Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Big, The Broken and the Colourful

After the lovely news we had about Larmer Tree last Friday, events took a turn for the worse on Sunday afternoon. We had been enjoying an afternoon on the beach, which we had cycled to so that we could see the giant deckchair.

Unfortunately we forgot to take our camera, so these pictures are 'borrowed' from the internet, although when we were there the deckchair was being guarded by ugly railings and two security chaps so these pictures give a better view of the colossal seat.

Anyhow, we had just started cycling back when all of a sudden my bike stopped dead and I almost flew over the handlebars. I managed to hang on, and while my brain was scrambling through what had happened my son whose seat is on my crossbar started screaming.

It appears that he had taken his foot off his footrest and put it near the wheel, whereupon his shoe got caught in the spokes and his leg got dragged through, which stopped the bike. Luckily we weren't travelling at any great speed or things may have been much worse.

As it is, I managed to free the poor lad's foot from the spokes and we quickly applied wet tissues to the ankle. It was obvious from the enormous swelling which came up instantly that he would need medical attention so we had to call an ambulance.

A few awful hours later we returned home with the little chap's leg in plaster. The hospital team couldn't be sure, but they think that he has damaged the growing plate at the end of one of his leg bones, so we were sent home and told to return on Friday for further assessment.

My brave little soldier has been coping so well and I think secretly enjoying all the fuss, and being pushed around in a buggy again.

Crafting for the festival has been put on hold until after the Easter break. Tomorrow we are off to Ikea to purchase some more flatpack joy and a dozen other things that will no doubt catch our eye. I will be buying supplies for festival crafting and finally getting the desk I have been wanting for the dining room which will help me organise everything.

On Friday I am taking my daughter and her friend to London so that they can see some hard rock/heavy metal/I'm not sure but it sounds awful band playing at Brixton Academy. I will be taking my own friend so that we can hopefully go and see the Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy while the girls are watching said awful band.

We shall be travelling to London by coach, which takes about two and a half hours, so I will be taking my crochet so that I can hopefully hook up a couple of large granny squares to act as backs for the two cushion fronts I've made.

I have also started on a granny stripe blanket, inspired by Lucy of Attic24. I'm sure all you crocheters are already aware of this fantabulous blog but if not, please do hop over and have a look, you won't be disappointed.

This is my humble effort so far. I'm hoping that we'll be travelling to Nottingham over Easter to see Granny Magpie and the rest of the clan so the journey can be spent productively for me. My plan is that by the time Larmer Tree comes around I will have a colourful stripe-fest to drape over my Magpie knees when the sun goes down.

For the first time I can remember I am actually a little bit sorry to see the back of the dark evenings. I have been so happy sitting warm by the fire with something to keep my fingers happy (and away from the biscuits). I'm not saying I don't enjoy the longer days, I love summer, but I am glad that I don't need to worry about Winter coming around again.

I hope all of you have been managing to get out in the sun, it's been gorgeous hasn't it?

Thanks for stopping by,
Beth x

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Exciting News!!

For those of you who don't know, I only started sewing seriously last year and took part in my first craft fair in September. In the run-up to Christmas I took part in several more fairs, during which I met some fantastic fellow crafters and got lots of lovely compliments on my work from members of the public. I always feel very honoured when someone chooses to spend their hard-earned cash on something made by little old me.

The rest of the Magpie clan have been very understanding about Mum's new hobby. Mr Magpie has taken the younger two out for days out without me so that I can 'make' in peace, the attic, and then the dining room have been cluttered up with ever-increasing amounts of supplies and stock, dinners have been less exciting and there has been a constant whirr (or clunk) from my sewing machines, not to mention some choice expletives inserted at regular intervals.

My daughter has been brilliant at accompanying me to fairs (although she usually manages to spend some of the profits for me at other stalls) and the other Magpies have coped very well in my absences, although I have missed them.

One excursion Mr Magpie took with the younger two boys to give me craft time was to Latitude Festival. Walking around the market place, he noticed a distinct lack of the type of things I was making and texted me to say that I should be selling there.

