Monday, October 27, 2008

memoir monday (nine)

31st October 1986: Halloween
Yesterday it was Brownies and we had a halloween party.  On the way back it was windy.  The Suzuki was blown about an awful lot.  Just as we were coming up to the top of the hill we saw a pheasant.  Its feathers were out of its neck and you could see the skin.  When we got home I went up to get changed.  When I came down my dad was there.  I told him I wanted to make a lantern.  Later that evening Dad phoned up Mr Sim to see if he had any neeps.  He said "yes" and dad went up to get some.  He got four and we all howked out the neeps.  My mum went through Laura's.  AFter that we went to bed.

Halloween 1986 (part two)
On Friday it was Halloween so the school held a Halloween party.  When we got there most people were dressed up as vampires.  My mum was dressed up as Hilda Ogdon.  Dad was dressed up as John Darling from Peter Pan.  I was meant to be a magician but the tricks were rubbish.  The first games object was to eat a doughring on a string without using your hands.  I managed that but Janice didn't.  She was a mummy and her mouth was covered.  Ruth managed as well but her hat kept falling off.  After that game we played pass the balloon.  There was also a game with four corners in the game acting as witches, skeletons, ghosts and bats.  If the corner you were in was called out you acted as a ghost, skeleton, bat or witch.  Of course we had food and a lot of it was left over.  Derek asked me if I could pass a box over.  I knocked it down so I never saw what was in it.  Kim and I were called out of the library before we were finished.  The others had all started "dooking" apples.  My dad got an apple but I'm sure Lorna Wink helped him.  Musical bumps was good as well.  Of course Mr Scott played 'Walk Like An Eyptian'.  We had to dance to it.  But at 9.00 we got a prize for dressing up and bringing a lantern.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

sew-p operas and fasten-ating accessories

Earlier this year I made an embroidered Dot Cotton portrait for a friend who loves Eastenders.  I should add, so as not to mislead, that I love Eastenders too!  My friendly local craft entrepreneur spotted the original picture on my flickr and offered to sell my embroideries on her lovely website, Miso Funky.  I was so pleased to be asked and very excited about taking the first step on the road to fulfilling my dream of pro-crafting, so I jumped at the chance and got sewing!
I started by making another Dot.  Dot is probably my favourite Eastenders character ever.  Her iconic status and distinctive hairdo also make her the easiest character to sew a likeness of!  She lives in a traditional wood effect frame, just as I'm sure she would like.
I decided to expand my repertoire a little and also made a Pat.  Like Dot, Pat hasn't changed her look since the eighties, making her easy to capture.  I couldn't get a leopard print or gold frame (I know that's what Pat would want) so went for a classic black.  The close-up below really shows Pat's years in the school of hard knocks.  Hee!
I can't help referring to these two as Dot Cotton and Pat Butcher though, of course, they are now Dot Branning and Pat Evans.  I loved Jim so much (the early 21st century episode where he accidentally killed Dot's budgie when using a hoover to clean out the bird cage, and exclaimed, "'E's gawn up the bleedin' vac!" before rushing the recently deceased bird to the local doctor for an attempted resuscitation will surely go down in the annals of greatest tv moments) and thought it was a stroke of genius to get him and Dot together but I didn't approve of Dot's name change at all.   I don't suppose there was any way round it.  Dot's status as upstanding member of the moral community would never have allowed her to live in sin and it just wouldn't have been right for her to keep Charlie's name when Jim was...  A-hem!  Moving on...  (I did tell you I liked Eastenders.)

I tried to make embroideries of Peggy and Den and Angie but they didn't work out.  I'm going to keep working on it though.  Any special requests for characters?  I love Bradley and Stacey but I can see Bradley being problematic...

I decided to make a miniature version of Dot for myself.  Here she is:

So tiny!  I love her and am going to put her centre place in my wall of many wonders.  The normal size is 5 inches by 7 inches by the way, much bigger than this little beauty.  Even the small size took a good 3-4 hours to sew though.  Is this normal?  Will I ever get faster?  If not, my potential pro-crafter's hourly rate will never be anywhere near minimum wage.  I guess that's the cost of living the dream...!

