Saturday, 27 July 2013

It is time to wave goodbye.

and to say hello to my new blog.

I'd like to welcome you to my blog with our antics at Buckingham Palace.

I've had a great time here, but I no longer have an allotment and my spare time is still spent knitting but my active time will be spent on all things tailoring, so may I introduce,

The London Tailoress. 

(which is a little bit too grand, but I couldn't resist when I saw it was still available)

Thank you all for your words of encouragement and support over the years, I will never forget your strength when we most needed it.

best wishes to you all,

love Mandy. xx

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Pack ups and Museums.

As you may imagine things have been rather busy here of late.  We are slowly sorting the house out, even though it is beautifully appointed, hubby aka the plumbers mates sniffer dog has been doing sterling work as usual and has pulled the kitchen and bathroom to bits to reveal slow leaks.  As the dishwasher/washing machine and shower had never been used they hadn't been put under pressure.  His instincts prove right and I am getting used to the fact that the kitchen is going to be pulled apart every weekend, however because of this I now have working isolation taps fitted to all of the pipes so that I can separate the washing machine and dishwasher etc and cut off their water supply.  I suspect the same fate awaits the bathroom but he hasn't told me of this yet, I think he's trying to prevent my hysteria from becoming worse. 

(Fortunately it looks like a different plumbers work that has put in the boiler and radiators etc, no such problems there) 

Last week I felt pretty tired to be honest but I forced myself packed lunch in tow (with large water bottle) to explore a little part of London on my own.

Carrot and Houmous flat breads with peaches kept me going, well for a little while.  
 But the coffee and cake is just too good at the V & A. 

I saw David Bowie's exhibition, it was worth it, the music and costumes were great, some of us were bobbing around, much to the horror of the straighter laced viewing public.  There was a very good exhibition about memories, which seemed to touch me on a deeper level, the poetry and imagery were very powerful.

And I have found the local market which was great fun, watermelons the size of a three year old child, 15kg ! and those flat peaches we like dripping with nectar which were three times the size I've ever seen them before. They were so gorgeous that I ate four in one afternoon.   I also found a fabric shop which was stuffed to the rafters of very interesting fabrics, so I now have a blouse ready to cut its first toille out.  Hopefully I will crack on with that tomorrow.

What I don't have is my camera lead to download my lovely photo's and I can't even get icloud working properly, I need to think about that, so these piccies are a few I tweeted earlier in the week.

Hubby and I had a great weekend, Borough Market closely followed by I Knit, and today we have finally got the curtains safely in place in the living room bay.  They fell off their brackets in a rather death defying act one evening last week, which made me jump, but they are secure and look great now.

And of course, there has been a little sock knitting to keep me company in the evenings.

I am sure this is a Rico yarn, I'll try and get the details for the next time.

tatty bye, until the next time. 

Friday, 5 July 2013

Cheesy Rolls and our London House.

Firstly let me tell you I have just, whilst preparing this blog post about son no.2's genius invention had a phone call to say we have completed on our London house.  So I can now reveal all, at the end of this post.

The story starts thus, son no.1 had gotten up late, (by this I mean 1.30 in the afternoon) and was dashing around trying to get his things ready for work and was fast running out of time when son no.2 said, "I'll cook you some lunch" and ushered him out of the kitchen so it was a surprise. 
 He started to rattle those pots and pans and came up with this.  Heinz tomato soup, heavy on the black pepper and fried cheesy rolls.  They went down a treat, later he showed me what he had done.  
 First of all you roll out your bread with a rolling pin, then cut the crusts off.  Then grate cheese over and spread out (this photo was taken before the spreading out)
 And roll and squeeze and pinch.
 Then shallow fry in a frying pan, turning them as you need to.

They made really delicious treats, with only three ingredients and were perfect to dip into soup and munch on and then munch on without the soup and I couldn't decide which way I preferred them, they were very good. 

Anyway onto other news....

We've bought a house, in London, which is crazy, but sensible. Bearing in mind that it is cheaper to buy a property than rent a single room in a shared house, interest rates being what they are. 

Do you wanna see it? 
 My little three bedroom Victorian terrace, who is 120 years old.  Do you notice the original tiled path, cute isn't it.

