Cover Up

Hello All

Today I share with you a guilty secret. Brace yourselves for some hideousness.

In the room I like to call my study (well I do read in there) is this ….

Ermm disintegrating heap of an old sofa. But wait you have not seen the full horror. Close your eyes if you are of a nervous disposition and cue music from ‘Psycho’:

Before you disown me for the lush that I obviously am let me explain. First the sob story: this was my mother’s sofa (aaaaaahhh) however she died almost 20 years ago … and she gave it to me before she died (tut, tut). Next the pragmatics: the sofa was until ‘fairly’ recently covered and the covers had (after a fashion) withstood the rigours of children and two elderly spaniels. But enough was enough and in a moment of madness/cleanliness I donned a nuclear fallout suit and whipped the covers off and disposed of them. Don’t worry you are safe.

I couldn’t however get rid of the sofa: it has sentimental value, a good solid frame and it provides a cosy nook to curl up with a yarn-y project or a good book. So recently – ok, several years ago – I decided I would re-cover it. In my head this was a perfectly formed LITTLE endeavour. The project even had a boost when super friend JG donated me some old curtains.

Plenty to cover a small settee. Surely an easy weekend make would follow in which I could sing the praises of re-cycling and making do and mending. Yet even in my pea brain something told me that this was going to be trickier than my original vision of up-cycled loveliness allowed. I stalled.

But now only three years later – I am not the Procrastination Queen for nothing – I have started creating loose covers for Omi’s sofa and here I am describing the makeover, part one of it anyhoo (let’s not go wild!). As with all good 21st century projects I started by trawling the internet. Now I don’t want to say that other’s have had it easier but every similar sofa recovering I watched seemed either to involve box type cushions and/or staple guns.

Omi’s Sofa has ‘nobbly’ shaped seat cushions and recessed arms meaning more shaping would be involved. I also did not want to staple the covering to the sofa. I want to be able to remove it for washing. I have a granddaughter! and she is second only to me as a ‘dropper’. Finally I have ‘previous’ for being lethal with a staple gun…don’t worry that child’s limp is barely noticeable now….

Suffice to say Jolly Janome and I were going to work this together with a little bit of tacking and hand sewing thrown in for good measure. I even moved my scene of operations downstairs. Ironing board too.

My first objective was to cover the seat cushions. Not being one for maths I worked by covering the foam with the fabric inside out and cutting and tacking then sewing around the ‘L’ shaped corners.

I am still using the original seat cushions and wanted to keep the covers loose enough to remove easily when, at some point in the next century, I get new foam. For this reason I put vents into the side seams.

This called for some tricky pinning and tacking but I am pleased that the vents afford easier removal.

The almost finished cushions are a wee bit lumpy bumpy thanks to the old foam but I am happy that they turned out a matched pair and I hope you agree that already Omi’s old sofa is vastly improved.

For now (another three years?) I have thrown the remaining curtaining over the settee and as I had already crochet covered the back cushions by adding a row of patchwork cushions (thank you KS for the beautiful blue one) the sofa has a new lease of life.

But I must dash. I have a cosy nook to sit in and that Ann Cleeves thriller will not read itself.

Until next we meet,

Moke x

PS the rug was knitted with jumbo needles using selvedge yarn. In case you wondered. Mx

Dog Days

Hello All

It has been an activity mish-mash at Casa Moke over the last couple of weeks. No matter how hard I try my poor old pea-brain can’t come up with a coherent single theme for this post. Dear reader be prepared for the confused Cornucopia of everyday life here in the brr-is-it-me-but-is-Winter-coming-to-the-fffff-reezing-North-?.

First to the ‘Dog Days’. No 1 Daughter frequently travels with her job and last weekend she had the chance to combine work and a family trip while visiting some wonderful Animals Asia supporters in Glasgow. Only two small ‘problems’ her furry friends, George and Buddy. Yahoo! chance for me to enjoy the company of the boys for a couple of days dog-sitting.

George and Buddy would probably call it human-sitting and to be frank they would be right. Their time here does seem to entail a lot of sitting on me!

George takes the lap…

… and Buddy purloins the feet! My doggy visitors certainly make themselves at home. Bless ’em.

And while we relaxing, look what dropped through my door:

It is always exciting to see what classes are happening locally but this year I found it even more exciting. If you have a look under Arts and Crafts you might notice a few entries for ‘Introduction to Needle Felting’, guess who is responsible for them????

Yup that will be me! I am lucky enough to be running a few short courses over the Spring for Cumbria County Council’s Community Learning and Skills Programme in South Lakeland. It was such fun to micro-teach the interview panel that I am really looking forward to sharing one of my favourite crafts with new needle felters.

