Sunday, March 29, 2009

drat my pin feathers!

Yes, I am sick with a horrible cold but, as the bird says, it ain't nesting time so I am trying to get on with things!  Sort of...  I'm doing things but not exactly what I should be doing...
Graham and I went wandering yesterday afternoon, round the charity/antique type shops, and I bought this card.  I'm going to put it in a frame but I can't quite decide if I like the inside or the outside best.  "Drat my pin feathers!" might be my new favourite expression but I also like the complete lack of sympathy on the inside.  It might spur me into action on lazy days.
I had to buy this polar bear.  I was about to make myself leave him behind (he was quite expensive considering his dirty and balding condition) until Graham described him as a sad looking old thing and then I knew I would be wistful every time I thought of him...  He is dirty and tatty but so cute and I do love him.  I'm liking polar bears a lot just now in general but I think it might be the influence of fashion as they do seem to be popping up about the place quite frequently these days.
The polar bear had a narrow escape during the photo shoot.  Above is Lola's mouth just split seconds before she picked the poor polar bear up and tried to leg it.  I don't know whether she was thinking of him as food or as a kitten but I saved him either way.  
I got these sweet little drawers for a bargain £1.  The fabric is lovely.  I must have been drawn to grubby looking things yesterday...  I don't know if I'll risk cleaning these but I will give the insides a bit of a dusting at least.
These buttons were not so bargainous but I couldn't resist.  Those cunning people in Oxfam had split their button loot so that there were a couple of extra special buttons in each bag.  Sneaky.  I have a plan for these buttons.  I shared it with the man in Oxfam and he looked at me like I was some kind of evil genius... or just plain evil.  I don't think my plan is evil but it might be genius!  They do say simple plans are the best.

I'd better go and blow my nose and get on with this pesky job application I've been  doing all day.  I've 'just' got the statement bit still to write and I don't feel too inspired or positive.  Sniff.  Cough.  Sniff.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Loose Lips Sink Ships

Originally uploaded by mooosh ♥ miso funky

The other night I rambled on and on about me me me and all MY stuff that Claire will be taking to craft markets with her... I should, of course, have mentioned her own work which will be the main attraction of her stall. How very ungracious of me! I particularly like this new design of hers.

You can find Claire and Claire's stuff (and my stuff my stuff my stuff!) this weekend, at Nuarts Studio on Saturday afternoon and at Mono on Sunday afternoon.

I made a scientific discovery!

I had always believed the biologists who claimed that humans were the only species to have sex facing their partner. Well, tonight I observed first hand that magpies also do the do in this way! I'm not sure if this is unique to magpies or if, perhaps, other birds do it like that. It is quite rare to see bird intercourse, I think. I saw a couple of pigeons do it but only once and, when you think about how often you see pigeons 'flirting', I figure the act itself must be pretty rare. The pigeons, incidentally, were not face to face as far as I can remember.

The magpie pictured is by Eleanor Grosch who gave the instructions that allowed me to create a frog to be proud of on Adobe Illustrator. I really like her style, even though I do think she should have done two magpies. One for sorrow and all that... I wonder if two magpies mating means extra double whammy joy?

One final and more sombre announcement... I have, on my hands, a homeless hulder... No, really! Emma - please get in touch so that I can send you your prize! If you haven't claimed her by midnight on Saturday I am going to choose a different winner. It makes me too sad to see her sitting unclaimed :( I will leave a comment on your blog saying the same thing.
Update: the hulder has been homed.  Hooray!  So glad you got in touch, Emma :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

shameless self promotion

The lovely Claire at Miso Funky has just emailed me to let me know that she will be taking some of my wares to a couple of craft markets this weekend, and I thought I'd share this precious nugget of information with you, just in case anybody wants to... you know... peruse my wares and... maybe... b-u-y something?

What might you find there?

