Thursday, January 30, 2014

Brit Sewing Thursday Linky (30th Jan 2014)

This week's sewing project has been a bag to put all Theo's Lego in. Probably a sack is a better name for it, as it's huge, but then again he has a lot of Lego!


The fabric is from Ikea. It's canvas weight, extra wide and a bargain £6 a metre. I used half a metre and have another half metre ready for making into a second sack (for something else, not more Lego!)

I was intending to do my usual thing of threading the pull cord invisibly through a folded hem at the top, but my husband suggested using the rivets and weaving in and out. The rivets weren't cheap (£6.50 for a pack of 15, of which I used 9) but I love the result. It seems appropriately nautical and together with the heavyweight fabric and french seams, should mean this bag will last a long time.

I myself have a pull cord bag my mum made me about 30 years ago which is still in use, so I'd like to think this one might last long enough to be Theo's laundry sack when he's at university!



The lettering is felt which I attached with Heat N Bond Ultra (a bit of a cop out, but...) and I used a pull-cord-plastic-widget-thing from my stash to secure the cord.

It's too heavy and big for Theo to lift at the moment, so it gets dragged round the house a lot, but I think it will stand it.

What have you been up to?

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

5 weeks to go - And something exciting has been ordered for the garden!

With five weeks to go before our build begins things are really starting to pick up a pace. I met with the Harbour Conservancy yesterday, new fencing is being installed tomorrow and a skip arrives on Friday to dispose of the remains of our damp garage.

Talking of which, I told you last week that we were considering our options with what to replace it with. Well now we have FINALLY made a decision... and we've placed an order. I obviously don't have a photo of the one we'll be getting (it's being made in a factory somewhere as we speak) but this is the (half painted!) model at the show village we visited...

Outside room

It's 5x3 metres externally and about 4.5x2.5metres internally due to the width of the insulation. The idea is that when it arrives (in about 6 weeks) it will provide much needed storage during the build and then will become my sewing room - yes!

On this subject, I asked Jim how he would feel about me escaping into the garden "for a couple of hours at a time" (I was feeling brave) and his response was "If it means I can get away from the drone of that sewing machine, it will be wonderful!" (That's spousal approval right?)

You can finish these buildings in any colour you choose, so ours will match the cladding on the house and I have so many ideas for the inside. I'd like a small space for photography (probably something like a backdrop that can be rolled away) a big table for sewing and somewhere to hang all my mini quilts. It'll be the end of the summer before I claim it as my own space, but I can't wait!
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Monday, January 27, 2014

Living Arrows 4/52

I've really struggled since Theo was born to find the right balance of kiddy pictures and parenting content on this blog. For a while I did an update once a month, but even that started to seem self-indulgent and so I stopped. But the problem is without the reason to capture the photos I start to drift with recording his life.

Last night when I was browsing round blogs I found a link-up that I have decided I want to take part in. The idea is to capture one photo of your child every week as they grow. Just one photo, I can commit to that.

Nursery hands

And so we came home from nursery today and I took the first photo. His hands are covered in glue and pen, a little glimpse of the morning he has had. The time I didn't see.

Theo loves nursery. He never hesitates as I leave him, just dives in to whatever activity is laid out for the day. We recently started allowing him to stay for lunch on one of his three mornings and he really enjoys it. In fact he's tried his luck a few times with sitting down and helping himself on days where I am collecting him at 12. Last Friday he got away with it. Sat there with a big grin on his face while I had to wait for him to empty his plate of his free lunch.

He smiles at everyone and I believe that if he keeps that up, he'll go far.

living arrows

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Picking colours for our house - your help needed!

Tomorrow I have a meeting with Chichester Harbour Conservancy to discuss the materials we are using to finish our house. In our local area the Harbour Conservancy have a lot of input into planning decisions. They have an extensive policy document which details how building design can minimise its visual impact on the environment and the local council takes a lot of notice of their advice and recommendations.

By consulting with them tomorrow I hope to achieve their approval on the finish before I apply to get it officially approved by the council. We do already have planning permission, but this is a separate stage of approval we have to go through with materials prior to building.

As you can see from the artist's impressions, the finish of our house will be part render and part weatherboard. We are hoping to be able to finish the roof in something that looks like slate (but not slate itself as it costs a fortune!) and we hope to stick with white UPVC windows (all the windows at the front will be new, but many elsewhere are staying and are already UPVC.) However we do need to make decisions about he render and the weatherboard.

So, this is what we fancy for the weatherboard colour.... It's called Boothbay Blue and is one of those colours that looks grey or blue depending on the light. It should also meet with approval from the Harbour Conservancy as it blends in to the landscape well.

But what colour for the render? Should it match the weatherboard or contrast with it? I fear a light render won't meet their approval, but if we match the weatherboard will the whole house look like a battleship? Our front door will be red by the way, that bit fortunately has never been a matter for debate!

All opinions and comments much appreciated!

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Surviving my first semester as a mature student with IDI...

When I decided to become a mature student last summer, I cast around the internet for information about the organisation I wanted to study with and found hardly any. I was about to commit to 4 years study and a large student debt and I was desperate to find experiences of real people to tell me what it would be like and whether it would be worth it.

