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July 2013

23 months

23 months

by Clare Mansell
This boy is one month away from the big milestone that is two. And what a change from last year. Living in our own home, with Daddy in the same country and extended family around to celebrate. I’m looking forward to it.
Being nearly-two presents it’s challenges. He’s just starting to work out things don’t always go his way, so we’ve had a few dramatic (and short-lived) tantrums, and tears when things are taken away from him. Apart from a few bad nights during the warm weather, he still sleeps tremendously well and has to be coaxed out of his bed in the mornings… and in fact the afternoons. Does it show in his face?

His vocabulary is expanding at a typically leisurely boy pace… Ma-Ma, Jane, Macy, Bella, Again, Juice, Tea, Doggies, Daddy, Car, Chocolate, More, Please, Eggy, Choo-Choo, Cheese, Gone, Tractor, Train, Quack Quack and Up, but take note, absolutely no use of the word “Mummy.” If people suggest he says it, he looks at me, looks at the person who suggested it and remains steadfastly silent.

And he swings between baby-faced and growing young boy in the space of a haircut…

He loves Marmite, being chased round the house by his wooden push-along penguin, cars in all shapes and sizes, the dogs, being in the garden, playing with his cousins, pouring liquids between containers, watching Cbeebies, waving at people as they drive past the house, emptying drawers/bookshelves/cupboards, pushing his brick trolley, visiting Ma-Ma & Grumps, soaking people with the garden hose, sharing a joke and running.

He’s funny, happy, outgoing and full of surprises.

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Learning to draw… in preparation

Some of you may recall that I mentioned a few weeks ago that I plan to start a Graphic Design course in the autumn at my local college, well my plans have changed slightly, but for the better I think. Instead of attending college to study a BTEC level qualification. I have decided to do a distance learning Graphic Design degree… part-time over the next four years. Gulp!

The course starts in October, and the first year’s syllabus runs side by side the illustration qualification, something which is thrilling and daunting in equal measure. With this in mind (and because I really wish the course was starting now and not in two months) I decided to try and teach myself to draw.

My art education at school was pretty non-existent, we had an art teacher who wafted round our classroom and a few naturally brilliant artists who made the rest of us feel inadequate, and that was pretty much all I remember. So despite getting a C Grade GCSE art, I still can’t actually draw.

My quest for artistic education lead me almost entirely accidentally to Mark Kistler’s You Can Draw In 30 Days (thank you Amazon!) and let me shout this from the rooftops…. It is brilliant!

The book consists of thirty 20 minute lessons. It’s written in a very approachable and relaxed tone and the results though impressive to look at (in the book at least!) are easy to achieve when talked through. It’s based on a few blindingly obvious principles that I wish someone had bothered to teach me at an earlier age

I’m less than a third of the way through the exercises and although I’ve not produced anything particularly noteworthy, I feel about a hundred times more confident than when I started, and I’m enjoying it.

So if you, like me (like so many of us?) are one of those people who would LOVE to be able to draw and never thought you could, or if you have a school-age child who would like some art exercises to do over the holidays, go buy the book, it’s superb!

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Brit Sewing Thursday Linky

Brit Sewing Thursday Linky

by Clare Mansell

In retrospect it probably wasn’t a brilliant idea to start a Brit Sewing Linky on the day that most Brit Sewers headed off to the Fat Quarter Retreat, but thank you to those of you that gamely supported the first week, lets see how many sewers and quilters we can find this week…

This is what I’ve been up to…


This week I have had two finishes, both pairs of shorts for the boy made using the Parsley Pants pattern. One long (fabric from the stash) and one shorter (fabric not from the stash, oops!) With the continuing warm weather the expansion of Theo’s summer wardrobe has been most welcome and taken the pressure of the household laundry a bit!

Wee Play shorts

Car shorts

I can’t wait to start making some trousers for the winter with this pattern, not least of all because it’s going to save me constantly hoiking up his shop bought trousers which are always too big on the waist.

In progress…

I’ve also started making a skirt for me using this tutorial, but I’m in the process of unpicking it at the moment, as due to an obsession with wearing skirts on the hip, I went too far and made it way too big. I reckon I need to cut off about 4 inches from both front and back panels, but it will be worth it on the end.

Unusually for me there are no quilts in progress at the moment, I think it’s the warm weather, the thought of getting wadding out at the moment does not inspire me…

So what have you been up to?

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A brand new weekly sewing linky!

A brand new weekly sewing linky!

by Clare Mansell


Today I am launching a brand new weekly link up for British sewing and quilting bloggers. I’ve been looking around the internet for a while and although there seem to be a few linkys for sewers and quilters, they are all international.
I wanted to create something where we can all share our projects and see what Brit bloggers are doing with tools, patterns and fabrics that we can (hopefully) all access within the UK.

Everyone is welcome and the rules are simple. Share a blog post which contains a sewing or quilting project that you are working on or have completed and grab the badge on the right to use in your post so that it links back to this blog. You can take part every week or just when you fancy, whichever suits you.

I’ll kick things off by sharing my make of the week…

The pattern I used for these is Made By Rae Parsley Pants which I altered slightly to give an extra inch on the rise (which I think in retrospect was probably unnecessary.) The fabric is a vintage linen tablecloth which I bought on eBay a few years ago. There are loads for sale and none too expensive. I’ve just bought another, this time a map of Australia, which was £7 including postage.


I’m trying to be good at the moment and use up some of my stash, so I was forced to end my procrastination about what I was going to use the tablecloth for, and I’m glad to say I absolutely love the result! They are long on the leg too, so hopefully Theo will get a couple of summer’s wear out of them.

The boy certainly seems happy with his new kit…

So what’s everyone else has been making?


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Cheer up Theo, we’ve got good news!
Theo in teh lavender fields
So you may remember that on my tick list of photo projects for this summer was a chance to shoot in a lavender field. As is so often the case, things don’t quite work out the way you plan them…

We had such a cold spring this year that the lavender was two weeks behind where it should be and the flowers weren’t in full bloom, the farmer is going to harvest this lot in a week, before they are even at their best. Theo was tired (you wouldn’t guess from that photo, huh?) and my sister and I brought the wrong lenses for the location (to anyone else thinking of doing this, you really need a nice long zoom so you can get up on the hill and zoom in and fill the frame with lavender)
But it was close to our house, only cost us a £3 charity donation each, and will be good prep for next year.

Theo in the lavender fields

We came home with a few pictures in the bag and I did my borderline-obsessive-twice-daily check of our planning application for our house and guess what? We’re approved – Wooooo! We can do the remodel of our house, subject to some approvals and conditions and boring stuff, but the important bit is, they said yes!

Lots of work to do behind the scenes now, sorting out builders, budgets, finances and specifications, but watch this space, things are about to get interesting!

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