Tara Tuesdays – Part 50 – Secret Birthday Surprise

Congratulations Tara on reaching your 50th ‘Tara Tuesdays’ post! I particularly love this one with your mum! – Emma

A Secret Birthday Surprise

My dear Mum had a big birthday back in February and being the loving daughter that I am, I wanted to do something special with her. Unfortunately, my original plans didn’t quite work out, but determined as ever, I planned a secret surprise for her last weekend….woo ha ha!

My Mum loves flowers (well who doesn’t?!) and I thought it might be a nice idea to organise something floral for her with my fab friend Kerrie who also happens to be my local florist! You may remember my beautiful wreath that I made with the lovely Lois back in December? Well, amongst millions of other things, Kerrie also runs workshops and I asked her if we could do something for my Mum. She of course happily obliged, so it was all arranged for this Bank Holiday Saturday. We were hoping to hold the workshop in my garden, but of course the British weather being what it is didn’t let us, no matter.

My Dad was in on the secret ‘just popping over for a cuppa’ flying visit plan, but didn’t know anything about the workshop. I had a strict Japanese style schedule planned for the day which amazingly went like clockwork!

11.15 Arrive for meet and greet

11.20 Dad and Si disappear to local farm shop and try to buy their lake (!) whilst Mum and I frequent local charity shop for bargain purchases 

12.00 Brunch at the Courtyard

13.00 Secret Floral workshop

14.00 Mum and I frequent local antique shop where more purchases were made (spend up city me thinks!)

15.00 Mum and Dad depart feeling very gruntled (I hoped) after such a wonderful day!

Now down to the actual workshop…

Kerrie explained that we would be making a table display which, currently are hugely popular at the weddings she florists at. Mum and I each had a galvanised bucket and a large piece of oasis that Kerrie had already soaked for us. She showed us each step and I tried to photograph as she went along.

After cutting the excess oasis off (Mum and I nearly cut ourselves like Samurai warriors when we did this bit!), Kerrie first added her eucalyptus foliage to get her shape, starting at the bottom of the oasis.

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And here it is with the foliage stage complete including the top piece.

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We then starting adding our flowers. Kerrie used English Alstromeria (my absolute fav’s) and made a triangle shape and then worked on filling in the gaps. The main aim was not to see any of the oasis . She said that we need to avoid lines of flowers and that you would normally work with an odd number of flowers to achieve this look.

Kerrie then added some purple loveliness as a filler (the name of it escapes me!) and here is her display at the next stage.

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English roses were then added.

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And then more roses to fill the display out. The final flowers were carnations. How beautiful does this look! No pressure on Mum and me then!

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And then it was our turn! Kerrrie left her display on the table for us to use and helped us throughout each step. Concentration face!

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My tongue wasn’t quite out in this pic!

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Managing a chuckle whilst supping a cuppa!

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My display just starting to take shape! Tight lipped concentration on this one!

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And Mum’s too! 

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And here we both are for our Tad-ah moment! Looking good me thinks!

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It was a lovely way to spend our afternoon and I think doing something like this would make the perfect gift for anyone wanting to do something special with their Mum or friends or anyone really. Anything goes! What did make me ROAR was when my Mum asked if we were ALLOWED to take our displays home! Reminded me so much of the children that I work with at school! Bless her!

Enormous thanks to Kerrie for her time and for making my special treat for my Mum simply perfick!

For more details on workshops and any other floral loveliness, check out Kerrie’s official Facebook page here.

Tara Tuesdays – Part 49 – The Courtyard Supper Club

The Courtyard Supper Club Friday 24th April 2015

Celebrating “Everything English” in honour of Saint George

At very short notice I was lucky enough to secure a table for supper at our local Cafe that twice a month host a supper club. Since opening back in December, The Courtyard have held some wonderful events which have created a real energetic buzz in our village. Every time I am in, be it attending a workshop (who me?!), enjoying breakfast or a hot chocolate mountain, it is pretty much jam packed full of people!

This month’s Supper Club was to celebrate “Everything English” in honour of Saint George. When I made our reservation I couldn’t resist the opportunity to volunteer my beloved to be Saint George for the evening. Although we are in semi-retirement from our medieval re-enactment hobby, he jumped at the chance to tart in his full armour, well who wouldn’t!?

