Sunday, 29 November 2009

Come and Eat Cake!!

You may remember that last year a couple of my friends (Jill and Val) and I organised a Christmas Craft Fair in Hertford. We toyed with the idea of doing the same this year, but it took a lot of organising, and so instead, we have decided to hold a Coffee and Cake Craft Fair, at Val's house. We will be selling handmade knitted, stitched and painted pretties, and serving up coffee and cake. In fact, there will be ten, yes TEN, different kinds of cake. (You'll be ok, I'm only making three of them, and I'm quite happy to point out which ones I'm responsible for, for the benefit of those of you who don't fancy playing Russian Roulette.) We are donating all of the proceeds from the refreshments (did I mention that there will be ten different kinds of cake?) to a Breast Cancer charity.
Please come if you are anywhere near - I know the full address isn't on the poster, (we didn't want Val targetted by internet ne'er-do-wells) but email me at and I'll give you the full details. Hope to see you there.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Second Post today!!

How about that, don't post for a week, then twice in a few hours. I've been dyeing buttons this morning, and for those who have asked about it, I thought you might want to see the results.

The purple worked really well, the turquoise less so, so I added a bit more dye and 'cooked' them for a bit longer, and the lime was good......The orange and the pink worked well. Even the buttons that didn't take the dye very well, that were going to be rejects, look a bit more interesting when all mixed in together.You need Disperse Dye - I get mine from Art Van Go (Apparently there ARE other art shops, but the staff aren't so lovely) Put half a pint of water in an old saucepan. Oh sorry, I forgot the first step - spend about half an hour trying to find where you put the old saucepan. It was in my shed, to ensure I didn't inadvertently use it for food. Although, to be honest, if you're eating something I've cooked, the fact that I used a saucepan that's been used for dyeing, is the least of your worries.

Put a smidgeon of the dye powder into the water. A smidgeon is a tad more than a pinch. I suppose if you wanted to be exact, I'd say a quarter of a teaspoonful. Add the buttons, bring SLOWLY to simmer, and then simmer for 2-3 minutes. And that's it - done! Just rinse, dry and admire.

Some button materials work better than others, and I really can't say what works and what doesn't, you just have to experiment. And presumably, if you didn't like a bit of experimenting, you wouldn't be dyeing buttons in the first place. Unfortunately, those lovely mother-of-pearl buttons don't seem to take the dye, although the cheap pearly ones do. Just try it, and I swear you'll never thrown another shirt button away again!

There's enough dye in each jar to dye about half a hundred weight of buttons, so you could club together with some other barmy mates, and get a selection of colours, and all dye together. (Please make sure you spell the invitations correctly though, don't want people getting the wrong idea)