Eastenders embroideries!  I think there is only one mini Pat left (the one shown here is a full size version) but I do plan to get stitching again soon (soonish...!) so watch this space for more Dots, Pats and maybe even a few other much loved characters and their dogs.
Zip brooches!  Claire has even started tipping me off about vintage zip sources, all top secret of course.  Dagnammit, she's good - even when she's not working she's working, and always on the ball.
Big Daddy lino prints, all framed and ready to go, should also be there...
... along with a few hulder gocco prints!
If you were disappointed to miss out on the giveaway, or would just like to see some of these in real life, then this weekend is the ideal time to do it.  

You can find Claire (and my wares) on the Miso Funky stall at:
 Raspberry Beret at Nuarts studios, King Street, Glasgow on 
(Saturday 12-5)
Glasgow Craft Mafia Market at Mono, Kings Court, Glasgow on 
(Sunday 1-6)

I was planning to pop down to the market on Sunday anyway as the Craft Mafia markets are always full of brilliant things to inspire me (to spend money I should probably save).  The Raspberry Beret thing is a new market that I know very little about but it sounds fun, and most definitely worth a visit.

If you can't make it along to either of these, remember (never forget) that you can always buy my things here through the 'good old-fashioned' online method.

I'm just not cut out for the business/marketing side of pro crafting...  I'm off to scrub myself repeatedly now until I feel less grubby! 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

new do and an apron too

This is me!  Ta da!  I'm not sure if I've posted a (grown up) picture of myself on here before?  I got my hair cut on Thursday and I don't like it.  It's my own fault for not knowing how I wanted my hair to look but I would have known I didn't want it to look like this, I just misunderstood what the hairdresser meant.  I don't regret getting inches lobbed off - if anything I wanted it a bit shorter - so I suppose I can get it cut again if I really can't get used to it in the next week or so.  All that said, I don't mind it so much in this photo.  In fact, I almost like it.  I did mind it in the photo below which is why I cropped my head off.  Oh, the vanity!
I bought this Tunnock's teacake apron for Graham yesterday at Sloan's Market and I think it's brilliant.  I'm innocently modeling here, and not stealing it... honest!  This apron's maker is Gillian Kyle, who seems to be as lovely as she is talented and actually recognised me as having bought a couple of bags from her at Christmas.  Now that's what I call good customer service!  Graham loves his new apron but I knew he would.   Apparently Gillian's website will be up and running soon but until then I think you can find her at Sloan's Market every weekend?  All her stuff looks great and I'm sure I'll get myself a shiny teacake tote bag eventually.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I saw this game on Meet Me At Mike's recently and have had lots of fun with it. You just google "unfortunately [your name]" and see what comes up. If all the descriptions of grisly demises depress you, repeat the process with "luckily [your name]". 

Here are some of my favourite unfortunately/luckily Laura statements:

Unfortunately, Laura has not stood the test of time very well.

Unfortunately, Laura has yet to come in other shapes or sizes.

Unfortunately Laura hurt her thumb in the bars finals due to an awkward catch on her Geinger. (Tee hee! I don't know what a Geinger is but I like to imagine it's something particularly rude!)

Unfortunately Laura is unable to collect the award in person as she’s off touring Amercia at the moment.

Unfortunately, Laura showed up, still wearing her pyjamas from the hospital, and accused Kristen, who was really Susan, of kidnapping Marlena.

Unfortunately, Laura discovered that exercise is a tricky balancing act and not simply a matter of physical exertion.

Luckily, Laura's sister is also a dancer so understands and trusts that this is part of the dance act.

Luckily, Laura was an engineer and Ralph was a nerd.

Luckily Laura was willing to pose for this piece that featured her favourite thing to do, swim in shark infested waters as she studied the big fishes.

Luckily Laura developed her skills and now counts knitting, cross-stitching, and developing the perfect tote bag among her favorite things in life.

Luckily Laura has the voice of an angel, a very pretty guitar style and the ability to write great tunes.

Luckily Laura owns a convertible Mustang, so we can put the top down, I get in, then we put the top back up.

and the winners are...

