The Family Silver

Been busy.

Back to whittling down the craft supplies again!

We are on a clutter busting jag here at Casa de IWOM. The amount of items saved ‘just in case’ as well as nowhere near sentimental value items, kitchen doubles and never used wedding presents that have left the building is staggering. We will never be true minimalists but are feeling the effect already of less stuff. It’s nice to know a trip to the loft space is no longer one fraught with danger.

The tiny IKEA greenhouse in the sunroom always seems like a good idea.

It is if one remembers to water the pots within….

Three partially filled cans of metallic spray paint in the garage, an assortment of ‘still life’ objects (some of which were taken OUT of the charity donation bags), a bandana to put over my nose and mouth,

and an early start day to allow for multiple thin coats

gave me the components for my installation.

I give you: The Family Silver.

Even if I had been allowed to register for a wedding list (‘that’s for X people’ apparently), I don’t know as I would have put any real silver items on it. All that polishing. 

Yes, we will be dusting AROUND this. 

Living up to the name


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The IWOM hasn’t had too many journeys yet this year — three weekend getaways in fact. None required significant hand luggage so it wasn’t until yesterday when I was packing for a wee solo trip I remembered that I’ve always wanted something to keep me better organised in the smaller of my two large Kate Spades.


Credit where credit is due — see above! There are dozens of free patterns on t’internet I’m sure but this is the link I’ve always had to hand. There are far more Fancy Dan versions with zippered bits and solid bases but this is all I needed just now.


Yikes. Not the best picture but it was thankfully sunny this afternoon so I’m not too upset. Natural Vitamin D is a little thin this time of year where I am. The purse organiser pattern at the site above called for two fabrics and two interfacings but I only used one on the check cotton as the other fabric was heavy black linen. I also added two inches to the height and four to the side (total) when I cut my fabrics.


Before sewing up the pocket pouches I put two pockets on the outside of the organiser.


Mine has four folded sections and I added a snap/popper so that it wouldn’t all come to bits when I took it out.



I’m rather pleased with this very easy to make accessory. I can see making a smaller one for smaller pocketbooks in future. Nothing more annoying than digging around in the bottom of one’s bag for a key item.

Aaaand isn’t that just a great First World Problem with which to end the day?!?

No better feeling


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than seeing a last row of a lot of boring background!


Scratch that. Snipping the canvas from your slate frame is a little bit better!


Just need one more like this — and the two top bits (I’m sure there is a technical name).

At the moment I’ve got a less than professional set up going on for the Rosslyn Chapel project:


I’m looking into getting some trestles similar to the ones I used when studying at the Royal School of Needlework. They do have them in their online shop but they are terribly overpriced. Beautiful yes, but I don’t need to be spending well over a mortgage payment for something that really does not cost that much to build. I appreciate the workmanship of course, but I also know how much the RSN tacks onto the goods sold in their shop based on the very high costs if their materials while I was a student there. Luckily I still had my connections at Liberty and bought a lot of my supplies there instead.

For those of you who don’t know, I was on the shop floor of the needlecraft and haberdashery department for two years, took a year off to study at the RSN then returned to teach in Liberty’s Sewing School, which was very different than the school there now.

I can’t track down any proper needlework trestles in this country but I do have a woodworking mate who has a cellar full of lovely oak bits salvaged years ago from area ships so printed off a few pictures of what I need, worked out the exact dimensions (based on what I’m using now, i.e. the actual prie deus propped up with bits of wood) and left it with him. We’ve met up again since to hash out a few more details (and I baked him an apple pie for a ‘consulting fee’) so he is letting it percolate in his brain for a bit.

I’d say men will do anything for me in return for my baking, but that would be a bit presumptuous  of me. It’s probably true, but still.


I can plod onward with the current set up — and darn well better, given my July deadline — but am taking a break to sort out the wools and make up some samples for the top parts.


Scottish stitch is leading the options at the moment, but requires very precise placement of the tent stitches. Best way to tackle this combination stitch is to do a little bit of the grid, then fill it in — if I recall. Luckily it is a cold day, due to be a yucky weekend and the next slate frame is laced up ready to go.


I do break one rule. We were not even allowed to have a capped bottle of water in the room at the RSN lest something get spilled on your frame or work. I’m of the opinion that you only had to have that happen once and it would never happen again, but they had some odd notions there. You were actually graded on the piece on which you learned the technique! I never liked that so often worked samples at home.