I've now completed my first semester and my first module and I know the answers to the kind of questions I was asking 3 months ago, so I wanted to do a blog post about it to help others in the future...

Firstly I'm a part-time student studying Graphic Design with the Interactive Design Institute. IDI advises that this involves about 20 hours study a week and I'd say that so far that's been pretty accurate. Theo is in nursery three mornings a week and by the time the dog walk is done, I have 6 hours across those mornings to work and I'm very strict about doing nothing else in that time. In addition I work every lunchtime when he has his nap and I do a couple of hours every evening. I very rarely watch TV during the week and I don't have time for sewing. It's a heck of a commitment and I have no idea how you'd manage it if you work full-time. In fact from what I've seen discussed online I might be pretty much the only person who didn't fall behind to some degree this semester and that has a lot to do with my own personal determination and obsessive organisational skills.

As far as the course content goes. A lot of the reason I wanted to study was to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator and in some ways that target has been met, but not directly by the course content. IDI introduces you to the very basics of Illustrator, but if you want to learn more you have to teach yourself. As I now have a motivation and purpose to do so I have been doing exactly that and its been very fulfilling, but again so much of the course is about what you put in yourself.

Distance learning institutions like IDI often advertise themselves as a cheaper higher education alternative for school-leavers and it's true, they are, but if I was advising a school-leaver I would never recommend this route. At 18 you do not have the discipline to keep the momentum of study up and you miss out on loads that you'd experience at a bricks and mortar university. Going the other route might mean your debt is larger, but personally I think you are more likely to end up with a qualification to go with it too.

Anyway, the point is I have survived and completed my first module! Our brief was to design a poster to advertise a typographical conference, but of course it was much more than that. There was copious research, many hours of idea generation and development work and then there was at the very end, one poster. As a graphic designer you must fight the urge all along to over-complicate your design and you need to get the message across in a simple visually compelling way. I have a long way to go and a steep learning curve to climb, but I have my first poster and I have the knowledge that with one semester under my belt, I have now surpassed my previous record of university attendance 20 years ago!

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Brit Sewing Thursday Linky (23rd January 2014)

First of all a big thank you to everyone who commiserated or offered advice last week on my sewing machine problem. Just to clear something up it has been serviced very regularly, the last time less than six months ago and each time they never get to the bottom of my problem... BUT.... Since trying the advice I found online to thread the machine backwards through the take up lever, I have not (fingers crossed!) had a repeat of the problem!

So, with the machine back working I have had a much better sewing week. I now have three of these quilt-as-you-go log cabin blocks.

Quilt as you go logcabin blocks for a dog bed. 3 more to make.. 

The tutorial I used is from Stitched In Color, I love the densely quilted result you achieve, though you do get through bobbins like you wouldn't believe!

They are/were intended for a dog bed. My sister is very concerned they'll be trashed, but I don't know what I'd do with them otherwise. Bear in mind they have a back which is not meant to be seen! I intend for the dog bed to go in my new sewing room (more on that after the weekend) so it shouldn't get too much wear, I hope?

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

6 weeks to go - Goodbye damp garage!

I mentioned last week that we'd discovered our second garage, at the back of our house, had serious damp problems. It's not an attractive building, but we'd been delaying doing anything with it as we thought it might be a useful storage space during the build. However a damp storage space, is not a useful storage space at all. So we made a bold decision this weekend and we demolished it!

Now I will be entirely honest here. I did the prep work getting rid of the trellising and the plants growing up it and then Jim did the heavy work. I asked him to call me when there was something fun to hit with a sledge hammer, which is exactly what he did and then I went back inside in the warm...

We also did a long drive on Friday to go and view some possible replacements for the garage. We want something in keeping with the general Canada / New England theme of the build. There are some amazing garden buildings out there with mezzanine floors, verandas and underfloor heating. We shall be having something quite modest I think! There will be more shuffling of numbers round Excel spreadsheets this week. Time is not on our side, we need to make a decision this week!

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Brit Sewing Thursday Linky (16th Jan 2014)

It's been a frustrating week for sewing for me with the reemergence an old (never solved) problem with my Pfaff. The machine repeatedly drops the top thread from the take-up lever midway through sewing which results in a dramatic crunch from the bobbin, horrible bunched up thread and swearing from me.

I've tried everything. New bobbin, new needle, different thread, adjusted tension, you name it and every time I sew more than a couple of inches without a problem I allow myself to hope I've fixed it and then it happens again!

The only positive thing is that having sat down to write this and managed for the first time to put into words the problem I'm having, I have found a possible solution online. Someone has suggested threading the machine from the other side so that it crosses over itself. Please let it be that simple!!

So anyway, just one thing from me this week, one of Liz's scrappy log cabin blocks for the FQR Bumbling Honeys Bee. (Just don't examine the stitching on the back too closely Liz, bunched stitching and all that!) Great fun to put together, despite everything...

What have you been up to?

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Renovation countdown - 7 weeks to go

I am a little bit in love with this book....

