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New York crafty goodness

21 Oct

Most of the recent New York holiday was taken up with food, food and more food. Cupcakes, both good and bad. Macaroni cheese – with cheeseburger in it. There was good, bad and ugly.  There was also unfortunate, which was the leaving-at-home-of-the-camera-memory-card. Sigh. They were so expensive to buy that I resorted to iPhone and stealing the boy’s camera. In short – not as many photos as I’d like.

I marched the boyfriend to Purl (after we’d been to the places on his list).

And promptly developed OP (Option Paralysis).  On reflection – it’s a lovely space. Having both fabric and yarn in the same store now, rather than the former separate Sullivan Street locations, makes life easier. But the quality of their photography online is beguilingly good and I find the website infinitely more tempting.  Perhaps it’s also because slowly but surely, the selection available here in the UK is improving even if it’s still difficult to source the Japanese graphic prints – can you recommend anywhere?  The last time I was in Purl I bought a bundle of Katie Jumps Rope fat quarters by Denyse Schmidt which formed a large part of my first bed-quilt.

In the end I came away with a $30 grab-bag including a healthy swatch of Kokka Echino Ni-Co ‘Sunglasses’ fabric in the brown colourway as well as other spotty fabrics. I was specificially looking for something I could use to try out some of the patterns in Lisa Lam‘s delicious new book, ‘The Bag Making Bible‘, which arrived just before we went away so this medium weight fabric should give me lots of options. More on that soon.

We walked along the boardwalk on Coney Island,  marvelled at the Parachute Jump, , wondered who goes to the Roller Rink, ate a Nathan’s hot dog.

The really great baked goods (because frankly, the rest of them were terribles) came from Baked in Red Hook. Have since bought the books. Expect an update on how my own version of Sweet and Salty went soon.


London to Paris….

4 Dec

Ah, so many little adventures I need to tell you all about! Crafting, snooping and wining and dining aplenty going on around here at the moment.

Also… jaunts.  Most of them are local, but happily I am in the process of booking tickets to take me to nearish and faraway but all completely wonderful places.  Home to Ireland for Christmas, naturally. A possible transatlantic trip in the New Year. But most excitingly for now: another trip to my favourite city in Europe – Paris! Yes, I went in August.  I'd already planned to return, and now Le Nouveau Paris are running a competition asking what you'd do on a weekend over there. Me, I'd do all the things that I didn't have time to get to, or which were closed for the holidays in August.   It only seems fair to return and drink chocolat chaud in Les Deux Magots and then spend time wandering around the St-Germain des Pres and Montparnasse.  I missed the Catacombs and so I'll bundle up warm for a trip down there. 

My weekend will including shopping here, because I had nowhere near enough time in the enormous craft section at 'Bay Hash Vay': 


and at Entree Des Fournisseurs, which guttingly was closed last time and I could only peer in the window like a kid denied candy.

I would also spend more time looking for Space Invaders, in honour of Pauline

We've wanted to eat here for ages – Refuge Des Fondus which is apparently great fun.

And Pierre Hermé was closed in August – donne moi les macarons!

Really, I can't wait…!

Going underground – Supper Club

3 Nov

I love food.

I love my neighbourhood.

I really love finding good food in my neighbourhood. So I was quietly giddy when I heard about a new local supper club – essentially it's when someone opens their home to guests (in return for a 'donation' as of course not being a real restaurant they can't have paying customers) and lets loose their culinary imagination – and as much talent as they can muster – on their menu.

We really, really hit it lucky.

Simon and Yuen of Fernandez and Leluu
are avid foodies and wonderful hosts – frankly, they seem almost
surprised by the overwhelmingly positive reaction they seem to be
receiving, but they shouldn't be. From their blog you can see how much
time, patience and passion they invest in this project – in addition to
fulltime jobs.

I coveted their vintage typewriters. I adored the napkins and crockery.





Hot Sweet Sour Soup With Catfish, Tomatoes, Pineapple & Beansprouts


Frogs Legs Teriyaki w/ Vietnamese Parsley & Sweet Basil Seed Cocktail


Vietnamese Spring Rolls With Pork, King Prawns, Black Fungus & Glass Noodles


Cubed Tuna Sashimi With Soya Sauce, Ginger & Spring Onions & Ferdie Chips


Seared Peppered Fillet Of Beef With Sugar Snap Peas, Cucumber Salad
& Kabocha Squash Salad With Satsuma, Sake, Soya & Mirin Dressing


Red Curry With Chicken & Butternut Squash Served w/ Steamed Rice

Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream With Ginger Biscuits

Yeah, by the end my photography skills had gone by the wayside. Too busy concentrating on food.  Marvelling at how we could possibly fit in the ice cream and ginger to-die-for shortbread. Wanting to move in. That sort of thing.

