Archive for December, 2010

My father…

Some of you will know that my father was diagnosed with advanced small cell lung cancer on 30th September – just three months ago.  By the time the diagnosis was made the cancer had already spread to his liver.  He was given two rounds of chemotherapy, which didn’t work, and then a short round of radiotherapy for symptom control.

My father died on Wednesday afternoon.  He declined very quickly, quicker than the doctor and nurses expected, but he passed away peacefully at home with his family – and that was all he wanted towards the end.  To be at home with those he loved.  We’re grateful that he didn’t suffer too much at the end – one minute he was there, the next he was gone.

Words really are inadequate right now.  Mum and I are bearing up as best we can, with the amazing support of my partner, Matt.  I will be posting again soon, for a sense of normality, but for now I’ll end with some photos of my dad which have lovely memories attached:


William Couch.  13th September 1944 – 22nd December 2010.

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I had a late night of crochet, and a full morning of crochet too.  The ground is still blanketed with snow, so no gardening for me today!

First off, a photo of dad with his blanket:


He looks toasty and snug, doesn’t he?  He’s not the only one… the bears demanded a matching blanket too…

They really are the most pampered bears ever!

I’ve also made a start on some octagons, which I’m making out of the rest of the donated yarn which has been left over from the Flag Blanket:

I think they might be the start of another blanket made of left overs, albeit one I can tackle at a more leisurely pace, but we’ll have to see how I get on.

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Well, it’s finally finished…

Do you want to see a photo of it in its entirety?

Sorry it’s a little blurry, the light is pretty pants today, and I was balancing on an armchair, wobbling all over the place, trying to get the whole blanket in shot!

It’s been a really fun project to work on, as well as having a lot of sentimental attachment.  Dad’s been using it for a while, and I kept stealing it back to add more squares when I was able to this week.  When it reached its current size dad said he thought it was big enough (it was getting treacherously heavy and I was also a bit worried it would be too heavy for him if I kept making it bigger), so I edged the whole thing with a simple edging of one round of DC and one of SC.

I think it ties the whole thing together nicely, neatening up the border and matching the thick cream borders around each individual square.

I asked dad if he would pick out some favourite squares, and here are his choices:

He’s pretty poorly at the moment, but I’m hoping to get a shot of him with the blanket next week some time.

Thank you again to all the lovely ladies who contributed yarn for this blanket.  I really couldn’t have done it without you, and it’s added extra meaning when I’ve been working with the different yarns.  It’s a blanket made entirely of love and kindness – thank you.

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Aren’t I a lucky girl, having items featured in two treasuries this week?!

First up I have to thank Bee by the Sea for featuring Lost & Found No.1 in her treasury “Life in the fast lane, great gifts for the manly man”

Click here to visit the treasury and see what other manly items have been featured.

The second of my books to feature in a treasury this week is Lost & Found No.17 (this series is turning out to be very popular!)

Many thanks to Erica of Subtle Acts for featuring my book in her “Done on (re)purpose” treasury, which she has described as showcasing “the MacGyvers of Etsy”

As MacGyver is “a series about a quiet and mild mannered secret agent who makes use of any mundane materials around him to create unorthodox solutions to problems” I’m very flattered! (I loved watching MacGyver when I was a kid!)

Click here to visit Erica’s treasury and see what the other Etsy MacGyvers have been up to.

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Most of the books I make are standard sizes, like A6 or A5.  However, sometimes I get the urge to make odd-shaped/sized books, and this week was one of those times.

I’ve had some really lovely papers in recently, and here are three of them used on the covers of tall books so as to make the most of the paper:

My favourite is the one featuring a map of London… but then I am a bit biased!

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Dos-à-dos bindings

In bookbinding, a dos-à-dos binding (from the French meaning “back-to-back”) is a binding structure in which two separate books are bound together such that the fore edge of one is adjacent to the spine of the other, with a shared lower board between them serving as the back cover of both. When shelved, the spine of the book to the right faces outward, while the spine of the book to the left faces the back of the shelf.

I made three different books using a dos-à-dos binding last year, and this week I decided to make some more.  I love the look of them, they’re slightly bonkers but, really, quite utilitarian.

