Posts Tagged 'oddsox'

Berry picking for Booze making

Today we nipped up to Donnington Castle on a search for berries. The sun came out for a bit but it was very windy, so we put wellies & coats on to protect from scratches and possible rain.

Almost immediately we found sloes

And there were plenty of brambles all over the place, although it looked like there might have been quite a few visitors before us. As is often the case with blackberries they don’t just grow in the hedgerow, they often abound around dilapidated buildings – we found quite  a lot here…

Off home to give the sloes and blackberries a soaking in Miltons sterilising fluid – mixed with plenty of water of course. I only found out recently that it could be used to sterilise food and I’m glad we used it – there were some horribble wigglers that came out of the blackberries!

I spotted an article in the October Gardeners’ World mag for using any kind of berry, sloes, damsons etc with a spirit such as gin, vodka, tequila, brandy – and caster sugar. So that’s what we’ve done! One bottle of blackberry & sloe gin, one of blackberry & sloe vodka, then one each of blackberry gin & blackberry vodka. It looks such a pretty colour already…

For the first week you shake the bottles whenever you pass them, then put them in a dark place and shake them once a week for 3 months. I was a bit disappointed to find that you have to keep it for a year before drinking though… Until I re-read the instructions and realised that after the 3 month period you strain & decant and it’s ready. It keeps for up to a year!

So by my calculations we should have our lovely pink berry gin & vodka ready to drink on Christmas Day! We couldn’t have planned it better :) Cheers

Sewing Box Treasure

We took a drive over to Hungerford at the weekend and popped into the Antiques & Collectibles Arcade for a browse around. It’s a really interesting old beamed building, with over 100 traders worth of walk-in units and cabinets all housed in one place. So much fascinating treasure to look through, books, furniture, jewellery, crockery, ornaments, watches. As you get older there are more and more items you recognise from childhood and of course wish you’d held onto them!

We didn’t go with the intention of buying anything but I couldn’t resist this vintage retro tiered sewing box – not because it’s a beautiful item, I actually think it’s a bit ugly – but because it was full of sewing treasures…

One top drawer holds a range of Sylko threads in blues & greens – the majority are on those lovely old wooden bobbins. The tier underneath contains almost 50 reels of Gutterman thread – the thick topstitch stuff – and a few reels of Coats Drima thread…

On the other side, the drawer is full of light, dark, pinks and oranges – again mostly wooden Sylko bobbins. Underneath there are all manner of needle types and sizes, tailors chalk, a Dean tape measure, press studs, safety pins…

…and in the bottom tier a mixture of all kinds of old mending things. Hooks & Eyes, boil proof elastic, wundaweb, nylon threads for mending stockings, darning wool and plenty more.

There was also this very dirty but rather sweet little hand embroidered needle case. It looks as though it could have been made by a youngster and perhaps given as a gift. I think I’ll have to risk giving it a wash and hope it doesn’t disintegrate!

There was also this very dirty but rather sweet little hand embroidered needle case. It looks as though it could have been made by a youngster and perhaps given as a gift. I think I’ll have to risk giving it a wash and hope it doesn’t disintegrate!

Fabulous Fabric Fish & Baskets

I’m doing a bit of multi-tasking this afternoon. My computer desk and sewing machine table sit next to each other so I’m alternating between listing some new fabric fish in my OddSox Folksy shop, and sewing together some fabric baskets with freemotion birds on the front.

The fish are made from a collection of really lovely fabrics. The 100% cotton fabric came as a ‘jelly roll’ (I think that’s what it’s called anyway) – which is about 40 strips of complementary patterns and colours 44″ long x 2.5″ wide from the  ‘Howard Marcus for Moda’ range. I think they are often used for quilt making but I don’t have the patience to make such a large item so fish it is!

Just got the blue ones left to list now…

This is my first batch of fabric baskets, they just need to have the ‘turning inside out hole’ sewn shut by hand. These will be coming along to my craft fairs which start next month.

After the fish listing I’ll be putting more new sock creatures and amigurumi cuties into the shop over the next couple of days – please do pop by and have a look.

Thank you and have a good weekend :)

Upcoming craft fairs in Newbury, Berkshire area

If you are looking for pre-Christmas craft fairs in the Newbury and Thatcham, Berkshire area, here are some details of a couple of new ones.

