Sunday, 18 December 2011

Here's One I Made Earlier...

I loved Blue Peter as a kid, back in the Tim Vincent and Katy Hill days. I even got a badge once - a real one, not the rubbish ones you got for entering a competition - for sending in a piece of embroidery with all the presenters names. I also had a habit, when alone, of narrating what I was doing 'to camera' and used to get exceptionally frustrated by the lack of pre-baked biscuits and already-dried craft projects available for demonstrative purposes. Maybe that's why I decided to go into Stage Management...

Anyway, this is just pre-amble; below are a selection of crafty-nibbles that I've not had time to post up over the last few weeks due to a preoccupation with Christmas crafting/maths revision/going on holiday/life in general. Enjoy...

< Hogwarts mug hug, made from a broken book, felt and ribbon. The side panels are bits of Potter text, taken from passages set in Mme Puddifoot's, even though it sounds like a horrible place. I want to move to Hogsmeade, set up a decent teashop with sofas, bookshelf and a curse that would turn Cho-wetter-than-a-haddock's-bathing-costume-Chang into a tomato if she ever tried to enter.

> More Potter-product; an Alohomora / Colloportus Keyring, as they are the spells for opening and closing doors. And because everyone loves a bit of Pig Latin. 
Embroidered on glitter aida, which is a bitch to work on - scratches your hands, a bit like tying to sew onto a cheese-grater that's hungry for finger-flesh. The metallic floss is also notoriously arsey to work with - it frays and knots simultaneously, as though undecided whether it hates itself and must suicidally pull itself apart, or is so egotistical it must wrap itself into an ever closer ball of self-love. Moral of this story? If you want to make it shiny, cover it it glitter spray after your done sewing.

< Embroidered Aziraphale Notebook Cover.
I can't draw for toffee so I stole the image from this dudette on deviant art. I will warn you now, there is a lot of 'Zira/Crowley slash art out there... most of which is unspeakably trite.
This notebook is about 4 inches tall, the cover is made from cotton with backstitch picture and blanket stitch edging. The Blanket stitch is in gold metallic thread, because I wasn't quite despairing enough at the world after doing plain backstitch in that god-forsaken stuff, so I decided to create a new way to make disconnecting my finger joints one by one seem a viable alternative hobby to sewing.

> Pair of Mug Hugs & Mug Rugs
the great thing about mug accessories is that they are just the right size to try out new techniques - big enough to have fair shot, but small enough that it's not daunting, and if you hate it it doesn't seem to go on forever. Here, I practised a bit of machine quilting, made my own bias binding for the first time and practised some edging techniques (have you noticed how a lot of my stuff has shabby-chic frayed edges? That's because I suck at finishings.) These are all made printed cotton, which I backed in felt and decorated with felt, buttons and assorted hand/machine stitching. The pockets are for putting biscuits in :)

< Souped Up Notebook
Here, I took a plain hardback notebook and jazzed it old skool. I added relief to the front cover and spine using cardboard (specifically, old pizza boxes. Excellent excuse for take-away), and covered the lot in tissue paper & PVA a la Art Attack (I am a veritable encyclopedia of 90s kids TV today, right? An encyclopedia with only two entries, to be fair, but an encyclopedia nonetheless). Once dry, I attacked with a soft leaded silver pencil, smudging it in to give an aged effect. I lined the interior with start spangled craft paper to hide the edges of the tissue, and added a ribbon and a tea-stained title plate.

There you go... I promise I shall try to be less tardy in future
Noodle x

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Excuse Me While I Squee A Little

I've been made a featured project on Craftster
Well, not me, but a thing I made. I'm hugely excited, there are so many uber-talented folk at Craftster so to be picked out is a real honour.
My project is the Hands Around Your Heart cushion, a kind of family portrait I made for lil' sister's 18th last month. I'm not really convinced that it's worthy to be considered next to some of the other featured projects (Check out the Wizard of Oz yarn, and the Gizmo hoop. And the Beetlejuice costumes. And the Snow White Dress...), but I'm thrilled to be there anyway.
Today; featured project, next week; the world...

The project was a gift for Charlotte's 18th; I was really struggling to think what to make her as she only really appreciates gifts purchased from Tiffany's or bearing an Abercrombie & Fitch label, but I knew I wanted to craft something... And let's face it, crafted presents are much more about the desire to craft that the recipients desire to receive another set of embroidered lavender bags. Anyway,  I was thrilled when I came across the concept of embroidering handprints, I mooched over the idea, did some sketches and decided to make this cushion, with all of our families' hands around a heart.

