Friday, January 28, 2011

involuntary celebrity endorsement

I just found out this afternoon that Dylan Moran purchased one of my pinwheel brooch kits when he visited the Made In The Shade Maisonette recently. Woo hoo! The image above kept popping into my head and tickling me so (by the power of Photoshop) I made it real. Tee hee!

I can't see clearly now

Apologies for the random nature of the following post. I've been keeping busy, but with nothing in particular. I bought myself some new fabric (see lovely offcuts above) so have been having fun making things from that. It's amazing how a wee injection of new pretty patterns gets you in the mood to make stuff. I even have a new product to list in my shops, but more on that soon. So far I only have one non-photographed prototype. None of this crafting has fitted in with Craftathon 2011 yet though. I'll have to get a move on with that - it's almost February already!
Yesterday was Graham's birthday and I made him the Gregory's Girl card above. It's not as good as last year's, but it looks like Gregory's Girl drawings are going to be an annual tradition now. Graham decided he wanted to spend his birthday doing DIY in the bathroom. This means I have been having to do DIY too. I had forgotten how much I dislike DIY. I remember now. Still, it will be good when the bathroom is finished. Hopefully. We decided to paint our non-tiled wall a mustard colour and took my typewriter to B&Q to get a colour match. The colour looked perfect in the shop, but in our house the sample card is looking a bit too close to jobby brown for my liking. Hopefully it looks OK once it's on the wall. Jobby brown would not be a good paint colour in any room, but in a bathroom... Cripes! I think we're painting tomorrow. Fingers crossed for mustard yellow.

As well as DIYing, we did also go out for a birthday dinner (to Number 16 - yum yum) followed by a trip to the cinema to see Neds. I liked it more than I expected to, but I think the birthday boy was a bit disappointed in it. His expectations were much higher than mine though.
On the way home, we spotted a menshie written by John Lennon (yes, THE John Lennon, I'm sure) in a shop that is being renovated. Can you see it right in the middle there? This is actually the shop my haberdasher's counter came from. Still not cleaned that up. Bad me.

In other non-news, I am trying out contact lenses for the first time in about five years due to not being able to find any glasses I like. It's day three of my trial period and it's not going too well. So far I feel as though I am watching a 3D TV without 3D glasses and am blinking a lot and making strange faces. It turns out I have a weirdly shaped left cornea so actually can't see properly with contact lenses unless I keep my left eye closed. Hmmm. I'm going to persevere for a while though. It would be nice not to have to wear glasses every day. I felt naked (and old - where did all those eye wrinkles and dark circles come from?) without my glasses to begin with, but I am starting to quite like my sans-glasses face now that I'm getting used to it. And while we are on the subject of my new-found vanity, may I direct your attention to my weight-loss plane (right down at the bottom there) which is currently taxiing towards the runway after my first weigh-in since replacing bottles of wine with trips to the swimming pool. Looks like this tactic is working and I feel better already. Hooray!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

in a crafter's pickle

Branston Original Pickle
Originally uploaded by hwayoungjung

I'm still in my pyjamas! I've been cleaning all day though, so I don't feel bad. It's amazing how much housework you can do and yet still feel like you've had a lazy day just because you never bothered to get dressed. Will have to do this more often!

That is all besides the point though. The point is that I am in a crafter's pickle and I need some advice... or maybe just reassurance. I'm not very good at these sort of delicate diplomatic situations (that I'm sure come easily enough to some people) and I'm getting a bit stressed out and pickle-like. Help!

What is your opinion about sharing your hard-earned crafty knowledge with anybody who asks for it? I am really in two minds about this. I think it is great to share and I know I have learned how to do so many things thanks to generous people on the old internet, but is it also all right to keep some things secret? A very nice customer of mine bought a pinwheel brooch kit a while back and now wants to make more. My pinwheel brooch kits come with instructions and everything you need to make one (and only one) very lovely brooch, hence why I only charge £4 for them. I think that is a good price for a fun project, in cute packaging with a nice brooch to keep at the end of it. The reason the kits only allow you to make one brooch is that I don't divulge how I make the felt and fabric squares that I put in the kits. This piece of information is what my customer really wants to know, so that she can make as many pinwheel brooches as her heart desires. Hmmm... On one hand, who am I to refuse to share that information and will it really harm my "business" if someone on another continent makes some pinwheel brooches using my methods? It's not even like I make a living from crafting (let alone just from pinwheel brooches) in the first place, although the kits are my best seller of all time. On the other hand, I feel like that information is my business/intellectual property. I spent a lot of time (and money when you factor in failed attempts etc) experimenting with different methods of attaching the felt and the fabric. What I came up with in the end isn't staggeringly unique or original or unexpected, but I did still have to work hard to get there and that is why I can make and sell pinwheel brooch kits and some other people can't - because I have chosen to set aside time to do that and they haven't.