She's been gutted, rewired, replumbed, new boiler, new radiators, new kitchen, new bathroom, some new windows, re rendered at the back, new outside plumbing, new carpets, all newly decorated.  We are VERY lucky to get her.  (I think she is a girl house)  

These photos were taken on our second viewing when we measured up for curtains. 
 She has a very pretty kitchen, (the garden is a work in progress) which includes integral cooker, hob, freezer, fridge, washing machine and dishwasher!
 You can see we don't have a hall way anymore as we have one big room downstairs.  Even with that it still feels very cosy.
 Two  fireplaces, with Victorian fireplaces being fitted, that work.
Upstairs we have a brand new bathroom with a brand new shower.
 The main bedroom, the avenue is lined with young trees.
 The second bedroom. 

I can't actually photograph the third bedroom as its too small, about 6 ft 6" square, but it has a window and it will make a great study, sewing room.

There is still a little bit of work to do on her, but not very much, hubby will be putting up curtain rails today and I'm meant to be packing up my stuff to move in early next week.

It is very exciting.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Shocking behaviour!

I went to see my mother recently and popped to her loo, as you do, 

and found THIS
I am sure I audibly gasped.

You might remember them as this, socks for Dad in
Wollmeise 100% Merino in colourway Zenzi.  

After I had gotten over the shock of many hours work and gorgeous wool being used to dust her floors, I could see the sense in it.  And although I am tempted to appear with the end of the ball of wool and a wooden mushroom complete with tapestry needle to allow Dad to practise his skills at darning, which is why they are no longer in the sock draw.  I have decided mum should enjoy her polishing with the grooviest  duster you ever will find. 

Sunday, 23 June 2013

At last, some knitting, my summer cardigan.

 I know my blog has knitting in the title and to some that might mean you would expect some knitting content, of which I have been letting the side down somewhat.  Apart from the never ending requirements of my college course this has been the reason why there has not been that much around lately.  

I have at long last finished Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig which I knit up in Wollmeise Pure 100% Merino Superwash sock yarn in Claudia's magical colourway Rhubarber.

Although there has not been nearly so much knitting as I would have liked of late, infact - hold onto your hats - there have been whole weeks where I simply haven't picked up the needles,  when I have wanted or needed (for sanity reasons) to knit, this has been a great comfort to me.

It is a simple pattern, lots of stocking stitch which goes on forever and very soothing when knitting with beautiful wool which is both pretty and bouncy and soft.  

Knitting a 4ply garment is a serious undertaking by anyone's standards, knitting a 4ply garment for my proportions is complete madness.  Casting on in August 2012, which has to be said seemed like a good idea and that I would soon have my cardigan to fight off the nasty Autumn chills, I am such a funny girl, 11 months later, here it is.
 Caught unawares having a very nice coffee.
 I quite love the cardigan, this day it was blowing a gale, the like of which being sat in the middle of the country we rarely see.  I am quite energised by gales, I love them, as long as they are not cold and have rain in them the windier the better I think.  I was glad of my cardi that day, it was just right and allowed me to trot around an outdoor market in Rugby and wander around the streets looking in the delightful little shops, without feeling in anyway chilled, which is the beauty of wool rather than acrylic, it keeps you warm even when its windy, even if it is a lightweight cardigan made from 4 ply.
Hubby and I went shopping for our new London abode today and on the way back stopped off for a coffee, which was of course lovely.  On the way back to the car we became trapped by the most horrendous rain storm, fortunately we had found very good shelter and could wave to the car but not get to it. I should have videoed this the rain came down in sheets and was very noisy, you wouldn't think rain drops could make so much noise.  

Which is why you need a summer cardi in the UK, I was very glad I was wearing mine.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The times they are a changing.

I am undergoing a very emotional stage of my life. One of my own making and one I can't escape.  I'm going to be leaving home, soon. 
Very soon. 
I think too soon, but we can't leave the pad in London empty. 
(I'll show you that when we have completed, I don't want to jinx it)
But its not much more than a couple of weeks and I'll be gone. 

And I feel, urrghh, anxious, for oh so many reasons that are mostly wrapped up in my children, husband and parents and a little about me of course. 

Its complicated and it hurts. 

But if I don't take this wonderful opportunity and grasp it hard like a bunch of nettles, I will regret it for ever and a day. 

I know I have done a good job, my boys are strong and kind and are venturing forth on adventures of their own,  my husband knows how to use the electrical appliances and can cook himself a meal, so I will be leaving them in a good place, emotionally and spiritually, they are proud of me and routing for me and for that I am very grateful.