We arrived early just to make sure hubbins was actually able to sit down comfortably for his supper and were greeted by our lovely hostess Anne. Simon helped Anne to welcome her guests for the evening before we had our meal, and asked everyone to toast Simon for agreeing to wear his full harness for this special occasion.

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Hubby sampling a glass of our local vintage from Davenport Vineyards that WE actually contributed towards making when we picked the 37 tonnes of grapes last year!

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I was chief squire for the evening and decided NOT to wear my medieval gear as I wanted to don my frock instead! I also didn’t want to outdo Saint G! Anne and her team went to huge efforts to source local ingredients for our menu for the evening and we were not disappointed.

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Our first course was tea smoked trout with rocket and potato salad. This was made with trout from Yew Tree Fisheries in Rotherfield. The picture doesn’t do this dish justice, as it was absolutely delicious!

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Next up was steak, ale and mushroom pie with a stilton puff pastry crust with beef from Louise and her daughter Harriet from Horsegrove Farm. We buy our meat from these lovely ladies every month (the burgers, chops and braising steak are to die for!). All I can say about this dish is “OH MY GOODNESS, HEAVEN ON A PLATE” bold, underlined, font 72! It was served with Sussex churdles, new potatoes, spring greens and honeyed carrots made using honey from our local sign writer David Peacock.

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Our penultimate course was ‘Sparkling Rhubarb Syllabub’ made with rhubarb from David Harman (my good friend Kerrie’s gorgeous Daddy) and sparkling wine from our local vineyard – Davenport Vineyards. I LOVE rhubarb and am rather partial to sparkling wine too (ahem) and can safely say I devoured this course! I was hoping that hubbins wouldn’t be able to manage his, but of course he didn’t save me any!

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Last up was our cheese course where we sampled “a taste” of Sussex cheeses provided by Alsop and Walker our local cheesemakers in Five Ashes, near Rotherfield. We like to think of ourselves as Turophiles (connoisseurs of cheese for those not in the know! I did have to google this by the way!) and were very excited when we saw what we were about to sample:

  • Sussex Farmhouse – semi hard traditional cheese
  • Sussex Blue – mild blue cheese with edible rind (resultage!)
  • Mayfield – Creamy-sweet, nutty tasting cheese
  • Lord London – semi soft cheese also with edible skin (double resultage!)

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We are very familiar with three of these cheeses as they regularly feature on our cheese boards. To finish we enjoyed coffee and hubby then dragged himself away from our table to have some photos taken with some of the guests as well as Anne and her family who also wouldn’t let us leave without first trying on Simon’s sallet!

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We had a splendid evening at this Supper Club and were made to feel VERY welcome and special by Anne and her lovely family and team, so much so we have booked again for July (May and June are already fully booked!) for a Tapas Supper which no doubt will be just as delicious!

After walking the few yards home, our evening didn’t end there as we decided to have one for the road at our local where we met our new landlady and landlord that have recently taken over. 

We finally got home much later than we had planned and it was pure joy for hubbins to be released from his metal corset knowing that his work for the evening was indeed finally done!

I felt ever so proud of my knight in shining armour, he was brilliant! Not bad for a shy chap that didn’t ever really like much attention, too late for all that now!  

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Tara Tuesdays – Part 48 – NOT So Quiet On The Crafting Front

NOT so quiet on the crafting front…

Along with my shifts at school and at the expense of the housework (oh it can wait), I have realised that since December I have been on three workshops, helped construct a willow igloo in my village, made a tapestry hanging, a cushion cover, crocheted three cowls, a beret and a frilled neckerchief, how have I had the time I ask myself!

We have a gorgeous new Café “The Courtyard” recently opened in the village and they have been running lots of different craft workshops that I have been just dying to have a go at! I love trying out new things especially if I haven’t done them before. The first workshop was Baubles of Beauty and was run by the lovely Laura from Freckles and Fire. It was just her and me and we had a lovely evening drinking tea, eating cake, putting the world to rights and making these beautiful baubles. I managed to make this:

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It was very fiddly but looked stunning hanging on my tree at Christmas!

