Sunday, 30 November 2008


Soup: The final frontier

When Jamie was a baby, he was a good eater. He ate almost everything he was given, and used his initiative to eat things he wasn't given, like sand. He had a deep appreciation for food, and we even coined the term 'peach ecstasy' for how when he ate one his eyes would roll back in his head as he slurped and devoured. As he has gotten older, his diet has roughly halved every six months or so to the point where he only eats twenty foods or so, mostly fruit or things he can bathe in peanut butter. He no longer eats peaches...

That's not to say he doesn't like food. He helps me make dinner with gusto, we discuss everything we're doing, smell things, touch them. Last week he hugged my legs and said "I so happy" when we were making dinner. There is no doubt, however, who these feasts are for: "Mommy and Daddy and Maia. No Jamie. Just Mommy. And Daddy. And Maia. No Jamie". While we eat he hovers like an overattentive host. "Maia, you like your pasta? Maia, you like your potatoes? Maia, you like your dinner? Okay, good."

When I was studying for my degree I took modules on medieval, early modern and modern warfare. Wars over territory, disputing sovereignty, Icelandic and Nordic blood feuds, ideological wars, religious wars... there is a rich history of long-standing and bloody conflict between humans. We will always find something to fight about. Like soup.

The Soup Wars may not have the recognition of say The Hundred Years War, or even Scotland's own Ice Cream Wars, but that should not diminish the passion or dedication of the combatants. It is a war on three fronts: at home, at grandma's, and at the childminder's. I have more or less conceded defeat at home, the balance is in Jamie's favour at grandma's, but the childminder shows amazing resolve in frequent skirmishes.

Sometimes he will eat it without fuss, sometimes he will talk about how he will eat it and then won't, sometimes he talks about how he won't eat it then does. Sometimes the primeval chant of 'No Soup, No Soup, No Soup' rings in our ears for days. Grandma phones. Jamie says, 'Hi Grandma, no soup. Bye.'

'Why Soup?' I hear you ask. Well, it is the only source of vegetables that Jamie will (occasionally) eat. Other things can also be hidden, like meat, that would never make a straightforward appearance in his diet. And Soup has become more than just the sum of its ingredients, it has become the last bastion in the larger struggle for dominance between us. I will not conceed defeat on Soup.

Saturday, 29 November 2008


Artic outdoor market

I've read countless headlines in women's magazines like '50 is the new 30', or '60 is the new 40' but they're keeping one quiet... Based on recent anecdotal evidence, 29 is the new 80.

Today I was hawking my wares at an outdoor market. It was below freezing and I was standing from 9AM to 4:30PM. It took about five hours from when I got home for my hands to unfurl from their purple lobster claws. My skin is prickly and hot but my skeleton is cold. I am hobbling around in a less than upright position. Inexplicably, my fingernails hurt.

It was a good day though, I sold quite a few things, including a coat that I hadn't even had a chance to photograph yet. You'll just have to trust me, it existed. The Christmas CD playing nearby made me feel festive, although it's appeal diminished as the hours rolled by. I got a reprieve from internecine toddler warfare.

My stall was between two lovely, talented women. Bryony Knox makes exquisite metalwork with moving parts, from little brooches and animals to larger automated sculpture. A lot of her inspiration is from the circus, mythology and heraldry, and Punch and Judy. That's my kinda inspiration!! We both recently finished the final series of the Sopranos, and ruminated over the final episode over coffee and soup. She has a son Maia's age who is now sporting a cowboy hoodie!

On my other side was Jessica Walter selling very pretty and unique contemporary jewellery and knitwear. There probably isn't a nicer person in the world, as evidenced by the 400 or so friends who visited her throughout the day!

Here is a picture of Maia drinking her bottle from a bucket. It just made sense.

Friday, 28 November 2008


Folksy finds: birds

Birds have been a bit of a theme for me this week with the two bird coats, so I thought I would share some bird-inspired items from Folksy.

This bird pendant from Pennydog is silverplated and imbedded in a lozenge of black resin, very pretty!

Here is a striking "The Girl and the Bird" print from Blackoutwell. I love the colours she used and the simplicity of the drawing.

