Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Project plans

A few months ago I acquired this dress at a clothes swap. It is a perfect fit and I love the retro shape. I feel a little like the queen when I put it on! It is her kind of shape.

I love love love the collar and the covered buttons.

And the faux pockets.

I am not so keen on the holes, snags, wobbly stitching in clashing thread and weird sixties plastic fabric.

It has been hand made which I love!

But not very well, which I do not love.

So, my plan is to unpick it and use it as a pattern to remake it in fabric made of natural fibres. I am very excited about it even though it will probably be too warm to wear for quite a while. I have even started to wonder if I can make those faux pockets into real pockets. I love dresses with pockets.

I shall reuse the zip in tribute to the original maker, but I hope I can pick out thread that matches my chosen fabric!


Monday, 24 February 2014


Happy Monday to you all! Now, can you keep a secret? I thought so. Come a little closer, I have something to show you...
So, I am making a little something for someone special in St Helena, as a thank you when we leave in a few months' time. I am pretty sure she doesn't read this though (lets hope not) so I thought it was probably safe to let you have a peek...

I started with a few offcuts and repurposed bits and pieces,

then I hunted through my shoebox full of tiny scraps,

applied bond-a-web and some swift work with the scissors and I was on my way...

The main creativity is in the stitching. And I am LOVING the stitching!

I thought it would take me weeks, but I am loving it so much I can't put it down! Off to do another stitch or two before picking up the Smalls from school.


Thursday, 20 February 2014

A drawer of lettuce and other thoughts

Good morning!
Today it is grey and drizzly here. It is still a pleasant 22C and I am definitely not complaining. The (mostly) lovely weather here is something I am going to miss once we return to Blighty. But sometimes (only sometimes) I do have a hankering for a scarf or a tweedy cordy booty moment. I am indulging such a moment today by wearing jeans (I can hear the sharp intakes of breath at such shocking news). And actually I have to confess to being slightly warm!

Upcycled drawer from the tip,
now home to lettuce seedlings.

When we got back from our hols in the UK in November we were greeted by very sad pots on the veranda containing mostly sticks. Almost immediately I hurt my back and couldn't sort them out.

Mange tout

Just after Christmas I finally cracked. I was so fed up of looking at those poor dead things that I wasn't using the veranda at all. Now, we are lucky enough to have a lovely big living space here but with three noisy Smalls it can all get a bit loud, and having an alternative space to retreat to is lovely. I found I was shutting myself in my bedroom. Enough was enough.

Nasturtiums grow everywhere like weeds here.
I love them!

I enlisted help with the lifting in the form of J and the Smalls, and pulled out all those sticks and replanted the few things that were worth keeping. I topped up the pots with fresh compost and liberally sprinkled seeds about the place. Some swift work with a broom and a tidy of the chairs and table and a great improvement had been made in really very little time.

A few weeks later it is far from perfect, but I have a pleasant place to retreat to when it all gets too much.

It is amazing how a few pots of colour can alter my frame of mind.

Aquilegia grow every on my garden at
home and these are a lovely reminder.

Speaking of frames of mind, a friend of mine who also happens to be one of the doctors on the island took me in hand the other day, and prescribed me some antibiotics. He decided that I had been battling some sort of infection in my sinuses, without much improvement, for far too long. Four days in and I am starting to feel better. My sanity and ability to deal with little hiccoughs in life are returning. In short, I hadn't completely realised how rotten I felt.

Buds on my tomato plants.

Now, can you keep a secret? I have started a very special project for a very special person. It will be a thank you for someone here when we leave in a few months. I wanted to have plenty of time to work on it so I thought I better start now. I am really very excited about it, but I am not sure whether I should show you...

Maybe a little sneaky peak next time.


Monday, 10 February 2014

Give aways and zee poleesh

Urgh, I am so so sorry! I completely lost track of the fact that I had run a giveaway back before Christmas. Anyway, the winner is Cathy at Potter Jotter. Can you email me your address so I can send it off?

Another (probably much more organised) giveaway is going on over at Lazy Daisy Jones - some crochet goodies if you are interested. Pop over and say Hi from me. She has a lovely crafty retro feel blog.

Lastly on the subject of zee poleesh. Just don't! According to Amael it just make the dust stick to the wood and it gets darker and darker as more grime is accumulated. Give it a good rub with a soft cloth instead.


Thursday, 6 February 2014

A key

Over the last few weeks, I have been taking a furniture restoration taster class with a French furniture restorer who is here to work on the furniture in Longwood House. Longwood House was home to Napoleon when he was exiled here in the 19th Century. A lot of the furniture has been ravaged by the damp and abused by inappropriate use of polish. (Neverrr, use zee poleeesh!) Some has been sent to France for major work, and the rest is being looked after on site.
Mostly we are not allowed near any of the actual furniture since we are mostly complete novices, but we have been allowed to play with locks. Many of the keys to the locks on the furniture in the house have been lost in the mists of time so I was give a project: to remake a key that had been lost for a real and actual piece of Napoleonic furniture. 
Back of lock visible on the inside of the desk.

This one came from a bureau á cylinder or roll top desk. I am hoping to pop into the house tomorrow when it is open for tourists and see if I can find the desk to photograph it.

This side of the lock would be embedded in the wood
 so the key would pass through the keyhole in the wood
 and into the keyhole in the lock.

The first thing to do was to remove the cover and clean the inside. It was full of dead bugs, cobweb, dust, rust and grime.

Then I was shown how to lubricate the mechanism and check it was working properly.

The key must fit over the central pin and have notches in the top edge to accommodate the two rings of metal that stick up round the pin. The blade of the key must be exactly the right length to push the sprung piece to the side and catch in the notch below to push the bolt out.

The same happens in reverse when you turn the key the other way to retract the bolt and unlock it.

This is what we started with - a key blank. It is pretty ugly and the blade is massive.

This is my finished key. With lots of supervision I cut the blade to the right size (length, width and thickness). Cut the notches in the end, filed off the textured surface and shaped the key to make it more attractive to look at and hold.

Emil encouraged me to add the two diagonal decorative marks.

And to shape the end.

Lastly I gave it a good polish. (It is ok to use zee poleesh for zee metal) It was really fun to see a real key emerge from the blank.

And look: it works.

When you turn the key...

the bolt slides out!

And when you turn it back again, it slides back in.

Now my key will become part of that piece of furniture and if you visit Longwood House you can see it, looking like it has always been there.

I am very pleased and proud to be able to say 'I did that'.