Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Belly dancing and Birthdays and Bulbs! (Spoiler alert!)

The weather is absolutely scorching here, yesterday hit temperatures of 29 degrees with promises of over 32 to come. The Met Office has issued heat waves warnings for the first time ever! After two summers with hardly any sun, Britain is enjoying the sun. We have had rain, but it’s been at night! You know, when you were a kid in the olden days before the Sims came along, you would imagine your perfect world in your head and on your drawing book, and it only ever rained at night! Listen up Gods and Goddesses!

Some pictures from my garden!

So what have I been doing for the last week or so? Well, I’ve managed to lose another four pounds making total weight loss now 1 stone and 1 pound so far! The Wii Fit says that I’m now in my ideal range and no longer a bit overweight! I’ve got another half stone to lose before I’m at my goal weight. Daily dog walks and plenty of gardening have helped I think. I probably would have lost a bit more but I went to a Birthday party on Friday night and of course had to sample the naughty delights laid out including cake! More of that later on!

Thursday night was the Summer Hafla which was great fun! The coach was leaving at 6pm and I was supposed to be teaching till 4pm, so I let my students go half an hour early so that I could get home, change and be at the meeting point in time. It was a fab night with many many different styles – tribal, Celtic Gypsy fusion, African fusion, Raqs Gothique, a belly dancer and a flamenco dancer who perform together, Bangra fusion, Bollywood fusion….too many to mention really!

Then Friday night we had a Birthday BBQ for a friend…well it would have been a BBQ but the weather was a bit iffy (night-time showers) so we had a party inside with our usual pass the parcels and party bags and lots of naughty food like home-made burgers, falafels, garlic and herb bread, huloumi (not sure if this is the right spelling), salads, hummus, pasta, meringue and raspberry deserts, lemon meringue pie and birthday cake!!!

(I’m sure I must have put weight on after this cake!)

Even the dogs got involved!

And the crafting? You may think I’ve been resting on my laurels, or chopping them down anyway, but no! There’s been crafting action too. Yesterday I painted some bulbs ready to put in my eBay shop

And I finished my huge swap project for the Hippy Swap over on Craftster. TintedShadow don’t read any further! So this project has taken forever but it’s finally finished and I’m so pleased with it!

TintedShadow doesn’t crochet so I knew that I wanted to crochet her something because I always think it’s nice to make someone something that they can’t make for themselves. She had a poncho on her list of things that she’d quite like so the stripy poncho idea was born. I totally winged this baby. Then I had the bright idea to add a little something…

and decided to add a hood which took so long but really really worth it! I wanted the hood to be a little loose around the face, and to kind of drape on the shoulders a little, which it does! Actually when you wear it, it looks like one of the Elven Fellowship cloaks from the LOTR films.

So I’m finally finished it!

And then, building on my smocking success of last week, I created these!

Again, I kinda winged this pattern, I half drew round a pair of trousers that I liked and changed the fullness of the legs a little. The fabric is from my stash so they didn’t cost me anything.

I shirred round the waistline to make them fit snugly

And because I can’t not do, I embellished them with some ribbon and lace! I’m planning some appliqué too!

My next swap project is this…

…any ideas as to what it might become? If it’s sunny where you are, enjoy the sun!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Operation Cloverfield

I’m writing this to you all today in my garden, which can only mean one thing! The sun is shining! Woo hoo! Do you know how difficult it is to see a laptop screen in full sunshine though? It’s nigh on impossible, let me tell you that! The sun is momentarily behind a big fluffy cloud so I can actually see what I’m writing *lol* I know I’m behind with my blog posts, but the weather’s been kinda nice and I’ve had things to do, marking and such and so I’ve been putting it off. I’ve spent the morning gardening and making falls for tomorrow’s Hafla and I’ve just got back from taking the Uberhound for a walk, so I thought I’d drag the laptop down to the garden and kill two birds with one stone; enjoy the sun in the garden and update my blog! So term is nearly, nearly finished, I have one group left who have their last day tomorrow and then I’m done. Well, done apart from Summer School. I think I have alot more timetabling for this years summer school, thank goodness, including Art and English (knew it was a good idea to do that course *lol*) and also some trips (hurray!) and I have a summer school application to put in for another school, so hopefully I’ll be able to scrape though the summer without incurring too much debt!

It’s been so lovely to have my free time back. With the end of my teaching term, and the passing of my course, I have so much free time now! Even with the invigilation that I’ve been doing for a couple of weeks, I’ve still managed to get some crafting time in.  But first, let me tell you all about the visit I had from the yarn fairy! I haven’t had a chance to thank her publically yet, but look!


The super sweet, totally generous Laural sent me such a box of goodies that I was beside myself with excitement! I had to wave at my other self from across the box as we reached inside to examine what she’d sent…





And ta da! There has been much petting of the Noro in the last week or so. I shall torment myself with possible projects worthy of it’s glorious rainbow-ness! Thank you so much Laural!!!



And so what else have I been up to? Well, there has been much crafting for my partner in the Hippy Swap that I’m organising over on Craftster. I’m not going to show you the actual projects at the moment just in case she’s checking in on my blog, but I can show you teaser shots can’t I?



This was a quick project which I made to take a break from the Big project, a project which has taken me twice as long as I’d planned, mainly because I had a brilliant idea to add something to it which doubled it’s size!



Of course this means that my garden blanket has progressed no further, which means that I’m still lolling on a wooden seated bench rather than a blanketed one! I haven’t done much more on my BPT hoodie either which I’m okay with because I probably won’t wear it till the weather turns anyway. I’ve done a little more on my funky hippy trousers…

There’s more little embroidered flowers and more sequins which you can’t see too well because the camera isn’t picking them up.