It was hard picking just one bird from Lupin's shop, but this bluetit felt brooch is my favourite. She's absurdly talented, I could do a whole post about just the things I like from her full shop!

I love unusual notebooks. I like to look, I occassionally buy, but I hardly ever write in them because my perfectionist nature means I don't want to 'waste' or 'ruin' them. But I love them. Here is a Travel Journal from Asking for Trouble covered with a vintage 1950's map of Africa with a vintage bird stamp. Vintage is cool, recycled vintage even cooler. I'm a big fan of her shop too, full of Kawaii and Japanese inspired goodies!

Check out this cute little guy from Feltmeup Designs, made from organically farmed merino wool needle felt.

Bbel's shop is full of bird-inspired jewellery! This hummingbird necklace is an original drawing on acrylic and then strung from a chain, so unique!

I really like these pretty gift tags from Paperleaf, which are Gocco printed onto Manila.

Babies would be rapt looking at the luscious colours in this bright, Mexican-inspired bird mobile from Pippin.

I think this tiny owlet from DaisyLily is adorable. The hanging ribbon really sets it off well and those eyes are irresistable.

Thursday, 27 November 2008


Greetings from puppyland

Check out this picture from my Mom. Note how happy my dad looks. I'm going to look that happy in fourteen days when I get to the States and re-enact this scene.
I'm not entirely sure how it happened but this post and the one below it are out of order (think it was something to do with saving the The Nightmare Coat in draft and returning to it later). So look below if you want to see the latest coat-rauma.

The nightmare coat

I finished another coat yesterday, which earned the distinction of the most pain in the a*** item of clothing I have ever made. This one was three layers: heavyweight cotton shell, double layer goretex fleece batting and cotton lining.

The goretex fleece is really quite strange. I saw it on ebay and thought it would be the perfect lining for coats as it is waterproof and wind resistant (the two most important features of a coat when living in Scotland), and it would be an easier way of making a coat warm than a super thick batting. It was advertised as being red fleece one side, navy fleece the other, with an inner layer of goretex. So I was naturally expecting something fleece-like, maybe even super double-y fleece-like on account of both sides being fleece. What arrived wasn't very fleecey, it's more like neoprene with brushed surfaces, and very stiff. The listing was for 5 extra wide meters of it, so I now have heaps...

I had thought that the problems I had with the other bird coat would be eliminated as I was going to sew every piece of the goretex fleece to the corresponding piece of shell before assembling the coat. Good idea, yes? Well... yes and no.
  • Good: stretch problem eliminated so no need to mess about with seam allowances

  • Bad: assembling a coat that is already two layers thick (creating four layer seams) and then attaching it to a lining (making seams three layers thick) and then hemming (making it six layers thick)

My machine and I cried in equal measures by the time we finished hemming the bottom edge. Next up, sleeve edges. Again, six layers. And I just couldn't do it. I could barely get it under the presser foot even at its highest position. And despite being a (much too) pricey machine, it doesn't have a stupid free arm. Which is just about the most useful thing when making baby clothes. Left hand tried to keep the massive sleeve sandwich under the foot and straight, right hand tried to keep the bottom side of the sleeve out of the way. It was too much, we had reached an impasse. I was faced with a coat that was 90% done, using semi-precious hoarded materials, and four hours of my life I'd never get back. So I made double fold cuffs and abutted them to the sleeve edges rather than turn them under, and then slip stitched by hand to both sides.

Only the buttonholes to go, my least favourite part of any creation on account of my machine's loose interpretation of 'automatic buttonholing'. Automatically chew your fabric apart?.... Sure.... Automatically make a buttonhole that bears to no relation to the one you asked for?.... No problem.... Automatically destroy your dreams and break your spirit at the end of a project?.... Yep, done....

I couldn't risk it, so I did the buttonholes manually with a tight zigzag, very small increments and an overcautious use of a seam ripper. Just to make this coat as time-consuming as possible, I also made covered buttons from fabric with white polkadots on black.

