come sail away, a new project and giveaway

Cork sailors - pirates

The latest Action Pack by Whip-Up is out and this special Water Edition is brilliant, not that they aren't all brilliant. It is full of fantastic water-related projects and activities. As usual, this e-mag is great for a varied age range and I know we will be diving into it time and again.

This edition features a recycled boat making project by me*, and also a Cork Sailors and Pirates tutorial that shows how to make little cork people to ride along in the boats. The Cork Sailors and Pirates project is a special free excerpt from this latest e-mag and publisher, Kathreen is offering it up here.


There are so many wonderful contributors and projects jammed between these virtual pages, it's a pleasure to be part of it once again.

As a special treat to regular readers I'm able to offer two free issues as a giveaway courtesy of Kathreen. And as I'm not blogging as much as I once did due to time constraints followers of this space have dwindled so you have a VERY good chance of winning one of these two free editions.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post by next Thursday, March 7, 2013. The winners will receive this e-mag, all 44 excellent, ad-free pages of it! The e-mag will be delivered in PDF form. I will announce the winners on the evening of March 7, 2013 GMT time.

I have several new makes, a sewing pattern review and an artist review all waiting to be posted here but I just had to share this fun Action Pack first and of course, the giveaway. I highly recommend subscribing to Action Pack if you have children still at home, it's well worth every penny! Don't take my word for it, read what other parents say about it here.

Happy Thursday!


*The boat project first appeared in the Green Parent magazine in the June/July 2010.

mending moth holes with moths, a short tutorial


This was meant for a magazine last year but the mending theme for the issue changed and I was too busy to follow it up so I happily tucked it away to share here for another day. 

I often wear huge sweaters around the house with lots of layers underneath. My wintertime mantra is the same as my father's when I was young and complained about a cold house "Put on more clothes." This particular sweater was discarded by it's previous owner when his beer belly outgrew it so I snapped it up to layer with. Unfortunately the moths nibbled a big hole in the shoulder and some smaller ones in the front.

Hypoprepia Moth sample
Lisa took some amazing moth pictures a while back and I thought, I might not mind moth holes so much if they were made by those beauties. Then thought, why not cover up the holes with those beauties (I wouldn't choose the ugly little grey critters that really make the holes).

So I made some drawings of my favourites and pulled them into Illustrator, I was pleased with the way they turned out as line art. I then did some watercolour sketches of my moth selection and created a new pattern set of five moths. So I offer you up one moth patch, click here to download. If you'd like the whole page of five moth illustrations with my watercolour sketch as a guide they're available on my pattern page. Moth watercolour sml sample

On this sweater I've used two moth patches. The patch above (antheraea polyphemus) I made by embroidering on to felt and needle felting a body. The patch on the front (gnophaela vermiculata) is mostly needle felted with a little black stitched detailing.

This is how to make the patches

  1. First cut out the moth shape from paper.
  2. Then trace it onto a piece of felt or felted wool that is a similar colour to the moth body. I find a ball point (biro) pen the best tool for tracing onto felt. You will want to either cut off the pen mark or stitch over it to hide it.
  3. Next cut around the moth, not right on the line, leave space around it.
  4. Then fill in the moth with embroidery stitches and/or needle felting. I used both embroidery and needle felting for both of these patches.
  5. Referring to a picture of the moth, pick up the thread and start drawing with it. Just start stitching, if you haven't freehand stitched before you'll be surprised at how your hands can use the needle like a pencil. Moths are a particularly good subject to try this with because they are symetrical and therefore easier to position each element in.
  6. When you finish the details of your moth, cut it out, close to the edge but not right on it.
  7. Next prepare your hole for your patch. I mended the holes with a simple darning stitch using mending wool. If you've never mended a sweater before I just searched around for tutorials and found this one on Martha Stewart but any vintage family sewing book should show you. The mending step might seem silly since the hole will be covered up, but mending it first will help your sweater withstand future washes better.
  8. Using mending wool or a couple of strands of embroidery thread, cover your mended hole with the patch and hand stitch around it. Be careful of your tension while stitching. If you pull the thread too tight while stitching the sweater will pucker around the patch, too loose and the patch won't look tidy.
  9. Finally, add the antenae straight on to your sweater being sure to start your stitches under the top of the moth's head to hide the join, again, watch the tension in your stitching.

Mending tutorial

Hope you have a go. If you download the pattern let me know how you use it, or add an image to the Created with Nini Flickr Group. I'm no nature Illustrator so this art is not exactly accurate for the purists out there, the gnophaela vermiculata for example is much bluer than a real one, but my water colour dried darker than I thought it would and you know I love my blues :)

If you do regular mending and you're on Flickr, join Scrapiana's Big Mend Flickr group to share your mends. She also recently posted a moving piece about sandblasted jeans on her blog; read it, I gaurantee you will shop more carefully for jeans in the future, I know I will.

Happy Wednesday!


Nearly there

Short scarf
Short scarf

We had a lovely early Christmas with the UK family on Sunday so I can show a few of the items I've finished so far. The short winter scarf was cut from a thrifted cashmere sweater and I lined it with a vintage silk scarf. It's probably the gift I most want to repeat to make one for myself.

