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

Monday, 17 May 2010


I would be the last person the pretend that my little blog has become the central hub of the crafting community! I'm no Amy Butler/Kaffe Fassett/Nicky Epstein type minor celebrity... Nonetheless, I do get a massive amount of enjoyment from my blog and so I decided that it is time that I gave something back to my lovely readers...

If you've been around for a while you may remember that I was gifted a big bag of floral fabric scraps? Well, I think it's only fair that I share my loot! There are 2 each of 9 different fabrics (18 in total) and I've cut them into 5 inch charm squares. Here's a little look:

And a close up:

I don't know an awful lot about these fabrics - although I believe that they were used in a UK factory in the 1970's to make dolls clothes and were removed from the premises shortly before it went out of business.

Here are the squares, all packed up with ribbon and tissue paper and ready to be sent to the lucky winner.....

Shall I put you out of your misery and let you know how you can win?

It's dead easy - all I want you to do is mention/put a link to this giveaway on your own blog and then leave me a comment here to tell me that you've done it and also to share with everyone the thing that you love most about the bloggy world. [For those of you that do not write your own blogs, a comment about what you enjoy most about blogs in general will more than suffice!]

This giveaway will remain open until 12 noon on Thursday 20th May, when a winner will be announced. [Please ensure you leave contact details!]

Best of luck

More soon

Mother's Ruin xxx

Thursday, 13 May 2010


Earlier I mentioned that I'd received a very exciting message via my Folksy account and now I can explain this to you (although one of my readers, 'Odd-Sox', already guessed! Am I being stalked?!).

I have been invited to take part in a series of interviews for Indie Smiles which are to focus on male crafters! Now I'm pretty certain that I've not done anything to warrant such an amazing priviledge - perhaps they've heard about my otherwise pitiful existence and feel sorry for me?! I don't know! I certainly don't think I'm representative of male crafters in general. Nonetheless, I am thrilled to have been included (despite feeling like a little bit of a fraud!) and any opportunity to air my views in public is GREATLY appreciated! One likes to be heard afterall! I'll let you all know when the interview is going live - I'm still in the process of writing my responses to the questions and worryingly (perhaps more so for the readers!) they have asked me to submit a photograph of myself! Hmmmmm - you can imagine the euphoria with which I greeted that particular revelation! Considering that a brief glance in the mirror this morning confirmed that I look like Gordon Brown stepping out of No. 10 on his way to attend a fancy dress party as Regan from The Exorcist, I'm pretty sure that the picture will do nothing to enhance the image of Mother's Ruin!

Nothing very crafty has been happening with me over the last few days. Archie (my little pussy cat) has been very poorly, so I have spent most of my time cooking up special meals for him (I don't DO cooking! Eating is my forte!) but luckily the combination of anti-biotics and freshly cooked cod-loin do seem to be having the desired effect. Less amusing is how Archie has chosen to demonstrate his indignation at being kept inside - this morning he sprayed all over the front door when I refused to open it to his whining demands. A charming little cleaning job that was at 6am, I can assure you!

With little actual crafting to report on, I'm finding that my blogging inspiration is similarly depleted, so I guess I ought to finish here. Unfortunately, I think I could do with a good hard slap at the moment (I daresay Hubby will be first to volunteer, should he read this!). In a matter of days I seem to have lost all focus and succumbed to the suffocating anaesthesia of day-to-day life.... I'm off to shake things up!

Mother's Ruin xxx

Monday, 10 May 2010

Hunting Elephants....

Hello All!

You can imagine my surprise when, having exited the V&A museum, face burrowed in a copy of the 'Quilts' exhibition leaflet, mid convo with hubby, I turned and almost walked directly into one of these beauties! Looking further ahead I saw another.... and then another.......and then another.

Indeed, an entire herd of these wildly painted Asian Elephants have stormed the streets of Central London. They are part of a new campaign by Elephant Family to raise awareness of the plight of this magnificent species. I can't really think of a more wonderful amalgamation - animal charities and art! Two of my own passions! You'd think that these guys would be pretty conspicuous, but oddly enough, with all the hustle and bustle of the city, the elephants almost merge in with their backdrop until you are (quite literally in my case!) right on top of them.

These particular examples have been stationed in and around Covent Garden - but they are all over the place! If you get a chance go and check them out! I love them! Of course, if you can spare a few pennies then use the link above to pop over to the website and make a donation. Hopefully, with enough support we can save these awe-inspiring beasts for future generations to adore and admire.

