No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Busy bee

My weekends are normally sloth-filled affairs.  Speaking frankly, Mr. P and I are idle creatures.  But this weekend has been a shining exception.

On Friday, we went to a cocktail party on HMS Gloucester, docked in Manhattan for a few days and due to be decommissioned shortly.  This sounds more salubrious that it was, and involved me trapping myself in the ship at one point when I went to the loo instead of sipping cocktails on deck.

On Saturday, I went to my first sewing class at Purl Soho.  I can't tell you enough good things about this shop.  Like being dropped into a rainbow.

There's so much inspiration wherever you turn, whether it's baby bibs...

...or felted figurines...

... or cashmere scarves...
... or these exquisite Liberty Tana Lawn samplers...
(such a simple idea, but such a lovely display just inside the front door).

They have a blog (Purl Bee) with regular project ideas (the quilts next to the cashmere scarves in the photo are some recent examples).  And the staff are friendly and helpful (but I think I've mentioned that before).

And best of all, there's a woman who's going to teach me how to sew.  Those of you who have read this blog before will know that my New Year's Resolution includes the Merry Christmas project  (to sew letters and stuff them).  But I actually want to get a bit beyond that.  So I signed up for sewing classes.  I haven't quite decided yet if I want to make clothes, but I definitely want to learn how to use a sewing machine, and maybe make cushion covers or simple curtains.  After that we'll see.  Mostly, I just want to conquer my fear of sewing machines.  Yes indeed.  Now, I am afraid of spiders and dark alleys and the usual list of panic-inducing bogie- men, but I must also confess to a fear of sewing machines.  Now, admittedly, I haven't used one since I was thirteen, and it's not like I lost a digit, or sewed my hair to the apron I was trying to make.  I have no traumatic memories to justify this fear.  But I think  it's to do with the noise and the feeling that it and not I am in control of the process.  As though it will literally run away with itself if I don't sit rigidly paying attention to what's happening.

I haven't told this to my teacher yet.  And I was relieved to see that yesterday, she took her time and explained everything six times, and gave lots of snippets of interesting information.  And although she took a sewing machine out towards the end of the lesson, she didn't actually let us loose on them.  Instead, she talked soothingly of feet and soles and ankles and arms as though the machine was a friend of hers who could be our friend too.

We are going to make bags.  I knew this before the class, and I had a vision of a simple rectangle of fabric sewn on three sides with the extravagance of a handle to finish.  A bit like a pillow case with a string attached.  I wasn't terribly enthusiastic about this as a project, but had put it down to wanting to run marathons before I could crawl.  But the bag we are to make is a bit more presentable than that.  I will let you know how I get on, but in theory it will be reversible, and have pockets inside and out with a magnetic clasp.  This is the fabric I've chosen:
As you can see, I have even acquired the tools of the trade.  Of course, I have no clue what to do with them...  Anyway, we spent most of the class cutting our cloth.  This involved a self-healing mat (I LOVE this concept and want to apply it to all sorts of things...).  And a rotary cutter.  Hmmm.  Not at all sure about this contraption.  I'm sure I will come to love it, but for now, I can't seem to be able to cut through four layers of fabric at a time.  And I am left-handed so I kept having to flip everything around.  I am used to this.  But my right hand is weak and kept allowing the rule against which I was cutting to slip around.  Not great if you're trying to cut a straight line.  But I am determined to master it all and will be back for more next week.  Stay tuned.

Having been out and about so much yesterday, I wanted to hunker down today.  Mr. P demanded scones.  So I obliged.  (They are fast becoming a staple in the house of no knitted knickers.)
I have mislaid the scone cutter that's the right size, but have discovered that a wine glass is just as good.  My ulterior motive for making these is this beauty...
... purchased on holiday and carted back across the world by hand in the manner of ancient traders.  So, I decided to do it right and have afternoon tea.
And then, because I was on a roll, I made stewed rhubarb.  I LOVE rhubarb.  I think it might be one of my desert island foods.  But I digress....
I use a thumb of finely-grated fresh ginger and the juice of half an orange as well as the sugar.  It gives it depth (and besides, I love ginger, so any excuse...)

And to cap it all, while rooting around in the freezer for some worthy fish, Mr. P unearthed some bangers that he'd TOTALLY forgotten about....  So, we had bangers and mash for dinner.  Which was really just a base for Nigel Slater's onion gravy with marsala.  Heaven on a plate.

Oh, and I made two more granny squares.

(And if you hadn't already guessed it, the abundance of foodie photos in this post is down to the fact that I am learning to use my tripod.  The one I've had for 10 years and never learned how to use.  It's amazing what blogging drives you to...)

So, you see really, I am glad the weekend is over and I can return to work for a rest.

Have a good week.



  1. What a lovely post! So many gorgeous things. Wow that shop is incredible. The Purl Bee blog is very good too, but it is lovely to see the shop. I am a beginner at sewing but am now a it!!! That fabric you have found is gorgeous!! xx

  2. Oh my almost too much to comment on! I can well sympathise with your fear of sewing machines - I think I'm with you, it's the noise and the out of control nature of it, I have images of forever ruining fabrics and possibly losing a finger or sewing my hair to the fabric or something! Definitely keep us updated as you're getting along with your bag.

  3. Gorgeous! I couldn't agree more about Purl, which is an incredible nirvana of inspiration. I've just now discovered your lovely, witty blog, and can't wait to see what else you've been up to. Off to prowl your archives, ta! :)

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