I wanted to include all the immediate family, and there are a lot of us - 4 generations (Nan, Dad, Mum, 2 brothers, 2 sister-in-laws, me & my partner, niece and nephew) plus a cat (who ended up on the back), and trying to fit everyone on without it looking squished is basically where the design came from. I live far away from all the rest (at a carefully calculated 'not to far in an emergency, way too far for unexpected visits' distance), so I got them to draw around their hands on paper and post them to me for me to use as templates. Of course I couldn't ask my sister without giving the game away, so that is where the 'around your heart' idea came from

There's 6 weeks worth of chain, back, and running stitch, plus my first ever hand-sewn buttonholes, a smidge of reverse appliqué and a sprinkling of french knots on that thing (apparently, I sew slooooow, but I was being really picky about even stitch length and tiny turning, which isn't easy when you're not working on even weave! I think I used my unpicker more than my needle)

The inscription on the inside is a bastardised lyric from the musical Wicked, in a desperate attempt to demonstrate how deep and meaningful I am, and what fantastic taste in music I have.
I'm gonna go listen to some Alice In Chains while I pretend that I'm cool, ok?
Noods x

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Night Sky

Sitting, again on a night train, reflection as always - fringe insisting on parting in the middle and curling up at one edge. Too pensive to read, thoughts bringing an inexplicable lump to my throat. I try not to think - of pink elephants or anything else, but the space must be filled. Not sure why I want to cry.
Tonight someone I have avoided eye contact with for months (after a drunken argument we are both to proud to resolve sober) tried to hug me - I tensed and said 'Sure, it's fine,' and she disappeared back into the crowd. I want to hug her back,  said 'Sure, it's fine' and mean it. I want to yell at her for somehow making me feel to blame when I'm no worse than her. I want to look in her eye and laugh, have her laugh with me and know we are both so stupid. But I can't - she will shrug, forget it - we were not close friends, really nothing more than fag-break buddies, and it is my own guilt that leaves me feeling unresolved, not some residual pining for what used to be. Her guilt is absolved by a one sided hug - attempting absolves her.
I won't forget; why do I remember the worst of myself so readily?
I am a good person - not easy, I know, but worthwhile.
Tonight, as the train pulls into my stop, I cannot quite seem to grasp that, but it is still true.
Tomorrow will be full of hellos, errands and cups of tea, tarnishing the blues that bother me now. I know that, too.
Walking now, surrounded by dirty empty streets, I fill my ears then my head with music. I clean my thoughts, step down the middle of the road - parked cars either side hold me and direct my gaze forward to the dark sky. I unfold my arms and smile sheepishly, not quite brave enough to sing along except inside my head, while my feet free-wheel me to bed.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

No Kidding

I don't want kids.
Those of you who know me well will not be surprised about this, as I have been saying the same thing since I was about 9 years old (at which point little sister was 1, and I'd come to realise how utterly disinterested in babies I am). 
In return for your lack of surprise at my non-maternal revelation, I will not be surprised when you say 'Oh, you'll see, you'll change your mind when your older' or 'I said that at your age too! But my darling(s) are the light of my life' or somesuch twaddle. I've also been hearing that since I was about 9, so I'm not jolted by it. But I am annoyed. It's pretty rude for you to assume that you have a better understanding of my life and what I value in it than I do. It's pretty short-sighted of you to assume that everyone wants the same things you do and will make the same choices.
There are a number of reasons I don't want kids - firstly because I don't like kids very much. They are okay for a couple of hours but the best bit is giving them back to their owners. Secondly, I don't want the responsibility - I am a very selfish person, and I like living my life for me. Thirdly, this planet is fast running out of space, food, and clean air, and contributing to the spiralling population rise is not something I feel comfortable doing.
Admittedly, I may well become hostage to hormones on my 35th Birthday and suddenly decide to become a baby machine. But I know myself well enough to place bets against it, since the idea of pregnancy is revolting - like having a parasitic growth in you for 9 months.
So please, next time someone tells you they don't want to breed, assume that it's a life choice that they have given some thought, and do not dismiss their ideas about their future out of hand.

All that being said, I am lead to believe that some people want babies very much, and are willing to go to great lengths to obtain them. I am therefore very pleased for them when this process is successful and they are left with a stupid grin plastered on their faces holding a bawling bundle of red. When these people are friends, they let me express my pleasure  on their behalf by making stuff for the new arrival (and they do not expect me to gush. They know that if they make me gush, I will be lying). And thusly, I congratulate Luan on the arrival of two tiny male versions of her. I'm sure they are lovely but please don't bring them too close
Auntie Noods

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


Curdle is distinctly unimpressed at being used as a card stand. Curdle does not give a rats ass if Boy's mum has a happy birthday or not, she just wants to nap undisturbed.
Curdle is a selfish madam. Boy's mum constantly bestows cat treats upon her, the least she could do is put a paw print signature on a greetings card. But nnnnnnno, Curdle is to tired after her busy day's repose and so must not be disturbed.
They say that pets take after their owners, and, well....

N = N* fp ne fl fi fc fL

Do I believe in Aliens?
I know my answer should be that there's not enough evidence to make any kind of informed answer.

But fuck that.
Yes, yes I do. I believe that there is life somewhere else out there - given the number of planets around the number of stars in all the galaxies of our universe (I won't start thinking about other universes just yet. I need a good supply of Hobnobs (Milk Chocolate) to hand when I think multi-universal, and the shop is closed), odds are on that we are not alone. I even reckon some of that life is intelligent - given what an evolutionary advantage intelligence is, it's likely to have cropped up elsewhere.

