Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Spreading some scrunchie joy

Yesterday was a good day for finishing off some ongoing projects. The first was only small one - I was asked to make a gold scrunchie (yes - gold scrunchie) for a lady at work. she has a very formal wedding in Switzerland to attend (i repeat - gold scrunchie) so i know what you are thinking, but actually i think i am going to champion the scrunchie this summer.

here is the finished product which can be used to acheive a variety of very fashionable styles.

Top - Bottom: Bun, Ponytail, Detailed close up

In the end she decided she wanted two, one little and one large. I liked the small one as i felt it really looked pretty around a bun.

they were made using gold ribbon, a fat piece, and then a thinner shimmery strip to add another dimension. this was attached using something i discovered from the aggressive woman at the haberdashery - Wonderweb. it is like bondaweb, but comes in a long strip like a ribbon will be really good for holding together long thin things, like hems. it doesn't have backing paper though, so you have to get everything lined up to perfection, but i think this was no bad thing. i don't think it is meant to be a substitute for stitching though, so also machined along the edges with golden thread. i should add, this was all a lot of trial and error.

maybe i will also bring back the popular long pony tail in a scrunchie style of my junior school years. or just wear it round my wrist - that was cool.

Or maybe this...

And the best part is that i will be paid for my efforts with real swiss chocolates! a good little earner that.

Yours inspiredly, Child of the Nineties xxx

Gingerbread Friends

Yesterday our student services department had a picnic for the end of term and invited me along. I said i would make a cake, but the days have been so hot and i felt a cake might melt (especially the way i make them - icing heavy). I wasn't really sure what would be good, but decided that that gingerbread men would be a traditional contribution to the feast. Charming, and not too sickly for eating in a heat wave.

(fun with picture editing - i need to work on my photography skills - this is certain)

Here is the recipe for Gingerbread Men:

You will need:
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
100g butter
175g light brown soft sugar
1 large egg from a hen
4 tablespoons of golden syrup

Some baking paper (optional)
a baking tray
a cooling rack
 some measuring scales and spoons
 a large mixing bowl
a spoon for mixing
a cup and fork for beating the egg
an oven
a sieve (optional) 
a place to wash your hands and utensils
a rolling pin

What to do - 10 easy steps to biscuit joy.
step 1 - turn on the oven to 190 degrees to be heating up.
step 2 - sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger into a bowl.
step 3 - cut up the butter and wait to soften, then rub this into the flour until all even.
step 4 - stir in the sugar
step 5 - beat together the egg and golden syrup and stir this into the mixture until it forms into dough
step 6 - knead the dough until it's smooth. cut it in half to roll out to 5mm thick and cut into the desired shapes using a man shaped cutter (or bird) 
step 7 - lay these on some baking paper on a tray ready for the oven. 
step 8 - decorate with currents and raisins and other dried fruits as you see fit
step 9 - bake in the oven for 12 - 15 minutes
step 10 - leave to cool and then enjoy them with tea.

These are easy and delicious. the lessons i learnt were to make sure they were quite thick when rolling them out, and not to let them get too baked. less is more for a chewy result. also i think a little more ginger would have a pleasing effect - i like the gingerbread spicy.

mine were a little baked, but overall very nice - especially the thicker ones. The one i tried the night i made them tasted quite bland, but i think the ginger flavour matured over night and by the time of eating they were really really good. Everyone wanted one, even though their faces were strange so i will give them 9 out of 10.

Even these two.

Gingerly yours,
Emilia. xxx

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Germany 4 - Emily WIN!

It was bad luck for England football team this weekend when they lost their match against Germany. Our TV can't play BBC1, so i had to listen on the radio instead but i think that was ideal for me as it allowed for simultaneous activities. The commentary was great and the enthusiasm and excitement snapped me out of my heat induced fatigue and spurred on a little dressmaking. 

I finally opened up my 1963 empire line dress pattern and used one of the beauty remnants from a couple of weeks back. It was a much better two hours for me than for England Football Team.
Here i am with the pattern. You can see the fabric is little pink flowers.

Here is a better view of the dress. I am attempting the poses that the models use, but i don't have much control of my limbs.

