Exams and essaying are over, so the sewing ban has been lifted! I’ve almost gone straight from uni work back into working at the nursery most of the time, and I have a new job now too. This month (and hopefully beyond) I’m nannying for a lovely little girl called Astrid. She’s two, and to coin a phrase from my co-workers, she’s lush.

Before I went back I had a little trip over to Watercress cottage, and dear Gods it was just so lovely. It’s a grey, cloudy day in the city of Bristol, so I shall take a moment to share some bright, sunny, green photographs to make you all jealous with the sheer beauty of the cottage;

I’m still at it with the art journalling. I’m trying to teach myself watercolour, and I think the technique will come with practise. The paper in my journal isn’t amazing for it, but it does the job so I must fight my art supplies perfectionism for now. Of course a beautiful weekend wouldn’t be complete without some theraputic just-finished-exams baking, so we made the ultimate easy-peasy yet show-off pudding, a lattice topped apple pie.

Something about the summer makes me want to make pastry, which is ironic really considering pastry likes a cold kitchen and cold hands, nothing like sun warmed skin to make flaccid pastry. It’s just so indulgent, when you can buy perfectly good pastry from the shops. This time last year I was making apple turnovers for the panto picnic, and the year before that, well…

What was it they said in ‘Treasure Island’ about strawberry tart?

Dr. Lively- “I’d like to enquire about the tart?”

Rosmerta- “I’ll have you know that under this buxom exterior beats the heart of a shy and delicate flower!”

It’s not like panto-themed baked goods are a rare thing, either. I believe that a certain Mr. Stone has been baking Dobbin coloured muffins, and of course the Panto League of Englishmen enjoyed afternoon tea, complete with Ellie and Olivia’s Dobbin cupcakes! I love these so much.

My own contribution was not quite so colourful. I went with the basic vanilla cupcakes from ‘Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World’ with lemon buttercream frosting. They went very well with my best china teacups and that horrible  tasteful plate Helena and Nat got me for my birthday.

And on a completely unrelated topic, since this is supposed to be a craft blog after all, whilst at Watercress I went to their church flower festival, and I got this book for 50p;

It’s so seventies! I love it! It’s not very helpful in terms of how to actually do patchwork, it’s more about frame quilting, but I’m very inspired by the grandmother’s flowergarden thing it’s got going on.

Look at those beautiful hexes! I love how they’ve cut the fabric so the pattern goes with the flower shape. I don’t have the patience for that and it must create a lot of wastage but it looks really cool. I’m all keen to get on with own hexes project again. I’d been stuck on it for a while- hand peicing takes such a long time! I sewed and sewed for a whole year and I have about a square metre worth of quilt so far. Plus I’m getting a bit sick of the colours I chose. Washed out blues and purples isn’t really doing it for me any more. After seeing this I think it might be fun to do an equal number of hex flowers in warm colours and alternate them on an off-white background a bit like the one above. It depends how I feel, if I want to make this a double. I might as well, since I’m not going to hand peice another quilt in my life, I don’t think. We’ll see. I have forty hex flowers now, which is a whole lot.

Getting there one hexagon at a time. Peace x

I’ve been to London to look at the Queen. It was flippin’ ages ago too. I went to the Imperial War Museumto see the Ministry of Food  exhibition. I just wanted to tell the world that this;

Looks awfully familiar, don’t it;

Of course the best thing about London is that the buses come in my signature colours.

But noone seems to look up at the sky.

This is my purple-and-green-should-never-be-seen quilt fit for an elfin gypsy princess. I am quite convinced it has magical properties.

I’ve been so slow to post, I actually made this quilt in a weekend with the exception of the binding which took absolutely ages. I’m really proud of it too. I can’t seem to get a picture which does the colours justice- the two light greens are more mid-green and less yellowy or mint-green than they look above. It’s not perfect by any means, but it probrably says more about me than it does about the peice itself that it’s the first quilt I’ve ever made and I’m mourning that it’s not perfect. Here’s a close up of that binding;

I machine bound it, and it was seriously so difficult. How on earth do people have the patience to hand-bind? This took me hours and hours even with the machine, and I felt like I needed at least two sets of extra hands at all times, or possibly some kind of seamstress tentacles?

