Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Zippity doo dah!

I've been making these zip brooches for a few years now, just as gifts for friends and family.  I dream of opening my own little shop on etsy (one day, one day...) and always thought these would be great to sell.  However, I was never too happy with the back of the brooch.  There were loads of visible messy stitches and it was quite hard to attach the pin.  But may I present to you... zip brooches, the next generation!
I made the little disc from felt and fabric sewn together, turned it right sides out, attached the pin to the disc and then sewed the disc to the brooch.  Simple!  But oh what an improvement! Now I feel like these little cuties would be acceptable to sell.  One baby step closer to being a pro crafter...  Hee hee!

By the way, I found some other lovely zip brooches on flickr.  Why not take a look at this beautiful one by Marilu?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I got mail!

I got two great packages today. Here is Poppy investigating them shortly after I gleefully opened them. They did not disappoint. If I was rich, I would order so much more stuff from the internet. Getting mail cheers me up so much.

The first parcel was my postcard and stickers from Chelsea a.k.a. Bird Nerd. I posted one of her pictures a few days ago. Let me say, the goods did not disappoint and I can't wait to jazz up letters with a gorgeous bird sticker and frame my beautiful postcard. They arrived so quickly too - I can't believe they came all the way from America in such a short time. Yes, so a visit to her etsy can be thoroughly recommended!

The other parcel was from a lovely online store based here in the U.K. called Bettyjoy which sells handmade goodies from a few different people.  I got a cowboy goodie bag for a cowboy loving friend, a hanging red printed polar bear who is gorgeous, and a really sweet little wooden brooch with a bird printed on it.  The brooch cost £1.  I do not joke.  You should really go and search her site for lovely bargains.

After receiving mail, Graham and I went on a touristy trip to the tenement house.  I'd never been before.  It was great - so many lovely little old things to peer at in the rooms - but a tad expensive and so hot and very crowded.  However, no photos were allowed so I can't share any of it with you!  Great to visit if you are ever in Glasgow.

I have been feeling very worried today so I am going to make this a high speed post and go and eat some crisps, drink some wine and watch a film.  Zatoichi, I think?  Hopefully that will calm me back down.

Monday, July 28, 2008

memoir monday (one)

My sister sent me her diary from 1986/1987 a few months ago.  At that time she was 9-ish, I was 6-ish.  The diary was written (often but not frequently as far as I can see) as part of her language work at school so is not private in any way.  It was definitely written to be read.  My sister is much cleverer and funnier than she realises and her old diary has entertained me in so many ways since she sent it to me so I have decided to share it with the world at large.  I plan to post one of her diary entries each Monday, or thereabouts.  Very soon Mondays will not be a day to look forward to for me (scary new job is looming) and it would be nice to have a fun routine to keep me blogging positively.  I'm not planning to post entries in chronological order, I'll just post one that tickles my fancy for whatever reason. Today's choice of diary entry was inspired by a lovely post at Kitty Genius.  

30th January 1987
Yesterday we had to go to Brownies. The snow must have been quite bad at Gartly because at the sides of the road there
 is still about two feet of snow. At home I went upstairs to get changed and looked out of the window. (I know it sounds stupid because it was night but outside when it's dark lights shine and it makes it more interesting.) Suddenly there was a noise and it gave me a big fright but it was only Percy on the bean-bag.

(Percy was one of our cats.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

bird is the word

Originally uploaded by foftychel

Excessive rum consumption has zapped my energy and inspiration so I thought I would try blogging about somebody else's work. Isn't this collage beautiful? I bought a similar postcard (and some stickers!) at this talented lady's etsy store yesterday. I can't wait for my postcard to arrive!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy birthday, Angus!

My nephew, Angus, is one today and will be opening a parcel containing this robot very soon.  Poor Angus is not well and has come down with the same horrible illness that landed him in hospital on christmas day.  The boy has impeccable timing!  He's quite happy though, apparently, so his birthday barbecue will go ahead as planned.  My niece and nephew live in France so I don't get to see them too often.  My mum and dad are visiting them at the moment and I am a bit jealous.