Swinging Sixties

I've been meaning to go to the Fashion and Textile Museum for ages - it's the one that Zandra Rhodes set up, in Bermondsey. Then, while I was at the National Portrait Gallery seeing the 'Twiggy in Photographs' exhibition last week, I saw a poster of this exhibition which is on at the moment.....As luck would have it, the retirement do I was going to last night, happened to be at Blackfriars - not a million miles from Bermondsey - so I decided to visit the exhibition before going on to the drink. I am so glad I did - it was brilliant. Apparently Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin were students at Walthamstow College of Art. Coincidentally, at the same time as they were studying there, I was being born in Thorpe Coombe Maternity Hospital, which is just across the road! They went into fashion design, and had their workroom over a shop in Marlborough Court off Carnaby Street, then when the shop downstairs became vacant they took that over too. The exhibition was set out in the same way - laid out just as the shop was downstairs......Upstairs there was a replica of their workshop, with old Vogue magazines, the pattern blocks, and more clothes. Added to which, there was great sixties music playing. If you are even slightly interested in sixties fashion, I really recommend going - it's on until 24th Feb - I might even go again, and take a sketchbook this time, rather than just a camera. A bit sad, I know, but one of the exhibits that got me most excited was the original Sindy doll from 1963 - apparently they designed some outfits for Sindy. This one belonged to Sally Tuffin..... and this one is mine! I think mine is in better condition - no box, but her hair is all there, she's got both plimsolls and her Tam O'Shanter. (I'm not sure I spelt that right - maybe I should have just said 'beret')
Actually, I've struggled with my conscience about posting that last picture. I just KNOW that my sister is going to bring up the fact that she no longer has HER original Sindy, as she was badly defaced.
Well, how was I to know that felt pen didn't wash off plastic doll's faces??? Anyway, I think the glasses suited her, and I'm sure the spots would have faded eventually. Sorry again sis.
Having spent a couple of hours at the exhibition, I headed up to the Thames Walk, and wandered along the south bank, up to Blackfriars bridge. I really, really love that walk - especially at night, with all the buildings lit up, and twinkley boats going up and down. I should go more often.
And, I think you should be impressed - despite a long day yesterday, a few hours at the retirement do, and a long journey home - by 7.30am I had got up, showered and dressed, done some handwashing, cleaned the bathroom (including washing the floor!) and had breakfast. Hero, or what?!? Maybe I should say that I was only drinking soda and lime, which helps. Not very rock'n'roll I know, but to compensate for that, how about this great photo of Keith Richards looking wasted after a Stones gig. It was in one of the other rooms at the museum, a massive photo which I loved - but way out of my price range. I wrote the title down, in case I could track down a print - "Naughty But Nice" by photographer Christopher Simon Sykes.
Then, when I got down to the shop, in a display of about half a dozen, I saw the same photo in an A5 postcard for a quid - so I bought it!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy.

I don't know about you, but I was really pleased it poured down with rain all day on Saturday. It gave me the excuse I needed to stay holed up in my sewing room all day. I finally finished a shirt that I started a while ago. Admittedly there won't be too much call for a sleeveless gingham shirt over the next few months, Indian summer, or no Indian summer. But I'll be ready if we have a sudden heatwave. I also spent several hours, sorting stuff out in readiness for the decorator who is due to come and re-decorate my sewing room with some lovely bright pink and cream wallpaper at the beginning of December. Who, incidentally, doesn't think I'll manage to clear it out in time, and I DO love a challenge.
Anyway, I went through loads of old magazines, and articles that I'd saved for various intended projects - most of which looked pretty hideous now - my tastes must have changed. Certainly, I no longer have the desire to wear an oversized red sweatshirt showing a smiley-faced robin wearing a length of tinsel. Although, I do have a vague recollection of making (and wearing) a similar red sweatshirt, decorated with holly leaves and poinsettas in bondawebbed lame (I don't know how to put one of those little accent-y things over the 'e', so I'll just have to trust you to pronounce it correctly) I'm sure I've got a photo of me wearing it somewhere, so if you're all VERY good I may post that at some point in the future.
Fortunately, the rain stopped in the evening, so I didn't get wet walking up to the pub to see the band that I manage (in a very low-key, non-profit making way, you understand)
And here IS the very same, "SWEET SISTER" available for weddings, parties, and all manner of corporate events and social functions.
On Sunday morning, I thought I'd better at least do some semblance of housework, so I sealed the (new-ish) hall floor that I should have done weeks ago. Trouble was, then I couldn't walk on it for six hours, which meant that was as far as I got with the housework. FORTUNATELY, as luck would have it, I'd got my sewing machine and various other necessities in the kitchen, so as soon as I'd done the floor, I took myself down the garden to my posh shed and pottered the day away.
As one of the blokes at work said yesterday - "Isn't it sad, we've got to the age when the description of a great weekend includes the word "pottering"
So, I stitched some cards for the forthcoming festivities (I'm still not saying the word until December)....
and some for other occasions .......
I'm hoping they might sell at our forthcoming Craft Fair and Charity Coffee and Cake event at the beginning of December. I know, I know - I said I'd never do another one, but this is going to be held at a friend's house, and it gave us an excuse to get together this evening and drink mulled wine and eat kettle chips and cake.
And in case you're wondering why this post is entitled as it is - my itinerary today was.......
4.57am - Out of bed just before the alarm.
5.45am - Leave for work
6.30am - Arrive at work
10.30am - Leave work, stopping off en route to go to the supermarket so I've got something to eat other than sweets
12.15pm - Arrived home, unpacked shopping, had two slices of stale toast whilst standing up in kitchen, washed down with a glass of water (I'm sorry, I know you must be envying my stylish lifestyle now)
1pm - Met Lucy in town for knitting and coffee
2.45pm - Dash to car park, swap knitting bag for guitar bag
3pm - Guitar lesson
3.30pm - Dashed home, folded washing, sorted the recycling, and washed up and re-filled the bird feeders
4.15pm - Walked back into town
5pm - Appointment to give blood. (The nurse looked a bit puzzled when I said, "I've really been looking forward to this, it's the first chance I've had to relax all day)
5.30pm - Tea and biscuits.
6pm - Popped into library (the logic being that if I HAD left a bit too quickly, it would be better to faint in the library than on the way back up the hill)
6.50pm - Back home, then quick turn around to get to my friends for 7pm for the aforementioned 'Craft Fair' discussions.
9.30pm - Back home, and I thought while I was on a roll, I may as well fit a bit of blogging in.

