Wednesday, September 29, 2010

tappy claw

Originally uploaded by memohelen

Just dropping by for a final September hello. I am braindead following a long day at the office where I just kept getting landed with the most terrible programmes - Waterloo Road (ugh!) and the Beechgrove Garden to name but two. Actually, I kind of love subtitling the Beechgrove Garden because the accents remind me of my childhood, but my lack of knowledge about all things plant makes it a truly tricky and time-consuming task. Tomorrow I'm learning how to subtitle DVDs, which should be interesting. I like it that there are so many things I don't know about my job even though I've been there nearly a year.

Today was my first day back at work after a three-day weekend. I spent most of my time off doing stuff to the house in our bid to get cosy for winter...and beyond!. It's mostly going well (though we are already having to make some irksome compromises) and I am excited, but tonight I'm hiding in the craft room for fear the new teetering shelves in the living room will fall on me and squash me. Our floors are very uneven and Graham moved our new shelves while I was at work, but obviously didn't use his spirit level. Or his eyes. Ha! We will have to shore them up at the front asap to avoid claustrophobia and/or death by crushing.

I found that putting together flat-pack furniture was not the ideal thing for my hands. I now can't even get dressed (or do what all girls need to do when they visit the toilet - shh!) without yelping or crying. My right pointing finger will not fully straighten or bend so has become my tappy claw of this post's title. It stays in the same position all the time and taps the play/pause subtitling button all day long. I think it is infected too. My knuckle is making strange noises and my claw is hot, swollen up like a sausage and throbs quite violently. This afternoon, the redness started spreading up my arm and I thought I would have to head to A&E for emergency amputation. I resisted, but shall be going back to the doctor again soon, I fear. In the meantime, I have taken to using Savlon as hand cream. Oh dear.

I can't hold a pencil at the moment, let alone a needle and thread, so my crafting is generally not going well, though I have managed to make over 100 pinwheel brooch kits this week (actually, they're not all finished) as the first giant batch vanished. I've also pretty much sold out of bunting in a box (which I thought I had made a crazy huge amount of) but I had a brainwave last night and came up with a labour-saving trick that is going to make them so much more speedy/less faffy to make, even with my tappy claw, so they'll be fully restocked very soon. Hooray!

I still don't really know what I'm doing with this whole crafting thing. I'm not enjoying selling stuff online. Actually, I should rephrase that as I generally don't sell much/anything online! What I don't enjoy is the listing and photographing and describing etc. I'm a bit torn, though, after having a few really sweet nudges (including my first ever treasury appearance!) to get more stuff in my etsy shop. It also seems like real-life selling opportunities rely on online presence a bit and I definitely do like selling things face to face. I feel I have been considering my crafty motivations for a really long time and am just going round in circles with it and not getting anywhere. The looming festive season is bringing things to a head as I'm really torn between opting out (being a Christmas buyer rather than a Christmas seller) and going all out. Hmmm....

Anyway, this is a ridiculously long and seemingly pointless blog post, but I do consider my blog to be my diary, so this one is just for me, I think. I can't keep a real diary (I get more morose every day I write in them!) so this blog is my substitute diary where I'm too embarrassed to do a full-on whinge as other people can read it, and so I stay relatively positive. For me. I'm actually feeling rather grumbly tonight, but maybe I didn't have to spell that out for you... I think I have some fun and cosy snaps of the new fire on my camera, but I'll save that for October. October!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cheerio Bon Soir Too-roo-loo no more! Uncle Alex

A couple of weeks ago I was in Relics (a jam-packed second-hand shop down one of Glasgow's many lanes) when I found a huge box of postcards. They were obviously all the correspondence of one family over the years. I bought a few. I kept reading them and thinking how lovely they were and how sad it was that the collection was being broken up after all this time, so last week I went back and bought a few more. By this time the box was looking much emptier and the man who runs the shop told me that one person had come in and bought £165-worth of the postcards in one fell swoop! Yikes! That made me a bit happier. Hopefully the person will keep their collection together, but I have my wee set of ten that I plan to keep anyway. Uncle Alex sounds like he would have been a really lovely man and I'm intrigued to know more about Bennie. I have scanned each postcard front and back (with varying degrees of success with my temperamental scanner) and put each one in a separate post, so you can scroll down to read them all. I've typed out what the postcards say, but hopefully you can read the handwriting and Uncle Alex's (and Bennie's) little drawings for yourself too.