I was sad not to be able to decorate the robot's control panel with some of my junk/random assortments collection but lord knows I would not want to be responsible for choking my nephew on his first birthday!  I made the control panel design on photoshop and printed it onto iron on transfer paper.  I embroidered on the nuclear symbol with sparkly red thread.  Instead of using buttons for the eyes, I used two of the circles from the liberty fabric I used for the robot's body.  I strengthened them up with interfacing and some meshy material and then just sewed them on.  I like the way they turned out - tres chic!

That's it for today.  I need to clean up a bit before unsuspecting members of the public come to my house this evening.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ambitions realised and an afternoon out

It took me the full time Graham was away but I finished the spur of the moment Mad Men inspired wall thingy!  It turned out to be a nice surprise and got approved for wall mounting on the first viewing.  So here it is on our living room wall:
It works really well in the room and I'm very pleased with it (though still a little annoyed that it was so darned time consuming).  As you can hopefully see (sorry the picture is not so great) I went with a selection of blues, greens and greys and threw in a few reds for good measure.  After hanging this, I actually left the house!  

We walked through the park...
...having a 99 on the way.  Mmmm!  This was a good antidote to the heat, for a while at least.  We walked into town and went to the GoMA (where we bumped into my cousin Isobel who was working there - this was a nice surprise as I never ever ever see any relatives of mine) to see the Jim Lambie exhibition:
I loved the floor (here are my feet on it) but overall I was a bit disappointed.  We did meet a very amusing security guard though, who told us about the 'concepts' behind it all.  It was all to do with music (the floor represents The Strokes apparently?) and he tried to blind us with musical trivia but seemed genuinely pleased when Graham out-triva-ed him.  In the shop, I found some gorgeous notecards of Charley Harper's bird pictures.  This was too much of a fabulous coincidence to resist as I had been trying to find some on the internet this very morning to no avail.  Hooray!

We walked home again, stopping off for a leafy pint on the way:
It hit the spot - lovely and cold.  Mmmm!

Tonight I will be staying in, resting my tonsils before tomorrow night's karaoke.  Don't ask...!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Over ambitious?

Graham is away for a couple of days and I have been scheming away.  My grand plan:  to transform the entire flat.  Clear out!  Clean up!  Create art!   Make curtains!  Make cushion covers!  Frame pictures!  Hang pictures!  Hoover!  Mop!  Polish!  Sweep!  Scrub!  Surprise!

Day one, one innocent trip to an art shop, and I've blown it already by getting sidetracked by a project that sits somewhere in the triple figures of my to do list.  And it's all going a bit time consumingly wrong.  Lack of planning!  Impulse buying!  Bad me!

Did you watch Mad Men?  I spent most of the series eyeing up the sets and there was a piece of wall art in one scene that got me really excited.  You can see it here if you jump to 41 seconds into the video.  Now, when I bought the materials to make it, I hadn't seen it since it was in the show for all of three seconds (I only found the above clip of it today after months of searching) and I don't think I've really got the right stuff...

Anyway, I made this little sketch:

Perfectly 1960, non?

And then I recreated it out of the very weak and easily breakable balsa wood I bought this morning.  This was tricky.  Who knew balsa wood was so attractive and interesting to cats who can break it with one swipe from their tiny paws?  Not me...


It's quite big in real life, over a metre across I'd say?  

So I glued all these sticks together trying not to glue it to the carpet.  Of course, I should have put down some sort of protective layer but after such a long time arranging flimsy sticks I did not want to move them.  The carpet has survived thus far...  Now I'm in the process of coating the entire area with pva glue (with protective bin bags underneath - don't panic!) because it turns out you can't paint directly onto balsa wood without sealing it first.  Again, who knew?  Then I will paint it all black and then varnish it just to try and strengthen it up a bit.  After that, the plan is to attach some beautiful glass mosaic tiles but I think I chose completely the wrong colours (which look a bit darker and nicer in real life): 

I like the blue and the red but is the contrast too much for the style of the period? The yellow is not doing it for me at all when I see it in situ.  My plan is that the 'art' will be hung on a very pale blue wall above a navy blue sofa.  I'm thinking, now that I've seen the original inspiration again, that I should do it in various shades of blue with maybe just the odd red tile in there?  Or replace the yellow with brown?  Or just shades of blue?  With maybe the odd green?  I'm not very good with colour...  Please help if you are reading this!  I can guarantee you know more about colour than me.  I would like this to be a nice surprise but so far it's looking like it might be a nasty one, especially if it does end up stuck to the living room carpet!