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter…

26 Jul

B. BBBBBBB.  I got a new keybbbbboard. It's beeyoutiful, bouncy and best of of all, not broken. I accept full responsibility for drinking coffee in the proximity of the old one while not quite awake one morning… I killed just one key, the B. I mean, it could have been worse – a vowel, for example – and I expanded my vocabulary while avoiding words using that letter, it's been a long couple of months using the cut and paste function while trying to decide whether to spring for a new machine (this mac is a little old in the tooth though that's not necessarily a reason to retire it) or find another solution. The answer came in the form of the Bookyard, who sell Apple spares and I got a new keyboard for about £50 and fitted it myself, rather than paying the £150 I was quoted by two different repair shops in town.  I used to think "Why do I have complete crap like watchmakers screwdrivers cluttering up my house?" The answer is (a) to make jewellery like this and (b) to enable me to remove the metal plate beneath the mac's keyboard, unplug the old one and put in a new one in three minutes.  The service from the Bookyard was excellent after an initial snafu where they shipped the wrong model, but they responded to my email within 30 mins – at 11:00pm at night and it was all sorted out the next day. I may yet send them my titanium powerbook to see if they can do anything with it…

Lots of little adventures this week.  I was lucky enough to win a dozen cupcakes from Ella's Bakehouse, a chi-chi new bakery at 20a Covent Garden Market, where they specialise in cupcakes with a couture theme (the woman behind it used to be a model, the face of Versace, apparently)



They're yum. Very very yum in fact.  I brought them to the volunteers' meeting at Wilton's that evening, as I'd already brought baked goods to work once this week – and to my neighbours too.  I am luring the guy next door into a false sense of security, once he's hooked on the cookies I'll be asking for some help putting up the long awaited shelves in the studio. I baked like a maniac last week because my grandmother had fallen and fractured her hip (fine now after an operation) and I needed displacement activities.  Cue two dozen cookies, rye sodabread, and muffins.  Plus the sourdough that didn't quite work out (the sponge starter is hidden under Lotusen's cupcake teatowel below) which I'll be attempting again today.


I've been back to the Make Lounge (the more of observant of you may wonder if I ever leave) to do the embroidery class. Super sweet teacher whose name I've forgotten, eek, but you can find her via the ML's website. I started on a pillowcase using one of the Sublime Stitching patterns, Dutch-Russian but due to attempting time-consuming satin stitch on it, it's still languishing.  It's a supercute pattern though, and you can see another classmate's project from that pattern here.  So for some instant gratification, I cam home and did this: a quick cupcake onesie.


I'm still persevering with running, 3 miles every other day. I loved the physio I saw about my feet/shins/knees/hips (nobody can agree what it really is) the other day because the first thing she said when I walked in was 'So you're a runner' and then I realised she didn't think this was lunacy and rather was focussed on how to keep me running rather than simply telling me not to. Incredibly refreshing. She did suggest that after a spin class or any other time when I'm having problems with numbness that I should get someone to massage my outer knee and showed me how to do that – I can't quite imagine throwing myself down on the floor of the spin studio and saying 'You, here, now'… but otherwise the advice was promising.

Lots more weekend news to come but given the issues with Typepad recently I'll quite while I'm ahead. Though when I bitched about TP on Twitter, I got a swift response from someone in their technical customer service offering to help.  I'll be taking him up on that. Between the b key and procrastination, I'd become lax enough at posting and then the renewed technical issues, after the utter debacle earlier this year, made me wonder whether to just shut the blog down but now I'm a little more optimistic…

More than I thought

12 Jul

I mutter to myself 'well what will you blog
about – you haven't done anything much recently'.  Upon reading the divine
Lotusen's blog
though, I realise that in fact I've been out and about quite a bit!
(I'm the G that she mentions).  Here's the dress – not yet
shortened but it's actually quite cool! 


I'm not sure that it's really designer, but this
is what's on the label:


I've had a lot of freelance work on – I spent today repaginating a 500 page book, yes, all of it – and also the day job has prevented me from doing fun stuff like having coffee with Helen and the bub, bah. To say it's keeping me busy would be quite the understatement. That's also my rubbish way of saying 'I'm too braindead to fix the formatting problems here, sorry guys'.

London's climate has been temperamental, to say
the least. Last night was cold enough to warrant pulling on the
Misti Alpaca
 (long since finished though apparently never detailed here) and grabbing the quilt, though we've had scorchio days and
too-hot-to-sleep over the last weeks too. I'm persevering with the running
despite the weather (purchased shorts on Friday. Needed to wear thermal running
tights on Saturday) and using the Nike+ is really helping,
as I've mentioned before I am ludicrously competitive with myself. I get a
little thrill every time Tiger Woods chimes out to tell me that I've run a new
1m PB. (9:11 – yeah, I never said I was Speedy Gonzales but I compensate
with stubbornness)  If anyone else is using the Nike+ website, I'm
Scampermouse on there. Come and say hello.
I'm spending far too much time on Twitter lately,
mainly because it has introduced me to lots of interesting people and places,
both conceptually and IRL and all of the following was introduced to me via
Twitter.  The zeitgeist nature of it coupled with the fact that it seems
increasingly to translate to real life, intrigues me wildly.  On Saturday
I went along to meet some Tweeps (ok sorry – the terminology drives me insane,
I can't really bear to say that) to meet some people from Twitter

at the Crafternoon
at The
Old Queen's Head
in Islington. I'm halfway through making a
Measuring Tape Rosette from a kit I got there – I have to say my only gripe about
these craft kits is that the thread supplied is usually crap – in theory I'll
finish it at home. Ahem.  I did teach someone to purl though.  Halo