I think I am going to charge $5000 for it.I tried it on Jamie for size (and also because he is more co-operative about doing things like lifting his arms if a breadstick is involved) and it fits perfectly. I actually thought he looked awesome in it. Steven doesn't share this opinion (the word 'garish' was mentioned). What do you think? Is it too girly a coat? To modify it for a boy, I was wondering if I should make it less a-line and have a normal pointy collar instead of peter pan collar. Maybe if it was less a-line it would need one of those slit thingys in the back too... Ugh, sounds like a lot of work... I'm not so sure why he looks glum in this picture, maybe he's worrying about looking garish.

The jacket is also fully reversible, but I can't decide what color buttons to use. Orange is the natural assumption but I worried there is just too much orange going on. I tried black but I thought it made the fabric look washed out. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


My tunic giveaway starts today!

Last week I posted about a series of giveaways on the EtsyBaby blog. Mine opens today and closes at midnight next Monday. All you have to do for a chance to win a tunic of your choice is leave a comment on the Etsybaby blog saying something you like from my shop. If you don't like anything in my shop, you don't deserve a free tunic anyway :)

These tunics are my own design, cut in a generous a-line shape and double elasticated at the neck so there is no fussing with zips or buttons. Fits as a dress at one, mid-thigh tunic at two and a hip length tunic at three. So get your comment on for a really good chance for a free tunic!


Jamie devises a new sort of Rorschach test

I was at a craft fair in Glasgow on Sunday so Steven was looking after the kids all day. He is quite exuberant with the camera, so I am normally greeted with a montage of the day when I get home. Flipping through, I see the kids hanging out on the couch (awww...). Check out how she studies him and positions herself exactly like he has. Then some playing with balloons (sweet...), Eating apples with Uncle Darren (nice...). But wait, what's this? Why did he take a picture of a stain on our carpet? It's certainly not a unusual occurence in our house, and I don't think cataloguing them would do my self esteem any good...

A Rorschach test normally consists of ink blots and is used by psychologists to try to examine the personality characteristics and emotional functioning of their patients. They look like this:

Apparently, Jamie had an accident and said, 'Look, Daddy, a bicycle!' Wonder what psychologists would make of his assessment? Or indeed, Steven taking a picture of it?

Sunday, 23 November 2008


Another day, another coat

I went to Ikea last week and got a bunch of fabric for coats. I was meant to get just fabric for my craft fair table coverings, but after an hour on two different buses to get there (and the prospect of the same journey home), I couldn't resist getting some coat fabric too. To punish me for my greediness, that blasted blue Ikea bag rubbed several layers of skin off my shoulder by the time I got home.

I tweaked the amazing technicolour coat pattern to make it double breasted and with a peter pan collar instead of elf hood. I lined it with polar fleece. I read somewhere that women produce a special chemical after giving birth that makes them forget how terrible it is, increasing the likelihood she will at some point have another child and thereby safeguarding the future of the human race... But what does this have to do with my fleece lined coat, I hear you ask? After I line a non-stretch thing with stretch fabric, I produce a chemical that makes me forget what a pain in the a*** it is, thereby safeguarding the perpetuity of hybrid garments. Not to mention how much my sewing machine hated doing buttonholes on the canvas / fleece amalgam, and because it was double breasted I had to do SIX of them. Nevermind, it is awfully cute.

Saturday, 22 November 2008


Maia and the amazing technicolour elf coat

I have quite a bit of lime green velveteen fabric and I've been wondering what to do with it. Despite the fact she has a lovely, shiny (literally) new coat, I decided to make her another one. The silver puffa coat is really warm and snuggly, this one is more suited to non-baltic weather. It was meant to be double breasted but I didn't make the seam allowances big enough so I had to close it with massive big buttons. It has a (frankly dangerous) big elf hood, right after this picture was taken it fell forward covering her whole head and she did a face-plant. Oops. It is fully lined with Alexander Henry Mocha fabric. If we're feeling funky she can wear it crazy side out.

Friday, 21 November 2008


Folksy finds wallets

I've got wallets on the brain as mine is in such bad shape. I'm not a girly girl in the least, and although I like handbags in principle and admire them from afar, I feel like a fraud wearing anything more than a utilitarian shoulder bag. And funky, trendy bags look a bit incongruous with hoodies and jeans (or at least my hoodies and jeans). So wallets are small, and hidden, and a safe way for me to feel cool without the angst. I know, I'm a weirdo.

