Sunday, 31 March 2013

Happy Easter!

Hope that everyone is up to their bunny ears in chocolate eggs this weekend!

So far this weekend, I have finished a sock, have a half finished bunny sitting on the ironing board and am joined at the hip to my vacuum cleaner... well Spring has started!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Pip and Squeak... and a Farewell to a Consumate Seamstress

Say hello to Pip and Squeak who were finished today.  Yes, I know this is yet another set of Easter bunnies, but I have had this pattern lurking in my must do pile for a couple of years and just have not got around to it. However this year, I had the perfect excuse, on the UK Crafts Forum we have a SEB, or in layman's terms... The Secret Easter Bunny...

Well, Pip and Squeak are shortly to be wrapped up and sent off to their recipient, I do hope that whoever it may be will like them... but I think she might want to keep them apart as they seem to be doing what rabbits do!

Now I move on to some rather sad news, I learnt today that one of few remaining aunts has died.  She was my Aunty Trassa, (a corruption of the name Teresa), one of 12 children she was 80 years old and had 10 children, and she was the go-to woman if you ever wanted anything made.  I always hoped that one day she would make my wedding dress, but I guess she got tired of waiting!

Aunty Trassa could make a sewing machine sing, for her the needle and thread would dance and her eye could see the potential of any piece of fabric and her hands had the gift to make it so. My mother used to tell stories of her when she was courting, her husband to be, my mild mannered Uncle Christie would arrange to pick her up at 7:30pm but... at just gone 7:00pm she would decide she needed a new skirt, and out would come her dressmaking shears.  The fabric folded in two and the scissor let rip (no paper pieces would be used, this was all done by eye), lining would be cut too... then the sewing machine would fly into action and by 7:30 the new skirt would be ready to go out... although if you knew my aunt you would know that she might not be quite ready.  

My mother told of one trip to a family wedding, when they were all due to leave the house at 10:30, Auntie Trassa appeared with dripping hair at 10:20... and yes, it was one of her own children who was getting married!

She could sew absolutely anything, from soft furnishings to wedding dresses, no zip insertion ever held her in its thrall, with a needle and thread in hand she was a Zen master.  She was also the one who understood why I could not bear to go to a wedding where I had made the dress... she knew that all I would see would be the elements that I thought I should have done better.

As she got older she was able to pick and choose which projects she undertook, dismissing fabric that she did not like with the classic phrase, "I can't sew with that - it offends my fingers!" And tell me that you have never come across that fabric...  She also engaged in madcap schemes, like her collection of jam jars from which she was going to build a greenhouse, it never did happen but I reckon with her magic hands if she had succeeded, there would have been a bio-dome in Sallynoggin, long before they built one at the Eden Project.

She was also incredibly generous with her time, when my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she jumped on a plane from Dublin and nursed her until she died... a wonderful selfless act for which I will be forever in her debt.

So in the coming week, when you sit in front of your sewing machine, thread up a needle up or pin two edges together, remember to pass your gifts forward, pass on a tip or a technique to the next generation.
Some of my Aunts at Powerscourt in Co Wicklow in the 1980s
Back Row: Aunty Phyll, Aunty Berna, My mum, Aunty Bridgie
Front Row: Aunty Kay, Aunty Trassa, Aunty Dolores
I reckon if Aunty Trassa had been of my generation her next move on a Sunday evening would be to go over to Handmade Harbour to see what people had been up to before posting up one of her own marvellous projects.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

I am about to turn militant .. again!

Do you have a mental list of favourite smells and feels... I do.   When I win the lottery I will have fresh sheets every day and should I take an afternoon nap, then the staff will iron them before I step inside that evening...I might have won money but I am still eco-friendly.  But there is another smell and feel which outstrips this... it's a new book.

Just close your eyes, feel the weight of the book in your hands, hear the crack of the spine and then the smell of the fresh unsullied pages.  Yet even better than this appeal to your senses is the dance that the printed letters will lead your imagination through.
So can you guess what is exercising my rant zone... my local council are threatening to close some of our local libraries.  You might remember how I told you all a couple of years ago about my love of libraries, how I have never lived more than 10 mins away from one.

Libraries are so important, they are the door in the back of the wardrobe that gave me access to my own personal Narnia... through books, I have travelled the world, I know the Venetian canals like the back of my hand through the Donna Leon and the investigations of Commisario Brunetti, I learnt my way through American Law courtesy of Harper Lee and John Grisham, never said I was discerning, did I?  I am an expert on romance, thanks to Katie Fforde and Jojo Moyes... and RF Delderfield, Mazo de la Roche and Tolstoy.

The library was and is, alongside Radio 4, my university... it has taught me and made me what I am.  Our librarians no longer check in our books, but ask them a question from internet access to who else writes like Roddy Doyle and they are there in an instant, stretching your imagination.  Who else would listen to small children bursting to impart what had happened to Angelina Ballerina, or why dinosaurs had died out and why Roald Dahl is really the bestest writer in the whole wide world and that they will never read anyone else.  Yet now, these experts are being de-skilled by stealth, softened up for redundancies... but we need them... we really do need them.  But this is not about us, it is about future generations, libraries are an inheritance we must pass on... if you don't believe me, read about what the library means to my little friend Camille and her mum.

Just imagine how tough it must be for the people working in the libraries, nip in, if you can and tell them that you will be supporting them, sign petitions, make a fuss, people need to know that you want to keep them.  

So if you live in Leigh-on-sea, Southend-on-sea, Westcliff-on-sea and so on, lobby your local councillors, tell your MP that this is not good enough... we need our libraries, and right now, your library needs you!  

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Rabbit, Rabbit, Bunny, Bunny

Recently I have made a couple of rabbits for friends for Easter...

The one I finished this morning is a Tilda pattern, am not sure about the nose as I think it looks a little canine but I know that the young lady who I made it for will love it.  On balance, I think it might be a hare because of its lovely long ears... although I have not seen it box yet, but I reckon that dress might be hiding a Lonsdale belt beneath it.

Now this is one I saw in a magazine and my fingers just itched to get it made, it's actually made from recycled jeans and a fleece picked up from a local charity shop. I would add just one caveat, when you are making it up, make sure that the legs have faded equally when you cut out your pattern pieces.
I have another pattern to make bunnies which I hope to finish during the week and will share with you soon.

Anyway, I am pleased with these little chaps as I had lost my my making mojo for a couple of weeks, so I will be editing pictures and patterns over the week and making up for lost time.

Now to get me back on track, I will be going over to Wendy's HandmadeMonday for even more inspiration.

And all week I will be silently saying the bunny rabbit knitting rhyme... perfect garter stitch every time!

Into the Bunny Hole
Run around the tree
Out of the Bunny Hole
Away runs he!