Friday, October 23, 2009

Memory lane

As there has been so much love for Kitty in response to the recent post featuring her (by the way, it should be easier to leave comments on this blog now, just be nice please!) I thought it was only fair to show Kit. I still haven't got around to making his funky pyjamas, hat and man-bag yet (maybe Christmas?!?) but P has bonded well with him since his birthday, forming a very boyish relationship which consists of sometimes cuddles and sometimes swinging him around by his arm then throwing him away.
The picture of me and BF Kate from a loooooong time ago is a bit tiddly because it's lifted from the Clothkits archive page, having been posted there by Kate's mum Sheila. She appears to have a whole archive of Clothkits classics just in her own photo collection. I seem to remember that the tortoise was borrowed. No, I don't know why we borrowed a tortoise either.
Meanwhile, back in the present, I'm very much taken with Clothkits new Liberty print bias binding- actually lets face it, I'm pretty much taken with all their haberdashery. Even the word 'haberdashery' is lovely. But I will resist, as I just don't need it at the moment- rest assured I'll be thinking up a reason I do need it very soon!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

An Autumn-ish kind of day

We've been a bit lonely this week as no walkies with our pals (little pal is sick with teethy stuff, poor lamb). It's also been a bit wild in the weather department. Still, today was slightly milder so I was determined we'd get out and about.
Before lunch I filled the house with the heavenly smell of garlic and tomato, making the standby pasta/pizza/whatever sauce that will be a cornerstone of the Holy Eye Cookbook if I ever get around to writing with it. Must be over 15 years since my first boyfriend's mother taught me to make it, and it just gets better.
Then off to Bowness on Windermere and a circular walk by Cockshott Point. Pretty views, with just enough sunshine to dapple the fells before low cloud moved in. A little too commercial and, well, civilised, for my taste (I like my nature a bit more natural), but P got some walking and boat/swan watching in and we bought a new folder of walks from the information point- we've nearly exhausted the South Lakes opportunities in the original book we got!
Back home and I made Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's gorgeous honey and almond cake (a prized clipping from The Guardian that's already gaining the sticky spatter marks which signify a good recipe) before tackling the weird, deeply ridged squash that came in last week's organic box. It was a complete bugger to peel and cube but roasted nicely with chilli seasoning and orange sweet peppers. We had it with goats cheese, bulghar wheat and that warm, nice-to-be-indoors feeling when an autumn night closes in and your family are all together.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Handmade with love

A couple of blogs I've been reading lately (namely Soulemama and The Antidote) got me thinking about some of the beautiful, and enduring, items that we have thanks to the handiwork of family members. I'm sure if I dig through the family albums next time I'm at my parents I could find loads of great pictures, but for now here are just a few examples.
The first pic is my original 'grandma' blanket. I've made a couple of my own in recent years, but this one has been around throughout my childhood and even earlier, as it was made by my great grandmother, probably long before I was born. Well made at that, as it's still in great condition after years of keeping her grandchildren and great grandchildren warm, as well as being used as a cape, tent roof etc.
The second pic is my beloved Kitty, my mum's handiwork. This is one of the originals, although you can now get the kit to make one through the recently relaunched Clothkits- I've already made P the Kit doll and need to finish off the rest of Kit's wardrobe sometime soon. I saved for what seemed like months to get Kitty, then dashed downstairs every morning to see how far my mum had got with making her. I still have all her clothes and despite literally years of playing with her (accompanied by BF Kate and Kitty Brown) she is in pretty good nick, apart from her poor, worn through hands and the bias-binding evidence of an operation carried out by surgeon Mum to reattach her arm...
Finally, just a couple of the items P is lucky enough to have had made for him. Along with lots of other things including knitted clothes, some fantastic dungarees and a giant beanbag to sleep on during daytime naps, he also has these two gems. The work of his two grandmothers, who incidentally collaborated on the beanbag, they are far superior to anything shop bought. The patchwork is my mum's, responding to the seaside theme I wanted for our then unborn child's nursery, the intricate knitting is my mother-in-laws and won a prize at the Great Eccleston show! Despite our little boy's aversion to being covered up, through stealthy application of one or the other after he has fallen asleep these blankets have already kept him cosy on many a night and no doubt will continue to do so for years to come, one way or another.
There's definitely something about a handmade item, particularly when it's been handmade with a particular recipient in mind that is more than the sum of its materials- something enduring and very special.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Handmade Home

As you can see, I'm keeping up my 'one felt cube per day' target. Meanwhile, I've realised that to hit the next birthday deadline, I'm going to have to put tea-cosies on hold for a bit. Also, as the recipient of said birthday knitting reads this blog I'm not going to be able post work in progress pictures!
Instead, here are some bits and pieces from a few months ago. They are both based on projects in Amanda Blake Soule's Handmade Home. I'm not going to wax lyrical here about this book, but suffice to say that I love her first book, The Creative Family, and her blog. I was really excited about Handmade Home coming out and I haven't been disappointed. It's her fault I've got a whole heap of charity shop and worn out clothing fabrics ready for future projects. The mouse-mat pictured was made from a hand-embroidered linen cloth (maybe an antimacassar) found in a charity shop, along with some fabric left over from a dress I made earlier this year. The curtain (much needed as our bathroom doesn't have frosted glass!) is two unused muslin burp cloths with crochet doilies, again from a charity shop, tacked on. In the book, Amanda used a similar idea to show off vintage handkerchiefs. As she suggests, I've been looking around for what we really need in our house so I can decide on future makes. So far... a back door mat (I want to do the braided rag rug), a TV remote control tidy and some nicer bathroom mats. Add them to the to-do list!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nature and nurture

He goes on long walks soaking in the wonders of the natural world, unpacks our weekly organic veg box and spends rather a lot of time watching his mother be a crafting, homespun hippy type. But his daddy loves his job because he works with BIG MACHINES, spends his spare time tinkering with wheels and gears and the like and is currently glued to the Brazilian Grand Prix. Then there's his great Uncle, who P found out this weekend has a whole load more fun in store, what with the vintage cars and the motorbike. He might even be allowed back, as although he broke the wheel off a retro model car, he managed to avoid whacking the wheel arch paintwork with the spanner. . . The thing is our boy might get a lot of Nature, but it's in his nature to like wheels and stuff so if he's a petrol-head (assuming there's any of that left by the time he grows up) we'll just have to find other ways for him to save the planet.
The trip down to spend some family time yesterday was bathed in some lovely autumn sunshine, but that's all changed today. It's a grim, grey day just perfect for the roast beef dinner we had at lunchtime. We'll barely notice the light fading as there's so little, so it's time to snuggle in and doesn't this last pic just say 'cosy' to you? Actually it should do on various levels, as this is the first of the 'Super Natural' cosies I've been planning for a bit. Nature and nurture, it's all about the balance.