Some brown might go with the cushion covers I made last night:

The crafty gods were smiling down on me when I made these.  They did not fit the cushions I had made them for but by some bizarre fluke fitted our other naked cushions perfectly!  If only I was having that sort of luck today...  

Oh well, back for the second stage of pva coating.  

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Blog rust is not a good thing

I'm still in the process of the great clear out and clean up.  Progress is being made but it hasn't given me much to blog about.  I did make something nice this week but it is a birthday gift for a certain someone and I don't want to risk them (well, their mother) stumbling across it and spoiling the surprise so I can't blog about that yet.  I don't want to lose the blogging momentum I've been building up so I decided to revisit some things I made in the past and share a fabulous pattern with my hugely wide readership.  A-hem...

Now, I told you I love the pointy kitty pattern.  I'm not sure I really explained quite how much I love it.  I reeeeeeally love that pattern.  But if there is a pattern that could rival my love for the pointy kitty, it would have to be Futuregirl's octopus stuffie pattern.  The downloadable pattern is so cute, they are very satisfying to make and they turn out beautifully every time.  What more could you want?  I have made lots of these octopi.  A little puzzle for you: I have sewed on 432 sequin suckers, so how many octopi have I made?   
I made these three while on a family holiday in Islay this April.  My niece loved them and kept putting them on the windowsill so they could see the sea.  I used them in my sunken pirate ship classroom display.

These two octopi were made as a wedding gift for Rachel (who also got the latest pointy kitty - lucky girl!) and I was almost too delighted with them.  They looked so sweet in their wedding outfits.  My heart nearly broke when I handed them over at the post office... 

Well, I blogged!  I'm being abandoned for a few days this week and am hoping for a mega productive energy burst which should give me lots of new things to blog about next time.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Still here but slightly bedazzled

Below is an artist's impression of what I have been looking at for the last three days:

I have been painting 'my' room/the cats' room white (with kind help from Graham) and was disappointed to discover it took three coats and three days, not one coat and a couple of hours as I optimistically predicted.  I THINK it is done now but will inspect it in broad daylight tomorrow.  We saved the last few teaspoonfuls of paint for any touching up that is revealed by the sun.  I think it was a good decision though.  The room looks lovely, bright and fresh and I think the white will make a great backdrop for the many millions of little things I want to put on the walls and shelves.  Painting second and third coats of white paint does tend to dazzle you, though, and I might have lost my sanity if it had taken a fourth coat.  We plan to spend the day charity shopping again tomorrow, making the most of the holidays that are fast slipping away.  Maybe I will find some lovely things to put in my new white room...

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Last night I made a pointy kitty as a birthday gift for my (pen/school) friend, Rachel.  The present might just get to her in time for her birthday if I keep this brief and go and make a birthday card quick stylee...  There are more (and better) pictures of this pointy kitty on my flickr.  You will also find some of the other pointy kitties I have made there.

Here, pointy kitty is showing Lola something exciting outside:

I think it was something only cats can see because I couldn't see anything but the cat across the road was looking out his window too...

Here is Poppy trying to persuade pointy kitty to become part of the cats' conspiracy:

Don't do it, pointy kitty!

