Sunday, 15 August 2010

New beginnings, an interview and my name in print!

I'm back! I know, I know - I'm running out of ways to apologise for being a bad blogger but you really must believe me when I say that I have finally resolved my awful personal situation. As many of you will know, I have become increasingly miserable in my job over recent months and a career change was the inevitable result of that dissatisfaction. I'm pleased to report that after several interviews and some uncomfortably warm afternoons spent in the throttling grasp of a dress shirt and tie, I have finally wangled myself a new job! Wahoo - it is quite a drastic change for me as I've gone from a fully fledged purchasing co-ordinator to a trainee (I hate that word!) recruitment consultant. I'm starting tomorrow, so wish me luck! Now that my work situation is sorted then I should have a bit more stress-free time to spend crafting and blogging!

In crafting terms, I've not been too productive in the last few weeks but I have developed an obsession with lavender scented sachets! I wanted a quick project that would use up some fabric and yarn scraps so I knitted/sewed some hearts and stuffed them with dried lavender, stitched them up and embellished with ribbons and buttons amongst other things. I'll post a few pictures this week. Some may think these are pointless projects and in a sense I would agree but trust me - my house smells amazing!!!

Hopefully you will remember that a while ago I was invited to take part in a series of interviews about male crafters. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a delay getting everything sorted but I am pleased to announce that my interview is now up and running here (not the location that was originally intended but nonetheless it is nice to see MY words out there in cyber land!). Take a look - I think you'll enjoy it!

Speaking of MY words - has anybody picked up a copy of 'The Knitter' this month? They've published an email that I sent them many months ago concerning my favourite subject - that is, the wholly uninspiriing state of the mens knitting pattern industry! Somewhat mortified, however, to note that they've edited my words quite significantly and I now read like some stroppy teenager! I'll try to scan a copy and leave it here for you to see! Regardless of the editing - I am glad that I have spoken up for all of us that want more from our designers!

With a new job to go to tomorrow I'm gonna wrap things up, but if you want more from me then go and check out my interview!

More soon

Mother's Ruin xxx

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

If in!

Despite my protestations that I would not embark on another serious quilting project before taking the time to develop my skills on smaller items, I couldn't help but treat myself to some fabulous new fabric for my next quilt! Aren't we predictable creatures, us crafters?! I decided in advance that I wanted to make a real statement in bold colours and strong tones. Perhaps i've subconsciously decided to let the fabric do the hard work and keep the sewing simple!

Anyhow - a quick trip to the 'Cotton Patch' furnished me with a 1/2 metre of each of these spicey designs:

I really like the idea of making a, well, a runner almost. You know, a long but narrow quilt that will lay across the foot of the bed? The only problems I can see with this is that, although decorative, will it really be of any use? And subsequent to that, if it isn't, will it languish in the back of a cupboard somewhere when I've grown sick of taking it on and off the bed every morning and night? Something to mull over for a while I guess....

A dear friend of mine gave me this little vintage knitting book (that is, the knitting is vintage, not the book!) recently and then yesterday I popped into a local discount bookstore and managed to pick up the other title, 'Weardowny Knit Couture' for just a couple of pounds. I'm trying desperately to re-inspire my knitting self but, alas, I just can't seem to settle into anything productive when I attempt to pick up the needles. Lovely books though and a pleasure to read about knitting, even if I'm not getting any done!

Archie, absent for most of the day (dirty stop out!), showed up just at this moment and was far from reluctant to vocally demonstrate his indignation at my using his favourite perch as a display area!

More Soon
Mother's Ruin xxx

Monday, 12 July 2010

Quilting update

I'm rapidly running out of steam with the whole quilting process!

