Thursday, 22 December 2011

When does hoarding become a bad thing?

Hands up those of you who saw the documentary about hoarding last night?

Judging by Twitter I wasn’t alone in feeling very disturbed by the lack of compassion or understanding that some of the neighbours displayed    ..and a feeling of intense claustrophobia! 

 Mental health issues aside, what particularly struck me was how fine the line is between storing and hoarding. At what point do you tip over from being someone who stores things to protect your resources and reuse where possible to being a ‘hoarder’? Is it about the sheer quantity of ‘things’ that you keep, or whether you actually reuse, recycle or upcycle them?

I'm sure that many of our MIAMI friends and members are very good at not throwing things away indiscriminately, but what is it that stops us keeping everything? Where do we draw the line? Keeping something that's broken or not to your taste or useful any more isn’t sustainable either. Taken to extremes you're just creating a landfill site in your home.

So what do you do if you don’t want something anymore, but can’t stand it being thrown away? Obviously you can reuse it or repurpose it, but if that isn’t going to happen, you could offer it to someone who might want it. There are lots of sites on the net where you can donate, swap sell or recycle your goods, so it's worth spending a few minutes seeing what other people want.

So as we rush headlong into Christmas and the chance to acquire yet more ‘things’, 
what's going to dictate what you throw away and what you keep? 
What’s your litmus test?  
Tell us where  you draw the line? 

>>Click here for your chance to catch up on Obsessive, Compulsive Hoarder

Hilary Bruffell

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Hands up those of you who saw the documentary about hoarding last night?

Judging by Twitter I wasn’t alone in feeling very disturbed by the lack of compassion or understanding that some of the neighbours displayed    ..and a feeling of intense claustrophobia! 

 Mental health issues aside, what particularly struck me was how fine the line is between storing and hoarding. At what point do you tip over from being someone who stores things to protect your resources and reuse where possible to being a ‘hoarder’? Is it about the sheer quantity of ‘things’ that you keep, or whether you actually reuse, recycle or upcycle them?

I'm sure that many of our MIAMI friends and members are very good at not throwing things away indiscriminately, but what is it that stops us keeping everything? Where do we draw the line? Keeping something that's broken or not to your taste or useful any more isn’t sustainable either. Taken to extremes you're just creating a landfill site in your home.

So what do you do if you don’t want something anymore, but can’t stand it being thrown away? Obviously you can reuse it or repurpose it, but if that isn’t going to happen, you could offer it to someone who might want it. There are lots of sites on the net where you can donate, swap sell or recycle your goods, so it's worth spending a few minutes seeing what other people want.

So as we rush headlong into Christmas and the chance to acquire yet more ‘things’, 
what's going to dictate what you throw away and what you keep? 
What’s your litmus test?  
Tell us where  you draw the line? 

>>Click here for your chance to catch up on Obsessive, Compulsive Hoarder

Hilary Bruffell

Sunday, 27 November 2011

'The new boring is everywhere'

This week an article in the Guardian seemed to provoke a lot of response especially across Twitter and Facebook where people seemed to be positively cheering at the proclamation that the ‘new boring is everywhere’. The piece, ‘The new boring is everywhere’, argued that   television has become bland and ‘boring’ - even the nation’s beloved Kirstie….and do you know what?  I have to say that I found myself agreeing …and I say this as an avid ‘maker’

Sadly Kirstie’s Handmade Britain exposes the worst about ‘crafting’ . I don’t call myself  ‘crafter’ for the very reasons that this article highlights, because it has ‘beige’ connotations and implies that people who make things are somehow boring and a bit a ‘worthy’, the very images we need to be moving away from. 

One of my main issues with Kirstie’s Handmade Britain is her demonic competitiveness that every week seems to get worse sucking the very joy out of the events.  Since when did making things have to be about winning? Why can’t we just enjoy ourselves?