I think it's really nice that someone liked my kits so much that they want to make more brooches, but in my heart of hearts I do not want to give away this particular piece of crafty information. I once told a lady at a market how I made my miniature bunting and I still wake up in a cold sweat at the thought of how I just gave that part of my crafty self away like that. Is it really mean of me to think like that or is it just good business sense? Is it OK to say no and if so how do you say no? I am no good at these sorts of dilemmas :( Help!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

artist's impression...

I was a little bit delayed leaving work last night. Believe it or not, this was due to a problematic episode of '90s comedy (or '90s "comedy") The Brittas Empire.* My frustration over leaving late was compounded when I got to the underground platform approximately five seconds after my train had left. Grrr! However, all this bad luck and timing turned out to be a good thing because I had a lovely experience when I got on the next train that arrived. Sitting opposite me was a boy... Actually, sitting opposite me was a boy and his dad, but I had enough trouble drawing (or "drawing") one person so there was no way his dad was appearing in the artist's impression too. Sitting opposite me was a boy wearing a duffle coat with one of those fancy badges pinned to it - a badge that displays a scrolling message in little red lights. My curiosity was aroused and I wondered what sort of message a quiet-looking boy (with his dad) would want to display to the world in red lights.
For the benefit of those of you not familiar with Glasgow, our underground system is very basic. All the stations are in a circle on two continuous line. Trains run in both directions and you just get on whichever side/direction will get you to your chosen destination more quickly, though you would get there eventually (in a matter of minutes, not hours) no matter what side you used. The colour scheme on the underground is an awesome '70s palette of brown and orange (hence the subway's nickname of The Clockwork Orange) but the underground's colour scheme is not relevant to the story at all. Back to the boy with the lights on his badge.
After a few more squints in his direction I managed to read the whole message. It said, "I'm going all the way round." And he was! It turned out he and his dad had got on the underground together just to travel full circle and get off at the very same stop they started at and the boy had programmed his badge specially. How cute is that?! I was going to say that this was my best Glasgow underground experience ever, but then there was that time I met the magician... Both encounters made me smile a lot. I think it could be too close to call. I'll go for best equal.

Of course, I couldn't exactly take a photo of someone else's child on the underground and I don't think I had my camera on me anyway, so I had to resort to drawing (from memory and a very rough sketch made on a wobbly train) to be able to blog about it. Apologies - I definitely cannot draw things that are inside my head/not in front of my eyes, but I thought the terrible illustrations were worth it to be able to share the story. I was pleased I managed to get in the detail of the skull and fairisle pattern on his hat, just peeking out from under his hood. Ha! That's my teacherly skill of finding a genuine little point to praise amidst all the horror coming back to me!

* Confession - I actually liked The Brittas Empire or, to be more precise, my sister liked The Brittas Empire so I kind of liked it by association. Last week I got a weird Brittas Empire craving while watching a Red Dwarf repeat late at night. I nearly squealed when I saw an episode had appeared on the subtitling worklist and I should actually have been subtitling something else, but I really wanted to see The Brittas Empire again so I picked it on purpose. Don't judge me. It wasn't as funny as I remembered... but I still want to see more.

tick tock

I've been looking for a watch for over a year and found this one just before Christmas at Granny Would Be Proud (a handmade and vintage sale that happens pretty regularly in Glasgow). Look - it even has a compass in case I get lost! It's not at all what I thought I was looking for, but I just saw it and loved it and when I found out it was only £2, I thought it was worth the risk that it might not work very well. I still haven't got a battery or a strap for it though. Aaargh! My slowness at doing simple things is driving me mental at the moment, so I thought if I posted about the watch here, it might remind (or guilt-trip) me into sorting out a battery and strap this week. Quite apart from that, I had meant to share it at the time (another thing I didn't get round to) just in case anybody else might like to see it. I'm a bit worried this watch will look ridiculous on me because I have bizarrely skinny wrists and it is a pretty big watch. Graham has been openly coveting it since the day I got it though, so I can always pass it on to him if it does turn out not to be right for me. That way at least I'd get to look at it all the time, even if I was still a watchless wonder.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

