Hunting for my mojo

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It’s been a few weeks since I actually completed a project and despite having a large pile of things to do I don’t seem to be able to get on with anything.

I’m sure I am not alone in having this problem. All of the fabric stash in the world can’t help you when there isn’t an end product in mind. Having a large resource of magazines and books doesn’t make it any easier either. Should I make a sea-themed table runner or a cake themed table organiser; a new friendship braid quilt or a cushion bemoaning the misbehaviour of. Mondays?

Yes these are all on my list!

I’ve also got a keepsake cushion to be completed, my ‘five fat quarters’ project, some trousers to take in, a new cushion to make for my living room and a couple of birthday presents. Is this a symptom of having too long a list? I don’t necessarily think so but there is something to be said for just having one thing on the go at a time.

Better get the sewing machine out pronto?

Cat x

Homework sucks!

I came back from walking Destructa Dog and his well behaved chum this morning to find a most surprising sight in my kitchen.

Not only was Kid out of bed before 9am on a half-term morning but both he and Kitty were sitting at the kitchen table voluntarily doing homework. Even more intriguing was that it was Kid’s homework they were completing.

I had been sent out the previous day to buy a range of different icings in order to make a sugar skull. Like a good Mummy I had failed to pay any attention whatsoever as to what this task might be, I merely ticked the job done box.

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As it turns out this is what they were doing. I’m sure if I had been asked to make models of Day of the Dead masks for food tech at school I too would have been spending my morning constructing something similar. I can’t actually remember doing much in cookery other than pineapple upside down pudding and we certainly never learnt much history beyond Boudicca and the Victorians, let alone world cultures.

Cat x

Spice up your life

Occasionally Mr Cat plays a blinder when it comes to Christmas and birthday presents. I think he’s a fairly typical man in that he forgets to think like a girl when it comes to gifts and often ends up with something that he would like and a sinking feeling that he hasn’t got it quite right.

More recently he has been able to tap into the expertise of a crafty teenager aka Kitty (crafty as in creative rather than sneaky!) so I have even received some sewing related goodies. However his best present this year was all his own idea.

SpiceryIn my stocking was a little envelope containing a six-month subscription to The Spicery. Now this was not something I had ever heard of before so I was intrigued.

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Essentially, what happens is that once a month you get a deliciously aromatic parcel in the post containing all the spices you need to make a meal from scratch. Now our family likes a good chilli (well everyone except the fussy eater that is) but I have never tasted one as nice as their smoked chilli con carne, not least because I would never have 5 types of chilli to hand to flavour it with.

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So far since Christmas we’ve sampled noodles from Singapore, dirty rice from Louisiana and a whole range of curries and spiced dishes from around the world. Spag Bol has been relegated to a minor player in our family mealtimes and I’ve even made spiced biscuits which were truly scrummy.

Looks like 2014 is going to be quite a year of culinary adventure.

Cat x

Sometimes it’s better to call in the experts

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As much as I learn about fabric manipulation, I discover more I don’t know. Patchwork, as far as I was concerned consisted of paper pieced hexagons created out of leftovers from previous sewing projects. Little did I know what a fascinating world it could be.

Now that I have discovered pre-cuts, and in particular Jelly Rolls, I am in my element. I have tried out a number of different construction methods, including friendship braid, disappearing nine and garden trellis and am just about to embark on something new as a commission for a friend.

I’m a very exacting individual, so my method of quilting includes getting everything lined up precisely. I can’t do off-square corners or mismatched seams because my eye is constantly drawn to them. (I feel at this point too that I should also ‘fess up to being a copywriter and since I spend a lot of my life correcting work I also can’t read a badly proofread book, a single misspelt word wreaks havoc on my enjoyment of a novel!). Consequently I haven’t yet made any attempt at quilting my work in any way that veers outside the parameters of a straight line.

You probably think I am a bit of a coward, but my enjoyment comes from making the quilt top and adding the binding. If I had to make myself quilt the project as well I don’t think anything would ever get finished and I would spend more time unpicking than anything else.

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There is absolutely no shame in enlisting the help of a professional and this is where the lovely Janette Chilver from J-Quilts comes in. She was recommended to me by a fabulous quilter called Nicola Foreman and for that I am very grateful. Janette is a professional long arm quilter and a joy to work with. Not only does she suggest waddings and backing, but she also makes great choices with thread and patterns to complete a quilt to perfection.

So, while she gets on with the next stage of construction on my latest creation I can get on with a new project.

Cat x

p.s. The beautiful quilt at the top of the post is one of Janette’s and the one on the left is one of Nicola’s. Am I envious of their talents? You betcha!

Everyone needs a hobby

Or as Mr Cat would say every man needs a shed.

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Just in case you were feeling sorry for my other half, I’d like to introduce you to his workshop, which sits directly underneath my newly tidied Spare ‘Oom. It isn’t quite as luxurious as my pad, with a distinct lack of carpet and heating, no sofa and just one little window but he is in seventh heaven. (And apparently it is much tidier and better organised than any area of the house I am responsible for.)

