I love having chickens. Ever since I got my first chickens when I was four I have loved them because:
They lay eggs. Big organic, yellow yolked lovelies.
They are hilarious comical beings.
I like having animals around.
But these chickens are vicious. Truly evil. not just a bit 'hen pecky' really, really nasty. For the second time since we got them I have recently had cause to separate them . One of the hens had been ill and then started to moult and subsequently the other two began two tear her apart.
Sadly the truth of these lovely birds (or vicious dinosaurs as we refer to them as) is that once they have the site of blood they will keep on going until they have pecked the weak bird to death. So a temporary home was created out of our old pot store to put the hen pecked lady in to recuperate (the last time one was ill they lived in the greenhouse for a while - never again, it was a nightmare and made me jealous as the greenhouse is firmly my territory). She started to get better and last weekend we started to reintegrate them with disastorous consequences.
Now I expected a bit of sparring but not the all out blood fuelled assault we witnessed. Needless to say the hen was removed less than an hour after we started to reintegrate them.
So this time I am trying a different tack to diffuse our ongoing chicken wars. Some happy time living side by side (but not together) will hopefully pave the way to reconciliation (it had better because on a cold day two lots of water and two lots of food to sort out take the you know what and to add insult to injury only one of the damn hens is laying anyway).
The chicken run has been duly separated which means no one has a lot of space but no one is going to die of being pecked to death either. Each can stay in their own side and just get used to each other without the killing part. So to cut a long story short I needed a small, one chicken, studio apartment for the solo hen to stay in. No good leaving her in the run without a house as the fox would just love that!
To answer my chicken dwelling issues I made the mini house shown above and in situ below. It is made entirely of found materials. In fact the wood I used was the shed floor that came with the house when we bought it, was used as a wooden floor in the chicken run last winter and has been living under a forsythia for a while. Amazing what you can do with a few bit of scrap (but still in good nick) timber, a few screws and a lick of wood preservative (chicken safe of course). It is not a masterpiece but it is high level bodging and I am very proud of it.
It is also a timely lesson it taking things at your own pace. I am not in a very good way at the minute with all sorts of joint problems (got to love the cold weather coming on when you have a joint condition!) and consequently in lots of pain. I am also not very good at taking things slowly. But I am learning that there is no shame in going at your own pace, even if that might be a bit slower than everyone elses place. This woodworking marvel was possible (despite the knackered joints) through good planning, doing a bit at a time and most importantly accepting that while others may have made it quicker or better they didn't, you did and therefore you get to be pleased with yourself which is a nice feeling.
This is the design for the postcards I am ordering this week to advertise my new crafty venture.
I wish I had her poise when sewing, I think my back would appreciate it! I am afraid to disappoint my loyal followers by divulging that I sew in more of a 'hunched over in my lounge pants with the tele on' kind of way. Not in the alert pose this lady employs when crafting.
If only I could live up to my own romantic notions....
This lady likes cake (as opposed to my earlier lady who likes pie).
One of the things I was a bit worried about when I started to make a lot more craft was that I would get a bit 'bored' of doing it all the time. I have, what can only be described as a bitch of a cold at the moment, (my partner works at the local uni so it is undoubtedly a bout of freshers flu as the students started back recently - thanks kids) and it has knocked out my ability to do almost anything (this blog post is sponsored by vitamin C, paracetamol and sudafed).
This means no craft. And I am missing it - badly. My fingers are bored stiff. Can't wait till I can focus my mind and eyes enough to coordinate my fingers again to the required level to sew nicely (also does not seem nice to be sneezing all over things I intend to sell!).
So as I can't make anything at the moment I thought I would show you all something I made a little while ago. Fingers crossed (if you can coordinate yours) that my hands are able to start doing what they love again very soon.
So, last week I promised I would explain why I, seemingly out of the blue made an embroidery lady holding a pie (not that there's anything wrong with this).