Thank you to everyone who entered my first giveaway!  Thank you, too, to my glamorous assistants who just helped pick three winners. 
To begin with, the cats were not particularly interested in 14 bits of crumpled paper but Poppy soon got into the swing of things.  There she is, rolling around with our first winner.... Jane!  Jane will be receiving the Big Daddy lino print.
Their second and less vigorous choice (above) was Emma who will be receiving the hulder print.  

At this point the cats sort of lost interest and I was just bemoaning the fact to Graham when Poppy shot across the room taking Daisie's entry with her.  Unfortunately she was so fast that I didn't quite get a photo...  Daisie will be receiving the Dot and Pat notecards.
I'm very pleased that the three winners each wanted a different prize so they are all getting first choice.  I'll be getting in touch with them all very soon to find out where I'm sending their goodies to :)
Commiserations to those of you who did not win this time, especially to Erin whose entry is now Poppy's new favourite toy (above).  So close and yet so far, Erin...  I've really enjoyed having a giveaway so I'll be looking for excuses to have another one soon.  Thanks again to everyone who entered!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

alpine surprise

I was feeling a bit fed up all day today.  After practically dragging myself home from work, my heart sank when I opened the door to find an empty flat.  But look what was waiting for me in the kitchen!  A happy alpine cowherd and his bovine companion!  Bluebirds in the trees!  Felty stitchy goodness!  I am most cheered up!
I saw this picture in the window of a nearby charity shop this weekend and, much to Graham's horror, announced that I liked it.  It was such a great surprise to come home and find it waiting for me.  Graham had attached a sweet note to it... which had the subtle underlying message that I was not to hang this where he would have to look at it!  Hee!  It's totally a craft room type of picture anyway so that is where it will go.  I will be out of craft room wall space at this rate! 

Do you fancy a nice surprise too?  If you enter the giveaway below, you have a one in five chance of getting one! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

family frames by mummysam

Originally uploaded by mummysam

I'm loving these little portraits by mummysam on flickr. Her photostream is definitely worth a visit. She makes amazing stuffed felty people... That description does not do her work justice at all! Go and visit her tweed jacket and wool cardigan clad country gents and ladies from days gone by (with very appropriate names like Ethel and Henry) to see what I mean. 

And need I remind you to enter the giveaway below? You now only have a one in four chance of winning but those are still pretty good odds when it costs you nothing to enter!

Monday, March 16, 2009

make like a banana and...

I have become giveaway obsessed.  As soon as I touched my evening banana, it developed these strange stigmata.  I didn't do it!  Honest!  I think you should do what the mystical banana says.  Who knows what power it possesses...?  Besides, at this rate you have a one in three chance of winning something and those are not bad odds at all.  
The tartan fabric in the background is actually very lovely, though you wouldn't necessarily know it from this photo.  Perhaps the creepy banana does not set it off to its best advantage...  I bought this fabric (and another tartan piece) while charity shopping this weekend and am thinking it would make a most adorable pointy kitty.  But do I really know anyone else who needs a pointy kitty?  I'm not cutting into it yet, just in case I am struck by further inspiration.

Our trip to Paisley was fun (every second door there seems to take you into a charity shop) but was not without its typical daytrip-a-la-Laura traits, namely getting to the abbey (one of the main reasons for our trip) ten minutes after it closed.   This is very typical of me, as my poor cousin (all the way from Australia) found out when she visited recently.
To quell our disappointment, we dined on eggs, chips and beans (most delicious) at Castelvecchi, surrounded by this beautifully patterned formica, before heading home for some beers and a half decent film.  Not a bad Saturday for a couple of uninspired sleepy heads really.

Before I go, did I mention that you should

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Giveaway of the century*!

Here it is!  My hundredth post!  To celebrate this exciting landmark I'm having a giveaway.  Not one... not two... but three of you lucky people reading this will win a prize!

What could you win?  Read on to find out...

