Thursday, 23 May 2013

Hail Chickenfish

You can see the original chickenfish in the vid above.

I've already shared my knitting pattern for a mini chickenfish and now I'm working on a sewing pattern for a full-sized chickenfish cat toy.

I'm going to be using craft felt, but for now I'm working with scrap material as I work out how to get the shapes I want.

I started by making a cardboard template for a rainbow shape, as I plan to join two for the base, and then add a third for the top.

My rainbow measures 35 cm along the outer edge, 25 cm on the inner edge and 3 cm across its width, so decide to cut a rectangle of fabric that is double that, with an extra couple of centimetres for seam allowance. If I just sewed that together to make a tube and bent it into shape it would be very puckered, so I need to take darts in the inner edge to shrink it down to 25 cm.

Each vertical line is for the fold, I then sewed along the "diamond" edge. I'm deliberately using contrast thread and just roughly hand stitching. I'll get the sewing machine out for the real thing.

Here's my first attempt which shows that I need remedial maths, 5 darts of 4 cm each. That's 5 x 4 = 10 ??? Next, I reduced the darts to 2 cm each, and sewed the top edge ready to turn the right side out.

I slipped a "fin" in place when I sewed the top seam.

Well, the fin was "nearly" in the right place! The shape isn't right though. The darts are too few and too chunky. I decided to go for 10 darts, each half as deep. 

By now the scrap fabric is inside out so ignore the marks - waste not, want not! I stitched a narrow dart on 10 folds where marked above - and here it is, fully stitched and partly stuffed.

I'm happy with this final shape, so now it's on to draw a more accurate pattern, get out the sewing machine  and start the real thing. I'll share my "real" pattern when it's ready, but I wanted to record my thought process for posterity. Sewing is not my first language, so if you know a better way to achieve the shape, PLEASE leave a comment. I did consider just cutting two rainbow shapes, but that would waste a lot of fabric.

Meanwhile...back to the kittencam!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


yay - socks in the plural! When last you saw them, they were not yet a pair. I'm pleased that I started sock#2 again so that the colour bands more or less matched at the top. They mostly keep together, but as I noted previously the colour lengths aren't always the same. I was disappointed that there was a break in the middle of the ball, and that it wasn't even knotted at the right part of the colour progression, but it was easy enough to unwind till I got to a matching bit.

You'll know what I mean if you've tried a self-striping yarn! Thanks again to Abakhan who gave me the Aviemore yarn to try. I'm now a real convert to knitting socks on two circular needles so I'm looking forward to my next pair. Guess what everyone will get for Christmas this year?

Not these though, these are MINE!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Flash, fastest meerkat in the world!

Faster than a speeding bullet... The Flash comes with his own little wooden block to help him pose in running-mode!

I decided to make his mask as a hood, so he can pull it back to show his cute little meerkat face...

or of course he can pull his hood back up and stay superheroic!

First one off the needles available here on folksy or on etsy 

Monday, 20 May 2013

Meerkat Makeovers

My designs have improved over the years and every now and then someone decides they need a makeover. This week it has been the turn of a few superkats...
WonderWoman (above) now has hair and bracelets, she can be found on etsy or folksy.

Supergirl has had a change of hairstyle: find her on folksy or etsy

And finally Flash Gordon has also been to the hairdresser! Etsy or folksy as before...

I also have one brand new meerkat to list...pop back tomorrow to see The Flash, Sheldon's favourite!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Phoebe Hessel: a woman ahead of her time?

While we were in Brighton last weekend I came across the story of Phoebe Hessel in a book, so we went to see her grave in St Nicholas's church.

Googling reveals conflicting versions of her story, but it seems that she was born in 1713 and ran away to join the army dressed as a man to follow her lover at the age of 15! Astounding enough in itself, she managed to sustain this charade for 17 years before being discovered - some sources say when she was bayonetted, others when she was stripped for a whipping. How on earth did she keep up her cross-dressed disguise all those years?