[Clears throat and takes on serious tone] Better keep up my crafty credentials in case any of my students-to-be are looking (can’t wait to meet you by the way). I have done a little more work on the wall art. The character on the right seems to be sending out some star-dust to cheer up the rather drab lettering:

I think she has done a good job and may need to be rewarded with a tiara or floral tribute…watch this space.

I have also been patch-working my way through several cushions:

I think almost all the fabric was from Reticule in Kendal. They have a huge range of beautiful and stylish fabrics and quarters. I chose these to coordinate with particular colour schemes. I can’t help but chuckle when I look at the blue birds: they seem to be on a see-saw. Have you spotted them? Hope they don’t get sea-sick!

Finally as ‘Winter is Coming’ a wee bit of sock knitting was called for.

Just knitting socks makes you feel warmer doesn’t it? Or is it trying to keep all the stitches on the needles and the counters in the right places that keeps me warm? Well done to Crafty friend KS who has launched herself into the world of sock knitting on circular needles with great results. I think I just like the suspense of working on double pointed needles, will the stitches stay on for another round ….

As you see I have a few projects to keep me busy and snug. And there are those courses to plan. Can’t wait.

Until next we meet,

Moke x

Sew Sew – Going Dotty

Hello All

Saturday last saw No 1 Daughter and me off to Leeds for a rather special afternoon tea. Sitting in the Sky Bar of the Hilton the vista of city spread out around us, sipping a glass of chilled Prosecco and enjoying a superb vegan tea we gathered to celebrate soon to be No1 Daughter-in-law’s Hen Do (hope you followed that twisty windy sentence!).

It was lovely to join RS’ wonderful family and friends and be counted among the women that are important to her. I hope my little needle-felted bridal hen goes some way to saying thank you.

As for going dotty. Later in the week and back home I was ratching through my scrap fabric store looking for inspiration and found it: a small bag of pinked squares that I won in a raffle more years ago than I care/dare to remember!

What a super prize. And more than enough for the little project I had in mind.

Which to choose? I couldn’t resist going dotty and with help from Jolly Janome a couple of hours later

I had a warm-hued cushion ready for making the autumn evenings a wee bit cosier.

Good to use up the odd shaped batik off-cuts from the making of a tunic to finish the front and

jazz up the back.

Now suffering with a cold (poor old dear) I am glad to have a snug well cushioned corner where I can lie down with a box of tissues, mugs of hot lemon and a great deal of self pity!

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Aaaah-tish-hoooo!

Solstice Sewing

Hello All

In days gone by I would have been in the midst of a Solstice drum circle tonight but today I am happily finishing off a couple of sewing projects with Jolly Janome.

The Avid Seamstress raglan dress is finished!

Apologies for the naff photo. Without modelling it myself (eeek, no one needs to see that) this was my best attempt. Let me describe the finer features of this simple frock: the neckline flows in a beautiful curve and the darts running vertically for a few inches from the top of each sleeve give a very pleasing fit over my shoulders.

In case you were curious as to the meaning I have checked out “raglan”. Thanks Mrs Wiki. A raglan is a one piece sleeve that extends from underarm to collar creating a diagonal seam where it joins to the garment body. Ready for a wee bit of history? Here it comes…apparently this style of sleeve was designed by Aquascutum for Lord Raglan after he lost an arm at the Battle of Waterloo. The raglan sleeve was created in order that the wearer could freely use their sword in battle. Who knew?!

Thankfully gentler pursuits call me. Recently I have been repopulating my sofas with patchwork cushions. Here is the latest:

Front and …

Back.

I think you will agree that the new addition sits rather companionably with one I made earlier:

The end of a good day’s sewing. But as the sun continues to light this longest of days there is still time for a drum rhythm or several.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Happy Fortnight

Hello All

Apologies for last week’s lapse. Things are all good here at Casa Moke just a lot of to-ing and fro-ing. I warn you this is a l-o-n-g post. You will be rewarded with a cuppa if you make it to the end.

What have I been up to?

Cooking.

Delicious Beetroot, Mushroom and Dulse Seaweed Burgers. Grating beetroot always makes the kitchen look like a crime scene but the consequent mopping up was worth it for these tasty burgers packed with yummy goodness.

I love seaweed however often forget how scrumptious and beneficial it is. Thanks to Kate Humble’s BBC series ‘Back to the Land with Kate Humble’ I was reminded and have found some fabulous producers. For this recipe and the Seaweed Cookbook I turned to The Cornish Seaweed Company. The book is a wonderful resource: along with plentiful recipes for everyone (vegans, veggies, omnivores and more) it profiles a huge variety of seaweeds and gives a guide to foraging.

Crafting.