No, that's unfair. I'm not really.But why is it that the tasks that you imagine to be the quickest or simplest usually turn out to be horrifically prolonged experiences of fiddling and frustration? Basting, for example:

I did my research, checking several of the methods available and how they are achieved by the leading quilt makers and designers. I decided against spray basting as some claim that it can create a real mess AND gunk up the needle when quilting. So, a fresh pack of quilters basting pins in hand I proceeded to baste my quilt sandwich. I don't have any hard surfaces large enough in my house for the task, so I spread my quilt back out on the carpeted living room floor, secured the corners with masking tape, layered the sandwich and began pinning. Two hours, two very sore knees and one aching back later I secured my last pin. Can you guess the punchline? Yes, I'm sure you could all see this coming a mile off. The moment I tried to pick my quilt up my satisfied grin morphed into a wide-eyed expression of pure disbelief. I had pinned my quilt INTO the carpet! "Oh f**k"

Another two hours, two EXTREMELY sore knees and several permanently damaged vertabrae later, I had managed to un-pin my quilt, fold it up and gently place it on the other side of the room where it stayed for the afternoon, oblivious to my glares and curses.

Not one to be beaten, I soon calmed myself, took hold of the situation and managed to get the quilt basted by using my large cutting mat underneath the sandwich and sliding it around to cover the larger area. The only downside to this continued re-adjustment was the fact that the finished layers were not as smooth and tight as I would have liked. I was so ready to move on to the actual quilting at that point though that I decided I would live with any imperfections!

On to problem number two! My new walking foot? Completely useless! I still can't fathom what the problem with the darned thing was but after masking out my quilting lines (nice and easy straight stitching for my first attempt!) and having a few goes, I switched back to my regular foot. The walking foot was hardly feeding the fabric at all - indeed, I think it was making things more difficult as I found myself almost pulling the fabric under the needle. This, in turn, made my straight lines wobble and my stitches uneven but I soldiered on and completed the first set of lines. I had planned on using a nice cross-hatch design on the quilt but now that I had been left with a relatively uneven surface, I was worried that to sew across the existing diagonals would create puckers in the fabric and make it look even worse! Thus, I took a deep breath, trimmed everything up and have decided that I am just going to bind it as it is. I think I need to practice my skills on some smaller projects before I commit to another large quilt!

Here are some pictures of the front and back:

Talking of smaller quilting projects - I have actually started on one! I mentioned before that I was making a small baby quilt with the small-scale floral fabrics that a friend had given me. I decided on a simple 5" squares design to which I am going to add a really substantial wide border. I also fancy having a go at some applique so I'm sure a little animal of some sort will be making its way onto the surface at some point!

Much more to report as soon as I find the time!

Much Love

Mother's Ruin xxx

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


It doesn't take long to come crashing back into reality after a holiday, does it?! The merest hint of a tan is almost all that I have left to remind me that just a few short weeks ago I was relaxing on a beach in Egypt. You'll remember (or perhaps you wont - my problems are no more serious than anybody elses!) that I was having a tough time at work before I left? Well, things only appear to have gotten worse since I returned and now the endless hours of sitting, cringing and miserable, in an office that seems, to me at least, to be the very breeding ground for all the worlds negativity has almost entirely eradicated any sense of restfulness or stability that I had managed to cultivate during my brief absence. I am trying to remedy the situation myself (more on this at a later date) but such circumstances are not conducive to a desire to talk or share and, as such, I have been entirely negligent with my blog. It seems to me that these silent periods are an almost obligatory part of every bloggers life so I know that you will be understanding - I just hope it is not too prolonged.

So much for my forced proclamations of optimism and the threat of taking up new challenges as outlined in the last post! My appetite for tackling anything more taxing than simple garter stitch knitting or straight stitching on the machine has entirely waned! My lace swatches languish in a raggedy pile upon my coffee table, ignored for over a week. I needed a project that did not require any intelligent input from me. Auto-pilot is the order of the day! Thus I decided that I really ought to finally finish some of the multitudinous projects that litter every surface of my studio. The Mod Sampler Quilt MUST be finished....

No pictures yet but I am pleased to report that the sashing has been completed (I only needed to do the outer strips that encompass the whole quilt top), the quilt back has been ticked off the to-do list, the binding strips cut and the wadding trimmed to size. As soon as my curved basting pins are delivered (yes - a little more retail therapy from The Cotton Patch - I'll be posting about my fabric selections for the next quilt as soon as it arrives!) then I will be basting and quilting! Hurrah! I also bought a walking foot for my machine (£30 seemed a little expensive to me but I guess it is necessary!) as I have decided that in my current fragile state it would be unwise to go through the process of free-motion quilting and have my lack of skills recorded on the quilt surface for the next hundred years! A simple cross-hatch design is quite good enough for me, thank you very much!