My next workshop (again led by Laura) was Decadent Decorations. I learnt how to make hearts and giant snowflakes using old music paper. These were VERY addictive – I made a huge one for Emma when she visited before Christmas.

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Photograph above taken from Freckles and Fire Facebook page.

My most recent workshop was felt making where I learnt how to make felt balls from dyed merino tops with the lovely Mollie. My arms were killing me with all that rolling but I was delighted with my efforts and made this jewellery:

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My friend Lois came to this workshop with me and made this beautiful necklace:

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We have since booked again for another felt workshop and plan to make a felt bowl this time, watch this space!

My cushion cover was a Christmas gift for Lois and I used Emma’s Essex Linen and some Liberty fabric that I had in my stash. This pattern was one of the very first things I learnt to sew on my sewing night classes. I haven’t done any sewing for ages and this was a real joy to make:

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I am not ashamed to admit that I have become addicted to crochet! I am still a newbie but really do love how quickly things make up. I borrowed a pattern from Lois for a Drops cowl and used some yarn I had been given to make this:

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Not the best picture but it gives you an idea. Not content with just the one, oh no, I went on to make the same cowl in a smaller and medium size!  When the latest issue of my Simply Crochet magazine arrived I couldn’t wait to try the beret and the frilled neckerchief. Here they both are.  Back of the beret and also the medium cowl!

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Me in said beret looking tired and old!

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This was worked in the round using the amigurumi method, I used stitch markers which were a great help!

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Here is my frilled neckerchief which I finished yesterday and absolutely love!

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And finally, here is the official blurb on the willow structure I helped to construct:

A new structure appeared on the Rotherfield Millennium Green on Saturday 10th January. Seven enthusiastic volunteers with help from basket maker, Dominic Parrette, constructed a 3 metre wide ‘igloo’ using freshly cut willow rods which will root when pushed into wet soil. The workshop was part of a Heritage Lottery funded project called Meadows in the Weald. In rather damp conditions Dominic explained how to mark out the base of the structure with mulch… matting. The volunteers then started the building process by inserting 6 rods about 20 cm into the ground at regular intervals around the circle – 2 rods vertical, 2 at 45 degrees to the right and 2 at 45 degrees to the left. With what seemed like magical art they were guided to inter-weave the rods and start to build the dome. In parallel, a 2 metre entrance tunnel was similarly created.

Being very whippy, the rods needed tying at each crossover point, so the ever resourceful Dominic used ties cut from an old car inner tube. Fighting the wind and rain showers, the first level of weaving was finished and an outline of the end result was beginning to be seen. With much head scratching the volunteers continued the weaving always remembering the mantra – ‘over then under’.

The final result was far better than we expected and, when the willow starts to grow in the Spring, the whole structure will green over and become a living sculpture for children to play in. Until then, it will be best to leave the structure alone so that it can establish itself and take root but it won’t be long before buds begin to appear and the whole community can enjoy the fruits of our labours.

And here it is in all it’s glory!

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After reading all that I think I need to have a nice cup of tea and a bit of a rest, phew!

PS. No pics available of the tapestry!

Tara Tuesdays – Part 47 – Christmas Wreath Workshop

I have always wanted to have a go at making my own Christmas wreath for my front door and decided this year to finally give it a go. I was very fortunate in receiving this workshop as a birthday gift and was beside myself with excitement when the workshop day finally came around!

My friend Lois, another lady (Jo) and me met at my friend Kerrie’s shop (Highgate Florist) and were welcomed with a lovely roaring fire, a beautifully scented Jingle Berry Christmas candle and Christmas music….I knew we would be in for a treat!

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Kerrie had already made up our wreath rings with moss and wired them all into place for us and had a “here’s one I made earlier” example for us to see.

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Kerrie started off by showing us how to arrange and tie the foliage, not as easy as you might think! We were using spruce, holly and ivy for our wreaths and worked our way around the ring making sure we didn’t have any gaps. I was surprised by how much foliage we got through and found myself rummaging through the ivy trying to find the bits with all the berries on! My wreath took a long time to take shape but once I had all of the foliage on I was really pleased with it!  

