Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Life of pi.............and other mathematical marvels

I have finished my sewing room which is just marvellous and has sped up my productivity no end, plus my mood is far calmer now I am not searching for pins, needles, scissors, fasteners, get my point. I won't tell you exactly how long it took as then you will guess at how bad it really was, Needless to say I am pleased, as are my husband and children. We can now sit down for dinner around the kitchen table without me having to shift half a made bag out of the way first.

Another thing that has happened is I have set the wheels in motion to have my own website. How exciting is this? The domain name has been bought and labels with the name Funky Yoga Bags have been ordered. There are a lot of sites online that sell yoga bags, most of them import from the East and nearly all of the bags are either too small for a decent mat or the mat has to be rolled up precisely to fit it in. So, who knows fingers crossed my offerings could be welcome.

I have already been making and sewing drawstring bags with a water bottle and iphone pocket but I wanted to also sell a zippered bag.

It took a while to deconstruct the pattern in my head. I knew how I wanted the bag to look but it was the working out of how to do it that was causing me a headache. As with all things, how I could make a zippered tube correctly came to me at midnight. I knew that all I needed to get me started drawing up the dimensions was to know how to work out the circumference of a circle. Waking up Andrew I shouted out how do you work out the circumference if you have the diameter, to which he sleepily replied 2piR (I couldn't work out how to do the symbol on my keyboard). He then fell straight back to sleep and I sat there thinking, huh?

From then on I had it nailed and actually it was simple to make. From measuring the diameter of my mat rolled up and adding on for seam allowances and extra space, I then calculated how wide each panel needed to be. As this was a trial run I didn't line it, and there are still things I am not happy with but overall the pattern works. Whoop.

close up of the zip as I was so chuffed

Its too long so I will change the pattern for next time

My aim is to have the bag big enough to hold a big mat with a towel without having to squeeze it all in. As  I am completely self taught when it comes to sewing, this style of bag had always seemed a logistical nightmare and I am dead chuffed with myself for having worked it all out.

As I type this I am being squeezed of the kitchen table by Martha and her friend who are making puppets for a puppet show that is apparently going to be performed. I better go before I disappear beneath a ton of pom poms and feathers.
  Plus this has all become rather self-congratulatory.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

clutching at.........

When i look around clothes shops which is not as often as I would like, or when i peek in the boutique windows on the way to yoga in Berkhamsted my eyes immediately seek out handbags. They did this even before i started making them, but my mindset has gone from - oo I'd really like that blimey how much? - to - I wonder how they make that then.

The latter thought had been going through my head a lot when I kept seeing the solid small clutches that were pinging up everywhere. Then lo and behold the wonderful Lisa started stocking the frames for such clutches. The frames themselves are not particularly cheap but the bags do not need much fabric at all and are such good fun to make. Obviously I ordered some and have sold a couple which is marvellous.

rings to add c . hain to which can then be kept inside.

Back in my roller derby playing days I met a fellow skater who designs and makes fabulous vintage inspired dresses, skirts and tops. Utterly gorgeous stuff and her facebook site is here. Anyway she has now got a unit in the unique Fleetville Vintage Emporium which is a must visit if you are ever in the St Albans area. Not only does it have unbelievable stuff to look at and buy plus a sweet tea rooms it is opposite a supermarket that houses a sushi bar. I LOVE sushi. However I digress, as from today alongside her beautiful dresses now sits two of my clutch bags. Cool huh?

can you see them?

All the clothes are designed by Nicky and are made in the most wonderful fabrics so really worth checking her site out if this is your thang.

In other news plans are afoot for the website and so the next few weeks will be spent making yoga bags and designing different styles of them.

Project sewing room is still a work in progress but getting there..............................

Next post I promise to give you the cake recipe i mentioned last time. It is practically a health food.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Post craft fair Procrastination

SO, after reasonable success at the craft fair on Saturday, and surviving a cake making 6 year old birthday party, this week I am meant to be sorting out my spare room into a proper sewing studio. This is so  I don't have to clear the kitchen table each evening so that we can sit down as a family to eat. But, I really don't want to start this mammoth task because quite frankly I don't know where to start. Hence the term procrastination in the title of this post. I am not an organised person although i yearn to be one.

