Monday, December 14, 2009

Christamas Time - where have the days gone?

It has been ages since I last wrote and that could be testament for me not having much to say. After the fired up enthusiasm of ironing my way through a pile of inspiring fabrics the desperate slump of realising that I need to sell things to pay bills hit. Then the flu in various guises for a few weeks and well I know you can guess the rest!

Things have been happening and I have had a wonderful opportunity recently. I was taken to Dubai - nope I have not been making that much of Ebay - god I wish, I was just getting enough to pay the bills let alone for a holiday. No I have the Hackney Fairy to thank for this trip - the persons knows who they are and I will be forever grateful nuff said ;)

So at the very end of November I jetted of with a good friend to the land of anything is possible and my God so it is. I would say go if you have not been and if you have WTF - how the hell have they managed so much in such a short space of time and all out of the sand! Oh yes of course slave labour just like the Egyptians and before us Westerners all start getting high and mighty how the hell do we think our economies were built to where we are today? Mmm yes remember the Victorians.... exactly child labour and the exploitation of the disposable working classes. So easy to forget a 100 years later that we did exactly the same and now we sit here in our glass (and brick houses) and throw stones across the sand.

Enough of the rant the place is amazing and as the BF said if we were not going and staying in the hotels a lot of these people would not have a job or be able to send money home to help educate their children to achieve more than they ever could. So my conscience being salved I leapt into it all with both feet and immersed myself in the Souk looking for lots and lots of guilty pleasures, boy did I find it! So much stuff and not enough time to explore all the nooks and crannies. I can tell you this though if you want a cheap DSLite head for the Souk half the price they are in UK - also as we kept being told great for copy bags. However I was after a different pleasure and that was the Arabic perfume that BF wears all the time and I absolutely love, and there was plenty of it at such reasonable prices if I had had a larger luggage allowance and not so many bills to pay I would have bought a serious amount back with me.

As it was I think every woman I had an excuse to buy something for has got perfume, including eldest! BF also took to me the aptly named - by her and not proprietor - The Shop of Shite, and boy did it live up to its name. There was so much stuff that was of no intrinsic value but you just knew kids everywhere would be dying to have by the bucket load.... Santa's sack is going to be heavier this year thanks to TSOS. The best thing my son ever got - his words - was the remote control car from there that cost a fiver and would set you back at least £19 in Hamleys...and yes I have seen exactly the same stuff here.

So my pearls of wisdom from this moment are save, have a lovely holiday on the beach in Dubai wondering at the miracle that has risen from the Arabian sand, then head for the Souk and spend spend spend - oh and only bring a swimsuit/bikini, sarong and perhaps a dress for the evening and stuff the rest of your suitcase with your spoils!!! On the way back you can ponder the exploitation and the bibles quote that when the Deserts turn green we really are in the shit!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


God save me from the curse that is constant ironing. Ironing clothes, fabrics even the cat if she jumps on the board again! So that is what I should be doing right now but instead I am taking a break to share with you my latest achievement.... my tea cosy!

First one ever and I am sooooo proud - just one problem it is huge! I thought I had it all sewn up - pardon the pun - but no its turns out what seems to be twice the size of my orginal one. I thought I would be clever and just draw round the original one - which ex burnt on the cooker, don't ask I had given up by that point myself! - and then just add the usual seam allownace. I also thought I would be all eco and clever and use only recylced fabrics.

So rather than go out and buy new wadding I raided the linen cupboard and got out an old towel for the insulation - this may be where I have gone wrong??? Obviously an old towel does not have the same thickness that wadding does but the size difference is a bit silly - still it is prettier than the burnt offering that I was using before......

So last school to trail round on Thursday morning and my mum will be over from France so will subject her to it as well. She is coming over for the Stitch and Bitch show at Ally Pally - any others going? I loved it last year, my first time, but boy was I exhasted and so overwelmed by the choice of stuff that my head was spinning. I think that I will have a much clearer idea this time what I want to see and do. I also have a course in rag rug making - so you can expect to see something along those lines on my Folksy/Misi shops in the not too distant future. I also have to avoid the pitfall that I fell into last year which was buying at great expense an embroidery hoop and crewel kit which is still stitting in its packaging a year later. I still have 4 - yes 4 other needlepoint kits that I have finished but have as of yet not sewn together into cushions...... am I the only person who does this? I love working on needlepoint and knitting but it takes me ages - sometimes years to get through a project. Please tell me there are others like this out there.

