What the heck is Wings of Goose?

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Selfish Crafter

I can't deny it. I love making things for myself, or for my home. I know why it is; it's because I'm slow. I'm a slow knitter. Consistent but slow. I'm less slow at sewing, actually a reasonable pace, and I suppose if I was going to make something for someone, it would be better for them if it was sewn rather than knitted, if they ever hoped to get it. But the thing with this speed problem is that more and more things I want to knit, or design and sew, build up, and by the time I've finished (finally) the thing I'm working on, I have to choose out of that multitude of things. I do often run knitting and sewing projects alongside, but I never knit more than one item at a time. I think I need to change that actually.

So it may come as a surprise after reading the above, that I have actually made some things for other people! The other week I finished a beautiful pair of curtains I'd been making for some dear friends to go in their beautiful, Laura Ashley adorned, living room. The fabric was duck egg blue dupion silk. They were my second ever pair of curtains, and I must say, I am incredibly pleased with them. Unfortunately I'm less pleased with the photos I took of them so bear with me.


Ignore the cheeky chappies in the foreground.

I did take a couple with the curtains closed but becaue it was daytime, they didn't come out too well. I didn't interline the curtains as we didn't want them to look too grand. I love the more raw look of silk; so although they do look quite posh, they don't look over the top. They finished the room off really well, so I was really glad to have been able to use I skill that I have to help someone else.

This post started off being about how I never make things for anyone else. Well here's another thing I made for the same friend.

A lovely knitted heart from a sweet book called Vintage Hearts and Flowers by Kate Haxell.

This was actually the first "thing" I knitted. Not that one though, but this one...

... nestled in amongst our collection of ceramics, prints and cards on the living room mantelpiece.

The tall buildings on the far left we bought in Halkidiki in Greece many years ago. Marno loves ceramics and collects small pots with beautiful glazes. My mum writes the calligraphy Bible verses which we have a few of around the house.

I got these lovely prints from the makers gallery in Painswick. They're actually cards which I framed, but they look perfect (the hare print in the first and second photos of the mantelpiece is also one of them).

So, after that digression, my conclusion is that I need to speed up, with knitting at least. But I'm sure the reason for my lack of speed is my poor technique. My knitting is very neat but could be so much faster. The thing is, I don't want to spend time on knitting practise when I could be knitting an actual thing. Maybe if I knit something thats masses of stocking stitch I can practise as I go, but would that mess up my gauge? I'm just vocalising my thoughts here, so if anybody has any helpful advice, please let me know.

xxx Sam

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Baking stuff

I've been doing some baking experimentation recently. I love cooking, and have no problem working from different recipies and am confident that they will work and be tasty. Baking however, is another story. Last year at my baby shower, my friend Ruth and I tried to bake. I made muffins which were supposed to to contain half fresh blueberries and half dried fruit. I thought how much nicer it would be to have fresh raspberries with the blueberries rather than the dried fruit. Being such an inexperienced baker (though perhaps common sense should have told me), I ended up with a batch of muffins that were so soggy they would not come out of the cases, and were co collapsed that they were inedible! As a joke, my friend bought me a book entitled Easy Muffins. Surely I could not go wrong... Well I didn't actually get round to baking anything from Easy Muffins until a couple of weeks ago, when I had a sudden desire to bake, and bake, and bake. I decided on muffins which contained apple (we have a huge Bramley apple tree in the garden, and a huge surplus of apples), and something else, I forget what. Anyway, I didn't have the right type of sugar, so I did a little substitution... and once again ended up with a batch of inedible muffins which would not come out of their cases and had to be binned. How ironic!

I have had a few successes though. I baked a Cinnamon Nutella cake for Noah's birthday...

... and an Apple and Walnut cake for Marno's birthday...

... making good use of those apples again! I have bags of them in the freezer, all chopped up and waiting to go in a crumble. Here is a fabulous crumble as it happens (I don't usually have a problem with puddings!) As you can see, I'm not one of those mums who can make a space rocket or a beautiful princess cake.