How do you do?

How do you do today, today?
How do you do today?
Er - I mean how dae ye dae today ay?

There is nothing down here for birthday presents

(Postmark 15th July, 1942)
Dear Lizzie,
This is you admiring the work of Ben. I'm sorry I could not get a p.c. with a fountain in the garden. There is nothing down here for birthday presents so will you buy yourself a pair of gloves and I will pay you when I get back. Ina will give you my coupons to use.
Kind regards,

Post early in the day

(Postmark 26th July, 1939)
Dear Bennie,
Hope you are looking after yourself. I think you can do that alright.
Tooraloo, Ina

Getting most of the latter

Another Uncle Alex illustrated postcard classic :)
(Postmark 6th June, 1935)
Dear Tommy,
I hope that you are keeping [well] as I am at present. Give my kind regards to all at home. We are enjoying the [sun] and the [rain] and are getting most of the latter.
Your affectionate
Uncle Alex

Perhaps it's at Millport

(Postmark 23rd July, 1934)
Dear Tommy,
There is no chance of me getting sunburnt. I don't know where the sun has gone to this year. It's not at Dunoon, Largs or Rothesay. Perhaps it's at Millport.

We are having a fine time here

(Postmark 17th July, 1934
plus a drawing of some palm trees)
Dear Tommy,
We are having a fine time here. Hoping that you are keeping well.
Kind wishes,
Your affectionate Uncle Alex

Not so in Dunoon

Look at the little drawings. Makes me wish Uncle Alex was my uncle!
(Postmark 27th July, 1932)
Dear Alex,
I hope you are having a good time still. I hear it has been [raining] in Glasgow but not so in Dunoon. We have not needed our [umbrella] much except to keep the sun off.
We are all keeping well. Trusting you are the same.
From/to Alex


Dear Thomas,
I don't think in ever rains here. Hope you enjoyed your day at Saltcoat. [drawing] THIS IS THAT DAY. Hope yous are keeping well.
Yours, Bennie

I was in swimming yesterday. It was A.1.

(postmark 19th July, 1929)
Dear Lizzie,
We spent the day at Largs today. This is the first day that we have had a shower. The weather has been ideal up to the present. Bennie has been keeping well and is looking the better for his holiday. I was in swimming yesterday. It was A.1. You would remember to post the letters over the counter? If any important letters have come for me you can send them on enclosed in one envelope. Trusting that Ben, Alex and Tommy are well.
Your affectionate brother,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

what counts as a day out

It's amazing what counts as a day out when you have worked 14.5 out of the last 16 days. I am off tomorrow and actually cannot wait. Yesterday Graham and I squeezed in a pre-work trip to Fireside (Glasgow's number one fireplace company!) to buy a replacement part for our gas fire, which I have never seen on. We hoped to get it up and running last winter, but it failed its safety test and I was feeling too poor to buy the new bit it needed.
This winter, however, we shall have flames! Well, once the gas man has been out to fit it. As well as being cosy to the point of passing out, the fireplace shop was so old school (check out the artex on the stairs!) as was the nice man who sold us the fire and mocked me for having measured our fireplace in centimetres rather than inches. I can't wait to be snuggled up in front of the fire on a cold night and I think the cats will love it. They've been missing their sunbathing these past few weeks. I've gone into crazy winter-induced nesting fever lately and we've made lots of plans to cosy up the flat and make it the perfect place to be holed up in all winter long. I'm actually really excited about it, hence this photo of Graham carrying our fire part home like it's our baby coming home from hospital! We're going shelf shopping on Thursday and I can't wait to start putting things on the shelves and feeling homely and organised. Yay!
The fireplace shop is near the famous and lovely angel building. It seemed as if summer gave its final squeeze just as we got our fire, as you can see from the blue skies. I snapped a few photos on the way back to the underground. I was obviously very excited to be seeing something other than my office or the inside of my eyelids!
I liked this owly pub watch sign. This pub was getting done up, so I imagine this sign will be gone soon. There's the angel building again in the reflection.
A very old and rather unusual street sign.
I snapped this on the underground on the way home. A few years ago I saw a piece of vandalism that appealed to my rather unsophisticated sense of humour. I never saw that vandalism again (maybe it was removed - there can't be that many trains on the Glasgow underground!) so I have recreated it for you here by the wonder of Photoshop.
Tee hee!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

the golden hands book of popular crafts

The Golden Hands Book Of Popular Crafts
Published by Marshall Cavendish Publications Ltd, 1971/72/73