Eldest is the same as she has got my love of sewing - encouraged shamelessly by Mother I hasten to add - and has growing piles of projects. I went through our stash of knitting yesterday as the nights are drawing in and there is nothing better than a bit of mindless X-Factor watching whilst knitting away. So in prep for next Saturdays first live evening I thought I would find out what was still left over from last year......

A scarf - being made for my niece for her birthday last February - well she might get it this year instead. This was started at a one day course at a fantastic place called Fabrications in Broadway Market in Hackney see where I was being taught how to knit a pattern using different colours - trouble is when I thought I was knitting a cat I think it actually looks like an owl. Maybe I can tell her the design is the owl and the pussy cat and let her deicide which is which???

Another scarf - which for reasons of it being a present I cannot divulge anymore - suffice to say it was meant for last Christmas and at this rate shows little signs of being ready for this one either.

A dozen crocheted squares - a sample blanket idea. You do samplers to show and improve your needlework and for quilting so why not for knitting and crochet? It does help if you actually get enough together to make a blanket though!

Aforementioned crewel cushion cover - enough said already...

Black beret - I love berets and I was making this on the bus into work - I think it has now reached such epic proportions that a beret is too small a use so please help with some suggestions......

My newest project which was started whilst watching last weekends X Factor - cos I need another one on the go - is a chainmail suit for my sons Christmas present. Yes he will only be able to dress up in it for the winter - but I swear this is the way it is made for the Telly etc. I just need to practice with my can of silver spray.......will post some pics when I get that far so please make sure to put a date in your diary for sametime next year!!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Getting Fired Up - or OF!

So after a couple of days of contemplating my navel and thinking about the next step I had a plan. The eBay is going well - a steady trickle of items being bought and quiet a few more to be listed as and when I get the time. Now I need to start making and promoting what I have made.

I have imported some fabrics from America as they have a much better selection over there of the unusual - here it is all shabby chic which is great in its place but I am wanting something a bit more.....well not so damn English. So hands up anyone who knows of Alexander Henry???

A fantastic design house based in the Californian sunshine whom produces the best and wackiest fabrics I have seen for a long time - and to buy here is expensive. So I bit the bullet and ordered from the web - what a wonderful thing WWS is, anything, anytime of the day, a girls dream!

It arrived very swiftly and at not too great an expense - so I would urge anyone who has a hankering for the American cottons, get on the web and order.

Now of course I have about 60 yards of fabric in various different designs and am absolutely stumped as to what to do.............. Firstly - if you are a person who loves fabric you will understand this - I cannot bear the thought of cutting into it, and secondly I have got to wash and iron all of this before I can use it anyway! So is this divine inspiration or design desperation??!! But whatever I have quiet a bit of money sitting in this fabric and it needs to start paying for itself. So think of me over the next few weeks, washing and ironing in my slippers whilst watching Homes Under the Hammer or something equally as tragic to match my mood.

On a lighter note Eldest and I have been tackling her room which now being a fully fledged Tweenie is too pink and purple and terribly passe. The look now is Tiffany blue - is she showing signs of the expensive taste to come? - and soft sumptuous fabrics with a hint of sparkle. This is all to be twinned with minimalist white furniture from the insidious purveyor of utility furniture that is Ikea. I do love a good trip to Ikea though, just wish I had money to burn every time I went many things, and always such a shock when you get to the till! you stand there slack jawed with amazement as you are told all those lovely little things that you have piled into your trolley gasping with amazement at the design ingenuity and their cheapness are now going to strip you of the best part of your monthly salary. Do you really need that oh so essential cat tent? or the wonderful thingy ma jig that holds stuff you never knew you had or needed?

