I make a lot of things using a lot of different materials, and I fail to blog about the vast majority of them. Here are the few things I have written about though.

(For more posts about stuff I’ve made, read my simple living blog: The Really Good Life)

Blogtoberfest 2012 – Day 1/Make 1: Fimo fun – a WoW hearthstone

I’ve not been blogging enough recently, for various, uninteresting reasons so inspired by Lynsey of Swirly Arts, I’ve decided to throw myself back into the blogging deep end and take part in Blogtoberfest 2012 to try to remedy my “not blogging” problem – posting every day in October, one way or another, on one site or another (preferably more than one!).

Some of the posts will probably be short/picture heavy but I am going to try to include a lot of “makes” in the month, because I’ve not been making stuff enough lately and I’m missing it. Most of them will probably end up on The Really Good Life or How Can I Recycle This? but as this is neither “good life”y or recycled, I thought it wasn’t really appropriate for those sites. It is though, fittingly, a little swirly ;)

It’s a World of Warcraft “hearthstone” – a little thing you click in the game every time you want to return to your in-game home. I’ve been meaning to make a “real” one to go on my (house keys) keyring for a while but didn’t get around to it until today. The bits are meant to be there – it’s Fimo “Effect” which is supposed to look a bit like stone/marble. It needs to go in the oven to bake hard, but it can wait until we’ve heated up the oven for something else.

It’s very small and very geeky but it’s a start!

Long stitch – our old house

A couple of months ago, I fell in love with long stitch: it’s so much quicker to do than cross stitch so ideal for a lazy stitcher like me, but also I love the smoother, cleaner look – it’s less bitty than cross stitch. I started with (Derwentwater Designs seasons) landscape kits — I’ll take pictures of those when I finally frame them — but I very quickly went to wanting to make my own designs. I finished this one, my first one, about a month ago now:


It’s (very obviously to those who visited or read the title to this post) our old house in Armley. While not straying too far from the clean vibe of long stitch, I wanted to include lots of details that made it our house – the darker patterned brickwork around the tops of the windows, references to our blinds & curtains in the windows, the ironwork in front of the old coal hatch, the always left on the path bins…The blue gate and the brick red aren’t quite so luminous in real life – either the stitching or on the actual house – but all in all, I’m happy with it.

I’ve done a couple of small geeky projects since then – again, I’ll take photos of them when they’re framed – but my next designs are a lot bigger and more involved. Can’t wait to see how they go!

Class Home < Sweet End cross-stitch

Posting about the Team Peach piece reminded me that I haven’t posted about this other quickee either.

I actually started this in the summer of 2009 – while we were waiting the interminable wait to move into our new home. When we finally got the keys (two years ago last weekend), we were so busy getting it sorted before moving in at the end of the month, that this got put to one side and forgotten about. I found it again a few weeks ago and noticed it only needed about two dozen stitches to finish it.


It is the equivalent of “Home Sweet Home” in Ruby, John’s preferred programming language (or at least one way of expressing it in Ruby: we had a long chat back in 2009 about the best way to do it). The border is supposed to represent rails, as in Ruby on Rails, influenced by the RoR logo, but I think it might make more sense if the “rail” was thicker or if there were two rails — I might modify it in the future.


It’s currently living on a bookshelf in our dining room but will take up it’s rightful place in the porch when the porch has a roof again.

(John found the feather on a walk earlier in the year. It has no programming significance.)

Team Peach cross-stitch

I made this little piece as a break between two halves of a longer, more complicated sewing project.


Team Peach is what John & I call our household – a portmanteau of our surnames. It started as a joke but has become a less jokey, handy shortcut for referring to our collective.

I picked an off-white for the lettering as a thought a white-white would be too garish – behind glass in a frame though, I think it could have done with being a little brighter. The frame is only temporary as I’m not sure the fake flock works with the pseudo-sporty design ;)

We do not yet have t-shirts but that’s where the design idea came from. We do though have a theme song.

Screenprinting at Factory4, Leeds

John and I have wanted to learn how to screenprint for a while but couldn’t commit to an evening-a-week class – so Factory4‘s day course on Saturday was ideal for us — and great fun.

John had screenprinted before at school but the techniques we used on Saturday were far more advanced than he had used before. Rather than having to laboriously cut out stencils by hand, Factory4 use photo emulsion which transfers any grey scale image onto a screen – hand drawn sketch, clipart, a photo anything. I was delighted to here this as I find it easier to design stuff on the computer than draw it by hand – and cutting things out by hand is more difficult again. Using the photo emulsion method, I can just print out my work, “develop” it onto the screen then print away.

Our first test prints were just using clipart provided by the tutor, Gina – to learn the process, the basics of printing and introducing different colours – but in the afternoon, we got to design (or at least print out) our own images. I wanted to do a Really Good Life chicken but couldn’t modify the image on their computer so ended up getting another chicken to print instead – and found this fine skeletal specimen. After mixing a darker purple ink than the standard purple provided, I was really happy with print.


I tried colour blending with a bit of green too – wish I’d tried some more of those.