P.S. If anyone wants to know what I'd like for a present next month - please can I have a secret two weeks that no-one else knows about.

P.P.S - For my Mum's benefit - I'll promise I'll eat vegetables tomorrow.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Vintage - and rock'n'roll!

I've had a lovely few days. On Wednesday it was our weekly knitting session at Baroosh in Hertford with friends. I think the other customers are beginning to get used to us now, and no longer think we've been temporarily released from a high security twilight home. Then a little peruse of the charity shops where I bought this....I always pick up the china I like the look of, and then turn it over and look at the maker's mark - like I know what I'm doing. In truth, I have absolutely no idea what I'm looking at - but they seem to do it on Antiques Roadshow.
On Wednesday evening I went to the Forum in Kentish Town and saw Wilco, who were really good - almost worth having to get the train home with a load of Jay-Z fans who had obviously been to his gig at Alexandra Palace. Takes all sorts, I guess.

On Friday, I sat for my friend's art group again. This group seem to be much more accomplished painters - there were no certainly no "hag-like" renditions this time, or maybe it's just that my new anti-ageing cream does what it says on the tin.

Then, as we were in the St Albans area, Jill and I "popped in" to Fleetvile Vintage Emporium. We had heard about it a few months ago, and imagined it to be a tiny shop, but it was huge and full of treasures. So much for "popping in" - we must have been in there for two hours. It's the sort of place where you can spend hours and still not see everything, and if you went back the following day you'd find something else you hadn't noticed before. I'm looking forward to the planned opening of the cafe - then we can spend all day there! I'll definitely be going back there again. I bought a beautiful black velvet jacket with cording detail on the sleeves - and these are some of my other treasures ...............

I love the green plastic woven bag - it can be my 'crochet' bag - or I may use it to take my lunch to work. Two pretty tins - one of which matches a smaller one I already have, a china "Brillo pad" pot and three cups that I hope my sister will make candles in -it's her new enterprise. I think they will look quite festive for that holiday that comes at the end of December (I'm not mentioning it yet). It'd be good if they could be scented too, sis - cinnamon and spice-y? Oh and I nearly forgot - a really pretty necklace - only six pounds, so probably not real diamonds.

Then on Friday evening, I went to see the Counterfeit Stones.

If you like the Stones, you really SHOULD go and see this band. I've seen them loads of times and it's always a brilliant night out - they are great musicians, but don't take themselves seriously and they always look as if they are having a really great time - which makes for a good gig.

Dare I say it, they are probably more fun than going to see the real thing - they play all the stuff you love; nothing "from our new album" plus, if you went to see the Stones they'd be a dot on the landscape about half a mile away. And of course, the tickets would be more than 15 quid. Recommended!