Handmade jewellery pouches! And yarn. And a Victorian ceiling rose.

I’ve been making wee bags to coordinate with the costume jewellery in my collection.

The collection started out because I saw things “I just liked” (uh oh, sounds familiar). I love it all, but I seldom use jewellery these days.. The vintage pieces are in time going to be posted on Etsy (whenever I get around to take beautiful photos and prepare the listings). I also plan to attend some small markets or events, like the ABBS that take place this Sunday in London (near Kentish Town, details here).

All of the bags are hand sewn. I used different materials:

  • Harris Tweed wool
  • velveteen (the purple and the orange)
  • corduroy (the black with red roses)

The Harris Tweed was a one-of lucky purchase – they were remnants, probably small offcuts from clothing and accessory production. The tweed came in various colours: beige, greys, dark green/dark red, brown/green/orange and so on. It’s very beautiful but until now I didn’t have an idea of what to make with it. I’m very happy that I finally thought of using the fabrics for these small pouches, because they’re beautiful materials and I love the results! I plan to make many more, as spare time allows..

Here’s an overview of those made so far (they still need ironing). What do you think?

My handmade jewellery bags

Corduroy in black and red, with a lovely rose motif

Purple velveteen

Orange velveteen

Harris Tweed wool in assorted colours

Harris Tweed bags and vintage jewellery

This one was made by an old friend of mine with a sewing machine. It’s much larger and can be used to wrap presents.

 

The bags laid out for photo shooting and planning the next ones to be made

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I also want to show you my last stash enhancement! Tangled Yarn is having a sale and soon it’s my birthday, so I treated myself to some gorgeous yarn by Shilasdair (a Scottish company based on the Isle of Skye). I already had some DK in Winter Loch and Summer Loch shades, to which I now added more of the Winter Loch (a dusty shade of blue), as well as some 4 Ply in Rowan Berry. These are the beauties (sorry for the bad evening light):

Shilasdair stash enhancement

Shilasdair DK in Winter Loch

Shilasdair 4 Ply in Rowan Berry

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Finally I also would like to share one of the DIY activities happening in the flat. The ceiling rose is being restored to its original Victorian beauty. It’s a WIP and may take quite a while to complete.

Firstly a vintage fancy (and heavy!) chandelier has been bought from Belgium. Now the stucco of the rose is being restored: in time it had been covered by layer upon layer of paint and its beautiful details were mostly lost.

There is an absolutely ecological and healthy way to remove the crap engulfing the stucco: PORRIDGE! Hard to believe but it works!

Here is evidence of the proceeding – unfortunately we forgot to take a picture of it before starting works, but you can still see how it was in the outer circle of the rose (which has yet to be handled).

The ceiling rose stucco (central section) covered in porridge and cling film (it does look weird)

The porridge has been removed and the layers have come off with it

Gentle mechanical work with a small plastic spatula is required to remove the extra material from the corner areas

After most of the extra material had been removed. Notice the difference between the inner and outer sections.

I plan to be back soon with a small update about the preparations for the ABBS and my Etsy shop.

Good night!

Camping weekend in Guildford, UK

I haven’t posted in ages.. life has got in the way (insert boring details)

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This weekend I have been camping… yes! I hadn’t done in ages and really loved it. It certainly helped that the weather was graciously good and they offered very decent facilities!

It was for the EMF Camp that takes place every two years – a large gathering of investigative minds and non-grown-up folks. In the words of the organisers:

Electromagnetic Field is a non-profit UK camping festival for those with an inquisitive mind or an interest in making things: hackers, artists, geeks, crafters, scientists, and engineers.

There were various activities – from talks to workshops, soldering sessions, blacksmithing, make-you-very-own-ring, villages (people with a shared interest of any legit sort), retro arcade…. (incomplete list by any means). An amazing varied crowd attended – families, geeks, alternative people, all genders/ages/tastes, from as far as Germany and Netherlands, Ireland (as well as from Scotland, Wales and England).

I tried out soldering, put up/down my very own tent with no hiccups (first-timer), played retro video-games. Generally had a fab time and felt very much in sync with the spirit and the landscape (amazing location, did I mention already?).

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My very own happy tent

My newbie soldering (left, and left)

The Retro Arcade – play anything vintage, for free

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The creator of the smallest sat (which orbited for 22 months, but found no cosmic rays – hope I got this right). http://www.50dollarsat.info and amsat.org

I also tasted freshly made Dutch Stroopwafel (a heavenly delicious recipe involving loads of butter, I understand). Sadly the blacksmithing was booked out, doh.

