Wednesday, 30 November 2011

If I still worked in the public sector I'd be on strike today

Many, many years ago I worked for the local council. Worked very hard too, in a front-line service. There was a time, when we'd had our conditions and pay squeezed time and time again that I went on strike. For over four months. We didn't win the battle but I'd do it all again because we did it for all the right reasons. I just read this piece by Frances O'Grady in The Guardian and thought I'd share it with you. In solidarity.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Due South

I just posted on the Crafty Muthas site again. Busy getting prepared for another craft fayre in lovely South Birmingham, in the suburb where I spent some of my very early years and from where my beloved hails. It's Kings Heath of course.

Me and Ceri will be representing (I get all street when I'm in 'mutha' mode) this Saturday 26th November at the All Saints Craft Fayre in the All Saints Community Hall, 2 Vicarage Road, B14 7AA.  It's on from 10.00am until 2ish.

As well as all the handmade goodies there will be seasonal refreshments, free mince pies (they're mine, all mine), a prize draw and entertainment by the Moseley Village Band.

Hope to see you there. Please tell your friends. Thank you and Goodnight. I've got Masterchef to watch!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Crafty Ranty

It's currently all happening over on the Crafty Muthas blog. I've been hanging out there for a week or two as we've all been posting about our makes for Saturday's Bearwood Handmade. Please take a look and of course, if you're local, I hope to see you there.

I've also been furiously sewing (I don't think that's even possible, embroidery being the most relaxing, calming thing ever) for a whole raft of upcoming craft fairs elsewhere. On Sunday, you'll find me in Newcastle under Lyme at Staffordshire Handmade again. 

So please, if you're celebrating Christmas this year and you're in need of gifts, buy handmade where you can and support local creatives instead of lining the pockets of greedy shareholders peddling tat. And don't even get me started on big companies totally destroying classic songs for cheesy Christmas ad campaigns....I'm getting furious now because I'm busy and stressed. Time for more sewing. All will be calm again by Saturday morning.  

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A Fine Romance

My old friends, Mark and Helen, got married in October. We had a lovely day at Birmingham's Fazeley Studios (stunning venue) and there was a bit of a handmade element to the day - amazing cake by my good friend and Crafty Mutha, Rachel, flowers were casually but artfully arranged in vintage vases by Helen's 'knit club' friends, silk hankies were made for the groom and his main men by best gal Zoe and even I got in on the act - making teacup candles for the tables. 

Photos by Lorna Rose

I'd been thinking for ages about presents for the happy couple. The first part was easy enough actually. Mark has long admired some prints I have above my fireplace by artist Sophie Blackall. They're from her Missed Connections series. I saw them on Etsy a few years ago and my mate Nat was sweet enough to give me three for my 40th birthday. I love her imaginative drawings and her colour palette but most of all I love the story telling quality of each picture. I chose this one for Mark and Helen because in it, there was the tiniest suggestion of them. I can almost picture their heads on top of the shirts.

Floral Jacket by Sophie Blackall from Etsy

Of course, I had to make them something too. I had been wondering what, but then on Helen's hen weekend (yep, we had a whole weekend in a tipi at Ash End House Farm in Tanworth-in-Arden) a sort of 'Mr and Mrs' quiz had been arranged. One of the last questions was "What celebrity couple does Mark think you're most like?" Drunken cacklers shouted 'Posh and Becks' and 'Brangelina' but we were way off. Helen failed to guess, but Mark's answer had been 'Laurel and Hardy'. I thought it was the sweetest, most appropriate answer anyone could have come up with, because they're such a sweet and funny couple.

So I had my theme, but what to do with it. When the idea came to me I was both pleased and relieved. Of course, a hoop was involved. And embroidery. I googled the famous duo to find a suitable image to trace. I thought this recognisable pose would work well for a silhouette. Then I re-traced it and added the words. Then re-traced it again onto muslin and just stitched it using tiny stitches and fine thread. It just worked straight away. The quote I used is a famous one but actually a mis-quote. Turns out Ollie actually said "nice mess" not "fine mess" but I like the look and sound of 'fine' more. So there.


At the reception, Mark revealed he'd had a secret tattoo done a couple of days earlier, so that he'd always have Helen close to his heart. The guests whooped with joy and laughter when he opened his shirt to Helen's amazement. And best man, Andy, had captured this awesome photo of the tat that morning. Only thing is, looking at this, I think maybe Posh and (definitely) Becks is a more appropriate comparison now! Looking good my friend. Looking good.

Photo by Andy Conway

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

I would go out tonight but I haven't got a stitch to wear

I'm stitching another one of these at the moment....they're proving very popular. I'm not sure if people just love The Smiths, or whether they do in fact have nothing to wear. I'm pretty sure it's a combination of the two. Actually, I think most people do have a 'stitch', it's just they're always finding new excuses to buy a fresh outfit.

Well, not me. Financial constraints and a general dislike of big shopping malls mean that when it comes to kitting myself out for big occasions and nights out, I just borrow clothes. I know. You've heard about borrowing, surely? We do borrowing really well round here actually. Just recently friends have popped round to borrow eggs, sugar, syrup, food colouring, vanilla, (it was different people, not just a neighbour making a cake with the contents of my kitchen) toys and pins. I have a sewing machine here on pretty much permanent loan (thanks Rach) and now, plenty of people willing to lend me the shirts off their backs so that I can look presentable at parties.

I've borrowed dresses for the last four weddings I've attended. I literally had nine dresses to choose from last time. It was like a remake of Pretty Woman in my bedroom. (With a shorter, heavier and less smiley woman) And people have offered shoes, bags, jewellery, wraps and coats too. My friends are so generous and I'm obviously not afraid to ask. I also like to think that the clothes are happy too. I don't want to anthropomorphise individual items of clothing, (I probably do) but if you think of all the work that goes into creating and selling a dress for instance. The design, making the materials, making the dress, shipping, packaging, selling - all the people and processes it goes through. Then we wear it once or twice and hang it in the wardrobe until the next clear out. The dress deserves better.

So if anyone has a big occasion coming up and needs anything to wear, you know who to ask. My mates. Not me, I haven't got a stitch to wear.