Thursday, 26 November 2009

Crafts . . .

I finally got around to having my Swine Flu jab on Wednesday, after much research and deliberation. As a chronic asthmatic, really I didn't have a lot of choice. Flu DOES kill and on the principle that you're a long time dead, I stepped up to the mark. I was OK until lunchtime yesterday, when, having spent the morning baking a double-ginger Ginger cake, big apple crumble, cheese bread and Cornish Fairings (biscuits), I suddenly felt like I'd been pole-axed. I spent the afternoon on the sofa with my x-stitch, the wood burner lit, and jumps racing on tv. A couple of paracetamol took away the headache, neckache etc. The cake was much-appreciated by my husband (who loves ginger) and by whichever cat chose to use it as a bed last night! Just as well I thought to cover it with cling-film first . . .

Above and below - here are some of the hats I have been knitting for family "smalls" this Christmas.

Half an hour was well-spent sorting through my sewing things in the craft basket, though I couldn't for the life of me find the x-stitch project I wanted to work on - found the chart for it, and the threads, but not the started work . . . Instead I blew the dust off a very old half-done project and worked on that instead, but it's all in very muted "sparrow-like" colours so not very exciting to do. I will plod on with it anyway, as it's 3/4 done now.

Above - the project I worked on, and below, the one I can't find the started project for . . .

Lots of cat charts (who forgot the flash then?!!)

Which to do first? I have one of castles too . . .

This is another work in progress, and I want to get it finished for my middle daughter. The colours aren't anything like as pinky as they appear here, far more lilac of course, as it's the lilac fairy . . .

I have 7 or 8 half-finished projects, abandoned about 12 or more years ago when I was doing my degree course and subsequently. I had forgotten quite how much I enjoyed x-stitch, but hadn't realized how my eyes had changed in the intervening period. I am very glad that OH and I found a sewing light at the car boot sale a couple of years ago for £4.50. It's the sort you use with a daylight simulation bulb and it has a magnifier too. If you were to buy it new, it would be £50 cheapest (and it's about £80+ in town). It had a small electrical fault when we bought it, but nothing that OH couldn't fix and I couldn't sew without it now. Sewing on 27 count linen in off-white colours necessitated all the help I could get!

In the evening my brain had gone walkabouts again, so I spent the evening sorting through bags of DMC and Anchor threads and winding the DMC ones onto spools. I have all my original DMC threads threaded through holes in strips of cornflake packets, but have to admit the spools make for easier work finding colours, and keep it much tidier. I gave eldest daughter the original container for the spools to keep her beads in for jewellery-making, but OH had bought me this craft container (probably originally for screws or fishing odds and sods) in Lidls, and it is now in use.

And to settle an argument. Someone on a forum was saying there was no way you could sell your house unless you depersonalized it and painted all the walls beige. I took up issue with this and pointed out that not everyone was trying to sell a bog-standard estate semi (which this rule of thumb might apply to). Old Welsh farmhouses were a different animal. Now which would you prefer - WITHOUT china, or WITH china? I rest my case . . .

This needs slight decluttering, and the dried marjoram is going to replaced with some dried flowers, the spoons and bits putting somewhere else, but it would look NOTHING without all the favurite bits and bobs we've collected over the years.


  1. Definitely WITH china, bits and bobs and whatever takes your fancy BB! I've tried many times to de-clutter or 'minimalise' my home, but it never seems to work ... 'cause it's just not 'home' any more!

    Mmmm ... cat on a ginger cake bed? Interesting - must try it!

    Btw, I love the xstitch in 'sparrow-like' colours, it reminds me of a scene from a Hardy novel!

    Willow x

  2. I'm with you on the sewing lamp.I was lucky enough to be given one on Freecycle from a lady who won it and had nowhere to put it. I ejoyed this post, I like to see what crafts you are enjoying. Regarding the china, I like to see treasures about the house and some warm colours. I'm not a lover of neutral!

  3. Hullo BB,

    Mmm. Its one of those conundrums isn't it, about whether to viciously declutter/decolour/depersonalise the house in prep for selling.

    I think we probably feel the same, that the personality and heritage of the house has to be respected for it to look at its best, so colour and personality for older houses and for a newer one like ours - well we live in a predominantly cream and beige modern house highlighted with natural wood doors and skirtings etc and seasonal colours as appropriate and our paintings and maps lend texture etc. But still there are areas of colour with rich red carpet on stairs and mezzanine and pale green appearing elsewhere. Who can live in a sterile environment?

    Whatever the decision I think its important to make sure that you're comfortable livin there. It's your home after all is said and done, even if its up for sale.

    I think that clutter is the key aspect. Clutter hides detail most often, but bare walls look cold and univiting. Its again about balance to make the room feel warm, inviting and interesting. I think many people underestimate a buyers ability to mentally project their posessions and lifestyle into a room.

    Sarah Beenie and Ann Maurice have a lot to answer for.......


  4. It's hard striking a balance between de-cluttering and removing all the charm that makes a house a home. I hate barren, minimalist houses though, so maybe I'm not the best one to listen to ;)

    I love cross stitch soooo much, and long to have the time to just sit and get mine finished. I just have so much else to get on with at the moment though (must finish that cardigan!).

