco-friendly washing powder, but the colour drained until it was left looking like dirty linen, not luscious purples and mauves. I took the same linen pieces and re-dyed them.

Fabric in a hot elderberry soup 

Elderberries are so abundant here so they're perfect to experiment with. They're all through the hedgerows like blackberries, the large basketful above was just what I collected in our own garden. I'd always wanted to use the elderberries for dyeing or wine making, but the dyeing is a much quicker process - I need fast rewards. So I heated up the berries with an equal amount of water and after about

Fabric wet

45 mins the colour of the liquid was amazing. I didn't use any chemicals, to prepare the fabric except to simmer it in salt water beforehand then rinsed it and put it in the pot of elderberry dye. I simmered it for about an hour, mixing the pieces up and moving them about to try and get an even colour, then turned off the heat and left the fabric in overnight.

Instead of wringing the fabric and hanging it, I rinsed it in cold water until the water ran clear, then hung it out (above). We were in a foggy cloud most of the day so it's a little less vibrant in these pictures but I really like the way it turned out, it's a light purple/blue/grey.

Elderberry drying
Fabric nearly dry

I'm hoping true blue will be in my dyeing future. I've been trying to find an indigo workshop for ages and finally found one nearby for October, just waiting to hear if they have space. I love the magic of indigo, an altogether more complicated dyeing process, so a one-day course is just what I've been looking for.

Zine image
Earth Palette, a zine from Cozy Homemaking

For an inspiring look at successful, natural dyeing experiments get Sonia's new zine. And also see more of her earth colours at Naturally Dyeing.

Wine birds
Label Making

This week I also returned to a job of wine label designing, it required a lot of hummingbird sketches, then I found out my scanner is broken, grrrrrrrrrr. Not exactly the words I used, but I did growl too. And I'm really looking forward to seeing old friends on Thursday. I can't wait to share some laughs the way we always do. 

Hope your week is a full and happy one too.


Finding things

Sample of finds
Quirky & wonderful too

Today was a very good day. It felt like summer again and when I walked puppy this morning early there was no need for even a sweater. As hubby offered to do the school run, I decided to take advantage of my unscheduled and unexpected extra hour. I headed straight for the coast and went to a big boot fair I recently learned about, it's every Wednesday, very unusual day for boot fairs here in the UK. I'd read good things about it and I wasn't disappointed.

I knew my bargain karma was with me when I got a parking spot directly across from the entrance, a perfect location for loading booty. It was great, the old type of boot fair, no antique dealers and market stalls, just lots of other peoples cast offs and old stuff to root around.

Early edition of UK Monopoly

Tristan has recently become crazy into Monopoly. I found this very early UK version for a pound. It was missing the actual board, but all the game pieces and wooden hotels and houses and old style printing was too fun to pass up. There are a few items in the top photo from the game. The £500 note, a wooden house and hotel, a real estate card and of course, the boot.

Type drawers, the objects on top change regularly

I also found a big button tin and a vintage sewing basket full of goodies, always exciting finds. The other objects in the top photo were contents of those two purchases (except the pen and nibs). I probably won't keep the basket because I have too many of them and no remaining space. If postage isn't a killer I'd happily send it to an interested blog reader, though I think far away places might be cost prohibitive.

The tiny photo is a 1940's image of a woman. I'm imagining the wrinkles in it were made by being tucked into a pocket of a WWII serviceman; it was in the sewing basket. There were also two sets of type drawers like the two in the photo above but they had no handles. Although I love mine, I still haven't taken the time to refinish them and of course space is an issue so I left them behind. They couldn't have been a better bargain than the two in this photo though, remember?

Dawn shadows
Dawn shadows

There were a few finds to add to the messy, right side of my fabric cupboard. It's the side where I keep most of my vintage fabrics, linens, and clothes for repurposing; they've been put into a lot of projects lately. I promise the other side is tidy ;)

Next time I will try and photograph the scene at the boot fair. I'd planned to this morning but I was overwhelmed by that, WOW! where do I start feeling. The best part of the morning was going home, knowing I spent so little and anticipating unpacking all my goodies, reliving the excitement of the hunt.

I hope you had a really, very good day too. 



Tiny things

Weeny ornaments
New life for broken necklaces

Our week has been full of the unexpected. Child number one ill for a day, then child number two ill the last two days and father back home undergoing surgery; thank you very much for all your well wishes for him. My kiddos only had colds brought on by back to school fatigue and the reintroduction of germs that go with it. My dad, I'm happy to say, had a very successful op and is recovering very nicely.

Gracie being home the last two days was actually fortuitous for me, it meant I had a helper for the Christmas craft articles due now. Above she's working with broken jewelry to make tiny, weeny ornaments, a task we both really loved. I always pick up bargains at boot fairs on broken necklaces, there are so many ways to re-purpose them.