She lived to the grand old age of 108, and even if she did make up this story as some would claim, it's an excellent story and very "Brighton".

Want to know more?
Phoebe's wiki entry

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

One sock finished, one to go!

This has very much been a case of sockus interruptus, I had to abandon sock knitting several times to knit a pair of wedded meerkats for a customer, a chick for my daughter and an anatomical heart for my daughter-in-law! One sock is finally finished however, and I'm pleased with the result!

I used a pattern from a book I was sent to review, Socks a la carte. I really like the wriggly lines in the pseudo cable. Looking back I see I promised you an update on April 27th (oops!)

The yarn, as you can see, is a self-striping yarn. It's called Aviemore, it's 75% wool and 25% nylon so should be hard-wearing and easy to wash. Hope so, I don't believe in handwashing, life is too short.
It's not the yarn recommended by the pattern so I was a little nervous but I weighed the leftovers after one sock and I have plenty more than half a ball to go.

I haven't used self-striping yarn before, so didn't think through how I would make the two socks match until rather too late...

Now, many people might find this adds to the charm, but I just know I would be trying to line up the stripes every time I wear them. It wasn't entirely easy to find where to start the second sock. The yarn has three shades of graduated grey and just one of purple, so if I was to start again from scratch I would definitely make sure I started at the beginning of the purple, much easier to locate. As it was, I needed to find partway through dark grey! *sigh*

Looking good now though. I've noticed the stripes aren't always the same width, so whether it'll still match by the time the second sock is finished is another matter - I'll keep you posted! To be honest though, I don't think my socks are a matter of national importance.

Thanks to for supplying my yarn, needles and accessories as part of their creative blogger challenge!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Bluebell time!

Back to Blean Woods today to enjoy the bluebells, such an icon of English springtime. (You can enlarge the pics by clicking on them)

The woods are home to several sculptures, some woven with willow, others carved from fallen trees:

We saw the sculptor last time we were in the woods, this is what these looked like last time...

He told us then that he was planning a moth. Here it is!

There are wood ants EVERYWHERE in the woods, but fortunately most of them are smaller than this.

I wasn't expecting this ring of gnomes!

I don't care what ikea say, gnomes are quintessentially English! Their new advert does make me laugh though...

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Jack in the Green

We spent last weekend in Hastings for the annual Jack in the Green MayDay celebration. Sunday's "Drum Off" was a first for us, we were lucky enough to find a prime spot on a path above the square so had a great view (and weren't crushed - I get quite phobic in crowds, so I was very glad not to be down there)
As always, you can enlarge the pics by clicking on them:

Section 5 drummers arrive

Sambalanco came next

I was amused by the conductor, who kept his drummers in order with whistle and counting with fingers - but how else could it be done?

The third group were smaller, only 6 drummers I think, but they made up for numbers by enthusiasm and volume!

I found some youtube footage from the year before - turn up your volume to get the feel of it!

Monday's procession starts with Jack being released. I didn't know that this had been a chimney sweep tradition, marking the coming of spring and therefore the start of sweeping season. The tradition faded when we decided sending small boys up chimneys wasn't such a good idea - but no small boys were damaged in the procession. You can read more about the history here

Here's Jack

there were giants

LOTS of morris dancers...

Hunters Moon Morris dancers (with dog of course!) They're one of my favourite sides, wild and rowdy (yes, that's a good thing).

fabulous costumes everywhere, not just in the procession but many locals dress up too.

Mad Jack's Morris, one of the local Hastings sides. I've knitted a couple of them, years ago!

Did we dress up? 

lil bit!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

No more fish!

When we moved in (March 1st!) the landlord said the fish would be removed from the garden pond any two months isn't bad really!

I reckon one 6 year old boy would have done the job in half the time...

They've gone off to their new home, a much bigger pond where I'm sure they'll be very happy. From my point of view the sound of their water fountain will no longer be sending me dashing in the direction of the bathroom (tmi?)