Foxy!

Well, as promised here’s my latest toy:

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It’s a cute little fox! I wanted to make a present for my sisters friend who recently had a baby, the nursery had a woodland theme so after some deliberation between a fox or an owl, I eventually went with a fox. I used my basic doll shape as a starting point and modified the head shape to be more foxlike. My first attempt was a bit so-so, I trimmed the seam allowance for the tail to short and the seam ended up splitting – definitely not suitable for a baby! I initially made the arms separately to the body, but joining them was a bit of a pain. So for the next version the arms were integral to the pattern and I didn’t cut the tail seam to close!

Here’s some work in progress shots:

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And here’s the back view:

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All in all I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out.

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Sewing mojo is back!

After what seems like forever, I finally got the sewing machine out again! I’ve finished two projects, yay! One is a toy, which I’ll blog about later, but the second is the worlds most awesome pair of trousers.

I don’t often get to make clothes for my son (4.5yrs), he simply gets too many as gifts – especially T-shirts. But, he has had a growth spurt recently and all his trousers are getting a bit small. Flicking through the April issue (4/2015) of Burda, I spotted a pair of trousers, the sizing started at 5yrs, so I figured they should fit him.

I had an old pair of jeans which I had already used part of for another project, and some pirate fabric from my stash. I pretty much followed the pattern as described, omitting the back pockets and using the pirate material for the inner waistband, front pockets and belt loops. I have to say, I’m delighted with the results, and more importantly, my son is too!

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I do need to find a smaller belt for him, as the one in the photo wraps almost twice round him. I would have also liked to make the legs about 1″ longer, but didn’t have quite enough material. I plan to use the pattern as a basis for some shorts and will probably try and add some elastic to the waistband for a better fit. The pattern itself was pretty straight forward, although I did sew the zip facing on backwards, but this was easily rectified. I admit I did refer to the culottes pattern in the magazine for some guidance as this was the subject of a pattern walk through with step by step photos. I did as usual cock up the buttonhole, even though my practise one came out fine. Other than those niggles, I’m more than happy with my return to sewing.

For reference the version in the magazine is as in the following photo, I would link to the pattern on the Burda website, but can’t find it.

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Allotment – February 2015 Update

Well it’s been a funny old month at the allotment, more weeding and sorting out the paths. Some days have felt like spring is just around the corner and others have felt like its the middle of winter. Still the weeds have started growing so it has to start warming up soon!

I got some spuds planted – rocket seed potatoes from Wilkinsons. It’s nice to get something in the ground. I have some cauliflowers started indoors, but I really need to get some more seeds sown. I also planted some mint, thyme and rosemary.

It’s been a slower month for harvesting, the hungry gap is looming! But I managed to get a decent haul of potatoes and a few parsnips. All in all about £8.90 worth of veg.

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Speaking of potatoes, I discovered that you can freeze mashed potatoes. I’ve tried freezing chipped potatoes in the past but they turn a bit black, but mashed potatoes freeze great! So I can cook a massive pot of spuds, mash them and freeze them and they’re ready for next time you need them.

I’m hoping my sprouting broccoli starts producing soon, I’ve been eating the leaves – really tasty! But the spears are still tiny, fingers crossed they start producing soon.

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Allotment – January 2015 Update

Throughout January I have started to sort the paths out. Every year the weeds on the paths get out of hand and I spend more time weeding the paths than I do the beds, this means I have less time to plant and harvest food crops. So this winter I started early. I’ve dug over the paths and removed any roots of bindweed, couch grass and ground elder. Then I’ve covered the paths with either weed suppressant membrane or cardboard, and then a layer of woodchip. The membrane will probably do a better job of keeping the weeds at bay, but they didn’t have any in at Wilkinson when I went looking, and cardboard is free so I used that instead. I had to buy some woodchip, last year we waited patiently for the free deliveries to the allotments, but unless you’re camped out up there and know exactly when they’ll arrive, the old fellas will beat you to it!

I also started a compost heap, I’ve scrounged pet bedding from the local pet shop (mainly rabbit pee soaked sawdust) and mixed this with the tea and coffee waste from work. It roughly is a 50/50 mix, and will hopefully make a decent amount of compost.