You can get the pattern to make your very own pointy kitties for FREE right here at Wee Wonderfuls.  I love this pattern and they are pretty easy to make.  They are also just about the cutest thing ever in real life.  I always forget quite how cute they are until I make one again, then I always promise to make myself one but never get round to it.  They are so hard to part with...  Maybe that's why I'm delaying making the birthday card and putting this beauty in the post.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Good things come in threes

I bought this French knitting dolly in a charity shop a few weeks ago but hadn't managed to take a picture in focus until today.  I love her so much!  She was a little on the expensive side for the charity shop she was in but definitely worth every penny and more.  Graham likes her too which is good because it means she gets to stand on the fireplace where I see her every day, instead of being hidden away in one of my nooks and crannies of little things I love but Graham does not.  He's not a curio fascist, by the way, it's just that I have A LOT of little things.

My mum and dad brought us a couple of random ales (that had been sitting in their garage for an unknown length of time) when they visited last weekend.  Last night I drank the bottle of St. Peter's Organic Ale and this beautiful lid was on the bottle.  I can hardly tell you how much I love it.  I am in the process of framing lots of things and I think I'm going to try to do a nice job of mounting and framing this.

Today we traveled great distances (oh, at least a mile!) to post some parcels because Graham is stubbornly boycotting our local post office.  I can't remember why...  Anyway, I am glad we did make that journey because I saw this sign en route:

The hand written part reads, 'Gonna no let ur dug p on sign'.  

Oh, it made me laugh...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The nuts and bolts of robo-craft

Staying away from the computer for a little while paid off and I made something from start to finish for what seemed like the first time in ages.  

This is what I made - a tie I decorated for my dad's birthday (which was nearly four weeks ago): 
I feel bad that his gift is so late but hopefully he will like it and I'm sure it will be quite a surprise to get a present nearly a month after the event! 

This little tie robot took much longer to make than I had expected with lots of fiddly problems cropping up.  I like how he turned out though, a bit more subdued and simple than my usual projects.  The black clouds outside (and the jazzy reflective material of the robot) prevented me getting a very good photo but I wanted this packaged up and sent off as soon as possible.  I think it is quite late enough!

The robo-tie got me thinking about other robots I have made so I decided to go for a robo-craft themed post.

This is a cuddly robot I made as a birthday gift for Spencer last year:  
The pattern is by Hillary Lang at Wee Wonderfuls and I love it!

And this is Graham's pyjama pocket, lovingly adorned by me:  
The poor robot turned out a bit wonky in the old leg department...
Lauribot is my robotic alter-ego and I hoped that Graham would feel loved every time he wore these pyjamas but I think they are too big for him so he doesn't wear them often.  He definitely appreciated the thought, though!  'I'm Knitting A Singlet For Cecil' springs to mind...

Onwards and upwards!

Monday, July 7, 2008

The greatest gift I ever knew was just to be inspired and to inspire too

I can't quite remember what that title is a warped version of.  My mind is always overflowing with half remembered snippets that pop out in the most inappropriate ways.  

Today I have given myself a topic within which to blog and that topic , as you may have guessed, is...  inspiration!  I get lots of inspiration from the blogs that I read (some of them linked over to the right there) and from photos that I look at on flickr.  Sadly, with my brain being the type of brain I hinted at above, most of the inspiration just squirms around in my head keeping me awake at night because I feel so excited but I very rarely manage to see my ideas through to a finished article.  I am very easily distracted by new ideas and there is always a birthday looming that requires a handmade gift that is not the thing I really want to be making.  Plus I am a little bit lazy and very much a procrastinator.  But once upon a time I did see that inspiration through to the bitter end which turned out to be very sweet...

For a long time I had been admiring the work of Jessica at aorta design - her squid ties, these peas in a pod, pretty much everything she does.  I was on placement in school, in a class with an underwater theme so I was looking for activities to do with this and I got really excited at the prospect of teaching little children to sew.  Could I inspire a whole new generation of crafters?  Gasp!  And then I saw Jessica's jellyfish skirt and was hit by the lightning bolt of inspiration.  I decided I wanted to use a simplified version of these jellyfish to teach my class to sew.  With some trepidation I emailed Jessica to ask if this would be ok with her.  For some reason, I really expected her to be offended and to say no but she was delighted and excited at the prospect of her design being made by six year olds who had never held a needle and thread before.  And here are some of the results:

They turned out brilliantly!  I loved them and the children loved them (and kept wanting to sew afterwards - yay!) and Jessica loved them too.  She posted on her blog about them which made me happy all over again.  What am I trying to say?  Well, I suppose that craftland on the internet is an amazing place and that using the inspiration you find there can surely only lead to great happiness all round!