I also decided it was time to bake bread. I've wanted to for ages, and I have a loaf tin sitting folornly in the cupboard. I was excited to give the dough a good knead, like a buxom cook from a period drama, but with less of the buxomness! Goodness, does kneading give your arms a workout. I think I only gave it three minutes for the first knead, for the first loaf, but on the second (yes, I have baked bread twice now!), I followed what someone suggested in the comments from the brilliant BBCGoodFood website from which I got the recipe, and kneaded it once, left to rise for half an hour, then kneaded it again and left for another hour. I found the second loaf was slightly less thick, and rose a little higher.

Mmmm... freshly baked granary bread straight from the oven, buttered and served with slightly spicy butternut squash and chilli soup, the nicest soup I've ever made.

I think I should be some kind of agent for BBCGoodFood. I use the website nearly every evening and am constantly recommending it to people. 

I made these Mocha Muffins the other day...

...which did actually work, but they weren't the best muffins I've ever tasted. They included raisins, which I wasn't really sure about when I read the recipe, but added them anyway, and I don't think rainins and mocha are the best pairing. 

Anyway, I was going to write about curtains before I was overtaken by cakes, so that will be for next time. Now its time for the little boy to have his milk,

Byeee xxx

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Pretty (random) things

I like to cut out and keep images from catalogues, postcards or anything in paper form that I find inspiring. The thing is, most of the images I like are from magazines which I like to keep intact in general so I can come back to them and flick though without having to hold them together or hold loose bits of paper in place as I read. So I only cut up a magazine if I know I don't want to keep the rest of it. I am a bit pernickerty about things being nicely presented, I must admit, even if its just an old magazine. Anyway, sometimes a lot of time will pass by since I last collected any inspiring images; to the extent that I think, "Oh, I'll keep that image", but then think, "Well what shall I do with it?" And then I remember that I do actually have a sketchbook into which I paste images, just so long a time has gone by that I've forgotten about it. That sounds quite ridiculous for a creative person but I can justify it by saying that so much I look at is online that I don't bother printing it out to stick in a book.

Well a couple of weeks ago I received the Anthropologie catalogue through the door. I have to say I'm not incredibly impressed with their stuff. I ordered it because so many people talk about it and I really expected it to be my kind of shop, but based on having seen the catalogue, it isn't. Its incredibly expensive and I have to say, I can't see the justification. But there were two pages I really loved, and as I didn't want to keep the whole catalogue, they were prime for ripping out! It was this that reminded me of the book, so I racked my brains as to where it was and found lots of other cut outs I hadn't yet stuck in.

I guess the thing of keeping things in this way is that everything in it is insiring to you personally, or appeals to you, for whatever reason.

I generally keep images of interiors and fashion...

... but I love that advertisement for Welbeck Tiles which is peeking out in the centre right.

I'm in the middle of so many projects at the moment, but have hardly any time for any of them. My hinderance is a lovely one though...

This is a few weeks old; my gorgeous little Noah was one last week. Happy birthday my sweetheart xxx

Sunday, 11 September 2011

An Acquisition

Ugh, why is the weekend always such an anticlimax? We'd planned to go on a bird walk in the Forest of Dean on Saturday, but Marno had ordered a log store and logs from a company in West Wales, who ended up delivering it on Saturday morning . The guy told Marno the store would take one person two hours to fill with logs, so there went the morning. Then there wasn't time to go anywhere far beyond Cardiff, and it looked like it was going to rain anyway, so what an ideal opportunity to clear out the garage! And so a day had passed, and its been the same as a week day for me (aside from the log delivery and garage clear out!), but an ideal opportunity for Marno to get stuff done that he can't do in the week. It seems life is just like this at the moment; another phase which will pass in time.

In more exciting news, I have acquired a spinning wheel. Its a very traditional wheel, with no clue as to who made it,. Its double drive, which I found out on the internet -  thank you internet! We were searching for a groove or somewhere for the break band to run, and wondering how on earth Marno's grandmother had managed to spin with it (see below).

Ma's been telling me about it for ages; it belonged to her mother, who had sheep and spun their fibre. One of the bobbins still contains some yarn she spun, which isn't wool actually, I'm not sure what it is, but its a gorgeous pinky colour.

Well this was something that required a clear out to find, and I'm so glad it has been! Spindle spinning is a little slow for my liking; I do like to see more result for my effort, and I certainly am on this.

There's more on here from ten minutes here and there over the weekend, than on my spindle I got at Wonderwool this year. I pinched the fibre intended for the spindle too - sorry spindle.