In one episode she sneers at the ‘rules and regulations’ surrounding a flower show (careful Kirstie these are the very hands that feed you). Kirstie, if you hate the regulations so much then don’t enter!  And while we’re on the subject, if you are entering how about creating a level playing field?  Since when was a fat budget, with access to experts who not only train you but design for you as well, a full crew in support, access to all the the best tools... and a ‘reputation’, represent a level playing field?

These competitors live for their annual moments. How must they feel to have Kirstie and her entourage swan in and win... even with a burnt cake? (yes the judges did notice and comment on it and yet the still let it win).  

How galling for the locals whose competition was hi-jacked by a C4 programme.  And this faux-surprised, ‘wow, even a complete beginner like me can win’ demeans all their hard efforts and talent. Kirstie you have not won because you are a brilliant ‘crafter’, but because you are a Channel 4 programme. By all means enter the competition, but have fun and have the decency not to ‘enter’ the judging.  Let them comment and give you feed back by all means, but why do you have to win!

But to return to my original point - perhaps what’s worst is that this programme shows up the very worst of ‘beige’ crafting and doesn’t even start to scratch the surface of the wealth of creative talent that is out there pushing the boundaries and making ‘making things’ fun.

Yes, I said ‘Fun’. That’s what it should be.  Making things is good for us and should be about enjoyment... not getting stressed  gunning for first prizes and to hell with the others.  Don’t get me wrong  I think it’s great that we’re getting these skills onto the prime time agenda, but at what expense? What are the messages we’re sending out?   This programme is simply compounding this view that the new boring is everywhere!  Kirstie claims that the WI are reinventing themselves, but then goes on to just simply fulfil and embed the existing stereotype. So let’s get rid of beige TV and bring some colour into our lives!

PS  Kirstie If you really want competition, then bring it on. MIAMI would be happy to step up to the plate… but please let’s do it with laughter and a level playing field!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Vin Papier

A company called GreenBottle is talking to supermarkets about providing wine in paper bottles. While glass can be recycled it is very energy intensive to make. The paper bottle will contain a plastic inner but can be broken open when empty. The cardboard will go in the recycling and the plastic (only a fraction of what's contained in a plastic bottle) in the bin.

While plastic bottles can also be recycled, many find there way into landfill. Not only do they take a long time to break down but often we screw the tops on so they're filled with air, taking up even more space in landfill sites.

The original paper bottle was developed for milk but now talks are going on about using it for wine. The bottle's carbon footprint is only 10% of a glass wine bottle. Transport costs will also be reduced because paper is so much lighter than glass.  Over a billion bottles of wine a drunk by Brits each year.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

We're writing a book

Our Make it and Mend it book will be coming out next September. Yee-ha! It seems a long way away but there's so much to do. We're all really excited and we're going to be very busy between now and then getting everything ready and meeting our publisher's deadlines - as well as carrying on with 'business as usual'.

We're very lucky to be working with a fabulous publishing team at FW Media.We had the kick off planning meeting yesterday - and planned the whole book page by page. It's giving us a fascinating insight into how publishers work.

Everyone in the MIAMI team is involved. We  have copy to write ready for the first photo shoot not to mention getting lots of making and mending projects ready. "Right - that's enough slacking - get on with it!" (Ed)

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Knit your own skeleton for Halloween

If you find ghosts and vampires a bit on the spooky side what about a knitted skeleton to demonstrate Halloween's softer side?

To be honest, this intricate knitted skeleton wasn't created to scare people but as part of “Transcending the Material” installation by artist Ben Cuevas, which was exhibited in New York.

We caught up with Ben and asked him a few questions about knitted art...

Any tips for people who want to use knitting as a material for art? 
Don't be afraid to explore and experiment. Get yourself outside the pattern-box. Patterns can be useful for understanding how to create shapes, but when making knit-art, most of the time you just have to wing it.

