Saturday 29 June 2013

Following You Around

Well, that time has finally come to say cheerio to the clunky old Google reader and move to pastures new. So if you still want to keep up to date with my little bit of the web (and I really hope you do) then you will need to choose a new reader. I've put a few different ones in the sidebar and also a follow by email tab if that is easier for you!  My favourite by far still has to be Bloglovin' and it's got even simpler to move your subscriptions over which can be no bad thing!
I hope to see you on the other side:)
Wendy x

Tuesday 25 June 2013

"Stop! Kollabora-te and Listen!"

Don't panic, this post is not about a hidden love of Vanilla Ice and a sudden decision to move my historical fascination to the 90's. Though can I be alone in having to finish the sentence with 'Collaborate and listen' when I hear someone shout STOP! (That or ''Can't touch this''...ooh hammer pants...shudder) I am a child of the 80s what can I say...Sorry. Probably ;)

Anyway, cheesy Hip Hop (& blog titles) aside, today's post thankfully has nothing to do with Vanilla Ice, but everything to do with collaborating!

I stumbled upon Kollabora, whilst on an bus stop inspired Instagram chain of clicking (bored while waiting for the bus you click on a liker, browse then click on the a likers liker, and on and on until the bus comes, or your battery dies!) and knew that once I could get myself to a computer it was a sight I needed to explore.

I have been searching for a long time for a site that is similar to Ravelry, but for sewing projects too and Kollabora fits the bill completely, as it not only lets you share your sewing and wooly projects (Knitting & Crochet) but pretty much any kind of crafting you can turn your talented little hands to!

New Crafters Website Kollabora My feed
Some of my projects
It has a simple, stylish and slick layout, which makes it so easy to find great DIY projects to have a go at yourself or just to be inspired by what other members of the community are creating! There is some impressive stuff being shared, I am itching to have a go at a 'Bleach Art T-shirt' like this one from Izzy!

Another great thing about Kollabora is that each project you upload can be linked to the supplies needed and also you can add How-Tos in the updates section of your project, which means that you don't need to have a blog, to post tutorials and share your creativity!

I think you can probably tell that I am just a little bit smitten with Kollabora and I've not been paid to say that, it's genuine! It won't stop me using Ravelry to share my woolly creations, I still love Ravelry, but the ability to quickly show off all your crafty projects and WIP's (or in my case UFO's) in one place, well what's not to love! So why not "Ch-Check it out" (a hip hop too far? Oh dear!

Wendy x

Saturday 15 June 2013

Things To Make & Do - Catnip Toy

OK, so it's official I have gone cat crazy!
Make a Catnip Toy for Charity 01 - My cat in his swedish lodge cat house

We recently bought a cat house so that Beau has somewhere to shelter from the rain when he refuses to come in. I think it's certainly twee enough to classify us both (the BF is as smitten as I am) as cat mad, to be honest, it was on offer at a bargain price to good to refuse, so the possible embarrassment was overlooked, and Beau loves it so it's worth it!

Our Rescue Cat Beau
My phone is full of pictures (as you can see), my curtains and clothes are covered in fur, my arms are littered with bite marks (not obeying orders quick enough) and now Beau has left his mark on my crafting too! I did some 'light' stash busting (in other words I barely made a dent) a couple of weekends ago by making a couple of catnip bags and a little cushion for him to sleep soundly in his favourite spot, on the dresser in front of our living room window. The dresser incidentally was supposed to be my sewing table, but I've been firmly relegated to the kitchen, as my sewing distracts him from his favourite hobby of keeping an eye on the goings on in the street!

(Stash Buster)
  • Scraps of Natural fibre fabric
  • Poly fiber Stuffing- I washed an old cushion which had lost its oomph
  • Cotton thread
  • Cat Nip - Mine was Cosmic Catnip from Ebay
Cat Nip Pouch Free Tutorial for your cat or Charity
Tip: When the pouch starts to loose its power, seal it up in a jiffy bag with some loose catnip for a few days. Be careful to shake off as much as you can of the dried flakes, otherwise, you'll have one delirious but sneezy kitty!
I made his window cushion in exactly the same way as the catnip pouches, from the fleece I had left over from the Peppa and George cushions I made a few years back. I think it's safe to say he likes them!
Make a Catnip Toy for Charity - Happy cat asleep with his cat nip toy
It's a hard life!
As well as making these for Beau, I also made some catnip mice for a local cat shelter. I was prompted to do this by the lovely Lisa's from SnoodleBug, who posted just before Christmas an appeal for knitters and sewers to make cat nip toys for shelter cats. Considering the vast quantities of yarn and fabric I have, I knew it was something I wanted to help with, though it took me a while to find the time, I have now made my first batch, all with the help of Beau, naturally!
Make a Catnip Toy for Charity Naughty Cat helping Sew some Cat Nip Mice
"What do you mean there not all mine?"
The sewing pattern I used was based on one by Connie Crawley found here, (there is also a great knitting pattern version found at The Guardian). To make as many mice as possible in the time I had, I needed to make some time saving alterations. I omitted the base piece (so essentially I cut a heart shape out of fabric) added a plaited wool tail, knotted both ends to the bottom and then sewed around the open end catching in the tail and leaving a small gap on the top seam for turning and stuffing. I decided against adding ears and eyes as I feared they may come off too easily, especially if they get attacked the way Beau attacks his.