I can't believe how my consistency has improved over such a short time, though it definitely helped that I knew how to draft already. I'm hoping to get to a spinning class at Calon Yarns at some point. Its a lovely craft studio run by lovely Lynne and her brother, Jon, and they hold loads of different craft workshops. They launched just after Wonderwool, which is where I met them.

Unfortunately, my Apres Surf Hoodie is languishing in a corner and I really want to wear it this winter. Thats one thing I really need to do; improve my knitting speed. I'm so slow (in comparison to people who are fast!).

Have a wonderful and productive week, whoever may be reading.

x Sam

Thursday, 8 September 2011

After... and before

Oooh, how exciting; blogger have updated the options for designing blogs so I've given myself a little makeover. I adore the leafy background, and the font I've chosen for the blog title... mmmmm :) So I'm planning on a major increase in my blog usage. Actually, my new design has inspired me to do something I meant to do ages ago. When we moved into this house I documented a reasonable amount of the work we did, but I never got round to showing all the rooms in their before and after states. The reason the design inspired me is because it reminds me of our bedroom - gorgeous, soothing green walls with a few dashes of pink and some lovely charcoal grey. A delicious selection of colours!

So, to restart, and also continue, as I wrote about this a couple of posts ago (which have been few and far between of late), we've finally finished our kitchen! I can't believe its actually taken six months, from first stripping off the delightful beige tiles interspersed with mini cottages, with a truely sensational (!) scene of a whole village above the hob - delightful! to putting my lovely new compost caddies in place, which were just delivered this evening. There are still a few things to finish off - please ignore the hideous electrical paraphernalia above the far left window! It will be boxed in eventually. I need to put more stuff on the larger shelves and hang some things from the hooks, put a clock up and other things on the walls, but thats the kind of stuff that comes with time.

The kitchen is long and narrow, so I've started with the far end and I'm kind of going round in a circle clockwise (apart from the next photo which is a little detail). One of my favourite details is the tiling between the hob and extractor fan.

Mmmm lovely bread bin by Falcon from Amazon and Compost caddies by Typhoon, also from Amazon. We chose to grout the tiles in grey because the kitchen joins onto the dining room, which is painted in Silt by Little Greene, which is a grey-brown colour, and the writing on the bread bin and colour of the caddies ties in perfectly.

You can see the electrics peeping out of the top of this photo.

View over the breakfast bar to the far end.

From far end down to sink end. As you can see, there ae plenty of hooks crying out for exciting things to hang from them...

And the breakfast bar end.
Our kitchen is really difficult to photograph due to its narrowness, so I hope you get the picture (no pun intended, chuckle). 

Here are a couple more close ups of little bits I love...

 Little bird cup size measures.

 I love this photo of Marno and me; feels like a long time ago now. This was taken at Grantchester, one of my favourite places in England, even though I've only been there once, but it was in an April and the blossoms were all out, and we had the most delicious cheese scones you can imagine.

I love having a utensil pot!

My spice shelves. Marno thought I should buy identical pots to decant all the spices into (yawn, I certainly don't have time for that!), but prefer them to look used - I'm keepin' it real! Hahaha!

A delightful little brown owl, keeping guard over them. 

In the process of writing this, I remembered I did have some things I was waiting for somewhere to hang, so I rushed upstairs and got them, but photos will have to wait for another time.

I have two more photos, but they're both "befores". I didn't want to spoil the beginning of the post with them ;) but here they are just so you can get the general idea. They were actually taken on our second viewing of the house, so please excuse me and the vendor lady.

Delightful, orange pine units. You can even see a couple of the cottages to the right, though unfortunately we are obscuring the whole village scene with our heads!

Horrible glass cabinet with tinted orangey glass and fake lead. Its incredible how many people thought it was nice, including my mum!!! It looks like something is growing out of the top!

Well, there you have it. A ridiculously long account of our kitchen. Oh no, there was something I wanted to add. It was actually in defence of Ikea, where we got the kitchen from. I read the other day on a blog someone disparaging Ikea and calling it generic (ok, I can't exactly argue with that), but not everyone can afford bespoke furniture, and not everybody has the patience, or indeed time, to scour antiques or flea markets to find the right furniture that way. Yes, Ikea is mass produced, but you can still make it your own by using other things, such as paint and accessories, or whatever you like (incidentally, the paint in the kitchen is Rhubarb by Paint Library). Having said that, we have far less Ikea in our house than we had when we were younger and in our flat. You just have to be selective. We have our own original artworks, and collect things when we go away, so it all adds together to make a lovely portrait of the owners of a home.

