Sunday, 22 May 2011

Poorly sick

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a teacher with a school holiday coming up must be in want of a cold.

I feel awful. I went to bed with a sore throat and woke up with a head cold. I had vaguely hoped that it might be an attack of hayfever, but antihistamines have failed to have any effect, so it's on to the Lemsip Max and acceptance of my snotty fate.

So today, other than waving mum and dad off this morning, has consisted of me sitting on the day bed in the spare room, knitting more of my swing jacket...

...watching period dramas on YouTube and eating Marks and Spencer's Jaffa Cakes...

...and providing moral support for Ed who is trying to finish one of his Open University essays.

In the meantime though, I do have another layout to share. This is one of those rare pages I made last year totally for myself - no design team, no magazine, just for me. It records some fabulous sand sculptures we saw in Portugal on our holiday in 2008 - it took ages for me to get round to scrapping the photos! I love the colour combination on this one, and I managed to use some scraps from that lace paper to make some embellishments for it - how thrifty of me.

Anyway, I'm off to work on getting better, and at least it's given me a good excuse not to be hoovering the stairs!
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Friday, 20 May 2011

Knitter's Paradise

It has become very clear that over the last year I didn't spend quite as much time scrapping as I used to, but that doesn't mean that I wasn't being creative. When you are naturally an artistic or creative person, if you don't have an outlet for that you can get really frustrated! So as I mentioned a few months ago, I picked up my knitting needles again and used this slightly more mobile (and less messy!) hobby to bridge the gap.

I have always knitted, I think I probably first got given a pair of very short pink knitting needles when I was about five, and between my mum and my nan I was taught the basic knit, purl, increase and decrease stitches. I still remember a Textiles lesson at school when the teacher decided to teach us to knit. Some of the other girls were still struggling to cast on while I had a perfect square of striped knitting all finished by the end of the lesson (I'm sure they all hated me for that!). My nan used to knit lots of Jean Greenhowe toys which we all loved as kids and I've knitted a fair few in tribute to her over the years - my project page on Ravelry is testament to that!

So it's hardly surprising that I decided to make a page dedicated to one of my first crafty loves. This page was made with some quite cheap lilac paper from a multi-stack, and some scraps left over from an ancient range of Basic Grey (I think it was called Scarlet Letter or something similar). This page was also made for an ill-fated issue of Scrapbook Inspirations, and again I had failed to share the page even though it got returned to me some time ago. I wanted to add the flash of yellow as an accent colour, and because I staged the photo I was able to select exactly the right yarn shades to match my page - convenient!

I don't often scrap in purple - nobody does - but sometimes I like to do something a bit different, and I was pleased with this page in the end. Mind you, those diamante swirls are so stunning, you can't really make a bad page if you add them on somewhere!

In other yarn-related news, this arrived on my doorstep the other day:

It's called A Stitch In Time, and is an absolute delight. It's like a social history of knitting. It includes old knitting patterns from the twenties up to the forties, along with updated instructions and photos to match our modern yarn and body shapes, and each chapter has a section on style and fashion for the era. I could look at this book for hours - even the old magazine pages which are perfectly replicated are fascinating to read.

I thought I'd include some snaps of my favourite patterns in the book, which I may or may not get round to knitting some day - though I very much doubt I'll ever pluck up the courage to cast on that dress!

Anyway, I'm looking forward to a lovely weekend as my mum and dad are coming to visit - I always love seeing them, and it's been a while since they came up to my house. So I need to go and clean the bathroom and hoover up in Friday nights are just one long party!

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Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Always look on the Bright Side

For various reasons, today could have been pretty downright crappy. And in recent months, with my glass-half-empty personality type, I would most likely have been at this moment sitting wallowing in my own self-pity on the sofa, wasting my evening. But with new leaf duly turned over, I actually feel pretty happy - because when I really think about it, quite a few good things have happened today.

First of all, this morning this little beauty arrived. A long time ago, I subbed to a US kit club called Cocoa Daisy, and really loved the kits. But due to a combination of the recession and my complete lack of interest in doing all those things which have for so long made me happy, I stopped my sub. Well, after my weekend away (and miniature epiphany), I decided to re-sub. And I'm so glad I did - this kit is gorgeous, and I can't wait to break into it.

Secondly, just when I was trying to decide what to wear this morning, I realised that my Dorothy Perkins order had turned up yesterday, and so I put on this lovely top, which is bright, cheerful, has birds on it, is green, and won me lots of compliments. Including my very nice work colleague informing me that she was going to buy it too, while also promising not to wear it to work! So all in all a very successful spend of about £14 which made me feel rather good about myself.