Anyway, I took the pattern from my quilting book ‘Bundles of fun; quilts from fat quarters’ by Karen Snyder. However for reason I will get to in a minute, my quilt is nothing like the layout I was supposed to be following.

 It’s the first pattern in the book, called “Twelve Easy Pieces” and it calls for twelve fat quarters, which I dutifully chose from Hobbycraft. This is where things started to get interesting- the lad who was cutting my fabric for me basically didn’t know what he was doing, and didn’t listen to a word I said. I asserted multiple times I was working in yards and inches, and Hobbycraft even sell some ready-cut fat quarters, but after insisting he was doing what I wanted, he went ahead and cut my fabric. Got home, opened it out, scratched head, got out tape-measure. He’d cut me quarter metres. *facepalm*

So right from there the cutting diagram I had wouldn’t fit, cause I had extra fabric, but not where I needed it. Since I couldn’t follow Karen’s diagram,which called for 61/2 inch squares, I decided to throw caution to the wind and just keep cutting six inch quares till I ran out of fabric, and use the rest to make binding, since my ruler to use with my shiny new rotary cutter is a six-inch rectangle, so it was a no-brainer to do it that way.

It’s the Rage Against The Machine school of pattern cutting- fuck you I won’t do what you tell me!

And you know what, I didn’t need a pattern anyway. It came together fine, give or take some horrible rucks and dubious stitch-in-the-ditch skills.

I am so proud of myself!

It’s really cool to make a big project, get raw materials and make something beautiful, something you can’t even buy these days. And more than ever I am pleased to have this blog so that I get to brag a little bit, because I appreciate that noone in my world will find my quilt as exciting as I do. I’m really fired up to make more projects soon, of course I’m moving in with my beloved Fergus, so we will need a double quilt for a out love nest. And of course a throw for our sofa, and some patchwork beanbags, and tablecloths and and and…

While I was in the patchwork one I whipped this up, pattern curtousy of The Pink Penguin.

 I saw these quilted baskets over at Be*mused http://bemused.typepad.com/bemused/2009/04/a-tisket-a-tasket.html, a blog i read often because it’s full of quiting happiness. The actual tutorial is here; http://ayumills.blogspot.com/2008/05/tutorial-fabric-basket.html

What a perfect project- it calls for 2″ squares, and I had strips of 2 and 1/2″  binding I didn’t know what to do with, and I had the turqouise cotton from my hexes quit, while the roses is the backing for the purple and green quilt. It took me less than an hour 🙂 It was a birthday present for Grandma Sylvia Rose, so it’s in her colours.

(I am having so much trouble with getting my pictures the way I like them- it’s a bit of a headache and it’s why I don’t blog much even though I have lots of lovely pictures and things to say. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s wordpress, maybe it’s both. I’m also going to figure out how to get cute, tidy little links so I don’t have sprawling URLS all over lovely tidy blog. Also I have totally sworn of sewing for this month because I have two essays in followed by an exam, so no new stuff there. I could always talk about old stuff I suppose.)

Grass is ris

Wonder where them birdies is?” (Ogden Nash)

Chez Grelanie has been showing signs of Spring at long last.

They say that purple and green should never be seen. Nature doesn’t seem to think so…

And neither do I…

Keeping with the theme- I’m machine peicing a quilt! I chose my fabric partially with the spring colours in mind, but also the colours in my bedroom. The pattern calls for 12 fat quarters, and the patches are bigs (61/2″ square) so I could pick big patterns. It makes such a change after choosing tiny detailed ones for my paper hexes!