Simple patchwork and a teeny-weeny amount of quilting are helping me gain more and more confidence on my sewing machine (sorry Snail of Happiness I have still not tried stretchy fabrics!). I am also rather pleased with the results if I do say so myself. No 1 Daughter has put in an order for cushions to coordinate with her soon to be decorated living room. Praise indeed.

Hot off the press…

Another cushion made almost entirely from scraps from earlier makes including at least two outfits for my granddaughter. I am smiling looking at it.

Some of you may remember my HUGE over purchase of wool for the simple Fair Isle jumper for Peanut.

Well I have found the perfect project to use the surplus. A Guernsey Wrap.

The pattern by Jared Flood is on Ravelry here. Versions of it can also be seen on one of my favourite blogs ‘Foxs Lane‘ … but I can’t remember where! It is a fabulous blog well worth a visit and you may even stumble on the wrap along your way.

Walking.

Walking buddies JG and JF set off clutching maps (OS Explorer OL7 – The English Lakes, South Eastern area) and compasses – they are part way through learning about navigation – with me their hill-loathing chum (how am I Cumbrian?!) in tow to complete the Kentmere walk we attempted last year when snow and ice made us/me decide to turn back. With the weather much improved – a DRY yet windy day – we set off in high hopes of sitting by a beautiful reservoir to eat our lunches.

Our day started with a charming easy stroll based on No. 3 in Norman Buckley’s book “Lakeland Walking: on the Level”. However as the hills of The Kentmere Horseshoe loomed in front of us it did look as if we were walking into Mordor. But hey! We had that attractive ‘lake’ to look forward to.

With a very flat valley floor and glacial moraines it was easy to see how the Ice Age sculpted this landscape. Ice now a thing of the past…things warmed up around end of April this year…lunch was calling and thoughts of dipping my tootsies in the lapping waters of the man-made tarn were becoming increasingly pleasing.

But what’s this?!

Or should that be what is it not?!!! Where has our reservoir gone? A couple of fellow walkers seeing our dropped jaws told us, it’s the result of a leak! In the past I have had small garden ponds and yes they have suffered the odd pond lining incident but a whole vanished reservoir? That is something.

Abandoning our visions of picnicking on a beautiful shoreline we crossed the spillway. Having watched much too much Nordic Noir I confess I was looking out at the wasteland for a skeleton or two at least. Happily I have nothing untoward to report but it was a very eerie setting…movie location hunters take note.

So being a bit agile (it says so in Buckley’s book) we followed a rough and narrow path back along the opposite bank of the River Kent until the going became easy again and we could stop out of the wind for sandwiches (hummus, peppers and celery if you were wondering) and have a short rest.

The walk back was idyllic. We couldn’t help but laugh at the adventurous and frolicking lambs (I thanked their mums for the wool) some of whom had perched themselves all over this glacial ‘dustbin’.

We admired the bridges.

And held our breath waiting for the bluebells to bloom.

All this and we barely got wet. A rare occasion in them thar hills.

Marching … Women of Cumbria

JG and I managed another tick on our ‘Women of Cumbria’ spreadsheet. We boarded the 505 Stagecoach bus to Coniston and had a wonderful time at the Ruskin Museum looking at all the displays and the exhibition dedicated to Annie Garnett a nineteenth century community entrepreneur who founded a textile industry in Lakeland.

Annie was one of six siblings and while her brothers went to school she was lucky enough to learn autonomously at home and particularly through her love of gardening. Taking her vision from Ruskin’s linen ‘industry’ Garnett founded The Spinnery in Windermere which gave women homebased work spinning yarns which were then woven at the spinnery. Many of the designs were created around plant forms.

Annie Garnett’s knowledge of weaving and textile history enabled her to create new fabrics and dye swatches that reflect her love of Lakeland’s colours.

Beautiful.

Garnett was not only a knowledgeable, inspired artisan she was also an astute businesswoman. By 1899 over 90 women worked as home spinners and embroiders. These workers were given training and also loaned their equipment for free. Annie clearly saw The Spinnery as a business and not a charity and she worked hard to promote it. Her management style was most certainly hands-on!

Lastly we could not leave Coniston without a ratch around a graveyard. We were looking for two gravestones.

Ruskin’s.

And W.G. Collingwood’s. Mission completed.

Are you ready for that drink? You’ve done really well to get here.

Tea drinking.

With a lack of dairy I have missed a delicious cuppa so I went to the Mecca of tea and coffee drinking which we are lucky enough to have here in Kendal, Farrer’s. I went experimental and by serendipity discovered a delicious brew.

And here I sit supping. Time you got the kettle on too. You have certainly earned it.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

PS I receive no freebies (I can dream) nor payment (does that happen?) for anything recommended in my blog. Mx

Hunkered

Hello All

Brrr. The cold and snow and frrreeeeezing wind has kept my walking to a minimum i.e. off bus in shop in cafe back on bus. I have instead hunkered down at home and been busy crafting.

