Archive for ‘me’

December 11, 2012

Thinking about doing is a good thing

There has been sewing here but somehow I haven’t got round to posting any pictures.

As usual there has also been more thinking about sewing than actually sewing too. And thinking about all sorts of other things. I’ve always been kind of frustrated by the disparity between the quantity and ease of thinking and the difficulty in transforming this into activity in many areas of my life but this week I’ve made peace with it.

How many people don’t have the luxury to be endlessly creative in their heads without having to actually do the thing they have thought about? If I did this for a proper job I couldn’t spend days and nights daydreaming about a skirt or a top or wrist warmers or a clean floor then not sew it or knit it or clean it, could I?

The world is now full of non-creative thinking: it’s all competing facts and figures, analysis and argument, too much criticism and not enough creativity. Perhaps I should go like my Nan and have no tv and switch to Radio 3 so as to avoid the madness of the world round and about. That’s a bit drastic though!

August 13, 2012


A few months ago my Mum had a bit of a clear out and decided to sort out the drawers of the built in dresser at her house which are chock-full of photos. There are our own family photos, my Nan’s photos and my Dad’s sister’s photos. My Nan’s and aunt’s ended ended up at my mums when they died and their houses were cleared. My Mum started out on our own photos and threw away any that were of ‘views’ with no-one in themas she couldn’t remember what the views of hundreds of different bits of Europe were and she doesn’t think I’ll remember either when I end up with all this stuff.Thanks Mum. Then she got to all my aunt’s photos and found pictures of her surrounded by children, hugging little children and playing with children.

The children are not my sister and I and we don’t remember her as a huggy person at all. By the time we met her she was the kind of spinster aunt who didn’t really like children much and preferred her dog; I can’t remember her ever holding my hand even to cross a road. The pictures show her with Inuit children back in the early sixties when she worked with we thought was called the Grenfell Mission in Canada. Mu Mum and Dad knew that she went there but they never knew what she did there as she never talked about it despite having two sets of huge snow shoes in her house and little real fur bears on her shelf. It was as if this door had been closed and she didn’t want to share any of it with us although as little children we were fascinated by the shoes. My Mum wondered if I could find anything online about the Grenfell Mission to perhaps fill in some gaps.

After some searches that found nothing I decided to try my a variation on her name and just Grenfell on its own to see if I had better luck. The first Google result was this:

Among the Deep Sea Fishers, a magazine of the International Grenfell Association.

It turns out that it was the Grenfell Association, not mission and although my aunt’s real name was Olwyn she was also known as Megan and she had written an article as Megan Dykes for the magazine in 1963 called “Boots, Boots, Boots” all about walking across snowy Labrador! Her article starts on page 82 and isn’t easy to read as it is illustrated with a large boot which covers the centre of the text. She writes with good humour and sounds as though she loves this place. I can imagine this: “…so we were soaked to the skin. The storm passed and being so wet that it did not make any difference, we went swimming…” and I wish she had not lost that sense of fun along the way.

The archive is easily searched and I found her mentioned in no less that 13 volumes either in the Alumni pages sharing her career progression and changes of address or as a visitor to the London offices or a guest at a reunion or wedding.

She flew to North West River on 24th October 1961 to replace the outgoing medical secretary at the hospital there. She returned to England to train as a Probation Officer in 1964 and by 2am I had even found her address in Weston-Super-Mare and looked at the property details of the flat she rented there on Zoopla.

Thanks to someone at Memorial University Library realising that Among the Deep Sea Fishers represents a huge slice of Newfoundland and Labrador history and scanning every page of every quarterly volume, we have been able to learn something about someone who died fifteen years ago without telling us about what must have been an important time in her life. This is a bit strange in some way as perhaps we weren’t supposed to know and now my Mum plans to go over there and visit St Anthony and North West River and see what this area is like.

Then, this week we found out something else using information from the web. Here in real life, my mother in law is in the final stages of her life and has been worrying about this she hasn’t spoken about for decades. Mr G has always known that his parents had a son born before he was who died soon after birth but he didn’t know exactly when he was born or anything else. This week his mum told him that the hospital had said they would take the baby so she had never buried her first born son and now she wanted to know where he was and what happened to him.