These are all from straight off the shelf in Hobbycraft. I decided to go with two each of six patterns instead of six different, and I got two green/white fleur-de-lis type things, this lovely gypsy-ish burgundy, a burgundy with a small pattern to even it up, and two block colours.I even  invested in a special ruler and a rotary cutter, (one of those little pizza cutter things) and my fabric is all cut up and ready to go.

Of course anyone who’s looked in my wardrobe will know my take on “Purple and green should never be seen.” Maybe it’s supposed to be “orange and green”? Or “Blue and green”? Not guilty there, folks. Anyway, that doesn’t even scan.

Off to bed. Love love love x

I am so frustrated, you guys, seriously. I have loads of craftyness, and artness and things to blog about and I have loads of photos but I can’t find the sodding lead to make the laptop and the camera talk to each other. Yes, yes, I know, I can’t possibly post without a picture because then someone might actually read my nonsense. Insecurities abound!

So, I’m biting that bullet to tell anyone who cares that between 01/03/09 and 01/03/09 I READ 100 BOOKS!

 That’s a book every three and a half days!  Even for me it’s a lot of reading. Honestly I reread a few of the books on my lists multiple multiple times, but that doesn’t count for me, because I need to read some things like the Dion Fortune book and the Paolo to remind me I’m not actually crazy. Here’s my list;

1.‘The Bonesetter’s Daughter’- Amy Tan
2.‘The Handmaid’s Tale’- Margaret Atwood.
3.‘Writing home’- Alan Bennett
4.‘Choke’- Chuck Palahniuk
5.‘The Sea Priestess’- Dion Fortune ®
6.‘Shantaram’- Gregory
David Roberts
7.‘The Wizard of Earthsea’- Ursula LeGuin

8.‘On the Road’- Jack Kerouac
9.‘The Dharma Bums’-Jack Kerouac
10.‘A Game of Thrones’- George R. R Martin
11.‘Everything but the truth’- short stories by Christopher Macpherson
12.‘Bone Island’- Christopher Macpherson
13.‘The story of O’- Pauline Reage

14.‘Perfume’- Patrick Suskind

15.’Netherland’- Joseph Oneill
16.‘Twelve minutes’- Paulo Coelho
17.‘Brida’- Paulo Coelho
18.‘Veronica Decides to Die’- Paulo Coelho
19.‘The 11.11 code’- Hillary H. Carter
20.‘P.S I love you’- Cecilia Ahern
21.‘Wicked’- Gregory Maguire
22.‘Son of a Witch’- Gregory Maguire
23.‘The Power of Now’ Eckhart Tolle
24.‘Bitten’- Kelley Armstrong
25.‘Stolen’- Kelley Armstrong
26.’No humans involved’- Kelley Armstrong
27.‘Wintersmith’- Terry Pratchett ®
28.‘Wierd Sisters’- Terry Pratchett ®
29.‘The Wild Duck’- Ibsen
30.‘Hedda Gabler’- Ibsen
31.‘Death of a Salesman’- Miller
32.‘Broken Glass’- Miller
33.‘Secret Diary of a London Call Girl’- Belle de Jour
34.‘Cat Magic’- Whitley Streiber
35.‘White Teeth’- Zadie Smith
36.‘Twilight’- Stephanie Meyer
37.‘Ravenheart’- David Gemmel
38.‘The Last Guardian’- David Gemmel
39.‘Manifesto’- Barefoot Doctor

40.‘Dragonquest’ Anne Mccaffrey
41.‘Dragonsdawn’- Anne Mccaffrey
42.‘Dolphins of Pern’- Anne Mccaffrey
43.‘Dragon’s Fire’- Anne Mccaffrey
44.‘Dragon Harper’- Anne Mccaffrey