Having unwound about six hanks of yarn into nice, useable balls and dithered around looking for inspiration, I again took out my machine (didn't take long to abandon the knitting) and started on a simple cot quilt. Again, no pictures yet (mmmm.....possibly the dullest blog post for my readers!). I used the same fabrics that I offered in my giveaway and decided on a simple design of patchwork squares. This has all been completed and the next task is to add a wide border and then applique some kind of typically baby-friendly animal's silhouette on the front - you know, like a big bouncy elephant or a pussy cat.... I'm quite pleased with how it looks so far, actually. The combination of so many small-scale florals makes the whole thing delightfully girly and countryside chic! Wholly typical of me though to start another project before the previous one is finished!

Hubby has suggested that I do some kind of craft fair over the summer. Nothing too professional, you know, just a local affair. I'm still debating. I have no aversion to doing a craft fair - I imagine that it would be pretty fun, but how distressing would it be if nothing was sold! All those hundreds of people passing through, browsing, evaluating and then moving on! How humiliating! Of course, my other problem is that I am not like other crafters. I don't make a specific range of things. Usually when you go to these things people specialise in, say, baby items or accessories or bags. I just make what appeals to me, so my stall would be a bit of a hotch-potch!

I'm reluctant to leave you without any pretty pictures to lessen the pain of listening to me moan for the last few paragraphs. Unfortunately, however, I have been just as remiss with my photography as I have with my blogging.

More soon

Mother's Ruin xxx

Saturday, 26 June 2010

New Challenges

Ok, so first off I'll get my little rant out of the way. Not so much a rant actually, rather, just pointing out the obvious and predictable. While I was away in Egypt my copies of 'The Knitter' magazine and 'Yarn Forward' arrived in the post. Hubby well knows by now that the first thing I look for when I get hold of any material like this is to see if any mens patterns have been included. He checked my face while I flicked through the first publication.

Flick, flap, flick. Page open.
Him: "What is it?"
"One second"
Next magazine - flick, flap, flick. Page open.
"Hmmmm" (with raised eyebrow)
Him:  "Oh"

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen. Hubby knew it before I even showed him the magazines and I would assume that, if you've been reading me for any length of time, you can see what's coming too. Two of the most popular knitting magazines in Britain, one of which certainly is entirely polished in every other sense, have produced YET AGAIN a pair of the dullest, most boring and tedious mens patterns ever. Only outdone, I would assume, by whatever they publish next month. I guess that in the interests of fairness, I ought to point out they may actually only have printed ONE of the dullest, most boring and tedious patterns ever because, in truth, they are almost identical. The one below is from 'The Knitter' and is knitted in a very daring blue. Blue for a boy. How original. I wonder how many sleepless nights the designer endured before finally settling on that wacky shade. As for 'Yarn Forward's offering, it was simply so yawnworthy that I couldn't be bothered to take a picture of it. Suffice to say, turn the blue version cream and add elbow patches (err....hello?) and you're basically there. It's not like the jumpers are unattractive. Just dull. Who wants to spend hours, days, weeks even, working on a knitted project PLUS £100 or so on yarn only to end up with something that looks like it was bashed out in a sweatshop and purchased in Primark for a fiver?

Then again, I'm not sure what else to expect from a magazine that uses this woman as their cover model...