What I don't believe is that the aliens look like the ones in X-Files. Or that they enjoy broadening the sexual horizons of red-necks. Or that they are/have been broadcasting on the tiny handful of wavelengths we've been watching for the fraction of a second (relatively - in terms of age of universe) we have been listening.

So... contribute to Seti@home - just a couple of hours a week while you're not using your computer. If we find the aliens, maybe we can help this little one get home. Her (Her? Dunno, just a vibe I got) ship crash landed in a tree. I couldn't work out how to communicate...  English failed me - even when I spoke really loudly and slowly with big gestures (shock!!). I could hear Rammstein coming from the tape deck in the ship, but my German is negligible at best - she didn't respond to 'sprechen sie Englisch?' or 'ziehe meine kanone!*'. So I'm kinda stuck. But she looks lost, and I'm sure she'd love it if we could tune into her local radio station for her...
Go on, you know you want to find the ETs just as much as I do, so join in looking for them, 'cause, dude, how awesome would it be to hear the music they make in MuArae?

* 50% of my knowledge of the German language is lines from WarGoose... this did not go down well when I was in Berlin.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Lions and Tigers and Vampire-Wolves, Oh My!

I'm a good skeptic, and am highly suspicious about claims of cryptozoology (Nessie, Bigfoot and the like.) Believers - I'm not saying your wrong, but I am saying that photo of blurry splodges is unlikely to be a cold-blooded dinosaur living in a Scottish pond. And that other photo is a dog with mange, not Chupacabra. Stop being so stupid.
All that being said, as of today, I believe in unicorns. Why? Well, because I saw one. A baby one (you can tell because it still has it's black markings, which (as everyone knows) fade to silvery white when maturity is reached).
There was, unfortunately, no evidence of an ability to fart rainbows.
Noods x

Saturday, 8 October 2011

a lot o' duffers...

Every Pottermanic knows what Hogwarts House they would be in. I'm a Ravenclaw girl myself - with hints of Slytherin. I never understood the popularity of Gryffindor.... 'Loyalty and bravery'; ie idiots, jocks and members of the BNP. No thanks. As for Hufflepuff - well, I suspect I wouldn't fit in very well there - they are all too nice. Surrounded by all that squishy lovely-ness, I'd constantly feel guilty about my mile-wide bitchy streak.

I reckon it'd be hard to be a Hufflepuff in a world were even Hagrid thinks you're a bit shit.. they are terminally undervalued. So this funky grown-up take on the House Scarf (knitted from black ribbon yarn) trend included a little badgers paw to remind the 'puff wearer that she can have claws too when needs be ;)

Whatever your house, remember - Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus...

Friday, 7 October 2011

Segregtion of the Gingers

Every girl thinks that their Daddy is the best daddy in the world. The difference between me and them is I'm right. 
The only mistake my daddy has ever made (admittedly it is a grave mistake indeed) is putting ginger nuts with the other biscuits in the biscuit jar. Now, I have nothing against Ginger nuts in their place - they are particularly good for eating whilst thinking about hard maths problems (something about the extreme crunchiness), but they make all other biscuits they come into contact with taste of ginger. I like ginger nuts, but I also like arrowroot and cow biscuits* and all sorts of things and so I do not want them contaminated. 
So, a few years ago I implemented a 2 biscuit tin system - one ginger, one not. Unfortunately the rules for this were not properly followed, so I had to move out of home and get a biscuit tin of my own that I can maintain full control over.
The advantage of this is that I can now bake ginger and white chocolate cookies for my Daddy and not have to worry about improper storage. So, Happy Birthday Daddy, you can put your biscuits any where you want :)

*I first put Hobnobs, but thinking about it a gingery hob-nob would work quite well. Mr McVitie, I happily forfeit all copyright to this idea if you promise to make some. And bring back the chocolate-orange hobnob while you're at it.

Letter To A Flemish Nation

Dear Belgium,
I love you. I take back all the mocking, all the jibes and all the laughing at your Eurovision entries.
I love you for inventing spreadable biscuits.
I love you Belgium, and I love biscuit on toast.

Thank you is an insignificant word, but it is all I have
Dank u wel

PS. (also recommended are biscuit sandwiches (as good as sandwich biscuits, and you can claim them as a main course then have non-spreadable biscuits for pudding) and using biscuit in the place of jam in a Vicky Sponge)

Monday, 26 September 2011

Noodle-ham Adventures

We are awaiting a phonecall from the Turner Prize Commitee

After the surreal experience of Swindon last year, I have to report a disappointingly un-weird Unconvention. The extreme end of the Bookcrosser oddity spectrum was almost* non-existent, so weirdo-dodging was minimal and it was therefore safe to settle down to the main business of the weekend: rum. A lot of rum.

