Monday, 1 June 2015

A fete worse than death

Things are still hectic chez Mippitt (looking back at my blog, when are they not?) - we have bedroom refurbishments on the go, and are still trying to progressively clear out and downsize our lives, but I'm making a concerted effort to have studio time most days.

One of my friends (we have a village crafty morning at mine once a month-ish whilst Little B sleeps) is on the village fete committee, and she asked if I'd like to have a table to sell some crafty stuff . . . and I've given her a tentative "yes" . . . which means that for now, studio time is MAKING time!  I've got some of those vinyl cake stands already, and the means to make a wodge of heat-deformed vinyl bowls, so I need more small items to fill up some space on the table (and empty some space in the studio) and make me a little pocket-money!

So starting with earrings - I've bought various bits of jewellery gubbins over the years, but I've never  sat down and actually made an effort to produce before.  So, a couple of coloured beads, a couple of fancy-shaped ones, some really flippin fiddly wire stuff, some ear wires, and a crimping bead.  I'm really pleased with these!

I'm planning on making a roughly business-card sized lino print, so I can present the earrings on a card with my blog details on.  Perhaps an outline lino print with the blog details, and a space for a separate title to be printed in for different products.  Ideas ideas ideas!

I'm also waiting for a Dremel type multi tool to arrive, which I'm hoping will be able to make nice cuts into vinyl, so I can make more nice things to sell from those records.  Maybe some bracelets and pendants to continue with the jewellery theme . . . I'm not sure . . . and I want to have a play with cutting and shaping glass and pebbles too.  Pinterest has a lot to answer for.

Plus we have a new (with 'lectrics) bathroom cabinet going up today or tomorrow, in the soon-to-be-master bedroom one set of 1970s fitted wardrobes have been ripped out, holes need filling, coving needs replacing, walls need painting, floors need covering.  Yeah, I've got plenty of time to put together a table for the fete, no problemo!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

You spin me right round . . .

Haha!  So,  think I I mentioned last blog that I'd been playing with vinyl, and what I've mostly discovered is that vinyl cannot not look cool.  It just exudes cool.  It sweats cool out of it's pores like the weird oily stuff that the soles of my boxed-up-from-college shoes were covered in when I found them last week (ew).

So, having made some heat-deformed vinyl bowls and some cake stands for my Dad's party (which Mum has vamoosed back to their house), I've gone back to eBay and ordered a bit more vinyl and some fixings to make some more.  I'm thinking they'd be decent market-stall fodder if nothing else, so I might make a little pocket money if I'm lucky.

I had a spare twenty minutes this morning whilst Little B was napping and Madam was watching Doctor Who again (Easter holidays, so I'm on full time Mummy duty), so I snuck out to the studio and had a little experiment on the plastic bowls I bought from Tescos last night . . . I bought some clear ones and some brightly coloured ones . . .

As you can see, the experiment was to see how they behaved when I used the soldering iron on them.  This is a crafty hexperiment for a Well Ventilated Area, 'k?  The plastic from the hole area melts a bit, and burns/evaporates a bit, so if you're having a go yourself Be Safe!

Now why, I hear you ask, would I need to make a hole in a bowl?  Well you see, vinyl records are remarkably flat.  If I made a cupcake stand with a flat record on the very bottom, not only would it be less impressive as a display, the record would create a vacuum when you tried to pick the stand up from the table - not a great plan if it's covered in cupcakes!  So I needed something to raise the bottom record up, which could be bolted into the cupcake stand fixings - a bowl with a hole!

So the bowl sits upside-down against the lowest record, and gets washered and bolted together -

Then you need another washer and the second record -

Then another washer, and this time a single for the top tier, and the handle fitting for the top of the stand.


Now it's worth remembering if you make any of these yourself, that the vinyl that records are made out of is not tested for food safety, and also the paper labels won't react well to washing-up liquid, so I'd reccommend decent cupcake cases . . .  or rock-n-roll doilies . . . my Mum found some circular cake-tin liners which sat nicely inside the bowls we made, making them safe for crisps or pretzels!  If you're going to use one as a fruit bowl, I guess fruit that you peel would be just fine, but use your own judgement.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Laziness and life.

I've been quiet on the blog this last couple of months - it's been a combination of post-Christmas haze and chicken-pox, neither of which have stopped me from also lazing around a great deal and watching too much tv.  Oh well, maybe the lengthening days and lessening frostyness will pick me up!