On Saturday I also got to do some posing with my Bicycle, Ruby Blue and some fancy dress. It was part of Bike Week which had been a week of grand events to promote cycling in Brighton such as the naked bike ride last weekend, and free breakfasts for people cycling to work during the week. Celebrations!
Here is Yumi, Ellie and I. we dressed up and had our photos taken professionally and then got a free reflector for our spokes.

Gradiose end of week.

x x x

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Stitch Yourself - Challenge Complete!

I finished!
Here is my stitched self, complete with Mouse on her shoulder (Mouse might be a hedgehog, but it is still a small creature with a friendly face which is the main thing)
Here we are together. We agree! For her outfit I chose my orange cardigan and houndstooth skirt. I enjoyed making those tiny garments.
Here she is with Ruby and Yulia. She is shorter than them to conform to the size restrictions stated in the project rules.

Today i brought her to work for posting (and some posing!)
Just sending an email to the manager - "i want more money"

Then it was time to stop playing and for Little Emilia to go forth and do what she was made to do.
Climbing in head first

It was quite sad to have to put her in an envelope. But it is exciting that she will be part of an exhibition. I gave her a kiss for luck.

Goodbye Little One. x

if you don't know what it's about, you can find out about the project here. You can go to see them all at the Science Museum, Wednesday 30th June,  6:45pm - 10:00pm (more details)

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Challenge - Stitch Yourself

Today i am really excited because i found out about how i can get involved in an exhibition at the Science Museum, co-ordinated by Stitch London. It is for the museum's new 'Who am I' brain science and genetics gallery, and the idea for it is that you must make yourself in doll form and send it off and it will be part of an exhibit at the opening event evening. The evening is called 'The Science of You' and will have some other projects and art work but also includes some interactive exhibits which let you play with your age and gender and other things like that. The idea must be to think about how biology and science affect our identity.

This means that i am going to be scientific in my approach to my textile representation and am thinking about the important things i can include to make sure she is the essence of me. I think she will wear a yellow tent dress, and have a mouse on her shoulder. that will represent how i love the small creatures, probably it's genetically determined.

There is more information on the project and how to enter on the Stitch London page here:

It will just be displayed at the opening event for one night, next Wednesday, but you can be a part of science museum history which i like the sound of! And also the Stitch London people say they will include each one on their blog which i also like the sound of. 

i really like the idea of making a little doll version of myself, and sending her off for an adventure and a life of fame. Once i knitted my Dad for his birthday. i'm not really sure what he thought about that though.

From reading the terms and conditions for entries, i have decided i must post on Thursday at the latest to be sure she arrives in time. This gives me a maximum of two evenings. It is really tight but I am excited to be taking the challenge!

Hip hooray!

Mini Me. xx

Sunday, 20 June 2010

I made a cake

On Saturday it was my friend Liosliath's birthday. i made her a cake - peanut butter cake! i decorated it with monkey faces and bananas because she likes Africa.

I thought i would be more adventurous with my cake making, and because i know Lios likes peanut butter, and because i like peanut butter a lot too, i decided to make a peanut butter cake.

Here is the recipe. I might have put a bit too much yogurt in mine as i think my scales are unreliable. But it was really delicious, despite my fears that it didn't bake properly (maybe it is meant to be quite dense and stodgy)

What you need to make the cake is...
200g butter (plus some more to grease your tins)
3 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter for the mixture and 2 more for the middle - but you don't really need to measure for that - just put as much as you like is a good way.
4 large eggs
200g golden caster sugar
150g pot natural yogurt
200g self-raising flour

To make Chocolate topping you need
100g Milk Chocolate
2 tablespoons of milk

First step is to turn the oven on to 180 degrees so it can be warming up ready.

The Cake
The way i make a cake mixture is by creaming together the butter and sugar and adding the eggs one at a time with a spoon full of flour and blending, then add the rest of the flour. Then with this i added the peanut butter and yogurt. (maybe a bit too much yogurt, and i used low fat, but this might not have been wise) in the future i might just use a couple of tablespoons of milk.

Grease your tins - 2 round ones i used, i am not sure of the size of them but about 8 or 9 inches across (you can see the cake is on a tea plate there) and pour equal amounts into each.