A few weeks ago i had the chance to have some time spend making things. After getting a few jobs done I had on my sewing pile my thoughts started to turn to things I have long wanted to do. A big one of these is more embroidery work. I love sewing. I really love sewing, particularly hand sewing and making beautiful things.
I started to learn to sew long before I could do more mundane things like maths and writing, consequently I have had plenty of time to get the practice in! My undying thanks go out to my Mum who was solely responsible for this wonderment. She was a needlework teacher before I pursuaded her (though being born) that she wanted to spend time with me instead. So I was lucky enough to grow up with my own, incredibly clever and talented needlework teacher. Lucky me!
Thankfully enough of her enthusiam, skill and love of all things crafty rubbed off on me so I can wield a needle and crochet hook in pursuit of lovely handmade things too (although i will never, to my undying sadness be as good at dressmaking as Mum).
Consequently I spent a glorious amount of time as I grew up in sewing departments and habidashery stores as my Mum was purchasing her sewing paraphernalia. If you have never been in one you have missed a treat (well i think so anyway). They are places of wonder full of fabrics, buttons, ribbons, sequins, fastenings and all manner of glorious things. As a child who loved art my particular favourite were the patterns and pattern books containing all the wonderful designs that we could buy and my Mum could make - for me if I was lucky! I loved the ladies on those patterns. They are tall, graceful and beautiful and were wearing the most amazing, luxurious clothes. Now I promise this is not an envy thing but even when I was young it was obvious I was not going to be model or ballerina material. I don't think I will ever forget the Dr saying if they got a hundred children I would be the smallest or second smallest. I have, what we call in our family, flatteringly, a 'low slung bum', - my Dad has one too - basically I have very short legs (and in fairness short everything else. So all people tall and graceful were wonderful to me.
My love of embroidery, patterned fabric and vintage patterns has collided in a pleasing way to make these lovely ladies. These were the starting point for my journey to pie lady. Making sense now? These 3 are the first set - set 2 tomorrow.
I am not boasting here but I am better at making than I am at blogging. At least I should be thankful it is that way round I guess.
If I was better at blogging it would be perfectly obvious to you why I have made the lady above as you would have seen all the other things I have made but I am not good at blogging so you have no idea!
I have been embroidering for a while now, making all sorts of images but the main pieces I have been creating are a series of ladies based on images from vintage sewing patterns or, like this one 1950s adverts.
This lady is very happy with the pie she has made and who can blame her a good pie is a wonderful thing. She was made as a gift for a friend who, like myself loves food and cooking and I have many fond memories of sharing wonderful feasts with her.
In an effort to explain how we got here I am going to blog the other things I have made over the next few days until we are all caught up and know where we are at (as best as is possible).
I am planning on making a few more things in hoops as I bought 135 of them today. Wow that is going to be a lot of hoops when they arrive!!!
Well an embroidery of Bradley Wiggins anyway - I would be super proud if I had made the real thing!
Thing is, I love sport. Not one sport. All Sport (well maybe there are a few things I wouldn't watch). I used to love playing sport and now I can't I adore watching it. Bar all the usual stuff (rugby, football, snooker, cricket, multiple motor sports etc) I have reveled in the woodwork world championships, marvelled at Jack Russell racing, got up in the middle of then night to watch olympic performances, stayed up ridiculously late to watch my beloved Green Bay Packers win the Superbowl, spent whole weekends watching sports and recently spent two weeks solid watching the wonderous olympics (seriously - two weeks solid). But I had never really got into road cycling. Obviously being British I adore track cycling (we win a lot) but had never really tried out the wonders of the road race.
I had cause recently to see quite a lot of the Tour de France (the second half where wse all reveled in Bradley Wiggins & Team Sky whupping everyone) and then was locked into the Olympic cycling like the rest of the country. I can't ride a bike to save my life but I adored watching the amazing, complicated, tactical and physical performances required to suceed at this demanding sport - inspiring. Now I am loving the Vuelta (the tour of Spain) have sat through terrible coverage of the American Pro Cycling and watched a couple of other races too. I am hooked!