Friday night kicked off with what turned out to be a 4 hour literary pub-quiz. In a well meaning attempt at forcing social interactions amongst our little group of misfits, teams were allocated blindly. I shall take this opportunity to publicly apologise to my team for the rapid dwindling of my interest in question answering. After about round 4 of 10, having realised that we were definitely not going to win and so competitive streak dead (and a considerable about of rum consumed) I rather gave up attempting to remember the genealogy of Dostoyevsky characters, taking instead to making paper fortune tellers and giving them to friends on other teams. Sorry guys. Though, even if I'd been sober, I'd have been of little use.

Having lost spectacularly, we returned to the bar so I could continue the destruction of my liver undistracted. The Irish contingency were on fine form as always, along with a couple of Kiwi's and the not-too-weird Belgian (who does not like jazz. I checked). I am reliably informed that, finding my smuggled in booze supply depleted, I was very eloquent on the subject of 'Why Is All The Rum Gone?' (my flask must have had a leak in it) before retiring to bed.

Saturday Morning started with an exceptionally thoughtful coffee delivery to my hotel room (Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you) - between which and several pints of water I managed to re-hydrate my brain. Not being particularly interested in any of the author talks (not having read any of their books), I opted instead to go to Nottingham Castle, having not visited since childhood. It seems that on all previous trips I managed to miss the fact that Nottingham Castle is NOT a Castle. It's an art gallery on a site where a castle used to be, and a gatehouse. Disappointed at a lack of opportunity to play English K-niggits, I decided to do I tour of the underlying caves, which proved well worth it if just for learning one juvenile but genius fact: Nottingham used to be called Snottingham, named after Viking Lord Snot.
Bloody brilliant.

Back to the hotel to engage in some standard fare raffle-and-announmenting, but more importantly to work out how much walking would be involved in getting to the restaurant for dinner and thus make an informed shoe decision.

I made the mistake of joining the largest group for dinner, which meant that service was a bit slow, though the wait staff were friendly enough (in a slightly manic way) and happy to hand out kiddie colouring in sheets with crayons to bored children (Kiwi & I). We continued my paper folding theme by making origami cats. Then an origami garden for them to play in, complete with origami birds to eat and origami flowers to play with... and then we made the staff put our picture in the children's gallery (I snuck back later and moved all the children's pictures away from ours, they were very inferior). The other mistake I made at dinner was sitting with the whole of Team Wolf (from the game of BC Mnopoly I'm hosting at the mo), giving them ample time to crack 'jokes' about biased bonus pointing and to attempt to bribe me**. After dinner (and a quick photo call in the art gallery) we headed back to the hotel bar, where we completely failed to play any board games, so just continued drinking instead... opps.

Sunday morning dawned a little brighter and a lot earlier than I am used to, but I managed to make it to the release walk in a timely and vertical manner. However my cognitive skills were clearly somewhat lacking given that we came joint-second in the treasure hunt by one point - that point being lost due to my inability to count to eight.  Oh dear.

The walk ended in a pub, which apparently did nice local ales, though I was rather distracted by the Sunday Dinner offered with UNLIMITED Roast potatoes.
I am still there now, poor fools had no idea what would happen when tehy offered a Hurst an uncapped supplies of roasties...
Noodle xxx

*Almost, but not entirely. We still had the lady who, when her joke-slash-factoid fails to receive rapturous applause (due to being unfunny/irrelevant/not even vaguely interesting) repeats said joke-slash-factoid again, louder. And again, louder... (please note, it was not quiet on it's first airing). The advantage of this habit is that she is easy to spot and avoid.
**All attempts were successful - I am completely open to bribery - preferred forms are alcohol and gratuitous compliments

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Skinning the Cat

I'm a bad vegetarian.
I have to confess it - I wear leather. Sorry, but plastic shoes are horrible for your feet (plus usually unspeakably ugly), and I am weak willed in the face of a well-turned louis heel with pretty little silver buckles.
I decided a couple of years ago that if I was going to wear leather I should at least try to wear free range leather, so the moo cows can run around and eat daisys prior to being skinned by Kurt Geiger. Yet still the options in shoe gorgeousness are limited. So I took a short workshop in leather-craft, brought myself a big old hide* and fully intended to set off making my own.
Instead of actually doing anything though, I rolled up the hide, stored it and forgot it existed
I came back to it recently and found that at some point Curdle Cat had hidden inside, and (probably confused by the shiny smooth lack of grip) dug in her claws. Bugger.
So, these bookmarks serve two purpose - they get me back on the wagon with some practice of basic edging and rivet setting skills, and they provide employment for the damaged bits of skin which would otherwise be useless. 
I took inspiration from Paul Seville (whose work makes me drool. Utterly utterly delicious. He should make some shoes...) and just made holes where the scratches had been. So there is no rhyme or reason to the patterns, just the whim of a small tabby with sharp claws.
I'm off to eat some lentils as veggie penance (maybe I could force the same punishment on the cat?)
Noods x
(or Vekiki, if your a visiting bookcrosser)

*Those who know me well will observe that this leather is unsuitable for shoe making due to it's unfortunate colouration problem. It was intended for making a hat for boy - and still is, someday. But first I have to hit him round the head a few times in an attempt to make his skull less weird shaped.