Last weekend we started work clearing everything in preparation for the builders arriving on site in 7 weeks time. What this basically meant was an entire morning spent at the dump disposing of things we had accumulated and (mostly) the previous owners had left lying around (bricks and rubble mainly) followed by the rewarding purchase of another interiors book to drool over.

We discovered (perhaps faced up to is a better phrase) that a rickety old garage we have been storing things in is not watertight and a lot of the things in it are now sopping wet. This helped expediate the disposal of a few things, but may also expediate the disposal of the garage itself, which is an entirely more exciting prospect... This is the very garage that I one day dream of turning into Maybush Studio. We shall have to see if we can juggle things in the budget. I seem to spend most of my days now shuffling numbers around Excel spreadsheets.

On a positive note however our staircase quote has come in under budget and I'm giddy with excitement at the prospect of living with oak open riser stairs. Trust me, you would never ever find open riser stairs in a military quarter. Maybe that's why I'm so excited!

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Brit Sewing Thursday Linky - The first of 2014!

After the long festive break and all our secret sewing throughout December, welcome to the first sewing linky of 2014!

I did some thinking over Christmas about whether to continue with this linky and if so how to make it better. You may have noticed that I now keep it open all week and that will continue, meaning that you can join in on any day of the week not just Thursday, but are there other things I could do?

Are there ways we could spread the word and encourage more Brit sewers to join us? Do let me know. My head is in many places at the moment and it is entirely possible I may miss the obvious...

cancan doll quilt

The first project to share with you this week is my completed doll quilt for DQS 14 on Flickr. It started out being called a "wonky windmill" quilt, but I have renamed it my "Can Can Mini Quilt" as when I look at it all I see now is high kicking legs! Maybe that's just me?

This will be in the post to my partner at the end of the week along with some local chocolate (Montezumas!) a quilting magazine and something for the small person in her life. I'll take a photo of it all together before I mail it.

Starting the December FQR Bee block. Running a little late thus month!
I have also been playing catch up with my blocks for the FQR Bee. Currently working on Kathie's December blocks, with Liz's January log cabins next in line.

After the rush of Christmas if you have a lull in your sewing schedule, do consider entering the X Factor Pillow Swap on Flickr. My most favourite swap because you make what you want and get a pillow assigned based on the points yours scores (not anywhere nearly as scary as it sounds) the deadline is January 25th and some of the entries already are lovely!

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Boat House Cafe in Chichester Marina

Lunch at the Boat House Cafe...
Fish and chips

Like many people, today marked the end of Christmas leave. It's been a pretty lacklustre festive fortnight. We are only just at the end of our winter illnesses (in time for work tomorrow, typically) and its rained relentlessly for most of the last two weeks.

Our round of family illnesses has meant we had to cancel pub lunches, a long-planned theatre trip and a visit to family in East Sussex and after over two weeks of making excuses, I genuinely think some people started to think we were avoiding them.

It wasn't all bad news though. Some particularly brave friends we haven't seen for two years dropped in for coffee despite the coughs and colds. They stayed at arm's length and seemed to have escaped without becoming infected. Today we thought we'd better make an effort to finish Christmas leave on a high and make up for the cancelled trips, so we headed to Chichester Marina and the Boat House Cafe for lunch.

It's only been open for about six weeks, but even at midday in mid-winter it was packed. The ambiance, the decor, the staff, the serving time and the food were all faultless (what a pleasure it is to report that when it happens!) They even allow dogs inside and there was a queue of them nearly as long as the human one when we left. I have this place marked down as my first venue to review for south-coast breakfasts in 2014. It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it!

Tomorrow is yet another new page. Not the start of the new year, but the start of the working new year and we have many things to make progress with this year, as I'm sure you all do too.

Happy New Year my blogging friends!

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

The year of the build!

Checking out our new (temporary) home! 

After many months of build-up we started 2014 by spending today viewing static caravans.

I was disproportionately excited about the whole thing despite the fact that the caravans are cold, very unglamorous and the bedrooms are tiny, because the moment we move in we will be on the way!

The caravan we have our eye on is HUGE - 35 feet by 12 feet. We need to check it fits in our garden and work out the logistics of getting it on site. We don't actually need all the space, but it turns out the smaller ones don't have double glazing or heating... and that is a sacrifice too far!

Anyway as we are now counting down to the start of our build, I thought now might be a good time for a quick Q&A...

Q. Are you demolishing your house or are you just renovating it?

We thought about demolishing it, we even got planning to, but in the end we settled for a complete remodel. We are decapitating the existing bungalow, adding a first floor, knocking two of the ground floor rooms into one and replacing (and in some cases relocating) half the windows on the ground floor and then cladding the new building.

Q. How long will it take?

The builder says 4 months, we think nearer 6! We start on March 3rd and we'd love it all to be finished by the end of August when Theo turns 3, though even then I suspect there will be a lot of finishing work to keep us (as a couple) going for several months.

Q. Why the caravan?

When the build starts, only one bedroom, the kitchen and bathroom will be left untouched and we will need some of that space to store our furniture (and everything that's currently in the loft!) Our isolated rural location means we need to stay on site for security too.

Any other questions? If so, just leave a comment and I'll update this post with answers...
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