Archive for Crafty Cunning

What is Goth?

Posted in Gothic, Homemade with tags , , , , , , on 29/04/2011 by Jen Healey

I think there are probably as many answers to this question as there are Goths, but for myself, this lovely ‘Lady of the Manners’ sums it up pretty well… 

I discovered her website via Twitter and was interested to note that Stephen Fry follows her too, I was mildly surprised at that.  But Gothic Charm School, The Lady of the Manners’ website, is definitely worth a click by anyone, Goth or not.  She explains neatly and concisely what Goth is all about in her four short videos, while plugging her book ‘Gothic Charm School – An Essential Guide for Goths and Those Who Love Them’ – yes it has been added to my ever-expanding to-read list! 

She also talks about Gothic arts and crafts in the fourth video, which may be of interest to the ladies at Sew Make Believe, as Goths are usually pretty creative people – out of necessity usually, as finding non-cheesy or well-made Gothic clothes and accessories can be pretty tricky sometimes.  Also, as Jillian Venters (The Lady of the Manners) explains, we are polite, nice people who know what it is like to be picked on and excluded, so are unlikely to make anti-social meetup members. 

It is also thanks to Twitter that I have discovered Etsy, which is a really cool site for crafty people to sell their handmade creations and for shoppers to bag a unique item or two, Goth or not.  I recently Tweeted a very cool pincushion or two that I may buy in the not-so-distant future which was found on Etsy. 

Like I needed more places to spend money I don’t have!  😉

(Image source – Amazon uk)

A stitch at nine… up a long time!

Posted in Homemade, Journal with tags on 23/04/2011 by Jen Healey

Even though I was up til 2am last night/this morning, I think I will allow myself a quick pat on the back for learning how to use my sewing machine in one evening.  I hasten to add that my evening doesn’t begin until my son is asleep, which was about 8pm last night and he is teething so I had a few ‘breaks’ in my self-teaching.  (Ok, so one was for a quick cup of decaf and another was for a Magnum ice cream – I’m only human!)  But by 1.15am I had transformed a pair of my hubby’s joggers into a pair of shorts for him to wear today (I hope they have survived!).  Check ’em out…

This picture makes the edge look more uneven that it is, so I rearranged and took another…

Both pics were taken in low light with a flash by a patio door, so have some weird light smudges going on, but you get the idea.  They’re not perfect, but considering I’ve not touched a sewing machine since high school, I think they turned out ok. 

I was up til 2am because, after my bit of ‘Home Ec.’, I felt the need to rock out a little, so played Guitar Hero – Warriors of Rock for a while before dragging my carcass up to bed – great evening! 

Tiny little point about my simple little (inherited) HuskyStar 207 sewing machine, is that on the instruction booklet it is identified as a type B model – ha ha ha.  I notice daft little things like that!  Yes, I know I’m sad and a big geek, I don’t care!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Posted in Homemade with tags , , on 24/03/2011 by Jen Healey

I’m not someone who is great at giving things like old bits of fabric a new purpose in life, but I do like to reuse things or find homes for stuff that I can’t, saving both money and space, at home and in the landfill.  Therefore, I am a big fan of eBay, where I off-load no end of stuff that would usually be thrown away, and Amazon, where I sell used books by the boxful ( 

I am continually surprised at what people buy, as my mother-in-law regularly sends me junk she doesn’t want, or is given to her by her friends.  However, in the latest bag of miscellaneous bric-a-crap I found some stuff I think is really kooky cute and therefore I’m keeping for myself.  These are actually pencil sharpeners…

I love them!  And they all have bits that move, my favourite being the pendulum in the grandfather clock. 

There were also some teeny animals in it, that I’m sending to my friend in Cambridge for her miniature menagerie.  Look away now Michelle, I’m about to ruin the surprise… 

Another great thing to reuse is baby clothes, as they don’t generally get very worn, because babies grow so damn quickly, and are so very cute.  However, I am pretty limited in this, as I don’t think anyone would be impressed if I dressed my son in the many pink items worn by my little girl (so most of it was sold).  This brilliant top, however, was bought for my daughter by my fab friend Rachel (whose website will be up and running soon, but it now fits the little lordship perfectly… 

I will be sad when he grows out of this one and will probably be unable to part with it, but perhaps that will be the motivation I need to improve my sorry sewing skills (or lack thereof) and transform it into something useful.  Although, I am nowhere near to being in the same league as the girls from sew make believe, who are much more thrifty and creative than I’ll ever be.  This is one of the best things I have made as a result of joining the club, from some wool I acquired in a family members’ house clearing (along with a gigantic stash of all things crafty that was donated to the group)… 

You’ll have to excuse the messy mountains of books by my daughter’s bed, she likes to pretend she can’t work a bookcase!