45.‘Wicked Words, A Black Lace Short Story Collection’- Ed. Kerri Sharp
46.‘Interview with the Vampire’- Anne Rice
47.‘Faeries’- Brian Froud and Alan Lee
48.’New Moon’- Stephanie Mayer
49.‘Renegades of Pern’- Anne MccAffrey
50.‘Snuff’- Chuck Palhanuik
51.‘The girl who heard dragons, and other short stories’- Anne Mccaffrey
52.‘Last Chance to See’- Douglas Adams
53.‘Wolf’- Anne Rice®
54.‘Junk’- Anthony Burgess
55.‘Dime Store Magic’- Kelley Armstrong
56.‘Subtle Aromatherapy’-Patricia Davies

57.’Invisible Monsters’- Chuck Palhanuik
58.Juliet, Naked’- Nick Hornby
59.’Not a Star’- Nick Hornby
60.’Grave Secrets’- Kathy Reichs
61.’Divine Misdemeanours’- Laurel K Hamilton
62.’A lick of Frost’ ®- Lauel K Hamilton
63.’Swallowing Darkness’ ®- Laurel K Hamilton
64.Industrial Magic- Kelley Armstrong
65.’Xmen Noir’ (Graphic Novel)
66.’Barefoot Dr’s Guide for Modern Lovers’- Barefoot Doctor
67.’Yes Man’- Danny Wallace
68.’Manifesto’- Barefoot Doctor
69.’Frenchman’s creek’- Daphne DeMaurier
70.’Two Cures for Love’- Wendy Cope
71.’Johnathon Livingston Seagull’- Richard Bach

72.’Johnathon Livingston Trafalgar Square Pigeon'(A parody)- David Lines

73.’There’s no such place as far away’- Richard Bach

74.’Unseen Academicals’ – Terry Pratchett

75.’Slam’- Nick Nornby

76.’The King’s General’- Daphne De Maurier

77.’The Ayre Affare’- Jasper Fford

78.’The Last Hero’- David Gemell
79.’The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy’- Tim Burton

80.’Poison Study’- Maria V. Snyder

81.’The Whitsun Weddings’- Phillip Larkin

82.’The Tales of Beedle the Bard’- J. K Rowling

83.’Feminine Gospels’- Carol Anne Duffy
84.’The Sherlock Holmes Collection of Short Stories’- Arthur Conan Doyle

85.’Paradise Lost’- Milton

86.’Chasing the Dragon’- Jackie Pullinger

87.’Tank Girl’ (Graphic Novel)

88.’Findrinny’- Donald Goodbrand Saunders

89.’Tamburlaine’- Marlowe

90.’The Jew of Malta’- Marlowe

91.’Time’s Arrow’- Martin Amis

92.’Frostbitten’- Kelley Armstrong

93.’Tank Girl- Visions of Booga’ (Graphic Novel)

94.’Venus and Adonais’- William Shakespeare

95.’The Revenger’s Tragedy’- Tourner/ Middleton

96.’The Sign of the Four’- Arthur Conan Doyle

97.’The Lovely Bones’- Alice Sebold

98.’Shanghai Baby’- Wei Hui

99.’Illusions’- Richard Bach

100.’Manual for the Warrrior of Light’- Paulo Coelho ®

Why is it doing that stupid formatting thing? Anybody? I’ve been trying to fix it for a few days now and I just can’t, so I’ll have to let it be. Think of it as an excercise in acceptance for myself. If I wait to sort it out I’ll never post.

I might add to this later, now I’m going to run away before anyone notices I have nothing to say. Love love love x

 January seems to have passed in a blurr of children and books. Most of it looked a bit like this;

I love this. It sums up my little ones perfectly, the age they are at, the state they are in. Even as he takes a moment to come to me he is already pulling away, feet flying, eyes on some other prize. He’s a blur of play and noise. 

Since going back to uni I now only work on Tuesdays, and I bumped into his mother. She says I told him that he would see you today and he said “Grace all gone.” This is huge -huge- when you’re only one and a half. I am head-over-heels for all my kids but I don’t expect them to remember me.