In the evening it was off to Wilton's Music Hall, with some of the knitting crew thankfully as time with them recently has been far too curtailed, to
see Tiny Wallop's Phantasmagorical Extravaganza.  It was utterly hilarious –
to the point where my cheeks were aching from laughing so much – tinged with
the sense of buttock-clenching fear that comes only from Audience
Participation with us all trying to judge which strategy worked best to
avoid being chosen – look at the performer, or avoid their
gaze? There's one more night, which is Saturday 18th July, if you're in London.
Come! Catherine Rose, the magician and mind-reader who opened the show, was
amazing too. I want to know how she did that with the table.  Even when
the hall is dark, Wilton's is a magical place, currently raising funds for
renovation, so you should pop along and 'drink for charity' – patronise
the bar if you're in the area.


 Finally, again via Twitter, this is one of the funniest things I've seen
in ages and I now feel the need to purchase the kit. If you don't like
profanity with your pastry or are exceptionally easily offended, there's no
need to click here.


18 Jan

Can't believe it's flown by so quickly, this weekend.  A mixture of working and socialising, and a little bit of knitting.  Yesterday I met up with two lovely ladies, Ruth and Abi.  We stopped into Loop quickly and yet it took me a suprisingly short amount of time to do a considerable amount of damage to my credit card.

I met Ruth after we'd commented on each other's blogs, a couple of years ago now, and I went up and introduced myself to her at Origin.  I then got a bit embarrassed as it occurred to me that it was perhaps a slightly stalkerish thing to do.  Similarly, Abi and I met after I mentioned I was doing a market stall, she popped by and introduced herself. Her young daughters pointed out "Mum, if we said we were going to meet someone from the internet, you wouldn't let us out.'  Fair point, well made. I'm am glad, however, that all of these introductions did take place, and which led to coffee, cake and chatting about vintage handbags yesterday. 

Here's the last knitting project that will be completed for a while:

Easy ribbed handwarmers in SkeinQueen Cashmere Silk for a friend's birthday.  One of them is very late and the other one is only a little bit late.

In Loop yesterday I asked Abi when she was going to start knitting socks and she was more than game, so left with some very lovely Jitterbug. It's her first pair of socks, and we're going to have a bit of a KnitAlong.  I'm going to try my first pair of patterned socks (well, the horrendous garter rib ones don't count because they got frogged, even though they'd met the Yarn Harlot…)

Anyone else fancy joining in?
  The idea would be to do something sockish that you haven't done before – either your first pair; magic loop when you've only knit with dpns; toe-up instead of top-down or vice versa…  leave a comment if you're interested.  There's no deadline for completion – well ok, let's say the end of the year. 

I'm going to try to Bellatrix socks in the new skein of Misti Alpaca. I'm also going to cast on with Lucy's handdyed because I just can't wait, and really want to see how they come out.  Also they will be stocking stitch so I should be able to work on them in company:  the Bellatrix will take more concentration from me so I'll be able to work on them on the tube etc but probably not when out.  That should keep me busy for a while.  Two pairs of socks running concurrently is just about right for me.


The other question I wanted to float out again was the idea of running the fabric swap again as a couple of people have asked about it. Details of the last one here – again, leave a comment if you're interested!

Make it

28 Sep

A list of things to do yesterday morning en route to Islington meant an early start, before heading to the Make Lounge for their Leather Cinch Belt course.  But it was worth it…

Wow – it was such fun! Merle O'Grady, the tutor is a total sweetie, and so calm while six women wielded rubber mallets and splashed it-will-never-ever-come-off dye with abandon all around her. We all put a slightly personal twist on the belts – some of us used contrasting colours for the main part and the strap, others used rivets instead of buckles, and some of us just made the damn thing a little wonky.  'Don't worry,'  Merle told me comfortingly, 'nobody will see that bit because it's underneath'.  Therapy too!


There was a really nice group of people on the course (with another dozen upstairs making tea cup candles) and a lot of chat revolved around other crafts that people dabble in – jewellery making, stone sculpture, decoupage, japanese silk painting, cross stitch, etc. and Merle promised to send on a list of leather suppliers.  We were comparing notes on where to shop and most people were surprised at just how many names were bandied about – it makes me more surprised to think that anyone might not know some of these shops because hey, craft shopping takes up a considerable portion of my time, energy and salary, and I do know that the list I know is just scratching the surface. Most of my friends are crafty.  We are also complete enablers. So here's a start at putting together a London Craft Map – I've been to most of these places myself but would love to hear your suggestions for more, just email them to me.  I'll investigate and add!