So a lot is to do with styling, and I'm not having a go at the woman personally but....perleeeese.... with those pigtails she looks like she is about to star in some low budget pornographical movie. I don't wish to trash the magazine too much because, in general (that is, models and mens patterns aside) it is superb. The womens patterns are fantastic, the articles are far more in-depth and interesting than many others you could get hold of, and the whole thing is put together with a great sense of quality. I guess nothing is perfect. return to my real reason for posting - I've decided that I am a lazy knitter. Rather, I knew this all along. But, do you not find that with gifts to knit and stashes to use up and etsy/folksy shops to stock, the temptation to just keep on churning things out without ever developing yourself is almost overwhelming? I do. So I've decided that I'm not going to worry about who I'm knitting for or how long I take over the project (could make for some dull blogging if it drags on too long but hey-ho!). It's time to take up some more challenging techniques! I've never knitted lace before, at least, not a proper, full throttle lace project. I don't think little panels or borders really count. Besides, I'd like to learn to use charts too. As if 'The Knitter' somehow pre-empted my decision and decided to offer an olive branch over the lacklustre mens patterns, they kindly included this article to get me started:

I scoured ALL of my knitting magazines in search of an appealing lace project which, in itself, was quite a challenge - I subscribe to so many! My top two were the 'Prairie Rose Shawl' from a back issue of 'The Knitter' and the 'Dalenni Scarf' from 'Yarn Forward'.

The 'Dalenni Scarf' is knitted in color-mart laceweight 2 ply (which I just happen to have in my stash for once!) while the 'Prairie Rose Shawl' is knitted in a Jamieson and Smith 2 ply lace (sadly not in my stash!)
After spending four and a half hours winding the color-mart yarn into a ball (seriously! Don't ask me what happened as I have no idea!) I decided that I preferred the lace pattern of the PRS and so I started on that first and just hoped that the gauge would be similar (I don't believe it is now!). However, because the yarn is so fine and similar in colour to my bamboo needles (I intended to knit the shawl and then take an even greater risk and perform my first dye job on the finished piece to liven up the rather dull beige!) I had terrible trouble maintaining the correct number of stitches. I imagine I was knitting some together when I ought not to.

I had a look on 'ravelry' and some people had knitted this shawl in The Natural Dye Studio's sock yarn. Again, this is something I had in my stash, so I picked it up and knitted a swatch (the very blurred picture below!). The thing is, now I'm not sure I like it as much. I feel like the 4 ply sock yarn is too thick for the shawl and is detracting from the open nature of the pattern.

The next picture shows the swatch alongside the yarn I wanted to use. You'll see what a difference there is in the yarn weight.

And that's pretty much where I am right now! Dithering and indecisive about how to progress! I wanted the knitting itself to be a challenge - I didn't expect choosing an appropriate pattern and yarn to cause so much trouble. Usually I just pick up, cast on and go....

Of course, all the while this has been going on I've been coming across hundreds of other adorable lace projects, as well as adding to my list of knitterly challenges (intarsia, fair isle, learning new cast-on methods, double knitting).

I'm feeling rather flustered!

More soon (when I've made a decision!)

Mother's Ruin xxx

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

I'm back!

If this was a Hollywood movie, I'd re-appear from my holiday looking tanned, slim, mysterious in big shades with sun-bleached hair and some kind of vibrant, drapey thing slung around my neck. In reality, I crashed back onto UK soil at 4am, eyes tired and puffy, shivering due to the drop from 50 degrees to 15 and rubbing red knees in a vain attempt to remove from them the imprint of the seat in front, all the while lugging around a case containing enough washing to occupy an entire army of housewives for over a month.

Talk about travelling in style!

For all this, I'm pleased to tell you that we had a lovely time. Usually I get myself into a bit of a frenzy when I go away somewhere. I've never understood how or why people travel literally thousands of miles, only to sit on a beach 24/7. This time, however, I was one of those people! My third visit to Egypt and, therefore, something of a veteran! I've seen all the major sights before so, save for a couple of boat trips, I spent the entire time lazing around and reading (4 books in the first five days - when I realised that I'd run out of reading material I turned instead to Vodka! Needless to say, I soon turned back. A hangover in 50 degree heat is less than pleasant!!! On the subject of reading and to continue my aside - Dawn French's 'Dear Fatty' is an excellent read if anybody fancies it. I don't often go for autobiographies but she is, it seems, a genuinely funny lady!)

