Lockdown Dinners at The Dogs’ Diner (and other suspiciously similar-looking places) — writinghouse

Mr Snail has saved me the bother of describing our eating adventures during lockdown – do check out his post:

PROLOGUE There are three things that you need to know about Chez Snail: There is an attention-loving, and hence pesky, spaniel-based lifeform called Daisy who is involved in the day-to-day running of some eating and drinking establishments shown here. There is a squeaky-ball-obsessed terrier-based lifeform called Sam, who also appears to be involved in self […]

Lockdown Dinners at The Dogs’ Diner (and other suspiciously similar-looking places) — writinghouse

Grrrrr!

It’s been rather warm here recently and so I’ve been reluctant to work on large woolly things – like the jumper that I want to complete, that is worked in a single piece, so provides far too much cover on a hot day. I decided, therefore, to use up some left-over balls of yarn for some little projects.

We have a young friend who loves dinosaurs… so I made her a T-rex.

The pattern is by Kerry Lord of Toft.

I don’t think it’s going to be the last dinosaur that I make – they seem to be popular with children and adults alike. I see some ScrapHappy dinos in the future!

Posh shoes

Here in Wales we are still staying at home… some of the lockdown restrictions have been eased in England (or didn’t actually count if you were a government advisor), but here things continue pretty much as before. We walk the dogs everyday and, as a result, encounter people from our local community. We pause for a distanced chat… sometimes there’s a gift of a plant (I came home with a spinach seedling the other day), or a request for help (“Do you have any spare knicker elastic? I’m making face masks”). We tick along, I have lots to do: my editing work was always done at home, and there’s plenty of that to keep my busy; I have completed several crochet projects; done lots of sewing and mending and failed to keep on top of all the jobs in the garden; I bake and try out new recipes; and I chat to friends regularly on Zoom/Skype/phone. But I’m sad that I can’t have my monthly shared lunches with my permaculture friends (hello to Sharon, Ann and John if you are reading this), that Sue (Going Batty in Wales) and I can’t sit together and put the world to rights over homemade soup and (always) cake. I’m also sad that Mr Snail can’t be away in Reading, having the mental and physical space to write and seek out a literary agent, to play pool with his friend Martin and go to the pub quiz he enjoys so much.

We have found a way through. Tuesday night is pie night, Thursday night we take part in Jay’s Virtual pub quiz whilst Mr Snail chats with one of his quizzing friends via WhatsApp, we watch The Great British Sewing Bee on Wednesday night, we play Scrabble. Food has become a particular focus and we eat in the limery every night, enjoying the long evenings and watching the birds and (later) bats swooping over the house and garden. Perhaps it sounds idyllic – perhaps we should feel that it is – but we always know that we are restricted and our choices constrained. I think our mental well-being is compromised… of course it is, it’s a challenging time.

However, sometimes on a Saturday night we get dressed up and “go out”. I cook a nice meal, and we eat out at The Bistro Chez Snail. And for this, I put on a nice frock and proper shoes – with heels. The rest of the time I’m either wearing slippers or walking boots, or have bare feet. But to go to The Bistro I wear posh shoes… and strangely it’s remarkably good for my state of mind.

Play time

Scrabble and chocolate mousse

Since we can’t go out to play at the moment, I have been finding some indoor things to play with. As well as regular evening games of Scrabble and Jenga in the limery, I’ve been playing in the sewing room. I have taken the opportunity to make something that I’ve wanted to try for a while and to sew with a new material.

Both my projects resulted from not being able to go to Wonderwool this year as it was cancelled. I had a trip planned with friends and had even bought the tickets. Instead, there was an online event and the organisers invited the exhibitors to contribute links to their shops . I don’t really need any more yarn (still working my way through my stash), but I wanted to support some of the small businesses who are currently unable to trade. I found a lovely little fabric shop – Black Mountain Fabrics – that does not normally trade online and, after several messages backwards and forwards, selected two kits that interested me.

First, a Japanese knot bag. I keep seeing pictures of these and thinking that the construction is interesting. So, what better way to have a go than with a kit? I told the lovely lady who owns the shop what sort of colours I’d like and she sent me photos of fabrics to choose from. I was smitten by some with peacock feathers and we combined it with a teal lining. It was a quick and simple make and I think I’m likely to make more of these – they would be ideal for little gifts and only require the fabric – no interfacing, clasps, zips or drawstrings.

Second, a little kit that included cork fabric. I have been fascinated by the idea of cork for bag-making for a while, but wanted something simple to experiment with. This bag has a simple construction and the most wonderful octopus lining. The handle was easy to fit and it was another quick make. I was interested to discover how flexible the cork is and how beautifully it sewed (at least on my sewing machine). I would certainly consider using it for other bag-making projects.

I know that several friends have found their creativity lacking during this period of enforced confinement, whilst some people are flourishing. Have you been playing with new materials or media recently? Or have you simply wanted to crawl under the duvet and not come out?

All dressed up and nowhere to go

No mending this Monday, so I thought I’d share a make instead.

Last autumn, when we could travel and see friends in the same room, rather than only electronically, I went to London. The main purpose was lunch with an old friend, but I slotted in a bit of fabric shopping and bought a lovely piece of Japanese cotton. I chose it to go with a specific dress pattern and intended to make it almost straight away. However, the need for a cotton dress in the winter is limited and so other projects took precedence. Now, however, it’s spring and the time was right for this piece of sewing.

It’s a simple garment, with raglan sleeves and a zip at the back. The idea was to choose a fabric that would take centre stage. It turned out to be a fairly simple make, although I did have to adjust the shoulder darts a little and may revisit them, as I think the shaping could be better.