this post is not for the squeamish

Originally uploaded by Ani Castillo

I'm back at work this morning (very bleary eyed after failing to sleep most of last night) but the system that tells us what programmes need to be subtitled next is down, so we actually and officially cannot do any work for the moment. I have tidied out my inbox and now have free reign to potter around the internet until the worklist is back up and running. When there is so much stuff on the internet, why is it that I can't think of anything I want to look at? That's the same reason I don't like browsing in music shops - faced with so many choices, my mind goes blank. I'm wishing I hadn't caught up on my blog reading before going to bed last night now!

I survived 127 Hours last night and would go so far as to say I enjoyed it. It is definitely worth seeing and by the time you get to the arm cutting, you can sort of handle it because you genuinely know it is the only option. It's like you've gone through the whole process yourself (mentally) but without ACTUALLY going throught it (physically). Obviously. I didn't look away at all, although I did squeak quite a lot and had my hands near my eyes ready to cover them at a split second's notice. Looking around the cinema, most other people were the same. One poor woman lost it and shrieked at a totally innocuous little slip on a patch of gravel towards the end. It was the least tense/scary moment of the whole film, but I think her nerves were shot by that point. Her wimpery was laughed at by all the other cinema-goers. The wimp! Ha! Graham and I also had to laugh when the trapped man compared his bag of piss to a bottle of sauvignon blanc. Guess what we had smuggled in to drink from plastic cups...?

Having faced my fears and made it to the end of 127 Hours, I actually had a harder time coping with my book on the way to work this morning. It was another example of self-inflicted amputation, this time a middle-aged/elderly man removing a patch of eczema by cutting off a lump of flesh with a pair of scissors. I'm not sure if it was as bad as it seemed or if it was because I was reading it, not seeing it or if it was just way too early in the morning, but I had a near passing out experience on the underground. Still feeling a little woozy now... That could have been very embarrassing!

None of this, of course, has anything to do with the picture above, but it has been making me chuckle for the last few days. What a great slogan :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

wave a magic wanda

Three posts in one day... Sick of me yet? Just to continue the go-sister vibe I've been rocking/blogging today, would you just look at this footage of Wanda Jackson from 1958?! What a woman! I've been listening to a lot of Wanda Jackson on Spotify of late. She is great music to get stuff done to. Half an hour ago I was even sawing through pipes as a result of listening to some Wanda Jackson tunes. Go me and my saw!

Talking of sawing, Graham has just asked me if I want to go and see 127 Hours tonight. Much as I have been boasting about how tough and awesome girls are today, I am a bit anxious that I won't be able to handle this film. I have a phobia of caves (which I'm fairly sure includes crevices and being wedged under boulders too) and am not keen on self-inflicted amputation either. Is anybody? Oh well, perhaps if I listen to enough Wanda Jackson between now and this evening I'll be able to keep my eyes open for some most of the film. Eep!

the bare bones of my recent film viewing

Last night we watched The Monster Club starring Vincent Price. It was frankly bizarre. We love 1970s horror portmanteaus, but this was made in 1980 and just missed the mark of '70s horror je ne sais quois... That said, we still really enjoyed it, cheesy and bizarre though it was. Between each of the stories (which were more funny than scary) there was a performance by a band in The Monster Club (as the name suggests, a club for monsters). Above is a snippet of the totally bonkers striptease scene. Below is the video for the whole crazy rock song including the stripping scene. Take your pick :)

Goodness, I have watched a strange selection of films lately. Over to the left and down a bit you can see a list of the last ten films I've seen with links to the info about them on imdb. At the moment, it's not exactly a recommended list as half of it is made up of the films I watched on TV when I spent the day stuck on the sofa with food poisoning. You can probably tell which films they are - Baby's Day Out was a particular low point, but Big Foot And The Hendersons and Gremlins were just what the doctor ordered. One film I would recommend (if you want to feel like a kick-ass sistah who can do it for herself) is Death Proof. Despite the fact that the first two thirds of the film are pretty much plotless and it is a film about car crashes (which I don't generally like to think about or see) I absolutely loved it and really want to watch it again just for the pay-off at the end. Watch Death Proof and then listen to Night singing the stripper song and then go and sock it to 'em! In your face (and your balls) world! Tee hee! I'm feeling grumpy today, but this rock and roll rant is channeling the rage most effectively...