I'm working all out now to finish a couple things for Gracie and the American family because we're off to California at the end of this week. I'm sure most of you are busy with last minute preparations too.

Finished booties
Finished Purl Bee booties

These booties were simple and fun and both children want grown-up versions of them, think I'll have to find some very big felted jumpers for that job. The pattern is here.


It's been really great diving into my boxes and tins of stash I have tucked away all over the house to make gifts. This year I've already sculpted clay, needle felted, made jewelry, sewn, embroidered, lino printed and baked. Feels good to use only the resources I have on hand. I've so far only had to buy one zipper (for a gift not shown) and I've made 17 gifts. That means I've been either very resourceful or I'm a HUGE hoarder of stash. I prefer to believe the resourceful one ;)

The Black Apple dolls above are from Emily Martin's pattern and far quicker than patterns I've drafted myself so I recommend them if you need some quick gifts for little people. The pattern is here. The pencil case above and doll on the left are made from my favourite vintage tea towel, they were for two sisters.

I have had to buy some gifts though because I find teenage boys challenging to make things for and there are seven of them on my list! 

I hope your own lists are being nicely checked off and you're either finishing all you've planned or throwing your hands up with a smile and drinking mulled wine instead.

Happy days to you,



For teacher
For teachers

Gracie made a flower and bird ornament for her teacher. A repurposed embroidered tray cloth became a small gift bag with chocolates that the birdie snuggled into. Tristan's teacher is also his math teacher so he got a math themed bookmark.I'd like to tell you T made it himself, but he simply approved it. 

Purl Bee Booties WIP
Purl Bee booties 

So today winter break starts and happily the sun is back out and the fierce winds have died down, though I hear 70,000 homes are still without power up north. I'm now sitting here soaking in the warmth and savouring my last few hours of me time for the next month. I loved this simple baby bootie pattern from Molly's Sketchbook at Purl Bee. Lucky we have a brand new baby cousin that I can whip a pair up for so these are being finished.  

Also, I'm really loving these tinies from Lisa, these wonderful paintings by Claire Desjardins found via Erin and also the new Bookhou ceramics (though I think they're all gone already). And these fun marshmallow reindeer lollies look so simple they'll be added to our vacation activites. (found via Pinterest).

Now I'm off to make some dough for dinner, it's going to be Friday night pizzas for us.

Happy weekend to you,


Give us a hand

Mummy's hand, photo by Gracie

Gracie was working on a drawing and she wanted a hand model. I wasn't good at keeping my hand still enough so she photographed it instead. The clutter in the background is what my desk looks like when more than one project at a time is happening, which admittedly is often. I thought about Photoshopping it all out but I like real life better – though I often wish I could Photoshop it all out in real life and save the time of clearing up all my junk.

Gracie's hand, photo by Mummy

And speaking of projects, Gracie will soon be posting her first tutorial on her blog. The other day she spotted something at a shop that she really, really wanted and I said "No because I can show you how to make your own with supplies we already have and I promise you will like even more than the one in the shop." She wasn't convinced. I can't steal her thunder so I won't give it away but she's extra excited about her results and can't wait to share how to make them (although chances are you may have made them yourself already!) A tiny little thing, but it really ignited her enthusiasm to make instead of buy which of course made me smile really big inside :)

A quick something for me

On Wednesday I spent a fun hour with six girls and their ideas for making things with old clothes; I'd hoped at least one boy would be in our textiles group but maybe some will join in time. One of the items I shared with them was this protective sleeve I whipped up for my phone. I've been wanting to make one for the longest time, I'm not crazy about the cases in the shops. This denim sleeve made from old jeans took me no time to make and even though it's very simple it's just what I wanted. It's been a long while since I made something for me so then I got right into another project just for me that I'll show soon. Two in one week, I'm getting spoiled ;)

Apple thief

One last photo before I say goodnight. Hurricane Katia didn't effect us as much as the north of the country but it sure brought down a lot of apples. Too bad poor Pippi just found out she can't have the plums and apples any more, too hard on her tummy says the vet.

Have a great week,



Pretty tangles and groups and things

Reverse of hand and machine stitching

I've had quite a long and unexpected Internet break, apparently down to a bad circuit board at the exchange - whatever that means. It reminds me of the image above, lots of lines going here, there and everywhere behind the scenes that normally get where they need to go without us ever needing to know about it, until they don't work.

Funny group
Funny groupings

So while I've been away I've caught up a little with things I've been happily ignoring, like dusting and stinging nettles, though the latter are getting harder to ignore because they're painful. I've been noticing that when I dust I move things around into new groups, usually without making any conscious decisions about it. Sometimes just odd objects and other times colour groupings, it's fascinating to me that our brains need pattern.

Dyeing with hot drinks
Dyeing with hot drinks

And I also tackled some dyeing that I've been meaning to get to for a long while; this stack of vintage linen soaked in a fine blend of coffee and tea, I like the shade I get by mixing them. Tea tends to give a pinker shade than coffee and I find by combining them I get just what I want, a shade closer to natural linen. I'm planning on new dolls with this batch.