And were you a knitter beforehand? Who taught you?
I've been knitting since I was 20, so that's about 4+ years. My friend Jessica Charlene Ruvalcaba taught me how to knit. We used to hang out at my apartment in Hollywood and just knit and chat and watch TV... it was quite a lovely way to learn.
»  The art of Ben Cuevas

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Power of Making

This morning I went to the exhibition, The Power of Making, at the V&A. I kind of felt I had to - being part of Make it and Mend it. The four of us often bang on about the philosophy and psychology of making: why we feel compelled to do it and why we think it benefits us. In the words of Daniel Charney who curated the exhibition:
"For many people, making is critical for survival. For others, it is a chosen vocation: a way of thinking, inventing and innovating. And for some it is simply a delight to be able to shape a material and say 'I made that'. The power of making is that it fulfills each of these human needs and desires."
It's a small exhibition - everything's crammed into one big room and it's an eclectic mix. Shoes, cameras, saddles, musical instruments, coffins, animals, marzipan babies,  Lady GaGa's lippy headdress, wooden bicycles, surgical instruments. There's stuff that showcases incredible craftsmanship, stuff that represents the passions and dedication of the probably slightly bonkers and stuff that's a testimony to human ingenuity.

What it isn't, is universally beautiful. Some of the stuff here could best be described as kitsch or eccentric. As the museum describes it - it's like a cabinet of curiosities.

As well as the exhibits, there are films demonstrating how the things were made, with creators talking about their craft. This one shows the working lives of four of them - shoe designer Marloes ten Bhomer, crochetdermist Shauna Richardson (responsible for a giant crocheted bear), artist, curator and glass designer Matt Durran and flute-maker Stephen Wessel. 

Power of Making from Victoria and Albert Museum on Vimeo.

The first thing you see as you enter the space is a giant gorilla, sculpted out of wires that resemble coathangers. Inside there's another enormous object - this time made from wood and steel - A Prosthetic Suit for Stephen Hawking (see left)

 Yet for me the most interesting things were not the spectacular. It was the real evidence of craftsmanship, born from years of practice. This was highlighted for me in one of the film clips - half a dozen men from Bangladesh sitting together beside a fire hammering out a metal pot. This required the most incredible coordination and synchronsiation. The rythym of the fast perfectly timed hammer blows was like music. They made it look easy - yet a fraction of a second delay and one or all could have had a smashed wrist. This long term traditional craftsmanship was also evident in the beauty of  the dry stone wall and the polished perfection of the dressage saddle.

The show is not devoid of quirky pieces - I liked this little sculpture - made from used pencils - the tips of the pencils are carved by hand into the letters of the alphabet.

The Power of Making is on at the V&A until 2nd January 2012. entry is free. More information

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

First attempt at an ipad cover

I love my ipad - but I hated the red faux leather case I had for it. I've been meaning to make myself one and today had a go. I'm not entirely happy with the results as the fit's a little too snug - but it will do until I get around to making another. When I crack the design and get a better fit I'll post instructions on the main MIAMI website.

The other project on the go is a quilt for my little god daughter. It's another first attempt - this time at quilting by machine rather than by hand. I've done the top and once the batting arrives I'm going to have a go a quilting using a walking foot - scary!

The quilt design is from a book called Layer Cake, Jelly Roll and Charm Quilts  by Pam & Nicky Lintott. I used a mix of fabrics in my stash plus some Amy Butler fabric - which cost £2.60 per quarter metre at time of writing this.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Great little competition

Will you be sewing presents and decorations for Christmas this year? Submit a gift idea to The Sewing Directory, run by the lovely Fiona Pullen and be entered into her Christmas Creativity Competition.

You could win a Janome Memory Craft 5900QC worth £799 and the chance to be published in Cloth Magazine. There's a total of £1,000 in prizes and the closing date for entries is October 20.

The judges are Deborah Shepherd Creative Director of Janome, Ali Myer Community Craft Leader at David & Charles, and Harriet De Winton and Ros Marshall, Editors of Cloth Magazine. More information

And watch out for a great new article from Fiona due to be published on our site soon, with some great tips on how to choose a sewing class. 