Its just me, I'm a bit of a wet blanket at the moment and its difficult to express it.

It will be fine when Uni starts and I will be busy, busy, busy and then it will be Christmas and New Years Eve will be spent cheering Big Ben in Trafalgar Square and then it will be Easter and then a year will be gone. I will have got used to the tube and the crowds and will know my way around and will recount long doggy tails of times where I was lost and couldn't find my way around and how I was helped by some kind stranger.  And I will tell you all about the exhibitions I have seen and cakes I have eaten and the beautiful garments I have made - warts and all. 

And I know its going to be amazing and wonderful and I am going to see some amazing art and speak to some amazing teachers and it really is going to be amazing, amazing, amazing - its the UAL, the UAL for goodness sake.  And the students, well the students they are going to be so buzzy, I am going to love getting to know them and their take on life and work. 

And I am never going to be able to repeat this time in my life and I will look back on it and feel proud, that I actually did it. 

But just at the moment, its like I said, its tough. 

So even though I have got stacks to do, like start packing my life away, son no.1 took me to my very favourite place in the whole wide world, Crackley Woods.   I've been coming to Crackley woods since I was born, there have been many adventures including watching a certain brother fall off a bridge into the brook face first and moaning like hell that we had to go home because he was hurt!  And playing on hand made swings and climbing trees and building dens and hunting for chestnuts on windy autumn days and roasting them on the fire later.  To be honest its probably been a year since the last visit and it felt like it.

We found this excellent den, with excellent climbing organised around it, very children friendly.
 Including big children.
 My proud warrior. (at this point I am starting to dance around a little begging him not to go any higher)
 And me, I'm useless, I can't climb anymore, I am about a foot of the floor, but it was still fun.
 I loved the den part.
 And we found this tree and it grew in a twirly fashion.
 Which I don't think I have ever noticed can happen before.
And this is my favourite spot in Crackley Woods and always has been right from when I was a tiny wee thing, I always stop and look and breath long deep breaths of peace and tranquility whilst looking at this pathway wending its way through the woods.  As well as my family and friends, I want to take this with me as my favourite spot in my heart.

Friday, 14 June 2013

My birthday treat.

Up until very recently I have been living in a whirl wind which consisted of homework, London, housing, university, student finance and last but by no means least family life.  And to be honest it did wear me out a little, well I am an old tart you know.  Anyway as from yesterday I have finished all of my school work and just have a gentle week left to help get everything ready for the fashion show.  I can't tell you how pleased I am that I have handed everything in including locating missing library books which were feared lost until I had a light bulb moment and sure enough they were piled in with the laundry that needs ironing in the bedroom - I like to read in bed.  And during all of that, I had to fit in my birthday.

Hubby and I trotted down to London last week in order to take measurements in my new pad only to find the banks surveyor had not returned the keys and wasn't able to be contacted, which made us grumble quite a bit so we headed off to see an exhibition, which wasn't wasn't any great shakes, so I won't waffle on about that when hubby remembered (have I told you how much I love this man) that I Knit was around the corner.  Oh my giddy aunts, we walked for less than two minutes and we were there. That was a shock to the system I can tell you.  I was so happy to be sprung with such a surprise, I am sure it wasn't on purpose, but it was a genius birthday present - I've wanted to go to I Knit for ages.

 They do have some lovely yarns to peruse,  I walked around the shop, very slowly twice before decided which area I would concentrate on. 
 Such pretty yarns.
 And lots of books.
 And eventually I settled on my birthday yarn, some sock yarn Manos Del Uruguay, Alegria in A6729.  I've just finished a sock yarn cardigan (its blocking as we speak) called Featherweight by Hannah Fettig in Wollmeise and even though it has been on the needles for nearly a year I have really enjoyed the process of knitting something that will be nice to throw on during our English summers.  This Alegria is delightfully soft and squidgy so it is going to be a joy to knit with.
 And I knit has other talents apart from gorgeous wool, it sells wine and beers and ciders.  Which I've always thought was eminently sensible and partook of a strawberry cider, which was absolutely delicious and hubby had a glass or two of red wine.  It certainly makes yarn shopping even more joyful than it already is and I spent a lovely hour talking about all things yarny with the other ladies who came into have a knit. 
 I think hubby enjoyed it too.
And homeward bound, because by that time we were tired and didn't want to carouse around London, (which was slightly shocking but its been a tough few weeks and I still had work to do)

It was a great birthday.

