animals · sewaholic · sewing · travels

Long time no blog

Hey gang!
It’s in fact exactly 2 months today since my last blog post although I imagine I’ll be posting this in a couple of days.
I’ve been doing a lot of sewing but I haven’t been writing about it in fact I still have some pieces from 2015 to blog about, a large issue for me has been getting decent photos!!

I went a bit mad recently and decided the best way to really crack on with sewing is to cut out millions of  patterns at once and have them all piled up and then just smash my way through them.
I managed to convince my other half let me have the sewing machine downstairs but eventually ended up having most of the craft room downstairs, then once I was done with something (which wasn’t very often) I would take it and just dump it in the craft room.

This meant that the craft room got destroyed quite quickly and is now a complete state! 
it also meant that I had a big pile of sewing staring at me every night and I felt guilty if I wasn’t sewing, now that I’ve made it pretty much through my pile I’ve put a stop to that and will be cleaning up the craft room and making it a little bit more of an end zone again full stop
I even didn’t finish some projects, I didn’t finish my Lilou toille because I ran out of time before I wanted to have my final version and I also didn’t finish a Bettine because I needed to crack on with my Lilou! My Cambie toille is half done because again I ran out of time and had to crack on with the final version!

So my current plan is to not start anything new until all my half finished projects are done because I actually have a project from last year that I started and didn’t finish and I have a couple of previous projects that need fixing in some way and all of these UFOs are making me sad (and feel like a very naughty sewer)!

The Cambie I was making was for the most wonderful event I attended the previous weekend, I went to the wedding of Gabby Young and Steven Ellis in Preston, Kent. Rhiannon, Elle and I all made Cambies which was so fun. It really highlighted how unique every garment is as all 3 of ours were very different!

(Photo inspired by Elle!)

We had a lovely time at the wedding and Gabbys dress was seriously beautiful! She’d made all of her bridesmaids dresses and they were lovely, in fact the first thing we did when we got there was ooooo at a bridesmaid haha!

Gabby has only just returned from her honeymoon but I know she will be writing at length about her crafty wedding on her blog which you can find here, Living on a Shoestring.

I did also manage to squeeze in a quick visit to a zoo, turns out there’s a nice little zoo just outside Canterbury called Wingham Wildlife Park, which had a few nice birds and quite a few big cats amongst others! Here’s a few of my favourite snaps 🙂

Sorry for such a wordy post gang! I’ll be back with some exciting news next then hopefully crafty makes after!

Hoping spring has infected you all with happy crafty dreams!
sewing · travels

Sew Brum

Hi there!

Whoops it’s been a few weeks since Sewbrum, I’ve just started a new job and I’m slowly getting used to not working shifts anymore, I work ‘normal’ people hours for the first time ever now so I tend to spend my free time with the mister instead of lounging in front of my laptop now! It’s also harder to get photos done in the evenings, so these new hours really are a work in progress!

So this was my first ever meet up, I don’t have any sewing friends IRL so I went on my lonely todd but I’d always heard that the sewing community is the nicest ever, and they really are!

At first I bounced from people to people just saying hello and instantly forgetting everyone’s names in my awkwardly nervous panic. After a while I ended up latching onto a girl who I thought said her name was Bill, actually it was Elle, but to me she was Bill for the rest of the day and I ended up being Ted.

I wore my newest make, simplicity 6180 (which may or may not get blogged by the end of the year…) and got lots of compliments on it which was lovely 🙂

When we went to Barry’s it blew my mind, who knew you could get such huuuuuge fabric shops! I spent the first twenty minutes wandering around in a daze, but I did find some nipple fabric. You heard me, it was fabric covered in nipples. The best thing was it came in 4 different skin tones, amazing.

I am now slightly regretting not getting any nipple fabric but I did pick up some cotton for a Christmas dress and some tartan fabric for the mini skirt of my teenage dreams.

After living through the never ending queues of Barry’s (there was around 60 sewers buying fabric at the same time!) We went through the market again to see if legends of a liberty stand were true and whilst we weren’t 100% convinced it was legit, Bill got a lovely piece!

After that it was onwards to Gurthie & Ghani, we got there quite late so missed out on the goodie bags but wowwww it’s such a pretty shop!! I’m very sad it’s so far away!

I eyed up some different fabrics in the shop and was gutted to see my dream Christmas dress fabric there after I’d already bought some! I was also drooling over some sweatshirt knit, I even double checked to see how much I’d need for a Jasper hoodie but I thought it’d break the bank a wee bit.

The upstairs in the shop was absolutely teeming with people, all of us talking about sewing, it was a dream! 

You can see the crowds in the photo above! Everyone bought tickets for the take and I was super excited to win a book!