Thank you and goodnight!

xxx Sam

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

A few exciting little things

Oh Wow! Its so long since I've sat down at my dining table to write a blog post that it feels rather unusual and exciting. I even have something to blog about, which is a bit of a rarity at the moment, but I finally feel like I want to be making stuff again. I've been having so many ideas lately, which I've been quickly sketching so I don't forget them. I've even been doing some actual sketching, though its not very easy to sketch a nine month old who is wobbling about all over the place (only on his bottom sitting down though, Noah seems to want to miss out crawling and go straight to walking, or, more correctly, running!) though its great for practising speed. I was always better at taking my time with sketching, so its nice to try a different approach.

I'm so pleased with myself as I've finally finished my sample baby changing bag.



I still have about 600 photos to scour through and the pattern to write, but at least the bag is done and I can move on to realising some of my new ideas. Here are just a few of shots I took quickly earlier today. I have to say I just love the main fabric. I had so nearly finished it before Noah came along, so it only took a couple of hours over two evenuings to finish. I wish I'd done it ages ago now.

I've been knitting the Apres Surf Hoodie by Connie Chang Chinchio, which is so enjoyable; its a really nice, fun to knit, pattern and I've learnt how to do a provisional cast on, or rather, tried a couple of the many methods and chose the long-tail provisional cast-on. Here's the back and a close up of the pattern...

Can't wait to block this when its done. I've used Fyberspates Scrumptious and its absolutely perfect for the lace pattern; loads of stitch definition.

I bought this fabric yesterday, in Ikea of all places.

I just think its really fun and fresh, so I'll be using it for my next design - a summer dress.

I was looking through my blog photos folder and realised I hadn't written about wonderwool, so here are a couple of belated photos, firstly of the Scrumptious with one skein of Tall Yarns I forget what and second of some cream merino I've been spinning on the spindle.

Well its certainly nice to have something to write about. I hope it continues.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

A new kitchen

Considering interior design is pretty much my absolute favourite thing, I'm surprised at myself at how little I write about it. We've pretty much finished redecorating our "new" house (ok, we moved in a year and a half ago so not entirely new) and although I wrote a fair bit about it to begin with, eg here and here, we'd hardly done anything at that point and I have so much to write about now. We're now on our final project which is the redecorating of the kitchen and fitting of a new one; something I thought we'd not be able to do for about ten years if we were lucky.

Ever since I saw the Lidingo kitchen in Ikea, probably a couple of years ago now, I've planned how I'd design it into our own kitchen, and amazingly we've been able to buy it. I'm not really a fan of gadgety kitchens, so apart from one cupboard which actually has three pull out drawers when you open it, though it looks like a normal single cupboard, we haven't gone for any fancy pull out shelves or anything like that, so it came in ridiculously cheap.

Unfortunately, I can't find a "before" photo, but here are some progress shots.

In the process of taking out the old kitchen, You can see the delightful old pine drawers, which was what the whol kitchen was made from.


Making dinner on the camping gas hob. This has been my hob for some weeks now!

View from the other end (the end I'm in in the previous photo)

Everything ripped out...

...and from the other end.

Bonding on walls before plastering.

Coat of white before painting...

 ...this amazing pink colour! It looks absolutely lush!!! Its Rhubarb by Paint Library.

Marno has set up an amazing makeshift kitchen in the dining room, so I actually still have a working oven, the camping hob, and he's attached a metal hose to the tap so I even stil have running water. He's a practical genius! And I'm sitting here writing about it while he's next door screwing cabinets together. Hmmm...

More photos to come as we make progress.

I am always astonished at how paint, or wallpaper for that matter, can cover the worst walls. I don't mean bad in condition, as we are meticulous with our walls in terms of getting them smooth, but I mean if you have patches of all different colours or finishes, filled in bits and blablabla, a couple of coats of (good) paint just hides all the patchiness underneath. Its very pleasing, and a real reward for all the hard preparatory work.

Ok, I'm off to check on the husband's progress. Bye for now xxx