Saturday, 31 October 2009



Ok, so we don’t really do Halloween in the UK, not like you good folks in the US at any rate! But this is our small effort.

This was the only pumpkin that grew in our patch and it’s all of 8” across. Still, my brother designed the face and ma did the carving and it’s sitting in our yard, scaring the wee kiddies (well, making them laugh at any rate!)

I now have a big bag of pumpkin innards, so if anyone knows of a great pumpkin pie recipe (or anything else pumkiny and lovely) I’d love a link!


Thursday, 29 October 2009

To cheer myself up, I’m making something for me!

Hello chaps, things haven’t been too rosy lately and since the clocks changed it’s been gloomier than ever – not a mood conducive to creativity to be sure.

Despite that, I’ve decided to start a new project - something cheery, time consuming, and (probably most importantly) that will use up my mountainous stash. No, more importantly, that will cheer me up!

What’s that you say? How about a quilt? Yesiree! A few days ago I came across this tutorial from Cluck Cluck Sew (serendipity?) on how to make double hourglass blocks the easy way. I love her quilt and decided to use up my blue and red scraps to make it.


After a few hours, I had cut about a million 2” strips, sewn them together and made a template to cut them into this:


I still have a lot of cutting to do, at the moment I have enough triangles cut to make a very tiny cot quilt.

The pattern should look like this:


But I’m thinking of making it more like this:


What do you think?

I also went charity shopping this morning so I have a few vintage finds to show you too (If I get a nice day to photograph them)


Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Poor Vera…

Sadly, Vera died yesterday. She was looking a bit low and wasn’t eating very much so we brought her in to keep an eye on her. She was still eating on the morning of the second day, but by the afternoon I was syringe feeding her every few hours. We tried everything we knew but when I got up at 6.30 yesterday morning to feed her, she had already passed away.
It’s too, too sad. I don’t think it had anything to do with her operation – her stitches had totally healed and up until a few days ago she was fine, but she didn’t put the weight back on as quickly as I had hoped.
Mum was brilliant - although she was terribly upset herself, she went into full ‘mum’ mode (you know the one, where she manages to organise the funeral, and keep you supplied with cups of tea and hugs and funny things to watch on telly) She made sure the rest of us were ok.
She also reminded me of a conversation we had with a lady, ages before we got our hens, who was rushing home to care for one of her own who was sick. When we said we were getting some of our own she said that they bring you lots of heartache, and she sure was right. There are lots of good things, but too much sadness.
When you have a sick hen, the first thing you do is check the interweb for advice and the one thing you very quickly realise is that a lot of hens die for (apparently) no reason. One day they are fine and the next they are gone. The best you can do is narrow it down to a ‘probable’ and keep an eye on the rest of them.
I’m really sad, and a bit sniffy as I’m writing. We’d had her for a year on the 26th so at least she had some time out of the battery cage to see the sun and feel the rain but I feel awful that we couldn’t give her more.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Lawks - My tutorials are going to be in a calendar!

Gosh, I’m so flattered and flustered. The kind people at Accord publishing have asked if they can use two of my tutorials for their 2011 Sewing Calendar! These will be my doorstop and circular tablecloth skirt (which reminds me, I have that other tablecloth to do…)


The calendar features the tutorials of loads of bloggy folk including patterns and a glossary of sewing techniques and will be available from places like Amazon and Borders.

You can already buy the 2010 calendar here for the US and here for the UK – I’m getting one, it seems like a great tangible resource for cute sewing ideas (not that the interweb isn’t great, but it’s nice to have real, papery patterns to browse through sometimes!)

Heehee *claps hands in a slightly nuts way*!


Sunday, 25 October 2009

The Aviary’s aviarium – an Etsy friend update…

Hey there, remember my old friend Victoria from Setcockahoop? Well, I just wanted to let you all know she’s moved shops and can now be found at Avarium, the new international shop for The Aviary.

il_430xN_93986541Each item contains repurposed, rehomed or reinvented materials such as vintage ephemera. The ethos is definitely about recycling as much as possible to create unique, one-of-a-kind, lovely objects.


These reusable name rods are my favourite. Each features a garden bird and The Aviary will print one label for you, but blank labels made from vintage card are provided should you fancy a change.


Pop by for a look-see, I’m sure you’ll find some of those ever elusive Christmas presents while you’re there – the shopping list notebooks above would make great stocking fillers!

I’m a sucker for all things vintagey :)


Friday, 23 October 2009

Blimy, I’m on holiday!

Oh yes, it seems to have been a ludicrously long term but it’s finally holiday time!

I’ve got lots of ideas in the pipeline, and now I have a little free time to try them out – and hopefully post about them too. With Christmas coming up (and yet a few birthdays) I’ve got lots to do, and time is a-marching on.

It also seems like ages since I’ve been thrift shopping. Boy am I going to make this holiday full and productive.

Relax you say? Life (and holidays) are far too short!