Broken-Book Marks

The books used in the making of these bookmarks were already dead - many thanks to bookcrossers worldwide for donating ripped, waterlogged, partially burned and generally unreadable literature* for my crafting endeavours

Now for a confession - I don't use bookmarks, I fold down pages. Bad Noodle.
Actually, I don't feel guilty about it - if a book is particularly beautiful, or not mine, I will use an old receipt or somesuch to mark my place, but mostly, sod it. I don't put in such a crease that the page rips, and books these days are not the sacred priceless hand written objects they once were - my folding the corner the latest Dawkins diatribe does not threaten the continued existence of the text. The invention of the Gutenberg Press alleviates my requirement to use book marks. 
Plus, I like worn books - I always prefer second hand and only buy new when I can't source old  - dogears make a book that bit more homely, broken spines make your shelves look like somewhere to stay and ponder, and even the occasional mug-ring on the cover is a mark of happy memories..

Think of me what you will... but it means there are more of these broken-book marks to share because there's not point me keeping them for myself :)
(aka Vekiki - to any interloping bookcrossers)

*I am not referring to chick-lit; I mean physically unreadable, not mentally.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Fire Door

I opened the fire door
To four lips
(None of which were mine)
Tightened my belt around my hips
Where your hands were missing 
And stepped out into the cold
Collar high
Under the slate grey sky
The air was smoking and the streets were dry
And I wasn't joking when I said
Good Bye

Magazine quality men talking on the corner
French, no less 
Much less of them then us
So why do I feel like something's been rearranged? 
You know, taken out of context I must seem so strange
Killed a cockroach so big
It left a puddle of pus on the wall.

When you and I are lying in bed
You don't seem so tall.

I'm singing now 
Because my tear ducts are too tired
And my brain is disconnected 
But my heart is wired

I make such a good statistic
Someone should study me now  
Somebody's got to be interested in how I feel
Just 'cause I'm here
And I'm real 

Oh, how I miss
Substituting the conclusion to confrontation with a kiss
And oh how I miss
Walking up to the edge and jumping in
Like I could feel the future on your skin
I opened the fire door
To four lips
(None of which were mine)

I opened the fire door


I couldn't resist stealing this Ani DiFranco lyric to be taken out of context on a tote bag ;) 
It's made from recycled wool fabric, left over present-wrapping ribbon and -hem - 'vintage' buttons, so I reckon my favourite folksicle would approve. 
This is for Rachel - one of just three Ani fans I know (including me.) The other two are both Canadian. Coincidence? I think not - I suspect (hope) they are all over there getting fired up on angry lefty lyrics, ready to charge south and drown the Tea Party in maple syrup. Vive La Revolution!.
I'm off to bake pancakes for moping up afterwards
Noods x

PS. Why are you still reading? You should have buggered off to Youtube the song by now. Never mind - here. Enjoy :)

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Panda Attack

As PvP fans will be aware, a Panda Attack can be a dangeous thing - mostly not due to the lethal-ness of pandas, but purely down to the unexpectyed nature of the onslaught. That's where Jack here has the advantage - he'a cute and looks ever so cuddly - then BAMM! - he smacks you up with the pool ball he keeps in his head. 
It may take up all the space where his brain should be, and it may mean he is so top heavy he can't sit up, but on the plus side he will kick your ass.
''There is no charge for awesomeness... or attractiveness''

Showered in Elephant Snot

Elephants are totally the best animal. fact.
I got covered by water from inside one whilst in Goa last year*, and so commemorated that with a spot of reverse applique on the front of the photo album I made. 
Actually, most of the photos are of the elephants as well. Boy and I both hate having pictures taken. I don't know what his objection is, if I were that attractive I'd be more than happy to show it off. Unfortunately when I smile I look like a chipmunk - all fat cheeks and english teeth. I'm pretty certain (or falsely optimistic) that I don't look like that in everyday life, but there's something about a camera lens that really brings out the rodent in me.
Oh well. Photos of elephants it is then.
 The album is made from two layers of sari fabric and one of gold silk, with gold embroidery thread and parchment paper. It was a pretty simple make really, my first attempt at book binding, and I'm quite pleased with the results.
Noods x

                  * yes, really. See;

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

That's Amore

Moray eels are not known for being friendly. They have 2 jaws, 2 sets of teeth, and a very strong bite that cannot be released even in death. Yet still tourist think it would be lovely to go and hand feed them - the word 'hand' here having a double meaning - you feed them by hand, and if you're very lucky you'll get to feed them your hand too. The fingers of idiots are their favourite snack. Brighton Sealife centre (pretty awesome - Nautilus themed decor, lesbian sea turtles) encourages this by selling cuddly Moray eel toys in their gift shop, much to the amusement of The Boy on a recent visit.
So, I took a leaf out of Wayne Lo's book and went on a quick killing spree before settling down to embroider some photographs.  Having recently fallen back in love with chain stitch (we have one of those on-again-off-again relationships) I mostly used that, then mounted the lot onto backing card. Voila, Birthday Greeting transportation device complete.
PS. Wayne's needlecraft site is worth checking out. I'm actually kinda jealous - if I had all that prison-time to sit around sewing in, I might actually get around to finishing my big cross stitch project...
Seriously though, he is doing something positive and  seems to be genuinely trying to find a way to make amends. There's a really interesting piece/interview with him here. Fair play to the guy, I hope he is allowed to continue. 

