Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Funky Clothes and Festival!

Unless you’re a hermit, or you happen to live in the USA, you can’t have failed to notice that the World Cup has started. The Football (soccer) World Cup. If you’re a footie fan, it’s kinda a big deal. Me, I don’t give a damn. I used to be indifferent about it, but since I live with a footie fan, I have grown to hate the ‘beautiful game’. I hate the way it turns sound, sensible men into drunken argumentative idiots. M is a football fan. He loves it. L-O-V-E..LOVES it. *Sigh* He even invested in a 42” tv just so that he could see each special moment. So, I have planned an alternative itinerary for the four long weeks that the Cup is taking place. Friday afternoon there was a Crafternoon workshop in embellishing t-shirts. We had to take a tee to work on; mine was a deep purple skinny-fit job from Primark. Cheap and cheerful and a terrible fit. I hated the way the sleeves bit into my arms.  

I drew out a dragonfly design onto paper, traced it onto Bondaweb, then onto fabric, cut it, ironed it onto my tee, then embroidered and embellished it. I used a different fabric for the wing and a sparkly thread to sew it onto the shirt with a blanket stitch.



I cut and frilled the sleeves using a lettuce stitch. Much more comfy.


I love the fabric I chose for the body of the dragonfly, especially the placement of this skull on the head, giving it a deaths head moth appearance. Then I sewed little bead antennae and sequins onto the wings to give it a little sparkle. 

It’s already a much loved garment! Now, sometimes I maybe trawling the internet and I’ll spy something which I just have to have, like these yarn and needles charms. How cool are they? Immediately I thought ‘stitch markers’ and lo and behold, they became stitch markers. I also bought some 8mm jump rings because I know from past experience that I don’t have any stitch markers in that size, so now I’ll be prepared :)


I teamed them up with these scrummy pink sparkly beads which have been sitting in my stash for ages!


And remember I told you about my stitching workshop (customising charity shop finds), well I went online and ordered myself one of those freehand embroidery feet for my Brother sewing machine and as you can see, it’s already been put to good use! This is just playing, stitching turquoise organza onto dark blue felt with a swirly freehand stitch in yellow.

Then I had a small piece of calico tie-dyed with yellow, blue and pink which I embroidered onto yellow felt, embellished using embroidery thread in a dark blue spial running stitch, then freehand stitches a sunburst design on using gold thread. More when it’s finished! 

I also spent one happy evening during a football game embroidering embellishments onto this plain purple dress and watching Terry Pratchett’s ‘Going Postal. 

I’d bought this pink shisha and embroidered ribbon at the Birmingham Rag Market and decided to use it on my dress.

Then pinking out the green and yellow from the ribbon, decided to make them my accent colours. I embroidered a yellow flower onto the centre bodice using a shisha mirror and chain stitch, and used a running stitch to create accents round the edges of the bodice and neckline..

and round the pockets…

and along the double hem…

It’s such a pretty dress, I’m going to be wearing it alot this summer I think!

I also went to the Leamington Peace Festival with friends.

The weather was scorching hot, so we all burnt to a crisp!

And just to prove the nice weather we’ve been having, just look at Midsummer Day’s Sunset! Happy Solstice to you :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Parties and workshops!

Well, the last couple of weeks have gone flying by, yes, literally flying!!! All my students are getting to the end of their courses, which is good, but very very bad for my bank balance! I shudder to think of the upcoming financial drought…my credit is about to be severely crunched! Still I’m hoping that I will be able to get enough summer school work to tide me over; after all, I still have a mortgage to pay, and there are soo many things I want to, no need to do over the summer, especially now I have no lesson prep or marking to be doing!

Myself and some friends took advantage of the £10 train ticket offer to travel for a day out to Hereford, supposedly quite a bohemian place, but the train broke down and we ended up in Birmingham for the day, where we made the most of it and had a nice lunch out and then spent the rest of the day fabric and embellishment shopping in their huge, crazy fabric market.