We hit our resort at precisely the correct time. It was quiet and relaxed, though we were informed that the management had just purchased the building next door and, in a matter of days, the resort was going to triple in capacity and size. The only downside was (as I often find!) the other tourists. Don't get me wrong - I'm not racist or xenophobic (more about that in a second) and there are, of course, always exceptions to every rule. But really, I was so so so tired of nodding to/smiling at/ greeting the German/Russian/Slovakian guests only to be stared at or, perhaps worse, entirely ignored. There was one lovely lady, though, (and this is where I prove that I give everyone a fair chance) called Tina. She was 60 years old, travelling alone (widow) and didn't speak a word of English! I spent many happy hours conversing with her about all sorts using my very limited knowledge of the German language, With a lot of gesticulation, pointing, drawing in the sand and remembering about every tenth word that I needed we managed to get through quite a lot! Strangely, I think it was on of the highlights of the holiday.....

Here are some of the pictures for you to enjoy - of course, I've removed all of the ones that I'm in. I don't need my readers wondering why nobody bothered to help the beached whale back into the water. I was pleased to see that bourgenvilia (how does one spell it?!) was growing all over our resort - such a cheering sight. And of course, the sea was blue, blue, blue....................

Back soon with some crafty news (that is why we're all here after all!)

Hope you've all been well my little bunch of creative Goddesses (and Gods!)....

Mother's Ruin xxx

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Where I am...

I'm still here .....just. I'm not going to apologise for my half-hearted blogging efforts in recent weeks - I know that there are MORE than enough talented, friendly, wonderful bloggers and crafters out there to keep you entertained and that in reality, much as I may secretly hope otherwise, you probably have not noticed I was missing!

Things have been so crazy with me. My working life has been entirely turned upside-down. Some would argue that change is good (and normally I'd agree) but unfortunately what is happening here is not good at all. I wont bother you with details, suffice to say that I am very unhappy right now. Of course, when you're spending 40 hours a week in an office the size of a matchbox and resenting every minute of it, you have little energy left for creative pursuits. I go home at the end of every day feeling physically and emotionally tired. Furthermore, weekends at the moment seem to be devoted to stressing about the coming week. My crafting output has been somewhere in the region of.....err....zilch - thus, no blogging!

Add into the mix the fact that 70% of Britain seem to have their birthdays in May/June (what is it with randy parents in Aug/Sept?!!!) and all are clamouring for attention, presents, attendance to parties etc etc etc and my life has not been my own!

It was just rubbing salt into the wound yesterday when I had to call my broadband provider because I was unable to access the internet and NOTHING was resolved until I had spoken to three members of staff and spent 4 hours on the phone! That's service for you! Quite infuriating was their request that I, the customer, the one paying for the 'service', was asked to run the diagnostics myself and then call them back with the results. I'm sorry - is it inconvenient? Are you due a cigarette break? Do you need me to hang-up in order that you can trot across the office and speak to Sharon about last nights date? Argh!

On a brighter note - I am on holiday next week. We've booked a week in Egypt (on an absolute shoe-string budget. More like tooth floss) and, having already been several times and visited all the main sites and points of historical interest, I am confident that I will have no guilt in plonking my bottom on the beach and relaxing for the whole time.

So, I guess this is it for now. Don't forget me - I certainly have not forgotten you! You are my crafty friends, my delightful little talents and I miss speaking with you. But for now - au revoir... I'll see you in a week or so....hopefully feeling a little more like my usual self.

Look after yourselves (and each other!)

Much Love

Mother's Ruin xxx

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Sporadic blogging

Well, it's been a little while, hasn't it?!

I'm afraid you'll have to accept my apologies for my sporadic blogging - something that I anticipate will continue for the next week or so. Unfortunately, I have been incredibly busy with things both at work and at home.

When I left you last, I was working on my Mod Sampler Quilt. I'm pleased to report that I've nearly finished the quilt top! Yay! I just have to sew on the 4 pieces of sashing that act as a 'frame' around the entire quilt top. I actually decided to change the Mod Sampler in a several ways. After following the layout that was included with the instructions I decided that I wanted a design that was less regimented, so I've placed my pieced squares in a random order that was pleasing to me (and probably me alone!). Also, when I laid everything out I realised that I had enough materials to make the quilt larger. I definitely wanted the finished project to be as big as possible, so rather than use the leftover pieced squares on the back of the quilt I have included them on the quilt top with an extra row of sashing. Having also realised that my backing fabric was going to be too narrow, I now plan to cut the plain cream cotton in half lengthwise and move it to the edges. The vertical strip that will be created between those two halves will then be filled in with some nice Amy Butler fabric that I have. Groovy, huh?! 