Sunday, 18 October 2009

Those building types don’t hang around…


We have a roof! Well, we have joists, but when I left for work on Friday morning we had four 6ft walls only and when I came back it looked like this. I’m in awe of the building blokes, they work so quickly. Honestly, if you live in the York area, I highly recommend Cooper and Westgate for all your building needs, and Oaktree architectural if you need a super architect. They have both pulled out all the stops to make it perfect and easy for us – they both really care, and that makes a huge difference. By the way, this camera has skewed the dimensions a bit, the building looks monstrously huge in this pic, but it’s only just bigger than a double garage – bah perspective.


Can we leave it like this? It’s so pretty! The roof tiles can’t be reclaimed, so they’ll look orangey and new for a few years but when they weather it will look like a much older building than it really is. The joists will also be boxed in to house masses of insulation so hopefully we won’t have to heat the building too much, but it’s a shame to hide all that wood. There will be three velux windows on the sunny side too to bring in the lovely sunshiny warmth.


The back door is going to be 50’s style and everything that can be wood, will be wood. We’re not huge fans of yukky upvc. Yuck. Shudder. Don’t you just love that corbel detail? It’s the same as the main house – there’s nothing better than faux authenticity!

The photo on the right is taken at head height through the French doors, you can see the floor is very high – you can see the roof of my greenhouse on the left there. That’s because the garden slopes down several feet, but the floor of the workshop can only be 15cm lower than the floor of the house. The drop to ground level from the French doors is at least two feet! Crazy - but we get a good view, and I like steps.


Manny’s a good boy, always looks when you call, but he loves clambering around the scaffolding without a hint of hard hat or a whisper of florescent vest.


Molleee….mooooollleeee. MOLLY! Sod you then. Bet if I had some mayonnaise you’d look at me.

Over the next couple of days I’ll hopefully unearth my sewing machine (from under a pile of ‘projects’) and start sewing again. Those Christmas presents won’t make themselves! I’ll only be able to post a few of them here though – some of the recipients read this blog, and I’d hate to spoil the Christmas morning surprise!


Monday, 12 October 2009

I finally knitted something…

Ok, so you know I mentioned the mountain of wool gathering bunnies under my bed? Well, I dusted some off, dug out Wenlan Chia and brandished my new circulars in a menacing way.
Well. Sort of. I um’d and ah’d a bit about what to knit, I have loads of beautiful knitting books, but in the end I needed something with speedy-satisfaction-happiness potential and only Big City Knits’ Balthazar vest would do!
I’m not one for using the recommended yarn, so rather than using Twinkle, I used Sirdar Bigga instead (I’m poor!). I had to use smaller needles and knit the biggest size in the book but it fits fine and it’s very warm.
It only took one day and and evening to knit, sew and block and the colour is more like the top picture, kinda mossy. I like the little details like these k2tog, yarn over moments and the short-row shaping in the sleeves. If you had time for boredom, those little details would stop it.
In the end, I got my speedy-satisfaction-happiness and a snuggly jumper, but I might add something to it – a bit of applique or some patch pockets? I dunno, maybe I’ve been spending too much time flicking through the pages of Knitknit and Knitprovisation, both books I highly recommend for alternative knitty thinking.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

More of this week’s thrift-shop treasures…


I’ve been a bit dress mad recently – it seems lots of people are getting rid of summery things in favour of more wintry ones. Well, not me. I always find that summery clothes are much cheaper in charity shops in winter and vice versa. The dress above left was found in Thirsk and although it’s a bit big up top it’s not so big I fall out of it so I might leave it as is and wear it with a cardi. The one above right was 50p form the sale rail of Easingwold’s only charity shop – bargain, and it fits perfectly. I wasn’t too hot on the fabric (it’s a bit crepe-y and mumsy) until I put it on and it looks so much better than I thought it would. If it looked crap, I would have found some crafty use for it!


The dress above left was also 50p from the same Easingwold charity shop sale rail. (I bet you’ve seen this one, Ann, they’ve had it for ages!) I loved the fabric when I first saw it, but although it says it’s a medium (ha!) there is no way it would ever fit me unless I had my ribs removed. The bottom fits perfectly though – which is odd, because I’m small of chest and large of hip - so I’ll probably make it into a skirt and use the leftover bits for quilting or some such.

The shirt above right is lady-size, so there isn’t too much fabric to work with. The collar is worn through and it’s all a bit tatty but once again, I just couldn’t pass up that fabric. Maybe I have a thing for printed birds? And blue.


The fabric above is a huge square pillowcase – I always rummage through the pillowcase boxes just in case. Not sure what I’ll do with this, there is enough fabric to make a top or some shortie pyjimjam bottoms. I’m a sucker for stripes though.


And finally another circular tablecloth to make into a skirt. Mum brought this one home from her travels and it only cost £1. It’s nicer, and less blue, than it looks, but the weather was turning again and it was getting dark.

If I find the time to transform any of these things, I’ll let you know…


Saturday, 10 October 2009

A few Thrift-shop clothing treasures…


What do you think of this apron? Did I show you it before? I bought it a few weeks ago for 50p from a charity shop bargain bin. I love the lady and chap on the pockets, and all that Scandi-goodness :) Oh yes, and that’s me wearing it. *shudder* I hate pics of me, but it just looked crap on a hangar and I wanted you to see the loveliness of that apron in full!