My tea or water bottle sits on the window cill and I’ve yet to have a mishap. I tend to stand up to drink and stretch my legs. I’m not as young as I was when I spent a year there…the joints stiffen up a bit more easily!

Why does this project go here? Well, the wool and canvas are leftovers from the mid 90s kneel project and the wood base units salvaged from a Catholic Church being turned into flats. I’m going to need to buy a piece of 10hpi canvas and get a plaque engraved with the date for the underside but other than that this project is just my time.


Time Capsule



For the past few weeks I’ve been investigating the capsule wardrobe life. I’m thinking of giving it a try for my whole life, not just my travel life. The IWOM is an expert packer for all countries, climates and lengths of time. Himself and I can travel to Madrid for a long weekend in nowt but a large rucksack and a Kate Spade tote. That also included work clothes for him since he stayed on several days at the office there.

I’m keen on the Project 333 method of dealing with your clothes. We don’t have easy seasons here where our hats are currently hung so some thought needs to be put into how I can go about it. I made a start by filling out a cool capsule plan worksheet while having breakfast in a cafe off Calle de Serrano to help me along.

I was the only person working with a pen.

While sitting in both the Iberian and British Airways business class lounges during delays and re-arranged flights (the perils of an IWOM), I thought about how I could take the Project 333 approach with my craft supplies.


It has been quite some time since I’ve sat and made jewellery for myself. Well, I’ve reknotted some of my pearls and had a few re-knots for pay (I’ve given up the bartering thing. Folk here just don’t get it). I think packing it up for a while seems like a plan.

I’ve kept out a ‘kit’ of everything needed for reknotting pearls and semi-precious stone necklaces as well as all my remaining pearls and semiprecious stones, several ‘nearly there’ projects that I might as well polish off and an assortment of fibre art jewellery materials already matched up with assorted findings — and those have a note with the directive to put away if I haven’t touched them by March 1.

I’ve a packet of cord, knotting thread, findings and tools appropriate for these projects. I’d estimate 85% of my stash sits in a couple big under bed storage tubs destined for the loft.

I never pretended to be a great maker of jewellery, though I enjoyed teaching a smattering of techniques over the years. I rather like things like French beaded flowers over bead weaving bracelets or the like. The pearls of course are a legacy of our two years in Hong Kong and I reknot my own strands the moment a little pull appears so as to keep my hand in. Those stay!

Out of sight — but not out of mind. I took pictures of everything packed away for reference. Once more bulk crafting gets squared away I’ll have room on the shelves to bring it back.

Or maybe give lots of it away!



How’s that workin’ for ya?



Not so good.

I’ve changed my mind completely on the method of improving six rather boring multi aperture frames for the office.


Yep. Simple covering with fabric. Google until you find a method you like. I used several for inspiration — none in particular hence no specific links for you.

My one tip would be to glue the inner edges, let those dry then glue the outer edges so that you can more easily pull the fabric for a snug, smooth fit.


I have an awful lot of black and white print fabrics, some of which have been around for a good long while. I think this one was from a shop on the Cape where I did a book signing and talk.

In November 2006.


I used the ‘L’ method when the pieces of fabric were not large enough, then switched to that method for the rest when the fabric wastage turned out to be less than doing it this way:


‘Course I think that L shaped cut of fabric only works when the pattern doesn’t need to match EXACTLY.


These six (or more — given I’ve set aside a few smaller single picture wood frames to get this treatment once we’re back from a weekend getaway in Madrid — or fewer) are destined for the very large empty wall over the desk:


Of course, we need to decide what to put in them, if they should be black and white, which  way to hang the rectangle frames…


and that’s why the sit here on the guest room bed. I may mix in a few ledge shelves or any number or travel finds that have yet to find a home in our home.


Stay tuned.

Little Bird Watch


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In order to get the highest numbers possible for this weekend’s bird watch — which I had to do on Sunday as the weather was wretched and there were so few takers on Saturday — I made a ground feeder and a small hanging fat ball feeder with odds and ends found in the garage.


Most of my feeders have large bird protection in the form of hanging baskets wired together to form a protective globe.


I included some holes for drainage.


Plan A was to take a few pictures this morning of my cheapie feeders in situ but no chance of that whilst Storm Henry is blowing through!