As a family (and occasionally as a couple)  we have been fairly regular visitors to Glastonbury Festival, our last time being an ill-fated family attendance in 2007 (gallons of mud, not much sleep and lots of bands missed due to that). On the whole though, we love the festival experience, and decided that it would be great if we could combine festivals and sewing.

We thought carefully about where to apply for this year and decided on Larmer Tree as it is fairly local to us, but also a long-established and successful event. The cost of having a stall is very much more than you would pay for a normal event, but comes with entry to the whole festival for two adults and two children. The idea is that one of us will man the stall while the other spends time enjoying the festival with the children.

The application was a pretty nerve-racking experience for me as it was a little more involved than for the other events I have done.Then there was a nail-biting wait for a decision, as applicants are told that stalls are always over-subscribed.

This morning, I am deliriously happy to announce, I received my confirmation email. I'm in!! Miss Magpie will be off to the festival come July, installed in the Artist's Quarter no less!! I am really, really looking forward to the event and a new chapter of Miss Magpie. Even if I don't sell a thing, just to be at the festival, with my family in the English summer time will be brilliant.

You may be hearing a little less from me for a while as I have to get busy creating the stock I want to take with me, but I will still blog little bits of my progress. Wish me luck!!

Thanks for stopping by,
Beth x

Friday, 16 March 2012


Although I have been doing lots of extra night shifts lately and have been feeling slightly zombie-d, there have been some crafty things happening here.

Crochet has become my new addiction. From initially hooking up little granny squares for pure pleasure, I progressed onto sorting them out a little and choosing nine to turn into one large square which I am intending to become a cushion.

Having finished this square I am trying to decide what to do about the reverse of the cushion. Do I make another square, use fabric or try and thrift an old jumper to adapt as I have seen done very successfully elsewhere? Any thoughts or suggestions welcome!

My thoughts are already turning to what I want to crochet next. I have found plenty of inspiration in both my trusty old craft books and from the internet. I took an opportuntity to pop into my local wool shop the other morning whilst it was quiet and I was on my own so that I could have a proper browse. My intention was to add some more shades to my acrylic collection so that I can make something really colourful.

These are the acrylics I already had and below are the new ones. I have been playing around with different combinations but as yet remain undecided on the exact palette to use.

Since this knitting and sewing obsession has been growing, I have been gathering up all the little bundles of wool/yarn squirrelled away in various parts of the house. I need to address my storage issues! Out of interest, I laid it all out on the sofa. Grannie Magpie please look away now.

I was a bit shocked myself at how much there was when seeing it all together. I just need to look at this picture next time I feel an urge to buy some more. Rachael from Sew Ray Me kindly emailed me a pattern to make fabric baskets last week. I am thinking of making some to accomodate some of my stash.

Talking of storage, I have been taking pictures of the dining room as it's make-over is in progress. This has been a gradual process since Christmas but I think we will be paying a visit to the big blue and yellow shop in the next few weeks where I can get the last few bits and bobs I need. Hopefully I will have it all arranged how I want it soon, then I will give you a tour of my crafty space.

In crochet-related sewing, I spent a happy few hours yesterday creating these little lovlies. I wanted to make one for myself and the other two are for presents. I used three fabrics from my Cath Kidston cotton duck stash for the exterior, with coordinating haberdashery fabrics for the lining.

To make them, I used a tutorial from Joanne's blog; you can find it here. The tutorial is really well written with lots of pictures. I think it took me about three hours in total to make these. An enjoyable afternoon!

The only thing I would change if making this again would be the needle pocket. My needles kept falling out when the roll was closed. Possibly this is due to me using cotton duck fabric and not the recommended quilting weight cotton (which also made the whole process rather trickier, why didn't I learn from the jewellery rolls I made?!) but the problem would be easily rectified by replacing the pocket with a piece of felt to keep the needles in.

Today the boss has told me that I need to get on with the brick path that I am creating in the back garden out of our old kitchen wall. Better get on then.

Thanks for stopping by,
Beth x

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Some lovely presents and a new skill!

