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18 posts from November 2008

26 November 2008

Mixtape for Sashaying Round the House In New Shoes

Go on.  You know you want to.

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Felt Better

Speaking of felt, I can't wait to get my hands on this book - Alterknits Felt. How gorgeous do these projects look?

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I am of course the woman who has three little bowls all knitted up and ready to felt, but is entirely lacking in courage to do so.  So the chances of me making a felt footstool are probably fairly remote.

Pomegranate Princess

I saw these crazy cool crocheted wire thingies on Shelterrific and had to share them with you (and also with anyone who fancies buying me the silver hoop earrings).

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Yael is an industrial designer based in Israel who makes beautiful wire-crafted jewellery and homewares in her spare time, which she sells through her Etsy ship Yoola.  (Her profile is inspiring. Go read.) The 27th is the last day of her buy two-get-one-free offer just in case anyone fancies buying me a little silver, pink or orange pomegranate to go with the earrings. 

19 November 2008

Mixtape for a Grey November Afternoon Writing Press Releases At My Desk

I made you guys a mixtape!

 

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Shamelessly plagiarised from beachbungalow8.  If you like it, I might make you another.

18 November 2008

Muji

Oh, Muji, Muji, Muji how I love and miss you! 

Oh Muji, Muji, Muji how I hate that when I try shopping at your online store you say it will cost me £19.99 (approx $30) to have your nicely made, affordable stuff shipped to the US.  When on earth are you going to open a US online store? Thank goodness I have accommodating in-laws.

Here are some of my favourite Muji things.

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All available here if you're in Europe or you're prepared to pay the shipping. Lottie writes a beautiful eulogy to Muji here. Here's a description with photos of Muji's new flagship store in Tokyo.

17 November 2008

Felt Happy

Aren't these just utterly amazing? {All images from felt artist Hisano Takei}

 

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Having said which I'm not entirely convinced by this stackable set, though it would be warm.

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Miz Tula from Whorange also recently put together a fantastic felt round up full of fabulous felty ideas.

Bits 'n' Bobs

A few small announcements.

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Holly at Decor8 has excellent taste in blogs.

The next meeting of the Grassroots Business Association is this Thursday at 7pm at Vermillion in Seattle.  Set up by Megan of Not Martha and The Organized Knitter and Kristen Rask from Schmancy among others, it's for everyone currently owning or thinking of starting their own small business.  I hope to see lots of you there.

The fourth annual Urban Craft Uprising is taking place in Seattle on December 6th and 7th at the Seattle Center.  I last went two years ago and it was a typically Seattle mix of the homespun, the bizarre and the fabulous, so I'm much looking forward to going again.

16 November 2008

Autumn Sunset

We don't usually get good sunsets from our house since it faces southeast (some very fine sunrises though) but this evening there was a sunset that filled the whole sky.

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15 November 2008

Christmas Cake - Part II

The next step in the Christmas cake saga is to bind everything together with a simple sugar/butter/eggs/flour mixture.  The only unusual thing is to use dark brown muscovado sugar which gives the mixture its dark colour and a unique taste. Interestingly this particular recipe (unlike, say, Delia's) doesn't use any of the traditional Christmassy spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or mixed spice. The 'Christmassy' (for Brits anyway) taste and smell comes from the sugar and fruit.

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Here's the cake all ready to go into the oven for 4 hours. The recipe gives complicated instructions about lining the tin with a double thickness of greaseproof paper, wrapping brown paper round the prepared tin and then standing the cake on brown paper while cooking.  I have no idea why you have to do this but we followed the instructions anyway.

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Here's the finished unwrapped cake.  The next step is to wrap it in greaseproof paper and tin foil and then store it in an airtight tin, before 'feeding' it once a week with brandy.  The cake will keep like this until the week before Christmas when I'll take it out and ice it.  The next step for me is looking out kitsch decorations online.

I assume that any Americans readers are staring to understand why this only gets made once a year.

13 November 2008

Calendars

It's that time of year again.  Here are some of my faves.

Suzy Jack Deluxe 2009 Calendar, printed on 100% recycled paper using soy inks.

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(He he! I just nabbed the last one of these for our kitchen. She seems to be putting them in her shop in batches so check back again soon).

This year I have been accompanied by 2008 calendar from Green Chair Press.

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This is made up of loose leafed letterpress cards in a jewel case, with a pattern and haiku for each month.  The quality is absolutely beautiful and the little haikus are really cute.

Here's this years' calendar.  I'm not sure I like the patterns quite as much as last year's (which really has wormed its way into my heart) but it's still lovely.

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This year my desk calendar comes from a Seattle blogger and designer Still Dottie whom I met through the Lab.

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It's all beautifully handmade and I just love the colours she's used - each month scrolls through teal, turquoise, limes and corals - and the addition of colour-matched stitching adds a really original touch.  Here is mine all ready to go above my desk.  She's still got some left in her Etsy shop and do check out her gorgeous blog as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Seattle-based designer who always produces a great calendar is Herman Yu, who makes beautiful designs from nature.

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Check out the inside pages here.

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If I had more wall real estate I would probably consider this enormous, incredibly stylish Vignelli Stendig calendar available here.  Yes, the baby is to scale.

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Vignelli also designed the classic Max 365 Perpetual Calendar, seen here in an otherwise fairly hideous room set from Pottery Barn.

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My favourite perpetual calendar though is the Corian Calendar by Niels Kjeldsen.  These were a special limited edition and enormously expensive (I'm not sure you can even buy them any more) but I do wish someone would mass-produce them.