Monday, 15 August 2011

Lump the Sugar

Being Diabetic sucks, in a fairly major way. I hadn't realised how much until I met The Boy. He's really good at looking after himself, but jabbing yourself with needles a few times a day is never gonna be fun. So, with this in mind I decided to make him a sugar-free birthday cake. I could have just made a normal one, and he could have done a bit more insulin to cover the extra intake, but I felt that a birthday present that requires him to inject himself with poison is somewhat a double edged sword, and I should at least have a bash at a more pancreas friendly version. 
Turns out, when making Victoria Sponge (Boy's favourite), sugar is a pretty important ingredient.  Who'd thunk? Replacing it with sweetener makes the cake much heavier and dryer. So, I had a  few practice runs and made my colleagues eat some frankly brick-cakes, before I came up with this, which makes a reasonable Diabetic Sponge Cake; 

Put oven on gas mark 4 to pre-heat. Check cat is not sleeping in oven.
Grease cake tins - I used two little 5'' ones. Prevent cat from licking the grease out of cake tins.
Cream together 225g butter, 22.5g Splenda (that's about 16 level tablespoons), 100g skimmed milk powder and 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence.
Separate 4 eggs, stir in the yolks. Add 225g self raising flour and 3 level teaspoons bicarbonate of soda. Whisk egg whites til stiff, then add to cake mixture. Add milk until mixture is a good dropping consistency (ie, gloops off a spoon after about 2 seconds). Mix thoroughly - seriously thoroughly, loads more than for a normal cake. Avoid stepping on cat through out, despite the fact that she is trying to sit on your feet.
Put into cake tins, bake for about 20 mins. A couple of minutes before they are done, glaze with milk 'cause the lack of sugar means they won't go brown. Whilst baking, play with cat.
Once cooked and cool, remove from cake tins. Decide with one is the least malformed, put to one side. Slice the top off of the ugly one to give a flat surface for the filling. Spread on extra thick cream, don't be skimpy. Slice some strawberries (yes, they contain sugar, but much less than jam - even the no added sugar stuff. Cherries are also good - low sugar content - if you can be arsed de-stoning them) and arrange a layer. on the cream. Put the top cake on top and decorate with another slice of strawberry. Try to stop cat from eating left over cream.
Pirate Birthday!
 Arrange amidst presents, add candles. Do not sing, because we like the boy and do not want to hurt his ears. 

My sponge was still a little dry for my taste (more milk next time), but boy and boy's mum seemed to enjoy it. Thank you all WarGoose Level Seven-ers for being my test crash dummies and providing constructive feedback :) 

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Unchained Melody

This hound-dog is Elvis. Making Elvis, I discovered something about myself; the only Elvis (Presley) music I own is one track on a mix-CD a friend made for me. How's that for profound introspection?
I have to admit, I have atrocious taste in music. Or rather, I don't really have taste in music because I don't really listen to much - I craft to audio books*, and my iPod is mostly full of podcasts**. But what little I do listen to is heinously embarrassing. 
I like musicals (Sondheim, modern Broadway, 90s Disney) so I can sing along, loudly and as out of tune as possible. Inside my head, I always sound beautifully in tune and filled with a good amount of whatever appropriate over-emotion the song calls for, but I am assured by everyone around me that, whilst I occasionally fluke a correct note, it is not too frequent an occurrence. Still, doesn't tend to stop me because  I fucking love to sing. I also like people being angry in witty way (Ani Di Franco, The Smiths) because I can vent my teenage-stylee righteous indignation. Anything with good lyrics gets my vote, I'm all about the narrative, and if you could persuade those people in the background to play their instruments somewhere else I'd appreciate it.
I have a few stock 'non-shit' bands I used to name when asked (no one ever believes you if you say have eclectic taste, they keep asking until you pin yourself down to one genre - kinda like when you were 9 and were only allowed one best friend) - some of whom (Alter Bridge) I genuinely like, and some of whom (The Stranglers) I just know are generally considered 'good' - cool enough to be ok, not cool enough that people want to go any further into discussing. Though, to be honest, these days I'm most likely to say Tim Minchin and use that as a segway into talking about comedy...

So, did you hear the one about the drummer, the mexican and the girl who should have been asleep an hour ago?