Yes, unashamedly, I started loving it cause Bradley did well (hence my tribute in fabric and thread) but it has gone beyond that. It is great sport, fascinating tactically, full of superhuman endeavour and absolutely beautiful to watch. For someone who loves colour and the outdoors there are the fantastic colours and forms of the riders in the peloton (officially my new favourite word) and the glorious scenery. As a bonus it is also great to have on when I am making.
This piece is staying with us at home for our own personal shrine but it is also a test piece for a cycling based series I am planning on making - more soon.
Fingers crossed everyone for the Tour of Britain (9th - 16th Sept) - see website for more info - can't wait.
Something a little different today on the making scale, my new potting bench. I can assure you this is real woodwork - not crocheted, embroidered or constructed from fabric in any way!
This is another 'miriacle of leftovers' project where seeming scrap that is clogging up your life (in this case the shed) gets turned into something distinctly more wonderful and useful that rather than clogging up your life, in fact, enhances it.
I love gardening, particularly veg gardening but it really takes it toll on my less than robust back and knees so we have been on a making it easier to garden campaign for some time now. I have wanted a potting bench for ages as I end up doing a lot of potting up on the floor (hence the complaints from my back and knees).
I have looked round for some time for a bench I liked to buy and there seemed to predominately be two choices. Cheap and rubbish or expensive and swish. I refuse to buy cheap and rubbish and I can't afford expensive and swish. The will we, won't we debate about whether to make on has gone on for some months.
Anyways as I am not currently working the debate is over - make it! Especially when you work out all those leftover bits of wood that you trip over every time you go into the shed add up to a simple, robust and very lovely potting bench.
Thanks to Dan for doing the cutting for me thereby leaving me a bit of shoulder function for today. My bust shoulder didn't think much to the drilling and construction workbut on the upside this means I now have very cool looking (thanks to the Olympics for making strapping trendy) blue and black magic shoulder strapping which has amazingly made my shoulder stop hurting.
I am truly blessed - a free potting bench and a shoulder that looks cool and doesn't hurt. Result!
So, as admitted recently, I have not been overly good a blogging my work. All that is about to change now as I can reveal my latest makes and why I have not been blogging them.
Debbie made... has branched out and now has an Etsy Shop - Debbie made shop. I have been squirreled away over the last few weeks getting together a bank of new makes to go in the shop. The piccies above give you a sneak preview of what can be found in there but feel free to head on over and nosy around at all the new stuff I have been making.
I will blog all my new makes over the next few days - promise!
Some time ago I let on that had a project on the go involving monsters. Between then and eggmen, beardy egg men, bunting, football hats, kneelers and a whole load of other stuff I have made but not blogged I have been working on these fellas.
The idea behind Monster Magic was that I sent Dan's nephew's a 'Monster Magic' pack and encouraged them to design some monsters for me - who better to design monsters than kids? I would then turn those drawings into real toys for them. Super cool.
Below are the incredibly brilliant drawings they sent me and my soft and friendly interpretations of them. The smiles in the photo I have seen of the boys with their monsters makes me think I did an ok job :)
See what I mean? I could never ever have designed anything this cool! They were such fun to make I am hoping to be able to do more soon as part of a plan I am hatching to sell more fo my work. Sadly I can't call my idea Monster Magic as someone has already nicked that name (damn them).
There is some kind of lovely hand made prize is on offer for anyone who can come up with a better name that no one else has bagged yet. Thinking caps on and watch this space!
Here they are, one more time....
If any of you have kids and would like drawings made up get in touch. I can't wait to gte more amazing inspiration in the post......
I have been making bunting recently for a variety of reasons (more to follow). As part of Dan's Norwich City themed birthday gifts I made him some 'Norwich City' bunting.
This is one of those wonderful moments when you think of something you want to make, go into your materials and ribbons to find out that, gloriously, you have all the right stuff and it looks lovely. Once again, bless my love of (obsession for) saving stuff!