 

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11 November 2008

Christmas Cake - Part I

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Interestingly Christmas round these parts (or, as I should euphemistically say, 'the holidays') seems to be rather Germanic in flavour with plenty of gingerbread and not a sign of traditional English Christmas cakes, Christmas puddings or mince pies.

We missed our Christmas cake last year and so this year have decided to make one courtesy of all the glace' fruit we shipped back from Vancouver recently (how funny that one of the British delicacies we miss most is glace' fruit).

For those of you who've never seen one before, a traditional British Christmas cake is a dark and dense rich fruit cake, made some considerable time before the big day, left to 'mature' through the constant application of brandy and then coated with thick layers of almond paste and royal icing.  It is a long and laborious process.  We started ours yesterday, though in an ideal world you should start making your cakes and puddings about two months before the big day.

My ma-in-law has many splendid qualities, not least of which is her quite ridiculously good Christmas cake. A couple of years ago she gave me the recipe, though this is the first time I've actually made it.  I was expecting some ancient family recipe carefully handed down through the generations, but instead discovered that it was a Waitrose recipe of very recent vintage. No matter, it's absolutely delicious and the addition of less traditional ingredients such as dried apricots and glace' pineapple means it isn't as dark and dense as traditional cakes which are essentially a solid wall of raisins.

The first step, which the Minx and I completed yesterday, involved chopping and stirring an immense quantity of mixed dried fruits and nuts and then steeping them for 24 hours in orange juice and brandy.

An Atelier LZC tea towel covers up our nasty green countertop.

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Stacks of Press Coverage

The press really seem to love our stacking things by young Manchester-based designer Hannah Tofalos.

This month we've had some great coverage of Hannah's Stacking Eggcups in Easy Living magazine

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and her Stacking Jars in Grand Designs magazine.

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The latter also represents another press showing for the picture I took in natural light on my dining room table.  

Our Bee mirror by Atelier LZC also got a nice mention on the Ideal Home website.

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We've still got a couple of Press opportunities which still might materialise this Christmas so keep your fingers crossed that they actually happen.  All a bit on tenterhooks here, still waiting for Christmas to start properly...

10 November 2008

Knitting Candy Floss

I'm almost embarrassed to tell you about my newest knitting project. Inspired by this blog post I am knitting up a very quick scarf in garter stitch on big fat needles.

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I'm using Twinkle Soft Chunky yarn which is 100% pure wool, incredibly soft and only gently spun, so it's very er, woolly and fat.  My local yarn shop carries a great range of yarn brands but never chooses the nicest colours so I'm not sure I would necessarily have chosen this pink if all the colours had been available.  However, I've ordered some other colours online, as I think I'm going to be making more scarves.

If you want to make one too, I loosely cast on 20 stitches and am knitting it up in garter stitch on size 35 (20mm) needles. My original inspiration suggests size 50 needles, but my yarn shop doesn't stock needles that big.  The needles are very ugly and plastic (which does have the benefit of being lightweight) and they're quite tricky to work with.  Let's just liken it to knitting candyfloss with telegraph poles. But it really does knit up quick so there is much satisfaction to be gained.

UPDATE:  I've just undone everything and reduced the number of stitches to 16 as it was too wide. I'm determined to get one scarf out of one skein of wool. So just scrub the bit about it knitting up quickly...

Mr President

OK, so I'll move off the election very soon.  (Is it my imagination or has everyone been a bit smilier this last week?)

First though, I thought you might like to see these fabulous images from artist Michael Murphy.

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The sketch above turned into this fabulous twisted wire sculpture

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This image was created by an overhead light shining on nails.

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Here's a detail

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And here's the same image without the overhead light.

Do check out Michael Murphy's website for more fabulous pics.

05 November 2008

America the Beautiful

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{image via Whorange}

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Thanks guys. You played a blinder. Yesterday was the first and only time I've wanted to be a US citizen.  Just wish there was someone comparable in the UK.

Oh and read this, it's beautiful.

Just a few small points.

- Can you add a woman to that picture soon?  Say in eight years? (But PLEASE not Sarah Palin.)

- Pretty disgusted though by the Yes Vote on Prop 8 and by the anti-gay marriage votes in Arizona and Florida

- Michele Bachmann - WTF?

- Also Ted Stevens - WTF?

04 November 2008

Barack the Vote Again

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I promise I'm not being paid to shill for Trophy Cupcakes, but I thought you might like to see some of the essential supplies I bought for tonight's election party. 

They told me they'd had over 1,000 pre-orders for the Obama cupcakes and were baking them at the rate of 50 every half hour and still selling out.  They weren't making any John McCain photo ones (this is Seattle after all), but did have some with sugar elephants on them which did not seem to be selling...

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This was the genuine front page of the UK's Daily Mirror after the last debacle.  Guys, you know what you have to do.  Please don't let the world down again.

01 November 2008

Treat or Treat

Before we hit the neighbourhood to collect a quite spectacular quantity of candy, we decided to go trick or treating at the Wallingford Center - a small collection of indie shops housed in a beautiful old wooden school building.

The star turn of the Wallingford Center is Trophy Cupcakes, Seattle's best cupcake shop, which has recently been discovered by Martha Stewart, which had gone to town on Halloween-themed cakes. 

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We did have a rather fetching devil costume, but there was a last minute change of heart (and yes, our front garden needs WORK.)

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These couture cupcakes were not for sale

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These are their 'special order' themed cupcakes.  Lots of ideas for cupcake making next year.

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And these are the ones that followed us home...