Make a Catnip Toy for Charity - Mice shaped catnip toys

They are a much simpler version, not as pretty but they do the job and that's the main thing! We took them over to our local shelter The Scratching Post along with some cans of food our fussy boots won't eat (he actually went on a hunger strike for two days rather than eat the Tesco canned food) and the scratching post he refuses to use, as he much prefers to sink his claws into the sofa. They were really grateful and were keen to offer us another cat*, sadly Beau does not mix well with other kitties (or us most days) so we had to decline. We were told that they currently have 52 cats in the shelter, which made me feel very sad, but I have resolved to make more toys over the next few months to hopefully make their short stay in the shelter a little more enjoyable.

Wendy x

*If we did get another cat I'm harbouring a secret (not so secret now) desire to call it Bill, so that I could call out "BILL, BEAU", I think it would be hilarious...just me then, OK :)

Monday 3 June 2013

The Victory Garden - April - Spring Has Sprung

"April, April, Laugh thy girlish laughter;
Then, the moment after,Weep thy girlish tears."

Well without further delay it's time to fill you all in on Aprils progress The Victory Garden.
The country lane in Walthamstow of all places, which I walk down to get to the site. 
The countryside feel of this lane is deceptive as I am constantly embarrassing myself by Hello-ing at dog walkers, who look disgusted at me for speaking to them, "Don't you know this is Walthamstow we don't talk to strangers". Last week, I think I accidentally flirted with a chap by merely smiling and saying "Morning" he looked so delighted, winked at me and shouted back Fab Four, which it took me a while to decipher was in reference to the Beatles T-shirt I was wearing, I smiled and scurried off to catch my bus!
April and May have both been quite busy months in the garden, as I have tried to keep on top of all that needs to be done! The weather was just a tad more friendly, though still not what I had hoped, it was not so much 'Drip, drip, drop little April shower' as 'flip, flip, filp flipping cold', we had lots and lots of early morning frost which made me question my sanity when planting out.

So the main digging is pretty much done all that is left are areas that if I get time I will work over, but if not it's no great problem, the new task now is re-digging over the first section which the weeds are gradually reclaiming, and planting in my onions and legumes before the weeds attempt to return!

The last of my potatoes were planted at the beginning of April, they are all currently underground growing away (fingers crossed) in the second section and soon will  have poked its way out of the soil enough to be earthed up.

My chitted Potatoes, ready for planting - this odd weather seems to have slowed their chitting, they normally have much more shoot growth before planting
 My February planted broad beans finally were big enough to be planted out, I didn't realise just how many I seeds would germinate as I had enough for three 10 ft long rows!!

First two rows in, one to go!
They are now snuggled underneath, a pair of net curtains that Beau took exception to and ripped holes in, the blighter, at least they are not wasted! Also the fruit bushes are looking good considering being uprooted and pruned they are greening up nicely and have some fruit producing blossom at the ready.
Broad Beans nestling under a protective curtain --- Fruit bushes survived my butchery and are looking good!
Also, the onions which I'd planted in seed trays in March we ready to be moved from my cold-frame at home to the Allotment.
Now is the time to plant out onions raised under glass. Harden the plants off gradually and plant them out in rows 1 ft. apart, leaving 6 in. between each plant. See that each bulb is set just on top of the ground and press the soil firmly around its roots. Ministry of Agriculture Allotment & Garden Guide 1945 -April
He he, how wobbly are those rows! Proof if it were needed that I cannot plant (or stitch) in a straight line! :)
Planting my sets in trays worked a treat and so the onions were raring to go! They have now been planted in the first section, next to the shallots which are also doing well!!