The social side of summer has started to kick in – we’ve had one birthday barbeque already, in beautiful glorious sunshine which is damn rare for England. We had the usual foodfest, complete with birthday cake, pass the parcel and goodie bags! After all, why should kids have all the fun! If you’re not familiar with ‘pass the parcel’, you start off with a gift, wrapped up, then you wrap another layer of paper round with a tiny gift in the wrapping, then another and another until you have a giant parcel of many layers and tiny gifts. Then you pass it round the circle to music, which is randomly stopped. If you happen to have the parcel in your sticky little mitts when the music stops, then you get to take a layer off! We like to put lovely little chocolates or pretty nail files, nail varnish, make-up, pens, stuff like that between. It’s such good fun and everyone goes home with a gift. I got the centre gift in one of the parcels, a lovely scented candle. I made a really nice glass necklace and pendant for Lorraine, whose birthday it was, but stupidly forgot to take a photo before I gave it to her – doohh!

I also spent nearly two weeks making the goodie bag gifts, little bottle cap pincushions in a rainbow of colour. They have an embroidered and sequined flower on the botton, and chain stitch border round the edge, and a lovely ‘iced’ top so that they looked like little birthday cakes, or cupcakes.

The day after that, myself and a couple of friends went to a Make and Sew workshop ‘Customising Charity Shop Finds’ – you know I’m well into that! We learnt lots of wonderful techniques using Bondaweb and Transfoil. The first thing we did was use strips of bright fabric, stitched together and embellished. These can be used for embellishing all sorts of things.

Then we tried an appliqué and free hand stitching technique using stabiliser,

then a patchwork-y type effect.

We also made little fabric roses! It was such good fun and I came away with loads of ideas and a burning desire to spend lots of money on more fabric, bondaweb, threads, transfoil, etc. I did come home and order a freehand foot for my Brother sewing machine.

The very next day, M and I went to London for the day; we’d got free tickets to see Rage Against the Machine in Finsbury Park! What a great day that was, only it took us four hours to get home! Four hours! We probably could have walked it in that time! There were quite a few bands playing, The Gallows (a punk band), Roots Manuva a London Rap artist,  Gogol Bordello (I love their sort of gypsy anarchist sound, and I love their track ‘start wearing purple’) and a DJ to play between bands.

The weather was lovely, despite dour predictions, we had a very light shower about halfway through the day, but we’d brought light jackets with us.

There are days when I feel up to the mosh pit, but today I was happy a bit further back with space to dance! Luckily they had big screens so that you could see exactly what was going on on the stage.

The finale was amazing – I swear that Zack de la Rocha, the lead singer of RATM looks exactly the same as he did years ago when ‘Killing in the Name of’ was Number One the first time round (and yes I saw them live on that tour too!  

The day was amazing and all the better because it was free! Proceeds went to Shelter which was excellent. Getting home was a nightmare though, the Tubes on Sunday end a lot earlier than in the rest of the week, and the police were being typically over cautious and closed off all the Underground entrances except one. Then they had mounted police filtering 40,000 tired and drunk party-goers onto one Underground platform! What a recipe for disaster! The Tube station is literally 2 minutes walk from Finsbury Park and yet it took us over an hour to get onto a train! We managed to get the very last Tube of the night and barely made it back to Euston for our last train home! Then that train terminated at Milton Keynes because of ‘engineering work’ at Northampton, and we had to get a coach back. A journey which would take us an hour by car took us over four hours! We got in at two o’clock in the morning and then I had to be up at six thirty, for an eight thirty lesson. I was knackered!  God knows what London will do when we get the Olympics! 

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Holiday in Hunstanton…

So things are absolutely crazy here at the moment. Have I said this before?? Can’t remember…my brain is trying to do an impression of a black hole here…all intelligent thought has been eradicated by the mindnumbingly boring task of the multiple marathon. Read, tick, read, comment, read, tick, sign, blah, blah, blah! When the words and images start to blur together I take a break, but I’m under time pressure here, we’re already behind schedule because of the volcanic ash disruption…  aaarghh! I have to be fair and accurate, this is someone's future I’m deciding here….