And now to the 'Quilt' exhibition itself! You'll imagine my dismay when I noticed the short, succinct sentence 'NO PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED' at the bottom of my ticket! So much for sharing my experience with you guys! You'll have to make do with this picture that I took in the museum foyer of a gargantuan installation constructed from what I assume to be either blown glass or acrylic....

(Notice the funky borders that I am now able to put around my images thanks to the new camera I received for my birthday! Whoop!)

The exhibition featured a breath-taking array of quilts, skills and workmanship and truly did place the entire concept of the craft firmly within a historical and sociological context. The exhibition was arranged in five thematic displays - 'the domestic landscape', 'private thoughts/political debates', ' virtue and virtuosity', 'making a living', and 'meeting the past'.

One of the most impressive sights, for me personally, was, in fact, the very first item to be displayed. Upon entering the exhibition area one immediately encounters a four poster bed that is elaborately adorned with patchwork bed hangings made from cotton, linen, fustian and silk. The work is dated from the 1730-1750 period. I've 'borrowed' this close-up image of the patchwork design from the V&A website, but nothing could fully capture the sheer brilliance of the actual item.

I think, perhaps, what is most striking about these bed hangings, aside from the vibrancy of the colours (am I the only one that struggles to visualise previous centuries in anything other than a romanticised sepia, with pastel highlights?!) is the physical form that they took when displayed. So often we see quilts thrown over beds, on the back of armchairs or displayed flat as wall hangings. But here, the pelmets, coverlet and curtains combine to create an almost animated three dimensional form - an entire cube of patchwork. Never before have I seen anything like it - and supposedly we are more advanced these days. The necessary skill inherent in hand-piecing all the individual elements of a quilt like this are, quite simply, phenomenal!  

Multitudinous pieces caught my eye and would be well worth commenting on - if only I had the images to share with you! It did strike me, however, just how many 'alternative' fabrics were used in quilts of old. I understand that every little scrap was valuable and that nothing would, or could, be wasted. I also understand that cotton has fundamental properties that make it an ideal candidate for the job, especially for those just beginning to learn the requisite skills. I just cannot comprehend why modern quilters rarely implement silk in their designs - it is so widely available these days and, if the quilts at the exhibition are anything to go by, it adds a real touch of luxury and splendour to the finished item regardless of the quantity used! I also found it fairly amusing to note on one particular quilt that the Victorians were producing a relatively large-scale leapard print cotton! Logically there is nothing to suggest for a moment that they would not be doing this - it just seemed a) incongrous in a design that largely featured traditional florals, and b) that the desire for animal prints is a thoroughly contemporary stylistic choice (although I recognise now that this is an entirely erroneous supposition!)!!!

Now, regretfully, I am going to wind things up here. The last 48 hours have been something of a nightmare in the Mother's Ruin household. We've had it all - solicitors, sick relatives and, as if to remind me that I could not escape from my troubles by heading into the office, I spent most of Monday morning at the vets with a very poorly pussy cat.

On a happier note - I received an extremely exciting message via my Folksy shop on Saturday. More about THAT soon!

Mother's Ruin xxx

Thursday, 6 May 2010


I'm afraid this is a bit of a jumbled post today! Lots of odds and sods to cover...

First thing to report - I've finished 'Peaches', the crocheted slouchy hat by Kim Hargreaves. I'm pretty pleased with it, although I didn't quite understand the final round which (it would seem from the photographs in the book) finishes the hat off with a picot style edging. After trying a few times, I gave up. I don't think it makes too much difference to the overall aesthetic of the finished piece! Photo's will follow when I have a suitable model!

Speaking of photo's (and leading into my newest project) I am going to apologise (I always seem to be apologising for my pictures!) for the grainy quality of the following images. They were taken on my Blackberry at around midnight yesterday evening - an unsuitable method that I should not have to endure much longer (more about this in a mo!).

My Mother-in-Law runs a low-key fibre studio in the Highlands of Scotland (many of you will already know this if you have followed me from the old blog!). You can check her out here. Anyhow - a few months back she had a shawl pattern published in 'Inside Crochet' Magazine. The pattern is dead simple, but makes really effective use of the marled, tweedy handspun yarns that she usually produces. Since Hubby is also a bit of a wizard with a spinning wheel, I too have an obscene amount of handspun yarn in gorgeous earth tones that is threatening to get a mortgage and move out on its own if I don't start using some of it up! Here are the pics of the shawl from the magazine:

Laid out flat, the shawl is just a simple square with edging:

And here is the start of my own in some rusty brown handspun merino on an 8mm hook:

God - the pictures are so uninspiring, aren't they?! Luckily, tomorrow is my birthday and Hubby assures me that he has got me a new camera for my prezzie! Fingers crossed it's a good'un and then I can kiss goodbye to washed-out, unfocused, grainy images from my BB on the blog!

