Beaded necklace

My favourite embroidery/ beading time is Sunday afternoon when there’s an Agatha Christie repeat on telly and I can just vaguely pay attention to it (I’d seen them all several times before) and do the crafty stuff at the same time. Last year, I bought a whole load of cheap beads when an online shop had a closing down sale, planning to make some beaded necklaces while semi-watching old whodunits. I started one then got a bit busy and forgot all about it. There were no more Agatha Christies to watch. The half-finished necklace was destined to linger on, half-finished until last week, when I was forced to watch a whole load of recorded BBC4 documentaries – the box was running out of space. So now the necklace is finished and looking great:

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I got the idea for it a few years back when I saw something similar in Vogue and made a slightly narrower one in different colours and to a different pattern at the time. This one is, I think, a better fit around the neck and a decent finish so I’m very happy with it. Here’s a photo of it on the old dummy

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I really dislike starting projects and never finishing them, sometimes I just lose momentum, sometimes I’m a bit too ambitious and think I’ll do it but then don’t have any spare time. Anyway, really pleased I managed to finish at least one beaded necklace and can’t wait to wear it, it’ll look very good against navy or grey. Now, where did I put the rest of the beads…

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Just made, gathered waist dress

I tend to accumulate dressmaking fabrics, forever hoping that I’ll make clothes out of them but there’s never enough time and there are always other things to do. I’m off work for a few days so I finally got a chance to lift the sewing machine cover and make this dress:

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I downloaded the pattern as clothes making time this week doesn’t quite stretch to pattern making + toiling. The fabric is a very lightweight cotton and silk mix, came from a fab little fabric shop in South London and is apparently an old Prada print, it only cost around £20, can’t remember exactly as I bought it last year. It’s so lightweight that I managed to rip the back piece while stretching a seam a little but I patched it up so that it can’t be seen. The pattern came from Burda Style, I made the hem and the sleeve shorter and changed the neckline a little. Very simple to make – the waist is elasticated and so are the sleeves. Wore it today to a meeting, felt very light and floaty, am very happy with it.

Walking stick

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This is quite silly but a little bit marvellous too, I’ve whittled a walking stick! Blaming Yorkshire adders for this silliness. Not that we saw any adders while walking in North Yorkshire Moors the other week but we saw a notice to ‘beware’ so I picked up a stick for defence purposes. Not that I’d really know what to do with a stick had we encountered an adder but thought I’d be safer with one than without. The stick turned out to be quite handy on that walk as I sprained my ankle later on and was very happy to have something to lean on. I exclaimed I was taking it back to London with us to some mild eyebrow raising from Beloved. Then I promptly left it in a caf while having a bite to eat. Typical, Beloved knew something like that would happen. The next day, however, on our last walk before catching the train back, I found an even better, sturdier stick and I did manage to bring it back! Now it’s de-barked, whittled and sanded and oiled a little bit (not sure if you’re meant to do all that, my Lost Crafts book only says to leave it for a year! to dry then whittle) and ready for a walk. I’m more than likely to leave it somewhere, break it or lose it but hopefully not for a while. Love its curved shape and its height – it’s really too long for a walking stick, it’s almost like a staff. Fitted on the back of the rucksack, looks likely to hit anyone in vicinity…

Just made, red marl T shirt

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I used to make lots of clothes for myself with varying degrees of success. For the past 2-3 years I haven’t made as many for several reasons, firstly with work and study it’s hard to find the time, the sewing machine I have is not that brilliant and frankly, sometimes I can’t be bothered to make patterns and toile properly. After finishing my last course in June, the first thing I did was a trip to favourite cheap fabric shop. The fabrics I bought have been sitting in a pile ever since. Two designated large fabric boxes also full… Obviously, drastic action was needed so I splashed out on a new sewing machine (singer heavy duty, just seen in the pic background) and it arrived on Monday, yay! So I made a simple long T shirt in this red marl jersey. Finished hems this morning but have worn it out already, unhemmed, to a glorious junk food feast at Rita’s the other eve. Miraculously, managed not to spill any food on it.

I made a pattern by copying a Uniqlo Laura Ashley T and managed to get a perfect sleeve/ armhole match, very happy with that. Stitching not bad either, considering I am not that great at it. It fits me much better than the dummy, dummy was cheap eBay purchase a few years back and a bit bigger than me.

Think I’ll make one in blue jersey as well, according to my clothes making notebook I have two different blue jerseys… Why? Obviously need to implement better self control methods when it comes to fabric shopping too.

Homemade butter and other weekend projects

I picked this book up years ago (Borders bookshops were all the rage at the time), thinking it may come in useful some day then put it on a shelf and pretty much forgot about it for a few years. Typical, have lots of books like that. Then I remembered it had a recipe for elderflower cordial, which I’m making at the moment and off the shelf it came. It also tells you how to make butter – did not realise how simple making butter is so thought I’d try it. Last night was as good a time as any – words fail at the excitement and joy I got from this tiny little pat of butter I produced.

Am sure lots of people make butter at home – have never really thought about it before but so glad I did this. Here’s what to do:

– pour double cream into a jam jar and shake until it separates into a lump of butter and the remaining liquid is buttermilk.  The cream should be a few days old, not fresh.

– pour out buttermilk and reserve if using for another recipe (e.g. pancakes), then rinse the butter by pouring water into the jar and gently swirling until water runs clear.

– press butter with the back of a wooden spoon to squeeze out any remaining buttermilk and do this properly or butter will go rancid. Add salt if you like salted butter (apparently it also keeps longer) or just put in fridge if you prefer unsalted.

That’s basically it. I probably had only about 100ml double cream left and the jar in the back of the picture is 500ml – gives you an idea on how much butter you get. The shaking didn’t take too long – perhaps around half an hour, was making dinner at the time so would just pick up the jar and give it a few vigorous shakes every now and then. Lost crafts book says some people make this in a food processor but I really see no need to do that.

Going to have my little bit of homemade butter for breakfast with yesterday’s black pepper rye bread.

In other bread news, I now have my first sourdough starter!! Am following Dan Lepard’s instructions from Short and sweet and have had a little dough ball (rye flour and water) for 5 days before mashing it with more water and adding more flour to make this mush last night. There are already bubbles in it this morning and it doesn’t smell particularly nice:

Can’t wait to make first sourdough but obviously still a while to go. Am likely to burst with excitement prior to actually producing any bread…

Last project this weekend – elderflower is currently steeping in sugar syrup so will be bottling my little batch of cordial later this afternoon when I get back from Taste of London where I’ve a little work to do. Shame the weather is rubbish, will probably get soaked…

Moth party

Oh yes, they went and had themselves a massive party in my cardi/dress. I know it was only COS and it bobbled on pretty much first wear last year but it is now no longer fit to be seen in public (pictured only the biggest hole but there are many many many more holes allover it). That’s what happens when wardrobe space too small and seasonal clothes get to spend time in the attic. Unbelievably, moths only partied in COS and left vintage Roksanda Ilincic and Sonia Rykiel sweaters as well as favourite wooly skirts alone. Am considering myself lucky that moths seem to have cheap taste.

Perhaps fixing moth holes in cardi dress can go on my already super long list of things to do over Christmas break and I should really figure out a moth-proof way of putting clothes in attic as garment bag inside another tightly sealed bag clearly didn’t work.

In my imaginary career…

… as a textile designer, I’d work on these photos some more and make some really fabulous printed silk. Then I’d make a dress or two. The pics came from looking out the window on the ginger line earlier today.

Actually, thinking about it, these would work better for skirts maybe. Took loads more but unfortunately you could see the reflection of my mac throughout. Oh well