It’s ‘Stylish Party Dresses’ by Yoshiko Tsukiori; there’s some lovely patterns in it and I’m hoping to make something from it next year!

I’d brought some patterns for the swap and I managed to nab some fabric for myself too!

My other half is convinced gingham is only for tablecloths! I am determined to prove him wrong!

Before we left I knew I absolutely had to buy SOMETHING there, and luckily I found this beautiful fabric with flamingos, it’s a polyester viscose and I’m hoping to break my cotton addiction with this!

Unfortunately everyone I’d been chatting with so far had to go so I caught the bus back into town on my lonesome but ended up chatting to three other ladies from Sewbrum and they invited me to get some food with them as we all had quite a while till our trains.

The day was so lovely and when I got on the train home I felt overwhelmed with everybody’s friendly positive attitudes.

Since Sewbrum I’ve actually ended up buying not only the Xmas fabric I saw but also some sweatshirt knit from girlcharlee which I plan to use for a seamwork Astoria!


Poland Trip

The week after my birthday the other half and I went for a few days to Warsaw, in Poland.

Be warned, this is basically a bit of a lengthy post about how awesome Warsaw is!!

We went for a summer visit as Gary hadn’t been to Warsaw in the summer, and so I could see some family too.

We rented an apartment right in the old town which was wonderful! If you don’t know about Warsaw’s Old Town it’s so beautiful, it’s one of my favourite places in the world. It dates back to the 13th century, and is a collection of small and large squares, and features the Royal Castle. The entire area was bombed entirely to smithereens during WWII, but instead of giving up on the area the people of Warsaw entirely rebuilt it as it looked before the war. 

The photo below shows the main square, with the Royal Castle on the right.

The emblem of Warsaw is a mermaid with a sword and shield, and there is a famous statue of her right in the centre of the market square. Poland loves a statue, they are everywhere, and they are all beautiful, this is definitely one of my favourites though!!

Another great thing about the old town is that there isn’t many pigeons, that actually to me isnt a great thing as I love a pigeon, but their replacement is so much cuter…

Lots of the restaurants and cafes there have tables outside, and when you sit there, you get visited, by sparrows!

Of course the whole time we were there we acted like massively obvious tourists and fed the sparrows every chance we got!

I took Gary to Lazenki Gardens when we were there, they are a huge park in the city and feature the palace on the water in the centre. As I’d been a few times before I didn’t take many photos of the obvious parts (theres also a beautiful huge Chopin statue there), but I did take many many photos of my favourite feature of the park…

The red squirrels! 

There’s a large number that live in the park and they are fairly tame, people come and feed them nuts throughout the year and its pretty gosh darn exciting having a squirrel come beg from you.

We decided to do something ~*super*~ crazy whist we were there and we booked a session at a freakin’ firing range!! For any Americans reading this, that sentance probably didn’t mean much to you but as a Brit it’s kinda crazy!

We found this place through TripAdvisor, and it was megaaaaaa! We got to shoot a few different guns; a pistol, a glock, a revolver, AK47, semi-automatic rifle and a double barrelled shot gun!

I was pretty nervous about doing it as I don’t personally think there’s anything super cool about guns and to me they represent danger but I was up for going out of my comfort zone.

I was definitely cacking myself the entire time, and had to have a lot help from the guy at the range but I’m glad I did it! Another positive was that 3 young Polish guys that were there seemed to assume I’d be rubbish as I was a girl but ended up looking fairly impressed, woohoo!

We also went to the zoo which is a bit of a tradition for me, when I first went about 10 years ago I wasn’t very impressed but the zoo has come on leaps and bounds since then and their new buildings easily rival those built in the UK.

I took Gary to the Warsaw University Library as well, sounds like a rubbish place to visit but the building is amaaaazing. It has a whole garden on the roof, and it goes all up the sides of the building on every side. There’s lots of bits to walk through and you can see into the library through huge windows whilst you’re walking around.

Finally we managed to see some of my Polish peeps, we had dinner with my friend Justyna who I haven’t seen for a few years now, and I took Gary to meet my great aunt who doesn’t speak any English, so that was fun for Gary! Luckily my cousins were there so they kept him occupied. It was the first time I’d seen my great aunt since I first started crafting and we spent a lovely half an hour just talking about wool, and she taught me Tunisian crochet too. I don’t get to see my extended family much, so that time was very precious to me.

Of course Poland is the land of Vodka and we partook of a lot of vodka. On our last night we went to my cousins flat and her two brothers came over. My cousin and I managed to polish off two bottles of Zubrowka and then we made the fatal mistake of starting some Martini…. Suffice to say my trip home the next day was nothing less than horrific.

