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Sunday, June 27, 2010

New haberdashery shop in Oxford

Darn It & Stitch

Darn It & Stitch

I was so thrilled a week or so ago to receive an email from the lovely Jo of Darn it and Stitch letting me know that she would shortly be opening a haberdashery shop in Oxford which, despite its size and the fact that it appears to be packed to the gills with crafty people, has been woefully lacking in that department for a good many years. You may remember the lovely vintage buttons that I bought from Jo's stall at the Gloucester Green craft market back in November. Well, the shop has even more vintage buttons and trimmings, notions, zips, yarn, thread, knitting needles, you name it. In fact Jo even has a wish-list at the counter so you can suggest new items you'd like to see in the shop!

Darn It & Stitch

[vintage buttons]

Darn It & Stitch

[trimmings, buttons, and elastics]

Darn It & Stitch

[gorgeous hand-made brooches]

Darn It & Stitch

[sweet spotty buttons]

Darn It & Stitch

[yummy ribbons]

It was perfect timing for me. I scored a bright pink zip for my Vogue/Amy Butler skirt and these two fabulous brooches by Bee Ferrari as birthday gifts.

Bee Ferrari brooches

Do pop along and see Jo - her shop is a crafter's dream and there's more (fabrics and classes) to come!

Darn it and Stitch

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fleece Day 2010

Saturday was Fleece Day for the Oxford Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers at Stanton St. John. This was kind of a guild open day with demonstrations, fleece and yarn to buy, and lots of cake (which I totally failed to take any pictures of).

The fleece!

[Oxford Downs fleece]

I arrived early with Megan just as Kate and the other dyers were setting up the dyeing tent for demonstrations.

The dyeing tent

It was fascinating to see Megan's dyeing process. I've seen and worked with lots of the finished product so I was so interested to see how she gets those lovely results.

Megan hand-dyeing fibre

Megan hand-dyeing fibre

Megan hand-dyeing fibre

There were lots of lovely items on the sales tables. This hand felted alpaca cushion found its way home with me (after some dithering) as a house warming gift to myself. I can't tell you how soft it it. Not only is the cover made from felted alpaca but it's stuffed with alpaca fibre too.

Guild sales items

Between eating cake and watching Megan and Kate's dyeing demos I got on with some spinning, answered questions, and taught three people to spin (or at least gave them a go on my wheel).

Clare learning to spin

It turns out that Clare (from Bluestockings) is a natural. Megan and I will be continuing her fibre education/corruption by pushing a spindle and fibre on her in the very near future - I think we have another convert to the dark side.


Woah! there is loads to blog about this weekend but I'll start off with a few housekeeping items.

Firstly, due to popular demand (alright, my parents and Felix) we have some shots of the new furniture.

I love our new dining table. It's solid, it's a lovely colour (natural oak), and most importantly it's rectangular. We've been eating, working, and crafting (well I have) at a ridiculously wobbly oval table for the past three years and I for one am loving the corners. I know you're not meant to put your elbows on the table at mealtimes but it's nice to have the room should you want to.

new furniture

And we have all of four chairs which means that I can have up to three people (assuming the boyfriend is out) round to dinner.

Then we have the TV unit (also in oak) which has a very hi-tech hole at the back for all the cables to snake out of and a little cupboard at the front for remotes and current DVDs and that.

new furniture

And finally we have the dresser which will contain our new crockery when we get it but at the moment is just standing there and looking pretty.

new furniture

One of the nice things about the new furniture is that it provides a lovely backdrop for photos for this blog. You're going to see a lot of knitting and sewing on a background of oak, starting with this baby quilt which has been nearly two years in the making. A lot of friends', colleagues', and relations' babies have arrived since I started piecing this one together.

Baby quilt

The fabric for the top was bought as a bundle of fat quarters from The Quilt Room at the 2009 Festival of Quilts, it's backed with a piece of the same light blue as one of those fat quarters, and the binding is the Amy Butler Daisy Chain fabric I used for my Barcelona/Cabo hybrid dress.

The main reason it took so long was that I decided to do all the quilting by hand and in the shape of the large flowers that featured in one of the fabrics (and that I started off by quilting with really tiny stitches).