Saturday, 10 September 2011

My latest quilt

I've completed my second quilt. This one was a much easier one than the first,  as instead of blocks,  I went for a simple patchwork.

Again it was all done by hand - apart from the attachment of one side of the binding. I like hand sewing - but have to admit that this one was a lot more boring than the traditional block quilt - especially the actual quilting. I've put a little tutorial on the website on binding a quilt.

The quilt is long  and narrow as I wanted it to use as a throw across the end of my bed. I was still nervous about undertaking a full size one - fearing I'd get bored before the end, but now that I have two under my belt and enjoyed making them both I think that's unlikely. If I were to do another simple patchwork one like this I think I might succumb to the sewing machine - at least for joining the long strips.

I'm not sure what my next project will be - I may try a jellyroll quilt and take advantage of the gorgeous fabrics I have accumulated in my stash.


Monday, 29 August 2011

Chair today - gone tomorrow

I was wandering around the grounds of Durham Cathedral with my sister and her partner today when I came across this skip full of office chairs. There must have been at least 30 of them. They looked in remarkably good condition but had just been thrown on top on some of some builders rubble and were already stained by the rain.

I don't know which of us was the most angry. My sister also pointed out that as well as local recycling initiatives that would have found a home for the chairs, there were three local prisons in the area with workshops dedicated to repairing and renovating old items.

You can't help but wonder what the builders and craftsmen who created the cathedral, its beautiful carved stone, intricate carpentry and  wonderful paintings, would have made of this waste? Can you imagine them chucking away the pews for want of  nail or a lick of paint?


Saturday, 27 August 2011

MIAMI at Kew Gardens

Hilary and the Two Clares escaped from MIAMI Towers on Friday to spend a great day at Kew Gardens, despite the grey skies and the endless rain. We were invited there by the lovely people at START UK to demonstrate how you can make a contribution to sustainability by upcycling instead of buying new stuff all the time. (see more about START UK and the Start@Kew Festival in the post below)

Clare O shared some scary statistics on the amount of perfectly good furniture that ends up in landfill, then Hilary showed how she turned some very shabby old dining chairs into swanky new ones. You can find out how she did it on the MIAMI website.

Here she is with the before and lined up below are the afters - three very different treatments, including a decoupage chair made from old comic books. Each one is explained in more detail on the MIAMI website.

There were some fantastic people at the event, which was a real gathering of movers and shakers in sustainability - and we'll be sharing with you in the future some of the great things they're doing. People like Clay Swift aka The Green Marine, Edible Bustop, and the schoolboys from Savio Salesian College Bootle who make bat or bird boxes - called the BoBBox, as well as the people from Morsbags, Project Dirt,  Carbon Leapfrog, Gustavo Montes De Oca from the Golden Company, my old friend Amy Cooper from the Secret Seed Society  and many more. Lots of them have agreed to write guest posts for us so look out for more on here and our website about the wonderful things they're all doing.

We hope we passed on some inspiration - and we certainly came away with much more! Thanks to Michael, Catherine, Laurena and everyone at Start Uk for a great festival.

Clare F

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Join us at Kew Gardens on Friday

Make it and Mend it will be at Kew Gardens on Friday, demonstrating how to revive sad, ugly, unloved dining chairs through upcycling. Much better than consigning them to landfill.

We're going to do a Blue Peter style demo - with before, during and 3 alternative afters. we'll be posting details of how to do a similar makeover on the main MIAMI website shortly. We think you'll agree the transformations are all pretty impressive.

Our presence at Kew is part of the START@Kew Festival which takes place this weekend - 25th -29th August. There's loads of activities, exhibits and workshops all based around sustainable living. START UK is one of the Prince of Wales' charities and is a national initiative to promote and celebrate sustainable living.

A great day out for the Bank Holiday - entry to the START@Kew Festival is part of your general ticket to the Gardens - and remember kids go free.

Hope to see you if you come along on the Friday.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

We've got a shop!