This won't be the last you'll see of Golden Hands books, let me tell you! This is my most recent Golden Hands acquisition, though. I got it when we were in Aberfeldy last month. As you can see from the state of the dust jacket, it's been well used. It also has a natural-dye-stained photocopied handout from The Textile Workshop and Gallery in Edinburgh (I wonder if that still exists?) all about natural dyes. Books like this, ones that cover more crafts than one individual would ever pursue, are pretty irresistible to me.
Like most '70s craft books, this book has great little scenes set up and photographed. No vicars in hammocks here, mind you... This beach picnic (if you can call an orange and a Tupperware box of lettuce a picnic) is used to demonstrate raffia work. There are instructions to make the bag and the shoes.
Sticking with the beach theme (ooh, the hips don't lie...) a scantily clad lady is used to demonstrate one of the many beadwork projects. I'm not sure how I'd feel about handmaking an item and then posing seductively in it in public. I get the feeling that, just as I was about to ensnare a man with a medallion tangled in his chest hair, I'd exclaim, "I made it myself!" and try to tell him how as he quickly lost interest and took his medallion off to someone who would appreciate it.
This is one of many uses for yarn daisies, and doesn't the little girl look thrilled with her daisy-bedecked jumper?!
In the feltwork chapter, there's a whole section on fruit and vegetable jewellery. I like this carrot brooch and the jumper beneath it. Felt fruit and veg is still popular today, I think, but work conditions must have improved because these days the fruit and veg can be seen to smile.
A nice patchwork cushion, again with the preference for orange. I would like to have patchwork cushions, but I think Graham definitely wouldn't!
Staying with patchwork, this is the Happi coat. As the caption says there, the Happi coat "is fun to make and wear". Much as I like it in theory, I don't think I'd make or wear it. Mind you, I could do with a new dressing gown...
As well as the usual photos, this book has the odd illustration, like this one for leatherwork. I love it. I have some postcards of old Woolworths adverts that are in this sort of style. I really like that style of drawing hair. I made a picture book about Orpheus and Eurydice once and gave Persephone hair a bit like that. You probably wouldn't recognise it, but I'm telling you!
3D paperwork. I like this lady. Some 3D paperwork is a mystery to me, but this looks vaguely achievable... maybe.
A little montage I put together (can you call this a montage, or is it just a collage?) of some of the examples of weaving in the book. Why oh why does it sound so complicated to make your own weaving loom? I have so many books with instructions, but can't follow any of them. Plus they all involve hammering in nails really precisely (straight up and down, very close together and evenly spaced) which I know would be a problem for me.
Swans are very popular these days, have you noticed? I think swans may be the new owls. This swan and its reflection is a fabric collage.

And there you have it - another craft book from my collection. Sorry you had to wait so long for this installment. What with volunteering to do overtime and then being summoned in when I was on call, I have been practically living at work this month. I still don't have a single day off until Wednesday. Boo! I've got that general feeling of my life becoming a precarious pile. I have emails I've been meaning to reply to for weeks, a mountain of mess to clear up, yet more birthdays looming on the horizon, projects I want to make a start on, deadlines for market applications that I'm missing every day... Oh yeah, and a boyfriend I live with, but somehow never get to see. Still, at least in this job, I know this is a blip (hopefully I should be back to normal 40 hour weeks after Wednesday) whereas if I was still teaching, this would be my life permanently. Permanently! Did I mention I went crazy one night recently and threw out all my teaching stuff? I am not one for throwing things out (hence the general feeling that my life is a precarious pile!) but, my god, it felt so good. People, I have officially given up teaching. Yas!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

toothy pegs

I got home from work to find the cutest message on our answering machine from my niece, Kim. She had phoned to tell me that her tooth fell out today! She has very good timing to lose her first tooth the day after I spotted these lucky teeth while browsing blogs. I have just bought one to send to her. I think there is still one lonesome lucky toof left if you want to nab one, but you will have to be quick. You can find it here, where I stole the picture from.

p.s. Our shower is broken and I feel stinky plus I am having to kirby grip my greasy fringe back. It is not good, but I can't bring myself to brave the liquid icicles first thing in the suddenly wintery mornings. Graham is in trying to have a post-work shower right now and there is so much swearing and growling emanating from the bathroom that I am actually having palpitations! Thank goodness I have Don Draper and a glass of wine to wind down with :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

living vicariously

Originally uploaded by Sarah Walton

Today I would really like to blog properly (I have scanned pictures from another craft book and want to share a really special find I made in second-hand shop yesterday) but I am just in from working overtime and am too pooped to even switch my computer on. They really did work me very hard today, but my work pays really well for overtime, so I don't mind too much. I am sort of wishing for a wee day off, though... Yawn!

