Misericordia

Stitch By Stitch

My work this week can best be described as incremental.

Applied silk stems - Misericordia

But there are only so many times you can make a movement before it must come to some result, so I am awaiting the discovery that I have accidentally completed something.

Wrapped knots - Misericordia

Oh, look!

Willow stems - Misericordia

 

Rows and Rows

Spice rack - Misericordia

Once upon a time, there was a girl who lived in a little white house. On the wall in the kitchen were rows and rows of spice jars, each neatly labelled and alphabetised (except for the vanilla extract, which lived at the tippy top).

She would use these spices to make magic potions, surprising soups, and alarming cakes (see vanilla extract above).

Glass spice shelves - Misericordia

Ever since then, she has searched for just the right combination of shelves, jars, and labels, to no avail.

Sometimes there were shelves with mismatched jars, sometimes there were no shelves and piles of jars and packets. She even found the perfect combination of jars and labels, but the shelves remained elusive.

But good things come to those who wait, and this week her fairy shelf-builder granted her wish.

Glass and cast iron shelves - Misericordia

The moral of the story is, of course, to stay true to your dreams, buy your spice jars in lots of 200* if that’s what it takes, and…um, casually mention your shelving problems to very patient joiners.

*147 of which are living under our spare bed, just in case anyone wants to buy some.

Test and Retest

Sketchbook to do list - Misericordia

Having tested a variety of stem/branch ideas, I suppose it was only logical that, when faced with the fabric I was actually going to use, I decided to do something completely different.

Banner layout - Misericordia

I’m trying to embrace a bit of texture, as well as rediscovering an technique I haven’t used since I was enthusiastically making friendship bracelets at school. (I’d like to see the youth of today try to use loom bands in their future textile art…)

Bias strips - MisericordiaBias strips joined - Misericordia

I haven’t quite got the stems finished, but on the whole, I’ve made quite a lot of progress on it this week.

Bias strips bound - Misericordia

Next week will hopefully involve cutting a lot of leaves…

Leaf test - Misericordia

I Don’t Even Like Swans

I’ve always tried to be the sort of person who allows herself to be moved by the winds of Fate, but even this gust took me rather by surprise.

Swan Embroidery Charity Shop Find - Misericordia

This crewel embroidery caught my eye a couple of weeks ago in the charity shop closest to our house. At first, I must admit, it made me laugh. The pomposity of the swans, the unapologetic shade of goldenrod, the frankly sinister gazes, it was certainly memorable.

Unpicking a Frame - Misericordia

But it started to intrude upon my walks to and from school and work. I started to wonder if anyone had bought it, or if it might go somewhere in the flat. The swans started to seem dignified rather than ridiculous.

Faded Characters - Misericordia

Eventually, I realised that it was useless to resist any longer. Last Friday, I went in and had a good look at it. I took a photo and showed it to a few friends (shamelessly encouraging) and the Lovely Young Man (non-committal and a touch resigned). I was working on the Saturday, so I left money for Dragon to oversee the purchase and went to work with a slight feeling of trepidation.

Repainting a Frame - Misericordia

All was well, however and they were waiting for me when I got home. It seems that the man at the charity shop had been hoping I would come back for it and had questioned my emissaries closely before concluding the sale.

How to Clean an Embroidery - Misericordia

Cleaning Embroidery with a Vacuum - Misericordia

It took a little sandpaper, paint and a chance to use the conservation technique of hoovering through a fine cloth (I’ve always wanted to do that) but it’s just about ready to take pride of place, as soon as I finally decide where to put it!

Cleaning Vintage Embroidery - Misericordia

To A Bodkin

The furniture rearranging continues apace.

Sewing Drawer - Misericordia

I’ve reordered my supplies by genre rather than work/not-work and realised that I had only been using the front half of my plan chest drawers. (I suppose that’s part of the challenge of a large drawer in a small space!)