Here are just a couple of quick pictures of the progress so far. I made a mistake when cutting my sashing strips so they did not come out exactly straight which means, by turn, that the whole quilt top is a bit skewed. That said, I think it could have been a lot worse so I am relieved that the whole project was not totally ruined.

I'll be back with more as soon as I can!

Happy crafting!

Mother's Ruin xxx

Thursday, 27 May 2010

New things...

This week I've been pretty busy working on my Mod Sampler Quilt. After discovering that all of my pieced squares were not the uniform 8.5" required I kinda filed the whole project under 'D' for disappointment and left it festering in a big bag for a while. Every once in a while we would shoot each other reproachful glares but, ultimately, I swallowed my pride and realised that although it will never be perfect it is only my very first quilt and therefore mistakes are to be expected.

My new found enthusiasm was short lived, however, when I started sewing the sashing! Err...yawn! How boring is this task? I'm pretty sure I wont be using sashing again for a while - not that I need to with sooo many gorgeous designs out there to choose from. I'll be posting pictures of my progress soon. Again, the sashing has come together less perfect than I had intended, but I've decided that not pre-washing the cotton batting and allowing the finished piece to take on that lovely puckered, vintage look will cover most, if not all, irregularities! Says a lot for my skills though - I can't even sew straight!

Anyhow - all this talk of quilts leads me onto my next piece of news. Following some online shopping these lovely items arrived at my door on Tuesday:

Denyse Schmidt 'Quilts'

Fabric Mini Bundle from 'Fabric Rehab'

I must confess to being slightly disappointed (a common theme in my life - woe is me....) with the book. Don't get me wrong - it was well thought out, comprehensive in terms of instruction and photographed very well, but it only included 10 actual quilt designs and the remaining 20 projects were largely....errm.... pointless, I guess is the word. Some were lovely, maybe half a dozen. But honestly, as much of a beginner as I may be, do I need an entire project dedicated to demonstrating scrappy patchwork rectangles that are then attached to folded cardboard thereby creating fabric notecards? I think not. That said - here are a couple of faves:

I love this quilt - I tend to lean towards vintage styling but I like how this contemporary design would work in almost any setting. The colour palette is perhaps a little bland for me - but then, it would be easy to spice it up!

I think this may be my favourite project in the book - although, on the picture on the cover you will notice that they had cropped the top and bottom off of the image, so I thought the patchwork lines meandered from one side to the other. I think I would prefer that to these somewhat incongruent 'floating' shapes. Nonetheless, a very striking design and would be a good way of using up lots of scraps.

Finally, I really enjoyed looking at this scarf/wrap design. This is very much the kind of thing I like to make and give away as gifts. The juxtaposition of the thick, dark tweed/wool and the light floral cotton/silk make the piece really eye-catching. I would imagine this would be pretty cool made up in chopped up pairs of jeans too (and who doesn't have at least a hundred pairs of jeans that they hang on to without a hope in hell of ever getting into again?!)

I'm not sure exactly what I intend to do with the fabric that I got but needless to say it will probably find its way into my next quilting project. I made the Mod Sampler Quilt mainly in pastel shades with a few stronger tones thrown in. Next time I fancy using much deeper, richer hues so I think these will be a perfect start to a new collection. Can't grumble for a fiver!

More Soon

Mother's Ruin xxx

Monday, 24 May 2010

FO: Rustic Shawl

So finally (and I'm sure I'm just about to echo the Monday morning posts of over a million British bloggers) the sun came out this weekend! Of course, the fact that rather than a gradual shift from inclement weather into barmy summer evenings we have all, instead, been catapulted from frosty mornings and central heating right into prime BBQ weather at such a rate that we've sustained whiplash means that, inevitably, I'm surrounded by people with colds. How pleasant!