*Anything read by Flo Gibson is a winner; Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter can be curled up into like a duvet; and Bob Inglis can be relied upon to do all the voices, sing all the songs, and not mispronounce the Sindarin too badly.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

<---- This is Alan. 
As you can see, Alan has long hair.
What you cannot see is that Alan also has a small but growing bald patch.
Oh dear.
Clearly an intervention is needed.

This is Alan. ---->
as you can see, Alan has short hair.

Alan did not want to just throw his hair away, so he put it in a zip-lock bag and gave it to me. Of course.

  --- --- --- --- --- --- ---  ---  ---  ---  ---  ---  ---  ---  ---  ---  ---  ---

I made a pile of these little trinket thingummies - essentially a lock of hair, tied up with ribbon, bottled and labelled. The long corked vials are from etsy, but I ran out of those pretty quickly and was so turned to the little jars instead (Which I was forced, practically at gun point, to procure by eating lots of cream teas in cafes and stealing the jars the jam comes in).
These have proved quite popular, they seem to make people laugh, so I've been selling them to raise money for The Little Princess Trust - a charity which provides wigs for children undergoing chemotherapy. I'm still waiting on one payment, but I'm hoping to hit £100.  That will make the grossness of dealing with a bag of hair just about worth while

Friday, 22 July 2011

Crafting with Cat

Crafting with a cat in the room is not advisable. Worse still, leaving the cat in the room while you go to make a cup of tea, or to pre-heat the iron or somesuch. You will return to find that said cat is eating your wadding, or sitting on your sketchbook, or - and this is the worse option - sat very quietly swishing a tail whilst looking at you with big innocent eyes (so that you spend the next hour trying to work out what they did...).
You have been warned

Holly & Ivy Refuse to Grow Up

I've never really done machined patchwork before, but decided to give it a whirl for this garden trellis design, made using a jelly roll of fabric (another first for me).
I was... a little doubtful - I thought the pre-cut nature of the strips would be constraining, but actually for this pattern it was really useful; saved hours of faffing around with a rotar cutter. And the fabrics themselves were lovely quality, soft and begging to be handled (once I worked up the nerve to undo the bow and unroll them; kinda like approaching the first page of a fresh sketchbook - a beginning laden with potential best approached with due consideration). I received the 'Hope' collection* for Chrimbo from my Aunt & Uncle, who shortly after announced that they were going to be grandparents.
Now, this scares the shit outta me, because my cousin is basically my age, and all the people my age seem to be having babies or getting married or generally being very grown up. Whereas I was thrilled when Boy brought me a colouring book recently, so I took it to work along with my crayons and spent the evening happily deciding what colour to do the triceratops (blue). The fact that I have a job where I can spend my time colouring in just about sums up the level of responsibility I am capable of holding. I am most certainly not in a position to be considered a grown-up, and am terrified that one day soon someone will mistake me for a real adult and expect me to start behaving like one.
Anyway, I decided to hide from my impending age by hitting the sewing machine (my sewing machine is old - inherited from my great-aunt - and loud, so this is the aural equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ears and  going 'la la la'). Blue and brown is one of my favourite colour combos, and really lends itself to traditional patterns like this, so away I went. The original concept was to quilt on Ivy design over the top of the finished patchwork, to make an Ivy Growing Up Garden Trellis blanket in remembrance of my Grandma Ivy, who passed away in December. Unfortunately my long-arm skills were not up to the task, and when I started doing it by hand I quickly realised that it did not look good, so I unpicked and left just one ivy leaf in the corner by my tag. 
WarGoose Crèche
Oh well - Grandma always hated her name anyway (a Christmas birth like me, I have her to thank for dissuading my parents away from 'Holly'. Uck, Holly Hurst. Sounds like a sugary cocktail  vomited up outside the office party)
So, with lots of love and plenty of hope and a promise to share my crayons when he's old enough, this goes off to baby Gene
Noodle x
*The fabrics from this collection were reproduced from a Lemoyne star quilt from upstate New York, circa 1830-40. A note attached to the quilt stated that fabrics were from the dress the maker wore the day she met her future husband. Ain't that sweet as cherry pie?

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Doorbells and sleigh-bells and schnitzel with...

This post combines two of my favourite things; tea and Joe.* I cannot honestly say which is more awesome.

This is, clearly, a mug hug, with the chemical symbol for caffeine on it. Joe and I share a special tea based relationship because we mug-share at work - dual ownership limits the possibility of the mug being stolen away to a dressing room. But what about days when Joe is not WarGoosing? Or on the long commute in? Well, he will need a mug hug - environmentalists cannot be going along constantly using the cardboard ones - and now he has one.**

So, lovely Joe - Happy Birthday. I raise my tea-cup in salute to you, and am very proud to call you a friend.

*I tried to write a song about my favourite things, but I gave up because nothing rhymes with Tesla.
**I realise that in the picture it's on a Thermos, and a Thermos has no need for hugs, as it has inbuilt insulation. But it was the best I could do for illustrative purposes and I though the Thermos might want a hug anyway - just because a hug is not needed does not mean it goes unappreciated.