The other thing (other than blogging properly, I mean) that I would like to do is some embroidery (I have lots of ideas right now!) but my hands, which were mended really nicely, are having a relapse despite strictly no sewing. Boo!

So I will live vicariously through other people's fabulous sewing skills and then use pictures of said skills to create a fake mini blog post. This picture is by Sarah Walton who has loads more beautiful work on her flickr, most definitely worth a visit.

ps Just to make this kind of like a real blog post, here are some facts of life. Have you noticed any missing Gs on my blog lately? If so, I apologise! My computer's G key is not cooperating these days. Tonight I'm typing this on Graham's computer and thought it would be real luxury to have 26 fully functional letters, but his A key seems to be on strike and has to be beaten before it will work. Harumph! Last night I went round to my friend Bernie's house for fondue. We hadn't had fondue for ages and I wanted to blog about it this week, but forgot to take a single photo, so I'm just squeezing it in here as a wee aside. I'll have to have fondue again soon (though we were both experiencing cheese-ball symptoms this morning!) so I can try to think of something interesting to say about it... Hmmm, not likely!

Now I sort of have done a proper blog post (yay!) but Graham wants his computer back, with or without a responsive A key.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

show stealer

I know this week's EastEnders was supposed to be all about Barbara Windsor, but for me, June Brown definitely stole the show with about a year's worth of classic Dot moments squeezed into one week. This scene (apologies for the blurry image) from Ryan and Janine's wedding reception, where Dot had swapped her tomato juice for a sherry or too and was tipsily dancing with a menthol cigarette in each hand, was one of my favourites. "Ooh, Billy, I'm in a world of me own." My other favourite moment was when she was telling off a naked Ryan, out on his stag do. And, of course, her heartbroken reaction to Stacey's revelation that Bradley is not baby Lily's father :( June Brown, you are the best! I think I might need to send a spot of fan mail. Tee hee!

Friday, September 10, 2010

what a dreary world we should live in if everything we made or did was useful

What Shall I Do With This?
By Margaret Hutchings
Published by Mills & Boon, 1963
(This edition reprinted 1970)
My sister gave me this book a few months ago after she found it in a Swiss charity shop. It's all about projects you can do with things you can find around the house. I wonder if my parents had a copy of this book, because some of the projects seem very familiar... I will have to ask them.
The chapters of this book are divided into the places you can look for things and the projects you can make with what you might find there. I don't think I need to say much more about this book, so I'll just share the author's super-sweet introduction in amongst a selection of her projects. Enjoy!
"All of us are happier when we are busy but we all like being busy in different ways.
"Do you like sewing or sticking, cutting or colouring, collecting or cooking, knitting or nailing, printing or playing games, designing or drawing, folding, growing things or just 'fiddling'? If so, this book is meant for YOU.

"In it, we go round the house together, finding things we can use and deciding what to do with them.
"Some of the things are for you to do alone, some are for whole families to share in, some you could do at school or at Brownie, Guide or Cub meetings.
"Some will be useful for yourself or for presents, some will help you to learn and some are just for fun.
"It gives us a great thrill to make something just for the joy of doing so, although what we make may not be much use when it's finished.
"What a dreary world we should live in and what very dull people we should be, if EVERYTHING we made or did was useful!

"Before starting work, read right through the instructions given for whatever you have decided to do, making sure that you understand them and that you have everything you need.
"You may feel that you would rather try something else first.
"Because I thought it would be easier for you to follow, I have not had the book set up in type but have drawn a lot of pictures to help you, then written all round them myself, just as though I were talking to you.
"For in the words of Alice, when SHE had nothing to do, '...what is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?' M.H."
p.s. I've started a collection on flickr, where I'll be putting all the vintage craft books I share here. If you want to find them all in one place, look here. I'll be trying to add more (there and here) pretty regularly.