Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Year Knit

Resolution - To Knit

I learned to knit when I was quite young, but apart from a few scarfs, never really got very far with it, but after looking in the Japanese zakka books at how they use small knitted squares in their designs I have decided to get back into it and see if I can remember it all. I dreamt last night I was knitting and when I woke up this morning I felt as if I remembered it all. Time will tell. Here is the test wool I bought in the great John Lewis wool bargain bucket for £1.40

Sunday, December 24, 2006


So here are the final presents wrapped with labels. Another year done.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Wish

What I want for Christmas. Every year for a few years my sister bought me a church chair from the expensive castle Gibson shop in Islington. Then I had the inspiration to ask for a cushion for each year on ever subsequent year. This year I asked for another, but she is sighs whenever I mention it. Here is the last one I got, it's ace.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Wrapping

Finally blogger has upgraded my blog. It looks exactly the same to me. I hope it all works okay.

Anyhow i've been thinking about how to wrap my presents this year. I like wrapping. In fact it's one of the few things I can honestly say I am not bad at. I think it's a combination of having a mother who taught me the indepth skill of sticky back plasticing all my school books from an early age, being a virgo and studying packaging design at college.

People in my family can get quite into the whole Christmas wrapping thing. It started with my mum using her crazy thick multicoloured wools to wrap presents then kicked up a gear when my sister did hers in brown paper and gold thread one year. And everyone remembers the year she had these huge pink furry pipecleaners she twisted into cork screws, it was a hard act to follow.

So this year I decided to do some white flowers to put round my presents which will be wrapped in white tissue paper. I'll see if I can dig out some pictures of previous years to show you the 'Themes'. Last year was purple thick ribbon, purple glittery humming birds, black shiny paper and ornate long labels with white writing. Here's a bad photo, you can't see much though.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Another Monkey

I saw these fancy Burlington Socks in john Lewis when I should have been Christmas shopping and after making the yellow monkey out of posh socks, wanted to try it again so I could improve on my last attempt. I wanted him to be less rigid with less of a slaphead, so here are the results. This time I made the forehead smaller, didn't stuff him too much and weighted him a lot more as he is needed more help loosening up. Behold Fritz, the newest member of the growing sock kingdom.

I have four monkeys watching me as I type now. Two are soon to depart for exotic new homes, but Fritz and Fleabas are staying here to keep me company. The only thing I would change with Fritz is the colour thread I used on his forehead surgery. I guess I didn't think green would show but now he has a very thin green scar, Poor Fritz, he doesn't mind. All he wants to do is eat wieners and impress everybody with his posh voice. He likes to stay up late talking about 'The State of the World' with which he draws many parallels between the Die Hard movies in order to support his arguments.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Simplicity and Ornament

Sometimes you have to go overboard and let loose, just so you can reign it in again and do something simple. I purged the colour and complexity with the former so I could create the simple bottlecap pin cushion afterwards. It could well be my favourite one. But enough of pin cushions I am moving onwards and upwards.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Why I Should Learn To Knit

Donna Wilson is ace, just ace.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tailored Monsters Unveiled

I like to think that Snitcher lives an international life of crime and high intrigue. He never reveals the identity behind his mask. He always keeps his back against the wall, makes 'The Lamb' taste his crumpet before it is ingested, and makes a point of probing the butter for listening devices which makes a dreadful mess I can tell you. Such drama over tea and cake. Snitcher likes to end all his sentences with '10-4', 'Roger that', 'You are clear' and always whispers into the cuff of his duffle coat. Sometimes I think he doesn't work in the large print section of the local library after all…

Muggins is pure brawn. He does whatever Snitcher tells him. 'Drive the pretty car fast as soon as we jump in', 'give the man the big black round thing then run away'. Muggins thinks the best of everybody, particularly if they offer him chocolate Bourbons and Barley sweets to suck on.