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Stroopwafel, freshly made on the spot (note my reusable light-weight container!)

…And got to wear flip-flops, walked bare-footed, sat on hay bales and got closer to Mother Nature. Big win.

The organisers made an excellent job and all ran smoothly. A big thank you!

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And then there were the draught stoppers

Today I came across an old post about the Feline Draught Stopper, then WIP.. It took a while to complete, but last year it was finally done, and in use. Tadah!

ex Feline Draught Stopper

Here above it is, washed, stuffed and ready to be put in action again after the summer.

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I omitted the original feline head and tail, so it’s fair to say that cat is no more. I had to leave them out because they were going to be in the way when put in place on the window.

To make it I have (re)used materials that I had already in store. The outer shell was made with assorted wool rests, while the inner filling was done reusing bubble wrap from deliveries – just gathered together and rolled as a sausage.

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Above, on the right, you can see another draught stopper sewed by a friend of mine. It is made with fabric rests and vintage snap fasteners to close the side opening.

And here it is in use: preventing the cold draught coming in from the sash window, and also saving heating fuel. Good for the environment and for the purse!

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Finally, just a few ideas I saw in a shop window nearby. Maybe someone good at sewing could make these…

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Making: a wave blanket

I have had quite some random yarn which wasn’t enough or particularly nice on its own, but still didn’t want to dispose of (no waste!)…

There are many ways to use smaller batches and in my opinion one of the most useful is that of using them in a blanket – in general I prefer to make things that have a practical use.

There are many nice patterns, both for crochet and knitting, and quite some are even free.

I had eyed this pattern a long while ago and finally I got around to actually make it… isn’t a nice feeling when you choose an item and start with it?

This time I have been good, and didn’t just start it (Startitis..?)!

The pattern is “Easy Ripple Afghan” by SusanB (free Ravelry pattern and blog post) and it comes in two sizes (throw and baby blanket) – in any case it is very easy to adjust to fit the size you want.

My (little) project notes are on Raverly and here are a few pictures…

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Have a lovely Sunday!

Jam making VS food waste

Long time no post… There is a lot to catch up with!

I’m now working so I try to keep the spare time during the weekend for offline activities.

I have been reading with interest about people trying to live in a more sustainable way and I try to contribute myself – through small steps and actions – to a better future for the planet.

Apart from buying less of unnecessary things, I buy more local or sustainable (although it’s hard to know/find the truth about origin, process of making etc. in these times of hype marketing and displaced purchasing).

Anyway, let me cut this story a bit shorter.

This summer and autumn I have been making jam from gathered berries and the odd fruits bought in season and even from salvaged fruits!

I made elderberry jam (sorry no pictures) from berries I salvaged when some elder plants had to be cut to refurbish my balcony in Austria.

Back in London, I was gathering blackberries at the local natural park. I also bought some in-season English raspberries, which, because they were a few days old stock, had been strongly reduced – so I saved money and avoided it going to waste; but next time I’ll try to find some local produce, instead of buying from a supermarket.

Finally, one day on my way back home, a local seller was disposing of some damaged fruit (that is, he left the baskets by the road-side for waste collection).. I felt a bit bad to take it, so I didn’t stop. After thinking a bit about it, the idea of the fruit going to waste was making me feel really bad!

Once a friend told me that I’m a “war child”, which luckily I’m not. Though I do listen with interest to stories from people who have gone through hardship. My late mum told me of when she was a child and their family was poor and while the adults were out working in the fields, the kids were at home and there wasn’t much food, so sometimes they went searching for bird eggs or wild salad… I don’t think such stories only belongs to the past or third-world countries: there are many children and families living below the poverty line even here in the UK (3.7 million children were living in poverty in the UK in 2013-14, that’s 28% of children).

Anyway, the bottom line is that I did go back and took some of the little that, by then, was left  on the street – a few small baskets of figs and some strawberries; they were a bit damaged but a good part could be salvaged for jam making after removing the wasted parts. I also added some more berries I harvested during another walk. So that became “figs & berries” jam.

I really enjoyed harvesting the fruit, making my own jam – which I’m now using instead of the store-purchased one – and knowing exactly what ingredients went in the product!

PS some links…

and some “easy” wisdom:

  • use less
  • buy local
  • also buy the product that is less pretty – taste is not less
  • serve just enough
  • use what is left
  • don’t throw away, just don’t