Finding work for idle hands: making, baking and more.

Ducks ahoy! June 28, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — lauravw @ 9:37 am

If you’re planning a holiday in the south-west of England this summer you may be able to participate in a large-scale version of the classic fairground game ‘hook-a-duck.’ Fifteen years ago, 30,000 plastic bath toys were being transported by sea and ended up overboard. Since then scientists have been monitoring their voyages, and have learned a lot about the way the oceans’ currents work. In the intervening years, some of these rubber ducks have been found in Australia, Hawaii, the Arctic, the east coast of the US, and now this summer they’re on the way to Britain. What’s more, there’s a £50 reward per duck if you find one!

You can read more about the ducks in The Times, and also the, er, Daily Mail. (Reluctant as I am to post a link to the Daily Mail, they do have a good map that shows the journey these little yellow ducks have been on.)


Little things June 26, 2007

Filed under: Paper crafts,Sewing,Shopping — lauravw @ 11:55 am

This picture of lots of little things made from felt makes me happy – it’s so full of colour and seems very cheerful.

Also cheering: Amy Butler’s new line of crafty things. Anyone seen these for sale in the UK?


En Francais June 25, 2007

Filed under: Shopping — lauravw @ 5:42 pm

A little while ago I was pining for the fact that I used to be able to speak French pretty well, and now I’ve forgotten much of it (including, sadly, the ability to string together a sentence). I was also complaining about the sheer naffness of British craft magazines – and so I took out a (quite expensive – £37 for eight issues, which is two years) subscription to Marie Claire Idees, in the hope of improving my French and accessing some better quality craft ideas than are on offer locally.

The first one arrived a couple of weeks ago, and I’m pretty pleased with it. It’s hard work to read the French because when I did it for A-Level, we did not focus on words related to sewing, knitting and other crafts, but you can Google much of that. Anyway, if anyone else is thinking of taking out a subscription in the UK, it seems you have to do it using the French-language form on their website. I seem to have got over that obstacle successfully, so if you need a hand with some of the words, let me know. (Amazon.com offers subscriptions to people in the US.)


Underground art June 23, 2007

Filed under: Places to go — lauravw @ 2:18 pm

For the last few years I’ve not been visiting London that frequently, and this article in today’s Times makes me feel I would enjoy a trip. I’m keen to see the Antony Gormley statues, but as mentioned at I Like, this takes on a new air after watching the episode of Doctor Who with the weeping angels (incidentally, despite how scary it was, this was one of my favourite Doctor Who episodes – the series has been a bit hit and miss so far, but Blink was brilliant).


New clothes (can you tell it’s payday?) June 22, 2007

Filed under: Shopping — lauravw @ 8:55 pm

Earlier this week I ordered a few tops (four! I know! Very bad!) from Kew, a newish chain of stores owned by the people who own Jigsaw shops. Jigsaw clothes are lovely but so far out of my price range that I barely allow myself to slow down as I walk past their window displays. Kew, on the other hand, is much more affordable (from less than £20 for a top to around £75 for a coat). Sadly we don’t have one in Nottingham, but I found out about the shops when I saw one in Manchester a year or two ago, and was smitten. I’ve been getting the catalogue since then, but this week was the first time I’ve placed an order – I’ve not had a huge amount of luck shopping from catalogues in the past, and so prefer to go to a store and try stuff on (and I don’t really like doing that either…). I’m really impressed: the clothes have arrived very quickly, and they’re all really nice and fit well.


Freecycling June 21, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — lauravw @ 12:13 pm

This week I’ve had another go at Freecycling – I signed up to our local group a few years ago and since then my Hotmail account (which I don’t use) has been inundated with messages, and I could never work out how to unsubscribe so I just let them pile up and tried to ignore them.

This time I’ve signed up and opted to receive no messages, and it’s a much happier experience. On Monday night I listed two items to offer, and when I checked my email on Tuesday morning was surprised to see how many people wanted the old sewing machine that I no longer have need for (I still have another two old machines which don’t even work, but am keeping those for sentimental reasons – a stupid thing to keep for that sort of reason because they take up so much space, but there you go…). In total I had 22 emails from people asking for the machine – I checked the Freecycle guidelines to see what the etiquette is in this situation – do you have to donate the item to the first person, or can you read through the emails and pick someone that sounds polite and reliable? In our local group’s documentation I saw guidance to those people responding to offers, telling them to be polite so that their email doesn’t get passed over in favour of someone who sounded nicer, so I took that to mean you can read through them and make your mind up. I read all the emails and made a list of four people that I thought would get use out of it – mostly young couples who, like me, are setting up their first home and said they wanted to make curtains/cushions etc to save a bit of money, but also an older man who thought his wife would enjoy it, and a bored stay at home mum who wanted something to do in the moments between looking after her baby. Of these four, I emailed the one who had replied first to offer them the machine, and they did prove to be reliable – they came to collect it last night and I was pleased to see that they seem like they will enjoy it (I was a little wary of it going to someone who would simply sell it on ebay).