The Lamb doesn't say much. When he does share rare tidbits about himself and his salubrious life, his voice startles you with it's quiet gravelly depth, much resembling someone with a 50 a day Lambert and Butler Kingsize habit. He will only address himself in the third person starting every sentence with 'The Lamb…' He thinks nothing of stealing Muggins' Sherbet Dibdabs, making him whimper and cry. It is therefore not surprising that he always carries a shiner on his left eye.

Here they are in all their glory. The international crime ring. The henchmen. The Ateam of felt toys. Renegades from good, wholesome toyshops.

They were incredibly easy to make. I love my new little monsters. They are bigger, beefier and ready for a fight. I am not sure who they are going to go to. I thought they would make good Christmas presents but I have no idea who would like one.

Things I learned:
If you don't fiddle with that funny tension knob on the sowing machine then thick material will rip your thread

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Tailored Monsters

I discovered that in tailoring, collars linings are made from a really think stout felt. It's beautiful. So I decided to make some monsters with it. I thought the dark grey would go nicely with the village fete neon thread I bought. In an effort to learn new things I went back home for an intensive mum-wisdom session where I was taught the beginnings of machine embroidery. Of course I did everything wrong, trying to sow circles that came out looking like a 3 year olds first attempts to draw. Then the mistress of sowing herself - she of the 5 year City and Guilds Hall of fame - took over and showed me how it's really done. It's amazing how much easier it is when you can observe a pro at work. So I have been sowing faces and making some new monsters. They are shifty.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bigger and Brighter

Why stick to bottlecap size when you can do bigger? She says after sowing it all wrong and having to unpick it. At least it is a learning curve. It's the BigJen pincushion number two. In honour of being more technicolour I have cracked open the neon thread I bought in a village hall deep in the fens not long since.

Friday, October 27, 2006

More Bottle Tops

So I've been drinking bottled water and diet Coke all week trying to get more bottle tops. I think as soon as I try some flowery ones I'll have purged the need and can move onto something new. Until then they just keep on coming.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Vulcan Junior

Behold! My amazing birthday present from my bestest friend. It is a minature sowing machine. It sits on my fancy book shelf now inbetween the boys informations texts. As we all now boys seems to like books telling them how to do something. It'a topical because now Ray has launched her own blog. Click here to see this new adventure and ask her how she's going to top my birthday present this Christmas!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Miniature Pin Cushions

These are made from bottle tops, they're ace and they only take 20 minutes to make. I just wish I had more bottle tops. I've just been mucking about really seeing what looks nice on them. Click the link from this post to see Jen's tutorial. Her other pin cushions are amazing aswell, she's a far better stitcher than me, but for a first attempt I'm pretty pleased.

When I was a young teen I had this massive craze on friendship bracelets, I made hundreds of them. Then, as you do, I grew out of that phase but was left with a massive bag of embroidery thread of every conceivable colour. My mum used to put skeins in my stocking every Christmas. Now suddenly I have this massive resource for cake decorating. It shows that keeping something for 10 years and never touching it doesn't mean you should throw it away.

It's been raining all weekend so I'm on a cake mission for Christmas presents.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


So not wanting to leave any monkey unlauded; here is Boris the Gibbon. A thick, lumpy, bendy kind of monkey with a penchant for eating flies and watching Columbo.

Things I learnt:
You should make sure the arm seams are at the back, especially if you line up th stripes as badly as I did. See how pinning the stripes front and back can make a difference now?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Weighed Down

After long hours of experimentation at monkey HQ, Dr JJ has concluded her study of using lentils at the ends of monkey limbs to help weigh them down. Here are her findings:

• Too many lentils with warp the sock material, stretching it over time nd leaving gaps of nothing where lentils meet stuffing.
• No lentils prevent monkeys from sitting comfortably on shelves and door knobs
• With the exact right amount of lentils, especially in the tail, you can create a monkey that is reassuring to hold and will perch anywhere.
• Lentils are an overall good thing.

Above you will see Emo, with slightly too many lentils and Boris, with no lentils. I think we can all see that an inbtween lentil count is ideal.