There are still stalls available for sellers and all visitors will be very welcome – add the dates to your calendars to get some early and unique handmade Christmas gifts purchased:

Saturday 3rd November – 10am-4m – Craft Fair

Catholic Hall, 7 Bath Road, Thatcham, nr Newbury

£10 per table

For information or to book a table please contact: Anne-Marie McInerney on 01635 868904 or 07971 884924 or email:

* * * * * * * *

Saturday 17th November  –  2pm – 5pm – Christmas Craft Fayre

including handmade crafts, refreshments/cakes, several craft activities for children to take part in and, of course, Santa’s Grotto

  At the school on Gainsborough Avenue, Kintbury, Berks, RG17 9XN.  Run by the PTA.

Pitches available for £10 (tables approx. 180cm x 74cm / 70in x 29in)

For information or to book a table please contact:  Heather Thompson, PTA Chairman on 07776 198269 or Debra Ellington at The Clothes Shop on 01635 47832 or 01488 658512

* * * * * * * * *

For more craft fairs in West Berkshire have a look at my Craft Fairs & Events page


Wobbly Baby Giraffe – one day old

This weekend we did a family day out to Marwell Wildlife in Hampshire (about 8 miles from Winchester).

One of the nicest parts of our visit this time was seeing the 1 day old wobbly little giraffe baby with its Mum Isabella – if you click the pic it will take you to my Flickr page where you can watch a very short video clip of it stumbling across to the hay basket (the keepers haven’t been able to identify if it’s a boy or a girl yet)

Click the pic to watch a mini clip on Flickr

Most of my photos didn’t come out too well but here are a handful of the better ones

Lounging ring-tailed lemurs

Ocelot having a nap

Thirsty Tiger

Wendy the hippo having a yawn

A cheeky little chipmunk

We booked the tickets on line which means you don’t have to queue at the gate and it also gets you a 5% discount. We took a giant picnic as there are lots of open areas and picnic tables throughout the park.

We’ve been to Marwell quite a few times now and it’s lovely -it’s set in 140-acres and is home to over 180 exotic and endangered species, in beautiful, landscaped surroundings. We arrived at about 10.30am and didn’t struggle to fill a whole day – we left at 6 o’clock closing time.  There are lots of friendly, helpful and knowledgeable volunteer staff at the park who will come and chat with visitors and share interesting snippets about the animals and various events happening throughout the day. I’d give it 10 out of 10 on the ‘good-day-out-ometer’. :)

Homemade Lemon Curd

I had a hankering to get the ice cream maker out last weekend to make something to complement a very rich chocolate cake I planned on baking.

I came across a really easy Lemon Curd Ice Cream recipe over at No Fear Entertaining blogspot and decided I’d also have a go at making the Lemon Curd too. I’ve never tried curd or jam making before so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but as it was called a ‘no fail recipe’ I thought I might as well give it a go. I’d definitely recommend it – it looks and tastes fabulous! It really was an easy recipe to follow and slowly stirring it  into a thick silky curd was very relaxing!

I found the Lemon Curd recipe on the Big Fat Baker website. I used 3 lemons and 1 lime in my version and it filled the 2 jars shown in the pic with a mini pot extra.

I used one whole jar for the Ice Cream and the second jar is being eaten on toast and will probably get finished with a batch of homemade scones.

I even whisked up a tray of meringues with the left over egg whites which are now in the freezer along with a pot full of blackberries from a blackberry picking trip yesterday. I found a Berry Eton Mess recipe on the Good Food Channel site so I think I’ll try that out – I liked the idea of having a combination of greek yoghurt with the cream.

The Lemon Curd Ice Cream is just the right balance of tartness and creaminess and not too sweet to be a perfect match for the rich chocolate cake. It was rich in that 3 x 100g bars of 70% cocoa dark chocolate kind of a way! Oops & Yum at the same time! :)

Recycled Garden Sculpture – part 1

Do you remember a couple of weeks ago when we had our Summer? Well we decided it might be fun to give ourselves a craft project to do outside and settled on trying to make a garden sculpture. We didn’t really plan it other than knowing we wanted some kind of made up creature and for it to be sitting at about knee height. It’s not finished yet because we’re waiting for another sunny weekend so it may be next year, but here’s our progress so far…

…We started with a couple of large plant pots taped together at the centre and I found an old cone shaped planter basket in the shed that we thought might work OK for the nose. We started to wrap the whole thing with chicken wire and padded it out with shredded charity bags – we’ve got way too many in the house so a good way to get rid of a few…

… top half of the body is mostly padded out – now for chicken wire leg tubes…

… they get stuffed with more charity bags (using my faithful chopstick stuffer!), and a rather large pair of ears get attached. The ears are thick wire bent to shape with pliers and covered with a sleeve of chicken wire…