After last Friday's Etsy treasury, I'm doing Folksy this week. I'm still not sure about blog etiquette as far as using people's pictures, so it's worth saying that all items are available to purchase on Folksy and images are the property of the maker.

This wallet is by Plump Pudding and I love the fact it's so bright and cheerful. The ribbon and badge are a nice touch.

This caterpillar purse by Kitty eden is so adorable, I love the whimsical look of the applique against the black and white polkat dot fabric.

This ladybug wallet by Yunisacs is made from Echino fabric from Japan. I am officially in love with Echino fabric, but haven't bought any yet. Yunisacs makes great use of fabric in her handbags too.

This isn't a purse or wallet as such, but this frog zippered pouch by Nicsknots could probably accommodate all the godforsaken coinage I accrue when I'm in the States. The frog fabric, like most of the cute animal prints, is Japanese.

This sweet Mr Toast wristlet has a happy face and lovely appliqued heart.
Words can't describe this awesome funky chicken wallet from yumptatious, I love it. It says 'Ain't nowt wrong with loving a chicken'. Wiser, more random words have never been contained on a change purse. And that chicken applique is really well done.

This change purse from Sow's Ear has a lovely colour-scheme and looks really classy. She has quite a few in her shop that I adore.

This American Trilogy wallet from KMC Designs is made from clear duct tape encasing words from the song. I love the usage of non-traditional materials, especially in conjunction with nostalgia of the words and typeface.

I keep coming back for more looks at this lovely (and super functional!) wallet from Abi Bansal. I'm also wisting after some of her clothes, I love her style.

Thursday, 20 November 2008


Eco dances

One of my Craftster cohorts has an awesome blog featuring lots of crafty / sewing things that I check out periodically. I was naturally drawn to one of her recent posts entitled 'I almost wet my pants' and there was a screenshot of 'The Eco Dance'. Intrigued, I clicked through to the source and there was a video of a person crazy dancing. With a slightly off-kilter face. Hmm, that looks a bit like the blog's author. And there was a link to 'Create your own Eco danceagram' . The penny dropped. You could upload your face and thereby become the crazy dancer (and advertise their store but never mind that bit). Or, if you're after double the fun, you could upload other people's faces. Like Steven. And Maia. Poor Jamie escaped this fate as I figured the poor mite gets enough ridicule on my blog....

To watch Steven do the Eco dance, click here. For Maia's, click here.

On a completely different note, here are the giveaways that opened on Etsybaby blog today. Alphabulous is offering two free iron-on fabric numbers, Goldtonedesigns is giving away a Travelling Friends Sensory Key Toy, and Littlebirdcreations's prize is an iron-on Cardinal patch. Entries are still pretty low for some of the prizes, so get your comments on there for a really good chance of winning something for free!


Swing tops

Last week I made a bunch of swing tops... I still haven't finished my favourite one (which has kawaii-style teeth on it) because I can't decide if I want to put pockets on the reverse. But here are the ones I did make.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


Heaps of giveaways from Etsybaby

I have recently joined Team Etsybaby, a group of sellers that specialise in baby items. They are launching giveaways starting this week on their blog, with twenty two stores offering the chance to win free swag. The competition is staggered over the next two weeks, with three shops participating on each of the following dates:

Tues 18th Nov
Thurs 20th Nov
Tues 25th Nov
Thurs 27th Nov
Tues 2 Dec
Thurs 4 Dec
Sat 6 Dec

All you have to do is go onto the blog, follow the link to the giveaway you'd like to enter and then post a comment back on the blog saying something you you like from the shop. Each competition is open for 7 days and a winner will be chosen at random. You can enter as many as you would like but each one only once. Some are open to US or North Americans only :(

The giveaways start today with a personalised birthday playmat from Tutucuteandmore, a Bella wetbag from Thepatacakebaby and a $20 gift certificate from Radcover. I'll be posting the details of each giveaway on the day they open and you can enter to win the tunic of your choice from my shop starting on 25 November.

Remember to enter as many as you can and pass on the details to friends and family!

What I have vs. What I need

In my house I have lots of boxes. They are mostly full of fabric, or clothes from when I was bigger, or smaller, or pregnant, or nursing. So I have lots of boxes. What I don't have, though, is a box like this. And I need one.