This selection of my zip brooches is also up for sale at the same place.
I made some new labels for these using my logo stamp.  My logo stamp still excites me rather a lot!

If you think your life would benefit from an Eastenders embroidery (whose life wouldn't?) or a zip brooch then you can buy them here.  

Thursday, October 16, 2008

the things you find in books...

Today I added another item to my accidental collection of oddities found inside second hand books.
I went wandering round the charity shops earlier today and bought this Anne Fine book for my class library.  Inside it was a strange and dark sepia toned photograph of some people in a bar or cafe.
An even stranger photograph was inside this copy of Simone de Beauvoir's 'The Woman Destroyed' that I bought a few months ago.  It's a photo of a woman reading in bed.  On the back of the photo someone has written "Mum in Bed, 6" as if it is one in a series of photographs.  One of the books by her bed is Possession by A.S. Byatt (I love love love that book!) but I can't quite make out what the others are.  Is she ill or does she just love reading too much to get out of bed?  I like the way "Mum's" arms echo the shape of the woman on the cover of the book.  Maybe that's why she's in there.
I bought this strange sounding book by J.P. Donleavy for 50p a little while ago.  Inside it was a 13p stamp, an airmail sticker, a card from a book token (saying, "To Ma Sis, Ruf!  For you to choose the book you want.  Lots of love from Nicky xxx") and two very old pound notes from 1954 and 1949.  How strange.
But the card above is my best inside-a-book-find ever.  I don't remember what book it was in but I use it as a bookmark now.  I know it is wrong to be entertained by other people's misfortune (and goodness knows I can be less than positive at times!) but reading this always makes me giggle.  To protect the unhappy innocents depicted in the letter, I will omit names.  The card reads:

Dear J_____ ,
I was going to spell your name as my sister's.  Nothing much seems to go right for me these days.  I think all the gremlins are out to get me.
Our central heating system has packed in totally.  We've ordered a Rayburn which A_____ says is not going to fit into the space.  F_________ and R_____ think it will fit if they get a heating engineer to do it.  Is this going to offend A_____?  I hate umbrage so hope it will be ok.
Anyway, today I've decided to be positive and get things done, no more despairing or procrastinating.  This is the Venice calendar which I got for you in December - no envelope with it and I've no brown paper.  I'm sending it anyway as the year is wearing on.  I hope the exams are over now and that you are happy with the results.  F______ has a chesty cold and urinary problems.  He has antibiotics and is hopefully on the mend.
These cards are part of my Christmas present from my sister in S____.  Hope you like the calendar.  Give my regards to S____.  

Much love,
E_____ xx

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

one strand or two?

A few months ago I made this tiny mermaid embroidery for my friend, Bernadette.  I loved it so much it was very hard for me to give it away.  I used two strands of embroidery thread to make it and, in hindsight, thought that something this tiny would have been better made using just one strand.
Yesterday I used the same pattern in the same tiny size using just one strand of embroidery thread.  It did make it a bit easier to pick out the details and the face looks better, I think, but now that I see them side by side I'm not sure that going with one strand was the best choice.  I think it's lost some of it 'tattoo-ness'.

I'm planning to make one of these for myself but the question is... one strand or two?

p.s. The original pattern I used is by a clever lady called Andrea Zuill and is available (for free!) here.  I did mess about with the design a bit, just to make it fit this shape of frame better.