The thing that really gets to me though - and this is the true curse of singledom - is when you get home you still have to screw, bang and bash it all into submission, and it never looks like it did in the show room. Especially true once you have put three wrong screws into a piece of plywood, bashed it a few times with the hammer for good measure and then realised the screw you actually needed you have used somewhere else. God only knows how men cope because I actually read through the instructions first, twice, and layout all the screws in order counting them to make sure I have the right amount. Men just pull it all out, throw the instructions away, rub their hands with glee and say well this looks easy. Not so bloody easy 6 hours later when you find them sobbing the corner mumbling something incoherent about alan keys and Phillips


I digress somewhat - we have assembled the aforementioned flat pack - all bar one small wooden drawer unit for her jewels and hair bobbles, it is currently in a pile in the corner of the room making me feel guilty every time I look at it. To think I have been defeated by a few pieces of ply and some tacks! I will do it but considering that I bought one of these to hold my threads and waited over a year to put it together there is not much hope in for it being finished any time soon.

So now all I need to find is a painter - and a cheap one at that. I used to love painting my homes. It was all tied into the novelty of having somewhere to call your own and paint it how you wanted. Now I look at all the gloss and wall space and feel actually physically ill at the thought of it. I painted her room originally one weekend when she went to Bristol and she came home thinking I was the best mummy for turning it into an pink and purple paradise. Then she proceeded to strip the lining paper of the wall - draw on it - etc and I lost the will to ever do anything like it again. Mother I am so sorry, I now know how you felt when you repeatedly told me not to stick things up with Blu tack as it would mark the walls!

A few years down the line I realise that she will not do this but posters are going to be put up over the freshly painted walls - I have already found one of the Jonas Brothers stuffed into a drawer like a guilty secret. When asked if she liked them the hormonal cloud fell rapidly and I was told 'No, don't be silly, boys are disgusting'..... me thinks the lady doth protest too much. So do I roll up my sleeves and spend a few days slaving over a hot paint brush, or pay some other poor sod to do it and then rant and rave over wasted money when she still goes ahead and puts some spotty skinny oik on her walls?

As for son, still being stupid! Please see attached photo.......................

Thursday, October 1, 2009

In The Begining

Ok so I am new to all this blogging stuff but I want to get myself out onto the world stage and people keep saying 'Do a Blog, just write about it....' so after resisting and dreading the thought that this could all turn into some kind of self-help therapy session here I am.

First thing you should know about me is I hate proof reading so there will be typos - especially since my typing never keeps up with my brain, and I have as yet to perfect the art of looking at the screen whilst typing - oh mother I should have taken you up on the typing course....or at least taken the typing course at school seriously. So many regrets when it comes to looking back at school especially now as I traipse around secondary schools with my eldest child getting all excited by new science blocks and enthusiastic Maths teachers with eldest hiding behind me in case I expect her to actually engage with another human being. Yes here I am now an adult and fully fledged Mother making those important decisions that could help my child to soar or just scar her for life - and believe me living in Hackney it is probably going to be the latter! Having said that though it looks like Hackney is dragging itself up a few further rungs with outstanding results from its new academy....... people will be beating there way here soon trying to shoehorn their child into a school where before they would not have entered without a body guard. Oh how times change.

It is really funny though as I moved to Hackney for the first time in 1996 and fell in love with the place, warts and all. For the first time since moving to London in the early nineties I truly felt at home, and what is funnier ten years later whilst trawling through ancestry websites tracking down my matriarchal family guess where they all came from.... Oh yes Hackney! But not the hard bitten, flik knife carrying, Channel 4 bashed one of today. Nope it was the beautiful countryside, highly aspirational one of the late Georgian/Victorian era. Then, when chatting to my wonderful Nanna it turns out that this is also where my Grandfather (or Dampy as he was known to all whom loved him!) has his rubber factory. Tales of which had first reached my ears at the tender age of 5 imagining him in his working glory making rubber balls for perky puppies to play with, only to have all that shattered when I later found out he made condoms! My wonderful Damps who was so Victorian he would not take his tie of at the beach made all his wonga from Condoms! Oh and the occasional rubber dog ball..............