We're over the moon at MIAMI Towers as we've just started a collaboration with RU Craft to have a wonderful new craft shop on our website. The shop is packed with all sorts of wonderful stuff - beautiful fabrics from Tilda, Kaffe Fassett, Liberty and Amy Butler, a huge collection of knitting yarns from Rowan and books, tools, materials and accessories for sewing, knitting, cake decorating, jewellery making and much more.

I had the chance to call in on RU Craft when I was on holiday in Devon last week and was able to see all the gorgeous stock we're getting in the Shop. They have it all arranged showroom style and I can't wait to start making things with some of it. I picked up some Tanya Whelan fabric and will be making a set of cushions with it - I'll share the results and the directions with you on our main Make it and Mend it website shortly.

I've also reviewed one of the books from the shop - The Busy Girl's Guide to Sewing - and we have it on offer in the shop at the moment reduced from £14.99 to £11.24.

Go and have a look around - and get some inspiration and materials for your next project.

Read my review of The Busy Girl's Guide to Sewing

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

MIAMI in Somerset

I stopped off in Somerset, en route to Devon for a week in the rain to see my friend Joan Taylor. It's always inspiring catching up with Joan, seeing what projects she has on the go and admiring her horticultural and sewing skills.

When I last visited her, this chair was an upholstery work in progress. Joan is a real perfectionist and she spent hours fiddling about with different fabrics and re-doing her work if it wasn't up to her discerning eye. The final result is a really great patchwork-style chair. This is a great way to use up those odd pieces of fabric and creates a completely unique bespoke piece.

Joan has been working on a small quilt. She meets with a group of friends to do sewing projects together and they decided to try convergence quilting in their session last week. This machine quilting technique involves sewing two or more strips of fabric together, then these are cut and pieced again. She's going to send me some instructions, so when she does I'll share them with you on the main website.

I also enjoyed looking around Joan's garden. She's self sufficient in vegetables from her large veggie plot, which provides her with plenty of fruit and veg to freeze, eat fresh or preserve in her delicious jams and chutneys.

and she also has a lovely cottage garden, full of flowers, shrubs and herbs. She wasn't happy that I took this photo as the lawn has been suffering from the lack of rain recently. Let's hope it's greening up again nicely now - it certainly poured while I was in Devon.

I look forward to having a go at convergence quilting myself soon.

Have you visited our main website?

Clare F

Friday, 15 July 2011

Lunch with Caroline Mi Li Artiss

MIAMI members will know that we have often featured the videos of Caroline Mi Li Artiss, the delightful chef who has a very successful cookery demo channel on YouTube.

Caroline is an ex colleague of mine and has been commissioned to write her first cookery book. Can't wait to read it. She invited me and and Sally another ex colleague, to lunch in her garden to have a bit of a brainstorm for the book. I won't give away what we concluded (some cracking ideas) as you'll just have to wait till the book's out - but I do want to share a couple of pics from the lunch.

Caroline specialises in South East Asian cuisine, particularly Malaysian and served us a couple of absolutely delicious curries she'd conjured up in her kitchen that morning. She's promised to let me have the recipes - so once she does I'll share them with you. (now done see link below)

To top it off she'd made a load of absolutely scrummylicious cupcakes and gave us each a box to take home. I'm now going to have to go to the gym every day for a month!

Check out Caroline's videos on her YouTube channel or on our website - here's some very sexy Twilight-style vampire  cupcakes

Here are the two curry recipes on our website

Clare F

Monday, 11 July 2011

My first quilt is finished

Making my first ever block sampler quilt didn't take very long at all - but getting round to finishing it off took for ever!

This weekend I finally added the binding. I sewed the final stitches while watching the American version of the Killing (Forbrydelsen) - and reflected that a lot of the quilting had been done while watching the original Danish version. As it was all subtitled it's amazing I managed to get any sewing done at all.