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Of course once we had all made our wreaths we had to have a daft picture taken! I was disappointed that my wreath hid my face in this shot!

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Next up was the adding the ribbon, we all chose different styles and had fun trying to make bows. My favourite part was adding the cones, chillies, oranges, cinnamon sticks and seed heads. These all really made the wreaths look beautiful and finished them off perfectly! We had different wire to use to attach all of our bits and I decided to use EVERYTHING!

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We were all delighted with our finished wreaths and I am now displaying mine proudly on my front door! Every time I go out and come home I keep thinking “I made that!” I can’t believe I actually made something so beautiful in the space of a few hours! If you have always wanted to make a wreath of your own I can highly recommend attending one of Kerrie’s workshops if you are in the East Sussex/Kent area as you won’t be disappointed! The atmosphere was very relaxed, we all worked at our own pace and had help throughout the whole workshop. Kerrie of course made it all look SO easy, but if I can make one, so can anyone!  

Jo and her beautiful wreath.

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Cheesy grin alert!

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Lois and her stunning wreath.

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Lois and me and our beauties!

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I MADE THAT!

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Tara Tuesdays – Part 45 – Emma’s Fabric Studio Open Day October 2014

Another superb day was enjoyed by all in attendance at Emma’s Autumn Open Day at Tithe Barn in Lenham a couple of weekends ago. Emma and her loyal team of family and friends outdid themselves AGAIN by making the barn look simply stunning. I took my time throughout the day taking in all of the little details which just made the whole day so perfect, that girl sure knows how to make an old barn look gorgeous!

I went along with my friend Lois and we had such fun looking at all of the lovely yarns and fabrics SEVERAL times before we made our purchase choices! Excited sweats and not being able to string proper sentences together were fairly evident especially when we decided it would be a good idea to have a trolley to help us ferry all of our chosen fabric bolts around the barn! Our arms are just not that strong! I was rather restrained and did put some of my original fabric choices back before we had our fabrics cut and measured at the cutting table…

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I was mightily impressed that Emma had (in addition to everything else) organised celebs to come along for the day! Becks was so patient and understanding with all that camera snapping and posed beautifully in his handmade crochet necklace! What a star he was! Such a professional!

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I was particularly drawn to all the pom pom loveliness that was on display all over the barn, the Christmas tree on the stage looked divine and I certainly came away with lots of inspiration for new ideas for Christmas.

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Hilly Billy was in my opinion the main attraction of the day and I felt so privileged to be able to ACTUALLY GET IN IT!

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Posing with my new fabric bundle that Emma has named after me was also a real highlight and I can’t wait to see the pictures and blog when that comes out!

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If you were unable to make this or any of Emma’s other Open Days, I would strongly urge you to really try and save the dates in your diaries for next year if you can. As much as on-line shopping is convenient for us all with our busy as ever lives, sometimes it is just so much nicer to meet your favourite fabric supplier in person and to see and stroke lovingly the beautiful fabrics and haberdashery goodies that are available in REAL LIFE!

Huge love, hugs and thanks again to Emma and her family and friends for making this Open Day such a delight for me, I am already VERY EXCITED for future Open Days planned for 2015…..

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Tara Tuesdays – Part 44 – The Perils of Pom Pom Production

Craft Heaven at the Yarn Palace

I’ve been on a MEGA productive streak of late and have made excellent use of my time off during the summer holidays to help pass the time as I haven’t had a holiday this year (fetch that violin!). I’ve been desperately trying (and hitting several brick walls in the process) to finish old projects that I have had on the go for some time. What is it with us crafty folk? I AM TERRIBLE and start SO many things that remain unfinished for AGES. Is it the sheer excitement of starting something new, finding your pattern, picking the yarn or fabric, that you find yourself rushing to try and finish rather than taking your time and enjoying making it, only to end up hating the making up part and sewing of ends in?! I don’t know. I know I am not alone here as most of my crafty buddies are exactly the same! One friend told me recently that she was STILL trying to finish a tapestry that she started when her daughter was 18 months old…….she is now 17 years old and she still hasn’t finished it! Now that DID make me feel a bit better!