Thus concludes the scientific study.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Red little Monkey

Introducing Slagathor. He looks like a slagathor doesn't he? It's a bit of a monkeyfest at the moment to make up for the lull over the summer when it was too hot to stay indoors. I now concluded The Great Lentil Experiment. Emo the purple goth was full of them. He sat beautifully, his arms long and stretchy, but I worried for him. I worried his sock flesh would eventually stretch and he would have empty baggy bits where no stuffing and no lentils lived. So I made another emo; a fatter, thicker beast. As soon as he has eyes I will show you the difference. He has no lentils weighing him down and you shall see how this affects him. So I decided to put some, not to many, lentils in this stripey monkey for Ruby. Ruby, being full of drool, requested a monkey with tags. Apparently babies love thick tags. So I gave this cheeky chap one on his head and one of his back making his bum a bit more sticky outy in the process. He sits well, but in the end I think a few more lentils are needed. One day I shall create the exact mix and the age old lentil to stuffing ratio will be solved. He also has medium long legs. Not as extreme as the gibbons but not as stocky as Thug.

Things I learned with slagathor
1. More lentils demmit
2. You can make a very thin tale and not need to stuff it, just put a few lentils in it.
3. You can sculpt a bum if you wish it, although it gives them a baboonesque look which is slightly unsettling.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Finish Monkey

So someone sent me some socks to make into a monkey, from Finland no less. They were expensive socks I could tell. I've only made monkeys from ultra cheapo socks or socks I have worn into the ground, and the difference in quality was noticable. I decided not to put any weights in this monkey and see how he fared.

Things I learned:

1. The more expensive socks are tighter, firmer and thicker.
Result: His arms stick out and even unstuffing didn't seem to help.
2. If you sow the arms too high up, the monkey becomes a thug.
3. If you take time to pin the stripes before you sow, they all join up better.
4. A generous toe makes for a slaphead monkey.

Behold: The Thug. His shoulders shake when he sniggers. He mutters. He eats with his fingers. There's no teaching them.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I like the Leg

Well it's been some time, but I finally have a rainy weekend ahead and nothing to do other than have a monkey fest. So without further a do I am starting three at once experiementing with arm and leg length. Emo was the longest, hence him being a gibbon. He has gone to his new owner now. Eoi lives in Iceland and is 3. Apparently he hasn't choked on an eyeball yet so all is good.

It got me thinking about my next monkey fest and whether they too should be gibbons or just long armed monkeys so I'm going to vary the length. We'll have a cheeky short yellow one first, then a gangly red one, then another gibbon and see how they all come out. Maybe a bit less weight in the arms of these ones as I think the material will just stretch overtime making for some quite wrinkly monkeys.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Emo the Sock Gibbon

Behold sock gibbon beta mark I. I call him Emo, because he's a litte bit of a Goth. He likes nothing better than hanging out at the Underworld in Camden and shopping in Cyberdog. I've tried to get him to wear nice, light summery clothes, but it's black eyeliner and The Cure all the way. These young Gibbons… what can you do?

Lessons learned. Always cut your holes smaller than you need them to be, then stratch the opening with a cork. I made mine the same size and they were far too big.

Try harder (more pins) to make the stripes line up. I am sure I can do better than that.

The best thing I did this time was not cut the sock before I sowed. This meant no curling up of material and made it much easier.

Next cometh the red and white stripey gibbon for Ruby's first birthday. I'd better get my skates on, she was 1 last week.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Sock Gibbon Cometh

So I saw this picture of a sock gibbon on Flickr and thought what a brillaint idea it was. It was made by Viv Schwarz, who has a flickr album full of monkeys

A sock monkey had been requested by Claire so three pairs of knee high stripey socks have been purchased for a tenner from Covent Garden market. I found these more comprehensive instructions on the web. I am trying to get my stripes organised. This is going to be great. I have a special pair of red and white ones for Ruby, so I am practising first on what I call my emo gibbon. I wish I could take the day off work to make it. The day I got them I had to work till midnight. How infuriating is that? Just when I have something cool to do.