Hulder Gocco Print
One lucky winner will receive one of my hulder gocco prints.  Don't panic if you have no idea what a hulder is (although its a sure sign that you have not been a faithful reader - tut tut!) because each print comes with a copy of the hulder's story tucked inside its protective plastic sleeve.  This was my first ever gocco print and no two prints are exactly the same (each one has a unique imperfection - ha!) but they are all lovely in their own way.  Only 73 prints passed my ever so stringent quality control and each print is signed, dated and numbered.  The one shown here is the one I have hanging on my own wall.  You will be receiving print number 4.  If you win, that is!  The actual printed area is about 8cm by 14cm but it has been printed on A5 sized paper, leaving a handy white border for framing.  You can see another (better) photo of one of my hulder prints on Claire's flickr.

Framed Big Daddy Lino Print
How did you spend your Saturday afternoons back in the day?  Many of mine were spent with my sister, watching oversized men in undersized leotards grappling in the wrestling ring.  I'm sure television was more exciting back in those halcyon days, not that I don't enjoy the comparatively tame Saturday Kitchen and all the other food show repeats that they trail out after it...  This is Big Daddy, one of the greatest British wrestling heroes of all time.  It's official!  Honest, guv'nor!  I originally carved this lino for Graham's birthday but have since printed a few more copies.  I printed them in black ink on the insides of recycled security envelopes, so that each one has a pretty... er, I mean macho... patterned blue/grey background.  This particularly blue version is the actual print that one lucky reader will receive.   It comes in a white frame ready for hanging and, including the frame, measures about 5" by 7".  The print is signed and dated but not numbered.  I've only made twenty odd copies so far but the numbers could be in the thousands, nay millions, by the time I get bored of printing it :)

Dot and Pat Notecards Set
It's no secret that I love Eastenders.  Do you love Eastenders too?  If so, you might want to start spreading the word by using some snazzy Dot and Pat notecards for your correspondence.    I made these images on the computer in much the same way as I'd make a collage with my trusty pritt stick.  I do plan to get some of these professionally printed one day but these ones are prototypes, printed at home by me and cut out by hand.  As such, they may be faded by the time your grandchildren inherit them, and there may be tiny variations in their size or a slight wobble in what should be a straight edge.   But they are highly exclusive items!
Sure to brighten any Walford-ite's day, this pack contains four notecards (two each of two designs) with four white envelopes.

Want to enter?  Of course you do!  
This competition is open to anyone at all (I am so giddy with love for my now fully fledged blog that I am happy to post prizes to anywhere in the world) and all you need to do is leave a comment on this post.  On the evening of Friday 20th March, I will put the names of all commenters in a hat and pull out three lucky winners.  If you have any particular preference for a prize, let me know and I'll try to give you your heart's desire.  If your first choice is already gone, I'll give you one of the other prizes and expect you to consider yourself lucky to have won anything at all :)   Make sure you leave either your email address or a link to your blog/flickr/whatever so that I will be able to get in touch with you should you be a winner.

Good luck, and remember that telling others about this generous giveaway will only bring you luck and increase your chance of winning!

*celebrating one hundred posts (not years) of dropstitch :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Reject if button can be depressed

Graham and I spent tonight making more pear chutney as our first very delicious batch is about to run out.  We use recycled jars (thoroughly sterilised, of course, as any serious chutney maker would ensure!) and the popping security lids reminded me of this little cartoon strip that I cut out of the newspaper years ago, which really makes me laugh.  You might need to click on it to see the bigger size if you want to be able to actually read it.  It's by the Perry Bible Fellowship.  Visiting their website is fun, especially if you keep clicking the random button to read random comic strips, some of which I find hilarious (like this one) and many of which I simply do not get.  I quite like that.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Haw hee haw! C'est un livres tres beau!

I bought this book a few months ago, coincidentally in the same shop the bird table book came from.  I'm not sure that I'll be using it to improve my French, but you never know how much I'll absorb as I browse the fab illustrations.
It's kind of  shame that telling the time is one of the few areas of French I can remember because I love looking at this page of clocks.  There is something so jazzy about the title.  Maintenant il est neuf heures moins vingt, monsieurs et madames.  See!  Practically fluent!  I always liked the word 'maintenant'.  So much more exciting than 'now'.
I like this map of Paris but it wasn't until after I took the photo that I noticed the song on the opposite page.  I used to sing this song with my mum when I was tiny (I think she was taught it at school).  The words sound just like I remembered but don't look how I expected.  I thin kIth ought they wered ivided updiff erent lyif yous eewha tImean?

