Monday, 31 August 2009



Hey everyone, just thought I’d take a minute to tell you about the fantastic crafty resource Favecrafts. They have sewing, knitting, crochet, papercrafts, holiday crafts, everycrafts. They even have a newsletter so you can get crafty things straight to your mailbox.

They even featured my Bow bag, and asked me to write about my ceramics for their blog! Exciting and madly flattering too :)

If you haven’t already discovered them on your webby travels, go check them out now.


Saturday, 29 August 2009

Chook rescue… and a note for vegetarians

Rescuing hens has got to be one of the most worthwhile things I’ve ever done. It looks odd when I write it down, but it’s true. It’s not until you see them in all their scraggy glory, terrified of the open spaces, most of their feathers missing that you realise just how terrible battery farming is.
It’s not the farmer’s fault, it’s ours – if we as consumers want to pay next to nothing for eggs and meat, the farmer has to produce them for next to nothing, and that means factory farming. After a year their laying drops and they are replaced with new hens – that’s when the rescuers swoop in!
Here they are waiting to be picked up on the coordinators farm, we were late so this is just a few of them and they are in remarkably good condition. When we picked up our first hens Vera, Chuck and Dave (bonus points if you can work out why we named them that!) they were in much worse condition than this – Vera had very few feathers and Dave has no tail and a badly broken toe. We came to get just two this time - only possible because sadly Chuck died a few months ago, and we have such limited space. I’d take them all if I could!
Releasing them into their new home was crazy – you’d think they would run for the open space, but no, they huddled together in the cat-box and eventually I had to take it to bits to get them out – Vera, Chuck and Dave were the same. It’s definitely all to much for them!
The first meeting was a bit dodgy, lots of clucking and flapping, but after a couple of days in separate runs (but able to see each other) we let them in together.
Dave immediately went for them both but the run goes a long way back and they were able to escape. I got some pine tar bitter beak stuff to put on their necks (although I managed to get more of it on me, and it really does taste vile – mental note, if it says to wear gloves, wear gloves!) Dave is still chasing them but the pecking stopped pretty much straight away.
That’s Rita on the left and Lucy on the right. Compared to Vera (on the left) and Dave (on the right) in the back they look really scraggy but it won’t take long for their feathers to grow back and to start acting like proper hens.
Keeping hens is not very different to keeping rabbits or guinea pigs – they need fresh water and food every day, and a bit of cleaning out, but they are surprisingly quiet and give you eggs. The best thing is knowing you saved them from becoming dog food, the filling for cheap pies or *shudder* baby food.
If you’d like to rescue battery hens, in the UK you can contact Hen Rehomers UK or the Battery Hen Welfare Trust. They have coordinators all over the country, so find one that’s near you. I can’t fine any charities in the US which re-home hens, but if you live near a battery farm, best thing is to go and ask directly, or check out the Backyard Chickens forum, which is a great resource for all things chook.
If you can’t keep hens at home, but would like to help somehow, join Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall’s Chicken Out campaign or simply…
…buy free range!
One last note: If you are vegetarian, always check the label. Don’t assume prepared food is free range, many vege brands use battery eggs in their products, especially own-brands. In the UK Tesco is a major culprit but Quorn and Linda McCartney are fine, and everything from M+S is free range. Also, if it’s certified organic, it has to be free range.
Phew! Sorry to get a bit heavy on you :)

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Etsy Wednesday: Humbleraelord

Hey everyone, Etsy Wednesday is back after a short holiday. Please allow me to introduce you to Humbleraelord from Miami Beach, Florida…


Check out these magnets! They don’t just want to hold things to your fridge, oh no, they want to chat to you too! I love the way they are displayed for the photos, it makes them even more fun! Is it weird to feel a connection with a se of magnets? I don’t think so :)


Each measures approximately 2” by 2” so they aren’t teeny. They are made from fabric, envelopes and phone books and are all the faces are hand-painted.


Doppelganger Girl and Pink fish are blank greetings cards, but they aren’t your everyday printed cards either, they are individual watercolour and ink drawings on 6” by 4” 90lb paper.


They each come with an envelope, but I think I’d much rather frame them and use the envelope for saving seeds – they are much too nice to give away :)

Both cards currently have free shipping too (as if you needed an extra incentive) so pop over to the shop and have a browse along the aisles.

Only 120 days til Christmas…


Monday, 24 August 2009

Wardrobe Refashion sign-ups now open…

LIFE pledge

…and I’m doing life this time. I’m just finishing a 6 month sign-up and some great charity shops plus lack of funds has made it really easy.

I’ll be fine, right?