Drawing Drawer - Misericordia

With the liberal application of hoarded fruit punnets and clicky-sticky tape, I’m slowly bringing a bit of order to things (no clear flat surfaces though, let’s not be too hasty).

Corded rouleau - Misericordia

I’m still itching to draw rather than sew, which hopefully explains the slow progress on anything involving a needle and thread (no matter how beautifully organised). I did get a bodkin out, which is always pleasing. I’ve been playing with corded rouleau to use as stems for the Ark Project tablecloth, and it’s been unnecessarily difficult.

Bodkin - Misericordia

In the end I’ve settled on turning the loops empty and then threading it with a homemade cord made of scrap fabric. I’ve managed to streamline the production so much that I’ve stopped cutting holes into the ends of the fabric in favour of slits so I don’t have to put the wee flappy pieces in the bin.

Corded rouleau with recycled padding - Misericordia

I’ve become very callous and started to cut up abandoned or unsold embroidery. I just don’t seem to have the energy spare to deal with shuffling it around or looking after it.

Recycled cording for padded rouleaux - Misericordia

I wish I could say it was helping me get more work done, but it’s been mainly infinitesimal updates to various baby books, half rows of knitting, and a pleasant return to regular Pilates sessions.

Recycle scrap fabric into yarn - Misericordia

This is my favourite bit of the cord-making process, when you pull the two ends and they lock together. I’m not sure what the emotional equivalent is, but I’ll let you know when I find it.

Use fabric scraps to make corded padding - Misericordia

And Everything In Its Place

Cookbook shelf - Misericordia

One of the best bits about this making and selling thing is becoming confident in buying from other makers in a small measure of solidarity.

Bookshelf - Misericordia

This gigantic statement of support was the result of a serendipitous craft fair table placement near the lovely guys of Sorell (who also made the ark).

Bookcase - Misericordia

Not only did they put up with our rather haphazard requests (make it pretty! fit the sewing machine in! all the power points ever! irregular shelving!) but they even managed to use up the very last of the bamboo countertops from the kitchen which had been languishing behind the ramshackle bookcase village which had sprung up in the front room.

Bookcase - Misericordia

Bookcase - Misericordia

Now my challenge is to fill it in an attractive and organised manner. I looked on Pinterest for bookcase styling (horrible word) tips, but most of the ideas started with getting rid of all of your books or turning them with their spines to the back of the shelves or similar nonsense, so I’m working out my own system.

Gorey shelf - Misericordia

Apart from finally having shelves deep enough for art books and Very Large Sketchbooks, it’s nice to have a home for all the tchotchkes and ornaments that have been frustrating me elsewhere. (Especially that blue bowl. It was a wedding present from my godmother and we love it, but I almost gave it away because I couldn’t find a home for it.)

Mysterious - Misericordia

Any suggestions, styling tips or cataloguing ideas are most welcome! I’ve been dreaming of a pair of library steps, but what else is new…

 

Bunting Frenzy

I can’t get over how miserable I was this time last year…

Bunting Layout - Misericordia

But here we are, and I’m up to my elbows in a very pleasant project: Little Lion’s Birthday Bunting.

Bunting Layout - Misericordia

It started when The Flat Buddy offered to organise an interactive baby shower for Dragon and we came up with the idea of people making and sending in bunting flags. It was a huge success, and hanging out of the Birthday Bunting marks the beginning of birthday festivities.

Blue and purple bunting - Misericordia

Now that The Flat Buddy is several hundred miles away, I organised Little Lion’s Bunting Appeal (discovering in the process just how much work went into the whole thing) and again was properly overwhelmed at how lovely people are.

Taggy Lion Bunting - Misericordia

Even Dragon got into the act, designing two flags and doing some of the stitching himself.

Dragon's First Embroidery - Misericordia

I’m looking forward to getting it all stitched together in time (I hope) for birthday festivities on the weekend (and more cake, which we missed doing this week).