Project one: cable hat. Using the second ball of the lovely wool gifted me by No 1 ‘daughter-in-law’ – the softest and cosiest yarn to work – I again used the Anna Hat free pattern at Margo Knits which is a small enough to sustain my enthusiasm and challenging enough to keep me on my toes …. or DPNs ….

Project two: patchwork cushion. At Christmas I promised that I would make No 1 Daughter some ‘Boho’ style cushions having failed to find any I liked and could afford. The fulfilment of my promise had to await the purchase of a new sewing machine. Now the proud owner of Jolly Janome and having practised on a patchwork pillow of my own it was time to get cracking.

The colours were ready and I had great fun deciding the layout. It was even more fun for Jolly and me to sew the strips. I even enjoyed all the pressing…am I weird?

The final result was pleasingly luxurious. Front and back.

Most importantly No1 Daughter loved it but here’s the rub …. she wants more! Looks like Jolly and I will be kept busy.

Project three: dress for me. For some time I have wanted to make myself something new to wear. I had spotted a couple of those lovely Merchant and Mills patterns that looked right up my street. Meeting up with No 1 to deliver the cushion I took the opportunity to nip into Cool Crafting in Skipton (they also have a shop in Kirby Lonsdale) and pick up a pattern … or two.

All I needed was fabric. While lying awake, head busy with crafting projects, I pictured the dress in stripes. So with No1 and granddaughter Peanut we went next day to Ilkley and the lovely ‘Eme Cloth & Yarn‘ emporium run by the friendly and really helpful Emma Garry. I loved this fabric and couldn’t resist getting enough for my frock and an outfit for Peanut. I shall just have to check with Peanut (she’s advanced for two) so that we don’t wear them at the same time!

Emma drew my attention to a rather special feature of this cloth. The selvedge.

Isn’t it beautiful? On Emma’s advice I carefully snipped it from the post-pattern-cutting cloth and plan to use it as edging in future makings. Waste not want not.

Cutting done – the Merchant and Mills pattern paper is super quality – Jolly and I were ready to roll. The instructions were pretty good although I found the diagram showing the insertion of the front bib a little confusing. None of the reviews mentions this so probably just me. Common sense, a bit of experimenting and some tacking (got to love a bit of tacking I say) soon overcame my muddle. And voila I have a new cotton dress-tunic.

Apologies for this photo but I couldn’t find a good spot to ‘pose’ the finished dress. I am loathed to model it myself but despite it’s slight nurse-like appearance – I didn’t notice this echo of Call The Midwife while working on it – please take it from me that it looks great and not at all like I have arrived to administer an enema.

And see what has been delivered while I have been tapping out this post. A new adventure beckons…

Hope you are having happy adventures and crafting time of your own.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Cushioned

Hello All

I have a confession. In the crafting carnage that was Christmas 2016 I ‘killed’ two sewing machines (in my defence one was pretty vintage). I have staggered on without one ever since. I couldn’t believe how often I thought or more boringly for friends said ‘If only I had a machine ….’. Yet I procrastinated thinking I would move on – after all I am a woolly craft person – but no. Eventually I cracked. So here I am introducing my new acquisition:

My jolly Janome more formally known as Janome Decor Computer DC3050. But what is a sewing machine without a project? And with lots of scraps of fabric I thought a patchwork cushion would make a good ‘getting to know your machine’ project. Who knew how difficult patchwork is?! Well I am sure you do. Yet someone not a million miles from this keyboard rushed in very much in the tradition of fools everywhere.

It all started well. I found a fabulous blog at Very Berry Handmade telling you step by step how to make a beautiful cushion. Off I set ignoring the advice about High and Low Value fabrics but somehow stumbling upon a happy combination of squares despite my chaotic methodology:

Soon I was sewing together my squares…too soon. First off I misjudged the size of the seams. Gosh half an inch is much narrower than you think. I did manage to press the sewn strips in alternate directions let’s go with that:

Then I was rather gung-ho about sewing up the strips although as you can see I was beginning to follow the instructions and line up the seams by the last couple.

Oh well I was after shabby chic heavy emphasis on the shabby and in any event I was having a whale of a time. Soon I was adding borders.

And … wonders will never cease …. quilting!

In next to no time I was whizzing up an envelope back with a contrast binding and (fanfare please) even a cheeky buttonhole.

Voila a finished cushion!

Thanks to Jolly Janome I am now snuggled up with a very plumptious shabby and perhaps not too chic cushion. I think Jolly and I are going to get on.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

P.S. Just in case you were wondering I will be getting my two old machines looked at. No 1 Daughter wants the old machine and as I have discovered it is always good to have a spare or one to hand for group sewing projects. Mx