Friday, 8 July 2011

The Night Train

When - not drunk but maybe slightly tipsy - I sit on the train alone, looking at my own self reflected against the darkness of night London outside, all the myriad voices in my head aline, and my thoughts speak like the narrative of a book. I am suddenly looking me in the eye.
I am not a pretty girl, cheeks too broad and skin too pale (like death, rather than like cream), but maybe I am handsome in my own way.
I lack the social skills needed to recommend myself to strangers, it takes a long time to turn an acquaintance into a friend - longer even than that process usually takes. Yet once I become confident in someones company, or interested enough in what they may have to say to breech my own reticence, I am intelligent enough to be vaguely interesting - or at least I am quick enough to feign it and thus avoid being branded dull. 
So I cannot be entirely incompetent; I just cannot do small talk - that currency of companionship is beyond me. I never know what to ask, or how to form a reply in such a way that conversation may ensue. I am a dead end, except in those occasional circumstances when an easy entry for discussion makes itself apparent early on. Worse still, my shyness often manifests itself as loud, brash and sarcastic - a symptom unlike the disease hiding behind it, but even more off-putting to those around me.
Thinking, thinking in time to the movements of the train, thoughts unfurling between stops going homeward.
A jack of all trades - to flighty to decide even on which aspect of my own personality to lie my head for more than a moment, so how is it that I have found another - an entirely separate human being, whom I am so sure of, whom I want to spend all of my slice of eternity with?
I have though - I have found him - the most marvellous man, who will talk when all I do is get stuck by the words which never escape the confines of my own head. A man who charms everyone he meets, when I cannot even meet anyone at all. It's brilliant, watching him, knowing that someone so like me yet so unlike me exists - it gives me hope for myself.
I have no idea what he sees in me, or why he likes me, but I trust that he does because he says that he does. It is the most wonderful, indescribable thing - even with this sudden clarity of mind from a little alcohol and the darkness of the world I cannot find words to explain the ballooning feeling in my chest brought on my his presence in my life. It makes the everything else of life worth enduring, knowing that in the quiet I can spend a few occasional seconds wrapped in the knowledge of him.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Sunshine On A Rainy Day

I am incredibly lazy when it comes to basic repairs and alterations - for example, it has taken me over 2 years to bother sewing back on a missing button from my favourite sweater. This problem is not assisted by my insistence on buying clothes that don't  fit properly (ie. all high street clothes - always either too small on the boobs or too big on the waist. Which irks me because I have a pretty averagely proportioned figure - hips and a bum like most girls. Just nothing like most fashion models) with the intention of altering them. I should just admit that I will never get around to fixing them.
Going through the stack of ill-fitted purchases, I came across a dress in an awesome print that I've been meaning to deal with for ohh... about 5 years. I brought it while I was still at university, for fucks sake. But, well, I will never have the patience to deal with all the pin tucks on the bodice and I finally admitted that. So I've bastardised it into a new sunglasses case - a quick 5 minute make; 2 seams, a hem, a bit of ribbon for the drawstring and a button to finish the whole thing off. Satisfaction (and loads of left over fabirc to make other cool shiz with) . Another plus side is that now my new sunnies won't get as scratched as all my old ones when I leave them in my handbag. Hurrah.
Largely irrelevant as, this being England and it being July, it's pissing it down with rain. But Heigh-Ho, if the sun ever does come out I'll be fully prepared. In the meantime, I really need to get my arse in gear and repair my umbrella, 'cause right now I'm very wet.
Soggily yours, 

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

I Felt My Heart Skip

I had fun making my kiddie art book, and it inspired me to use the same techniques on a  slightly more adult project. I'd been putting off making felt bookcovers since my favourite supplier of printed felts* went bust (sob!), but decided this way I could decorate the fabric myself rather than relying on pre-decorated material to do the hard work for me. This 'Craft Ideas' book is the result (not for me - I've moved on from a craft ideas notebook and now just have a wall covered in post-its and pictures - I sit in front of it to sew and so it serves as inspiration towards current projects as well as idea store for future ones). It's all felt with a  couple of buttons and a ribbon closing. I decided to keep the needlework decoration to all simple backstitch, as I thought with such an eclectic colour range and a pretty organic, unformed image, if I added another element of 'random' by using too many different stitches it would be rather overwhelming. There's a tiny patch of longstitch, but otherwise I kept the actual embroidery techniques simple, allowing the patterns and colours to yell out loud.

The cover is removable, I've put it onto a kraft notebook because the thickness of the book allowed me to add spine buttons, and the rounded corners mean the corners of the cover won't wear out too quickly
Bookcovers made with printed felt

Noodle x

*If anyone happens to know of a good stockist for printed felt - not just spots and stripes but all kinds of prints in a good colour array, I'd really love to hear about them. I really enjoy working with felt - because I'm lazy and hate hemming, mostly, so am very much missing my beloved printers