So I will firstly reply to a point raised in my last blog and a comment received by the lovely Indigo Blue. As I  mentioned before I have had to go cold turkey where caffeine is concerned and cannot even tolerate decaffeinated coffee. HOWEVER, I have found that Yorkshire decaf teabags are just as tasty as the normal ones. Believe me it actually takes like a real cup of tea without the kick. They are my new addiction! Obviously though you have to go through the real pain of caffeine withdrawal. I think it may have been more painful for my husband and children.

Trying to set myself up in a reasonably successful business is obviously stressful. The main stress has been controlling my creative brain and focusing on one or two things that will work rather than thinking, Oh i could make that and oh look that doesn't seem too tricky. I adore making yoga bags and yoga is a huge part of my life so this is really where I want to focus my creative skills (such as they are).

SO this week WILL see me sort my spare room out into a studio and i WILL sort out my fabric and notions into reasonable piles. Honestly! I find the process of a yoga bag, incredibly calming and I am not entirely sure why. It could be because it is my pattern and design so I am not constantly attempting things I cannot do. Maybe it is because I know they look good and are different and funkier to the ones out on the market.

house set up for the party

Another reason why i can focus on my yoga bags and excitingly getting a website set up (whoop whoop) is that the party I threw for 12 six year old girls to celebrate my daughters sixth birthday is done. We held a cake making party at home and it was a lot of fun, if incredibly loud. Instead of the usual party bags, I made each girl an apron with their name embroidered on. They also got to take the three cakes that they had baked and decorated home in a cake box. Obviously the idea of embroidering 12 aprons after cutting them out and sewing them seems okay a couple of months before the big day. However the week before, whilst completing other bag orders, I sat till 11.30 each night completing everything. They did seem to go down well though. This one is Martha's.

Maybe I will give myself more time to complete everything. Right off to tackle the room.
 Next time I will be sharing a recipe for a ridiculously easy fruit loaf with a difference.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Quick and Easy

Since suffering with bladder problems, something which became really bad at the end of March, I have now cut quite a few things out of my diet. The saying "we are what we eat" is of course incredibly true. The first place to look when suffering with many things is the diet and although mine is and was healthy, it was also full of caffeine, sweeteners (because I always went for the low fat version) and white flour. So I have had to cut caffeine out. This is me, I have a proper inbuilt coffee machine in my kitchen. I LOVE coffee and was previously unable to talk until I had had at least one cup of strong coffee. However anything is possible. So I have managed to cut out of my diet:
white flour
and anything that says low fat. For example I will buy full fat Greek Yoghurt and just have less of it.

It sounds like I am a saint and believe me I am not and do slip up from time to time - like today whilst making a cake for my daughter who is 6 today. A fair amount of cake mixture has been consumed!

For me it is all about keeping my body in an alkaline state and coffee for example is one of the most acidic things you can have. Even decaffeinated is highly acidic. I still miss coffee, 8 weeks down the line. I did give in but paid the price, in a few days of pain so it wasn't worth it in the end.

So, for my bread fix I make home made soda bread. Believe me it is so simple. As it does not contain yeast, there is no need to let it prove. Whoop. No need for kneading either. Double whoop. It has a gorgeous dense texture and is bliss covered in humus. So here is the recipe. From mixture to your plate in 40 minutes. Mine is cooking now. :-)

450g strong bread flour - i use wholemeal. ( I also sometimes use 400g flour, 50g oats)
teaspoon of bicarb of soda
300ml of buttermilk. (or 150 each of natural yoghurt and milk)
6 tablespoons of tepid water.

Literally mix together into a soft dough. Form into a round measuring approx 18cms in diameter and cut a cross in the top with a knife. Place on an oiled baking sheet and pop in the oven at 200'C (180 fan) for 30 minutes. Then take out, turn upside down and put back for another 10 minutes.

Eat warm and enjoy the gorgeousness of your homemade bread. Yum
The recipe has been taken from Mary Berry's The Baking Bible which i have mentioned before is just brilliant.

I have been sewing like a mad thing and will have lots of news re that coming up.
Enjoy the sunshine,

Monday, 11 June 2012

Blimey that's a big wash bag you've got there

I hope you all had a jolly jubilee even if it was slightly soggy. I managed to knock out some jubilee/Olympic themed goodies before the long weekend.

hair band

shopping tote
But I was actually lucky enough to go away for the weekend with just my husband as a 40th birthday treat. It meant that we missed the big parade that my children were in but in fact they loved going with my mum. Andrew and I went up to the Lake District to a hotel that we have stayed in twice before, in the years prior to children when we could just pop away for the weekend without a worry. Do you remember those days?