Finally  - as it is my birthday, I've decided to take the day off of work and I am pleased to report that I have been able to re-schedule the visit to the 'Quilt' exhibition at the V&A museum. Armed with my new camera, a jotter pad and a freshly sharpened pencil, I'm hoping to be able to get loads of good information for a really informative blog post for you all next week.

Stay with me guys!

Mother's Ruin xxx

BTW - Just noticed this news article. Check out the link. A sad day for hand knitting.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


So.... A dear, dear friend of mine has just told me that she's fallen pregnant and, in this revelation, she has given me two wonderful gifts!

I will, of course, now be the obligitory gay 'Uncle' whose main responsibilities are, as of the last time I checked the job description, to perform a lot of 'ooh's and 'ah's, dress the baby in ridiculously inappropriate (though cute) outfits and take them on exciting days out which culminate in a fever of hyperactivity at just about the moment they are due to be dropped back at home. At least - that's what I intend to do...... This is the gift of involvement, of having a role in that young life.

The second, and most relevant to this blog, gift that she has given me is that of the opportunity to make clothes, quilts, blankets and toys in preparation for Bubba's arrival. I have never before been lucky enough to experience somebody close to me having a baby, so I enter into the 'crafting for baby' arena with both excitement and trepidation. Of course, the fact that knitting for a new baby is a perfect way to help use up all of the odd skeins that I've mentioned previously is a massive boon! I don't believe I have anything in the traditional lemon yellow though, and my friend is adamant that she will not find out the gender in advance! It's probably a good thing that I will be forced to use a more contemporary unisex colour palette.... Come on Mother's Ruin - try to be at least a little creative!

After a little looking around I've come up with a few project ideas. What do you think?

This is the 'Connemara Pony' from Interweave, designed by Kathryn Martin and Evelyn Zlomke.

The Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman (like, who doesn't knit one of these eventually?!)

And finally - the 'Charm Squares Baby Quilt' from 'Oh Fransson'

These are kinda my top three - do you have any 'must-have' baby projects?

More soon

Mother's Ruin xxx

Saturday, 1 May 2010

The Knitter

Sounds like a John Grisham novel doesn't it?!

But no - this is not fiction, I'm afraid! (That said - a serialised short story could be a jolly good weekly post, couldn't it?! Not that I'm claiming to be any good  at writing fiction, you understand, but.....well.... if you've stuck around this long....!)

Of course, those of you living in the UK (I'm assuming its not available elsewhere?) will probably know that I am referring to this, which actually arrived at my door week or so ago:

Now, I am not good at reviewing things. Really, I can't. I find it very difficult to be objective and I, as everybody else does, have my own agenda. However, I really must urge you all to try this magazine - especially if you knit a lot of garments for women. The patterns are aimed at advanced knitters so if you're new to the craft don't try this first! In actual fact, in the interests of remaining balanced, it is worth noting that 'The Knitter' is so aimed at advanced practitioners that the tone can sometimes seem somewhat condescending towards those that may need additional help or advice. Despite this, there are rarely patterns in here that you wouldn't want to knit.

Personally, I adore the animal print sweater from the cover this month:

Obviously (much as I may hope to the contrary) I cannot pull off a sweater like this! Nonetheless, I am seriously thinking of using the chart to knit myself a scarf in the same print - funky, huh?! That said, I've never tried colourwork knitting before (a fact that, I'm sure, would cause 'The Knitter's editor to sneer scornfully) but I think this could be a good first project.

I also love this cardigan and can think of numerous friends that it would suit perfectly!

The picture isn't too clear here (sorry!) but there is the most amazing lace pattern along the bottom edge than grows out of the body of the cardigan almost organically...

I quite like the speed and ease of everyday accessories but, unfortunately, these are not featured as often in 'The Knitter' which, I think, results in some specific limitations to the magazine. This is not a title that you would pick up for inspiration for a quick project - these babies require some serious pre-planning and (sometimes) shopping. 

 They always have beautiful (and technically precocious) lace shawls/wraps and, I am pleased to report, almost every issue has at least one pattern for men. Alas (and I'm sure they did it just to spite me!) - this months was yet ANOTHER dreaded cabled cardi in beige.

One more....just one more.....that's all it will take to send me to the nut-house......

More soon

A cable-free Mother's Ruin.....  xxx