Shirt Label Bunting - Misericordia

Deeds not Words Bunting - Misericordia

In lieu of cake, here is a photo of the Lovely Young Man posing expertly in his Gentleman’s Relish. Because he is as wise as he is tall, he’s already worn it enough to avoid the Boyfriend Jumper Curse, which we’re all very pleased about.

Gentleman's Relish - Misericordia

Disembarking from the Mary Celeste

March has come in with Little Lion’s first Nursery Plague which rapidly swept through the family.

Hovel in chaos - Misericordia

There is nothing like the zombie-film aura which surrounds you as poorly parents of poorly children. Even the cat joined in after indulging in a sumptuous floor-feast because we couldn’t face tidying up around the high chair.

Bunting ingredients - Misericordia

Eclipse Bunting - Misericordia

When we emerged, I discovered that I had 10 days to make Little Lion’s birthday bunting, a jumper which has been haunting me for two years was complete and I’d read War and Peace.

Gentleman's Relish - Misericordia

Readjusting to life on land has been unexpectedly tricky. I’m still looking for my concentration, I’ve lost the ability to tell time and if anyone wants to do my invoices for February, I’d pay you in plum tart!

Plum Tart - Misericordia

(Not shown – Welsh cakes and brownies.)

“Whatever you do, it’s never enough”

I was sitting on the (very crumb-covered) kitchen floor (because it’s better than sitting in a chair), trying to document the 25 minutes (using my new productivity app*) I’ve spent this week on the Ark Project, when the radio intruded on my internal monologue and presented me with the title of the post.

Sketchbooks and ginger cat - Misericordia

I have a few sketchbook pages of notes and a little swatch of stiffened silk which really represents me coming to realise that I’m going to be cutting hundreds of leaves out of silk very shortly, and I don’t really want to hem them. I also have to get a handle on properly 3D rouleaux which use the minimum of silk, more on that when I get it to work.

Fabric glue test - Misericordia

*I’m using the Pomodoro Technique which times you working for 25 minute blocks. It’s been quite helpful for taming my distractible nature, even though the free app I have keeps demoting me to Unrepentant Slacker!

And now it’s time for …Cake of the Week, iced buns!

Iced Bun - Misericordia

I’m very pleased with these, they’re hitting the not-too-sweet spot nicely. (I didn’t fill them because the first iced bun I ever ate didn’t have filling so I have grown to love them as oddly sweet bread rolls.) I can only show you the elegant pale yellow icing. After the first four were iced the colour scheme descended rapidly into the lurid and sludgy spectrum. I’m thinking about making half-sized ones for Little Lion’s upcoming first birthday celebrations (which is a bewildered post for another day).

Seeping Through the Cracks

It’s half term, and we’ve reached maximum entropy.

Loom Band Entropy - Misericordia

I have very little to show for myself since last week apart from a small but significant gusset for LYM’s jumper, some rather decadent cake and a half-written blog post about flapjacks.

Knitted underarm gusset - Misericordia

We are a broad-shouldered family, so I suspect that the adding of gussets will become a useful skill for me. I have a small pile of bought clothes which could do with the addition of a little more room in the oxter department, so this will be the first of many. I used this TECHknitting tutorial, which was quite helpful and also provided a chance to learn a few more decreasing and i cord-making skills.

Knitted underarm gusset - Misericordia

Have you noticed that all of my cake photography is half-eaten?

Chocolate and salted caramel tart - Misericordia

This was one of those dinner party desserts that look desperately complicated but really aren’t. Blind bake a shortcrust case (I added a little sugar to Delia’s recipe), when cool pour over some salted caramel sauce. (I had a jar of caramel sauce left over from Shrove Tuesday, but it had the same ingredients as most of the recipes I’ve seen online). Allow to cool and make ganache. Allow to cool and pour over while still just runny. I had some leakage where my pastry case wasn’t quite chocolate-tight, but no one seemed to mind!

Sprinkle with a little more sea salt if desired and serve in very small slivers with blood oranges.

If you’re crawling to the end of half-term, I wish you the best of luck.

 

 

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