Last week, my Mum came over and brought with her a cardboard box, brimming with goodies for me to go through.

Mum is a sheltered housing officer and told me that a gentleman had been clearing out his mother's house when he found this little lot and hadn't known what to do with it. His Mother was an accomplished sewer and he wanted this lot to go to someone who would appreciate it. Unfortunately he didn't leave any contact details, so I am unable to thank him properly, but I would just like to reassure the universe that I am indeed thankful and will put this little lot to good use.

I was over the moon to go through this lot and there are some lovely things in the box. I'm not sure I dare to use the unopened bias bindings, it would feel like wrecking a piece of history! I am especially pleased with the pinking shears which have been so reverently looked after, wrapped in their original box. I have ruined my own by cutting oilcloth with them and they cost so much to replace. The tape measures are lovely too, I really like the one that is closed with a snap fastening.

Later on in the day that Mum visited, I popped into my next door neighbour for something and she gave me another little bag of sewing goodies!

If you remember, I received another lovely bundle from the same neighbour in this post. Those pieces were perfect for making purses and such with, but this new bag is full of bigger pieces, so I may be able to get to work on some new cushions, and perhaps even my table runner!

Finally, I am very happy to share with you that after much, MUCH practice (and swearing; and throwing stuff) I can now crochet, or sort of. Last Thursday at the evening Knit and Natter which, I am reliably informed is actually Stitch and Bitch (or SnB as I will now refer to it), the ever patient Bex and Vanessa sat with me until I had at last grasped the basics. Bex made me feel better by telling me that as a very experienced knitter she too found crochet quite alien at first, but once it clicked, it clicked and there was no stopping me.

The above samples are in double crochet. I am obviously still doing something wrong as the sides should be straight, not decreasing, but hopefully I'll get there. I used a really ancient book (again given to me by Mum) to get the pattern for Granny Squares, which I have always wanted to be able to make and managed to produce these all by my own self! I am not thinking of anything as grand as a blanket yet, but thought I could aim for a small cushion cover. Another project on the list.

Anyway, thanks as ever for visiting and for all the lovely comments you have been leaving. Any of you lurkers out there don't be shy, I'm quite friendly really and love to find out who you are and what you've been making too,

Beth x

Friday, 2 March 2012

World Book Week, Part Two

As mentioned yesterday, Angela of 'This is Wiss' is running a week long event of blogs from herself and some guest bloggers in honour of Book Week.

Today you can read about some costumes that I have made for book day, just click on the picture. Don't forget to check back through the coming week!

Thanks for stopping by,

Beth x

p.s. I went to Thursday Knit and Natter last night, and with the assistance of the lovely Vanessa and patient Bex, I think I might finally be getting the hang of crochet! Pictures soon xx

Thursday, 1 March 2012

World Book Day

Parents of primary school children will no doubt be aware that today is World Book Day and children up and down the country have been asked to go to school dressed as a favourite book character.

Sometimes I actually dread this event coming around, but this year wasn't too painful, although we did scrape some elements of the outfit together rather last minute.

Middle son declared his intention to attend the event dressed as a 'Bin Weevil' and did actually give me more than 24 hours notice which made things easier.

Extra legs were created from black leggings stuffed with newspaper and sewn to an old belt, and the nose was a sock stuffed with fibre filling (which I will be reclaiming later) sewn to some elastic. Black face paint finished off the look. I am glad that he will be at school all day as in the twenty minutes he was wearing it at home he managed to smear two walls, a radiator and the cloakroom sink. Don't ask.

Anyway, here is my little Bin Weevil in all his glory

Angela, from This is Wiss is celebrating World Book Week with a week of posts, starting with her own, which you can read here, in which Wiss has a brilliant costume and enjoys a game in the park. Check back through the week for lots of lovely posts from some of our little community. Mine is tomorrow, which includes a treat at the end!

I would love to hear about any of the costumes you have made over the years, so please get in touch, I love receiving your comments and will try to reply where an address or link is given.

Thanks for stopping by,
Beth x