I want to say that working with children has taught me a lot, but it seems so obvious, so commonplace. Yet it has. Mostly just to slow it down. Slow it down, slow it down and then slow it down a little more. 

So in the spirit of that, in preparing to return to university, I have been here;

If you need a quiet space, you can come play in here with me. The best part about being a grown-up is I don’t have to take it down and I don’t have to sleep in my bed if I don’t want to.

Tha’t not a great den picture. It’s better inside, at night, I have a lantern that makes patterns and there are fairy lights. Really, you should come hang out with me some time. Or make your own. I recommend it for anyone who has an empty space in thier heart.

It’s that time of year again.

I bloody love me Granny. If you want me in the mean time, I am here;

More than anything else, what Christmas means to me is craft. There has been a lot of art and making. Theirs;

And mine;

Remember the small version of big hexagons? Here they are again, in the form of little removable brooches on four pouches I sewed for the girls’ Christmas presents. They were filled with little goodies including Cath Kidson patterned tissues and pin badges from paperchase, and sweeties, of course. Does this still count as a “Buy Nothing” present? Maybe not, but it’s cute and I love making up presents.

Besides that, I have been on a Buy Nothing kick with more cooking and baking like a crazy thing. Just because I work 91/2 hours a day doesn’t mean I can’t make up three batches of Turkish Delight on the day before Christmas Eve. I am a sweetie machine! It would seem Turkish Delight doesn’t photograph well, which is a shame because those little cubes in three different jewel colours for Rose, Orange Blossom and Mint are so pretty. These were so much fun to do and far easier than you’d think. This is the second time I’ve done T.D, the first time was with Kate, and that came out too Rosy and too wet. This time, I used a recipe from here; http://www.christmas-joy.com/recipes/turkishdelight.htm and it was perfect. Only quibble is my Orange Blossom essence wasn’t all that strong, you really have to close your eyes and wish to taste that orangey-ness.

I’d like to post more about the Buy Nothing thing but just go see http://www.buynothingchristmas.org/ because they are more eleoquent. I am into it more from a reducing consumerism and saving money angle, rather than a “Christmas is about Christ” angle, but we have a lot in common. I also like that this year I haven’t been given any stuff I don’t need. (I’ll post actual Christmas photos another day, in case anyone cares, but suffice to say I won’t run out of books, coffee, underwear or smelly things for a while.)

Hope you all had a peaceful Christmas, good blog-readers (all six of you!) and I’ll leave you with a gratuitous photo of my Christmas presents from last year; gingerbread cookies from VWAV.

It’s starting to smell a bit like Christmas around here. Work at the nursery goes on until the 22nd (Boo!) so if I want Christmassy feelings around the house I shall have to do it myself. Hence the oranges and cloves.

I wasn’t going to blog today but work is making me crazy. I’m quite calm generally, at work. I don’t mind being wee-ed on, or bitten or jumped on or scraping five bowls of fish stew off the floor, but everyone has their one thing that pisses them off. Mine is knocking my glasses off my face. ARRGH! You can pull my hair and smack me as much as you want, but you do not mess with the glasses! Do. Not. Want. *breathe breathe* …There, rant over. For the record I fixed them and I back to my serene, earth-mothery self.

I was going to do a “things I am grateful for” list, but I think I’ll go drink a coffee and get back to bum wiping. Peace x

This is what made me late for work this morning.

Speaking of work, on our third trip to that toilet that hour, a dear little girl looks up at me and tells me “I weewee all the time.” And I’m not too tired to laugh out loud because she really, really does.

So I’m loving; trying to decorate a ten foot christmas tree with the help of a two-foot toddler on my shoulders, the smell of the pine and my own tree waiting in the sitting room, taking time to art journal, carol services by candlelight, the clean and tidy(ish)ness of the house, going to bed at 10.30, Bonnie Prince Billy and the Barefoot Doctor.