On a different note, I think this is my 98th post.  (Who am I kidding?  I know it is!  I'm excited!)  Keep your eyes peeled for my 100th.  I'm planning a giveaway and am uncommonly excited about it.  I have two and a half prizes already prepared and will share pictures soon.   I don't know whether to set a question/challenge or just pick a random commenter.  I think I've only ever had as many as three commenters a couple of times (so maybe asking people to do something is a bit optimistic) but hopefully the draw of prizes will bring some more readers out of the woodwork.  Hee!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

the bird table book

I got this book on the same day as the typewriter but in a different charity shop.  It was a very successful day.  I'm not sure how much I need to know about birdtables (I did make one once and may again, in which case this book will come in handy) but I thought this book was too beautiful to leave behind.  I love the colours and design of the front and back covers.
There are also some nice simple illustrations inside, including this one below, as well as one showing a bird looking very unhappy because some idiot has positioned its bird box so that the rain falls straight into the opening.  Some people...
A week or so ago, I saw someone leaving a charity shop on Byres Road holding a book that looked much like this one but was called Birds As Individuals.  At least, I think that was what it was called.  I didn't really get a proper look but I'm fairly sure I couldn't imagine something so wonderful...  That was probably the closest I've ever come to mugging someone.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

tippy tappy typewriter

I wasn't planning to blog twice today but I have a cat sleeping on my lap and I've missed her so much that I don't have the heart to move her.  Since my laptop happened to be within arms reach, here is a little peek at one of my best charity shopping finds from recent weeks. 
Who knew that this case could contain such bargainous wondrousness?  Actually, I did suspect which is why I looked inside.
Ah, the cutest little dinky mustard coloured typewriter for £3. Lovely.  
(edit: I thought I didn't remember it being quite such a bargain as this and Graham confirmed my suspicion that it actually cost £6.  Still a bargain if you ask me!)  

I should start planning some short stories.

visit scotland (dot com!)

This is not a postcard of some Canadian idyll but a photo of the actual view I was looking at on Thursday.  I've been away all week (on a school trip that has been looming heavily in my mind ever since I found out about it in June) at an outdoor centre just past Helensburgh.   In between crawling through mud, getting stuck inside plastic tunnels and launching myself into icy ponds I had a great time - a shock to me but exactly what everyone else predicted.  Must learn to listen to people who know more than me...
On Thursday I was signed up to go hillwalking (for the first time since I was about 16) on a hill called Cruaich Tarbert but woke to see a bona fide blizzard raging outside.  I was quite scared but went anyway and am so glad I did.  The sun came out, the blizzard stopped and we were and left with these Scandinavian-esque views.
Climbing the hill was tough (my muscles are still feeling the burn) but the best thing I've done in ages.  I was knee deep in smelly bogs and thigh deep in beautiful white snow and just amazed by everything we saw.  For quite a while we were walking through forests and the trees were covered in snow that blocked out nearly all the light.  The snow was melting so there were sparkly drips falling all around which looked and sounded so magical in the dark.
When we emerged from the woods at one point we saw this strange and fantastical view.  I thought the conditions were perfect for a hulder sighting but it didn't happen... this time.
At the top of the hill I drank hot chocolate and ate my sandwiches and managed to build a snow cat (I was missing these two) in between having snowball fights with the biggest but least painful snowballs ever.