I haven't been out to the studio as much as I'd like either, but we have been continuing with the re-organising of the household.  I'm attempting to let go of more stuff that I don't need, to create space generally in the house, and we're still gradually shifting the usage of the upstairs rooms - master bedroom into playroom/guest, guest room into master.  I'll blog more thoroughly about that soon, with photos of the rooms as I go.

I've been working on two crafty fronts - firstly a blanket for my Brother's impending offspring, news of which was a delightful Christmas day surprise.  Having shifted all my yarn out to the studio, I decided to go cold sheep, and work only from stash for a bit, so I collected a bundle of rainbow shades and double-stranded them, working each colour either up a column or along a row of a mitred-square blanket.  We've got James C Brett Sparkle DK on all of the outside squares, then each rainbow colour in order from red to violet. 

I'm working a couple of rows of double crochet around the edges just now to neaten it off.  Of course, as I was attempting a yarn diet, I managed to run out of three of the colours as I went, meaning I HAD to purchase more yarn.  I'll weigh it when it's complete to work out the net gain or loss on the stash front!

The other craftyness has been in preparation for my Father's 70th birthday party this summer.  Mum has asked me to help with making the invitations, which she wanted to be shaped like records, so of course that set my mind working on all of the variations of music-themed party crafts I could do.  So I bought a plectrum punch and a stack of old vinyl records, and I've been having a play.  I also managed to pick up a really cheap old acoustic guitar which I'm hoping to customise . . . but Madam and Little B have kinda fallen in love with it as it is, leaning against the kitchen wall in a handy spot for little fingers to find strings, so we'll have to see how we go with that!

Anyway, I shall try to be more bloggy over the next few months!  There are interesting things going on, and blogging about them encourages me to document and appreciate my own work more, so I really ought to make the effort!

Friday, 19 December 2014

Christmas Crafting!

I'm going to make a couple of assumptions - one, that the recipients of my crafting aren't following my blog, or two, they may have opened their gifts already . . . but if you know who they are, it's a seeecret, shhhhh!  And if you work at the school and you've got a parcel from Madam to open, close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears, and go, "LALALALALALALA!!!", okay?

So, Madam likes to give her teacher and classroom assistants etc Christmas gifts.  She often asks me to make specific things, which get changed around as I try to find stash yarn to suit - I don't want to be buying extra yarn, you know (ha!) - so this year there were four gifts to make.

Number one:

A granny-stripe cowl - pattern here - which I altered only in colour choice - I started with a black foundation chain and first row, and also finished with black, and inbetween I alternated yellow, burgundy and teal.

Number two:

I have a Zoom Loom, which I LOVE - it's a ?maybe 4 inch square? pin loom, which you can wind yarn onto in such a way that you only have to weave the last quarter of its length.  I raided my stash for a rainbow-ish selection of tonally dense yarns, and Zoom!  Sixteen squares, single-crocheted together, and edged with a dc, ch1, skip1 border . . . which makes it look a little like a film-strip, I've just noticed . . . hmm, maybe an idea for the future!

Number three:

A Spiral Scarf from Norah Gaugin's book Knitting Nature, which I made in DK instead of 4ply.  I reduced the starting hexagon from a 24-stitch side to a 20-stitch one, and knit till I ran out of yarn.  The hexagons are 1x1 ribbed, and I went up to a 4.5mm needle, so they are squishy and delicious.  It's a short collar-ish scarf, but will keep the chill out from your neckhole!

Number four:

Is a brioche stitch Faucett scarf from  I love this yarn - James C Brett Marble Chunky - and I had previously made a pair of knitted slippers for this gift, which I put on just to try them out, and couldn't take off - so I needed something fast and easy, and this was just that.  It whizzed along, and is ridiculously squishy and gorgeous.  I found it hard to give this one away too, but seeing as I have the same yarn in purple, and all the time in the world, now that the Christmas gift-knitting is mostly done . . .

So there we go.  The studio is finally done - I just need to tidy up in there and get some photos to share, and I'll get writing about that soon, I promise.

Merry Christmas!  All the best of the season - I hope you all have a great holiday!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Brown paper packages tied up with string!

I recently took part in a swap on Ravelry, with some of my friends from the fantastic Ankh Morpork Knitter's Guild (the Terry Pratchett fans' group in ??possibly the biggest online fiber-crafts community??).  Anyhoo, a swap is where we set up a group of people who all get to make and recieve gifts for each other, which as a crafter is really cool as we're always making stuff for non-crafty folks who often don't appreciate the time and effort that has gone into their gift.