So while my friends coughed, spluttered, hacked and wheezed their way through the weekend I was busy getting things done! Most of Saturday was spent clearing the house of debris in order that I could flog it all to unsuspecting shoppers at a local car boot sale the following day (which I did with a pretty good level of success, I might add!) but by mid afternoon, hot, tired, weary and being assaulted by Friday night's hangover which, from nowhere, had got up a second wind (in my defence it was a birthday party so alcohol was entirely appropriate, nay, necessary to fully show my commitment to the celebrations!) I decided to plonk myself down in the sun (there's a novelty!) and weave in the thousands of yarn ends that were hanging from my recently completed 'Rustic Shawl'. I'm not entirely sure how I managed to have quite so many waiting for me there. I'm starting to believe that, out there in the ether, there may have developed some kind of fibre goblin who, while contented knitters sleep, steals into project bags and randomly ties lengths of yarn to the item in order that, come sunrise, we crafters will be afflicted with unending frustration and much cursing!

Anyhow - here are several pictures of the finished object. Mind you (not to dwell on my already obvious technological ineptitude) my new camera has so many different functions/settings/enhancements/adjustments and general 'stuff' that I have yet to work out how to prevent the pictures from going grainy when photographing items inside the house. If you compare these to last weeks images of Archie outside in the garden there is a phenomenal difference. I know it's merely aesthetics and that you can still see what I've made but, well, isn't aesthetics really what you and I are all about?! And while we're on the subject - living in an all male household causes me so many problems when it comes to obtaining 'modelling' shots! In the end, Hubby had to photograph me wearing the shawl. I'm cropping AS MUCH of myself out as is humanly possible and please bear in mind that I'd spent most of the day scrabbling around in cupboards, under tables, in the shed and swinging from the rafters in the loft. By no means should my oh-so-attractive outfit in the photo's be considered representative of my usual style! I have been known to make an effort before, you know!

Anyway. Enough stalling.

Hubby has taken the F.O. into work today as there are several ladies there who like to see what we've made and some even go on to purchase things (shout out to Emily - I know you're reading!). Indeed, I think a face-to-face sale will be far preferable for this shawl - it's pretty huge so it would be a nightmare to send through the post!

Ordered a new sewing book and a small selection of fabric at the weekend so will be posting about these when they turn up!

Until then, I'm off to spend a little more time staring at people. I do love how the sunshine flushes so many attractive (and not so attractive, I must admit) people out into the streets in various levels of nakedness! Hoorah for short shorts, I say! *wink*

More soon

Mother's Ruin xxx

Friday, 21 May 2010

Funny lookin' bird....

Having pretty much fully recovered from whatever nasty bug has been afflicting him recently, Archie has decided that the (sadly empty at this point in time) bird bath is to be his new throne....

Could he be any more smoochable?!

I've also just finished this simple knitted shawl, made from a gorgeous yarn that I got at online from Knitshop. The yarn is made up of 2 plies - one linen and one cotton, and knits up into a really interesting, textured fabric. The colours are fantastic too - this one is kinda gold and pewter. I also have it in a red colourway. Unfortunately the pictures don't really do it justice. Not really sure what I'm going to do with this. I don't think I know anybody that would wear it! :-(

More soon

Mother's Ruin x

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Drum roll please....

The winner of the 5" charm squares pack is: Two Hippos!!!

Congratulations! I'll be in touch to get your postage details.

Thank you to everybody that entered. As you all probably know, I dabble in many crafts so keep your eyes peeled for another giveaway soon when there'll be some gorgeous yarn up for grabs.

On a personal note - I'd also like to extend my genuine thanks to those of you that left such kind and thoughtful messages yesterday. They were much appreciated and I feel bolstered as a result! Whoever could have guessed that there were so many lovely women (and men!) in the world?!

Nothing very exciting has been happening here in the last 24 hours! I continue to work the border on my crocheted shawl and hope to be able to post some pictures of the finished item very soon, but otherwise all is quiet with Mother's Ruin.

More Soon

M x

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


"I wanted to write about it all.
Everything that happens in a moment.
The way the flowers look when you carry them in your arms.
This towel - how it smells , how it's thread.
All our feelings - yours and mine.
The history of it.
Who we once were.
Everything in the world.
Everything mixed up.
Like it's all mixed up now.
And I failed.
I failed."