Before getting on the bus home yesterday, I squeezed in some fun with tiny wildlife.
This is a caddisfly larva peeking its head out of the incredible house it built itself from bits of twigs and a leaf.  This was a centimetre long or so and was found in the pond (along with pregnant shrimps, fish and enormous backswimmers) by some of the children.  At this point the caddisfly larva was in a dish being examined under a microscope.
The place we were staying was on the shores of the Gareloch.  I managed to escape for some time on my own and went for a quick morning walk along the shoreline.  I was throwing stones into the water but nearly every stone I picked up was covered in tiny whelks and I didn't have the heart to throw them.  Here are some of the tiniest ones.  That huge pink blob at the right hand side is actually my teeny tiny fingertip.

Much as I enjoyed my week in the great outdoors, I am glad to be back in the city surrounded by my home comforts and reunited with my little hairy family.  A tired hooray!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

beware the hulder...

"These mountain trolls I have been telling you about sometimes marry, but very seldom because there are only a few troll women.  They are the most horrible, ugly old women, like witches, but they know a great deal of magic and are, therefore, very powerful.  However, as they very rarely appear, it is not at all likely that you will ever meet one of these old troll witches.  But it is quite likely that you may one day come across one of their daughters, who are called hulders.  Walking through a clearing in the woods where some cattle are grazing on a summer's evening, you may see a very beautiful young girl; so beautiful that you will stop to gaze at her.  She may be a hulder.  If she is, beware, for you must not talk to her, for anyone who says a single word to a hulder immediately becomes her captive.  Young shepherds were often so entranced by the beauty of one of these young girls that they would long to walk through the woods with her and talk to her and hold her hand; but if you wish to remain free you must remain absolutely silent.  This was often very difficult for the poor shepherd boys because the hulders appeared to be so really sweet and lovely and promised the shepherds mountains of silver and gold.  If, under this temptation, the shepherd broke his silence, he was forced to follow his enchantress into her mountain home, and the moment she got there she changed into her real self - and oh, how hideous she really was!  Now I'll tell you a secret, there is one way by which you can always discover a hulder: if you walk behind her you will find that she has a tail - a cow's tail - and this she simply cannot get rid of or hide!"

From 'Norwegian Fairy Tales' by Gert Strindberg

Ever since I read 'Norwegian Fairy Tales' (in the great summer where the library let me keep a whole array of Scandinavian folk tale books for four happy months) I have been thinking about hulders.  I think it was the excitement of learning about a folk tale 'species' that was entirely new to me.  The picture at the start of this post is my artist's impression of a hulder and also my first ever gocco print!  Yes, I did it!  Diving straight in at the deep end, I went for a two screen/two colour affair.  Registration was challenging but I have ended up with 73 acceptable prints (and a good 30 or so unacceptable which will be chopped up and hopefully used in some other way). 
Here they are, side by side and drying away.  I don't think there is a single print without some small imperfection in it but I really quite like that about them.  I actually printed these nearly a week ago but didn't want to blog about them until their first two recipients had received them.  I sent one to my mum for her birthday and one to Emily as a thank you gift because she very kindly gave me a copy of gocco instructions in English.  I think having instructions I could understand (even though they told me pretty much what I already thought I knew) was just the security blanket I needed to finally take the leap and print.

I can definitely see what everyone meant when they said I would be addicted to gocco as soon as I tried it.  There is just something so amazing about seeing you image appear each time you open the thing up.  It was like the thrill I got from making the Big Daddy prints times about 100.  I think there is still enough about gocco that I don't understand (maybe the weird bit on the Japanese video with the scientific diagram of the bulbs and their beams of light!?) for me to believe that there is some element of magic or luck, whereas lino printing just makes good scientific sense.  Both lots of fun and very satisfying though :)

Graham and I went to Ikea today and I bought a frame for mine.  (Emily - a quick tip to cut down on time and effort spent in Ikea: this print fits perfectly in a deep Ribba frame, black or white, which comes with a mount already cut in bish bash bosh style!)  This is the first piece of my art that we have hung in a 'communal' area i.e. not on my craft room's wall of many wonders.  It is hanging in the hall, just outside the bathroom, and is making me feel quite pleased with myself.

I have already planned my second gocco print (a nice simple one colour design this time) but am already out of bulbs and screens.  I'd better get trawling the net.  And so it begins...