Moving on, I decided to try and actually FINISH some projects before starting anything new. I am trying to build some stock up for a Christmas Fair that my friend is having in November as I don’t want to stress myself out come October time realising I haven’t actually made anything! So far my stock consists of: stockings, bunting, crochet pot covers, cushions, decorations (unfinished), garlands (unfinished), and knitted reindeer – I have knitted 17 but haven’t made any up yet! Actually, reading that back, I don’t think I am doing too bad really and should perhaps not be so hard on myself.

But then….cue tumbleweed and everyone stopping and staring at you when you walk into a pub that you are not a local of….I….met….Lois! OH….MY….GOODNESS! I know you all probably think I am a loon, but she is just as bad, IF NOT WORSE! Lois is the sister of one of my re-enactment friends, and we only properly met for the first time at a drinks party (a pub in London) at the back end of last year. We got on immediately and arranged to meet up in the New Year which never came off, but got talking on Facebook after she posted a picture up of her husband in a knitted Star Wars hat THAT SHE DIDN’T MAKE! I have to point that out now as she referred to me then as “O Crafty One”. Can you see where I am going with this?

Two weeks ago, the FABULOIS came over to see me for a day of “Craft Heaven at the Yarn Palace” (her words not mine). She had asked me beforehand if she needed to bring anything, I just said “whatever you are working on or nothing if you just want to chat”. I knew it was going to be a fun packed day when she arrived at my front door….with this……….

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After much hilarity at the trolley (it was full of her current projects), we got down to the important business of the day…..SHOW AND TELL! Being the excited, can’t sleep the night before person that I am, in an OCD fashion (most unlike me) I had neatly arranged all of my current projects on my dining room table which was to be our work space for the day….or so I thought!

Apart from excited sweats, masses of hysteria, giddiness, high pitched shrieking, flicking through magazines and books and lots of writing things down in beautiful “to do” list books, we actually were only able to achieve this…

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Lois had been telling me about this brilliant contraption that you make pom poms with that she had purchased. She gave me a demo and produced this beauty! HOW WE LAUGHED! Two grown women, beside themselves with crafty excitement only managed to achieve THIS… I must point out that Lois arrived at my house just after 10.30 and the pom pom catastrophe was at 15.55!!!!!!!!!! She did however redeem herself,  by making me a lovely pom pom and giving me one of her “here’s what I made earlier” efforts AND by bringing along this beautiful cake which we ate during the day.

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I had a go at making pom poms myself as I don’t ever remember making them as a child. I was delighted with my efforts and can admit to now being an ADDICT and have since ordered my very own set of pom pom makers.

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Not content with seeing Lois two weeks ago, we arranged to meet up again this week as well AND have a date in the diary for next week! This week was as much fun as our first meet. I nearly took the Postman’s hand off when my pom pom maker kit arrived, but didn’t get to make one until much later in the day… I can see a pattern emerging here! We did have LOTS of show and tells to discuss and it would seem we are most productive when we actually AREN’T together, funny that!

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I decided enough was enough and ripped open my Pompom maker kit to have a go at making my own Pompom. In an Attic 24 style, are you ready to see my “ta dah” moment… brace yourself and make sure you are sitting down…

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How could it be possible that my pom pom looked just as rubbish as Lois’ first attempt! I blame the teacher myself, nothing to do with NOT reading the instructions… ahem!

My second attempt was MUCH better and I know I am going to add pom poms to EVERYTHING from now on! I even saw a kit where you can make 20 IN ONE GO! Can you imagine! Oh the possibilities are endless! No wonder I have trouble sleeping some nights! I am so going to have to get one of these kits!

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I will of course keep you posted on my progress with my pom pom projects and all other craft related loveliness that I get up to, so, watch this space!

Tara Tuesdays – Part 43

KNITTED FACIAL TOPIARY

I received the KNIT YOUR OWN MOUSTACHE book for Christmas last year from my dear friend Cat and was beside myself with excitement when I actually looked through it and couldn’t wait for an opportunity to make some of the delights contained within!

