Thursday, June 30, 2005


Ok so its now officially “Year of the Visitors”. I feel very lucky to have had so many friends and family around but am harbouring a secret fear that now people have made the excessively long trip from Aus that they won’t be in a hurry to turn around and do it again for several years. Maybe the visits should have been rationed…

After a couple of years of general stuffing around I am now reaping the best reward of having a permanent job – paid holidays! Last week we went up to Smithy’s cottage for a relaxing holiday – with our combined families. Had brief moments of questioning our sanity but great weather and daily BBQs meant things stayed pretty chilled.

The holiday was vaguely timed to coincide with my birthday. Smithy had been winding me up for months about “the best birthday surprise in the world”. When he arrived at the cottage on Monday I obediently closed my eyes and waited patiently. I opened them to find my surprise standing in front of me looking a bit jetlagged. He had collected Suze from Manchester on the way through! After a bit of girly squealing I discovered that they had cooked the plan up months ago and I had two whole weeks of ridiculous conversations and taking the piss out of reality TV participants to look forward to.

Back in London this week we had a family outing to see the new Billy Elliot musical which lived up to the movie amazingly well. It was collectively pronounced one of the best musicals ever. Very funny, great music and the boy that played Billy was amazing for a young kid – he was practically on stage the whole time with some pretty energetic tap dancing routines.

I can’t believe that the two weeks are almost over. I’m skiving off work tomorrow to hang with Sue before she heads back on Saturday. To remedy the depression that is sure to follow I’m busy planning a trip home at Christmas.

Friday, June 10, 2005


Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

How to create an instant fabric collection? Find an amazingly generous quilter with an eye for colour and a taste for english tea! Thanks Mary - I love the fabric you sent. And some of my favourites out of the whole collection (and there were a lot!) were the orange ones. So I guess my comment in the secret pal questions that I don't really like orange is a big lie.

Fab cartoon
Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

I'm now thinking about what to make! Some will go into a quilt of some desription but I have my eye on a couple that I think would be great featured on a bag like this cartoon print.

Although there are probably a couple of other projects I should finish first.

This weekend is going to be dedicated to making the notions holder for back-tack. I came up with some ideas last night - inspired by a really cute notions holder in the latest Quilt Japan. How timely. I wonder how many others will have the same idea. The fabric I was sent lends itself perfectly.

I'm also going to go to "a market for buttons and bows - buy vintage glass buttons, toys and more at the VV Rouleaux playground market" according to a blurb in the paper. Sounds enticing. Handily close to Kings Road...there might be a few other shops to pop into while I'm there :)


Brown Suit Exhibit A
Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

I know I mentioned it last summer but in Frankfurt on the weekend I was once again amazed by the absolute enthusiasm Germans or at least Franfurters have for Brown Suits. Men are by far the worst offenders but the girls aren't left out by any means.

Brown suits are carefully matched with Brown toned Ties and Brown Shoes. Variations on the them include Beige and Yellow.

My question is WHY?

Brown Suit Exhibit A

Brown Suit Exhibit B

Brown Suit Exhibit B
Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

Brown Toned Casual

Brown Toned Casual
Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Everybody's doing it..

Secret Pal 5 that is!! Over 600 participants from all over the world in another swap thingie for knitters. I couln't resist - presents in the mail - who wouldn't want that?!! Hence the recent knitting revival in part.

I think I will be very easy to have as a partner - I have absolutely nothing in the way of a yarn stash and two sets of needles 3mm and 3 1/4mm !! So lots and lots of scope there. On the other hand there isn't much knitting info for my partner to pick up on from my blog so here is the questionnaire to give whoever my secret pal out there is a few more clues...

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand? Or is it all the same to you?
I wouldn't say a snob but probably am - I definitely prefer natural - wool and cotton.
2. Do you spin? Crochet?
No - although I did once crotchet some sqares for a blanket.
3. Do you have any allergies? (smoke, pets, fibers, perfume, etc.)
4. How long have you been knitting?
About a week! Okay a little exaggerated but not much. I once made a scarf many years ago and have just had the urge to take it up again. I am yet to decrease or increase. I think I started a jumper once but handed it over to Mum when it got to the shaping part. Am hoping to have more perseverance now.
5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Not at the moment
6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)
Lavendar, lemongrass, bergamot, mint
7. Do you have a sweet tooth?
oooh yes. anything chocolate doesn't have a chance around me especially cadbury's and reese peanut butter cups. Oh and of course Tim Tams.
8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?
At the moment am into quilting. I used to do alot of sewing, making dolls and toys - all sorts of stuff but have only got back into it recently.
9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I like all sorts and I don't always know how to categorise the music I like so here are a few examples...Black Eyed Peas, Kylie, Nina Simone, Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, am currently loving Gwen Stafini's new album, Counting Crows, Coldplay, Cowboy Junkies, Buddah Bar,
10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer?
Any colors you just can't stand?Blue is my old fave but currently am into pink (regressing to six years old) and red. I like soft and bright colours. Not so much into the yellows and oranges or purple either mostly.
11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
Living with my boyfriend when we manage to find ourselves in the same country, currently in a flat in London so not good for pets but would looove a dog one day (either Border Collie or a Lab or a 'Morran'). Maybe even a cat. And a horse. And chooks. Okay now thats going a bit far.
12. What are your life dreams? (really stretching it here, I know)
Goodness too many to say. Just to enjoy life really.
13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?
Don't really have a fave as yet.
14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
synthetic I don't really like
15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?
Just to finish my first and current project
16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Yep that's it at the moment. But I'd like to work up to socks.
17. What are you knitting right now?
a baby cardigan- following a Debbie Bliss pattern
18. What do you think about ponchos?
Cute on little girls.
19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?
Only straight so far. Am a circular virgin.
20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I think plastic - as per above haven't branched out much.
21. Are you a sock knitter?
Maybe one day - would like to give it a go.
22. How did you learn to knit?
Mum taught me and have been looking at new book to refresh
23. How old is your oldest UFO?
A jumper (sweater) - well it did get finished eventually... by Mum.
24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?
Not so into the animation but like Japanese stuff
25. What is your favorite holiday?
Adventure - safari in africa, temples in cambodia. And beaches. And mountains. Or for holiday seasons (probably what this question meant?) - Christmas for getting together with family and hot sun and seafood (in Aus obviously not London!)
26. Is there anything that you collect?
Used to be a huge collector of pretty much anything but since travelling have learnt to not get started. But still accumulate books, magazines and craft stuff despite best intentions.
27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
None - have just subscribed to Quilts Japan
28. Any books out there you are dying to get your hands on?
I read all the time and I read pretty much anything so am always looking for something good.