Bake for half an hour (that's what the recipe says, but mine too about 50 minutes - this might be an issue with my oven though - and the amount of yogurt i used) they should be golden on top and round the edges, but check by poking with a fork, and if it comes out clean it means 'ready'.

Leave them to cool five minutes in the tins before turning out. (this was the stage mine sank. that has never happened to me before so it was quite a distressing time. i felt helpless) I have learnt, always make sure the cakes are totally cool before decorating (to avoid icing meltage), so this means you can have a hearty cup of tea and maybe do some other activities before assembling and topping.

Finishing off
To do this, i trimmed the cakes where the tops had inflated, and spread one with peanut butter. the original recipe also says to use some Dulce du Leche (or something i couldn't find) but i think that is like toffee sauce so you could use that. Banana might be nice too. Or marmalade. or chocolate butter icing. Then pop the other on top to make a sandwich.

Make some chocolate topping by melting 100g chocolate with 2 tablespoons of milk and spread this on the top. The original recipe suggested putting some salted peanuts in a bowl with a teaspoon of water and a tablespoon of icing sugar to coat them, and then toast them in the oven at 200 degrees for ten minutes, and then sprinkling those on top. I just used monkey faces and bananas and hundreds and thousands.

I will definitely be trying this cake again, it was tasty and not too sweet. i don't think it baked so well though and i think that is because i put yogurt in it and i think that was wrong.

I give this cake Seven out of Ten.

Here is Liosliath enjoying that on her Birthday. She also had a caterpillar chocolate cake from her other friends. i hope i get TWO birthday cakes.

Much love,

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Football and Florals

Now the world cup is in full swing. i am quite enjoying the matches. Last week i watched the England game amongst friends. Debbie and Rosie had fashioned England kits and looked so grand in red (debbie makes mention to it on her blog here... you can see a little picture of her kit) . I made a badge to wear in the spirit of things. Eleanor made a Twilight badge, which wasn't really in the spirit of the football, but she has a passion for that so i think it was acceptable. the next game is tomorrow so i will try harder with the costume!

On Sunday we had the Stitch and Beach party.

i like this picture of beach knitting!

It was the same day as the naked bike ride ( There were very many participents (in the cycling, not the knitting). that added a jolly atmosphere to the town.

The weather was good for the party, but unfortunately i think it was more of a picnic, and there was not much motivation for knitting. despite my intentions, I have still not yet finished Robyn's scarf. This is a disappointing performance from me. i was most impressed with Hannah though who showed a lot of dedication sewing up her mittens! they were a gem. she definitely won the gold star for best knitter that day.

There is star knitter Hannah with her mittens, and there is Yumi - she is second place as also showed good determination. (i managed to link to her blog there because i noticed she did that when she mentioned me. i am getting better at blogging from picking up skills like that!)

i wore a grand piece of knitting though - my World War II shawl (it was an ebay win!)

I am auxillery nurse!

The pattern looks as though it is knitted in Garter Stitch, but every fourth row is knitted on a massive needle so it has a lace look. I will give it a go and report back if it works! That is an easy way to get a grand effect if it does.

Also this weekend I was lucky at the remnant table in finding some floral gems.

These have scanned strangely, but this is to give you an idea! Grander in reality. Dresses to follow!

At the time of buying, my plan was to create a triumphant floral and pink maxi extravaganza using the two pink fabrics together, one for bodice and one for skirt. once i started though, i changed my mind. I made the rose bodice, but instead the skirt will be dark blue from some fabric i had hanging around. i think that will be good juxtoposition.

I am unsure of my plans for the other pieces. A tent dress is nice for the warm weather, and I also have my eye (and money) on this gem of a pattern...

it's on ebay so i am in suspense - 1 day and 22 hours to go (come on!)

A lady at work has asked me if i can make her a scrunchie for a wedding. i said 'yih, i can do that'. i like that my skills are recognised. Also she said the wedding is in Switzerland so she will bring me some chocolate for my efforts. that sounds like a fair deal! I like Switzerland football team for beating Spain yesterday. they are the underdog so it is good when that happens.