As this little one was born about forty years ago I used a genealogy website to search to see if I could find his birth certificate. With first and surnames and mother’s maiden name and place of birth this was very easy and we found his date of birth and full names after just a few clicks. Then what? We didn’t know, so I talked about this with my favourite phlebotomist when I had my blood taken last week and she suggested that I call the hospital to ask if they had any records of him. I called them on Thursday and was put through to the bereavement section where I spoke to the head of the hospital chaplaincy. He told me that all babies from that time were buried locally, often along with other babies and that if I rang the Cemeteries Service they would hopefully have a record. One phone call later and we found that he was indeed buried in Oxford in March 1972 in an area reserved for hospital babies during the 60s and 70s in the same cemetery where JRR Tolkein rests.

It was a beautiful sunny evening so Mr G and I drove up there to find the spot. It is a grassed area enclosed by a hedge with just a few plaques along the boundary and a marble bird bath which is surrounded by flowers.

It is a quiet and peaceful area away from the road where bunnies and squirrels scooted about and the trees were full of birds roosting. Mr G’s mum is relieved to know all this and we will get a small plaque made to commemorate his short life.

These connections between our small family and our wider family are becoming more and more important to Mr G and I as we grow older. When I was a child I felt that I ad a very small family compared to the other children at my Catholic primary and secondary schools who all seemed to have about twenty cousins and be related to anyone you wanted to pick a fight with! My Dad’s sister was his only sibling and she had no children, my Mum has two siblings but we didn’t see them or their children often as we lived far away from them. My Mum also had ten aunts and uncles and lots of cousins but they were in Wolverhampton or Canada or Australia and somehow we didn’t see them much either probably because Southampton is pretty far away from the Midlands in our small country mindset.

We’ve started to re-connect with my Mum’s family over the past few years and have spent days with my aunt and uncle in Cambridgeshire, visited the remaining ninety six year old auntie in Wolverhampton and had two get together with about twenty or so of us here in Abingdon and last week at my Mum’s cousin’s house near Bristol. This cousin, Margaret, lives just a ten minute drive away from Mr G’s auntie Maureen which is a convenient coincidence. You can tell these ladies are in their seventies by their names, can’t you?

Here I am at Margaret’s last week snapped my Miss Froo! I have no idea why my plate is empty, why I am pointing with a knife or what anyone is saying.

From the left, we are Auntie Deidre, Mum’s cousin Lawrence and his wife Jennifer, me, Mum’s cousin Frances and the bottom of a cousin called Pat who was trying not to watch Andy Murray at the Olympics in case she jinxed his performance.

There were other cousins around and about and we managed to eat most of this lovely food whilst trying not to laugh hysterically at this or that including the apparently very amusing macerator pump in the downstairs toilet. Once again these ladies told me things I didn’t know about my Nan and my Mum and in some shared feeling about summer wear we are all wearing wide leg trousers…… Mine are me-made New Look 6190 with a me-made Made by Rae spring top.

What a world we live in. The internet is so much more than watching kittens do funny things, listening to music for free or finding out how to sew an invisible zip isn’t it? Those things are good and I don’t know how I would resolve tricky sewing dilemmas nowadays without the blogosphere but at the same time there is stuff out there which you don’t know matters to you until you start to look for it. These discoveries of the last month have also made me think that what we write now will provide great insight into our day to day lives for our descendents, should they wish to look for us. Of course our history is self-edited and only one view of any particular event but still I wonder what my grandchildren will think of my blogging about sewing and family and our home life.

May 29, 2012

Tankini and skirts

Well the new undies I mentioned in the comments broke the spell and sewing has begun again in earnest.

On reviewing Me-Made-May 12 I noticed that I have very few plain skirts and a lot of patterned tops which makes finding things that are not hugely distressing to the eye somewhat of a challenge. This had led to MMM failures or thisk week, wearing the denim skirt almost every day which appeals to my uniform tendencies but it doesn’t magically solve the washing and drying of said skirt in a timely fashion so it got more and more manky looking as the week wore on.

Friday was our wedding anniversary: 10 whole years! Who knew the Queen would be having another big bash with two bank holidays again so soon! I decided that as a gift from Mr G was unlikely, I would gift myself a day of sewing for myself. I spent a good part of the morning sitting in the sun on the front doorstep unpicking two failed attempts to fix the waist on a lime green skirt that I first sewed two years ago. It started out as a BurdaStyle bias cut, zippered A line-ish skirt with back seam and back darts that was far too wide. Then I took the zip out and cut it down to an Angry Chicken Five Minute A line skirt with FOE waistband and trimmed the hem with cream bias tape but I never really liked how the top pouffed out so I haven’t worn it.