And when I got home, I remembered that I hadn't yet put this CD onto iTunes. It was a birthday present from my sis, and is an album I'd wanted to get hold of for ages, so I'm now happily listening away with a big smile on my face.

For those of you who have never heard this album before, I challenge you to listen to this song and then tell me you hate it!

So finally, here is another page to share, which is all newly photographed in nice natural light. My 2010 was made for a January issue of Scrapbook Inspirations that unfortunately never got published, so finally I am sharing the layout with you here - it is now over 18 months old. It is basically a little page about my hopes and dreams for the coming year, and I have to admit to loving this one. That lace paper just doesn't get old for me.

So there we go, a post that definitely looks on the bright side, and reminds me that I have lots to be very happy about. And even though I'm now going to go and spend an hour or so planning a potentially very under-appreciated year 11 revision session, the thought of it doesn't make me want to throw myself out of the window. Happy days.

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Tuesday, 17 May 2011


Since I appear to in fact be blogging again, I thought I would look back through my albums and see how many pages I didn't already share on my blog. It turns out there were quite a few more than I realised. I was more productive last year than I thought! I have tried to take pictures of most of these pages this evening, though having done so in artificial light, they haven't turned out all that well so I might have to repeat the process tomorrow. Suffice to say, I definitely have a few blog posts worth of pages to share!

This page is one from Eddie's album. It shows him at about ten I presume, jumping into the pool on holiday (I really like the legs of one of his sisters sticking out of the water in the bottom photo - great shot!). The page was actually made and sent off to Future Publishing for the ill-fated third ideas book, which was all designed and put together but never published - a crying shame. It turns out I was lucky to even get this page back - it's only thanks to the hard work of Shimelle, whose professionalism should be praised to the rafters, that a lot of contributors got their layouts returned.

The swirl is off course meant to represent the sun, but also the energy of little Ed leaping into that pool - I positioned the end of the swirl to look like it was a movement line trailing from the back of him. I have just spotted that some of the ribbon has got a little out of position in my album - that will teach me not to secure my work properly - I have a tendency to rely on staples if I can!

I really like the way this page turned out - it was just like I visualised it in the end, which is always nice. It's often so difficult to get the idea in your head onto paper (due to such problems as the laws of physics and the material properties of paper).

In the meantime, my knitting is coming along nicely - I'm almost done on the right front of my cardi now. I'm off to do a few more rows now before some shuteye - hopefully I'll be back to update again in a day or two, fingers crossed!

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Sunday, 15 May 2011

Eddie's Album

Seeing as I didn't blog for most of 2010, I thought I would share some of the projects I was working on last year with you now. Probably one of the biggest was an album for my husband. Ed turned 30 last year (he has turned 31 since, showing how poor my blogging actually was!), and his family started a tradition of making albums of old photos for each other's 30th birthday. Now because I'm a scrapbooker, they naturally expected that I would put one together for Ed too.

The trouble is, not being scrapbookers, I don't think they really understood the amount of time I usually spend putting just one page together! I knew I had a big job on my hands, so I decided I was going to have to pare my usual scrapbooking style right back to basics. I wasn't scrapping as much last year anyway - for this I would have to also limit myself to times when Ed wasn't around! I'm not really a fan of this sort of scrapping really - I prefer a more messy and cluttered style with a bit of stamping for preference, but needs must.

So here is what I came up with. I didn't exactly finish the album - there were other photos I could have included, but I think I might have gone mad if I'd tried to do them all. And these pages are by no means complicated, or represent my best work. But I think they suited the purpose fine, and at least Ed now has some pages to record his childhood memories (after all, I've got dozens!). But it is surprisingly hard making pages about photos that you have absolutely no memories or assocations with. Journalling goes out of the window for example. I suppose this is what it must be like for heritage scrapbookers!

So there we have it. Eddie's 30th birthday present, a lesson in how to send yourself bonkers trying to put together some sort of album in less than a month!
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Thursday, 12 May 2011

I'm addicted!

So I discovered Pinterest.

I'm sure many people reading this will probably already use Pinterest, but I'm a little bit of latecomer to the phenomenon.

But boy, am I hooked now! It's just so easy to make lots of pretty mood-boards that all look wonderfully inspirational. Trouble is, I think I'm going to spend so much time getting inspired, I won't have any time to put it to use! I've only been using it two days and already have more than 150 pins. What a lot of happily wasted hours!