Dan is a Norwich Fan. A fact I have heard a lot about recently as they went up to the Premiership last year and we (meaning Nottingham Forest) didn't.
Because I am not bitter (much) I support Dan's love of Norwich City and this year for his birthday made him a number of things to help him with his support regime. This mini football supporters hat was one of them. For an alternative view Dan drew it yesterday have a peek - #232 birthday hat
As those of you who follow my making habits I love a good mini hat (mini jesters hat, pixie hats,mini fez, wooly hats). For those of you who also love a mini hat and can wield a crochet hook / knitting needles it is time to get producing mini hats for The Big Knit. A lovely coincidence is that this hat, as well as being the perfect accessory for any Norwich City fan is also the right size for an Innocent bottle. If you are now wondering what the heck I am talking about click the Big Knit link above and find out - it's ace!
If you are itching to get started on your own crochet hats feel free to download the pattern (my ask is that in payment you make a few hats from of it for the Big Knit - thanks):
I have been so busy making things I have not got round to posting things. This chappy is another eggman made for my Dad for Fathers Day. He is a beardy bloke because my Dad is a beardy bloke - although my dad'd eyes don't go like that, he is not purple and does not have Don King hair. Oh, and he is not crocheted, nor does he have a kinder surprise egg inside him (actually he probably does by now as hopefully he has eaten it).
This hairy little fella is the next in what will probably be a series of eggmen. I made him today as I am feeling like death with an evil cold with aches and pains everywhere and needed something to take my mind off it. I want to use the eggmen to try out some ideas I have about creating little creatures ready for some patterns I would like to publish in the future and also (and why I started making them in the first place) because it is part of a tester for something I can't wait to make but can't talk about here as it is a birthday present for someone who will be celebrating later this year.
I have a nice track reord of making slightly whacky things when ill although hairy man here doesn't hold a candle to the strangeness of one of the earlyest things I made when I was drugged up after having my nose rebroken. Never seen by the world before (for good reason) is the 'Freakazoo'.....
A colleague of mine was sensible enough to compliment my work before mentioning that his son likes Tweetie Pie. I just can't resist a challenge however subtley delivered it is.
I am really pleased with him as this is all my own pattern and there is nothing as satisfying as finishing something that had a few hairy moment along the way. There were a couple of times when i was not sure I could do it. But I did. Hooray for me!
I wanted to make cool easter egg cosies for Dan's Nephews to hold a little easter treat for them. I devised the shape I wanted to make and decided to hinge them so they could be pulled open to reveal their easter treats. The first one I made was going to be a chicken (eggs, chickens, seemed an obvious connection to me) which should have been a great idea. Sadly it turned out to be a scary monster like chicken concoction which would be more likely to terrify a small child that enhance Easter bon homie.
Unfortunately, no photos exist of the chicken monster as the world is not ready for that kind of terror. These little fellas were the next and if I do say so myself considerably more succesful incarnations. Hopefully they are the precursor to other creative outpourings, I have not made any crocheted creatures for ages and really enjoyed doing these. Not for a little while though - my latest project, Monster Magic is beckoning, more to follow soon......
I have to admit it - we have been running an illegal allotment. We have not been displaying our plot number which is a clear breach of allotment protocol. Before this became a matter for the allotment police I decided to do something about it as well as getting to have a play with my pyrography tool that was uncovered during Dan's mammoth studio clear out session recently.
So as part of my half term craftathon I made this. Ok so if we wanted to we could have simply painted the plot number on the shed or a bit of wood but where's the fun in that eh?
Dan desperately needed a new hot water bottle cover and this is it. You could actually see the hot water bottle through the old one! It is made from one of his favourite jumpers which had a nasty experience with the washing machine and some hot water making it a lovely felty fabric but not good as a jumper. Lined with one of Dan's favourite old t-shirts that had also shrunk a bit this is upcycling at it's comforting best!
Ok so I normally only blog my crafty makes but I am pleased with these babies so thought I would share the loveliness (and the recipe) so everyone can enjoy!