sisters are sewing it for themselves

1. sisterhood, 2. Untitled, 3. self portrait, 4. colourgirl

There is a lot of lovely embroidery popping up on flickr these days. Here are four nice examples of ladies in stitch. Makes me want to get my needles and threads out.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

furniture restoration

Well, all I can say is that it's just as well decluttering wasn't one of my new year's resolutions (it totally was, but we'll ignore that...) because I have been taking home other people's rubbish again. Just a few days into the new year, I walked out of my house to go to the supermarket and almost immediately walked right into a haberdasher's counter that was being thrown out and was lying on the pavement in the rain. I have always said how much I would love to have one of these (and Graham has agreed) and there it was. I was all on my own though and didn't know what to do. I couldn't carry it home myself and I didn't want to leave it in case someone else took it. Just as I was contemplating standing guard for 2 hours until Graham came home from work, the man who was throwing it out came out of his shop to tell me that I could have it if I wanted it but I had to get someone to help me and take it away now. We struck a deal in the end that I would take all the drawers and the glass top away just now and would come back for the unit in a couple of hours. The unit was only about 150 metres from my house, but it was 150 metres up some steps and a very steep hill. I began lugging the drawers up the hill two or three at a time. It was hard work, but nothing compared to the glass counter top which weighed approximately half a tonne and was taller than me. I did a lot of sweating and grimacing and huffing and puffing, but I got that home too. It took me over an hour to complete the humphing, so I went back to ask the nice man who was throwing it out if I could leave the unit outside his door for half an hour so that it wouldn't get picked up with the rubbish before Graham could come and help me to carry it. The nice man said that was fine and came to help me carry the unit the five metres or so to his shop door. And I couldn't even lift it. It was sooooo heavy! With much struggling and the help of a very strong Australian woman, we finally moved it to the shop door and I set off to tell Graham I had some heavy lifting for him to do on his way home. Fortunately Graham was excited enough at the sight of the unit not to mind helping to carry it. The man from the shop lent me a pair of gardening gloves and we flexed our muscles and set off up the stairs with the 20 tonne beast. I could literally only go about a metre at a time before having to shriek, "Stop! Put it down! Put it down!" like a big girl's blouse. We did make it home eventually, though it was not easy.
The main unit is still sitting in the close waiting for me to clean it up (and is attracting much "oohing" from neighbours, which I'm sure will turn into "arghing" if I don't clean it and take it inside soon) and the drawers are taking up the entire floor of my craft room and preventing me from doing any crafting. Unfortunately, four drawers are missing. Annoyingly, I think someone must have taken them just before I got there because the man who was throwing it out said it had all the drawers. My mum reckons my uncle (who's a joiner) will be able to make me replacements though. I have no idea where I am going to put this piece of furniture once I have cleaned it up and part of me wishes I'd never seen it. The other part of me, though, is delighted beyond belief to have made such a great find.
Last week we were in a beautiful new shop called Pierrot et Coco. It's full of lovely things, but is worth visiting just to see the owners' talent in interior design and window displays. They had a haberdasher's counter as their cash desk (beautifully cleaned up and renovated) and as I was pointing it out to Graham and getting excited at how lovely mine could be, we got chatting and told the shop owners about my find. They were almost sick with jealousy and recommended I sell the thing on eBay for a small fortune, which is what they had had to pay for theirs. Tempting as that is, I've made up my mind - I'm keeping the baby! Even if I have to rearrange my whole house/life to fit it in somewhere...
Most of the drawers still have labels on them. Baby bibs...
baby frocks...
jersey suits...
and, saving the best till last, a drawer for jumpsuits!

I have really got to pull my finger out and get this thing cleaned up... but I think I am going to go to the cinema this afternoon. Coming from a family of stutterers and stammerers, I feel duty bound to go and see The King's Speech. Perhaps I will don the old rubber gloves this evening.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

come on let's go

Just heard this afternoon that Trish Keenan died. Broadcast are such a great band (Come On Let's Go would definitely be in my top ten songs of all time) not least because of Trish's beautiful voice. Very sad news.