These add lovely bright spots of color in an otherwise drab February garden.

February. How did that happen…?

I’ve made several of each for fellow gardening friends. Since I’m not getting out to my garden today it seems like a good one for setting out the planting plan. Or hiding back under the covers. I’m a bit torn.


Oi – oi- oi


My favorite iPad stand tutorial comes from Down Under (coincidentally one of my favourite places on this earth, especially Margaret River, Hunter Valley and Barossa). I’ve been fussing with it to make it a little more what I need it to be.


A bed should be used for only one of two things, but sometimes a special dispensation is offered for the fact that the earth is round and we can’t watch live what we want to watch live at a reasonable hour.

I’m looking at you, NFL Playoffs.

I used a lovely scrap of velvet (12 inches by 18 1/2) to make my test model. I thought the pile of the velvet might add a little grip. The filling was a little tricky though, as I wanted this to squish appropriately to the angle at which it might be needed when used in a bed. In the end I went for bean baggy beads for the triangle shape and regular ol’ Polyfilla for the rectangle shape rest at the front.


The version as designed has a cute wee fabric flower to cover the point at the back. I’m planning on making a few of these for gifts and will add that option as appropriate (yes for Auntie B. and Mom, probably no for my brother) but since this was meant to be held on a lap or rested up against knees it wasn’t needed. For what I want it for, the bead filling was too much, but instead of taking some out I decided to try this:




If you need it to squish to a different shape, the filler now has a little extra space to move into,


but can easily change back to a firmer table top version.


The tutorial I used was so good (video version in denim available) I didn’t look for any others so I’m perfectly willing to acknowledge there might be something on the interweb just like this already. Them’s the breaks of blogging.

On to Beta testing. This has the look of a charity project so I must write the designer to make sure it’s okay to make a few dozen for my cause this year (I pick a new one each year). It would be more charity for ME given the pile of upholstery fabric scraps and huge bag each of filler and bean bag beads I could be rid of….

Back to the grind



The chai tea sugar scrub I made the other day with just out-of-date tea and lost in the back of the cupboard quite out of date brown sugar (and oil I needed to get for another recipe anyway) looks and smells good enough to eat.


I am not going to recommend that.


I can’t give you the ‘recipe’ as I winged it after having a quick internet search for such things. I put about eighty percent of the bag of sugar and all of the emptied out chai tea bags (perhaps a half cup all told) in a bowl, then chucked in some of the rapeseed oil (quarter cup to start). I mixed it really well to the consistency I wanted, then put in the rest of the sugar and a bit more oil.

There’s few things more useful craft wise than an


emptied and well cleaned out Yankee Candle jar. I’m happy to report that they have a few tailored-for-my-current-country shops where I can go: it is wonderful to be abel to get these big heavy puppies here! We get tea lights when we travel to the Homeland but don’t even have to do that! The batch of sugar scrub I made filled it perfectly.

Perfect for this time of year when central heating helps turn one’s skin into a snake-like consistency. I can’t see making a lot of bath products, but with me on a ‘how did this house get so full of STUUUUUUFFFF’ kick there are other un-donateable food products that need using and that might be their fate.

Work continues on the enormous project for Rosslyn Chapel. I’m trying to get in a couple hours every day so the sections on which you will kneel get done ASAP and I can get on with the more decorative top sections.


I know it looks a little bare in this corner of the craft room but I’m already thinking of what I’ll do to rearrange the space once the prie dieu pair is complete so there’s no sense in putting anything on the walls here. So much of 2015 was spent getting rid of no longer needed or wanted supplies I’m surprised it doesn’t look better in here than it did twelve months ago.

Oh well. No deadlines around here…as I constantly remind myself.

Not even close


Oh well: it’s not like you get a grade for a year long blog.  I would have wished for more from which to chose for my top ten round up. Check back for that. 

Himself is sorting through piles of his stuff in the office as I type and I’ve been painting some plain frames picked up at a big box store’s closing down sale with a gift card that had to be used or lost! 

Plan A for tomorrow (or next year if you prefer!) is to select and save to a memory stick 22 of our favourite photos in 4×6 and 5×7 verticals and horizontals for printing at a friend’s shop. The lovely warm grey is leftover from the living room projection in January. There’s a big blank wall in that office who’s days are numbered. 

Perhaps I’ll just keep putting craft projects here. We’ll see!