Monday, May 31, 2010


One thing I really wanted to do this year was improve my crochet skills so I'm embarking on my first crocheted item (which isn't a scarf using basic stitches - I've made a few of those now).
I find it quite difficult to read patterns though (same with knitting), I just don't get it. I'm fine if I watch a video tutorial though and pictures and words together make more sense to me, so thankfully there are a few out there to help me.
A couple of years ago I was bought 2 huge (400g) balls of Wendy Aran (a mixture of 25% wool and 75% acrylic), and haven't really know what to do with them, so they've just been sitting around, occasionally in the bag of stuff for the charity shop, until I get a guilt pang that I should do something with them.
 I've decided join Lucy at Attic24 (you know, the crochet queen) in her granny stripe blanket HAL (hook a long). I've purchased another two balls of the same wool in contrasting shades (just waiting for them to arrive) and I've started the practice square - which Lucy advised. A practice square was a great idea because I did cock it up on first attempt and please don't look too closely as it's a bit wibbly and wobbly in places too
I've spent quite a lot of the bank holiday weekend doing stuff in my garden and greenhouse - it's really looking quite good now. All being well, later this year I'll be eating my own tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, sugar snap peas and cabbages. I mainly grow in pots and grow bags as I don't have a huge garden. My courgettes are planted in buckets from B&Q with holes drilled in the bottom. They may not look too pretty, but at just 99p each - compared to large plastic plant pots costing between £3-5 each, I'm not complaining

I also went along to my local car boot again today - it's fast becoming my favourite thing to do at the weekend. I picked up some great bargains. I'll tell you about those later in the week though.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

a good book

I like books, bookshops, online book browsing. I like books with pictures, books with words, and books for kids, old books and new books. I own a lot of books, and would probably have more if I had more space.
A few recent acquisitions include this stack of old books which I picked up at my local bar boot sale at the weekend:

These are not books that have been purchased for reading mind you, they are intended as props for my photographs - I picked the ones with the spines I liked the best, not really paying any attention to the books themselves. They were 20p each, so I chose 5 and parted with a pound happily. They all have a very old book smell to them - a little bit fusty and dusty.
When I got home, I discovered that I had picked up:
- Idylls of the king, by Tennyson - printed in 1910 and once owned by Winifred Baker (who had written her name in lovely handwritten script in the front cover)
- The Church and the new order, by William Paton printed in 1941
- Under the rope, by Stanley J Weyman, printed in 1911
- Westward Ho! by Charles Kingsley, printed in 1855
- Modern Motor Cars and Commercial Vehicles - I can't find the author or date on this one, but if I want to find out about the principles of a four stroke engine, or the theory of a petrol engine, then I'll know where to look.
Books like this were from the pre-consumerism (if that is such a word?) days. They were once highly prized possessions, and often worked hard for. It's such a shame that they ended up in a car boot sale for 20p each. If only they could tell their life story - now that is something I'd like to read.

My other new books are ones that make me drool.
- Over and Over - a catalogue of hand drawn patterns by Mike Perry

- Illustration Play - Craving for the Extraordinary, by Viction:ary (this book is amazing - I would highly recommend it, not least for the thought that has gone into creating a beautiful book - before the contents have been added)

 I'm currently beavering away getting an online portfolio together to showcase my digital design skills

but I'm itching to get sewing again though too - there just isn't enough hours in the day.
I was browsing around in my local Cath Kidston shop this week, and noticed that they sell some vintage fabric tote bags. I was so tempted - but I didn't buy because I knew I could make one myself - and I have the prefect fabric for it too:
I did manage to accidentally buy some flip flops though. Well, it is almost summer!

Monday, May 24, 2010

dresses and kitties

It's been scorching this weekend - so much that I got burnt even with factor 30 suncream on. It's nice to have good weather of course, but I would have liked it a bit cooler on Saturday when I was in London, with my bridesmaids looking for ideas for bridesmaids dresses. We tried on lots of dresses and styles and came away with a definite colour in mind - slate/pewter/mocha - and because we are having a winter wedding - something that looks a bit icy.
This dress was one of the first we tried on and a definite favourite of my sister but wasn't right for both my bridesmaids who are very different shapes and heights. I'd also be happy to have the dresses made but haven't got a clue where to start looking for a dress maker. Can anyone recommend a really good seamstress in south of the UK?