Yours Florally,
Emilia. xx

Monday, 7 June 2010

I went camping

YES! i have the internet! now i am writing this from my own home, and not from my office. this is a great improvement!

My weekend was an ever so long and great one.

On friday i had the day off from work, and so i decided that i would get up early and make a dress. it went well and only took a couple of hours and not so much effort. it was quite a joy, except for a small period where i started sewing things the wrong way round and forgot which bit to sew the zip into. i blame those hitches on being too keen and dressmaking before a cup of tea.

here i am in the finished result. i enjoyed sewing on the embellishments. double bows - the way forward! the buttons are sweet peach coloured flowers from the riverside. they have a very pleasing selection of buttons there.

I got to model my dress at the Lewes Psychadelic Festival. it was fitting i think. i had a conversation with some men about the rarity of paisley shirts in charity shops (in any shops i think) i told them about how i had made a dress from a man's shirt, and they said never cut up a paisley one as they are a rare breed indeed. let that be a lesson. my dress isn't paisley, but it's busy.

Then i also got to wear my dress to the camping trip! that is also fitting because it is a tent dress. here is a picture of the day we went on a walk on the farm and in the woods.

in the evening we had a barbeque and also a fire to toast the marshmallows. there was a bit of a thunder storm, but it was in the distance. that was a bit of drama as it approached though. we heard the rumble and the fire blew out and we decided to get to our tents for the night. i slept very well that night.

 it was an amazing experience to stay on a farm and very educational and eye opening for me. the farm belongs to a friend of Rosie's mum's and he grows so much fruit and vegetables and sells them to Bills and Tescos and markets. it was amazing to see so many trees and bushes. and amazing to think how much hard work it must take to run a farm. also there were some brown chickens there and i never realised before how fluffy their bottoms are. that must be to help keep the eggs warm to help them hatch i expect. 

This is the farmer. his name is Farmer Love. he was so kind to us.

And this is Derek as a farmer. i like this picture so much. i hope he doesn't mind too much to be on my blog. 

i must credit Rosie and Sam for these pictures which i have just snaffled from facebook. i only took one photo. that is of Debbie and Yumi at Polgate station. 

This was a good experience, and good preparation for Latitude.

Ready. xx

Thursday, 3 June 2010

The day– Thursday 3rd June 2010- by Bird

Last night I had a wonderful time on a boat on the Thames in the big London! The boat was stranded to the side, and at an angle so it gave an authentic feeling of seasickness and disorientation. I was there to see some bands from Willkommen collective (here is the myspace so you know what I mean The main one was called The Climbers and there were three violins which made me happy. That was my favourite sound to hear. There were violins in the other bands too, and they were all good too. And it was great because sometimes there was a feeling that people had dressed like pirates and were stamping their feet and I had some guinness so it was really a wonderful atmosphere below deck. I just saw the last thing I wrote yesterday was about Kate Moss in rowan designed knitwear on a boat! Following her steps, one at a time!

And now I will quickly mention someone I saw the night before. Her name was Nina Nastasia and this is her myspace: . She was at the Hand in Hand pub in Kemptown, which was very small and full of people, but made a nice atmosphere there too. It is really a lovely pub, with very old newspapers on the wall, like with Winston Curchill in. and from one beam in the ceiling there were a lot of ties pinned up to grand effect. It was crowded, but there was a little clear space in the corner for Nina Nastsaia and her guitar, and she just sang sweet songs that people asked her to sing. Her voice was very lovely. And she was nice to everyone too.

Those were two very nice musical evenings for me.

Yesterday afternoon I went into the sunshine of the afternoon to the Stitchery (that was subtle hyper-linking!) in the Riverside in Lewes (near to wear I work)(I just read how I wrote 'where' as "wear", I think I am thinking of dresses) and indulged (again) myself with (even more) fabric. I have a day of holiday tomorrow and am going to Lewes Psychedelic Festival (you can see about it here if maybe you want to go too tomorrow night, so if I can a dress with the fabric tomorrow, I think it will be the perfect one for a psychedelic event.

Here is a scan of the swatch.