As I get older one of the many things that i have noticed, is that the amounts of creams and potions that i have to just twice daily gets bigger and bigger. My little wash bag is just not big enough and I can never find one that is. So, as I was packing, I looked through my fabrics and found some Cath Kidston oil cloth that I bought years ago in Bicester. Not only that but i had a matching zip in my stash. So less than twenty minutes later I had a new wash bag. Marvellous. AS it is just for me I didn't line it and as it is oil cloth I knew that really the lining is only for aesthetic purposes. Do you know what, it isn't brilliant on the design front but it blooming well does the trick and it is huge.

just a few of the bits i need to take

nice flat bottom to give depth

The few things that I have pictured above, only really touch the surface of what I packed but as you can see from the next picture there was still a lot of space left.

I have two craft fairs coming up over the next couple of weeks so I am going to be busy busy and I definitely think I will be putting a few of these on my stand. They will have more care attention paid to their design though and of course will be lined. However I am thrilled and it proves the point that simple is the best.

How was your Jubilee?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

A quick pudding

My children love their puddings (as does their mother). Oliver especially likes good old fashioned treacle sponge and custard etc. Over the last few months I have made an effort to stop buying the ready made cakes, you know the ones, they have a sell by date somewhere in the next millennium so are obviously preservative ridden. Instead I am baking a cake, or Oliver volunteers after school if he doesn't have an activity. My favourite book by far is the Baking Bible by Mary Berry. EVERYTHING is super easy and quick. It literally takes 10 minutes to get the cake in the oven and then you don't have to worry until the timer goes off.

I had always thought that i didn't have time to bake during the week, with two children, a husband who is away and working from home. It was only when I went to a friend's house, who works full time has four children but ALWAYS has homemade cake ready or in the oven that i realised actually i do.

Sunday morning baking is the best really. Radio 4 cooking programme and cake baking together? Marvellous.

So last night, faced with the prospect of no banana loaf and not enough sugar for a sponge cake I made a very quick crumble. Quick thanks to the joy of tinned apples. Blooming love them. It may sound strange and indeed during my time as a weight watchers leader when i raved about them, people did laugh.....a lot. But don't mock until you have tried. No sugar, no juice, just rammed with sliced apples already soft and yummy.

Straight from the tin.
As you can see from the picture all you need to do is sprinkle on some cinnamon. They really are so sweet that there is no need for sugar at all plus all the peeling is done for you. Obviously fresh apples are best but this was 5.15 on a school night and their dinner was already in the oven. All you need do is add the crumble which takes about 2 mins in the magimix. Home made crumble in the oven in less that ten minutes.
Add a jug of custard and then done. Everyone happy and for my son, he is eating a good portion of fruit without feeling like he is.
yummy and crunchy.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Post weight watchers

So, two things have happened since I left weight watchers at the beginning of March. Firstly I have lost 6lbs in weight. Whoop. Secondly however I've been ill which has been quite debilitating due to the pain. There isn't any fast fix unfortunately just tests at the hospital but I am hoping that acupuncture tomorrow will help with the pain at least. This has reduced my sewing down to a dribble. I have made sales and some bags have sold at the yoga studio in Berkamsted. But lets just say it is not the start that a new business needs.

Sanity is being kept by my daily yoga practises and still making it to Bayoga each week. Now it may seem mad to carry on with Ashtanga whilst in pain. But yoga is such good therapy for the mind and actually I find that the postures can actually help. My strength has diminished though but I am sure that everything will get better eventually.

I have also had to give up coffee, chocolate, sugar, bread and alcohol. The things that basically are the support network for my life! What can i say I have marvellous skin at the moment :-)

So today, I am measuring out a design for a tai chi bag at the moment. A request from Stuart at Tai-ga. IF you have no knowledge of Tai chi like me, you may be unaware that weapons are used. This bag will be a cool and funky way to carry the sword etc around to the classes.

I have a few ideas in my head about how it will work but i think, the truth will be in the first mock-up I make.

This zebra shopping tote is proving popular as well although this is a useless photo I'm hoping to be able to use the services of my 5 year old daughter later to model it for me.

She does a rather good job don't you think?