But then when I checked my email later there was a grumpy message from someone who had not been given the machine! Once you’ve “gifted” an item, you’re meant to leave a message on the site saying it’s been taken, and they had replied to that one saying they’d emailed as soon as they’d seen the listing, had pinned their hopes on getting the machine, and that they felt they “stood no chance” of getting it. This made me feel cross – but also glad that I hadn’t chosen to give it to them since they’re possibly not that pleasant. I checked back and theirs had been the fifth email I’d received, so they wouldn’t have got it if I’d just given it to the first person I heard from anyway.

The second item (an iron) is being collected later, and I’ve replied to someone else’s offer, so fingers crossed I may soon be the proud owner of a donated bag of seashells (seriously – I have my reasons for wanting them!). They’d listed them a few days ago though so I’ve not got my hopes up – and unlike the grumpy person I dealt with, I won’t be emailing to voice my dissatisfaction if someone else is the lucky one.


Fitflops June 20, 2007

Filed under: Shopping — lauravw @ 8:34 am

I read about Fitflops in this column in the Times last month, and then they featured them again one day this week. And I’m intrigued. I know it’s unlikely to be as good as they claim, but a shoe that makes you lean and sleek? What’s not to like?

From Monday’s article:

“As with a lot of these fashionable, quasi-medical shoes, I am concerned that people will think that they put them on and turn into Cameron Diaz,” says Trevor Lewis, a consultant physiotherapist specialising in feet and lower limbs at Knowsley Primary Healthcare Trust in Merseyside.

I’m not saying I want to turn into Cameron Diaz, but apparently a lot of people do – the Fitflop is sold out at Sweaty Betty.


Amy Butler pattern June 18, 2007

Filed under: Sewing — lauravw @ 6:26 pm

ipod_bag.jpgYesterday I made the small recipe card bag pattern from Amy Butler’s In Stitches book. It was reasonably straightforward (the pattern pieces in the book are printed so clearly). One or two little technique things were not obvious to me at the time but I now understand them for the next time I make this item.

What I wanted to make was a bag for my ipod, and this will be great – I need to make a smaller version once I’ve measured up the ipod, but wanted to follow the pattern through once to understand it all. It was a useful experience as I now understand how to put in a drawstring.

The fabric I’ve used is the same denim from my recent skirt, with a swatch of something I got from John Lewis a while ago – a big colourful spotty print which I’m fairly certain is by Prestigious Textiles.


Fabric importing how-to June 17, 2007

Filed under: Sewing,Shopping — lauravw @ 10:24 am

This is one of the most useful (to me) blog posts I’ve read in ages: the dos and don’ts of buying fabrics from US websites when you live in the UK. I’ve mentioned before just how many calls I made trying to find out what I’d be charged simply for ordering a couple of yards of fabric from Reprodepot, and now I know: if you keep the whole order under £18 (about $36 dollars at recent exchange rates), you’re exempt from import duties – BUT this includes the cost of shipping as well. I’m off to Reprodepot

Also good: Buttonberry, a UK-based fabrics website.

And I’m so happy to learn about this Flickr group, where people are posting their pictures of skirts they’ve made using Sew What Skirts.


Britpop June 15, 2007

Filed under: Radio and TV — lauravw @ 10:25 am

A few weeks ago it was the 30th anniversary of Star Wars, which made me feel very old because the 20th anniversary seems like only a short while ago, and I can clearly remember going to see each and every film (several times over in the case of Empire Strikes Back….)

Making me feel even older, today BBC 6 Music is marking the 10th anniversary what it’s calling the death of Britpop, those few short years when some amazing British music was released and celebrated (you can read about Britpop on Wikipedia). There are shows all day, most of which you can catch using the ‘listen again’ feature on the BBC website. Some of the featured music includes the Charlatans, Bluetones, Chemical Brothers, Radiohead, Daft Punk (yes, they’re French, but it was still part of the era), Spiritualised, Bentley Rhythm Ace, Menswear, Gene and of course Blur and Oasis – while from Wales it was a time of huge success for Manic Street Preachers, Super Furry Animals (who are under-rated) and Catatonia.

I was fortunate in that during the main Britpop years I was at university in Manchester, and so got to see a huge number of shows while there, including all the bands named above. It was a great time for music and a fun time for me – if you’re of the same vintage as me you’ll really enjoy listening to 6 Music today.