Dialogue from "The Hours"

I guess it happens to the best of us at some point or another. Or perhaps it doesn’t, I’m certainly no expert.

How does one measure personal success when it is so inextricably linked with the success of others? By nature, success is both relative AND personal.

I don’t have the ability to articulate exactly what it is that has suddenly struck me dumb. It’s just that, well, the incessant blogging and the crafting… they give me an imperative, but they don’t give me a meaning. I don’t think I anticipated that they would. Don’t you find that, no matter what your intentions, things always end up being so much less than what you start with?

I don’t for a moment expect this is making much sense to anybody else. I catch myself sometimes, poised, staring, thoughtless….literally thoughtless, like my spirit has vacated my body and dropped for a moment into some other, alien existence of which I know nothing.

It is human nature to carry on.

Thus, I’ll give you the blog post I had planned:

Don’t forget – today is the last day to enter my GIVEAWAY here. A winner will be chosen at random at midday tomorrow. International entries welcome.

At the weekend I finished another small project. Well, I guess that ‘project’ is not really an appropriate title; it’s just an idea that I had to use up yet another scrap of fabric! I won’t bother to write a proper tutorial or anything as it is pretty self explanatory. I think the end product is pretty cool though – I’m thinking of doing some of the whole family, animals and all!

All you need to do is take a photograph (new or existing) of yourself in ‘profile’. Of course, it is probably easier to get somebody else to do this for you (and yes, I was still smoking at the time mine was taken!!!)

Print the photo onto basic paper (you don’t really need the image).

Trace your outline as carefully as possible onto tracing paper.

Place tracing paper onto some black card/paper and go over the outline once again with a v. sharp pencil. You want to push quite hard so that the outline is transferred (indented, I guess) onto the surface of the black paper.

Cut around the outline and hey presto – silhouette!

Now, If you like the size then that’s groovy, otherwise you can enlarge the image on a photocopier and cut it out again.

After that, all you need to do is frame your silhouette using some fabric scraps as a background.

Here’s mine:

And another scrap bites the dust! Cool, huh?

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Retro Metro Tote & GIVEAWAY reminder!!!

I'm dieting.

I wont bore you with the details - suffice to say, just three days in and I'm already obsessing about food! Rather than spend the next month living from one hunger pang to another and asking people if I can 'sniff' their Mars Bars (it has been known!) I decided that the best course of action was.....well....just that - action! I anticipate getting plenty of crafting done over the next few weeks, as I cut back on food and gorge myself on fabric, yarn and fibre instead!

I've had some really cool multi-coloured fabric (caught my eye in IKEA) sitting in my stash for several months now and it was just screaming to be made into a bag. I gathered together some red cotton for the lining and these great bamboo handles (no idea where I got these) and pondered.....

I didn't want to spend the rest of my natural life on this project and because the fabric was so wild I didn't think I needed to go all out on a really eye-catching shape/design. I debated doing a curved bottomed bag with pleats at the handle join, but I really didn't want to disturb the bold straight lines of the fabric pattern. They remind me of the different coloured lines of the London Tube Map - don't you agree?

Anyhow - I do love a tote bag so after a little cutting, pinning....

...and sewing, I came up with this simple but effective (well, I guess I would say that!) spring tote:

I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I'm not going to pretend that it was a highly technical make - hands up, it wasn't! But in my minds eye I can see some trendy young (probably thin too - bitch) thing with long blonde hair, strappy sandals and a light tan trotting around town with this little gem on a hot day.
This is going straight over to Folksy.... I tentatively suggested to Hubby that it would make a lovely knitting bag, but after the look he shot me I'm guessing that I am supposed to consider this as 'shop stock'! I've still a tonne of the fabric left though, so I certainly intend on making another, slightly more macho (who am I kidding?!) bag for myself.

Finally - a little reminder that I am running a giveaway this week. Check out Monday's post for details - it's dead easy so I want to see you all participating!

More soon

Mother's Ruin xxx