…next, arms – same method as legs  (and oh look the sun’s shining!)…

…time for a quick sit down…

…and a little nosey around from high up (just to show the blue sky and big ears!)…

and now to the messy bit :) We bought a bag of undercoat plaster (huge 20L bag for under a tenner) and mixed up a tub full. Then we started to bandage the whole thing like an egyptian mummy. I had an old piece of muslin type fabric in my stash that used to be a bathroom curtain once upon a time so this got torn into strips roughly 2 inches wide. Next we dipped strips into the plaster mix, it was really awkward to try and stop them clumping into thin threads but we got there in the end…

…almost completely covered now and what a big mess we’ve made of the patio – oops!

So, this is as far as we’ve got – he’s sitting on a piece of MDF in the last patch of sun drying out.

Now he’s covered in plastic sheets while we wait for another decent sunny weekend and think about what to next. Ideally we need to waterproof him with something before doing any decorating.

All ideas would be really welcome :)

Alan’s got a girlfriend!

Alan opens the parcel

I entered a giveaway a couple of weeks ago and my goody box has just arrived. Alan Pitchfork was desperate to open the parcel. He’d had a sneak peek at the prizes on the Chantal Loves Vintage blogsite and was smitten with the Lady Hotdogandme Sock Dog, and thought the Yeahbut would make a good pal to mess about in the garden with. Here he is meeting his new friends…

Alan makes friends with Yeahbut

Alan with his new girlfriend, Lady Hotdog&Me

Thank you Chantal, I thoroughly enjoyed browsing through all the lovely goodies. I don’t have an i-pod so I’m using the flowery felt pouch for my all important scissors and the drawstring bag is being used to stash my work-in-progress sewing :)

Ugly Amigurumi… Cute Amigurumi…

It was my birthday last month and I was rather excited to get these three new Amigurumi crochet books as part of my gifts…

The one I wanted to try first was from Crochet Bakemono (by Lan-Anh Bui & Josephine Wan) because it had a pattern for a creature with two heads called ‘Mono-Mono’, not as separate pieces to be sewn together at the end, but an all-in-one pattern. Now I’ve learnt how to do that I’ll certainly be putting the technique into practice with some of my own creations. The instructions are really easy to follow and there are plenty of good creature shots and fun stories to go with the characters.

My next creature from this book was based on the pattern for the monster called ‘Takomon’  but with a bit of adaptation – mine’s taller and thinner with a few hair curls and not such a frilly skirt… then I went off on one with the face – I’m thinking he looks like a cross between a flamenco dancer and a character from a spaghetti western – either way he’s pretty ugly! If anyone has any suggestions for names I’d love to hear them :)

Book number two is called Ami Ami Dogs(by Mitsuki Hoshi) – the title on the front of the book is so true ‘Seriously Cute Crochet!’ There are 12 different dogs to make, sitting up and lying down and different sizes too. The intro is a little confusing to start with as there seems to be some translation issues such as using the word knitting instead of crochet and also a couple of basic (but obvious) mistakes related to how to read the patterns. But… once you’ve got over that, the diagramatic patterns are quite useful and the photography is just lovely.

My first attempt was a small Japanese Shiba, he turned out quite cute but I made a few mistakes with introducing the second colour (I blame it on watching tellie whilst trying to read the pattern diagram without my glasses on!)

I haven’t tried any of the Crobots yet but I’ve had a good look through the book and I’m quite impressed with the instructions. The written patterns seem very clear and each one also has a ‘Blueprint’ to go with it – a drawing of the finished Crobot in pieces with pictures showing how to assemble the parts. Each Crobot has a full page pic of the finished article too. (Crobots – 2o amigurumi robots to make by Nelly Pailloux)

I’ve put Amazon links to all of the books as it’s often quite useful to be able to read the reviews before buying. I’d recommend them all but I think my favourite of the three is the Bakemono book for the clear instructions and the imaginative monsters.

Thanks for popping in. Shaz x

New Sock Bunnies & Dollies

As I’ve just signed up to the Folksy Pro-Account which is a set fee to cover all listings made within a one year period, I’ve been using this opportunity to do some batch listing. My first two sessions include some new Sock Bunnies and some cute smiley Sock Dollies. Nearly all of them are available at my OddSox Folksy shop if you’d like to take a look at these and other Sock Animals.

A group of Sock Bunny Rabbits

A group of smiling DollySox

Visit my OddSox shop




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