Finally of course there was a small amount of craft related activities. I’d struggled to find any fabric shops which I couldn’t really understand till I realised I’d been calling fabric ‘material’ which doesn’t refer to fabric in Polish at all. 
I managed to trick the other half into a visit to one fabric store, it was an outlet type store which had lots of random fabrics on hangers, and a room with full bolts. I ended up getting an African style print cotton which wasn’t massive but I thought I’d be able to squeeze a skirt out of it, results of this will be up soon….

craft shops · travels

Crafty Bruges

Har har har this trip happened about 2 months ago, I need to get better at this!

Before we went to Bruges I asked on Trip Advisor if there were any craft shops in Bruges, and I was told there are 4; 2 of a chain called Veritas, one needle work shop and one sewing shop.

On the first day we went past a Veritas but looking inside I could only see women’s RTW clothing.

We found the needlework store by chance, it had a huge range of cross stitch and tapestry kits along with all the equipment and supplies you could need.

FYI, in Bruges at least (maybe all of Belgium?), you can take a million photos of peoples houses but take a photo in a shop and people freak out! So in all the shops I visited I wasn’t able to take any photos, but I did manage to take some photos of their window displays (when I was feeling daring!).

We went to the sewing shop one morning (it was open 9:30-12:15 3 days a week!) which was called  ‘t Naaimandeke or ‘The little sewing basket’ (super cute name!). When we got there the shop front was all about tights and underwear for the more mature ladies, seriously it was weird. We ventured in and the front of the shop was mostly underwear etc but at the back they had a large amount of New Look patterns but sadly this shop only had some aida and some lining fabrics.

By this point I was really losing the will, I’d really loved the idea of getting me some fabric in Bruges but it looked like it wasn’t going to happen.

In an act of desperation we returned to Veritas & asked a lady there if they did anything for sewing and she sent us upstairs, we went through the clothes and tights (I kid you not) then upstairs where I suddenly found my very own Belgian crafty Mecca.

One of the first things I saw was a great display of a mannequin wearing a handmade dress, she was sitting at a sewing table. It was so cute!! In front of this table was Tillys book in Dutch. I promptly asked the mister to take a photo of me with it but we were promptly told off & it was not to be!!

As I couldn’t take any photos myself I found some on the interwebs of the Bruges store.

One of the displays

They do classes too!!

Other than the photo debacle the staff proved to be super friendly & quite knowledgeable.
The variety of notions on offer was great. Most of the brands on offer was Prymm but they also had their own brand.
There was around 40-50 fabrics on offer, mostly woven cottons but also some knits,courdroys and lighter fabrics like rayons.
I was really tempted by some Rowan polka dot cotton, it was Green with navy polka dots but the mister was not keen on more polka dots in the wardrobe. I eventually picked up a super cute parrot fabric, I even got an extra half a metre for free as it was the end of the roll (is there anything better than when that happens??)

I’ve decided to make a shirt dress with the fabric, New Look 6180, although I think I will test the pattern with my green striped seersucker first as the parrot fabric is officially super precious now!

On our last day in Bruges I managed to convince the other half that we should visit the lace museum. The museum is outside of the town centre down a cute lane (ok all the lanes there are cute!) and whilst it’s located in quite a large building the museum itself is pretty small. 

This was a room full of lots of vintage lace making pillows. 

The room after has a video to watch all about the known history of lace, how it’s made and some cultural aspects too. There are some beautiful old pieces of lace and even a computer programme where you can try out lace making. In the last room there was a video about the two legends of how lace was first created, they are both insane myths but the videos were made using wonderful stop motion animation which I loved.

I went into the museum not really caring about or that interested in lace and left feeling inspired and kind of in awe of what is an amazing craft, possibly one of the oldest crafts and that is now dying out rapidly.

On our way back into town i spotted a window display that made me squee with delight as there were some beautiful crochet decorations using Attic 24s designs. I sent her these photos on Facebook and she said “WOWsers, that is wonderful and has given me a bit of an emotional feeling, thank you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx” Which made me feel ridiculously happy inside!


Beautiful Bruges

We just went on a long weekend to Bruges in Belgium, a place we only found out existed thanks to the sterling movie In Bruges with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson; seriously, if you haven’t seen this movie before, go watch it right now!

Apparently I grew up on a farm, because I loved Bruges ha!

Ok, Bruges, it’s soooo beautiful!! It’s a medieval town with wonderful architecture, I was so excited by it all even on the walk from the station to the hotel! 

There are three things you see a heck of a lot of in Bruges; Beer, Chocolate and Lace!

Somehow we managed to miss eating any chocolate but did manage to eat a lot of waffles!

There were a couple of art exhibitions on that we went to see, a Dali one and a Picasso one. We weren’t that keen on the Dali one, but the Picasso one was better, and had pieces by other artists too.

Everywhere you walk in Bruges is so beautiful! We did all the touristy things, a boat tour brewery tour, up the belfry (I only made it about halfway up!).