The perfect opportunity arose before a recent visit to our best friends and God Children. There has been a bit of a “tache” theme going on in my family for a while now as my hubby often dons interesting facial hair! He has received several “tache” related gifts from our best friends and this visit was no exception when we exchanged Christmas gifts (yes, I know it is August!) A tache ice cube tray and a giant monster tache magnet for the Landy were included this year! Once we had opened all of our presents I was able to finally share my piece de resistance……

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Here, we have the WALRUS, DALI, SVEN, CLASSIC, HANDLEBAR & PSYCHIATRIST’S beard all hand knitted by me using patterns from the KYOM book. I can honestly say I have never smiled so much whilst crafting even when I went wrong with my first attempt on the HANDLEBAR. The beard was thrown across the room in a fit of rage and then unpicked as I couldn’t work out how to do it! Several deep breaths and glasses of red wine later, I managed it just in the nick of time….the night before our visit!

I had written down all of the names onto pieces of paper which we all picked out, I then handed out the taches/beard to everyone…… HOW WE ROARED when we all tried them on!

My plan for the weekend was to get pictures of us in the taches/beard and we had several opportunities to do this! Here we all are on the Chasewater Railway at Cannock Chase….

SVEN

 

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CLASSIC

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WALRUS

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BEARD (my God-daughter bears a slight resemblance to Conchita Wurst…this years Eurovision Song Contest winner in this picture!)

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HANDLEBAR (emergency elastic repairs were required for this tache as it got broken due to overuse!)

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DALI

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I am still undecided as to what was my favourite and had to try the beard on as well!

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After several attempts we managed to get a super star jump pose and also this shot of us all! Hubby looks exhausted in this picture after all that jumping and his tache is in action mode too!

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2014 Christmas card me thinks!

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The author of this book Vicky Eames aka ‘Wife of Brian’ has her own website where you can find out more about her and her facial wares. I was so impressed with this book and can highly recommend it, hubby has since requested I crochet him a pipe from the book as I won’t let him have a real one, oh joy! Another project to add to my ever growing list!

Tara Tuesdays – Part 42

Emma’s Fabric Studio Open Day

I cannot believe that nine months have passed since Emma’s Fabric Studio’s first Open Day back in October 2013! Where has that time gone?!?!

As expected, the second Open Day at Tithe Barn in Lenham, Kent did not disappoint as my photos will confirm! Emma and her fabulous Team “WILL WORK FOR CAKE” did a fantastic job of getting everything just so and making the barn look as beautiful as it did.

I went along with my friends Mary and Mags and after posing for photos with the yarn bombed vehicle that stood in pride of place in the barn, we had delicious refreshments of cake and tea and a good look around at all of the gorgeous fabrics/yarn and haberdashery goodies for sale.  I took lots of pictures of the car from all angles as it looked amazing!

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I haven’t seen Emma since our Christmas get together and ashamedly haven’t been keeping myself up to date with her latest fabric ranges (I do follow Emma’s Fabric Studio on Facebook mind!) There were masses of loveliness to choose from and trust me if she had credit card facilities available, I would have spent a small fortune! I was rather restrained this time around and purchased some Essex Linen and some new Christmas fabrics that I just simply could not resist! I do have a thing for Nordic red & white at Christmas so these particular lovelies really appealed to me. I have no idea what I will use them for but just simply had to have them!

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Along with the beautiful Harris sewing machine that you may recall from the last Open Day, there was beautiful vintage Singer sewing machine on display that I was drooling over. I would SO love to fill my house with vintage machines! Where I would put them all I have no idea but I would still like to have them!037 (640x480)

There was some beautiful Hoop Embroidery on display and my particular favourite was this one!026 (640x480)

I was also rather taken with the yarn/wool area  display and thought this looked fabulous, so bright and cheery!042 (640x480)

Tithe Barn itself is stunning and the grounds it is located in are just perfectly English. It was a glorious day and although we had one huge downpour, it didn’t affect us.

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After a rather lovely afternoon, we headed back home laden with fabric, yarn and of course more cake!