On Monday I started making my costume for this weeks Hafla. I’d been trying to find some nice sari fabric to make a glittery skirt or trousers with, but I couldn’t find any that I liked, then I found a batik sarong which I loved, so I had a little change in plan and decided to make a kind of beach inspired costume, sort of hippy tribal fusion if you like! I wanted to keep the fringing on because I love sarongs and I wanted to keep that feel about it, but I needed to be able to move about in it, so I cut it along the top to make it the right length for my short little legs, and sewed an elastic casing along the top. Then I held the two pieces of fringing together and sewed halfway down, so that the fringing would kind of cascade down the side, and there would be a split in the skirt, to allow for dancing! I wanted to keep the fullness of the fabric too.

Then I threaded elastic through and voila! A skirt! One that won’t flap open in the wind and cause you embarrassment. One that won’t bind your legs together and stop you from running for the bus!

And the bit that I cut off the top, I overlocked so that I could use it as a scarf because it still has a bit of fringing on. I’m going to wear it as a headscarf with my falls.

But something wasn’t right. I’m not a big fan of elasticised waists, with my slightly pear-shaped hips, I find them a little unflattering, but I couldn’t think of a better way to do it….or could I? My brain examined the problem all night and about four o’clock in the morning I had an epiphany! Yep, it was that big a deal! I remembered as a child having those summer dresses with smocking at the top…now that would pull the fabric in a bit snugger round my hips and look a lot more flattering…Hmmmm. But I don’t know how to do smocking…

So I got up bright and early and pulled out my collection of vintage sewing books and looked at the smocking section and figured out how to do it with my trusty lil’ Brother machine. Luckily I had some elastic in my sewing stash…

I threaded my bobbin by hand so that the elastic wasn’t pulled tight..

and had a little practice…

So you sew with regular thread through the front, and the elastic goes along the back, and you use regular tension and slightly longer stitches. I had my tiniest needle because I’m sewing through fine fabric. Then I tackled the real thing…

The stitch might be called smock stitch, but when you stitch lines of it together, it becomes shirring. It starts to gather itself.

And here’s the finished thing! I love it! This was my very first smocking project and it was so easy I had one of those duurrr moments where you think, why was I intimidated by this? Why have I never done this before? Well, it won’t be my last time! I’m going to be looking through my wardrobe now for all those skirts that I don’t wear too much because of the unflattering waistline! Woo hoo! Look again!

I love it and I’m going to be wearing this loads this summer I think!

And I’ve been making my falls for the show today as well…there’s some yarn falls, and some hand felted ones. The orange is from orange flavoured Kool-Aid sent by Kerstin (Dragonflyducky) last year!

And I’ve been walking the Uberhound…

Can you believe that’s the remains of an old wall under that tree?! How old must that be?

Hope your weeks been good?


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day Tripper!

What a busy week it’s been! I spent Monday marking in the sunshine, a boring but essential task, made bearable by the presence of our elusive friend Sol! Tuesday, M was working in Leamington Spa, a Victorian Spa town, so I cadged a lift with him and spent a very pleasurable day wandering round.

Leamington Spa is a beautiful town full of Victorian architecture and a lovely park which has helped Leamington to win the Britain in Bloom competition numerous times.

It has a beautiful Gothic church

And Victorian spa rooms which now function as a museum…this was the Moroccan themed baths

This was the Victorian shower…

In the museum was this Victorian lady’s diary, completely illustrated! It was beautiful; I guess it was the equivalent of the modern blog!

There was a tropical hot house which had been built in Victorian times and had been renovated recently…

and the park had many statues and memorials in. This one was dedicated to Dr Henry Jephson who was a leading figure in the establishment of the town as a healing spa. 

It was a lovely day, just me on my own, pottering about and exploring the town. I ate my lunch in the park and spent quite a bit of time there later on in the day when I was waiting for M to finish work.

I’ve also been teaching and invigilating, crafting away for my hippy swap partner, and trying to de-clutter some of my house! I have nine months of neglect to make up for *lol*


Monday, June 15, 2009

Gardeners World

Live has certainly livened up since I finished my course! On Sunday I went to the BBC Gardeners World show which has display gardens created by expert and amateur organisations and gardeners, with themes like recycling, nursery rhymes, sustainability, etc. 

This garden was full of discarded household items planted up or up-cycled, like the car planter, the washing machine water fountain and the bath garden seat (on the left side of the picture, you can see the turquoise coloured inside).

This was the nursery rhyme garden, this is the wicker crooked house, there was also 25 other nursery rhymes represented in the garden, like Jack ‘n’ Jill's pail tumbling down the hill, and Mary Mary, quite contrary’s cockle shell garden path…

I loved the idea of this hammock patio area…

and this adorable wild mountain cottage garden…

I put in my entry to win this huge mosaic…

and coveted this bright pink garden bench…

Bonsais were very much in vogue this year…

I loved the greens and soft reds of this carnivorous garden…

The traditional English cottage garden always appeals to me with it’s wonderful colours and shapes

the blooms were gorgeous and smelled heavenly…

I got a Chris Beardsley rose in pink, which has the loveliest scent and some of the money went to the RNLI, a very worthy cause. I also bought a pygmy water lily for my water garden.

This is a red rose which was just so exquisite that I had to snap it!

The stunning colours and shapes of this cactus display were irresistible!

I loved these ladybird poppies!

I have a ton of other pictures which I’ve been looking through today, drinking in the colours, textures and shapes. Inspiration is all around you if you look!

I’ve spent the day planting my garden purchases, marking (students work) in the sunshine (ouchy sunburn though!) and tomorrow I get to travel to Royal Leamington Spa with M because he’s working there for the day. He’s going to drop me off in town so I can have a little adventure on my own, then he’ll pick me up on the way home! I have my camera at the ready! Hurray for leisure time!



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