There are some great restaurants there, and if you like beer you will be in heaven! Sadly I don’t, but we managed to find the only bar that did spiced rum! I mostly drank vodka otherwise, although I started drinking wine too (this is a crazy thing to me!).

The above photo was at a great restaurant called #food, the guy running it made us these beautiful vodkas with home-made lemonade, they were a bit too good!
On the first evening there, after a gorgeous meal at a posh Italian restaurant, we went for a wander through the streets of Bruges, we found an open air concert…

And after that we found a beautiful bridge which was all lit up, with a tree hanging over the top, and whilst we were admiring it, I got the best surprise of my life, when my other half proposed! 

crochet · embroidery · travels

Spring Knitting and Stitching Show

So I mentioned before that I won a couple of tickets to the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show from Winnie at The Scruffy Badger. I was super stoked and invited my friend Estelle to come along.

I’d never been to any kind of craft show before but I’d read reviews on blogs of shows like Unravel and Yarndale where there was a lot of interaction between stallholders and visitors.

Walking in we found it quite overwhelming and we didn’t know where to start, so we decided to try to zigzag round the stalls and then go back to ones we wanted to buy things from.

 I was surprised at the amount of random crap stalls there were, selling things like soup makers and vibrating bed things, I had kinda expected to see more independent companies and more interaction.

That’s not to say there weren’t some wonderful stalls there, and some great displays.

The above two photos are of course from the Best in Show books company, I’ve actually got one of the books, it was a gift from a friend as it has a wire-hair dachshund in it, but I really cant knit very well, maybe one day!

Both of the above were from a knitted farm competition which was really cute.

The above photo is from the Toft crochet jungle project, there was a large number of chairs underneath where people were crocheting to add bits to it.

I loved this stall which was a beautiful modern take on tapestry, if they had had any of Brighton or Warsaw I’d have definitely considered buying one.

This was the stall of Sincerely Louise Who’s work I saw in Mollie Makes recently, I was also seriously tempted by one of these however again as my knitting skills are seriously lacking it’d be a bit of a dud! Also my other half isn’t convinced of the awesomeness of crafty taxidermy. 

Finally there was a mini full of sewing machines!!

This is my hoard from the day, 2 lots of fabric, a new tool and a brooch from MIY Workshop, a bracelet, and these 3 patterns. 

The MIY Workshop stall was one of the friendlier ones, however it was only after we left I realised they are based in my hometown of Brighton! I am pet sitting for my mum in a couple of months so I may have to head over there then.

After reading Jenna’s post about her visit (read it here) I think we made a mistake by not signing up to any of the workshops or classes, whilst I’m not in a rush to go to one of these shows again soon, I may do in the future.
animals · travels

Trip to London Zoo

I’ve just had a lovely week off and I kicked it off with a trip to London Zoo with a group of friends. I hadn’t been for about 7 years and it was a great excuse to meet up with all my friends that have moved to the capital.

I was lucky enough to have my friend leave me and my partner some tickets at the front desk. I was shocked by how expensive the tickets were, I know it’s in London but they were almost £30!
Luckily we managed to while away over 5 hours there so everyone got their money’s worth.

We didn’t get around to seeing any of the displays or talks, if there had been a falconry display I think I’d have gotten us all to watch it but otherwise we weren’t too fussed.

There were some young Humboldt Penguins which were super cute, of course there was a wild Grey heron hanging about the penguin pool too.

The butterfly house was brilliant and we spent quite a long time in there, the chrysalis’ were beautiful too, especially the one below which really did look like silver, however the volunteer who was working there wasn’t able to tell us what species this was.

Beautiful Sunbittern

I hadn’t been to London Zoo for about 7 years, not much had changed overall but they have some nice critters in amongst all the usual ones. The main reason I wanted to visit London Zoo though was because they had recently welcomed a new animal into the fold, a Chinese Giant Salamander. I love me a weird creature (I did my dissertation on Aye-ayes) and these guys are pretty weird, and pretty freakin’ awesome. Just to top it all off, this guy is called PROFESSOR WU. Truly awesome name. 

Of course he didn’t dissapoint, when we got to his tank he was hiding his big ass face away from us…

But of course as soon as he heard that we’d come just to see him (my friends were not aware of this) he turned round to say hi.

I was pretty happy…

The one other major species I was looking forward to seeing was the zoo’s pair of Aye-ayes, however when we got to them they were no longer there, the house had been turned into a fruit bat enclosure, I hope they’re just off show now, and they haven’t ‘gone to a farm’ like my friends suggested…

Anyway, all in all it was a good day out, I definitely wouldn’t put London in my top 10 of zoos but its the only place in the UK to see a giant salamander!!