If you missed the chance to go to this Open Day, please do try and get along to the next one, trust me, you will most definitely NOT be disappointed……023 (640x480)045 (480x640)049 (640x480)

Tara Tuesdays – Part 41

Quick note from Emma.  I did have a chuckle reading Tara’s blog post, mainly because of how far she’s come from when she was struggling into our sewing classes with her really heavy old machine. Now she’s hand stitching, making curtains, has worked as a Seamstress for an outdoor clothing company (with an industrial machine) and is now spending a little time to finish her old projects. I particularly love her work in progress photos below, she has a fabulous concentration face and manages to block all noise out when she’s trying to do something. Wish I could do the same!  Here’s Tara’s curtain post…

I know it’s only a curtain…….BUT

Making a curtain for my HUGE front door has been a job that has been on my “to do” list for years…..and I mean years. I live in a big old Victorian house which is hard to keep warm at the best of times when it gets particularly cold. The heat just blows out of the letterbox and the door has been crying out for a curtain to keep us toasty and warm for a good while.

It wasn’t the actual making of the curtain that worried me, more the “how to do it” as I really didn’t have a clue. Fortunately, I have a very clever friend that makes curtains for a living and she kindly offered to assist me with this project. We met up after Christmas last year and measured up and she told me how much fabric, lining and interlining I would need. We arranged to go fabric shopping in the New Year, I was all up for buying William Morris fabric as I adore everything this chap has ever designed but did a sharp intake of breath when I realised this would set me back some £50 plus a metre! My friend Tracy suggested a local discounted fabric shop that we could go to, so we set off to have a look and see what we could find. I was delighted with the fabric that I purchased because it was SUCH A BARGAIN! Normally it would be £35 a metre which was way over my budget. I actually got the fabric for just £2.99 a metre and couldn’t quite believe it when they rung it up on the till! As you can see from the picture it has a two flower pattern repeat and is made from quite a heavy duty linen.

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Tracy helped me with cutting out the amount of fabric needed for the curtain (2 widths) and I machine stitched the 2 pieces together. She cut out and stitched the interlining for me as this can be a bit tricky as it is very stretchy fabric and showed me how to interlock stitch the interlining onto the main fabric. All of this was done by hand and I really enjoyed this as it was such a therapeutic process. Tracy gave me step by step instructions and we would meet up every week once I completed each stage. During this time the curtain was slowly starting to take shape and was kept on the back of my sofa bed where I would go in and drool over the fabric on most days! What was also nice about making this curtain was that I wasn’t in a rush to get it finished so I could actually enjoy making it.

The next stage was the hem where I learnt how to pyramid stitch and do mitred corners which I am very proud of. I inserted weights in the corners and after machine stitching the two pieces of lining fabric together and sewing the hem we then added the lining starting at the side hems. These were sewn by hand using slip stitch then added using interlocking stitches. We then slip stitched the other side and then added the lining to the bottom hem. When I was sewing the lining on and had only the remaining side and bottom hem to do, I was a bit sad as I had enjoyed making this curtain so much I didn’t want it to end! Normally when I make something I am all excited at the start, and can’t wait to finish it as I am keen to start something new! I think this is typical of most crafters unless it is just me!

The last part of the making process was to tidy up the top and add the heading tape and I found this to be the hardest thing to do. Once we had done this, we added the hooks and had the grand hanging ceremony! I was SO excited about this and so pleased with myself to finally see my curtain hanging at the door in all it’s glory.

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All in all, with the main fabric, interlining, lining, heading tape and hooks, this curtain cost me £58 to make! You couldn’t buy one that cheaply especially if it was made by hand!

I am now desperate to make more curtains for my house and keep looking at the ones I already have thinking that I could make them so much better! My next project is a roman blind which Tracy is also helping me with! I already have the fabric for this and this time I AM using William Morris! Watch this space to hear about my progress….

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Tara Tuesdays – Part 40

Pastures New

I am about to start a new chapter in my life where I will be working in my local village Primary School which I am very much looking forward to. I will of course miss all of my lovely friends that I made during my time sewing, but I think of them all every day when I look at this beautiful leaving gift they made for me. If I’m honest, I was a bit overwhelmed when I opened it as each square has it’s own special meaning to me… let me explain further.