I'll be posting tips on doing the binding on the website, as well as instructions for the other blocks I used - but meanwhile I'm getting ready for my next quilting venture. I want to make a quilt to use as a bed throw - so will be doing a long narrow one. Here are the fabrics I've chosen. I haven't decided yet what design to go for - but it will likely be one repeating block. Any suggestions?

Clare F

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The WI ponders launch of a food label

Flipping through my copy of Marketing Week this morning, I came across a piece on the Women's Institute who are considering whether or not to launch a range of food products - baked goods and jams - to cash in on their reputation for home baking.

This strikes me as a bit odd. The WI, 96 years young, has a slogan - "Inspiring women" and has always existed to promote and share their passion for all things home made. I've no problem at all with the local WI flogging their own members' produce and adding a bit to the coffers that way - but to launch a range of foods to cash in on the home baked reputation, when they will presumably be made in a big factory somewhere, seems to be a bit of a sell-out, not to mention pushing the marketing spin a bit far. The positioning for the brand will be "an alternative to home baking." Shouldn't they be promoting "an alternative to supermarket buying"? Selling a range of jam-making kit, pots and pans, aprons and wooden spoons is one thing but cashing in on the home made reputation to sell ready made food is quite another. They have not done the deal yet - the WI's Board of Trustees is still discussing.

What do you think? Smart move or sell out?

Here at MIAMI we remain dedicated to encouraging you to get those pans and jam jars out and fill your kitchens with the delicious aroma of fruit and sugar and home-baked bread and cakes.
Check out the food pages on our main website. Headlining at the moment are dandelion jam, courgette relish and strawberry jams and cheesecakes. >> Here

Clare F

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Knit yourself a holiday

Yes, I know it seems like we've gone knitting mad on the blog recently but we just wanted to mention this knitting competition  from the sunny Channel Island of Guernsey.

Everybody's heard of the Guernsey sweater. Designed originally to keep sailors warm they've enjoyed wide fashion status over the years (and they still look rather cool with jeans and espadrilles).

In days gone by each family on the island would have its own unique pattern that was passed down through the generations by word of mouth. But the Second World War and evacuation meant that many of these oral histories began to die out.

The competition is encouraging knitters to... re-interpret the original garment, how the family patterns might have looked, or would look today if the tradition had continued and evolved.

The winner will receive an trip for two to Guernsey. The winning design will also be published in a leading UK knitting magazine.

To maintain the Guernsey tradition competition entries should try and incorporate the following features in their designs, drawings or patterns:
• inclusion of the traditional box shape
• British [or Guernsey] wool - four or five ply
• pattern designs for size 10-12.

Designs can be uploaded to the Visit Guernsey facebook page

Guernseys are made of single colour worsted yarn, usually four or five ply, tightly knit using fine needles [as small as size 13 or 14].

The sweater was originally knitted in the round, with a purl stitch to mark the side seam. Patterns are made up of simple knit/ purl combinations, the most elaborate of which would have covered the top half of the body and arms.

Patterns on Tudor knitted stockings produced in Guernsey had names such as Turk’s Head, and Peacock’s Tail, which may have also been used on jumper designs. Jumpers have a boxy shape which means that they can be worn both ways; front and back (originally to prolong life-span).

Other common features include a funnel neck, triangular inserts under the arms and at the neck edge, and side splits in the hem for ease of movement.

Get your needles out.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Knit your own masterpiece

Thanks to Jenny Brown form Australia for sharing the low-down on this fantastic knitting group from South Shields in the North of England.

The Materialists are a group of knitters of  mixed abilities from complete beginners to professionals. Every Saturday morning they meet up at the Customs House in South Shields. The group got started in early 2009 (around about the same time as us!) with the Coat for a Boat project in which 350 knitters contributed to knitting a giant coat for a fishing boat, including sails, which was launched on the Tyne.

One of the group's recent projects is to recreate art masterpieces in knitting. Here are a couple of examples:

Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe

Munch's The Scream.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Inspirational sewing makeovers

MIAMI member Carol Seatory is a fantastic role model. She's put her sewing talents to everything from making small purses and little girls' dresses to  re-upholstering old chairs - and along the way has transformed her work as an illustrator  by working with scraps of fabrics to make fabulous collages.

