Sunday, 29 May 2011

A Lovely Weekend

I'm a spoiled person... this weekend has been so lovely and I've had two great (early!) birthday presents, to make it even nicer.
Yesterday we went to spend the day with my niece, Keri-Anne, and her little family.  G. had to go to work, so we only saw him for a short while, but we shared a lovely "picnic" lunch (at the table, as it was raining!) with Keri-Anne and the little ones. 

In the afternoon, we played with the babies for a while then, once the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to shine, we went for a stroll along the canal, through the park and into the playground. 

The canal has recently been renovated, to create a marina.  Some large trees had to be taken down and they have been used to make these sculptural seats in the park - great for a bit of climbing, messing around and chatting.

A certain someone didn't feel like chatting - Let Sleeping Babies Lie!
Little swings and Big Roundabouts...

...and a Great Big Swing, for friends to play on together!
I met a new little friend...
...who was happy to take a piece of cereal bar, then scamper off on his own little errands.  He wasn't at all shy and was happy to pose for his portrait.
So were we!  We don't have many photos of the three of us together, so we were really glad to pose for Keri-Anne!

* * *

Yesterday, I received this Birthday gift, from Keri-Anne & Co -
Isn't it great?  It's a fab cushion, for my Studio (when I have a sofa to put it on!).  It's so nicely made and all soft and squashy. I love it!  Look at those great big wooden button-eyes... the cute floral fabrics and the spotty bit for the face... the little scallops for the feathers.  It's wonderful!

After all that exercise and excitement,  I was ready for a good sleep...
I was woken by my DH and DS, with breakfast in bed, plus cards and a Birthday present. We decided to celebrate my birthday today, since DH will be working on Wednesday and will be very late home.

This is what was in my surprise present:
Wow!  I am SO spoiled!  I didn't ask for a Kindle at all... I wasn't even quite sure whether I'd like one, although I have followed the blog debates about them for a while now.  Several bloggers I follow have made very interesting posts about their electronic books and what they think of them.  I originally thought I didn't want one at all - I love Real Books - after all, I do make them!   However, recently I've been borrowing DH's i-Pod Touch, to read books during the night, when I can't sleep; I do like this and have been sort-of mulling over the idea of having my own electronic book, of some kind. 

And now I have one! I have my own Kindle.  It is a 3G & Wi-fi version, which will let me browse the Net as well as buying books online etc.  I'm impressed by how clear the screen is, though the keypad is a bit clumsy (especially to someone who's become used to a touch-screen on an i-Pod). I was also surprised to find the screen is entirely monochrome.... just Black on White... with bits of grey... No colour.  Hmmm... I think that will take a bit of getting used to.  Browsing in B&W is an interesting experience.  But then, this isn't designed to take the place of my very nice lap-top pc.  Any browsing I do, will be just reading blogs, or checking on my Etsy shop, to make sure there's nothing urgent to deal with; or choosing nice, shiny new e-books to read!!  

I've already assembled a small library, all ready to read.  I have found a lot of free versions of various Classics; recent books - and a number of very popular classics too - can cost a fair bit to buy.  I'm not sure if I'm prepared to pay £11 for an omnibus edition of something, in an electronic copy, when I can probably buy a paper version more cheaply anyway.  I still love real books and that isn't likely to change.  But I can see that my wonderful new Kindle will come in very handy, especially when I'm out and about, or on holiday!

I am a very lucky blogger today!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Monkey Mania

You all must know by now, that I love Sock Creatures - especially Monkeys

Sock Monkey Family Portrait - Family Monkeys, Mon, Bro' and Bella...

Sock Monkey Family Portrait - the Class Monkeys - Teddy Bear, Zombie and Bella
(that Bella gets everywhere y'know...)

Socks are just so cool; they are ready-knitted little bodies and heads, for a whole selection of amazing creatures. 

Socks are wasted on feet - they're far more fun, if you turn them into something! 

People have devoted whole books to what you can make with socks. Some people make their living by creating things with socks!

So back in March, I taught a workshop day at the Saturday club my son goes to.  We made Sock Creatures and the students came up with some fabulous results:
The Fabulous Results!

Last Saturday, I taught a second workshop. This time we made Sock Monkeys - yay!

I had eleven students, aged from 9 to around 15 years.  Three had been to the previous Sock Creatures course - which must mean they enjoyed themselves!!

We spent the day working through the various stages of Sock Monkey construction (see my Tutorial to find out how we made them).  

We started with these...
We stitched, snipped and stuffed...
...prodded and poked...
...tweaked, tidied and tied...

Eventually we got to the end of the day.  Everyone worked very hard, but we didn't quite have enough time to complete our monkeys. 

Here is the Almost-Finished Result:
Monkeys... well, nearly!

Everyone went home with a little plastic bag, containing their selection of buttons, beads, trim etc, to give their monkey a face and some sort of decoration. 

The students all seemed happy with their Monkeys. I think it was just me who was really disappointed - because I won't get to see those cute Monkey faces...  We just needed another half-hour really...

I asked the students how they'd feel about a longer course, of two or three days, where we would make simple creatures first, followed by monkeys with clothes (and faces!).  They were very enthusiastic and said they wouldn't mind going back over the same steps again, to make their monkeys and that they'd like a longer course.  I will suggest it to the Club. 