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One side has a square covered in Paramo badges, a denim heart and an appliqued horse, and a square with a beautiful sewing machine on it. The badges are a replica of ones that I have sewn onto garments whilst repairing during my Seamstress career and will be a constant reminder to me of this! The denim heart and appliqued horse was made by Clairey. As you may already know, I ADORE horses and Clairey and I regularly ride together on Ashdown Forest. I was with Claire when she bought the fabric she has used for the horse; it was for a dress she is making and I asked her if I could have a scrap to keep that I would use to remind me of her. I also made a horse square for her on a cushion my work lovelies and I made for her for her 40th birthday, so she was reciprocating my horse love with her part of the cushion.

The sewing machine square was made by Sue. Sue made me my beautiful sewing machine pin cushion which I have blogged about previously and you will notice that there are some familiar fabrics on this square that I think she purchased from one Emma’s Fabric Studio… I particularly LOVE the cotton reel fabric on this square.

On the other side of the cushion there are lots more squares. If I start from the top left this time.

Lou made me the first square, she started to call me BUTTERNUT when we were looking for some fabric in this colour to use for a repair. We adopted a Cornish accent (hers was MUCH better than mine!) and from then on in every morning when she arrived at work I was greeted with a “Morning Butternut” I think you might have had to be there to appreciate this..!Image 12

Next to the Butternut square is a crocheted square with my name on made by Julie. Julie is a dab hand at crochet and no doubt would have whipped this up in about 5 minutes! I love the pretty effect the crochet has on this square.

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We then have another square with my name on with each letter and it’s meaning phonetically. This was hand sewn by Debbie and is referring to our previous Civil Service career!

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Sage and Onion and Denim Walls need a more detailed explanation however. You will have all seen or know of Peter Kay’s sketches with his misheard lyrics? Well, let me tell you, I could certainly give him a run for his money with this! Sage and Onion is my interpretation of the Toni Braxton song “Say That You Love Me”, which if you listen closely is definitely what she sings… Sage and Onion I mean, and Denim Walls is what I have ALWAYS sung to the Pet Shop Boys song West End Girls where they sing “In a West End Town and Dead End World”… you will need to listen to both songs to see if you can hear my version or the correct ones! Singing my version out loud in the sewing workshop after only being in the job for a few months made all the girls Laugh Out Loud and then became a regular joke when more of my misheard lyrics came to light… on a daily basis!

The pretty apple square was made by Alison and she made me this as I ate an apple a day to keep the Doctor away most lunchtimes!

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Beccy made me the stripy square with the appliqued heart and if you look closely the Seasalt label. I am a lover of Seasalt AND stripes and Beccy loves the colour purple! She has beautifully blanket stitched this on and you need to see it up close to see how neat her sewing is!

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The letter T square is another Paramo reminder, I have spent many a time removing and replacing old poppers!

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Catkin made me the next square with my name on in pretty pastel colours, a cute kitty cat and some knitting! As a HUGE lover of cats and knitting this square is particularly apt!

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The next square was made by Hayley and is a really clever use of Cub badges that are relevant to me. I had to look them up to get the exact meanings and this is what I found. There are Collector, Hobbies, Home Help and Local Knowledge Activities badges all of which are very appropriate. Local Knowledge relates to my Re-enactment, hobbies could be horse riding, sewing, knitting or crochet, home help is because I am OBSESSED with cleaning and Collector… I am not sure about that one actually! The 1 in the middle symbolises how long Hayley and I have been friends for and worked together.

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And last but not least is a wee pair of jeans with an orange crotch patch. When I started working with my sewing buddies I brought a pair of hubby’s old Levi’s in for some crotch repairs. 17 months on, I did start to fix them but yes, you’ve guessed it, I never finished them! I also didn’t think I had enough fabric so was advised to “just use orange”, as it wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb much would it!

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Every other day I rotate my cushion so that I see both sides all of the time and have put it in my library where it sits in pride of place on my sofa bed. I go into that room every day and always have a huge smile on my face when I see it. I will fondly remember my time working with my sewing lovelies and am thrilled to have received this beautiful and thoughtful handmade gift that I will treasure forever. Thank you ladies, you really don’t know how much this means to me…. xxxxxxxxxx