    Hope you feel better today :)

  5. Hope the swine flu gremlins have departed now BB.
    As to which looks best - I hate houses which are stripped of all their homely touches - bother beige I say. Like the look of some of those projects too.

  6. Oink. Snuffle. Oink . . . A bit brighter today I'm glad to say.

    Well, I have decided to declutter a bit, but damned if I'm doing beige and blardy minimalist. I like HOMELY, like WG said, it's what makes a house a home. What we have decorating our rooms says a lot about US. I am not going to bend over backwards to make the house sterile so that some brainless idiot can see how there things might look in it. If they are that brainless, then they don't deserve this lovely old house!

    I am about to wield the paintbrush in the kitchen again, and my reward is x-stitch tonight . . . I need a break from the knitting now I think.

  7. I have to say that you got a great deal done before succumbing to the effects of your flu shot and it seems that from your cozy nest on the sofa you did some non-stressful organizing. I have been silently halooing with delight over the cat snoozing on the well covered cake. It is exactly the sort of thing which has always taken place in our household! My feeling is that the quality of the cake is not a bit affected, but this sort of happening--along with the liability of a cat who hawks up hairballs inopportunely--is why I make sure any "guests" are pet proof.
    In the houses we have built for sale we use cream wall paint--it can't offend except for being bland. I shop for neutral earth-toned tile and counter-top materials which will work with a new owner's possessions. I actually like pale walls as there is a good deal of color in all my quilts, the curtains and cushions I make, folk art collectables. When J. put this house on the market last spring I went through in a whiz of annoyance and removed some of my bits and pieces, particularly large items which were happily collecting dust on the wide ledge over the kitchen appliances. [And, for the record, about twice a year I did haul myself up there with duster and spray cleaner and such, but the cats DO like to go up and run about on the edge and peer over....!]
    I admit to being cluttery rather than tidy. I maintain stoutly that the clutter is a sign of a creative, crafty individual!
    If you look at the photo I posted yesterday--view of kitchen area--you'll see that I used a dk red stain on the back of the kitchen "island"--it is also on the bead board divider that defines the sitting area. I hoped this might be the house we would finally keep and harbored ideas for adding a bit more color, but it would be subdued as to walls--maybe a soft sage green or taupe, still with the idea of a backdrop for my more colorful artifacts.
    When we have to show a house in which we and the cats are residing, I laboriously make sure it is as immaculately clean as possible, and then I whisk out of sight the "clutter"--difficult on notice of an hour or two as I live with tottering piles of books, works in progress on the sewing desk---shelves full of fabric enthusiastically rummaged and not as quickly restacked. House viewers are an invasive aspect of trying to market a property.
    Let's see--before I got on this rant, I meant to admire your handiwork--I'm in awe of those who can follow a chart and create cross-stitch treasures--and the knitted hats are such friendly and wearable pieces. I sometimes wish I had some hand work going for times when I don't want to hunch over the sewing machine.
    Thank you for such an interesting domestic tour.

  8. Love seeing all the crafty stuff, that should keep you busy in the winter evenings.
    I had the swine flu jab about 3 weeks ago, I felt OK except my arm was like a "dead arm" for about 3 days! I had to have it as I am "front-line NHS staff", but I'm not sure it will effect us as we work in a hospice.
    Will you put pictures up of the finished craft stuff when it's done, ...hope so.

  9. I wish you had been able to take a photo of The Cat on the Ginger Cake! That sounds like a good title for a children`s book......

    I do agree about "clutter" being a sign of creativity in a homely home.

  10. My friend from Clunderwen rang last night and she was telling me she had been to a wicker- man celebration, although she wasnt sure about the symbolisim behind it. I felt sure you'd know, maybe you could do a post about it, we would both find it interesting?

  11. Our home will be a nighmare to sell, its full of vibrant colours and 30 years of collecting, and I would not want to change a thing, I think people make a karmetic connection with a home and 'beige' will do nothing to change that. Especially in your location and home, which by the look of it I could move into and be comfy immediatly, you are selling a lifestyle choice as much as a home?

  12. Gosh, what a lovely response! Anne, lovely to see you again. Having seen pics of your home I know you and I have similar tastes in decorating. Selling the lifestyle choice is a definite ploy when marketing this house.

    Kath - not heard of any wicker man celebrations in our county - but they're a funny lot the other side of the Landsker line . . .! Will research a post for it, I promise.

    MM - I've been back to your post and your kitchen doesn't look too "beige"! as there is plenty of woodwork and you have some colour in the unit. Having wallhangings in the way of colourful quilts helps too. We just have lots of pictures to cover the uneven-ness of ancient plastering! When we downsize, I am going to treat myself to one of the fabulous Eva Rosenstand kits - the sort of thing which is very detailed and will take a year's stitching to complete but be amazing.

    DW - she was gone before I got down there, but I have found little Ban curled up on top of the fortunately-covered-by-a-teatowel still-warm fruit crumble before now . . . They know a good spot when they find one!

    Goosey - my arm was fine, but I know that lots of people were reporting sore arms after the jab. I will post up the projects as I finish them. I did a good bit more on the blacksmith pic last night and am going to make sure I FINISH my projects before starting on another . . .