The fabric is a kind of satiny stretch drill so sewing elastic onto the waistband again didn’t really help unless wavy is what is required so I threw this down the side of the machine and went upstairs to hunt for Plan B. This appeared in the form of a very long jersey dress that I bought at a jumble sale and only wear in winter under other because Wedgwood blue really doesn’t suit me. It was in a pile for the charity shop but I thought I would cut a skirt from it and see if that worked because I needed to have achieved something by the end of the day!

I went to the caravan for the overlocker and distracted myself pulling the seat cushions out to stand against the fence in the sun to freshen them up a bit, brought in the washing that was already dry and hoped that the machine was still threaded with navy thread so I could start straight away. It was, so I got cutting. Less than half an hour later I had a pull on,  yoga waistband skirt ready to wear with any patterned thing in my wardrobe.

Having sewn a jersey waistband on that skirt I realised that this might be the best solution for the green one too – doh! Here it is on the line. It looks better but is now a bit narrow across the thighs… so I won’t be wearing it much any time soon!

Then I hemmed El Famosisimo’s work trousers that have been waiting to be shrunk by four inches since around November. I have done a tute for this which I will post next later. As I had the overlocker out I also sewed Miss Amoo’s tankini, do you remember that word? It went with Library Card and some other obsession of the week. The pattern is from Patty Young’s Sewing Modkid Style and it went together really easily. Thankfully Miss Amoo thinks it is great and although the top front foe is a bit stretched she told me that the first thing you do is not always the best one so not to worry, I’ll do it better next time……..

I finished the hem of the top with a folded band rather than stitching a hem and it holds the top down well where it could have a tendency to roll up, I think. I cut an age 10 to fit her circumference but I needed to take 2″ off the top of the shorts after taking this photo as they were a bit too high. She has already swum in them and said the set was really comfortable once she had put the shorts on the right way round!

Thrifted dress over usual skirt with usual compression stocking. It gets a bit hot under all that lycra when the sun is beating down!

I went for a haircut on Thursday and ended up with hair quite a bit shorter than I had planned due to a hairdresser who doesn’t know me mistaking me for a boy and my usual lady having to cut it even more to make me look a *bit* more feminine!  This is the newly-sewn bottom half of dress skirt with a top half of dress top. A very cool combination which I wore two days in a row.

The denim skirt again with a Made by Rae Spring Top and a sun hat from a Japanese pattern book which I squeezed out of one leg of a pair of jeans. The sieve to the left is taped to a pole and is much better than a net for pond dipping. The hear no evil monkey was rescued by Mr G from a skip somewhere.

I have another skirt that I finished this week but haven’t taken pictures of yet. It isn’t plain at all though so I still need more plain tops!

May 13, 2012

Nothing New but still Me-Made-Maying

My head is full of patterns but I’m not sewing anything. Not even Me Made May has broken my inertia sadly. Never mind.

I’ve had a couple of days when the only me made bits have been undies or a vest. Wednesday was like that as I went to an uninspiring zumba class and didn’t get hot and sweaty so stayed in my ‘sports wear’ all day eek! I’m not keen on sporty looks in general but these trousers are so comfy.

Here are some looks from this week.

This is a half circle skirt which I sewed last year from some fabric my mum bought in Ikea. I made the waist larger than I needed so I didn’t sew the side seam up but overlapped it and added poppers from waist to hip. I’m wearing it with an ancient t shirt and an ebay cardi that didn’t look this colour on the listing… and it was warm that day so I got the crocs out

This was a chillier day so it’s the long grey wrap skirt of old with a long sleeved tee and a loose kind of waistcoat I cut from one of Mr G’s old jumpers. More poppers on this one! I have yet to sew a successful buttonhole.

On Thursday I took a risk and walked to town without a coat for the first time this year. I wore a blue t-shirt, the same grey skirt and same bright cardi again with a me-made drawstring bag. Do you like the girls’ stick collection?

Today is sunny but chilly indoors as we’ve got the doors open and kids running in and out

I started off with just the skirt, t-shirt and cardi then added the over knee socks and scarf after lunch. My hair is a mess so I’ve got a wide headband on to hide it. The skit is my old four gore denim with frayed hem, I knitted the scarf for Mr G two winters ago and the hair hider is upcycled from a cotton voile maternity top.

Ummm I think I might wear a different cardi next week! I’ve got a summer skirt that needs hemming which I might do later on and chant some spells to bring weather warm enough to wear it while I’m sewing.