Sunday, 23 August 2009

Stained dress = pintucked top tutorial

There’s a story about this dress. When I was about 16, I went on a shopping trip to Leeds with a friend and stumbled into a shop selling the cutest frocks. I picked this one up – it was the mid-90’s and Indie was the thing – I knew it would go great with my brown cord jacket and duffed-up trainers. I tried it on in the shop, and when I came out of the changing room, the shoplady seemed surprised it fit. I wasn’t a tiny girl so I was a bit miffed but bought it anyway. When we left the shop, I had a bit of a rant about the sizeist shoplady, she wasn’t so tiny herself. My friend calmly told me it was a transvestite dress shop, that the shoplady was a shopman, and that my dress was made for a bloke.
Being 16, and an art student, of course I thought that was the coolest thing ever (after I got over the fact that I was the same shape as a bloke) and I wore it a lot. Until I spilt India ink on it :( I couldn’t throw it away because I loved the fabric, so it got shoved in a drawer until today, when I decided to refashion it into something wearable.
I needed to get rid of this stain, so here’s what I did:
I first cut the top part away.
Then I cut the bottom hem off, so I was left with a tube of fabric. (I measured the top first to make sure that the new hem would fit on my hips) I then cut a strip out of the top 4 inches wide, to remove the stained bit in the front.
The strip of fabric I cut off the bottom was to become an infill section and was approx 6 inches wide. I cut it to a length slightly longer than the strip I removed just to be on the safe side.
Now I made pintucks along the new strip. Now I’m not much of a measurer, it’s a failing, so I used the pattern of the fabric as a guide. I folded the strip in half, which just happened to be along the centre of the flowers (woohoo), pinned and ironed it flat.
I then sewed along the fold, a presser-foot’s width from the edge.
I then used the pattern as a guide and sewed pintucks the same as the first one, with the fold along the centre of the flower, following the pattern repeat. If you’re a lot more organised/less lazy than me or you don’t have a pattern repeat to follow, you should measure and mark the pintucks before sewing.
I did keep measuring the width of the insert, to make sure it would still fit the gap – I had to sew it back to the top part after all.
When I had finished, I ironed the pintucks to one side, then flipped it over and ironed the back.
I then used the pattern a a guide again to sew across the insert to flatten the pintucks. It’s easier to do if you sew them down one at a time. So, do the first one in the direction you ironed them down. Then do the second one, turning the piece around and ironing the tucks in the opposite direction first. Turn it round again, iron, sew, turn, iron, sew…
When I finished the insert it looked like this:
I then sewed the insert into the gap.
And reattached the top part.
All that was left to do was hem the bottom and it was done.
I think it might need something else doing to that top seam –I have a few scraps left over. If I were making this top from scratch I would make the front in one piece, with extra fabric in the front so I could make the tucks and avoid all those seams.
I couldn’t avoid the top seam with this because the strip I cut from the bottom didn’t have a long enough seam-free piece (and those tucks wouldn’t have worked with a seam in the way!) but if you have a long enough piece, you could extend it all the way to the top – this would be a good way to ease a slightly tight top, just make the insert wider than the gap.
You could also insert a contrasting strip of fabric, there are lots of options!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

So kitsch, so cute, so random…

Look at these!


I found them in a charity shop for 50p each. They are diagonal slices of tree painted with kitsch birds (look at the shape of their heads, the size of their eyes!) and they are around 4” high, except the one top right which is larger.

IMG_6639IMG_6638 IMG_6640

They’ve been varnished, except the one above which is my favourite and they all have a hole drilled in the back for hanging. The lady in the shop said they had a huge one, but it had been sold. Darn it! I’d have snapped that one up too.

Bonus points for anyone who can name those birds!

I’ve also been (thoughtfully) buying up anything that is Christmas gift worthy, but I can’t post those here (the recipients might see!). If you think giving thrifted things for Christmas is a cheapo step too far, check out this post on The Thrifty Chicks Blog. Those girls talk sense!

Anyway, happy thrifting :)


P.s. I Promise I’ll have more made things up soon, I seem to have been spending half my life lately in charity shops, and the refashioning pile has become Everest over the last couple of weeks. Better grab my trusty Sherpa and get going….

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Some of this week’s thrift shop treasures!









These two old stoneware jars were £2 each. They look ickle in these photos but they are pretty huge. We’re going to use them in the new workshop to hold tools and brushes.


I’ve got a thing for these Mexican type ceramics – remember the sugar shaker thing I got a few weeks ago? This vase isn’t by the same maker, but the pattern is similar. It’s Crown Ducal and says RT on the bottom, the lady in the shop said it stood for Rington’s Teas. It isn’t worth anything, but it’s damn cute!


I bought this Meakin plate for 80p!


And this little bowl and jug were grabbed ten minutes before closing time. They were £1.50 for both, and I can never resist a milk jug!

Honestly, it’s getting to be a collection.


Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Free access to the Commercial Pattern Archive…

But only for one week so you’d better get your skates on! This resource has lots of patterns to look at for knitting, crochet, sewing, going back to 1860. You know I like patterns!

To login use:

Username: guest

Password: pattern

Have fun browsing!