Throughout January I harvested a respectable amount of parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes and kale/broccoli leaves.

7.3kg Parsnips
4kg Jerusalem Artichokes
3 small bags of greens

This all added up to £20.90 worth of produce.

I was most pleased with the parsnips, I got some monsters, one of them fed the whole family with leftovers! Not too bad considering they were self seeded and I only weeded the bed once.

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Allotment – Introduction

I’ve had an allotment for the last 3 years or so, its great to have a place to escape to. I’ll confess to not being the best gardener in the world, the weeds generally get the better of me by mid-summer, and it sometimes feel that I don’t get much produce for the amount of effort spent. But, I love it! It’s a chance to switch off from everyday worries and spend time out in the fresh air.

My plot measures approximately 6m by 30m, there are two sheds and one greenhouse.

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View from the north

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View from the south

The soil is atrocious, over the years before we took it over it must have been rotivated, and sprayed with all manner of chemical nasties. It’s generally uncompacted, but has zero organic matter and no worms. To start to remediate the soil we ordered some horse manure, we vastly underestimated how much would be delivered, so after filling up the area set aside for it, we had just dump it straight on the beds. That was about two years ago. In the areas where the manure was placed, you can definitely see the difference in soil quality. Unfortunately whilst helping with one problem, the manure also created another. There were loads of weed seeds brought in with the manure, which of course increased the amount of weeding to be done.

Thankfully I have discovered permaculture and several techniques which I hope to implement, to improve the soil and reduce weeding. The most important being sheet mulching. I had hoped to introduce this last season, but struggled to find enough resources. This year I have managed to get a reasonably steady supply of cardboard, I have arranged with work to take home the tea and coffee waste and the local pet shop saves the spoiled bedding for me. Shy bairns nae sweets!

My plans for this year are:
– sort the paths out – I’ve been putting woodchip down, this will reduce the need for weeding the paths and hopefully conserve moisture.
– sheet mulch the beds with cardboard and whatever organic matter I can get my hands on.
– continue with living mulches, clover worked well in some areas, so I’ll keep doing this.
– plant lots of vegetables, preferably perennials and encourage self seeding.

Thanks for reading!

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Fun Dolls by Aranzi Aronzo

This is my all time favourite sewing book, I must have had it for going on 10 years now. My love of making toys stems from this book. I’ve made countless toys over the years from this book, most have gone on to other homes so I have no photos, but below are the ones I kept for myself. The book is beautifully laid out with comic strip instructions featuring two bunnies, which talk you through the process. All the toys have quirky personalities, and range from bunnies and bears to cups and cars. The templates sometimes need enlarging, but to be honest I usually just leave them at 100%, they are just a bit smaller that’s all. My first few toys were hand sewn, as I got the book before I got a sewing machine. It was more time consuming but a nice activity for in front of the tv. My favourite pattern has to be the turtles, one day (ahem) I would love to make a massive one and have it as a floor cushion.

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This really is a great book for beginners.

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Knit Your Own Zoo – Sally Muir & Joanna Osborne

I received this book for Christmas, a lovely surprise! There is a wide selection of wild animals to choose from (24 in total), all the family had a good look through to pick their favourites. There’s even a free bonus pattern to download (chameleon). For my first animal I picked the penguin, it looked a bit more straight forward than others, but most importantly, is so cute! I have to say I thought it would take ages to make, but it came together quite quickly. I loved the construction detail, how the head is shaped using short rows and the front stitches are picked up from the back leg stitches, meaning less sewing up! I must admit my sewing up skills need some work, not the neatest job in the world.

There are some simpler looking animals in the book, but overall I would say the book is geared towards more experienced knitters rather than beginners. That said, if you never push your boundaries you never improve. The instructions are clear, line by line, with a handy reference page of techniques in the back. If a technique is new to you, as always YouTube or Google is your friend.

Enough talk, here are a few photos of my lovely penguin.

Now which one to do next! I quite like the look of the giraffe, the bear, the lion, the meerkat, the elephant and the crocodile…… I think I’m going to be busy!

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