It is Valentines Day a day late in our house as while I was of work all day yesterday, Dan was working from 8:30 in the morning to 9 at night on the real Valentine's Day - not much room for romance there!!! Never ones to follow the crowd we decided to have it on the 15th as we are both off work. Lovely.
This was a present I made for both of us. We are having an economy drive at the moment and expensive chocs were definitely not in the budget. However, these little lovelies only cost me about £1.50 for 12 super lush truffles - that we can afford. (the eagle eyed of you might notice there is only 10 here - we had already tried them before i took the photo :) )
They are really simple to make. I would love to tell you where I got the recipe from to credit the genius that wrote it but I got it off the internet years ago and have no idea - but whoever you are I owe you one.
8 ounces of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup whipping cream (32% milk fat)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla OR 4 tsp favourite liquer
Place whipping cream and chocolate in a heavy saucepan over low
heat and stir occasionally until chocolate melts Add butter and
continue stirring until butter is melted. Remove from heat and
let cool to room temperature. Add liquer or vanilla (or nothing!
Works this way also). Let sit in refrigerator until hard (about
eight hours or so). Dig out by the teaspoon and form into balls,
then roll in finely chopped nuts (ground almonds are heavenly),
cocoa, icing sugar, or coconut or dip in chocolate.
(the only thing I do different is I melt my chocolate over simmering water in a metal bowl - much less chance of burning the precious chocolate)
In this case I made orange truffles coated with candied orange peel (homemade - really easy and super gorgeous, you get candied orange peel and a fantastic orange syrup from making it mmmmmm - look for instructions on the web and never throw your old orange peel away again), orange truffles coated in orange chocolate (just regular chocolate melted with a bit of orange zest in it). Both orange varieties have triple sec in the truffle mix - hooray! Also there are vanilla truffles coated in chocolate surprise (the surprise being popping candy in the chocolate - popping candy is great, it is a couple of quid from the supermarket and it last for ages and ages as you only need a bit of it)
Quick tip - I froze the truffles first before I coated them in the melted chocolate - it means they don't melt and the choclate sets super quick on the outside of them.
All in all gorgeous and inexpensive - therefore excellent.
A pattern designer on my favourtie crochet site Ravely was looking for pattern testers for this little beauty a couple of weeks ago. How could I resist - anything that combines two of my loves - Star Trek and crochet has got to be a good thing! And it is!
We needed some new shopping bags and I was mulling over what to make them with. At the same time I was sorting through a pile of old clothes ond other things and thought it might be quite cool to try and get some new bags for free from the old clothes I had. I proceeded to chop and resew stuff to get four new shopping bags all for the price of the electricity my sewing machine takes.
Clockwise round from top left:-
White bag - made from some trousers I got very very cheap in a sale but never wore as everyone knows me and white clothing is not a good mix + a bit of trim of my ribbons and trim box which just keeps on giving.
Red bag - born of a pair of red shorts that I wore but never really liked. My legs are not really designed for shorts. The term caterpillar knees was regularly used to describe my legs when I was little.
Grey bag - made from an old umbrella.
Blue bag - Made from an old pair of trousers which i wore a lot and loved but in reality they are never going to fit me again.
After a December of making things for other people January is always about making things for me. I had a bit of a sort out of my job box over Christmas and found this lurking in it. Now to say I made all of this recently would be a terrible lie but it had sat in the box for ages because i just could not get round to hand stitching the purple binding on the sides.
It seemed like the perfect job for over Christmas so I hunkered down in the front room with good tele on and got it sewed. Hurrah - now my sewing machine has a lovely cover so it won't keep getting dusty and my job box hs one less thing in it, win - win.
Just as a note this is another one of those wonderful 'free apart from the electricity' projects. The fabric for the outer and the lining (oh yes, it's lined!) was given to me, the fabric for the patchwork detail are scraps from other jobs (I save even the tiniest bit of fabric), the thread came with the machine and the binding fabric is a bit I cut off a top of mine I shortened (I told you i saved everything!!!)