So now I'm going to force myself to shut the app and do something productive. I think maybe knitting this evening, I've got two big projects on the go though I'm a bit tempted to cast on another one...

The one I've decided to work on tonight is this:

This is the back of a cardi/jacket I'm making from Artesano Aran yarn. It's a fairly straightforward cable design but makes for a lovely bobbly texture. The pattern is from a past issue of Simply Knitting - it's a short swing jacket. I don't own anything this size or shape so don't know if it will suit, but I'm enjoying the knitting of it in any case.

Anyway, I'm off to do a few more rows...

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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Seaside Layouts

Today I'm in a good mood. Or at least a better mood than I normally am on a Wednesday. I use an app called Mappiness on my iPhone - it's a kind of research survey which I've been taking part in since last October, and it lets you see lots of stats about how happy you rate yourself. And Wednesdays, according to my stats, are officially my most miserable day - too far from the weekend in either direction!

However today, as I said, I'm in a good mood. You can tell this because when I got in from work, I did the hoovering, and cleaned the cat bowls, and emptied the dishwasher, and all sorts of other tasks that normally I have to be practically held at gunpoint to complete! I think it stems from the fact that I finally said 'no' to something at work the other day. It wasn't exactly a big task, but I feel suddenly liberated, as if I have taken a bit of control over something, even by refusing to do it!

I'm also in a good mood because a huge Photobox order which I made a couple of evenings ago arrived today, so I've been happily flicking through photos of my engagement party, weekend in Bath, trip to Paris etc etc. These all bring back great memories. There is something about having the physical photos in your hands - it makes them more special than looking on a screen. But then I guess that's why we scrapbook.

So anyway, I thought I'd share a couple more of my Papermaze layouts - these are some from the Isle of Wight last year. I think the papers are October Afternoon. I really like the 6x12 one - it's very simple, but just really suits the photo.

I may even scrap tonight - I've got work to do (as always) but I think most of it might be able to wait for my free period tomorrow. Anyway, I'm definitely pursuing the work/life balance dream at the moment, so I think I deserve a bit of crafty time...
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Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A weekend away...

Well, after the seriously poor attempt at blogging last time, when my photos didn't even show up, hopefully this post will be a bit more successful!

I'm blogging tonight in a bit of a bad mood. Sometimes work stinks. That is something I have definitely come to learn! But at least this time I had some lovely memories of the weekend to think back to, and so I decided to come along here and blog about them.

Last weekend was me and my wonderful scrappy friends annual jaunt to the countryside to scrap in a cabin. Except this time it wasn't a cabin - it was a proper cottage with lots of space and lovely countryside walks all around. I haven't been too good at keeping up with this lovely bunch of ladies recently - I missed our last outing due to being on holiday in Paris (shame, I know!) and my social networking has been, to coin a phrase, absolutely pants! And since I don't live near any of them, it means that beyond the odd comment on Instagram I had become something of a hermit.

You wouldn't have known it though - everyone was just as welcoming as usual, and in fact more than that, they made me feel so much better about a whole heap of things. I can only say to them - thankyou so much for a lovely weekend. You have even managed to get me a bit hooked on the scrapping bug again. I have (gasp!) purchased some stash. I may even use it. Though I will probably need to go through a whole lot of old stuff and sell it to cleanse my tortured scrapbookers soul, which is weighed down creatively by the guilt of so much unused and unwanted old stash hanging around. Watch this space - I think ebay might be getting a visit from me soon!

Anyway, thought I'd share some of the pages I made. These were done using on old Cocoa Daisy kit (from about 2008 I think) which we decided made it officially vintage which is kind of cool. These pages are all about our weekend in Paris with my mum and dad last October - we had such a good time, Paris was beautiful, even in the Autumn. I would definitely go back there, although I would definitely avoid going back the bar opposite the Opera House which charged me nearly £20 for a small and very disgusting cocktail made of whisky which I then felt obliged to drink. Mental note: always work out what exchange rates are before you start - the euro is NOT the dollar!

So first up we have Notre Dame, which we did queue outside of in the cold and then proceed to climb up, despite the woman in front of us nearly collapsing with an asthma attack (unfortunate!)...

And next we have the view from the Eiffel Tower (which we didn't go righ to the top of because my Dad nearly gave himself a coronary when he saw the length of the queue. He is not a patient man, my father!) As always with Cocoa Daisy, the kits are put together so well that the pages almost make themselves.

I made a few other pages, but they are going to go up on the Papermaze blog before I can share them here. Who knows, maybe this will be the start of something beautiful again? And if not - at least I've blogged Rach!

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