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Mr Cat’s passion is restoring bicycles. Very specific bicycles which he spends large quantities of time scrubbing and polishing until they are better than new. I love bikes (I’ve got 2, another one on order and if you count the tandem currently under construction as well I think that’s a pretty decent collection) but I cannot beat my husband for geeky pedal passion. While he chastises me for trips to the sewing emporium and piles of sewing magazines I take the moral high ground by not commenting on the weekly delivery of bits from his two favourite suppliers, his seven bikes or the Park Tools manual that hides under the bed for nighttime consultation.

It just goes to show that what makes most of us happy is making something, whether it’s a sock toy, a couture gown or a fixed wheel bicycle.

Cat x

Back in the game…

Those of you who have been hanging out with me for some time may remember that once upon a time I had a Folksy shop as well as an Etsy one. Managing them both became a bit of a chore so I closed the former down.

Well times move on, and with the purchase of a nifty piece of new technology (OK so I’m a bit behind the curve) I’ve finally worked out an easy way to take the photos, edit them and get them up online without the constant palaver of sending files hither and thither. Also, the lighting and decoration in Spare ‘Oom is pretty good for an inept amateur with professional aspirations such as myself so it is all systems go.

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I’ve uploaded some stock that I made earlier in the year onto both sites ready for the deluge of orders (ha!) and promised myself that I won’t be so lax in the future. There is however, one small flyette in the ointment. Both Etsy and Folksy insist on a user name with no spaces, so I use kidcatsson but the shop is called Kid the Cat’s son but the search term they need to find me is my username… I’ll solve it some how.

Cat x

Having a ‘Ta Dah’ moment

20140217-092825.jpgYesterday’s sunshine was such a relief after such a prolonged period of persistent rain (I haven’t opened the curtains yet this morning, early indications aren’t promising on the weather front) that I managed to get lots done. Including finishing the tidying process in Spare ‘Oom.

I didn’t spend the whole time simply rearranging everything because that would be plain boring. I took the occasional creative break to jazz up my banister. I was tasked to paint this by Mr Cat when we first built this room and it took me 3 years to get an undercoat on it. After that I was undecided on what colour to paint it and I never really got any further.

20140217-093207.jpgThen this Christmas a crafty mum at school showed me some of her decoupage furniture and I had a lightbulb moment. I found a specialist paper I liked, borrowed Kitty’s decoupage glue and got started. The beauty of this method was that I could do short sections at a time, with no need to put down dust sheets or apply masking tape and there was only one little brush to wash each time. It took me five sessions of about 15 minutes each to stick all of the paper on and I finished the job with a couple of coats of clear varnish.

Mr Cat isn’t convinced, but I am really please with the results. In fact I was wondering what I could glue and stick next!

Cat x

In the name of progress

Despite a distinct lack of enthusiasm on my part, I am definitely into the final phase of organising my creative space. There is now a lot more of the carpet visible than buried under stuff and all the fabric is collected into a single area.

Last week I tootled off to the local DIY superstore to get myself a piece of plywood to put on top of the children’s football table so that I could use it as a base for my cutting board. As luck would have it, they were giving away sample pieces of laminate flooring and I managed to find 6 pieces the same (sorry but my brain doesn’t do mish mash) and they are perfect.

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I’ve already used this lovely new resource and can tell you that having something just that little bit taller than the dining room table is a revelation. Its going to be getting a lot of use, when I’ve finished tidying up that is…

Cat x

Origami – fat quarter style

Back on the subject of that old fabric addiction, is there anything nicer than leaving your favourite emporium armed with a selection of fat quarters, especially when they come all neatly packaged together like this.

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As I now sell some fabric myself, I’ve been trying to work out how to do this lovely boat fold in order to present my wares in a more attractive manner. I couldn’t quite work out how to do it, so this afternoon, while doing yet more tidying in Spare ‘Oom I set about documenting how it is done.

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Then it was my turn, could I recreate it with some of my own fabric?

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The trick I discovered is to ensure that your first two folds are on the longest side of your fabric otherwise your folded triangles will overlap in the middle. After a couple of attempts I had mastered the art of fat quarter origami!

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Cat x

It seemed like such a good idea at the time

20140212-110733.jpgI bet the marketing team at Seasalt thought this was a really good idea back in June… Poor old Cornwall, like most of the south-west of the UK is currently being battered by horrendous weather and I suspect that floral anoraks and funky wellies aren’t cutting it in Wraysbury or Marlow right now.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take joy in gorgeous design and the optimism of small businesses.  It isn’t just passion and an eye for style that creates a great brand.  Having a consistent story and a clear business head are essential.  I only came across Seasalt five years ago, courtesy of a wonderful hemp long-sleeved shirt purchased in a bijou boutique but a little scoot round their website tells me that they have been around for 30 years.

Seasalt wellies

I’m in the market for a new pair of wellies for walking Destructa Dog because this weather doesn’t look like it is going to end any time soon and Mr Cat’s are just a tad too big for me.  What do you think of these?

Cat x