little things by other people

Originally uploaded by Pin Pals

Just a flying blog visit to share these cross stitch badges by Pin Pals that I spotted on flickr this morning. How cute are they in their little hats with their button and their pom pom? I am usually more excited by the paper puppet side of the Pin Pals' operation (this fabulous duo live in a frame in my hall) but these cross stitched cuties are my favourite thing in the world today!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

it's the little things

I went shopping recently and bought some mustard powder, a box of chocolates, washing powder and some flea treatment for those pesky cats.
But this was no ordinary bag of shopping....  This was miniature shopping!
The best thing about my shopping being so tiny (I think I may have mentioned before that my fingers are freakishly small so tiny really is the word) was that it took no time at all to find a space in the cupboards for all of it.  This left me plenty of time to practice my xylophone...
...and have a cup of tea from my copper kettle.
Feeling refreshed, I decided to try my hand at some knitting.  I took a look through my vintage knitting patterns and decided to attempt this dashing man's cardigan in orange...
... but I didn't have any knitting needles small enough.  These patterns and the lovely orange wool were also miniature!
I bought all these miniature things a few weeks ago when I was visiting my mum and dad in Elgin.  My mum took me to the new doll's house shop there and it was amazing.  We were in there for ages marveling at all the weird and wonderful items, including.... wait for it ... a doll's house sized... drum roll... coffin!  No, I'm not joking - it was a genuine coffin for a doll's house.  Why and wow!?  

I also bought these lovely things:
A teeny tiny wooden soldier complete with cymbals.
A teeny tiny pinny and a miniscule coat hanger to hang it on.  I'm going to hang this up on my wall of many wonders.  I'm glad to see it gets Poppy's approval.
I have used most of my purchases to fill the gaps in the little house shelf I painted up this summer.  I've still got a doocot or two to fill and I'm going back to Elgin in a few weeks...!  Yippee!

Talking of little things, please take a few minutes to gaze in wonder at the pictures linked to below:

Anything by the wonderful diastema on flickr but most especially this picture showing how cakes get their hundreds and thousands.

The little people popping up all over the place in a number of European cities.  Have you been eagle eyed enough to spot any?

This beautiful necklace made for Heidi Kenney's birthday by her super talented other half, using a pair of doll's spectacles.

Dan McPharlin's cardboard miniatures of audio equipment.

A slightly spooky miniature circus.

These crazy tiny things including a painting of 42 American presidents on a half inch strand of human hair and a man who paints (between heart beats to prevent wobbling) with a hair plucked from a dead fly.  No, really...

Monday, October 13, 2008

memoir monday (eight)

19th September 1986

On Friday we went to Brownie camp.  Then on Saturday we went for a walk on the beach.  We had to look for stones to paint but we looked for other stuff as well.  Nearly everyone found a shell and a feather.  Anna found a feather with a grey tip.  I wandered up a bit with Ruth.  We found some crabs.  They were in the dried seaweed.  All the crabs were dead but we took them anyhow.  When we got back we had lunch and then had rest hour.  After rest hour we went out tracking in the rain.  When we got out we went up to a place called Sea Forth View.  We found it and went up the back way to the beach.  There was a track with fresh car tracks.  If you went off the track it was bouncy purple heather.  We ended on the beach and we each got a little sweet.  It was great.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

they fly through the air with the greatest of ease

I'm on holiday!  For a whole week!  Yippee!  My holidays got off to a "flying" start with, among other things, a visit to the acrobatic gymnastics world championships at the Kelvin Hall.
Pictured above are the Chinese men's team, justifying my cheesy post title by literally flying through the air.  We thought they were amazing but they were pipped to the post  at the last minute by the Russian team.  A travesty!  I know nothing about the technicalities of gymnastics... but I do know that I would award full marks across the board for flying like this!
Crazily strong men and ridiculously flexible ladies all round, with a good dose of spandex thrown in.
The all men teams turned out to be particularly exciting.
How do they do it?
I can't even hold my own weight in the position the man on the bottom is in, let alone have three fully grown muscle bound men stand on top of me.  How much weight must they be supporting?  Mind boggling!
I think the Azerbaijan team (above) may have been my favourite.  The combination of their brown outfits and huge physiques made them look like old school muscle men.  In my mind, they were wearing one shouldered leopard print leotards!

There's another gymnastics event on in the Kelvin Hall this Friday and it's free to get in.  I think I will definitely be going.  I'll be a bona fide gymnastics expert before you know it!