We also discussed the idea of "Creatures for Christmas", during the Christmas term.  We could make santas, 
pets with woolly scarves...

The students had other ideas for Christmassy creatures too.  I am going to suggest this to the Club, along with a workshop to make simple books, as Christmas gifts, since that idea was also received with some enthusiasm.

I had a great day on Saturday, though I was very exhausted afterwards, from all the preparation work and the long, long day.  I could hardly talk on Saturday evening - my throat was dry and sore and I was just so worn out.  Needless to say, I was in bed disgracefully early and out for the count before 10pm!

I think I'm learning a lot from these workshops too - such as what can be fitted into a day, and what can't!

The next teaching I will do, will be a bookbinding course, at my local needlework and patchworking shop.  There is a shop in Oakley called Tudor Rose Patchwork, who have a classroom behind the shop.  They have various crafting clubs going on weekly or monthly and also bring tutors in, to offer a whole range of courses.  They've concentrated mostly on sewing-based courses up to now, but decided to try introducing some different things. 

I was asked if I would like to try a book-binding workshop, so I will be teaching "Simple Books with Fabric Covers" on Saturday 16th July:
My samples, which are on display in the shop. 

I'm quite excited already!

* * *
And Finally... Sherlock has a new job...
C.S.I. Monkey...

Watch out for the new TV series, starting soon!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Happy Mail from National Scrapbooking Day

I really must post about this, before I forget - which would be so rude of me! 

On Friday, while I was busy and busy, getting ready for the Sock Monkeys Workshop Day - of which, more will follow - the postman brought me a package:

Um, don't mind the brown rolly one, it's paper supplies... it's the Big White Box you should be looking at!!

I had forgotten about this.  It's just been so manic round here and my blogging sessions have been short and infrequent.  I forgot that I had dropped in to see how Susanne was getting on, over at Snaps and Snippets.  She has been taking part in one of the Counterfeit Kit challenges and had made herself a fab little kit, all colours and cheeriness - and, in honour of National Scrapbooking Day, she was offering another made-up kit, to a reader who left a comment for her. 

So, I duly commented - it was a great kit and I loved it - then forgot about it.
Then found I had won the Kit - yippeee!! 

Then I forgot about it again, buried under a pile of Books and Monkeys, notes and plans.

So when the post came on Friday and I saw the name of the sender on the Mysterious Parcel from USA, I thought "I know that name....", but couldn't think what was inside.

So nicely packed....

How Exciting - how could I have forgotten?
With a lovely hand-made card...
...with such a friendly message!
A great selection of colourful papers...
....some sets of alpha stickers...
...chipboard stickers and some little edging bits...
...a lovely collection of brads, buttons and chipboard bits...
...this cute sticker-sheet...
...a second cute sticker sheet...
...ribbons and trims...
... journalling cards and little envelopes...

... Wow!

So much lovely Treasure!  I felt like the most spoiled person in England!  What a lovely gift and fancy sending it all the way to UK (postage isn't cheap and paper goods are heavy!). 

So, Susanne, I just want to say that I really appreciate your kindness.  I love the Kit and will do my best to make time for some scrapping very soon. 

After all, it's the least I can do, after receiving such a lovely present.

Thank You Susanne!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Fun on Fursday 4

Well I took the sample books to the shop today.  The lady was very enthusiastic and gave me a shelf of my own, in the glass display cabinet, where the books are now arranged on a piece of black velvet (!).  They all look very nice. Her colleague is going to make nice labels for them, to say what they are and also a label with the course details.  Who knows, I may even get some students!  The brochure for the summer courses is at the printers and due in the shop any day, so they are ready to sign people up (she seemed to think they'll have sign-ups completed in June... )  Exciting!

So, yesterday afternoon, this is what was on my Workdesk:

A box of socks...
...which made quite a mess on my desk!  This is my Sock Stash, which I am using to make samples etc for my Sock Monkey course.
Another boxful on the floor - this is the "after sorting out" picture.  These socks belong to the students.

So yesterday afternoon and also this afternoon, I have been Making Monkeys.  Pictures to follow, as they are "in progress" and I don't want to spoil the surprise. There are two just now, maybe three by tomorrow afternoon...if I have time!

Also today, the postie brought this:
My paper order! 
Five sheets of my Favourite Paper - and my customers' favourite too.  More books can be made!
I ordered these two papers too, to see if they would appeal to anyone.  I've added them to my Facebook album full of Paper Choices!  I like the red birds & birdcages one - I may have a use for this very soon! 
All these papers are made by a company called Cavallini.  The quality is wonderful and they have a fine, slightly ribbed texture, which makes them very nice to handle. 

I also ordered this!   I thought I would put it on the wall of my studio, so I can see where many of my Blog Friends live - and also where my books are going to  (those that go to the USA of course).  I will see if I can find a World Map also.  Such fun!

And I looked out of my Studio window this evening - this is what I saw:
Floating right by my house!!

Finally, something I've been saving for today - a favourite "Cheezburger" picture -
Made me smile... it's so true.

Happy Thursday, everyone! 


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