UPDATE: Sorry chaps, realised I didn’t post the link – see what being sleepy does for your blogging power! Go here and click login. The search is very comprehensive… even down to the year! 1885 cashmere dress anyone?

Have fun!


P.s. Sorry chaps, no Etsy Wednedsay this week because I’ve been so busy back at work. I’ve had two months’ holiday (though it feels like a week) and it’s amazing how tired I am when I get home from work – I just want to sleep. I’ll be right as rain next week :)


Tuesday, 18 August 2009

What do you make with pick-your-own?


Cheesecake of course! Remember I got pick-your-own strawberries last week? Well this is what I made with some of them. Ok, so I only used them as garnish for the photo, but I added a lot more when I ate it!

It’s a little recipe I make a lot. It doesn’t require anything exotic and it’s really easy to make, but it’s best to make it the day before to allow for setting time (and is not so good if you’re on a diet…)

You will need:

An 8” spring-form pan (if you don’t have one, a loose-bottomed pan will be fine.)

Half a packet of digestive biscuits

Knob of butter

200g tub of cream cheese

100ml whipping cream

2tsp sugar

A few drops of lemon juice


Chuck your biscuits in the blender until they turn to crumbs. Melt the butter and add to the crushed biscuits. Put this mix in the bottom of the pan and press down firmly. This needs to go in the fridge for a couple of hours to set.

Rinse your blender and add all the rest of the ingredients – the cream, cream cheese, lemon juice and sugar. Whip until the mixture is firm, and smooth onto the top of the biscuit base, trying not to trap any air. Pop it back in the fridge to set.

After a few more hours, remove it from the pan carefully (this is why the spring-form helps!) Chop up your pick-your-own and arrange decoratively on the top.


Eat, yum yum yum!


Friday, 14 August 2009

Etsy Wed-er-Friday: Poppieseed

Oh my gosh, I’ve had such a hectic week, I totally forgot to write my Etsy Wednesday post!

Never mind everybody, it’s here now and totally worth the wait :)

Kel from Poppieseed creates these wonderfully whimsical images from The House With the Purple Stairs in Oakland, California. Each image is hand painted or collaged and inspired by the people and places she has known throughout her life, and sometimes even her dreams.


This painting Birds On The Wire is one of those, based on a recurring dream where the landscapes become patchwork. I love the vibrant colours and rows of tiny ‘stitching’.


Germany, Oh How I Miss You is a collage on a wood panel. The buildings seem to be almost floating in those blue patterned clouds. Many of Kel’s images are very much like fairytale illustrations, but with with an edge.


Bicycle is one of Kel’s mixed media images. She has used scraps of ribbon to embellish this painting of a pennyfarthing.


The Robotic Arm of Childhood Fun is possibly the most whimsical of Kel’s images. Made from collaged fabric and envelopes, this image is fun but also slightly disturbing.

While the images are fantastic on their own, if you can see them en masse it is worth it. The simplistic illustrative style of her work really leaps out at you. Check out Kel’s website to see images of her latest exhibitions and to find out where you can see her work.

Kel’s also a singer and keyboardist too – like many creative people she doesn’t limit herself to one outlet! If you’d like to hear about her musical work, the evolution of her images and little snippets of her life, visit her blog Journey to the Edge of the Absencescape.

I urge you to give her a visit because I only have space to show you a few of her works and the choice was so hard!


Thursday, 13 August 2009

Thrift shop treasures of the knitting kind

I have a thing for old knitting patterns – not vintage per se, just old. If they’re from the 40’s and 50’s they’re glamorous, the 60’s are playful, the 70’s are nuts and the 80’s are stern. If a charity shop sells knitting patterns, I’m there. I look through them all, every single one, and since they usually cost between 10 and 30p, I buy a lot.

I might never get round to knitting them, but they’re nice to look at! Here are a few I picked up this week.


I mean, look at her. The epitome of glamour, and more airbrushed than any supermodel.


Likewise this lady, tea anyone? Except by the look in her eye it looks like she’s about to sling that tea at Mrs Dean who slighted her choice of curtains.


Sadly Harriet was the most hated girl at boarding school despite her Fashionfleck wardrobe.

And, out of interest, can anyone remember the last time anything new cost 4p?


Off on her hols, so chic, a bon vivant, croissant, pain au chocolate… That chauffeur looks a bit dodgy.


I can only assume Doris Day was big that year.


In the UK comedy Coupling, two of the female characters are talking about a bloke not only being gorgeous, but being knitting pattern gorgeous


I love this one, what on earth are they looking so gormlessly at? And why did they tie a scarf to a tree? I’m gonna knit this, that roll neck is class in knitting form and I’m a sucker for fringe.


I can easily associate with this image – once a year three of my closest friends and I meet in a secret location wearing near identical jumpers to admire the flowers. Ah, happy times.

I love old patterns, I really do.