But I am digressing hugely. I wanted to start this blog to tell you about the business that I am setting up so that I can carry on being a working Mother - and keep my career sanity - but still actually be there for my kids. Yes I want it all and being a single mum that is nigh on pretty much impossible. I have tried doing the 9-5 that Gordon and his pals want us single mums to do but it is soul destroying, and I admire hugely anyone who can do it. For my sanity, and I do not say that lightly as I suffer from depression, I cannot do it. 20 days holiday a year when your kids are only in school for a total of 135 is quiet frankly ridiculous! My son, my beautiful son was growing up to be able to tell me what a cuboid was at the age of 3 but never have longer that 10 days off from being in someone else's care. I was dropping him at 8am and then collecting at 6pm. By the weekend he was knackered - we all were - and interacting was hard work. When he started school properly something had to give, and it was my career of 20 years standing.

For 20 years I have had the pleasure of doing a job that I loved - I am one of the lucky ones and I know it. Before I even left school I knew what I wanted to do and when due to drink, drugs and men my A levels fell to the wayside I still managed to do the job I wanted. One lucky bugger, that's me. Even taking small breaks to have kiddies and just because sometimes life throws a curve ball I always managed to go back, find a position and enjoy fully whatever I was doing. But now the crunch has come - or rather it came!

I got a medical problem that had me signed of for a few weeks which gave me time to think, a dangerous thing I know, and the think that I began thinking was 'why the hell am I in this rat race? What am I and my family getting from this?' The result of all this was I left my job and set up two separate businesses. Well they are kind of similar in so far as they deal with fabric.

Firstly you have Homespun - the one that really ticks all my creative, aspirational boxes - and Kidscost469 - the practical one that is actually bringing in the money and keeping me afloat.

Kidscost469 is an eBay business selling what a lot of people like to call gentle used or previously loved Childrens clothes and items. I really enjoy the washing and preparing, trying to take a half decent picture and describing things as accturately and attractively as possible. It gives me a real sense of achievement when I see something posted and even more so when it sells and I get another positive feedback. I am even setting myself goals and harassing friends to give me things to sell on. I had to buy my son a new dressing gown at the weekend as I realised I had actually sold the one of his back! Oh yes once you realise what sells on eBay it can become addictive and you will sell it if you have it. My son however see's it as a bonus as instead of the lovely, stylish one from Zara Home he now has a cheap and cheerful Ben 10 one - boys, so easy to please in a lot of ways!

It is also bringing me down a peg or two in regards to the way I look at clothes. Yes I do go to car boots, jumbles and get things. I always ask where possible about the item but seeing what people will just throw away is incredible. I found a pair of Deisel jeans the other day in a hedge! Nothing wrong with them - still years left in them - washed them up and sold them onto a friend for £20, not bad for a stroll through my estate. Another friend has given me a Dior outfit that her daughter wore once - Jesus £197 for a one time outfit - my jaw just hit the floor, but if I sell it that is my gas bill for the month covered. Yippeee

So back to Homespun - this is where my heart truly is on so many levels. It is my shop on Folksy and where I really want to be everyday. Locked into a love affair with my sewing machine. Rummaging through my jars, drawers and boxes of vintage buttons, lace and fabrics. Throwing together something frivolous to decorate a home. But there are even bigger ambitions here - something that I would have loved to do with my mother but never got the chance. I am going to set up a children's clothing label for tweenies. My lovely Eldest has the legs of a giraffe and is starting to curve - if I say anymore she will kill me! She has just turned 11 - yesterday - and whilst she wants to be trendy, I don't want her to look like a hooker, and this is where we have met our Waterloo......

There is nothing out there that is stylish, practical, a little English exccentric and for her pre-teen age group. It is either all pink and terribly pre double figures or she is going to look like a young hooker. Even the expensive labels seem to still make the kids of this age look like a Lolita. So with the helps of Eldest we are going to sort this out. Think Saville Row classic lines with a huge bit of Cyndi Lauper...... I'll have to show you some pics of what Eldest looks like and then you'll get it......

So we are thinking of ideas - and I am hoping to have something ready for Spring, but first we need a name........

Suggestions on a postcard please..........