Here's a little something I was working on before the weekend:

Stevie was really not looking very impressed with the new cat in the garden:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

fifties inspired

Today's pattern of the day is this fifties inspired repeat which I have entered into the spoonflower contest.

 I'm still enjoying my Illustrator dabbling and have several little designs on the go at the moment.

A bit later than promised, the random number generator has picked number 1 (Lucy Locket) for the Kitty and number 2 (Spoon badger) for the scrapbooking papers. I'll be emailing both of you to get your postal details.
Trash 3 will be making its way to ebay - it will be treasure for someone I'm sure.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

one man's trash...

Spending more time at home has really made me feel the need for a proper clean up.
I've been busy cleaning, sorting, categorising and de-stashing my home all week. It's tedious but rewarding all at the same time.
I'm pleased to say that my spare room is looking and feeling more like a usable studio/office now and I know where everything is and everything almost has a place. The are plenty of bits and bobs that don't have a place though, so I have accumulated a huge pile of items which will be making their way to ebay soon - one man's trash is another man's treasure, as the old saying goes.

I'm still dibbling and dabbling in illustrator, and have decided to capture some of the stuff that's going on in my life, in illustration/pattern design form - it's a good way for me to practice.
Monday this week marked the third year of my journey into the blogosphere, so I've created a couple of patterns using the number three (click on pics to enlarge):

I thought I'd also give away three lots of my 'trash' to anyone out there who wants it (I'll post it anywhere in the world).
No. 1 - Giant monda kitty - he was a prototype, but I found him just a bit too big really

No. 2 - a huge pile of craft/scrapbooking papers and some paper flower embellishments

No. 3 - 4 balls of soft fluffy yarn. It's acrylic (not really my bag) and ever so soft. It's white with black flecks.

Please drop me a comment here if you'd like any of my trash. It would be helpful if you could tell me whether you'd like trash 1, 2 or 3. I'll pop back in on Monday 17th May and draw the trash recipients at random.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Illustrator part 2

It's official, Illustrator is my new best toy. I'm having the most amount of fun with this. Thankfully, despite my wobble on day 3 of the course, I managed quite well on day 4.
I popped into paperchase to pick up a few greetings cards for inspiration and to push myself to learn some of the techniques I've been taught.
The first couple of designs here are designs I have replicated from a greetings card and a book cover

These designs are all my own - in a fifties style

I feel so enthused about this - I'm loving my newly gained skills and what I can do with them. Leaving my job really was the right thing to do, it just feels so right.
These fifties designs have also given me some new ideas for something of a fabric nature, which I'm going to work on next week.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


I managed to get through the first couple of days of my zero to hero Illustrator course without many problems. I've been spending the time during lunch breaks and tea breaks trying a few things out using the methods I have learnt - here is an example of what I've done on day one and day two. I'm happy with this so far, and can see many possibilities for my design work which is really exciting.

Today we were into the advanced sessions, and I have to say I struggled with it a bit. I think I needed some more time to practice the basics before moving on. I was bit slower than the others in the group who have used design applications before, and I kept falling behind like a lost sheep. I was quite frustrated with myself at times.

Tomorrow is the last day of the course, and I may not be a hero, but I will be more than zero. If all else fails, there's a huge (and very good) manual which accompanies the course so I can refer to this. I can also retake the course for free at a later date if need be.
I'm still a fan of the pen though, and have been doodling some little houses, which might become a digital design, or maybe a stitched piece.

I'm looking forward to getting on my sewing machine again next week, I've missed my Bernina!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Monda loves... Seamstar

I should be making a roast dinner, but instead I'm doing computer bits - you know, the kind of thing where you did have a purpose when you went on the computer but then you got distracted by an email, or an idea, or something you remember that you meant to do last time you were on the computer, and before you know it, you find yourself at a fabric website you've never seen before.

I'm blogging it because I know I'll want to go back and spend some money another day - when a roast dinner isn't waiting to be cooked, so check out Seamstar here and look at some of the lovely fabrics, like these:
I think I must be feeling bright and geometric today.

Tomorrow, and for the rest of the week I'm off into that London on a 'zero to hero' Adobe Illustrator course. I'm really hoping that I will be a hero by the end of the day on Friday, because I am very definitely at the zero stage at the moment.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Monda loves... Lasso the Moon

This is rather exciting in the world of Monda - you can now purchase my work via the very lovely lasso the moon website. I'm in great company too - there are some very talented and clever designers also represented:

Pop over and have a look. I'm sure you'll find something you like.