So, I give you the Raglan dress (a pattern from the Avid Seamstress):

Now, I just need to be allowed out in order to show it off.

ScrapHappy May 2020

Whilst I may not have managed to write much this past month, I’ve certainly been busy with my scraps. You might remember that some months ago I started using up scrap sock (and other 4-ply) yarn in a scrappy blanket. The last time I reported on progress was in November 2019, and I’d got to this stage:

November

Since then I’ve beavered away and dug out old scraps and small scraps, until I finally had more than 200 little squares. In order to turn them into a blanket, I did have to buy some yarn, but I supported my local yarn store and, fortunately, had collected it before the lockdown happened.

And now, I’ve got all of the bits joined together and all I need to do is work the border. My intention was to achieve a stained glass window effect and I think that I have been quite successful. Unfortunately there is very bright sunshine today, so the photos don’t quite do justice to the most vibrant colours, still, you get the idea…

Some of the squares are unique as I had only enough yarn to make one, some are made with several scraps in order to use up bits. Some of the yarn was left over from making socks or shawls or blankets or gloves, some was given to me by folks who no longer had a use for it and one ball was a dye test. Considering the varied origins I’m rather pleased with the result. Placement was random with the only rule being that I did not put two squares next to each other that were the same.

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, PaulineSue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

Mend It Monday #11

As my friend Sarah says “If it’s not worth mending, it’s not worth buying” …

This week sees the final mend from the pile that had accumulated over recent (and not so recent) months. It seems appropriate to be finishing with one of my most common mends – hand knitted socks. This particular pair of socks was amongst the first I knitted (about eight years ago I think) and this is the first time that they have needed mending, so that’s quite an achievement. It was the toes that were going so I mended and reinforced and I’m hoping they might last another eight years.

So, have you mended anything this week? If you’ve written a post about mending recently, do share a link to it – I love to see how other people manage to extend the lives of the things they own.

Mend It Monday #10

As my friend Sarah says “If it’s not worth mending, it’s not worth buying” …

The mending pile is greatly diminished and it may be that these posts become monthly rather than weekly in the not too distant future. However, there are still a few things to get through and this week I returned to an old favourite: a much-mended pair of Mr Snail’s jeans. I first wrote about them here: they were my first attempt at boro style mending in 2017. Since then, they’ve had multiple mends and are becoming quite a work of art; there are more pictures of them here.

One of the legs, above the knee has developed weak areas where the fabric creases naturally. Before they disintegrate entirely in that area, some reinforcement seemed appropriate. I rummaged through my scraps and found a swatch of really tough upholstery fabric that doesn’t fray if pinked and made use of this. It’s a big area, so I secured the patch inside by means of machine stitching, and then I got out my embroidery threads and did some freeform stitching. Today’s work is the darker purple stitches.

What do you think?

So, have you mended anything this week? If you’ve written a post about mending recently, do share a link to it – I love to see how other people manage to extend the lives of the things they own.

ScrapHappy April 2020

A month down the line and how things have changed… I thought that this month there would be more scrappy cards, but events have overtaken us.

Instead, it’s all about face masks… perfect for using up scrap fabric. There are lots of patterns out there, but two different friends recommended the same pattern, so that’s the one I went for. Kate Chiconi wrote about it here and then, when we were chatting via Zoom, my friend Katie (who only lives a few miles away, but might as well be in Australia at the moment) modelled the one she had made from this same pattern. I have, however, added an extra component: non-woven Vilene. Although it’s not medical grade, adding Vilene increases filtration because it isn’t woven. If you are thinking of making a mask, you might be interested in the information in this post from the lovely people at Empress Mills which discusses suitable fabrics.

Anyway, when I mentioned to Mr Snail that I was going to make face masks, he said that he wanted to make his own, so this is our first joint ScrapHappy project, and you can read about his take on it here.

I started off by trialling the pattern and working out which parts might be a challenge for Mr Snail (none, as it turned out). I collected together some likely-looking fabric and in the end I made one mask from a scrap of organic cotton left over from an apron I made (outer) and some Tana Lawn (lining) and one from some snail fabric (outer) and some lovely soft cotton that had once been a pyjama leg (lining). The Vilene (applied to the lining fabric) was a variety of small pieces left over from dress-making projects and there was just enough for two face masks each. Mr Snail’s masks were also made of scraps, and I managed to find enough elastic in my sewing box to complete our projects.

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, PaulineSue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

Mend It Monday #9

“If it’s not worth mending, it’s not worth buying” …

This week I’ve finally got round to repairing something that has been in the mending pile for a couple of years. The reason I haven’t done it before was that I wasn’t sure a mend was really possible. It’s a loose cotton tunic made of very delicate fabric, and after a lot of wear, one of the sleeves just started to disintegrate:

It’s too delicate to embroider onto or to back it with fusible interfacing which only left patching it. I chose a scrap of Tana Lawn, which is fine but robust and edged that before stitching it over the problem area. I made sure that one edge was along the cuff, so that I could sew into multiple layers for strength. After it was attached (a difficult job because of working inside a sleeve) I managed a few rows of stitching across for reinforcement.

To be honest, I’m not sure this mend will last long, but we’ll see. If the fabric turns out to be too weak to hold the patch, I’ll just make it into a short-sleeved garment rather than a long-sleeved one.

So, have you mended anything this week? If you’ve written a post about mending recently, do share a link to it – I love to see how other people manage to extend the lives of the things they own.

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