Posted in Journal with tags , , , on 22/02/2011 by Jen Healey

Last night was the first night of the heart-wrenching hell that is the infamous controlled-crying technique for my little lad, in his own bedroom for the first time ever.  I was expecting such a big culture shock for him to be really unsettling and prompt huge protestations, but he took to it pretty well and slept for half an hour after only being comforted twice.  I’m not saying it was a wonderfully blissful night of sleep, he woke at 9:35pm 11:30pm, 12:30am, 4:30am and then didn’t truly settle for more than half an hour after that.  Which is why I’m sat here at 7:45am, breakfasted, a bit tidy and my daughter and I have already made another batch of Kracolates (correct spelling today) which are chilling in the fridge right now. 

For those of you not ‘in the know’ about controlled-crying, it involves (as implied by the name, obviously) allowing your little one to cry for periods of time that are increased by one minute each time, up to ten minutes then plateau (fifteen mins max,  but I don’t think I’m that brave).  The idea is to reassure them that you will always come when they cry, but that they will have to sleep in their bed and settle themselves without you.  Therefore, when they wake during the night, eventually, they will be able to settle themselves as older children and adults can.  Interestingly, babies’ sleep pattern means that they come close to waking every hour potentially.  I don’t think anyone can withstand comforting a crying child every hour through every night for very long, at least not without having your cheese slide off your cracker!  After all, sleep deprivation is a recognised form of torture, which I fully agree with, as some nights I would’ve admitted to anything in the early months.  But now that he’s six months old, tomorrow, hurrah for the technique! 

Of course I’m sure that tonight, now that he knows what is expected of him, I’ll have a worse time of it.  Thank goodness I’m not all that daft and have booked an appointment with my health visitor today, for a little fine tuning of the technique and hopefully a bit of a pep-talk.  I also know that I might as well forget about having any kind of evening downstairs with my hubby for at least a week, although I’m sure he’ll be glad to have the tv to himself for a while, and I’ll be snatching what sleep I can by going to bed when the little ones do.  What a crazy rock ‘n roll lifestyle I truly lead! 

A little handy tip for any new mums trying this for the first time, that is helping me pass the minutes that feel like weeks when he is exercising his lungs, is to indulge in a bit of crochet or another favourite crafty pastime.  Due to crochet not really involving any kind of concentration for me (after I learnt how at a sew make believe workshop), and it can be dropped it in a heartbeat when I needed to dash through to the next room, it was perfect for me to manage the dreaded clock-watching.  I’ll probably have a blanket (the first one for me) finished by this time next week. 

Also, when the little tinker is definitely sleeping, I’m catching up a bit on my reading, so I’ll be getting closer to my target of ‘books read’ on my goodreads webpage, fingers crossed.  Last night I got through a good few pages of re-reading Charlaine Harris’ ‘Dead Until Dark’, naughtily neglecting the wonderful Mr Stephen Fry’s ‘Making History’.  Another book that is getting a good thumbing at the moment, is ‘Babies! – A Parents’ Guide to Surviving (and Enjoying!) Baby’s First Year’, which is proving to be a great find, as it is written by a doctor applying professional knowledge and common-sense with sympathy.  Refreshing my memory by referring to this book is nicely reassuring, and proves that I haven’t quite forgotten everything about baby care over the last few years of having an older child. 

All these little distractions, I’m sure, are going to help control any crying I may do


Half Term

Posted in Journal with tags , , on 20/02/2011 by Jen Healey

Officially yesterday was the first day of my daughter’s long-awaited nine days off, she has been looking forward to these days ever since she found out about them, it avoided many a grumpy school-day morning having the countdown to this coming week.  I have it on pretty reliable authority that a great many parents are not keen on school holidays, especially the six-week summer holiday.  Not so in our house.  We love having our daughter at home and spending time as a family, watching Disney princesses and heroes, reading her books and making things.  The latter activity we got started on yesterday with these Krackolates. 

I know they aren’t at all impressive or complicated to make, but they were simple fun to prepare, yummy to eat and gone in a flash.  It was lovely to see the pride that little people can take in something when they make it themselves, which I don’t think ever goes away when we grow up.  I know that I was brimming with pride when I learnt how to crochet granny squares at a sew make believe workshop last year.  I got hooked – if you pardon the pun.  But again it was something simple to do and the result is seen pretty quickly.  Here is the best tutorial video I found to reinforce what I had been shown by Roisin at the workshop. 

It got me started and since then I’ve made 5 blankets by just carrying on the same square.  Next crochet project for me, once I’ve finished the blanket I’m working on now, is to complete one by joining up lots of small squares.  I already have a stash of squares waiting to be joined together.  But I don’t think I’ll get to it this week, my five year old daughter is not really interested in watching mummy make granny squares, or joining in making them either, yet.

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