Baby quilt

Won't make that mistake again.

Baby quilt

Does look nice though.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Our new(ish) home


The boyfriend and I are finally homeowners! After nearly nine years of renting we own our own place. And the lovely thing is we don't even have to move as we've bought the flat that we've been renting for the past three years.

I would have really liked to illustrate this post with a picture of house-shaped custard creams but couldn't find a house-shaped cookie cutter in town this evening so it'll have to wait until the house-warming (yes, I'll be having another house-warming). Instead of baking I'm sitting at our new table, by the balcony, watching France vs. Mexico, listening to the sound of birdsong mingled with the vuvuzelas, and drinking a glass of M&S's finest to celebrate.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dress rehearsal

That's what a muslin is really.

V8560 muslin

It's not quite finished. It needs a zip and the hem needs slip stitching but it's done enough for me to check the fit (like all proper model shots it's pinned in the back).

It's been a good evening for sewing. After putting the muslin together I put in some more work on the baby quilt that's been hanging around for about 2 years - there are just the two short edges to finish slip stitching and then it's done.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A present from Liberty

I love how when you buy something from Liberty it comes wrapped like a gift!

A present from Liberty

I went in there to buy some fabric for the skirt pattern I picked up at John Lewis. I was actually trying to find the same pattern which Felix made a couple of weeks ago (yes, I'm a skirt stalker) and I really thought I had until I checked the pattern number a couple of minutes ago (hers is V8424 not V8560). Still I really like this one and think it will look fabulous in this fabric which (although you can't tell it from this photo) is pink on pink rather than pink on red.

Sunspots by Amy Butler

I'm making skirt B (shorter and with no contrast hem). I've got as far as cutting out all the pieces for the muslin and sewing together the pieces for the front and back yokes. I'm making the muslin out of leftover blackout curtain lining from Laurie's room at my parent's house which sounds frightfully like a tip from a late 'forties guide to making more of your clothing ration - "you can make a smart skirt from old blackout curtains".


A ship in a bottle

Nelson's ship in a bottle

I love the latest exhibit on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. Nelson's Ship in a Bottle looked fabulous in the sunshine yesterday and you couldn't have a more appropriate location for it. It's the closest Lord Nelson's been to his ship in 200 years.

Nelson's ship in a bottle

A pocketful of posies

So of course I gave in and bought a skein of the delicious* handpainted yarn being sold by Debbie of Skein Queen in Reading last week.

The Mongolian cashmere and alpaca/silk blends were off limit due to "the Rules"** but fortunately Debbie's "Blissful" sock yarn uses a bfl base from UK sheep so I was in the clear.

And it's so pretty!

Ring a ring o' roses sock yarn

The colourway is Ring a Ring o' Roses (love the name) and it's the colour of tea roses and fresh green leaves.

Now I just need to search out a suitably dainty lace sock pattern to match the yarn.

* and talking of delicious it turns out that Debbie was also responsible for the amazing coconut and lime cake that I had a slice of.

** For the last year I've only bought yarn and fibre that has been produced in the UK from British sheep breeds.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My own weight in cake

So many yummy cakes!

Loads of cakes

Cupcake misshapes

Cherry buns

Raspberry buns

I had a lovely evening at the Knitting Outcasts' Summer Evening Tea Party in Reading. There was much tea drinking and admiring of the beautiful cakes displayed on vintage china hired from Patchwork Butterfly and much eyeing up and fondling of the gorgeous handpainted yarn by Skein Queen. You'll have to wait until tomorrow to see whether I succumbed to temptation.

Susan Crawford

The main event of the evening was a talk by Susan Crawford to launch her new pattern booklet Vintage Gifts to Knit. It was really informative to hear Susan talk about her design process and inspirations and Felix (looking appropriately vintage) and I really enjoyed it.


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Production line

Devil's Food cupcakes

Devil's Food cupcakes baked by the boyfriend (with some help from me) to take into work tomorrow.

Lily's scones

Lily's scones (from Domestic Goddess) baked by me (with no help from the boyfriend) for this event in Reading tomorrow. I hope everyone's hungry!