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

Little green gadget May 28, 2008

Filed under: Shopping — lauravw @ 7:06 pm

I’ll admit that I bought this little green kitchen gadget at Crate and Barrel almost entirely because it was a nice shade of green, but it really is very useful. You can open bottle and jars with it, and snip through packaging – the ‘more views’ option shows all of its abilities at work. Plus it’s green.

And while I was there I got these two very nice cloth napkins with birds on. I can’t find them on the website, but perhaps they are still selling them in their shops. I have thought a little about sewing the two together and making them into a cushion cover, but haven’t made up my mind…


The Alberta district May 27, 2008

Filed under: Shopping,Travel — lauravw @ 6:01 pm

While I was away on my travels I was fortunate that a combination of unfortunate circumstances (our booking for an organised day trip out to the coast was lost by the tour company) gave us a free day and the opportunity to explore the Alberta Arts district in Portland.

It’s fair to say that it’s not a glossy street: in amongst the wonderful shops there are some that are more on the scary side, and there are some old churches that have perhaps seen better days. But that only makes it a more interesting area to explore.

We were staying at the Kennedy School (I would live there if they’d let me; it’s a brilliant hotel with great food, facilities and atmosphere. And they have a small but very warm soaking pool, which is a great place to spend time in. AND they have a cinema, where we watched Juno while drinking chai, which I think is the very definition of hipster), and so walked down a few blocks to reach Alberta Street. One of the first places of note that we spotted was Townshends tea house. We stopped in for a pot of vanilla tea, and some kind of baked yummyness. They had perhaps 40 different teas, with small samples of each set out so that you can smell each of them and see what takes your fancy.

I had read about Bolt, a fabric store, and was very pleased when we eventually spotted it. They have a great selection of fabrics, books, patterns and all the other goodies you might need to go with them. (I bough a couple of the new Midwest Modern prints by Amy Butler and two belt buckles – green and brown – which I have no plans for yet but were too nice to pass over…) Near to Bolt is Close Knit, a wool shop.

Further down the street we stumbled upon Donna & Toots, a handmade clothing store. I saw some pretty and unusual skirts, and we enjoyed chatting with the owner/designer, who was working away at her sewing machine turning out more products for the shop.

I think the final place we shopped at was a craft store whose name I have sadly mislaid, which was one of those small shops that seem to manage to cram in hundreds of interesting products. Unfortunately the things I liked best were the larger papers, which would have been difficult to transport home safely and so I didn’t bother.

Finally, if you’ve got as far as this, then you’re only a few streets away from Klickitat Street, home of the fictional Ramona Quimby. Visiting this street was a real treat for me: I read and re-read the Ramona books as a child, and basically wanted to be Ramona. The street is more affluent than I had expected (although it must be said that it’s a long street, and I don’t know which part of it the author intended to be Ramona’s home), and looks like a great place to live.


The tourist May 23, 2008

Filed under: Travel — lauravw @ 8:07 pm

Two new things to investigate next time I visit London:

1. The new raised walkway at Kew (I think I’m long overdue a trip to Kew Gardens in general – don’t think I’ve been there since my teens… and that was admittedly some time ago now.).

2. The tunnel that links London to New York. A lovely idea – and it looks like a lot of fun.


Up to May 21, 2008

Filed under: Up to — lauravw @ 7:08 pm

Laughing while reading The Times:

“I’ve taken up running. Hahaha – I know, I know. I can totally confirm that I look like a Womble being chased off someone’s front garden, having inadvertently wandered over looking for buns.” (Caitlin Moran, essential Monday lunchtime reading)

Admiring the gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show, through the so-extensive-I-can’t-find-time-to-watch-it-all coverage on the BBC. I love this countryside garden, especially the lovely hedge – they showed the craftsman who prepared the hedge, and he said the thing he likes best about that type of hedge is that it provides a larder for birds in the autumn and winter. Won me over immediately. You can take online tours of the gardens at the BBC, which is useful because they’ve been showing much of other aspects of the show on the TV this year and I’m most interested in the gardens.

Thinking about buying a piping bag and nozzles so I can make the Tiramisu cookies from last month’s Martha Stewart Living. (In fact, thinking about those cookies frequently.)


Doctor Who not a knitter… May 14, 2008

Filed under: Knitting — lauravw @ 7:56 pm

“A Doctor Who fan is embroiled in a row with the BBC after she published knitting patterns for the sci-fi drama’s monsters on the internet.”

This is a rather disappointing news story about a knitter who made patterns for Doctor Who characters, distributed her patterns for free, and then got in trouble because other people were selling the items they’d made using her patterns.

It’s a shame the BBC felt they had to put a stop to this – and sadly the internet’s own TARDIS, the Wayback Machine, doesn’t seem to have snagged a copy of the patterns. But you can see some pictures of a knitted TARDIS here.


Up to: radio edition May 13, 2008

Filed under: Up to — lauravw @ 12:22 pm

One of my birthday presents this year was a new digital radio. I have had a digital radio for a good few years now, and like to listen to it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. The new one has a sleep timer function, which means I can set it to turn itself automatically around about the time I expect to have fallen asleep. No more getting out of bed in the middle of the night to turn off the radio.

I’m a big fan of digital radio in general (there’s a lot of information on it here), but I hope someday someone invents a Tivo for radio – yes, you can use the BBC’s listen again feature to listen to radio programmes through the computer, but I would love to listen to radio programmes I like at a time that suits me without having to turn on the computer. Quite a few of the programmes I enjoy are on late or at weekends, when I don’t always manage to catch them, so this would really be useful.

If you’ve not got a digital radio you might not have listened to 6 Music, which is a shame – especially if you were born in the late 1970s and like indie music. Luckily you can get it online. The Gideon Coe show is my favourite, and I also enjoy Adam and Joe, and Bob Dylan’s theme time radio hour.

Saturday Live on Radio 4 is always interesting – where else could you hear stories about farmers doing tai chi in front of their cows in order to increase their milk output?


Tuesday Night Craft Club: buying a desk May 12, 2008

Filed under: Tuesday Night Craft Club — lauravw @ 2:18 pm

I have been reading Crafters Companion, and admiring the desks and workrooms that the featured crafters have set up. I’ve never had a designated space to practise my sewing and paper crafts – about a year ago we got a fairly large dining table in our kitchen, which has been a big improvement. But still there is the need to tidy everything away once it’s been used, which often deters me from getting out fiddly paper craft things in the first place. And until two years ago, we lived in a teeny tiny flat with no table, so my main craft space was the floor.

But the house we live in now has a little more room, and so the penny has finally dropped: I could actually fit a desk into the guest bedroom. The room’s been used a lot recently by my parents, but they’ve now moved into a new house nearby and so won’t need to stay with us so much. And even with a desk in there, there will still be enough room for the guest bed, it’s just that it will be less than spacious. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing: if guests are too comfortable, they may stay too long!

And so I jumped in with two feet and bought myself a little desk, some drawers and a chair from Ikea. (This was made easier by the new online shopping facility – I’ve not even had to set foot in Ikea itself.) The desk is cheap – the space it will have to fit in is small, and one day I might have more space, so this way I can trade up and get a bigger desk in the future if necessary.

The drawers are ideal for crafters who make things involving lots of small items, fabrics and papers – each drawer is wide but shallow, so you don’t need to stack small items on top of each other. Since this picture was taken I’ve moved my sewing machine onto the desk, and it’s great to be able to leave it there, without having to pack it away when I’m finished.