what Claire received for Christmas #2

This is the last batch of photos, to show how spoiled I was this Christmas . . . this time by family. 

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From Lindashee and Mr Lindashee:  Season 7 of my all-time favourite TV series “Call the Midwife”.  It was Lindashee who bought me the first season, a few years ago, and she’s been buying all the new seasons as they come out, for me.  Story (for those who don’t know it) begins in the late 1950s, in London, with each season dedicated to a new year (season 7 takes place in 1963), following the lives of a group of midwives/district nurses.  First class acting, lots of medical goings-ons, and all with the backdrop of London in the late 50s early 60s.  Lindashee also sent me something to keep my hands busy while enjoying some good British drama . . . so many fun ideas of mythical creatures in this book, including a Loch Ness monster which will probably be the first project I tackle.

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From the Viking family, a new baby doll.  She’s a little girl doll, full vinyl, closed eyes and open mouth so she can suck her thumb.  She measures 52cm at the moment.  I’ll be pulling her to pieces sometime this year, making her a cloth body . . . and playing with my new baby doll, who I have called Phoebe.

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From Eldest Son – some yarny supplies.  The pattern is a free pattern by Rowan.  And in the bag: enough King Cole Aran to knit myself this lovely turtle neck sweater. 

Continuing a new family tradition, begun only last year . . . part of Christmas Eve saw us sitting out in the kitchen, while Eldest Son stuck a needle in me over and over again lol.  And I have my second tattoo!

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Another cat head in the same style as the first one.

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So, that was lots of lovely gifts from our three children . . . I bet you’re wondering what I received from the Husband? 

Well, the really BIG present wasn’t actually a surprise.  It was something I saw on ebay way back in October.  The Husband gave me the green light.  The very large box was then hidden away in the cupboard when it arrived and I wasn’t allowed to look until Christmas.

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It’s a very large doll.  Actually from the Masterpiece Gallery, by a German doll maker called Monika Levenig.  This is a “Chantal” doll.  She’s approx 90cm tall (can wear age 3 years clothes) and is a limited edition.  My “Chantal” is n° 11/350 of the European Edition series.

I’ve renamed her Daisy.  She’ll be keeping me company in my sewing room, where I hope to get busy and make some clothes for her.  I think she’s lovely, but everyone else seems to think she’s a bit spooky.  Not to worry.  Anyway . . . the Husband also got busy before xmas and made me a bead necklace

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AND . . . .

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A wooden stand for Daisy.   It’s a recyling job but completely custom-made for Daisy.  She can stand on her own but, with 3 cats charging around the house, it’ll be safer to use the stand. 

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What Claire received for Christmas #1

Happy New Year everyone!  I’m playing catch-up with my xmas-themed posts, and can’t quite believe we’ve just begun another year already!  Were you good in 2018?  I think I must have been, because I was thoroughly spoiled this Christmas!  Some gifts hand-made, some gifts for me to enjoy crafting throughout the coming year, and some gifts  “just because”.

In order not to make this post too photo-heavy, I’ll show you what I received from friends today, and save gifts from family for another day.

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First photos with surprise gifts from blogging friends . . . above, surprises from Stéphanie and Ghislaine:  lots of bookmarks, a little “oh la vache!” key chain from Stéphanie and 2 owl potholders from Ghislaine.

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Handmade decorations from Storm, Annie and Jeanna plus some hand-knitted baby hats & mittens from Mr Lindashee’s Mum.  She didn’t knit them herself, but bought them in a charity shop . . . doesn’t matter!  They were hand-made by some talented knitter in the past and have now found a new home here, where they will much appreciated by my baby dolls.

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Some lovely fabrics, a little chicken, bookmark and stainless steel reindeer, from Andrea, my German friend.  Andrea and I were penpals, then school exchange partners way back (almost 40 years ago now!).  We still keep in touch at Christmas and birthdays.

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Crafting supplies from Avis, also.  A packet of felt, some felt bird embellishments, the most gorgeous printed fabric with a hand-cranked sewing machine . . . and a “Chicken Sampler” cross stitch kit, which is going to be lots of fun to stitch.  Not sure yet whether I’ll stitch chickens all together, like the model, to make a sampler (and maybe turn it into a cushion cover) or to stitch each chicken separately and make some cards. 

being spoiled

I’m a little behind in sharing a few photos with you . . . of some surprises which came in the post.  Postman is always a frequent visitor at this house, as I do a lot of my craft-shopping on-line . . . but recently, 3 parcels arrived for me, that had nothing to do with me spending money lol.  First, and this was just before the end of October . . .

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A lovely hand-stitched card and a packet of special drinking chocolate chunks, from Mummy Viking.  She had wanted to take us to visit the Bean to Bar shop when we visited in September, but it was closed on the Monday we headed to the shops.