Sadly my tribal classes have finished, but I think I may have found another tribal troop so I plan to start those after half term now my lovely students have finished classes and I can get to a six o’clock dance class. I do still have my Turkish/Egyptian belly dance classes though, so I get to sparkle once a week for now. This is the class which will be having the Hafla in approximately three weeks – wow, so quickly! We’re practicing our choreography like mad, but I think we’ll be ready in time. We usually are. Now comes the first dilemma – what to wear!? I have a very colourful banded circle skirt which I’m thinking of wearing, but I need to decide on a top and accessories. I’ll have to have a dress-up session.

I also have a ticket for the Raqs brittania night – Bellydance Superstars are performing in Sheffield, England the same week as our Halfa, so I need to decide what I’m wearing to that too. And save up money for the souk of course! Although I probably won’t be able to afford much! Sooo excited to see them!

Anyway, we’re now in summer half term – hurray for holidays, unpaid though they may be. M and I decided to go to the coast for the Bank Holiday weekend. We stayed at a Deer Park in Snettisham in Norfolk. We went early on Saturday and came back on Monday. We managed to cram quite a lot into our weekend though. On Saturday, since the weather was wet (Bank Holiday weather, suprprise, surprise..) we left Joe in the caravan and went to the Sealife Centre in Hunstanton and admired the fish, otters and seals

Our visit coincided with otter feeding time and you’ve never heard such noisy scolding as a …pack?…what do you call a group of otters?…of hungry otters!

The aquariums were lovely, some of them were really colourful, M was particularly taken with the viewing pool of stingrays…

Since we were sans cannine, we spent an hour in the beachside bar admiring the surfers. It was too cold and wet to walk along the beachfront.

On Sunday we took advantage of our location on the Deer Park to to the activities onsite. The first thing we signed up for was bottle feeding the lambs!!!

Isn’t he adorable!!! And if you thought the otters were noisy, these little guys were even noisier! This particular breed to sheep have only two teats, and commonly have twins, so when a ewe has triplets, the extra lamb is bottle fed to make sure that it develops well. We all had a bottle each and the lambs were let out half a dozen at a time, to charge out looking for a bottle. That was just the funniest sight! And boy can they chug a bottle! We got to feed three or four lambs.

The next thing on the agenda was the deer safari. We all sat in a customised trailer with seats and were towed round the park by a tractor. The deer park is right on the edge of the Sandringham Estate where the Queen lives sometimes. The farmer said that all the land round that you could see belonged to the Queen except for this bit that the deer park was on. We had regular stops allowing us to see the deer. They’re busy shedding their winter coat at the moment.

The first baby had been born a weekend or two before, so we timed it well. Apparently the mothers hide the babies in the rushes for ten days to protect them from predators, so we lucky to be able to see a couple. Some of them were still hiding though…we just caught a glimpse of them hiding! We also got to hand feed some of the deer from the trailer!

In the afternoon, we went to visit a friend of mine who has hand built an Eceni Village with her husband! This is the sort of place Boudicca would have grown up on. They’re both living historians who travel to schools to re-enact periods in history.

All that lovely yellow you can see is woad, you get the lovely blue colour from the stalks and roots.

They have quite a few buildings now, the men's hall (or tavern!) where one of the altars was, also the weapons etc. 

The houses were quite cosy inside, they'd been well insulated so they all they needed were tiny fires which were enough to keep them warm.

One of the houses (called the moon house) had a lovely bedroom…

There were some sheep, goats, chickens etc which live there too, and the fleece from the sheep and goats are collected to weaving. Jo uses the natural dyes from the plants about to weave the garments and fabrics onsite.

We then headed back to Hunstanton to walk along the front with Joe, enjoying a handmade ice-cream, then onto Norfolk Lavender, which sadly was shut by the time we got there!

Sadly the gas bottle ran out late Sunday night, and faced with heavy rain on Monday morning and the prospect of no morning cuppa or food to keep us warm, we decided to head home after an exhausting, but very enjoyable weekend!

Highlights – bottle feeding the lambs, feed the deer

Lows – the weather…sigh!



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