Sunday, 20 April 2014

❡ bluebell slumber ❡

One day soon I will show you the true extent of the building work and upheaval that is going on behind the hedge. It is a case of 'you can't make omelette without breaking eggs' and the eggs are well and truly broken. But the omelette is on it's way. If you think I am writing in riddles then you are correct because I have let almost a years worth of builders and living out of boxes and complete disarray finally get to me. I am living in riddles. What this does is make me almost insanely pernickety about the tiniest of details. Rather than look at all that is left to do and all that I have to organise I decide that now is the time I wish to sew pillowcases. Perfectly. I don't even sew that much. I did a meadow's worth of bunting for Daughter Number One's wedding in a field. I hem things and fix things and sometimes I sew books or into paper but I find myself drawn to the sewing machine now. I want to make dresses and bags and curtains but I thought I ought to start with squares and straight edges. You know? Try and contain some order I guess.
In the eye of the storm when I was supposed to be condensing a home's contents into 2 rooms I dug out my Singer and found a corner on the landing and sewed these from some thriving and energetic fabric from Cape Town. 
Even non sewers have fabric stashes for One Day. Don't they?
I put together a little 'how to'. Because I have got all the time in the world  a strange urge to keep blogging when all around me is unchartered and unfathomable. I think it is because blogs can make life look beautiful and ordered when the rubble, noise and disruption become overwhelming. People live in war zones and I'm fretting about dust. I feel stupid.
Looking at fabric makes things feel better, look at this amazing design. It's like torches shining a light through the night. Or dandelion seeds or pencil points or flags. 
This was the other choice. The cloth is from South Africa but this one is reminiscent of Indian paisley. But very African on closer inspection. 
This fabric was particularly narrow so I cut a long strip 182cms by 56cms. You could cut two pieces to save on waste, making one of them 21cms longer to make the pillow flap. I don't want to confuse you though if you want to make them for the first time. I think sometimes you have to dive in and learn from the first one you make then you can adapt to the fabric you have. I always get the iron out as well as the sewing machine. They partner up well to point you towards a neat finish. I ironed myself a hem either end and then sewed them without pins which would more than likely give a true seamstress the vapours.
Here's a pic of the old Singer who has lived with us for 20 years now, she was an antique when I got her. Still limping on. Just like me. The wiring would be condemned now so don't tell the sewing stewards.  
A neat hem and I'm happy, all is right with the world again.
I've got a terrible habit of working in inches AND centimetres which is a default of my generation. The young middle aged. Once you've made your hems, on one of the hemmed ends turn in 8 inches or 21 cms and pin or iron flat. 
Then you bring the two short ends together (right sides facing) and sew all the way round leaving the flap end open. Then using your bone folder or a pointy thingummy poke all of your corners out and press well. Then finish it all off with some fat border hems on the right side to make them look like they were made in a French designer's garret. And if all of that made no sense at all I made a diagram which I enjoyed more than making the pillowcases but not as much as I am going to enjoy waking up to these patterns next to my face. 

Sorry for the volume of pillow images but 3,483 images of rubble and dust and cardboard boxes cannot be made to look even vaguely lifestyle bloggy.

Then just as I think everything is under control I find myself avoiding builders, general blokeyness and decisions and swishing to the woods and lying down among the bluebells  trying to capture their particular essential bluebellness and failing. But not really caring.
OH dear bloggers, what will become of me?

Sunday, 6 April 2014


This past week was National Stationery Week and I had the complete luxury and pleasure of visiting The London Stationery Show. It was at the Islington Design Centre and was a real treat for me. Ever since my nan lived in a road that had a WHSmith at the end of it (you know when it used to be filled with proper stationery and books and mags back in the day, if anyone wants to know why it has gone wrong, see me after class) ever since then I have been a stationery glutton. A fiend for fine papers, pens and all things desky.

The London Stationery Show was as expected, very marvellously practical and beautiful. Just as William Morris suggests. 
"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” 
The show was full of those very things.
As well as seeing marvellous displays from all of all time faves like Moleskine and Scotch Tape and Post Its and the exhilaration of chatting to fellow enthusiasts there were some hyperventilation moments like when I got given a whole bag of samples to try from PLUS Japan. I was a bit too shy to get my camera out whilst I was strolling from stand to stand. I need a pal to drag along for added bravado. Anyone want to come next year?
Here's a round up of my happy stationery show moments. 
A pencil, yep, just a pencil but it feels soooo good, it has a weightiness to it and it glides over paper. The rubber works too. It's heavenly. It's a Palomino Blackwing. What a tremendous name? I was very kindly given a sample and the place to buy these top of the range pencils as well as loads of other quite delectable desk items is from here.
A stunning array of stationery without breaking the bank AND my personal seal the deal of any internet shopping. FREE DELIVERY. Toot toot. I'm going to have a whole box of them. They are so nice and sketchy.

Another discovery was the Fold Ease. A finger thimble with rollers on. For the bookbinders among you, it's a bone folder for your finger.
Check me out.
They call me Bone Fingers. Anyway, after a bit of practice as it takes some getting used to, these are quite useful little folders. You simply sweep the paper with them and you obtain a precision crease which will appeal to the perfectionists. Even if you only buy one to fold your letters with. It keeps the costs down in the Royal Mail if you keep your papers folded flat as poss. These dudes come in two sizes, there's a gap for your nail if you have talons and they are only £2.99 with free postage if you buy a couple. Fold Ease from here 
From Plus Japan  I got a whole bag of booty. they were so sweet and generous. This roller stamp which miraculously produces perfect prints every time with a variety in detail. This pen that produces a washi tape strip
My bag of swag and a whole host of paraphernalia 
I'm narrowing it all down to a palatable blog post so haven't included everything. It was a great way to spend the afternoon, I got loads of contacts, met some of the people from various companies that I already use and lots of ideas and new approaches. It was all very pleasant and interesting. I'm already excited about next year. 
If you like all this, you'll love this and I want to buy this and next week I am going to tell you all about this fabric pile of divineness.
and I'm still practising my lettering, finding a way through breaking the rules and into something that feels comfortable for me to use. And something that feels like mine despite the myriad of lettering influence that is everywhere.

Have a great week ahead, whatever you are up to.
Spring is here, it is a relief to hear the birds and feel the sun.

"Apricity" is an old word from the 1600s, 
it means to feel the sun's warmth on a winter's day.