I followed my heart with it, as it is quite yellow. It is designed by, I can't remember the name of them – but want to say derby house? But when I search on google for that it just gives me pictures of houses (probably in derby). I'll find out who it is soon then. Anyway, there were a few lovely rolls there, but this stood out to me as the loveliest. It is yellow though. so that was a risk. But I went for it, despite (to spite) my skintone. summer afterall!

While I was buying it I tried to have a conversation with the lady who works there. She was suffering hayfever though, but I thought she was suffering the heat, and everything she said I wasn't really listening and just said 'yes, it is quite hot'. I think she was talking about how the fabrics were in a mess, and I made a comment about the sun on the roof. It was a bit unrelated, and I think she found me strange and hard work so gave up on banter. I won't go back there for a while (for that and because I have spent my clothing budget for this month, no question!)
In other news, I just want to share with you this picture of the Missoni dress I saw in Vogue this month. I just think it's amazing.

A dress of your dreams

This weekend should be a grand one as I think I am going on a camping trip! If it stays hot and sunny, that will be a grand weekend indeed! This afternoon I am going to Eastbourne so I might go and sit on the beach there after work. That will be a change of the horizon I am used to in Brighton. Yesterday my bike bell and lights arrived, and the bell has a special feature – a compass! I was really pleased that it pointed to south directly at the sea! I know it is accurate. I have it here now and can tell you I am facing south at my desk (I should have known because I always have sun through my windows) it is fun to know my global positioning.

Much love to you for thus weekend,
Voyager. x

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

weekend gem, sewing a hem

Now i am back at work after the bank holiday weekend. that was hard to wake up this morning and yesterday! but a grand weekend was had. On the Monday we spent it in the park. despite there being a lot of clouds, and not so much sunshine, it was warm enough and a lovely day with friends and food and fresh air.

Saturday was the worst weather - but this was no bad thing as meant i didn't feel so guilty to stay at home and make a dress. (in fact a dress and three quarters) I started a powdery blue one, like a cornflower, but soon realised the fabric i had chosen (cotton drill) was too heavy and didn't hang at all well.  it was a good try out though, and on Sunday i got some (slightly) lighter weighted PURPLE fabric. I am not sure why i decided on purple, but it makes me happy to have a dress so royal and bright.

Here is the finished result!

The yoke is lined, but i decided to finish the neckline with some bias binding, and used some along the seam to make a little bow. It wasn't quite the same colour, but it worked out nicely i think. I was very pleased with my neat stitching too (that was done on the machine!)

Sorry for no make up and messy room!

You can't really see the length properly, but it stops at the bottom of that picture. Because of the style, shorter is better, but i managed to compromise a good length, just above my crooked knees!

The sleeves were a bit tricky. I put them in after sewing all the seams, but a lady at work told me a should have done them before and then done the seams last. i am not sure about that. I am just not very good at the easing part - but i don't mind ending up with a little puff sleeve. it is my preference.

I would like one of these in some floral - a really summery one. Next time i will e bolder in selecting a really lightweight cotton. It seems like it will be okay in the shop, but actually i think i have an aversion to flimsy fabrics. too much time making woollen tweed skirts! I might yet finish the blue one. it is nearly there now, and may be fine if i make it short. or i can use that fabric for a skirt. i know just the pattern!

Another subject:
While i am here and speaking of dress-making, i would just like to mention the dress i made from a scarf! This was during April, just before housemoving and so i was saving every penny for unforeseen circumstances!

This was just a cotton scarf which was a big floral cotton square. I just cut off the fringing and cut it into quarters, to make four panels which i shaped to create something not far off my tent dress! I was impressed there was enough fabric to make it big and long enough. then all i really did was to pin a piece of frill around the neck of headless Harriet (my doll) and fitted the panels to it, shaping the arm holes and finishing with bias binding. it was like doing sculpture - and came out a triumph! I think that was the first dress success i had without any pattern in sight. the joys of the dressmaker's doll! Headless Harriet, this one's for you.

I am enjoying being a model for all these pictures! i think it could be my vocation - like modelling for the knitting patterns. (that's where kate moss started from)

my mum has that pattern book (Rowan book 10) i think she made one of those.

i like this one on the boat!

Emilia . xxx