More baby cards
Late baby cards

This style tends to be my stock design for babies. The gifts to go with them might arrive before they each start school ;)

Tissue box cafe

And over our long weekend T & G got out the Brio train set. T received his first wooden track when he was about 18 months old and still enjoys it at nearly 13! And he doesn't even feel too cool to admit he still likes it (now that's cool). They both still like me to play along which I'm happy to do, especially if they serve tea, both of them make a mean cup. To be sure tea would be served I quickly made a café with an empty tissue box. Half a tissue box makes a handy arched doorway don't you think? 

Other things:

I'm loving this site which is probably not new to many of you but as you know, I don't get out much. I found it via very clever Erin.

And also loving the RAC, they never let me down or make me wait too long. When they arrive the drivers are the nicest people you could hope to meet, like the one who changed my tire (tyre) on Easter Sunday and said the tea I brewed him was perfect. Or the nice man who told me to wait in a cafe instead of my car when my battery died the winter before last (it was -3 outside). Of course I have no affiliation with the RAC but I feel a little more secure knowing their card is in my wallet.
BTW, I can change a tire but I can't get the lug nuts off even when I stand on the crow bar.


Lastly, congratulations to my gorgeous niece Lauren (on the far left) who underwent shoulder surgery last year not wanting her softball career to end; her high school team just made the playoffs (again).

And also a big congratulations to smart, hard working and lovely Diane who just took over from the equally smart, hard working and lovely Natalie as Editor-in-Chief at CRAFT. CRAFT couldn't be in more capable hands.

Happy weekend to you!


P.S. Hope to play catch up with all of you soon.

The "sail" goes on

Boat races B 
Boat races

An update on the Crafting For Courage sale - thanks again for the support. The doll, scarf and stack of linens have sold but I may still be adding items to the shop until Monday, depends on time.

Today though it's off to school to make boats with little people while parents help out around the school with things like painting, planting and clearing. Another community event, this time a little closer to home.

There are still items left to buy in the sale and several makers are trying to add more throughout the weekend, so if you can please go and have a look, visit the Etsy shops and browse around. It's a great opportunity to buy beautiful, handmade things and help the children of Japan at the same time.

The image above is from a Green Parent article I wrote last year; it's taken with some of our favourite sailors (hope to see you sailors soon!!!).

Happy weekend,


Springtime and sunny linens

Thank you to all the makers who have pulled together in such a short time to make and sell their art for the Crafting For Courage sale. Today was the first day and it's already going so well but it wouldn't be going well if there weren't a huge number of generous buyers out there supporting the efforts of the makers so thank you to you too!

The Gracie Doll and the scarf have both sold, thank you to the kind purchasers! I put together a collection of linens from my stock to add to the sale. Bits of old linen, lace and embroidery are my favourite supplies, I love working with textiles that have history. Tomorrow I'll add this pile of goodies to the shop for the sale. It includes a long piece of the same antique linen I made the scarf from (un-dyed). A stash of vintage linens is great to have on hand for whipping up quick gifts like these, and these.

If your favourite maker has run out of stock for the sale don't give up, many are working on replenishing, I know at least one very busy bunny maker who is stitching her fingers to the bone for the cause. Also, more makers are in the process of being added.


Just thought I'd sign off with some happy daffs that smile and wave at me when the wind blows.


Remember, the sale will be on until Monday :)

Thank you again for the generous support.




Safety, stitching and wishes

Embroidered cotton tape

First tulips of the year :)

Gracie drawing safely

A new corner for an old cupboard

Grown up tea set

I haven't been around these parts for a while now but it's all been good. I've managed to complete some belated birthday presents and finish rearranging my workspace. I'm still in the process of sorting out the vintage textiles but that tends to lead to inspiration of one sort or another so I count that as doubly productive. It makes me smile to see that online friends have been making the same things at the same time, it's almost like we're in the same room :)

Happy birthday today to Dianne! Sorry I can't be with you but I'm sharing the sunny tulips with you that Tristan gave me.

Gracie was home one day this week, she had a sore throat... no a tummy ache... no a headache. Really, she was tired and I wasn't up to challenging her; honestly, spending a day together is a treat anyway. She recently got a new safety helmet for skating and decided to wear it on her "sick" day while working on her blog. 

Tristan is going through a Nirvana stage so we're finding ourselves racing around the house to Smells Like Teen Spirit as we get out the door each morning (thanks for that Uncle Pete). He also just finished a crazy two weeks of performing music for a play. It's been worth it, the play was fantastic and we're so proud of his performance. Recently I was discussing life soundtracks with Pat. It occurs to me that I can trace Tristan's development with music like a height chart, one day I'll right them all down.

The last photo is a tea set I made for my sister-in-law. I made a whole bunch of these for a craft fair about four years ago and haven't felt like making any since, but after receiving my bookhou cozy in the post it reminded me of how useful they really are. I think of this linen toile as quite grown up and my sister-in-law has a grown up house; no sticky door handles or muddy footprints or wet towels tossed on the bathroom floor.

Tomorrow, a giveaway - finally :)

And what are you listening to in your house?

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.