WIP Wednesday: picking up the (paper) pieces

With full awareness that neither of my previous works-in-progress have really progressed (I’ll be making those granny squares until the end of yarn and time, and amigurumi isn’t for me) I decided to start another project anyway: English paper piecework.

This is the big one – or rather, the first timid step in the general direction of a big ambition: learning how to sew. Working in a place that makes and sells these wonderful fabrics, I wanted to start learning how to use them.

paper piecework_QB fabric

cotton galore

So I bought some books and some basic supplies, decided that patchwork appealed more than dressmaking, and yesterday – after months of not knowing where to start – I found an excellent online tutorial with printable templates, and took the plunge.

paper piecework_Toto

tacking the fabric around the paper piece to form a neat hexagon

The tiny dog was unimpressed by my concentration on something other than him…

paper piecework_patches

the project takes shape…








I got the feeling this is something I will really love – especially after seeing Flossie Teacakes’ kaleidoscopic paper piecing patterns – so last night I started a diary as well, to keep track of patchwork projects. Four hexagons cut and tacked so far, eight to go before I can start sewing them together to make my first project: a patchwork pincushion.

paper piecework_pincushion

the end result? (pattern from Patch! by Cath Kidston)

 End note: the hardest thing about sewing, for me, is negotiating the happy-little-homemaker stereotype. I struggled enough with my inner Angela Carter when I started baking bread. Buying my bread, my throws and my placemats instead of attempting (clumsily) to make them certainly frees up more time to devote to philosophy and politics and cultural pursuits – but I’ve had a good decade of staying out late in smoky bars discussing big ideas, and I feel ready to add something a bit more tactile and creative to my repertoire now.


opening up

Work and blogs have never mixed very easily for me – a legacy of sensitive jobs and some slightly unorthodox outside interests. But I am starting to relax my boundaries a little, as work edges closer and closer to the sorts of things I like to write about anyway. Right now, plants and history (and plant history) are the main points of contact.

My office is in what used to be the scutching room of an old Cheshire cotton mill, a Victorian addition to the Georgian factory. The windows look out onto the landscaped gardens of the mill owner and his family – keen plant collectors, whose legacy is one of the finest rhododendron collections in the country. In the warm and wet weather last week, the whole place erupted into blossom.

Take a look…

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the bride and the groom and their friends

All has been quiet on the blogging front recently, as assignment deadlines cast their long, forbidding shadows on my calendar. The last assignment was handed in as Friday night was turning in to Saturday morning, and 6 hours later we were on the road to Cambridge, for C & J’s wonderful wedding at the Union.

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WIP Wednesday

Granny Cool

The amigurumi from last WIP Wednesday has stalled at row 11 – all that stitch-counting got a bit frustrating – so I’ve been carrying on with the much more relaxing work of making granny squares for a planned blanket. ‘Planned’ in the loosest possible sense: I’m going to keep going until I run out of yarn, then join together all the finished squares and hope for the best. If it turns out ok, the resulting blanket is destined for one of the work-in-progress babies that my friends are in the process of producing right now!


12 down, 48 to go…

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Acres of Ground*

*incidentally the title of a great Eliza Carthy/Imagined Village song.

Deep breath.

So this is what it feels like:

the helpful young doctor pauses for a moment, sits back in his chair and sighs before broaching the subject: “it’s not easy to walk in to an appointment and just start talking to some stranger about how you’re really feeling, is it?”  And I sit staring at my shoes.  I’m not well.  We both know I’m not well.
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