G's little sitches
Gracie's tiny stitches

While little G was home she also picked up a crochet hook again. This time she was more ready to put in the time it takes to get used to the beginner stages: holding the thread, the hook, slip knot making, uniform stitches... Now she's "hooked" and wants her own stash of hooks and thread. Sometimes I think the collecting of the stash is what she enjoys most, but this time I think it really is all about the craft.

And a note to mothers who might want to try crochet with their children, bigger hooks and yarn would probably be best for starting out, G likes a challenge.

Graphite art
Graphite sculpture by, Dalton Ghetti

And apparently the tiny, weeny sculptures by the Brazilian artist Dalton Ghetti are all over the internet, but since I don't get around the internet much I've only just seen them. I initially found him via the Creative Review, but when I googled him to find more of his work I came across even more amazing images here. If you haven't seen his sculptures treat yourself to a viewing, I'm sure you'll be glad you did.
I didn't find a photo credit for the image above, but I believe it's the artist's own.

Have a wonderful weekend :)



Because it's warm and sunny

Tip toe

What do you do when you have three deadlines, a husband with a client on the phone and children who have homework? Go to the beach, because it's sunny and warm and it is Sunday.

Sand flare

It wasn't long after arriving that a bit of sand got lodged behind my lens :( See it up there on the right ruining my nice gentle flare? I hope I can disassemble it and clean it myself. Lucky it's just my pocket camera - of course if I didn't toss it in my pocket there'd probably not be sand behind the lens.

Sandy lens

Soaking up the warm sun on a breeze-less day while the kids were wading and the puppy happily cavorting... a real treat. I even stole a minute to make a quick shell necklace for little G.

Sunset & silouhette

Then back home for a quick dinner, a return to the homework, baths and early bed. But the evening sun streaming through this window stops me in my tracks every time.

Tomorrow it's back to a busy week ahead so I won't be around much. And I just found out my dad is having heart surgery on Thursday, the type of news that brings life back into perspective and makes me happy to have spent the afternoon with my little family on the beach, ignoring deadlines for just one more day.

Have a lovely week. I hope you give yourself the time to soak up a little sun and if you're lucky enough to be able to, give your dad an extra big hug.



A test, the fun kind

First swatch test
First test swatch

I finally got around to trying out Spoonflower. I took advantage of their one day free swatch offer and I'm so glad I did; thanks Pam for posting about it. I'd wanted to turn my Lykke embroidery pattern (below) into a fabric design for a very long time so I quickly put it together to send it through. The ordering process is so easy, I will definitely give it another try.

What I'll do next time: 

  • heavy up the lines, they came out a little too faint for my liking
  • do more homework about the printing process before ordering, Spoonflower have a great help section, I guess that's where I should start 
  • order one of their fabric swatch packs (they're only $1)  I'm not that crazy about the quilting cotton I had my swatch printed on

I might also decide to do a test swatch to try out various colour palettes.

Lykke design The first week of school is nearly over and we've managed to get there on time every single day, a good start. My week has been spent mainly on winter projects for The GP, like the teddy in progress above. I've been mulling over several other patterns and I'm hoping to get at least one drawn up soon, because it's something I need.

Not only did the postman bring me the treat of my swatch (which arrived very quickly), he also brought me some pretty postcards from Nicole. My favourite is one of her sweetest patterns, Forty Winks Fox. I love her distinctive style, a little like a modern Beatrix Potter in stitches - the animals in her patterns always have real personality.

I'll be meeting deadlines over the weekend and I look forward to visitors from home in the week ahead. Whatever you're up to at the weekend I hope you have a great one.

Fox postcard 
Forty Winks Fox, Follow the White Bunny



Back to school, back to the woods

KA web
Kinetic Autumn Art

Time to get back in the swing of things around here. The latest Green Parent is out and as part of this learning issue my bit was a piece about kinetic art, one of my favourite types of projects to make with children. These autumn inspired mobiles help teach not only simple stitching but also balance. Should be on the newsstands any day now. Busy, busy, busy now with Christmas edition.

Common Fly Agaric

And back to school too. Tristan has moved to an all together more grown up stage of school. Longer hours and more subjects - he came home shattered after his first day yesterday. And Gracie literally bounced out of school, so excited to have moved up to the next school... long may the excitement last.

Back to school also means moving my daily walk back to the woods that border our school. They're a great place for biodiversity. The variety of trees and shrubs means an amazing variety of lichen and fungi too. I must try and remember to throw my camera in my pocket, not just my phone (way down my list of school morning priorities).

Fungi book

I had a quick whiz around a local boot fair at the weekend and I'm glad I managed to get there. I found the Observer's Book of Common Fungi. I've been looking for this one for years and there it was for just £1.50, yay! I love collecting Observer books because they have lovely old illustrations and they're still so useful - the children use them just as much as I do. They're also handy for propping things up to photograph :) Even if I find duplicates I usually buy them to gift to friends who share the same interests.

If you have children I hope your back to school routine has gone smoothly and your children have emerged smiling. Enjoy your week.