Sunday, 26 February 2012

Laura's Handmade Life - Amanda Addison

I love to read, and I love to craft - therefore I love to read stitch-lit! 

I see myself as more than a novice reader of this genre as I have read many knitting novels, including the semi-famous The Friday Knit Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs, as well as the lesser known Divas Don't Knit and Needles and Pearls by Gil McNeil. I even wrote a paper on the links between gothic literature and knitting murder mysteries, such as Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton at university - Yes, I got fantastic marks for this essay. It's a shame the rest of them didn't follow suit. 

I am also one to, and I feel ashamed at this, judge books by their cover. In fact, Ben knows to buy me books which have pastel colours and swirly writing on - I more often than not devour these in a single sitting; trashy chick-lit is a huge non-guilty pleasure of mine. 

So, with the bunting and polka dots, shoes, tea and cupcake, and of course the aforementioned, almost-obligatory swirly writing, Laura's Handmade Life appeared to be a winner.

In some ways it was; the country life, the trips to the charity shops, the vintage clothing, and (eventually) the crafting give the story the key components to a book I should love. However, to love a book, you must also love the main character. Laura Lovegrove is a very whiney woman. There is no other way to describe her - She stupidly leaves a pan of melting wax on the hob and almost burns down her house. She burns all her vintage clothes, and then spends the rest of the novel moaning about it, even though she is stitching a new career from their scraps. She also moans about her husband, a man who wants nothing more than a self-sustainable life, a man who builds her a yurt for a craft room, and builds her a website to sell her goodies on. Admittedly, he does do yoga, but I would happily put up with downward facing dog for a purpose built craft room and home-grown courgettes to bake cakes with. 

As with many craft books, there are patterns included, but this is also where it has let me down. There is no recipe for the courgette chocolate cake, or the sachertorte that is frequently mentioned within the pages.

All in all, nowhere near the best stitch lit I have read. I wouldn't recommend it unless you wish to read 410 pages of a woman moaning about her wonderful, crafty, countrified life, with a few spelling errors thrown in for good measure.

(I am nice really)

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Weekend Stitchings

I am slightly totally obsessed with my six month old kitten, Maisie.
Ben found her and brought her to me, four weeks old and covered in fleas, with a hard tummy full of worms. She was so weak she could barely walk. After being defleaed, dewormed, and several showers later, she was the cutest furball. She was also mine. My first ever pet, at the age of 23. 
She now has her own harness and lead, and I take her for jaunts in the garden (not yet spayed or microchipped, I don't want her being ravaged by the local toms), and she has claimed the windowsill in my bedroom, where I provide fresh water almost daily for her, in her very own pint glass; it stops her drinking mine. 
So, yes, she is a pampered princess of a kitten. She has had a few dresses (unfortunately not handmade...yet), and has a collection of pretty collars, ready for the time when she is ready for the big, wide world. 
But I needed to craft something to commemorate her, and our relationship. It was then that I stumbled upon a tutorial for embroidered pet silhouettes (I have since lost the link, but will continue to search). 
A silhouette of Maisie stitched into eternity, alongside -of course- one of me.

After a few attempts, I managed to get Maisie to sit still enough for a profile photograph, and took one of myself too. I then fiddled around with them both to make them silhouettes and then added frames and printed. And then I began to stitch. 

This is it so far. I used satin stitch for the main silhouette and a running back stitch for the frame. The rest of the frame is visible through the material - I just held the paper and cotton together with the embroidery hoop and stitched straight through the paper. 

Once this one is finished I will begin on mine, and then the two will be housed in a vintage frame, me on top (the master, obviously) and her below.