But, most excitingly, we got to print our designs onto cotton bags – I did my chicken on one side (which I think came out beautifully, although the ink is a lot darker than on paper) and John’s horse diagram on the other.



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10 goals for 2010 – penultimate update

I’ve not done an update on my goals for ages so thought it would be nice to do a quick one with some time still to go before the end of the year.

1. To make a meal using only ingredients I’ve grown, raised, caught or killed myself.
I completed this in July but as I mentioned in August, it wasn’t really about one meal – it was about learning, growing and cooking.

The garden continued to produce courgettes/marrows all summer, and later on we got tomatoes, chillis, beans and potatoes. There are still leeks & brassicas in the ground for overwintering and harvesting early next year. Some things were a bit of a failure, other things a roaring success. I’ve learnt a lot from doing it.

Because of gluts of output and because of wild food (particularly fruit – plums & blackberries) finds, I’ve learned quite a lot about preserving over the last few months – we have a cupboard full of jams, chutneys and pickled eggs. Speaking of eggs, the girls are still producing like crazy – averaging about 3.8 a day (ie, mostly 4 a day but occasionally just 3). We’ve learned new ways of using up these eggs so we’re not always having omelette and scrambled eggs – for example, we made fresh egg pasta recently – fun and yum!

Other learnings: I’ve been grinding more baking and I also went on a course to learn how to make cheese at the start of September. It was with LILI in Gateshead and combining it with seeing some ace old friends, it was one of my best weekends ever. I haven’t made any hard or even soft-but-with-rennet cheeses at home yet but that’s been a question of time, space and equipment more than desire. John’s also been learning about homebrewing – we’ve got 2 gallons of cider, a gallon of wild plum wine & some ginger beer from James’ ginger beer plant on the go at the moment – so I’ve been learning about that by osmosis.

On the wild fruit, I’ve been picking and identifying mushrooms all year and the weekend before last, we went on an organised fungi forage – very interesting and heightened our interest in the activity further. As I said in my blog post on The Really Good Life, it’s slow going though, learning about mushrooms and wild food in general, but that’s possibly not a bad thing.

Speaking of The Really Good Life – that’s my new more focused blog which documents all my eating, making and doing activities — more interesting content, less silly pictures of cats. If you read these blog, you should definitely read that one too!

2. To travel to a place on my “top ten places to go before I die” list.
As I said last time I did an update, this year has been very home-focused so we’ve not travelled and I’ve not minded that at all. I wrote up my top ten list as a blog post – because I first wrote the list on a little notepad about six years ago, and I have no idea where the original is now – but I decided not to post it because I’m having hippy issues with the whole idea. The way we’d have to do it feels too much like consumerism, to have not to be. It requires further thought and revision.

3. Finish writing my second novel.
Yeah, no. Still nothing here. But I have been writing – actual pen on paper, or fingers on keys writing – more lately. Due to my involvement with Bingley Little Theatre, I’ve been thinking that sort of thing than novels but it all stems from the same writing lobe and I’m just happy to be writing more again.

4. Make some sausages at home – wet English style ones and cured ones too
Still not done this but still really want to.

5. Spend at least a day fishing out on the North Sea.
I organised this really badly. Or rather didn’t organise it, that was the problem. Eventually though, I decided to set a date for it – but then there were dog sitting issues and John-being-busy issues and we bumped it a week – and by then the fishing excursions had finished for the year. Doh. Definitely for the list next year though.

6. Finally finish learning how to drive.
We bought new L plates. That’s as far as I’ve got on this one.

7. Make a full outfit’s worth of clothing for myself – including spinning any wool used.
I had a plan for this during my week off recently – my first full week off in five years! But either my sewing pattern reading skills or the pattern itself (or a combination of the two), let me down. The pyjama pants I made looked like they belonged to the clown version of MC Hammer. However, the year isn’t over yet and I’m going to try again. I’m also going to look out for a course/person to mentor me in making a few items, so I can get into the swing of things.

8. Learn how to program and make a mini-game/application using Ruby
Still stuck on my hashes issue. Given winter is approaching though, I might get back into it.

9. Climb a mountain or at least a jolly big hill.
Like the fishing, another failure to organise and now it’s a bit too wintery. However, as I’ve said before, we’re walking every day with Lily and that’s a good thing. Most weekends, we go somewhere slightly further afield than our woods, just for a change of scene, so we’re getting about a bit – but just a few miles at a time as she’s made it clear (emergency trip to the vets clear) that she’s not up for super long hikes at her age.

10. Participate more in the real world – plan/run a real life green event or scheme.
While none of my green plans have come about, and are unlikely to at this time of the year, I’m definitely participating more getting out and about more in the non-internet world because of my involvement at Bingley Little Theatre. As well as the two classes I help teach, I’ve been involved with three productions there this year (two with the kids, one with adults) and am lined up to help with another in January. The last production, the adults one in October, involved me GALLOPING ACROSS THE STAGE CLACKING TOGETHER COCONUTS. If that isn’t involvement in the real world, I don’t know what is.