Avis, wanted to cheer me up, and help keep my mind off my shingles in October . . . so she sent this

from Avis amigurumi

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Lots of lovely designs inside to inspire me!  And with this book, I now have numbers 1-7 of the Zoomigurumi collection!

And then another surprise package, this time from Lilubelle in France.

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Lilubelle makes the most beautiful jewellery with beads.  Since she enjoys reading about our three hens, she made a little brooch, a cute chick “pin’s” and decorated the front of a notebook, with a very clucky hen and her 2 purple chicks!

So many thanks to all three ladies . . . I thoroughly enjoy being spoiled!

what the husband made

During the nice weather, my husband keeps himself busy, and happy, outdoors working in his veggie patch or doing other “stuff” outside.  During the colder, autumn & winter time, he has other occupations that keep him busy indoors, in his little workshop.  What he enjoys doing is renovating objects, especially wood. 

I was sitting knitting the other evening, cursing & swearing as my ball of yarn rolled off my lap for the umpteenth time . . . then proceeded to continue rolling and unravelling on our tiled floor, getting covered in dog hair in the process . . . and then being chased under the sofa by a cat!  I had tried keeping my ball of yarn in my knitting bag, just pulling gently on the yarn, so it unravelled inside the bag, as I needed.  But then Ducky (also known as “6 kilo of cat” decided the bag made a nice bed.  And you try unravelling yarn in bag when a cat is lying on it!  You can tug all you like, nothing happens.

Anyway . . . my little brain started wandering and I remembered having read about knitters with snazzy yarn holders or yarn bowls.  I googled a few images, to see what they looked like, and was thinking of ordering a yarn holder, seeing it as a necessary gadget rather than a waste of money.  However, when the husband looked over my shoulder, realising I had some interesting objects made in wood on screen, we got to talking about how easy it must be to make one.  Now, I have to add here that the husband doesn’t have a proper woodwork workshop.  He doesn’t have any special tools for furniture making/wood-turning (I think that’s the term?) . . . and seeing the cost of yarn holders on line, we agreed it wasn’t worth the cost of buying any special supplies in, since it would be cheaper to buy one ready-made.  Saying that, the previous owner of this house WAS a professional woodworker, and he left lots of “bits” upstairs in the attic.  When I say “bits”, I mean wood, not tools. 

After a scout around in the attic, getting covered in dust, I unearthed an old round wooden coffee table, and a couple of half-finished wooden knobs.  No idea what the knobs were for. Maybe bedknobs or even feet for furniture.  Whatever . . . the husband had a good look at what I’d found.  Asked a few pertinent questions as to what it was I needed, and set to work.

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And this is what he came up with.  The base was originally the base of a rickety round coffee table.  Then there’s a giant knob.  And the spike, is actually a (broken) piece of rod from an old black powder rifle (the rod originally being used to ram black powder and ammunition down the barrel).

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Husband had understood that the thing needed to swivel on an axe.  So . . . recycling a few metal parts, the underside of base looks like this.  And some adhesive felt to protect furniture.

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The metal rod holding another metal piece in place upon which rests the middle section of the holder.

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And voilà!  I discovered, when using my new yarn holder for the first time, that the husband went to a lot of unnecessary trouble working out the swivel mechanism.  The ball of yarn is so light, it actually swivels on it’s own, when I give a gentle tug on yarn.  But husband doesn’t mind.  He enjoyed the problem solving process and the fact that middle section swivels on the base whether I need it to or not.  So, husband was happy because I gave him an interesting recyling/upcycling job to do.  I’m a happy bunny because it’s exactly what I needed.  Husband is doubly happy because I’m happy . . . and I’ve set him a new challenge, to make me something useful with the round top of the rickety old coffee table! 

ooooh surprise mail!

Don’t you just love it when the postie stops by with a little package and you weren’t expecting anything?  I most certainly do!  Sometimes I recognise the hand-writing on the front.  Sometimes I have to turn over and look for the sender’s name . . . but it’s always really exciting, those few seconds before the package is ripped open.

The other day, I received an un-birthday gift and card from Cathy, aka nanacathy.

from Cathy

The most gorgeous bookmark, made with lace and a lilac ribbon not to mention a tiny pair of scissors on the end.  How appropriate and totally unexpected!

And something else that was totally unexpected . . . Avis had decided to make some blocks in my F2F colourway “just because”.  There are 9 ladies in the F2F swap this season which means we all end up with 27 blocks but with the extra block from Nanette and the 3 surprise blocks from Avis, I now have 31.  Plenty for either one large quilt and a cushion cover, or 2 smaller quilts and cushion cover.

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Here is a close up of each block.

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Avis 2

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My photography is a bit off, I can assure you, blocks are all lovely, and crisp and square.  I had a good chuckle at the grey fabric  . . . can you see, it’s covered in paw prints, awww!

A big warm thank you Cathy and Avis.  You both brought a big smile to my face.

little things . . .