Carol squirrels away remnants and unwanted scraps in her fabric stash and then finds all kinds of uses for them. Here's a little Welsh stool Carol has rescued and recovered in vintage fabric - itself "rescued".

Read Carol's story - including how when pregnant she just couldn't stop herself from sewing until she'd made over 40 little dresses - even though she knew she was expecting a baby boy! Read about Carol and see more examples of her work on our website

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Rag Rug book offer

We recently ran a giveaway on the website for a book called Rag Rug Making - and it turns out a lot of you are keen to give rag rugs a try as it was one of our most successful competitions.

When we told the publishers, they decided to give our followers an exclusive offer of £3 off the book which we reviewed here.

To take advantage of the offer - ring the publishers on 01684 588599 and quote the code RAGMIAMI. Offer available until 29th April 2011. 

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Tea cosy hats for kids

MIAMI member Angela recently shared her instructions for making traditional tea cosies.

Angela has just sent us these photos to show how she's adapted her pattern to make a child's hat. She's done one for a girl and one for a boy. She asks
"Now... HONESTLY.... is this a snuggly, warm, can-be-pulled-down-over-ears child's hat.... or is the poor kiddo going to be laughed at mercilessly... 'ha ha ha... you're wearing a tea cosy!' (Or maybe nowadays, young kids don't even know what a tea cosy is... or what it looks like!)."
We think she's done a great job and these cosy hats should keep any child warm in the playground come Winter. And it's so rare you see a proper tea cosy these days that there's little risk of being accused of wearing one! What do you think?

The boy's hat (above) has a bobble and the girl's has a crocheted flower on the top (petals lift up separately)

To adapt the hats from Angela's tea cosy pattern just cast on 84 stitches instead of 98 then work as for the tea cosy pattern, but instead of doing 4 repeats of the 12 row pattern just do 3 repeats then work as for the original for the reducing rows. Add your bobble or crochet topping. 
>> Get the pattern from our website
>> Read about Angela

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Sun, sea and MIAMI

Okay, it wasn't Florida but but there were palm trees along the seafront and the sun shone in Eastbourne for Local Life 2011 and we had a great day there.

If you didn't manage to get along - don't worry. We sent Anne round with the video camera to catch some of the highlights - enjoy.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

We're off to the seaside - come and join us!

Next Saturday 19th March, the MIAMI team will all be at the Winter Gardens in Eastbourne at the Local Life show there - between 10 am and 5pm. Entry is free.

That's us in the picture - left to right - Anne Caborn, Clare O'Brien, Clare Flynn and Hilary Bruffell.

If you are in or near the area please come along and say hello. We're bringing lots of our stuff along - from done-up dining chairs to garden planters and we'll be sharing tips and ideas such as how to make sourdough - starters and bread as well as making everything from marmalades, jams and chutneys to decorative tealight holders.

So if you can spare the time, and are in the area, please come along and meet the four of us behind the MIAMI movement.

Clare F

Friday, 11 March 2011

Update on my quilting progress

I haven't posted anything recently about my efforts at making a sampler quilt - but I'm still at it and really enjoying it.

I've completed the sample blocks, sewn all these together and today started the slow process of doing the quilting of the three layer "sandwich". I've decided a thimble is definitely in order - I never usually use one but pushing the needle through the three layers can be painful work.

So far I've just quilted one block so I think it's going to take me a while to finish. I'm glad I'm only doing a small nine block quilt as I'd be at it for ever - I'm doing it all by hand.Rather than tacking the layers together before quilting i used curved safety pins - it makes it very quick and easy.

I'm going to put up some instructions for making the quilt sandwich on the website - and there's also instructions for the Rail Fence block and instructions and template for Maple Leaf. Hilary and I plan to publish instructions for all the quilt blocks featured in my quilt on our main website - but right now I'm too busy making it!