Friday, January 14, 2011

becoming a mermaid/prune

small but (im)perfectly formed
Originally uploaded by dropstitch
I have been swimming laps from here to the moon (a little nod to The Secret Of My Success there - I love that film!) this week. I'm really enjoying being in the pool and my muscles have a lovely ache going on. Mmm! I just wish swimming didn't take up so much time - 45 minutes in the pool plus 45 minutes to walk to the pool and back plus time to get changed, showered, dried and changed again equals goodbye half the day. And that's if I manage to resist stopping off in charity shops en route. Still, there are worse ways to spend my week off, I suppose, although they might make for more exciting blogging...

Since I'm failing to do any crafting this year (by which I really mean this fortnight) here's a water-related embroidery I made almost three years ago when my hands were young and lovely like a Fairy advert. Three years?! Where have they gone? Down the bleedin' plughole, guv'nor! That's where!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

house of frasers

If you live in Glasgow, you should really go to Frasers and take a walk up (or down) their side staircase. They have about four storeys of photos of the shop's history and they are so fun to look at - a genuine little time capsule. It's such a lovely idea, don't you think?
People from the olden days just look amazing. I wonder if we'll all look amazing to people in 40/60/80 years.

The trouble with not blogging regularly enough is that you get a huge backlog of things to share and it stops you sharing the other stuff as it comes along, so that all gets added to the backlog too. I'm off work this week (hooray!) so I think I'll try to blog as many of those things as possible. The trip to Frasers was one of those things. Brace yourself* for random non-chronological snippets! Today, though, I'm braving the drizzle for a charity shopping extravaganza. Hopefully there are some treasures to be found hiding amongst the unwanted Christmas gifts.

* Brace yourself? Hmm, it won't exactly be a white-knuckle ride...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Happy new year! I took down our Christmas decorations yesterday, so am feeling like now is the time to really start with 2011. I was a bit sad to take the tree and and all the tinsel down, especially since Poppy (crazed looking cat above) was protesting furiously and clinging onto everything for dear life. Poppy loves Christmas and this year had become quite territorial about the tree especially. Here you can see her sitting on the tinsel so that I couldn't remove it from the bannister. Bless her, she fought valiantly, but I defeated her. Bah humbug! I ate the last of my chocolate coins while I tearfully packed all the tree decorations away. Still, I'm looking forward to rediscovering them all again next year, when I think I'll try to put the tree up as bit earlier.
This picture has nothing to do with what follows. Just some nice graffiti I spotted yesterday.

I decided not to make any resolutions this year as there were too many vague things I want to do/change and I couldn't pick just one or two to focus on. I definitely have that new year, new start sort of a feeling though and have in the back of my mind a semi-resolution to sort of get my mojo back. This means trying to get back to my more healthy lifestyle (I weighed myself in Boots yesterday and the printout had an advert for their weight-loss scheme at the bottom along with the recommendation that I lose at least two stone!) not live in a shambolic mess and generally just make a bit more of an effort.

Since I am not making any real resolutions, I decided to come up with a list of crafts I want to try my hand at in 2011 instead. I am calling this Craftathon 2011 and have created a category/label thingummy for it over to the right there so you/I will be able to see how the Craftathon progresses throughout the year. There are quite a lot of things on there - some I have never tried (e.g. needle felting) some I haven't tried for a long time (e.g. lace making, not attempted since the '80s) and some I already do, but wanted to include so they wouldn't get shoved out of the way by all the other crafts on the list. I'm hoping that some of them will take on a life of their own and become new long-term hobbies that I'll eventually become good at or find some unexpected way of adapting/incorporating, while others might just be a one-off fun weekend activity. I'm not going to give myself a hard time if I don't do some of the crafts since the purpose of this list is for my own enjoyment and I am also reserving the right to do things that are not on the list. I'm sure I have forgotten some crafts that I had in mind to try and I'm going to be keeping my eyes peeled for any courses that might unexpectedly fit in around work, for more specialised things like stained glass or ceramics or screen printing. Without further ado (there's been quite enough ado already!) here, in no particular order, is the list.

1. Quilling
2. Lace making
3. Macrame
4. Weaving
5. Sew at least one item of clothing
6. Lino printing
7. Gocco printing
8. Embroidery
9. Make a zine (I was meant to do this in 2010, but failed)
10. Pin and thread pictures
11. Make a rug
12. Crochet
13. Paper cutting/collage
14. Needle felting
15. Learn to use Illustrator
16. Stop-motion animation

I am excited to get started. Feel free to join in and make a list of your own. I would love to hear about it :)