Do you like the new specs?!

Monday, 3 June 2013

1970's Dress.

 I am on the final stretch of homework, so I'll just have a little break and tell you all about my 70's dress. 

I remember the 70's quite well, it was a time of great contrast.  One side was of great excitement, there were new electronics, fun games, great fashion, lovely colours, new fabrics and frozen foods - findus pancake anyone?  But then there was the miners strikes, dustbin men strikes (which went on and on and on, my Dad was a dustman, it was the first time I saw him cry) power cuts which could and did go on for hours and the feeling of not quite enough heat, living in a coal fired, single glazed house that the wind blew through and having the corner bedroom meant ice on the inside of the window getting thicker by the day all winter until it eventually melted mid March.  We really knew what the seasons were like, we were out in them, playing.  Summer's were blissful, winters were tough, even our shoes have improved so much, I remember my chilblains quite well from thinly soled leather shoes.

So when we were asked to choose a decade I thought of the 70's immediately. 

Then I started my research, which was quite an emotional trip,  try it sometime, think of a decade that you can just remember and research it, its the greatest fun but along with that it just hurls memories at you that you had long since forgotten. 

So after a few weeks of research, printing, pasting and sticking, (mood board) I realised that what I remembered the most were the homecrafts that surrounded us by people much cleverer than I (and probably much older) my three elder brothers girlfriends could knit and sew and crochet and I can remember watching them in awe, before departing on my rollerskates/spacehopper/scooter. 

And so it was that this idea was born.  There were also twenty other ideas born, but as soon as I sketched this idea out, I knew 

A) That it was going to nearly kill me to do it and I should stop drawing immediately.
B) That my peer group were going to love it and there would be no way out. 

Well you can guess what happened, they loved it. 

1st rough sketch.

 1st draft of pattern, a toile was made of the complete dress (without the tumbling blocks) to fit one of the 2nd years and adjustments were made to the draft and then the process of drawing out began.

I then photocopied every square on the pattern.
 And began the process of adding a 1.5 cm hem to each piece.
 The completed pieces. 

I then did the same to the big cream pieces.

No judgements should be made on the fabrics chosen, the two stripey ones we had to use and the pink cotton twill and cream wool twill were chosen by myself, after trekking around Birmingham market its shops and local shops to get a good match  - I wouldn't normally combine wool and cotton for many, many reasons but it does give a good look and the cream matched rather nicely.
Front of the dress, 
Back of the dress.

 Hints and tips, don't use a light coloured fabric when designing for a final collection in college. Everyone is going mad and the students using dye, are not always very careful with the iron, whereupon dye can be transferred to light fabrics. 

I've washed it, I can still see marks.
 Front neckline, where you can see I have lined the dress.
 And the back where you can see I haven't used a zip, I've just used a small open seam held at the top with a pearl button, quite elegant.  (don't worry we have tested whether the rather thin and elegant student can get into it, she can) 

And that is it, my final piece.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

The most amazing fabric shop (so far) in my world.

  Last Wednesday we trotted into London and after concluding our business, we decided our adventures should take us to a fabric shop that I had read about.  So I gave hubby the address and he in a matter of seconds tells me which tubes to catch, no pondering over maps for him.  In fact I think I could tell him to take me absolutely anywhere in London and he would, if only to prove to himself that he can do it without opening up a map.  I feel his mind is full of circuits and maps are pretty much like circuits so he probably looked at a map twenty years ago and its still crystal clear to him.

Our adventures this time took us to Shaukat & Company who couldn't have been nicer to us. 

We wondered and we pondered and I made little gasps in awe and delight. 

It is an amazing shop, it is huge, on two levels and if you can't quite make it they have a comprehensive web site to ponder and wonder and gasp.

I've never seen many of the Liberty fabrics, the cord and the twill in particular, so I bought myself a skirts worth of Liberty Needlecord for the autumn, and did I mention the prices, so much cheaper than Liberty's.
 Silk.  - so pretty.
 Shirting, 100% cotton.
 Wool and tweeds for suits.
And then we have the Liberty fabric. 
 and more and more and
 more and
It goes on and on, I've only photographed about a quarter of the shop. 

Its definitely worth a shopping trip.