This top is from Topshop, I think it cost about £2.50 from a charity shop in Thirsk (by the way, if you’re ever nearby, there are approximately 30 charity shops per square metre in Thirsk, including a Sally Army). It’s pristine, and doesn’t it look great with this sheer, green dotty top?

IMG_7155Ok, so the hangar doesn’t do it justice, but I think it was also about £2 from the same shop and it does look great on.

I had a few more things to show you today but it got rainy and dark and the photos turned out rubbish. I’ll have another pop at them tomorrow.

Hope you’re all enjoying a brighter weekend!


Monday, 5 October 2009

A Vera update and a thankyou.

Well, first I’m going to do the thankyou – thanks for all your nice, bolstering comments, It’s amazing how people you’ve never met will give their time to make you feel better – thanks guys :)
Thanks also for helping me believe that I did the right thing for Vera. I know she’s only a chicken, but she’s not livestock to us, she’s one of our babies (I swear, I’m going to be a crazy cat lady when I grow up, but with hens)
We let her back into the run on Saturday night, just in time to go to bed because I read somewhere that hens can’t count and they don’t notice there is one more in the morning!? Well, that never worked before, but the pecking order doesn’t seem to have changed and Vera is right back at the top. That’s her in the middle attacking everything in sight…
Of course she might be at the top because she’s ravenous and won’t let a morsel escape her!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Bad days with a sick hen…

CAUTION: Please don’t read on if you are in any way squeamish!
It started on Monday. Vera’s comb went purple and droopy, and that never means good news. When Chuck was ill, her comb went purple too so I read everything I could find about it. A purple comb is a major indication of heart and respiratory problems and since we had already lost Chuck, I didn’t want to lose Vera too.
I checked her over and noticed her crop was huge and very hard. Back to the interweb for more research. It turned out that her crop might have become impacted and was cutting off her airway, and worst of all no food was passing to her stomach. She was incredibly thin. A hen’s crop becomes impacted because basically they can’t chew. In the wild they rip small pieces from plants to eat, but in captivity we are prone to chopping up stuff. If that stuff is small enough to swallow but big enough to get stuck the hen can get in big trouble. Long strands of grass are a also major culprit, but so is dry food (such as bread) if they don’t drink enough water.
There were lots of treatments I could try (thankyou to all the poultry forums!), but first I had to wait until the morning. It was important to make sure it was an impacted crop by checking it wasn’t empty in the morning. If it was it could have indicated something potentially worse, but thankfully (!) it was still there, round and hard as a baseball.
I tried syringe feeding her with olive oil first, then massaging her crop, but to no avail. I gave it a day but it wasn’t shifting.
I also found an article about feeding hens live maggots. I read that the maggots clear the crop of food and then get digested themselves. Sounded like a great idea (and full of protein-y goodness) Every hour or so I gave her a handful and she wolfed them down, but on Wednesday morning she wouldn’t touch them and was looking really depressed – not eating, with her tail held so low it was almost touching the floor.
Not eating is the worst sign there is. When a bird stops eating they’ve given up and they are going to die. I was desperate and had only one thing left to try – surgery.
I had read several accounts of this type of home surgery on hens, and I know it sounds drastic but I was assured that the area I would be working on would not be painful to her – all the accounts said the hen hadn’t struggled and was remarkably calm.
I made the bathroom as sterile as I could and gathered all the equipment I would need – disinfectant, towels, swabs, scalpel, forceps (both bought for an art project – I don’t want you to think I do this sort of thing a lot) and needle and thread in case the incision had to be larger than I thought.
I wrapped Vera in towels to get her wings out of the way and softly restrain her, sat down on the floor and tucked her under my arm. I was not looking forward to it, and only the fact that it was now or never made me carry on – she was on the verge of starving to death. I made a small incision through the skin over her crop, then moved the skin and made another in a slightly different place through the crop wall. There was very little bleeding and she didn’t struggle or make a noise, in fact she just sat there looking around like nothing odd was going on.
Her crop was jam packed with chopped cabbage, long grass, corn, wheat… and dead maggots. I gently pulled it all out bit by bit with the forceps, it took about an hour and I’ll never eat sauerkraut again (not really a loss, never eaten it in my life)
I used three stitches to sew her up and swabbed liberally with diluted disinfectant. I had to go to work in the afternoon, so I put her in a big box in the bathroom with plenty of antibioticy water. She was alert and awake and acting like nothing had happened.
Tonight she’s still in the box but very annoyed about it! Her crop is pink and her tail is up. We’ve been feeding her (and she’s ravenous) little and often with bread, yakult and crushed maggots mixed with antibiotics.
The whole thing was incredibly stressful, but seemingly only for me. Vera’s fine. I agonised, I really did, and I didn’t make the decision lightly. I felt incredibly ill afterwards, I have no fingernails left and I have spent an inordinate amount of the last few days sitting next to that box talking to her.
I feel weird writing it down but I’m sure I did the right thing.