Part of the deal is that we share photos and write up about what we've recieved, so I thought I'd share here too . . . plus I can share photos from here to the swap thread . . .

So, here's the parcel which arrived from my lovely friend Ilwin in the Czech Republic!

And on top of the box, when it was opened - uh-oh!

All of the things.  Presents, and postcards, and a bag of teensy seed beads, and CHOCOLATE!   MMMmmmmmMMMMm!

The first of the handmade goodies - a row-counter necklace (isn't that clever - the beads can be slid up and down and they stay where you move them to - I'll have to figure out how to use it properly), some sparkly dangly earrings, and stitch markers for crochet and knitting.

I may have mentioned my fandom . . . 

TWO crocheted scarves!  How gorgeous are these! The purple one is folded over, and has it's own wee shawl-pin.

Some acrylic yarn in jewel tones, which will be very handy - I love fancy yarns and all, but bright cheerful acrylics are what I most often find myself crafting with, and don't those colours just make you smile!

But what's this?  Who's been sleeping in MY yarn?

It's the feegle, of course!  I shall have to find a suitable containment method for this wee scunner, or he'll offski with the chocolate and any "medicinal" liquids he might find about the place!

I wonder if he has a name . . .

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Two for joy!

There is still work to do, but I finally have a working studio!

It's been up and insulated for a couple of weeks now, but on Thursday of this week Andy the electrician came and connected a new fuse box, so I now have one double socket . . . which doesn't sound like a big deal, but it so is!  It means I can get out there after dark and have a light to switch on.  It means I can leave a tube heater connected on a frost-prevention setting, so the stuff I take out there won't get damp from condensation.  It means I can put a proper heater on when I want to do a bit of work.  In short, it changes a shed into a workspace that is safe for my materials and comfortable for me.  There are more wonderous sockets and switches to come, but this first is the one which really makes the difference.

I got a bee in my bonnet earlier in the week, and bought some cheap vinyl so the flooring would be down before the electrician came, and on Friday night I decided to race down to Ikea in Bristol as soon as hubby got home from work, to get a bit of storage and lighting sorted out.  I bought myself a couple of £15 (???!) Laiva bookcases, some Kallax storage units, a Hektar floor lamp (which will live next to my table as it angles light downwards like an oversized desk lamp), and four Ranarp spotlights (which attach via a lovely big springy clamp, so I'll be able to move them around and focus light wherever I need it).

Yesterday was spent putting things together (oh, my poor hands!), and today I have been hauling every crafty thing I can find out of the house and finding it a new home.  I may have a couple more balls of yarn than I, strictly speaking, need (seeing as I have filled all the storage space I had intended for yarn already), but I also have a vintage glass-fronted bookcase and a charity-shop bureau which have yet to be brought out of the house, so I might manage without another late night drive to Bristol.  You can't see all the yarn in this photo . . . it's hiding just to the left, and in those boxes with the square holes at the bottom . . .

It's so quiet out there, compared to the hubbub of children and tv and central heating that you hear in the house.  I could hear magpies scuttling about on the roof out there earlier, and last night there were tawny owls calling each other from somewhere not too far away.

In my rummaging today, I found a piece from the life drawing class I took before Madam was born.  The tutor had said at the start of the pose to think of Egon Schiele, so my pencil moved with a nervous, jittery energy, and I drew this.

I've brought it out to the studio, not as  pin-up, but as a promise.  I can do this.  I can make things worth looking at.  This is my special talent, and dammit I'm going to USE it!

Thursday, 16 October 2014


It's UP!  Up up uppity up!  (happydance)

It was actually properly up this time last week, but Mr Gary-the-gardener took ill and so the glazing didn't go into the french doors until Friday (when the window fitters took pity on me, and popped it in, bless them), and today Gary is back on the job and sealing around the doors and window.

So as of now we are watertight!  The guttering is ordered, Mr Andy-the-electrician will come by soon to look at getting power out there (and to check out the fault in our upstairs wiring in the house), and there's a bit of paving outside to finish off . . . and then we'll be on to insulation and OSB board, and chipboard flooring, and I'll have a workable space!

The new windows in the house are all finished too, and it's like having a whole new house.  It's warmer and quieter, there are obscured glass panels where we need them instead of where we don't, and the difference in the amount of LIGHT is astounding.  I can stand in the back garden and see clear through the house, between the guest bedroom and the landing window!  It's bizarre how much it changes a place, having the right windows and doors . . . and doors that close securely with a click, and open happily without a shove!  Oh it's so lovely!