These books are available now in my Etsy shop.

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“What sort of books?”

“Sequential art books”

Comic books?!”

“Graphic novels!”

I was watching an episode of Eastwick while sewing these books, and the conversation quoted above is from that episode – very appropriate, or so I thought!

Earlier this year I bought a load of pages from vintage comic books (mostly Dandy I believe), and made a couple of notebooks using the pages for covers.  They were quite popular, but I got distracted by other things and forgot about them for a while.

So this week I made a few more:

Some A5 in size…

Some that are A5 in width, but a different height…

And some A6 books too:

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I’m always very careful when cutting boards, paper and leather so as to get as much out of a single piece/sheet as possible.  However there is always a certain amount of wastage, and a lot of the time the off-cuts are quite sizable.

I can’t bear to throw things away which might have a possible use.  Which is admirable I suppose, but a bloody nuisance because it means I have piles of off-cuts building up to epic proportions.

What can I do with them?  Well I often use the off-cuts of mountboard and pretty paper to make miniature notebooks, which can be included as a free gift with orders.  The trouble is that miniature books take almost as long to make as a large book – and of course that’s time which I’m not being paid for.

So last night (I was burning the midnight oil at the studio and worked from, well, midnight until almost 6am) I was sat at my desk and wracking my brains for ideas… and came up with these:

I was determined to use up as many of the little scraps of leather as possible, no matter how small – it’s such beautifully soft leather I really couldn’t bear to waste it!  Leather is, by its nature, irregular in shape – so I do end up with offcuts of varying shapes and sizes, and this seems like a good solution to the waste.  Little squares and rectangles of board have been covered individually with leather, and then mounted on a felt-covered board.  The back cover is plain black felt, and the inside of the back cover is lined with more scrap leather.

These two were more straightforward.  When I cut boards for A6 notebooks (my standard size) I end up with off-cuts that measure 15.1 in length (the width varies) – which is the perfect length for an A6 book, but clearly they’re far too narrow on their own.  So I tried out this lattice effect, which works well in terms of using things up, and also looks good!

These new creations will be added to my Etsy shop later today.

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Today I attended the Crafty Fox Pop Up Market which was being held at The Dogstar pub in Brixton.  I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect in terms of foot traffic, but my goodness it was busy!

I had a small table, only 80 x 80cm, and I really struggled to get much stock onto it (so a large amount of my books ended up being stashed in boxes under the table).  However, this didn’t seem to deter customers and I had a very successful day.

I wasn’t alone, I had Matt with me and it was a blooming good job I did: I wouldn’t have been able to get all my stuff there without him, and it got so busy at times that you really did need to have two people, one to deal with customers and the other to take their money and make change.

There were lots of other interesting stalls there, and here are a few that caught my eye:

It really was a great day.  Incredibly busy, but successful and good fun!  It was a long day (the market opened at 11am and ran until 6pm) and by the end of it we were very much in need of a drink…

Matt bought me a present while we were there, something from one of the other stalls.  He bought me… a Warm Thought.

Isn’t it great?  A cute concept, wonderfully executed.  Just perfect 🙂  If you’d like to get your own Warm Thought (or see what other goodies they have) then visit http://stuffed-nonsense.blogspot.com/.

A huge amount of thanks has to go to Sinead, who organised the fair and worked incredibly hard on the publicity for it.  She did a fantastic job and I hope she enjoyed the fair as much as we did!

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I’m no domestic goddess, and aprons have always been rather foreign to me.  However, I thought I could do with an apron of sorts to wear to fairs and markets – especially as my outfits often lack pockets, so having an apron with a big pocket started to seem very appealing.

So I settled down on Thursday and made one.  It’s made of felt, as I have lots of that kicking around the place, and it’s entirely hand sewn as I don’t have a sewing machine (my mother has one, but’s an industrial machine leftover from a job she had when I was a kid, and it frightens the hell out of me).

My apron will be used for the first time tomorrow at the Crafty Fox Pop Up Market in Brixton.  Come along and see me at my stall if you’re in the area!

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