So on to the seeds planted in April

Wartime Seed Varieties: Cheltenham Green Top, Covent Garden Select, Dell's Crimson,Volunteer, Detriot Improved Globe, Early Wonder Globe, Feltham Intermediate.
Sow globe crops in April, longer varieties in May. Drills should be 1-1/2 to 2 in. deep and at least 1 ft. apart. Sow seeds in small clusters 6 in. apart, to avoid waste, and thin the plants to one when three leaves have formed. A few strands of black cotton stretched above the rows will protect the seedlings from troublesome birds. Ministry of Agriculture Allotment & Garden Guide 1945 -April
'Boltardy" from the 99p Store
I've sewn one row so far of beetroot and in a few days I will plant another, row as I really love beetroot, it's great in salads, smoothies, cakes, and pickles, I think if I could grow just two things it would be sprouts and beetroot!

Wartime Seed Varieties: Best of All Dwarf,Christmas Drumhead, Dwarf Green Curled, Early Summer, Emperor, Enfield Market Late Drumhead, Norwegian, Tender & True, Tom Thumb, January King, Nonpareil, Clucas' Early Market 218, Early Offenham, Flower Of Spring, Primo
The Ministry's cropping plan does not include cabbages for use in summer and early autumn, except as an alternative to runner beans in cold districts. If you have enough room, however, and you would like a choice of green vegetables in late summer, sow a row now in the seedbed (see page 3 of March Guide).
I don't actually remember what variety these are, as they were only in a foil lined sachet with cabbages written on but they are from my stash so would have been a few years old, they have germinated well

Wartime Seed VarietiesAll the Year Round, Feltham King, Lobjoit’s Green Cos, Arctic King, Stanstead Park, Hardy Winter White Cos, Webb's Wonderful, Tom Thumb, Black Seeded and Jumbo.

Continue to sow a short row (1/2 in. deep) every fortnight, to make sure of crops in succession. Ministry of Agriculture Allotment & Garden Guide 1945 -April
'Tom Thumb' 
I have now started planting my lettuce, I opted to put the first lot in a seed tray for transplanting, hopefully, when the get a little bigger, I will plant the next seeds direct. As well as growing 'Tom Thumb' which is a miniature lettuce I have also ordered some 'Little Gem' seeds which is a cos style lettuce (it's more sturdy and compact with white stems on the leaves) which I am hoping will ensure we get lots of fresh salads over the next few months

Wartime Seed Varieties: Alaska, Alderman, Blue Bird, Blue Prussian, Early Bird, Essex Star, Harrisons Glory, Kelvedon Wonder, Laxtons Supurb, Lincoln, Meteor, Onward, Pilot, Senator, Standard, Thomas Laxton, Timperly Wonder.
The March Guide (page 4) dealt with the sowing of peas. This is just to remind you to sow main crop peas in April. For late crops you can sow such varieties as Little Marvel and Onward as late as June. Unless your soil is in very good heart, a top dressing of super-phosphate––2 ounces per square yard––at blossom time helps the pods to swell. Ministry of Agriculture Allotment & Garden Guide 1945 -April
The first batch of plants went in at the beginning of May, it's been interesting to see how the varieties grow at different rates , both sets were planted on the same day but the Alderman have shot away! I have been planting A handful more seeds every 2 weeks, to hopefully get a succession of yummy scummy peas!

Wartime Seed Varieties: Long-Standing Summer, Round-Leafed Victoria & Prickly, King of Denmark, Monstrous Viroflay, Reliance, Blanchford's New Prickly, Giant Lettuce Leaved, Long Standing,The C.O.

Spinach may be sown both in spring (March to May) and late summer (August). Drills should be 1 in. deep and 15 in. apart. In autumn or early winter, spinach beet supplies leaves that take the place of spinach in autumn or early winter. It is also known as "Perpetual Spinach" and some people prefer it. The drills should be 18 in. apart. You can sow it in April and again in July. Ministry of Agriculture Allotment & Garden Guide 1945 -April

I did a bit of research on transplanting spinach and it seems the jury is out, some people swear by it and others swear it's a disaster, so we will see how mine works out! I have bought two types of spinach the above is a leaf beat type which is more of a salad crop called 'Reddy' I have also got some Medania seed which is a little more sturdy which I will plant directly in a few days time.

So that was April, in The Victory Garden, April and May truly seem to have flown by I can't believe that it will be June, on Saturday, where has the time gone!

Wendy x