I’ve been listening to the eternal child within me and spending money (on ebay) on a new toy.  Lots of blurb and photos to follow.

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Here’s is my new toy!  A tiny, hand-cranked Singer 20-10.  I couldn’t resist this model, which is literally complete (only thing missing is the original screwdriver) in its wooden case, with clamp, fabric guide, needles and the original manual.  You can read all about the history of Singer toy machines here singer sewing info.  And click on links to see other brands.  You can also find lots of fabulous information about vintage sewing machines if you visit Alex Askaroff on his website Sewalot

Basically, Singer started making toy machines which sewed a chain stitch, in 1910.  The machine needs only an upper thread, and there is a very simple mechanism underneath, with a rotating hook, that catches the loop to make a neat chain stitch on the reverse side of fabric.  Singer’s first toy machine  was a black version, the Singer 20-1, with an oval base. This underwent a few minor modifcations.  Then in 1950, Singer changed the shape of the base to a rectangle.  Other companies copied Singer, with companies like Grain, Essex, Vulcan and the Japanese too, with their model “Lead”.

These machines didn’t have serial numbers, so it’s impossible to date them precisely.  My little one was made in the Singer factory in Bonnières sur Seine, France – I know that for a fact because the clamp has the Simanco number with a B for Bonnières.  It was made anytime from the 1950s to 1970.  The Singer 20-10 came in black or tan, and a few other colours including blue, green, gold and red.  I’m pretty sure mine is a gold version as it’s most definitely not tan.

Anyway, my 20-10 arrived in its little wooden case,Singer 20 02

which has a compartment on one side for the machine, and a smaller compartment for clamp & accessories.  While I gave the machine a very quick clean and oil, my husband gave the case some TLC.  He noticed the wood looked very dark.  We couldn’t decide whether it was blackened by the Singer cabinet makers, or if someone had rubbed it with shoe polish sometime in the past.  We made an executive decision: to restore the case to its natural wood colour, which we could see underneath.   Might have decreased its vintage value by doing that, but I think it looks so much prettier, and more like the Bentwood cases which were made for the adult-sized Singers of its generation.

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I, in the meantime, had been sewing.

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This is the reverse side of the stitching – a very neat chain stitch.  And once I knew it sewed like a dream . . .

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I went ahead and did a mini patchwork project!  Here you can see the neat (and very regular) top stitching.

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The stitches are slightly visible on the front, because the chain actually results in 2 threads for each stitch, but I might be able to make them less visible by twiddling with tension a little.  I was just thrilled to bits that my little Singer 20-10 actually works, and makes such a regular stitch.  It makes a lovely noise too.

To give you an idea of the size . . . here it is, with my other machines.  First with my 1950 Elna Grasshopper, which is a very small (but heavy) portable machine

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With my Silvercrest, a standard sized basic, modern machine.

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And lastly, with my Juki, which is a beautiful, large beast.

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Obviously, I won’t be doing any large sewing projects on my new toy, but I do think it’ll be fun to use it for some clothes making for my reborn dolls.  One last photo for today, to show the machine from the other side.  Such a pretty little thing!

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And a big thank you to my lovely, ever patient, husband, who is always happy to see me happy, and allows me to roam, unsupervised, on ebay lol.

a bit of this & that

Summer officially arrived on 21st June, but we’ve already been enjoying fine weather for a while.  Our spa has been set up in the back garden

summer here

Here it was being filled, but since then, I’ve been enjoying refreshing bubbles late afternoon every day.  I’ve also been doing a bit more cross stitch, with my feet up,  and lots of secret sewing.  Sadly, because of the latter, I realise I don’t have time to make un-birthday gifts this month but hope to have some made for July.

While I won’t be sending any gifts out, I was lucky and received some surprise mail in the post though.  A lovely hand-stitched card from Cathy

from cathy

and a little cross stitch kit, plus hand-made card from Carole.

from Carole

This kit was a free gift with Cross Stitch Crazy, and Carole thought I might like to stitch it (which I do! ).  Seeing that lovely design, spurred me into going on the internet and checking out subscription costs for UK xstitch magazines.  I let my subs run out several years ago because I was stock-piling magazines and not really having time to make the most of all the lovely designs.  However, I did miss the delight of receiving a magazine through the post . . . so I’ve just signed up for a 12 months subscription for Cross Stitch Crazy (so thanks for giving me the idea, Carole). 

Most of my stitching time, of late, has been spent trying to make progress on “Getting Ready” for the SAL.  But I did also finish up a small design.

permin robot

A very cute little robot, kit by Permin.  Three shades of grey, black and a bright green.  I’m thinking I might stitch the design a second time but using three shades of a different colour.  Maybe blue, or pink, or green.  In the meantime, I need to get my thinking cap on and decide how to finish this little fellow.  The Permin kit came with enough aida plus a lining fabric and instructions to make a pouch for mobile phone but I’m not too keen on that idea.