...Hay continued

Linen tablecloth
Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

Anyway back to the shopping story. I had quite an exciting find. I popped into the Oxfam store (looking for jumpers to shrink) and was amazed to find an extensive display of vintage embroidered linen. It was in all perfect condition and beautifully laundered and starched. A gorgeous hand embroidered tablecloth for the price of a sandwich!! I couln't decide between the pieces so ended up with most of them.

When I asked the lady at the counter about where they were from, she said that one of the lady's that sorts the linen puts aside some of the better pieces she comes across throughout the year. Then once a year she launders them all and puts them all out on display. And that one day was the day I was there! How lucky. She said that word had got out and when they opened that morning there was a queue at the door. i can only imagine what they had at the beginning of the day.

here are some pictures - not the best lighting i'm afraid.

Linen tablecloth
Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

Linen tablecloth
Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

First Knitting Project

First Knitting Project
Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

But in the meantime here is my first attempt at knitting since I made a scarf when I was about 8.

I have been eyeing off the beautiful wools and books at John Lewis on my way through to the sewing section and last week I couldn't resist any more. How can you resist wool called "baby cashmerino"? Well I'm sure many could...but not me.

I was attracted to this Debbie Bliss book with its lovely pictures, chubby babies and the promise of simple beginner patterns.

But I am tending to agree with the comments at Craftapalooza about the Debbie Bliss patterns. I can't say with much authority as this is the first pattern I've followed but the instructions just did not seem to match up with the picture. They were clear enough (cast on, moss stitch a row and then moss stitch 5 more rows) but when followed i got the "front" of the cast on row at the back. Huh?! It didn't match the picture either. And Mum agreed and she's a knitting guru.

Oh well. I'm enjoying the knitting and finished the back over the weekend. Now for the challenge of buttonholes.

St Briavel's & Wales

Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

I drove down (across?) to Wales with Mum and Dad on Friday. The hottest day London has seen this century (or something like that – bloody hot anyway…and no aircon in the car). Needless to say tempers were slightly frayed after the 5 hour car trip (only took 3 to get back –bank holiday traffic for ya). But once we arrived at the Corner Cottage in a lovely corner of the Wye Valley we were soothed by the green country visas. We went for a walk starting in the field behind the cottage in the lovely evening light. Yay for long summer evenings!

We walked through a field of cows who barely registered our presence, an empty field except for the bobbing tails of dozens of rabbits that quickly disappeared down their burrows as we approached and a field of very friendly horses gently nudging us for snacks.

There was a big hoo-ha about “rambling” last year prompted by Madonna complaining about plebs traipsing across her paddocks. I think people are basically allowed to ramble in the countryside where ever they want to and the laws have recently been widened. In any case we didn’t see another person on our little stroll through fields and over stiles.

On Saturday we drove to the village of Hay-on-Wye. It is a small untouched village of streets winding around the castle and filled with bookstores – 39 of them. It was packed with people as the Hay book festival is on at the moment. Mum found a really old book on Leather making in the Bermondsey area of London. An odd purchase perhaps, but is related to her family history research – one of the family convicts was a leather maker from the area (before he found himself transported to the colonies for the term of his natural life!). Mum just asked at one of the stores on a whim if they had anything and the shop assistant had a bit of a think then went off and found a book about 40 years old on the exact topic!!

I’ll tell you about my exciting find tomorrow.

Curious Horse

Curious Horse
Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

more Wales photos here

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

May flowers quilt

May flowers top
Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

I finished this about midnight last night! As I'm into both quilting and month of softies at the moment I took the chance to combine the two.

This quilt is inspired by the beatiful Kath Kidston floral fabrics. The design represents flower beds with a colourful garden path in between.

For month of softies "May Flowers" theme. Here are more pictures of the detail.

For the design I used a simplified adaptation of this BeBeBold quilt. Its kind of a stretched version of the traditional fence post pattern.

The quilting is very simple - I was thinking of doing some hand quilting around edge of some of the flower and bubble shapes but I'm not sure if its a good idea to have both machine and hand quilting together. Any comments?