Over the last few days I have found myself being the source of inspiration (on a smaller scale) and have experienced first hand how delightful it is (and how silly I was to think that Jessica wouldn't be pleased that I wanted to use her idea the way I did).  A few weeks ago I made this card for my friend Lorna's birthday:

If you come from Scotland you will recognise the iconic wrapper from the mighty Tunnocks teacake that I recycled to make the background.  Soon after posting this picture on flickr, a nice lady called Alison left a comment saying she would like to use the idea to make cards to send to friends who had moved away from Scotland.  This made me happy but not half as happy as I was when she sent me a link to a picture of the card she had made.  Better still, the picture had been posted by the friend who had received the card and the card had made her really happy.  This story proves my theory that acting on the inspiration you get from others in the land of internet can only lead to ever increasing happiness all round!

And just to round off this joy filled post, after deciding to blog about inspiration this morning I found a new comment on this photo of a brooch I made...

... saying that it had inspired the comment's author to make things to sell at her local markets.  How exciting!  As someone who would love to sell my crafty wares but is probably too much of a scatter brain and procrastinator to ever get round to it, at least I might have pushed someone else towards living the dream for me.  Yippee!

And now my own cheesy rambling has inspired me to leave the computer alone for the rest of the day and actually act on an inspiration that has been jostling around in my brain for a few weeks.  I will share the results with you soon!

Friday, July 4, 2008

The great spring clean of summer 2008

This is Poppy.  Cute, isn't she?  Who would have thought she could be the cause of such gruesome and grotesque occurences?  I really am doing a proper spring clean which has meant investigating some dark and secluded corners that had not been fully explored for some months.  I'm sure you can imagine what I might have found...  When I threatened her with the cat orphanage, she puked on my bedroom floor in protest.

This is Lola.  Also very cute, but she is the cause of my scarred face.  Stupidly, I was holding her while Graham was outside cleaning the windows and when the spongy thing hit the window we were in front of she panicked and tried to climb up my face to escape.  It was a bona fide bloodbath. 

And this is my dad, riding his new unicycle in the flaming hot bra I decorated for him for this year's moonwalk.  He has been staying with us this week while he attends a course.  As you can probably guess from this picture, he demands a lot of attention!

With all this working against me, it's quite amazing that I've made the progress I have.  I'm too embarrassed to post the 'before' picture I took of my craft table.  There was so much stuff on it that geological strata were beginning to form.  When I stepped back and looked at the mess, I was no longer surprised that I haven't been making much lately.  I am about 80% of the way towards getting it all tidied (hoping to finish today) and am even thinking of painting the room.  The thought of having a fully functional space to work from is really exciting and then maybe this blog will begin to resemble what I had intended it to be.  Exciting!

I should really go and get back to the great spring clean.  My mum and dad are both coming to stay this weekend (I'm really looking forward to it!) and I'd like to have the bulk of the tidying done before they arrive this evening, or at least check the nooks and crannies for any more "presents" from Poopy Poppy.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Bonjour la musique francaise!

I have some charity shopping finds to blog about but I really have to do some tidying up and sorting out today so I have decided to present you with a very quick musical post instead.  
(This picture cunningly combines my week's charity shopping and my weekend's French music extravaganza...)

I appeared as DJ Toiletbreak on Saturday night and played for two full hours with nothing but French music.  People walked out but we hope not in protest as the music was all rather lovely if you ask me.  Here, for your listening pleasure, is a very small selection.  Please forgive me if it skips at all - such technical weaknesses would never be tolerated in a live DJ Toiletbreak set!

Edit, March 2009: my mixtape got deleted a while ago so I have replaced it with a song from youtube, Allez Tapez Dans Les Mains by Maria Cinta.  Not exactly a riveting video but I hope you enjoy listening to the song.