Friday, May 27, 2016

time was

The nightshirt is finished. It's the first garment - excluding teddy bear clothes - that I've made for a very long time. I used Simplicity pattern 1021. It's a bit of an odd birthday present as I'm three weeks late getting it done and, as it's made from a fine linen that should be nice to sleep in during the summer, winter is almost here. But I'm so pleased that I got it done and it turned out OK and it fits. I now feel emboldened to try something a little more complicated for myself. Maybe something simple from Lotta Jansdotter's new book, Everyday style.

I recently read Patti Smith's M train - a memoir in which she talks (among other things) about her favorite authors and books - including books from her childhood. A list of her favorite fifty books (including some children's titles) has been posted here on brain pickings.

M train got me thinking about some of my favourite childhood reading:
  • Bristle face by Zachary Ball
  • The midnight fox by Betsy Byars 
  • Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster
  • Bilgewater by Jane Gardam

Patti Smith seems to often re-read books including some of her childhood favorites. Do you ever re-read your childhood favorites? Do you enjoy them all over again? Or is it disappointing, like re-watching a favorite movie can sometimes be? And, if it is disappointing, does it somehow spoil the wonderful memory that you held for that book? Well, I'm about to find out. I've borrowed a copy of Bilgewater. I'll let you know how it goes.

Reading: The party line by Sue Orr - novel  set in 1970s rural New Zealand about collective complicity

Monday, May 16, 2016

plant life

I've borrowed Indoor green by Bree Claffey from the library again, I love it so much. When I first saw it I was a little disappointed as I thought it was about plant care and had information on which plants to buy etc. It does a bit of that but it's so much more - how to live with plants, how to arrange them, how they can purify the air in your house and influence your well being. It's full of lovely interviews with people who share their love of plants. It's such a pleasurable read. If you're interested in houseplants then this is the book for you.

Since yesterday I have two new plants - a maidenhair fern and a string-of-pearls. I love how delicate the maidenhair is with its thin leaves that seem to tremble with any air movement. I especially love the little dots (actually spore/seeds) on the edges of the leaves. The string-of-pearls is a succulent with really odd adaptation. It's a desert plant and its leaves are round to conserve water. Compared to a regular flat leaf the round shape has less of its surface area exposed and so has reduced surface evaporation. However, the downside is that it also reduces the area available for light absorption and so it's developed a little window (the line that you can see running down each "pearl") to let the light in. How cool is that?

Reading: Indoor green: living with plants by Bree Claffey from Mr Kitly 

Monday, May 9, 2016

good morning, bear

A new sweater for the bear. I'm getting better at making things that fit him. The secret, I think, is to make everything larger. Never underestimate the size of a bear.

I have a few other things to be getting on with, so I'll have to put bear on hold for a while. At least he has clothes to put on now when he gets out of bed in the morning. No lounging around in pyjamas all day for him.

So, there's my little pile of supplies. Wool for a baby cardigan - a gift for a workmate-from-way-back's second child. The striped linen I bought to make a nightshirt - a belated birthday present. And the floral cotton lawn I found in my cupboard. I might hand hem a handkerchief for myself. The fabric is a nice weight.

And three books I've been loving:
Stamp stencil paint by Anna Joyce - simple designs and patterns to use just about anywhere on anything. I think I might have a go at potato printing some wrapping paper.
Everyday style by Lotta Jansdotter - Patterns and instructions for sewing basic clothing with variations: skirt, jacket, trousers, dress, tunic, bag
Slow stitch: mindful and contemplative textile art by Claire Wellesley-Smith - this is a beautiful book that focuses on hand stitching, natural dyeing and other traditional techniques. The patchwork hexagons, above, are from this book.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

goodnight, bear

Here are the teddy bear clothes I've been making - pyjamas, slippers and a sleep sack. I drafted my own sewing patterns after looking at loads of doll and teddy bear patterns. I'd like to share the patterns with you but teddies vary in size and shape so much that it's impossible to guarantee a fit. Also this bear is a bit unusual (and extra challenging) as he's built in a permanent sitting down position.
As it turned out, the slippers were my biggest challenge. After several false starts I modified an old pattern (like this one) for what we used to call TV slippers and added little pom poms made by winding wool around a fork like this. And I'm really pleased with how they turned out.
Of course, every bear needs a bear so I made another "anything animal" like these ones. 
I was well rewarded for my efforts as my granddaughter loved the clothes and spent an evening putting her bear to bed many, many times over.

Benson's cuckoos by Anouk Ricard - a crazy comic/graphic novel whodunnit
M train by Patti Smith - a memoir of sorts. Review in The guardian.